In the immortal words of that Doyen of the club scene (and recent Glastonbury player) ‘Faithless’ – ‘ I can’t get no sleep ‘ . None. Nada. Zilch.
Eldest was running a flying temperature last night and has been in our bed.
Other half has vacated it and is currently sleeping on the top bunk in Eldest’s bedroom. His legs are too long for the bed and he will be naggy in the morning through lack of sleep.
The baby (in the cot, in our room)has awoken twice already and is now asleep again (for now). Eldest has a history of febrile convulsions.Both of them may wake up at any time.
So : I am on maternal tenterhooks ,in that particular state of alertness that evolution has bestowed upon mothers everywhere.On guard. Alert. Vigilant.
I can’t sleep. The time is now 2 : 51. Precisely.
I’ve done the cup of tea thing. Thought about trying to read a book, in bed. But I knew that it wouldn’t work. I am far too alert for any of that . In fact I am almost ‘manic’ alert , which is never a good sign . I don’t feel in the least bit manic though . I havn’t felt that way since before I had children,my children, my precious babies , pre-motherhood.So I know where this is coming from : My child may need me in the night. I have to be on the ball.
So , here I am , writing. I wasn’t sure what to write. Didn’t have a clue . So I thought that I would show you some pretty pictures and see where we went. Here they are .
Picture # 1
It’s an old, old garden, this one. The house that we live in is old too. It dates to around 1810. Start doing any work on it , strip back the layers (and there are many)and centuries of bodging ,cobbling together and making do show their slightly sheepish face. I’m surprised that we got a mortgage on it really – the surveyor can’t have looked too closely. Nobody wanted this house, it had been on the market for months. I can understand why – there isn’t much here to excite anybody looking for a 21st century user friendly home. But then we aren’t really a 21st Century user friendly family. Not luddites ,but probably in some peoples eyes not that far off. But that’s ok.
picture # 2
We weren’t rich when we said Yes, we’ll take it. I’m still surprised that they let us. It seems like such an adult thing to do, ‘ buying ‘ a house (because we don’t own it yet do we ? the bank owns most of it.Maybe after eight years here we now own the bathroom.) We aren’t rich now either. There are children , there is inflation – we are probably poorer now than we have ever been. But, mostly, that’s ok too. Give or take the odd day where it really pisses us off.
But then, we are probably the right people to live here. We fit the historical demographic of this house. In 1810, when it was built (I use the term loosely) it was to house the farm workers that worked for the ***** estate (* anonymity not profanity). Take us back two hundred years,pre- Welfare State (Press Pause whilst I genuflect and cross myself in the name of Nye Bevin) and we would have been peasants for sure. Farm workers maybe .Or at least Mr * would be. I can see him in a smock. I would have no doubt been attending to my vast and ever expanding brood whilst stirring a pot of unidentifiable slop at the fireside . We’d have given the experts a run for their money on the co-sleeping front .Live downstairs in one room, all kip upstairs, in the other. It is still essentially a two up two down – but with divisions, and bits added on. You can see where the divisions and bits added on are too. The good bits : wide wooden floorboards , steep little wooden staircase ,chimney,fireplace ,weathered old oak pannelled alcove cupboards. The bad bits : numerous – a kitchen that could win the Eastern Bloc kitchen of the year award (yeah we could fix it up a little better , but the money always seems to go on something more pressing), a 1950’s bathroom (and not in a good way) and the very creaky third step that we have to dodge when carrying sleeping children upto bed. There are more bedrooms now, than then,plus a woodburning stove, electricity (not solar, yet, but soon),gas.Running water.Telly,Tinternet, Sky – the usual. All of the (trap)pings of Modern Life.
picture # 3
But The Garden.. . Ahhhhhhhhh …… The Garden … Now that’s what clinched the deal. (Ok let us not delude ourselves, there was really no high powered deal. they practically bit our hand off . Probably thought that we were mad. We got money knocked off the asking price too. Quite a lot as it happens. And the asking price was cheap. The House That No One Loved. Well, We Would Love It. Wouldn’t We ? ) We loved that garden – it was , for sure Love, at first sight. We viewed on a sunny day too , which helped . The vendor must have been flipping somersaults in front of the weather report that morning.
Over the years the garden, like the house, has been cobbled and bodged. It is an imperfect garden. But is any garden truly perfect (bar Chelsea gold medal gardens ? and I’m not sure that I like those)- isn’t it the so called imperfections that make it beautiful ?
There is a lot that we havn’t done to this garden . We inherited a lot of plants and we inherited the layout . Like most farm workers cottages the house is tiny and the garden huge. Modern houses seem to be huge and have tiny gardens. I know which I prefer. I’d trade more house for more garden any day of the week. That’s just me. I do occasionally fantasise about huge living spaces. But not much , all things considered.It’d be nice, if we had more money, but it’s not essential. Coats and cloth and all that. Northern ? Moi ? : D
picture # 4
We have the deeds for the house going back around 150 years. We can see who lived here before us . Agricultural workers and their families. The last inhabitants , the ones just before us, were a couple who lived here for over fifty years and raised their daughter here . The husband , The Dad , was a miner and an avid gardener. When we viewed the house his widow had just been taken into a nursing home , and their daughter (who also did some typing and general admin for the estate agent) showed us around. On the wall in the main downstairs room there was a certificate from a local Miners Institute in recognition of 40 years served down the pit. So many hours of darkness , grime and hard graft, A Life. The same pit where friends, family men, fathers , all lost their lives to a massive internal collapse of one of the mine shafts.It is still remembered here ,and spoken about .
Seeing that certificate , and then seeing the garden , was something of an epiphany for me.Her Dad used to grow vegetables she said , where as her mum liked flowers. The results were all around us and it was breathtaking, even with the minimum maintenance that it had received whilst on the market . A true, honest, salt of the earth, practical, beautiful, working cottage garden. There and then I got it , how men that worked underground all day , in these oppressive, tight black spaces ,came home to their wives , their children and went outside to dig, to grow, in the light with the sun on their backs. Male voice choirs and Colliery bands ,borne out of the same experiences , have always moved me to tears. Honestly, we don’t know that we are born . We are so lucky.
So. Upstairs I can hear the sound of littlest beginning to whimper. Eldest has just stumbled downstairs, looking for a drink of something – water pet ? milk ? oh, orange juice ? ok love glad you are feeling a bit better Phew -so I stop here.
It ‘s probably the right place to stop. I promised to show you pictures so there you are. Now you know a bit about the Welsh Garden. Isn’t it Beautiful ?