We don’t have the largest house in the village, but it is bigger than some. Before we bought it we thought it was quite spacious and at least as big as the last one. There was only one feature we would miss, and that was the large utility room we had had previously, but that was OK, there were several out houses with space for tools, garden bits and all the rest.
When we arrived however, the three garden sheds had been demolished, without asking us if we wanted them, and the former greenhouse was now just a path of slabs along with the occasional metal clip to be dug up. But everything still fitted and what didn’t went in the attic. There was room for everything. I even had plans for an art room, somewhere I wouldn’t have to keep clearing everything away to make room for dinner. Then my youngest daughter, recently returned from university complete with various bags, boxes and bits and pieces, and announced that she was engaged. He is a lovely lad and we wish them well, but engagements mean bottom drawers, and in this case this means most of the attic, the spare bedroom and parts of the pantry. Bits to make wedding favours, fill boxes in the living room and packets of invitation paper take up space beneath my desk
We have a large and fruitful garden so every bit of freezer space is now full of food to sustain us through the next few months – rhubarb, apple puree, courgettes, sprouts and all the rest. Cupboards are full of jars full of ‘Drunkards Plums’, ‘Cranana Jam’, ‘Spiced Pears’ and other autumnal delights, as well as lots of empty jars still to be filled. In the conservatory there are boxes of apples and buckets of garlic, onions, Jerusalem artichokes and sweet potatoes. We have joined a local green group and so are the recipients of various spare fruit – blackcurrants, red currants, plums etc. the garden is also filling up with plants, donated or otherwise – I’ve now got herbs I’ve never even heard of before. But there is still room to move – just.
However, we are giving a big party soon, so even my tins and plastic boxes are filling with bake ahead goods – cheesy bread sticks, shortbread, fruit cake and all the rest. And the weather has been mild, so there isn’t even much space in the poly-tunnel – I am still pickling tomatoes every other day, and it is almost December! Someone recently took 5 bushels of apples from just one of our trees and there were so many left you could hardly tell. The kiwi fruit is still to come. We even had one decent fig and a peach, and there is a melon ripening on top of the filing cabinet. I haven’t lived among such abundance since I was a small girl on my uncle’s farm, where the lawn was somewhere to place bee hives and wine demijohns bubbled in the bathroom, mushrooms grew under the beds and there were various pieces of unnamed (and perhaps illegal) game hanging in the porch.
Then 4 weeks ago my older daughter was made redundant – she finishes this week. She left home for university 8 years ago. Plenty of time to acquire a house and furniture, as well of course as china, pots and pans, a cat, pots of strawberries, a sewing machine and all the rest. She lives in a remote part of the country and job prospects aren’t good there, so she is coming home. We’ll be happy to have her back of course, but it will mean changes. It was a hard decision for her – all her friends will be 200 miles away, but next weekend her present life will all be packed into a van and she will come here – to a place where she has never lived and where she really knows no one except us. She will be fine, but I’m not sure about the house.