Tuesday 7 August 2012

The doghouse - the dog house

There's not much point in describing the whole house to you, not without pictures.  I wish I could take you there, there are so many pictures in my mind's eye, I remember every bit of it.  If you look at the photo above, the two-storeyed building on the left was actually the garage, which was huge, big enough for lots of cars, with a loft above.  There were steps up, a workbench up there and a pulley on the exterior wall for hauling things up, though it was never used in my time.  In front of that is a building with a pitched roof which was used for storage and in front again was a greenhouse, one of many in the garden - six, I think, or was it seven?  Two of them were hothouses, one was a modern aluminium jobbie.  Then there was the conservatory, as you see, which led off the dining room.

You can see what I meant about the big windows.  It was the smaller ones at the sides that we used to open to let the dogs in and out - on the right as you look at the dining room and the left as you look at the drawing room, which is the room on the right-hand side of the house.  In between was the study, one wall lined with the bookshelves that are now on my own study walls, filled with the same books, mostly, that I have not been able to dispose of as yet.  The yellow door was never used and the passageway leading through it to the hall was used as a junk room.

The room above the drawing room was my parents' bedroom, with en suite bathroom and dressing room above the study.  There was another bathroom but only guests used that, we all used our parents' bathroom.  You see the window sticking out on the first floor on the right? It's not an open window, there was a triangular window seat and two windows at 60º angles.  This was ideal for the dogs to keep an eye on things and it was normal for one of them to be there on guard duty when we were out and at night.  My mother used to say that sometimes, awake at night, she could hear the watch change.

My parents had a four poster bed and we all - well, that is, the dogs and I - got on to it by taking a running jump.  I also used to swing on the end posts.  My mother would try to stop me, telling me how old the bed was but Z-logic thought that was quite silly.  Obviously, if it had lasted all these years being swung on it must be quite strong enough to carry on doing so.  Underneath the bed was the Club.  I'm not sure if the girls ever went in there, but it was mainly a gentlemen's club and Simon and Huck hung out there.  I joined them sometimes, of course, and was made welcome.

When we were children, the room above was our bedroom, mine and Wink's.  There were three bedrooms, a landing and a big attic on that floor.  Much of the attic, quite half of it, was occupied by four big water tanks.  We were not on mains water, there was a deep artesian well in the kitchen garden and water was pumped up twice a day into the tanks.  I've a feeling they each held 250 gallons - er, can anyone work that out?  How much room does 250 gallons take up?  Times 4, that is.  It was lovely water, completely pure without chlorination and the well never ran dry and the pipes never froze.  In the incredibly long, cold winter of 1963 the mains supply failed and people had to fetch water from a standpipe in the village.  Or they could come to us, we had plenty.

There was a dog bed in the house.  It was kept in the gun room.  I've no idea how keen my grandfather was on shooting, all I ever heard about is his Purdey shotgun, inherited by my father who never used it, nor did my mother or the Sage who now owns it.  It would have to be adapted if the Sage did use it (Granddad was right-handed and left-eyed) but, although a crack shot, he prefers rifle shooting at targets.  He doesn't kill for sport.  My father was a rotten shot anyway and wasn't allowed to be a soldier in the war.  He was sent to join the medical corps.  Anyway, the gun room was lined with cupboards and shelves, mostly filled with books, and at the end was a desk with the telephone on and in front of that was the dog bed.  So when you used the phone you stood in the dog bed.  And because of the way my mother always picked up the receiver and turned it when she put it down again, the lead became kinked tighter and tighter until it could hardly be put down, so once in a while someone would go and pick it up and hold the lead while the receiver spun round and round to unravel.

The dogs slept in the bedrooms of course.  As I said, one of them was normally in the window keeping an eye on things, one or two might be in the Club or they might be on the bed.  Wink and I didn't have dogs sleep in our room when we were children but later, when she went off to college, I had my own smaller room and then at least one dog slept with me.  I moved into a different room, still on the top floor, in my mid-teens and then had a double bed and then three dogs slept on it with me, Jess, Susie and Cleo.  Although it was a double bed, I never had a lot of room to myself because the dogs liked to snuggle up and one of them usually stretched out across the bed so that I couldn't stretch out myself and slept with knees bent.

I said I couldn't describe it without pictures and so I can't.  But you've got over a thousand words-worth all the same.  I haven't touched the surface, of course.  I wish I had pictures.


Unknown said...

Handsome house Z. Do you know when it was built?

Tim said...

You may not have pictures but now, we have, wonderful ones.

Z said...

In 1912, Mike.

Thank you, Tim xx

luckyzmom said...


Wendy said...

What a fabulous house! And that garden is wonderful too. Gorgeous flower bed in the foreground.

Now maybe you can sort out a little debate..we're trying to identify the make of that great old car peeking out at the back ..I think it might be a Rover and M thinks maybe a Peugeot...are either of us right?

haricot said...

Wonderful house with big chimneys, and a weathercock! Is it a greenhouse we can see at the left?
To sleep with these dogs might have been fun.

kippy said...

You described it so beautifully. I could "see" everything. The dogs had their own mancave? I'm guessing the building was built in 1890-1910 range. Have you ever returned to your childhood home or would it be too upsetting to see changes?

kippy said...

duh..just saw you said it was circa 1912.

Z said...

That was the herbaceous border, smothered in bees and butterflies in the summer. The greenhouse you can see was actually the conservatory. The other greenhouse on the extreme left is almost hidden by the tall plant in the foreground. I've just remembered another huge greenhouse in the kitchen garden, where the hothouses were too. And a weathercock, you're right. 1,000 words were not enough at all!

I have been back, Georgie, to the right-hand side - it's divided in two now. I'll tell you more later about the house.

Liz said...

Who needs pictures with your descriptions?

My family lived in a large rambling, rented house in Oxfordshire for a few months in 1977. I have fond memories of exploring that house and, more particularly, the garden, where there was an orchard with trees that we could climb. I have no photos at all and hadn't thought of it in years, until I read this post.

Rog said...

Oz used to love a go-under bed / must be a bloke thing. Gun Rooms and En Suite bedrooms with four posters sounds amazing / did Miss Marple pop over on her bike occasionally ?

mig said...

What a lovely house. And how fantastic to have your own well.

I laughed at your sleeping with dogs - 3 dogs on my bed would have me leaving home! I can't even sleep with one very small cat on (all over) the bed, I think people have lost the art of sleeping in a heap; I certainly have.

Z said...

It was the ponds I loved best, Liz.

I haven't mentioned the Housemaid's Pantry yet. My family has come down in the world since then.

I couldn't cope with 3 dogs on the bed now, one husband is quite enough.

Z said...

Wendz, I didn't answer your question about the car - ah, if that's what I think it is, it dates the picture pretty closely. I'll come to that in the next post!