The houses I knew best in my childhood were those of family and friends. Most early friends lived in houses like my parents’ house or a mirror image of it. For a long time any dreams I had in houses were in my parents’ house. Occasionally I have dreamed about my grandparents’ stone-built house. This was a repeated dream, where the house had narrow passages, which I had to squeeze through. I do not believe there were any such passages, although there was a stream (known as the brook) running below the cellar. Even after I had been married for a number of years and lived in other houses, those hardly ever featured in my dreams.
My childhood home was a writing prompt. I haven’t seen it for well over a decade. I was surprised to learn recently that it is being converted from a three-bedroom house into four two-bedroom flats. The garden, which my parents looked after for over half a century, growing vegetables, flowers, apples, pears, raspberries and strawberries, is being divided into three. Or at least, what will be left of it is after the building extensions and parking provision. There was space on the lawn for a few children to ride around on bikes and the mature apple trees gave shade to budding artists sitting at a small table with paint and paintbrushes. Our grown-up children remember playing there too on summertime visits and possibly once in the snow.
After a property has been sold, previous owners have no say about what happens to it. History cannot be frozen. More homes are needed. The space is available and someone has spotted an opportunity. I wish them well. The architects’ plans are a great improvement on the ramshackle appearance of the temporary extensions on the photos submitted to the planning authority.
The neighbours, seeing the work in progress, believed that there would be another house next to the original one. A new front door had appeared. I had to smile, when after a few months my mother told me, “You were right, it is four flats!”
I had consulted the plans, after all.