Sunday, July 27, 2008

a tale of two old ladies

Tinkingbell sent out the challenge to write about our homes.

She lives in a stunning old home complete with a tower or widow's walk that I'd love to have. While jealous I'm still delighted with my houses, both haunted by lovely old ladies.

You see, I'm a lucky gal who has two; my first was my bachelor pad that did us well until there was one child when we decided to move about 500m as the crow flies to our present home.

We bought our present home the day it came on the market. It was everything we wanted. Big rooms, plenty of yard and character.
Our 'old' house had character but lacked room. It was a cottage, stand alone yes, but with two bedrooms, a lounge, an eat-in kitchen and a tiny bathroom and laundry it was getting cramped. It is a solid place with cedar skirting boards, dada boards, picture rails, the works. A beautiful fire place and a wood stove in the kitchen that made the best scones and kept the house warm in winter. But it was too small.

So off I went hunting and I found it. A large block, still in a spit of the town, in walking distance of the city's best cafes, on transport links and with almost a third of an acre block.
Best part of it was the huge hedge out the front that shielded the house from drive byes.
I'd had a stalker for several years. Nothing violent, but disconcerting all the same so the hedge sold me before I even went inside.
The place was built in the early 1990s and was cavity brick, with patterned ceilings in every room bar the back built-in veranda that became the kitchen, bathroom and dining area.

The back yard was once a formal garden but had fallen into such a state that we couldn't see the back fence. We didn't know about the two mulberry trees at the back of the yard or the fruiting mango tree less than two metres from the lounge room window either. We had lived here three years before we found that tree.
The house has patterned and coloured glass, the floorboards are wide and the place although in need of paint and in some places, paint stripper, was perfect.
The plan was to build an extension on the back with a new bathroom, kitchen and family room to go with the three bedrooms and lounge room, but of course every time I manage to undertake something big like a new mortgage, I get pregnant so while we got the plans for the extension the week Zegal was born, they are still sitting in the filing cabinet.

But unlike my old house, this place has huge rooms, massive rooms, and two of the bedrooms have working fireplaces, as does the lounge room which has been treated to a deep red paint job. We've been able to cope, but are now working towards revised plans that include more space, because while the plans we had drawn up were great for a family of four, we are now a family of five.
For me the best thing about the house is the old shed built in the 50s that I've lined and turned into my workspace.

Another funny thing about my homes is that both are never called mine by the neighbours.
My old house is old Maisies house after the woman who was born there and lived there until she was taken off to a nursing home. In that street and all through the suburb, most of the homes are still owned by the same families for the past 100 years, so Maisies house it will always be.
The same thing has happened at our new place. The block of land was bought in the late 1800s by a family who built the house. They had a daughter who was born in the house and when she married and became Mrs Roberts, she ended up back in the house raising her children and was said to have had the most incredible gardens. She died about 18 months before we bought the house, but again in our street most of the residents remember her, going to play in her gardens and being given fruit from her trees.
Even delivery blokes and taxi drivers refer to our house as Mrs Robert's and the couple who bought the place after her death swear that she used to sit on the end of their bed and tut tut at them. They used to say she didn't like gay men in her house, personally I think it was the state that they let her gardens fall into, because even when she wasn't able to garden herself she had teams of gardeners come in and do it for her. Even the front hedge was trimmed once a month, so I dread to think what she would say about the tuffs on top of it at the moment.
I think I've only seen her once, but that was when Jar was three months old and due to his tiny size when born I hadn't slept more than two hours in a stretch and was starting to dream while awake. One day I was sitting and feeding Jar when I swear an old lady sat down in the lounge and talked to me. I realised later on that it was probably not a good idea to tell the fellow about my visitor and that until I managed to get some sleep I should turn in my car keys as well.

At the old house I've had painters refuse to go back in after being shaken off ladders. I think they were trying to do a quick lick rather than a decent job and Maisie didn't like it. It often sounded like people were walking up and down the hall way in that house but the house was so nice and warm and friendly and I was never shaken off a ladder when painting myself. The only time it got really scary was when an answering machine which wasn't plugged into anything, telephone lines or power, started recording things. No I wasn't drinking at the time but Tash and I certainly raced for a bottle of something after that event, coming as it did days after our best friend died. I've still got the tape, but have no idea what was on it as it is just a mess of noise.

So this is the tale of my house and my old house, Maisie's house and Mrs Robert's house.

The photos are all from Mrs Robert's house, and this bottom one is what people see above the front door when they walk in the gate: Two old goats skulls, the perfect remedy to scare religious nutters away.


TinkingBell said...

Fabulous story - and a wonderful house - I look forward to seeing it (and Mrs Roberts!)

Taueret said...

One of the many things I miss about Newcs is living in and around houses that are older than the F3!!

When R was born we were living in one of the old terraces in Chin Chen St Islington. An old lady was stuck in the maternity ward while awaiting a bed in... wherever old ladies go. We chatted and it turns out she had lived IN THE SAME HOUSE as a young bride, many many years before. Only in newcastle, I reckon.

Rose Red said...

Love the stories of your houses. And the goat skulls. Too funny!

jp said...

Thanks for sharing that amazing story. The skulls are incredible.

I am waiting to see what our new house reveals about itself over time.

Kate_knits_a_bit said...

I loved reading about your houses! Thank you for sharing - I aspire to a gorgeous old Federation house with verandahs and a half-acre block... One day!

dyoung said...

I feel like i live in the same street.