I have written about the time we moved here before, but I don’t think I’ve said much about the following year or so. Just to set the scene for those of you who don’t know our background in this house, we live in the house where the Sage was born and where his parents spent nearly all their married life. They married in 1927, bought it in 1928 – at the time, it had been divided into cottages, so they spent some months returning it to one house and making various alterations to make it more convenient for family life.
Their first babies were twin boys, but they did not survive. What a shock and a tragedy – they didn’t know that there were two babies, let alone that there was a problem. But it meant that when their first surviving child was born, the Sage’s elder brother, they had already moved in here, and their other two children were born here too.
It’s not at all surprising that the Sage was thrilled when I offered to come and live here after his father’s death, when his mother decided that the place was too big for her and that she would have to move out. She looked for a house in the village but there was nothing suitable, so she asked if we minded if she built in the garden. We had great difficulty in getting planning permission but it was eventually granted, with the conditions that the two houses must adjoin and have a connecting door, and that only members of our family could live there.
Ma moved in once the bungalow was built, but she didn’t have long to live and died suddenly in October 1985. We were having some renovations done and hadn’t moved ourselves yet. It wasn’t until the next summer that we moved in. Ro was just two then, Al was ten and Weeza was twelve.
I have written before about my determination to be outgoing and make new friends (I’d been quite the opposite before, I waited for people to come to me, being quite shy and uncertain), because the people I knew were left back in Lowestoft. Having a toddler helped of course, because there were other young mums with babies the same age who wanted friends for themselves and their children. In those days, it was still usual for most mums to take a few years out from paid work until their children started school.
I’ve also mentioned that I settled in unexpectedly quickly. I really enjoyed living here, rather to my surprise. I loved my old house, an Edwardian former Rectory, and it had taken me years to overcome a feeling of claustrophobia in this Tudor house with its low ceilings. Also, I’d never lived so far from the sea and I thought I’d miss it. Maybe I would, if I hadn’t liked it here so much.
My stepfather had a heart attack at the end of 1985 and his doctor recommended that he avoid stairs as much as possible and spare himself over-exertion. And so, it was proposed that they sell their house and come to live in the bungalow. Newly built and hardly lived it, you’d have thought it wouldn’t have needed much doing to it, but actually my mother wanted everything changed. For a start, her four-poster bed didn’t fit in either of the bedrooms. She didn’t like the kitchen, the bathroom (she was right there, Ma had chosen a hideous deep pink suite in a small and darkish room), the carpets, curtains or colour scheme. And she needed a dressing room, of course. And a porch and conservatory.
So plans were drawn up. Between the old house and the bungalow was a flat-roofed extension, which housed the larder, the boiler room, the airing room and Hilda’s bathroom. Hilda had come to the family as a nursemaid when the Sage (then known as Sprig) was a baby and she had never left. It was decided that if most of it was knocked down, a new bedroom, bathroom, dressing room and laundry room could be built, leaving our larder and a lobby big enough to house our chest freezer and provide a new back door, as we’d done away with our old one when we built the room that is now my study.
I’m digressing again here. I was going to talk about me. Oh well, another day.