The garage was huge. It was described as a four-car garage, but it could have taken at least a dozen, if emptied. My parents had brought a massive catering-size freezer from the hotel which took up several yards on the left, and there was another smaller freezer beyond that, but that only went halfway back. There were all sorts of things stored there and the back half was chock-a-block, but it was still roomy. There was a workroom above and a pulley system so that whatever was constructed up there could be brought down. I have no idea why this was built by my grandfather. There was a workbench and a lot of tools, but they weren’t used a great deal in our day.
The staircase was wooden and I think it could have been slid up, like a staircase to an attic with a trapdoor. It was never closed, though. I remember once, when I was a child, looking into the garage and seeing a large rat sitting on a stair, and it casually hopped up from one step to the next. I ran in and told my mother, who was suitably impressed and I suspect the matter was dealt with. I didn’t tell her about the time I came across a bundle of canes: one had a jagged end so I broke that bit and a family of earwigs fell out. I was more scared by that than the rat as it was more startling, ran out and didn’t go in the garage on my own for weeks.
I’ve been trying to remember the doors and I think they must have been concertina style. They weren’t up and over and they didn’t open out – or, indeed, in – so they must have been. We were not in the least security conscious, relying on the dogs, and I don’t think they were often shut. We never locked the house either. My father said that, with our big windows, we’d be far more inconvenienced than any burglar.
The dogs were, indeed, our protectors. They were very friendly and not at all scary, but once we were all out visiting friends and, for some reason, it was realised that other guests needed to call in at our house to fetch something. As the doors were unlocked, they were able to do so and they were welcome to. But, as they opened the front door and walked in, cheerily greeting the dogs by name, they were met by a phalanx of hounds with hackles raised. “It’s all right, we’re allowed!” … “Um, maybe not.” And they left with dignified haste. Next time they visited, the dogs were as friendly as ever.
I do remember my father constructing things in the loft, though. I’ll tell you about that next time.