Thursday, 24 February 2011

The Cottage

This is the second piece of writing by my father.

"Further up the hill, the road took a turning to the left and round the corner the hill flatted out 'til after about a quarter of a mile it came to a staggered junction. On the left, the wood continued as far as the junction, while on the right there was a high hedge, behind which was a field. The field ended to be replaced by a small wood, the sight of which gave me a feeling of anticipation.

I expected to see two old cottages surrounded on three sides by the wood and with neat little gardens between the cottages and the road, and behind the houses the sight of gardens with neat rows of vegetables, clumps of soft fruit bushes and piles of branches of trees ready to be sawn into logs for the fires.

The furthest of these cottages had been my home from the age of four, where I spent a happy childhood. The building that did come into view was not what I had expected. Where there once had been two cottages, there was now a very modern looking residence. The front of the cottages had been given a face lift with modern windows and doors, a new roof and pebble dashed walls. But it was at the back where there had been the biggest change. An extension had been built at right angles to create a T-shaped construction. The separate gardens had been replaced by one area of lawns and flower beds. The enveloping hedges had been removed and now the flower beds and lawns seemed to gradually blend into the surrounding wood. To complete the picture, an Afghan hound reclined arrogantly on the lawn.

I stopped the car on the opposite side of the road and in a somewhat dazed condition crossed over to have a closer look. Although there was very little of the old building I could recognise, at least from the outside, I gradually began to notice a tree here and a bush here in the wood that jogged memories of long past childhood games and tree climbing escapades. Apart from the dog, there did not appear to be any sign of life so I was not able to investigate further, although I would dearly loved to have done so. It was a strange feeling; one part of me felt that I had the right to jump over the wall and go into the wood as I had done so many times in my past; another part of me told me it would be trespassing to do so. Even the Afghan hound did not seem very interested or impressed by my presence so I rejoined my family and continued with our holiday.

Although we covered quite a large part of Scotland that holiday, the view and the cottage kept returning to my thoughts. They triggered off many memories of incidents long forgotten. Names of people I had not thought about for years kept coming back to me. At dinner each night, I must have bored my wife and daughter with my tales."          

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