Thursday, 22 October 2009

Thursday, 22 October 2009
A place to go
When I was a little girl, I often used to pack a small rucksack with rug, book and apples, and carefully climb halfway up an old oak tree close to our house. I'd swing myself across onto a high wall running close to the house, and jump down onto the small section of flat roof above the utility room. It was flanked on each side by steep sloping roofs and there, in complete seclusion, I'd curl up on my rug, read my book, munch my apples and dream the summer afternoons away. Occasionally listening with some satisfaction to adults shouting my name in exasperated tones. Luckily my family were the type to shrug their shoulders when a child was missing for a few hours, rather than alert the authorities. And when I emerged, dozy eyed and flushed with sun, the answer 'nowhere really' always seemed to satisfy questions on my whereabouts.
In the winter, I scaled a high bookshelf in a little used end room in our rambly old Elizabethan house, prising open the 'secret' doors, which looked as if they were part of the panelling, and slid into the ancient hayloft, now dark and musty with years of dirt and cobwebs. But I didn't mind. A torch, a blanket and some cushions created a nest that endlessly beckoned me, and a haven that soothed, when my childhood world became uncertain and full of anxiety.
Everyone needs a place to go. A comfy windowseat with a view, a bed made plump and inviting with cushions and throws, or a well arranged study with a solid wooden door that firmly rejects the world beyond.
The other day I spent a couple of nights staying with friends, in their new spare room. A shepherds hut. Based on the traditional shepherds huts used for centuries in rural England, it is beautifully made, and about the size of a small caravan, on wheels. Its clean lines show off diligent craftsmanship, and create a cosy, light and draught free space, for spare room, study or children's den. A delight to be in, and, teamed with white cotton bedlinen, a recipe for the kind of sleep one usually says farewell to around the age of nine. The kind babies enjoy.
As I left, the son of the family confided that my room was actually his special place. I could see why he was so pleased to get it back.

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