It was a mysterious place. Either in the dark or the light. Full of old staircases that went who knew where. Corridors that went on for ever leading to strange places. Bedroom doors that were never opened. What WAS behind those doors? Nooks and crannies that were never explored, but that seemed to hold all sorts of things.
There was no electricity there. In fact there had not even been running water for most of the years in which I went to stay there. Water came from a pump outside the ancient farmhouse.
The night time, however, was the most mysterious. As night fell, the rituals began. Lighting the paraffin lamps, and hanging them up from the ceiling in the huge kitchen. Getting the candles ready to light, to go to bed by. Boiling the kettles on the open fire for the hot water bottles. All the time, listening to “The News” on the wireless. The wireless never worked quite right. It was always crackling, and fading out so my grandfather was constantly attending to it whilst trying to eat his supper.
The last ritual of all was going right through the farmhouse to the wash house door, then out and round the corner to the outside wooden toilet. That was an experience in itself. You didn’t want to be sat there too long, but it was a very necessary trip. It involved going down a long dark corridor, candle in hand, past an old wooden staircase that no one ever went up, for it was blocked with what looked like thousands of ancient books. Oh how I wanted to get my hands on those books, but never managed to. It was creepy, in the dark, but in a kind of enticing way. Eventually you reached a door that led into the wash house, complete with boiler in the corner, a mangle, and a tin bath. Then, the outside world. The whole place was surrounded by trees that made eerie noises in the dark. But, it was a wonderful place for a child.
Then came the news,
“We’ve got electricity.”
My grandfather had had electricity put in, and it was the greatest event ever. Such excitement.
The next time I went to the farm, everything had changed. With the putting down of a SWITCH all that mystery and wonder had disappeared. It was not a happy day for me.