After hearing the news that my grandparents are selling their house of 40 years to move to a retirement community, it has got me thinking about all the precious memories you create at a grandparents house.
My grandparents moved into this home in New Eltham, London in the late 1970s.
Whenever my sister and I arrived for a visit, we would ring the doorbell and then hide around the corner.
Many days, I would help my Grandad with his gardening in the front – I would pick the weeds out of the cracks in the concrete, while he tended to his flowerpots.
Once you are inside the porch, the inside door is a really heavy frosted glass door. The top latch was always really stiff and when I was small, I would go on my tip toes and try so hard to unlock it. My grandparents recently updated the hallway (seen below), although the photos on the wall remain the same. There was originally a pale carpet and a white shelf above the radiator. Little trinkets and my grandad’s car keys always sat on this shelf. On the opposite wall, there was a big plant and a small brown table that had the phone on it.
The living room has always been small and cosy. I have spent many evenings of my life curled up on the sofa next to my Nana watching TV with a cup of hot chocolate and a fancy biscuit (cookie) from Marks & Spencers.
Long before they got the comfy leather sofas, they had these patchwork type sofas that were a little scratchy. Below is Grandad and me when I was about 2 or 3 (1991/1992) on those sofas.
Some of my most treasured memories in this living room happened once I was an adult. On Christmas Day 2011, my husband and I traveled down to London to share some special Christmas news. Grandad was sitting in his chair when we told them we were adding to the family tree and expecting a baby!
The photo below will always be so special to me. It was taken September 2012. We bought our son Ryan – then 2 months old – down to London to see their house for the first time. As you can tell, Grandad and Ryan absolutely adored each other.
A few months later, around February 2013, we again returned down to London. I had some business to take care of in the city, so Nana and Grandad babysat Ryan at their house. I’m not sure who had more fun!
The Kitchen – The heart of a home
The saying goes that the kitchen is the heart of the home. This is definitely the case at this house. Even though I haven’t been to the house since I moved to the U.S five years ago, I still know where everything is in this kitchen!
The smell of strong coffee and roast dinners is something I will always associate with this kitchen. My Nana is a fantastic cook – her roast dinners are the best! However, her best recipe (one that I have tried to imitate myself many times……never comes close!) is her blackberry crumble. The blackberries come fresh from her garden. Paired with warm custard, it is the ultimate in comfort food.
In the front cupboard, there is always an endless supply of tasty biscuits and I always used to have my Ribena in a (very 90s) Disney plastic cup with a mini snowstorm in it. The everyday cutlery is kept in the second drawer on the right – we used this when we stayed for a while. If we were just visiting for the day, Nana would break out the fancy cutlery from the cabinet that was in the dining room.
Before they replaced the ceiling and put spotlights in, the ceiling used look like a checkerboard of lights. There was always one light that glowed more fluorescent than the others. My Aunt & I spent many an afternoon washing up the dishes by hand – she would wash, I would dry (she has some weird disgust with tea towels). Below, here I am again drying dishes! This was taken Christmas Day 2011.
Despite the small size, we spent a lot of time in the dining room. The double doors lead out to the garden so many days were spent going in and out. Every meal is eaten in this room. There used to be a bigger dark wood table with an extension. It was always a tight squeeze when we had to open the extension. My Aunt and I were usually the ones who had to sit by the radiator.
Before there was that small comfy chair in the corner, there used to be a rocking chair. I would spend hours sitting in and reading my books. The cabinet to the left of the white built in hasn’t changed in 20 years. It is full of my Grandad’s WW2 and military books.
The built in white cupboards always stuck and had a particular smell. I used to enjoy opening and closing them as a baby. Below I am about 18 months old playing with some of the fancy cutlery. You can vaguely make out the legs of the rocking chair in the background.
Although it is small, many hours of fun were had in this garden. The entire row by the wall is made up of rose bushes and blackberry bushes. My sister & I would spend mornings helping Grandad pick blackberries. My Nana would then use these fresh blackberries to make the blackberry crumble. The bushes can be seen bloomed behind my Aunt and Grandad (pictured in 1996).
By the patio doors was a stone patio, sheltered by big trees. It was always a nice shaded place to sit in summer. We could always find my Grandad sitting in his garden chair fast asleep – just as he is seen below with my little sister in 1996.
One of our favorite games to play as kids was to balance on the brick circle. My Nana was always worried we would fall and hurt ourselves….but we did it anyway.
The house was built in the 1930s and has stood the test of time well – I loved looking at the brickwork in the back of the house.
The little back bedroom
This room in the back of the house was where I always slept. It overlooks the back garden and the side street. I always slept so well in that bed, and I would fall asleep counting the flowers on the wallpaper.
On the window sill was a musical box made of porcelain and it played Fur Elise by Beethoven. Whenever I hear that song now, it always takes me back to this little room. There was also a large desk that was in the corner, and I loved spending my evenings writing my diary on it.
Although this bedroom belongs to both of them, I always called this ‘Nana’s Room’. Every morning when we woke up, we would go downstairs to help Grandad get Nana’s lemon drink ready (lemon juice in warm water) and then bring it to her in bed.
I loved sitting at her dressing table and seeing all her jewelry. I would sit here while she dried my hair and admired myself in the mirrors. Her closet was bursting full of pretty clothes and shoes. I would try and walk in her high heels, until my feet grew bigger than hers!
Although they will not be living in this home much longer, the memories we created there together will forever live on in my heart. This little corner house in London will always be my second home.