|Cartside Street, Glasgow|
Between them, my childhood homes represent quite a wide range of British housing; the first four places where I lived were flats, not houses, and they ranged in size from what would now be called a 'studio flat' (ie, a room), to a three-bedroomed house with a garden. The flats were all on different floors, and one of them was even on two floors. The gardens attached to the houses ranged from tiny to one that was so long you couldn't see the far end from the kitchen window. The oldest of them was built in 1687, and the newest dates from the 1950s. Coincidentally, this was also the last one, where we moved when I was 16, and where my mother still lives. Geographically they range from Glasgow, where I was born, proceeding all the way south to Gillingham in Kent, via Warwickshire. My Glasgow homes were in the suburbs, in Warwickshire we lived in a small village, while Gillingham is one of the Medway Towns, urban, but not a big city.
So my memories of growing up are scattered between all of these home. I can even remember the first one, where I was born, because we that was my grandparents' home, and we moved back there for a while, so my first and third homes were one and the same. I have random 'growing up' memories attached to all of them; looking out of our top-floor window in Cartside Street at the cricket field opposite (yes, cricket in Glasgow, incredible but true), the kitchen with two enormous sinks and an old-fashioned boiler when we moved back in with my grandmother. Moving to rural Warwickshire for a year was such a contrast, and that's when I 'caught' history - living in historic houses, how could I not? I wrote about this in a previous post about Moving House from Glebe House to Wootton Hall, both in the village of Wootton Wawen. We were only in our tiny flat in Glebe House for a short time, but I will never forget it. It didn't exactly have a garden, but it had a whole wood behind it where I could play. I can still smell the pine cones. Wootton Hall was a much grander house, and we had a bigger flat there, where I loved the fact that the window-ledge next to my bed was so big that I could lie on it, although it wasn't very comfortable.
I hated leaving Warwickshire after only a year, to move to Kent, but I didn't have much choice, being only 8 years old, but I grew to like it. Our first house there was only temporary, but it was a house, not a flat. It was a classic 'two-up, two-down', or if you are an estate agent trying to sell one 'artisan cottage'. Or for a followed of British TV soaps, a Coronation Street house. These houses were often built without bathrooms, and many now have had ground-floor bathrooms added on. This one wasn't quite there yet; At least we had an indoor toilet, but it led directly from the kitchen. There was a bath, too, and that was actually IN the kitchen, with a green gingham curtain on a wire that you pulled across for privacy! The next house was another British classic, the 1930's 3-bedroomed semi-detached, with pebble-dashed walls, bay windows, front and back gardens and a wrought-iron gate at he front. There were French windows leading to the back garden, which was narrow, but very, very long. About half-way up was an old chicken shed that made a great den, if you didn't mind the smell, and a walnut tree with a swing. The tree was good for climbing, and there were some fruit trees and bushes. Right at the very end was an old wartime Anderson shelter, another good den. Even a dedicated indoor type like me spent lots of time outside with a garden like that.
We moved to our next house when I was 11, and just before my brother was born. It was a nice house, one of the really well-built council houses of the late 1940s, with good-sized rooms. It even had built-in kitchen cupboards, and a convenient alcove in the hall for my brother's pram. I had a lovely big bedroom, with pretty wallpaper, which I proceeded to cover with pictures, mainly of pop stars (Mummy and Daddy's little girl was growing up!). But there was one thing I pinned up that was a centre-page pullout from the Radio Times. Remember the classic TV adaptation of the Forsyte Saga, the 1967 black-and-white version, that is? Well, my Radio Times pin-up was the illustrated Forsyte family tree. The shape of things to come?