Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The House my Grandpa Built

This evening I took Cherub to meet my Dad at the house my Grandfather built.  Tomorrow it will belong to a new family. Today was the last chance to see it, to walk through it again, and to remember the old days.


My grandfather was a carpenter, and this house is full of the most wonderful cupboards. I dream of good cupboards.  Rental houses tend not to have helpful storage solutions.

As kids we were fascinated by this revolving kitchen cupboard.  If you were small enough, you could go right the way round. I wouldn't let Cherub try it tonight though. 


Dad says these ones in the main bedroom, shown below, were french polished. To be honest I'm not quite sure what that involves, but it sounds posh, doesn't it?  They're a bit knocked about now in places, but still lovely and glossy.


This is my Dad in his old bedroom, with the cunning little drop desk.  The bedroom seems tiny to me, hard to imagine two boys sharing it comfortably, but then it does have wonderful cupboards.  There would have been a place for everything.


Imagine building your house, your whole house.  If I wear a dress I've sewn, I feel quite proud.  But just think how you must feel, looking at a house, with clever revolving kitchen cupboards and dropleaf desks and drawers on bedheads, and a garage and a garden shed, and knowing that you'd made that. Wow.


One of the discussions we had at our last Craft Camp was about the nature of making.  I think it was Janet who said that, statistically, people who make come from people who make.  My Mum has always made things, for as long as I can remember.  Wonderful, quite adventurous cooking for the day (curries from scratch! ginger beer!), gorgeous colourful crochet, the best jam you've ever eaten, beautiful handpainted silk scarves, t-shirts, painted t-shirts, sculptures, drawings.  My Dad didn't do the regular cooking, but every so often he'd do a speciality, like baklava.  And he has always been keen to potter in the shed, preferably with power tools.  And my grandfather built a house! Thinking about all that makes me feel happy and part of something.  The satisfaction that I feel as I attempt hot cross buns from scratch, or make clothes for me and my family, or even, like a madwoman, take on the costuming again for Cherub's forthcoming school concert, is a gift that has been handed to me from my family. That's really special.


Both my boys are makers too.  I hope they always are. Especially if the Climber can knock up more delicious dinners for us, like he did tonight: Lamb Cutlets with yoghurt on couscous, from the Year 7 Food Tech textbook!  Mm-mmm.



  1. Wow, how wonderful - what a shame that the house has to go out of the family. I do hope the new owners appreciate it.

    And good for Climber!

  2. Wow. So lovely to have a goodbye tour, to take in those details. The cupboards look a lot like the ones in my grandma's house. There was one long room with cupboards like those, that slept SIX kids. Two bunkbeds and two twin beds just fit. I should ask her who built them, I don't think it was my grandad but it might have been.

  3. Having a lack of cupboards isn't restricted to rentals, sadly my little 1964 house also lacks great storage. I am like you, I covet cupboards.

    About 5 minutes away from where I live, there is a little cottage on the corner of a busy road that until a few years ago, was falling down and looked very sad and unloved. It was the house built for my great grandmother by her brothers when her husband died at a young age, leaving her with 5 children. Until a few years ago, my father's cousin still lived in the house, he was somewhat of a hermit. It then went on the market and I went to one of the open days and was broken hearted to see the condition it was in, both inside and out. He had let it go, holes in the floorboards, wood rotting, you name it. It was under heritage order, so it wasn't allowed to be torn down.

    Someone purchased it, and has done it up to it's former glory. It is wonderful to drive past there, and I have even written a letter to the owners expressing my appreciation, sadly I have never posted it to them, don't know why, maybe embarrassment, risk of looking like a dag. Dunno.

    My mum always knitted our school jumpers and made our school dresses. Money was tight for her and uniforms expensive. And I love making stuff too. I can knit, crochet, do other crafty stuff and my latest thing is making quilts. So yes, I think it passes down.

    It's so good to see Climber getting involved like that,it will serve him well when he is older and *gasp* moving out of home.

    1. You should post it Aunty E. I bet they'd be delighted, it's always nice to be appreciated.

  4. Thank you so much for the tour. How wonderful.

  5. Believe it or not, Rob and I are the first generation in our family to NOT build our house with our two hands! My dad and grandfather built the house I grew up in. It had wonderful built-in bookcases in the den and bedrooms. I still miss it. Rob's parents also built the house he grew up in. His mother kept moving the strings when they were laying out the foundation so they ended up with a cavernous den that had beautiful exposed beams and all the way up to the A-frame. He still misses it.

  6. I looked at the photos first and my first thought was how fabulous the cupboards were. Then read your grandfather was a carpenter and thought 'of course'. I'm not at all from a family of makers, but perhaps I'll be the start and pass it along to my children.


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