“Ah! There’s nothing like staying home for real comfort” ~Jane Austen.
Once in a while, memories of my first childhood home re-emerge, usually brought about by a mention of the area I once live in, and every time it happens I am left with a feeling of melancholy.
The reminder this time was due to my stumbling upon a blog, discontinued in 2006, written by a lady living in Woodford in the Blue Mountains. In her blog she had spoken of her love for anything vintage ~ clothing, jewellery, books, recipes…actually, this woman and I have a lot in common.
My own early childhood home in the Blue Mountains was in the little township of Valley Heights. Today, the population of Valley Heights is estimated at 1,336, so you can imagine how tiny the town would have been back when I was a child!
Way back in the early days, in 1813, when Australia was still learning to walk, three explorers, Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth, managed to find their way through the rugged, mountainous bushland of the Blue Mountains, opening New South Wales out to the western plains area.
Although the progression of time has brought about many changes, both to my old home and the area, my memory still holds images of the three bedroom house, mostly built by my father; the home where the true meaning of the words comfort and security originated in my existence, and still live today.
Recollections of red velvet curtains, a wood grain wall, a kerosene heater and grey carpet in the lounge room. Linoleum floors throughout the rest of the house, including my bedroom, with scatter rugs here and there.
My bedroom was painted pink, with my second hand furniture repainted in light blue. A low, built in cupboard ran along one wall, purpose built by my brother-in-law to hold my doll collection. At one count, I had collected around forty-something dolls.
The house was humble, to say the least, but in my mind I lived in a beautiful mansion, surrounded by lush gardens; a tall weeping willow tree down the back, not far from the swing my father had built for me and where I would spend hours of my time.
Out the back, we grew hydrangeas and fuchsias, which to this day still remain two of my favourite flowers, and we had mint growing and a passionfruit vine. Our garden backed onto a gully full of various species of gum trees and bottlebrush, but my favourite find in the bush was always the uniquely shaped branches of a plant we called “mountain devils”. I could walk with ease alone down the gully, to a point where there sat a huge bush rock. The rock was my limit, without my father’s help.
In the front garden my sister had planted poppies, roses, gardenias, violets and daphnes, along with as many other flowering plants as she could lay her hands on. She was married the day before my seventh birthday, but still spent time in the garden when she can home to visit us.
Nothing gave me more delight than walking to the end of our street with an empty bowl, returning home to my mother with the bowl full of wild growing blackberries, which she would turn into a pie. Wild flowers grew everywhere in the area as well, in the empty lots of land and along the sides of the roads.
Those were the days when we bought our milk, bread and vegetables from the back of one of the many vans, which travelled around the streets selling their produce. We lived on a gravel road and walked everywhere we needed to go. If the walk was too long, we took a bus.
Life was oh so simple back then. And the air was fresh and cool, not surprisingly, with an altitude of 375 meters (1,230 feet) above sea level. Winters were cold and summer days were rarely unbearably hot. It doesn’t snow at Valley Heights, although we would regularly visit the snow, when it made its appearance during the winter months, by travelling just a few kilometres further into the mountains.
When melancholy sets in, it is brought about not by the memories of a time long gone, but rather from knowing that my family prefers to live in a warmer climate, beside the sea.
I wonder if the blogger from Woodford still lives in the Blue Mountains, enjoying her vintage finds in the many antique stores and craft shops there? As far as I know, the cottage industry is still alive and well in the mountains and I feel certain that the antique stores and art galleries have multiplied, since my last visit there.
The melancholy will pass, I promise, and I will bounce back tomorrow, my usual chirpy self. 🙂
What about you ~ do you have a special location, held near and dear to you in your heart of hearts?