I grew up in a time where people sometimes still had a room for ‘best’. One room that was lovely, but not used all that often was my Grandparents sitting room, partly because when it was just the two of them, there was no point lighting the fire when the range kept the kitchen warm. The sitting room had a wonderful brick fireplace, bookshelves floor to ceiling filled with books, a wall of shelves with nick-nacks and mementos, and a large bay window with a deep window sill that was covered with plants (and spiders).
At Christmas we’d all pile into the room, Grandad would have lit the fire in the late afternoon, so by the evening the room was toasty warm. I can remember the smell of the wool carpet getting slightly scorched as we sat round the fire. Occasionally logs would pop and send a spark out onto the carpet, little whiffs of smoke would rise as the hot spot slightly singed the pile. We’d also used to roast chestnuts on the fender, waiting for their little explosion to say when they were cooked through, then juggling them in our hands to avoid burning ourselves.
While the house I grew up was being renovated, my parents, brother and I all moved in with Granny and Grandad. My brother and I would sprawl on the carpet playing endless games, we’d run cars over the carpet town map he had, build Lego homes and argue over Monopoly & Cluedo (next week’s Sentimental Saturday). The sitting room was also where he ruined my best ever toy, a tree house with a family that lived in it, he got the Dad of the family stuck in the lift in the tree-trunk. I’m almost sure I’ll never forgive him for it (poor thing) and to this day, I still look in charity shops for the same tree house, although finding one in Australia is highly unlikely! This post also links back to last week’s ‘Sentimental Saturday’, as this is where Grandad’s barometer was hung. My parents have some of the pictures from this room hanging in their house. My brother has the big fish eye mirror that used to hang beside the door to the sitting room. I have this:
This cushion was on the couch in front of the window. It’s still got the original stuffing, little cubes of foam. I could replace the stuffing with a cushion pad, but I don’t want to. On cold winter nights, I cuddle the cushion to me, the fringe tickling my nose as the cubes mould round my body and arms. I remember happy winters in a warm cozy room. At Christmas Granny would lay out home-made Turkish Delight, figs, dates and nuts. Grandad and Dad would crack hazelnuts open for me as fast as they could, but it wasn’t fast enough. I still eat dates and figs now, buying a wheel of pressed figs at Christmas, as Granny did. Dad and I both love dates and would polish off a tray in an evening, although we would try to restrain ourselves. While eating dates we would also have to fend off my cat Sooty as she liked them too. When we lived there, she’d sit off to the side of the fire, roasting her fur and stretching luxuriously.