Thursday, 4 November 2010

From Treasures to Trash.

Finally got as moment to try and understand our new computer, so I can look back on last week  with more reasoning.

It really was dawn till midnight work to sort and clear the house. Day after day. When one job or stage was done, we turned immediately to the next. Boxes and plastic bags everywhere. Endless decisions about what to DO with stuff.

I arrived to find a functioning home - minus a few security-risky collectibles that had been taken for safekeeping at someone's home - and 10 days later left empty rooms, bits of trash on windowsills and a broken up home.
Living room - before.

My dad and Jane started renting this house in 1972, it was a wreck and they paid for all the renovations and repairs and modernizations in return for a reduced rent. I spent all my childhood holidays there, and since the death of my mother 15 odd years ago - it was also my base in England.

Dining room - a packing case
But now its contents are all off in different directions: the more valuable to family members and antique auctions. The rest to furniture auctions, car-boot sales and charity shops ...and finally a shocking amount of stuff to the town rubbish tip. Hundreds of books, thousands of photos in prints and slide form, papers galore, old bed linen (dog charity) and what seemed to be every stately home and church guide book printed in the past 38 years.
Living room - after.

Trucks and trailers arrived to cart things away. There were moments of happiness as we found sweet memories, or tears as we found poignant memories. Mystery as to how and why Jane had ordered yet more bottles of the sweet wine nobody liked - because cases of it arrived 3 weeks after her death.

Living overseas I was able to control the urge to save every single thing that had a nice memory - although I have come back to Japan with an old plastic chopping board decorated with dog pictures...and the cracked flower vase from the hallway. Oh - and the totally unplanned small chest of drawers that my Dad kept his socks and old coins in.
The mountain of stuff for the town recycling center.
Stuff to Japan...
And finally. At the end of the week I stayed with friends in the village because there was no bed or sofa or curtains. And I came back at dawn the next two mornings to finish as much as I could.
I wondered:
WHY anybody gives THINGS as presents. We should all give food or experiences. Not things that will sit on a shelf.
WHY do we all save stuff we haven't used for years and will never use again: 7??? electric blankets, 15 large coffee table books about gardening, 5 French Hens, 2 Turtle Doves...
WHY did I conveniently forget the boxes of MY stuff from my pre-Japan life 17 years ago that was sitting out in the barn. Cos I had to unpack it, look at it, and repack it this week!

So. Goodbye to the house and garden. Every corner a memory. The keys will go back to the owners who are maybe planning to put their gamekeeper and his wife there (I hope they like gardening) and in years to come I will have to knock on the door and ask permission to go and visit.

It looked beautiful on the last afternoon. Dad and Jane were very happy there and now I'll have pictures to look back on. Somehow my dirty cement block home in Sapporo doesn't have the same magic.
Goodbye Westwood. Goodbye Dad and Jane.


  1. What a beautiful garden and home. It looks like a nice resting place for your Dad and Jane. I hope whoever moves in next keeps the garden as it is and you might be able to go back to the tree in later years.

  2. Thankyou IS beautiful and I am happy that they are there and not in a graveyard. My students are very worried that I have no grave to go and visit, but I really don't need that...I feel people live in in things that they used and places they loved...Dad and Jane loved ice skating shows and magic shows on TV and now everytime I watch one of those I will "connect" with them again, every time I eat chocolate or creme brule, every time I laugh at some political news, or hear music from a famous musical...all MUCH better than a stone or plaque in a public place.