Monday, March 31, 2008
In The Tube
While wandering near Calne the other day I visited the site of the first house that I could ever remember living in. A little corner of the Bowood Estate Where my parents lived in the early sixties. Down a farm track, across a field and hidden in trees in the rich farmland below the downs. I have probably told you about it before.
The thing is though there wasn’t a single brick left on top of another.
In fact less than that there was very little I could recognise at all apart from the horizons corrugations. The site of the old cottage has been bulldozed some time in the last forty years or so and now all that remains is some rubble that may or may not have once belonged on a bank next to a large beef and dairy unit.
I was kind of expecting this as my sister had let me know that there wasn’t much to see but you know how curiosity drives us back sometimes. After poking around round the back of the slurry lagoon I eventually found an old crushed enamel sink and some bits of tile that may have been dumped there but could possibly have come from the house, who knows.
Then as I turned my back on it all and fond farewelled what I probably shouldn’t have gone to look for I saw something that flicked the switch of childhood memory and raced me all the way back to the winters that we used to have. I think it was probably nineteen sixty three. After looking it up now I think it was probably the February so I would have been three and a half years old.
After a considerable blizzard that heaped snow on top of an already frozen ground my mother had taken my sister and I out into a fierce blue sky and winter sunshine, wrapped in gear designed for the Michelin man. Boots and layers of stuffed romper suits to protect us against the chill, we explored our new and unfamiliar landscape. With the winter we are currently in it seems hard to imagine but, back then, we had had several feet of snow which in places had blown in to drifts that were four or five metres tall.
One large drift had formed against a hedge bordering a field just beyond the boundary of the house. This had then blown over in what I believe is known as a cornice, a wind sculpted breaking wave of snow that fell upon the far side of the hedge after it had crossed a parallel leat (wide ditch). To the external appearance there was a huge mound running along the field where hedge and ditch used to be.
Against my mothers uncertain protestation we scaled the mound but soon found that it was truly hollow. Just a light jump on top and we broke through in to an illuminated crystal cavern, one of those rooms that you suddenly noticed in a dream. I can only have spent a few minutes in there really but the sense of childhood wonder still remains. Stretching long into the distance our own private ice cavern with its floor of rock frozen stream. My mother peering anxiously in to the holes from above. It was a ‘rosebud’ moment.
Years later my picture of the location was so clear that I recognised it in an instant.