Auntie Zee, she of the very excellent cakes, was also a bit of a dab hand at soup. I remember asking her once what one particularly good pot was and she replied “Intlt”. This, she explained, was soup that had whatever was in the pantry tipped into it. Well, I’ve recently been helping mum sort out one of her “Intlt” rooms. (I should clarify here, before I get a bat on the ear as she is sitting next to me on the sofa – feeding the dog illicit crisps – that the said rooms arose as a result of dad commencing an epic airing cupboard and loft conversion and then becoming ill, so that things never quite got finished). Anyway, there were some cracking finds tucked in amongst the enormous tea towel collection. I was reunited with Panda the panda, Dong the Poodle, Rosie the doll, who suffered an unfortunate haircut at my hands, and the big doll that I think may have simply been called Dolly but who had purple pyjamas made by mum in the same fabric as my own ones. These PJs were later occasionally worn by Mitzi the long suffering sheltie collie on her outings in my dolls pram and, as I recall, ended their days by going on fire when the high dry was too close to the fire. Clearly these items were “keepers”. The photograph album that spanned the years when Dawn, Crena and I had no front teeth between us and mum and auntie Syb both had dodgy beehives was also unearthed. Mum whistled this off pretty sharply to a secret location. The best discovery though, was a huge trunk of Papa’s clydesdale horse brasses, everything from the huge hames to the tiara things that sat on the top of their heads. It must have been quite a sight to see the horses in their finery. We had feared that these might be eaten away by mice as the trunk has lived in various locations over the years and spent a while in the cellar at one point but they were still whole and shiny and in some cases wrapped in a bit of what I think may have been Nana’s old front room tablecloth. What made me clear my throat and blink a bit was finding Papa’s tin of dubbin tucked in the corner, carefully sealed and still soft…. It must have been a real labour of love.
Many a treasure was starting to peep through in Mum’s jewel like front garden as well. I took a careful audit and pointed out everything that should really be divided up, entirely coincidentally leaving a spare half for donation to yours truly. I am nothing if not nakedly opportunistic. Returning home, bearing a vast array of jumpers that were now too small for dad with a view to upgrading my gardening wardrobe, I found a few treasures of my own to admire. Coming up the drive there is a sea of blue in the copse with chionodoxa and muscari latifolia (buy 100 get a gazillion free – they seed like billyo). Keith’s rockery is ablaze with primroses and anemone blanda and my funny little copper primula is having its day in the sun. I even have a jet necklace of toad spawn. Riches indeed.