A Goodbye to Childhood

It has been a bit quiet here, as a large part of the last two weeks has been based around the practical and paperwork aspects of selling my childhood home.

It has been an odd exercise, both a move towards some kind of closure on this chapter, which is rather cathartic, but at the same time deeply upsetting. For me, the bungalow in Pelton, County Durham, was the home for my entire childhood and for my parents the home for most of their lives, and pretty much all their married life. That is a lot of family history wrapped up in some bricks and mortar (and a very 1970s orange carpet). It has been a long drawn out process as we tried (and continue to try, so be warned) to rehome anything of use whether through charity channels or passing onto friends, while gradually removing the rubbish that had accumulated over the years. I found that in terms of possessions in the house they could broadly be split into three groups. First there was the ‘must keeps’ the things which either had value and were well liked or just had a close connection to my parents for me. At the other end of the spectrum was the broken pieces of tatt and stained blankets that should have been disposed of long ago – again, where possible, to those who could use them. These were easy enough. Then there is the weird third category, the ‘not yet’ class. These included the last things to be packed up and tessellated into the (luckily spacious) back of our unremarkable, but in the end very useful, German work horse of a car. Quite a few ornaments just made it in before the door was locked for the last time and the keys posted back through the door. I’m looking at you, sleeping mole garden ornament – yes, and you pair of vases with large pine  cones in the top, a Heath Robinson ornamentation that was adorning the bungalow windowsill and now have made it two hundred and fifty miles to our own windowsill. This is a definite case of sentiment over sense and our home in St Albans is in quite as state as a result. I know also that of everything that has/is going into storage that when eventually it gets unpacked, in some future house, there will be plenty that will be treated with disbelief and the ‘why did I keep that?’ kind of reaction as they are fast tracked to the nearest charity shop.

But a lot of this is about emotion, and we should not hide it. I could not help be sad as we walked in and around the house, and up the path at the side to the pub we have come to be very fond of; or walking past the church I went to as a child, the current congregation of which have been very welcoming though everything, and thinking ‘am I ever coming back here again?’

In the case of the house, well, no. I have shed those tears and blessed it and handed it over to the new owners. Its part in my life has ended. The other thing, perhaps not. We are going back in June to see the book of remembrance at the crematorium and we’ll probably take the chance to drop in on a few old haunts for old times sake, and we may well go up once or twice a year as I still love the North East (and continuing developments at the wonderful Beamish North of England Open Air Museum – I urge people to go if you are ever nearby) will keep us interested, as will the remaining lovely family members that are still based there. But as far as 18 Heathmeads, Pelton is concerned it is a final goodbye, and a heartfelt thank you.

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