The kitchen is usually the hub of any household. This one, tiny and haphazard, with my grandmother at the helm, was no exception. It was the heart of her home for many reasons. Here was a place where she concocted experimental health food recipes, boiled up potato peel for her chickens, made jams and bottled fruit. It's where the division of labour involved my grandfather lighting the range and making the tea. Aside from these duties, it was a room he drifted through, en route to where they both sat to eat, watch television and play Scrabble.
At night, two sets of dentures resided in a bowl of water, frothed with Steradent tablets.
Lighting the range at around 05.00 was a ritual. As the bright burning wood generated enough heat to cook, an ancient electric kettle was used to make tea. A cupful was conveyed upstairs to the bedroom, and grandmother sipped it while porridge was stirred to the correct consistency.
Hot, kettled water was used for washing in the kitchen sink, before the addition of a proper bathroom.
The air was always heavy with the aroma of woodsmoke, Fairy household soap and baking.
On wet days, I'd play word games with my grandmother or, spend time investigating the inner workings of an old clock. I might even make iron filings dance on newspaper, by running a small magnet underneath.
I recall, one frosty morning when my great uncle dropped in. He sat himself on the kitchen chair, removed his boots and proceeded to warm his feet in front of the open oven door!
Phyll, the woman who delivered the daily papers - more about her in a future post - tied my school tie here, once. She'd claimed to be an expert and grandmother was getting more exasperated with her own failed efforts. Some expert! Phyll tied my tie in a bundle of knots that took almost the entire length of my school bus journey to unravel.
Whenever I look at this slightly out-of-focus photograph, so many memories come flooding back. Tucking into baked rashers, cabbage and potatoes, followed by a hot milk pudding. Steaming cups of cocoa just before bedtime. A friendly face and a warm welcome on every visit, regardless.
Most poignant of all, the day we called to discover grandmother on the floor, following a tumble. Grandfather - nearly 90 at the time - too frail to help her to her feet. Not much damage done on that occasion but, a significant turning point in the lives of this fiercely independent couple.
I must have taken this photograph in the mid-seventies yet, that kettle still looks as though it might be ready and willing to make us all a cuppa.