Mrs W and I moved house this year, leaving the flat in our beloved Harlesden, north-west London, and creeping out to Hertfordshire to a place that doesn’t exist on a map, but has a sign at the end of the road that says ‘Welcome to Oxhey Hall, please drive carefully’.
It’s fair to say that the house that we bought is a fixer-upper. The lady that we bought the house from moved in straight from her honeymoon, having bought the house from its only previous owner. That was in 1959, when my mum was only three years old, which was a very long time ago.
In 1980 I suspect that something magical may have happened. It is my belief that the owners received word that the children fated to buy their home had been born, and that their fate was unavoidable. So the owners decided that they could get away with never decorating the house ever again, or cleaning it. Actually, I think our births had been prophesied for quite some time before 1980, because in several rooms they had taken their chances with this non-decorating/cleaning policy since at least 1965.
I’ve uploaded a few photos to illustrate my point.
Here’s the kitchen, painted in Dulux’s Scorched Retina range:
In a not at all good way, the 60’s drinks cabinet had survived, complete with space age wallpaper…
and here’s where it lived next to the solid brick fireplace…
which ended up vanquished by this well dressed labourer. Note the attractive dirt marks around the missing picture frames.
The house was so dangerous to anyone that wanted to, say, switch on a light or use an appliance, that it had to be completely re-wired at a cost of several thousand pounds.
Here’s what a house full of wire looks like:
Below you can see me running my finger through 53 years’ worth of spider webs, dirt and old people skin, which was so thick that I actually mistook the layer of grime and dust for a mat.
Obviously, the ceiling was damp and mould infested and so all of the plaster came off like a dream.
As so often happens, when we took the floorboards up we discovered 38 bottles of homemade wine stored in an especially constructed mini-cellar:
Apple, blackberry, elderflower, all of the great fruits associated with producing outstanding Hertfordshire wine, are represented, ranging from 1977-1990. Yes, I tried some. Not to my taste, really. I’m more of a grape man, and I prefer my wine not to gloop during the decanting process.
So, the house needs work. The garden, though, is pretty nice. Here it is in the summer, check out the lush green trees:
But when Autumn arrives, it’s time to get the rake out:
It’s a joy to have a garden, something we lived without for nearly six years. Local gangs come in to toil in the soil…
and the fruits of their labours have so far been French beans…
and salad potatoes.
Perfect with a chilled glass of the ’79 Elderflower. Cheers!