On Saturday afternoon, Betty and I threw our sleeping bags and toothbrushes into the car and headed for the hills for the night. We were off to visit my Dad who had travelled down from London to spend a night in the cottage - a holiday cottage he has rented for 40 years, of which the lease will expire later this year.
After an hour long journey winding our way up into the mountains along narrow single track roads, we arrived. We parked up, scrambled over the gate, and trudged up the muddy field with sleeping bags under arms. We crossed over the wide stream using the wobbly stepping stones, up a muddy bank, and finally got to the cottage. We saw a wind-up radio perched in the branches of a tree blaring out some local music station, and we saw lots and lots of daffodils.
Betty called to me: 'Mummy, I am starving' which quickly snapped me out of my reminiscence. I went back downstairs and sat in the armchair opposite Betty. I looked at her sitting there for the first time, in a chair, a cottage, a valley, that has always been so unbelievably dear and special to me, a place I rarely come to these days, but spent so many happy times here as a child at weekends and during the school holidays. A place that has been ours since before I was born, but a place that will no longer be ours very soon.
My Dad then appeared in the doorway holding a broken wooden rake, and said 'Hey there you two, cup of tea?' I suggested we all went to the local pub instead, before it got dark, and I wondered if the pool table would still be there.
I desperately wanted Betty to have a taste of everything I had experienced when I was her age at this magical place.
The following morning Betty and I woke to the sound of the crackling fire and the kettle whistling, and my dad clanking around downstairs. We toasted bread on the fire for breakfast, played in the treehouse, raked the grass, explored the stream, and I took lots and lots of photos of every little thing: the food cupboard with its wire mesh front, the ancient calor gas cooker, the wooden cabinet holding glasses, mugs, tins of baked beans and toilet rolls, the oil lamps (one in particular with its big white berry-like shade), the table with lawn mower underneath, everything. And when it was time to leave, I walked back across the stream, and down the muddy field, with Betty in one hand, and the Ladybird book about the penguins in the other.