Sunday, 15 February 2015

The house which became a garage

It's incredibly misty in Northern Essex tonight. Waves of fog are dancing in our headlights. Tori Amos is playing on the car stereo. This is like a scene from my sixth form years.

We've been in Thaxted with the parents all day, sitting in front of an open fire, drinking tea and eating a lasagne made out of Beanfeast. I hadn't eaten Beanfeast for years. It was an absolute staple of my student diet, but I haven't been able to find any of late. It's bloody delicious, and not just in a nostalgic way!

We donned wellies and walked to a little spot just outside the town, which always feels like it has rather a powerful mystical energy. It's at the bottom of a little hill, in the corner of a field, where the trees sussurate conspiratorially and the air is sweet with the smell of wood smoke. My mother has talked about the place for years, and the atmosphere there is somehow different; heavier, perhaps, but not in a sad way. More protecting, perhaps...

Curiously, I learned today that the spot was actually the site of an ancient chapel, so it's rather remarkable that my Mum has so often talked about its vibe. She's always been a bit fey, my Mum... I used to tell people she was a white witch.

We appeared at the spot just as the setting winter sun dropped below a cloud, and suddenly the tops of the trees looked like they were on fire.

Whilst out and about we met a Thaxtedonian who has recently suffered the indignity of a car careering off the road and smashing into her front room. Seriously. A beautiful timber-framed house and everything. The photos were so impressive that they made the local newspapers. It looked like she'd had a garage fitted on the ground floor of her property because the car had smashed through a window and driven all the way in!

The owner of the house had literally just left the room. She was in her kitchen and then suddenly all the timbers of the house were crashing down around her. She described being knocked to the ground purely by the strength of the shock wave. It sounds utterly terrifying. She's lived in the house all her life but has moved out and says she'll never be brave enough to move back in. That's got to be something of a game changer hasn't it? You'd never be able to relax in front of the telly again.

The journeys to and from Thaxted were terrible. London just doesn't work anymore, particularly on a Sunday when they do all the road works. I'm writing this blog at 22.40, stuck in a traffic jam on the North Circular. That's right. A traffic jam at nearly midnight on Sunday night. Welcome to London!

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