One of my favourite memories from my childhood was the regular trips our family took up the Blue Mountains to my Nana’s house. Their house was set in the middle of a double block.
The street at the back had a canopy of trees over it: autumn was stunning. We would enter from the back lane, down a path lined with daffodils, jonquils, bluebells, lavender and covered by pretty rose archways, to the white, weatherboard house, surrounded by colourful hydrangeas. The huge garden was divided into several smaller ones, with benches, bird baths, a huge, shady Liquid Amber tree, and numerous magical spots that I imagined housed countless garden fairies. As a child, every trip around that garden was an adventure.
I loved the spare room in Nana’s home. Twin beds covered in matching pastel florals, a bay window draped with white lace curtains, a white table with collections of knitting needles, wool, haberdashery and ornaments, all beautifully arranged.
I loved the misty 1930’s portraits of Nana and Papa on the wall, recalling the story of their blossoming love. She was just a little girl when he first saw her: he knew, even then, that she was the girl for him. I was fascinated that they had travelled around the world together. The sophistication and enormity of that concept went far beyond my imagination.
I loved hovering around their carpeted kitchen, full of brightly coloured coffee cups and all kinds of ceramic treasures, waiting for Nana’s famous marshmallow matchsticks (choc-dipped delights!) to be shared around our crowd of siblings, cousins and loving grown-ups.
The living room was full of their journeys: an ivory ball inside another, inside another, all intricately carved – the mystery of a handcraft from a far-away world. Original paintings from local artists, many of which were simply of blossoms in a vase. The toy dog that looked, in my opinion, just like a real dog, sitting on the hearth in front of the wall heater. He did so love to be lain on, stroked and cuddled…
So many impressions live in my mind from every corner of that little cottage and its surrounds.
Even the feeling as we left their home, late on a Sunday night, sleepy, my tummy full of delicious treats, wrapped up in one of Nana’s crocheted blankets that she freely handed out to keep us warm as we dozed on the long trip home…
I think what I really loved about Nana was her style. She was very clever, but she also simply loved colour, flowers and using her hands to make and to bless. She had a talent for making, and a gift for making things beautiful, and she seemed to do it so effortlessly. She had a gift for hospitality that I took for granted, but completely aspire to. Looking back, I know that being with my Nana and visiting her home, surrounded by her style and creativity, were very formative for me as a maker. Of course, at the time I was unaware, but looking back, I know that she’s part of the tapestry. My feelings in her home, surrounded by evidence of her cleverness; how inspired I felt each time we drove away: these memories convince me that she helped plant the seeds of creativity in me. I wish she could see them blossoming today.
Standing in my grandparents’ garden wearing one of Nana’s creations.
She made one for each of us four-in-a-row sisters.
A collection of my family members all cozy on a winter’s Sunday at my grandparents. Papa and Nana are in the back left of the photo and I’m down in the right corner, clearly delighted by the visit, not to mention the opportunity to sit in a room surrounded by this divine wallpaper!