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Monday 4 May 2020

Solid Wood Floors and Cast Iron Gates - A Look Back

Finding myself stuck within the four walls of my home for the last few months, I've been thinking about what really makes a house a home? What will my children remember the most about their time here? 
My dreams have been filled with images and memories of my own childhood home. The solid wood floor, and the feel of its grain beneath your feet. The cast iron gates I'd open for school each morning - and the way I tested my own strength by my ability to push them open with one or two hands. 

Chestnut Lodge, Boughton Pumping station with green iron gates
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So many of my memories were focused around the more natural resources around the house. The rough feel of the red brick, turned green by moss on the outside. The musty smell of the cellar with its concrete steps and the way we used to 'polish' the hardwood floor in the boardroom by spraying our socks with a can of Pledge and skating around the room to 'don't you want me baby?' by The Human League...

Solid Wood Floors and Cast Iron Gates - A Look Back

There was only one room with a carpet in our house, and that was my parent's bedroom. All of the other rooms had solid wood flooring - the kind that made your singing voice reverberate and echo around an empty room, making you sound infinitely better than you actually did, switching your future career plans from Teacher to Pop Star with the drop of a mic. 

I used to lie across wooden floorboards in my own room, graphics coursework spread out in A3 sheets, watching the wood grains show through onto the paper as I sketched and shaded with colouring pencils. Silent wooden imprints of a floor... a house... a home that became part of our family. Tiny grains, knots and patterns which would become familiar faces and patterns within a family home.

Solid wood flooring

What is it about a solid wood floor that brings back so many memories?

A hardwood floor brings that sense of cosiness into a home. It's warmth, it's permanence...the way it ages with you and the wear that it forms is a reflection of your family and your activity. The stiletto heel markings from my aunt in the early 1990s, to the essay writing imprints from the worn out biro during my teenage years. Wood is a natural material that has a history and your are adding your own story to it as the years go by.

From the memory of old school assemblies, sat on the vast cold parquet wood assembly hall floor, hands on knees with a numb bum, trying to stop the yawns....to the rolling around as a child in the lounge... The smell of the resin, the feel of the grain under your fingertips or the smooth varnished surface, perfect for hotwheels races and knee slides.

the boardroom at Chestnut Lodge with wood panel walls and solid wood floorbeing sanded by hand
My brother and sister sanding the solid wood floor by hand
The magic footprints from where you'd run out of the bath wrapped up warm in a towel...and then you'd watch as they dried and disappeared. Early mark making at its finest!

I think its because each one is unique-  it belongs to it's home, to its family. It lived and breathed for many years before us, when it grew from seed to tree... and it lives and lasts for many years after we've gone, with the right care and maintenance. 


Of course, its not just the wooden floor that holds memories - although it does 'root' you to the ground during your waking hours, which means a lot of memories happened there. I remember the original stained glass windows, and the way the light would bounce around the landing when the sun caught it in just the right way. The wooden staircase with its bannister and newel posts with their spherical wooden caps which looked like wooden guards men at every turn. How I scratched a face into the spheres with my fingernails and called it my 'friend'. I'd swing and dance around it with every up and down of the staircase. 

I wish my own children had been given the chance to press their own tiny toes into the same solid wood floorboards...to skate around the board room from one wood paneled wall to another, or run their racing cards along the imaginary wood grain tracks. I wish I had more photos to show them of place I grew up...although I am hoping that now we are making enough memories that they will have something to look back on and remember when they are all grown up too.

Sarah x

Chestnut Lodge, Boughton Pumping Station
The day we said goodbye

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