Thursday, March 05, 2009

Nostalgia at the Stone House

I adore watching old American movies where a scene is set in an attic of a traditional colonial or beach house. The main character has climbed the (very functional!) wooden staircase to reach the quiet and still rooms which are jammed full of interesting antiquities from previous generations. I find myself sometimes losing the thread of the story as I try to unravel what is disguised by the dust sheets, or to imagine what may be hidden inside cedar trunks.

Sunlight usually streams in through pretty gabled windows or leaded lights, illuminating the dust particles in the air, adding an additional sense of magic to the scene.

(Picture courtesy Warden Abbey)
Of course this romanticised view of how an attic room should be is a far cry from the roof space in our home.
Last night I climbed the creaky metal step ladder, precariously propped up against the wall, to move the trap door out of the way in order to haul myself up inside. It was freezing up there too! The only light is from a single bare bulb, held up with bits of string in a vain attempt to cast light over the whole area. (Believe me, anything could be lurking in any of the four corners, and I would be none the wiser!)
You will find the usual suspects, such as the Christmas decorations in storage boxes, waiting for the next opportunity to spread their good cheer. As well as a few small items of furniture standing still until the next 'musical cupboards' game (see post below), and our daughters old toys which they, and I, can't bare to part with...
I'm a little sad that some of my childhood keepsakes got left by mistake in the attic of our first home when we moved away. For some reason, we completely forgot to clear it - we only lived there on and off for 10 months, and so it never really became a 'real' home to us, despite it being our first...memories were forged far more in our second home when we moved to the SW.
Whilst I was in the attic last night, I had a little poke around in some of the other boxes, not remembering what was within and what delights I might find.
I found my wedding dress and our photo album, which will be 24 years old this month! A quick flick through the photographs recalls one of the best days, but also serves as a reminder of those who sadly are no longer with us.
Money was tight, so I made my dress myself. It was a typical over-the-top 80's design, complete with shoulder pads(!) and festoons of lace that finished at the knee. My daughters think it's hysterical! I'm afraid I have to agree with them ;-))
The little pale blue and white pram blanket was mine when I was a baby. My Mum gave it back to me when I produced our first daughter. It had been washed so many times, that it had become quite thin, so I crocheted a similar one, seen in the background, to keep my new born warm.
The little white cardigan was worn by all three of my girls; each of them wearing it home from the hospital. I think it lasted them about a week, before they out grew it.
I've never been very good at knitting, but have always enjoyed crochet. The next-size cardigan, a tiny bonnet, and a white blanket were past makes and keepsakes from those early years.
As they grew I saved special artworks and cards that they carefully created. I love looking back over some of their masterpieces and early writings.
An aptitude for sewing was always encouraged! ;-))
I was happy to see this box of treasures again too. I had put it up inside the attic for safekeeping when I was making-over a cupboard for my antique shoe collection, back in November, but promptly forgot that I had done so.

I've continued with the spring cleaning/sorting this week; here's the landing with it's faffed-about make-over! I may add the girl's shoes and the wooden pin dolls to some of my displays.

I was also thrilled to find my two childhood friends in an old plastic bag. I had been looking for this pair for over a year ( I had dearly wanted to include them in my book). Why is it that when you are looking for something, it is rare that items are found, but miraculously they reappear when you least expect it? I shall have to find a very safe place (one that I won't forget about this time) for Ginger and Monkey.
Ginger was my favourite bear - I always loved to sniff him, as he smelt of old mohair and sawdust. And Monkey was a friend that was bought for me on a day trip to Whipsnade Park Zoo many years ago...
I'm so pleased to be reunited with them both. Monkey looks pretty happy too!
Niki x


  1. Niki,
    I really needed this! So precious...
    Thank you!

  2. Anonymous1:21 pm

    I love this posting Niki, we too celebrate 24 years of marriage 30th of this month also...infact I found my wedding dress (size 10, those were the days) which my daughter and sons girlfriend were both dancing around in two weeks ago-even confetti fell to the floor (bought tears to my eyes)...wonderful memories. Thanks for sharing, Julie x

  3. How lovely to find and record all those memories! When I was ten my parents and grandparents bought a large Victorian house together and we discovered that at least one of the previous owners had left a lot of boxes in the attic. It was just like your films, except that films can't convey the cold and the smell of mildew... All the same, it was very exciting going through the boxes of framed Edwardian photos. I didn't know what to do with them then... I could use them now, if only I still had them!

  4. HI Niki, great post. I've just been sorting through some boxes too from when we moved. I found Holly's first hat and vest, she has her first pair of shoes in her bedroom.
    A box full of old bears and cuddly toys and my rabbit my Grandad bought me when I was a baby. A little bit of nostalgia is great!!
    Take care.

  5. Wonderful memories aren't they, I do enjoy a trip down memory lane from time to time. Love the crochet blankets I have similar ones from when the girls were born that a friend made for them I would like to think that they might use them again one day!!

  6. Hi Niki

    How nice to rediscover these prescious things and for you to share them with us. Those crochet blankets are lovely and the little shoes are so sweet. I wish my loft looked like the American ones you describe. How nice that would be!

    Isabelle x

  7. A lovely nostalgic post...I think it does us the power of good sometimes to reconnect with some of those things hidden away that we had forgotten about for a while. We don't have an attic as our bedrooms go up into the roof space, but I would love to have one!

  8. Good to read your attic story - I'm not surprised that your bear and monkey are happy now - who put them in a plastic bag? That's very dangerous you know.
    My attic is a veritable MESS - a bit like indoors really and I keep saying I'll go up and have a good sort out but the excuse at the moment is that the light bulb has blown. I'd love to be able to go there and find things without a struggle which is what it's all about just now.

  9. Memmories, they are the binders of our lives. Margaret

  10. Such lovely memories. Really enjoyed reading about them. the monkey is too cute!

  11. Niki - 24 years for you two/32 years for us. You have 3 girls/I have 3 boys. What a nice wander down memory lane!

    The baby clothes are precious treasures. I'm sure your girls will treasure them one day too. I thought that having boys would mean they wouldn't treasure these things I'd want to pass on to them ... not like a daughter would,I thought ... but, what a happy surprise when I found that my first daughter-in-law loves them, and I've already begun passing some things on with the birth of our first grand-daughter.

  12. There's nothing like a good rummage in the attic,is there?
    I don't have an attic now that we've put a room in it!! When we cleared it out for the builders, we really had to be brutal and throw a lot away! ;-(

  13. Anonymous7:54 pm

    I had my first camel ride at Whipsnade!

  14. I've got a teddy called Ginger too! That tiny cardigan is gorgeous. I have a couple that my mum in law knitted for my girls and it's so amazing to think they once fitted in them.

    I think your taste must have moved on a lot since the wedding dress!

    Mel xxx

  15. Hi Niki

    Ours will be 32 years at the end of this month. You and Dave haven't changed a bit in 24 years!!

    Funny you should post photos of the girls' clothes as I found some of Hannah's the other day, and one of mine! I feel a similar post coming on!!

    Whipsnade! Almost on our doorstep when we lived in Northampton. I see Carolyn had her first camel ride there. I did, too, and the following year the below me at school went on the same trip and came back with a postcard of 3 children on a camel - and one was me!!

    Sue x

  16. What a lovely post, I too have been going through our loft space recently as were on the move again this will be the our 5th move but this time it's a big one as we're off to Australia so I know there will be lots of things I can not take.
    Our daughter recently used my wedding dress 22 years old this year in a photo shoot for uni.


  17. Hello Niki,
    Hope you have time to stop by my blog, I have a well deserved award for you..
    I LOVE your blog & all your fun creativity!
    Thanks so much....
    Blessings ~Mary~ :-}

  18. I would love an attic with sunlight comeing through the mooch about in and collect interesting boxes which were long forgotten....... but ours is a guest room...I love the box of baby shoes...have a lovely weekend...H

  19. How did I miss this one??? What a wonderful trip down memory lane (or "up memory attic")! I was just telling Monica the other day about a stuffed bunny I had as a baby (and still have) - though I must admit your stuffies look MUCH better than mine at this point! And a VERY HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to you and your hubby! I see we'll both reach major marital milestones next year... you'll be celebrating 25 and I'll be celebrating 20. =)
    Lovely inspirational photos as always - hope to see some in your next calender! By the way, I'm loving your March photo this month!

  20. Good Morning Niki,
    I love the little red shoes! I too,love your blog and book attest to.
    Today or tomorrow I will be posting on hand made shoes from Tucson, Az.
    Please stop by if you have a minute.

  21. Anonymous6:06 pm

    I went up into the attic a few months ago and spent ages up there reading through old cards from so many occasions. I also found an old postcard album I had started when I was 9 and carried on until I was 16!! it triggered so many memories!! great fun, lovely post..Sue X

  22. What a great post, and thanks for sharing. When I moved to where I live now, I was downsizing a lot. I had saved a lot of things from my children's childhood days, and that is when I decided to send their things on to their homes, and let them decide what they wanted to keep or not. Turns out, they kept everything. Great memories.

  23. These picture of your finds are just wonderful...its always nice to find forgotten things.

    I used mine and my sisters first shoes as a mothers day present one year for our mum. I put them on a lovely length of vintage ribbon and she now has them hanging on her chest of drawer handle! They look so sweet, far better than in a box!
    Enjoy your old goodies!

  24. Anonymous11:14 pm

    Hi Niki, we do have some wonderful attics back home. Your post reminds me of a little story I may have to do a post about. I must say that I actually like the wedding dress, it has that very Victorian 80's feel which I thought was great from designers like Gaultier. We hope to add to our chicken collection tomorrow, wish me luck!

  25. What wonderful memories and treasures you found. Your post reminded me of when My hubby and I would watch a movie or tv and see something old and make a comment about it and our kids would laugh at us for looking at the movie props rather than the story. What can I say, but if you love old things you always notice them even in movies.
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    Jean in virginia

  26. some day those 80s gowns will be all in style! hehe

    Loved your memories.
    xo heather

  27. I love those old attics in movies too, wouldn't you just love to get in there and have a good rummage around. I could quite happily live in one, I think! I read in one of your posts about not finding enough time to make for the V&H fair - if it makes you feel any better I haven't made one single thing yet! Think I might have to have a rummage in my attic to fill my stall. Happy Anniversary this month!
    Lucy x

  28. Have been looking at different blogs and came across Isabella's Closet's blog. I saw there that you have just been given an award. Congratulations! Very pleased that you have been given one. You deserve it

    Isabelle x

  29. Hello Niki
    The amount of times I've dreamt of finding a hidden attic in our house full of wonderful forgotten treasures! Vintage fabrics, old toys, old photographs, unfortunately the reality in this house is very different! But, just like you, we have boxes of wonderful memories, first shoes, first drawings, old toys and lots and lots of wellington boots. Love the box of childrens shoes and your wedding dress is lovely, I KNEW you would have made your own dress! Have a great weekend


Thank you for finding the time to visit me...
Niki xx