Happy memories

Just the other day, while happily playing the first round of my Geoguessr Daily Challenge, I got dropped here:

And while that won’t mean much to a lot (any?) of you, I was immediately transported back n years to my childhood, when my brother and I spent many happy hours playing under and around this little bridge.

It’s in Grenaby in the Isle of Man. My great auntie used to live in the old house right alongside the river: the one with the bright red Victorian postbox built into the hefty gatepost.

It’s a place that has since fallen into near ruin, but one which is regular photographed, commented upon and dreamt about on Isle of Man-based social media.

That boarded-up front window was Auntie Lorna’s front room, and when the window was there, it was invariably open all day, unless it was really wet and windy. A bird table fashioned from an old margarine tub and a branch from a nearby tree allowed for blue tits, great tits (I remember she had one called Zippy who would visit, so called because the black stripe up the front of his breast looked like a zip), robins and chaffinches to come a visit, and the latter would happily come inside and eat crumbs from your plate or hand.

And there would always be crumbs available, because Auntie Lorna would always have freshly homemade scones and fudge at the ready for any visitor, from the tiny kitchen at the back of the house.

Auntie Lorna loved nature. There was a story of her calling in the pest control guy to get rid of the rats (known as ‘long-tails’ on the island), and while the gentleman enjoyed a cup of tea in the front room, her feeding a shrew which had run onto her lap.

Often, while the adults were talking about important stuff inside, we’d get bored and head off to play in the Silverburn River that runs through the hamlet. Many happy hours were spent underneath the bridge, building dams, floating boats and – more often than not – overtopping our wellies, much to our mum’s dismay.

But we weren’t to be left out of the goodies. Regularly, Auntie Lorna would lower down a handkerchief-lined wicker basket from the bridge, full of treats for us to enjoy. Of course, she could have just called us the 20 metres up to the house, or walked down that gentle slope you see on the image above, but where’s the adventure in that for a couple of young boys?

Grenaby House is in the process of being sold (for somewhere around half a million quid, in case you are interested) and has planning permission granted for… well… for this:

I actually like it. It’s absolutely not in keeping with the surroundings, but it is mostly hidden behind the house, and I do get it. The place, such as it is (even after the necessary renovations) just isn’t suitable for modern living, and so it needs something added. And so we (and here I mean society, not us: I’m not selling it!) are left with the difficult choice of accepting a modern addition to an old family hideaway, or losing that hideaway completely and many of the special memories that go with it.

As with so many of the comments on social media: if I won the lottery, I’d buy it in a heartbeat. (And yes, I’d probably stick the extension on.) But even though I haven’t managed that just yet, I still have the many happy memories brought back by that Geoguessr round.

And 5,000 points, obviously. Bonus.

Photos: Sue Jones, Liz Lillis-Ingram, Bill Callow via Facebook