Thursday, 14 March 2019

A Pretty Room

I spent a night away from home this week, staying in the guest room of an older friend who had fallen   on the stairs while her husband was away. They live in a 17th century house in a rapidly disappearing part of what used to be countryside, and the glorious view has already been altered and uglified.

Once upon a time, e.g. a year ago, we could look through the windows of that house over the formal, stonewalled garden, across the ancient deer park (long since plowed fields), straight to the Historical House. The concrete path between the fields was out of view. Sometimes when walking to our friends' house, I imagined I was Elizabeth Bennett walking to Netherfield. 

Since then an ugly cinder track has sliced through the eastern field and... Okay, let's not think about that. On to the pretty room. 

I have two favourite rooms in my friends' house. One is the second storey study, which is painted Chinese red and has most of the books. One is the second-and-a-half storey guest bedroom with all the travel books. This room has two tall and narrow 18-light windows, one on either side of the room, and is painted white. It has a double bed with a brass frame, covered with white duvets. There is a fireplace, of course, but a space heater sits in front of the grate. There is a chair in the corner by the window looking onto the garden (and across the fields). There's a chest with a spare duvet folded on it at the foot of the bed. And naturally there is a handy night-table with a small lamp and a digital clock.

Our friends have a sizeable art collection, thanks to years in the culture biz. Over the fireplace is a playful watercolour of the house, a (fictional?) electricity tower looming over it. Beside this is a interesting abstract in blue and brown. Over the bed, beautifully framed, is a mixed-media expression of a decaying 18th century library, using handmade grey-blue paper and ribbons. There are two tall beech-coloured bookcases full of travel books on the right (as you're sitting up in bed) and a lower, wider bookcase on the left, with books on a variety of topics. 

The room hadn't been heated when I retired for the night, so I was very grateful for all the duvets. I don't mind going to bed in a cold room, as long as there are enough bedclothes to make a snug cave. (I also turned on the space heater.) In the morning, despite my sleep mask, I woke up to golden morning sunlight. The room was so cheerful and bright, I took my coffee upstairs and got back into bed. I read a travel guide about Berlin until my coffee was done, and then I reluctantly go on with the day. 

Because of the planned destruction of the ancient deer park--upon which there has never been a building, let alone an instant gimcrack neighbourhood--our friends may move away. A little bit of Scottish paradise will be wiped out, both indoors and out, for it is unlikely that I will sleep in the pretty room ever again. 

Well, now I must go and tidy the garden. One of the former owner's tenants was a keen gardener, and we have been surprised by the spring flowers popping up. They need to be done justice. 

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