This is my favourite room. Here in the centre stretches the long swathe of afternoon sunshine which warms my feet on the old floorboards. The view beyond the sunroom windows frames the layered meadows as though they were poured from a great height, all green and silky into their present folds where they have set. It always reminds me of the joy of my first glimpses of the Black Forest region of Germany from a divine driving holiday.
Most of the walls here are lined with white book shelves – a family of which have expanded and followed me from post to post. Here they have settled and kindly hold some of my most treasured possessions. Stashed on and in a series of shelves, boxes and folders are the treasures of a life’s collection. All neatly ordered and labelled they welcome me to my study with the stories of weary travellers and cold war spies. I could spend a lifetime in my study before I could ever be bored.
I’m sorting through a box of old photos finding the scents and sounds of past years footsteps flooding back to me. Fountains leaping through the sunshine, dark wet lines of cobbles and snowy parks committed to film. I’m stopped at an image of the rust coloured walls of a castle in Heidelberg. The holiday was part of a long weekend away to celebrate the New Year. It was cold and I bought a hat with furry flaps that folded down to keep my ears warm. Beyond the castle the landscape lays cold and frosty, waiting for the New Year to reawaken the landscape.
I flip past the smiles of special friends beaming out from the glossy paper, where each faces reveals my lucky life. We look so young, our hair so long. Another picture reminds me that a little blonde can give brightness but you can be too blonde. Especially when teamed with oversized, jet black sunglasses.
I move to my desk and chose a little hand cream. The tube is soft and blue against my palm. An extravagant purchase at the time, its French label reminds me that I once made my life in a new culture. A culture which to was foreign to me but ordinary to those who’d always lived there. The little ordinary things I have kept from that life and remind me that my friends and my travels are the richest time of my life.