THE HOUSE ON THE HILL

81 days ago

I'm going to add some of my short pieces of writing. To start with, here is a description of my weekly visit to my grandmother's house when I was about twelve.  Hope you enjoy it!

It was worse when it was dark and wet. Bad weather or not, on Thursdays before Guides,  I cycled after school, head down against the wind, to the forbidding Victorian house on the hill. 

I leant my bike against the black wrought iron railings and climbed the rain-soaked stone steps to ring the bell. It was a brass bell on a chain and even though I'd pulled it many times before, the sound of it echoing loudly down the long hallway inside always made me shiver. 

I heard the tap-tapping of her walking stick as Grandma strode up the long wood-paneled hallway. The heavy oak door creaked as she pulled it back. She stood there, unsmiling, tall and austere, with her wispy white hair tied back in a neat bun. I reached up to give her the usual peck on the cheep, catching a waft of the familiar scent of Pears soap. Her cheeks, soft as a butterfly's wing, contrasted with her cold, pale blue eyes. Staring up at her from the dimly lit porch, she looked ghost-like and I always took a deep breath to calm myself before following her into the house. 

The grandfather clock in the hall struck four-thirty as I hung my navy macintosh on the coat stand and took off my shoes. The smell of lavender hit me as I tried not to slip on the highly polished wooden floor. As we walked Grandma asked, in her sharp Scottish brogue, if I was doing well at school; the same question she asked every week.  We reached the kitchen where the cold flagstones, unchanged since Victorian days, felt hard and unyielding. While Grandma filled the kettle, I slipped my feet into the two indentations in front of the butler sink and imagined some servant girl, probably not much older than me, arms deep in washing-up.

Grandma tapped her stick, a sign that I should help prepare tea and we began the familiar ritual. A silver tray with a delicate white lace tray cloth, had already been laid by the housekeeper on the large scrubbed oak table. Two pretty Royal Albert cups and saucers with tiny silver teaspoons, were placed on the tray. Sugar bowl, tongs and a pretty floral jug, completed the picture. 

Grandma went into the larder and opened the sieve door. No fridge in this kitchen. From the marble shelf, her bony white hand reached in to take out a fine bone china butter dish piled with golden, home-churned butter curls. When the aluminium kettle on the range boiled, Grandma, with shaking hands, poured water onto the tea leaves in the silver teapot. Peering at me through the steam over the top of her horn-rimmed glasses, she gestured for me to open the door of the bottom oven to take out a plate covered by a silver lid. A waft of warm air carried the scent of freshly baked Scotch pancakes into the kitchen. My mouth watered, for I could almost taste the soft sweetness on my tongue. Seeing my expression, a fleeting smile softened Grandma's face. She nodded that I should carry the tray to the drawing room where, as always, we took tea with barely a word.