Come a little further into my grandmother’s house with me and go through the door at the end of the dark passage into the kitchen. It was always called the kitchen although no food was ever prepared there and it was really the living room. In the middle of the room, dominating it was a mahogany table which had many leaves and could be extended to take as many people as ever came. It was always covered with a very old chenille cloth and even when it was in use as a dining table the chenille cloth stayed in place. At the far end of the room was an old fashioned range, (never used for cooking) with ovens which were used for drying wood.
In front of the fire there was a rag rug, which was made many years ago by my grandparents, one working from each end. Traditionally such rugs were made on farms at lambing time when the farmer or shepherd had to stay awake for long hours. Apart from that the floor was covered with lino. On either side of the fire there was a chair, a high backed Windsor wooden chair for my grandad and a fireside chair for grandma. By modern standards it was a room lacking in comfort but it was the place where they relaxed.
On one side of the room was a piano which grandma would sometimes play while grandad sang. They first met through their mutual love of music. They were Methodists and the vitality of the musical tradition at chapel was something they each enjoyed to the end of their lives.
At the end of the room there was a bureau and there grandad would do the farm accounts, keeping papers in the filing cabinet to one side. There was a bookcase too but, avid reader though I was, I can’t remember any of the books which were kept there and I don’t remember anyone ever reading them!
The other major item of furniture in this room was a Victorian cupboard on top of which stood the radio. Until I was about eight there was no mains electricity in the house so the radio was powered by “the accumulator” a bulky battery about the size of a car battery as I remember. Each Saturday Grandad would go into Caistor to collect a charged battery which he would swap for the one he had collected the previous week. The radio was on very loud every morning and when staying with them I always awoke to the sound of “Farming Today”.
I’ll bring you back into this kitchen another day.