Ever since we moved up from London, we have had "stuff" in cardboard boxes hanging about us. First, we kept the boxes in our own house; then, desperate for space, we stored them in the empty cottage next door; when our builders started, we asked the farmer whether we could keep them in a large metal container in the barn behind us. The barn is due to be demolished and this weekend we opened up the container and emptied it. Straight into the bin for the most part - or the brazier, tip, or for recycling. I cannot believe we wrapped it, moved it and kept it all for so long.
One box though was worth the waiting. As I unwrapped the newspaper from the cut glass candlesticks, I thought: "Ah, home." A wooden bowl from a hot and dusty place and a blood red vase with a golden glass stag, fragile and at bay, once my grandmother's. A doll from my childhood, all smile and shiny blue trouser suit, the double of a songbird cousin. Photographs too: my husband, absurdly young, holding a glass of champagne and looking out into his future; my mother in hyacinth blue, more radiant than the bride I think, on my wedding day. Two small and rose strewn hearts capturing the exchange of rings, though not the congregation's laughter when the wedding band would not slide onto my finger. A picture of my eldest the day after he was born and in folding pine, my wrapped up boys fishing and laughing hard. Memories then and my precious and most sparkling things; no hallmarked value, no antiqued glory, important just to me. But I grew sad as I unwrapped my loot which had once sat on the mantelpiece of a black stone hearth against sunshine yellow walls in London. " I do not have a mantelpiece," I thought, "and now my walls are cream." Still, I polished them and scattered them about, sat back and thought: "My memories about me where they belong. Now, am I at home?"