The field meant a great deal to her. It was where she played as a child as she lived in a house opposite the one I grew up in.
The field also had a lovely view over the whole of the valley:
|This is another of her paintings of the field|
Here are two short pieces written by my mum which I read out at her funeral. The first is something she scribbled in her ever-present notebook, in the late Eighties, about her memories of catching the train home from her London college to Richmond in the Fifties:
“Going home to the best place in the world, Richmond.
First Darlington – the sense of belonging begins. Running to the far end of Platform One where the Richmond train is already waiting and obviously longing to be off. Not many passengers for Richmond, one or two men in khaki en route for Catterick, perhaps.
A bit scared at first since someone told me that, for a short distance, the line is the one on which the London trains come in to Darlington. Always afraid of being in a crash.
The danger, if it ever existed, is soon over, and we are clickety-clacking along the single track to Richmond. We pass through Eryholme – was that a place or just a station? – Through Catterick – Bridge, not Camp, flattened now after the explosion of an ammunition train in 1944. Here’s the level crossing at Broken Brea – I’ve never known how to pronounce ‘Brea’.
Then the music of the train changes. We are trundling through Abbey Wood, an ancient wood near the banks of the Swale, and the rhythm of the wheels becomes loud and resonant as we cross the iron bridge on which as a kid I used to place pennies to be pancaked.
The brakes squealing as we slow down for Richmond Station. Joyfully dismounting and dragging out my big battered suitcase, inhaling the smell of soot, stone, trees, river, tarmac.
I haul the case up through the churchyard, gasping in alarm when the white owl swoops down on me – I had forgotten it lived there. Up to our house in Frenchgate. No matter what time of night or morning I arrive, the front door is always unlocked. Into the warmth and light, the smell of apples, Erinmore Flake tobacco, freshly baked pastry.
My heart swells with happiness. I am home.”
The second piece is simply a page from Mum’s commonplace book, written in 1979.
“This is going to be a page of things I like, just to remind myself. When I try to think of what I specially enjoy, I can never remember. I will be able to now that I have written this. Here goes:
Dolls Houses; Children’s books; Robert Redford; Tin toys; Auction sales; Old houses; Books; Tiny things; Laura Ashley; Expensive new magazines; Old Christmas cards; Paper toys; Extravagant musicals; London; Paperchase; The Victoria and Albert Museum; The Tate Gallery; Secondhand bookshops; Antique markets; Miniature books; Milk; Disaster movies; The Sunday Times; The Yorkshire Dales, especially Wensleydale; Trent Park; Mother’s cat; Celandines; Hogweed; Novels by John Fowles; Books about the Bloomsbury Group; Clothes; Winchester; Honeysuckle-lined hedgerows; Country walks; Trees; George Gershwin; Cole Porter; The Modern Jazz Quartet; Porgy and Bess; Katchachurian’s Second Piano Concerto; Rex Whistler; John Piper; English gardens; Soaking in hot baths; the colour Green; Collage; Cambridge; Sussex; Silence.”
3 March 1932 -- 15 October 2011