Sunday, June 03, 2007

More Things I Love About My Flat

As I've said before, I grew up in the middle of a flat expanse of fields in the north of Scotland.

There were vast fields of barley on two sides of our farmhouse, and serried plantations of pine trees on the other two. Occasionally, the Inverness to Aberdeen train would chug past in the distance, and more frequently, Nimrods and Tornadoes would take off over the house from the nearby air force base.

All this openness meant that when I first moved into a house in a town, as a student in Exeter in 1990, I was bowled over by the higgledy-piggledy clutter of streets of terraced houses. I had a room at the back of a terraced house in Culverland Road, on the top floor. I used to love sitting at the window just staring out at the backs of the houses in the next street, and all the different back gardens.

Since then I've always liked views of the backs of houses. While the fronts of houses in a terraced street are generally quite uniform, the backs are where all the idiosyncratic architectural and horticultural action is.

I do like a nice carnival of idiosyncratic architectural and horticultural action, which is why I really love the view from my kitchen:

I love all the jumble of stuff on different levels; it makes my bit of London feel like a medieval hill village or a Tolkienesque fantasy town. And there's odd stuff, too - earlier I was leaning out of my bathroom window, which I've never done before, and I noticed this plaque nailed to the wall between my house and the one next door:

It says 'Ancient Lights'. It's nailed on to the back of a terraced house, two floors up, where no one can see it unless they lean right out of a bathroom window. I can't even begin to imagine who put it there, or why. And that's what makes it completely brilliant.

Next Week: Picturesque Views Of My Navel.

UPDATE: Well done to Sylvia and Valerie for solving the 'Ancient Lights' mystery in the comments, and thanks also to chuffy! for finding this great post about it on the BLDG BLOG. I love that bit about a notional 'ghost architecture'. Fantastic. You lot are great.

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Valerie said...

At first I thought you'd said "picturesque views of my novel" and I got quite excited. Of course I'm sure your navel is just as exciting to the right audience.

The view from your kitchen is great. I always suspect I'd feel claustrophobic actually living somewhere like that, but I've visited friends in London with a somewhat similar view and it does seem fun to look out the window.

"Ancient Lights" is fantastic. So many possibilities there! What effort gone to to produce and mount that sign! But I do want to know (er, I think) what made you suddenly lean out your bathroom window. And happen to have your camera handy.

Billy said...

That's a fantastic view. My view is similar-ish, but not so wonderfully all over the shop.

patroclus said...

Ooh, hello Valerie, welcome back! (Actually I think you came back last week sometime, but it was dead hectic last week).

The 'Ancient Lights' thing is weird. What does it mean? Who put it there? Why? It ties in nicely with a discussion that the lovely Mr BC and I were having this morning about kids' fantasy stories that have London as a departure point. Perhaps it's a clue to a portal that opens into another world. Or it could just be a plaque.

I can't remember now why I was leaning out of the window, but the camera is surgically attached to me at the moment as it's new, and I haven't had a camera for ages, and am therefore going through a phase of wanting to take pictures of everything. Expect many more picture-related posts to follow.

Oh and also, I am very fond of tiny architectural anomalies and weirdnesses like this one, and I'm hoping to post lots of pictures of such things in the near future.

betty said...

I used to while away many pointless hours looking out of the upstairs windows in the house I grew up in, particularly as we lived in a hilly area and you could see over quite an expanse.

Unfortunately, I can't do the same around here. Once I was leaning out of an upstairs window and saw a neighbour whose house is behind ours. I was told to fuck off. A good lesson: never make eye contact with anyone is South London for more than one second or you could be shot. Probably.

Sylvia said...

I think ancient light is to do with the right to light where neighbours cannot block out your light by building high walls.
When there was heavy bombing in London, people would put something like that on hoardings to indicate that windows had been there in the past.

something like that.

cello said...

I'm very much loving you loving things, P.

Valerie said...

I've only been home about six days, though it feels like a month somehow...

Sylvia's right ( ), but even the reality is a bit romantic, I think.

chuffy! said...

It's almost a meme

patroclus said...

Wow, thanks Sylvia and chuffy!, that's made my day. Hurrah for the collective knowledge of the blogosphere!

realdoc said...

You learn something new everyday with the blogosphere.

Arabella said...

'Leaves From the Languedoc' is on my list of holiday reading for September and then I read your last post to find the author is your father.

patroclus said...

Bloody hell Arabella - yes indeed it is. He'll be very pleased to know you're planning to read it. Are you going on holiday to the Languedoc?

Arabella said...

We'll be hanging out in the Cahors area. Not soon enough.