Sunday, March 11

Where is Home?

What do you call home?
Is it just somewhere you live, or do you really feel it is a location, or district, or country?

My English Grandmother used to refer to England as 'Home'. We used to tease her about it.
But now I tend to refer to New Zealand as 'home' too. But then, the Bay of Plenty is 'home', or the little town where I was born & grew up.
Or home is the Southern City where I spent so many years after marriage.
And home is here, in Australia, here in NSW, here in this house, which I feel is my REAL home now.

When BFJ & I left to travel on our 'adventures' together, 'home' at first was our humble rather primitive bach we lived in, while apple picking. No hot water, an outside loo. We had to boil the copper to wash our clothes. Boil a Zip hot water heater for our food. The outside loo, under tall creaky pines was never a nice place to visit during the dark nights, where it would be pitch black, & perhaps the sound of tubercular-sounding sheep coughing, could scare the hell out of us.

Once we moved to the Southern City, we initially stayed at "The People's Palace" which was a huge hostel affair, run by the Salvation Army. It provided clean, cheap accommodation, & you could buy cheap breakfasts and cheap evening meals. I had previously stayed at a People's Palace in Auckland too, & it was also a huge place, providing plain, safe havens for the poor or newly arrived traveller. I dont think there are any left now, I suppose they have had to close because of rising costs.

BFJ & I were anxious to find affordable accommodation, & did find a 'Hovel'. It was terrible really, we had no ablution facilities, -those, we had to share, & they were in the house in front of our hovel. The Hovel as we always referred to it, was situated behind the house, & consisted of two rooms, with no opening windows & a door with only a bolt to close it. Padlocked from the outside or in, depending if you were out or in! The house was tenanted with an assortment of people of differing ages, & sex, & tennants seemed to come & go quite often.

We never really regarded this hovel as home, but for several months it was all we had. We were lucky enough to find half a house next door, same landlord, & so all we had to do to move, was carry our possessions through the connecting gate. The half house was certainly no luxurious arrangment either, but it was luxury compared to the little box Hovel.

We had a huge bedroom, with rotting floor boards- we found this out, when our stilletto heels went through the soft wood! A large lounge with a huge window, covered in tattered curtains, a cut off passage, which led to the other half of the house, a small kitchen, with gas stove, & a bathroom of our own, with a gas Califont for hot water.

I had never met a Califont before, & I was always terrified of it. I hated the lighting of it, & we had a meter on the front porch, which we had to keep fed with shillings* in those days, to keep gas coming to use for the water & cooking. Once we discovered, when we went to feed the ever hungry meter, that the lock on it had been broken, & so we gleefully fed the same shilling through the meter over & over again, until it was to full capacity.

Imagine our horror when, a few nights later there was a knock on our door, & there stood 2 large detectives, demanding to know if we had broken into the meter. Of course we quickly assured them we hadnt, & they proceeded to take fingerprints!! "To check you didnt break the meter". We lived in terror that they would accuse us- we frantically tried to remember just what we had handled as we pumped the same shilling through the meter.

They came back several times, once to let us know they had caught the culprits. Once one of them asked me out. I told him, after I got to know him, what we had done with the shilling, & he laughed. He said they knew who had done the breakin, because their prints had been on all the other meters in the street, that had been burgled.

The half house was 'home' for about 8 months, I think. It had a lumpy old lounge suite in it, that had been slashed at the base by a previous tennant, looking for change, so the landlord told us. We had a bed each in the bedroom, & I think there was a chest of drawers. There was an old fireplace in out bedroom, gas, with things called ceramics in it. There was another in the lounge, & once GOM & BFJ's husband to be, threw blank bullets into it, when it was lit, & blew the ceramics to pieces.

There was a couple who lived in the other half of the house & they seemed to have spectacular fights. If we were home we would listen at the wall, & hear all the thumps & bashes & screams. We rarely saw the other couple, & were never sure who was bashing who!

Probably the best thing about that 'home' was the close proximity to the city & our place of work. We could run through the park on the freezing southern mornings to get to work, & run home again.

And our landlord owned a Fish & Chip shop accross the road from the house, & we could always get 2 shillings worth of Fish & Chips for tea, on the night before pay day, when we would usually be broke! Tough times, but fun looking back.

And now we are both so much older, & both of us really love our 'Homes'.

It is all very well to say, "Home is where you hang your hat" but at our age it is so much more than that, I feel.

Home is really where your heart is, perhaps.

* A Shilling was equivalent to our 10 cent piece.

9 comments:

joyce said...

WE moved a lot when our kids were young. Once I asked them where they felt home was and they said where the family is. I was happy with that answer. Now three of them live in the town near where my grandparents on both sides of the family lived and where my mother and then I went to school. They said they felt like they belonged there because of the family history. My daughter in Australia already feels that her house in the little town where she lives is her home I'm sure.

Ali Honey said...

You were right when you said Bay of Plenty is home...well it is for me anyway! lol.

I think home may be a country; a region; a town or city or rural area and a particular house. So all your answers are right. It's just defining it closer and closer to where you are.

Isabelle said...

Goodness, you've had such an interesting life! Until the age of 38, I lived within about three miles of where I was born and brought up. Then I moved to the other side of Edinburgh!!! all of about 8 miles away. How adventurous was that? But I'm so much a home person. I often wonder, though, if I'd be so attached to my home town if it had been somewhere nasty.

Thanks for your blogbirthday wishes. Sorry about your sitemeter. Mine just came along with me without protest. I'm sure there's a solution, though haven't any idea what it is, but if you ask bloggers for help, I expect someone will know. On the other hand, studying one's sitemeter is yet another way of wasting lots and lots of time...

Stomper Girl said...

I did like the gas metre story, Meggie. Very funny.

smilnsigh said...

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Mari-Nanci

The Calico Cat said...

I am one of those "Home is where you hang your hat" gals... My husband & I are in "our" first place - but it is not our last (I hope.) It is really nice for what it is...

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

Home is where the heart is indeed, and you know-- my mother's heart never sleeps better than when all my family is all sleeping under the same roof for a night. That doesn't happen much anymore. I can imagine your fright at the detective's investigation and even finger-printing... oh, my! So glad you stayed on this side of the law!!

h&b said...

I loved your gas-meter story, Meggie - I pictured my first house as I read it ( although the gas-meter was long gone by the time we bought it ! :)

Home for me, is where my boys are. When they are around, i am delirious. An internet connection makes things better, as does food on the table ..

Also - we still have an original gas flame ceramic heater/fireplace here, in the dining room. I can take a pic for you if you'd like ? ;) All the ceramics are intact, which is rare, and it's hard to replace them these days. My FIL was rather impressed ...

Diana said...

I used to read about putting a shilling in the gas meter in British novels and never quite understood what that was all about. Thanks for clearing that up!

You got me to thinking about when I began to think of here as my home (I was raised somewhere else and moved here to be with my husband). Probably wasn't until we had children of our own that I thought of this place as my "home."