As we snaked our way to England’s southern coast, I kept my eyes peeled for the go-cart track that we used to visit when I was a child. I had no idea if it would still be there. But sure enough, there it was. I sometimes forget that 30+ years is nothing in European standards, where some establishments have been operating for centuries! Not only was it there, but it seemed completely unchanged.
Nestled in Devon’s Tor Bay, lies the harbor town of Brixham, where my Granny lived for many, many years, until she passed away in 2005. My family spent long summers here, walking her dogs on the cliffs of Berry Head, having tea in the garden, trying our luck at the penny arcade, and eating fish and chips along the harbor front. I have told the girls about Brixham many times, as they enjoy hearing stories of things that Mommy & Daddy did as kids. I know that for them, Brixham will not be the special place it was for me, but I have been wanting to bring them here.
It was rumored that Granny’s little cottage was gone, due to new development. As we turned the corner, onto her street, I covered my eyes as I saw a row of new, cookie-cutter cottages where the summer-camp parking lot used to be. Suddenly, my heart leaped, when at the end of the row, I spotted a familiar green door. The house was still standing.
I stood there for a few moments, pretending to be content with a few pictures of the outside front, fully knowing that I would probably be knocking on the door. We had come all this way…I was dying to know who lived there and see what they had done to the place…or at least to sneak into the back garden. I could see that trees had been cut down and the view had been opened up.
I knocked. A man with smiling eyes opened the door, and to my surprise, I found myself fighting back tears as I told him my story…American, living in Denmark, the many summers I spent here as a child, how special this house is to many people… I asked only for permission to go in the garden, but of course he insisted that we all come inside. His wife seemed happy to meet us and poured juice for the girls. They showed us pictures of the house in its run-down, overgrown state, from when they moved in. We could instantaneously see how much they loved their new home. It had changed a lot from the little cottage I knew, but some things were the same and I was able to transport myself to the home I once knew. I saw two little girls (my sister and me) sitting by the window, eating Frosties and Rice Krispies, which Granny would buy especially for us. They have extended out the back and had turned the attic into 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, plus storage. It is beautiful. I told them to please let me know if they decide to turn it into a B&B. I will be their first guest. But as Brixham natives, they have a lot of family in the area, including 9 grandchildren. It warms my heart to know that the house has a new life, complete with young grandchildren to fully enjoy it.
Granny’s garden, circa 1978