Helen Palmer (nice_cup_of_tea) wrote,
Helen Palmer

"Leaving Home" after 40 Years! Au Revoir "The Anchorage"

Today, a bit more than 40 years after they finished building the house and moved in with my Grandma and I, my parents move out of "The Anchorage" in Frenchay. It is the only family home I have ever known. The house has been on and off the market for several years and my parents are delighted to be moving on to the next phase in their lives. I have had really mixed feelings the last couple of weeks, and have been working hard thinking through my memories and photos. I have a twitter feed on this subject (click here for loads more photos and tweets, choose ALL at the top and scroll slowly down to the bottom of the feed to start reading!) But to mark moving out day, here are some of the best photos and my thoughts!

My parents got married in 1969, my Dad was a builder, so they decided to build their own family home. My Dad had lived in the same house as his Mum (separate apartments) after she was widowed, and so my Mum, Dad, Grandma pooled their resources and found land to buy. Their goal was to create a safe haven for the family they had and wanted to have in the future, plus my Dad's dad was a merchant sailor and my Dad a sailor, hence the nautical name "The Anchorage".

They found land in Frenchay and pulled down the derelict cottage that stood there. Work started autumn 72, Mum had me (her first child in May 73) and they moved in February 1974. And my brother was born in September 75. My parents had a few projects on the go! Dad designed, project managed and built the house with my mum, with a little help from his building mate, whilst holding down a full time job. My Mum was pregnant, gave birth, looked after me and once they had moved in, got pregnant with baby no 2! I love the photo of me in the midst of the building site.
2.thehousemartinbuilt 9. Baby Helen supervises 4. clearing 6. foundations 16. Helen moves in

My sister was born in April 1978 and the family was complete. We had a garden at roof level (the house was built into a quarry, so the land available was at third floor height. To get to the garden, you walked up 3 storeys onto a flat roof, then walked across planks (not fixed) into the garden. Health and safety obviously not an issue in the 70s and 80s. We lived opposite woods and the village was a gorgeous place to grow up. We played on the forecourt, I learn to ride my bike there, and we all had photos showing us walking away from the house as we started the village primary school (3 mins walk up the hill and cross the common).
17. Helen & Jibby 21. On the roof with Chris 22. Kate was on the way 25. And then we were three! 27. Pushbike 28 Helen to school 32 New playframe 33 getting to garden

The house was always full. My Grandma (Dad's mum) had a granny flat built at the back with a separate door, and a separate door bell at the front. As kids we were very clear that this was her house, and we had to know on her living room door before entering. 3 generations in one house worked amazingly well. As kids and teenagers, it was great to have another adult to turn to. As a stroppy insomnia teenager, but Grandma would make me proper cocoa with milk and give me proper posh biscuits! There was a constant stream of guests, visitors. My Mum would open the house to all and sundry! Her parents lived about an hour away, so were also regular visitors. Many happy sunday lunches with family and friends. Dad built an extension onto the granny flat at the back in about 1983 or 84, which meant I then got my own bedroom. With a desk and bookshelves and everything!
37. Advent 43 New room 1984 44 1987 Sunday lunch 46 1989 studying GCSEs 47 1991

I left home in 1992 to go to University, I came back in the holidays and then lived back at home for about 6 months after graduating, before getting my first proper graduate job in London in 1996. After that, I never lived there again. We had lots of happy weekends there, bringing home boyfriends, celebrating successes, including kate returning from her round the world trip, Alan and I getting engaged etc. I was married from the anchorage and was driven up the hill to the common by my Dad, then I walked the rest of the way to my parish church. The day after our wedding, we invited family and friends to meet at the house and walk round Frenchay. My very last visit to the house was in April 2009. I was 5 months pregnant with Markus and had to finally sort the last few boxes of my stuff from the attic!
52 2000 Kate returns 54 engagement celebration - Copy 58 walk 61 2009

This final photo is the view from my bedroom window on the third floor. I would kneel on my bed and lean out the window, looking out to the woods opposite. The silence at night would be almost heavy. Sometimes you could hear owls. But it was such a special peaceful sound. I seem to remember spending a lot of time as a teenager gazing out the window! The night before my wedding I slept in my old room. Around midnight I looked out the window, to see it softly snowing!

I am sad that the house will no longer belong to us, I am scared what the new owners will do to it. But I know that my Parents are so happy to be moving on. I am so proud of them for what they achieved there and the wonderful family home full of love, security they built for us. The haven of the anchorage allowed all 3 of us to spread our wings and fly away. I hope one day I can build the same home for my boys and I wish "The Anchorage" all the best for the next phase in its history!

This post was kindly "sponsored" by my wonderful friend Kerry, who looked after my boys for a few hours today, so I could get some writing done. She knows that when she doesn't have any new blog posts from me to read, I need some support! Thank you my friend :-)
Tags: bristol, family, memories, pp

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