My Dolls' House at Christmas

 My late mum always wanted a dolls' house. When my dad spent a couple of years working in Vienna, as a visiting expert at the International Atomic Energy Commission there, my mum came back with a collection of dolls' house miniatures, picked up here and there, some new, some vintage. But she never got her dolls' house. 

I'm still not sure why, because my dad would have bought her one or - more likely - made one for her. He was good at making things. But perhaps she just enjoyed collecting the miniatures and dreaming about the house. Later, my husband made a dolls' house for me, but although it was beautiful, it was always a bit too big for the space available, so eventually we passed it on to a young relative. 

Then, a few years ago, Alan found the second hand house of my dreams and it turned up on Christmas Day. It's a solid plywood Georgian mansion, with six rooms, plus stairs and hallways, in its beautiful interior. It may have been made from one of those patterns that you used to get in Hobbies Magazine. 

I just love it. 

I furnished it with my mum's pretty miniatures, and then spent the next few years adding to them. It is a bit over-furnished now, but I don't care. Cluttered is a good look for a dolls' house. 

Over the years, I've found more things to go in it, finding them in charity shops from time to time. Because I do some part time dealing in antique textiles, to supplement my writing income, I visit our local saleroom quite a lot, and one week I came home triumphantly carrying several boxes full of miniature furniture and accessories. I sold many of them - regretfully. The stunningly beautiful hand crafted Victorian style book case, with shelves full of real miniature books, was much in demand and since it didn't really fit into my own house, I had to let it ago, along with other things like garden furniture. I could have a garden, but again, space is short in this full size cottage. The one thing I haven't yet done is make curtains. That's on the to do list for this year. 

Anyway - here are some more pictures, so that you can peer into the rooms. My two favourite objects in the whole house are in the nursery. If you look closely, you'll find a pair of hand sewn soft toys: hares, I think, given the long ears. One's on the little boy's knee, and one is sitting in the chair. They are tiny and exquisite and no, I didn't make them but somebody did. The other miniatures that I love are the tiny rack of sewing things, in the nurserymaid's room - and that absolutely gorgeous needlework cushion in the comfortable chair in the drawing room. But really, it's full of good things. And if you think this is a strange hobby for a grown woman, I once had a friend who had three. Right enough she lived in a big house herself. But they were magical houses. 

I don't know quite why I love this house so much, but I think it's very much tied in with being a writer. For me, it has a life of its own. Although not, I hope, the kind of life that the haunted dolls' house has in the M R James story of the same name. But it does represent a kind of escapism for me. A form of play that certainly bears some resemblance to the kind of 'play' most writers indulge in when they play around with ideas and characters and made up places and spaces. 

When literal people say - as they occasionally do - where does the cook sleep, and where is the bathroom? - I tell them that there is, of course, a lot more to the house. 

You're just not seeing all of it. But in my imagination, I know it's there!


The nursery is probably my favourite.




The main bedroom. 



This is the nurserymaid's room. She does a lot of sewing!




Mr and Mrs Doll, at teatime. 
There's champagne too.




The dining room, all ready for dinner.




My other favourite room - I love this kitchen.





 

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