2020 was the year I moved back to the South West after a brief spell in Norfolk - although to my mind it felt less like moving and and more like running back for forgiveness, as a person might into the arms of a lover whose finer points they had taken for granted. I carried out the move during the height of the first Covid lockdown, half a dozen journeys there and back, across almost the entire width of the country. What I remember most clearly about the days that followed such an insane undertaking is not exhaustion but elation at how intoxicating and fresh and moist the air of Dartmoor’s southern apron seemed, in contrast to the Norwich suburbs, how loud the birdsong was and how empty the lanes were. That May and June I heard more cuckoos than I’d heard since childhood. Not much over a mile from my front door I chanced upon a deep pool to swim in under a bridge on a lane to nowhere commercial. As it turned out, due to the structural condition of the house I’d moved to, the grasping unsympathetic behaviour of my landlords and two extremely horrid and surely not unrelated bouts of illness, I was about to experience the most dramatic
This was amazing. Sad that the Collector was described as a hoarder. I feel that one can never have too many books. Would that paper also have described the eccentric owner of Snowshill as a "hoarder"? He also had so much stuff in his main house that he had to move out to a small cottage in the grounds. The house is now a National Trust property (do visit it if you haven't, you would LOVE it).
I love this piece and it’s photos more than I can say. It’s something when a writer can bring you into a time and place so that you can see it (I think I’d have seen the house and it’s surroundings in my minds eye just this way even without photos) and feel it. What a life the Collector seems to have had. I hope he was happy tucked in with his books. I wish your house there had worked out for you. It seemed magical...and who doesn’t need to live with a walled garden?
This fits so beautifully with the previous post about loving your stuff.
What a wonderful essay, so atmospheric, tender and sympathetic to spirit of place and to the Collector. I would like to have known him. You have made him alive and real, though, so thank you. I like how you talked to him, very imaginative.
Tom this was so emotional and filled with the magic of your writings. A true eulogy to a gentleman and his home
What a beautiful tribute. I don't know this house or its former residents, but I feel as touched by their story as if I did ❤️❤️❤️
(And swearwords for those who reduced the man to a 'hoarder'. Grrrr.)
I really loved this one, thanks Tom.
This is lovely. All those abandoned books, that abandoned home, you rescuing an abandoned garden, and the old man in the tweed jacket. More of this please.
We loved him, my daughters and I. He had a gift with children, an unusual wonderful gift of being able to be in a child's shoes and to see the wonders of the world as a child. My daughters, now grown up with their own children have never forgotten the magic of those days at the Manor and how his presence touched and enriched our lives in beautiful NH.............
What a magical topic. I loved this piece.
Thankyou Tom that was beautiful.
Hello I really enjoy all your writing but I really really like this piece and I hope it is the beginning of a whole book. Thank you
This beautiful house sold at auction for nearly double the estimate of £425000. I hope whoever bought it will renovate it beautifully and spend a long and happy time living in it.
Toad is also wearing tweed.
I remember reading this back then. It’s lovely.
Beautiful and gently moving, thank you.
Excellent piece. Particularly moved by the point about keyboard warriors expecting properness by everyone until death. I love how this man looked conventionality in the eye but chose to turn his back. The house looks magical.