Places in our Memories with Alex Craigie #Mondayblogs #Memories

There are places that remain in our memories, the details may become slightly blurred, nostalgia may colour our thoughts, but they don’t fade. And how those places made us feel at the time is the one thing that remains.

Today’s memories are from Alex Craigie, a dear friend I’ve known both in ‘real’ life and online for many years. 

So many thanks to Judith for inviting me to take part in this series. Everyone has had a different take on the prompt and I’ve loved the diverse and fascinating contributions.

My first memories are of this house that was my home until I was ten.

Kingston Lodge, 7 Westminster Road, Eccles, Lancashire.

Here’s Google’s recent picture:

And here’s a couple of what it looked like then:

This one is of me and my brother at Easter. We’re with my mother, rolling hardboiled eggs on the driveway.

It’s a large house. Those pictures are of the side; the front is broader and stretches deep into the photograph.

My mother, a nurse, met my father, a doctor, in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. When the window cleaner crashed through the glass-topped verandah he was fortunate (!) to have people on hand equipped to deal with a medical emergency. (I see it’s been removed now.)

The entrance hall was a cavernous space bordered by a beautiful fireplace on the left and a staircase on the right. A long and creepy cloakroom dwelt under the staircase, dwindling to dark nothingness as it followed the line above it. The ceiling of the hall soared two staircases to the landing of the first floor bedrooms and the hard, smooth flooring was a great surface for playing jacks. One Christmas, I tottered around for ages on that floor in a pair of sparkly Cinderella shoes, aping the sound that my mother made in her stilettos.

Nowadays, I struggle to remember what I had to eat for lunch, but I can still recall the number of the phone on the camphor chest by the stairs: ECC (Eccles) 2048.

There were four rooms off the hall. The drawing room (with the French doors under the verandah) was light and sunny. I wrote my first story there at the bureau when I was six. When my mother read the bit where one of the characters was dismissed, she laughed at my use of the term “you’re fired”. It stung.

One evening I was sent to the drawing room to fetch something. A man with straggly hair was at the French doors, his face pressed up grotesquely against the full-length window. He started shouting and screaming and banging on the glass. I was terrified. My father explained later that the man wasn’t well. Since then, I close the curtains before it’s properly dark.

The other rooms off the hall comprised a lounge, dining room and breakfast room. The breakfast room led to the kitchen and pantry and there was also a door to the expansive cellars where things like coal were kept. For a timid child, the cellars held all the charm of Madame Tussaud’s dungeons. (I was that timid child.)

I have fond memories of Rory, our dog, stealing the brass hearthbrush, racing to the top of the hall staircase, releasing it and then chasing after it. I dropped a glass down them in similar vein –minus the intent– tumbling after it. Again, it was good to have a health professional on hand. A puckered scar is my memento.

These stairs led up to a landing. A corridor to the left, with built-in cupboards, ended in another cloakroom. In the middle was a minstrel gallery backed by a block of tall windows. At night, they threw menacing shadows of trees, and during thunderstorms these windows terrified me almost as much as the incident in the drawing room.

To the right of the gallery was a flight of stairs up to four of the bedrooms. I slept in the third room for a while, but there was a patch of wallpaper opposite the bed in which I could see a clown’s face. When I looked at it, the smile on the face seemed to grow in a sinister way that led to nightmares. I was relocated to the fourth room.

My brother’s cot was moved into this room with me and one morning, returning from the loo, I found him leaning over the bars and staring at his teddy bear melting on the small electric bar heater. There were full-length net curtains at the window. I can still picture the tiny felt circles that were dotted over them. As I took in the scene, the curtain nearest the cot flared up. I yelled for help, dragged Ian over the bars and hauled him onto the landing. When all the excitement was over, all that remained to show for it was an acrid smell, a blackened wall and ceiling, and a large tarry patch on the linoleum. My parents’ appreciation extended to a trip to Woolworths to buy a treat; well worth the momentary panic.

Up another small staircase was the family bathroom –an unlovely room in monochrome with a bath that had a green stain under one of the taps, a discoloured plastic beaker that held our toothbrushes, and greying towels that made great exfoliators. It was a cold room even in the summer.

One final staircase led to the last three bedrooms. The first of these was for the Au Pair girls who stayed with us to learn English and earned their keep by helping out. The second was sometimes occupied by Anne, a live-in servant who came and went according to her tempestuous lovelife.

The third room became my playroom. It’s that window in the pictures at the very top of the house. I could only see out of it if I stacked up my toys and balanced on them. After a visit to the circus, I taught myself to stand on my head in there. I was expected to stay in this room, out of the way. I resented, later, being cooped in there with my brothers, but it was an escape from my parents’ disintegrating marriage. And I had my books.

My free time was mainly spent in the playroom, garden, or with my friend Jane.

Here I am in the back garden with my grandfather. Rory is in the foreground.

Looking back, I realise that I had no concept of my privileged existence. My life seemed very ordinary compared with my immediate surroundings. Jane’s house, round the corner from us, was much grander than ours. It had two impressive staircases and several live-in servants. Backing on to our garden was another palatial house used by the family of someone high up in the USAF. Cheryl was my age and had a massive, carpeted bedroom and exquisite princess and fairy costumes. In the winter, her father sprayed water over the lawn for her to skate on.

My parents divorced when I was ten. My father got the house; my mother got us. We moved to a basement maisonette in Bramhall, Cheshire. I’m in front of it here, on the right, next to my mother, two brothers and a (solemn) friend:

Behind the two windows at the bottom left, were a spacious kitchen and cramped bathroom. Those windows were beyond our reach and daylight was filtered out by the overhanging greenery and architecture. The two rooms above were, in contrast, full of light, but half the size because of the maisonette abutting them. A bijou sitting room and main bedroom were separated by a glass partition. I slept in the remaining tiny room with the older of my brothers. My mother and I repeatedly asserted how cosy it was. We knew we were lying.

Itchy bites turned out to be bedbugs and we had to leave temporarily whilst the place was fumigated. A lecherous landlord proved to be another problem (a divorced woman was often seen as desperate for attention and fair game), and noise seeped freely into the flat from the surrounding ones. We did have a phone, though. BRA (Bramhall) 3969…

That winter, 1962/1963, was one of the coldest on record in the UK. We returned one day to discover the water tank in the flat above us had burst and there were magnificently long icicles adorning our staircase. In the kitchen, I had a skating rink to rival Cheryl’s.

There were financial constraints in this new life, but I had a freedom that I’d lacked before. At the local school, I made friends and played outside with them. I taught the whole class how to stand on their heads. I left before the end of the year but was given a handmade book of poems put together by the teacher and signed by my classmates – most of them ‘with love’. It mattered. I still have it.

The loss of status had a traumatic effect on my mother who spent the rest of her days trying to fashion a residence as impressive as Kingston Lodge. She was a genuinely talented pianist and had a comfortable life but her appreciation for what she did have was overshadowed by what she’d lost.

I loved the old house, but there were other things I loved more.

Her loss was, sadly, my gain.

About Alex:

Alex Craigie is the pen name of Trish Power.

Trish was ten when her first play was performed at school. It was in rhyming couplets and written in pencil in a book with imperial weights and measures printed on the back.

When her children were young, she wrote short stories for magazines before returning to the teaching job that she loved.

Trish has had three books published under the pen name of Alex Craigie. The first two books cross genre boundaries and feature elements of romance, thriller and suspense against a backdrop of social issues. Someone Close to Home highlights the problems affecting care homes while Acts of Convenience has issues concerning the health service at its heart. Her third book. Means to Deceive, is a psychological thriller.

Someone Close to Home has won a Chill with a Book award and a Chill with the Book of the Month award. In 2019 it was one of the top ten bestsellers in its category on Amazon.

Find Alex on Amazon:

On Facebook:

Book lovers are welcome to contact her on

85 thoughts on “Places in our Memories with Alex Craigie #Mondayblogs #Memories

  1. Pingback: Blog Share: Places in our Memories with Alex Craigie #Mondayblogs #Memories — Judith Barrow – Peregrine Arc

  2. Love that bit about the phone number – ours, when I was a child, was (Northampton – 0604, before all the 1s were added to STD codes!) 51636. In the next house, 42848. My father used to say them out in full when he answered the phone sometimes (being funny).

    Yet I haven’t got a clue what my husband’s mobile number is….

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hilarious. I have a friend who, in all seriousness, answers her phone with ” Saundersfoot” and then the full number. Actually quite frustrating waiting for her to finish before I can say what I need to say. Unfortunately she doesn’t have a mobile. Off to check what David’s mobile number is. Thanks for reading and commenting, Terry. x

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Alex this is a lovely early life story, really interesting. I love your house, I want to move there. Also the grounds. FAB. You had a wonderful life there and a change is always hard to cope with but you did. Your poor mother, it is sad reading about her and what she lost. I do hope she managed to enjoy her life. The photos are awesome. Thanks for sharing, and thanks Judith for hosting Alex. Such an interesting post (life) and as a fan of old photos, these were ace. Happy days xx

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s fascinating, isn’t it, Jane. Wonderful house and a childhood totally different from mine, so I loved reading Alex’s post when she first sent it to me. I often wonder how many images of our lives will disappear now they don’t often get printed out. Thanks for dropping by to comment. Whenever you’re ready to join in with your own memories, you’ll be very welcome. x

      Liked by 1 person

      • I began to reply and somehow it all disappeared. I was saying that I have thousands of photos on various hard drives which will most probably get thrown out when I go. I have boxes of B&W and Sepia photos which are like a social history they go back a long way, and I have so many albums of photos but they are fading due to the plastic sleeves on them. Polaroids are the worst, they fade to nothing. I would love to take part, thanks for asking. Do let me know the when, how and what you need. Thanks for asking me. J xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • That story is heartbreaking. The problem with great wealth is that the wrong people can be attracted to it and values become twisted and unhealthy. It takes a hard man to treat his children that way.
        I have lots of photos from my grandparents’ generation and before. My father wrote on the back of each one who the people were, their relationship to him and (sometimes) where the photo was taken and why. When my mother’s memory began to fail we went through several boxes of photos with her on different occasions. We set up a video camera and recorded her talking about them and I wrote the salient details on the back. This way, the next generations can make sense of them. My grandchildren find them fascinating. I hope yours are appreciated, too. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • It does help to have information on the back especially in the case of my father and his siblings, born in India, and there until Partition, and their photos are a social history which is fascinating. Our son and grandchildren are not interested in the family, especially those if us in England. They (the kids and their mother),are Americans and they haven’t the slightest interest in their family here or history. I started writing a book for them all, about their English heritage, and was told, bluntly by their mother that any family history would be told by her – her family history, not the English one. So I put it away. I send photos of various relatives now and again, but they never comment. Hubster says give up! I think they will regret it one day. But, I love family history, and have researched all sides back to as far as I can go beyond 1066, and it is fascinating. Their loss, we think. xx

        Liked by 2 people

      • It IS their loss. I’d still do it, Jane, because people’s interests in their pasts do change as they become older, and there may well be a family member who will cherish them. If you have information about your family’s time in India during Partition, it would make fascinating for many people – me included! xx

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for your kind words, I live in hope. Yes, Partition was a difficult time. Still causes everyone grief. Thanks so much. I’m going to do Memories for Judith and it may contain some photos from India. I am thinking what to write. Have a fab day xx

        Liked by 2 people

    • Bless you for that, Jane! It was a lovely house and I left out other details about it because the post was so long as it was. My mother came from a comfortable three-bedroomhouse, but Kingston Lodge surpassed it in so many ways. She held stylish coffee mornings and afternoon teas there and money wasn’t an issue. To then go to a cramped, dark maisonette with bedbugs must have been horrific for her. I’m glad that you liked the photos – I had to dig down deep to find them!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Just wonderful. Reminded me of a friend whose family was incredibly wealthy, huge mansion, grounds and several Rolls Royces, servants and securoty guards. Dad had a mistress and when the kids were old enough he sold the house, purchased a fab home for the mistresss and his former wife and kids ended up in a tiny flat by the seaside and struggled to make ends meet. Mistresss lived it up, he died, she inherited it all. So it rang a few bells in so many ways. xx

        Liked by 2 people

    • That four figure number speaks realms about how few people had phones of their own then. Fascinated to hear about the “party line” – did this mean you could listen in to each other’s calls?!

      Liked by 2 people

      • When we were first married we had a party line with next door neighbour. It was a given that it was good manners to put the phone down if they were talking on it when you lifted the receiver (usually with a muttered “sorry” ) And , if it were the other way around you heard them lift the receiver. x

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, this was during the 1950s and we knew everyone’s “ring.” You made one ring to call “central” and tell her what number you wanted connected with! Hmm, I guess I’m histoic?

        Liked by 2 people

      • They were very different times, Joy, weren’t they! Our house was in England but a lot of our relatives lived in Scotland. Phone communications with them involved a lot of shouting down the line! We’d also have the ‘pips’ sound after every three minutes and if you didn’t say your goodbyes quickly enough you were committed to the expense of another three. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    • Even now, I can walk myself through the house in my imagination and see everything in so much detail. Ask me what our bedroom wallpaper looks like and I’d have to think long and hard! As for the ice rink, I thought it was (briefly) fantastic. The clearing-up operation was less thrilling…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think it’s the clarity and detail of some of those memories that surprise me now. Do you have photos of your old home? I think I was lucky to find these ones. Photographic film was expensive then and you didn’t like to waste it on something unimportant – there are none I know of that show any of the interior. We’re decades away from taking bragging snaps of plates of food!


  4. Pingback: Places in our Memories with Alex Craigie #Mondayblogs #Memories ‣ A Little TOO Picture Imperfect

  5. Wow, what a wonderful share from Trish! The descriptions brought me right inside what seemed that stately house. I can well imagine how that vision of clown on the wall could cause nightmares. So many people have an aversion to clowns, lol. And what a lifestyle switch, that had to be hard on Trish’s mum. Not too often you hear about the husband getting the house and booting the mother with the kids. Ouch! Seems like there were a lot of that came from broken homes. I loved that Trish still had those photos that really took us back in time. Hugs to both xoxo

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for that lovely comment, Debby! I didn’t know of anyone else in my junior school whose parents were divorced and the staff would sometimes try to probe me, unsuccessfully, for information. I wasn’t privy to the details of the divorce, but from my perspective my father was a gentle man and possibly a little way along the autistic spectrum. She sued him for cruelty and he simply accepted it. I was a witness to her volatility and his (no doubt infuriating) acceptance. She had also fallen madly in love with someone who didn’t reciprocate it – although she assumed his lack of response was because she was married. It was a mess. I suspect her behaviour may have been behind the court’s decision, and to my certain knowledge my father always paid her more in maintenance that what had been agreed upon. ♥♥

      Liked by 2 people

      • Wow Trish, that’s some history. It almost reminds me of my parents volatile relationship. I suppose there were many like those relationships back in the day that many never spoke of. Quite a colorful life! ❤ xx

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Judith, thank you so much for inviting me to take part in this lovely series of yours. From my point of view, it’s been great (and cathartic!) sharing my early memories, and I’m genuinely appreciative of the time and trouble that you’ve gone to. You rock! ♥♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks, Priscilla! I didn’t mind the bedbugs nearly as much as my mother did – but they were intensely itchy! The big house and the basement flat both had their pros and cons. For me, the flat was a roof above our heads but the freedom I had outside compensated for the lack of room on the inside. Those photos ARE precious. I hadn’t really thought about them much but I now know that I need to make copies of them!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. HI Judith, it is great to find Alex here (or Trish, but I know her as Alex) and learn more about her. A most interesting post about her childhood memories. I am left wondering what happened to her father and did her mother remarry or did she remain single. A funny time, when women always seem to get a raw deal in a divorce from a financial perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks for the comment, Robbie. My mother was in love with someone else but it wasn’t reciprocated. My father continued to support her in many ways (including giving her a better financial settlement than the one awarded by the court) but they were clearly incompatible from the start. She then spent her life trying to turn her house into a palace while he downsized to a simple semi-detached house in Salford, Manchester. He remarried aged 61 and he and my stepmother were very happy together. I was aware of the appalling way some men assumed she’s have a fling with them because she was divorced. A salesman came round one day (to that flat in Bramhall) to demonstrate a vacuum cleaner. She declined it in the end. After he’d gone, she asked me to stay up with her because she had a feeling he’d turn up that night. He did. I stood with her as she answered the door and she was able to get rid of him. The landlord gave her a lift in his van and he started flirting with her, but she said that when he took a bite out of his apple he left his false teeth in it. He sat quietly after that…

      Liked by 2 people

      • That’s a lovely thing to say, but really I was simply swept along by the circumstances. I do remember laughing with her about the landlord, though. He really was creepy but the apple incident so embarrassed him he kept his distance after that! xx

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Judith, I’m sorry to be late. Thank you for hosting Alex. What a beautifully vivid and engaging journey through your memories, Alex. I felt I was there with you. It’s funny… your “incident in the drawing room” is one of the sort of rituals I have every evening. As soon as it’s dark, I’ve always closed all the curtains — because part of me is very afraid someone will be outside, looking through a window. Maybe there’s something I’ve forgotten long ago… but I don’t know why I feel that way. At least you have a reason! LOL.
    My memory for numbers is awful. I know them — until I’m asked, and then they vanish. Although, like you, I still remember that first telephone as a child and our number. So strange.
    Thanks again for this marvelous post. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for the lovely comment, Teagan. It’s interesting that we share the same phobia about closing the curtains. Perhaps something spooked you when you were very young and it’s remained in your semi conscious. Our brains and memories are weird and wonderful things and I suspect that is partly why I’m enjoying this series of Judith’s so much – there are so many different small shared experiences amongst the surprises. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is incredibly heartwarming. I had a similar experience with loss of status around my teens. Oddly enough i and my brother took it better but my mum never did. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Tia, for that kind comment! Interesting to hear you had a similar experience and that it impacted more on your mother than you and your brother. Perhaps children are less aware of social status and so don’t feel that same pain when it’s lost.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think so too. Children have less understanding and appreciation of social status. For instance we feel the loss now as adults surprisingly when we hardly understood what was happening as children. A factor in this would be parents who try and protect their children from the worse of it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You’re right, course, Tia. The natural instinct of parents is to protect their children and that must play a large part in it, too. Good point!

        Liked by 1 person

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