Sunday, June 07, 2009


When I was fairly young we lived in a huge old villa in Taumarunui for a while.

Coming out of a near new bungalow in Nelson my mother found the big freezing old heap of a house a fair trial I believe (at the time I was too young realise that, but her comments in later years tell the story and suggest that she came very close to not coping at all during those years).

The house had a coal range. No doubt a trial in itself to operate but responsible for turning the huge kitchen into a warm and cheerful place on bleak winter afternoons when the fog settled early (and tasted of coal smoke). There was milo warming on top of that range and sometimes biscuits baked in the oven too.

Tied in with the memory of the coal range was the memory of the drying rack over it, working on a pulley system that lowered it to reachable level for hanging the clothes on it which were then hoisted back up to just under the ceiling to dry in the heat but well out of the way.

Forty years on we have our own big old villa. In a climate slightly more temperate than Taumarunui and a little smaller and a little better insulated. No coal range though (and I was tempted by Wagener stoves and Agas and the like when we did the kitchen, but in the end gas seemed a bit quicker and less tempermental). This week though we got the drying rack.

Because I have a pedantic need to know some things I hung a thermometer off it for a while and found it is 26 degrees up there under the ceiling compared to 21 degrees at light switch level (with the benefit of a fire going for several hours)

Clothes hung over it at 6pm are dry the next morning. Who needs a clothes dryer. I do feel remarkably satisfied with this, for no good reason. I guess it is nostalgia as much as anything else.

As an aside the villa in Taumarunui has been in recent years restored and modernised to the showpiece property it must have been when originally built. And the house in Nelson my mother missed so much has been a rental for quite a while and the lack of TLC is showing.

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