In the region of Northwestern France where I live with my family there are any number of ancient houses, some with roofs rotted and gone, others eyeless where their windows are smashed and empty. They litter the countryside, piles of stones, clad with ivy, waiting to be recycled, returned into the earth where they came from.
So much is left behind in these abandoned places. So much evidence of other lives once lived. These old places are documents of change. One day our own house may be the same, an ode to the ephemeral nature of human life.
I recently fitted a new window in the place of a doorway. This doorway was built for people shorter than us, it was so low. I regularly hit my head on it. This had to change. Last year, with the opening up of the cider barn a new access was made to the garden. Today the old door awaits dismantling. I can reuse most of it elsewhere.
I had to widen the opening to fit the new window, removing the lime plaster to expose the stone, the mud and oak that went into the building of the metre thick walls of our cottage. It was only a small area, but it quickly filled up my wheelbarrow with dust and plaster and stone.
The old bones of the house were quickly covered up, the cold sealed out of our home with new plaster, a new concrete step and new double glazing. Ancient and modern side by side. Old bones and new eyes sitting together.
Now I can see the ducks in the garden, and they can watch me while I watch the television. Last night I could see them as they went in to roost, so I knew when to secure their pen, disturbing the cat from my lap in the process. He came with me and ran up the walnut tree.
I looked back into the house, through the renewed opening. Good for another half-century.