The house is a bungalow, with fields on one side, and rough ground down to the burn behind. The farm road, growing steadily more pot-holed, leads from the sea-loch where we swam and sailed to the farm buildings, beyond which is a hill sometimes with sheep. The living room, four yards by seven, has an open fire heating a boiler for water, and the piano. It is one side of the hall from the front door to the bathroom, in front of the dining room and kitchen, with three bedrooms on the other side.
The front boundary is a stob-and-wire fence. Dad put in the hedges, and the fruit trees: the plums ripen all at once, for jam, puddings and gorging. The other side of the house from the garage is the vegetable garden, with potatoes, peas, beans, and strawberries. Sometimes Dad grows tomatoes in the living room window. Round the back is a bank down to rough ground, with boundary markers but no fence. We cut a way through the ferns to the Old Laundry, a roofless hovel with a tree growing through it, “too dangerous” to climb on. Then there is the river, whence the farmer gets the water supply: he cut ours off one hot summer when there was hardly enough for his cattle, and we brought water from the village by car. The sewer goes to a septic tank behind the garage, then a soakaway, a pit filled with large stones. Dad dug this down one year, when it got clogged with earth. Dawson, down the road, had continual problems with his septic tank, detectable as we walked to the school bus.
With the dog, I walk along the stony beach, or up the hill, sometimes further to the trig point, though not so much when the sheep are there. Once, three sheep proceeded us down the single track road as we walked home, and we could not get past them. I walk along the river, balancing on stones in its bed or clambering up the banks, 60° steep in places, sometimes as much as twenty yards deep. Between the river and the Kilberry road are old trees. Looking out the kitchen window, washing up, we see the heron hunt there. On the loch there are swans: these sea-water swans can be aggressive, seeking to chase us away, breaking the farm-worker’s leg once.
The loch is deep and cold, but once wind tide and sun made the top 6″ warm for swimming, and in August I can undress on the rocks sticking out into the water, and dive in. Or we swam in a high swell, the water pulling on me so that I still felt it walking back up the road. Latterly we had a dinghy on a mooring, and kept a rowing boat on the beach, to get to it. Though I was a home body, sitting in my room with a book much of the time.