She pressed her lips to my forehead, and I breathed in her lavender scent as she enveloped me in a goodnight hug. My grandmother always smelt like lavender, and soap. Her voice was my favourite sound in the world, and I loved learning things from her.
I loved the way that she would wrap me in a towel fresh from the bath, and set me in front of the fire; the snap and crackle of the flames making goose bumps jump all over my body. I loved how she would make my favourite cakes, warming them in the intense heat of the aga, and let me trail my finger around in the almost empty bowl, my fingertip dusted with icing like a tiny cupcake.
I loved the house she lived in; The Outpost. It was like a pocket of history, preserved in our family’s memory. It smelt old, but inviting, dusty, but happy. Every day was almost like being part of a historic re-enactment; preserving old values which had been lost in a world that was too busy to notice that it was forgetting things. One day, we would collect fruit from the orchard and make vats of jam, the syrupy bubbling liquid making the kitchen smell like a sweetshop. Another day, we would plant seeds in the vegetable plots in the garden, strategically placing the tiny seeds row upon row. I was always impatient to watch them grow, thinking that the moment we placed them in the ground, a bushel of potatoes would appear in its place. Another day we might go for a walk along the farm track into the adjacent field; picking over stones and pebbles, looking for rare gems. Once, we found a shepherds stone; a little round stone with the impression of an ancient star-fish pressed in the top. Another time, we found a large flint arrow head. I always found it hard to imagine people older than my grandparents having lived there.
Almost every evening, my grandmother would settle me on her lap by the fireplace, and tell me stories. Sometimes they were stories about what she called ‘the good old days’, when people weren’t in so much of a hurry, and everyone looked after each other. Times when my great grandfather lived in his shepherd’s van and reared his sheep, the single light of a candle for company on the humid summer nights. Times when my great grandmother would wander across the yard, trailing chicken feed as she went, the baby chicks running after her tripping over themselves and flapping their tiny wings. I was fascinated to learn how people always made their own clothes, didn’t own cars, and didn’t have television. I would nuzzle into my grandmother’s neck as her gentle voice lilted over the crackle and warmth of the fire, breathing in her wisdom as I fell asleep, her stories wandering into my dreams.