I guess that many of my ideas of home are entwined with the provision of hospitality, be it offering a bed or two to interstate visitors, setting extra places around the dinner table for unexpected guests or putting the kettle on to make a pot of tea when the doorbell rings. Each year I make many jars of jam, marmalade and chutney to take as small gifts when I visit family or friends as a little taste from my home.
Living as part of a large, close family, many of my earliest memories are of Gran’s rambling farmhouse near Beachmere in Queensland. Whether helping her roll some pastry for a fruit pie while the joint of beef slowly roasted for dinner, or rubbing homemade butter into the flour for a batch of scones for an afternoon tea with the stock agent to discuss cattle prices, the kitchen always seemed to be the heart of her home.
Home’s the most excellent place of all.” – Neil Diamond
Inside the bougainvillea-covered summerhouse, I remember dressing up in my auntie’s old evening frocks, hats, sparkly earrings and high heels to play the ‘lady’ while my boy cousins dressed in Dad’s and Pa’s old college boating jackets or service uniforms. Once dressed up, we played our favourite game of ‘family’, setting a small table with cups and plates for dinner and putting various babies (often a cat or two ) to bed in old fruit crates, and making mud pies with which to feed our less than impressed babies.Best of all early memories of home was of snuggling down in bed, after an action-packed day on the farm, under the fragrant lavender-scented sheets, with the sounds of fruit bats squabbling in the mango tree outside the bedroom window, as I drifted off into a deep sleep, safe in the place I first called ‘home’.
Annie Payne is a personal historian and professional storykeeper. For more information on preserving your family memories, click here to visit Annie’s blog.
This story originally appeared in Issue 1, Nov-Dec 2010.