We visited six houses on our recent tour. Three of them were those of relatives – our daughter, Joanna, my brother Eugene, and John’s sister, Helen (plus their spouses of course.) All our relatives have lovely houses which are warm and welcoming, but it is the houses of friends that I am thinking of today.

We visited one house on the banks of the Forth River. It has such wonderful views that I have often reflected that if I lived there I would do no work at all but just sit and watch the river traffic and the wildlife slip by as the tides came in and out. It is a very stylish and elegant house. Our hosts are highly skilled at building, soft furnishings etc and I am always interested to see what they have been working on since we last visited. Seeing them is the most important thing of course but there are certain possessions of theirs that I look out for. There is a covetable collection of small wooden boxes; an embroidery worked by the lady of the house of a section from the Bayeux tapestry and a glass ornament pale turquoise in colour but illuminated with a splash of orange that they were given for their golden wedding anniversary. I relax when I see that these things are still present.

Another house whose hospitality we enjoyed is not far from the previous one and it is interesting in how it reflects the work of the occupants. The man of the house is a distinguished architectural historian and I love to see his work room, full from floor to the ceiling with books, and the papers that he is working on laid out in orderly piles. There is scarcely an historic building in the whole of Scotland that he cannot instantly recall and they have visited almost every island and glen. Paintings of these wild and lovely places adorn their walls. The lady of the house is a musician and no ordinary one either, for she has an organ installed in her living room. In how many houses can you sit back and relax, enjoying the paintings on the wall while your hostess treats you to her own playing of a Bach Toccata?

Finally we visited the fourth house of friends of ours in Oxford, which we were seeing for the first time. They are also both very skilled in interior design. The lady comes from a famous family of architects and she has inherited some large and imposing pieces of antique furniture, which they skilfully combine with some very modern pieces. It is interesting when you do see a succession of people’s houses how no matter how different the basic house is, nor whether they buy new soft furnishings or carpets, the eventual ambience is always the same. In this house I look out for a wooden goose that hangs from the ceiling and can slowly flap its wings (from America I think); two wonderful pots from some Oriental country with lids with lion handles, and a beautiful architectural drawing of the Natural History museum.

It is a great privilege to be admitted as a guest to the private living spaces of one’s friends and to see them again, to recognise that, even though we are all growing older, they are still true to their essential selves. Their harmonious and beautiful homes are a reflection of them, and we have loved them and their lovely houses for a long, long time.

About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.


  1. Jack Paterson says:

    Your own home is also always most welcoming to friends as guests!

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