The huge cut-stone front gate leaves nothing to doubt. There is no way through! Jimmy and I look for a gap in the fence and it isn’t long before we find one. We scramble up the embankment, push aside some branches and in a flash we are on the other side, with a few scratches to show for our efforts. My heart is pounding. Carefully, we walk towards the building. We find a first door covered in ivy, then a second wrought iron one. It seems to lead under the terrace. It’s very dark, I’m not sure I want to go any further… The façade carries us back into the past. I feel like I am in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle! Vegetation covers the house, as if to protect it. Oleander is everywhere, completely covering the walls on the ground floor. Stone steps up to the terrace have been invaded by wisteria. In spring, the air must be filled with its perfume. And the bees must have a field day!
Barely 25 centimetres. That’s how much space there is for us to squeeze through, and at last we are inside. There is a little light in the empty living room where old embroidered curtains lie on the floor. The old, flaked pink decor gives the place a nostalgic feel. We walk around the rooms and find the kitchen with an old range cooker, the office with countless cupboards, and the dining room. A door opens onto some stairs leading down. Giving into curiosity, we go down. It’s dark, way too dark. I jump at the slightest creak. That thriller I read yesterday wasn’t such a good idea! Terrified, I take a few quick photos and go back the way we came (leaving Jimmy laughing behind me). I get back to the upper floor, I much prefer the light! We then find some bedrooms, a gorgeous Art Deco bathroom, the boudoir of the lady of the house and the office of her man.
At the end of the corridor, there are stairs leading to an attic full, as is fitting, of dusty furniture, wobbly chairs and old objects from the past. I love this kind of old stuff. A 1935 telephone book surrounded by piles of old letters, a worm-eaten wooden table lying on its side. Shoes, a suitcase and keys, all set ready to leave. A real treat for a photographer! Except that… Why did I not check that SD card before leaving? I know what I’ll do. I’ll come back tomorrow.
Exploring the garden takes a bit less time. Someone must come to do a bit of upkeep because there is still a certain geometry to it. We make our way down old paths to the bottom of the garden. There, the rhododendrons and azaleas are flowering under the great oak trees. Nature is so beautiful. A little further, there are some more paths lined by old rose bushes, leading towards another building – an old greenhouse still standing. Inside, amongst the pampas grass, there is a stuffed bull’s head lying on a table. What a strange scene!
Walking through an old abandoned garden and sneaking into a forgotten house is a bit like travelling back through time, with relics from the past, exciting new sensations, sometimes scary I’ll admit, but also some extraordinary discoveries. An amazing experience that we hope to repeat very soon.
¹ During this photographic journey, nothing was moved, touched or damaged.