The house was built in 1930, and old bells and night lights, doors and spiders’ webs have been exposed through the renovations: as the old dust swirls around, it is possible to smell tobacco smoke from many decades ago, and to picture the pipes and hats, whisky and shaving soap that would have been typical at the time. Ghosts are being laid to rest, and it is time.
As I camp in other rooms, the noise of sawing and drilling from above fills the place, but it is a peaceful sound, a reminder of craftsmen at work in this old place once again, some of them related to the builders who put the place together 80 years ago, and all of them - carpenters, plumbers and electricians - known to me as friends I trust and esteem. It is continuity and change coming together, leaving parts of the past behind and preparing my home for its future; while it is disruptive and sometimes not easy to work, the airy transformation that is on its way will make it worthwhile.
As the men work, the windows are open wide and every door stands ajar, enabling the country breath to flow everywhere on this windy day, refreshing and cleansing the old energies, and mine too. The routines of cake for tea and “bait” at 10, each man with his own mug and known preferences, are as constant now as they were then, and apart from modern equipment and vans to replace the horse and carts and hand-forged tools, little has changed in the manner and quality of these people whose source and heart and life are in these Welsh hills. Their presence is so much more than just upheaval, and it is very welcome, indeed.