Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Great Reading Spots

My mother was born near Dublin. Ever year, she scrimped and saved her small assistant lit professor salary so we could visit her parents. They lived in Sandycove, in an old house by the sea. It even had a name, Carrig-na-Chattan, which mean House by the Sea in Irish (go figure.)

My sister and I slept in our grandparents' room. There were two single, mismatched beds side by side, an old fireplace, and three large windows comprised of old, wavy glass held together, I believe, with lead.

One of those windows had a low seat inside. When I climbed in with a book and closed the curtains, it was the perfect reading spot. Ivy cascaded over the glass; in fact, several tendrils had forced their way right inside.

On a rainy day, it was like sitting in a Bathysphere. I would take my old, falling apart copy of The Youngest Girl in the Form or The Faraway Tree and read for hours.

I love my current house, but it just doesn't have a great reading spot. For one thing, my husband loves overhead lights, fixed right to the ceiling. They are trendy and attractive, but not cozy. We don't have a window seat or even enough book shelves.

Let's take a look at some gorgeous reading spots, just so I can drool:

Nice load of books and a lovely room, but I might need a cozier chair

Now that looks cozy.

And here is my window seat!


Hart Johnson said...

I am totally with you on that preference for side-lighting. When I was a kid I had a closet that was over the stairs, so the floor was raised and half was sloped--it was a GREAT reading spot. I'd bring a lamp on an extension cord and close the door. I definitely care about lighting--preferring the side sort--but the big deal to me is how comfy a spot is to lean a little--I don't want to be sitting straight or lying down, but rather somewhere in the middle. (mostly now I read when I walk or in the tub)

Catherine Stine said...

Lovely, lovely! Yes, I like a side light, and I must have a big, old desk on which to spread out my papers.

west_2552 said...

What wonderful memories, Alison! I always loved being in your mother's presence. She was so welcoming! Your daughter will have the same kind of memories. I think that our functional upbringings are so fundamental with how we feel about our surroundings. Genna's comfortable and happy with her home, and she'll feel the same way that you and Lesley did at your grandmother's house. It will be different-- different generation, different memories. And so the generations go-- you want for her what you had, but she'll be very content having been raised in wonderful surroundings. She'll have her own set of memories.

Cillian said...

Hi Alison,

My Grandmother actually owns that house at the moment. I'm interested in the history of it, it's such a lovely place and I've many fond childhood memories there. Unfortunately she no longer lives there due to poor health, and I fear it will be gone from our family soon. Im glad to hear im not alone in childhood memories of reading by its leaded glass (you're right about that part, its a pain to repair! :P )

Alison DeLuca said...

How lovely to hear that another generation enjoyed reading in the same spot I did! That is a wonderful blast from the past.

Did you get to play hide and seek in that funny cupboard under the stairs? And is the view from the dining room still as spectacular? I particularly remember windy summer afternoons, when we'd watch the sailboats all come out on the harbor.

Thanks so much for writing in, Cillian!

Unknown said...

Hi Cillian, I am Alison's sister. She let me know about your post! I bet your Grandmother bought the place when ours moved out--in the mid to late 70s? Our great-aunt Ada lived there initially when her lawyer husband, Patrick Coll bought the place, I'm guessing in the 20s. He was the son of Sir Patrick Coll, the Crown Solicitor for Ireland in the 1800s (but he did not live in the house). Our grandparents were married nearby and I have a family photo of their reception in the back yard. Very 20s. My thing was to move out to the rocks every morning and pretty much live there until hauled in for meals. I think I started shearing over the back fence. I'm sure your family updated much from the one-in, one-out loo system of our day...I wish you could keep the place. We could scan some older photos for you if you wanted.

Unknown said...

One more thing for Cillian and Alison: according to our aunt who lived there for a while and carried out the sale to your grandmother, Carriag na Chattan means Rock of Shaw which I never realized, and the previous owners before the Colls were Shaws, who had the house built. Yes they were related to THAT Shaw, George Bernard. So that means only three families have ever owned that house. That is saying something.