The Big House

There were no other girls within reasonable distance, but I played on my own a lot, and was accepted by the gang of boys that my brother played with, when I could manage to keep up with them. The leaders of the gang were two brothers living at the big house, whose father owned a mill at Sowerby Bridge; their garden seemed huge and park-like and they employed a gardener and a proper live-in maid. We didn’t get to the garden as far as I remember but could scramble through the hedge at one corner where the grass clippings were tipped and the smell of hot, rotting grass seemed a big part of life to me in those pre-school days, meaning that I was romping about, rolling in clippings and out of earshot of my mother. Once we were trying to cut the grass with a small scythe, and I must have swung it against my left inside ankle bone, because when my mum removed my wellies, there was a wet foot caused by a little hole leaking in some puddle water. On close inspection, there was a little hole on my ankle. I remember deciding that the sickle-swinging incident was not a suitable item for adult ears, and said I’d no idea what had happened to my boot. I still have a little scar, just at the front edge of the ankle’s bony knob.