Monday, September 13, 2010

The Escape Hatch

It wouldn't have to be grand, my little sanctuary.

It could be a wee shed tucked behind the house at the bottom of the garden, like Roald Dahl's was.
(Roald Dahl's writing shed, via the Guardian)

Yes, I know it's barely wider than a sofa, but its diminutive nature appeals to me because there would be no room for distractions. Give me a worn armchair with plumped cushions, a stack of books, a wooden lap board for my computer and an old wireless tuned to Radio 4 and leave me be. I could travel to the other side of the world during the day and still make the 3pm school run.

What I Would Read:
"The Sound Machine" , Roald Dahl

What I Would Drink:
PG Tips Classic Blend

What I Would Listen To:

* * *

And look at this little round house. It's straight out of J.R.R. Tolkien, don't you think?
(via the Guardian)

In my fantasy, I have taken it on a six month sublet from Bilbo Baggins while he's off on his journey to return the Ring. In the novel, the house has "paneled walls, tiled and carpeted floors, polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats" -- and I'm sure this one does, too. I can see myself here dividing my time between reading, writing and lots of productive puttering (tea-making, scone-baking and gardening, for instance).

What I Would Read:
I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
One Pair of Hands, Monica Dickens
The Bucolic Plague, Josh Kilmer-Purcell

What I Would Drink:
Homemade elderflower cordial

What I Would Listen To:
"The Old Walking Song", Charles McCreery

* * *

Last year, I wrote about my deep love for gypsy caravans...and the passing of time has not cooled my ardor.
(via tumblr)

The caravan above isn't on wheels but mine would be because the idea that I could pack up at any moment and head off on some romantic, restless, come-what-may adventure totally appeals to me in theory. I would toss big kilim pillows on the floor and hang billowing curtains in the doorway. Letting my hair grow and donning peasant blouses and long ethnic skirts goes without saying. I would be Talitha Getty on the outside and Bruce Chatwin on the inside.

What I Would Read:
Beware of Pity, Stefan Zweig
City of Djinns, William Dalrymple

What I Would Drink:
Créme Yvette liqueur

What I Would Listen To:

Editor's Update: A prior commitment prevented me from making the Nathan Turner lecture on Sunday. Did you go?


Jane said...

I love them all. It is all very well to have a room of one's own in the confines of the house but to have a separate structure outside the house..... that is true bliss.

I think I like the caravan the best, although I would find that Alexandria Quartet (even just the best one) a bit of a struggle to get through again. Laurence Durrell didn't seem to have as much wit and perspective as Gerald.

That's what I felt at least. xo

pve design said...

I hope you will add the book "Flapper" to your list and listen to "Melody Gardot" - and have some delightful heady scent wafting in the air.
I just may have to join you.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Jane: Yes, the "Alexandria Quartet" is one of those books that you either love or hate. :)

PVE: Am going to Amazon to get "Flapper" and will look for "Melody Gardot" now. Thank you! xxx

Anonymous said...

a reminder of what we really need, i think. that is, not a lot! for those who love the caravan the best, following is a link to a wonderful site - an artist who travelled the uk in a little home on wheels. it takes some hunting, but the posts on the fitting out of the home and places experienced are worth the effort:

me, i too like the caravan - you can go where you fancy!

Mrs. Blandings said...

We have a little book around here, somewhere, called Shed Chic. Mr. B was just looking for it the other day. Maybe he has plans for a little escape as well.

designchic said...

I love the little round house... what a luxury it would be to have that as my blogging spot-heaven!!

Glamour Drops said...

These are all fabulous and all so different - which just goes to show that a retreat is best when it is somewhat eccentric. (I love Rohald Dahl's yellow door.) Great post.

Tilda Drake esq. said...

Wonderful. I lived in the same Buckinghamshire village as Roald Dahl for a time as a child. Ah, happy days in bucolic bliss.

And yes, a haven of one's own is quite imperative to the wellbeing of all, particualrly writers and women!

'I Capture the Castle' is definitely a favourite.

Anonymous - thank you for the link to 'The Hermitage'. Gosh, there are some gems out there.

Anonymous said...

lisa, me again. another link to the hermitage i mentioned above - thought some of these extraordinary walls reminded me of your own wonderful wallpapered hallway!

Terra said...

These are each charming and if you can transport one of them in to our back garden, I would accept.
The gypsy caravan is very appealing, especially if drawn by two ponies. My husband and I encountered a similar caravan(s) in Wales years ago.

Mona thompson said...

Great post! I think I'll just move from house to house with you. I promise not to distract you. I'll be lost in my computer and books as well.

Väva! Veve! said...

Oh! My favorite is definitely the round house. It has such an otherworldliness to it! I too love small houses. Maybe it stems from my girlhood days and playing house in the wash house at the cabin. Lately I have been fascinated by Jay Shafer and his Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. The cutest most efficient spaces for living! AND they come with wheels!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Although My Family and Other Animals is my favourite book, I would have to borrow it from you to take from Roald's shed to Bilbo's round house. What a sublime hideaway. But I'd install a round door to make it more authentic!! And I would listen to Jean Redpath and Dolores Keane. "Once Upon a Time in America" makes me cry.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lisa, This is such an imaginative and beautifully presented posting which I have much enjoyed reading. I think that, finally, I too should settle for the Romany caravan but, like you, with wheels to be free to roam. THe only drawback is that I am not too certain how to manage and look after a horse!

Maria Rosa said...

Perfect post. I love the three escapes. Maybe the caravene one is the best because you really can escape with it and with such wonderful music !
About the lecture: I don´t know what to say. Here, in Spain, sunday is not the best day because is supposed family time

Anna said...

My Family and Other Animals is such a wonderful book. I wish it were more read.

All three of those little houses are lovely. The Hobbity one is my favourite; it's always been my dream to live in a real live Hobbit hole. I think I would be constantly inspired.

There's something special about the miniature, isn't there? Great post.

Acanthus and Acorn said...

Loved traveling with you and having a few cocktails! "Chocolat" with the gorgeous Juliet Binoche and equally gorgeous Johnny Depp certainly gave the gypsy life great appeal! A great reminder of little it takes to be content.

Genuine Lustre said...

A girl after my own heart. This is the very sort of thing that goes on in my head.

loveandlilac said...

I've just had a tiny summerhouse built at the bottom of my garden and I am ridiculously pleased with it. Maybe one day I'll write something of merit in there.

I met Rohald Dahl once years ago - a very grumpy man. Maybe thats what happens when you spend too much time alone in your escape hatch?

Great post.

Louise x

Michelle said...

I think it was Michael Crichton who once said that he and his wife preferred small rooms because they "constricted the thoughts." I never forgot that statement because, to me, it was so true. Love this post.

helen tilston said...

I will follow along on the caravan.Can we have PGTips on board too. I will make jam from wild berries to accompany the scones. singing along and Luke Kelly singing the Travelling people. also Finbar Furey singing along
Wonderful post Lisa

Joanna said...

Your little sanctuary sounds like my idea of heaven. I especially love your choice of books.

Mystica said...

I too love them all but now I have got dissatisfied with my own! I cant run away either.

Lila said...

Okay, now I have a list of things that I need and want to read! I think Justine would be such an interesting read. Apparently "The Hunger Games" is pretty good, but I've somehow missed reading that book. Great post!
Lila Ferraro

Susan's Snippets said...

Lisa –

As a youngster I read part of The Boxcar Children series.

I was hooked. The freight tracks ran behind our house and I would fantasize for hours, upon hours about living in my own abandoned boxcar - how I would decorate it, along with the most important decision of “who” I would allow to enter its grandly appointed sliding side door.

at that time boys I did abhor

wild thyme flowers said...

Hey Lisa, lovely usual. Though I'm with Jane on the Alexandria Quartet. It was a little difficult to read. But I loved the idea of it. So exotic and romantic. The setting...Alexandria, Egypt, World War 2. And the characters Cleo, Justine, Balthazar (and I can't remember the fourth) were so complicated yet fascinating. I'm actually surprised somebody hasn't turned this into a movie. It could be beautiful !

Ginny said...

Lisa, Where did you find "The Old Walking Song"? Help, after reading your post the music is an absolute MUST HAVE! Thanks. Ginny

Vava (aka Virginia) said...

Am so glad you teach us what to read. And listen to. And drink. And, if only I had such an escape hatch. Any of them really...

pve design said...

Did you see the cover of House Beaut. - the quote of "having a book and a drink feel at home" reminded me of you....
Check it out....lots of English inspiration along with a plethora of prints and fabulously cozy digs on posh park ave.

Susiachi said...

When the kid's horseplay in our lake cottage got on my nerves I bought a 400 sq ft 1960's trailer nearby on the channel with the little bit of money my dad left me when he died. It was in pristine condition with turquose and chrome appliances and real wood paneling and offered more storage per square foot than our house in town! It was the first place I owned in my own name and didn't have to share. No compromises--everything inside was something I personally chose and had to be "Jetsonian" in style. I had four magic months of alone time, listening to the rain through the jalousie windows and watching sunsets on the marsh while lifting a glass to my dad before the whole thing burnt down in my absence. It was the most traumatic experience I ever had, discovering the ruins. Something much more than a little trailer was lost.

Susiachi said...

Ooops, please forgive typos in above. Guess it's time for computer screen glasses.

Ginny said...

Lisa, I found the CD. Many thanks for the "treat" Ginny

Maria Speidel said...

Great Roald Dahl link. Sharing it w/ my nine-year-old. We're almost done with Danny Champion of the World (as her bedtime read) and may just keep going with the oeuvre.

Happy Fall. Happy Reading

lauren carney said...

ohhhh fancy,
i love your blog to pieces!
its just grand!

Sarah Greenman said...

Oh such a lovely post. I'm leaving the computer right now to grab my collection of Gerald Durrell's short stories off the shelf. It's been too long since I read them. Thank you.

ALL THE BEST said...

I love them all. I can't live without Radio 4 in the morning and while cooking at night.

Barbara said...

Lisa, I thought you might be interested in an article in Saturday's Wall St. Journal on Roald Dahl with a photograph of him ensconced inside his writing hut. It paints the portrait of a very intriguing man indeed. It is in the book review section on page W10; a new book has been published on Dahl entitled Storyteller by Donald Sturrock.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Barbara: Thank you -- will read it! xx

Julie Anne Rhodes said...

I'd be happiest with a little shanty (although an Oliver Messel house would do nicely too) overlooking the azure sea in the West Indies. Listening to waves crashing against the rocks that line the shore, watching the seagulls soar above, walking the length of the beach and back again, swimming with sea turtles, languishing on the beach with the sun warming my skin, then losing myself in writing as the sun sets on every day.

Susan E. Harris-Gamard said...

Another wonderful post! I've always dreamed of my own little house out back to write in, dream in, condense my thoughts. What a beautiful photo of a gypsy caravan! First thing I thought of was proud Mr. Toad in The Wind in the Willows with his obsessions. Probably one of my favorite books. Thanks for all the other suggestions. You have such a holistic way of looking at things.

lamb and blonde said...

The idea of having an "escape hatch" out in the garden, such as that adorable little shed or gypsy caravan, is something I have been dreaming about lately. Oh, to be able to have "a room of one's own" in which to read, write, paint, dream... !


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