We sold my parents house on Monday. Money has changed hands, new owners in residence. I dropped the last set of keys off on the way home from work in the dark and chill of a cold winter's evening. The new residents were shuffling boxes round in the garage. I didn't go in the house. That's probably best.
I lived there from the age of 8 until I left home at the age of 23. So, 15 years, during which time I did three years at University. Years when you're at school seem so much longer than when you're older, so those 15 years are packed to the gunnels with lots and lots of memories.
It's the house where I started wargaming. I'd played with toy soldiers before, of course, but not with any form or structure. Here, in the garden, my older brother and his friends started games with airfix figures and rules that became more sophisticated over time. Being four years younger I was allowed to join in on sufferance. The garden went on to host large scale naval games with the big airfix ships and the occasional American ringer. My brother's friend Nigel turned up with the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier once. Enormous. And no arguments about it not being contemporary with the Bismark or the Hood.
The lounge hosted all manner of games. We started firing nails out of spring loaded cannon at Timpo figures (matches are for wimps), and moved on to games with Charles Grant's battle, the "Bayonet" Napoleonic rules, and many more. I think Old Western gunfights were in there too. When the lounge floor was off limits we used the landing or a bedroom, or that cupboard at the back of the bathroom under the eaves.
Other games were played at friends' houses, but this was my wargaming home where the earliest, the most original, the best games were played. I have no recollection of the last game there. I suspect it was something before I went to university with my Middle Earth armies from the old Minifig range. If RPGs count, it'll have been a game of Tunnels and Trolls in the dining room.
The house has so many more memories, so many more "firsts" but this is a wargaming blog. So farewell to the time my brother tipped hundreds of pine cones on the lounge floor to make a forest. Farewell to the garage where Derek & I stretched sprue, melted models, covered everything in black soot and probably gave ourselves cancer. Farewell to my room, stinking of white spirit and model glue. Farewell to it all.
And farewell to Mum & Dad. You never really understood my hobby, I think, but you tolerated it, and encouraged me when needed, and took me to shows.
My final hope is the new owners are happy there. They have great plans to extend and refit and do loads of things. Why not. It was built in the early 1960s and the world has moved on.
There are still a few things to sort out. The estate has the last remants to clear up and you can never be sure you're done with HMRC.
And then, when the weather clears up, we'll go and scatter the ashes. But I don't know if I can ever really say good bye.