The nursery is nearly ready. And what a pleasure it has been getting the room ready as a first room for our little one and a space for us to enjoy, peacefully, our first months with him.
The task of putting the room together (on a budget) has involved some reflection of my own childhood. Before Pete and I even met, or even thought we might try for children, I was a fan of children’s book illustration, particularly from the 1980s. I already had a small collection I had been putting together over a period of years.
Books have always been a luxury for me. When I was growing up, my parents had very little money for new books as they saved for their financial goals. That did not however stop me from trailing behind my Father as we haunted one bookstore after another, often for hours. Books were a shared love for us.
Often my favourite books were gifts given at birthday parties or from my parents at Christmas. I turned the pages of a first edition of “The Secret Staircase” (Brambly Hedge) until the pages came loose and were so worn it now bears the yellowed marks of much sticky tape. I listened attentively at school when stories were read, such as “Ice Creams for Rosie” (Ronda Armitage) wishing I had somehow manage to sit in the front row to admire the pictures. I borrowed the same illustrated French English dictionary at school to read on the bus trip home until it too fell apart and the librarian had to explain to me that the book could no longer be borrowed because they had thrown it out. The pictures were so pretty they had encouraged an interest in learning French very early on. Yes, I was a book worm!!
The time to buy books usually presented itself on a Sunday morning, when we would venture to the local flea market which was appropriately known as Trash and Treasure. With a humble allowance, I learnt to haggle for the titles that I would search for in what was like a massive collective garage sale. My first real bargain buy was a fifty cent investment in a 1932 Mickey Mouse book. This was roughly the time that Mickey Mouse made his debut into the world. The book is actually worth hundreds of dollars these days. Not bad given I was fifteen years old at the time of the “acquisition”! When I look at it occasionally- rarely, as the spine is starting to go- I think of the wonder of the little boy who unwrapped this treasure for Christmas (so says the inscription).
I had found a Treasury of Rhymes illustrated by Rene Cloke, (a popular illustrator most recognisable from many Enid Blyton Book covers) and framed some of the pages. Rene Cloke’s images are always so full of colour and fancily dressed, plump cheeked children that evoked the 1950s.
Will our little one love to read? I don’t know. But I’ll be doing my best to provide some inspiration! And at whatever hour, we will love sharing that room.