Here’s a true story.
Back in the twenties, my grandmother worked in Penarth. She’d just moved down to Cardiff from Bath with her mother and was working as a maid in one of the huge houses up on Marine Parade which, at the time, was owned by a retired old sea captain. All very Downton Abbey, she shared a tiny attic room right up in the eaves with another maid who she’d take turns with when it came to the evening shift. Anyway, one particularly stormy night (all great stories must have a stormy night, you know) the other maid – who was supposed to be on call that night – begged my grandmother to swap shifts with her so she could go out with some fancy fella she had her eye on. Since my grandmother had nothing better planned than an early night she agreed to swap, put on her apron and went to work.
While she was dusting paintings and marine paraphernalia (probably), the wind howled outside and was so strong that it blew over the whole chimney, which collapsed into the roof and completely destroyed the attic. The point is, that if my grandmother hadn’t been a kind old soul and agreed to cover the shift, she would probably have died.
I’ve absolutely no idea which house on Marine Parade my grandmother worked in, but every time I walk past those grand old Victorian and Edwardian homes, I always think of her and that story. I love, love, love those old buildings; there are a couple up there that are looking pretty sorry for themselves at the moment – derelict pigeon and crow dens. A shame really, they’d look so lovely all made up 🙂