A first home is always going to be a special place, however humble.... and mine was indeed humble, built as it was by someone's own loving hands in the early 1920s near the sea at the small town of Moreton in England.
The structure, which had stood up to the elements through eight decades by the time I'd bought it in the mid 90s was primarily asbestos sheets (gasp) nailed on to a sturdy wood frame. In spite of its unconventional construction, it was pretty much love at first sight and I put in an offer after consolidating every penny I had. Leaving myself with no more than a pocketful of loose change I bought the little bungalow and settled in.
The first winter was freezing and the summer in my asbestos cocoon was stifling. The mould thrived in the damp environment and the woodworm moved in. Add to that the fact that I had barely any money and was surviving on a diet of tinned sardines and toast, in many ways it was the home from hell and ripe for condemnation but for me it was home, my first home - and special for that reason.
If the house itself was cold and damp for most of the year then the garden was a delight, large, wild and bursting with life. In this environmental heaven were butterflies, birds and every type of flora and fauna one could imagine.
I painted the house in the colours of the seaside, bright blue and white. And now this little quirky homestead needed a name.
After thinking a while, mostly outside of the box, I wrote to someone I had connected with through my love of her music and who I thought might appreciate this special place. The famous singer, actress and generally much loved American star Della Reese responded very quickly and enthusiastically giving her blessing for me to name my home in her honour. And so the nameless little house proudly became 'Della Croft'.
Alas one day I did have to move on and 'Della Croft' was sold.
Soon after that I heard that my little home had been demolished to make way for a shiny, new house. The wildlife haven of the garden was levelled and redeveloped.
Progress.....But 'Della Croft' will live on in old photographs and memories consigned to dusty boxes in the attic....
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