Feeling sorry for the Not-Quite-Hitty girls in their homeless state gave Grandpa just the reason he needed to persuade Grandma Jean to agree to taking out shared ownership of the largest, oldest and most beautiful house on D.M. Lane. It was built in 1910 and, with me as broker, he took out a mortgage for half the cost of the house with Celia at KT Miniatures, who was selling it, whilst my mother became owner of the other half. The Not-Quite-Hitty girls do not yet know that they are closer to having a home of their own than they think. The house is, over all, 1:12 but has quite high ceilings so some of that beautiful old German furniture that is a little larger will not look out of place and the girls might just about squeeze in without looking ridiculous.
Mary did enjoy looking round when invited to do so, but she still doesn't know Grandpa and Grandma have bought a share in it with the view to her becoming co-tenant with her sister. After climbing over assorted building supplies, she discovered that there is a comfortable built in seat to rest on in the bay window.
Next, two incredibly cheap houses came up for sale. This rare and wonderful opportunity could not be passed over. Neither cost as much as the 1940s three-piece suit he'd been looking at longingly, so they were duly bought, almost sight unseen. Grandma Jean and I worried and fretted. What was Grandpa taking on? Or rather, what was he buying for me to take on? Well the old boy clearly has an eye for a bargain, because they are both lovely in their own ways.
First, and easiest to introduce is this one.
Marked 'Triang' on the back gable wall, there was no mistaking the original builders. Very quickly, we sought superior knowledge from Celia, asking her to be our surveyor. The outcome was that it was a Triang 62, probably from the 40s and in near original condition. Hurrah! No structural stuff for the jobbing builder to learn how to do, on this house at least!
Grandpa, Grandpa and the lodgers are even now discussing who should live in which house.
In point of fact, none of them mind, just as long as they can all live close by each other. Bonds have been formed and Grandma Jean is now extremely fond of them all. She was even more pleased when, to make up for the lack of the leather suit that was sacrificed to pay for the houses, Grandpa presented her with a very special gift.
A beautiful old ebony and gold piano, made by that high quality traditional furnishing company Pit-a-Pat, arrived for her and after a great deal of huffing and puffing from the men-folk it was ready to be played.
Several days later, a piano stool arrived and Grandma was in her element. Which is a lot better than being out in the elements as the Big People house has been flooded, 100 mph gales have blown and it hasn't stopped raining since before Christmas. Now though, Grandma is keeping us cheerful with rousing renditions of songs such as ' Roll Out the Barrel,' 'Rule Britannia' and the Welsh National Anthem.
The second house that was bought with the Triang is home made. Now, round here, many houses were built by their residents with no formal training. The one we live in is 500 years old and was almost certainly built by the family and friends of the people who were to live in it. It is very small and clearly for peasant stock, such as ourselves. There's not a straight wall anywhere to be found, and no foundations worthy of mentioning, but it has stood up to wind, snow, hail and torrential rain, with the occasional glimpse of the sun, for five centuries.
|The Big People's House is 500 years old or more.|
So, we were not too worried about the hand built thing, until we looked underneath and read an inscription saying that it was made by a 13 year old boy for his little sister in 1951.... but it seemed sturdy and it IS sturdy and also extremely heavy.
It was based on a plan in The Woodworker Magazine ( Thank you Rebecca at Doll's Houses Past and Present, for researching that for us!) but errors in measurements were made. Nothing too drastic, just that the upstairs rooms have ceilings over 25% higher than those below, so that finding a tenant tall enough to change a light bulb upstairs but short enough to stand upright downstairs might prove challenging. But, as Grandma noticed, there's no electricity supply there anyway, so why worry about light bulbs?
The little girl this house was built for was called Sian. So it is now known as Ty Sian (Sian's House). The 1910 house is now called Lilly Irene's House because Lilly Irene's father, Mr Hoare, built it for her dolls to live in. After several days of hearing Grandpa and my husband constantly joking about it being the Best Little Hoare House in Wales they got on Grandma's and my nerves, so we decided to call it after the little girl herself.
So, there you have it! Grandpa now feels his property portfolio is complete, at least for the time being. He is strutting around seeing himself as a property baron, though he intends to be a kindly one, making sure all the tenants are comfortable and his houses are well maintained. He seems totally oblivious of the work that must be undertaken to make the houses suitable for renting out. Of course, only one house is truly a Dolly Mixture, but Grandpa is increasingly proud that the whole street is named after his first purchase.