It's a really strange thing to do, empty out someone else's house. This is not my subtle way of announcing to the webbed wide world that I have embarked upon a new career of burglary. Unfortunately, this is a reflection on how we've been clearing out my dad's remote farmhouse after his death last month.
"Remote" is a term heavy with understatement. For twenty years, access to this farmhouse has been at risk of the roads simply closing up with undergrowth. They get narrower and narrower as your car groans up the mountain (yes, really, mountain) and you eventually pop out at the summit blinking in the open space and surrounded by sheep. Cunningly, the actual driveway to the farmhouse is one hurdle further on: find the right unmarked track, and follow it round a bend, past a copse, and steeply downhill to find a building tucked in a dip (and thus entirely invisible from the road). If it's raining, and in this particular location, it probably will be, then you have the added excitement of the loose rocks tumbling down the scree of the driveway. This will either happen before you get there, in which case the drive will be impassable. Or it might only happen while you're there, in which case your car at the bottom risks being dented, and the drive will be impassable.
Do not be fooled by the almost picturesque image here - this is the ONLY time I have ever seen this place in anything approaching sunshine. And the steepest part of the drive is just round that bend.
Despite four people and about a million pairs of rubber gloves whipping through the place like a tornado, it took us two very long days to clear a five roomed cottage. And we were not exactly being discerning. The largest two heaps were "burn it now" and "bury it later". There was a small incident when we failed to separate out some angina sprays from the bonfire pile. That nitroglycerin goes up with a bang, doesn't it? We like to think of it as our own jubilee beacon. Well done queenie.