Photos From The Archives – 193 Birchen Grove

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birchengrove001, originally uploaded by Larelle_M_R.

I have only lived in three houses in all my life. This was the second. After living for 28 years in my mum’s house, I moved to the UK to be with Em on July 21st, 1999.

We lived here until August 2003 when we moved on to Cheslyn Close.

Birchen Grove was a lovely place to live. It was a long street (hence we were number 193 – and that wasn’t the end of the street!) and was very busy. Most of the houses were maisonettes, so there were cars parked ALL THE WAY down the street.

Em’s parents Mozzy and Gilly only lived two streets away, so were within walking distance of our house.

We lived close to Stopsley village which was also within walking distance, as was Luton town centre. We certainly felt more involved in the community there. Wigmore (the area of Luton we live in now) is quite a way from town, so you tend to feel more remote and segregated.

We knew our neighbours at Birchen Grove. In the houses opposite lived Mark (we didn’t know him so well) and Harry. Harry lived in the downstairs maisonette. He was quite old, but was still very sprightly. His son would visit regularly, and they’d take day trips, go out to eat, see theatre shows. They even went to the Edinburgh military tattoo one year together!

Below us we had a real crackpot when we first moved in. Didn’t even know his name. Didn’t WANT to know! He was an alcoholic and would verbally abuse himself – and sometimes would seemingly be physically violent to himself. We had some sleepless nights while he lived below us. After about 6 months though, he moved out and the maisonette was bought by Eddie. He was a young, single guy. Quite a hippy type, but despite his age was quite a quiet neighbour and was good to have living below us.

Across the road from us was Ted, or Super Ted as we sometimes referred to him (not to his face). He was ALWAYS on the go, gardening, mowing lawns, putting the bins out each week, feeding the stray cats. I think he was quite frugal too, for at night, even in the dead of winter, he would appear to sit in total darkness. He never had a light on at night. And most nights it appeared he didn’t even watch telly.

The house itself had its pluses and minuses. It was near the end of the road, so it wasn’t quite so busy at our end. We could peer at the posh houses opposite on Sunset Drive and wonder how on earth the people there afforded their mortgages. Some of their garages were bigger than our maisonette!

The rooms were of good size – minus the kitchen which was a box! Well, a rectangle to be precise. But a very small rectangle. It was also quite cold in winter and warm in summer. The coldness was due to having old Economy 7 heating (brick block heaters that heat up overnight and are off during the day). We used to have to have additional heating during the winter months. We also had only secondary double glazed windows (removable second panes of windows), so there was a constant problem of condensation.

But overall, we loved living there and still miss it sometimes.

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