The box in the loft

From time to time we’ve talked downsizing, not necessarily property-wise, (although this has been discussed, and rejected, on occasion), but in terms of possessions. The result of this conversation usually involves Husband taking a variety of items from the loft, loading up the boot of the car and taking a drive to the Council tip. The problem with having a large and easily accessible loft is that people (adult children in particular) see it as a convenient repository for the things that they don’t want in their own home but don’t want to get rid of either. We had just managed to relive ourselves of most of eldest son’s leftovers (just a mattress left – almost new so too good to throw away but how many people have a 4ft bed?) only for my daughter, after fourteen years of living away, to come home for a while, bringing the contents of her adult life.

It’s not only the children though. We are equally culpable. I wonder how many of those items which we hold onto because they ‘might come in useful’ we would actually retain if we had to pay for their storage. And it’s not just potentially useful stuff; until last week our loft also contained a box of things that would be of no use to anyone, but for me it contains some of the most precious things I own.  It had been a while since I’d taken a trip down this particular memory lane but oh! was it a lovely one … … …

My dad’s scarf (he died in 1981), and two tiny dresses bought by my mother in Portugal just after my daughter was born 33 years ago..

A prayer book. It belonged initially to my grandfather who was in the airforce.  I think this was standard service issue in 1939. He gifted it to my mother in 1944 when she’d have been leaving home then to become an army nurse.

My parents’ wedding album, a letter to me from my grandfather shortly after I was born, and my eldest son’s weight card from the baby clinic..

ZZ various

A drawing by my younger son circa 1992, still a Simpsons fan.

ZZ drawing 2

A letter dated 1964 from the Assistant Chief Constable showing that my police officer father had passed his sergeant and inspector exams. And another received after the death of my mother in 2001, from a doctor with whom she had nursed in the 1950s, and whose practice nurse she became some years later.

A reference for my mother, a congratulatory telegram sent to her on my birth, and a card that she sent to me when I was going through the difficulties of divorce.

ZZ docs

My 1st and 21st birthday cards from my parents. One from each on my 1st, a joint one for my 21st.

Just a handful of the many handmade cards from my children

ZZ cards

These treasures comprise only a few of the items that make up my box of special memories. There are hospital wrist tags and name cards from the births  of my children, special letters and drawings, school reports, my parent’s birth, marriage and death certificates and much more – some that brought a smile to my face, and in the case of others, a tear to my eye.  I had thought perhaps that I might pare down the contents of my box but I looked, I loved and I remembered. Then I placed each item carefully back in place. I’ll think about this particular aspect of downsizing another day.








  1. hello Eloise I just read your lovely post on the Box in the attic and it resonated hugely with me I am just gone 60 and after 2 redundancies from work I also did the return to college as a Mature in 2011 and graduated in 2014 with a Joint honours in History and Archaeology and followed it up with a MA in Gender Studies graduating with a First Class Honours in 2016. The college experience was one of the best of my life and I had planned a PHD in 2017 however ill health reared it’s ugly head so that has been shelved for the moment….. love your blog also enjoyed the Stockpiling piece I live In Dublin Ireland so some items may be difficult to get from the UK or Northern Ireland due to Brexit. Anyway just saying Hello and good luck with the book


    • How lovely to hear from you, Marie. Congratulations on your achievements. I am so sorry that your health has prevented you from further study. The absolute joy I experienced in studying made it one of the best times of my life too. I so wanted to do an MA but there was no funding help available for over 60s and I just couldn’t afford to self fund it. My subject area would have been sociolinguistics, focussing on Irish-English and its reliance on the grammatical conventions of Old Irish. I worked quite extensively on the subject during my degree. My father was from Dun Laoghaire and I visit relatives there when I can. Thank you for your interest in the blog. Hope to hear from you again.


  2. I can’t see anything there that you should get rid of. All precious memories, whether good or bad.


  3. Hello Eloise

    What a lovely post. I am the downsizing and decluttering queen but, but,I would never get rid of those artifacts that you’ve described. They are so key to who we are. However, we don’t have either a loft or attic so all these precious remants and relics from our past are down in our office, in a box on a shelf. I think the danger of having lofts (and I’ve had a few!) is that they do accumulate a lot of stuff that is never looked at. We said – if we keep it, we keep it close and near to where we can look at it. Actually it all helps in writing that memoir 😉

    Lovely post, Eloise hae a nice rest of the week


    • The box has not been returned to the loft. It now sits on a shelf where I can look at it more often. Some years ago, with it getting more and more difficult to access the loft via the hatch, we knocked though the back of a storage cupboard on the landing and put stairs into the loft. From that moment, with much easier access, it filled ever more quickly!


  4. We have similar things, Eloise, and I’d not even consider parting with them, and you must keep these special things and your children and maybe one day their children will love looking at them. I know this because I have things which belonged to my grandfather, such as the receipts when he and his wife married and set up home in 1897! I have a receipt for a “carriage and pair” (the “pair” being a pair of horses) to take them to the reception! And all kinds of cards and such ephemera, and an evening dress scarf in white silk that my father had in the 1930s when he was an officer in the RAF, one that his sister embroidered in black with his initials. I even have his flying log books and a photo album of black and white photos he took in India in the 1930s. How could anyone with any sense of family or eve history part with such things? No, they are not doing any damage in your loft and even if you downsize, a box of cards and such memorabilia won’t take up much space. So don’t part with these prescious family mementos, they are things which cannot be replaced, ever.
    Margaret P


    • What lovely memories you have. I have many other bits and pieces too. I have my mothers photo albums from her time in Japan and Singapore in the early 50s and I love to look through those. She also had several wonderful evening gowns from her army days, which year by year were made into party dresses for me (not by Mum; she couldn’t sew the proverbial pocket handkerchief). I can’t imagine I will ever actually get rid of them.


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