Saturday, 1 June 2013

Rising like a Phoenix from the Ashes

"I hope that Hanworth will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes"


You know, many many people made this comment to me after the fire - even Faux Fuschia in her blog post fire made the very same remark:

But when these comments were being made, this is the sorry sight confronting me each day at Ground Zero.

My soon to be office completely destroyed


So I can reveal it now - I was not feeling completely enthusiastic that the Green Girl could rise from anything, let alone the ashes! And I was not feeling in any way confident that I could either.

So it got me thinking -  what did the saying actually mean?

Did you know that the phoenix is a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn?  As it is associated with the sun, the phoenix attains new life by rising from the ashes of its predecessor.  So generally, it is associated with renewal or rebirth. Who would have known?

But despite my initial trepidation, maybe I am slowly starting to see a way through the ashen mess.

The garden has started to regenerate in the weeks since the fire

Men arrived on site to tarp the roof of the Green Lady - no mean feat bearing in mind its sheer size!

Gift hampers and flowers arrived - I am sure designed to lift my spirits (or intoxicate me, which, essentially, means the same thing!)

Next to the depressing warning/danger/keep out signs  - Miss HH put up a happy birthday sign

It was intended to celebrate my (rather subdued) birthday the day after the fire.  But we have kept it up in honour of an  even bigger birthday - that of our Green Lady HH.  I have committed that the sign will only come down once Hanworth House turns 150 on 16th July 2014 - try and stop me!

Naturally Fridays at 4 resumed with gusto just as soon as our mental state would allow for them.

I adopted outsourcing like a woman possessed - I hired help to make the mammoth mountain of laundry seem less than a goliath-like challenge (thanks e laundry - you were a godsend!)

And, brace yourself, for a sight never before witnessed (trust me on this one!)

Yes - I actually picked up an iron (and for those of you who know me well, this is stranger than fiction I assure you!)

But behold the fruits of my labour - worth every bit of the effort!

People came from far and wide to lend a hand and were true saviours  - you know who you are - from Old Schoolmate Friend Megan and Brazil Boy, Diego - each of you, like each and every person who helped, made a difference!

And still more of you assembled to help on Post-Fire Working Bee Sunday

Some even brought their own glamour at what was the end of a pretty overwhelming week!

And, slowly, I stopped bursting into tears every time I entered what I remembered of a room - and I started to say long and heartfelt goodbyes to the rooms that were...

and thought about what they might one day become ...

I bought Whiteboard HH - I justified the purchase by saying it was to say thanks and to enthuse others to the possibilities  - but realistically it was just to enthuse myself!

Red Frogs became the official sugar emblem of the House of Hanworth -  "red frogs for the green lady"  having such a ring to it!  Can someone please tell me where these green frogs come from as I have never seen them before!

Miss HH got into the spirit and enthused the masses by finding some poignant words to pave the "green brick road" ahead and plastered them all around HH so we didn't lose sight of the big picture.

And, at the end of the day, there was really only one thing left for me to do, and that was...

Looking back at the end of this week - it is a year ago since we held the celebration of my mother's life. Maybe it was the perfect time to realise that maybe, just maybe, good things can rise from the ashes of what others leave behind - just like the phoenix.  And I am not just talking about Hanworth House.

This photo was taken a year ago, when the grandchildren let go of white balloons as the sun set at the end of an emotional day in an emotional year - balloons to celebrate a beautiful lady who left an indelible footprint on our lives.

And a year later... here is another Grand Lady, standing resiliently as the sun set yet again - hardly looking as though a large part of her has been damaged beyond repair inside.

Maybe both are symbols that, from tragedy and sadness, hope always springs. And sometimes maybe it is the only thing we have left.

My beautiful sister-in-law HH sent his to me a few hours after the fire:

I think she knew about the phoenix rising from the ashes - so did Kwame Floyd, so did FF, so did my mother, and so did HH. And, maybe now, in a small way,  I am also starting to see that they might all be right.

This weekend release your own balloon and let it find the mystery of its future

x HH


  1. Ok so now I am quite tearful! Just a beautiful post by a beautiful person. I dont think anyone who knows you ever doubted for one second that you wouldn't rise above this HH. Regardless if the inspiration in the story of the house (as convoluted and intertwined with past and present events as it is), it is you, the creator of the story, that is the real reason there is value and worth in any of these events. You are an inspiration to live by dear HH. I have been thinking of you and your amazing mother this week and know she is smiling. I only hope you are smiling too. Thanks for the lovely blog. xx

    1. PS do you know my birthday? :)

    2. Awwwhhh gorgeous response from a goregous girl. Thankyou for being such a wonderful and supportive friend who shares a birthday with HH (an extra coincidence) You are the 15th yes? Talk soon and thankyou for enthusing me with such lovely words, I am so touched. x HH

  2. everything will work out.

    I am in HK again, thank you for having everyone to dinner.

    I return bearing your gifts and B's too v. soon. xxx

    1. It was our pleasure. Gifts horray but so not necessary you know. Looking forward to hearing all about your wonderful travels. Have been loving the pics and comments on your blog. xHH

  3. Love the HH garden pics,amazing how a few blooms brighten up the beginnings!
    Lovely post,hope your weekend had been fab!
    X A

  4. so glad I helped in brightening your day. Did have a lovely Brisbane sunny weekend - hope you did too xHH

  5. Life's a funny old thing, isn't it?

  6. Sure is, HITS! And it gets stranger every day. x HH

  7. Thank you HH, for sharing these awesome pics of kids doing different activities, via your blog with us. I definitely discuss with my husband so that we can also admit our child in this type of Phoenix pre-k.

  8. The saying seems quite appropriate, as far as it goes. It’s a good thing that you are slowly rising out of the ashes of this unfortunate event and starting anew with your home. Hopefully you’re in high spirits today, and that most of the damage has been repaired now. Hang in there.

    Allen @ Brewer Restoration

    1. thanks for the words of support Allen. Unfortunately the house until tomorrow is still in disrepair. However, all will change Monday - I have a special post coming this weekend to update all the HH supporters. x HH