Object 1 – a postcard of the Triangular Lodge – posted second class Sept 2014.

The Triangular Lodge is a folly, designed and constructed between 1593 and 1597 by Sir Thomas Tresham near Rushton, Northamptonshire, England. It is now in the care of English Heritage. The stone used for the construction was alternating bands of dark and light limestone.

Tresham was a Roman Catholic and was imprisoned for a total of fifteen years in the late 16th century for refusing to become a Protestant. On his release in 1593, he designed the Lodge as a protestation of his faith. His belief in the Holy Trinity is represented everywhere in the Lodge by the number three: it has three walls 33 feetlong, each with three triangular windows and surmounted by three gargoyles. The building has three floors, upon a basement, and a triangular chimney. Three Latin texts, each 33 letters long, run around the building on each facade.

It’s on the door mat when they finally get home, almost hidden amongst a bundle of bank statements, gas bills and something slightly  worrying in a brown envelope. An aerial view of the Triangular Lodge in Northamptonshire.

This is one of the sent in absentia cards, her father continuing one of the many rituals and routines of their days trips to places of interest and education. She can almost hear the capital letters in his speech, capital I,capital E, learning and fun, self-improvement, a part of his programme to ensure that she had all the benefits that he had never enjoyed and again she can hear the capital letters, the carefully spoken emphasis, capital B, capital E.

Her father was, as she realised early in life, was the very embodiment of someone who travelled hopefully. Arrival was never really his focus, it was always all about the preparation, the 3 Ps of a successful road trip;

Planning the route and this in the days before Sat Navs and smart phones meant the special green highlighter pen and the AA map book, a line reaching out from their home, the known, the familiar into new spaces, other counties, the here be dragons warning signs. In the days before a road trip she would run her finger along the route,whispering the names of towns and villages, stumbling over unfamiliar collections of consonants and vowels, a litany of travel yet to be made.

Preparing the picnic,a packed lunch, the blue Thermos flask and the careful deliberation to choose a suitable lunch break  spot, not on the main road of course, but not too far from the chosen route to present any danger of becoming mislaid, of loosing their way and the lunch itself, sandwiches, triangles and crustless of course, made the night before and carefully sealed in matching Tupperware containers, slices of homemade cake, hardboiled eggs and from the 1980s onwards, packets of walkers crisps, ready salted for her mother, salt and vinegar for her father and for her, prawn cocktail, chosen less for their flavour but for the luminous pinkness of their packaging.

Purchasing the postcard, she and her father leaning over the display, spinning the wire cages to choose the exact image, the right picture, something to sum up this particular road trip, a memory to take home and place in the road trip shoe box. The date carefully written, at first by her father and later, when her handwriting could be trusted, by her, lightly in pencil and then more definitely in black biro.

Her parents continued their road trips even when she was longer at home to take part, college and then a big city and later a bigger city yet, but every few weeks, a postcard, with comments, not about the actual visit, but the, to him anyway, key elements of  a successful day out, so, the route and traffic, lunch and the choice of postcards at the final destination.

Over the years, her fathers’ comments have become abbreviated, almost coded, 3 bullet points on the back of each National Trust or English Heritage postcard.

Her own children treat these cards as a slightly mysterious joke, reading out the brief messages with rolling eyes, hoots of laughter before they wander off to pressing engagements and hand the newest card over to her so that it can be stuck to the fridge with one of a variety of fridge magnets bought on their own family days out.

Todays’ card is she suspects, incomprehensible to anyone other than herself and she enjoys that moment, smiling as she reads the brief message.

M1 – surprisingly good choice even on a Sunday

Jam tarts – gooseberry jam may have been an error of judgement [ her father has, to everyone’s surprise, turned into an enthusiastic baker when the role of cake maker fell too him]

Sparse selection, this is the best of a poor show.

Your father.


She clears a space on the fridge, removing out of date school letters and pizza menus left there by her optomistic children and chooses a black and white killer whale, bought from the Sea Life centre last half term to harpoon the picture of the Triangular Lodge at the exact centre of the fridge door.


About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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