My first reaction was: "Good Lord! They've paved over the lawn and the gerberas". But, of course they had to, in order to provide parking for their guests, and different as the outside of the house looked, I was pleasantly surprised on entering it to discover that, apart from renovations to the interior, I could recognize the house itself. It could so easily have been demolished in order to build a hotel there, but instead the owners had built an extension on the existing house and kept the character of the original building. The extension was built around the property to connect with the original outbuildings and garage and excellent use has been made of them. The rooms are on two levels behind the house with a courtyard in the middle, and if indeed the flowers in front were gone, it was more than made up for with the masses of tropical plants in the courtyard.
Here is a view of the upper level of the guest rooms, built around the original house. I stayed in number 12.
The added building extends to the old outbuildings and the detached garage is now part of the entire structure.
The interior of the house has changed and yet I could still see traces of my old home. Here is a picture I took in 1960 of our dining room.
At the left rear one can see the door to the pantry, and at the rear the entrance to the latticed in back verandah. (I remember a picture that used to hang on the wall to the right of the window looking out on the back verandah. It was a black and white print of Millais's "Princes in the Tower".). The dining room is now the lobby of the hotel and looks like this.As you can see, the entrance to the pantry has been blocked off; the back verandah now forms part of the lobby and office and is no longer latticed in, and the windows have been changed. The floors are still the gleaming mahogany that they were when I was growing up here and it was kept that way with a coconut brush and great amounts of elbow grease.
What were my thoughts on seeing my old home again? I was pleased that it had not been changed out of all recognition, and that in fact the renovations made were appropriate to the character of the house itself. It was, of course, no longer home, but it was welcoming and familiar, and strangely enough, seemed quite a bit smaller to me than it had been when I was growing up there.
One last thing ... occasionally I dream of home and family now gone, and when I do it is 5 Holborn Road that I see in my dreams.