“I think it was in the autumn, early in the century that my sister and I first went to the Red House.
The house was friendly and full of light but there was an air of mystery about the place.
The gentleman who lived in the house was a professor and an explorer. He was always pleased to see us.
The rooms were comfortable. The explorer was a cultured man. He owned works of art from across the globe and many unusual objects.
Did I mention the light? There was a strange quality about it. Was it the glass? Was it the sheltered position of the house some way up the hill?
Many of the walls were painted red or had red wallpaper. In the centre of the house there was a library.
The explorer had an extensive collection of books on many esoteric subjects. If the day was cool we would sit by the fire and he would tell us stories about the far-off places he had been and strange sights he had seen.
Some afternoons I would lie on one of the day beds looking out at the garden imagining myself in some of the places the explorer had told us about, and doze off. Invariably I dreamt of exotic places.
There were many rooms in the Red House, inviting corners where you wanted to linger.
One day the explorer showed me one of the drawing rooms.
It was probably the reddest room in the Red House. Beyond it guarded by the two thin statues was the fernery.
They called the space outside the terrace room. It was the most secluded spot in the sheltered garden and though we were in the heart of the city we felt isolated there, and relaxed. Sometimes I felt as though the terrace was part of another world only tenuously connected with our own
The explorer went north that year on another expedition. A few short years later he and his family moved out of the house and we could no longer enter. All we had left were our memories.
But a lifetime later the memories are still clear. The explorer left behind a set of pictures that he had painted himself. In my imagination they took me back to the Red House. I walked in there again, sat in those rooms and dreamed again of far-off places”
There will be more next week. Some of you may know the secret of the Red House. But don’t tell the others yet.