LOCKDOWN has granted me an opportunity to sort through the container we packed to the brim a few years ago, anticipating a move from the farm that never in fact happened.

Occasionally I would push a creaky step ladder up to the back of the 45ft behemoth, roll up the shutter, peer in, and then roll it back down again. John pushed the container into a corner of our grain barn with a tractor, where it has stayed safe from the elements and rats. I hope. A thorn in the side of my conscience. A reminder that I really ought to do something about unpacking it, which, of course, I never had time for. But now, theoretically, have.

The glorious sunny weather has blocked any desire to submerge myself among the items that I persuaded myself I could never part with. A piano had gone via a specialised removal firm to Jo’s house in Nottingham just days before lockdown. Bryony, my other daughter, didn’t need it. She has inherited both a baby grand and upright piano from her husband’s family, and was happy to relinquish this particular family heirloom to her sister.Once that was out the way, I had no real excuse not to try and find out what was in the mountain of “stuff” I had so carefully squirrelled away several years ago. And, happily existed without for all that time too.

Now our home threatens to be littered once more with not only probably unnecessary lifestyle accoutrements, but also inherited items from my and John’s mum too, which is where the whole job ground to a halt yesterday when I pulled out a bag of photos and farm memorabilia. Among which was a tattered collection of pictures annotated with the name of John’s grandparents farm and his grandparents too.

John never knew his grandfather. He fell off a corn stack and did not recover from his injuries. But in among the yellowing photographs there were some wonderful pictures of a bygone farming era.

Our favourites were of the harvest coming home. Sheaves of corn piled high on a horse drawn wooden rulley to be stored under a barn and threshed later in the season. John’s mother sat with her father on another horse drawn cart laden with sacks of corn.

Cattle grazing under a huge oak tree. Shire horses pulling a threshing machine home or nuzzled up to one of his uncles. Even a picture of his grandfather unblocking a drain. The kitchen must still function to feed the workers.

Should these tiny (approximately two by three inch) photographs stay locked in a tattered album? No. Modern technology, i.e. my photocopier, has transformed them into a collection we hope to hang in the dining room. Those paintings stored in the trailer that did hang in there will just have to stay incarcerated.