I’ve been thinking a lot about my time at Gap House boarding school over the last few days. Especially after visiting it on Wednesday, you can read my post about the day here. Here are some thoughts about my time there. I hope you enjoy.
It’s ten past nine in the morning and I’m sitting out in my garden with a cup of tea and Max the doggo mooching about, and I’m think a little about the last few days. Wednesday in particular.
The purpose of my trip down to Broadstairs was to go down and see what had become of my old boarding school. I knew it wasn’t a school anymore but I didn’t know what had become of the building and the grounds. In short, nothing. It’s just been left. Abandoned to to let nature and time slowly break it down. It will take some doing though, because that building has a strong core.
It breaks my heart to see it like that though. It’s a pipe dream but I’d love to buy it all and make it into an artists retreat and youth centre. Somewhere people can come and create in a peaceful environment, and where youngsters can spend time and socialise and I’d have people there who could help and advise them on the adult world. I’d make a safe space for all who came there. It’s something I’d love to do in my home town as well, but it is just a pipe dream. The odds on me having the funds to do anything like that are slim. But I can dream.
The reason I’d love to include Gap House in that is my memories from there, and how safe a time in my life it was. Gap House changed my life. Apparently I was a little sod when I was a kid (hard to believe, I know!), but in the two years at gap house I feel like I learned how to communicate much better than I had been able to. My dyspraxia was considered a severe case and I think I’d act out because I did struggle to communicate so much.
I don’t really remember much of it. My childhood in general is kinda fuzzy, but I remember speech therapy being difficult. I remember having to stand outside the staff room during a break as punishment (no idea what I did twenty years later), but my dominant memories from that time are happy ones. Playing football cricket in the paddock, going into Broadstairs (both through the houses and along the beach), cinema trips. We went ice skating one time which was a lot of fun, although a house parent broke their arm. So it might not have been as much fun for them! We’d go swimming, and for days out around Thanet.
I was one of the children who would stay for two weeks at a time. There wasn’t often many of us, in the second year it was just three of us. Those weekends were when I had some of my favourite times. We’d build a fort in the gym with whatever we could find. We’d use blankets to make camps between the beds. There was a little sneaking around after lights out. We had a load of animals there, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, chinchillas and more that I just can’t remember now (my memory is like a blackhole unless someone reminds me of something!).
Something I distinctly remember doing is burring a time capsule in the sorta of overgrown bit of the garden. I say overgrown, if I remember right it was let to grow like that as a sort of nature habitat. I hope it’s still there. I hope the land doesn’t get bought by a developer and a god awful apartment building is building in its place.
We had a dining room, that looking back I want to say was a little snug when full but was nice. On a Saturday evening we’d sit and eat dinner in the TV room watching Gladiators, and I want to say a couple of other Saturday night shows. Maybe Noels House Party? I can’t remember for sure now.
One of the highlights was being chosen to play Christopher Columbus in a Christmas play which was basically Christopher Columbus, This Is Your Life. I can remember that very distinctly. We also went to the Isle of White Camping one year for a week. This was amazing! We saw The Mary Rose before we left the mainland, which was fascinating. Then on that week on The Isle of White, I just remember it being a lot of fun. Walking down to see the Needles, the actual camping in tents. Toast cooked on an open fire. We also went to France the year after for a week. We camped in the garden of one of the home of one of the staff at Gap House and if I remember right, it absolutely threw it down for the week and we ended up sleeping on the kitchen floor of this beautiful house in France.
My post the other day got comments from a couple of the fantastic people who worked there. Whether it was the teachers, the house parents, or even the cooks, they all worked to make Gap House a fantastic place to be. I spent two years there. In that time I grew in confidence (which was then snatched from me when I was a teenager, that’s another post though), and I’m only now truly beginning to appreciate just how important all at Gap House were in helping me as I learned to live with dyspraxia.
Thank you all for giving me those skills and those fantastic memories.