Picnic Under the Stairs

When I was nine or ten, we moved from a two-bedroom ground floor maisonette to a three-bedroom top floor maisonette on the same estate. I got the box room:  it had a huge box that was the top of the stairs, which took up almost a quarter of the floor space, leaving room for a single bed and small wardrobe.

The best thing about having stairs was that, on rainy days during the summer holidays, we could sit in the space under the stairs and have picnics. We’d ‘borrow’ a blanket from our little sister’s cot to sit on, make apple juice from squashed apple pieces, sugar and water (yuk!) and Mum would give us cheese and biscuits, which we laid out carefully on plates from a toy picnic basket. It never occurred to us to have a picnic outside on the covered balcony!

usurped by rain clouds
sunshine finds its way indoors
potted marigolds

Kim M. Russell, 29th April 2019

Image result for marigolds Pinterest
Image found on Pinterest

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Haibun Monday: That Picnic

Gina is our host this Monday and she is tempting us with nostalgic picnics. She would like us to share a memory from a picnic, keeping in mind that our haibun must not be fictional but real experiences, and it doesn’t have to be only outdoors.

She says, whether traditional or breaking all the rules, hilarious, happy or sad, we should write about a memorable picnic.

For inspiration, she has shared poems by Dorothy Aldis, Marilyn Lott and Thomas Hardy.

40 thoughts on “Picnic Under the Stairs

    1. It’s the smallest upstairs room above the stairs, where the stairs end literally in a box. I used to sit on a cushion on top of the box, and play my guitar or read books; My dad put up bookshelves above the box as there was no space in the tiny room – just enough for a single bed and wardrobe. I loved it because I didn’t have to share it with my sisters and was allowed to choose the colour scheme. I even sewed my own curtains. Outside the window were two massive horse chestnut trees and I could look right into the top branches!

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  1. I love the way these childhood rituals arise! You’ve reminded me of making rose petal perfume (never worked), and “whiskey” out of orange juice and peppermint essence (vile!). I love your haiku – marigolds are sunbeams formed into flowers. Lovely.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This piece jogged memories for me too. I think it was the secret place to have the picnic that made the magic. We had a garden and I remember taking my little sister’s playpen outside and making a den in it with torn up cardboard sheets and tree branches. It rained and the cardboard caved in.

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    1. My parents always lived in maisonettes when I was a child but my grandparents had a garden (which I’m sure you’ve read about!) where I loved to play. There wasn’t enough of it to hide in but it was still magical to me. The other thing we made was tents out of bedclothes.


  3. God, I love how varied our childhoods have all been. As a kid, we rented a number to two-story Victorian homes with stairs, but the space under them was always used for storage. This always reminds me of Book 1 of the Harry Potter seres, where Harry’s room was under the stairs.

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    1. I also love to read about all the different childhoods, Glenn. Our understairs didn’t have a door and we kept the coats and jackets on hooks with the boots and shoes below them. One things we loved to do was hide in the coats! There was just enough room for a couple of small kids to have picnics.


  4. when i read this my heart just had a huge lump of joy. these days are so precious and what i wanted to read from poets cross the world. as children we see things through different lenses. that spot sounds like a little magical place to be separate from the world, the sound of the rain enhances the seclusion and mystery. thank you for a beautiful haibun and just gorgeous haiku, the marigold at the end was a sweet taste on the tongue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Gina. I’m sorry I haven’t been around to read and comment – my Kindle let me down as did British Rail WiFi – but I’ll try to catch up later today.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Grace. Most of the marigolds were in a window box on the balcony but we liked to bring some in to brighten up the place. 🙂


    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Christine. I’ve just got back from a work trip, so some time today I’ll get around to doing some reading and commenting myself. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You’ve expressed so well how children can find little hideaways to become their special places. Not having had a stairwell, my favorite place when it rained was to cover our old card table with my bedspread and drag my pillow and dolls inside with me😊. Thanks for the memories!

    Liked by 1 person

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