Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Hahahahahahaha

So my house is pristine, sparkling, perfectly tidy, all those other nice words you used to describe it? C'mon, you weren't fooled for a moment by those carefully edited and cropped photos, were you? Let's have a little tour.


We'll start in the dining room, currently my Room of Despair, as it gives access to the stairs, the hall, or the kitchen, and is in effect just a square corridor, with the old dresser looming darkly, domineeringly, over everything. This room is challenging.


At the foot of the stairs is a door that leads up from the dining room. Mind those two steps; one is fairly standard, the other is very shallow, and easy to fall up or down, as I do, frequently.


Push the door open, and we arrive at the stairs - only 9 of them, which after the 35 in my previous house, makes hoovering less of an ordeal. Notice that the same fawn ferny-patterned carpet runs through the entire house. The animals are making it their lives' mission to wreck it. I dream of finding beautiful old boards beneath (but suspect that I won't). That's another year's project.


On the bottom landing sits the still-wrapped large mirror that used to be over the sitting room fireplace in my last house. I don't know what to do with it yet.



Hidden behind the same door stand two wrapped-up - what? sheets of glass? pictures? more mirrors? I must have a look some time.


Be careful on the very steep stairs - few are the same height, so again, it's very easy to tumble down. At the top is a large cupboard.

Like the stairs, this cupboard is the only place in the house where my neighbours and I can hear each other, making us think that the staircase was divided in two many years ago, as they have the same number of irregular death-trap steps. 

The landing is irregular, with two more steps and a door leading onto a corridor for the bathroom and my bedroom. On the right, a doorway leads into a dark little lobby and two more bedrooms.



This landing is the real death-trap - it's light during the day, as there is a skylight; at night it's pitch dark, so there are little plug-in lights to save visitors from emerging from bedrooms, floundering a bit, then falling spectacularly down the stairs, and possibly damaging the mirrors breaking a leg.



Today I am engaged in emptying this cupboard, into which things were stuffed willy-nilly when I first moved here, and sorting out fabrics, bedding, curtains, pillows, making a satisfyingly large heap for the charity shops.


Its interior  is a rounded triangle in shape, going back about 4 feet at its furthest point, with crudely made shelves.

But this is no ordinary cupboard! No, it doesn't lead to Narnia; don't be silly.

It's the famous Flying Freehold - the f-word twice, as it came to be called - that caused my conveyancing solicitor so much grief. It extends into the neighbours' house, and on their landing appears simply as a curved wall. If you look carefully to the left of the interior wall, you can just make out a doorway. See it? This once connected the two houses - or what are now two houses; English Heritage's somewhat inaccurate listing states that the entire building, now next door's and mine, may have been three dwellings at one time, a malthouse at another, and possibly the local pub before then. Both our houses are higgledy-piggledy, and hard to make sense of, full of character and crumbling plaster.

But older locals tend to refer to mine as "May H's cottage" - May H having been the elderly owner at least three ownerships previously, when there were stone flags in the hall and a pervading smell of damp.


Later today, there may be shelves of neatly sorted bedding, spare duvets and pillows in the flying freehold cupboard, and if I don't manage to get low bookcases sorted out soon, the several still-unpacked boxes of books that sit reproachfully next to my desk - yes, that's more filing on top.

So, still thinking pristine? Immaculate? Tidy? Thought not.


Come back soon; I'll show you the linhay at the end of the garden one day, and destroy all romantic notions you may have about stone buildings before damp proofing.

Now back to that cupboard. I have a reputation for tidiness to live up to.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

I moved into my house 8 years ago and still have unpacked boxes, waiting for the appropriate shelving to be constructed....

judy in ky said...

It does look as if you have plenty of projects to entertain you (and us) for quite a while. My problem with cupboards and closets is, they don't stay tidy. They keep filling up and requiring a do-over.

the veg artist said...

Oh joy! I suddenly feel much, much better about the state of my house. (We moved over eight years ago - a minor detail!)

Frances said...

What a fascinating cottage. Good luck with all the sorting out!

zephyr said...

Rats. And here i thought you had the perfect life...(kidding)

mrspao said...

I think your new home is wonderful (and much tidier than mine). It is so interesting to be somewhere with such an interesting history.

Preseli Mags said...

Yes I'm still thinking pristine, immaculate AND tidy. You have a charming cottage, full of character. I could NEVER show you pictures of mine (which is full of toys, books and mud from the farm). I'll tidy up when the children have left home...

BumbleVee said...

I was not convinced it was pristine...although, I feel I know you somewhat, and, of course, know you are not slovenly....

But, I do love how you (not you personally, you understand, but any one of us) can suck people into believing anything you want on a blog.... although, mostly I just organize things so they look a bit better...and at least dust the table or tidy a bit... oh, and ...of course...always get in for a tight shot.... the closer you stand to whatever it is.... the better any shot will look. Sometimes I go the opposite on my food blog. I actually show the disasters... it's great for getting some good blogging mileage ..

jabblog said...

I must protest - even your 'untidiness' is tidy. Your cottage has such an interesting history and it's always good to know where to go for a spot of gentle eavesdropping.

Amy said...

Whenever I see a pristine house I never see a home. And if there weren't projects to do, you'd just have to move and find a new place to fix up. It's the rule. (oh by the way, you look fine. I feel at home!)

Toffeeapple said...

You'll get it sorted to your liking eventually and it is not as untidy as someone I know in the next road.

Dartford Warbler said...

It is a home, not a pristine house, and gradually it will feel more like your own. Do take care at night when you traverse that landing, half asleep.......

Noelle said...

Oh Rachel, the history alone of your little cottage would make anyone think you have a gem! Never mind its little quirks, it is a delight for us (everyone of us is envious I believe) to discover as you reveal your Castle!
Hugs to Flossie and Tosca and Millie, Millie, Hamish, Scooter, Catkin and...
Don't work too hard! There is always tomorrow!

mountainear said...

What a wonderful complicated space - full of mystery and history. You're now making me rue the energy- efficient box we put up inside our old walls. If you find yourself at a loose end there will always be plenty of research to be done at the County Archives.

Fancy a cyber Hall of Mirrors? We have a similar, wrapped, mirror-enclosing shape looking for a home. Too big. No mantlepiece. Sad because I guilded the beast myself.

Arthur Ransome said...

Another totally fascinating post. I'm sorry to say that your amazing ff cupboard puts me in mind of the one in Rosemary's Baby between Rosemary's flat and her (somewhat strange, shall we say?) neighbours'. Don't have nightmares. I have similar steep stairs in the cottage but, thank goodness, a proper light on the landing. I would not wish to attempt them with only those little nightlights. My bathroom is downstairs, so I very much need a strong light to venture down for the nocturnal necessaries. Thanks for showing us all this - I still think it's glorious.

June said...

Strange little house, innit? I'd be tempted to take it down to its bones to see what was there and build back out again. Or not, maybe.
Stone flags in the hall and a pervading smell of damp.......perfect setting for a British mystery!

hasenschneck said...

Seems quite common to have joins between separate old dwellings. A cottage I know well in Yorkshire has a corridor that runs the full length of the three cottages in the terrace, so there must have been some joint ownership or use in the past. The join has been closed since the 1950s but you can still hear through at that point.

I have an old stone wash-house that is as damp as anything. Built into a bank at the edge of a field, there's no hope of ever damp-proofing it. Window open all year around, bars on window suffices. Previous owner tried to render it - current owner (me) sweeping up crumbling render on regular basis.

Your house looks lovely, so what if it's not completely done yet? It does take ages to get it all sorted out. I've only just got curtains for downstairs after two and half years and upstairs windows still to be done.

hasenschneck said...

Oh, I wrote you a great long response and the ***ing computer lost it. Haven't the heart to repost but loved this post.

Lynda (Granny K) said...

Your old dresser is rather magnificent isn't it? I bet it holds A Lot. Clutter! We've all got it, but some hide it better than others! I just keep moving mine from one place to another and then back again. Sigh. Need any patchwork material? Crewel wool? Old curtains? Enough books to stock a shop? :o)

Jinksy said...

Square room houses are so boring! LOL

MLou said...

Thanks for sharing the alcoves and less tidy bits. I feel better now.

elizabethm said...

Well I agree that even your untidiness is tidy. I have been working in a lovely house with a lovely owner today where even turning round is a hazard and sitting down needs forward planning. I once lived in a place with a flying freehold. I think of it rather like a flying horse. On any sort of plan it would be designated by a winged Pegasus, something like "here be dragons".

Marcheline said...

The problem isn't the cabinet (it's gorgeous)... it's that the carpeting doesn't go with it. I suggest getting a large area rug for the dining room... something dark and rich, perhaps an oriental rug, which will complement the antique beauty of that cabinet. Or put laminate wood flooring down in the dining room, which is better for rooms where food is involved.

Ginnie said...

Oh, this is pretty tidy! You need towering stacks of papers, some of which have 5 year old files at the bottom, before your place will resemble mine. There are some challenges, though, with your room / stair arrangements, and I'm sure your creative self will find some excellent remedies! (Loved the title of this post, too - made me laugh)

Nia Draper said...

Hi Rachel,
Thanks for your recent email. Your cottage looks lovely, I love it's higgeldy-piggeldy-ness. Glad also to see that the animals are ok and enjoying their walks, even one of the cats?!!

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