Saturday 10 September 2011

Six weeks

Bedding in. It's been a very busy six (almost seven) weeks, and many changes are underway.

This cottage came to be mine in a rather sad way. The couple who had bought it as a wreck almost 14 years ago had intended it to be their retirement home. They had worked on it lovingly and were counting the months till they could move from their home over 3 hours' drive away. Their cottage renovation was almost finished.

And then, last year, he became ill and died, very unexpectedly. She couldn't face the thought of moving so far from friends and neighbours to the cottage that held so many hopes, dreams, plans and years of hard work, and decided that she had to sell. She told the estate agent that she hoped that the process would be rapid, as it was so painful.

And I came along, hoping that the buying process would be rapid..... I knew that it would be a difficult process for her, and was careful with the tone of my emails. She later commented that it felt like she was selling to a friend rather than to a stranger; we corresponded regularly, and I felt sorry that I hadn't met her.

So this cottage and much of its furniture, whilst not entirely to my taste, became mine; it felt loved and cared for, and what remained to be done was clearly defined. I'm making changes to it, but I can see how much has been done with it already, and respect that. The vendor sent photos of how it had looked when she and her partner bought it; I was rendered speechless by the filth and squalor, the neglect and damage, and the vision she must have possessed to know that beyond the horrors, she could make it into a lovely home.

Almost 14 years later, this is how the sitting room looked when I viewed it.

I don't like those cottage suites, personally, or antimacassars, but this photo always makes me smile, as my mother would have loved it so much!

And the 'utility room', once the side path of the cottage, largely untouched except for a massive clean up, aided, I'm told, by the local Environmental Health Department. I think that, had she kept the cottage, this may have been the vendor's next phase of the renovation. It will be my second.

The first task for me has to be the electrics; they need to be upgraded as a matter of urgency, and also to be made less of an eyesore.

And the builders have made a start, knocking and drilling a hole through more than two feet of stone, to create a conduit for the new cabling. I could have wept at the dust and mess, worse than any plastering or sanding dust I have ever experienced, defeating all attempts to cover furniture with protective sheets. The electrician comes on Monday, when the cabling will be streamlined and routed through the wall into the hallway, and then - to my relief - the stone will be rendered.

The utility room will soon become a reality, its sloping floor raised so that the washing machine doesn't judder its way downhill into the drain, a sink and worktop installed, and some storage for all the clutter that animals bring with them; the food, the bowls, the brushes, the potions and lotions, the litter trays. I miss my old utility room, and look forward to making something functional and clean-lined out of this one.

But it's not all  cottage-based busyness. Far from it. We are out and about a great deal.

And we expect a new addition to the household tomorrow.

I am taking the Lovely Son's stout, middle-aged, attitude-filled cat, she who has remained nameless for years. His lifestyle, yo-yoing between his own house and that of his girlfriend, makes it hard to look after a cat properly. Despite coveting her for years, I'm taking her on somewhat reluctantly,  aware that there will be dramatic scenes all round. But I have to hope that love and attention will overcome everyone's injured feelings, and that she will end up as happy and settled here as the others are.

We've moved to a new, quiet life? I hardly think so.....


Gwen Buchanan said...

Rachel you are an Inspiration!

Rose H (UK) said...

Blimey, it only seems a couple of weeks since you moved in!
Your cottage is still loved - it's sad that the original owners couldn't fulfil their dreams, but I'm certain that it's fulfilling yours.
Hope your new arrival doesn't cause too much upheaval - you never know it may just go smoothly!

judy in ky said...

Yes, that was a sad story. I know she must feel better turning it over to someone who will love it and care for it, someone who feels like a friend. Flossie looks so happy there. Did she find that shoe? Are you going to give the new cat a name?

Bow Street Flowers said...

I wonder which cat will love No Name... or who she will love. So much work to be done, but looks like you live in Paradise. At the rate you're going, you'll have a nice cozy Autumn and Winter! Do all English couches have high backs? What a good idea.

Von said...

Ahe looks just like my Emily, rather a grump at the moment with the arrival of the twin Tortys.Lovely cottage, all will be peaceful in no time.

Frances said...

Lovely to hear from you again after a whole week of nothing..... and pleased that all is well..I was getting worried ! 5 cats eh? You will not be able to move for tripping over them! I had 3 once upon a time for a short time, and it was rather delightful. Hope they all get on ( eventually).

Anonymous said...

Tosca and Flossie will be demanding a puppy, as they will be seriously outnumbered when the new resident arrives! When covered in dust and mess, you have to keep saying - it will be worth it when it's all finished!! I love the photos from your out and about - it looks a wonderful to place to live!

jabblog said...

I hope the stout lady may finally receive a name. I'm sure she will soon slim down when enticed by all the small wildlife to chase and hunt.
It's good to see the transitions in your new home.

the veg artist said...

Mantra: "the dust of old stone walls is just a stage". Repeat as often as needed!!
The furniture that you inherited looks typical "It will do for us to sit on until we move in properly". I'm not surprised that she couldn't bear to move, but her home is in good hands, and paws - multiplying already!! Lots of antics to look forward to, which will distract you from the mess!!

Christmas Pie Crafts said...

It is good that the cottage has passed on to someone who will lovely it as much as the previous owners. Good luck with the 'nameless' one - she will be so happy to be settled.


Rattling On said...

Stout, middle-aged, attitude-filled... I so identify with that cat! I'm sure you'll all rub along fine. The house is taking shape nicely, it obviously feels like home-which really is the only bit that counts.

Arthur Ransome said...

She's a beauty and a lucky girl to be moving to the country with new friends to get acquainted with.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Relaxation isn't a concept you're familiar with , perhaps ?
I love the idea of offering a welcome to the feline embodiment of Lady Bracknell at the same time as having the builders in .
And I know you'll cope brilliantly !

Noelle the dreamer said...

Treasure hunting? Oh Flossie, you are so lucky!
Love to 'walk' along with you Rachel!
Thanks for sharing and blessings to all!

Lesley said...

Another member of the feline family??? I hope it's going well. Gorgeous 'out and about' pics and the one of your living room makes me feel homesick . . . huh? Love from Bacteria Gardens xxxxxxxx (is that the right number now?

Dartford Warbler said...

In our house I expect she would be called Mrs Cat, and that would probably be her name for life! Good luck with introducing her to your cat and dog family.

You have made great progress with the cottage, in a short time. The old owner must be relieved that you have taken over the renovations and that you will love living there. Your area of Somerset looks so beautiful. Flossie must be in heaven with all those new, exciting walks!

Pam said...

All sounds very promising. Good luck with Lady Bracknell!

June said...

I have to move to Europe.
I want a castle in my back yard like all of you!

flwrjane said...

Gosh remember when life seemed all of the same and you wondered if you'd ever get to move?

Now look at you and your new life.

and a new (ish) cat.

V.full life.

xo Jane

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