Tag Archives: house

Blossom

Suddenly, the countryside has come alive with blossom. I took these in our garden this afternoon after a rather rainy day where we drove over the moors and down to the beach before retiring to home for tea, biscuits and a relaxing evening spent reading and blogging and sitting cosily in the kitchen with my husband.

The verges and hedges are full of greeness, wild flowers and new shoots. The whole place has been carpeted with soft green verdent grass. Birds are nesting and the air has a new found warmth to it. Flocks of dandilions appeared as if from nowhere. Exmoor really is beautiful.

All photos by me

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Thursday. Friday.

Unpacking forgotten, I spent a lot of yesterday sitting on the window seat in the upstairs bedroom, watching. The birds, the wind rustling in the trees of the garden and woodland beyond. The stream, rushing purposefully through the garden and under the road, the ducks floating on the part which opens up into a pond further down hill.

Turning round and looking the other way I can see woodland, forest even, stretching steeply uphill to the moorland beyond. Birds of prey circle above the treeline, bringing to mind the Enchanted Forest.

The weather changes faster here, or perhaps it is only that I notice it more. The days are growing ever longer. Sunshine just touches the top of the house today, when it didn’t on Tuesday. It was light until 5.20pm. The clouds scud over faster; a hail storm batters the windows furiously for 5 or so minutes. And then as fast as it arrives it is gone. And the birds come back out and peace is restored.

Husband returns from London tonight. It is the first time since his trip to Burgundy last October that we have been separated like this since we were married. I scurry round, trying to finish the unpacking. A joke, of course, it isn’t done, far from it. I have surprised myself this week. Enjoyed my peace and quiet. Spent far too much time doing absolutely nothing. Went out for lunch today. Chatted to old ladies who remembered my name. Drank coffee in the sunshine. Chose library books. Bought a bird feeder. And now, washing. Clothes. And then a bath. And then, finally, collecting my husband.

Wednesday

I think I am getting used to the cottage. Obviously broadband (and therefore Spotify) helps. I cooked my third meal of the week on the Rayburn tonight and it was distinctly better than the previous two. I could even identify the ingredients such was my success at not charring.

I have unearthed the sofa. And cleared a path to it through the boxes. I have even been successful at lighting my first fire and am sat peacefully on the (buttery soft mid brown) leather sofa by it, writing this. Smug, much? I don’t mean to be. It’s just the first time I’ve been warm all week.

Went for a walk earlier. Up the back lane and followed the road/bridle path up the side of the river, past all the hunting lodges. I had thought I might walk right to the head of the valley but I got distracted by a beautiful heron gliding above the river, looking for fishes. His enormous wing span was intimidating but he clearly found me more so: with a beady stare he flapped off back the way he’d come. And so I went home. And sat on the window seat watching the dogs waiting for their owners to chat, long fur waving in the increasing wind, behaving much like four year olds wanting their parents’ attention. The glove stealing was particularly amusing.

I have also been continuing my research regarding moving from London to Somerset and my latest identification of ‘neighbour’ is Pearl Lowe. I feel our reasons for leaving the big smoke are somewhat different but, for what it’s worth, here is her advice:

A rock chick’s rural guide: Pearl Lowe’s tips for moving to the country (from here)

Don’t keep running back to town every chance you get. There’s a real change of pace and you need to embrace that. It won’t happen if you keep one foot in city life, so don’t be tempted.

Bin your heels Flat shoes and wellies (or in my case Uggs) are a must.

Be friendly and open-minded. Having kids is great as you meet other parents from school.

Get a dog Everyone has one in the country. It’s a way of life. Taking your pet for walks helps you to appreciate your surroundings.

Don’t compare your life with anyone else’s A move far from home provides a perfect chance for a fresh start.

Shopping isn’t all about Bond Street Country towns and villages can be a discerning shopper’s paradise with some fabulous artisan boutiques just waiting to be discovered. I love the Cheese Shop on Cheap St, Frome, and go to La Belle Etoffe, 37 Rossiters Road, for the most amazing furniture. I visit Dores & Rees auction house every other week looking for furniture and for linen I head to Suzannah’s in Bath.

We Swim at Babington House and for tea I like visiting the beautiful Charlton House near Bath. Other places to note are Mulberry’s outlet factory in Shepton Mallet and Well’s Trading Post, which is housed in an 11th century mill and is incredible for trinkets and unusual Native American finds. Better still, the stock changes every week.

I am not sure I will be joining her swimming at Babington House (much as I would like to) but one day I will persuade Husband to visit the Mulberry factory shop. Actually, what I am saying. I have a car. I could go tomorrow. Probably best to wait until I have been paid though.

{Image, woods and river behind our cottage, me}

Tuesday

It is quiet here. Very quiet.

If I stand outside my front door late at night the only things I can hear are running water (from the stream in the garden) and owls hooting. As we drove the van up to our house on Sunday night we found a red deer on the road, just standing and looking. When he saw our lights he turned and ran up the road, disappearing up a bridle path into the woodland.

The house is so full of boxes that Alex, my almost brother-in-law, suggested I should build a fort. I would but there is no space to re-arrange them. I had to climb over them to reach the phone. I am doing things I haven’t done in years. Use a landline. Cook my own supper. Joined a library.

I didn’t have any ID with me so I was only allowed one book. It is closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays but if I go back with ID on Friday I can take out 20 items for up to 3 weeks. I had forgotten the pleasure in choosing library books. After some deliberation I decided on a local author’s journal of a year living on Exmoor. The librarian told me that my village has a ‘stitch and bitch‘ group. She directed me to the ladieswear shop. Aimed at women at least 20 years older than me but the proprietor was friendly. There was a second room filled with haberdashery. Between that shop and the hardware shop, which was a treasure trove of goodies and I could have spent hours in there, I may not need to miss London too much. But I am not thinking about that.

It is dark again now. In London I didn’t really notice when it went dark. Not here. Dusk starts at about 4.30pm and it is properly dark by 5.15pm. I bought some tea lights to make the house cosier. I would light a fire. But I would have to burn my boxes as there is no space to reach the fireplace. And so the unpacking commences. Once I have cooked my supper*.

*This takes longer at the moment because I haven’t quite got the hang of cooking on the Rayburn yet.

The Monday after the Sunday

Plugged my ethernet cable into the box by the phone line on the off chance it would work. It did. But I am exhausted so no long post from me, just a quick update.

We had to do 2 trips. We had too much furniture to get into the van so we came back. Sunday we drove for 10 hours to spend 5 hours loading furniture in the pissing rain and then cleaning*.  We got back to Exmoor at 4.30am. We listened to cassette tapes all the way home to stay awake. Pixies. Oasis. Blur. All the originals.

Today I drove the car. Then Husband left for London. I cried. Then I located the music and cooked supper.

We are never moving again.

*Amazing friends cleaned the oven and the bathroom and helped pack a million boxes of kitchen things on Friday. Yet 3 years worth of dust etc takes a surprisingly long time to remove.

Proper post to follow. Am exhausted. So exhausted I think I have said it twice. Bath. Tea. Bed.

Bridge over (un-troubled) water

I’m sure if you know the local area, you can place this. Or, is it just me being paranoid. Whatever the reality, this is a really bad photo of the bridge over the stream in front of our new house. I hope that given this was taken in December that the water level will never rise to flooding levels.

I have always loved places where streams and rivers run through the village and where houses are accessed only over bridges. Thorverton in Devon, near to where we held our wedding reception, is one. Polperro in Cornwall, near to where we went yurting on our honeymoon, is another.

We managed to speak to the estate agent today. We can move either the 23rd or the following weekend. Someone wants to come and look round our house tomorrow. Things are starting to get real. Very quickly.

I just have to make 1 decision: is it better to move on the 23rd and spend the whole week on my own as Husband still has to work a full week in London before starting the new job on the 1st. Or move on the 30th and have 1 day with Husband, start new job and then spend until Thursday on my own.

That and get over my fear of driving.

New year, new house

And so, finally, to the one we did choose. In the interests of not inviting everyone who reads this to know where I live I am not posting the photos of the outside. And the ones of the inside were sent to me by the agent who we didn’t go with* (presumably via the Landlord) and I don’t want to start my new life in the countryside by pissing either of them off. So, photos to come in a few weeks when have moved in and I can photograph the details without giving away the location too much.

What I will say is that it is much smaller than any of the other properties. Much cosier. A holiday cottage which is now on a long term let. On two floors, accessed by a wooden staircase built down the side of the sitting room wall. It is in a small hamlet, attached to a village, on a bus route into the main town where I will be working. 2 miles from the beach. It is an end of terrace cottage, with Rayburn and woodburner and 2 bedrooms and a BATH. It has a little terraced garden with a table and chairs and a bird box. And space for our wedding pots. And a stream, with a bridge.

Now we just have to wait for the estate agent to unthaw from all the snow and get back to her office and we might be able to sort a moving date. I am trying not to stress about this. In 3 weeks I start my job. In 2 weeks we lose our London flat. And still we do not have a move-in date.

Someone told me that the biggest change for me would be pace of life. I.e. things move in Somerset time, not London. I am starting to see what she meant. At the time I thought she meant going for walks on a Sunday afternoon and the banks closing at mid-day on Saturday. I didn’t realise that she meant something which would happen in one day here would still be outstanding 3 weeks later. Even allowing for Christmas, New Year and really bad weather, that’s still pretty slow.

But I am trying to learn to not mind, to sit back and let things take their own time. I’ll let you know how I get on…

{House 5 – the one we hope to live in}

* Did I tell you about the story of the 2 agents and the one house and the one set of keys and people not working on Saturdays but then getting really cross when you decide to give the business to the one that was prepared to do the work. And the shouting, which confirmed which one we were not using? No, well, maybe I should, or perhaps I’ll wait until we’ve moved in…