We took advantage of a sunny forecast one day last week (I’m sorry I can’t remember the day, it was the lull between Christmas and New Year when the days merge into one) and headed to the sea. West Wittering is my husband’s childhood beach and nowadays it’s full of wonderful memories for all of us.
The drive down was punctuated by sunshine and showers, but the rain soon cleared to leave us with blue skies and a brisk but not cold wind which whipped up the waves to white froth. It was a beautiful day and as the weather since has continued grey and miserable I’m so glad we seized the day.
We came home via our new cottage and sat in the gloaming on the window sill drinking tea and eating Dundee cake and looking at this …
… the fireplace of our new cottage. Everything is slowly but surely falling into place and I’m no longer feeling terrified by the task ahead. The two big jobs, a new boiler which also involves extensive work to the kitchen chimney and a complete re-wire, start the week after next. The week before Christmas we had the chimney stack and part of the external chimney wall repointed. Two roofers, two days and a scaffolding tower and the job was done. Later in the month we have a glazer, a carpenter and a decorator coming. We’ve always done our own decorating so I’m feeling the pressure to specify paint colour but choosing paint colour with no lighting in the oldest part of the cottage in mid-winter is proving difficult.
We will not be replacing the kitchen and bathrooms. The kitchen is charming with two windows looking out onto the garden and comprises solid oak cupboards and deep work tops which I will tackle with wire wool, a light sanding and boiled linseed oil – can’t wait!
One good thing about living in the same house for 25 years is that I’ve never offloaded stuff which may come in useful and following Jim Ede’s (of Kettle’s Yard) excellent advice that most people could happily dispense with one third of their furniture without even noticing I am planning to relocate roughly a third of ours from here to the cottage with the result that I’m hoping we won’t need to acquire a single stick of furniture.
And as far as soft furnishings go I am enjoying being creative with fabric on these dull dark days and I now have the makings for a curtain or blind for the most important of the 24 windows. The cottage is not overlooked but I do like drawing curtains when it gets dark and I appreciate the cosiness closed curtains bring to a room. We will be re-carpeting upstairs but downstairs, where there are a lot of quarry tiles, I think we can get away with cleaning, placing rugs (of which I have plenty) and laying new sisal flooring over the quarry tiles in the dining hall.
Our short term objective with the cottage is to make it habitable for the two of us. I thought if we could make it as comfortable and welcoming as say a Landmark Trust cottage then we will have achieved our aim and already I feel we are nearly there as every time we visit it feels more like home. Our children saw it for the first time just before Christmas and it was wonderful to witness their reaction which was so positive.
The garden will have to be saved for another day. But having spent the best part of another sunny day this week cleaning the grimiest windows inside and out while enjoying a good view over the garden I have plans forming. But my first job is to organise the boundary hedge cutting and my reward will be start seed sowing for a cutting patch. There are two small raised beds edged with blighted box which I will dig out and burn and then I will have space to start direct sowing all my favourite annuals. I also want to keep some ground for salads, herbs, perhaps a courgette plant and beans in the summer and even some leeks for next winter. I have made a good start on pruning the roses which cover the south and west facing walls of the cottage and there are many overgrown shrubs that need a good pruning, not to mention all the roses growing in the garden. The Liriodendron Tulipifera needs professional attention this winter, ivy must be removed from oil tank and the compost area reorganised as homemade compost is key to the way I garden. If I do all this and keep on top of the mowing, my allotment and my garden at home I will be on top of the world.
Happy New Year. I am so excited about the challenge 2016 holds.
WordPress sent me an email the other day with all my blog stats for 2015. Who knew such a thing existed but at least I now know that I’m not far off my 100th post which may or may not be something to celebrate.