Sunday, December 14

A Visit To The Lovely House part two

14th December
I've been working outside a lot these last weeks, it's getting slightly obsessive - as the ground around the quince, cherry, plum or whatever tree is cleared there are new views of the landscape. Also I really like making bonfires.

Visitors coming inside the Lovely House tend to keep their coats on. Sometimes we need to step outside to warm up. Once in the front door there is a terracotta flagstone hallway with stairs directly in front, there are doors to either side. The door on the left leads to a large square room with a mosaic floor, this room is cold damp and empty (in summertime it can be used for computer use), there is a door at the far end of this room to a small, mouldy bedroom.

The door on the right in the hallway leads to another large square room with the same terracotta flags. This is our main room and is dominated by a huge fireplace - I also cook here. I keep a small fire going all day but it needs to really blaze to warm the room properly. A crémaillère is attached in the fireplace -  an iron contraption with hooks and an eye at different heights so cooking pots can be suspended above the fire.

All the furniture in the main room is wooden; the worm-ravaged settles by the fire are pine, but the dining table and the big cupboard are of a more vermifugal sort of wood. Against the wall by the entrance door is a wooden trough that was once used to scrape the bristles off dead pigs, a wide plank is covering this, I use it as a sideboard and stack the crockery on it.

On one side of the chimney one door leads to another  small, mouldy bedroom and another door, that won't close properly, opens onto to a vast bathroom tiled entirely in small dark blue tiles*. The suite is ointment pink, the effect is gothic. Next door to the bathroom is a scullery kitchen with a concrete sink and glass-brick window, mice eat the dishwasher cables so we can't use it. From the scullery is a door to a large rat-ridden 'back kitchen' - a damp, windowless room with thick cobwebs over all the old junk and the old bread oven, there is a door out to the wood shed from here.

Another door in the main room leads to a grand dining room. This has the best mosaic floor, intricately painted ceilings, wood-panelled walls and a built-in walnut sideboard. With it's tiny north-facing windows this is the coldest, darkest room and is impossible to be in, it stores camera kit. A door leads out to the big barn from here.

Upstairs the house has two large and two small bedrooms, all at the front of the house. the whole top back section is one big long attic full of ancient saddlery and farm machinery.

*That bathroom has recently been the cause of acute embarrassment. When on my own in the house I don't bother to wedge the door shut with a piece of heavy furniture anymore. The lavatory is several paces from the door.

The house front door has no knob or latch; entry is achieved by hefting a shoulder to the door until it gives way, getting the door open from the inside is more difficult. English visitors have developed a habit of bellowing out as they shove at the door and let themselves in. This happened last week as I had just got seated. Anxious to spare their eyes I hobbled too hastily across the bathroom to shut the door. Realising that I'd wet my knickers in the process, but safely behind a closed door, I slipped the knickers off, threw them behind the long mirror, pulled my jeans back on and sauntered out to meet my friends. Unfortunately they had brought their dog who wandered off while we were having coffee. Suddenly the mutt reappeared and with a big dribbly grin dropped my sodden underwear at his master's feet.


  1. This story reminded me of the times I worked on large research ships. One was old, a relic kept afloat through constant labor. The other was state of the art new. The first ship, no matter how much labor was applied to it was still old. Noisy engine, small work areas, antiquated galley and so forth. The newer one was a technical wonder but it had no charm. Perhaps that would come with time. Maybe.

  2. Oh dear, such a good chuckle to go with my first cup of coffee and I love how you dont hesitate to write about embrassing moments....
    So, is the fireplace your only heat in the house (and the only way to cook)? Sure hope you have good thick woolens for the winter....
    Pictures of the old place would be nice someday - esp. of the mosaic flooring....
    Warm wishes towards you!

  3. Bill - the ship parallel is perfect, I've always been a fan of cranky characters.
    Deborah - I can plug in eletric heaters but they're so ineffectual that I might as well just put on another jumper (I have silk long johns my dear). There is an electric cooker in the scullery which I use for baking.

  4. It really sounds a lovely house (and looks so too, from the drawings). I would love to have a huge fireplace in the kitchen and the task of keeping the fire burning. Lucky you. I can see why you were worried when the landlord came to visit a few months ago.

  5. dogs, eh? Anyway, they probably just thought he had been drooling. Our house is pretty cold too. I mean, trouble getting the toothpaste to leave the tube cold. So I recognise so well the phenomenon of going outside to warm up.

    Hey, your five-year old can draw pretty well. Sure that's not you?

  6. I am frighteningly fond of the old place KSV.

    Ernest - Dogs, drool, wee ...
    I've had a closer look at this five-year-old - it's possible she's just young for her age.

  7. You met your friends knickerless? It makes me wonder whether you were wearing knickers when you typed this post. I wouldn't mind if you weren't.

  8. That's a brilliant story. In my bottom-of-the-range (and then some) first car I devised a sponge on a long stick for wiping the rear window with. Maybe you could adopt similar technology? (Not the sponge, no. I mean a door-pushing pole handily lying by the wall)

  9. Mr Bananas - Lulu often goes commando

    Brother T - I like the stick idea. I'm a big fan of lo-tech

  10. It would be lovely to see some photos of the grand dining room- it sounds wonderful. You don't have to photo your soggy knickers though.


Related Posts with Thumbnails