The English Cottage

The English cottage in the title of this blog is where I have lived for 9 years and with each day I spend here, I love it more.

Built in 1790, it was exactly the size a cottage is meant to be – small and cosy. In the intervening years before we moved in, several previous owners extended it, modified it or modernised parts of it.

How do I know this? Because each time the cottage changes hands, the new owner receives with the key a set of photographs
of the cottage as it was in the 1950s. I love this tradition and it gives me some consolation that even though I don’t know everything about the long history of the cottage, at least I know a little.

My attempts to discover more met with little success. And then, just when I had stopped looking, I met a friendly elderly lady when out walking the dog. We got talking and when I told her where I lived, her eyes lit up. She explained that she used to live at the
cottage in the 1950s. I couldn’t believe the coincidence. It pleased me that she was able to answer some of my questions and that someone so obviously kind was a previous owner. I don’t know why it should make a difference, but on that day, it somehow did.

So anyway, when we acquired the cottage, it was a comfortable mix of the old and new – parts of it were rustic and ancient (with wooden beams, uneven floors & walls and a fireplace in every room that was a necessity in the days before central heating) and parts of it were modern with that feature most attractive to a compulsive organiser like me – lots of storage space. It was as though the previous owners had decided to go with additional store cupboards with me in mind.

If I were hard-pressed to name my favourite place in the cottage, it would have to be the kitchen.  I love that it covers the entire depth of the house and therefore, unlike any kitchen I’ve had before, here, I can look out into the front and back gardens with a mere twist of my neck.

For as far as I can remember, I have had an obsession with cottages. It seems in retrospect that how the ordinary people live just fascinates me. I somehow don’t feel the same kind of curiosity for palaces and other abodes of the rich. Where this cottage-love
comes from, I can only guess. Perhaps Enid Blyton is partly to blame. I spent many hours of a blissful childhood with my nose in her books. There was magic in those stories, but it was the illustrations of the cottages & little houses that I couldn’t tear my eyes away from.

I grew older, but I didn’t outgrow my love for cottages. And yet, not in my wildest imagination did I ever think I would actually live in one.

What’s more, in the years that I’ve lived here, it keeps growing on me – I love the sights, the smells, the sounds that are contained within these stone walls; the feel under my fingers of the banister, the door handles and just about everything else. And I even love the resident friendly ghost who my daughter says is responsible for all the unexplained noises and has fondly christened Geoffrey. But that’s a whole another story for another time.