Monday, October 19, 2009

A Moving Tale - Part 2 - River Cottage

Hello interweb, I'm back again. We've finally moved into our slightly more permanent home, broadband is connected (no thanks to the (No) Helpline at Virgin Media) Thank goodness for a techie brother or I'd have hurled the laptop through the window and into the road under the first bus that happened to pass. It's sooper dooperly fast though. I can hardly keep up with it.

I've been going online at the library but when you can access Facebook, Freecycle or Blogger, I mean what's the point really? I'd sign on for my permitted hour and stare at the screen with a feeling of faintly rising panic that I couldn't get my Facebook or Freecycle fix then browse ferry prices or how to breed rabbits or other such useless things.

The lack of broadband should have meant that I could devote quality time to getting my outline book chapters done for my agent but I didn't even manage that. I mean, how weird is that that without the interweb you can still live a busy life! But that's my priority for next week.

So finally after being separated from our most precious possessions which have languished in storage for the past 3 months, we were joyfully reunited. And finally we were able to take stock of the consequences of using the hopeless Mr Grumpy for our move. A tear in back of our Roche Bobois sofa which was also filthy from having been put straight onto the floor of the container, gouges out of our wardrobes, thick oil down the sides of our chest of drawers (which is a total mystery when there was nothing even vaguely mechanical in the van. My bet is that the old git picked up a motorbike or something for someone else. Certainly his story of leaving 3 square metres free for customs didn't ring true) and so the list goes on. The only thing that seems to have escaped damage is our dining table, which is a family heirloom, luckily for Mr Grumpy or he'd find me on his doorstop holding a machete. I would estimate that the damage runs to at least double what we paid him to move us. Still, that old adage is true. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys and we got a flaming great baboon. A hex on the global financial crisis. Without you we could have got real movers in!

Although the house is smaller than the one in France we do have a good few outbuildings to use for storage. We have a garage, or at least we will have when the roof is replaced. At the moment it's distinctly seive-like and the recent inclement weather has prevented the roofer from coming round. At the moment I'd not be too inclined to put anything in it that wasn't waterproof or rubber coated. But on the plus side, it has an inspection pit. I mean, what more could a girl want? Well, apart from a decent roof of course.

Then there's the workshop, which is at least watertight. It was full of lots of interesting bits of 'stuff', it having been in the same family for several generations. We put loads of our things in there but hadn't counted on our overzealous landlady who came over to move any extraneous possessions from the workshop into the piggery. I suppose I should have cottoned on when she walked across the lawn clutching a load of fishing rods exclaiming 'I had no idea that we had so much fishing stuff'. It was of course the CH's stuff she was moving but by the time we noticed she had cleared out all our stuff and locked it away with hers.

Then there's the piggery, where we planned to keep, well, pigs of course. I can see this may be the only source of disagreement as she is now claiming that it doesn't form part of the agreement. The poor agent, who had to bring us the bad news, visibly blanched when the CH told him that he had a dozen pigs arriving the following day! Joke!

Anyway, we've negotiated partial use of it now so our pigs will be the most comfortable in the West Country, with real sofas to sit on! I think we may well have to rethink the pig business now unfortunately. Maybe some lambs but I really did fancy a lovely big porker. (Quiet at the back!)

We've really gone from one extreme to the other. Our French house had cathedral ceilings that were 22 feet high at their uppermost point, our little English cottage has a beamed lounge already liberally splattered with bits of the head of the 6 foot 4 CH and DS, now a towering 6 footer as well. It also boasts the most ghastly plastic chandelier thing (perfect for low ceilings) that the landlady thought would add a touch of 'glamour'. More like a touch of chav. It won't be up for much longer...I foresee a nasty accident coming.

It also has the most fabulous inglenook fireplace, a real one with a seat in it. The beam across the front is a constant source of interest as the more you look at it the more you find carved in it. Wait a minute..... does this mean that I am spending part of my new life sitting in a fireplace just, well, staring at it? Note to self: Life really is too short! The only thing it doesn't have is a lovely woodburner but that'll come next.

The cottage has just been newly renovated and the builder was clearly a south-western relative of Mr Grumpy. The new kitchen he put in has one drawer,. one drawer! It had to be a man didn't it? You need at least one drawer just for crap, never mind your cutlery. The said drawer is actually inside a cupboard and he's put the door on the wrong way so that you can't open it properly and pull the drawer out anyway. He also laid a new solid oak floor in the lounge but neglected to check whether there was enough clearance for the door to open. Do you think it does? No, of course not. Kate Moss could probably slip through the narrow gap that it affords but me, not a chance! Still, the joy of renting is that it's someone else's problem not ours. We just have to make the phone call and someone comes and sorts it out. It's a complete joy after the money pit we had in France, which is still getting it's back on us for leaving it.

It's quite a relief to have a smaller house which doesn't require hours of housework everyday although it does have nearly 2 acres of land so there's plenty to do outside to make up for it. Actually, that was the reason we decided to go for it as we fancy a year of near self sufficiency with chickens, pigs (or not) and lots of veggies (as in the ones you grow not the ones that don't eat animals). It has a small orchard which has already yielded several tens of kilos of apples which we hope to use to make cider once we get a cider press and a small area of woodland that leads through to the best bit, a river. You can slip through the little gate and you are on your own absolutely gorgeous bit of English riverbank. I envision hot summer days cooling my toes in the river while the offspring mess around in a boat - ask me again how great it is the first time we are sandbagging the back door though! According to the neighbours, who have already been round to negotiate fishing rights, it's stuffed full of trout too.

The CH is busy scouring books on 'the perfect vegetable plot' and 'Cider Making for Dummies' ready to get started. But I know what will happen. He'll get everything dug and planted and then work will pick up again and he'll be off back to Luvvieland and I'll be doing my own version of 'Land Girls'. Still, anything will be better than another winter spent splitting logs. Here you can buy then in huge quantities for next to nothing, already cut to size and split. Joy!

We've renamed the cottage 'River Cottage' in homage to Hugh Fearlessly-Eatsitall, who will be our new guru - well the CH's, less so mine. I've come to the conclusion that I love the Country Lite life where you can pick and chose the elements of rural living but never be too far from Waitrose and decent clothes shops. No doubt all the real self sufficency experts will be scoffing and jeering from the sidelines but hey, you are what you are. And I'm definitely a country lightweight!

2 comments:

The Vegetable Assassin said...

Ha, the new place sounds wonderful actually. I've been in some pubs back when I lived in Nottingham, that had those ceilings you talk about. People scraping their noggins off them in drunken stupors and smacking their heads on beams. VERY amusing so long as you're not one of them. :)

Now cider making I can really get behind. Get on that please and then ship me a bunch. There's no good cider over here, for real.

Happy new year, and welcome back!

Kitty said...

"Hugh Fearlessly-Eatsitall" Bwahahahaha! That made me splutter café au lait all over. Do you remember him consuming that placenta pâté? Yikes.

OK, here you are completely speaking to me: "...I've come to the conclusion that I love the Country Lite life where you can pick and chose the elements of rural living but never be too far from Waitrose and decent clothes shops."
Amen. However, MY Waitrose is still called Leclerc and my decent clothes shops are either non-existent or online. Darn. Still, I get to be pretend rural as I have a small and compact garden to utilise this year so I'll look on with interest as to what you are growing and when; it's my first real garden!

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