Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Endless Love

I am inordinately fond of a cottage.  So said Willoughby in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility and I agree with him wholeheartedly.  The exterior of a cottage must, in my opinion, be well maintained and cared for, but with an air of humbleness about it.  It could be built of red brick, or painted bright pink and yellow like the cottages along the seafront at Tobermory.  It could be long and low or tall and thin; it could stand proudly alone or snuggled up with other cottages.  It could have a vast garden or a pocket handkerchief scrap, but it should never, never be grand.

My favourites are Welsh cottages made of stone with slate roofs, two chimneys, a garden full of flowers and hens and a stone path trickling down to a low, solid door set squarely in the middle.  If it has four small sash windows too, then I am in heaven.

Now we either have a house that looks like that or we don't; there's not much we can do to change it, but the interior is a different matter.  Any house can have a country cottage feel, it's all about hand-made, make-do-and-mend and never throw anything away kind of attitude.  Sounds perfect.

I remember the first cottage I ever went inside.  It belonged to a woman who seemed to me, at the tender age of 11, a little fierce.  She ran the riding school I helped out at and I couldn't believe I was actually allowed inside!  I only went into the kitchen but it was enough.  She had an Aga, a large oak table, an inglenook fireplace, a rocking chair and a bridle hung on the back of a wooden door leading to who-knows-where.  I could hardly speak.  I was in love.  I dreamt of this cottage for many years and my fertile imagination furnished it with all manner of horse tack, grooming kits, riding boots and hats.

Around a year or so later, still in the throws of a deep, unabiding love with a cottage, my parents brought us to Wales on holiday.  We stayed in the middle of nowhere, down endless country lanes to a long driveway almost hidden among lush verges and trees, which opened out into a farm yard. This in itself gave my heart cause to bang against my chest and I remember looking longingly at the higgledy-piggledy stone outbuildings with stable doors and cobbled floors.

Sadly there were no horses bowing their heads over the half-doors or scraping their hooves impatiently on the cobbles, but there was a farm house.  It was beautiful, even more beautiful than the riding school cottage.  Was my fickle heart about to change direction?  Absolutely!

This farm house was even more exciting.  A solid door was set at the end of a slate path that snaked between flower beds.   The door opened onto a tiny porch crammed with red geraniums and offered a choice of two internal doors; this I found most intriguing.  One led to a small, cosy lounge filled with mis-matched squashy settees and chairs, crocheted blankets and antimacassars hung over their backs and arms, patchwork cushions covered their seats and rugs scattered over the worn carpets.  This was my idea of sheer, perfect bliss.

The kitchen was huge and my sister and I ran about squealing and giggling with excitement.  The thing I loved the most was the enormous table and chairs that sat at one end of the kitchen, beneath a beautiful sash window over looking the cottage garden.  This then, was the epitome of home.  The worn rugs, faded pictures, old books and heavy furniture.  This is what I have tried to re-create, in my own way in every home I have lived in since.

One day I will live in a small farm house with sash windows, two chimneys, stone walls and a slate roof.  It will have a garden where I can grow flowers, herbs and vegetables and lavender coloured hens will scratch the earth between bright orange English marigolds.  There will be a field where my llamas or Welsh Mountain sheep will graze contentedly and my old blue Land Rover will wait patiently in the barn until she is needed.  If all goes to plan, there will be an Aga in the homely kitchen where I will make steak and kidney pudding, apple pie and farm house fruit cake.  It will have old rugs on the floor and most certainly there will be a rocking chair in a corner.  For anyone who cares to visit, there will always be tea and cake and my joy will know no bounds if I can send them home laden with fresh eggs, vegetables and homemade jam.

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub!

Enjoy a little day dreaming of your own today. xxx

1 comment:

  1. Hi Karla, love your post, especially the rocking chair for me to sit and be waited on in my dotage. Thereby hangs the question, 'to have or not to have a rocking chair in your future cottage?' xxx m