Today marks the second anniversary of the day we embarked on our awfully big adventure. I for one wasn’t sure we would last this long, but I am so pleased we’ve persivered because this little cottage, nestled on a hillside truly is a little slice of heaven.
We still have a lot to do, but she feels like home, and how lucky we are to have this cottage as our home.
We’ve finally seen the end of winter (I hope!) and the days are getting longer which means we can get busy outside again. The long list of jobs we’d planned for this winter have mostly gone undone as its been far too wet. We’ve been busy inside though giving the bathroom a makeover and making a start repairing the walls with lime mortar. We’re tackling the walls with a patch repair approach – we’ve been told this is perfectly acceptable. As the plaster loosens on the walls, we remove it and any other loose mortar behind the plaster, leave to dry for several months before lime motaring and finishing off with a good dollop of chalk paint. Eventually we’d like to use lime paint, but whilst we transition between cement plaster and lime we chose chalk paint as it is still breathable, but it adheres well to the modern paint too.
We really like the effect, and although it’ll take a long time to get through the rest of the interior, it will look great!
We’ve also been keen to find out a bit more about the history of the house and to see who lived here in years gone by so I’ve been down to local library to investigate. Although there is no access to their archives at the moment they’ve shown me how to use a few websites and I’ve been trawling through the census listings. I’ve only just started, but I managed to find the property on the 1911 census and found that a forester who worked on an estate lived here with his wife and 19 year old daughter who worked as a milliner. We’d suspected the cottage formed part of an estate, but it’s nice to see it in black and white, and we love the fact that the head of the house was a woodsman. I guess it makes sense, as the cottage is in a wood, but for some reason we’d not expected his occupation to be that. I can’t wait to get back down to the library to discover some more history. When I can access the archives I’ll be able to look at the estate maps to find out which estate it used to belong to and when it was broken up.
I’ve also found some useful books about rennovating Welsh cottages. ‘Sustainable legacy’ by Cliff Blundell is my new bedtime reading. A highly recommended book for those embarking on anything similar to us. He explains really well how these cottages live and breath and the devestating effects modern building techniques can have on them. It’s very reassuring to know that the work we’ve undertaken so far is sympathetic to the cottage and not detrimental in anyway. The book also explains about interiors and I’ve discovered why the ceilings are different downstairs. The kitchen ceiling is the upstairs floor exposed, but the lounge ceiling is covered, leaving only the beams exposed. This is because the lounge would have been the ‘posh room’ where visitors would have been welcomed. It would also have been the only room in the house with skirting boards. It’s also likely that the front door would have led into a hallway with the stairs straight in front and doors leading off to each of the two rooms downstairs. It’s heartwarming to discover that many of the original features remain in the cottage and great to have such a good book for reference.
We also ventured up into the loft for the first time a few weeks back. I was dreading the prospect, but actually it was surprisingly pleasant up there! The previous owner has done a fantastic job of boarding and insulating it, and the timbers looks surprisingly dry. Sadly, there was no hidden treasure up there, but we did see some old paint on the internal wall that separates the two rooms. I think there was also some old plasterwork up there. I’m a little confuse by the paint, as apparently the roof void has an important part to play in the air circulation within the house, which makes me think it would have always been there. So why paint it? However, we’ve also heard that the cottage was at one time two separate dwellings, so this may explain the two different colours on the wall. Whatever the reason, it was good fun to finally get up there. And about time!
To celebrate our anniversary we headed off to Mwnt, near Cardigan yesterday. It’s an area we’ve not yet explored, and we weren’t disappointed. It’s westerly aspect overlooking the Irish Sea meant it was certainly an invigorating stroll along the cliffs. A beautiful old chapel stands alone on the hillside, unfortunately it was locked so I couldn’t venture inside. We then made our way down to the beach, which is apparently extremely busy in the summer, but the thankfully there were only a few other people. I had great fun trying to get Bumble to run in the sea, I failed, but we had fun running around.
So here’s to many more years with our little cottage in the woods. A big thanks to everyone who follows our adventure, I hope you’re enjoying the ride.