Obviously it wasn’t sensible to advertise our absense in advance, but we actually got away from the builders completely last week by going to Withypool on Exmoor. We spent the week at Bridge Cottage, literally on the banks of the Barle.
This is the fourth cottage we’ve stayed in around Withypool since we were married, and actually my 5th cottage as I’d previously been with my parents! Jake is still running the bar at the Royal Oak 21 years after I first went there… though he was on holiday this year, and was missed! (The Royal Oak is totally recommended, but you have to be able to cope with the hunting/shooting/fishing lifestyle, on the working end of which I grew up, so no problems for me!)
It took a few days to wind down, and then just as I had, it was time to come home. However we had some really good family time. We took a Sunday ramble round Withypool hill as usual, spent a day at Porlock Weir (travelling via the rather exciting Worthy Toll Road), another walking from a layby west of Simonsbath to the source of the Barle, and significant amounts of time sitting around. It’s amazing how fire lighting can become a competative family activity – and I’d taken the last of those chestnuts with me which we toasted, along with marsh mallows for nommish puddings. We saw several Buzzards, Snipe, Curlew and three groups of Red Deer during our various rambles. Also, since it was largely mild, quite a lot of Red Admiral Butterflies – impressive given the date.
On the way home we visited lovely friends in their tiny retirement cottage in Tiverton where she is almost avoiding heavy involvement in Mothers’ Union, and he (retired from parish ministry in Southampton) is making the most wonderful furniture to fit the rather special nooks and crannies of the house… including all the kitchen cupboards, shelves, bookshelves… I think I need to go repent the sin of envy again.
It was good to get away and I think I feel better for it, but it really wasn’t long enough – a week never is for me. I didn’t read a lot, just sat and watch the river or fire depending on the time of day. Except for Trevor Dennis’s “Three faces of Christ” which was wonderful. I can forsee making use of it on Christmas morning and in a few other places beside. G read “The Shack” as well, and commented that possibly the former could have inspired the latter, as some of the imagery (God up to her elbows in flour baking) is very similar.
Here at home all the internal walls came down, the windows went in and the new floor was laid! And Virgin Media managed to leave us without any form of communication which wasn’t rectified until this Monday! Not even the TV worked when we got home! To say we were cross was an understatement, but “Lee” has worked hard to get it all sorted out this week… and now just needs to finish fixing the neighbours set up!
This week is just mad here, with the plumber and electrician all working and the house constantly being wandered through. I’m having to take the dog everywhere with me, else she wouldn’t be safe. Walls going up, is easily as noisy as the ones that have come down, the nail gun is just plain scary, and I know more about wiring and how radiators are fitted than I thought possible.
And the biggest news – ALL the builders and contractors work will be finished by the end of the month! Then the real work starts… (she says reaching for a Homebase colour chart!)