Our cottage is in the middle of a row of three. Here, you can mainly see the one on the end belonging to our neighbour Judy and her gorgeous Collie dog Molly (whom we borrow for walks when we can) and ours is the second door you can see, just past the white gate.
It is nearly our one year anniversary of owning this little slice of the country. It all started when I was writing a letter to my sister, Adele, and confessed an ambition to one day own a little holiday cottage in the country (fuelled by a feature in Country Living magazine of the florist Jane Packer's holiday home). Andy read my half written letter left lying on the kitchen island and declared he thought this a very good idea, how about it, right now?! So, to cut a long story short, we started a search for the perfect pad which took us about a year to get our hands on (blimey that vendor was annoying!)
The location came about as a result of a love affair with Dorset, mainly as a result of our obsession with watching re-runs of River Cottage with the hairy Hugh F-W. I had never visited Dorset before though Andy had (in the days pre-me, so to speak!) and so we made a few trips and really fell in love with West Dorset where River Cottage was first set, in particular we loved our shopping trips to Bridport (see yesterday's post). Our cottage is actually situated a few miles over the border, in Somerset, in equally glorious surroundings and in the quintessential English country village. We have a shop and a post office (though that is threatened with closure, see previous post), a pub, a tea room, a church and a primary school.
The cottage was in pretty good condition inside. We did intend to paint the walls etc when we moved in but we haven't got round to it! We spent the six months from first viewing the cottage to finally making it our own, sourcing all sorts of goodies for the interior. We went to many car boot sales, bought bits from Ebay (the kitchen dresser, our Victorian iron bed), made a few trips to the Cath Kidston outlet store at Bicester and did lots of sanding, painting and sewing.
Here are a few pics of our sitting room:
There's Marmalade the Stuffed Cat, settled down nicely on his Cath Kidston covered armchair. (Whatever I do, I don't seem to be able to upload photos any larger so my apologies for that as it's a bit difficult to see the detail on all those gorgeous cushions and things.) I made a lot of the cushions and found the embroidered ones either at a car boot sale (50p) or on the Vintage stall in Bridport (two for £5). It's wonderful for me to find these bargains but really doesn't do justice to the time input and skill of the original creator. The Lloyd Loom style chair was a £2.50 car boot bargain, the tapestry covered footstool was from an antiques/bric-a-brac type shop in Cheshire, the standard lamp was from the Bridport street market and I recovered the shade (what a job, never again!)
The dahlias you can see on the windowsill are grown by a chap down the road. In true country tradition, he has a wonderful display of them on sale at the end of the drive along with an honesty box for you to leave your money. In a month or so, when dahlias are at their peak, the display will be even more awe-inspiring than this.
Now, here is the dining room:
We bought the chairs from various flea markets and car boot sales. The 5 cost us £10 (we're still looking out for the sixth), we sanded them and painted them (inspired by Cath Kidston's "In Print" book) in various shades and I made seat cushions, (every one different), with fabric remnants from Cath Kidston's outlet store at Bicester. The oilcloth is also from the Cath K outlet store and the embroidered cloth I treated myself to in an antiques shop in Honiton. I have a few with crinoline ladies and flowers but this is the first bearing cottages I had seen. The blue vase is from a charity shop and the flowers are silk; I'm not usually a fan but these are very realistic and perfect as they are always in bloom even when we are only at the cottage for a few days! I made the curtains with more fabric from the Cath K outlet store and they are on rods which swing in/out from the corner of the window to allow maximum light in. Andy found the lampbase at a car boot for 50p, he sanded it, I painted it (we're a good team!) and I covered an old shade with Amy Butler's Lotus fabric. The old Bush valve radio was given to us by my Dad. It still works and has a wonderful tone to it, evocative of a bygone era. The "tea for two" is Carltonware green foxglove pattern. I collected my Carltonware about ten years ago and have quite a collection. Having moved house to a smaller, more modern-styled place, it was in storage until recently and now has the perfect home. I don't use it, of course! Funnily enough, I remember when I was little and used to help my mum at home. I'd do the salad and always served it in my favourite green, flowery dish which had a basketweave design. Highly impractical (far too small) but so pretty. Yes, I later found out, it is Carltonware and I still have it now.
I'll save upstairs for another time and the kitchen and bathroom for when I've added a few finishing touches!
My sister has arrived today for a few days so I am looking forward to some trips out to lovely gardens, cherry picking and the inevitable trip to Liberty. Oh joy!
On a cheery note, today I passed my driving theory test so that is a huge relief. All that time learning theory when I could have been sewing! Just the practical test now. Aaarrrgghhh!!! I must keep in mind all those car boot sales, flea markets and antique shops I can visit once I pass. See you soon...