The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Work and holidays

old vine and french windowsYesterday I didn’t write a post. I took a holiday from everything and spent a day with Seraphina. Lunch and shopping in Saffron Walden. Tea and cakes at Audley End. Perfect, as we both needed some time out.

So this evening I’m sharing something very special. I’m showing you a few shots of the house where I am working at the moment. It’s the quintessential English country house set in an acre of garden and has a good, calm feel. Here, time has stopped still.

The job involves repairing and decorating the outside at ground floor level when weather permits and between other bookings. Work like this takes patience and time. Beavering away on a hot sunny day, it could be a hundred years ago. I push open old heavy gates that have protected for years and I treat bricks that are so ancient that they crumble under the soft touch of a brush. Somehow, in so many ways, time drifts at this marvellous house.

Tfushias and shedhe garden is well tended but rarely used so it’s a haven for wildlife. Working without a radio makes me tune in much more deeply to the feel and sounds of the place.

The thrush distracts and is so familiar that I no longer turn my head but I was enchanted to hear the repetitive tap of a woodpecker in the trees beyond the boundary hedge.

Each morning I carefully lift the nets on the small pond to release the wafts of dragon flies. Exotic dancers looking for love before the end of their short lives. I even watched a nymph slowly ease herself out of her armour plating and eventually unfurl her wings. It was a drama that built up gradually. She clung motionless to the brickwork for days. Eventually I thought that she must be dead.

dragon flyOne morning I checked and spotted that there was a change. Her brown casing had split. Intrigued, I worked and watched nearby. A beautiful and startling creature slowly wriggled and emerged. She stretched out her gossamer wings to dry, and fluttered briefly before she finally flew away with such hope and joy.


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7 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Michelle

    You can’t beat a summer’s day in the country. If you have a bit of time to just stand and soak up what’s going on.

    Hello Jane

    Watching wildlife is so good. Fascinating and free. When I lived in London I loved the wildlife too (the parks are amazing and out in the sticks, big parks on a city scale are a luxury and rarely found). There’s something so precious about watching wildlife. You may be a million sized bigger but you are just the audience.

    Hi Sharron J

    Yes it’s a great place to work and only a hundred steps from the cottage!

    Hello Shirl

    Yes I am lucky. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that.

    Often I take these wonderful moments for granted in our quiet, backwater life.

    Hello Joanna

    The day off did to the trick in so many ways.

    Hats off to dahlias, tulips and wildlife. Can’t beat them for inspiration and pure simple pleasures that can never be bought.

  2. Fiona how lovely to see that … I often think that the best thing in our garden is the wildlife of all shapes and sizes (and you know how I love tulips and dahlias and all the other flowers) … but the birds and the insects, not to mention the deer. And I know you feel the same.

    Hope your day off did the trick

    Hugs, Joanna

  3. Just found your oasis in blogland. I loved your description of your work, you lucky, lucky, person.

    Will pop by again soon.

    Best Wishes, Shirl

  4. Pumpkin~Power

    What an idyllic place to work – it sounds absolutely wonderful. Such a fabulous description, you don’t need an assistant do you? 😉

  5. Sharon J

    Oh, what a absolutely wonderful place to work! For a moment I was almost there with you 🙂

  6. Jane Weston

    What a great post…makes me want to turn my garden into a place of wonder too. Your descriptions are fantastic…I just love reading your posts!

  7. michelle sheets

    Oh Fiona, how lovely!

    I can always count on you for a new image for my minds eye, and this one is truely wonderful, thank you!

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