The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Photo: Bookshelves in need of a tidy

Photo: Bookshelves in need of a tidy

I’m not one of those people who were born to clean and tidy. When I was asked to clear up my bedroom as a child I would pretend that I was the maid of the spoilt princess who lived there. By turning things around this way, the task became much more fun and I would ohh and ahh over her slovenly ways.

Today it is raining and I have decided that Princess Fiona needs to employ her maid once again. The kitchen is in an uproar and the larder needs a good spring clean. In fact if anyone dropped by I’d be too embarrassed to let them in. Wellington boots jostle with bags of dried rose petals, books, letters, crates of diabetic dog food, freshly laundered towels and bowls of drying pomanders.

Both Danny and I excel at the art of creating a pile. These can be huge rather dangerous affairs that make eating supper on a tiny square of the kitchen table quite exciting. In fact Danny remarked yesterday that we could declare the cottage was an installation celebrating untidiness and then even the tidiest of visitors would be impressed with our skills.

The only time that I enjoy sorting out mess is when I’m feeling really down. Once I lost my job and returned to the cottage in despair. The first thing that I did was to reach for the vacuum cleaner, which after a few satisfying swishes promptly blew up. Even I had to laugh through my tears.

Another time Danny and I briefly split up. I instantly searched for my rubber gloves (still in an unopened packet under the sink) and cleaned and tidied for two whole days. A friend dropped by and goggled at the glistening surfaces.
“So Danny was the messy one!” He said as he gingerly sat down on the freshly plumped cushions.
“Well not quite. To be fair.”

I do know where most things are in the mess and like a blind dog I am fine until something is moved. But eventually the rare day dawns when I can’t cope with living in a jungle anymore and I tackle the swathes of clothes and books and discover things that have been lost for weeks. At the moment I’m desperate to find our carving knife – even I was surprised that we could manage to lose that.

The Min Pins do not like me in cleaning mode. They are frightened of the vacuum cleaner and hate their beds being washed. But once I’ve caught the cleaning bug I fire on all cylinders and for a while we bask in an uncluttered world.
“We must try and keep this up. Just do a little everyday.” Danny beams.
But we never do.

I do like things to be clean (I’m a Virgo after all) but the tidy fairy didn’t attend my christening and by all accounts avoided Danny’s too. Perhaps in the 1950’s these fairies noted that Virgos were just too squeaky clean and decided to release a few untidy ones into the world to mess things up a bit.

  Leave a reply


  1. Ruta Masteika

    So that’s it I’m a child of the 50’s. I have aspirations to be tidy but never quite make it. 3 messy/ hoarder sons hubby who can’t see mess or dirt don’t help. I’m currently in the middle of a major tidy due to the fact that 9 people are comming to stay! Can’t just chuck everything in the spare room & shut the door. The thing is people don’t notice if your house is clean and tidy but would notice if it wasn’t. Luckily no1 son doesn’t live at home and only has 2 boxes of stuff here, no2 son is temporarily working away from home so I’ve blitzed his room and turned it into a sewing room and no3 son has kindly left most of his belongings with a friend near his uni to save transporting it. Many trips to the dump & charity shop and the house while not pristine is at least clean. I know that despite all my good resolutions that will have to last until the Christmas visit.

  2. Jean Damgaard

    Hi Fiona,
    I try to keep the home tidy, but children of the fifties must have a tendency towards the messy. Your blog today was like reading about myself, although I am an Aries, I have virgo in the ascendant, (I hope that is the right terminology).

  3. Thanks Danny! and here’s the comment I tried earlier:

    Although not a Virgo, I’m a self-professed lousy housekeeper. I confessed it once on my blog, so it’s no secret. I have to have visitors on the way to pick up or house guests expected to really clean. My office, AKA the guest room, is a fire-trap of a disaster. One day I shall have to go at it with a back hoe in order to be able to install proper guest room furniture, which at this point is well into the future.

    The very good news is that according to the book, Green Barbarians, by Ellen Sandbeck, a somewhat dirty house is way better for your health than an absolutely pristine one. Plus, when you live with pets, there’s a certain amount of filth that you just have to accept. And if you can learn to accept that, it’s a lot easier to learn to accept that there are just better things to be done with the short time we’re allowed on Earth than to be constantly cleaning house, which to my mind is vastly overrated.

  4. Patricia

    The Tidy Fairy began her experiment with messy virgos on or about September 8, 1946 when I was born. The only thing I ever kept neat as a pin were my bookshelves, but even then as I grew older and there were many bookcases added to my home(s) they began to be “untidy” – unsorted books, piles of different size books piled on the tops of respective bookcases, cookbooks intermixed with nature and history of religion (well bread was a “big” thing back then), important notes sticking out of long-ago-read books – well you get the idea… now my bookcases match my home – I’ve recently moved from a four room cottage to a 6 room duplex WITH TWO STORAGE ROOMS – and even though I moved over a month ago, I’ve piles and boxes (both empty and full) and pils of wee items with no where to go so they live in my newly minted wee items piles to be sorted out later (yeah right LOL)…
    So take a deep breath, stand in the middle and look around you – as long as you can see over the piles you’re in good shape… better to be two pile makers than one neat-freak and one pile maker… hugs and thank goodness you haven’t lost the blog (big smile for you),

  5. Test when logged out.
    OK, it appears to be working now.
    Sincere apologies to anybody who lost their comments today.
    And a BIG THANK YOU to the exceptional Paula (yaaay!!!) and her really great blog:
    Weeding For Godot

  6. Danny Carey

    Testing comments while logged in – thank you Paula – you are a star!
    Sorry, everybody, the anti-spam CAPTCHA system (that asks you to enter the numbers and letters in the grid) was updated yesterday. It seems that some new settings are required on our server to enable it to work if you are not logged in. It may take a little while to sort out.

  7. Magic Cochin

    BTW – I’m not a Virgo

    I’m a Libran but I have no idea what I’m supposed to be like …

    however it does make me a messy non-Virgo


  8. Toffeeapple

    I must stand up for non-messy Virgos! 😉

  9. Ruthdigs

    This sounds like me too – yay for us messy virgos!!

  10. Magic Cochin

    Oh dear, I feel I’m reading about myself…

    But the hens get maid service and a tidy bedroom every day 😉


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,247,368 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

Copyright © 2006-2023 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder

Skip to toolbar