Every summer I spend a weekend with my friend, The Lovely Nut. At 78, she can get away with saying pretty much what she thinks. Like when I showed her my most recent Facebook profile picture (I was proud as I thought I actually looked human):
‘Yes….’ she said
‘What?’ I asked (I knew something was coming)
‘Well it makes you look quite old, doesn’t it?’
‘How old?’ (I knew I’d regret this)
!!!! Thanks for that.
I got my own back though. We went wandering around charity shops as The Lovely Nut pretty much buys her entire wardrobe from them, altering as required. I pulled out a cardigan in her favoured bright pink and she looked at it and said:’It’s a bit fillety floppety for me these days. I’m a bit more street now’. I fell about laughing as did the girl next to us. The Lovely Nut claimed she had said ‘straight’ but I’m not so sure.
Anyway, back to the original reason for writing this….She has a house in real Bumpkinsville, about 45 minutes from my Bumpkinsville and it is beautiful. Every time I go, I try to describe it to people, but I never do it justice, so last weekend while I was there, I asked the Lovely Nut to remind me of the stories she has told me over the years and I took some photos so you can see why I think it is such an amazing place.
I spent some time looking at various documents, including the deeds for the house going back to 1799. They were hand written in beautiful copperplate and most contained the wax seals of those involved. There were census record too, showing that the house had been a home to the likes of farmers, shoemakers, a butcher and journeymen – we assumed the latter were people who traveled selling their wares.
The lovely Nut and her husband bought the house and 6 acres of land in 1965 for £2,500. It wasn’t in a state that they could live in, so when they came down from their home in London they camped in the grounds while they did it up. After 6 weeks of heavy rain (and a leaky tent) they moved into the two front rooms and camped there instead. The Lovely Nut says she remembers field mice running across the room when they lit the fire.
The house was originally two – it still has both front doors. It had been empty for years and from the way The Lovely Nut talks, it needed more than a lot of work – everything from digging out part of the ground floor to scraping the flaky walls….with pumice stones.
It was 1982 before the house got water or electricity – it’s about half a mile off a dirt track to the road. Until then, they cooked on three paraffin heaters and, until they discovered an underground tank that a local farmer filled for them and they then pumped out with a hand pump, they took 4 gerry cans of water from London to last them all weekend (Her words: ‘We didn’t really drink water in those days though – we mostly drank wine’). Even when they had access to the tank, they had to pass it through a charcoal filter as it wasn’t clean enough to drink.
The oil lamps that were used as oil lamps until 1982 – then The Lovely Nut’s husband and son converted them to electric (‘And they worked so much better – we needed three to get enough light when they were oil lamps, to see well enough at the kitchen table in the evenings’).
For years the walls were lined with black plastic that they glued on, then that was covered with lining paper, then a brown covering. Now the walls are bright – covered with old, but beautiful wallpaper that is just right for the house.
I love the quirkiness of the place. Two of my favourite things are the outside shower – complete with soap dish – (‘because if you got hot outside it was terribly useful’). Never mind the fact that there is a public right of way through the grounds!
And the bench that started life as a gate, but Lovely Nut’s husband did something magical to it:
I asked The Lovely Nut what is the best thing about living there. She said she agreed with her late husband’s words, that it’s: ‘The answer to a dream, perfect peace. Our earthly paradise.’
And I have to agree. Just not on the bit about looking 52. I hope :o)
Here are a few more pictures to give you more flavour of the house: