Domestic Buildings

While travelling through the UK, I am trying to take photos of domestic buildings, from different centuries.

Island Washing, Skye, Scotland

Washing drying in the sun, on the Isle of Skye, taken on holiday May 2016.  I see washing hanging out and I have to take a photo…..I’m not sure why, I just like seeing it dancing in the wind, especially if it’s really windy.  Also the cottage reminded me of the ones that we had seen on the Isle of Tiree, last year 2016, with the black stones, which are called ‘Pudding Houses’  or ‘Spotted Houses’

I also found another example, where you can see the stone work more clearly.  This cottage was a little further away from the first cottage, the first cottage didn’t have bay windows, but otherwise it’s quite similar. 

May 2017

Fairy Hill Cottage, Isle of Islay, Scotland

This is another ‘Islay Cottage’  but this time, a sweet little Victorian one.  We passed Fairy Hill Cottage in Kildalton, Islay,  which is at the end of the Whisky trail, after passing the distilleries of Laphroaig, Lagavulin and finally Ardbeg, all of which we did visit.  The little cottage is at the foot of Fairy Hill, which is in the heart of a designated ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’.  You pass through the bluebell wood before you reach the cottage, which makes it a little bit more magical, but I only managed to get a little of the hill.  I think the Fairy Hill is called Cnoc Rhaonastil, and was long known to be the place of the faerie-folk and it’s thought that the Queen of Faerie herself lived here. 

May 2016 – Isle Islay, Scotland  

Walnut Tree Cottage, Denny Abbey, Cambridgeshire

Last year in July 2016, we visited the Farmland Museum & Denny Abbey, just on the outskirts of Cambridge.  Its somewhere that over the last few years we have been meaning to visit, we actually did visit one year, but it was closed.  So we made an effort, checked that it was open and off we went.  I was so very pleased we did, the Abbey building is amazing, but that is for another post, this post is about a little cottage that is in the Farmland Museum part.  

The cottage built in the 1860’s is displayed as a typical farm workers cottage of the 1940’s and the notice board will tell you more information.  Please note that the electric heaters in some of the rooms are of course modern, some heat is needed during winter months.  

The sitting room is where the family would gather in the evening to sit around the coal fire and listen to the wireless.   Mother would knit and the children would play card games……not a TV to be seen anywhere, let alone a computer of any shape or form.

Lets take a look at the kitchen, a one tap sink, and that would be cold water, most probably from a well in the garden, lots of old houses had wells.  A kitchen range that you would have to keep alight during the day and bank up at night, so you could cook your meals, and any hot water you required. Also it would be a source of heat in the kitchen, no central heating to keep you all snug during the winter, just a kitchen range and the fireplace in the lounge.  Some bedrooms did have very small fireplaces, which if the weather was freezing, would give a little heat.  I did recognize the blue flour bin, I have one that I keep the chicken grit in.

Beyond the kitchen is the washroom, the brickwork in the corner with the lid on it was your wash tub.  You would fill it with water and in an opening underneath you would build a fire and this would heat the water and then you could start the washing, thats if you had any energy left.  In many old houses there would be an outer house that would be the wash room, we have had a couple of old cottages where these outer houses have been incorporated into the kitchens over the years.  There is a dolly tub, where you would put the washing in and twist the dolly around to clean the washing.  Then the big mangle would wring out most of the water.  All you had to do then, was hang out the washing on the line in the garden, and hopefully it was a lovely windy day to dry it all, this would normally all take place on a Monday.  Once the washing was dry you would iron it and then air the laundry on a wooden clothes horse, in front of a sunny window or in front of the sitting room fire.

Every housewife of the 1940’s would wear an apron or pinny, like these vintage ones hanging up on pegs.

We make our way up stairs, these stairs are blocked in on one side, with an understair cupboard.  There might have been a door on the stairs at one time to keep the upstairs warmer.

The master bedroom…maybe the quilt was made in the evening, downstairs in front of the fire.

The children’s room, at least they had a stoneware hot water bottle to keep them warm at night.

Now we make our way out to the cottage garden, full of flowers and herbs.   The herbs would play a large part in cooking and the making up of mixture for illnesses.  These mixtures could have been handed down through the generations.  My mother had one, the first sign of a cough or a sneeze, out would come the lemons, cut up and placed in a jug with hot water…..and if we were really poorly some honey, instead of sugar, a jug could last all day, it was given like medicine, little sips.  I swear it works, even now…..well it makes you feel good.  Never was a new potato or a pod of peas cooked without a sprig of mint, or lamb cooked without rosemary.   I know that many people still cook with herbs, but it was a natural thing then, you just used them, not a fancy thing, just a way of life when everyone cooked from scratch.  So a cottage garden, was just not a pretty space, it was a working space, every inch was growing some thing to eat or use.  You see a lot of marigold plants in cottage gardens, this is because you can use the petals for herbal ointments, teas, and tinctures that have been in existence for almost a 1,000 years…… and this applies to many plants in the cottage garden.  

Next post will be about the Nuns Refectory on the Farmland Museum.

The Eastnor Castle Experience

We visited Eastnor Castle last year, 2016, to drive cars off road, we had won a ‘Land Rover Experience Day’  which is held in the grounds of the castle.  As it didn’t cost anything and you can choose where you want to take your experience……we or I, of course jumped at the chance of taking it at a Castle.  There were a couple of castles on the list to cloose from, but Eastnor Castle, near Ledbury in Herefordshire sounded interesting.  The day came and so did the rain, it poured, it did stop in the end, but turned into a very dark cloudy and wet day…..not good for photos.  Unfortunately the Castle was closed as a foreign Prince was visiting, but we were allowed to drive by.  This only happened, as I was a little upset….just a little…as the main reason we had chosen this venue, was because of the castle.  So we were allowed to drive by, or rather our instructor was allowed, with us in the car……I was beginning to think, was it really worth it, but as the chance of ever visiting the castle again is highly unlikely, yes it was.  

After we passed by, we went off to play, off roading.  But first some of the history I found on the castle….Eastnor Castle is a 19th-century mock or revival castle, situated in the foot hills of the Malvern Hills, two miles from the town of Ledbury in Herefordshire, England, by the village of Eastnor.  The  Castle is still the family home of the descendants of the builder, Lord Somers, and feels lived in and warm. Visitors are able to view some of the bedrooms and bathrooms as well as the impressive state rooms and Great Hall, which is nearly 60 foot high. There are walks through the grounds and around the lake amongst redwoods and cedars. The 19th century ice house has been restored and is also open to visitors. It was a shame it was closed on the day of our visit, after seeing some of the photos on their web site, it does look quite nice.

I got out of the car to take the photos of the car doing its two wheelie thing, I wanted a record, just incase it toppled over, but of course it didn’t.  Also we had some colourful spectators, very beautiful ones.  After driving around the off road course, we then did a bit of exploring.  The exploring was for me, as I just wanted to take some photos of the Estate that you wouldn’t normally get to see.  We found an empty farmhouse, that I feel sure they will restore to holiday homes or similar in the future, so it was interesting to see the buildings before they carry out the work.

We also found a very happy gardener.

And lastly a house that I would quite happily live in.  So all in all, not a a bad day in the end, despite the weather.

New Thatch

We still have a great many thatched cottages here in the UK, and for ages I had been looking out for a roof being re-thatched for my ‘Occupation Category’.  Then one day last year, 2016, when we were visiting Eastnor Castle, near Ledbury in Herefordshire, I found one.  What I really wanted, was for someone to be up a ladder actually thatching, but no joy, the ‘Thatchers’ were just not thatching, anyway I got some good shots of the roof.   With luck we had to pass by the cottage on our return journey, and again with luck……someone was up a ladder thatching….I only had time to get one shot, through the car window, but I got it 🙂

A great one for my ‘Occupation Category’

Watch Out, There’s a Fox About

We still have lots of thatched cottages in the UK, and they are lovely to look at, especially if they have straw animals on the ridges.  There is a tradition of decorating thatched roofs with what are properly called ‘Straw Finials’.  These generally consist of animals such as cockerels, dogs or pigs modelled in straw and placed at the top of the ridge. This tradition originates from the West country.  So when we were in Devon, last year 2016, I found this fox or dog, hard to tell, creeping up on top of the pheasants and some kind of other little bird.  They can be found in other areas of the UK, but the ones we have here in the Fens, are straw witches, I am still trying to work out why that would be 🙂

The Finished Roof – Isle of Tiree, Scotland

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While on the Isle of Tiree, off the west coast of Scotland, I took many photos of the different dwellings on the island.  These are the roofs on the ‘blackhouses’ that have been restored with felt and then sealed, they would have been thatched when first built.  In yesterdays post, I showed you some that were in the process of being renovated, but these cottages have been finished for a while.  To me they look like the hulls of upturned boats, maybe thats what the ‘blackhouses’ were based on many years ago.  As the Island is four hours sailing to the nearest port of Oban, I should think it is cheaper and quicker to re-roof with felt, then buying slates and I should think re-thatching would be an astromical price.  I must admit that I have not seen this process of roofing any of the other Islands, there could be, but not that I have noticed and first, it looked a little strange.  But now I can see that it makes quite a lot of sense, especially with the high winds that encroach on the island, the roofs are tightly seal against the weather, well thats my thoughts on the subject……most probably totally incorrect…..but it does make sense 🙂

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