The Cottage was formerly a school and built in 1867, though not a listed building.
It was converted to a private residence in the 1950s and inside was a mini rabbit’s warren of corridors and extensions.
The colour schemes throughout were bright and varied, from a blood red dining room to sunshine yellow bedroom requiring sunglasses to enter.
Our original plan had been to open a B&B and the property was ideally placed on a main road in a small village. There were no shops, church, Post Office or pub, perfect for getting away from it all for some country peace and tranquility.
We couldn’t have got it more wrong.
In order to advertise in the suitable B&B magazines, there was certain criteria to be met. Our property was totally wrong in design and layout, and there was nothing we could do to change it. On top of that, the insurance required to run a B&B was gastronomical and the RAF base two miles up the road increased their number of eurofighters thus forfeiting the peace and tranquility, so we decorated throughout anyway and made it our private home.
Gone were the outrageous colours and falling apart kitchen (the cooker came out of its housing when we opened the door) and our walls were painted either white or magnolia.
It took us over six months but the end results were very pleasing to our eyes and worth our efforts.
Outside was a bit of a jungle, with overgrown fruit trees and hedges, so we pulled a lot out and revealed several plastic pond liners, an access point to the cess pit overflow chamber, and a concrete slab pathway under the gravel.
We kept chickens for a while, getting over 1200 eggs in total, though Maggie got pecked on the bum and wouldn’t do her business in the garden even after we lost them.
The apple tree and our subsequent veg patch kept us in fruit, green beans, onions, potatoes and tomatoes which we bartered for a cream tea at a local windmill tea rooms in the summer.
My Mum came up for holidays, and we had to put battery PIR lights in the lounge, back hall, dining room and kitchen as she kept losing her way from the bathroom to her bedroom.
We had the central heating replaced with one run from oil, and found it amazingly economical, but got ripped off with the quality of our double glazing, paying at least fifty per cent over the odds on the recommendation of ‘a friend’.
With little tweaks here and there though, we were cosy and warm, and the multi-fuel stove we had in the lounge was so efficient, it heated the three bedrooms that came off it should we leave their doors open.
The acoustics in the lounge were flattering to my piano playing, and one elderly lady walked past our house three or four times when I was ‘in concert’ just to listen.
We got chatting one day when we were in the front garden and invited her in for coffee but she declined.
We found a new and practical use for our drain rods when, having been eligible for a fixed price of £150, the council’s chosen contractor refused to insulate our roof . We had three false ceilings and there was no headroom, so they wouldn’t touch it. We got a special deal with a ‘buy 1 get 3 free’ offer on loft insulation from a local DIY, and did the job ourselves from a ladder, poking the rolls into the corner with the rods. Total cost, less than forty quid as we only needed 8.
We were promoted from ‘Them wot wave’ when the local farmers recognised Maggie as ‘the dog that didn’t worry livestock or enter fields’.
Hubby helped out with pest control and mole catching, and I made rabbit pies.
I joined a Ladies Group and gave a talk on the Bear Necessities. It was advertised as The Bare Necessities, and attendees, including the lady who had introduced me and done the advertising, were all expecting tips on budget living, eating spam, and baked bean recipes.
What they got was an evening in the company of a variety of our Teddy Bears. It actually went down very well.
However, the property became too much for us and in order to make it more attractive for sale, we entered the world of car boot sales as sellers to raise money to revamp our kitchen by replacing the panelled ceiling and tiled worktops. They looked very nice when we first did them, but over the years, grime got engrained in the grouting and they looked shabby and dirty. The changes made such a difference, making the whole room brighter.
We also wanted to raise the fencing at the front from three feet to five to give more privacy and reduce road noise. I was given a photo of the property when it was a school and it was higher than the road. Of course traffic then was literally one horse power, not the HGVs of modern day transport. When we bought it, the property was some three feet lower than the road.
Our sale was a nightmare with our buyers keeping us totally in the dark as to the sale of their own property. It’s all documented here in my blog shortly after we got the boat in July 2014, which was to become our sixth des-res.