Saturday, 15 June 2013

Sunday witterings

 A Grecian urn filled with colour at Cothay Manor.

- or should that be Sunday gibberings?  This has been a busy week and things look like being busier, as I get my painter and decorator's hat completely in place to start going round in the wake of the builders.  At the end will be the complete window cleaning job, but as they are still painting with limewash, I have to stay my hand.

Old houses have to be allowed to breath.  Concrete render has been the death of many an old house, as it just holds in any moisture and you end up with galloping damp.  Lime mortar between the stonework is also essential, and lime render (3 coats) followed by 5 coats of limewash makes a house waterproof but breathable. Farmhouses used to have an annual coat of lime slapped on any old how (e.g. normally very thickly) but this is WHY they needed repainting every year, as the limewash needs to be slowly built up in layers  which don't crack as they do when thickly applied.

Of course, all of this comes at a hefty price, and over the years we have had to step up to the mark and abide by the Old House rules when renovating this place.  All internal walls with an external side have lime or clay paint to allow them to breath.  I prefer using the clay paint as it covers beautifully and applies like a good quality emulsion.  The limewash has to be built up with much thinner layers (gosh, I can remember doing that before clay paint was brought onto the market.)

Anyway, there is still SO much to do, and the garden needs a lot of work on it yet - mostly weeding, a bit of planting up and some mulching.  As for the veg plot, well we won't go there.  I haven't been able to dig, and cannot touch the waist length grass which is growing in part of it still.  My husband can, but hates gardening, tries not to eat vegetables and cannot understand why I want to grow them!  So it is difficult to get him to work out there.  I can only play the "We can't have it looking like this when the house goes back on the market" card . . .

Crafts have been temporarily abandoned.  When our eldest daughter was here, and then my Dorset friend, everything got put on one side, including the partly-done cane chair, so I must try and get back to this, especially as I have a child's high-chair to reseat in the same way (although the material is cut for that, and in balls).

I have an old Welsh blanket to put a small darn in, and a 1950s? Welsh quilt, ditto, so will try and do those today, and then do something with a couple of the old Welsh quilts which came part-and-parcel in an auction box of textiles bought this week (mentioned a couple of posts ago).  One looks totally beyond redemption, and is positively verminous and has been put out in the Back Place (store room off the kitchen) whilst I ruminate on how best to deal with it.  I may well have to trap it first though as it's practically moving of its own volition!!!  The design on the front is a large square of dark red cloth in the centre, and linked to smaller squares, one in each corner, and then with the very dull (or just filthy?!) backing material as infill.  Very old - Victorian - and very Amish in looks.

A 2nd - red Paisley quilt (always a Welsh favourite) has seen better days too, but I am hoping I can recover parts of it - perhaps turning them into cushion fronts, although with each quilt I want to try and photograph the quilting patterns first and possibly trace elements of them to use in future.  (I have harboured a dream to make and hand-quilt a wholecloth quilt ever since we've lived here.  I just LOVE hand-quilting. I even have the red Paisley material now which was put on one side for re-use after we bought some BIG curtains, though not a long enough drop for our bedroom.)

The 3rd quilt is clean but rather worn, and I would like to keep and use that.  One side is a bronzey colour, with a (nicer) backing of a golden satin cotton, and the scalloped edge has a puce ruffled border.  I think it was possibly made as a wedding quilt very early in the last century. 

Isn't it strange, I have come full-circle, as when we arrived here, I was so keen on patchwork and quilting, and made all sorts of things for the house and as gifts, but over the years life has gotten in the way.  Now it seems I am back to the beginning again, and as fascinated as ever by how women expressed their creativity in the past, and made practical bedcoverings.  They were always frugal, and the earlier quilts especially had a lambswool centre (where we would use a batting today), whilst others "recycled" a worn blanket (though this impacted on the quality of the quilting stitches afterwards because you just cannot manage small neat stitches through blanket!  I can remember one old quilt being held up at auction once, with a rather grim patchwork front made from old jackets by the look of things, and as it was held up, several old woollen socks fell out through a rip on a seam . . .  Waste not, want not as the saying goes!

 Photos will follow, I promise.  My son has been absent this last week, house-sitting for a friend, but he is now back and we should be able to do the final checks and moving across to the new computer stack today.


  1. Lovely lot of posts, burbling over with things to do Jennie, don't tire yourself out. The three quilts sound fascinating, you are really lucky to live in a place where such things can be found, AND to have a house to put all your recycled stuff. Xxx

  2. Well Thelma, the house is definitely VERY cluttered in the junk room department, and we were looking at furniture to "go" in advance of us finally packing our bags (IF that EVER comes to pass - I am beginning to doubt it though.) I know how lucky we are to live here, but boy, it's a VERY big money box!

  3. This makes me tired just reading it BB.
    Regarding selling the house - someone once told me (and it is very true) that you only need one person to love the house and it will sell, and sooner or later that person will turn up.

  4. I agree with Thelma....don't tire yourself out after your health problems. It's so tempting to rush back into everything when you feel a bit better and overdo it.

    When are you planning to put it back on the market??? The house next door to us is for sale at the moment but it's very much a PROJECT!

  5. Found it interesting to read about all the maintenance work on your house - when you admire country farms etc., and think how much you would like to live there you just don't realise the amount of work (and money) involved.

    Please don't try and do it all at once and tire yourself out after your recent illness.

  6. Thank you all for your concern. I have just been sitting down mending what I thought was one unsewn bit in a big crochet blanket. How wrong can I get? Silly woman had put it through the washing machine and it looks like moths the size of fruit bats have been having a go at it. Note to self, when something is that cheap (£3) it's probably for a reason . . .

    RR - maintenance is always ongoing, whatever your house, but this is absolutely huge and so maintenance costs more and takes longer!

    Em - hopefully by the end of the month. A project, you say . . . surprisingly I'm not daunted, even after THIS 25 year project!

    Weaver - I hope that someone arrives very soon then!!