Monday, 23 July 2012
How We Came to be in Wales (8) - "Well . . . it's got Potential . . ."
That's what people used to say when they visited - looking back, they must have had SUCH a shock. We were living in a complete and utter DUMP. There were no two ways about it, the house had seen better days and it would be a good few years before we could do more than just do the minimum to put it right. For the first few years we didn't even dare to apply for a Council Grant to improve it for fear they would condemn the place!
The top photo shows my dear husband (Hah! when he still had black hair!) showing you just how damp our sitting room was - and how excruciating the wallpaper! You can see the awful fireplace too - that was one of the first things to go. As you can see, wallpaper stripping was extremely easy . . .
Here he is reading little T a bedtime story (a Puddle Lane one, judging by the cover). Look at the concentration on her face : ) As you can see this was before there was a fireplace revealed, so the grotty old Stanley (?) stove sat out in the room.
As you can see the decor of the kitchen left something to be desired . . . Looking back, I honestly can't remember it being quite so truly awful . . . As you can see, some foodstuffs had to be hung from the beam so that the mice didn't get them . . .
Here's a close-up. My ma-in-law had a fit of the vapours when she came to visit and for years said we would never get our money back on the house! She also insisted I put curtains up at her bedroom window because she knew for a fact that UFOs had been spotted in Wales, and "they took you up into the spacecraft and carried out very painful experiments on you." ! And she was an intelligent woman . . . supposedly . . .
It was just as well really, that she wasn't here when the workmen came to excavate the old fireplace so the Hergom stove could go in. We reinstated the beam, as it was missing, and I can remember driving around the Welsh lanes and seeing a falling-down barn and then trying to find out who it belonged to so we could negotiate to buy the beams in it to do up our house . . .
This was the rather grandly-named "Morning Room" which overlooked the paddock. The wall to your left had quite a damp problem (down the chimney) and eventually we had to have the plaster hacked off and replaced, and it was only about 3 years ago that my husband and grown-up son (not even a twinkle in his daddy's eye in this photo!) also replaced the beautiful dentil coving - hand-made by my husband. Then, and only then, did the roll of carpet we had bought at auction some 15 years earlier, finally get laid . . .
Outside was still pretty grim too, as the limewash soon got washed off by the blasts of winter wind and rain. About all that has happened in this photo is a brick path has been laid across the yard and we appear to have painted over the chocolate brown paint around the windows.
However, it wasn't all doom and gloom, as here you can see T's first pony, Jo-Jo, a little section A Welsh mare who we bought aged 11 from a showing family near Sennybridge. Unfortunately she'd had Laminitis very badly and had dropped soles but she was 100% reliable in every way, and although we always had to watch her weight, she taught all the children to ride, and we had her for many years. You can see from this photo that the "garden" was a tad . . . basic too!
Here is T, aged nearly 2 1/2 with two of Blackberry's kittens who we kept - Sooty and Bumble. Gosh, that takes me back.
So, do you think we were completely and utterly bonkers? I think most sane people would have thought twice before taking THIS house on!