I loath carpet; it is up there in my pet hates, along with central heating, as being one of the more self indulgent and unhygienic of modern household innovations. But as we rent, we don't have much choice about it - Landlord has decreed that upstairs we will have wall to wall beige nylon stuff, and on the stairs, a chintzy green runner that I suspect was in place when he acquired the cottage in the early seventies. Imagine my mixed feelings when I discovered a thriving moth colony inhabiting the suburbs of this matted, slippery monstrosity. On the one hand; oh my God, my wools, my fabrics, my leather books, my toys...on the other hand...
I rang our landlord and explained the situation; would he mind if I ripped it up? And so I found myself embarking on my first dabbling in DIY. It was certainly hammered in well, and as I hefted and heaved, it became apparent that moths had been making merry in the underlay for generations. I also discovered - possibly hidden by the original carpet fitter - two pennies, dating from 1971 and a plastic cracker charm of a lucky horseshoe. Which confirmed my suspicions about its age.
Another little surprise were these -
Grippers! Apparently they are commonplace, at least everyone I met that day knew what they were, from nice Mr N, the Post Master, to the girl at the Co-op. Who knew? Not me. I'm a council house kid. Anything which went wrong in the numerous cruddy places we lived in was supposed to be repaired by the Authorities, though it never was. And after that, a succession of equally badly maintained rentals, where neglectful Landlords happily take your money and ignore the damp, the mould, the - oh, don't get me started. Anyway, delightful old cottage this may be, but I'll be surprised if it is here in another 250 years. Back these gripper things, which were nailed flush against the boards; I was ridiculously proud of myself when I worked out how to jemmy them up, using a hammer and screwdriver, and delighted when I discovered what a claw hammer was for - isn't it clever?
It took about 6 hours, and a lot of sweating and swearing; my dainty artist hands aren't used to the rough stuff. But at last, the manky thing was disposed of, and the nice, smooth wood stairs were exposed, moth free and so easy to sweep clean.
After liberating myself from the cactus, I have been on a major stuff-we-don't-want-or-need purge. The village jumble sale benefited hugely. Instead of going to the sale and buying back other people's stuff-they-didn't-want-or-need, I watched our lads get thrashed at cricket by Wantage CC. This being Britain's summer sport, it naturally rained halfway through.
Even the towering book piles are being culled for the village fete bookstall; every saved inch of space makes a huge difference in our little matchbox and as we have decided to stay here, we need to get it just-so, as far as we are able. We've been a bit more out and about this year, and realised that not only can't we afford to move, we don't really want to. Home, even if it is damp with bees living in the walls, is where the heart is. And you can't beat the Cotswolds in summer.