When we bought the cottage a year ago, we hadn't anticipated a renovation job. but once we uncovered all kinds of nasties, that is what it turned into. Losing Andy in January made the prospect of turning it into a liveable (and sadly, maybe saleable) condition seemed overwhelming. The last thing I could think about was DIY. But in this, the most terrible year of my life, I have been blessed with the support of so many good friends and this month I had two batches of visitors to help me wrestle little Bodge Cottage into something habitable. First, Adam and Helen, old and dear work colleagues of Andy's (and mine, too). We stripped, sanded and heat blasted my bedroom until it was down the the bare bones. Now I just have to try my hand at plastering the walls.
After the weekend, two more friends arrived and the Bodge Cottage torch was handed on, over a cup of tea. Jackelien and Herbert, all the way from Holland and taking time out of their Shropshire holiday to help me out. Jackelien and I met last year when she had a one-to-one needle felt workshop with me and from the start, we clicked, as if we'd been waiting for each other. Funny how that can happen sometimes.
The biggest structural job, something I could not do alone and certainly could not afford to hire anyone else to do, was removing the stud wall from under the stairs, to open up the room and provide space for a book case. Or something. But probably a book case. Herbert assessed the situation and whether he could remove most of the stud wall without bringing the house down.
Work commenced, peeling back the add-ons from the last several decades. Jackelien discovered the original tongue and groove partition underneath layers of wallpaper. It has a weathered, distressed surface which I am going to smooth down and wax. It's too beautiful to cover up.
The old plaster and lathe under the stairs was damp and rotten. I had a hand in taking it down, which was strangely satisfying. (The cottage isn't listed or even 'that' old, so this was legal).
Then a new piece of plaster board was cut to size and once Herbert had reinforced the struts under the stairs, it was put into place.
On another wall, an original oak beam was uncovered, which is going to stay exposed, even when the room is eventually re-plastered.
There were the remains of an old mouse nest in the little gap to the right and I think I'll leave that open too. Put a little 'bibelot' in it as a point of interest.
It was amazing to see the space just as I'd imagined it - and where there were gaps, some of the discarded boards were used to neaten it up, to keep the original character.
Even down to the trimmings on the edge. It's just perfect.
And as if that wasn't enough, they tackled the grotty old dog kennels, removing the grim caging and opening up the garden by taking down the trellis. (I was not totally lazy in this operation, but a creamy chicken casserole had to be made...)
So I was able to stack my winter logs, safe from the rain. I don't know how I would have survived this heart breaking year without my many wonderful friends around the world to help and support me in so many ways. Actually, I don't think I would have done. Thank God for friendship.