30.10.13

Bodge Cottage heroes

 

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.


 



23 comments:

Annie said...

What a beautifully positive post Gretel. It's so lovely to hear of your friendships winning when it comes to getting things done. Life here remains so very busy but one day????? we will meet.
Big hugs,
Annie xxx

Jackie said...

Its so good to see that out of your need great friendships have been grown. The cottage is looking very much prettier. We had stairs with T&G like that in our first house and I know that feeling where its all destruction too .

Shrimpton and Perfect said...

It's wonderful to see the progress with the house. It will be a cosy comfortable home when it is finished.
Glad to see you're still getting support from your close friends, it's very important in life.

lots of love

jean xx

Mrs Black the shoppe keeping cat said...

It looks really wonderful! What a difference. I think that being busy, and surrounded by friends helps so much with sorrow. x

Lisa Oceandreamer Swifka said...

Wow things are really coming along great. My hope is that with the help of these dear friends they are not only assisting in peeling back the layers of your home/garden resulting in lightness and possibility..........they are helping peel back the darkness you have endured to hopefully reveal a bit of YOUR OWN internal light.
XOXO
Lisa

Jill said...

What a wonderful testimony to you and your hardworking friends. You have the friend you deserve.

Jamile Shirley said...

Friends are unequivocally one of life's most valuable gifts. How rich you are, Gretel! Thank you for sharing your home makeover - so fabulous and inspiring!

~Jamile Shirley

Frances said...

Gretel, I am so very impressed with all that you and your good and able friends have accomplished. My goodness...what a transformation.

Grand to see all that wood nicely stacked up in the former kennel, too.

You have been taking some rather amazing steps, dear lady.

xo

Marianne said...

Gretel, put out a call next time you're planning a work party and unknown friends will appear. I'm sure I'm not the only lurker on your blog within reasonable travelling distance and with a few DIY and decorating skills...
Marianne in Abergavenny

Linda E Clarke Illustration said...

What a heart warming story. You are so blessed to have such friends but equally I am sure you are a blessing to them. Your little cottage will be so beautiful. I can see the potential and one of these days you will be as cosy as a bug in a rug .

Julie Whitmore Pottery said...

Seeing that wood ready for the 'hob' is a heartwarming sight.
You are an inspiration to me.

kim said...

It is so much easier and more fun to have help with these jobs! Even if I only have someone to talk to when tackling the dirty work it seems to go faster. I'm so happy you have such good friends to help brighten your space!

Kari from Meadowview Farm said...

Gretel....
And today we smile.
Sending so many heartfelt thoughts to you over the miles from my little farm in Augusta, Wisconsin.
Kari

frayedattheedge said...

Lovely to see the progress on your cottage - and of course you know that I like a good log pile!!

Rags and Paper said...

Marianne's comment above made me think of crowd sourcing and that made me think of tip jars (cf. Maria Popova's below.)

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/donate/

Can you throw this question out to readers? (I don't think I'm the only one who would jump at the chance to contribute for the years of wonderful "Middle of Nowhere" blog-posts.)

Best,

Jeannette

Tonia said...

What amazing friends and the cottage is looking beautiful, especially those exposed bits that would normally get covered up with paint and plaster.

Julia Kelly said...

Discovering new spaces in an old house is so exciting! Love the pictures of the process!

Julia Kelly said...

Discovering new spaces in an old house is so exciting! Love the pictures of the process!

the woolly dog said...

What thoughtful and kind friends you have Gretel, I liked seeing the photos and hope you will add more as your home progresses, take care. x

anne macauley said...

Pleased to see you are making some progress with the cottage, keep going. Hope you have more sunny days than grey ones. Do you still need a chaperon with "The Colonel"?

rachel said...

Wonderful friends, Gretel! And such great finds as you tackled the cottage - adding character every step of the way.

Claire said...

Oh, I wish I could give each of your helpers a big hug Gretel, as a thankyou for being there.......
How wonderful to be able to tick some jobs off the 'to do' list. I can imagine how much difference it's made already......


Claire x

Moon and Hare said...

I'm so glad to hear that you have good friends to help you, Gretel. Grief is a slow process, for sure, and it's good that you have something like your cottage renovation to focus on. Hopefully your cottage will be a wonderful, snug place soon.
Take care --