I am certain that houses have a soul and a spirit that reflects their history. When we arrived at the shop, it felt like entering a morgue, so cold, so dark and so soulless. It was depressing and when you looked in every corner, there were cobwebs, broken light bulbs, dripping taps and a feeling of neglect and disrepair. There were reasons for this, we know this from the previous occupants, but it made feeling warm within far from a reality.
Every room felt cold, and walking in my nightgown at 6 am to the bathroom as appealing as when you stay in a campsite and you need the bathroom. More light bulbs broken, doors creaked and in general I began to wonder whether it had all been a mistake and had a severe pang of homesickness to Berry Cottage. When on Saturday the water came through the walls, I seriously wondered what would stop this house falling apart and gently put my hands on the walls upstairs and willed it to please be patient, we would get there and give it some attention.
The house is made up of 3 houses, in an odd non linear arrangement and upstairs there is a very long corridor which spans all three upstairs of 3 cottages, with rafters and beams, small doors, different levels and all in all, it resembles a Hobbit home. The houses were built of stone and cob in late 1700 and have plenty of character.
Last week the chimney was swept and the chimney sweep came and removed 3 bags of twigs that the jackdaws have thrown down; today the Rayburn man came. I thought he would condemn the Rayburn,( a type of range) it looked sad, not at all giving me confidence but he looked at it, scratched his head, put on an apron and uttered the words : Well, lets see whether this here beauty can give some soul back to this dim place. She is not at all cosmetic but then if you had not been looked after for about 4 years you would be looking a bit rusty. Any chance of a cuppa? He got his tools out, a mirror to look up the chimney, asked for some paper, kindling wood, and some coal that was lying about and got a flicker of light. A heartbeat he called it, then he tapped it, cleaned it and said, for about 60 years old its doing OK. With instructions, I am going to be busy keeping the Rayburn topped up with logs, and the last remaining coal until we can get some more logs together. The last words he uttered were a bit strange : she is missing some major bits but she will give off heat and I will be back in the spring to put her together if by then you have not given up on her like the last people.
Do I have the time to stoke her up before I go to bed, at 6 am when I get down before we do start the day, prepare the papers, get the vegetables and fruit delivered? You bet. When after hours I walked upstairs through the rooms they did really feel a bit warmer or could that be my imagination?
Hestia, the heart of the home has been restored and when the frost comes up tonight, I will sleep a bit sounder in the knowledge that the soul of this house is awake and well.