Hello! Welcome to my new blog about rural life, house renovating, and the beautiful Northumbrian countryside. Two weeks ago my husband Jonny and I bought our first house, and although we have been living in tiny Northumbrian cottages with our dog Frank for the last six years, this is the first time that either of us has had a patch of earth to call our own. So we are VERY excited. It is an ex mining cottage, high in the hills in Northumberland, close to Hadrian’s wall: but most importantly, it has an acre of land! Owning some land has been something we have both longed for for a really long time, and in this bonkers property buying climate, is something we never thought we would get. But here we are, two weeks later, and the wondrous possibilities are starting to sink in…
The lovely couple who lived here before us managed the land beautifully, but did not use it to grow things, so it is pretty much a blank canvas. There are two meadows, a patch of woodland, and the biggest thicket of blackthorn I’ve ever seen! To the front of our house is a small patch of raggedy grass that will eventually become a flower garden, and in the top meadow sheltered from gusts of wind is a spot that will house our raised vegetable beds (and possibly a polytunnel??) We will be planting LOTS of trees, making an outdoor dining area in the woods, and eventually an A-frame cabin hidden among the trees for friends to stay in (and perhaps somewhere we may use as holiday accommodation in the future). In our previous cottages, we always had small gardens that we never really did a huge amount with. We would grow a few vegetables, and some flowers, but we never wanted to invest too much in a property that wasn’t ours. Now we are free to plant whatever we like, so the urge to dash supermarket-sweep style through our local garden centre is strong…..
The house is an old stone cottage, and is in pretty good condition. It has a small kitchen, two good sized living rooms, a tiny bathroom, and two bedrooms. It is perfectly liveable in for now, (which is great because we have spent all our money!) But eventually we plan on extending it, and making a large kitchen/living room downstairs, and an extra bedroom/fancy ensuite upstairs. A new porch on the back, to stop Frank from getting mud on absolutely everything in the house, and a sun room on the front for us all to hide in, in the depths of winter. It will also need a new roof at some point in the next few years…. Buuut we won’t worry about that for now! In the short term we are just going to be making it our own, and adding more bits of furniture/shelving, and generally just making it look pretty. Among his many talents, my husband Jonny is a furniture maker, so bless him, he has quite a long list of things to make (sorry Jonny!) But there is plenty of time. For now we just loving living here, and getting to know this little bit of Northumberland.
As I write this first blog post, I am snowed in at Blackthorn Cottage. We are in the middle of the ‘polar vortex’, and the snow and wind have transformed Northumberland temporarily into Siberia. I am enjoying writing this, and imagining what the year ahead has to offer. Slowly editing the pictures I took last weekend, when the world felt on the cusp of spring. I think this might just be the perfect time to move house, as we are going to get to see every little thing come back to life, and we have what feels like the whole year stretching out in front of us. So come along with me, and watch as we make this little bit of Northumberland our own. Any gardening/building tips along the way would be greatly appreciated!