Ups and Downs
There are a few considerable challenges to living in a tumble-down cottage in the middle of no where. First off, we haven’t got gas. So what, you may think. Who wants a horrid gas boiler when you can keep warm in front of a lovely open fire? Well, quite! It is indeed lovely, but when it comes to cooking I have serious issues. I hate hate hate electric cookers. They are so hard to handle! Add to that that this particular cooker is older than me, and therefore presumable a lot less technically advanced than it’s modern counterparts, and you have one very frustrated cook (and lots of burnt food). Oh how I miss gas.
We also have all sorts of fun and games with the water system. As our water comes straight out of a well you can only get drinking water from one tap in the house, and despite the abundance of water in that there well (there is a lot of rain in the Westcountry) try as you might you simply can’t persuade the water to flush the toilet. The water has a mind of its own! Thankfully we always have a bucket bobbing around in the bath like a little boat for loo flushing antics.
The biggest challenge of all, however, is the Cottage’s proximity to absolutely nothing at all. Of course its utter remoteness is all part of the charm, but if you can’t drive, like me, and you run out of milk/bread/tea (god forbid!), well that is just tough. The nearest village is a 15 minute cycle ride away (on my brand spanking new electric bike, which is most certainly is the best thing since sliced bread), and although it has a small shop and post office that sells a few essentials you can’t live off it. So the time eventually came to research our options on getting in to town. Our options, it turned out, weren’t numerous. In fact there was just one option. The Saturday morning bus to Honiton. Our one and only hope.
The Great Escape
The weather was fine on Saturday morning as we set off bright and early, at a brisk pace (since in true Ella and Oliver style we were running late) to walk the 2 miles (all up hill) to the nearest bus stop. Once there we didn’t have very long to wait until the bus trundled up the hill. I say bus, it was more of a mini bus, and a small one at that. We were greeted onto the bus by the driver and the 4 old ladies already aboard before the little bus continued on it’s way. By the end of the journey the bus was fit to burst with excited elderly people chit-chattering animatedly, telling one and other what they were up to in town and catching up on the weeks gossip. Oliver and I sat in the middle of the raucous grannies, bemused and slightly feeling as though we were making some kind of intrepid escape from the enemy by cunningly sneaking on a pensioners day-trip to the sea-side. As Oliver put it, he dared not speak lest he gave away his real identity.
Once there we barely had time to look round all my favourite antique and charity shops (Honiton is renowned for its abundance of antique shops) before having to make a run for it (literally) back to the bus. Everyone was assembled and chit-chattering as excitingly as before, and in no time at all the little bus was whizzing down the lanes, returning everyone to their Sunday lunch preparations. As we walked through the fields back home, carrying all our shopping (mostly books) we reflected on what a delightful experience that had been.
Books, Glorious Books!
The main purpose of out jaunt into town was of course to go shopping. Not particularly for food, as we have Tesco direct for that, but more for stuff (see last post). Honiton is full of antique shops, so I am in my element there! One of my favourite shops is an antique book store stuffed to the rafters with all kinds of books. Even though I only had time to spend 15 minutes there, where as normally I could spend an hour or two, I came out with an armful of exciting purchases. A fabulous book on picnics, a subject that I intend to discuss in detail later, a book on Victorian eating habits, a 1949s cook book and most curiously an intriguing little item entitled Devon W.I. Cookery Book; a collection of recipes and household hints and tips, including a section of traditional Devonian recipes as well as some very old recipes passed through families, from the W.I.s of Devon. I cant find a
publication date anywhere, but i’m guessing it was printed at some point in the 50s. It contains such delights as Brawn (stewed pigs head), Mock Venison (made out of lamb, obviously), tomato wiggle (just boiled skin on tomatoes with egg) and Ammonia biscuits. Mmmm.
So that’s another lovely lot of vintage cookery books added to my collection. I can’t wait to try some of the recipes out. No, seriously!
Ta-ta for now!