Living the dream?

We meet some lovely folk who stay in the cottage.  After all, if you choose to come here you are not after noise and fleshpots and potted entertainment but comfort and quiet and a dose of rural bliss.  Whether it is families with young children who love opening the cottage door and letting them run in the field or couples who sit on the bench with a glass of wine watching buzzards soaring and looking into the view, it is not at all uncommon for people to tell me that I am living their dream.  It's a perfectly sensible thing to say - I'm living my dream too for that matter!  The place, the garden, the ancient house, the hens, the self sufficiency.  It's all pretty damn lovely.
But it's not all moonlight and roses you know.  I thought it was time to show you some of the grot as well.

So here is the dream, although I expect you have got the idea:

And here is the not so dreamlike.  The kitchen is plastered and painted.  No electrics yet.  Not much of anything else yet to be honest.  The bright orange plastic thing on the table is a fairly tacky pinball machine described by four year old grandson as "I think I need  my computer".  It would have been even worse if I had shown you the old kitchen we are moving out of but it is such an unmitigated disaster area I couldn't bring myself to photograph it.      
Here is the waste and desolation that follow the cutting back of the oriental poppies.  There are supposed to be dahlias and cosmos in there getting ready to pick up the baton but behind them is an exhausted phlomis staggering dazedly into the light and a pittosporum Tom Thumb which has lost its colour and most of its foliage while the poppies were making their bid for world domination.  Note to self: do not be tempted to keep too many poppies when the bed looks empty and sad in spring.  Pull the blighters up, or some of them at least.  It's so hard to do.  Perhaps I should start an oriental poppy nursery, or nurserylet.  
This table came out of the utility last year and has proved to be that lethal mixture of heavy and useful which makes things stay put.  I have sort of stopped seeing it now, a bit like the boxes on the landing and the nettles in the field.  At least I suppose nobody else sees it either but it is hardly the dream now is it?
I could have carried on with large scale weeds and the paperchase which is my study and the dustbaths which the hens have created which I have to edit out of lush garden shots, but I got distracted by this and then I thought that I won't show you any  more.  You might not come again.


  1. You've no idea how much better I feel after that! I always think everyone else has got it sussed! Going to bed smiling!

  2. The dream is what it says it is just a dream. You have shown real life and what a relief, we are all the same. Country Living mag has a lot to answer for.

  3. I think we all have places like that, but the dream remains, and the hard work!

  4. Ah Elizabeth I am sure no matter how much of the 'grot' you show us, we will return time and time again.
    If we didn't have those 'real life' moments in out dreams we would never be able to really appreciate how good the dream is.
    Love seeing your little corner of the globe, warts and all!

  5. My, oh, my. Still looks like a dream to me, love.

  6. You're not alone Elizabeth. We all try to hide the nasty bits, but some of us do it better than others.

    Bisou, Cro.

  7. It looks idyllic - there will always be the not so pretty areas but it looks wonderful to me. Obviously a lot of hard work goes into making it that way.

  8. This is like me fretting about the state of the cat's litter box right before friends come over for a party. Surely they like me enough to forgive the smelly box next to the loo?
    Thanks for sharing - I love the "lethal mixture of heavy and useful". Sounds like my husband!

  9. How nice to see things like that. It is exactly as here at our home, just all the same. There are beautiful, romantic corners and there are not so romantic corners. But the French would like to see all that, they like this "chabby chic" ;-).
    I love it all, it is part of a whole and I'll come back, whatever you show. (In fact, summer is a better moment to show those bits than in winter.) P.S. I also have peacock feathers, how clever to combine them with 'old' allium and placing them in front of the mirror!

  10. This did make me smile Elizabeth. Living on the farm here is so like you describe. Some areas are lovely - some are pure grot and as one makes the change one way another one takes its place!
    I too love those large poppies but I long since stopped growing them because when they are cut down, unless there is a swift downpour to get things going, there is a great gaping hole where once there was a fantastic splodge of red.

    But I do agree on one thing - your part of the world (like ours) is wonderful and we are so lucky to live in such beauty. (and people who holiday here are usually like-minded, as you say).

  11. Hello Elizabeth. Yes, I often think you are living my dream too, especially as it comes with a healthy dose of realism. Then I look around and realise my own dream is not so very disimilar and is right here. Lucky aren't we (warts and all)? x

  12. The dream far outweighs the grot, Elizabeth! The kitchen holds great promise, I see light fixtures illuminating a busy hostess, in perfectly starched and pressed apron, making blueberry scones and tea. The table has potential as well and might it be suggested to plant daylilies to hide the poppies as they take a nap? :-)

  13. The new kitchen will make it all worthwhile, eventually. Lovely dream Elizabeth.

  14. Anyone who says they have not got a grot spot is surely not telling the truth!

    Your kitchen will eventually look fabulous - you may not get rid of the orange computer thingy for a while though - a big cupboard perhaps for those House and Garden photo-shoot moments?

    Quite agree about oriental poppies - when they are flowering and upright they are wonderful but they do hog the bed. I've discovered all sorts of things which have been swamped. And why do things which seemed suitable for the front of border at the nursery turn into giants when planted her?

  15. It still looks lovely, gorgeous photos Elizabeth. I too have a building site here as we are busy getting the extension finished, so can relate to how you feel. Loved the cushion and the jug of sweet peas.

  16. I love this post Elizabeth. The dream is real and I love every bit of it.

  17. What a refreshing change - one of us brave enough to post honest photos!
    Of course we all toil endlessley for a tidy, pretty,Country Living home - but real life gets in the way, thanks for sharing. I know it may sound awful, but seeing you strugglin with Grot spots makes me feel not so bad!

    Vicky x

  18. Without the messy bits, one would not truly appreciate all the beautiful stuff. There has to be balance. What's the point of living in a perfect world??

    But it looks quite wonderful to me, Elizabeth.

  19. I hope we don't all have to do this now ... show the photos of what things are really like ... Arrgghh!

  20. Elizabeth, did you post this just to make me feel better? Here I live, in this paradise, yet there are bits of it that are worse than the dump. I laughed at your comment about not seeing that table any longer. There are TOO MANY things here that I have stopped seeing - old machinery, a 1953 TR-3 in need of restoration, an entire garage full of junk.....I could go on and on, but I think I'll pour myself a glass of wine and go out to gaze at the pond.

  21. Chris - yes I am just the same, always assume other people have got it all sorted.
    Cait - I suppose all magazines sell a dream don't they? and it is sometimes very soothing to go along with it for a little while!
    Penny - ah you are right, it is very hard work and that is the bit no one sees, but worth it all nevertheless.
    Claire - yes, you need the dark to appreciate the light I suppose, or the grot to really value the beauty!
    Kim - it still is a dream Kim, just not all of it, all of the time.

  22. The real side of living the dream is just as wonderful as the "beautiful side"....

  23. Heavens ! Yours is the same as mine .... without the not-a-computer-thingy . I'm usually to be found snoozing between all the piles of stuff I'm just about to do and the stuff I haven't quite finished yet .
    Your poppies did the same as my calendula . Self-seeding and greedy , they've exterminated all in their path . Daleks of the horticultural world !

  24. Face to face with reality. I look out my back yard at Charles' dream life, - tractor, farm equipment, a whole lifetime of tools in the garage, plus some of his father's and his grandfather's - it works for him and I have to love it because he is still with me to indulge himself out there. But I don't photograph it!!!

  25. Cro - funny isn't it? Mostly I am quite happy to hide the nasty bits but I did just feel like lifting the curtain!
    Susan - it is hard work although mostly that's fine as it is work that I like. I might be needing a holiday!
    Frith - your "it sounds like my husband" made me snort out loud. Hope he doesn't read this.
    Bayou - I will take to calling it shabby chic then. Not sure I can quite get away with it with the outside table, but you just need to carry it off with confidence, perhaps?
    Weaver - you are right, we are very lucky you and I to live where we do, grot and all!

  26. Since getting the mutt, my whole garden is a tip and I have to overlook it every time I go outside. Next year maybe....

  27. Pipany - yes, we are lucky, warts and all!
    Frances - thank you and for your suggestion for the garden. Definitely like the idea of the perfectly pressed apron and intrigued by the day lily solution too.
    Marianne - I so hope you are right!
    Mountainear - a big cupboard is a grand idea. And yes about front of the border stuff too!
    Rosie - the cushion was a present from son and DIL when they returned from India. Isn't it gorgeous?
    Molly - thank you. I love it too, even the grot.
    AA - I hope we all have these grotty places. Anyone who doesn't might be too overpoweringly perfect, or perhaps very very good at disguise.
    Deborah - I am entirely with you on not living in a perfect world. Don't want to and well and truly don't!
    Fran - yes, didn't you realise? By commenting you have agreed to show us your grotspots too.

  28. Pondside - oh I am glad there are loads of us doing the "not seeing it anymore" trick! I didn't even mention the bags and bags of hardcore and old stone.
    Penny - Thank you but I am not sure about wonderful! Maybe you have to see the outside table in horrifying close up!
    S&S - ah yes, I know about piles of stuff. In fact it might be my specialist subject if I ever made mastermind.
    H&C - you mention a lifetime of tools? Yes, we can do that one here too. Might be like you and not photograph that one though.
    EPM - ah yes, but you have the mutt. Still thinking about that one.

  29. Oh, I have a messy paperchase of a study, too! As for the "reality" part of the dream, I would offer up the back-side of our garage . . . with its messy compost heaps and stacks of black plastic pots.


Post a Comment

Comments are the best thing and the conversations they produce are the whole purpose of blogging for me. Do tell me what you think!