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"Mary, Mary quite contrary, how
does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a
Traditional - nursery rhyme.
- Mary and I used to live in a very cute cottage that is
timber-framed, thatched and over 650 years old (that's
"Pre-Columbian" to our American visitors).
- We moved out in February 2007 leaving it in the hands of the new owners and next generation of caretakers. With a building this old, as William Morris said, "We are only trustees for those that come after us".
- We had half an acre of garden which was a novelty to a
city boy like me. Apparently the brown stuff is earth and
the green bits are plants (or are they weeds?).
- We had four compost bins called "Tom",
"Dick", "Harry" and
"Gertrude"; and a garden shed called
- The cottage has an ingle-nook fireplace, a huge open
chimney that seats four in its alcoves. Half way up the
chimney are pegs on which to smoke hams.
- Over Christmas there is something very special about
watching the roaring log fire right down to the glowing
embers at the end of a long evening. And we really did
"roast chestnuts over an open fire"!
- The house is of construction called cruck-framed which
is basically an oak tree sawn in half and opened out to
make an A-frame. Three of these linked with horizontal
timbers give the basic tent-like barn shape.
- The panels were then in-filled with hazel fencing and
covered with a mixture of mud, straw and cow dung. This
very traditional material is known as wattle and daub, some
panels of which remain; others have been replaced with
brick over the years.
- We belong to SPAB -
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings -
an invaluable source of practical advice.
The New Forest
- We used to live on the edge of the New Forest, 37,000 hectares
(145 square miles) of woodlands and open heath, home to the
wild New Forest Ponies.
- The "New" Forest was created by William I
"the Conquerer" in 1079 as a royal hunting
- On the other side of the road flows the River Avon, one
of the finest trout streams in Britain.
- Beyond the river are water meadows designated as an
SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) because of the
Bewick's Swans that overwinter there (and indeed the
whole of the New Forest is an SSSI).
- To learn more about the New Forest see