I love the sight of my home in the evening when the lights are on; it looks so cosy and welcoming. I have lived here with some of my family for nearly forty years and never want to live anywhere else! This is the main (original) part of the house, there is also a converted barn and cowshed. The house needs some work doing on it, which sometimes seems daunting, but has been home to four generation of my family. At present there are three generations of my family living here, two of my sisters, my husband, three of our adult children, two of our young grand children and myself. We are very lucky that all of our close family live within thirty miles of us, except one of our sons who lives near Leeds, and we often have large family get togethers.
Nearly forty years ago my family bought this house for £500, which was very cheap even then, because it had no mains services and was in a state of disrepair. Over the years we renovated it but six years ago, while reroofing it we found that it needed extensive structural work doing and so the renovation process started again! Even though six years have passed we still haven’t finished the outside as we do all the building work ourselves but we are slowly getting there. We have recently had mains electricity connected for the first time after using a generator for many years. There is also the barn and cowshed that have been converted. We, my mother, 3 of my sisters, my youngest brother and I, moved here in 1972. Since then our family has grown with the addition of children and grand children as well as partners. At one time the number of members of the family who lived in all three buildings was sixteen but now we are more spread out with nine of us, from three generations, still living here.
I have lived in this house for nearly forty years (since I was a child) with my extended family and this is the third staircase that has been put in, in that time. This set were beautifully made and installed by my stepfather, Jon, six years ago as part of the renovation. We had thought that the roof needed replacing but when we started the work we found that full renovation was needed. We did all the work ourselves. We had to move quickly as our daughter returned home, after living in London, with her new baby.
This is the lane to our house. When we first moved here, nearly forty years ago, it was tarmac but over the years it deteriorated and stone was spread over it in an attempt to fill the holes. It became so rough that the post office refused to deliver our post to the house and we now have a letter box at the top of the lane. We share the use of the lane with two neighbours and recently we bought, between us, seven loads of gravel that had been removed from a public road so that it could be relayed. Seven loads wasn’t quite enough to repair the lane as far as our house which is why large puddles can be seen in this photo but the worst was covered. The lane continues on to a farm and is also used by the farmer who owns the fields that surround our half acre. Two of our family’s cars can be seen in this photo. Because of where we live and the fact that we have disabled people in the family, myself included, we need to have two cars, one for my sister to get to work and one that my husband sometimes needs for work and is sometimes used by the rest of the family for shopping, doctors/dentist/ hospital appointments etc. One of our sons, who lives with us with his two small children, has his own car. It had been a sunny day with a short burst of rain, just enough to fill the puddles.
This is my son’s motorbike, it doesn’t work and I hope it stays that way! He is in his early thirties so he’s not a silly teenager but I would worry so much if he rode a motorbike because even if a rider is careful not everyone on the road is. I can see the appeal of a motorbike, the freedom, the low cost of fuel, may be even a sense of solitude but for me the fear of ending up like my friends and acquaintances who have died or been injured on them over shadows all of that.
This is the view from our garden across the valley. It was raining and the light freshened and brightened the colours. Normally at this time of year the trees would have far more leaves on them but because of the unusual weather everything is late this year. This view has hardly changed in the time that I have lived here, nearly forty years. The neighbouring farm has added some very large buildings. The house in the distance has become more visible as it was once derelict but has now been renovated and painted white, I think they have probably cut down a few trees as well. Apart from these things nothing much has changed but to the right, just out of shot are the new electricity poles that were put up last year so we could have mains electricity connected to our house for the first time after using a generator for many years. So our view has changed but not a great deal. The other thing that has changed is that the farms in this valley used to produce milk but now produce beef. The milk farming was much more distressing for us to see than the beef farming as we could hear the very young calves and the mother cows calling to each other when they were separated (this contributed to us changing from being vegetarians to being vegans). At least the beef cattle seem to live a fairly pleasant life until they are slaughtered
In our kitchen we have a solid fuel Rayburn cooker and this is the flue pipe that connects it to the chimney. We bought the Rayburn, second hand from eBay a few years ago just before Christmas but didn’t have the right angles of flue pipe so we improvised as a temporary measure. Like so many “temporary measures” that work well it has never seemed necessary to change it. The only drawback was the sharp ends of wire that stuck out which I caught the back of my hand on a number of times but this was solved when a member of my family (I’m not sure which one, no doubt someone else with a scratched hand!) hung the dried orange (pomander) from it. We would like to burn mostly wood but often have to burn coal, which is Welsh, as well. Normally we would not light the fire at this time of year but it has been unseasonably cold this year so it had been lit on this day. Notice how the heat has damaged the plaster on the wall.
During the 1960’s all the houses in our county were offered the chance to be connected to mains electricity for free, of course most households accepted. The people who lived in our house at that time declined the offer as they thought that electricity in the home was too dangerous. Because of this, and the fact that it was in disrepair, my family were able to buy the house very cheaply in 1971. At first we had no electric at all, then we used a car battery that a neighbour charged for us. We progressed to a small wind turbine and then various generators of increasing quality and efficiency plus battery banks and invertors . During the years that we used generators they often broke down and three set on fire! We had always hoped that one day we would produce our electricity via wind turbines etc but as this never happened for various reasons, and we didn’t want to end up as a group of elderly people temporary measure struggling to maintain our electricity supply, we were connected to the national grid five months ago. One of the biggest changes that this has made to my life is that when there is a power cut someone else will sort it out! This photo is of the new poles that bring the electricity to our house. I was worried that they would spoil the view but now we hardly notice them and anyway I think that they are rather beautiful.
This is one of our cats, Idris, he is about 17 years old but still going strong! He was rescued as a kitten, along with his mother and two siblings, only he and his brother are still living. We now only have four cats and three dogs but in the past we have had far more animals, all of them either recued or passed on to us by people who, for one reason or another, couldn’t keep them. We have also hand reared and rehabilitated a large number of wild animals and birds but after nine years I decided that I could no longer cope with the responsibility and stress! The cat is standing by a set of hand prints that were made in concrete about 25 years ago. They are the hand prints of some of my family. Many of them were children at the time and now that some of them have children of their own this is an interesting piece of family history for us.
This is the water spout, in the bank just across the lane at the side of our house, where we used to get our water from. We used a large stainless steel bucket to collect the water. The water seemed to be clean and was generally a good supply although it could be reduced to a trickle in a dry summer. About thirty years ago we had a borehole drilled and started pumping water up to a tank so we were able to plumb a proper water system in to the house. Since then the pipe for the water spout has cracked and the water is now contaminated with surface water from the field but we sometimes still use the water for watering the garden, washing the mud off garden tools and boots.
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