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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 row."
    Traditional - nursery rhyme.

Avon Cottage

  • 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".
Cute thatched cottage (36K)
  • 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 "Jabba".
Inglenook fireplace (22K)
  • 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"!
Cruck frame building (29K)
  • 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.
Wattle and daub panel (30K)
  • 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 area.
  • 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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Forest.