Modern houses often make me extremely very jealous: “You have windows that OPEN?” “Your walls don’t let in the breeze?” “Your roof doesn’t house mice, squirrels, birds and spiders the size of your hand?” “What sort of miracle building do you live in? How do I get me one?”. But for all these modern quirks, I would still blindly, stupidly pick an old run down thatched cottage over a new build. I like to think of it as romanticism rather than pure idiocy.
I realise that I love the character and the quirks, what makes an English Country Cottage is the carvings in the fireplaces to ward off spirits, the roman numerals on the beams to show which order to place them. I love the axe marks in the beams where maybe, just maybe the woodcutter chopped the tree from this very field and built the house using the trees.
I love the wonky floors and even the holes in the 400 year old oak boards, I still giggle on my 4am stagger to the loo as the sloping floor takes me down towards the window and then back up to the bathroom, but just knowing that someone made these boards 400 years ago makes the extra journey acceptable.
Clever Trevor left his career in Retail to pursue his dreams of spending every day hammering iron over a sweltering forge. It began as a hobby, making bushcraft products that were so beautifully made that they began to sell like..well hot metal stuff in China and America. Trev packed in the desk job and now works like an olden days blacksmith out of a huge barn in a nearby farm creating gorgeous bespoke pieces as well as firepits, garden sculptures and tables and gates.
When I two metre met up with Metal Trevor at his workshop last week, I robbed him of nearly all his creations (he had to stay 2 metres away so he had no choice), piled them into my car and drove off yelling “Thanks for the hashtag gifted, love this collaboration” leaving poor Trev in a whirlwind of dust looking incredibly confused whilst I had a car full of brilliance that smelt sublime. “Iron and steel smell like earth and fire rolled together. The acrid smell of cold cut steel is blended with the sweet smell of red hot iron” (Monica Coyne – Artist Blacksmith).
The Shepherd Crooks went straight into the ground to restrain the groping Hollyhocks and the Dinner Triangle went straight up next to La Aga and I have been a happy Mummy ever since. Trevor told me that once I had used this triangle of heralding angels, I would wonder how I coped before. I marvelled at his sales patter and grinned wryly. Supper time arrived and I gaily lifted the triangle of blessings down from the the beam and played a triumphant musical chorus. I imagined the family running in from working in the fields as they must have done hundreds of years ago and felt such a strong connection with the past (my children ran in from watching Dangermouse but it is startling similar).
We are very fortunate to live in a home filled with history and craftsmanship. I passionately believe that we should be buying from local craftspeople if we can and I love that we are adding our own (well Metal Trevor’s) piece of artistry to our crumbly old home. What makes an English Country Cottage this week is craftsmanship, patience and love.
Thank you Trev, I will be round to steal more stuff before the Government totally lift all distancing restrictions. Trevor’s website won’t be fully functional for another couple of weeks but do have a look at his instagram feed https://www.instagram.com/tjm_products/ or his Etsy page https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/TJMMetalworks