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Back to Peyps’ England – Spindle Cottage

An extension with a difference – a period piece built for the Queens Jubilee by the owner – Spindle Cottage – built just before Pepys started writing his diaries.

It’s the time of year when wild garlic flowers grow in multitudinous numbers at the side of the road. You grab them, stuff them in your mouth and chew them and how delicious they are.

This is the second part of my diary regarding today’s events. The first part I finished this morning. We visited Kilmersdon‘s annual plant fair which is normally held on a Saturday in May. by coincidence it was next to my mower repair centre when I was going into all sorts of paroxysms of worried because my mother was only going at half power. Visions of the guarantee, spending a lot of money on replacing apart were soon dispelled. Mike, the ever helpful service engineer, diagnosed a loose spring. He brought out a pair of pliers and fixed it than I was on my way in 10 minutes.

Anyway, back to the plants. I decided to have a cup of coffee and started to chat to a woman whose daughter was a gardener. She, with great enthusiasm said that “Spindle Cottage” was open today, only one of two occasions during the year.  We had a choice of going for a guided walk around Priddy which is a picturesque local village or going to the cottage. When I tuned in I got no particular enthusiasm for the guided walk so we decided to go to the cottage and I’m so glad we did.

The cottage was built in 1640, 20 years before Pepys started writing his diaries. the house was bought in 1965 for £1250 by a couple who have lived in it ever since and they have completely transformed the place from a derelict building to a place of magic for children and complete charm for adults. Part of the property has been developed into a self catering holiday cottage. We were taken  on a tour by the way for the owner and quietness of the place will be absolutely ideal for a stressed couple or family wanting peace and harmony.

This diary from now on will be largely photographic as it can say far better than words our experience of going. It was the most magical couple of hours I have spent in recent times. All the structures you see were created by one man, the owner,  a carpenter by trade but also a builder, stoneworker and goodness knows what else as well. He did all these things because he had no money himself so he is the ultimate DIY man

‘compact’ toilet
any guesses anyone how all this kitchen cooker is?
Aubyn, the owner of the property, talking animatedly with visitors
my goodness, she really is enjoying the sun
Tromp de oeil clever use of a mirror to enlarge the space
pond and genuine well
frontage of building 1640 onwards

Some jazz, some silence, some listening

Samuel Pepys Diary Thursday 12th May 1664

Up by 4 o’clock and by water to Woolwich, where did some business and walked to Greenwich, good discourse with Mr. Deane best part of the way; there met by appointment Commissioner Pett, and with him to Deptford, where did also some business, and so home to my office, and at noon Mrs. Hunt and her cozens child and mayd came and dined with me. My wife sick … in bed. I was troubled with it, but, however, could not help it, but attended them till after dinner, and then to the office and there sat all the afternoon, and by a letter to me this afternoon from Mr. Coventry I saw the first appearance of a warr with Holland. So home; and betimes to bed because of rising to-morrow.

I can understand the desire to get up early. If you are awake and your mind is buzzing, why bother to stay in bed? All these blogs are written first thing in the morning typically starting at 6 AM. I find that come 9 AM I’ve pretty much done half a day’s work, I’ve done my daily financial ‘due diligence’, answered e-mails, and written about 1000 words which comprise these blogs. Meanwhile my wife is sleeping peacefully. She does not sleep very well at night and her best sleep seems to be in the early morning. She however is lively as a cricket at night while I want to go to bed.

Last evening we went to Burdall’s yard in Bath to hear the last of the music department of the University’s jazz events for the spring. The next one is on October 6 to which I shall go. Ollie Howell may not be known to those of you outside the jazz field but he has a fascinating history which I shall write about on another blog. If anything his drum sounds were to big  for a small hall in but would have been perfect for a concert Hall. He told us how he met Quincy Jones and how they hit it off straight away so much so that Quincy has been mentoring him for a couple of years now. He was in a residency in Dubai for three months as they were opening a new jazz club.

the auto focus on my mobile phone does not work very well in bad light conditions

I spoke to him afterwards and told him that I wanted to write a blog. It was clear that he was the complete opposite of an exhibitionist almost shy in fact expressing himself through his drums. When I got back I had a look at the hundreds of pictures of him in Google images and it is quite clear that this chap hates being photographed. This is one such example.  I have made arrangements to talk to him the week after next and do a little interview.

This morning I went off to join my men’s group which was addressed by an ex-Methodist minister. We discussed listening. Although it is possible to hold a perfectly good conversation with people, do we give people time and space to just be themselves and say what they are thinking or do we panic and try and fill in the seconds of silence with verbiage. I believe that if I were to lose all my talents except one, I would choose the ability to listen. Our presence, which is the sum total of our past present and probably future is what communicates. The speaker said that Jesus spent some time with the ladies of the night and other people regarded as unworthy but did not preach to them but just joined in with them in their everyday conversation. That is one cool character.

We agreed that there is nothing worse than faking interest in someone by doing what I call a ‘nodding donkey’ when your mind is miles away. To be a natural listener, you not only have to shut up but more importantly be genuinely interested in what other people have to say plus a certain security in yourself which means that you don’t have to jump in to make your point every five seconds or indeed to compete. Very few people have enough peace of mind in themselves to actually listen – and society is the poorer for it.