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Art & Culture

various essays on, well, art and culture

Bookbinding & Conservation

lessons learned from this profession


ok, I'm not the guy from SNL,
but I still have a sense of humor

'Jim Downey' Stories

mostly true stories from my

Personal Essays

more "it's all about me"


Iím at -7.13/-7.33 on The Political Compass.  Where
are you?


observations on the human condition


Europe 1994
Wales 1998
Wales 2003

Wales 2006
      We Gotta Get Outta This Place
      Well, they shouldn't have . . .
      Why are you here?
      Welcome to the Bates B+B
      Market Day
      Sunday Morning Interlude
      The Saint in the Ditch
      One of the most evocative . . .
      There are no Chiliheads in Wales
      Halfway to Rome
      You ate What?
      The Hinges of her Dreams
      You Want Chips with That?

CCGA Vignettes

Sunday Morning Interlude

Sunday, 3/19

This interlude was written while Alix slept in, just describing our cottage.  Skip it if you only want to know about the travel bits, which will resume in the next travelogue.

A bit about our cottage . . .

It may be a converted stable, but if so the renovation was more extensive than most such.  The whole cottage is 'L' shaped, with the kitchen in the foot of the 'L.'  You enter into the cottage on the side of the kitchen, through a two-part 'Dutch' door.  The sink looks out to the south, at the end of the foot of the 'L,' and is to the right as you enter into the cottage.  Out the kitchen window over the sink, you see a 6' tall stone wall, complete with lichens and small plants growing out of it.  There is a small washer to the side of the sink, under the counter.  There is no dryer.  There is a countertop with cabinets below on both sides of the sink and across the wall opposite the door, where there is also an oven/range top.  There is a hood with light and fan over the range.  An interesting feature:  there is a heating element and fan below the oven, which can blow warm air across your feet as you stand there in front of the range.  The floor in the kitchen and throughout the cottage (except the bedroom) is reddish-brown ceramic quarry tile, with throw rugs and mats for warmth and ease of standing.  The kitchen is well stocked with dishes, utensils, pots & pans.  To the left of the sink was a microwave, to the right an area for draining dishes and beyond that a fair-sized bread box, since most of the bread available is real bakery bread, not the sliced, pre-packaged stuff we typically see here in the States.  On the far end past the oven, under the counter is an 'apartment-sized' refrigerator, and on the counter above is a little-bitty cube freezer.

The kitchen opens into the main room, off to the left as you come in the door into the kitchen.  This whole main upright of the 'L' is like an expanded, lopsided A-frame in cross-section, with exposed wooden beams, white painted plaster on the walls and ceilings.  The south wall is only about 4' tall before it meets the incline of the ceiling.  The north wall is about 8 feet of vertical before meeting up with the slanting ceiling.  There is a dining area just off the kitchen, then a sitting-room area as you head back further into the cottage.  The dining area has a medium table and four chairs, with shelving on the wall that forms the east end of the cottage.  On these shelves were a few cheap novels, a basket full of flyers & brochures for local attractions, salt & pepper shakers, plate mats (which have become all the rage everywhere in Wales - something I don't recall from previous trips) and a few innocuous knick-knacks.

There is a small fireplace/wood stove along the west wall of the sitting room area, which also has a wicker chair, a fair sized and reasonably comfortable sofa, two end tables with lamps, and a TV/DVD on a stand.  The sofa's back is to the dining area.  There is one medium-sized skylight in the sitting area, which faces north.  There are also two hanging lights, of the globe paper design.  There are low windows on the south side of the room, with flower-print, light colored curtains.  A wooden door, cut on the angle to fit the wall/ceiling on the south side, leads to a very short hallway.  This is just a 4' transitional space to the bedroom (there is only one), with a bath to the right (on the north).  The hall has a low, narrow 'arrow-slit' style window with no curtain.  Which is curious, because this window looks straight into the bathroom if the bathroom door is open.  The bathroom is fairly large by UK standards, with a full-sized bathtub across the wall on the north end.  This tub also has shower facilities.  There is a small exhaust fan mounted on the north outside wall.  The bathroom also has a skylight facing north.  The toilet and sink are on the left hand as you enter the bathroom.  On the right is one of the big storage heaters, a towel-drying rack, and some open shelves for towels and whatnot.  There's a smaller, 'instant' space heater up on the wall.

The bedroom is fair sized, about one-half the size of the main room.  There is a double bed, complete with an extra-hard mattress.  There is also a wardrobe (which held extra blankets), two nightstands (one on either side of the bed), and two chairs.  There are lamps on each nightstand, and a radio/clock/alarm/CD player.  There are low windows with curtains, same as in the main room.  Another skylight facing north.  An overhead light.  And carpeting on the floor.

Each room in the cottage has the "storage" heaters - which are filled with firebrick, so they take a while to warm up but then radiate heat for a long time.  These are hard-wired into the cottage mains, and are the only source of heat for the cottage.  Of course, everything else electrical has the aforementioned on/off switch where it plugs into the wall.  I just went around and turned them all on, for simplicity.

One thing I noted is that the art on the wall is all of local scenes, and it looked to be either original works or prints made by the artist.  Most of it was OK.

Outside.  Our cottage is the center of three such units, connected in a long building.  Between the 6' stone wall to the south and the kitchen window is perhaps 10'.  That area has a concrete tile walkway with gravel on either side.  Outside the entryway is an area with a white plastic table & matching chairs, such as you might find out front of a restaurant in an urban area.

Past that wall is the parking lot, gravel-covered.  The lot is large, and serves as over-flow parking for the restaurant next door.  On one side of the parking lot (to the west) are a couple of old structures which were likely barns or storage.  The owners have their 3-story home on the far west end of the compound, facing in where the restaurant is.  All of the building are stone construction, with thick walls (we never heard our neighbors) and could have been built anytime in the last 500 years.

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all work © James T. Downey, 1993-2006
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