Country cottages may look lovely, but the reality is very different
Lots of people think country cottages are idyllic but, after living here for 11 years, I can assure you that sloping ceilings and ivy-clad walls are not as romantic as they first appear.
Wooden beams may look authentic but are devilish to paint and attract cobwebs that defy even the most robust of fluffy dusters.
The bathroom (always cold and located as far away from my bedroom as possible) involves dashing through the house in the wee hours of the morning (pun fully intended).
The bedrooms are health hazards as you suffer concussion when your head hits the sloping bits and noisy as they are built in the roof – imagine drumming rain, vocal bird life and crazy cats who slide repeatedly down the tiles.
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Factor in the damp, crumbling walls and wonky window frames and you begin to the picture.
Add walls that drive the spirit level insane (or the husband attempting to use it), door frames cut to fit the sloping roof (a new door would cost more than the house) plus a general lack of storage and you might just understand why – in a moment of madness brought on by a lack of sleep – I suggested hubbie build a set of wardrobes in the bedroom alcove.
A reasonable suggestion to add storage, relocate the bed and introduce the possibility of being able to retreat under the duvet without having to dodge storage baskets, blanket boxes and umpteen chest-of-drawers.
Alas, I'd forgotten John + DIY = stress, with a day's job turning into a week and nothing achieving that glossy finished look you see in magazines.
He started well. The bed was moved, he put up shelves (three took ten hours) removed them again when he realised they had a difference of 2cm and made the Fun House at Hull Fair look normal.
Dismantling the existing cupboards, to recycle the wood, he used his new saw (how much equipment does the man need?) which shattered the longest section and necessitated a complete rethink of the design.
In the meantime, the rest of the house resembles a demolition site and I can't even find my bed, let alone use it.
Yes, living in a cottage represents the dream of The Good Life but, frankly, it's times like this that I long for a new-build semi with storage, straight walls and a central heating system that works.
I also suspect, after a week of finding sawdust in my wardrobe, nails on the pillow and (bizarrely) an electric drill in the dog's bed (John couldn't find it for days), that I may have to remortgage the house in order to hire a carpenter and send John on a short holiday (with therapy) to recover from the trauma of home improvements.