The cottage, nestled in the stunning Exmoor countryside, is surrounded by beech trees and hedges. She sits up high on the hill and overlooks meandering fields, woodland and the most beautiful valley you ever did see. From her viewpoint, protected from all but the worst of the weather that England can throw at her, she is privy to the secret lives of the red deer and other wildlife that Exmoor is so famous for. How privileged am I, the inhabitant of the cottage, to have a front seat view on my doorstep?
The cottage, hidden by a beech hedge, was always meant to be mine. She protects, she nurtures, she survives on love and she holds secrets… Secrets from the past that give her a character so obvious to all who set foot over her threshold. There is a peacefulness about her that many have commented on over the years. As I stand in the centre of the cottage I can feel the blood of her running through the walls, I hear her heart beating and my bones are her bones. She is small in stature, but big in heart.
Sometimes I leave the cottage for a while and take myself off and over the moor, be it on foot or on four wheels. I am lucky enough to be able to go for the sheer pleasure of being outdoors. Sometimes I see a special something that I can hold as a memory, to treasure in years to come and sometimes all I see is the stunning beauty before me, yet that is enough for me. The absolute joy of being out on the moor in glorious sunshine, howling winds, torrential rain or a mist that blanks out the world in front of me, coupled with the welcome from the cottage on my return, is second to none.
The cottage has a wood burner that brings the front room to life when the Exmoor misties are in evidence. I sit at the hearth, laying the starter and lighter sticks on the fire and find myself close to my Mum. As I watched her lay the fire when I was a child, so I do it myself now. As the fire burns and I stoke it up with logs, my Dad is close by. As I sat with him as a child, watching him build the fire to keep us all warm, so I do the same now. Both my parents have passed, yet the cottage brings them to me every day by way of the wood burner. In the winter months a large pan sits atop the fire, containing a hearty casserole that simmers gently throughout the day. On these days, the cottage welcomes me home with the aroma of a ready made meal, coupled with the smell of smouldering beech logs. Warmth, a meal, a home – these are simple pleasures in life and I am a lover of simple pleasures.
So, it is from the cottage, my cottage, with her Exmoor walls and wild garden, that I will be penning my blog. Thoughts, memories and snippets from my ventures and the daily grind that make my life, here on Exmoor, so very, very special.