Roachside Cottage

Part of the living landscape of the Roaches

Peak District National Park - Upper Hulme, Nr Leek ST13 8UB

I know it’s a cliché, but there really is a sense of community out in the countryside hereabouts – everyone knows everyone and the “grapevine” is infinitely faster and more efficient than the internet.Take for instance our proposed new log shed, a simple barn-type roof over the back yard of the cottage.

We wanted it to be completely in keeping with the style and tradition of the simple stone buildings on the Roaches, of which Roachside Cottage is but one. This meant locating some stone roofing – stuff that hasn’t been quarried for nearly a century. Discussing this with a neighbour, he suggested that I take a run over to see “Bill” over near Flash – he used to have a pile of roofing stones piled up in his yard from a building that fell down 50 years ago. We toddled off to see Bill and, sure enough, the pile of stone was still just about visible under the leaf litter and brambles. There was more than I needed, but better too much than too little. We agreed a price and the stone was bundled onto a lorry borrowed for the occasion.

As Bill pointed out, placing stone roofing isn’t like hanging tiles – there is a lot of skill and patience involved getting the courses straight and making sure that those courses look even as they progress from huge stones at the bottom to the much smaller ones higher up the slope. Bill thought that “Eric Thingummy” (he couldn’t recall his name exactly) could do it, or would know of someone.

We duly tracked Eric down a few days later and, yes, he could do it, but as he was now retirement age, he’d need to work with a builder friend.

We arranged for the work to be done during early October and closed our booking calendar accordingly. The builders came and the work progressed and, taking advantage of the place being empty, we decorated inside and arranged the electrical testing.

When the electricians came, they’d both worked with the builder and Eric on jobs around the Peak District years ago and half the morning was spent reminiscing about clients & customers and really memorable barn conversions. When the log-shed was finished and we tidied up, we stacked the wooden crates the stone roofing came in, ready to smash them up for firewood. Within half an hour another neighbour of ours came to ask if we could let him have these crates for some purpose on his smallholding and shortly thereafter they were gone.

In the countryside, everything has a use and there is always someone nearby who can re-use, recycle or re-adapt it for a new life.

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