The Illusion of Cottage Life
It's not unusual to have guests at Roachside Cottage who live only a few miles away. It's prominent position in the landscape mean that it is known to everyone who frequents the outcrops and moors here and lots of local folk just want to come and "live the dream", if only for a couple of nights or so.
Earlier this week we had just such a family from Leek, all of 4 miles distant, but they had another reason to come and stay; One of them was actually born here, shortly before the Second World War and grew up in this little cottage with 7 siblings!
Of course, I just had to ask lots of questions and fill in the gaps in my knowledge about the place and what it was like to live here. We'll call her "Gran".
Her dad, Mr Plant (that's him in the picture) was a veteran of the Great War who survived 4 long years in the trenches of the Western Front, only to be seriously injured falling over the bridge in the village and ending up in the millrace.
Despite that, he fed the entire family from the garden - no mean feat 1100 feet above sea level.
There was no electricity. No water supply except from the trough into which the rainwater from the roof ran. When that ran dry, as it often did in the summer, water had to be fetched in a bucket from Spring Cottage - a round trip of more than 3/4 mile.
Life in a stone cottage on the edge of the moorland was a constant struggle against cold, the penetrating damp, the incessant invading mice which kept a team of semi-wild cats occupied - not to mention isolation & having to all squeeze into a space only 2/3 rds of what we have now.
A tough upbringing made for tough people. Gran's older sister died a couple of days ago at the age of 99 - how many of us raised in centrally heated homes with fitted carpets, bathrooms all mod cons will make it to that age?