The Cottage Life


I was reading recently about a Northern Irish lady who lives in a 280 year old cottage without running water or electricity. She grew up in the cottage and still lives much in the way her grandfather did when he bought it in 1887. She cooks her bread on the open fireplace and hauls water from a nearby spring well for washing. I don't want to romanticize her lifestyle to a flowery fiction, rather than the hard-working reality it is; even she says in the article that Americans visit and expect her to be walking to the well in a long black skirt, but she's more practical in trousers. And I don't know what I would do without my Internet or the ease of modern electricity, or even modern stove top to cook on! I know the picture in my head is a romantic one; linen dresses and evenings reading by the fire...it doesn't factor in the cold of winter, the work of hand-washing, or the labour in general. Still a part of me persists in day-dreaming about that lifestyle. It reminds me of a Jack London novel; in Smoke Bellew (a very lively read) a young, soft newspaper columnist adventures to the Klondike basically on a dare. It's a struggle at first, he isn't accustomed to the rugged, outdoor lifestyle, but eventually he begins to flourish. His body is toughened and his mind is more challenged--which also reminds me of C. S. Lewis's The Great Divorce in which the narrator journeys towards Heaven but finds his body too ghostly and soft to deal with the beautiful, very solid landscape he comes to; his body is too accustomed to half truths that reality is too solid for him...Both books seem even more relevant in today's world of computer screens (which I'm not against, as 90% of my job involves a computer screen), we are less in touch with nature, let alone reality, than ever before. As hard as I know a lifestyle in an old cottage without electricity is, (and I'm not advocating we abandon all our modern advances, I like my modern medicine thank you very much) there's something about it that also feels right. But I as much as I enjoy the thought of throwing my laptop out a window, selling all my clothes, and learning how to live off the land, I doubt very much that I have the conviction to make that sort of lifestyle stick. I suppose I'll settle for enjoying my old home that has been updated with all the modern amenities and try to switch of my electronics a little more often--after all no one is forcing me to use my computer in my off hours...   


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9 comments:

  1. I don't think I'd ever survive in a cottage myself, although I do love the romantic notion of it. Have always been a city girl born and bred in Hong Kong, but maybe for a short visit one day, haha!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

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  2. I relate to this so much! There's such a dreaminess of older lifestyles but the reality often gets overlooked. I like a healthy balance of cute and old with realistic and new :)

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  3. Beautifully written! While the idea of it sounds so beautiful and romantic our day dreaming minds don't take all the hardships into account.

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    1. Yes, I think we forget too that people were excited for advances and new technologies and things that are designed to make life easier. People didn't want to keep living in cold houses without central heating (although I still know some people who do live like this!); their lives were improved by advances and now we're like "let's throw all of that away for a simpler life" and it's from a place of privilege that doesn't realize how hard it is to live that way when you don't have the choice of another way.

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  4. Your house is so cute! Love that dress too!
    xo
    www.laurajaneatelier.com

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  5. I totally get this, I watch things like The Good Life and think this is it! That is how life should be. But I'm not sure I could ever be entirely self sufficient. I love the quiet simple life but also a bit of modern, I couldn't be without my pinterest, bloglovin or instagram but once in a while its nice to shut them off and be present. I think for me I try to get the balance between the two and although I often fail it feels so great when I do shut off and spend an afternoon reading quietly in the sun or snuggling on the sofa knitting my cardigan.


    http://www.lifewiththeroofdown.com

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  6. This is very similar to how one has to get by when living in rural Ghana (unless you splurge for a hotel room with running water or live a nice home in the city) although most homes will have some electricity, water is hauled in from a well every morning and cooking is accomplished over small wood or coal stoves. As someone in a restaurant for running water and they'll take the pitcher out and create 'running water' for you outside. There is a certain zen to having to organize your life around these tasks, however in the end i just feel that it takes energy away from being able to focus and feel rested for work and learning, especially in the hot weather. The worse part is not having running water for toilets though :(

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  7. One of the reasons I stopped blogging was I moved into a new flat and we didn't get internet for three years. I would NOT like to live without running water/the washing machine/electricity, etc., and there were some major annoyances to not having internet (not wishing to check your bank account or order things online in insecure café wifi/not having access to Google maps), but I have to say I kind of miss those years now. The default upon going home was just reading and talking... a bit of a throwback to Victorian entertainments!

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