After weeks of trying to pretend an Egyptian rug on a concrete floor and an Ikea table and chairs left by the last owners were comfortable and/or cozy, today I made some progress in the cottage-ification of the interior of Drovers. Naturally I went to Laura Ashley, my first visit since the mid-eighties when my mother took advantage of the favourable exchange rate to festoon my sister and me in drop-waist florals from Sloane Square. (Another artifact from that era, a navy blue Burberry wax coat, is totally apropos of my new Gloucestershire life. That it is moth bitten just makes it more so). I left with orders placed for one antiqued brass-effect reading lamp, a saddle brown leather couch and footstool, and a pair of red and beige gingham checked curtains. The floral drop-waists with lace collars have been retired, but my cottage will soon be clad in the interior design equivalent.
Next was a visit to the antiques arcade. This Aladdin’s cave of fox hunting prints and horse brasses is far more ‘curated garage sale’ than Christie’s, which is just as well given the damage from my Laura Ashley haul. I left with a hammered brass coal scuttle and some Vanity Fair prints for under £70. I am slightly worried the print depicting a turbaned Punjabi polo player might be construed as racist, but the companion print of a mustachioed, barrel-torsoed Englishman captioned “I Say” looks equally ridiculous. I should be more worried our cottage is going to look like a pub.
Near the Risdales we discovered a gigantic reclamation yard, a paradise for newbies like us striving for the Cotswold look. Outside is a vast graveyard for stone ornaments – toadstools, orbs, troughs, and bird baths – that are the garden gnomes of the Cotswolds. I had been warned that you can tell weekenders by the reproduction coach lights hanging on their barn conversions. I suspect a disused wagon wheel in the garden sends the same message, but I got one anyway (the garden is fenced in, protecting my cliché from public scorn).
Inside the proprietor produced a pock marked length of elm we’ll turn into a mantle piece, and a ledge and brace pine door for the kitchen. I noticed the 1930s suitcase, the one I’ll decorate with replica vintage luggage labels from The Pompidou Centre and plop in that empty spot underneath the stairs, as I was paying for the other stuff. Better throw in the ink jars to decorate the chest of drawers and a handful of dusty hardbacks for good measure.