After that first stay, I visited The Long Cottage regularly. In fact, I was there so regularly that at some point Simon asked me if I wanted to leave there my surf boards – an offer too kind to refuse. Simon and Karine have cleverly, and beautifully, designed and renovated their long cottage in a way that allows them to run a portion of it as B&B, but at the same time maintain their own independent living space. Their spare bedroom became “my” bedroom, and before I knew it, I had a second home. After all, my mum taught me that fiends are the family we chose for ourselves.
Last summer I mentioned to Simon and Karine that, although I really appreciated their friendship and generosity, I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable. I never take advantage of people and situations, and really felt I wanted to give something back to them. My intention wasn’t to buy my presence in the Long Cottage, I simply wanted to find a way to thank them for being so kind and welcoming to me.
Simon mentioned he and Karine had been thinking for some time about building a shed or a summer house in the garden. I needed a place to sleep. A wonderful idea was starting to take shape. I immediately offered to buy the material, but then Karine confessed she was concerned about the amount of work involved in building one from scratch. So we looked into other options, and while talking to two of their friends, we discovered they also had been looking into buying a shed of some sort. We had a plan. We both bought a cabin from the same company.
It’s November 2011 and we are all excited to start assembling the cabin. From left: Simon, Phil, and Chris holding the little Reuben.
Phil taking pride of his assembling skills. Master Simon is behind the camera.
I obviously wasn’t there during winter so we left the cabin settling into its new home. We waited till I went back in May to paint it. We thought that a sage green would have allowed it to blend nicely with the idyllic surroundings. Simon gets his hands and face…sage green.
This is how lush it looks now. What do you think?
It’s obviously very basic inside, but it’s cozy. I have electricity and even a wash basin!
It’s amazing having the freedom to escape to a place like this and actually be in it. In a tiny home in the countryside, unencumbered by endless household clutter, you are free to plunge into the landscape. You really are in the landscape, not looking out at it.
It’s my very special creative place. I just feel I belong there more than almost every proper house I lived in. It allows me to put distance between my own personal dimension and the rest of the world. A part from when I taught snowboarding, every other job I had, never reflected who I really was. We all like to feel we are doing good at work, especially that we are remaining reasonably true to our own nature and beliefs in the work we do. There is acute discomfort in the notion we are different people inside and outside work. Although that is something I learned to deal with, I always felt the need to put the greatest possible distance between me and the type of work I used to do, driven and inspired by the desire to escape to somewhere slower, purer, and quieter.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence I ended up in a place like this. Idyllic places have the power to unlock something inside. I breathe better when I am here, my mind is clearer. Although despite Simon’s amazing woodworking and general building skills I haven’t really learned much from him – my interpretation of DIY is Destroy It Yourself – I think I even write better when I am here: words become living beings and tend to have a life of their own.
I think more people should try to spend time in a place like this, away from the clutter of modern society, and no space to accumulate the scraps that come with it. Technology has allowed us to downsize our lives without giving up much. With the addition of an internet connection, technology means solitude need no longer entail utter loneliness.