A picture's worth a thousand words, they say - with this in mind I've put together a few photos of the house now done, and a few of the renovation work as it was going on (for hardcore DIY types only). This link will take you there.
The house is pretty much finished, and it's been 'christened' - friends have come to stay and also my brother and sister-in-law and my niece, Nell. My work here is done! Someone close to me called the house my Sistine Chapel, which made me laugh. At least Michelangelo eventually finished his project.
The last six months have been a mainly solitary, personal journey, and not always an easy one. I've had to keep faith in my vision of things as they could be, even in the deepest darkest moments, in the strange half light before the dawn of the newly renovated house. The aspirations I had, back in January, regarding making this an eco-house have only partly been realized. The idea of solar panels and 'greener' energy fell by the wayside, I'm afraid, but it's given me a better idea of what is possible in those areas. I've mused on developing more 'real' eco-awareness in a previous post (so don't worry, I'm not going to revisit those thoughts). And it's nice to have a bit of carpet and a few mod cons, in this rainy corner of the island.
The real lessons in undertaking something like this, of course, lie in what they tell you about yourself. In that respect, I actually feel OK about it all. I've had great help from all sorts of people, friends and family, government agencies and decorating gurus, even down to the welder in his toolshed in Caernarfon who made a canopy for my fireplace (and only charged me a few treats for the puppies that run round his yard, chewing anything not made of metal and dodging the sparks from his blowtorch). For these things, much gratitude.
But I also think I've shown some determination, a willingness to learn and try new stuff, a certain sullen resourcefulness. I've not been afraid to f--- up, or to break a nail or two. My life's changed a bit now, I'm working like a regular person and just living day to day, enjoying the house and what's left of this summer, and taking it from there.
Two quotes to end on. One from Neil Ansell, who wrote a brilliant book about living alone for five years in a remote (much remoter than my) Welsh cottage:
'Solitude embraced is the opposite of loneliness.'
The other's from my brother Toby, whose spirit is still very much in this house (and lots of other places). He said once, when someone asked him what he was doing in North Wales: 'Just living. That seems to take up most of my time.'