Thursday, 4 September 2008

Junk shop addiction . . .

Above is a plaque in memory of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge who lived at the cottage below, for three years. Sadly when we arrived, the cottage wasn't open - we'd have had to come back at the end of the week (by which time we were home anyway!)

Coleridge was born in Devon in 1772, and was a friend of the Romantic poet Wordsworth - indeed they formed the Romantic movement together. One of ten children, Coleridge (the son of a vicar) was a precocious reader and by the age of 6 had already devoured Belisarius, Robinson Crusoe and Philip Quarll and taken great delight in the tales of the Arabian Nights.

During 1797 and 1798, Coleridge was living in this cottage, and here is penned his famous opium-fuelled epic, Kublah Khan. In his defence he did as many did in his time, and took Laudenum for toothache and neuralgia (sadly, it did for Branwell Bronte too, though he was also propped up the bar at his local up in Haworth!) Whilst writing this particular poem, Coleridge was famously interrupted by the "Person from Porlock" and one gathers he would cheerfully have murdered the man for his interruption. By this time, his dear friend Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy, had rented nearby Alfoxton Park.

Coleridge was considered a "giant amongst dwarfs" by his contemporaries for his superb intellect and his talent. Besides being a poet, he was also a philosopher, and had great knowledge of and interest in law, morals, politics, history and he was a renowned literary critic. Established in Highgate for the latter part of his life, he died there in 1834.

A view along the little street in Nether Stowey where his cottage was situated.

My husband and I (gosh, I sound just like the Queen now!) have an addiction to junk and antique shops (and auctions and car boot sales and . . . . you get my drift?) When we were driving through North Devon on Monday afternoon we spotted a Junk Shop next to an Antique Shop at the side of the road, and of course, we pulled in to check it out. The prices were downright silly in the Junk Shop - the price they had on Belfast sinks and built around surrounds seemed surreal - especially when we built our own support, shelving, doors etc, got a new Belfast sink at a reasonably sensible price from Jewsons, and recycled a wonderful Victorian teak drainer from another junk shop on the way to Brecon and all for less than £200 . . . Anyway, we had a wander round and outside (in the rain) to look at the architectural section at the back. Then into a nice little Aladdin's Cave of bits and bobs. The substantial horse-drawn plough above must have ploughed a few acres in its time.

In one corner were a collection of Gig wheels, heavy cart wheels from a hay wagon and various other sundry wheels.

A view inside the antique shop. All sorts of goodies.

Fortunately nothing too tempting . . .

Though I would have loved this old cast iron pot for our bottom inglenook.

This old collar was so narrow only a donkey could have worn it. Inserted into the sides are two horns, which could well have been used to wind the reins around when at rest.

I would have loved to bring this old cast iron and enamel stove home for me, but we already have a lovely one to be brought into use in the botton inglenook. This was £750 too, so not enough of a bargain for us!

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