Saturday, 27 December 2014

27th December 2014 - On the Subject of Cellars...

Thought for the day : "The most popular wine at Christmas is “Do I have to eat my Brussel sprouts?”

We almost had snow last night. The Book of Faces showed maps of weather fronts passing across the country. Friends posted pictures of snow laden ground. But nothing here.

When I say nothing, I mean there was wind and rain. The wind was pretty extreme and lying in the Bothy over night the van swayed and shook, reminiscent of lying in a canal boat. Better than lying in a tent!  The temperature was pretty low but the Wolf Blankets and duvets were welcoming, and there is something nice about being tucked up safe and sound while the tempest blows outside.

It is a little like sitting in front of an open fire while the rain hammers down upon the windows. Especially if you know that there is no reason to go out. There is food in the larder and booze in the cellar. It doesn't have to be a real cellar of course. Just a store for Wine.

Of course, not all cellars are what they seem!

Our last house was an interesting pile. The house was called "Old Surveyors" It had started as a series of Surveyor's cottages alongside the old market square or fairground called Cae Ffair. We always thought that it was Mary's Square because the Welsh for Mary ends up as Fair (pronounced "Vire") but the extra "F" showed that it was really the old market or Fair Ground.

Over the years, the little set of five cottages that formed a square with a washroom (which ended up in next door's garden) found other uses. One turned into the double garage. One ended up as a Granny Flat. Two others, nearest the remainder of the house were converted into a bathroom and kitchen.

This is all a little difficult to explain - so I drew some pictures...

The two on the right were in next door's garden. We understood that there was a listing on the washroom - but when it was later bought to turn into a nursing home, it got demolished very early.

So a small group of cottages, all single storey.

Now I don't know the dates - I could probably check them .. but I am not skilled in that area. I know some friends in Llanelli Historical Society who may well be able to fill in the details sometime in the future. Susie would be able to check the census to find when the road appeared..

But suffice to say that there was a group of cottages, and at some time, a terrace of houses was built along the road...

The house that we are interested in is No 6, as that was where we lived. Rumours tell us that at one time it was a bawdy house and boarding house for the local theatre and various artists had stayed there in the past, including some well know ones...including Dorothy Squires... But as the terrace was pushed along the road, it made sense to knock through from the back of No 6 into the first cottage to extend the living/sitting room. We have no idea at what date this was done!.

But by the time that we got into the house, the gap making the "L" shape of the building had been filled in with another two storey section.

When we decided to knock through ourselves, we found that this was a single brick thickness, and not a cavity wall extension, presumably put together as it could not be seen from the road at all!... We were sure it was completely illegal and against building regs - so we left it as it was!!

It looked quite unassuming from the front - but was deceptive in its size at the rear.
We took the eccentricity a step further when we decided to knock through a couple more walls to make this multi-occupancy building a family home - our proudest moment being when we decided to place a large wardrobe between two sections of the house - requiring a walk through the wardrobe to pass between the children's bedrooms....

But we were talking about the structure of the house...  The development of the building through its various stages meant that it was a structure of different levels...  The terrace at the front, including the "new" extension was all a standard two storey building. The living room was single storey, as was the kitchen to the rear. Then, as the bathroom was formed out of the next cottage, (access through the kitchen), there was a requirement to have a header tank to store and heat the water and for that reason another extension was put above  the bathroom.

Let me show with an example...

The aerial photography gives a glimpse of this but not very clearly...

It is just possible to see the raised section above the bathroom....

So, apart from recounting a very strange domicile.....  what is the relevance to the current festivities???

Well...  we were always confused by the strange decision to go from single to dual storey all along the house...

We worked out the reason though....  We decided that some drunken Irish Navvies probably built the house and that they read the blueprints upside down!!!

Therefore it should have been single storey all the way along, with a cellar!!

And so it was, that the room above the bathroom, which doubled as Susie's sewing room, (and we will not mention the ghost - that is a story for another time), and so it was that this room was always known and referred to as the "Cellar"

Many were the confused visitors who were told that they would be going into the cellar and opening the door in the kitchen expected the stairs to go down!!!  Not in our house !!!

Our cellar was upstairs, and just as good a place to keep wine as any other cellar thank you very much..

And with those few words, and a short explanation of one of the stranger houses in Llanelli,  I shall pop out to the Bothy, which for the purposes of our visit is currently doubling as the current cellar, and has the wine cooling in the boot storage.  No Chateau 41 on this occasion, I think it will be Isla Negra - well it was on offer !! And we wouldn't want to share the good stuff!!

Cheers !!!

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