Happy 2023 from Mrs Smith’s Cottage! January events, volunteering information and more. Catch up with January’s news here.
Mrs Smith chose, actively, not to invest in aspects of modern technology. Preferring instead to continue the old ways of doing things for so long as they remained functional, both practically and in terms of meeting her needs. This attitude doesn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, mean that she was completely against all of the many developments in technology that occurred during her lifetime.
She invested in the advancements which she saw as practical or useful to her everyday life, either making something significantly easier or doing something she wouldn’t otherwise be capable of. Electricity was first installed in the cottage in the 1930s, less than 10 years after she bought the property, this addition (early for rural Lincolnshire) gave her the light she needed to continue working and entertaining into the evenings and allowed her to make the most of practical time saving gadgets. A great example of this is the electric wash boiler that she had installed in the 1940s, much larger than the boiler in the range it was able to produce a greater volume of hot water in a shorter time. Taking some of the hard work out of Mrs Smith’s wash days.
The most ‘modern’ and ‘luxurious’ piece of technology Mrs Smith owned was a television, a small 1970s portable unit which she moved between the kitchen and her bedroom to meet her viewing needs. Visitors often find the television to be an unexpected discovering in a cottage which looks as if little has changed since the 1930s, yet it is a good example of Mrs Smith’s relationship with technology. Ever since the mass ownership of TV sets Mrs Smith was visiting friends most evenings to enjoy a wide variety of programmes, after over 10 years of ‘borrowing’ from friends it was realised that this box of technology was a necessity within her home meeting a need for entertainment which could not otherwise be met.
In our present age of climate change and resource scarcity Mrs Smith’s attitudes to consumption provide a gentle and realistic framework to help us all do better. We have put together 3 questions Mrs Smith might have considered when looking to buy a new item, questions which ask you to consider your genuine need for an item encouraging you to buy less without missing out.
These questions, inspired by Mrs Smith’s ethos, are not going to apply to every situation. They are designed to help you be more mindful about about the items you own, like Mrs Smith was.
Can I continue without this product?
A simple, and very straight to the point, start. Give yourself time to make do without, you will quickly realise if the item is a need or a want. For example Mrs Smith never invested in a fridge because her pantry met her food storage needs without any further input.
Can the item be borrowed?
There are some items which you simply don’t use very often. Rather than buying Mrs Smith would have looked to her local community to see if the item could be borrowed from friends and neighbors to complete jobs around the house. In todays world powertools, lawnmowers, and breadmakers are great examples of items which are generally not used everyday and could be shared by multiple households, through family or neighborhood links, saving everyone involved space and money.
A commercial example of this can be found in London at the Library of Things where people can rent the items they need, saving space within homes and reducing their personal impact on the planet.
Developing a borrowing network can be a challenge but if you start with local friends and family word of mouth will allow a rich network to grow, and with social media it is easier than ever for this network to communicate, plan, and share.
Can I repair this item?
Obviously, this question only really applies to faulty or broken items. Repair would have been Mrs Smith’s first port of call and in Navenby’s past there would have been several businesses which specialised in the repair of technology.
In todays world repair is not always possible. Many cheaply produced items cannot be easily repaired and some items, such as mobile phones or computers, have an almost planned obsolescence. However, with some online research you might be surprised by the number of things you can get repaired locally.
Mrs Smith’s Cottage Garden is beloved by staff, visitors, and volunteers. With its bright fresh greenery in the springtime which erupts into glorious colour through the summer creates a relaxing space for all to enjoy. While being a joy for humans, the cottage garden allows all kinds of pollinators to truly thrive.
What makes Mrs Smith’s Garden so ideal?
There are a lot of plants packed into the Mrs Smith’s garden, all working together to make the most of light, water, and pollinator attention.
This close planting allows caterpillars and larvae to move easily from plant to plant allowing them to find fresh food while providing places to hide from predators.
Mrs Smith loved flowers and was always delighted to add new finds or varieties to the cottage garden. Having a rich diversity of plant species mixing herbs, wildflowers, and classic cottage garden bedding plants supported a greater diversity of pollinator species, including specialists.
Mrs Smith was able to have something in bloom throughout the year, which is not an easy feat by any stretch, and we are still working to do through our national lottery heritage fund project. Having food sources for pollinators throughout the year is often key to their ongoing survival, especially in early spring when bees first start to emerge.
What can you do at home?
Pollinator friendly species
There are lots of different pollinator friendly species to choose from when you want to start a pollinator friendly garden. We have split out suggestions into different seasons, and advice new gardeners to select at least 1 species for each season giving support to pollinators throughout the year.
Snowdrops, Ivy, Crocus, Mahonia, Rosemary, Celandine, Winter Aconite
Apple Tree, Daffodils, Alliums, Lungwort, Cowslip, Forget Me Not
Lavender, Comfrey, Foxgloves, Phacelia, Chives, Strawberry
Dahlias, Wallflowers, Asters, Honeysuckle, Abelia, Sedum
Leave a little mess
A perfectly neat and tidy garden removes a lot of the shelter which is required by pollinators. Allowing a little mess into your garden is the easiest way to create environments where species can rest, lay eggs, and hide from predators.
Leaving leaflitter, and any other fallen plant material, in place is an easy place to start. It will provide a home for a wide range of different insects the ideal place for them to nest or find shelter, this could be done across the garden or simply select a quiet corner to leave messy.
No Mow May! Neat and tidy lawns don’t provide a lot of opportunities for pollinators to feed or shelter. Reducing how often you mow your lawn and allowing plants like daisy, dandelions and clover to bloom makes a big difference to pollinators. This is especially important in the spring when pollinators are first starting to emerge and look for food.
We’re open to guests on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Mondays, 12pm-4pm. Mrs Smith’s door was always open to drop-in visitors, and so are we! Due to the small size of the building we recommend booking your visit in advance to avoid disappointment.
Our ‘Be More’ events programme continues into July; we’re sharing practical everyday skills inspired by Mrs Smith’s low waste lifestyle and helping us understand seasonal eating, food production, and waste disposal methods to make more sustainable choices.
Have a look at the ‘Be More…’ webpage for more information and see the list below for July’s exciting events!
The Navenby Heritage Trail
Last month we launched the new Navenby Heritage Trail. Starting at Mrs Smith’s Cottage the trail takes you on a circular route of the historic village, where you can find date stones embedded into the pavement that have been designed by artist-in-residence Nicki Jarvis.
The trail booklet explains the significance of each date to Navenby. What a great way to mix heritage, art, nature, and exercise!
Upcoming events in July
Mrs Smith’s Wallpaper – our new exhibition – Running until 2nd Sept
Pull back the layers and explore the changing decorative schemes in the cottage in this exhibition by the Lincoln Conservation team thanks to our Heritage Lottery Funding.
Anthotype Workshop – Fri 8 July, 6-8pm, Tickets £8.50
Create your own anthoype prints using Mrs Smith’s Cottage and Gardens as inspiration.
Big Butterfly Count – Sat 15 July, 12-4pm, standard entry fee applies
Join the Big Butterfly count at the Cottage and take a copy of our butterfly trail, with tips and ticks for creating a butterfly friendly space at home.
Small Space Gardening – Mon 12 July, 11am-12pm, tickets £5
Join the Sage Gardener team as they help you to make the most of any available growing space. This talk is ideal for families, beginner gardeners or those who don’t know where to start with their own garden projects.
Family Guide to an Edible Garden – Tues 29 July, 11am-12pm, FREE
In this workshop Hannah Sylvester will be sharing a family friendly guide to some unexpectedly edible plants. Helping you to make a nibble pot, letting you try the plants as you go along!
Save the date! Coming up in August…
Rag Rug Workshop: Tues 2nd
Lino Printing: Fri 5th
Plant Dye Workshop: Thu 11th
Wash Days: Sat 20th & Sun 21st
Seasonal Plate Talk: Fri 26th
Come and say hello at Heckington Show!
Back for a full two-day weekend, the 153rd Heckington Show will be on 30th and 31st July, and we’re excited to be there!
Find us in the NKDC marquee, where you can have a go at some great family activities; join in with our vintage Wash Day, collect some free #BeMore tips and goodies, and much more!
Welcome to the team, Sophie!
We’re so excited to introduce Sophie, the new Heritage Assistant at the cottage.
Sophie has a love of heritage and we’ve loved having her here at the cottage for her first month. Pop along during our opening times to say hello!
We also really value the feedback you leave us on Trip Advisor – if you’ve visited us recently please click here to leave us a review – it’s great for us to see how we’re doing!