Newsbrowsing blog

We are delighted to welcome You and Your students back in November 2021.

Our competition is open from 1st November.

„The fallen leaves in the forest seemed to make even the ground glow and burn with light”
— Malcolm Lowry, October Ferry to Gabriola

Exercise 5 — The Well-Woven Home

Related uploads


Read the following text about an old stone cottage in Ceredigion and decide what verb forms should be used in gaps 1-10.

The Well-Woven Home

From Country Living February 2016

An old stone cottage in Ceredigion has been lovingly restored to create the perfect rustic showcase for its owner’s collection of traditional Welsh blankets

Despite its bold terracotta facade, you could easily miss Jane Beck’s stone cottage if you were winding your way through the hills and valleys of west Wales. Sitting high above a single track lane, equidistant between the beautiful Breacon Beacons and the coastline of New Quay and Aberaeron, the property together with a scattering of other traditional dwellings .......... (1. almost totally hide) by dense woodland.

The five-bedroom house was originally a single-storey, two-room structure built in the 1850s, and was virtually derelict when Jane first visited. „I fell in love with the landscape, really – it was reminiscent of where I .......... (2. grow up) in Berkshire 40 years ago,” she recalls. „The building was in terrible state, though. Both gable ends were falling away, you could put your arm through a hole in the bedroom wall and there was no water supply or bathroom.”

.......... (3. Undeter) by the amount of work involved, Jane moved here from Reading in 1997 to give her now grown-up children (Timothy, Angharad, Ceinwen and Ieuan) a true country childhood. Over the past 20 years, she .......... (4. renovate) the building to create an original family home. Inside, low ceilings and 18-inch-thick walls lend a sense of seclusion and modern life feels a million miles away. Original features, such as the red and black quarry tiles downstairs, .......... (5. preserve) wherever possible, while the whitewashed stone walls form the perfect backdrop for her vintage furniture and lighting, as well as her incredible collection of colourful Welsh blankets for which the local area .......... (6. renown). In every room, the mismatched patterns and textures introduce character and charm. „I change the blankets and cushions around every few months so the colours suit the season – it’s much easier than repainting,” Jane explains.

With a background in social history as well as a passion for local crafts, she has become the leading authority on Welsh blankets, and now supplies contemporary and antique textiles around the globe. In 2014 Jane even received a commission from NATO when the UK was hosting the annual summit in Newport – President Obama and the Secretary-General .......... (7. each give) one of her expertly reproduced pure-wool, heritage-pattern Welsh blankets.

The success of the business has paid for the house .......... (8. stabilise and extend), even though, 18 months after the move, Jane became a single parent and had to tackle the renovations on her own. „The lean-to had been taken down,” she explains, „and was being replaced with a two-storey extension with two extra bedrooms and a bathroom, but I was left with a half-finished building with a flimsy polythene roof and no windows. I got a job in a fish factory and spent every penny .......... (9. the roof fix) before working down the list of things that needed doing to sort out the lack of heating and dated wiring.”

A couple of years later, Jane’s luck finally began to turn: she received a local grant to help pay for pointing repairs, replacement windows and a septic tank. She also met her new partner, who had moved from Nottingham for a fresh start. Trevor, who works for a local mental-health charity, has since shared her vision and the workload to transform the old house into a comfortable family home while retaining its authentic character and traditional charm.

The most recent developments .......... (10. mastermind) by Jane and Trevor’s neighbour Alan Bailey, a talented builder and carpenter who made the solid wooden units in the kitchen, which are topped, unsurprisingly, with Welsh slate. „He also matched the design of an existing dresser to create floor-to-ceiling storage in the dining area,” Jane adds. Along with the renovations, the furniture and furnishings have evolved as opportunity and finances have allowed. Jane loves antiques fairs and flea markets and often picks up individual pieces for the house at these rich sources of vintage treasures. Her company now has its own specially woven cloth, which has been used all round the house, including the upholstery for the Parker Knoll chairs in the front room.

„I love the house. I know every single stone, every wonky bit (and there are many) and every thread of every blanket,” she says. „After all the hard work, I’m finally enjoying the peace and quiet that drew me here all those years ago.”

To complete these exercises registration and login is required.

Related exercises