Pulling the rug from under an unruly family

Life is stressful in our house. If I’m not tripping over shoes, toys and children, I have to remember to shut doors, Colditz-style, every time I leave a room. If I don’t, I’m likely to have little presents left for me by the cats and dogs – usually of the kind that if it were left on the path, a fine would follow.

So last week I declared war on the family. Old clothes were taken to the charity shop, toys and other unwanted items were packed into boxes for the next car boot sale on March 17, Kindles and Wii’s were threatened with the bin if they weren’t picked up and I made a very emotional decision to take a 30-year-old rug to an auction house in Carlisle.

It’s a Nain rug from Iran and is stunning. But that’s the problem: a rug of this quality is not meant to be on first name terms with children, pets, husbands and wellies. It’s meant to be admired and walked around, not on! And certainly not by pets and children! This beautiful blue and cream rug was stained with the contents of a tea cup, spots of make-up and various other marks. So we went off to Carlisle, leaving early as we planned to get back in time for lunch at Marrbury Smokehouse, Carsluith. We’ve been to Marrbury a few times, stopping off for coffee or lunch on the way to Dumfries, but I never had a chance to meet owners Vincent and Ruby until Thursday. What a lovely couple. I haven’t had such a good laugh in ages, and like me Ruby loves Hendricks gin. Ruby and Vincent still fish in the traditional way on the Cree using a net and coble, a tradition carried out by the Marr family since 1890.

Marrbury is a leading supplier in the area for smoked salmon, duck, venison and cheese, and every part of the smoking process from the catching to the packing is carried out by the couple. Their products are in hot demand by chefs, royalty and movie stars and, although I may not be any of those, I certainly came away feeling well and truly stuffed.