Tuesday, 23 November 2010

the photos!

This is what we inherited when we bought the house. That is actually York stone, and the mantel shelf is a solid piece of slate. All saved to be re-used somehow.

Stage one of dismantling complete.

Found this in the next layer of brick?

Stage two

Damn Jackdaws!


We took the plywood arch down.

And found a scrap of amazing wallpaper behind it.

And the finished result!

Still need a fire surround making and installing, but we now have a much improved room. Carpet down, furniture in, bookshelves and most importantly a lovely warm woodburner. We've started spending our evenings in here again now instead of the living room!

the dining room saga.....

The original plan was just to open up the fireplace and have a woodburner installed. We spoke to a builder in June who said he could do it but not until the beginning of Sept......which we thought was OK. Then it started to be a case of 'well i'm quite busy'.....so I got my Dad to come along and knock out the old fireplace so the builder could just come in and do the installation.
BUT........he kept giving us the runaround. I was annoyed because i'd rather he'd just been honest and said he was tied up with a job and couldn't do it. It was the endless 'i'll call you' or 'i'll drop in tonight after work' and then doing neither that really got me mad.
So we ended up getting a different firm to look at the job (through a friend).......and suddenly the job got bigger. We decided to just get the whole room finished.
So we had a bricky in to tidy up the fireplace and put a hearth stone in. He was a right grumpy sod!
Then the plasterers came in. They knocked back one really messy wall and fresh plastered that and they plastered the chimney breast too. Plaster dust gets everywhere. I'm not a stranger the to the mess of building works but honestly that was just awful. Still finding layers of plaster dust on stuff now! (no comments about my housekeeping, if you don't mind). The plasterers were good guys. I liked them.
Then a joiner to fix the ceiling. He was a good lad too.
Then scaffold went up. The guys came to install the woodburner. They got up the scaffold. They came back down the scaffold.

'We can't do it'


Chimneys not safe. So. More scaffold. More delays. Wait for bricklayer to come. More money.

An argument about the bricklayers pricing policy and our project manager not being entirely clear about that. We resolved it. Not entirely to my satisfaction but that's because i'm a miserly sod!

So on the 19th of November, considerably later in the year than we anticipated our woodburner was finally installed!

*big cheer*

I have to mention here that independently of this work we had a couple of other builders in to do some odd jobs and finishing off and they were a pleasure to have here. Well, mostly. Cos if Cookie reads this I don't want him getting all self-important.
Will post the photos in another entry because it will be easier.


We've said sad goodbyes to two beloved four legged companions in recent weeks.

Our beautiful Kelly-dog.

She was a grand old lady. In August 2009 we very nearly lost her when she collapsed one morning. We rushed her to the vet and after an emergency op she came home with us and made a remarkable recovery. What we discovered as a result of this episode was that Kelly had a very aggressive form of cancer and we were told to expect her to die within a couple of months. Well, never one to conform - she just kept on going. She still loved her walks, still scooted off to munch on fresh horse droppings or find some rotten old bait that a fisherman had left on the bank. She even still eyed up the ducks and swans on the drain, threatening every so often to dive in.......something we discouraged because she was never in a hurry to get out again! and of course the inevitable wet dog smell that would invade the house afterwards!

She actually had three types of cancer diagnosed and it was one of the others which eventually grew back, a lump on her belly. The first one we had removed, but she didn't cope so well post-op so we decided that really was the last time we intervened. The lump did eventually grow back, though wasn't bothering her. In her last days she went downhill quite quickly, physically but not mentally. Her back legs seemed to get weak and the lump suddenly got much bigger. She couldn't lie down and get comfy, and could no longer get up into her favourite armchair. It's the little things like that which make you realise it's time.
That last day we took the dogs for a walk in the morning and she seemed to enjoy it, though she had slowed down considerably. That afternoon we took her to the vet and in our hearts we knew she wouldn't be coming back :(
So it was. I stayed with her while the vet carried out the last act of kindness. So very sad, to hold her in my arms and feel her leave. It was sad but peaceful.
We brought our girl home and laid her in her basket, where she stayed overnight so our other dog would hopefully have some sense that she had gone. The next morning we laid her to rest in our garden and eventually we will plant a tree over her.

I don't have a photo of my other dog on this computer, so if i track one down i'll add it at a later date. Jarvis is the dog that I owned with my ex, my son's father. I got a text at tea-time on Sunday to say that Jarvis had died that afternoon, peacefully. I was obviously upset. Not only because it was so soon after losing Kelly but also because Jarvis had been such a big part of my life. He was the first dog i ever owned. We got him as a pup, and knew both his parents. He was bloomin' hard work at times - a real chewer. He chewed the tongues out of my first ever pair of Dr Marten boots, and had a taste for books *argghh*. He dug the foam out of a succession of old sofas that we had. When I was pregnant with Bam it became obvious that he was too much for me to look after (and would be while i had a small baby) and so the very hard decision was made that he had to go, though thankfully for us my ex's parents agreed to take him in. Letting him go was one of the hardest days of my life, even though i got to see him most days anyway I still felt like i'd let him down. Actually he was in his element down there - loads of space to roam in and a constant stream of visitors who adored him.
My beautiful dog returned to the ex some time ago, when he started to slow down. He'd become an old man in the last few months and I suppose his death was a release for him, but I'm sad I never got to say a proper goodbye.

Both these dogs lived to the grand old age of 14. Both of them had happy lives. They both brought joy and comfort to me in different ways and at different stages on my life and I shall miss them both very much.

So now we just have Ozzie.

What can i say? He's become my shadow since we lost Kelly. They've always been together and so I think he's finding it difficult not having his companion. This dog has defied the odds really in getting to the age of 10......his back legs aren't so good after a serious back problem some years ago and now he's started to drag his feet more so we've bought boots to stop him cutting his toes, though it's going to take some adjusting and fiddling to get them to last! He's a real character, typically labrador (he's absolutely starved, y'know......*rolleyes*) and he is the friendliest dog, he wants to say hello to everyone!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


So....they came to install the woodburner on Friday. Blokes got on with erecting the scaffold. The guys arrived to install the woodburner. The installation guys got up on the roof to start putting the chimney liner in and then i got a knock on the door.

'er.....we can't do it I'm afraid'


The chimneys are not safe. In fact they are leaning quite a lot, and when Oz went up on the scaffold (and how brave! he really doesn't like ladders or heights) he could see just how unstable they were. So yet another delay. The scaffold guys are back tomorrow to put some more up around the chimney stacks, then hopefully later in the week the brickie will be here to start dismantling and then re-building the stacks. The firm who are installing the woodburner currently say they can't do it until the 19th November! We're pushing them to find time to do it earlier. We're also not too happy about paying the call out fee for last week as their engineer really should have queried the chimneys stability when he did the site visit a couple of weeks ago.

We originally got a builder in to look at this job in June and it was supposed to be finished by the end of Sept. That builder let us down *grr* and so here we are in November and still waiting.

Oz has been getting on with painting the walls and I'm really pleased with the colour I chose for the chimney breast. Carpet will be going down on Thursday *fingers crossed* and then at least i can get the furniture back in!

So, still waiting.

Thursday, 28 October 2010


will do some blog posts with photos over the next week as the building work has been moving along on the house. Whole place is covered in plaster dust.

And i never want to hear the words 'there may be a problem' and 'structural' used in the same sentence again.

Been a good summer, lots of festivals, lots of good times with friends and now winding down to the calmer time of Autumn and Winter, though with a spirited 5 year old in residence life is never really calm!

Friday, 23 April 2010

The Good Life

Ah yes.....the blog. This bloomin' thing stops and starts doesn't it. I just rarely have the inspiration to write. But today has been a great day and so i decided to just sling the words at the screen. Maybe if i try and do a weekly blog it won't be so daunting as trying to get on daily?

So today......the weather this afternoon has been absolutely glorious and we have spent time out in the garden. With a late spring everything is going in much later than usual. Partly due to lack of motivation I must admit, but then having got up to ice on the car windscreen two days in a row i think that may have been a blessing in disguise.

The garlic that went in at the end of last year is growing really well. There won't be nearly enough to be self-sufficient on it until next year's crop, but will probably do us six months. I've got spinach, beetroot and carrots looking promising as well as some salad crop. Some things i sowed never germinated, and so i have got boughtens......the aubergines didn't manage even one :( but it's the first time i've tried them.
I've finally got the potatoes in today......really, really late. Have been waiting on the ground being prepared for them though. We've had a lot of clearing to do in this garden to make space for growing food and so I think next year we will do much better.

I heard a rustling in the greenhouse and discovered that we have a critter! A little mouse.....Bam was creeping quietly in and whispering to it 'We won't hurt you, it's ok you can come out'......so we're going to have to dispose of this little creature when he's not here. I can't afford to have my crops nibbled by country mouse!

Bam has started making a Dalek out of a box and some bits and bobs he found in the shed. He has a slight obsession with Dr Who.....i shall photograph this delightful creation when it is finished and post the picture here.
He's all tucked up in bed now......Oz is cooking a curry and I am sat in front of an open fire (it's been very chilly in the evenings) with a glass of home-made sloe gin and tonic warming my insides.

It really is a Good Life :)