Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Sunday, April 30, 2006

An exciting few days

And they certainly have been an exciting few days.

On Friday I was working at Psalter Lane in the morning. Psalter Lane is where we teach the art, photography, drama courses. I like it out there. The students are very, well -- arty! I'd gone up in the car, preparatory to driving out to Clay Cross to collect the house keys. On the way out of the main building at lunch time I thought that perhaps I'd better visit the loo before heading off to the wilds of Clay Cross and turned back. And was somewhat surprised to find, sat on a wooden chair in the foyer leading to the loos (and other things) a completely naked young woman!! Having her photograph taken. I assume for someone's portfolio. Not something you run across every day, even at Psalter Lane!

Anyway. I trundled off to Clay Cross to collect the keys. Had a potter about, since I was there. Was very, very Roston Vasey-ish. Quite scary. Left immediately and went home to await the return of The Builder from work. (Thought perhaps I should wait for him before inspecting the house!!)

There's rather more work to do than we had first thought. Little bits of tidying and decorating. The plaster mouldings will come off the walls in the lounge and dining room. We're also going to lift the carpet in the little porch at the front door. We don't intend to use the front door and I want to fill the porch with pot plants (a tiny, tiny conservatory!). A gentle inspection indicates that there are tiles under the carpet in the porch at least. They'll do for the pots to stand on! We want to put shelves in the alcoves in the lounge room (and box in the electricity meter). We also want to hack into the cellar which has been boarded over. Might as well see what's there and use it if it's usable (or can be made so). I've decided that I probably don't hate the oh-so-cutesy tiles in the kitchen with mice or dormice or whatever they are dancing around grasping flowers and things - or at least not enough to do anything about them, We're going to have to tile or lay lino down in the kitchen, though. The laminate boards have shrunk. But that's OK. I don't think we're going to do anything upstairs. Or, really, in the dining room.

So into the garden. This garden is a project! A bigger project than I had anticipated. I knew about the fish pond. I hadn't realised quite how many small conifers there were that will need to come out.. And I had no idea at all about the enormous expanse of concrete there was at the back of the garden. Humungous, it is. And it goes down for ever and ever. In parts it's well over 30 cm deep. Sigh. I *hate* concrete. With a passion. And absolutely in a garden. Complete waste of space -- you can't do anything with the ground. And this is going to be hideous to try and shift. In fact, practically impossible. In the middle of all this concrete there's a perfectly horrible three-tiered raised bed, formed with breeze blocks. Yurk! I rather fancy that had I noticed all that concrete we might easily not have bought the house. It is fortunate, then, that I didn't notice it, for it is a nice little house. Has views and everything!

I was at work yesterday and, in a quiet moment, ran the concrete problem past some people on a web gardening forum I visit. They came up with several interesting suggestions. The concrete is no longer a problem so much as an exciting challenge. I think we've decided to take out the breeze block raised bed and put in one framed by railway sleepers. In this we'll plant the fruit trees and shrubs and things. Then we're going to make wooden squares (probably not with railway sleepers as we'd have to sell the house to be able to afford them all) for raised beds around the concrete. We can grow salad and tomatoes and other things in them. Then, depending on how much it will cost, we're going to cover the rest of the concrete either with pebbles or, if we can possibly afford it, with bricks. The barbecue can sit there too. I'm getting quite excited about this garden project. I'm hoping to make a start tomorrow (it's a public holiday and I'm not working. Though I fear it might rain :-( ). If it doesn't rain, I'm hoping to make a start on clearing the bed by the back door. I want to put a herb bed in there.

Yesterday evening was lovely. I lit the barbecue! We sat outside until quite late and ate chops and chicken and baked potatoes thrown into the fire in foil and vegetables done in the barbecue "wok" we bought last summer and drank wine and planned and plotted. The barbecue makes quite a good wood fire when you've finished cooking on it. Wonder if we could install a fire in the new lounge room. I wonder what's behind those green tiles ..... Forgot to watch Dr Who -- and it was the K9 episode. Oh well, I'm just going to have to buy it when they release the DVD.

Back at work today. Fairly quiet so far. We're hoping to go out and have a measuring session around the concrete and inside the house this evening. I also want to draw up a plan. I shall also take "before" photos of the garden. Assuming it's not raining!

Whoops!!! There goes April

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Stand down finger crossing

Keys safely collected. House throughly inspected. Likewise garden. Lots and lots of things to do in the garden. Best get house sorted first though!!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I meant to tell you ...

We were loading up the car on Easter Saturday, ready to disappear to the Lakes, when Paul, the youthful owner of the Mudhut, stopped us. He was, he said, thinking of putting students into the Mudhut from August/September. Fine, said we, and disappeared off for our jolly walks.

Some days later the Estate Agent rang up and asked if she could come around to suss the place out as a potential student let. Fine, said we -- ordinarily I would clean fit to burst before a visit from the Estate Agent, but our squalor is as nothing compared with student squalor. Anyway, round she came and toured the house, escorted by The Builder. It seems that in her opinion the box room is much too small to house a student. This has caused considerable mirth amongst those I know who are, have been or live as students who think it's more than adequate (for a reduced room rate)!! It seemed the idea of student accommodation was to be abandoned.

A day or so later she rang back to say that the owner had been thinking and, rather than us signing the usual six months lease when it came up for renewal (you will gather from this that we haven't told them yet that we are intending to move out) he wanted us to commit to a 12 month lease to "regularise" the situation. This is very unusual in English renting circles (six month leases, followed by a monthly agreement are "regular") and we demurred. Strongly.

Then on Saturday we had two letters from the agency. One enquired whether we intended to sign a six months agreement, go to a monthly agreement or to terminate the agreement. The other was a letter saying that, as we were not willing to sign a 12 month lease the owner was intending to serve us notice to quit and would we please signal our agreement to leave by the time the lease expires.

Wonder which letter they really want us to act on?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! So far we have completely ignored both of them. Once we have the keys to the new house in our paws I shall go around and tell them what I think about all of this.

Although actually I won't, because really I think it's very funny. And quite ironic. But I shan't tell them any of that. Grin!!

On another matter. If the nation choked on its cornflakes when it woke up one morning to the news that John Major had once had an affair with Edwina Curry, it was positively put off its cornflakes when it woke to the news yesterday that John Prescott had been having an affair with a secretary. (For those who don't know who he is, think Kim Beaseley). I may never look a cornflake in the face ever again!!


Things are looking very, very good on the house front. The solicitor rang today to say that the contracts have been exchanged and he will ring on Friday to tell us when we can collect the keys. Might have to take Friday afternoon off to go on a key collecting adventure. I can't think of anything that could go wrong now -- unless the solicitor decides to take the money on holiday somewhere warm and sunny. But that doesn't seem likely, somehow.

I don't think The Builder will be able to go on the key collecting adventure. I think he might be working. After quite a dry period in the agency work stakes, they seem to have rediscovered him. There is the possibility coming up of some longer term work -- though it is in Wetherby. Still, Wetherby has quite a nice race course. He can watch the horsies running about if it all gets too much!!

Freyja is very excited. She finally got paid today. All this getting up and trundling into the city centre for 10:00 has eventually proved worthwhile! Mark, unfortunately, has yet to be paid. Bread and water for him for the next month, then.

We had quite a food and wine time last weekend. We went to Paul and Carol's place on Saturday evening for good food, lots of wine and much chatter. On Sunday we drove out to Tupton to inspect the house (from the outside). Couldn't inspect the garden. The side gate was locked :-( We have, though, found the allotments. Not more than a 5 minute stroll from the house. (I rang the allotment association man the other day and asked to be put on the waiting list. He says there isn't really one. He thinks there may be a plot vacant, otherwise there's just us waiting. I'll ring him again next week when we actually have the key in our hands and see what's what.) Then we drove across country to the Chatsworth farm shop and bought a side of lamb. And some veg. Then we went back to the Mudhut ready to roast the hind leg for a feast.

Since The Builder and I had been away when we would normally have the Easter feast, we had decided to have a St George's Day/Shakespeare's Birthday/Gareth's birthday feast instead. (Gaz's birthday is actually the 25th, but what's two days among friends?) Tabitha and Gareth came around mid afternoon, when she had finished work. We sat outside before the feast and ate twiglets and crisps in the sunshine. (I think spring has finally sprung, though there isn't a lot of time for it to be springlike before the summer kicks in!!) We had roast lamb. The veggies had a cream cheese and hazelnut roulade. We all had lots of potatoes and vegetables and much, much wine. It was a lovely afternoon. Did, though, lead to quite a sleepy evening!!!

That's it for now. Think happy key-collecting-adventure thoughts for me on Friday.

Oh -- and think sticking-pins-into-the-infidel thoughts for the rabble downstairs. It's the beginning of the final term, exams are approaching -- and the rabble are merrily and loudly hanging from the rafters on L2. Let them hang, say I. I shall completely ignore them until someone comes and complains about the noise.

Ah -- a manager has appeared from somewhere. She's going down to throw them out. Excellent. Wonder how successful she'll be

Thursday, April 20, 2006

House update

We've been to see the solicitor today. Walked into his office at 11:02. Walked out again at 11:09 having signed the sale contract, a stamp duty waiver form and the mortgage paper. He had rung the other solicitor. The Builder had handed over a cheque for a substantial amount of money (leaving his poor bank account quivering with starvation and deprivation). Didn't realise that you could buy a house in 7 minutes!

All being well we should get the keys on Friday week. Unless there shold be any last minute hicoughs. We will hope that there are none of them!

I'll keep you posted

Easter Meanderings

We've had a fantastic Easter break! Feeling fit and chirpy now -- ready to cope even with what the University might throw at us!

Good Friday was a beautiful day. We ambled about in the sunshine, pottered on the allotment, got the potato beds ready, bumbled about, then we went home for lunch and sat outside in the courtyard eating crumpets and drinking wine in the sunshine and generally pottering. Then Gareth came around in the evening for Good Friday Fish Pie (haddock, smoked haddock, salmon, prawns in a cheese sauce and topped with mashed potato. Was rather spectacular).

The adventures really started on Saturday though. We were off to the Lake District and had decided not to go up the motorway but to saunter up the A1 through the Dales and make our way across from up north. As we were trundling along I thought -- hmm; we'll be passing Barnard Castle at about lunchtime. Let's call in there. When we went to Teesdale last December we drove by it and thought it looked quite interesting. So we called in. And it's a lovely little town. There's a beautiful bridge, a fabulous ruined castle. Lots of pubs. Many shops. The sun shone. We had roast vegetable sandwiches and a walk in the castle grounds and collected the bridge. Was a good place to break the trip.

And so to Haweswater, across country. It was a beautiful drive, and Haweswater is in an isolated, beautiful, quiet corner of the Lakes. The only building on the lakeshore is the hotel. The road runs down one side of the lake to an RSPB bird reserve and there's nothing else. The other side only has walking tracks. The hotel ( was built in the 1930s. And, in fact, our stay there was very much a throw back to the walking parties that the well-to-do held in the late 20s and 30s. The decor was in keeping. There was a lounge with an open log fire, a bar with armchairs and little tables. The dining room was equally in keeping. There are no televisions or telephones in the rooms, and very little radio signal. And the family and staff were friendly and helpful. There were a cat and a dog as well. We had a self contained flat with and excellently equipped kitchen (nothing 1930s about the kitchen!) though I fear that the hot water boiler is probably original. The amount of hot water available was meagre indeed! The whole visit reminded me enormously of an Agatha Christie film -- but without the bodies!!

So we walked. We walked along the lake heading south for 3 or 4 miles, along some fairly precarious bits of path off the road, then some much better paths once you reach the reserve and head around the otherside. The only reason we didn't complete the whole 12 mile walk was because the weather was looking a bit dodgy -- and that we weren't properly equipped for it. No sandwiches. Not enough water. So we turned back and went back to the hotel for lunch and a pint. Then we went back out and walked along the road and some bits of track towards the dam and beyond. Another 8 miles, there and back. By the end of the day I had walked 29029 steps. Was sooooooooooo sad not to have reached 30000! Because it was Easter Sunday we dined in the restaurant. Fantastic food. The battered tuna strips I had for an entree were amazing. The steak was very tasty but rather over cooked for me. The chocolate and raspberry trifle (it was Easter Sunday, remember) was exquisite. Really, really enjoyed it. Was remarkably stiff going back up the stairs to the second floor flat, though!

On Monday we took ourselves to Buttermere. I felt we needed a nice gentle walk to iron out the kinks inherited from Sunday's 12 or 13 miles. I knew Buttermere was fairly gentle -- I've walked it with Jack. In fact, it was the last walk I ever did with Jack, after he had become unable to balance properly or to walk any great distance, and before he had his strokes. Anyway, my Pub Round Walks of the Lake District book said it had a degree of difficulty of 1! It is quite a pleasant walk, about 4.5 miles on good tracks. The guidebook says it takes about two hours. We only had just enough change for the car park for two hours. We frog marched it! Well, perhaps not quite frog marching, but we walked it in 1 hour and 40 minutes. Brisk then. And half way around we were hit by a 5 minute hail storm with tiny tiny hail stones bounding off my face. I really need a spring/autumn waterproof jacket. I've only got my winter waxed jacket and a raincoat. I've added it to my shopping list. In the meantime, the walk was fantastic. After the hailstorm had passed the sun came out again and Buttermere gleamed and it was all good and very invigorating. We moved the car to the pub car park and had lunch there. The Bridge Inn. Nice food. Nice atmosphere. Nice cider. A good find.

Then we went to visit Jack and Margaret. We drove across country, calling at Cleator Moor for evening supplies, and had a good mosey around more lakes and looked at lots of fells. I found Margaret and Jack without very much difficulty -- I haven't been in the Lake District since I was there for Jack's funeral which was 3 and a bit years back, so wasn't absolutely certain where they were. More or less where I'd left them, really. They seem very peaceful in their beautiful churchyard. We left them some carnations and went for a wander through the village. Gosforth hasn't changed much. The new owners of the house have renamed it Garden House and I'm not sure Margaret would think much to the state of the garden. But it is fairly early in the gardening season I suppose -- most gardens are still a bit untidy after the winter. And where there was a garden centre next door there is now an "estate" of very swanky houses. Apart from that, little else seems to have changed. All the shops are still there. Back in the car, we made our way back to Haweswater via Coniston and Windermere and cheerily ate chicken and veg and noodles washed down with lots of white wine. A mere 17000 steps today

We have seen so many birds. We've seen chaffinches and great tits and blue tits and dunnocks and robins and sparrows and geese and -- oh all sorts. And we have seen **EAGLES** There are one or two breeding pairs of eagles in England, based in the Lakes and we have seen one of them. On Easter Sunday evening, about half seven, soaring high above the fells, playing on the thermals. I've never seen wild golden eagles before, playing on the thermals. Was fantastic. We saw some deer too -- but they're not birds! Cute though. We didn't see any red squirrels, though I'm told there are some around Haweswater.

Yesterday we came home. But we made a day of it. But no walking. Am toooooo stiff in my hips and knees, Must walk more often! A touring day then. First we went to Hawkshead where we visited the Hawkshead clothes shop. We buy lots of our clothes from Hawkshead but usually over the internet. The alarming discovery was that they have a HUGE clearance floor upstairs. We seem accidentally to have come away with a big bag full of stuff. I've also got my hiking jacket. It came with a detachable fleece lining and is a proper waterproof jacket as against a raincoat. It's a pretty little village, is Hawkshead. We pottered about and looked at the shops and the houses and the various buildings. Had lunch in a smoke free pub -- it's so nice to walk into a pub which smells of beer and food and wood smoke and not all-pervasively of cigarette smoke. Then we took ourselves across country to Wensleydale, getting only slightly misplaced in Kendal -- followed the signs to the wrong Motorway junction and had to make our way back to where we wanted to be along tiny roads not all of which were marked on my map! A visit to the Hawes cheese shop to re-stock the freezer supplies. A potter in the market and in the food shops. A cup of tea. Then we came home. Only 10008 steps today -- but that's not bad when you think we were mostly in the car.

Lots of people tried to kill us today. Several cars strayed onto our side of the narrow country lanes. We came face to face with a bus at one point -- that was fun, though I don't suppose you could argue that the bus driver actually tried to kill us. We just had to squish up nice and tightly to the field hedge. But the lorry driver who drove right out of a station car park without even looking to see if we were there tried quite hard. Fortunately The Builder got us out the way. I'm not sure that that lorry driver did see us even then! Fortunately, however, we eventually managed to get home without mishap.

Was a great little holiday. My walking boots are now satisfactorily muddy. My legs are nicely tired. I didn't get to church on Easter Sunday but did manage to convince our little radio to work long enough for me to listen to the Radio 4 Sunday Service (I seem to have become one of their regular congregation members. I almost always listen and nearly always really enjoy it.) We've collected various bridges and a castle and loads of lakes. We had a fantastic Easter feast. The weather was mostly harmless. And I've seen eagles. What more could you ask for?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Hooray -- I think

This house thing is looking good. We've had a letter from the solicitor asking us to visit him next week to sign things and hand over squillions of pounds. Looking very good then. He's doing mining searches at the moment. Well, he isn't doing them personally but searches are being done to see if there are abandoned and scary mine shafts under the house. There will certainly be mine shafts of some sort because it's an old mining area.

You may all uncross the fingers of one hand. Keep the others crossed, and think hale and healthy thoughts about the frail, poorly seller. It would seriously scupper things if she were to drop off her twig in the next couple of weeks!!

That's all. Off now. On the desk until three, then I'm supposed to be doing an information skills session for some post-graduates 3.30-5 -- though if I were a post graduate student I could almost certainly think of better things to be doing at that time of the afternoon just before the holidays! Then I too am off for the holidays, via the pub with The Builder.

The Easter Holidays

... are upon us. Hooray! I finish work tomorrow at 17:00 and don't come back until 09:00 on WEDNESDAY 19th! Hooray!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On Saturday The Builder and I are going to the Lake District. We are staying in the Haweswater Hotel on the side of Haweswater. I believe it is quite isolated. I am telling you all this now because the hotel is not in mobile phone signal range, and doesn't have phones (or TVs or radios!!!) in the bedrooms, so we will effectively be incommunicado. I will take our travel radio with us and a CD player, not to mention my stitching, a plentiful supply of books and my walking boots, so we should have things to amuse ourselves with. Also we are unlikely to remain wedded to the hotel and may well drive through mobile signal coverage, so may pick up text messages. However, in the event that you need us for dire, dreadful emergencies (though I would be obliged if we could all avoid such eventualities!) the hotel number is +44 (0)1931 713235.

Have a great Easter, everyone. Let's all stay whole, hale and hearty, whilst frolicking merrily and enjoying our various Easter Feasts and fandangos. All things being equal I shall report on the weekend's excitements on Wednesday of next week. Though I hope the excitements aren't too exciting!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


We had a letter from the mortgage company yesterday saying we could absolutely, positively have the money for the house (although for some reason they do expect to get it back, eventually!)

We have spoken to the sickly vendor. She's moving into her bungalow on Thursday and wanted to know if we wanted any of the things she couldn't take with her. We told her to leave anything she didn't want. Even if we don't want it, someone else might. And although her curtains and things are not necessarily to our taste, they will certainly do until there is some spare dosh lying about waiting for something to do.

It's looking good then. Just waiting for the solicitor to complete the land searches and the house should be ours.

You may now all uncross your toes. Keep your fingers crossed for the time being though

The Builder had a fantastic birthday I think. Thank you to all who sent text messages and cards. We had a fairly quiet day -- spent a positively astronomical amount in the supermarket, largely on cleaning products!!! Then, of course, we had to clean :-p And in the evening Jo from work (it was her last day -- she's abandoned us!) and Bea from work (she hasn't abandoned us) and Steve her partner and Taffa and Gaz and Freyja and Mark came around and we had potato and leek soup, then enormous platters of roasted vegetables (also some buttered red cabbage and apple) followed by a steamed pudding with raspberries and lots of wine. Was a good evening.

Nearly Easter. I get five whole days off in a row. Practically a full on holiday!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sunday, April 09, 2006

House piccies

Things appear to be progressing apace. We've had a letter from the mortgage company asking for a direct debit mandate and for buildings insurance details, and one from the solicitor to say the contract has arrived in his office and containing the conveyancing deeds from the Land Registry (done in 1953 when the land was subdivided). This all appears to be costing a vast mountain of money. We shall never be able to afford to move again -- hope we like this village!!!

Here are piccies for those who haven't seen the brochure (or who couldn't see it!)

Two views of the front of the house above. The black plaque inset in the wall reads: Glencoe House 1900.

The view from across the street looking right (if you are looking at the house)

The conveyancing documents from 1953. House above, RoW below.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Greetings all. Back again

Hmm. It is probably a good idea, if you are intending to head away for several days training on the Monday, not to take to the lounge room on the Sunday, armed with several wheelbarrows of wine, to watch the grand prix, other sport, tellie generally, then to roast chicken and stuff for Taffa, Gareth, The Builder and yourself, then to continue dealing with the wheelbarrows of wine until bedtime. Makes it Oh-So-Difficult to get up and to be ready in order to catch the 08:20 train to Edinburgh! We did catch it though and we caught it easily. But we left quite some chaos behind us as we ambled out the door.

Was fun though! I think the chicken must have been all right. There wasn't any left on Monday morning. Not a morsel.

We had a great time in Edinburgh. I really, really enjoyed the course, which was on digital mapping, using historic maps and How To Be the SHU Site Rep for Digimap at the University of Edinburgh. It was very much more interesting than I had been expecting. And the lunches were lovely :-) The Builder also had a lovely time -- at the Edinburgh Castle, walking the streets, pottering about, conducting exhaustive research into Edinburgh pubs (I helped with some of the pub research) and riding the tourist buses. Mostly the sun shone, though it did snow on The Builder on the first afternoon, just as I walked into the UniEd library! We had lovely views of one of the most salubrious bits of Edinburgh from our room. We walked to and from the University. We ate lovely food in the hotel and drank lots of wine. The trains ran to time in both directions. It was all good.

It is, however, not a good combination for keeping me awake. Intense concentration during the day, food and wine in the evening and then lying on the bed to watch television. Don't think I was awake much beyond 21:00 either night we were there!

House report:

Simon -- you can't see the house at the moment. I don't have any digital photographs of it and they've taken down the estate agent's brochure. I'll see what I can do. If it's quiet tomorrow (and if I remember to bring it with me) I'll try to scan the photo from the brochure and include it in the blog!). You could, of course, always come and look at it in person!

I *think* things are progressing with the house. The solicitor rang to say that he had received the contract and was just waiting for us to OK him running the land registry searches. We are waiting for a mortgage agreement on paper before we do that. The mortgage company sent a letter at the end of last week saying they were organising a mortgage survey, and then rang this morning to discuss buildings insurance, so I assume things are trundling along with them and that the mortgage survey has now been done and approved. But most of this is guesswork. You must all continue to keep your digits crossed!

Right. Tomorrow's Friday. I'm due at Psalter Lane again tomorrow morning. It is *your* responsibility to make sure that I remember, that I remember in a timely manner, and that I actually go there. We don't need a repeat of last week!

It's The Builder's birthday on Sunday. I've got him the most fantastic present.

Oh -- and his van is now back from the van hospital. His bank account is now £1200 lighter. :-(

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Was peacefully eating my porridge this morning. Idly wondered what desk shift I was supposed to be doing and what else the day had in store. Looked in the diary.

Bugger! Quick, Mr Builder. Will you run me to Psalter Lane and will you do it **NOW**? "Oh," said he. "Are you meant to be at Psalter Lane this morning? When?" **NOW** Now this very absolute minute.

So he drove me to Psalter Lane. I was only 6 or 7 minutes late. No worries. But explain to me, if you can, why I didn't just drive myself up. There's no problem with parking up there at all! On the other hand, it might have been difficult to park back at home at lunchtime and there's absolutely no point bringing a car into town, which is where I've been this afternoon.

Tsk. I'm doing loads of cover sessions at Psalter Lane over the next few months. Best put them on the calendar!

The estate agent has taken "our" house off the website so you can't look at it now. I hope that this means that things are proceeding in an orderly fashion. I assume there haven't been any unexpected problems with the mortgage -- I'd have thought if they were going to turn it down on the grounds that they had the Wrong Frances Hyde, they'd have told Nigel and that he would have told me. I can't imagine the survey will turn up anything major structurally. Seemed quite sound to us. Well, to The Builder. I probably wouldn't notice anything amiss until it started falling down on my head!

I've emailed the parish council (which is the local council, really; I don't think there is an exact Australian equivalent) about allotments for growing the spuds on. I've found the surgery, the dentist and the hairdresser. I've located two pubs, a butcher, a general store and a post office (one of these has the videos, the other the booze). What have I forgotten? (We're going to have to move to New Tupton now even if we have to rent. I know far too much about that village to abandon it at this stage. Grin!)

Soon be time to go. The Builder and I are off to a farewell do this evening. I am decked out in my new olive green fleecy cardi (£5 from Hawkshead) and my new grey trousers from Hawkshead (£10). Last of the big spenders, me!

There goes March. Enjoy April!