Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Monday, February 29, 2016

It was worse than moving house ...

It was, it really was.  Or at least, it was more tiring than moving house. I don't suppose it really carried quite the level of chaos and confusion that actually moving from one house to another carries. We didn't lose anything, or even misplace anything.  But it was very, very tiring. I can hardly move today!

The Builder has spent the last few days getting up as much of the old carpet and underlay as possible.

We got up bright and early on Saturday. I moved all the small furniture from the lounge room and dining room down into the cellar, and all the small furniture from the bedrooms into the bathroom. We weren't sure how the carpet fitters wanted to approach the task of re-carpeting all four major rooms in the house, so we left large bulky things where they were. But we did clear the lounge room.

We've moved the freezer, dresser and china cabinet into the kitchen.

We're busy moving furniture into the dining room from the lounge room

Front bedroom - almost ready

Back bedroom, definitely ready

You can see here where the hallway and wall used to be,
before the hall was assimilated into the lounge room
One big disadvantage of moving all the bulky dining room furniture into the kitchen was that we blocked off the fridge, so couldn't get to the milk for tea or coffee.  Fortunately, I have powdered milk on my baking shelves, and we could get to the kettle and the tea bags and coffee.  All was not entirely lost :)

Then the carpet fitters arrived

We've got new underlay, new carpet, new gripper strips, pretty much new everything.

The Builder, Marlo and I got out the way while the fitters got on with it

The fitters arrived at about half past ten and had gone again by about half past one. They did the upstairs first

Our bedroom, newly carpeted

Marlo inspecting the bedroom.
Fortunately - he approves
Then the fitters did the downstairs, while The Builder and I began sorting out upstairs.

It was more tiring than moving because if you are moving you just move the furniture onto a van, and then you move it into its new home when it arrives.  We spent most of the weekend moving things not once, not twice but several times.  We now have the lounge room, dining room and our bedroom more or less back together.  The spare room has the furniture back in place but needs properly setting up again.  We took the opportunity while the furniture was out to clean the skirting boards, and we have dusted and/or washed all the (appropriate) furniture.  It's all going to look very beautiful when every room is properly sorted out.

I think that Marlo thinks we have turned the whole house into an enormous bed for him.  With the new underlay and the new carpet, everything is soft and snuggly and cosy.  He just flops down wherever he happens to be and dozes off

He has even decided that the kindling basket is a cosy place to sleep!

It's quite interesting what the camera does to the colour of the carpet.  We have exactly the same carpet in every room.  It's a light fawn colour.  The camera so often turns it grey!  The photo of Marlo lying on the kindling basket is the colour the carpet actually is!

And here is the lounge room:

August, 2014

May, 2015

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

And now in its final manifestation
Sunday, February 28th, 2016

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Goodbye and thank you to our lovely allotment

Here is the allotment, still peaceful in its winter hibernation:

There are a few, tentative signs of spring (although there are more in the garden, oddly enough.  We have snowdrops, daffodils and even a few crocuses out in the garden).

Alas.  We won't be on the allotment once spring properly kicks in.  We gave notice of leaving it today. I hope the new allotment holders get as much pleasure and, of course, food from it as we have.

We will continue to grow a few vegetables.  It is our plan to plant up the garden as we would normally until we move out.  Not only will we get some benefit, but the new house holders will benefit too. And a planted garden always looks more enticing than a derelict one!

Monday, February 22, 2016

A very delicious weekend in Salisbury

We haven't been to see The Builder's mother for simply ages. Not since before we left on the World Birthday Tour. We've had a box of sweeties that we bought in Japan for her, just kicking about in the dining room.  So we booked ourselves into the Old Mill in Harnham and off we went on Saturday.

The Old Mill

We were in a room we haven't been in before.  It's a reduced price room because it's immediately over the bar.  It is true that we could hear quite a lot of bar chatter, but it didn't inconvenience us one bit. And the bar closes at 11, so it's not even as though it goes on into the night.  They do provide ear plugs, but we ignored those and I have to say that I slept very well indeed.  So much so that it was almost 6:00 when I woke up.  Normally I am awake by 5 (ridiculously early, I know, but as I have got older I have slowly transformed from my Owl of a mother into my Lark of a father). The room price is reduced because of an inconvenience that we didn't feel.  Bargain!

The dining room, Saturday evening

They do good food at the Old Mill.  Very tasty, it is.  They will also do child sized portions for people with smaller appetites, so Gwen was OK with her small plate of roast beef on Sunday.  They do not, however, do special plates for people whose mouths hurt and who therefore can't chew.  So I had tomato soup with a delicious crusty roll for a starter, followed by rib eye steak with sautéed potatoes and crunchy green beans for dinner on Saturday.  The Builder had the soup, minus the bread roll, followed by poached sea bass with crushed potatoes but not the Mediterranean vegetables that came with it.  I had a full English fry up with extra toast for Sunday breakfast.  The Builder had yoghurt and very soft and soggy weetbix followed by two poached eggs and no toast.  I had roast beef with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and lots of yummy vegetables for lunch.  He had fish with crushed potatoes and mushy peas - oh and the mashed buttery swede that I found at the bottom of the vegetable tureen. He has lost quite a bit of weight in the last week.  For some reason, I have not!!!

My Sunday lunchtime view

Gwen seemed to enjoy her afternoon out. She's looking well, and quite perky. We took her on a drive out in the countryside before dropping her back at her home, which I think she also enjoyed.

Gwen and my Farley

We had a good weekend too.  We had good trips both down and up. We enjoyed our stay in the Old Mill.  It was good to see Gwen.  And before we left on Saturday we put everything back on the shelves in the lounge room and rehung the curtains.  The lounge room is starting to look loved again, although it still doesn't have its full complement of furniture.  The carpet layers are coming in 5 days time

Two Farleys and a rabbit (but which Farley is which???)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Happy birthday to the blog

It's the blog's birthday,  It's ten years old today!  Who would have thought it would have kept going for a whole decade.

I got on the bus this morning, waved my card over the card reader - and the card reader said it was invalid for travel :-S

I tried again but with the same result.

The bus driver tried.  No joy :-(

I went to borrow the bus fare from Julia, wondering what the problem was.  I knew that my ticket had run out the day before, but I had renewed it so it should have been *valid* for travel.  The bus driver ran a diagnostic on it.  See!  I have renewed it.  It's valid until the 17th of March.  Ah.  But from the 19th of February and not from the 18th ;-(  So not today then!

At least it was my error and not a fault on the smart card.  It took Julia weeks to sort it out when her smart card when bonkers. And it was lovely to see how many of the regular passengers on the bus also volunteered to lend me the bus fare, had Julia not had some spare cash about her person.

The Builder has been to the dentist to have another couple of teeth taken out and a new plate put in. This wouldn't have been particularly noteworthy except that unbeknownst to anyone he had an abscess under a tooth that had become very loose.  So rather than it practically falling out, it proved to be very resistant to coming out and hurt a verygreatdealindeed.  Anyway, it's out now and I have planned soft and sloppy menus for the next couple of days.

When he is not attending to his teeth, he has been decorating in the loungeroom with gusto. It's very nearly finished.  We can start to put things away, but there's no real point in putting most of the furniture back.  The carpet layers are coming next weekend and we'll just have to shift it again.

I wonder if the blog will still be going in another ten years.  And if it is - I wonder what it will be telling us

Happy birthday to the blog

Monday, February 15, 2016

It is very irritating ...

when you have slept right up until the alarm goes each morning during the week, turned the alarm off on Friday so it doesn't ring over the weekend - and then you wake up multiple times on Friday night and irrevocably by about 3 am on Saturday, and then wake at not quite 4:00 on Sunday morning.

Very irritating.

But not quite as irritating as when you reach the last room on your house decorating schedule and discover that your nearest DIY store (that would be B&Q) no longer stocks the brand of paint that you have been using (that would be Crown).  That did have the advantage that B&Q was discounting the Crown paint that it had left over, which was helpful for the wall paint and the skirting board paint. It has the disadvantage that they aren't getting any more in, no matter how close you are to finishing your project  and we need one more tin of the jade highlighting paint:-(

Nothing for it, then.  We'll have to go further afield, to somewhere that is still stocking Crown paint. (That would be Homebase, in Sheffield). And they had the wall paint and the skirting board paint (which, of course, we had bought in B&Q at half price) but not the jade.  One tin we need; just one tin.  The helpful person at Homebase looked up his database.  The jade has been discontinued :-O There are no tins of it in any of their stores nationwide and they can't get it in for us  :-O

We pondered our options.  Repainting everything in the house that is already in jade is definitely not an option.  We tried the B&Q in Sheffield. It's bigger and might have had a stray tin of jade paint - but no.  I had a quick search on the internet while we were on our way back to Chesterfield.  Couldn't find any anywhere.

One tin ;-(

So we went home. Then The Builder remembered that he had an empty tin of jade ready to throw out. He found it and took it back to our local DIY store where they mixed up a very close approximation in a tin of white paint.  So we've gone with that.  I have to say that I can't see any significant difference between the original jade and the new one.  The decorating has recommenced :-)

While we were out and about over the weekend I had my annual eye test (no change there) and my annual hearing test (no change there either).  We had lunch in the Rutland in Chesterfield, simply because we were passing and we were hungry. And then we went and ordered new carpet for the downstairs and for the two bedrooms. A man came this morning to measure everything up and says that we were over quoted.  The full cost is about £200 less than the estimate.  So that's good.  It's always nice when things cost less than you expect them to.  The carpet fitters are coming in two Saturdays time. They may do the house in two stages or, if it goes well, perhaps even in one.

So close to finishing!  We need to tidy up and spruce up the back porch and the bathroom and make the garden look loved and then get an estate agent in to value the house and then put it up for sale. Easy peasy :-D

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Looking forward to being a Lady Who Lunches (but frugally, of course!)

It's the half term school holiday in Sheffield this week. Apart from Wednesday, Tabitha has come into town on the bus each day with Cally and Flynn to do various things.  On Wednesday they went out to the Longshaw Estate instead

Cally's best bit of the holiday was when they came in to the children's library because there were books and games and toys - and university students in town doing craft activities and creative activities and music activities with passing children.

Photo taken by Tabitha

Her second favourite adventure of the holidays was today, when they came into town and had lunch with me.  We went to Bill's, which has only recently opened in the Sheffield  city centre and which Tabitha had recommended.  It does mighty fine food, is child and baby-friendly, and has cheery, amiable staff. 

I am looking forward to the time when I can have a leisurely lunch there, instead of having to dash back to work the second I had finished eating.  Tabitha, Cally and Flynn had no time constraints and were pondering dessert as I disappeared!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Gone to London

Actually - I'm back now.  I went yesterday for a meeting.  And it was quite a good day.

I went down on the 10:00 train. which from my perspective was a nice, lazy start to the day.  The train got in on time after a largely unremarkable trip down.  I took the underground to Liverpool Street with no dramas.  I walked out of the station - and promptly got remarkably lost.  I had absolutely no idea where I was!  Normally I come out of the station and head roughly in the direction of The Gherkin.  I couldn't see The Gherkin!  I'm not sure how you "disappear" something as large and as prominent as The Gherkin, but there you go.

I wandered around.  That didn't help.  I had obviously come out of an entrance from the station that faced away from where I wanted to be.  I turned on Google Maps - but that didn't really help either. I think it was confused by the plethora of tall, glassy buildings around me. So I turned on my GPS. The downside to this was that it assumed I was in a vehicle.  The upside was that it wasn't confused by the glassy buildings.  Off we set, heading towards my destination. And suddenly I found The Gherkin. Over there. Hiding behind and peeping out over the top of a very tall, glassy building that I think had not been there the last time I was there.  I did eventually get a full view of it, but there are lots more tall buildings in the Liverpool Street area than there used to be!

I got to my meeting at exactly 1pm, which was the designated starting time.  And found everyone else waiting patiently for me. Fortunately, I was the chair so they more or less had to wait for me!

It was a good meeting. I enjoyed it. Which is just as well, because it was my last meeting. I am expecting to be gone from the country by the time the next meeting is due, and I will be long gone from SHU. Several other people were at their last meeting too, one because he is about to retire and others because they have moved or are moving to new jobs within their organisation. I was very glad of an opportunity to say goodbye to them. And to hand over the Chairing to a colleague who I suspect will be much more organised about calling regular meetings. For some reason I am very poor at organising meetings, which is strange really because I am quite organised about most other things.

Anyway. The meeting finished and I made my way to Piccadilly Circus to I could visit the Japan Centre for a few supplies, like curry pastes and seasonings and other bits and pieces.  I pottered round to a Japanese noodle bar round the corner, but decided that it was a bit too early to be eating large bowls of noodles, so popped into a Japanese bookshop that I didn't know was there. I was a bit tempted by some of the children's books.  I do need to do a lot more reading practice.  I decided to leave them for another time, though. I already have quite a lot of Japanese learning materials.  I feel I should use them before adding to the collection.  (Perhaps I could have Tatsuki's when he grows out of them :-D )

I headed back to St Pancras and had dinner in the Betjeman Arms at the station.  They didn't really have anything that I fancied to eat, so I bought a sharing platter.  There was, of course, no one for me to share it with and absolutely no chance that I was going to manage the contents of an entire sharing platter on my own, so I ate the chips and the squid and some of the crumbed mushrooms and wrapped the rest up and took it home with me. The Builder had it this morning, fried up with toast, tomatoes and an egg for his breakfast.  He was quite surprised to find little sausages, crumbed mushrooms and haggis balls on his breakfast plate!

It was a good day.  I enjoyed it.  But it was also a day tinged with a little sadness.  I have enjoyed being a member of that discussion group and I was a bit sorry to let it go. Needs must, however. It was also a gently sad day because I had the news that a friend from university days had died.  I had known that he was gravely ill and that his remaining days would be but few. Even so, I was sorry to see the announcement from his wife that his days had now run out. I haven't seen him for years, but we have had a pleasant little friendship over the past few years on Facebook.  I shall miss his comments and "likes", which often came during the wee small hours in Victoria

I have a busy day in prospect today.  I wonder why it is that things bunch up all together like this.  I had a quiet week last week and I have a quiet looking week ahead next week.  All these things could have spread themselves around a bit more!!

Monday, February 08, 2016

Wood, rain, wind and fire

I wonder why it is that the Woodman always comes and delivers our wood when it is raining.  Or, I guess, I wonder why it always rains when the Woodman delivers our wood.  Mind you, he's only been twice, but it has rained each time that he has come.  That's a 100 % rain rate!

It took us about 30 minutes from the time the Woodman dropped all the wood into the puddles on our driveway to shift it out of the rain and into the back porch. I think that counts as a Saturday morning workout!

Rain focuses your attention when you have paid for seasoned, dried wood!
Then we cleaned ourselves up and pootled into Sheffield to meet Freyja and Simon, so we could all head to Costco and give them the contents of our bank accounts.  We packed the car VERY CAREFULLY INDEED on our return trip :-D

We got home, and I went to light our beautiful fire.  By then the wind had got up and the rain had set in and it was really quite stormy.  The wind blew down our chimney, blew the nascent fire out and filled the firebox with smoke.  Then the smoke seeped out into the loungeroom.  This isn't absolutely unknown when it is very windy, but this time the smoke simply poured out.  The smoke alarm went off and everything! (At least we know that the alarm works!).  So we left it and turned the central heating radiator on for the evening.  I managed to light it on the second attempt on Sunday.  I rang the fire people this morning and they said that they had had lots of calls reporting similar problems over the past few very windy days.  He suggested trying fire lighters instead of newspaper.  Apparently the fire lighters are quicker to heat up and generate less smoke.  We'll give it a go and see how we get on.

This is how the loungeroom looks at the moment

Plaster dry, waiting for an undercoat
The ceiling has had an undercoat and a first coat of white. One more to go
Fire lit! The arches are going to be painted jade at the back
There is a patch just out of shot on the last photo, down towards the floor, which isn't drying and we're not sure why. We wondered if it was because my chair was sat quite close to the wall, shading it from the warmth of the fire. So we've moved the chair to see what happens.  And we have discovered a leak into the front porch which we think is coming through a crack in the outside render. But it can only be coming in when it is raining very hard and the wind is blowing from the south.  We haven't noticed it before.  I suppose we had better get it fixed before it destroys the brand new plaster in the front porch!!

We have been wondering why Marlo has recently taken to sleeping here

Then we realised that the hot water pipe leading to the bathroom radiator runs under this spot!!!

Since the weather really wasn't very good this weekend, and following up my ambition to reduce the contents of the freezer before we move, I spent Sunday not outside rescuing the garden, but in the kitchen baking and roasting.  Little apple pies. A fruit pot pie. Custard (not baking, I know).  And slow roasted lamb shanks with roasted potatoes, parsnip, beetroot and onions and braised red cabbage, red onion and red pepper on the side with a rosemary and white wine gravy.  There is a positive MOUNTAIN of roast lamb left. We're going to be eating shepherds' pies and lamb curry for weeks

Slow cooked lamb, now ready to go in the oven for roasting

Friday, February 05, 2016

It's a small, small world

There is a lady who regularly catches the 07:10 bus to Sheffield from the Chesterfield Coach Station. There often isn't time to say much more than a cheery "Good morning" before the bus turns up. But over the past few months we've had little conversations and gradually got to know a bit about each other. There are other people too who often catch the same bus and we chat too, when there is time and when they are there. Julia gets on a stop earlier than the coach station. She also has a bus stop friend, who sits with Julia and me on the bus. It's all quite friendly.

Anyway, I was waiting at the coach station yesterday morning and the lady (I don't know her name) was telling me about her activities the previous evening.  The subject of where we both actually lived came up.  I said we lived in Tupton, on Bridge Street.  "Oh," she said. "My sister's ex mother-in-law used to live on Bridge Street. My sister got on with her very well and kept in touch after the divorce until she (the ex mother-in-law) died."  She then imparted lots more information about her sister's ex mother-in-law.

The story she told sounded remarkably familiar. I felt almost as though I knew this elderly, sickly, infirm lady who sold her lovely house when she took poorly after many years of heavy smoking, moved into a sheltered bungalow around the corner and then died nearly a year after.

And I did, although not very well.  The sister's ex mother-in-law turned out to be Audrey Hallam, from whom we had bought our beautiful house, ten years ago this April.

It is a very, very small world indeed!

The plasterers finished up on Tuesday, leaving the walls looking beautiful.  We are delighted with the plasterer, though less delighted with his apprentice who was supposed to clean everything up, but who managed to sweep a great deal of rubbish under the carpet.  I wonder how long it will be before he realises that it is usually much, much quicker and considerably easier just to sweep up than it is to hide rubbish under the carpet (or anywhere else for that matter!).

We have been waiting for the new plaster to dry properly before The Builder starts decorating it.  I think he is hoping to make a start on the ceiling today.  The front wall isn't quite properly dry yet, but I think wall and alcove (and porch) decorating can probably commence next week. It will be nice to have the lounge room back up together again.  It's looking a bit forlorn at the moment. And the dining room is also out of commission because pretty much everything that is usually in the lounge room is piled up in there.

I'll try and get some photos of the state of play in the house this weekend.  It's been pretty much impossible to get decent pictures this week. I haven't been home during daylight hours and the photos I've tried to take using lamps, lights and flash haven't been worth keeping!