Thursday, 27 October 2016

K Minus 6

Shall we just pause to admire the floor again...

I think it's the right choice, don't you?  It's warm and it looks aged.  However, we are neurotic about it and won't let anyone stand on it. Hopefully, the novelty will wear off in a day or two. It reminds me of my brother's story of the street where my grandma lived, Milvain Street in Gateshead. Not an area for the rich, shall we say, but the women would spend hours scrubbing their front steps until they gleamed. He once attempted to step onto Meggie Mac's front step, only to be told off. It wasn't for standing on, apparently. It will be the same with this kitchen. People will have to gather in the lobby to admire but not to touch!

With the kitchen arriving on Monday, painting has begun. The walls were first whitewashed with a watered down white emulsion so that it would be absorbed by the plaster. Then two top coats of white emulsion. The final colour will be off white. The room is quite dark and, with the gloomy days that we are having, the bright white walls look quite grey.  I'm hoping that the warmer white will prevent it from looking too gloomy in there.

The back wall, where the Aga will go, has not been painted because a false chimney will be built there. So what's the point, quite frankly?

Wednesday, 26 October 2016


Work on the heating system has been going on for some time now.  We've had a couple of slight diversions when we asked the engineer to put in the piping for the kitchen sink and dishwasher, as shown below, as well as pipes for the sink, washing machine and tumble dryer in the pantry (soon to be the utility room).

Preparing for the new kitchen sink

The drain pipe
 It is fair to say that the piping in the utility room is a miracle of plumbing!

The water softener - but check out the pipes to the left!

The cupboard in the pantry

Still in the pantry - all of this will have to be boxed in!
On Thursday evening, the switch over from the old to the new system began. We were left with no heating but we were assured of hot water as the immersion heater had been switched on, they said, confidently.  Alas, we awoke the next day to cold water.  If you left the tap running for long enough, the water seemed to get slightly warmer but it was hard to tell if that was just because your hand was getting used to the cold! So, off to work without a shower! Yeuch!

It turned out that the immersion heater was working fine, it was just that the temperature had been set very low. However, during the course of Friday, the new boilers sprang into life and we are now wholly on the new system. We can't quite get used to the new water pressure - you turn the tap, a geezer springs into life and you get soaked with spray! But at least it's warm!

The thing that hasn't yet happened is our switch to a bigger pipe from the water main.  Goodness knows what the pressure will be like then!

But now we have efficient boilers (which, hopefully, means we can have the heating on a bit more often as it won't cost so much!) and (most exciting of all) a bath full of hot water whenever required.

Saturday, 22 October 2016


So, here we go with the second instalment of the kitchen refurbishment - and it feels like it's an enormous mountain to climb!  (But at least it's not the highest...)

So where have we got to?

The first job was to install the wiring for the electrics along with the water pipes and prepare the walls for plastering. You can see the plasterboard in these pictures, waiting to go up.

Then the plastering began. And this made a huge difference to how the room looked, particularly as it dried from dark to light.

Then the ceiling was painted. We'd hoped to get the walls done too, before the floor arrived, but the plastering was delayed and so it was not to be.

The floor fitter arrived on Wednesday and his first job was to cover the floor with a layer of stuff (technical term).

Then he began the fitting, which took a couple of days.  These things are always nerve-wracking. You're never sure if you have made the right choice or if it will look right. And what an expensive mistake it would be. However, the chap who laid the floor said he would have chosen the same planks and that they suited the room exactly. What do you think?

We're really pleased. It's starting to look like a room and soon it will also start to look like a kitchen. It's high ceilinged and at the north-west corner of the house so not particularly light. However, the floor makes it feel cosier and warmer.

The next big event is the Aga arriving, which is this week, with the kitchen arriving the week after. The kitchen fitter is coming on Monday to survey the job.

The 'fridge arrived today, and the dishwasher and extractor fan have been ordered.  We're still deciding on a tap and have to make a final decision about the worktops for the units by the Aga and the sink.  But the worktop for the island has been chosen, the paint for the walls has been selected and our thoughts are starting to turn to the final touches.

It's been a long time in conception and it's both exciting and frightening to see our ideas coming to fruition.  Exciting to see what was once in our heads becoming reality and frightening in case we've got it wrong!

Hotting Up!

Again, recapping from last year.  Forgive me, dear reader...

The exciting news for this year (2015) is that much work has been taking place on the heating system.  Firstly, and probably rather incoherently, our wondrous tiler, Hector, came to tile the pantry floor.  The first plan was to try to renovate the red tiles that were already down.  However, to cut a long story and three days of Hector’s labour short, this proved to be an impossible task.  So, we decided to cover the tiles with new tiles.  

We decided to go for the same as we had chosen for the tiles in the hearth for the new wood-burning stove (Did I blog about this ? Must check!).  And Hector managed to source the tiles for the same price as we had paid for the tiles in the hearth.  (Thank you, Fired Earth!) Which was just a little galling but better than the other way round, I suppose.

Both being masters in the art of management psychobabble, S and I have appointed a mentor to help us with the heating system. Of course, not just any old mentor.  Plumb Bob Derek (PBD) is a retired REME colonel with a doctorate. The heating system should, therefore, be like no other.  He arrives for a day at the weekend, rushes through the house like a whirlwind and leaves S with a list of jobs to be accomplished during the week. Which S does and more. And, on top of that, PBD is great fun to have around with a fantastic line in extravagant metaphor.  Example: She’s as hard as a woodpecker’s lips.  He’s certainly one to be cherished. Not least for his plumbing ability. 

So now we have wonderful piping in the pantry, courtesy of S.  And, finally, on Saturday, one of the new tanks (of two) went into the bedroom cupboard.  The next stage is the arrival of the plumber, supposedly on Thursday, but we know how sensitive these building artistes can be.  His job will be to sort out the trench for the big pipe coming in from the road that will enable us to have hot water galore!  The excitement and anticipation is almost too much.  We’re into the fourth year of our rather erratic heating system that was never designed to handle multiple baths and showers.  More to follow as work progresses but just take a moment or two to admire that tank!

Quality Control Checking the Piping in the Pantry (Note the Tiles!)
Admire the Pipes
Piping to the First Floor
Update: Of course, what then happened was that S went back to work and so we are paying a local company to complete the job in double-quick time!

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

2015: Review of the Year

2015 began with us stacking logs from the chopped down Leylandii trees.  Logs that have seen us through this winter and will see us through another couple, if not more.  I know it's late in the year to be going on about what happened last year but here's a review of the state of affairs at the Old Rectory as we left 2015 behind and headed into 2016.

The hearth in the living room was retiled and a wood burning stove fitted.


The fernery was created, outside the rector's office.

The veg patch was dug over.

And six yew trees planted in the front bed, which I am pompously and pretentiously calling the Cardinal's Bed, because I want it to be planted with flowers that are rich reds and purples, punctuated by orange and gold, and backed by dark conical yews. Life is so wonderful in the dark recesses of my mind.

We continued working on the windows. S's study window is yet to be completed and painted.  In February, the casement windows returned from their long sojourn in Moreton-in-Marsh. We painted the upstairs windows while we had some scaffolding up but now need to finish the ground floor casements.  A job for the spring, I thought, but it didn't happen and now we are waiting for the heating engineers to go so we can sort out the gin terrace again - and paint those windows at last. But it will probably be next year now!

We did our usual May Day brunch and welcomed the neighbours in, including our newest recruit from No. 5.

In July, my lovely, clever daughter, H, graduated with her BA (Hons) from Manchester University and D, S's equally lovely and clever son, received his PhD on the next day from the same university.

And not to be outdone...

We painted mum's sitting room - almost - window and an annoying strip by the door still to finish.

The long running saga of the painting of the arbor finally came to an end.  Only for it to fall over in high winds (Hurricane Yet Another Crazy Bitch) and suffer damage, which means it now needs repainting.  I've now realised that I can weigh it down with bricks to prevent this from happening.  Although these must be really strong winds as this arbor, trust me, takes some shifting.  Anyhow, the painting of the be continued...

We managed some produce from the garden: bramleys like bums and potatoes with willies. I planted my asparagus bed.

Finally, we started - but are yet to finish - our incredibly trendy crazy paving paths in the veg garden.

Sprocket celebrated his fourth birthday.

I spent some time finding out about previous inhabitants, focusing primarily on the Rowden family, particularly Edward, the long lived Vicar who refurbished this house from being a workhouse, starting this task at the beginning of the nineteenth century.  In June, we employed an architect who arrived with a report charting the Old Rectory's journey from being the local workhouse to the Rector's residence.

We ended 2015 with a murder mystery...

The Scullery Maid
Roger S.B. Astird (Rog)
The Cast of Thousands
Dame Allison Bigh (Ali)
Eiaguielle R Aminmund (E.R.A), Ali and Donald J Brooks (Donny)
Miranda T Shetes (Randy) and E.R.A
Two Soups...?
...and began 2016 with Burns' Night - not that we like dressing up!
Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie
Ode to a Haggis

And, after all of that...we relaxed...