Saturday, 26 March 2016

Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

I haven’t written this blog for a while.  Since November, in fact, according to the date of my last post.  Work has been busy and then there has been Christmas and then there has been Easter.   And I began writing this about a month ago, sitting in the British Library next to St Pancras Station.  

Piazza, British Library
I had time to kill whilst waiting for H, who was busy being interviewed for a job, and Storm Imogen was raging away outside.  Now we're on to Storm Katie and it’s Easter Saturday.  Where does the time go?  Going back to the day of the British Library visit, we should have been lunching at the Capital Hotel with Nathan Outlaw but had to cancel due to the interview. When H was released from interrogation (she got the job!), we had a much needed glass of wine in Fortnum’s before crossing to the Royal Academy to view the Painting the Modern Garden: From Monet to Matisse Exhibition, which I just loved. I’ve been to Giverny, Monet’s garden north of Paris, and it's on a par with Sissinghurst in terms of its spirit, atmosphere and beauty.

Then more culture, sort of, Eddie Izzard, transvestite and comedian, at the Palace Theatre.  But, before that, as I said, I was in the odd position of having time to kill. And where better than the British Library? Even sitting in the entrance lobby, I was surrounded by industrious writers.  People using laptops, tablets and phones.  Looking up, I realised that I was the only one writing by hand. It made me feel odd.  Eccentric.  Old-fashioned.  

And then the phone rang and it was H to say that she was free.  Which meant that I no longer had time to write about what we have done.  And time slipped by until, finally, in the midst of Storm Katie, I am sitting by the fire with time to reflect, time to write about what we have achieved at the Old Rectory since I last reported.  I need to catch up on progress, review the year, chart where we have been and where we have got to on our journey to revive the Old Rectory and to turn it back into a home.  At the moment, it seems to be clinging more to its time as a workhouse!

The Workhouse

 The big news is that at last, at last, the water tank is in and the plumber is supposed to be coming on Thursday to do his bit.  An exclusive on all of this to follow…just as soon as I’ve topped up my gin!

The Water Tank Edges its Way into the Cupboard

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Pathway to Heaven

I haven't had time to write anything of late - always a sign that work/life balance is out of kilter!  Anyhow, we have not been idle during this period and I have a backlog of reporting to do.

Firstly, the vegetable patch.  And my vision is to have four squares divided by paths.  And because we are lucky enough to have a ton of stone (proving that every cloud, including a collapsed wall, has a silver-lining), we decided to go for crazy paving.

I'm not an aficionado of fashion in relation to paths but my best guess would be that crazy paving is passé, a thing of garden design of the '70s along with pampas grass and patios.  But we have the stone and we are going to use it.  And perhaps we'll start a new trend.

Me.  Doing the Hard Work.

Sand and Cement Down, Stones Placed

Getting Longer...

S Needs Supervision

Supervisor Gets Distracted by a Passing Dog

And One Path Down!

Now we've got one path down, though, we now have decided to point it to make it look really fab.  And we still have two more of the same length to do.  But now the weather has changed.  My plan is to spend nice weekends in the garden and bad weather weekends indoors.  We seem to have spent months and months doing outside jobs.  While we wait for more good weather, the trenches for the other paths have filled with fallen chestnut leaves and  

Happy Birthday, Sprocket!

Four today!  And I noticed that they played the National Anthem on Radio Four in his honour.  Or perhaps it was for Prince Charles who shares his birthday.  The bow tie courtesy of H.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Arbor Again

Did I mention that I'd finished painting the arbor?  It's still not in its rightful position though!  So, fear not, dear reader.  It will feature in this blog again.

Me and My Arbor!
And in close up...
An Interesting Angle on Tomatoes
Proud Tomato Grower
Proud Apple Grower
Dog in the Grass
In Close Up
Mother and Daughter
Back to the Arbor

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Monday, 14 September 2015

On the Tiles

We're all of a buzz at the moment.  Things are happening left, right and centre round here.  If you remember, the targets for the year were overly ambitious.  A quote from my review of last year:

And looking ahead, what do we want to achieve in 2015?  For me, I’d like the heating completed.  This will mean sorting out the pantry where the boiler is destined to go and fitting another water tank in a cupboard on the first floor.  I’d like to repair the chimney where the jackdaws roost and, while the scaffolding is up, get the roofers in to do a quick once over.  I live in terror of major roof repairs, which I think will cost a small fortune.  

I'd like the rotten pillars that prop up the porch repaired.  I’d like the sitting room chimney lined and a wood-burning stove installed.  I'd like to decorate the sitting room and S's study.  And, dare I suggest, another bathroom for my mum or (whispers) a new kitchen? 

And now it's September and none of this has been achieved.  But we are focused and determined to tick some of these things off the list before the end of the year.  First up is the stove.  It was supposed to be fitted on 27th August but getting things to happen in the right order defeated us.  (We'd had the date in the diary for months but hadn't thought about the lead times for actually getting the stove bought and delivered!)  We also decided to retile the hearth.  It was red quarry tiles, not particularly refined or in fitting with the lovely fireplace so we wanted some new ones.

And, for once, some 'before' pictures.  Although S had already started work on the bricks.

We finally got our act together and the stove is due to be fitted next Friday.  It's sitting with me in the sitting room as I speak.  S has remortared and cleaned the bricks in the fireplace.  The tiler arrived today and fitted the rather lovely Fired Earth tiles.  They are large, limestone tiles, fittingly called 'Cathedral' and, supposedly, "reminiscent of the ecclesiastical floors after which it has been named...truly looks as if it has been walked on for centuries".  They are lovely though.

Our tiler was once described to me as the 'John Lewis' of tiling so has a rock star profile in my world.  Here are some pictures of him at our 'gig'.

Equipment in place
Cutting Begins
Three Down
Final Stages

I think he's pleased with it...
The Hearth

Rapturous Applause!
The scaffolding arrives tomorrow, two lots, one for the chimney in the sitting room and one above H's room at the back of the house, which is colonised by jackdaws, and then the only other thing we need to do is to mend the chimneys, get the roof checked and then hand over to the stove fitter to sweep chimneys, cap them and fit the stove.