Thursday, 27 December 2012

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down...

It was the Saturday evening before Christmas and a scene of domestic bliss.  I was making mince pies in the kitchen at the back of the house.  (Paul Hollywood's recipe using an enriched sweet pastry and adding chopped apples and satsumas to the mince meat mix, which came out well - lovely pastry, if I say so myself!  See:  I'm not sure my effort does the recipe justice though!).

The Finished Product
S was in his study.  Grandma was reminding H how to knit in the sitting room in front of a roaring log fire.  I didn't hear it in the kitchen, which is at the back of the house but, according to those at the front, there was a noise that sounded like my friend, B, doing a handbrake turn in her Mercedes on the gravel drive.  I think S knew what it was instantly.  We had been warned of it in the survey.

The garden wall on the church yard side had fallen down.  It was dark.  But from what we could see by the light of the torch, it was bad.

We went out first thing next morning to witness the worst.  An area of about eight square feet (Or is it more than that?  Answers on a postcard please!) had fallen.  A double skinned wall that retains the churchyard, it left a jumble of stones, of rubble that had been thrown inbetween the two walls - and, yes, a gravestone!  Luckily, there were no bodies and the wall to the side of the house, which encloses the gate and which is not too secure itself, seems to be acting as a brace on one side of the gaping hole and, on the other, the ivy appears to be holding the rest of the wall up.  However, we are very nervous as the church shed is about ten feet away and we certainly don't want that tumbling into the garden.  With the rain still pouring down, we aren't sure how much further the wall will be weakened and how much more might collapse.

The Damage - A View From Our Garden

Of course, Saturday evening and the Saturday before  Christmas on a Tuesday is no time for something like this to happen.  We tried to contact the insurance company on the Sunday with no joy.  They may, of course, have been tied up with the flooding that was going on in most of the rest of the country.  We tried to contact builders.  However, we all know that it is never a good time to contact builders but this is especially true on a Sunday before Christmas on a Tuesday.  In the end, our neighbour rallied round and we raided our other neighbour's garden (with his permission, I should add, for those thinking of trying this at home!) where his builders had left some planks, which we used to shore up the remaining wall.  The result is not exactly acro props but so far so good.  There has been no further landslide.

The View From the Church

In the meantime, we're waiting to see what the insurance company has to say.  I don't mean to be pessimistic or unkind to insurance companies but I've never yet managed to claim for anything from my buildings and contents insurance so I'm not entirely sure that this will be very different.  And the cost?  We suspect thousands.  Looks like my makeshift kitchen (see the first picture above for evidence) will have to do for just a little bit longer.

Finally, yes, it's been ages since I wrote my blog.  We moved on Friday, 26th October and it's been chaos ever since.  It took two weeks to get the internet sorted out.  More on that in a later blog as I still have plenty of spleen to vent about BT.  Then I couldn't find the camera.  Then it was Christmas.  Thank you to my one reader, who was worried about what might have happened - had we already forestalled on the mortgage?  No, not yet - but the heating bill might end our dreams of living in an Old Rectory.  So, apologies to my devoted reader (you know who you are, NL!) and I will try to get back on track.  I had thought about trying to write up what has happened over the past few weeks in chronological order but my memory is so useless that I think it will be easier to simply reflect back as appropriate as we forge onwards with this 'project'.  Perhaps just one last picture to inspire us all...

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