Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Review of the Year: 2014

It’s Christmas Eve tomorrow, heralding our third Christmas at the Old Rectory.  It doesn’t seem possible.  The year has flown by.  On a personal level, it’s not been the best and I will be glad to see the back of it.  But luckily for you, dear reader, this blog is about the Rectory and not about me.  So I thought I’d take a moment, sit back on my heels, easing my back after all that scrubbing at the flagstone floors, and reflect on where this year has taken us on our revival journey.

First up, in May, we saw the pruning of the privet by S’s shed.  Well, when I say pruning, it was decimation.  However, I am pleased to report that the bush has now recovered (and looks all the better for being cut to the ground!) and the backyard now looks slightly less like Belgium in 1914.  

Agent Orange
In June, our casement windows went for repair.  In December, they are yet to return.  We are preparing a sharp letter to the company in question, which will be there to welcome them back to work after their Christmas festivities.  I reserve the right to name and shame them on this blog if our complaint remains unheard. 

Lost - Casement Windows.  If Found, Return to the Old Rectory
Internal View to Aid Identification
We also had the lintel to one of the back bedroom windows repaired, which involved scaffolding and a long delay while a baby blue tit grew big enough to leave the nest.  At the same time, more dog proof fencing was added at the end of the garden.  (I’ll add a quiet note here that I have just found a bit of a gap where a small white dog might make his escape.  More dog-proofing to follow, I fear.)

New Lintel
Scaffolding for Lintel Replacement
"Call This Dog Proof...?"
We had a kitchen designed and are still mulling over the options.  Such a lot of money involved and we want to get it right.  On the cheaper side, S started work on repairing the windows, turning out to be a bit of a master craftsman and potentially saving us thousands.  And the Leylandii trees came down, leaving us enough logs to see us through the next couple of years at least.  The garden is gradually being tamed. 

A Proper Kitchen.  Longing Sigh.
Master Craftsman at Work
Something Lovely in the Wood Shed
Preparing to Shred
Tamed Garden with Wild Beast at the Gates of Hell
Tame Dahlias
Many of the jobs that we have tackled have been dull, dull, dull – in fact, some too dull to report but all very necessary in terms of the house renovation.  The water tank leaked and had to be replaced.  The process of replacing the heating has begun and 32 very heavy cast-iron radiators have been emptied, taken off walls, carried downstairs and flushed out.  There is nothing to see, so just move on.  But how important is it for us to be warm and to have hot water – and for the system that delivers that comfort to be efficient and effective?  Very, I can tell you.  Ceilings have been repaired.  Boring.  Not worth photographing.  But necessary.

Defunct Tank.  Boring.  Dull.
We have yet to finish decorating the bathroom or the dining room.  So, it made obvious sense to start on my mum’s bedroom (completed!) and her sitting room (embarrassed silence...).  But, you must understand, that there is a leak in the corner caused by wiring on the outside of the house that needs to be removed before we can repair the water damage.  And so it goes on.  We start a job and we find another job.
Painting Mum's Bedroom
Job Done!
We went on the road a little bit too.  A sojourn at a cottage in Suffolk without the aid of electricity but with a leaking wood burning stove that filled the rooms with smoke that smelled like old tyres.  We only narrowly avoided carbon monoxide poisoning.   This was followed at the end of the year by a weekend in Barcelona.  This time with the aid of electricity and much more comfort.

Without Electricity...

...And With Electricity!
And, finally, I can’t let a review of the year pass without again mentioning (aka rubbing in) our success in the Produce Show: a FIRST for the dahlias in a vase and S receiving a third for his bread.  Not to mention my mum and her plum jam.  S is already booked on to an artisan baker’s course as part of his training plan for this year's event and I am doing a six-week cookery course starting in April.   Produce Show 2015...HERE WE COME!
The People's Choice - Third from Right
Modesty Prevents Me From Commenting...
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? 

What Rot!
How much of this will we achieve?  Tune in over the year for further instalments of Reviving the Old Rectory…