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 arbor...to 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...

Monday, 26 September 2016


So, a quick recap...the heating and water system is currently being installed. If you remember, this means two new boilers in the newly christened 'Boiler Room' and lots of trenches in the garden that are gradually being filled with enormous pipes. But more on this in a later blog.

In addition to this, work has begun on the kitchen.  We have selected the units and paid a deposit.  They are due to arrive at the end of October, I think.

Neptune Suffolk Kitchen

As is the Aga, which has been waiting patiently in Nottingham. The flooring, wooden, has been selected and fitting is lined up.

Patiently Waiting...
In short, it's all happening here.  The house is filled with people and, despite our great plan that we would simply shut the door on the kitchen and live on, undisturbed by events, the builders and heating engineers are invading every room.

Starting at the top floor, we've had the floor reinforced in the cupboard in the one usable bedroom, which means that it is now out of commission until the water tank has been fitted.

Then, it was decided that, in order to provide further reinforcement, it would be a good idea to put up the stud walls in our bedroom, creating the dressing room and en-suite bathroom.  We've managed to stay in our room while this has been going on but the heating engineers are now invading H's room, in order to put water pipes in to the kitchen, while the back bedroom is also unusable while piping is being laid. So that leaves us with just one spare room - the hardship!

Carpet Up Before Wall Erected - Sorry about this dark photo!
Everything Covered in Dust Sheets

Then the Partition Miraculously Appears!
Inside the En-Suite Bathroom

From the Bathroom Looking into the Bedroom
The Dressing Room
On the ground floor, the dining room is full of stuff from every other room, Simon's study has been invaded, there are books on the floor of the sitting room, the pantry is pretty much out of use and so is the kitchen to be, formerly known as the Breakfast Room.

Work Begins on the Kitchen To Be - the North Window

The West Window
We are planning to remove the door on the cupboard in the above picture and refurbish the interior.  It will have be lit up and I'm thinking glass shelves. I was wondering which of our many 'objet d'art' we might display on these shelves and then remembered the cookery school at Daylesford Farm.

Note the Lit-Up Storage Jars 
Note the storage jars, filled with pasta and pulses, and lit up from behind.  Might try doing that.  It looks good there.  Will it work here?

The cupboards to the left of the West Window will be repainted the same colour as the kitchen units, which are dove grey (because that's the default colour and you pay more for any other!).

Cupboards to be Refurbished
The East Wall
And then the electrician began his first fix so channels started to appear in the walls.

This is the supply for the Aga

Channels on the right for sockets above work units
We've had a lighting designer in. Interesting.  He hasn't gone for fancy fittings but rather discreet LED lights that will wash the walls with light in various configurations.  There are numerous lights going into the kitchen but they will only use as much power as two 60 watt bulbs, according to the electrician.  A false ceiling is going up with a gap all round and the light will stream out from beneath. I'm intrigued to see how this will work and what effect it gives.

As they've chiselled at the walls, the builders have revealed the old wallpaper that once clad this room.  I was recently watching one of the many house renovation programmes on the television (I think it might have been George the Architect...?) and one of his clients also found some wallpaper.  She had it made into a picture for the bathroom. Not sure I like this well enough for that or that it fits in quite with our design but I have photographed it and will bear it in mind.

In the picture below, you can see that the North Window sill is being raised.  This is so that it is the same height as the work units.  And we are having a new sash window here, which is being made to measure at eye watering cost.  Actually, it's all at eye watering cost!

We've suspected that this room used to be the kitchen because the West Window is at the back of what was an inglenook fireplace and there is piping coming out of the north wall on the outside.  However, the fact that the window sill is tiled provides further evidence that we are restoring this room to what it once was - or, at least, turning it back into a kitchen.  I'm not sure that we have white tiles and orange wallpaper in mind!

(Apologies for the standard of the photographs.  I think I must have switched the flash off.)