Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Hi all,

This is just to let everyone know that the blog has now moved here ... see you there!


Wednesday, 25 March 2009


You know, it's so gratifying when you can begin to see things coming together.

I always had a feeling that things would work out well here but it was entirely down to instinct and no small amount of optimism. It's been a lovely experience, getting to know people, watching the house come together and getting used to things. People say that it's all fine and good haring off to a part of the country where you don't know anyone on a whim but it's not practical or rational or sensible but sometimes you just have to go with the gut. As various walls come down and units go up, it's like a metamorphosis. In some ways, I feel a little bit as if they are reflecting changes in me, building a life as much as a house. I am slowly making friends and starting to recognise faces around the place, getting to know the area and the walks and coming to grips with owning the house. I start a new job a week on Monday, in a fun shop with what seem to be very nice people indeed. It all seems to be settling down and coming together and the foundation that's creating makes me very happy.

There is still plenty to keep me busy, enough for months yet and I'm grateful for it because I am not the sort of person who deals well boredom. There are curtains to be made (at least when I have fathomed the method of it) and cushions to be sewn together, walls to be painted and bits all over the place to be touched up.

Now that the kitchen units are installed, it really gives me an idea of the size and scale of the kitchen, and I have developed a yearning for a round table. It's perfect for the kitchen and suits the wonky, wavy dynamics of the kitchen. Not to mention that I don't live far from Glastonbury in what was once the mystical Isle of Avalon, so it's very fitting to have a round table. So, bearing in mind budgets and other such tedious things, I started scouring ebay for round kitchen tables but not a lot was coming up, and then as if by magic one popped up on Freecycle. I LOVE Freecycle - it's genius and free which fits with my attempts to be ethical and recycle more and not spend lots of money. So M kindly offered to come with me and let me use his van to transport it home and it fits perfectly. In fairness, it was covered with that disgusting orange varnish that a lot of modern wooden furniture uses but it's coming off quite easily in between the paint stripper and the odd bit of sanding. I'm going to oil and wax it soon when I get the last of the varnish off and it'll be perfect with my little painted wooden stools and a nice vase of flowers in the middle. Not enough to fit 12 knights around, but I'm not greedy - I can make do with four!

I saw a genius idea that I am planning to steal from The Shabby Chair on headboards that may have me nipping down to the local reclamation yards in Wells and Glastonbury at some point to see if I can find some old doors so I can create a fab headboard for my bed based on some of these ideas. And that's before I seriously get down to the photography and start planning greater and grander things.

Perhaps things aren't perfect, perhaps perfect doesn't exist. But here and now, in my little cottage, in my little city - it's all close enough to perfect for me.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Kitchens Ahoy

Sorry to be a bit remiss with the posting, but the last couple of weeks have largey been spent trying to make some sense of the kitchen units, sans instructions and getting the tiles down. Progress has been a bit slow but here are the photos of progress so far:

Chaos in the kitchen as the old kitchen sink is pulled out to make way for the new one...

The new worktop, base units and double oven along the far wall. Waiting for the space for the hob to be cut out.

Workstation in along the far wall and about half the kitchen tiled is roughly how we've been living for a couple of weeks... A little untidy but livable

You could amost imagine it was finished, couldn't you?

Another photo of the back wall in progress.

Martin, my lovely builder, laying more tiles for the floor.

Martin and Sue getting the new sink area ready for installation

Lovely new plug sockets to go with the lovely new worktops...


I feel like I really ought to be doing a better job in keeping this blog up to date, but it's everything happens at a rate of knots and I find myself falling asleep before I know it. It must be the age (or something of the like) ... So, we're nearly at the end of the building run. It's taken a lot longer than we expected.

The bathroom floors were an interesting experience all in all. They were in a bit of a state from a previous woodworm infestation and took a prehistoric age to sand properly. Then we oiled them with a number of coats of Danish oil to touchen them up and make them waterproof before waxing them for a nice natural finish. Normally, the wood starts to take in less oil by the time they've had a couple of coats but my floorboards were thirsty and drank up the oil like it was lemonade on a Summer's day. I've a sneaky suspicion that is has something to do with the fact that there are hundreds of little holes in the beams. Whilst it was a major pain for M&S, my wonderful builders, I think they look lovely now and certainly unique!

The kitchen has also caused a bit of a palava. When the designer came over, sounding as mad as a badger with TB but very knowledgeable nonetheless, I never considered asking whether each of the units came with assembly instructions as I rather assumed that they would and that any instructions that were given would be correct. Well, you know what they say about assumptions ... and by 'eck did they make an ass out of me!

Given an approximate date of when we would be ready to start installing the kitchen, I spoke to the kitchen company and asked them to arrange delivery on that specific date and giving them a week's notice. Being ever-cautious, I rang up the day before to make sure that everything was still okay for delivery the next day only to be greeted by a woman who knew nothing of this and thought delivery was three weeks into the future.

Now, there is no way on God's green earth that I could be described as a patient woman, and I am even less so when I find that people can't even write a note on a PC, and phone a warehouse to ensure an order is ready for a delivery date. I was blisteringly angry, and suspect it may possibly have come across on the phone. In my quietest (which roughly equates to my angriest) voice, I asked whether she really thought this was good enough. The lady agreed that it really wasn't but could arrange delivery in three days time if that was okay by me.

Well, thankfully, there was enough for the builders to be getting on with in the meantime so there was no time wasted so we got on with doing a few odd jobs and getting some of the floor tiles down in the kitchen. The kitchen then finally arrived - extremely late and the delivery guy was hassling me to sign for them. Normally I check each box individually to make sure there is no damage before I sign but as we painfully discovered, the boxes weren't labelled in a way that we could tick them off against a packing list so there was no option but to sign them with a note saying 'recieved but not checked'. The next day, finding no instructions or hints as to which boxes corresponded to which units, we give their helpline a call. Helpline is clearly a divinely ironic term. Apparently they've only just gone from supply and fit to supply only and don't really have any documentation. Apparently the standard thing is that one of their guys assembles the units and then someone else can fit them but for some reason, that doesn't form part of my order. Cracking. So poor old M&S just decide to crack on and work it all out as they go along and by gum, do they make a sterling job of it. Units start to appear out of nowhere and you can almost begin to get an idea of the scale of the new kitchen. More tiles start to go down and then we were really starting to make headway.

So, even though we're not quite finished yet, you can really start to get an idea of what it's going to be like when it's all done, and I start to get an idea of doing some painting and decorating. There is an internal window in the bathroom that needed stripping down and repainting so I thought I'd give it a crack. There's far more paint than you would credit - paint on top of paint on top of more paint on top of varnish. I've been through two cans of paint stripper already and I'm still only half of the way through. A note to anyone doing any paintripping - make sure you open the windows and the doors! The stuff reeks to high heaven and it wouldn't have surprised me to find myself as high as a kite after half a day in the same room as it.

I'm now thinking of paint for the rest of the house. I've never been much of a fan of wallpaper, as much as I see people do very exciting things with it. Most of the house, I think I am going to stick with a nice dark cream colour, perhaps bordering close onto butterscotch but that sort of lovely warm texture that will work well with the rough hewn walls. The kitchen and bathroom though, I think call for something a bit different. I'm in the mind for a nice light blue colour - getting towards the duck egg blue shade. In both rooms, the furniture is white or cream and I think it will be a lovely contrast between the two colours. I'll post up samples as soon as they're dry and you can all tell me your thoughts.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Award Winning Builders

In a mad bid to get the kitchen finished this week, my fabulous builders Martin and Sue from the Green Earth Construction Co have been working late and especially hard. I think they are two of the loveliest people on God's earth and I am SO glad I got them to do the work on the house. There has been a lot of tiling, oiling of worktops and fixing cabinets to the wall. This means that hopefully I'll be able to get my stuff into the cupboards today (and perhaps even manage to hook up the cooker!) so the rest can be merceliessly ripped out and the remaining tiling done and kitchen units dropped in on Friday.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Promises, promises....

It's a lovely spring morning in Somerset, and so I took the dogs out to play whilst delivering some postcards to local businesses, plugging my new website. If you happen to know of anyone in need of a good web designer, I'm your gal. A shameless plug, I know ... but a girl's got to do what she can.

I've been quite bad about updating this blog, haven't I? SO much to do, and I've spent the last couple of days just feeling incredibly drained and tired. I don't know why, I haven't really been pushing myself too hard of late but there you go.

So things are cracking on at the cottage. The kitchen arrived last Thursday, which could only be described as a massive relief. Originally, the kitchen company told me that the kitchen would come flatpacked, one of their guys would assemble it and then my chap could fit it. What they meant to say was that they're a lying bunch of toerags, who you wouldn't want to leave your Grandmother with, who would try to screw me over the minute they laid eyes on me. Bad luck for them that they didn't know who they were dealing with *wry grin*. So this leaves us with a set of flat packed boxes, no instructions and a customer helpline that would be better run by a group of mentally deficient pigeons. My builder and his good lady, being the good people that they are, take a deep breath and tell me not to worry, they can deal with it, not a problem at all. (Here's a pic of the dynamic duo in progress)

So, on they go, assembling units, oiling my worktops and so on until we realise that the kitchen designer (who most definitely needs psychiatric attention) has not ordered any drawer handles but instead used the door handles for both, which would have been fine IF they were multi-purpose handles, which they clearly are not. So I ring up the mentally deficient customer care line to be told that we cannot do a straight swap, I have to pay for the new ones (and bankrupt myself in the process) and then post the others back before being refunded. So ... slowly now so that we can all understand ... I am paying because their designer messed up. Yes, it makes perfect sense to me too.

However, my bookshelves arrived on Friday evening - A day early! I thnk I might have frightened the poor chap with my rant about poor customer service and how customers shouldn't have to pay the price for their incompetence. I dare say I might have gone off the deep end a bit, but I'm not in the slightest apologetic about it. If you take someone's money to provide goods or services then they should get what they ordered in good condition within the timeframe specified. In basic language - don't make promises you can't keep! But anyway ...

They arrived, and the delivery chaps were the same two lovely chaps who delivered my bedroom furniture (pictures to follow once the final piece arrives...), veyr pleasant young Irish chaps in their mid-twenties, who were the epitome of 'amenable'. God bless them. and found that they look spectacular in place, and fit like a glove and I couldn't be happier with them. So here come some photos of the living room with the lovely bookshelves.

It sounds ridiculous really, but I feel so much better with the bookshelves up and the books out of boxes. It really makes a difference and the place starts to feel a lot more like home, instantly. It has been suggested before that I could be addicted to books. There is a strong possibility it could be true. I love stories, no matter whether they're old stories, new stories, poems, songs, they're all stories in their own way. In the same way that we're all stories in our own ways, and we use these stories as a way of connecting with one another ... weaving ourselves into each other's lives and sharing our thoughts, and dreams and opinions. So I suppose you could say that they're almost like old friends, that you can connect with any time you like, and it DOES make me feel better, seeing them there.

So, feeling a bit inspired at the weekend, I decided to do something with the bits of driftwood I picked up in the US when I went to see my friend Dragonboy and figured that since I could use somewhere to store various bits of jewellery, I could perhaps get started by creating somewhere to store my necklackes ... so here's what I came up with:

Right, now I must away as I just sliced open my finger when I went to make a cup of tea. Long story but drawer got stuck and I sliced my hand open trying to open it. Now I'm dripping blood. I CANNOT wait for my new kitchen!!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Waiting impatiently

In search of contrition for my absence for my absence from blogland, I offer a full confession to you. It's been utterly chaotic for the last couple of days, and my camera ceased to function, which sadly resulted in no photos for your edification and delight, and me collapsing into bed last night with a migraine and cursing the chaos.

In a slightly more pain free and altogether brighter state of mind, I'm happy to bring you all up to date with the happenings at the cottage

The bathroom is nearly finished. The plasterers are in there at the moment covering up a few holes caused by ripping out some outdated boxing, and then all that's left is to create the tongue and groove panelling that's going to box in the pipes, replace the current light with a waterproof light and extractor fan and get to grips with the painting, which is not especially difficult or a lot to do. Here are some pics of it before the final finish:

The loo, sink and shelving that used to be a window

The bath, with tiled splashback (the bath is the size of a small pool and just wonderful...)

A slightly more closeup view of the bath and tiling

I do wonder sometimes if getting this excited about bath tiles and paint is slightly tragic. Either the fumes are going to my head or I need to get out a bit more. Perhaps both :)

The plasterers have been at work in the kitchen as well as the bathroom (and still are) and here are some photos of them at work. Lovely chaps the both of them, while Martin and Sue, my lovely builders have been insulating the loft and getting the first section of kitchen tiles in and ready for the kitchen to arrive any minute now. Hopefully, providing they haven't messed up again (fingers crossed) so here are some pics of what's happening now:

Monday, 2 March 2009

Kitchen update

Not a long one today as utterly exhausted. Came home on Friday to find the kitchen wall demolished and the downstairs bathroom totally taken out - woop! See photos below. My builder and his girlfriend are wonderful people.

On a not so cheery-making note, the company who's supplying my furniture 'forgot' to make my bookcases so they're a week late and the kitchen company apparently had no record on their system that they were supposed to be delivering tomorrow, and have had to delay until Thursday AND the guy who was supposed to be replacing the boiler apparently didn't get my acceptance email and now can't do anything until the end of the month.

I find it ASTONISHING. Is bad customer service par for the course these days or is this just bad luck? Clearly a delayed Friday 13th effect. Humph.