Category Archives: House move

At last – an update. Venice (again) and the new car

Even the not-so-eagle-eyed will have noticed that I haven’t posted anything for a while and the longer it goes between posts, the harder it is to sit down and put anything “on paper”.

But, after a couple of months and with a hint last week, there must be something to share.

Firstly, there has been another trip to Venice – our fourth. I have said in the past that once the city gets under your skin, it’s the kind of place that you just have to go back to. As “old hands”, we are now familiar with where to go and where to eat, etc., but even this time we did at least three things that we hadn’t done before on previous trips.

We went out to Torcello, the first island inhabited in the lagoon – quite a strange, quiet place now that there are only a couple of hundred people living there rather than the 20,000 that used to fill the island. Lots of silted up small canals, a couple of restaurants for the tourists walking from the vaporetto to the ancient church with its amazing fresco. And that’s about it. Worth the short ride from Burano though.

Torcello

Secondly, we went to the Doges’ Palace, the magnificent seat of power for the Venetian empire. Quite why we haven’t been there before I don’t know, but it’s well worth a visit, if only to walk across the Bridge of Sighs.

Sighs

Thirdly, we decided to go to Harry’s Bar to sample a Bellini, a peach and prosecco cocktail invented there. Sitting at the bar, these two short drinks set us back 45€, but it was an experience – that doesn’t need to be repeated.

Finally, we decided to try the cicchetti at the little wine shop near to the gondola workshop. We had been there before, but just to try the coffee. This time, we braved the 2€ glass of prosecco (much more reasonable, I am sure you will agree…) and their small canape-like cicchetti on a slice of “french” bread. Some had smoked salmon on cream cheese, others had dried and salted cod. They were all delicious and again, bargains at 1.50€ each. Enough lunch could be had for two for only 13€. Highly recommended.

Cantine

And, here are some random snaps from the rest of the few days

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I have had the new car just over a week now. Mercedes are, unsurprisingly, buggering me about over the collection of the old one. The car itself is also making life difficult, by throwing up a “you need to have your brakes checked” warning on the dashboard. You cannot hand a car back with such warnings, so I will have those sorted this week

The new BMW is simply astonishing. It’s difficult to describe how different it is from the Mercedes, in just about every way.

It has an unbelievable amount of power, and loads of torque right across the rev range. The acceleration is astonishing and almost addictive – but that is what needs to be kept in check, for the sake of the fuel consumption, the tyres and of course, my licence!

Unlike the Merc, it goes round corners, with the car going where you point it, rather than some random destination outside of the curve. It’s also surprisingly quiet, unless you have it in Sport mode where some flaps in the exhaust open up to make it a bit louder – I don’t do that.

Going back to real leather seats, as opposed to Mercedes’ vinyl ones is good and the BMW ones are very nice indeed.

And, the sat nav works… See, it can be done.

And, I have been getting well over 30 mpg, which is excellent.

This past week, I attended another NCRI Committee Meeting and have volunteered to join a sub-group, rather than just stay on the main committee. I haven’t had much direct involvement or requests for assistance from the committee in the year I have been involved, but it transpires that all of the real work is done in sub-committees. Hopefully, there will be more for me to do and assist with at that level.

At the forthcoming local Lymphoma Association meeting in Manchester, I have been asked to give a talk about my NCRI experiences and what it is that they do. It’s a shame that I haven’t a huge amount to tell regarding the “everyday” but I will give it a go in May.

Just before heading off to Venice (literally the same morning, but that’s another story) we had the bathroom refitted. This means that only 569 days after moving into the bungalow, every room in the place has been renewed, redecorated, upgraded and finished. Now, it’s the garden’s turn and as that gets weeded and cleared and replanted, I cannot take any credit. It’s starting to come together, in the back garden now, as well as the front and as it grows and matures, it’s going to look really lovely. Ann does a fantastic job.

Finally, Easter is upon us once again. Let’s hope that the weather next weekend is as good as it has been these last two – one can live in hope…

A word to the wise… Don’t believe the happy British Gas adverts

Back in the first week in December, British Gas installed a new boiler into our place. The old boiler, which was in the kitchen and inside one of the new wall cabinets, was probably from the 1980s and, when considered with the original hot water tank insulated with one of those red jackets that cost £5 from B&Q and the odd pair of old lady’s knickers that had fallen down in the airing cupboard (don’t ask), it seemed to make a lot of sense to have a new one installed.

We were advised by the British Gas salesman that a combi- condensing boiler was the way to go. Much more efficient that the old one, we wouldn’t need to heat up a tank of hot water to allow it to go cold during the day, but we could have “instant” hot water by the bathful, whenever we wanted it. The boiler could be fitted in the old airing cupboard, which would be freed of the old water tank and the kitchen would benefit from the additional cupboard.

So, this is what they did.

It would, of course, take 14 lifetimes to save enough on the gas bill to actually pay for the new one, but what the hell? It would also mean that the installation of a new bathroom a few months later would be able to make use of a properly plumbed in combi shower fitting rather than an electric shower.

The quote was serious money, but given our recent experience of trying to get a plumber to do work and trusting that British Gas would do a first class job – after all, that’s what all their adverts say in between the house programmes on Channel 4 – on 5th December, they came and did the work. It took them the best part of two days.

Initially, it seemed that they had done a good job. OK, they left a dirty hand print on the newly painted kitchen wall. OK, they left a shedload of crap on top of the kitchen wall cupboards. OK, they couldn’t be bothered to put overshoes on or floor protector down, as the wood burning stove guys did. But they left the place with a working boiler and instructions as to how to top up the water when the pressure gauge got to below 1 bar.

I was surprised when I had to top up the water a couple of times in the first few days and eventually, fearing that something was wrong, Ann got their Homecare team out to have a look. It turned out that they hadn’t tightened up the new thermostatic radiator valves properly and the joints were leaking. The new engineer was also “surprised” at how they had left a radiator in the bathroom, so he replumbed that for us.

All was well.

Until this afternoon, when the ceiling light in the inner hall (between the bedrooms and the bathroom) started to flicker and flash, even when switched off.

Then, water could be seen running down the wall in the living room.

Homecare were called again and I came home from the office to work at home and to see what the chap had to say. It turned out to be the same man who had come to fix the problem last time.

I had assumed that the leak was a direct result of their new installation and while waiting for the guy to arrive, made a formal complaint to British  Gas over the phone. As it transpired, it wasn’t quite true, as the leak was coming from a joint on the original system that had been under tension as it was crossed by other pipes. The new system operates at a much higher pressure than the old one and a weak joint will be found out eventually. Fair enough but it would have nice to have told about this risk when we were thinking about having this work done.

But what isn’t fair enough is the absolute bomb-site state of the loft as left by the original plumbers back in December. Photos below show the standard of their plumbing but more particularly the condition of the insulation that they left. They had just lifted the glass fibre, thrown it to one side and left it there. Further, none of the new pipes were insulated, so a load of my new boiler’s heat is heading off into the loft.

So, there’s a job for a weekend in the Spring.

And be warned. British Gas fitters are just as much cowboys as the next cowboy. Apart from the chap who has now visited twice to sort things out for us, of course.

Three photos of the way the loft was left and one of a little river of water running down the beautifully painted wall behind the sofa…

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It’s not too late to say “Happy New Year”

Is it?

Happy New Year. It’s going to be a good one this year.

As I sit here with a stinking cold – not flu, obviously, as I had the jab – I have a little time to reflect on a very good Christmas and New Year.

On the way back from visiting my folks in Maidenhead over Christmas, we avoided the horrendous nonsense that is the motorway network at a holiday time and returned via the Cotswolds. We stopped in Broadway and, on finding that The Lygon Arms is dog-friendly, we cancelled a planned trip to edinburgh on New Year’s Day, and returned there instead.

I cannot recommend it highly enough. Very friendly, very comfortable room, excellent food and breakfast and nothing too much trouble. They even offered to defrost my car for me in the morning… You don’t get that in a Premier Inn. Not cheap, but a proper treat.

While there, we popped in to Robert Welch’s shop in Chipping Campden and ended up coming away with some kit for the new bathroom (more shortly) and a fantastic kitchen knife. One of those shops where you really could spend an absolute fortune.

The bathroom, the last remaining room in the bungalow to be refurbished, is to be done in the last week of February. Since it is the only bathroom we have, it’s going to be a bit of a pain for a week (no shower in the office either), so I can see us making use of the local swimming pool showers for the duration. Still, it’s great that it’s finally going to be done as the existing one is pretty horrible. We gave up on Porcelanosa’s recommended fitters, none of whom would respond to my enquiry, and went with a family-run local company. Will probably have spent more money than the alternative, but at least it’s ordered and on its way. It’s going to make a big difference.

The postman also brought a surprise today… what a joke!

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Yes, due to my loyalty to Mercedes-Benz (ha ha!), they are offering me a personal discount of £1,500, which would be nice, if I hadn’t already told them that I never wanted another one and had a new BMW on order. Clearly they really don’t read their correspondence files, or any history of their customers or cars. They don’t deserve any loyalty, and have had none from me. This discount is also in lieu of any other dealer incentives, which might well have been more than this in any case. I am thinking of ringing them up, but actually wonder whether it’s worth the bother. Probably not, but I have nothing else to do this afternoon.

So, here are few shots taken over Christmas and the New Year, either in Broadway (no prizes) or south of the Cat and Fiddle road, between Macclesfield and Buxton, a part of England that never fails to deliver.

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Update: The dealership both liked my Tweet (that gets posted with this blog) and replied! What a laugh!

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It’s been a long time

Well. It must be about 7 weeks since I last posted an update here. That hasn’t happened in the last 7 years, so I must be getting into a much more relaxed frame of mind about things.

The Orkney holiday is a dim and distant memory now, but there is a large canvas on the wall in the spare bedroom of the Ring of Brodgar as a reminder of a very good holiday. It is a long way there, though, but we made it back in one piece in two days, so that’s not too bad. Now, in August, everyone in the world seems to be on their holidays and those of us who are able to take one outside of the school holidays feel a bit left out. So, a couple of nights away in a country house hotel in south west Wales have been booked, so that’s something to look forward to. Will try to get to Tenby for the first time ever – it looks really nice – provided we can avoid the crowds.

A birthday has come and gone since my last update too. It’s a bit upsetting when you have received a letter from a pension company saying that you have to decide what to do with your pension fund at your birthday. Nothing makes you feel quite as old as when you have to deal with a pension. Still, it wasn’t a very large pot, so I took the tax free lump sum of 25% and we will have the bathroom refurbished with that money (if we can ever find someone to do the work for us…). It’s also been my Dad’s 80’th birthday this month, so I went to visit him and my Mum and take them for lunch a couple of Sundays ago, which was nice.

Health-wise, things are fine. I am pleased that I decided not to have the CT scan this Christmas coming. It’s one less stress-inducing event that I can probably do without. I attended a meeting of the National Cancer Research Institute consumer forum last month and it will be good to get into that more deeply as the autumn comes along. I have a two-day training session to look forward to in September, which will help a great deal. Unfortunately, I found that the other lymphoma consumer on the panel, a man with whom I have exchanged a couple of emails and met for the first time at that recent meeting, died unexpectedly this week. That’s a bit of a shock as he seemed perfectly well when I met him and he was good company in the workshop sessions. I know that he will be missed by the NCRI. Let’s hope that I can take up the baton he has left behind.

I have also attended two fundraising events on behalf of Bloodwise. Firstly I shook a bucket (without shaking it) at Aldi in Neston and raised £35 in two hours. Takings are down over the year without a doubt. Last weekend I helped out at the Strawberry Tea, organised in a house and garden also on the Wirral. Again, takings on a like for like basis were down again here too. All a bit disappointing, but it was a good afternoon and lots of people enjoyed their scones and strawberries. And lots of tea.

This weekend coming will mark the first anniversary of us moving to this bungalow. Blog posts previously have charted our progress in doing the place up and we are definitely coming to the end of the interior now. I mentioned a while back that we had ordered a new front door. This was delivered and installed a few days before we went to Orkney and has made a huge difference to the look of the bungie from outside and brought loads more light inside.

Once the bathroom is done, I think I will gather a collection of before and after photographs into an album, to remind us of the hard work and time that has been put into transforming that old lady’s bungalow into our home.

So, as the summer, which really only lasted two days in July this year starts to turn to autumn (14C on the way home this afternoon), thoughts turn to Goodwood Revival in September and the Leica One Challenge in Lisbon in October. These things come around so quickly…

 

 

 

Blitz. And a place called Hope

Well, more of a war of attrition really, but after some extremely hard work on behalf of Ann, double digging this plot and removing at least three wheelie bin loads of roots and weeds, the Lost Garden of Comberbach is finally looking pretty good.

We did manage to plant the trees last week and today, I laid the turf. It looks good already, but will obviously need time to settle down and fill in the joints.

So, in nine months, along with all the other things that we have done, we have gone from this

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to this

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Now, that is what I call “progress”.

Tomorrow, the slate threshold for the French doors will be collected and I will fit that on Monday. I will also be able to finish the final pieces of skirting to the living room and the painting can completed.

The new front door will be installed on 13th June, which will make a huge difference to the look of the place.

Not sure what we are going to do with ourselves now that this is coming to an end. Move on to the back garden, probably.

And all of a sudden it’s June next week. Again.

Time to think about the summer holiday. Orkney this year, in a cottage that is walking distance from Skara Brae, so that should be good in the long, long evenings up there in late June. It’s a long drive just for a week, but we do get to stay at The George in Inveraray on the way home, so that’s good. However, our stop on the way up is north of Inverness, so that will be a bit of a trek one Friday in a few week’s time.

June is also the time to see my consultant for 10 minutes. I am sure that it will be business as usual when I see him. To be honest, I don’t think that six-monthly check-ups are even worth it any more, but seeing as BUPA pay him about £250 every time he sees me, I am sure that we will carry on like this over the next few years. I am pretty sure that if this were an NHS clinic, I’d be on 12 monthlies by now. What these appointments do, though, is get me thinking about “things” again, despite the fact that I’m feeling very well. I AM very well. But the upcoming clinics just get you to think about what might be to come a bit more often than during the rest of the year.

One interesting thing that seems to be emerging from studies of people who have had stem cell transplants ( a real possible treatment for me some time in the future ) is that they seem to be presenting with heart disease much more often than the general population. Given that the process involves harvesting your stem cells, growing them in the lab, while simultaneously killing off your entire immune system, such that you have to spend three weeks in complete isolation in hospital as they reintroduce your stem cells and you grow yourself a new immune system, is it any wonder that other parts of the body decide to rebel? Heart problems could be a price worth paying to avoid the consequences of not having a transplant, though. I don’t know. If ever that were to be a possibility, that’s a long way off, so I shall file that under “not yet pending” and not worry about it.

What I have also learned over the past weeks, having attended the Lymphoma Association’s Annual Conference in Nottingham at the beginning of the month (and elsewhere) is that it is a good idea to volunteer for clinical trials if one is available when you next need treatment. There is a lady who attends the support group in Manchester for example, who was on a trial for a new antibody therapy and her disease has been all but wiped out completely. To be fair, so has mine at present, having had the best standard treatment available at the time when I needed it. I have said this before, and I will no doubt say it again, but I am a very lucky man. I know it. And I am very grateful.

A question was asked at the Conference as to whether there was a link between pesticides and herbicides used in agriculture and lymphoma. The expert consultant on the panel (who also happens to be on the NCRI Committee that I joined recently) suggested that there was a definite link, when the population as a whole is considered. It is impossible to say whether an individual’s lymphoma can be attributed to these chemicals, but the growth in incidents of lymphoma over recent years mirrors, but lags behind, the growth in the use of agrochemicals. Never was there a better time to eat organically and stay away from farms than in the 1960s and 70s.

Oh well… If only we had known then, what we know now.

It doesn’t really matter what the cause is, or was. I have this and while it’s dormant now, it’s not going away permanently and I’m fine with that. What does matter, and I believe and hope that things are improving, is that we as a society, continue to reduce the use of agrochemicals and give our children and grandchildren a chance of avoiding lymphomas, or any other disease for that matter.

If the link with farming is proven, (can you prove that?) wouldn’t it be nice to live long enough to see that the incidence of new lymphoma falls year on year as the use of agrochemicals reduces too?

Bill Clinton once said “I still believe in a place called Hope”.

So do I.

(Blimey, I’m sounding like a tree hugger)

(Blimey 2, I have actually written something about lymphoma in this blog about lymphoma. What is the world coming to?)

 

 

I bought an orchard today

The builders did turn up – all six of them. At first it was a bit like the Chuckle Brothers meet Carry On Building, but with some guidance, they managed to get a long way yesterday.

We went from this:

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to this:

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in a day. Pretty good work I think.

Plenty of making good to do, but the amazing amount of extra light that the doors bring to what is actually quite a dark sitting/dining room is really welcome.

Some of them will be back on Monday, to continue to make good, plaster etc. And they will start the repointing of the external walls – the existing pointing is really bad, so it will be good to have that sorted.

Maybe next weekend, I can start the flooring in here…

So, where does the orchard come in?

Here:

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They say that every man (and woman, of course) should plant a tree during their lifetime. Well, there are four lifetime’s worth coming soon.

The two coal bunkers with the metal lids are in the skip and the weeds have been treated with weedkiller. In a couple of weeks, I should be able to rotovate this area, pull up the worst of the roots and turf the whole lot. Again, in “The Plan”, there are some fruit trees in here, and these will be the ones that are now in their containers in the back garden. Have decided that an eating apple (Braeburn), a cooker (Bramley) and a pear (Comice) will all sit happily in this space and provide a nice place to sit out in the summer.

I also bought a damson, to replace the one that had to be taken out of the hedge last autumn. The fruit from that one did make a very nice damson gin…

So, another couple of steps forward…

Once again, the end is near… A different end, this time.

Soon, it will be the beginning of this end.

On Friday, 9 months after moving into the “new” bungalow, the builders will be starting to install the new French doors in the wall of the dining area. As soon as they have completed these works, we will be able to take up the hideous stained carpet left by the previous owner, I will be able to finish the laying of the oak floors (together with the skirtings, coving and architraves) and the room can finally be decorated. The carpet is the last thing in the place that was the old lady’s and it will be good to finally put it in the skip. Replacing it with the floor will make a huge difference, as will the extra light that the French doors will bring.

The builders should have started on Monday, but, well, we know what builders are like…

We have done pretty well with the refurbishment works. The hard work tends to come in fits and starts, with a lot of work being done over a couple of weekends, then nothing for a month or so while we wait for someone else to do something. Despite enjoying doing the work, it will be good when it’s finished and we can get back to doing whatever it was we did before moving.

The only thing that will remain will be the bathroom – we have a fitter that can do the work, so it’s “only” a question of finding the right suite and tiles.

Oh, there’s the garden to do too, although a start has been made on that recently. The area at the front, cleared before Christmas, has now had a serious weed killer treatment, ready for a good rotovation later in the spring. The two old concrete coal bunkers have been broken up and placed in the skip, and things are looking a bit tidier out there already. I think that turfing the area will be the way forward in the first instance, with some fruit trees to be planted in the autumn. Two apples, one cooker and one eater, and a pear, will probably do the trick, although it would be good to replace the damson tree that had to be taken down in the back garden.

The loosely described patio area to the side of the new French doors and kitchen will need lifting and replacing with something more suitable. At the other side of this paved area, there is the hedge to the adjacent field and I am thinking of building a slate wall along that inner boundary to more rigidly define the edge. I have been researching dry-stone walling courses and have found one in the Peak District that might just do the job. We don’t want or need a real dry-stone wall, but learning some of the techniques required will no doubt be useful if I do proceed with the slate wall idea.

The other fairly major thing to worry about in the garden is the pond. A few weeks ago, we were treated to a couple of dozen frogs all getting frisky in this little pond, croaking like it was going out of fashion.

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Two days later they had gone, but the frog-spawn evidence that they have left behind is now developing nicely. We will have to make sure that the water level is topped up for when the tadpoles emerge, as it’s all a bit overgrown at the moment and then decide what to do about it later in the year when they have either hopped off, or been eaten by whatever eats tadpoles. It’s only a small pond, but if it’s to be removed, it ought to be done properly.

So, I have given myself a target of the end of April to have the inside of the place finished (achievable) and maybe my birthday in July for the garden to have been moved forward (also achievable).

When it gets to the first anniversary of the move, in August, I think that we will have to get the fizz out.

Any excuse.

“The Bungalow” and a sincere “Thank you”

Have been a bit busy over the last month, as most people are at this time of year. What with office Christmas dos, shopping (not much of that!), Christmas and New Year itself, it’s been the usual sort of December here.

What has been occupying my time, especially over the actual 10 days away from the office, is doing more work on the bungalow. I am slowly getting used to saying “the bungalow” and not “the house”, but it still doesn’t seem quite right. A bungalow is what old people live in. A bungalow has connotations of living by the sea, in one’s dotage. “Let’s buy a bungalow near the sea when we retire”. Let’s not.

As some previous posts here confirm, this bungalow is actually a pretty good property for where we are in our lives right now. We are not old, but we are getting there. When the work to it is complete (more of that later), it will have been dragged screaming and kicking in the 21C, having languished under the previous owner in the early 80’s. It’s surprising how much work actually needs to be done to achieve this. But, living in a one storey property is actually no different from living in an apartment or a flat, once you are through the front door. We just have the benefit of garden to three sides and, remarkably, the cows in the fielded next door for neighbours. I have to say that this is a pretty good spot and I am glad that I was persuaded to come and have a look.

So, this week, I have mostly been laying more new flooring. Having done two bedrooms a month or so ago, it was now the turn of the study and the inner hall. The latter was a complete pain, given that it has six doorways to contend with. However, once the study had been cleared, the task for both rooms was pretty much completed by 9pm that night. Skirting boards etc followed the next day as did redecoration of the study, before putting all the stuff back in… Just some making good of walls and architraves to complete now.

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Usually the week between Christmas and New Year is a bit of a lost week, but having done this work, it’s good to look back and see that more has been achieved.

I have mentally set a target of completing the works to the bungie by Easter. That could be achievable, depending on the weather, and depending on whether the bathroom is included, but it would be good to have the living / dining room completed by then. A man is to be phoning us this week with a view to surveying the fireplace for a replacement and the French doors are pencilled in for installation over the next few weeks – definitely weather dependant!

Oh, mustn’t forget the garden…

I had intended to try to see the new Star Wars film at the cinema this week, as I understand from reliable sources that it is “a-maze-ing” :), but that will have to wait until later. Maybe we can go next weekend.

So, what does the New Year bring?

During the week, we went up to Keswick to buy some thermal underwear for our forthcoming trip to Norway, which is now only 9 weeks away. Although the winter here has been ridiculously mild – I have had to scrape frost from my windscreen only once so far this winter – that’s unlikely to be the same that far north. So, proper Norwegian merino wool long-johns and base layers are now waiting in the drawer. Very flattering! This reminds me, I must organise a hire car for a day whilst we are there, so that we can do a bit of exploring around the fjords. And I must get my sensor cleaned professionally before I go.

Other things to look forward to later in the year is a first visit to Orkney in June and the Leica trip to Lisbon in October, a weekend that may turn into a week, if something interesting can be organised.

As a round up for the year, once again, I am delighted to be here to thank everyone who has supported me through the year. Given that I am in remission now, and have been for a while, I am starting to feel a bit of a fraud, when it comes to “suffering” from this disease. As of now, indeed, as of July 2010, I haven’t really been suffering from this disease at all, but part of that wellness is down to the people around me, who love me and support me and pick me up when I’m feeling a bit down. I honestly don’t know what I would do without you.

Thank you.

Wishing everyone who reads this a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

Shed day tomorrow

Three weeks into the new bungalow and things are moving forward at a steady but sensible pace. It takes ages to get some of these things sorted but others progress a bit more quickly.

Last weekend was the last Bank Holiday before Christmas and I was able to put the extra day on the weekend to good use. Despite only being a 2 1/2 bedroomed bungalow, our new home had two WCs, one in the main bathroom, and one off the hall opposite the front door. Given the small size of the kitchen and distinct lack of room for a washing machine and tumble drier one of the decisions taken since moving in was to sacrifice the second WC and convert the room into a utility room.

So, in the space of an afternoon (and an hour on one evening during the week), the room went from this…

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to this…

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Since the photo was taken, the walls have been made good, the flooring has had the trimming added to the perimeter and the whole place looks a lot tidier. And, yes, that is the washing machine sitting next to the lovely avocado loo. It is powered via an extension lead from the hall. Goodness only knows how long the old lady had her machine set up like this, but you can see the pressing need for a proper utility room…

Once we can get the electrician round – tradesmen are expensive, hard to come by, take an age to respond and then need at least a week or two before they can “fit you in” – the rest of the room will take no more than half a day to complete and we will be able to do the washing and drying (if necessary) sensibly again.

The “study” has been created, even though it hasn’t been decorated. With the boxes and boxes of photographs on shelves, and a desk courtesy of my friend Roy “Are you looking for a desk? I’ve got a spare desk. I will sell you my desk” it actually works very well. One day we will get round to stripping it and repainting the walls but for now that’s not a priority.

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The kitchen is the most serious job that cannot be DIY’d. A joiner is to pay us a visit during the week to prepare a price which isn’t just a “dry fit”. I hadn’t heard that term before either, but basically it means that he will take the new kitchen cabinets, worktops trim etc and fit them. He won’t do any plumbing or electrics. “It won’t work” were his exact words. So, he basically tells you a price for half a job over the phone, then comes round to tell you what the whole proper job will cost.

It’s like pulling teeth. Or waiting for your CT scan results. Everything takes a fortnight’s wait.

Tomorrow, the new shed arrives. When ordered, the confirmation said that it would be delivered some time between 06:00 and 19:00. Very useful, that is… This evening, I received an email from them to say that it would be delivered between 13:53 and 17:53. I suppose that’s something and it gives me the morning to break up the old shed that lies in a pile stacked against a wall in the back garden. Must choose a decent colour to paint it. A nice light National Trust green I think, the days of stained sheds being well and truly over.

Oh, and I have submitted a planning application to both convert the garage into another reception room and insert french doors into the west-facing wall in the dining area. If we get that work done, it will make a huge difference to the amount of light in the room, which is a bit dark sometimes, even during the day.

So, now that we have been here three weeks and done an awful lot in that time, how am I feeling about the move? Positive, I am pleased to say. The shorter journey to work is a real boon, even though Ann has further to drive when she goes to work. Fortunately, the traffic has been kind to her so far, but there will come a day when there is a problem on the motorway and she will have a difficult time getting home. Let’s hope that isn’t too often.

The village is a nice place to live and the neighbours very friendly. There are some nice walks from the front door and the pub has a decent food offer and decent beer.

I did get an email from The Marsh Cat yesterday, advising to book early for Christmas (I don’t think that all the children have gone back to school yet, and the Christmas emails have started…). It begged the question, “Do you miss The Marsh?” In all honestly, I can say “No”. We used to go a lot, often once a week. The people there were brilliant and the food very good. But, towards the end of our time there, it almost became a habit, rather than something of a treat – a nice problem to have, of course. But since we moved here, despite the fact that we do not have a fully functioning kitchen, we have only eaten out twice. I have found that interesting.

A weekend in the garden beckons.