Friends, Family and Finishing Things!

I seem to have become fixated on letter titles – the penultimate blog was based around Bs and this one – yes, you’ve guessed it around the letter F. In 2001 when we moved to Bexhill in East Sussex with our family we bought a house that could accommodate all the visitors from our time living in London and around – this did not happen as friends became embroiled in bringing up teenagers, making homes and careers. So imagine our surprise and delight to find that despite having moved to a place that none of our friends knew about previously we have had a very welcome stream of visitors, up here, next to the mighty Humber. The advent of friends arriving (and staying!) certainly put purpose into our activities and so lots of finishing off was at least started (if not entirely finished!!).

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Good start Chris but I feel sure that the shower needs a little something else! Look at that lovely tiling!

Great! This is at last looking like the en-suite we had planned – well at least the essential element is in place.

Hooray – a sink and unit, a shower and enclosure, a toilet and towel rail. Of course you can’t see the underfloor heating but it is there and ready to go – lucky visitors.

This really is a bit of finishing off – thanks to a lucky find at B&Q Chris was able to finish the bare walls above the tiling with pale grey wall cladding and then replace the extractor (unfortunately not yet linked to the electricity so yet another job to finish). On the aesthetic front though, I think you’d agree that everything is certainly coming together.

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To be sure these two were not part of the June, July or August visitors but they were among the very first and besides it is such a jolly photo that I had to include it. So, welcome, Renee and Jim, dear friends and allies in all things house building!

Just after my Dad had gone into Crosshills in June, for respite we were visited by the lovely Dan, Nic and delightful Marleigh as they had been to see Gramps during that morning. Notice how Dan easily fitted the chair his Mum had given to me to renovate (and no, you can’t have it back now, Dan). Marleigh was well at home and happily investigated the designated children’s bedroom in our house. What a lovely and loving family we have.

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Ah, Chris and Rick our first visitors in July (photo taken at their lovely son, Huw’s wedding in October last year but they are shy creatures and hard to snap in any circumstances). They were both on a kind of Elizabethan Processional around the country visiting relatives and friends around the Isles of Albion and so arrived on Tuesday 12th July. We were delighted that they would be the first guests to use our new guest room and en-suite and very fitting as they have been friends of Chris for over 40 years and with me for a mere 38! What a lovely evening we had. The following morning we all had to deal with the sad news of my Dad’s death earlier that morning. Chris and Rick we would both like to say a very big thank you for the love and tender support you offered us on that morning. Thank you.

 

Following very quickly on the heels of Chris and Rick were our friends from Spain, Lola and Ed with their friend Vickie and her son Felipe from Argentina. Chris felt it was a good idea not to cancel their visit planned for the Friday 15th July and as it turned out it was brilliant. Chris told them about my Dad’s death and they immediately offered to change plans but as we had just learnt from my Father’s sudden death it is always better to seize the moment and so we did. Friends are truly the family that we can choose and we were so blessed with the friends who lightened our lives that week.

 

By Monday 18th July we had more finishing schedules to meet. Madeleine had been busy designing and working on a Geography project for school so with Grandad’s help she was able to realise her plans and in the process learnt how to use a variety of tools! I did stop Chris from letting her use the chop saw!

Madeleine’s completed project to show the way climate change effects the sea levels. One book end shows a beach in 2016 and the other acting as a timeline shows the same beach in a 100 years time. Notice the sea level on the right hand one has come up much higher and the beach is now dirty and brown rather than golden. She also made some mock books with titles and authors to do with climate change – very nice and finished!

 

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Thank you to Peter for his thoughtful gift of flowers for both my Mother and for me on the death of my Father; these were especially thoughtful as it was also the first anniversary of Pat’s death. The flowers and the sentiments were greatly appreciated, Peter.

 

So, talk about finishing – at last it was the finish of the school term and on the first day of the holidays we went off to Baysgarth Park. Madeleine’s first year at Baysgarth School, Year 7, had been completed successfully as had Matthew’s Year 4 and he had made all his targets – well done, darling boy. Daisy was finishing pre-school and will be starting ‘big school’ in September.

Saunders Close

So? What a finish. The last of our visitors were the Saunders and Chris just could not resist this cheeky road sign to indicate their visit – just as well, since sightings of the lesser spotted (quite literally) Saunders’ is a rare event so I am sorry folks but no photos of our final visitors with whom we spent a really great weekend full of laughter and eventually aching ribs!

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So, my final entry goes to my Father,

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Funeral was held on 1st August 2016

July 2016 – In Memoriam

Two years ago on the 27th July 2014, Chris’s brother, David Shortle died. This was a sad time for the family. David had been severely crippled with arthritis for most of his adult life but despite this he determinedly managed to live independently until the last, with the love and devotion of his younger brother, Peter and his partner, Pat and the unflagging friendship and aid of his friend, Keith Moon.

David at Harper Road

The following year on the 19th July 2015 Peter’s partner Pat of almost 40 years died tragically in hospital.  Pat was a warm and generous person who loved her family very much and is still deeply missed.

Pat and Peter Christmas 1979 at Oberstein Road, Battersea. The first 'family' Christmas for us and a one year anniversary for us all - Chris and I one year going out and the first year of knowing Pat and Peter. My new family.
This is a lovely photograph of Pat and Peter Christmas 1979 at Oberstein Road, Battersea. The first ‘family’ Christmas for us and a one year anniversary for us all – Chris and I one year going out and the first year of knowing Pat and Peter. My new family.

July has been a month of tremendous loss in our families, so it was with great sadness that we added my Father’s death on the 13th July 2016. We miss him greatly.

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One of the last family events was to celebrate my Dad’s birthday on the 19th May 2016 when he reached 88 years old. We had a really wonderful afternoon, filled with love, laughter, cake, candles and cards. Daddy was always at his best in a social gathering, often recounting stories of his misspent youth or escapades in the RAF but always smiling and full of fun. He loved us all very much and he took great pleasure in spending time with his family and friends and it is so wonderful to look back on this occasion and see just how much he enjoyed it.

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Seven weeks before he died, Daddy went to Crosshills Care Home as part of a respite package and as with every place he went, he was soon cracking jokes and filling the place with smiles and laughter and was a popular member of that small community. In those last few weeks Pamela, his wife, his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren all visited and the photo above is a clear indication of the love and happiness that surrounded him. The family held a small but intimate funeral service for him on Monday 1st August 2016.

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Eric John Bloomfield 19.05.1928 to 13.07.2016

Dear Daddy, Gramps, Great Grandpapa, we miss you and we remember you with tears and smiles.

Bathrooms (bodging), Birthdays, Baking, B&Bs and Blooms

Apologies – it has been an age since I wrote anything for the blog. So, hopefully, this post will update all the action for the last two months. Hang on to your hats for a swift passage through these last few hectic weeks!

So, we’ll start “at the very beginning, a very good place to start ..” but in fact joining up with the last post where we left James and Mariery ensconced in their new home together in Hastings. Following this the final member of the Panamanian club returned to the UK and christened James and Mariery’s flat with its first visitor! Chris and I followed down to Winchelsea for a long weekend with Madeleine and Matthew – great larks, lots of laughs, sentimental walks, beach-combing and family bonding.

We all met up at The De La Warr Pavilion – everyone on time! We had lots of chats and catch up over delicious coffees, David and James caught up with some friends and a good time was had by all.

Battle Great Woods was a sentimental day out – long walks between the towering trees and through the bluebell carpets and into shaded woodland bedecked with Wood Anemones and Celandine. The grandchildren made stick shelters ably assisted by Grandad and swung dangerously and delightedly high on rope swings.

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Boys on the way back home after a lovely Bank Holiday weekend away.

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Girls on the way back home after a wonderful weekend away – everyone looks tired!

Back home the garden has been quietly breaking into bloom – so delicate and so beautiful.

However, we have also been doing some seeding and sprouting ourselves; here we have the courgettes ready for the allotment, the surprising walnut tree that I planted after a cheeky squirrel deposited it on our patio and even more surprising, an amazing avocado plant that I grew from the stone. I have never been able to grow one to this size before …

So, May continues and Madeleine had been revising ratios in Maths at school and decided to not only complete the ‘recipe ratio’ worksheet but also cook the cakes and explore just how much Maths was involved in cooking. Don’t you think the little gingerbread cupcakes are adorable? The cupcakes were also gingery, really delicious.

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As if it isn’t bad enough that your grandparents and Mum are teachers now your Uncle has to get in on the act. Both ‘boys’ enjoying a good story before Matthew goes off to school and Uncle David sweats it out in the gym (too much brain work not good for PTs!

We’ve done B for Battle Great Woods, B for baking, B for boys, B for books, B for blooms now it is B for buttering (and B for bread, of course). Daisy (the youngest granddaughter) is always keen to help, especially as it is Gramps’s birthday (see, another B).

Daisy is duly consulted about who should blow out the candles and she thinks it really should be Gramps who does the honours. One, two, three, blow …. not only extinguishing the candles but also blowing white chocolate flakes over the table! Great effort, Gramps! B for birthday and B for Mary Berry Very Chocolatey Cake.P1170433

Happy 88th Birthday, Daddy. Congratulations Mummy and Daddy on your 65th Wedding Anniversary. Looking good you two x

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Here are just some of the lovely things that go on in our garden in Barton upon Humber – fun things, relaxing things and growing things. P1170364

Just another thing that happens in our garden – Matthew and Grandad putting together the new garden bench – yup, another B.P1170360

Someone else has been busy building in our garden – behind the water butt and on top of the wood from the house renovation a pair of blackbirds have built a cosy nest.

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In the half term holidays at the start of June we had a few days away in Pevensey – we took down more stuff for Mariery and James (I am not sure where they are going to put it!) and we stayed in a really lovely B&B called The Limes – well worth a visit. Whilst we were down near Hastings we stayed with Barbara and celebrated her birthday along with lots of really lovely friends. Happy Birthday Barbara – more Bs.

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So we happily set sail into June with lots of birthdays (more Bs), first was Barbara’s on June 2nd, Suzanne’s on June 6th and then Madeleine’s on June 13th – due to her birthday falling not only on a school day but also a Monday the celebrations started on Friday 10th June (trying to outdo the Queen in terms of birthday events I think) with a sleepover and a Totoro cake commissioned by the Birthday Girl herself. The guests all decorated yet more cakes which can be seen in the tin – well done all you creative souls. This was followed by a sleepover with us and a visit to see Gramps at Crosshills ( a lovely photo to follow). On Monday morning before going to school a birthday croissant was an absolute must and finally we wrapped up the day with birthday tea with Grandma and the family – of course more cake was needed so Victoria Sponge a la Mary Berry was the crowning glory. Felt fairly baked out after that!Crosshills

June 12th 2016. Beautiful – the joy of families.

Well this is the B for Bathroom as in tiling the bathroom and also I am ashamed to confess my B for bodging – please note the judicious use of a toothbrush to hold the tiles in place. Chris was delighted – he has won at last and got me to use a bodge. I hang my head in shame! Psssst but it worked.

Chris had a really great idea about our friend, Heather Parry who has recently won an award as a promising young writer – Well done, Heather! To celebrate this Chris made a lovely Blue Plaque for her – tee hee, very naughty! Even funnier was the number of people that stopped to read it …

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In  between visiting us and dropping David off, Heather also attended a Hindu wedding before finally disappearing with our youngest son to sunny Edinburgh.

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B for boxes – after staying for a few days Heather and David took with them lots of frozen produce from the garden and the allotment so Chris being the inventive little person he is made them a cool box lined with wall insulation! B for garden bounty.

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On June 18th Matthew had his 9th birthday at Legoland so I made a picnic hamper filled with party goodies including these little cupcakes so that they could celebrate ‘al fresco’ in Windsor. More Bs – birthday buns!! He has had such fun this month as he not only turned 9 but he got his dojo at school for great reading and he has been looking after our neighbour, Ursula’s chickens and proudly bearing home the eggs they have laid. Well done Matthew.

Back to bathrooms – well, technically an en suite but it did not start with B! Chris has installed all the electrics and the grid for the underfloor heating – lucky visitors.

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I just thought I would end with this lovely photo of my Mum and Dad – we love you.

Panama to Hastings – the true and unexpurgated story!

Well, it hardly seems like any time at all since we were picking up James and Mariery from Terminal 2,  Heathrow (well, to be honest only Chris was doing this as I was holding the ‘family fort’ in Barton). So some five weeks later and another 610 mile round trip completed in 36 hours an average of 13.20 miles per hour (almost as fast as London Marathon Winner, Eliud Kipchoge!) Do we get a medal? I expect we deserve one. So, without further digression I shall begin the graphic story of Bodgett and Shifter or as we are known locally Wheels’R’Us.

Essential items to move

As my Mother is wont to remark, “You’ve got to have a list” and as you can see each person’s perspective on what should be taken as an essential item in the  first move proved to be quite variable. I have to add that Mariery’s list also contained ‘various yarns, multi-coloured’ and crochet hooks! Mine additionally had kitchen and toilet rolls!!!

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Hmmm, well our little garden pest may have been a tad testy but to be sure we did manage to squeeze in as much as was humanly possible into what is as yet, not designated as a pantechnicon of any type or variety, a 1999, Honda Civic Saloon affectionately named The Grampsmobile. Needless to say, being the ace packers that we are and also stupidly optimistic Chris and James managed to squeeze into every corner of the boot and lash onto the sagging roofbars a fair quantity of stuff. We were all mightily proud of ourselves and not a little bit smug when we contemplated our handiwork.

loading the car in Barton 2

Fortunately, my Dad, previous proud (and meticulous) owner of now re-named Grampsmobile was not on hand to witness the sacrilege meted out to his beloved and prized conveyance. Sorry Dad. As Chris’s drawing shows, quite graphically, the poor little Civic was fairly crushed beneath its weighty cargo – and none of us had even got in yet (with extra vital stuff). Gingerly, Chris embarked, fired up the trusty 4 cylinders and with very little resistance the ‘wagons rolled’ and the Oregon wagon train bumped up the unmade road that it is our privilege to live on.  In deference to the undercarriage of the trusty Civic the rest of us walked up to the end of the road before clambering in with bags of food, duvets, jackets and laptops – we all cheered as we crept onto the Barrow Road – we were off!

unloading at Pas and Jen's

First stop Hastings! Not bad time at all as we arrived at Pas and Jen’s home in less than five and a half hours – Leg 1 completed; James and Mariery’s friends (well, they were before we all arrived) had volunteered to let us drop off the first cargo at their home in Hastings. As anyone who has visited the beautiful seaside town of Hastings will know – it is not renowned for its verisimilitude to a tray, or in fact, to any other surface of general flatness and it is fair to say that Pas and Jen’s house has a fair degree of gradient as part of its charm. So on arriving with the overly-laden Grampsmobile we were confronted with what I can only describe as the foothills of the Himalayas – on looking around it was painfully obvious that there were no friendly Sherpas available and we could hardly rope in the bunch of musicians casually parked on their gear next door who watched with not a little amusement, our frantic and puffing exertions as we gradually unloaded the Civic. After a warming and welcome cuppa, we said our farewells to the youngsters and set off on Leg 2. Ashford here we come!

Chris’s brother Peter was pleased to see us and after a whole day of travelling we were even more delighted to see him. We spent a jolly evening being wined and dined (thanks, Pete) – homemade Chicken Chausseur (Indian style) and wine and whiskey to wash it down!

Dinner at Peter's

Of course we were all in reminiscence mode especially as Peter had recently purchased a copy of what Chris kindly described as a B movie (well this might have been a rather generous estimation alphabetically, on his part!) so, we settled down to watch ‘The cars that ate Paris’ – yup, I kid you not, there really is a film called ‘The cars that ate Paris’ ( I had to write it twice as it seems so unreal.) We of course did not show this to the trusty Grampsmobile parked outside as the unsettling dismantling of various automotives might have been too much to bear after the humiliation of being a pack mule! We all went to bed relatively early as Chris and I had another ‘delivery’ day on the Sunday and a rather tight schedule to complete if we were to get home at a reasonable hour plus it was fairly chilly in Ashford as Peter had no heating ….

The cold

Although this was a family visit it was also part of the Round Robin (why is it called that?) to collect household accoutrements that had been offered by people so Peter had donated a great microwave/convection oven to James and Mariery which was duly popped into the now empty boot of the Grampsmobile. Thanks Uncle Peter.

Beatles books and Microwave

 

……..  as well as a set of books (yes, just what we needed), then we set off for Elham in North Kent to see Renee and Jim and to collect more free things that had already found their way to Jim’s ‘shed’ via Mitcham, Carshalton and Sutton. Thanks to Rita for sofa and sundries and Simon for the bookcase and potentially other redundant homewares. The car and boot were not to remain unsullied for too long ….

loading at Elham

Oh no! Oh yes! Not only did we have to perch a kindly donated sofa bed on the roof rack but also another kind donation of a bookcase – fortunately we had purchased some fluorescent orange ratchet straps from Lidl and so these were used to great effect to lash down the re-cycled, secondhand furnishings; Baden-Powell would have been delighted. Following which we had a great brunch with Renee and Jim, Jen, Andy and Jossie before we loaded up with more useful stuff that Renee had found: curtains, cushions, throws and two plants(???) and off we set on Leg 3 of what we liked to call ‘Suitcase and Ladders’ – a game the whole family can play!

Leg 3 did not involve going straight to Hastings, do not pass go, do not collect £200.00 (oops, not only mixed my metaphors but also my games!). To recap, James and Mariery were at the time at which we were leaving Elham meeting the landlord/lady of the flat they were about to move into, which is unfurnished, and which required a bed and fridge! I had already reserved a new mattress from The Original Factory Shop in Bexhill and I had also found a small fridge freezer for sale in Bexhill on Gumtree. All Chris and I had to do was to set off to purchase these items and pack them into the long-suffering Grampsmobile – job done, then! First stop – The Factory Shop.

Loading the matress and duvet

Hmmm, not quite so much of a bargain as I had anticipated as they could only take one of my vouchers for the mattress and duvet (do not worry gentle reader, I will be writing to Head Office and requesting some sort of recompense). Outside we parked in the loading only bay (well, we were only loading after all) and packed in these items before heading to the Co-op for a few items of shopping for Mariery and James. I must admit it was starting to get a bit of a tight squeeze at this point and we still had the fridge freezer to get into the boot of the car! Oh well, never say never!

 

James had arranged with the Gumtree seller (no, he was not selling gum trees) that ‘his parents’ would collect the fridge/freezer at about 4pm – so, all to the good we set off from the centre of Bexhill at about 3.55pm and arrived almost to the minute. Now that is what I call planning! The seller was most helpful and he wheeled the fridge out of his garage on a trolley and even helped us put it in the back of the car – no problem! We-eeeell, sort of no problem! The fridge/freezer went in easily as long as we pushed Chris’s seat forward ….. but what were we going to do with all the stuff we had taken out in order to get the aforementioned white good in?

 

packing the freezer 1

packing the freezer 2

packing the freezer 3

Carefully and slowly we set off on Leg 4 – the final push! So, Hastings here we come for the final unload. The weather forecast had predicted cold winds and intermittent rain – oh good, that will keep people off the streets and aid the unpacking process! Not so! The weather was fairly balmy and bright which meant that as we turned into the street in front of the flat there were people everywhere and not a parking space in sight as well as wall to wall double yellow lines – oh no! Chris with his usual calm headed up a side street to find a place to stop but a bit like Alice down the rabbit hole, the roads became smaller and smaller, and tighter and tighter and further to that we were now heading a slow stream of traffic as it followed us slowly (tortuously slowly) through Old Town Hastings. Finally Chris discovered a way onto the sea front and once again we approached the street where the flat is located – “There” I yelled. “Over there!” gesticulating in a wild and dangerous fashion in front of Chris’s nose to indicate a parking space (well, strictly NOT a parking space but a loading bay – well we were UNloading so I felt that sort of counted, besides I was not to gainsayed I was a woman on a mission).

Parking the car

In an inverted form of the TARDIS – (getting something big into a small space) – Chris squeezed the car with its load into the loading space between two cars that quite obviously were parked illegally (after all couldn’t they read the sign?) and thankfully we heaved a sigh of relief. James appeared and the unloading commenced …

Sofa and door problem

… of course, it couldn’t be that easy! The doorway was the least of the problems as we found out when it came to getting the fridge/freezer into the flat.

sofa upstairs

…. got to hand it to my family they are definitely triers and sometimes achievers and in this instance both! One very narrow door and two sets of narrow and steep stairs later the fridge/freezer found its new home. We were ably assisted in this venture by Junior a neighbour who introduced himself outside and asked if he could help. Lucky man got to help carry the fridge/freezer up stairs!

James and Mariery seemed delighted with their new flat and we were delighted that they seemed settled. Good luck guys in your new home and your new life xxxxx

Chris and I set off at 5.53pm with an empty car but full hearts, home by 10.23pm and in bed not long after – bliss.

 

The long March

Well, before James and Mariery arrive on Thursday evening in the now Spring-like climes of North Lincolnshire I thought I would post some of our achievements – and here I use the word ‘we’ advisedly as my brilliant husband has done most of the hard slog and I have merely organised, made lists, done family stuff and ordered things online – tee hee.

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The half finished and new soil pipe is in situ, it looks quite simple but it involved some very hard work in not only taking out the old (very old) stack and then create new holes for both the toilets. The one that is shown here is for the main bathroom but Chris has also to create a new hole for the waste from the new en-suite.

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Here it is – the new hole from the en-suite. Chris was in seventh heaven as he got to use a really massive drill piece. Actually, this is quite ‘arty’.

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This part was fun! Chris had to climb the ladder in order to put in the final last piece of the soil stack, hold the drill and ‘manhandle’the pipe into position. I helped by passing things up and regularly asking ‘Are you okay?’ – I was being supportive!

Position one for the main bathroom toilet – hmmm, maybe not! Aaah, in front of the window, that is better. Looking good and Madeleine officially opened the facility!

At the end of February I posted my progress with the renovated chair from my sister. Here is the cushion made with furnishing foam, an old duvet and covered in half of a pair of curtains from the British Red Cross. The first photo is the back of the seat with the recycled buttons and the second photo shows the lovely new addition of black and white spotted buttons.

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The finished article, not only does it fit in beautifully with the colour scheme in the front bedroom but it is very comfortable.

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Of course the littlest grandchildren are not to be left out with the building efforts – here we have the plastic cup construction. Well done you two.

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Look at this – incorporating a corner too! Notice the natty flag. Fantastic Matthew!

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Madeleine was thrilled to be the winner of the castle building project at school. Good taste as she chose the M&S choccies from the selection of prizes!

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Above you can see the progress with the demolition of the original elements of the bathroom that will now become the new en-suite.

Such a lot of mess and fine brickdust as Chris knocked through the doorway into the wardrobe area that joins the new guest room. The door lintel was already in place as we had this done in December. Chris managed to contain most of the dust and mess by incarcerating himself into the sealed area – this was mostly successful. Thank you darling. The second photo shows the doorway through into the guest bedroom and the space between the two doorways will be a new walk in wardrobe (small but perfect!).

For those of you who had difficulty recognising the dust monster it is in fact Chris! The first photo shows Chris’s Heath Robinson answer to constant grit in the eyes – yup, cling film and masking tape! He is nothing if not inventive.

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The colour of the bath water from Chris’s quick wash off after knocking down walls.

I have filled and painted the walls in the back room (what I like to call the study!) – the colour is Buttermilk but it has turned out a little yellow – nice, but a little yellow. In order to tidy the clutter and re-organise files, photos and books I ordered Ikea Billy bookcases – easy to make and they take a ton of stuff!

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Now, that’s what I like to see – all neat and tidy. Now, only the doors to put on.

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Aaagh! This is not what I want to see – more dust and a great big dust monster.

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As you know I am walking 10,000 steps a day throughout March in order to raise money for Cancer Research UK – This was just after I had walked to Tesco one morning. So far I have walked in excess of 120,000 steps – not that it appears to have made much difference to my waistline (perhaps I’d best not eat too much cake). Anyone willing to sponsor me please go to my Just Giving page – Stephanie Bloomfield – I am already halfway to my target.

 

 

 

February – leaps in progress!

So, we’ve just entered March (I know, how time flies) so I am a tad tardy in my blogging posts. To catch everyone up a bit I need to tell you that James and David are coming back to the UK to live and Mariery will be joining us here for an extended taste of British life! This of course has meant that it was imperative that we moved the renovations along apace as no doubt with the influx of people all work will take second place for some time. So, let’s get on with the round up of progress …

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After a year of fantastic service the boiler felt a bit faint and so we had to empty the cupboard where it is and boy, what a lot of stuff emerged! Anyway, the wonderful S T Leaning gas engineers came out to check it out again, having previously resuscitated it in February 2015. All well as they fixed they fan but we are living on borrowed time but for now we have hot water and heat.

P1160930 P1160928 Paul Jennison came in and started to plaster the stairwell and the roof void – a big job and high, too! Looking up the stairs you can see that we have a nice arch and the left hand side is done.

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Before and after shots of the roof void and the completed archway – it has transformed the hallways and we are so excited about the progress. Thanks, Paul, good job.

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Looking down the stairwell it is amazing to see how very light and airy the space now looks. Still lots to do but a very big boost to our spirits.

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Of course, we are not the only ones building – Madeleine spent several weeks constructing a Motte and Bailey Castle for a school competition. Chris kindly ate a pack of Tesco profiteroles in order that Madeleine could create her hill! How very selfless of him!

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We rarely buy anything if we can re-cycle, so we had plenty of paints around when it came to this stage. Notice the astute use of a tea towel.

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Looking good, Madeleine.

P1170021 The finished article – it really looks good. Now to get it into school.

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Not to be left out, Matthew set about his latest Lego model courtesy of Great Grandma. He follows the instructions really well.

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Daisy is just perfecting her raison d’etre – to be completely cute and disarming at all times. Go for it, Doodlebug!

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Forward planning and measuring is always the keystone for a good finish. Chris’s notes written on a piece of tile carton.

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Of course, Chris was not idle throughout this time of extra curricular activities with the grandchildren; he was busy constructing an inset bathroom cabinet with a mirrored door – stage one.

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Stage 2 – Insert constructed and hinge and mirror fitted. The mirror was a find in the local charity shop and has had several places in the house already – this is its final position.

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Ooops! I seem to be on the tilt. Never mind, you can see the mirrored cabinet in situ. It makes a lot of difference and it has such useful storage.

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I know – what have I been doing? See above the side pieces for a chair that my sister gave me last July – you just can’t rush these things. You can see the task I have ahead of me!!

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Hand sanding – actually very satisfying and a good finish too!

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As this chair is going into the ‘grandchildren’s’ bedroom I have chosen grey for the side pieces and covered the seat in red.

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A big well done to Madeleine who wrote and entered her 500 word story for the BBC2. Good luck.

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I have started to grout the bathroom tiles and I was happy that it went so well. It didn’t take too long either.

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Chris putting in the new door frame for the house bathroom. I hope that spirit level doesn’t fall on his head.

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We have also had snow.

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And Valentine’s Day – thank you, Chris, for my lovely flowers.

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We have re-potted a lot of our trees in readiness for garden planning in the summer. Looks very colourful and all are doing well so far.

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Congratulations on the upcoming wedding of Sam and Will. We are delighted to be able to celebrate this joyous event with them in April. All our love.

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Chris in his favourite position – ooer, Missus! Reinforcing the stairs as the warmth of the heating has caused some creaking. Now all fixed and quiet again. Thank you, darling.

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We are delighted to have these beautiful little Long Tailed Tits visiting us daily – in fact, as you can see they come and perch on the edge of the window frames a couple of feet from us! I managed to snap this photo by standing on a chair with the camera held at arms length until they returned again. We watched them over the next few days and it became apparent that the Tits were looking for a place to build a nest. ‘Chris, I’ve had an idea …’

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‘Would you make us some bird boxes?’ So in his spare time Chris made me two bird boxes – he used an old doormat to create an extra cover for the roof, most stylish. I painted them in water based paint having first checked the risk factors of painting bird boxes on the RSPB site. Hopefully they will like these little homes.

P1160909I thought I would leave this month’s post with a picture of one of our little visitors – he/she is very welcome, as are all visitors to our new green home. As I am sitting here working on this blog a small Blue Tit has been showing a lot of interest in the bird box near our dining room window. Fingers crossed.

 

January Round up – Happy New Year!

My apologies for this very late New Year greeting but it has been a busy although not necessarily industrious month so, let’s get on with the information and update!P1160601 P1160599

Fun and Games with Uncle James. So much more relaxing after Christmas and time to really enjoy playing together. Senor Bocon – great gift from the Uncles. Good choice!

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On the other hand – Uncle David definitely raised the heart rate with some funky work outs. Everyone braving the elements – particularly David with his shorts!

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We both felt rather flat once James, David and Mariery left on the 5th January so small jobs were the order of the day. Before Christmas James helped his Dad put in the work surface but Chris then lined up the cupboards and put in a new kick board. We are making  the kitchen look more coordinated as it will be the one place in the house that we have to live with the longest and will be the last place to renovate on our ‘to do’ list.

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In the interests of ‘beautifying’ our kitchen and dining area we put up some lovely gifts we had received over Christmas: beautiful prints from Mariery and James – thank you, hand coloured drawings of Hastings from Ollie and Toby – lovely work boys,  colours of Scotland from Heather – thanks, we put these up in time for Burns’ Night! Neeps, tatties, Haggis and a few drams – perfect.

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I am the House Renovator’s Nemesis – put this lovely bath in – check.

Take this lovely bath out – really?

Yes – really!

Okay. (Patient husband then fitted another bath – anyone want an almost new bath?)

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Original cushions unpicked and used as patterns for the new covers – rather charming blancmange pink!

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Just to show that I have not been sitting around on my ‘proverbial’ I renovated and re-upholstered a chair for Hannah. I re-used some curtain fabric and re-used all the piping cord.

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Finished! Not too bad I think.

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Chris putting in the new plumbing for the shower – notice Chris’s behind in the mirror!

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The holes for the controls for the new shower. Good and careful work, Chris.

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Only all these bits to put together – now, where did I put those instructions?

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…….. oh, yes, and all these as well.

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A really lovely job, Chris. Just to let you know the shower(s) work beautifully and not a leak in sight.

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Now for the extra electrics – this will be for the new light that is going in over the sink.

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Ta dah! Looks lovely and works well.

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The trusty sewing machine was going well – just two of the curtains that Hannah needed for Prospect House. I made three sets of curtains and two individual blinds. All re-worked from up-cycled fabric. Waste not want not!

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Lidl came up trumps again when we bought an under cabinet light for only £6.80 – ‘just another small job, Chris’.

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Must be catching! Matthew has created this great little Lego building – it eventually became a lighthouse!

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Down time with Madeleine and Matthew – lots of creativity with Lego as well as healthy snacks!

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In our spare time we decided to sort out the enormous storage box of Lego – hmmm, I wonder how long this will last?

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It’s not all fun and games! Matthew reading from his lovely gift from his Mum – ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’ – he loves it and reads really well. Madeleine here is about half way through her entry for the BBC 2 500 word story competition.

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Weekend with the grandchildren also involved a visit to The Deep in Hull, this is an amazing place and all the children love it. I feel sure it will inspire Mariery when she moves here.

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What a find. A complete Berlitz language set for a £1.00! Chris is busy using it to improve his Spanish. Muy bien!

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More charity shop finds – these are for Mariery and James’s new studio when they get here! We particularly love the little pottery dinosaur – might keep this! We found these in Peterborough when we spent a couple of days away – a nice city with a great cathedral. We found out all sorts of interesting facts about Catherine of Aragon who is buried there. We found a great little gallery/shop called Art in the Heart – check out the website.

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On arriving back in Barton we found ourselves in the middle of a sleet and hail storm – looks like snow, hey?

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My Mum and Dad came round for tea – it was a great afternoon. Lovely to see my Dad so engaged and jolly.