The first quarter – or a round up of the last months!

Crikey, doesn’t time fly? So, this is a round up of the last four months since I posted on the blog and potentially the start of a more regular update …. oh well, we can but hope! This will involve lots of family events and a sort of ‘off piste’ reporting on work undertaken at Prospect House (our daughter’s ‘family’ home in Goxhill), trips, projects, hobbies and celebrations. So here goes.

JANUARY: Well, it snowed but not for long and not very much but it did look pretty so we had to take photographs.

Snow obviously requires the necessity of woollen accessories, so hats for all and scarves also but much later on … for the moment it meant a ‘Brownie Hat’ plus bobble for Heather based on the original pattern for Brownie hats in the 1960’s and a slightly smaller version for Matthew.

Chris’s ‘music room come man cave’ is now pretty much finished so I just felt it was right to show his new room in all its pristine glory before he actually started to use it. As can be seen it is clean and tidy but I fear it will not remain like this for long. The obligatory jar of Liquorice Allsorts takes pride of place above his LP collection (in case of extreme low blood sugar, you understand).

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I am really pleased with these new kitchen lights that have replaced the bargainacious £4.50 find from the local charity shop. These were also a bargain having been reduced from £140.00 to £54.00 on Wayfair – an online shop that has some very reasonably priced homeware. Of course, waste not want not means that Hannah has now got the charity shop lights at Prospect House – and yes, of course, Dad fitted them.

Having completed (well almost) the ‘music room’ better known as Grandad’s Room and put in the dividing corridor Chris was now free to finish off the side wall created by the corridor, in the sitting room. We had decided to utilise the stepped in spaces left by the original glass door panels as two alcoves to house CDs and to create a feature in what would otherwise be a fairly boxy space.

We were both very pleased with the overall effect and the use of space to store part of our music collection and it has turned a blank area into a much more interesting feature.

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Finally, we decided to clad this wall as this is a ‘feature theme’ throughout the house and we have painted it pale grey – it looks very nice.

Please notice very tasteful painting of ‘Mackerel’ by Meg which beautifully coordinates with our colour scheme – well done, Meg.

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Much to my great surprise and even greater pleasure was the effect of the re-covered sofa. I had ordered a ‘stretch to fit’ cover for the rather shabby orange sofa we had bought in the British Red Cross Charity shop in Barton as a way of quickly upstyling it but when it arrived I was not immediately impressed – this response was to be completely reversed once I had fitted it onto the old sofa. If not exactly WOW it was now much better looking and with the newly re-covered cushions that I had run up the sitting room was starting to have a much more unified look.

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Of course I was still busily knitting hats – here’s one for Madeleine and behind me is a pile of fabric waiting to be made up into a variety of new things. Note to self: ‘make sure they don’t just join all the other projects you had in mind but didn’t manage to get around to’. Further note to self: ‘check on stash of fabric currently residing in not just one but two ottomans upstairs!’ Sigh.

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Chris, meanwhile, had gone into the shoe-mending business; gluing Madeleine’s boot sole and of course jamming it into the drawer in order to hold the two areas together whilst the glue set! Smart, versatile and inventive, that’s Grandad for you!

At the start of the month I belatedly took cuttings from the Mulberry tree at Prospect House and with fingers crossed (hard when you are planting out) I prepared and potted 36 cuttings. Much to my surprise and great pleasure the cuttings seem to have taken and we have given some to Renee and Jim, Peter and Annie, Wes and Rosa and their son Andy and as you can see we still have plenty left….

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I knitted several cushion covers and made them up using fabric from old skirts donated by my Mother.

 

As you all know, my Mother broke her legs in November and she has made magnificent progress since then and she is getting much better. She only had two hospital appointments this month – now only one cast (much shorter than the previous one) and a knee brace! She is making tremendous progress and is increasingly independent – well done, Mummy, we are really proud of you.

Well, that was the best part of January

FEBRUARY: Cold and wet weather so just the right time for NorthernPowergrid to start work on re-laying the electricity cables in preparation for removing the pole outside our house that impedes access to our ‘driveway’. You may remember that we had made the application to have the pole removed nearly two years ago and as you can see from the photo below it is in an inconvenient place.

I must remember to go out in disguise just in case the neighbours decide to turn violent – and who could blame them; traffic hold ups, debris, filth and inaccessible pavements as well as the weather to contend with, perhaps I’d best leave the country.

Not only was this totally disruptive but also very noisy – oh joy!

Inside all was progressing smoothly. Chris had to fit a new ceiling light in the bathroom. I had already found a bargain light fitting at a car boot sale in Kent the previous September for £3.00 and all that had to be done was to fit it – right? Wrong!

First off Chris had to go into the en-suite shower room and crawl through an attic access that was designed for one of slightly slenderer proportions than my rather cuddly husband, drill a hole into the ceiling of the main bathroom in order to site the cable for the new fitting as there was no previous fitting in that area. Whilst he was up there he had to squeeze himself under the horizontal roof braces in order to rewire the pull switch so that it connected to the new main light. I was suitably subdued as I had blithely suggested the work, in the first place!

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Hmmmm, quite a small space !

First Heather, then David. Everyone has to have a scarf and hat – it gets cold in Edinburgh. Rockin’ that combo, David.

In the meantime I was also engaged in re-covering the settee from Prospect House. Always thrifty, I unpicked and re-used the piping and zips! I also used two old thin duvets that had been washed in order to add some plumpciousness to the rather bedraggled seat cushions and the back cushion was made up from the mattress part of a futon bed and the rest of the duvet! I had bought the fabric from a great new shop near Uckfield called Expectations. I really recommend it – great service and even greater selection.

The end product – complete with same coloured antimacassars (that’s not a word you see often). This was ready in time for my Mum’s birthday bash on March 12th!

I wasn’t the only one going upholstery mad. Heather (girlfriend of our son David) was busy learning a few skills herself. Well done, darling girl, only another three to go! It looks great and a really zingy colour.

Of course, more knitting was being done. A scarf for James and yes, you guessed it, all yarn was purchased from charity shops, unfortunately not quite enough for a hat as well though.

Heather has a great passion for bread and here are just some of her wonderful offerings.

In the spirit of competition I also made a quite large French Apple Tart – all the adults loved it but the grandchildren were not sure! What’s not to like? Too much fruit?

Chris has numerous skills but this one took the biscuit. Long distance DIY mending advice on how to ‘get your washing machine to work’. James (our other son), lives in Hastings and true to his thrifty upbringing was delighted to be offered a free washing machine which his dear friend Pasquale picked up for him and helped him get up two flights of stairs to his flat – the only trouble was that it didn’t seem to want to work. So, long distance Dad did what all Dads do – helped out. After the ‘operation’ we are delighted to say that the patient is now fully recovered and washing everything to perfection. Well done, Dad. Well done, James and thank you Pas.

Spring is on its way. Everywhere there are snowdrops, crocuses, blossom and daffodils – (these ones came from our allotment) lovely.

So, also time for a new image I think.

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…. and a new skill.

Our friend, Jim Clements who makes these delightful little figures, runs a woodcraft stall under the name of Hallsgate Wood. He owns a 5 acre wood near Elham in Kent and is a woodsman through and through and constantly creating new and unusual objects. These little guys were being made ready for Christmas this year – Jim has made lots of the Father Christmas figures. My attempt at a spin on this was the rather overly painted ‘King’ but Jim has taken the idea and is creating more little figures with much better results. I particularly love the humorous details like the pink feet of the shepherd!

Speaking of creating – below we have the first ‘picture’ of the latest creation in the Sidwell/Bloomfield Clan. A baby brother for Marleigh, due in the summer. Good luck, Nic and keep well.

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MARCH: Another busy month but one full of surprises and celebrations

As you can see The Barton Allotment Society has come into focus on our blog and into our lives too not only through our two half plots but as Chris has been co-opted onto the committee in order to create and run the Allotment website. Congratulations, Chris.

The first two weeks of March were busy for my Mum who was liberated from her plaster cast but then had the first of her cataract operations – on the day before her birthday! We were already planning a family get together so we hoped all would be well for her birthday surprise. The Clan converged from the far south, the Humberside, from parts of North Yorkshire and the granite heights of Edinburgh and they were prepared to party like someone was 88!

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Everyone had a brilliant time and Mummy was totally surprised and delighted to have us all there, sharing her lovely day.

Not long after the birthday bash we were invited for a relaxing weekend in Edinburgh with David and Heather but ….. before we were due to arrive ‘could we make a magazine rack?’ Of course! No problems! What else are we doing three days prior to setting off? So, here was our effort from photos sent to us most helpfully by David and Heather. Actually it looked really very nice when it was put up on that following weekend. You never know what you can do until you try.

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Matthew (our lovely grandson) has so far been awarded three walk to school badges under the scheme called ‘Park and Stride’ to encourage children to walk to school – easy for Matthew as he always walks to school. Well done, Matthew.. these have now been followed by a further three badges for three more weeks completed. Grandad always keeps an eye out for Matthew as he crosses the road solo and he is excellent and careful every day.

We all went to see Matthew’s play at school called ‘Super Stan’. It was great fun and all of the children were great. A big thank you to Auntie Samantha for once again providing costume – this time, a bright orange tutu (Matthew looked adorable in it).

Having some spare fabric left over from the settee I covered for Prospect House I set to and re-covered the very large footstool as well. It turned out fine. The two cushions were a bit of fun as I had bought two sets of tea towels (from a charity shop) and I recovered some cushions for the kitchen bench – it worked quite well, I think.

Have a look at the Prospect House settee now resplendent with revamped coordinated cushions. Not exactly Homes and Gardens more like Habitat circa 1968. Great retro look with the Orla Kiely fabric from Dunelm.

Of course I can’t leave out the piano stool – ‘Not too matchy, Mum’ was the request from Hannah. I hope this will do…

Of course all these make and do projects took some time but with the breathtaking wonderflness of nature the garden has pretty much got on with growing beautifully and with only a small amount of effort from us. Thank you to Heather and David for giving us the little greenhouse – it is doing a great job.

Thanks to Pete and Annie for the Mahonia cuttings. I am collecting cuttings, plants and bulbs from friends, family and neighbours in order to create a really loving garden. The Mahonia cuttings seem to be doing well and I am using the plastic bag as a form of shelter and warming zone (no, not because I was too lazy to take it off). The Contorted Willow were a fortuitous happenstance from last Easter and I have promised these to Pete and Annie for their ‘garden’ – well more the size of a small park really, so they will have space for these.

On the family front we would like to wish all the best of luck and our heartiest congratulations to Hannah and David who both got jobs in March. Well done, you both deserve this.

Well, that pretty much finishes March – but more to come so keep reading on for the joys of April and Easter……

APRIL: The promise of Spring has been realised in the spate of lovely weather, the busyness of birds nesting, the blooming of bulbs, the blossoming of trees and the joy of Easter.

Despite having to accommodate an increasing complexity of family commitments and geographical necessities we managed to fit in Easter lunch and an Easter Egg Hunt.

Thank you, Madeleine, for the lovely Easter wreath – I will definitely give it to Grandmama when she gets back from Harrogate. On the table in the photo below you can see just some of the tokens and markers ready for the Easter Egg Hunt …

… unfortunately, this was the one day that had been wet so the hunt for eggs and clues was conducted indoors and everyone eventually found all their tokens (thanks Matt for some judicious rearranging!)

Easter wasn’t over yet for the youngsters as David and Heather had invited them to Edinburgh for a jolly time, seeing the sights, walking, playing, cooking, eating doughnuts and generally having a whoop diddley time! Thank you Uncle David and Auntie Heather, we appreciated the break and the kids loved the holiday. Highlights would definitely include breakfasts, open top sightseeing tours, Arthur’s Seat and Edinburgh Castle – way to go guys!

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Apart from being a recognised and rewarded upcoming new writer, Heather is now increasing her skill set by learning to crochet. Excellent – we look forward to many interesting crocheted things!! Of course with all writers it is the subtext that you have to be wary of and in looking at the photo Heather sent me I noticed the title of the book she was reading …. a message? A warning? A celebration? Who knows.

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Finally, I had to give a plug to my lovely husband. Having seen our friends’ new kitchen (super lovely) and noticed their very stylish and useful sockets I was in total envy mode; so my lovely husband fitted this in the kitchen for me! Many, many thanks, Chris and yes, Madeleine he did remember the flowers, the chocolates (yummy Thornton selection box) and the tinfoil!!

Our next projects involve finishing off lots of little jobs in the rooms that we have renovated and also concentrating on the garden – new fences, painting and renovating garden furniture, growing lots of lovely fruits and vegetables. So look out for the next blogs and many thanks for patiently wading through this mega-post!

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