Home Help

I finally took a picture of the garden, with its new benches and no tree stumps:

I just wanted to post the photo and also thank the many people who have already helped us in the house and garden, and the many more who have promised help (or whom I have on my list of helpers, with or without their agreement). Between you, you have carried, cleaned, assembled, dug the garden, hung the curtains and the shelves, shifted furniture and generally helped us keep the whole thing in perspective. It means a lot to us while we are starting out on this project/adventure, so thanks to you all.

Alternative Uses for a Shoe Rack

A few houses ago, I had a shoe rack.

I remember it in our first house together, and I’m not sure if it got assembled in the house after that. Its been in storage since then until yesterday. When I unpacked it, I discovered this sign attached to it (not before I had torn it though!)

It reads:

Shoe Rack. Alternative uses:
– small shelves
– large spice rack
– firewood

It turns out that the author didn’t consider the future of the shoe rack closely enough … its now a handbag store :)

What’s your most innovative furniture adaptation?

Painting Platforms

There’s lots to do in the house now – the list of jobs runs is frightening and has everything from “fix kitchen drawer” to “rewire house” on it. Redecorating is a long way down the list but I’ve bought beautiful red curtains for the front room … and the existing terracotta paint now looks ridiculous so something needs to be done.

I can sort out a tin of paint and a brush but our ceilings are so high that to reach them, I have to stand on the top step of the step ladder. The step ladder is of average height but I, at 5’11”, am not and I still can’t reach – this is one tall ceiling. So also on the list is finding something safe to stand on and paint/paper the house from. Not sure if we’re going to go with a platform or another step ladder plus plank, but we need something.

Happy Housewarming

Last weekend we combined good friends, plenty of drink, a barbecue and a surprising spell of good weather to make a house warming party! We started mid afternoon and people dropped as their schedules permitted which worked really well1 . The barbecue was perfect and in fact we had two rounds – one where we fed people their tea, and another one at about 9pm where a few more people turned up and I also remembered I forgot we had marshmallows – they’re more fun after dark anyway.

The next morning I found myself cooking breakfast for eight people, most of whom has stayed the night, so all in all it was a successful weekend!! Big thanks to everyone that made it, we both had a great time and it was wonderful to see so many people wishing us well. Having hostessed quite so much I now feel more like the house is ours so thanks to you all :)

1 I completely failed to take a single photo, sorry!

Garden Goodness

You’ve probably seen the garden photos we took already, but last weekend, it underwent rather a change. Here’s the updated version:

You can’t really see on this photo, but I now have flowers in my garden :) Here’s a better shot:

The two on the left are Hydrangeas, one is a cutting from Mum’s plant and the other was a gift from Enid. Mum and I went to the garden centre and bought the others – the big purple one is a buddleia which butterflies will like. The others I’m not sure but they’re pretty!!

Planting plants is easy, all you do is:

  1. Dig a hole
  2. Put potting compost in it
  3. Add ‘fairy dust’ (slow release fertiliser granules)
  4. Get the plant out of its pot (this is the hard bit)
  5. Put the plant in the hole and pat the earth you dug out to make the hole around the plant.

We also planted lettuce seeds, but there’s nothing to show you of those just yet …

Strawberry Summer

Back in October, our first house sale fell through and our plans were rather up in the air. On my next visit home I was marched onto the patio by my father who pointed out the strawberry pot and strawberry plants that would have formed my housewarming present.

Eight months on and we’re in our new home and the strawberries are here too. Yesterday, I had strawberries for my tea :)

Thanks Dad!

Little Guest Room

I promise house stories, and then I disappear for weeks, I know! Anyway, I’m back with some more house photos. Do you remember an attic photo from the first day in the house?

Well, its the little guest room now, and has had a few visitors already – I hope Chris, Cait and Rob enjoyed their stays!

The Internet Has Landed

We bought a house, as I may have mentioned before. For anyone who doesn’t know us, I’m an internet geek living with an even geekier internet geek. The internal networks have been up since about ten days in, but its taken til today (more than five weeks) to get the internet connected to the house. It sounds daft to put the internal networks up but the nabaztag works and we’ve also got an internet radio that can stream music off the internal server which is great as the radio reception in the basement kitchen is rubbish. Anyway, back to my internet story:

We started off by ringing BT. They would need to send someone to test the line but wouldn’t need access to the house. So that duly happened, but we didn’t get a phone line. They rang to say they needed access to the house to reconnect us, and could come any time between 9am and 6pm, Monday to Friday, and would give us a 5-hour window in which to expect them. We can’t take time off really and can only work remotely if we have internet. Very annoying.

The problem arose because the house wasn’t previously supplied by this company, so we rang the current suppliers, a cable company. They would happily connect us immediately and we didn’t really care so long as we got internet so we tried to move forward with that. Only the cable people couldn’t connect a new account at our address as the previous owner hadn’t cancelled his account which is registered at this address. Its not even his house any more but until he cancels his account, we can’t have one.

So back to BT. Kevin eventually managed to do some remote paperwork from here one morning last week and a BT engineer came and connected the line. Today, the ADSL got connected and started working … so I’m on the sofa, with the laptop :)

Usually if I write more than one blog entry at a time then I stagger them, but tonight I’m just going to blog and blog! This place has been getting very neglected as I’ve been offline and sooooooo busy at work. Watch this space …

The waters rise

Popped home at lunch time and the water is a couple of centimetres deep with another 12 hours or so of heavy rain forecast. Even my bright red wellies aren’t enough to brighten up this situation!

So today’s post is about a different bit of the house, the five day conversion of a store room:

to a party venue:

Yup, the big table has moved rooms and we easily sat eleven round it for takeaway and then a poker party :)

A Tale of Two Floods

Well, we’ve been in the house almost four weeks and so far we’ve been flooded twice1.

Last Friday I headed down the stairs for my breakfast, to the kitchen which is in the basement. pitter … patter … splish. splash. splosh. I’m standing in about an inch of water, in the kitchen, at 8am, in my slippers.

We’re new home owners, we have no idea how to cope with this crisis. So I shouted upstairs for Kevin and together we started to mop. About 6 full buckets later, the level was definitely dropping but we still couldn’t figure out where it was all coming from. The water was clean, not soapy or muddy (or worse!) so we figured it was rain water as it had been raining very heavily for a couple of days. A check outside revealed that the well outside the kitchen window (which is sunken underground by about 6 feet) was filling up. So, in torrential rain, Kevin climbed in and bailed the muck, the water and the general rubbish out of this six foot deep hole until we found the drain. And then he bailed some more until it started draining. Really not fun. And of course by now we’re both hours late for work.

After that, we thought we had it sorted. The rain receeded, the water level fell and we found a wet-and-dry vacuum in the garage. We hoovered up the worst of it with that and left the dehumidifier running, and by the next morning it didn’t seem too bad. It’s not nice but nothing important got damaged and we thought with the drain clearing we’d solved the problem. It was upsetting and not fun but we’re home owners and we knew this came with the territory.

Last night, we had a friend staying over and we were in the kitchen when a thunderstorm started up about 10pm. Just as a precaution we picked stuff up off the floor in the kitchen and tripped out the electrics down there. At 3:30am Kevin and I were standing on the steps of the kitchen watching helplessly as the water literally approached us across the floor. Kevin tried to hoover it up but it just kept on rising and in the end we gave up at 4am as the rain stopped and the sky began to lighten with the dawn. By 7am there was definitely water in the kitchen but not lots, we think it had come up and gone down again before we got up. We’ve vacuumed it up now and left the dehumidifier running.

We’ve got a house with no damp proofing and it looks as if rather than a leak, the level comes up with the water table. Two floods in less than a week and the work to put the basement right costs a year’s salary. I’m not absolutely sure what we can do from here.

1 Not strictly true, we had an additional minor flood when the shower started leaking through the living room ceiling, but that’s minor in comparison. Although the repairs did involve gutting a portion of said ceiling and replacing the plaster board, and the room is out of action and has been for a fortnight.