Monday, 27 June 2016

Onwards and upwards

So today I am pulling on my big girl trousers and getting a grip. Well sort of, still a bit down about work, I've got a lot of vacant days and trying to get work is tough. 
We are however off on our holidays soon though so the end is in sight. We are lucky enough that James' sister wants a week of peace so she is going to live at ours, sit in the sun (or more likely shelter in the front room) and read and relax and more importantly feed the chickens and water the veg. Not to mention stop burglars! 

We spent a few hours yesterday with the kids as a family in the local national trust house Brockhampton. They've opened up more of the house since we last went and it is beautiful, the garden is my inspiration for the future. It did us all good to spend time away from the house and cheer up a wee bit.

So here's some pictures of the progress on the house, which has come on leaps and bounds this week.

Thanks for all the love, as always the support of our friends is invaluable.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

The week from hell and a fond farewell

I'll start with the most important, my fond farewell. Today we had to take our Greyhound Judy to the vets for the final time. It was one of the hardest decisions, with conflicting feelings, the rational side telling you it is time and the emotional time saying I can't possibly let you go. Judy has aged so quickly in the last year and this week stopped eating and couldn't even be tempted by human table scraps, her usual favourite fayre. The week has been full of tears, knowing that time is running short and full of guilt for deciding it was the end.

She has been with us through two houses, an engagement, a wedding, two other dogs and two children. 

Our last photo

Caught on the sofa when she thought we weren't looking (of course we knew, look at the blanket covering it!)

Play with dad

Back when she did long hill walks

Very understanding when your new housemate holds your tail

With Vinnie and mum

Getting some love

Goodbye sweetie x

So with love we said goodbye today after 10 years together and we're all devastated.

Work has been very hard recently and the upheaval of the house is taking its toll, with words spoken this week about the slow progress of the last few weeks. Add to that the bitter disappointment of the EU referendum result, where I can't help but feel my children have been dealt a shit hand and much harder path by a generation who will not to have to live through the results and I will confess that I am feeling very down.

I shall share some more house pictures this weekend, after our conversation there was some effort made to get things back on track.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Some major drainage issues

To say it's been raining is a bit of an understatement! Most of the drainpipes are no longer connected as they were filling the water tanks that we have had to fill with concrete. 

It's meant a lot of standing water, but when James noticed water overflowing the gutter we knew there was a problem somewhere. The next evening when there was a break in the rain James dug out the offending drain pipe. There was some stone just out of reach and James had me on hands and knees trying to get smaller hands into the pipe. 
As it turns out my hands may be smaller but my arms weren't as long so I couldn't even touch the blockage. James tried digging the pipe out further so we could cut it down and put in a new section past the blockage. Turns out it was only the tip of the problem.

James opened up the manhole to see where the water was backing up and there was no longer a manhole! Once the cover was up it was solid concrete. 

You can probably guess what happened. When the builders filled the tanks with concrete they didn't block the overflow and as the high powered pump did it's work the concrete was pumped into the manhole that drains the surrounding land drains and drainpipes. The concrete filled all the pipes underground and has blocked all the water from reaching the soak away. We've had the discussion with the builder, he didn't seem too impressed, but says he'll put it right at the end.

The roofer has been here this week and the roof is coming on at last. There is still some block work to go up, it's taking forever, the work seems to come on really fast for a few days and then drag on for the rest of the week. They didn't turn up on Friday unfortunately as I wanted a chat about some of the work, still there's always next week.

Monday, 13 June 2016

The first floor is coming together

The first floor of the build has gone up quite a lot faster than the ground floor did, there is just the gable ends to build and the front stonework has gone no further than last time I posted a photo. The roofer was coming today to start the roof so I think it gave them a kick up the ass. 

Here are just a few photos to show how we're getting on with the upstairs.

View from the rear

This is the view from what will be our bedroom I can't wait to see it through the finished window.

This weekend we went to a garden festival to see Kev do his talk, it was very interesting to listen to, paced just right and he made people laugh. Whilst I was there I saw a peony plant that I really wanted and I spoilt myself. There's a huge pink one on the common just outside someone's house, I am desperate to dig up a  little part of the roots so I can propagate it, but I don't want to upset the neighbours getting caught stealing plants!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Tis the season for elderflower cordial

Just a heads up to anyone walking round with their eyes closed, it's elderflower season, at least in our neck of the woods! 
The trees round here are just covered and I had to have a quick gather and create to make my favourite drink, elderflower cordial. I thought I'd re-post my recipe card in case anyone wants to have a go.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Open farm Sunday

This weekend was open farm Sunday, when around a thousand farms nationwide open their doors to let the rest of us have a nosey around. We tend to go to the farm a mile or so up the road. It's a mixed arable and livestock farm that's on National trust property and the farmer seems to be very keen on sustainable farming. They do a tractor ride around the farm and we stop at various points to hear about different aspects of farming.  There are wildflower borders round the fields to help the bees and listening to the farmer he talks about how to keep the soil healthy, preventing over use of fertilisers and pesticides. A few years ago he talked about the history of the farm.

The weather made it even more enjoyable as it was blazing down. There were various trails for the children and they could collect stickers by asking questions of the people there. I remember being rather partial to a sticker or two as a kid!

One guy was there talking about how they use modern technology to sample the fields and only add exactly what is required to the crops using GPS to alter the mix. It was so interesting.

We ended the afternoon by letting the kids play in the garden on the water slide.

Unfortunately he internet is still so slow and quite often we can't load a web page, so I'm behind on blog reading. It seems as though there's nothing we can do though as plus net have exhausted their know how and it seems to be like it or lump it now. I'm hoping it will fix itself, fingers crossed.

On Saturday James took the fireplace in the extension back to the original hole. 

...and one last one, look at the chicks enjoying the scaffolding

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Open plan?

We've not got much to report what with all the bank holidays and my builder taking a few extra days off for a holiday, the walls are ever so slightly higher than they were this time last week. Now that the walls are to the first floor we can get an idea of the space and light.

At the weekend we went to two BBQ's with friends and they were both fab. The sun shone, the cider flowed and we all chatted.

The original plan was to have the kitchen and sitting room seperate. Seeing the space we're considering keeping it open plan. The light could shine through from both ends. As we'll still have the snug that's our current living room we've a space to sit if I can't be bothered to put the dishes away after tea!

I also managed to get some money from the insurance company that represented the lorry driver who hit my front wall at the beginning of Feb. As with all things it took multiple phone calls over the last three months and some rather harsh words last week and whoop dee doo they sent the money. They say they'll pay the remainder when I give them a VAT receipt, you can't screw the taxman over with a cash in hand job.

The builders today said they'd have the walls built by the end of next week, I hate to be sceptical, but let's say I hope I'm pleasantly surprised.

Nice detail tying the front with side walls