Sunday, 31 July 2016

Scaffolding down and some first time block layers

We are scaffolding free this week. We are within reaching distance of the builders finally leaving. Unfortunately the builder has not been on site for the last few weeks, but thank the Lord for his sub-contractor who has been beavering on his own to get the last few bits finished. James has written a list and told the builder what we expect to be finished before the end of the week, there are jobs half done and we were promised they would be done weeks ago. There are a few fairly large jobs like knocking through to the house and rebuilding the pig sty that we have decided we will have done at a later point (with another builder). Our build was due to be finished at the end of June and the builder has gone off site to start something else so we're going it alone from here.

We also have a date of the 20th of August to start fitting the windows so soon we'll be water tight, a huge step that I am so excited to see.

This weekend James managed another first, he laid some blockwork. Our kitchen pantry had at one time been a doorway through to the outside and had been made into a pantry when the old rear bathroom was added. Between the two was a panel of plywood that has been letting in water since the bathroom extension was demolished. 

Yesterday James emptied the cupboard and removed the shelves and set about putting up a wall. It went much quicker than I expected and looks great. Today I have been cleaning the shelves and putting things back. I have thrown away lots of bits that are taking up room that we really didn't need. I had kept old vodka bottles from a recipe a few years ago and thought they might come in handy, empty bottles, what was I thinking??!! Now I know what is in there again and more importantly where it is.

There is a slightly larger doorway that will need to be blocked up too so if the weather holds we'll try and get that done now that we have an idea how long that'll take.

Today we popped along to a picnic that was being held on the common today with all of the residents invited to meet on the common land below the pub. It was warm and we all set off with some pasta in the picnic bag and met some more local people. We even met a young mum with a baby,  almost unheard of around here so that was lovely. I said I'd stop round at some point so I'll try and make sure I do.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Progress and next steps

This week the roof has been finished on the extension, with the guttering fitted (minus downpipes) and the small side porch has had the walls finished and the roof put on. 

James has almost run all the cables for the extension, it had taken so much thought to think where to put lights switches and plug sockets. 

Our builder is running out of time and has asked us to get someone in to re-instate the drainage that was damaged when the concrete was poured. James has a friend who drives diggers so we have asked him to do the work. Whilst he has the digger on site we have asked him to level off the huge tump at the back of the garden that was made when the foundations were dug. We have also asked him to dig back the retaining wall as it needs rebuilt and to put in some drainage around the back of the house (the water seeps up through the floors), all of which we'll be paying for, but it will be better than getting a digger in at other time. 

The only problem is that to get rid of the soil (we have terrible access to get the soil away) he said the best bet is to dig up my veg beds  and they can level the garden up and lose the soil that way. It means my greenhouse will have to come down and all the beds will be removed. I've agreed on the condition James puts in a concrete pad and rebuilds the greenhouse and beds in time for next Spring. It's just another job to add to the ever increasing list, quite where we'll find the time I have no idea.

Today I dug up some of my bags of spuds as we were running low, they're not bad, but not as big as I'd like. At least this year as they were bagged they weren't all eaten through.

We're no further forward on a decision on the bathroom/ensuite debate. I've always had in mind that I'd like to foster one day and to do that I would need a fourth bedroom. In order to do that I would need to lose our en-suite and have it as a family bathroom. Fostering is not something that I want to do right away but I also don't want to make it so that it can never happen and I don't plan on moving again until I am very old and even then I'll probably stay stubbornly at home. So the debate goes on.

I have bought the door handle and locks for my back door, I can't wait to see it fitted, the door is beautiful and I love the escutcheons we've chosen. Once the door is fitted and the windows in then it'll be water tight. That was the aim for this year so we're well on our way.

Just a few pictures of the kids looking cute.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Wildflower bed

I've said a few times I'll show you my wildflower bed. I'm really pleased with it and every time I look there are more colours. It's wild in more ways than one, there are a number of weeds bulking it out!

Saturday, 16 July 2016

House update - Tiling the roof

Yet another terrible start to the day whilst having breakfast  and checking the news this week. My heart goes out to the French again, it really could happen to any of us who have to go into public.

On to happier things, the house is coming along well. This week the builders have been tiling the roof. In the evening James has been starting to run cables and I am keeping busy in the garden with weeding, picking fruit, mowing and watering.

Last weekend I made 10 and a bit pints of raspberry jam too, used my Ball canning book again and put them in the water bath after cooking. I used the tatler rings and all but one sealed, so we started on that one first.

In the next few weeks the roof will be finished, the guttering fixed in place, the small lean to finished. We got the windows ordered yesterday. They were supposed to be ordered three weeks ago but plans came back wrong a few times, now they're right and in three more weeks they should be on-site for the window fitter. Then when the house is secure, the knock through's will be done to put the new doorways into the existing structure.

So far we're most pleased with the front stonework, they have done a beautiful job of putting all the odd sized pieces of stone together.

We're still thinking carefully about the final configuration of the house, a fourth bedroom and a small bathroom or three bedrooms and a big bathroom? Not sure still, although we'll need to decide soon.

Monday, 11 July 2016

A million holiday photos

Today was the return to work after a holiday and it wasn't too bad! 

The week in Sicily was lovely, we had a different mix of activities to what we're used to. In the past James and I have been able to do the things we enjoy and the kids were too young to really have much say. This holiday it began to show that James and I can't trail round historical monuments all day, every day and have two happy children whilst we do it! So we had a 50/50 split between the beach and activities. I got to see the greek temple complex at Agrigento and Villa Romana del Casale, with the best mosaics in Europe and the greek theatre in Taormina.

Where we stayed there was a cablecar from the beach up to the town of Taormina, the kids loved that!  

Everyone's favourite day was the trip to Mount Etna, currently the only active volcano in Europe. You take a cable car half way up and then load into big wheeled buses to get to the summit. We then had a wander round the top. When I said we, I meant baby girl got carried all the way round, she is getting so heavy. Little man enjoyed the gift shops at the bottom too!

There was loads of ice cream and pizza and pasta and so much sun.

The house is coming along brilliantly now, they are putting tiles on the roof today. James has even managed to get into the extension this weekend and started putting in wires and boxes for the rewire. I spent a few hours do all the weeding in the garden, it's amazing how weeds shoot up overnight. 

Unfortunately Poppy the chicken also died while we were away, she'd been poorly before we went so it wasn't unexpected. Now when I leave the front door open there 's no naughty chicken coming in and pooping in the house, what a quiet house it is at the moment without the dog and Poppy getting under our feet.

I shall get out and take some house photos later and some of my cottage garden bed by the cabin, it is looking amazing with so many gorgeous colours.

I'm determined to not let work stress me out to the same extent again. If I can't get my head around letting it go at the end of the work day then I am going to have to find something else. A job is not worth making the rest of my life miserable. When I'm at work the job is a million times better than my old one, when I have a day working from home trying to sign surgeries up to reviews when they are unwilling it's a million times worse. Time will tell.

Now I was initially going to put some photos into the text but I have so many I want to put up so I've put them below and you can look through as many as you can manage, I appreciate that other peoples holiday snaps are so boring!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Ciao dalla Sicilia

Hey everyone, yes we're all safe and sound. We are just returning from a week in sunny Sicily tomorrow and I am thanking God for easyjet's sale last winter, we were so ready for a trip away. I found a small apartment overlooking the beach in mid-winter on tripadvisor too so we've had a lovely getaway. I can't put up any photos just yet as I forgot the thing to download them off my camera but once I'm home I'll put them up. It's been super hot here, between 32 and 39 degrees C and just as I'm getting used to the heat it's time to cool my heels in the UK!

The kids have loved the beach and I have dragged them round all the old ruins so it's been a good mix.

These are the views from the balcony. If anyone wants to know the name of the apartment send me a message, it is so convenient and suitable for a limited budget. I have tried very hard not to stress whilst here and am partially succeeding! More photos to follow soon...