Saturday, 30 August 2014

The kitchen that refuses to die

Twice this week I triumphantly thought, with huge relief: "We're done, the kitchen company is out of our lives forever!" (apart from the components on back order).

Both times I was cruelly disappointed as we continue to find issues.  They did come and sort out the extractor fan wiring and plastering, and spliced in a power point for the dishwasher.  However, when I made my second attempt to plumb in the dishwasher, I discovered that the gap between the back of the sink cabinet and the wall/skirting is too narrow to pass through the dishwasher hoses and plug wire.  Then when we attempted to lift up the loose shelf left in the bottom of the sink cupboard, to see if we could drill a hole in the base, we found that a) the shelf is now impossible to remove as it is below the hinges of the doors and can't be lifted; and b) the shelf will never fit anyhow because it needs to be cut out to fit around all the sink pipes.

Luckily I have the fitter's mobile number so I just called him directly and he is coming tomorrow to drill the hole and cut the shelf.  I could tell when he answered his phone with a total lack of enthusiasm that he is just as fed up with this job as we are.

Today I spent a long time attempting to improve the mess they've left on the walls, to get it ready for painting next week. I used a lot of filler, and sized some of the bare plaster to fit lining paper over it tomorrow.  I also used filler and a lot of bits of wood jammed in with No More Nails to fill a very deep and awkward void left to one side of our new door when they hung it.  I hope I am making things better and not worse.  The painter was not impressed with the paint job I did on my fireplace so will probably not be impressed with my filling attempts either.

But we have metaphorically raised the drawbridge against the kitchen company by changing the lock on the front door today.  Although they gave us back the set of keys, they had them for a month and passed them around many different trades so I just feel better knowing the lock is different now.

Chalk painting

Last holiday Monday, I spent a couple of hours painting our linen cupboard and a little table I bought at an antiques fair with Annie Sloan Chalk paint in 'Old Ochre'.  Then I gave them a second coat on Tuesday, and today I spent a couple of hours sealing the paint with wax.  This is the first time I've painted anything apart from the table I did on the chalk painting course I took a few months ago.

The chalk paint goes on very easily, you don't have to prepare the surface at all, and you can dilute the paint with water if it's too thick for your purposes. The paint goes a long way - I had a one litre can and only used about 2/3rds of it to do two coats on both items. I used a little foam roller for the big surfaces on the linen cupboard, so that I wouldn't have lots of brush strokes showing. Clean up is also easy as the paint is water-based.  The painting was quite easy although it took a long time because the cupboard was so big.  The waxing was much more labour-intensive and was really quite hard work.  The Annie Sloan course teaches you to 'wax on, wax off': in other words you rub in the wax with a cloth or a special brush, then you wipe away the excess.  One of the instructors suggested rubbing the wax vigorously with a soft shoe brush, so I did that also after the first wipe.  Then after letting the wax set for a while, you buff with a soft cloth - a microfibre cloth from the pound shop works great.  If you do it properly, the item has a soft gleam and doesn't feel waxy or sticky - a lot of the chalk painted items I've seen in antiques stores haven't been waxed properly and still feel sticky.

Before: bare pine - nice but not the look we wanted


After: gleaming softly in the afternoon sun, wax over 'Old Ochre' chalk paint
I like that it looks visually smaller now, and more unobtrusive

This is the little antique washstand - I didn't take a 'before' picture but it had been stripped at some point.


Knitting


I tried on the Low Tide Cardigan after knitting about five inches in sock-weight Regia Silk yarn.  Sadly, the armholes were really tight and it was also quite a tight fit across the chest.  So I had to pull the body out again and pick up more stitches from the bodice.  I've increased the number of underarm stitches cast on from 8 to 20 on both sides.  I will knit a few inches and try it on again to see if that is any better.

I've now knit all three sides of the Red Telephone Box and the top and base.  I ran out of red yarn but was able to find something very similar at my LYS.  I'm just knitting the back piece and then I will be ready to assemble but I need to find a piece of foam that will fit inside to give it the required shape.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the kitchen...

Still waiting to hear from 'M' who was the winner of my 500th blog post give away - please get in touch so I can send your prize!

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I was planning to blog about how the kitchen saga was finally almost over after four weeks.  But this afternoon I was getting ready to plumb in our dishwasher and discovered the [insert expletive here] kitchen company hasn't provided anywhere to plug the darn thing in.  There is provision for the waste, and for water connection, but no plug point.  I sincerely hope they don't have to rip the kitchen apart  or carve up the walls AGAIN to get a cable through neatly to the dishwasher alcove.  Honestly.

Apart from that, and from a bit of plastering around the extractor fan, and a few doors and brackets on back order, the kitchen is mostly finished.  The floor in the dining room and kitchen is as finished as it is going to get - it is not in any way perfect as the kitchen fitter, however well meaning, did not have the skill set to make the floor look very good. So there are plenty of blemishes, cracks, gaps and outright holes, and some pretty big variations in colour, but it is done for now.  Perhaps in a few years we might get somebody in who can do it better - but who am I kidding, that's probably it until we sell the house in 15 years  :)  I spent two evenings this week crawling around on my knees on the floor - first painting in all the lighter coloured spots of filler with some Games Workshop acrylic paints to blend them in, and then painting a final coat of floor varnish over both floors.  I like the colour in the dining room, it looks good with the fireplace.


It's a little darker than I had originally imagined for the kitchen floor, but I'm getting used to it and it has a sort of country vibe going.




So today we did a massive clean up in the dining room, wiping thick layers of builder's dust off of every level surface, to get it all ready for painting when the painter gets back from holiday week after next. We need to do the same in the kitchen but now I don't know if we should bother, with the plasterer and the electrician needing to come back.

The kitchen company in their wisdom left the extractor fan until last, so drilling the hole for that through our massively thick solid walls left a thick coating of red brick dust over the entire kitchen, vertical as well as horizontal surfaces.  It took the guy about an hour to drill through then he went outside to finish cutting the hole through from outside.  I could hear him pounding away with a chisel and mallet while I was talking to the carpenter who was hanging the door in the dining room.  But as I walked down the hallway towards him, it seemed oddly like the sound was coming from the right side of the hallway (the study) and not the left side (the kitchen).  I looked out the hall way window, and danged if he wasn't merrily cutting a hole through our study wall.  I waved frantically through the window and he looked but kept banging away while I feverishly located the key and unlocked the window before shrieking "What are you doing???!!!!!"

"Cutting the hole for your extractor fan."

"Do I look like I'm standing in a kitchen????"

"Uuh. Hmmm.  I wondered why I wasn't finding the hole..."

Luckily he hadn't damaged the actual brick, just chiselled the mortar away all around it.  We've now got people up on the scaffolding doing re-pointing anyway so they can scoop that up in their work.

As you can see in the picture, our fridge-freezer is finally out of the hallway and in the kitchen where it belongs, although it still needs some trim added above it.  Sadly while it was in the hallway for a month, its weight caused two more severe cracks to appear in our lovely but quite damaged Victorian tiled hallway.  But after having a pint-sized fridge since December, it was amazing to go shopping today and actually buy quantities of food for more than just the next couple of days. One day if we win the lottery, we will have the tiled floor restored.

We also have an oven now, so for the first time since we moved I am roasting a chicken - not something I could do on a two-burner hot plate - so we will have a roast dinner tonight, yummy.  I'm also trying out the new hob to make sure it works, although it's a bit awkward cooking across two floors.  It will be so nice to finally just have one kitchen that is all finished.

The furniture-moving game also continues.  Friday night we emptied out the lounge and one of the bedrooms, and part of the study, to make room for the kitchen fitter and his mate to come in on Saturday and do some extra jobs for us.  They fitted picture rail in the lounge and bedroom, to match the picture rail already in the dining room and other bedroom.  They did a great job, really neatly, apart from they have installed the rail at 'true level' which makes it very clear how very not-level the rooms themselves are.  The doors are suddenly obviously wonky, and the gap between the rail and one corner of the lounge ceiling must be at least three inches wider at one end than the other.  I'm trying to ignore it and hopefully it will be less obvious when the rooms are painted a nice neutral light colour. The joys of an old house.

The bedroom and boxroom are all painted now and they look so incredibly better, we're really pleased with them and can't wait for the rest of the house to catch up.  Hopefully week after next the kitchen and dining room will be done, then the study, then the other bedroom, lounge and finally the upper and lower hallways.  Lots more furniture moving in my future then.

And one special night, after the floors were sanded for the final time so no more dust was going to be generated, I unpacked my yarn stash (or at least the part of it that I have found - there is more in some of the other boxes not opened yet I think).  It was really lovely to uncover lots of treasures including some I had forgotten about. I went to B&Q and got them to cut up some white furniture board into squares so I could divide the shelves diagonally - just like my own yarn shop!  The main unit is roughly sorted by weight of yarn, and the lower unit will be my sock yarn stash.




Did I do any crafts this week?

Yes, I did manage some knitting, although some nights I was so tired and stressed that I didn't get much done really.

I did finish darning in the ends and sewing together the Colourwork Baby Jumper, and sewed on the buttons in green, pink and lavender to match the stripes.  I just need to flatten the seams a little then this is done.  It is a six month size and the yarn has a nice sparkle running through it.



I did a bit more on my current GAA Afghan square, this is the Marian Tabler square and is complicated enough that I am having to keep track of the charts using Goodreader on my iPad.


And when I was unpacking my stash, I came across a book I had forgotten I owned: Knit London - 10 iconic projects by Emma King.  Since I had just unpacked my DK yarn and knew exactly where it was, I grabbed red, black and white and started knitting this:


Unfortunately there are mistakes in the pattern around the domed top area, so I had to pull that out and reknit it to look more like the picture in the book, but it's been a fun knit.  I have to knit two more of these, and a back, top and base, and then stuff it - and I will have my own little red telephone box.

The other thing I did this week was to knit the rosette for the Ruffled and Ruched scarf but it needs to have a back and pin sewn on to it at some time, and the scarf still needs to be blocked.  I liked it though.

Now that the main dirty work is done inside the house (don't get me started on the dust outside now that the repointing is going on), I could even start unpacking my machine knitting room so I might do that this week.  The sewing room is still a no-go area, although I did snap up a couple of small folding tables at the charity shop today, to put behind my machine table when I am machine quilting.  I am trying to buy some more IKEA Billy bookcases for fabric storage on eBay but keep getting outbid.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Lucky number 7 - 500th Blog Post Winner!

Thank you to the eleven people who commented on my 500th post to enter the draw for a prize.  I assigned you all a number based on your order in posting and used an online random number generator to pick the winner.

And the winner was lucky number 7:


M


M, your Blogger profile is set to 'no reply' and is also blocked to viewers so I have no way of getting in touch with you.  Please get in touch so I can send you your prize.

M asked for a quilting or knitting prize, so is a  multi-crafter like me!

Congratulations!


Saturday, 16 August 2014

It will all look lovely when it's finished...

If I had £5 for every time someone has told me "it will all look lovely when it's finished", or some variation thereof, I would have a substantial downpayment on a new boiler. At some points it is feeling to me more like "It will be a series of compromises which you will eventually recover from"

Yes, the week started off on a low point when a heating engineer came to inspect the boiler (as a prerequisite to taking out insurance) and promptly condemned as dangerous and shut it down.  Luckily it's August so we don't need heating, and we have an immersion for hot water.  I'm getting quotes on a new boiler and the first quote back is twice as much as I was hoping.

A positive flood of tradesmen poured through the house during the week, leaving us progressively fewer and fewer rooms that were actually usable.  This is how the dining room and lounge looked for two days as the fireplaces were refitted:

And meanwhile my bedroom and the boxroom both looked like this:


The painter was supposed to take three days and hasn't finished yet after five days, partly due to a technical malfunction with the wood paint I had purchased.  Meanwhile all my toiletries etc. were crammed into the ensuite which I was using as a sort of dressing room, and all my clothes were trapped in the wardrobe in the picture so I had to extract each evening what I wanted to wear the next day. I kept forgetting to get my jewellery box out of the wardrobe so ended up wearing the same pair of earrings all week and no watch.

But the bedroom is looking hugely better with its new coat of neutral stone-beige matt paint, and fresh soft white woodwork in eggshell finish.

And the previously broken lounge fireplace is back in place, good as new, and the replacement fireplace in the dining room (genuine Victorian mantle and insert) is a triumph compared to what we started with.


The brass fender isn't fixed yet, it needs to be cut to size and given a good polish.

Meanwhile the kitchen has lurched onwards.  Still no plumber, but the electrician has been twice, the tiler has been (he needs to come back because the electrician had to move some tiles), and the fitter has put all the knobs on the cupboards and mostly finished up.


The kitchen has now been underway for three weeks and I think will hopefully be finished this coming week.  The fitter is supposed to come Monday to finish the floors, and I'm waiting for a call from the kitchen company on when the rest of it is going to be done.  We've bought a new four-panel door (the upper two panels are glazed) which they will hang on the opening between the kitchen and dining room.

On the outside, the scaffolders came back three more days (they ran over by a day) and our house is now completely cradled in scaffolding.  It's weird because we can now walk around it at a high level.  We've been able to pick the dead ivy off the neighbour's wall, which is three stories up in the air, so I won't have to look at that out my bedroom window any more - yay!  This is the view from most of the windows for the next eight weeks:


The outside painter has started painting from the scaffolding already, the roofer has been up to have a look and I'm waiting for his quote, and the brickmason starts repointing in a few weeks.  So it is all coming together, we just need to hang in there and keep hoovering up the dust.

The electrician also did an extra job for me and hung the two hall lights that I purchased optimistically several weeks ago. They look really nice, way better than bare bulbs. That's our fridge freezer waiting patiently in the hallway, and you can see the plastic covers we've taped over the lounge and study doors to try to keep out the dust.


Today we spent the day running around Northamptonshire - first of all to reclamation yards to buy two floorboards to be used hopefully for patching the broken boards in the dining room.  Then to fabric shops looking for upholstery fabric for our dining set and a few other chairs.  We went to a fabulous shop in Northampton called The Mill Shop, who also sell online.  A real Aladdin's cave for furnishing and upholstery fabrics, we will definitely be going back there for more and for curtaining because their prices are amazing.  They had roll ends of upholstery fabric for as little as £2.95 a metre.  They also have a room of lower end craft and quilting fabric but it is pretty normally priced.  I got three metres of upholstery fabric for a chair but couldn't find anything for the other chairs.  I think my taste is out of sync with modern trends, I want something that looks a bit Victorian and a bit faded, probably with a smaller pattern or stripe. The modern taste seems to be all glitz and metallics and loud bold patterns and colours.

Commuter knitting this week was a change in pace because I got so bored knitting the Low Tide Cardigan which is all stockinette in sock weight yarn now. I did a search on Ravelry and purchased the Ruffled and Ruched Scarf pattern by Pam Powers, she was having a 3 for 2 sale. I'm using the Dream in Colour Classy yarn that came in the latest Knitcrate and I've finished the scarf part and now I'm working on the rosette. The pattern is easy but looks great, and I've enjoyed knitting with the thicker yarn.


Saturday, 9 August 2014

Project management skills

After the past few weeks, I think I could legitimately add 'Project Manager' to my employment CV.  Particularly on the kitchen where I seem to be doing most of the supervising because the company doesn't seem to be doing much at all.  There's been a good fitter working on the cabinets all week but I've still had to intervene or consult on many issues, including preventing the sink from going in the wrong way round, an extractor fan hole being punched through the wrong wall, the wrong tap being installed, the breakfast bar going in at the wrong height and so forth.  Luckily I was able to be home an extra day this week because my boss let me work from home on Friday for when the scaffolders started work.

But gradually this week, the kitchen that I designed using an Excel spreadsheet (with the cells fixed to act like graph paper) has been taking shape and we're pretty pleased with it.  It was an awkward room particularly as I wanted to fit in a side-by-side American-style fridge freezer which could only go in two locations.  The walls aren't finished yet, nor the floor (although it has been resanded) and the faux-dresser glass doors are on back order until September.  But it's going to look nice. I went to the showroom today and picked out some medium size white porcelain knobs for the cupboards.

Looking from the dining room through the new doorway opening, into the kitchen at the faux-dresser.


Standing in the kitchen doorway, looking past the peninsula at the gap where the fridge-freezer will go



The dining room still looks pretty rough, and behind the camera is the huge pile of discarded kitchen cardboard and scraps of cut-offs etc. At least the fitter hoovered up the giant pile of sawdust from all the cutting he's been doing.

The interior painter is going to start on Monday, painting the only two rooms that are ready which is my bedroom and the box room.  We should have a couple more rooms ready in a few weeks because the fitters have agreed to do some extra jobs putting up picture rail and window trim for me.  But it means more moving of boxes and furniture out of those rooms and squeezing them into other rooms. But once the kitchen is finished then we can move the appliances back in, that are currently sitting in the lounge and the study.  It's all good exercise and even though I've been eating more, I've actually lost another pound this week which is good.

This is our study - currently home to the dishwasher, the hall lights, some dining room furniture, a new mail box, parts for fitting the stove that hasn't been delivered yet, some wood trim for going on windows, tool boxes, and some boxes of files that I don't have anywhere to put yet.


Commuter knitting this week was finishing off the Shetland Lace Stitches Shawl but I can't block it until the home renovations are over.  After that I switched to knitting on the stockinette body of the Low Tide Cardigan but  I'm finding that really dull, it's in sock weight (Regia Silk) and will take forever.

I also finished the Monsieur Bearnard kit that came with Simply Knitting magazine.  To be honest, I didn't really do a good job on him. My tension is never great and the cheap acrylic yarn in the kit made it worse, and I was feeling stressed and distracted which obviously contributed to me not reading the pattern correctly. As a result, Monsieur Bearnard has two right arms instead of a right and left, but I'd already stuffed them both when I realised so I just bent the right arm to make it look more like a left arm.  I gave him away almost immediately he was finished because a few hours later my kitchen fitter got a call from his mate who had just his first child.  Monsieur Bearnard has nothing on him dangerous for babies although his yarn-jointed limbs wouldn't stand up to really rough handling, but it will be several months before the baby can even grasp him so I handed him over to the fitter. The fitter appreciated the gesture but I'm not sure he was that keen on the bear, but hopefully the new parents will like it.


In between making cups of tea for plasterers, fitters, scaffolders etc and project managing, I have managed to finish (finally!) changing addresses following our house move with all and sundry.  There will be a few more to mop up as they arrive in the post via our mail redirection, but it's pretty much done at last.  Amazing how many mailing lists, loyalty schemes, charities, memberships etc. you accumulate in life.  I also fitted a Pulleymaid old fashioned hanging clothes airer in our bathroom for hanging towels on, it looks very appropriate there. Sadly a lot of the stuff from the rooms to be painted will have to be piled in the bathroom for a while, spoiling the look.  One day everything will be back where it belongs!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Through the valley of kitchen despair, and fireworks

After a promising start on Monday when the kitchen company ripped out our old kitchen, smashed out the hideous 40s tiled fireplace, broke through the wall to open up the former doorway into the dining room, and generally created an incredible amount of noise and dust while I holed up in a sealed room across the hall - virtually nothing has happened the rest of the week except aggro.

Tuesday the supervisor showed up for a maximum of 60 minutes of intermittent floor sanding, in between taking calls on his mobile. Wednesday I was at work but he called to say the sanding was done and he would be varnishing on Thursday, but when I got home there were large areas that hadn't been sanded because he was too lazy to get a hand sander out. So all under the radiators, in the corners of the room, in any hollow in our old floor that a big floor sander couldn't reach, was still all black and caked with carpet adhesive, old paint etc.  I was so worried that I got DH to drive me to the store to buy a small sander and I spent 2.5 hours trying to improve the result.

Thursday this guy called to say he had put two coats of finish on the kitchen floor and that I might think it was a bit dark.  I questioned why he was finishing the floor at all when the walls hadn't been plastered and the big gaps in the floor hadn't been patched in yet but he was all 'I know what I'm doing, don't worry your non-builder little head' tone of voice.  Then when I got home after knitting group, my kitchen floor is a dark reddy brown which might look nice if we lived in a Tudor cottage but is totally unsuitable to my chosen blue-painted country kitchen.  I emailed my concerns and called the next morning from work, and didn't really get anywhere with him except an agreement to re-sand the floor next week as the plasterers were coming in later.

Saturday the electrician showed up in the morning, and reported that the plasterers had filled in all the channels in the wall that he had carefully carved out on Monday, and then asked me where he should put the ceiling lights and the extractor fan wiring.  With DH about to blow a fuse himself, we drove down to the kitchen company and asked what the heck was going on and why was no-one supervising the job properly???  To do them justice, the boss' son-in-law came straight back with us and gave the electrician his required information, and inspected our concerns.  We are now told that the boss will be taking over the job directly, cutting out the (useless) supervisor, and that things will get back on track next week. They agree the floor hasn't been sanded properly and are promising everything will be put right.

Thankfully we are fairly comfortable in our temporary kitchen in the basement but there is a lot of money at stake and I was beginning to wonder if we were at the mercy of cowboys. Time will tell.
The red-brown floor, after it had been ruined anyway by the plasterers

Meanwhile, also this week we have had to keep our bedrooms fairly empty and the furniture moved into the middle of the room so that a different lot of plasterers could get on with installing plaster cornicing.  They haven't given any trouble and we are really pleased with the result - the bedrooms look so much more elegant and the cornice looks like it has always been there. It looked strange before to have high ceilings but no trim where the walls met the ceiling.

BEFORE: no cornice


AFTER: lovely plaster cornice

Before this I've only ever installed cornice in my dollshouses so it feels a bit strange to be doing it in 1:1 scale!  This room, like all the rooms, will be painted.  I've already since taking the BEFORE picture painted my bedroom fireplace gloss white since it will be decorative rather than functional. The white paint really shows off the scrollwork of the cast iron.

Fireworks

Last night we went to the Firework Championships at Stanford Hall, which is about a 40 minute drive away. A lady in my knitting group had recommended it, and we really enjoyed it.  I'd been dreading it all day because the weather was terrible: grey and raining so hard that one point we were trapped in our car in Tesco's parking lot for 5 minutes waiting for it to abate.  It was still spitting rain at 6pm when I was packing our picnic, but miraculously we drove into clear blue skies and the evening was perfect for fireworks: clear sky and no wind.  There was quite a big crowd, all camped out with folding chairs and tables, eating their picnics and quite a holiday atmosphere.  We found a good spot and enjoyed our copious picnic, then listened to the music while we all waited for it to get dark.  From about 9:45pm, three teams fired a 10-minute display each, timed to music. Then the crowd could vote on their favourite by text while the organisers fired another 10-minute display. Parts of each display were really wonderful, much better than the usual 'lots of bangs that don't sync at all with the music' displays.  Quite an enjoyable evening and I shall always expect in future to watch fireworks comfortably from a chair while wrapped up warm in fleece blankets.


On the craft front

I went down to Fibre East in Ampthill last Sunday for a couple of hours.  It's mainly a shopping show and there were tons of stands to look at both inside and outside in marquees. I had a good look and lots of yarn fondling, but my only purchase was a bargain buy on the Texere stand. They were selling a 'mystery yarn' in 70% silk, 30% cotton that a 'major well known manufacturer' had rejected because the skeins had become tangled while being dyed and thus couldn't be skeined.  It was of course Rowan Summer Tweed, a yarn I really like, so at the bargain price of around £2 per 50g I bought a sweater's worth in purple and a lesser amount of blue.


I also came across a machine knitting instructor who is based in Northampton, not too far from me. I took her details because eventually when I get my machines set up I could probably benefit from some coaching. As well as being very out of practice, I've never really gotten to grips with my ribber and haven't tried lace at all apart from using the lace carriage to transfer stitches for a picot hem.

I'm casting off my Shetland lace stitches shawl after knitting a border based on the Holden Shawlette pattern. This yarn, Zitron Filigran, has surprisingly long colour runs, so my shawl started out in lighter blues, progressed to darker blues, and now just as I am casting off it is getting lighter again.  Of course, it doesn't look like anything until it gets blocked.

I've finished knitting my Colourwork Baby Jumper but I can't block it with all the dust floating around the house so instead I have started the Monsier Bearnard teddy bear kit which came with Simply Knitting magazine.  I'm enjoying it but I think I am going to run out of the gold yarn which seems to have happened to other readers as well.  I could apply for more but I will look first to see if I have anything in my stash to match.


This decrepit table and somewhat battered chairs are going to be our new dining suite - we bought them today at a warehouse and they are going to be refinished so they will look a lot better when they are delivered in six weeks.The table is fully extended with two leaves in the picture - we will normally use it without the leaves when it will seat six. It's challenging buying furniture for a room which currently is painted the wrong colour, and has a half sanded floor and a gaping hole where the fireplace should be. But we also bought a bookcase from the same warehouse which will be a china cupboard between the windows of the same room.  I hope it is all going to look nice and that we don't get buyers' remorse.  I just couldn't find any modern dining suites that I liked that I thought would suit the room.  Antique furniture just seems such better value than buying new, or at least it does now that we don't want to go the IKEA route that has been our mainstay over the last 30 years.


Soon the scaffolders will start erecting scaffolding around the entire house, and once that's up the painter can finish the outside woodwork and our chimneys will be lined and our fireplaces put back in. I'm still waiting for quotes on the outside masonry work and the guttering - I hope the numbers aren't going to make me regret buying the dining room furniture...

Saturday, 26 July 2014

My house is a storage warehouse

I'm blogging tonight even though I'm going to Fibre East in Ampthill tomorrow, because so much has been happening this week I shall forget it all if I don't write it down.

Don't forget that I'm running a 500th post giveaway - only five people have entered so far by commenting on my 500th post so there is an excellent chance of winning.  I will run the competition for a month until 19 August to allow intermittent blog readers (like myself) to catch up and enter.

Sunday we had tickets for what used to be called 'The Festival of History' at Kelmarsh Hall but is now 'History Live' - basically English Heritage hosting a bunch of volunteer re-enactors who get to run big pitched display battles and shop from each other in the marketplace, while camping overnight and generally having a good time.  All good fun and lots of explosions, plus the chance to see a jumble of historical figures strolling around.  Quite amusing to see a well-dressed Regency miltary officer and his glamorous wife fingering the beads being hawked by a Victorian street seller, while behind them a Roman soldier and his Viking friend look over the woollen goods being sold by Anglo-saxon ladies etc. It was really big this year, there must have been over 100 tents and four display grounds plus lectures going on in the members' tent, catering, static displays etc.  DH watched three battles in a row but I got a bit bored after the first one and went round the marketplace instead. I bought two yards of thick wool fabric from one of the cloth traders which I will use to pad my new homemade ironing board when that gets built, and also some embroidered taffeta because it was so pretty.




Monday was the big day, when this pulled up in front of the house (parking in the six reserved parking bays that we had to pay £110 to the Council to secure). It's called a 'road train' which is a big lorry pulling a big trailer.


Yes, our possessions finally came out of storage!  It took them about four hours to unload it all and stash it around the house.  I had done a careful plan of where things should go, labelled each room with the code letters for the boxes that were going there, even posted up floor plans and gave a copy to the supervisor - and they still bunged stuff at random everywhere.  For the first few hours I was asking them to correctly move things to the right room, then I gave up.  So Monday night when DH got home, we spent the evening moving boxes around to get things to the right floor, and Friday night we spent another two hours going through the huge pile in the cellar, fishing out the wild cards and carrying them around the house to where they should be.  It's still chaos though.

The cellar:


What will eventually be my dollhouse room


My sewing room

Some of my quilts coming back

The chap taking photographs in the road train picture is not an amazed bystander, he's one of two scaffolders who came that day to quote me on scaffolding the house.  I chose him in the end because our (possible) builder recommended him, and the scaffolding will go up in about three weeks.

While we were waiting for the removals lorry to arrive, I harnessed the Power of the Teenager who voluntarily set to work assembling my Lego haunted mansion that I bought over a year ago (which had gone straight into storage).  The level of detail on this model is amazing, it has a mansard roof, opening doors, a folding loft staircase, furniture, inhabitants, and really great little vignettes like a phonograph player, an inkwell with a quill pen etc. I'm really pleased with it both from a dollshouse point of view and as a lover of Halloween.  The ghosts even glow in the dark!  I'm glad he put it together though - the instructions spanned three volumes although he said it was very straightforward.  Now I just have to find somewhere to put it where it won't get smashed during the long wait for normality to resume.








On Tuesday I had a gas engineer for two hours in the morning, carrying out some remedial work recommended in our pre-buying survey.  Then - hooray - the Sky engineer came back only thankfully it was a younger guy this time who just got on with it and put the satellite dish up in the garden without arguing or sucking his teeth like the first guy did.  So we finally have TV again, and Sky now lets you download box sets for free so we are catching up on Mad Men season 6.


Tuesday afternoon the kitchen company project manager came by for the last visit before work starts next week.  So today we have gotten very hot and sweaty tramping up and down the stairs, moving everything out of the kitchen and down to our temporary camp kitchen in the laundry room.  Apart from the dishwasher which is still running, and the fridge which is a problem I couldn't face today.  Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday to Friday were work days, and very busy too, but I found time to look up garden designers, confirm the scaffolding, confirm the fireplace guys, builder and outside painter to come and use the scaffolding, and work out a plan with the inside painter for when he will be able to come in.

Today I squeezed in another Annie Sloan chalk painting course which was quite fun and I bought the paint that I will use on the laundry cupboard we found on the antiques weekend.  Then we rushed home to look for tiles for the kitchen, visiting four DIY and tile shops to find a stunning lack of choice.  I've settled for a rustic white tile with some accent tiles in a duck egg blue which will hopefully set off the cabinets nicely.  Only of course, once we finally made up our minds, B&Q were out of the blue tiles.  According to the website, there are some at B&Q in Northampton so DH will have to go over there tomorrow while I am at Fibre East.  As well as moving the kitchen downstairs, we've also cleared out the room that will be the dining room but in the meantime was a repository for all manner of junk including the new appliances waiting for the kitchen.  The kitchen fitter will be knocking through the wall to open up an old doorway between the kitchen and dining room, and refinishing the floors in both rooms.  We are going to be so broke after all of this.

I had a nice surprise in Friday's post which was my latest delivery from Knit Crate.  This time it was two luscious skeins of Dream in Colour 'Classy', a worsted yarn, in 'Callous Pink' which is actually more of a purple and I love it.  So smooshy as well. The other included treats were some delicious biscuits and an electronic row counter that fits on your finger - very clever although I probably won't use it myself.


Commuter knitting this week has been the Shetland lace stitches shawl which is almost finished, only a half a repeat left on the border chart.  TV knitting has been the little colourwork baby jumper.  I spent a couple of evenings just darning in all the ends and now I am knitting the second sleeve.

Tomorrow I am off to Fibre East in Ampthill for some well deserved R&R, before coming back to finish clearing the kitchen plus we have to clear the clutter from the bedrooms because on Monday the plasterers are coming to restore the missing cornice.  Builders and workmen everywhere, and in a few weeks they will be able to look in the upstairs windows once the scaffolding is up as well.  I'm bracing myself for all the dust...

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