Family

Me and the new house : Part 4

Or – To Conservatory or not to conservatory? That is the question

Once the garden lodge had been organised, -you can find that here- we set our attention to the kitchen. When we moved in, the dining table had been put into the kitchen because there was nowhere else to put it and we had to eat somewhere! At our previous house we had the luxury of a completely separate dining room, and I also had a dresser unit from there that needed a home, as it was currently residing behind the sofa in the lounge. Not ideal. So we now had to decide whether we just stayed with the kitchen/diner idea or something else. When we had first viewed this house, we had thought that it might be a plan to have a conservatory. It was one of those things that had been on our wish-list, and we had viewed properties with them. My husband had thought it could go on the back of the lounge, but I thought the view into the garden would be very much spoiled if we did that. The other option was next to the kitchen, through the back door. We had no idea how much it was likely to cost, so got a local tradesman who had been recommended by a family member to come and give us a quote. It turned out that he agreed with the size and shape we thought was probably the best for the space. We were pleasantly surprised at the price and decided it would be folly not to go ahead as it would give us the extra room we needed. And the nice thing about the building works is that we could shut the back door at the end of the day and it wouldn’t impact on the rest of the house.
So, 4 weeks later, the building began. We were so lucky with the builder – the brickwork was immaculate and he cleared away and tidied up after himself every day.

Part 1 – foundations and brickwork.

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The builder wasn’t sure when I said I needed the end wall to be a certain height, but I stuck to my guns and he did what I asked – there was method in my madness! Once that was done, it was all measured and the glass was ordered. A few weeks to wait!

Part 2 – glass

  

It was strange that the more it went up, the bigger it seemed!
Part 3 – interior 

We had thought we would like a vaguely Moroccan theme and we also didn’t want a light in the middle as it gets tricky to change the bulbs – especially if the light is above the table. We ended up with the green feature wall because we can view so much garden and other colours might have drastically clashed.

  

 
It turned out so well and  we are really happy with it. It’s  glorious eating our breakfast in the mornings and intimate in the evening with the lamps on. Hard to think that it wasn’t always part of the house. And that wall? I think I was justified in making it that height!

Now…about that kitchen…

 

 

 

 

 

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Family

Me and the New House Part 3 – the garden room

We looked at very many houses over 3 months or so when we decided to move. We were mostly looking at a standard 3 bed but on a whim we decided to look at a bungalow. To our surprise we discovered that the rooms were big, usually the 3rd bedroom really is not very big at all. When the original house we wanted to buy fell through, it made us rethink what we actually needed. As we now only have our daughter with us and we don’t know how long for really and our son only visits sporadically, did we really need 3 bedrooms? As my husband would no longer be working from home, did we really need an office space? It was a no to both of those questions. So we changed our search, thinking that if the garden was big enough, we could put one of those wooden cabins in the garden for use as our spare room. 

When we saw the house we have now moved into, we knew straight away that it could work for us. It has 2 big bedrooms, a nice sized lounge and a kitchen diner. A garage and workshop for my husband’s needs. And the garden? Almost half an acre! There was already a Summer House in a corner of the garden that I immediately grabbed as my Craft room. There was plenty of space for a garden room to go up.

While the sale was going through we researched the type of cabin we might want, visiting our local garden centre that had a company that made them. It’s been there for many years, so we thought it was a pretty good bet. They covered our new area too so we took the brochure and waited to move.

We moved in the week before Christmas, as I’ve already said, and on Boxing Day we saw that the company were having a 25% off sale…that was a lot of money! So we rang and the rep made the appointment to come and advise us. It was very straightforward. He agreed entirely with where we had decided to put it, although he did say he thought it’d be better off flipping it 180 and we agreed with him! We were advised that it’d be about 6 weeks. So we just got on with the rest of the  unpacking and waited for them to contact us. Towards the end of January we were called and asked if they could come the next week and we were very happy. However…the Beast From The East decided it had other ideas, the lorry got snowed in and it had to be postponed. Not their fault, and they couldn’t have been more sorry about the situation.

2 weeks later they were ready to start. There was 2 days for the build and another for the electrics. It was amazing to see it go up so quickly and how efficiently the men worked.



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Once the electrics were completed, we moved a daybed, the piano and our media library into it – all furniture we already had so it didn’t cost us any more. The inside still has a lovely new wood smell and looks nice so we won’t paint it at all. Now we have our spare room which can be used as a bedroom, or a gaming or film watching room and my son even composed a couple of pieces when he came to visit. With blackout blinds now at the windows the visitors won’t be woken up early either. It really is a lovely space. All we have to do is paint the outside. We did the base coat but had a slight problem with the topcoat as they sent us the wrong colour. This has now been resolved so its just a matter of time!

General

Me and the New House Part 2 – The saga of the bedroom furniture.

When we decided that we were going to move last year, one of the things I was sure about was that I wanted new bedroom furniture. We bought our last set when we moved into our old house. A complete set of antique pine which was very on trend at the time. It lasted well being solid wood, and mostly for that reason my husband was not keen to change it at any time that I mentioned it during the 25 years we had it. But I put my foot down when we were going to move saying I thought it was definitely time for a change. 

Being to good citizen that I am and knowing that it was still useful, we donated several pieces to the Charity furniture shop locally and I felt happy about that. We did keep hold of the bed although I had been tempted to not move it with us.

I’d had a look at some styles of furniture and decided on some that was grey painted and after we moved I put in an order online. However, after a couple of weeks I got an email saying the company had gone into administration and there was very little likelihood that we would get our furniture and we could wait a while before we would know if and when we might get a refund. It was a Catch 22 situation because we didn’t want to choose and order more furniture because we didn’t know how long it would be before we would get our money back. Which also meant that all out clothes were in boxes in the bedroom. But at least we had a bed so I was glad that I hadn’t got rid of that when I’d thought we might! We’d had a new mattress delivered because it wasn’t til we moved that we realised quite how awful the old one was!

I’d paid for the online order with my credit card so got hold of my bank and explained what had happened. They were very helpful, lodged our concern, gave us an incident number and explained that it could take up to 144 days for cases like this to be settled. That’s a long time to wait for a refund. My husband didn’t want to buy any more furniture until it was all settled, whereas I just wanted to get on with it! 

My sister then told us about a local independent furniture store so we went up there on a rainy day soon after and found some beautiful American white oak pieces, completely different from what I’d previously ordered, and a sleigh bed frame that matched. At least we knew what we wanted when the time came.

As it turned out we got our refund within a month. It was, for the bank, a completely standard procedure. They do it all the time, but for us it was stressful. I’ve seen it on Watchdog and know it can happen, but it’s the first time it’s happened to us. As soon as we  got our money back we went back to the furniture shop, ordered the new oak pieces and got such a good deal that we saved ourselves £500 on the original price we’d expected to pay! And while we were there we found some new lounge furniture too so they were very happy that we had found their shop. When they delivered they were so nice, building the wardrobes and bed, which we’d have had to do for the first choice, putting all the other pieces where we wanted them. I think buying local instead of online is sometimes the best way to go if you can.

All in all, I’m much happier with the oak furniture and glad we didn’t end up with the grey painted, so maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. I’m pretty sure this will last us at least as long as the last lot.

Oh, and we donated the pine bed frame and 2 chest of drawers to another local charity furniture shop so they did someone a good turn as well. 

General

Me and the New House Part 1

So, it’s been a while. 5 months actually, almost to the day we moved. It’s taken us this long to get to where we’re almost straight. 

The moving day actually went off without a hitch. I did have a little tear as I looked around our empty house that we’d lived in for 25 yrs, but 4 hours later the movers were putting boxes into our new house. And boy, oh boy, did we have boxes! 70 in all. We thought we’d had a good sort out, but downsizing from a 3 double bedroom terrace with a big kitchen and a dining room and an office to a 2 bedroom bungalow with a kitchen/dining room meant our calculations were way off! The whole place was floor to ceiling boxes. The greenhouse and potting shed were full. The Summer House that would serve as my craft room was full. The garage and workshop were full. You get the picture. At least we had beds to sleep in and sofas to sit on amid the chaos! We unpacked my daughter’s room first – we couldn’t be doing with her moaning for weeks!

My son was due to be joining us for Christmas so we had 4 days to clear a space for him. He had to sleep on a mattress on the floor in the lounge. He didn’t bat an eye. My sister who lives in the town we moved to kindly offered to do Christmas so at least I didn’t have the hassle of trying to buy Christmas food amongst all the chaos of unpacking. It was really nice for us all to have Christmas Day with her and her family and just a stroll home afterwards. I think I’ll have to return the favour this year.

For the next week or so it was just about systematically going through each room one box at a time and seeing what could stay packed and what needed to be unpacked. The boxes of books and DVDs and CDs all went up into the loft to be sorted at a later date. Well, I say week, but in truth it was a good month before we’d properly got it box free inside the house. We were very diligent, flattening the boxes so they could be free cycled – after all, they’d only been used once so there was nothing wrong with them and could do someone else a turn. 

Putting mirrors and curtains up made it start to feel like it actually was our home and not just somewhere we were staying for a while. In January, the process of making it ours began in earnest…

To be continued…

Family

Me and moving house Part 2

I wrote a post way back in April Here saying how our house was on the market. And it was. We got a buyer fairly quickly after some haggling and began the process of looking for a house in the area we fancied. We viewed many – different areas, different configurations and almost on a whim decided to look at a bungalow. Well, it was a revelation. The rooms were large, the plot was large and it was in an area we liked. Hooray! We started decluttering, getting rid of furniture we would no longer need by donating it to a charity. Everything went along nicely…until the day before we were meant to exchange…when the couple we were buying from decided they didn’t actually want to move after all. After 3 months of paperwork and expense, and our buyers deciding that they’d rather not wait for us to find another property, it was all off. Gutting. Back on the market.

By now it was August Bank holiday. My daughter had given her notice in at work for a week before we were going to move and although I’m sure they’d have let her stay she really didn’t want to. So my sister, who lives in the town we want to buy in, said she could go and stay with her, to get to know the town and maybe try and get a job. Phew.

A couple came to view on Bank Holiday Monday, offered us the asking price so we started to look again. Having lost the first house, it made us reevaluate what we needed. We no longer need 3 bedrooms and a study/office as my son left 2 years ago and my hubby is retiring because of his health. So actually a 2 bedroom would work as long as there was room for a cabin in the garden to use as a spare room/studio/office. We viewed a lovely one but because our buyers didn’t have a buyer at that point, we got gazumped by a cash buyer.  As luck would have it, the perfect house came up fairly quickly. It’s immaculate. Small compared to what we have – of course! – but the rooms are a good size, with a big enough kitchen/diner that I can tinker with.  10 minutes walk to the seafront. The garden is huge, and my daughter who will be with us for a few years yet liked it. All started again. A date was put into the air of a December 1st target. It seemed to be going swimmingly until about 5 weeks in when our buyers buyer wouldn’t reply to emails or texts  and it turned out that the Estate Agent had been hiding details from everyone. She then pulled out of the chain. Our buyers were adamant they still wanted to buy ours, and we still want to buy, so we were not sure what to do next. We were advised to put our house back on the market, even had a couple of viewings. The house we are buying were advised to do the same. Luckily (?) the market has gone very quiet, so there’s no people looking in the town we want to buy. Then our buyers came up with a plan to rent their flat out while still buying ours. They’ve been great. Keeping us informed every step of the way. It’s only the bank that are holding things up. There is just one last tick in a box and we are ready to go. If we get the nod today, we can exchange tomorrow and complete next Friday. Everything is down to that one last thing. Keep everything crossed for us please.

Remind me to never move again. It’s so blooming stressful!! 
Update 15/12/2017
It happened! We exchanged contracts and are moving on Tuesday 19th! We shall be in our new home for Christmas!

Family, Fashion, General

Me and Gender Neutrality

There’s been quite a lot of hoo hah in the twittersphere lately about John Lewis announcing that they were bringing out a range of babies ware that wouldn’t be described as for boys or girls. People were throwing their toys out of the prom (see what I did there) about how their babies would all be changed somehow by wearing a bit of fabric that hadn’t been designed specifically for their particular type of sproglets. Which, of course, is ridiculous. 

Babies are dressed by their parents. I never deliberately did the blue for a boy, pink for a girl because I love bright primary colours and some things are unisex items. Also when my Daughter was born she had reddish hair and pink looked nasty with her colouring. Denim is functional for both sexes, dungarees especially. Lots of lovely colourful stripes and spots. Tartan trousers with red and green boots. My daughter wore many handmedowns from her brother, although the first thing my mum did was to buy her the girliest, most unpractical dress because she thought my daughter needed it. I still have that one somewhere. I think my daughter wore it twice. Because my Mum would be there to see her in it. I don’t remember anyone looking at my children and not knowing whether they were a boy or girl. But people actually get so offended if you can’t tell that they glue bows onto babies heads so you knew that was a girl…presumably. I’m not saying that I have never bought a particularly lovely item for my daughter, because by the time she was 2 she had waist length see-through blonde hair and I wanted her to look nice on special occasions. I remember one mint green dress and jacket for a wedding that was gorgeous! But by the time she was 6 it was obvious to me that she was a skater girl. She’d choose long shorts, trainers and t-shirts. If the ones she liked were in the “boys” section…so be it. 
We also gave our children the opportunities to try out many different activities. My son is very proud of his Disco Dancing trophy that he achieved age 8. My daughter preferred Judo and Golf. They are both are musicians.

It’s beyond this though. The Let Toys Be Toys campaign is huge, trying to get to grips with the fact that no, actually girls and boys don’t need different stickers, girls things shouldn’t just be about princesses, and boys may not always want to drive a digger. If they do – that’s great! But having had one of each I can say that the two sorts of toys that were played with the most by both genders were the kitchen play set and the Brio train track. Boys and girls together.

There’s also this gender reveal cake trend. It used to be – and I know I’m old – that you didn’t know what sort you were going to get until your baby was born. Now you throw a party, cut into a cake and voila! Pink for girl or blue for a boy. Quite arbitrary really. Clinton cards decided that was what it should be at some stage I suppose.

Then I thought about my teenage times in the 70s. It was pretty androgynous the fashion. We all wore platform shoes, Fred Perry type figure hugging tops, the widest trousers we could find with the most buttons on the waistband. We all had the feathered haircut. Well, my tribe did.

So, if you want your child to wear a colourful dinosaur top whether they’re a boy or a girl just do it. Never be constricted by gender norms.

Oh, and my kids both now grown….my son loves any colourful shirt, with Paisley being his favourite pattern. If he has to wear a plain coloured shirt he wears a Paisley bow tie. A shrinking violet he is not. And my daughter almost exclusively wears black and white. She’s still a skater girl who’s almost a rock chick.

Health, Wellbeing

Me and my Iron Levels.

I probably realised that my iron levels were not as high as an adults should be when I went to give blood and they turned me away…several times. When I think about it the signs were all there. 

I was a tiny child right up until I was 17 when I went into the 6th form and had a growth spurt. They used to weigh and measure us termly at my Secondary school and I vividly remember the first time because it seemed odd. I was 4ft 7 and weighed 4st 7 so that’s why it’s stuck in my memory. I was 5ft 4 at 16 and 5ft 8 by 18. I’m not sure what I weighed, but was a size 10. My mum was a bit concerned because by the 6th form I’d still not started my periods. Now, I’ve read somewhere that puberty for girls doesn’t actually kick in until the girl is 8st, so that could’ve been it and then even when I did start periods I’d go 6-7 weeks and then they’d be a day and a half and that’d be it. No bother. I do remember standing up a few times and fainting dead away, but didn’t do much about it.

When I went on the pill, I still had very irregular periods, but rather less than more, eh?

Over the years, during pregnancy and when trying to give blood I’ve been referred to the Doctor and given iron pills. They’re awful! Just make you good and bunged up! 

When I had my son by Caesarean section they gave me a blood transfusion before they’d let me come home, my iron was so low.

On what I thought was a side issue, my stomach has also been my weakest spot. Nothing dreadful, but if I had an illness it seemed to go straight to my stomach. I’ve never really worried because there wasn’t really a big problem and I didn’t really want to bother my Doctor.

That all changed last August. I got hit with Norovirus and spent a month between the sofa and the loo. I couldn’t eat, or walk around the corner, I was so unwell. It took 2 lots of very strong antibiotics before I began to feel any better, and then my husband had his 2nd Cardiac Arrest, so I just muddled through. Christmas I succumbed to illness again and didn’t see anyone except my immediate family because I was too weak. Again antibiotics were prescribed. When it was bad again in February I went back to the Doctors and he started to get me tested to see what could be wrong with me. Blood tests, pooh tests, checking for cancer markers. He couldn’t understand why my iron levels were through the floor when I haven’t had a period in 10 years. We went back over my history and he though he had an idea. I was prescribed iron and B12 and sent for an Endoscopy…yuck! I didn’t like that at all! All they found was a hiatus hernia. But while I was there they asked why I wasn’t having a Colonoscopy too and booked me in for the next week. The procedure for that isn’t that dreadful, but the medication they give you beforehand to “clear you out” is not nice at all. Again, they didn’t find anything horrid. My Doctor decided that I needed an MRI next, so back I went. More goop, but because they were checking my intestines I got to go in feet first and on my tummy, so it wasn’t as worrying as I’d thought it might be. The journey home on the bus was -erm- interesting…the goop made me need to go to the loo and I hadn’t considered that! While we were waiting for the results my Doctor said he’d send me for a Pelvic Ultrasound to double check there was nothing there that could cause my iron levels to be low. Now I wasn’t really worried about the procedure because obviously I’ve had smear tests, but I did feel a bit sorry for the young man who had to do it. He was being supervised by a lady and for goodness sake, they must have to do some to tick the boxes in their training! I was given a modesty towel and he kept his eyes firmly on the screen in front of him! Anyway, all was well from that test.

Whilst now waiting to see my Doctor I’ve had the results from my MRI which says that I have Crohns. To be honest, that’s what my Doc said he thought it might be right at the offset, and that I’ve probably had it my whole adult life and it flares during times of stress. When I’ve looked it all up its clicked into place. I shall probably have to take iron and B12 for my whole life, but that’s fine. Actually my Doctor told me about some Iron Water that was found in a mine in Wales. I thought he was pulling my leg, but it’s really good. I have a sachet in juice in the morning (Vitamin C helps iron absorption) and doesn’t make you constipated!

My Doctor has been bloody marvellous throughout. I’ve not had to wait that long for any of my procedures either. I love the NHS.