Sunday, 18 March 2018

Land clearances...

...and not in the traditional English being particularly unpleasant to the Scottish way. We have cleared most of our recent land purchase.

It has been snowing again here, before the last few months I couldn't tell you the last time we had more than a few inches of snow and we've had three big falls in as many months.

The one a few weeks ago, one of James' friends (a digger driver) rang and said his job had been cancelled in anticipation of snow. Would we like him to come and clear the land of brambles/brush and unwanted trees? We said yes as quick as you can imagine.

The difference is phenomenal, it's all opened up and we got some good wood to boot.

The plan is to plant a small orchard closest to the road to provide more fruit for us to eat and preserve and so reduce our reliance on the supermarket. I've got plans to have a few different varieties to include some apples that last longer in storage.

...and After

Not as pretty without snow
There are a few more trees to come out to open the area up further for our polytunnel to be relocated, we can't wait. Unlikely to be in time for this years season though unfortunately.

In other news James has been putting on skirting board upstairs. I've started planting some chilli seeds, although the house is so cold they're showing no signs of germinating yet.

I am also in the process of dropping one of my three jobs as it's all getting a bit much. I struggle to fit them all in and end up working evenings and weekends to make up the hours. I hope to get back to doing 4 days a week, which will be awesome!!

Last weekend James and I got up to find wee man had made breakfast for himself and his sister. He'd poured the cereal, milk, and a drink for them both. He had even cut the loaf of bread and put two slices into the toaster for James. They weren't even doorstops, they were perfectly done. It was so kindly meant I was very proud.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Stairwell progress

The last few weeks we've been beavering away at the space above the stairs. In essence we've moved down the hallway and come to the last big space that needed plastering upstairs.

I struggled to find photos for this bit as it's been a work in progress longer than I'd realised, I had to go as far as last Easter! 

Now this post is pretty picture heavy, so hang on...

When the stairs were first turned round, the walls were plastered to the left over the timber frame and covered in plywood on the walls to the right (bordering wee man's room). Unfortunately the plaster on the timber side was crumbling and on the other side there was just wallpaper on board, which was coming away from the wall.

We stripped the old walls back.

Put some insulation in.

Put up plasterboard.



 Lights up.

The last step is to clean up the beams that we've left exposed, but that will have to wait for a while, they'll get done with all the other beams that need doing.

James noticed some maker's marks on the timbers the other day. Where two timbers are jointed they've made matching marks on the wood, presumably as the frame was made off site so they knew which piece goes where, pretty cool hey!

Off the project side of things, I managed to get my portfolio submitted for the training pathway I've been on at work, so am hoping that is finally finished.

Now to get some plants started ready for the warmer weather.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Hallway progress

We had planned on finishing the upstairs of our house last year, but I think we were a little over optimistic.

We really would like to get the majority of the work finished before summer though so we've made a concerted effort to get going again.

It's only in the last few months that we've managed to get the stud walls up that changes the hallway from the front to the rear of the house and the new spare room was plastered. Now the small hall (I call it the landing) between the bedrooms and bathroom had all sorts of angles involved and so I think there was some putting it off. James has worked his socks off plastering them and putting up the doorway architrave. I've been busy painting and we're getting there.

Poor James was also made to visit IKEA for picture frames to decorate the landing and buy some paint, as I decided the usual colour of white wouldn't do.

We also finished off the step between the hallway and landing and it all looks much neater.

Last weekend James plastered the hallway wall, and filled the gaps left in the plaster where the walls had been moved around. Yesterday he did the first wash coat to try and keep the dust down.

Now we are raking out the pointing from the stone wall in the landing ready for re-pointing. Pointing is a good job for evenings after work as it doesn't wake the kids.

So we're moving on at pace.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Weston's Wassail

We had a family evening out, almost unheard of for us as we're known for being pretty strict on the bedtime regime. The kids are getting that little bit older and so we're starting to have a few bedtimes past 7pm. The kids were dead to the world long before we got there.

We decided to go to the Wassail at a local cider producer. Weston's vintage cider is my drink of choice so I thought we had better help bless those apple trees to ensure a bountiful harvest this year!

I'll let wiki tell you what it is if you're none the wider, 'The orchard-visiting wassail refers to the ancient custom of visiting orchards in cider-producing regions of England, reciting  incantations and singing to the trees to promote a good harvest for the coming year. Traditionally, the wassail is celebrated on Twelfth night. The purpose of wassailing is to awake the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn'.

It all started with some traditional Morris dancing; which if I'm honest has always creeped me out a little.  It seems lots of countries have a beautiful and moving traditional dance and we have Morris dancing. It all strikes me as a bit odd, but I suppose that's the British for you. 

Anyhow the 'leader' had a good sense of humour and had a presence that kept everyone entertained. We processed with lit torches (how long that'll last before someone stops us potentially setting ourselves on fire who knows) to the orchard. 

Here there was some dancing and chanting, fires were lit and the kids got to hang toast on the tree (a gift for the tree spirits) and cider was poured over the roots of the tree. 

We almost got to see a human sacrifice when one of the dancers missed his aim in the dance and struck another guy in the face with a club. His nose was streaming blood poor thing and he had to bow out of the dancing. A huge amount of shouting and banging then took place from us all and someone shot a volley from a gun and we were done. There was also a skeleton horse but I'm not sure what that was all about.

Much fun was had by all but the kids were shattered today.

At home we've been trying to finish the upstairs so I'll post some pics here soon.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Merry Christmas and our exciting news

Merry Christmas! I hope you've all had a great time with friends and family celebrating the season.

Our Christmas has been fairly relaxed. Christmas eve was spent with my best friend and her family, then topped off with a quick visit to some of our neighbours/friends (also a young family with children). The kids were full of the Christmas spirit and we loved it.

Yesterday was spent with my mum, sister and her fiancee after unwrapping pressies at home. The excitement of the day before led to one overtired little girl along with subsequent behaviour, the less said the better. Whilst it was great to see family I confess to preferring Christmas day at home.

Now onto our big news... we've bought more land!!!

I'm sure I've probably mentioned the wilderness next door, a field covered in brambles that has been neglected for the last 20 years at least; well now it's OUR wilderness.

Ever since we moved in we have coveted the land, if only because we like our privacy and I've always worried someone would decide to do something with it.

It all started about 4 months ago when I popped into another of our neighbours, Annie, to have a chat. This invariably ends with her offering me glass of wine, me saying I shouldn't and then being over at hers all evening and wondering home merry.

I mentioned how we'd always wanted the land and in true country fashion she knew who owned it; an elderly lady with failing health and even directed me to her house. James and I drafted her a letter asking her to consider us if she ever wanted to sell. A few days later she gave us a ring, we agreed a price and it went to the solicitors. Now they know how to make their cut, so after four months of constant chasing it finally became ours a few weeks ago.

We have a friend, Kev who may be able to help us clear it,  but in the meantime we've made a start with a hedge trimmer, chainsaw and streamer, but it's slow going.

We had a bit of an adventure this weekend with the kids forging through the brambles and found a polytunnel frame!!!! Now as to plans, all I know is that I want a small orchard and more planting space, otherwise it's all up for grabs, so I'll need some ideas. It's about an additional acre and a half and I did a quick map so you can see our original plot in red and the new land in green.


Friday, 22 December 2017

We're back online and it snowed!!

We have returned to the modern world today. BT open reach have finally gotten their act together after four engineer visits and a battle with health and safety rules to scale the pole and join two wires together. Kidding aside for the second time in the last year or so our phone line came down and the incompetent idiots at plusnet and BT have finally managed to arrange for it to be fixed. It's good to hear that even though we pay a premium as we live in the country and BT have a monopoly on the line, that the money can be put to good use and pay four engineers to do a half hour job.

As you can tell I'm a bit sore over this. But miserable old git moan over.

On a happy note, a fortnight ago it snowed like I've never seen before and it was magical!

This exciting event happened over a weekend and so we got to enjoy it with the children. Come Monday a tree came down and blocked our lane (and brought the phone line  down) so we both missed work (v. exciting). 
James got the chainsaw out, I moved the wood (next years heating) so we got to have an extra day making the most of the season. Without sounding too corny it was so much fun and I think we enjoyed it more than the kids did. We made snow men, snow angels, had snowball fights, went sledging and had lots of pretty walks. Here are some photos for your enjoyment (visiting here is like sitting next to an old lady on the bus with pictures of her grandchildren). 

I was desperate to post the pics as snow is such a rare event but next time I post we've got some exciting news (no more babies before you get excited!).

Snow is tiring!