Wednesday, 30 September 2015

This, that and wheelie bin ramblings

It's been another lovely day here today. My fuchsia bush is on it's third bloom of the year. Not sure if this is normal or whether I've just touched lucky? I'm not googling though, I'm just accepting that it's flowering again and I still have some colour to look forward to in the garden.
I received a text from Amy's school this morning informing us she'd achieved over 80% in her recent maths test. Maths is most definitely not her strong point and I think I may have said before that achieving a GCSE Grade C is the main aim, so that she doesn't have to take it again at college. She had a brilliant teacher last year and a lot of it just clicked which meant she was moved up a set which has done wonders for her confidence.
Thomas has discovered a new food that he likes. Shop bought cakes! He can scoff 6 of these in one go if I don't keep an eye on him, as I found out last week. I might have to disown him to be honest. I never thought a child of mine would acquire a taste for shop bought cakes. 
Our council have decreed that as from October we are going on 3 weekly bin collections. I get a little annoyed about the wheelie bin situation at times. Firstly, they're a real eyesore and secondly the bin quota is definitely not stacked in favour of a family of 4. 

There are a lot of couples on our street, yet they get the same sized bin as we do which doesn't seem fair. And to add insult to injury one family has 3 children so they get 2 bins. 2 BINS! That's a whole bin to one person, the lucky devils. Anyway, it's not actually as bad as it first seemed as the brown bin we are getting for food waste will be collected every week. I don't do too bad on food waste to be honest, but at least it'll get taken away regularly. I do like their colour coded leaflet though and have stuck it on the inside of my kitchen cupboard door to remind me where I'm up to.

Tea time was a busy affair today. Matthew is staying over at Number 14 so he can get the garden finished. It's taking a bit longer than he thought and a hitch with a couple of deliveries hasn't helped. Thomas' friend and adopted daughter were also last minute invitees for tea. It was nothing fancy, just a freezer choice of sausage, fish fingers, chips or mash. 

Looking forward to a cup of tea now and my double whammy of TV. Bake Off and Doctor Foster. 


Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The garden make-over has started

So, things are moving on nicely at Number 14. The garden make-over is under way, courtesy of Matthew. It's what he does; decking and these new fandangled garden pod things that people use as offices. He's booked up until the beginning of March but has taken a couple of days out of his busy schedule to do this for us. Hopefully I'll be able to post the before and after picture tomorrow. In the meantime, here's Thomas giving his older brother a 'helping' hand. Thomas is obviously the manager, wearing his shirt and tie.
The lounge has become a holding bay again, this time for the wood and stones, which unfortunately, can't be left on the driveway without a good chance of them going 'walkies' overnight.
And the gas man has been out today to do whatever it is he needed to do with the cooker, the boiler and the gas fire. We've ordered a new fire but it won't arrive for another 2 weeks. 
In between all the goings on 'up the road' I have (drum roll please), managed to do all the white pieces of the jigsaw.
The black pieces are now waiting their turn. There's about half of them laid out on the mat, just need to get the rest on and then I can start to work my way though them one by one. I'll get there eventually. 
And I'm back in school now reading with the children. I temporarily 'handed my notice in' a few weeks before the end of Summer term so that we could concentrate on Tom. It was nice to go in today though. I really enjoyed it.

*Sorry about the first 2 photos. I took them with my phone and for some reason they will only load the wrong way round.


Saturday, 26 September 2015

Another year older

Joan is 85 years old today. She thinks she's 92. And she has no idea what she looks like. I took a photo of her, showed it to her and she said "who's that". When I told her she said "I'm not that old". 

Anyway, we took her presents, a new cardigan which she wasn't that bothered about and some chewy mints and a birthday cake which made her eyes light up. I expect some little old lady will be sat in an armchair next time we visit wearing the cardigan. No matter that we follow the rules and label everything, it seems to be a case of share and share alike with clothes.
It's been pretty quiet up at Number 14 today. Plumber Chris (we have two workmen called Chris working up there so they have been given the titles of Plumber Chris and Plastic Chris), has removed a corner shower unit and replaced it with a bath. It's not quite ready for an 'after' shot but here's the before. Tom removed the bath when Joan couldn't get in it any more and had a shower installed instead. We will have to do something with the tiles though as there are about 30 holes all over the place that were drilled for the shower seat, grab rail, etc. that Joan needed.
The granny square blanket has been neglected lately but I managed to crochet a couple of squares this afternoon.
But no jigsaw today. I'm still psyching myself up to working through all those black & white pieces.


Friday, 25 September 2015

Cake, Cold Sores and Cladding

I'm suffering with cold sores up my nose. I have 3 and they are killing me. Since having Amy I seem to be prone to them but I suppose I should be grateful they're where nobody can see them.

Thomas wanted to make a chocolate cake last night. He pretty much did all the weighing and mixing all by himself under my supervision and did a really good job.
I dropped off 2 bags of clothes to the charity shop this morning. A lot of them are brand new and the others have hardly been worn. When we were clearing the back bedroom I found 2 new toasters, 2 new kettles, 6 pairs of new slippers and 4 new shirts and ties still in their packaging. I have no idea why these things were bought and never used but hopefully somebody will benefit from them.

The kitchen fitter has been round tonight to have a look at what needs doing. It's the biggest job to be done at Number 14 and will go in this order, rip out, strip wallpaper (several layers again - bless you Tom), plaster, paint, fit kitchen, electrics, tiling. Doesn't seem too bad when it's down in black and white. There was room in the skip for the doors but this gives you an idea of the 'before' kitchen.
 And one more before and after photo. Tom was really good at keeping his house in order and in his day would be up the ladders in a flash painting and cleaning. What he didn't like doing though was asking people to do jobs for him or worse still, paying people to do them, which meant as time went by things got neglected. 
But now we've put new PVC cladding up and covered the crazy paving it's looking much better. We're trying to keep future maintenance to a minimum and this will just need a good wipe down every year. The windows and back door need to be changed and the blots on the landscape (aka wheelie bins) also need to be tidied up. I reckon in years to come someone with unearth that crazy paving and it will be like us discovering Roman mosaics!

Can't believe it's weekend again. I wish somebody would slow this world down for a while. 


Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Viking Day

It was Viking day today. Thomas said he didn't get around to finishing his helmet at school, so he took the one I bought. I have my suspicions about this and think he just preferred this one over the cardboard and tinfoil one made at school.

Although he's posing with his axe the children were under strict instructions that no weapons were to be taken in, much to his disappointment. Anyway, he had a fantastic day and wishes school could be that much fun all the time.
I had the urge for something really juicy today, and this melon was perfect. No slicing or chopping, I just scooped the seeds out and dug in with a spoon. Delicious. I also got on the treadmill today, for the first time in a long time. Go me!
On the jigsaw front there are now flowers in the vase and the arch border is also done. Which just leaves all the black and white pieces to fit. It's a bit heavy going to be honest. Unlike a pile of sky pieces which at least have different shades of blue to help you, these are solid colours, so I'm literally trying one piece at a time.

And the decorator has been working up at Number 14 today. Having initially thought the yellow wall was just backing paper that had been painted, on closer inspection he decided it was layered wallpaper and the best thing to do would be to strip it off. The top layer came off really easy to reveal another 3 layers underneath.
To be fair most of the layers had been removed but for some reason patches of the 3 layers have been left all over the wall. Anyway, see the 3 brown patches, that's wall and that's what we're aiming for. Thankfully my nephew is coming down tomorrow so this will be his first job.

I love nephews!


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

One nearly down, Six to go

We've very  nearly done the first room and even though it's only the porch it's one down and 6 to go.

Tom and Joan's porch told a tale of decorating styles over several decades with its anaglypta, plastic wood panelling and more up to date wallpaper. 
Now we have this. A clean, bright, maintenance free and more importantly easily cleanable porch. To be honest I wasn't convinced this would look right and there was a little bit of a heated discussion about it, but I have to say I've been proved wrong. OK, I wouldn't decorate the lounge in it, but for a small area it's perfect. We just need to paint the cupboard and it's done.
Aunty Betty also came today which means apart from taking some things to the charity shop, returning Joan's walkers and passing on a few bits and bobs to Tom's brother, the house is now cleared. 
Mark has also removed the 3 polystyrene ceiling roses. The squeaky noise was horrible and I was covered in goosebumps while he did this.
The carpet needs to be thrown away, Joan had a couple of accidents on it just before she went into the home, so our plan is to just roll up the rubbish in it when it comes up. Which means we can make as much mess as we like without having to tidy up. 

The decorator is coming tomorrow to start on the bedrooms. One wall is painted bright lemon, a colour I actually really like, but Tom always used silk emulsion and I'm definitely a matt girl. Every time I walk in there the wall looks like it's glowing. Tomorrow it's going to be covered in very boring lining paper ready to be painted magnolia which I'm assured is THE colour to paint a house that's going to be rented. 

We'll see. 


Monday, 21 September 2015

Jobs - Week No. 1

It's a busy week for us at Number 38, up at Number 14! 

The alarm man has been out today to quote for a new system. We're having some plastic work done tomorrow and Aunty Betty is coming to collect all the stuff she wants (which means no trip to Quarry Bank this week), the decorator is working up there Wednesday and Thursday, my nephew is also coming down Thursday to put some hours in and Matthew is doing the decking Friday and Saturday. Although we're not actually doing any of these jobs ourselves, I'm praying Sunday will be a day of rest. 

Our brains are becoming so befuddled that I've had to buy His and Hers diaries haha, something I've not used since I gave up work nearly 3 years ago.
After being told by Thomas he was making his Viking helmet at school, then being told that actually, no they weren't, I went to Maskerade (a local fancy dress shop) to buy him one today. He didn't want one with horns because according to the teacher it's never been proved the Vikings wore these, so he chose this one instead. He came out of school tonight and when I asked him what he'd done he said, we've started making our Viking helmets! Honestly, talk about mixed messages, either that or he just fancied a new helmet and saw a good opportunity to dupe me.
The jigsaw is back on the table and the case is proving very handy. Just a matter of zipping it up and moving it when I need to. The lady now has a face and half a feather fan.
Tomorrow there will be the first before and after post. It's the smallest room in the house - no not the bathroom, the  porch, but we've got to start somewhere.


Sunday, 20 September 2015

Busy Weekend

These pictures pretty much sum up what we've been doing all weekend.

Bedrooms, bathroom and loft are now completely cleared out. I wish I'd taken a before picture but I forgot the camera. But to give you an idea, I've never seen the radiator before, there's always been things stacked in front of it, so I was surprised when it was finally revealed at how long it is. 
 The lounge has taken on the role of holding bay. In the next couple of days Aunty Betty is coming to take most of this stuff which means we can get on with stripping the wallpaper. Or rather our nephew can. He's worked like a trooper this weekend and we wouldn't be anywhere near finished if it wasn't for him. We've offered him the chance to do some odd jobs for us like painting the decking and shed, stripping wallpaper etc. and he jumped at the chance of earning some money.
And the final shot shows the fruits of our labour. We'll need another skip for the kitchen rip out, but everything else we've managed to get in this one. I was walking up the road this morning at 9.15am to open up Number 14 and I saw 2 men by the skip. I thought they were looking to see what we'd thrown in. By the time I'd got there they'd got in their car and gone, but not before dumping an old stereo in there. I don't mind admitting I felt a little bit of skip possessiveness/rage come over me. Cheeky blighters.
Anyway, hope you've all managed to have a more laid back and less busy weekend than us.


Friday, 18 September 2015

Clearing out

In between the usual goings on at Number 38 plus popping up to Number 14 to do a few jobs I've managed to get a bit more of the jigsaw done. I've separated all the white pieces and laid them out on the mat that was included with the jigsaw case. There's no easy way of fitting these other than trying one piece at a time which can be a bit tedious but it's got to be done. Not yet though! Instead I did some of the body and face which was  much more interesting. 
The skip arrived this morning so when Amy and Thomas came home we all went up and spent an hour throwing rubbish bags in that I'd already sorted. Many hands make light work as they say. Thomas was on crockery duty and the Careful Charlie that he is, literally took one teacup at a time. If you're wondering what he's wearing it's his Viking tunic that I'm halfway through making.
He's also claimed Tom's train driver hat. He has a thing about hats and helmets when he's playing his games and this will be a good one to add to the box.
My niece is visiting tomorrow so we're having a family get together in the evening which I'm look forward to. Mum is going home with her on Monday to spend a couple of weeks with my sister. My other niece is expecting her baby mid-November so we're planning a visit then.

I'm looking forward to us all getting together and I'll definitely be ready for a 'night out in' by the end of tomorrow. 

Hope you all have a good weekend. 


Thursday, 17 September 2015

Project 2, Number 14

I've added a few more things to the Christmas Box; ingredients for the Christmas cake. It would be cheaper to buy one, but it's a bit of a tradition at Number 38 with Mum coming down to supervise proceedings.
I also bought these lovely Gladioli. I'm not really a fan of peach but these caught my eye today.
Project 2 at Number 14 has been to get people in to look at the jobs that need doing.

So today Matthew has been round to look at decking the back garden. It's patio and grass at the moment but the patio is uneven and in the interests of safety plus making sure the garden stays tidy we're thinking of decking over the patio and gravelling over the grass which is pretty much what we've done here at Number 38. 

We've also had the decorator round to quote for some work. We've decided Number 14 will be a two level project - upstairs and downstairs. As the kitchen is going to take 4 weeks to arrive we're going to crack on with sprucing up the bedrooms. Thankfully, the anaglypta in the lounge also seems to be coming off easily enough.
And the 'plastic man' has been to look at replacing some plastic on the outside. He's also going to cover some crazy paving under the window. No doubt this was fashionable at some point in time but we're going to cover it up. He also needs to fit a new back door. 
The skip arrives tomorrow so most of the weekend will be spent sorting, throwing and passing things on to relatives. I don't think Mark is relishing this part to be honest. He's fine with organising all the jobs that need doing but understandably doesn't hang around very long when it comes to sorting through Tom's things, so I seem to have taken that on.

Thomas has been asking for face paints so he can paint scary masks on himself so I bought him these from Argos.
And this is the result. Don't think he'll be working in the Kids Club at Billy Butlins any time soon! 


Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Project 1 at Number 14

Tom's house has anaglypta wallpaper in the dining room and lounge that's been on for decades (4 to be precise), and which has been emulsioned loads of times over the years.

For the past couple of days we've been deliberating whether to strip it off or not. Not because we're adverse to a bit of hard work but because we've both read horror stories about it taking ages to get off, half the plaster coming with it etc. etc. 

To be honest, it's not an offensive pattern, it's just that each square is about 12x12 and the lounge is quite big which means there's a lot of them. If it wasn't such a defined pattern I think we'd have left it on, but we finally decided today that for a more modern look it had to come off whatever the consequences. 
It was a bit of a nervy moment, after all, once you've started stripping wallpaper you can't just stop, but I think Tom must have been smiling down on us because I couldn't believe how easy it came off. And touch wood, not one bit of plaster has come with it.

So, here's my first 'before' picture of Number 14. This is the dining room which features another pattern. The 'after photo' probably won't be on here for weeks but it's a good feeling that we've made a start and so far it seems to be going OK. 
Just hope anaglypta doesn't come back into fashion in the next few months. 


Monday, 14 September 2015

Jigsaw Disaster and a 'Project'

I suffered a bit of a jigsaw disaster today. When I picked up the mat it was on it buckled and half the jigsaw fell off onto the floor. Which meant that a good chunk of the border and some of the inside had to be done again.
Wishing to avert any further disasters I went to Argos and bought myself one of these. A jigsaw case. It feels a bit funny to work on - a little bit spongy, but the jigsaw sticks to it even when the case is stood upright. Money well spent I think, considering I do enjoy my puzzles. 
Thomas is learning about the Vikings at school and came home with a letter about Viking dress up day next week. I have until Tuesday to come up with a costume, although the teacher has kindly sent home some 'quick and cheap' ideas, and thankfully the helmets are being made at school.

After a lot of discussion and number crunching we've decided that rather than selling Tom's house we are going to keep hold of it and rent it out on Joan's behalf. This will mean she can stay in the home she's in and more importantly still afford to buy her favourite sweets for her!

The house is in pretty good nick but will need a basic new kitchen, a couple of new windows, a downstairs carpet and a lick of paint. Today I went to B&Q and they designed the kitchen for me. It's not very big and there was pretty much only one way of doing it, but it will look modern and more streamlined which is the main thing. Mark reckons Tom's kitchen is at least 30 years old so it definitely needs updating. We know somebody who will do the fit so all we need to do now is order the stuff, hand over the design and leave them to it.
I'm actually looking forward to it being 'done up'. It's like having a project on the go but without having to live with the mess that goes with it.

And we are now official members of the NT. Our passes and places to visit book arrived today. Don't think we can fit in going anywhere this week, but hoping to go back and see the apprentice house sometime next week. 


Sunday, 13 September 2015

Another Weekend Over

Saturday didn't start too well at Number 38. The shower wouldn't work so at 9am I was sat on the loo in the buff reading out instructions to Mark. Thankfully after 40 minutes of messing about it was working again. 

Yesterday afternoon I spent some time on the jigsaw and pieced together some jigsaw jewels. 
And Amy spent some time in the kitchen making a cake. She made one a few weeks ago and broke some orange club biscuits into it which tasted delicious. This time she chose bourbons and although it's a good cake I prefer the taste of the chocolatey orange one.
Today, we went over to see Aunty Edith. She's 92 tomorrow so we took her birthday cards and her favourite Dairy Box Chocolates. She was in fine fettle and was telling Amy that when she left school at 14 she worked in the Senior Service cigarette factory, starting at 8am and finishing at 6pm. I look at the kids today, my own included, and I think you wouldn't last a week!
We also took her something very special. Joan and her had a cousin Thomas who died in Japan working on the Burma Railway when he was 21. Before he was called up to fight he was an artist and a textile pattern designer. 

There has been talk over the years of his paintings and designs being somewhere, but it wasn't until about 6 months ago that Tom told us he had them in his house, but he didn't know where. Anyway, I found them last week in the bottom of a suitcase, so we handed them back to Aunty today. There must be over 50 and I've kept 4 tiny ones and one of his textile patterns, which I'll get framed.
The little ones only measure about 2x4" and are quite detailed for their size. 
It was definitely a good find, but really the best bit about it was seeing her face light up when we handed them to her.