Friday, July 28, 2006

Coming Soon - The Kitchen!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to ... The kitchen.

Due to a slight technical hitch (Keith ran the battery flat on the camera and I don't know which box the charger is in yet) I can't put up any photos of the kitchen as it is. What I can post, is how the kitchen will be after the middle of September (6 more weeks C'MAAAHHHN!!!)

Just to give you the current status of the kitchen, key features are as follows:

  • One small fridge/ freezer which leaks and so is currently lined with a couple of sponges which need to be removed and squeezed on an almost daily basis
  • One worksurface down the window wall complete with sink and very rickety plumbing for washing machine currently held together with PTFE tape.
  • One tressle table with one pot plug in cooker (thanks again surrogate mum), one mini plug in oven/ grill (thank you real mum), one kettle and one toaster.
  • The above powered by a wiring hanging out of the wall and held together with chocolate blocks
  • 3 or 4 wall cupboards crammed with everything else you need in a kitchen.

As you can see, the perfect candidate for a serious makeover.

This is a dinky little plan of how the kitchen will be, and despite getting it from a reputable vendor of all things homely, it has not yet been plain sailing. There was a new definition of the phrase "complete service" when the fitter turned up and point blank refused to work on our electrics and do any tiling or electrical work - nice!!

A few snotty calls later and that was resolved although we had missed our slot and hence we are now waiting another 6 weeks for the kitchen to be installed.

Those of you who know Keith and I well are fully aware of the fact that we have never yet been known to take the easy road and this kitchen was no exception. A lot of the parts have been sourced from separate shops to get the right look at the right price and I think we've done pretty well. Remember folks, this is a turn of the century late Victorian/ early Edwardian cottage, so everything is being geared to be in keeping with the age of the building.

The original idea was to go with a cream country style kitchen: but nothing 'twee' and that caused a few issues until this little gem came up which has really simple lines and some very sexy curves to the ends of all the units.

As you can see there's a distinct lack of wall units except a plate rack and that is because we have somehow managed to crowbar a built in fridge/freezer and a larder unit at the end of the room which we hope is going to take pretty much all of the food between them.

The low level units will then have the majority of the cooking gear, with a pan rack above the hob to take the most commonly needed pots and pans. There is also a notable lack of drawers except for two wicker baskets and a drawer so cooking utensils will be kept in a pot beside the hob.

Next problem was the tiling and this is something I have always struggled to be happy with in kitchens. A cream kitchen plus cream walls could easily lead to a Room'o'Cream if the tiles aren't right, and since we were keeping the terracotta floor tiles, the palate was a little limited. So, we decided to try something a little bit special. For the last few months I have been gathering individual Victorian tiles on ebay and the plan is to have two rows of these tiles, alternated with plain cream tiles.

With luck, it should look something like this:

The crowning glory will be a baltic brown granite worksurface with undermounted sink and draining grooves cut into the granite and with any luck we should then be looking at a kitchen to be proud of: which will be handy when both the families come up for Christmas ... but that's another story.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Week 2 - Keith on a mission

After the success of moving weekend I was worried that progress might stall slightly - how wrong was I!!!!

This week saw the bedroom painted, one of the new plugs being installed (thanks to Oliver's Lighting, purveyors of period repro switches), the table and chairs for the garden delivered AND the wardrobes arrive (albeit in *shudder* flatpack ready to be painted).

The place felt a little bit more like home although there were still boxes in every nook and cranny which sometimes made walking through the house a bit of an adventure. It was definitely time to get some excess stuff into the loft.

Ah, the loft, the baby brother to hell itself!!! I was the obvious choice to go up there for the purposes of box shifting because I am easily bunked, good at organising/ tidying and Keith would be the choice to get the boxes up to me. What he didn't tell me is that the loft is about 1,000 degrees, especially at the moment when we're in the middle of the biggest heat wave this country has known in living memory AND the boiler is up there, merrily chucking out heat when it warms our water!! The place did look better for it though, and I did lose half my body weight in about 30 minutes.

So onto the small touches upstairs, pictures going up, curtains up, and the place is really starting to look like home now. It is a little rough round the edges but it finally feels like progress is being made.

The current plan for these small touches is as follows:

The spare room has all the "ethnic" stuff in it with a framed Ghurka knife and wooden masks on the walls. This room also houses the fish, and will house the spare TV as a kind of spare lounge. Add some spare ribs and it's about as spare as it gets lol

Our bedroom has some lovely dark green curtains going on and the big Guinness poster onthe chimney breast. Still to come are more pictures from our travels (such as they are)

The lounge is also painted and tidied and is going to have several large retro motoring posters up on the wall. Not entirely sure about the dust collectors yet but I'm sure they'll come in time, those things seem to breed when Keith is about ;-)

And that's about it for plans, except for the kitchen which will need to wait because it deserves an essay all of its own!!! D-Day currently stands at 18th September though and I cannot WAIT to see how it turns out!!

Oh and we have also made another discovery ... the social club next door is fantastic and will left us jump over the wall and get 'takeaway' from the bar. Perfect for those Saturday evening BBQs!!

9th July 2006 - Thank you surrogate mum!!!

There was only one thing of note today in the life of Fig Tree Cottage .... Helen and Paul came over and leant us a plug in pot cooker thing, which has since proven to be the most useful item in the kitchen. We may not have a cooker or a hob at the moment, but it is incredible what you can cook in a single pot!!!! Life suddenly seems much easier!!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

8th July 2006 - The Decorating Begins

I have never been so tired in my life, and when Keith and I had to drag ourselves out of bed at 6 in the morning to take the van back to Leighton Buzzard, I'm pretty sure we both looked like extras from Resident Evil.

The day improved though - big time - thanks to our wonderful friends.

First to arrive were Rach and Ian who only had a 2 hours before they needed to go out. They have to be applauded for the most valiant effort because they managed to clear the shoulder height nettles and grass, find the flower bed and turn the ground ready for me to start planting.

Second was Bill who spent a while helping Keith organise the Barn before coming inside to get stuck into the painting. Between him and my little sister Ammie, the spare room was done by mid afternoon.

Bringing up the rear were Sal and Dave who get the prize for the most entertaining contribution. Speed painting the study while carrying on a domestic about the age old question of a woman's ability to do DIY is a pretty effective skill!!

After the painting came the celebrating, and that it was nothing if not educational:

We did a taste test on the two chippy's in town
Walked into Phoenix Nights and ended up running a creche around the pool table and then
Kept the neighbours up until 4.30 singing songs in a very off key and drunken way.

Sorry neighbours!!!

Thanks to all the lovely people who came and helped that day, we would still be living in purple walled hell otherwise!!

7th July 2006 - Moving Day

On the 7th July 2006, Keith and I finally moved into our first home together in Arlesey, Bedfordshire which we had already named Fig Tree Cottage.

As you can see from the photos, it's not a mansion, but it does have a 100ft garden, a 28'x13' brick workshop in the garden, 3 bedrooms AND a Chinese Chipshop 2 doors down!!

I won't say it was an easy move, it rained on and off all day, the trailer Keith had hired was put into a ditch the night before the move, I had a meeting that the morning and I had run out of boxes so not all of my stuff was packed.

As you will see from the photos, the house was nothing to look at and, as always seems to happen, had shrunk since we last came to see it. Either that or we truly do have more tatt than any two humans should be allowed to own.

Walking down the garden with the keys in hand. You can see the Barn to the right of Ammie

Keith and Larry move the coffee table into the lounge. Note the fireplace on the right - typically for this country, after years of craving a proper open fire, we're now having to wait until the heat wave ends to curl up in front of it with a glass of vino.

Mmmmm purrrrple. This is the second bedroom which overlooks the garden at the back.

The third bedroom, now Keith's office - a vision in Peach I think you'll agree.

The kitchen - as you can see the previous owner favoursed the 'minimalist' approach to cooking.

The smiles say it all really. Keith and Larry during one of my rare amusing moments.

We ended that day in a bit of a crumpled heap, Keith having shifted his possessions in a marathon 17 hour relay and me because I had been babysitting both sets of parents while firefighting the problems you always get on moving day.

Special thanks have to go to both sets of parents for their tireless advice and cleaning prowess, Larry for helping Keith with his move and BS trailers for the last minute trailer hire!!