Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Dry Martini for the lady?

After having been outbid for the umpteenth time on fleabay, I felt a bit like I was going through the motions putting a bid on a little Art Nouveau enamelled burner. I didn’t even bother to stay up for the end of the auction. So imagine my surprise when I was half woken by my beloved husband to tell me that we had won the auction. I don’t imagine my response was more accomplished than a grunt, it never is when someone is foolish enough to interrupt my slumber, and my usual state of confusion was in no way diminished the next morning when I tried to work out whether I had imagined the entire thing.

Seems I hadn’t, and so it was that we found ourselves driving through the beautiful Norfolk autumn following signs to Arse-end-by-Nowhere to eventually be confronted with possibly the nicest ‘bayers I have ever met. This bloke had bought himself a chunk of forest and had created the most incredible haven. He was also a very interesting guy, and what started as a quick stop, ended up as a long chat putting the world to rights, and discussing the perils of pig ownership. Seriously.

It wasn’t until we got home that we really looked at the fire, and realised that the ‘repairs’ to the inner box were actually nice bloke code for “total basket case” and while I flounced into the house to do something I was good at (cooking stew and dumplings) Keith retired to the barn to do what he was good at (poking rusty things with a screwdriver).The fire is now waiting for us to make tracks to the local scrappy to grab some sheet metal. I have to admit, I’m very excited about this fire. Excited to the same degree that the Grim Reaper arriving at your dinner party might cast a bit of a gloom over the evening (those of you who aren’t familiar with Monty Python will now be breaking out in a sweat, don’t worry, he’s not a regular guest at FTC!!)

There is something about the delicate chinchilla grey enamelling, and gentle swooping metalwork that makes me do a frighteningly good impression of a Lemming (by which I mean the computer game, not the actual critter, naturally) and occasionally, when I think nobody is looking, even a quick “WOOT!!”.

Moving swiftly on, I’m sure I have already mentioned that we were going to be the new home of a wall unit which until now had held pride of place at Casa Batsford Snr. If I haven’t, my apologies, but suffice to say, the barn has been waiting for the delivery of the wall unit since The Cleanup, and I have fought, sometimes with flaming torches and pitchforks, to prevent the spread of general crap into the space I had worked so hard to clear. I even took it upon myself to sell a load of “stuff that might become useful” in a bid to make some extra room and finally, just as I thought my finger was going to pop out of that dam, we took delivery of the wall unit .... and a sofa bed ... which was something of a surprise to me, I have to admit, and did raise the merest wobble of my chin at the sight of my hard won floorspace so dramatically filled.

It all felt very unnatural you know, the delivery I mean. I’m used to renting/begging/borrowing vans, lugging (with family sized helpings of blood, sweat and tears) and then assembling without another soul in sight, and it felt wrong to have two strapping lads not only arriving with the van already full with furniture, but for them to unload said furniture, carry it into the barn and then, THEN, to assemble it as well!!!

I was most put out. Not because I could have lifted the top of the unit on by myself, but because it just, well it just felt wrong, and I couldn’t stand it. Having waved them off with a smile, I turned tail and ran full tilt back into the barn and did the only thing I could under the circumstances: I lifted the whole unit out and attacked the fixing brackets with gusto. I didn’t need to do it, the damn thing weighs more than a cow and there was no way the top was going to part company with the bottom without the help of a crowbar and tub of Vaseline, but I needed to do it. And yes, I did feel better afterwards.

Soon I was running back and forward from the house to the barn, freeing up cluttered cupboards of “occasional use” items which were far better sited in the barn of joy. We took another giant leap into retro-land with this drinks cabinet (complete with sherry and martini glasses I hope you’ll note!!) and a stack of our more popular board games. For the discerning gentleman, you can just see the twin stacks of 1950s Practical Motorist magazines, perfect for anyone needing hints on overwintering their Ford Anglia, or perhaps feeling the need to build a caravan from scratch (I kid you not!!) The rather large stack of 1950s Italian records we found when we moved into FTC is also now on display, although we are still missing any way of playing them until we find ourselves a records player.

Still itching slightly from the lack of DIY opportunities, I managed to find myself something else to do. One of my Freecycle acquisitions was a fabulous lamp base which was followed a few months later by an equally fabulous lampshade. There was however a gaping hole in my knowledge of all things lampish which resulted in the rather unfortunate situation of the shade fixing being about 3 times the size of the lamp. Clearly I was missing some vital gubbins to make one fit the other, but my limited lamp based vocabulary means I have no idea what I am missing, or what in fact it is called. I decided instead to try and make use of the things around me, and construct an adaptor myself. I had Green Day cheering me on, and a workshop of tools at my disposal so clearly this was going to be a walk in the park. Two hours later I looked down at the mangled remains of a wire coathanger, and several cable ties and realised that some ideas were best left to people with precision instruments and solder torches.

Bring on the plan B – what I needed was something bowl shaped. Something which had a wide enough rim to support the shade and that was soft enough for me to cut a hole to fit the lamp fixing. Something heat proof. Something, a little like the plastic Christmas pud basin that was currently guarding a hoard of old nuts and bolts. HAH!! Scrap metal evicted, I was soon throwing caution, and the fate of my finger, to the winds and wielding a Stanley knife at the base of the bowl.

A few short, triumphal minutes after that, the butchered bowl was firmly clamped onto the lamp base and the shade was delicately balanced on top.

Now, I felt better again –pride restored I even went so far as to turn the lamp on, and while the bowl did get pretty warm, my educated guess that a pudding bowl would be heat proof seems to have been a good one and my lamp remained stubbornly un-Dali like and fabulous.

Oh, and just to close, I wanted to share something very exciting that happened to me today ... I found my first grey hair!!!

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