Friday, May 29, 2009

On Your Marks ....

These are trying times at FTC. The clock is counting down to the start of the mayhem and we have now run out of space to store 'things' which means the garden is being used as a temporary storage depot complete with upturned slipper bath which I'm frankly glad isn't in the house or I would be very temped to try it out for size, no doubt resulting in much "turtle on back" hilarity until Keith took pity on me and heaved me back out.

Anyway, first up is the new floor in the lounge. After 3 years, with a small sob of acceptance, the carpet was given up as a lost cause in the face of Harry's endless shedding. Instead I went online and found these delicious tiles which for some reason really reminded me of melted caramel and which I thought would look really lush with all the wood we have in the lounge already.

In order to lay these little beauties, we enlisted the help of a professional, as I had clearly run out of both time and talent on that front, and his instruction was to lift the lounge carpet well in advance to make sure the concrete slab underneath was level. Very sensible approach I think, one I should probably take in the future if I had any sense.

The one slight problem standing between us and a lifted carpet was of course the copious quantity of heavy furniture, none of which I am allowed to lift, so of course, we had to rope in some help. Bill and James who thought they were coming to ours for a weekend of relaxing at the local cider festival instead found themselves working off hangovers shifting bookcases and chests.

Luckily for us, the slab does seem to be in pretty good working order so the tiler is all set to start on Tuesday. In the meantime, I'm finding the new echo and student-esque lounge a bit disconcerting, especially as I don't have any slippers and concrete isn't so toasty on the tootsies. I have promised myself a sheepskin rug to go down in front of the fireplace once the floor is in place though, and be warned, come winter I will fight for occupancy rights with all my hormone fuelled might!!

The other piece of prep work that happened this week was the marking out of the feature wall in the nursery. The photos of the nursery being put together are being held captive on Keith's laptop at the moment, so you will have to wait to see the overall results, but this is a quick look at what will soon decorate the end wall.

I borrowed a projector from work and by making a tower of various pieces of furniture finally managed to get the image high enough on the wall to start drawing an outline in pencil.

Curious George was not my choice I might add; it seems that I led a sheltered and somewhat deprived childhood free of the adventures of the cute little monkey and his yellow hatted friend, but luckily my sister in law was well versed in the ways of the George and suggested him as the basis of the design.

Please excuse me dopey look in the photo. Having realised that the projector wouldn't enlarge the image to the size of the wall, I was busy trying to work out how I would extend various bits of it to fill the available space. The end result (of which I am extremely proud) basically involves a damn sight more fish.

Now I just need to get some tester pots and start blocking in the basic colours before the real artist comes along to make it look good!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Look at the Windowwwsh!!

Back in January I might have mentioned that in the course of the regular social club revelries, our bathroom window was sadly dispatched to the great recycling bin in the sky.

Since then, it has become a neat little shelf for passing clientele to place unwanted glasses and cigarette butts and even for one brave soul to think it might be an easy way into the house: that was until he had opened the secondary glazing and come eyeball to eyeball with a rather intolerant rotter.

We've taken these intrusions with fairly good humour, mainly because the new landlord of the Social has been good enough to move the smoking area away from their back door which means that our garden is not permanently filled with butts, and a fug of smoke - which is a blessing when you have a nose like a bloodhound, as I currently do - and he is generally doing his best to be a good neighbour, which we really appreciate.

Anyway, I digress: Last week we took delivery of a fine specimen of a window, kindly paid in full by the good folk of the SC Arlesey and last night I woke up from a doze on the sofa to find the dogs sulking out in the garden and two men lumping the living bejeesus out of what used to be a bathroom window.

This was less than helpful to my rather full bladder.

And I must admit that I was dubious about the sensibility of the proposal put to me by two grinning, mallet wielding lads with the good sense to keep a brick wall between them and a tired pregnant lady.

When your husband and his friend tell you they are going to replace a window in 2 hours and not to worry, quite frankly the first thing I want to do is reach for the hard stuff. That not being an option I did the second best thing and took myself off to collect some Freecycle items for Maybe, who I must say, is really doing rather well for someone who isn't even here yet!!

It was a risky strategy, one that could have resulted in me returning to find half a wall missing, but I chose to have faith that fear of reprisals would keep one or both of them in check.

When I returned home about an hour later, I was nothing short of dumbstruck at what I saw: It was a blinking miracle! There was a frame, in the hole in the wall, and it wasn't upside down, or at an angle. It was however being held up with a plank of wood.


Apparently, while we had measured the visible parts of the window very accurately, what we had singularly failed to notice was the that old window sill was vastly thicker at the window than it was on the other side. I believe the technical term for this is tapered.

The other slight flaw in the Great Window Plan was while the new window looks like a positive beacon of shining newness in a bathroom of doom, it is also in desperate need of some of the other vital elements that the bathroom is missing - like plaster for example.

As a result our bathroom now takes advantage of the amazing acoustic properties of the alleyway beyond and provides a delightful soundtrack to any ablutive activity. The culprit for this are the numerous tiny nibbles around the frame through which fresh air can not only be seen, but can be felt gently caressing any skin foolish enough to become exposed.

It may be summer dear friends, but believe me, it's not that warm at 9 o'clock at night when you've just stepped out of the bath!!

A massive thank you to Fish though, for giving up an evening to come and help Keith, I won't forget it .....

Monday, May 11, 2009

Stotfold Steam Fair 2009

I'm sitting here with my shoulders glowing from slightly too much sun and I thought that while FTC is still in the lull before all hell breaks loose next month (bathrooms and new flooring a go-go!!) I would muse a little on the wonderful weekend just gone.

I don't normally get a chance to spend a whole weekend doing very little, so when i was offered the chance I grabbed it with both hands.

On Saturday, I went shopping with the sister-in-law Dawn. It was supposed to be a concerted scouting of the charity shops of Chelmsford for essential small person items. What it became was a concerted scouting for unusual household items, of which there were many. I am especially proud of my 1960s bunny egg cup holder. We then spent the rest of the afternoon having an extremely long lunch and putting the world to rights and it suddenly occurred to me that I really miss doing that. Not that anyone has ever prevented me from doing it, but it just seems to be one of those things that gets overlooked in the mad rush to Get Things Done.

Sunday, by comparison, was positively active and involved wandering aimlessly around several very large fields. It was the weekend of the Stotfold Mill Steam Fair, and for the second year, we were there for a day which is so British, it could have been organised by Disney .

There's a Wall of Death, which quite frankly is one of the most exciting things I have ever seen, there are cream teas, and pork rolls, and steam engines, and Victorian fairground rides, and little children from the local schools doing country dancing. There was even a crafts marquee, which is a sight no self respecting country fair should be without.

Numbers were slightly depleted this year following an attack of the pox at the Ferguson household, but Mr Baker made the trip and we convoyed over in what we realised (while scoffing scones and earl grey at tea time) was a pair of great British marques, an MG and a BSA. How very appropriate.

And to top it all off, the subject of my then delight and now consternation was the weather. Those frauds at the Met Office got it wrong again and we were blessed with gloriously hot sun all day.

So what is the point of this post? Well nothing much really, other than to share an amazing weekend. Call it my attempt to remind anyone feeling a little jaded that there are still some simple pleasure to be had from this country.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Spring has Sprung

I will open with an apology, because I feel bad that I have been so quiet on this blog recently. However, like a little place called Naseby on 14th June 1645, the mists are starting to roll back and the situation is about to change – radically.

FTC has been besieged in recent weeks by all manner of deliveries, and a small army of men sucking their teeth, kicking metaphorical tyres and making my inner fishwife come to the fore at the revelation of their estimates. I think what I resent the most is the fact that we could do a lot of this work ourselves. Were it not for my current condition, we probably would. Instead I am relegated to tea making and photographic duties.

On that note, I would just like to say that part of the hold up recently has been around the fact that our camera battery seems to have taken off without leaving a forwarding address, and the collection of snaps Keith had managed to acquire on his new phone was somewhat hindered by the incompatibility of mobile phones with brake fluid. Now that both have been put to rights, hopefully the flow of photos will pick up.

So to open the batting for the next few months, I give you the progress of the garden (selected highlights).

First, I want to point out the fact that our Rhubarb, seems to be slightly in love with our soil. Before any smartypants decides to inform me that I should have cut the flower off to encourage growth, I didn’t want to, so there.

The rest of the veg beds are starting to yawn and stretch into life after the recent sunny spell too. I am especially proud to announce that the asparagus has made a return visit, although it has displayed a distinct lack of progress from last year.

The blueberry and strawberries have shown no such coyness and have embraced flowering with admirable gusto. I give the blueberry about 5 months until Harry rediscovers it and chews it to matchsticks.

Finally for the garden roundup, I have to mention the chilli plants. Not because I actually care about them, but because my beloved is still obsessed by all things chilli-fied and will whinge at me if I don’t. As you can see we are growing a range of tongue killers, some I have high hopes for, some I suspect are heading for the compost heap. I try not to interfere in this area of the gardening however, that way divorce lies.