Friday, 31 August 2012

House Renovation. One Year On, But a Bit Late. 15.08.12

Well, would you look at that? A year ago we got a front door!

And one year later, the front door is a slightly different colour thanks to some woodstain, and we even have a letter box.
And we have a house name, some pretty flowers/pots by the front door and an outside light.

The junk has been cleared away from the left side of the photo and hubby has planted some 'cottage garden' flowers (which the caterpillars appreciated); the unsightly bush to the right of the front door has been hacked back (and will one day be removed for good.) My list of things 'that must be one day be done' also includes moving the unsightly drainpipe round the corner - why did it have to be plonked there in the first place, I ask myself?

Step inside the hallway and have a look at the understairs cupboards in progress. When we bought the house this was just an open space; we thought it would be better if there were doors across it so we could throw in our junk and keep it out of sight (and out of mind - because, honestly, who knows what's in there?)
One year on, the doors are painted, they have handles, and there's a bunch of coats getting in the way.
And there's the other little cupboard. Before.
Kitchen before.

After. Featuring small child, somewhere in the shadows.
Before. Not sure why I took this interesting shot.
Shower in bathroom. Before.
The plumber assured us that the wiggles would straighten out in the shower hose, and he was right.
Shower in ensuite, before.
Hubby's office, before.
My office, before.
Stig of the Dump's office, after.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Summerhouse or Wendy House; what will it be?

This is DC's old den; it has served him well but is now too small. We decided to buy him a new one but since he's getting to the age where 'let's pretend' is becoming a big thing we knew we wanted to get one that would be big enough for us to get into without having to contort ourselves through tiny doors to 'have tea' or whatever other game DC might want us to play.
And that's when Granny offered to buy him a wendy house for Christmas. Yes, I know it's only August, but these particular "wendy houses" were on offer and so Granny snapped up a bargain. The wendy house is actually a grown up summerhouse which is good for two reasons: 1) it's plenty big enough for adults to get into without having to bend over and 2) if/when DC decides he doesn't want to play in it any more, we can adopt it as our summerhouse - huzzah!
The wendy house (because that's what we're currently calling it) was delivered one wet and windy day a couple of months ago, and has sat in many, many pieces in the garage ever since, waiting for the weather to be good enough and for hubby to summon up the energy to have a go at putting it together. And finally, the stars aligned and that day came.
Firstly, and most importantly, hubby spent about three hours preparing the base by levelling the ground in the area where we had decided to put the wendy house - under the tree over by the fence (in case you couldn't guess from the photos.)

Then hubby added several of our old fence posts (which we had handily kept when hubby and our neighbours replaced the fence in February) to add extra stability to the base.

That was definitely the hardest part and the part that took longest - but it's still the part that is worth spending the time on to get just right. Then came the fun part (and the speedy part) - putting up the walls! Hubby and I got this done one evening when DC had gone to bed and it only took about 30mins to get all four walls, plus the doors, in place.

Door frame/wall
Doors in place

Here's hubby demonstrating where I should hold the first piece of the back wall when I finally stopped taking photos long enough to help.

And that was enough for that night; with the grumpy face he's pulling I should have left hubby out there (and that's a screw in his mouth, not a cigarette - it wasn't that stressful that he had to turn to nicotine to cope.)
The next day hubby had a new helper - DC was very good at holding things and passing nails and screws where needed, while I went to the shops and let the men get on with things.

 By the time I came back from the shops hubby had both of the pediments on and the struts to support the roof; then it was time for me to help lift the roof pieces in to place. At that point hubby had to go round to our next door neighbours to lean over the fence and nail the back portions in place - luckily we have helpful neighbours who held the ladder while hubby did the leaning.

The following day hubby tacked the roofing felt in place and things were nearly water-tight.
You can see how the evening sun is shining so perfectly on what would (will?) make a great summerhouse...
And then hubby and I spent an hour or so cutting perspex sheets into 12 pieces to fit in the windows; being an overprotective mother (I'm not really, but there are times when I err on the side of caution) I convinced hubby that we shouldn't fit the glass that was provided, but use perspex instead. We're already glad we did when the three-year-old daughter of one of hubby's friend's came round and started hammering on the windows - no need for any heart-in-mouth moments.
A few more finishing touches such as a door handle and the trim around the roof and things are looking good! DC has enjoyed playing in his wendy house already; now it's time for the interior design fairy to get her paintbrush out (if the rain ever stops.)
How long before I kick DC out and claim this space as my own?

Thursday, 16 August 2012


Since we live not far from the fabled A303, it is our route of choice whenever we drive up to the South East. As a result, since buying our house down here [Somerset] in 2010 (while we still lived in Reading), and since moving down here in 2011, we have driven past Stonehenge many times. And every time we sailed, or chugged slowly past in the queue that always tends to form southbound (due to a combination of the dual carriageway becoming a single carriageway and drivers rubbernecking at this historic site), we would say 'We really must go there one day'; often tempered by 'Apparently you get the best view from here, though' [ie in the car on the A303.] But finally, on the day that we drove up to Reading (from whence we travelled to London for the Olympics), we stopped - we were child-free and wanted to make the most of it!

There is an interesting, although fairly long-winded in parts, walky-talky guided tour included in the entrance fee (I think it's about £8 to get in; or, if like us you belong to the National Trust, it's free!) which stops you off at various points around the roped off perimeter of the site. Although you can no longer get up close and personal with the stones, you are close enough at the beginning of the walk to see details and it also means that any photos you take aren't marred by hundreds of tourist bodies getting in the way - surely that's a bonus?!

 Needless to say I took a lot of photos, but only with my iPhone as I stupidly left my camera in the car. While the iPhone is a very handy little snapper, it isn't able to deal with light/dark very well, hence some of these photos are under/overexposed. Having said that, I think some of the overexposed ones are quite atmospheric (in an amateurish kind of way.)

 While the closer views above are interesting enough, it's the shots taken from further away (follwing the perimeter rope) that I think capture the atmosphere as the clouds and sky above change and you get more of a sense of the monument in its place in the landscape.

The next shot ise my favourite; the clouds and the colours are fab; just need to Photoshop out those persky tourists. 

 And what's a girl to do when confronted with an English Heritage shop at Stonehenge at the beginning of August? Why, buy a tacky Christman decoration, of course!