Thursday, 28 March 2013

New new floor

Yes, there were supposed to be two 'news' in the title. It will all make sense if you keep reading.

When we had the house renovated, one of the last jobs to be done before we moved in was the laying of the (engineered) oak floor throughout most of the downstairs (everywhere except the snug.)

Here's the hallway.
And looking through to the dining area.
Dining area through to kitchen.
End of dining area through to living area.
Living area looking back to kitchen.
And then we moved in and filled the house with furniture and toys and mess and stuff. After about 18 months (mid-November 2012) we got round to having an island fitted and we finally felt like we were a good way towards being 'done' in this room.
And then we went on holiday for 2.5 weeks. While we were away we arranged for the people who had fitted the wood flooring to come round to do a couple of minor repairs, plus a sand and oil of the entire floor. Except things didn't quite go according to plan and we came home to find this:
Yes, that's right -  a whopping great chunk (approx 7 metres across and maybe 1.5metres deep) of wooden floor no longer there. This was all related to a little incident with our dishwasher which several months previously had sprung a leak; not a gushing Biblical flood, but a little drip, drip, drop which we didn't even know had happened until an error code appeared on the display. So, we got a man round to fix it and thought no more of it; until we were on holiday and the flooring co. phoned to say they'd had to take up part of the floor because it was wet underneath and would never dry out (due to waterproof membrane) unless taken up and exposed to lovely fresh air. And so we spent all of December, and January, and February with a lovely section of concrete floor and a nice little lip of wooden floor ripe for tripping over/stubbing toes on. Until finally, when we went to Shanghai (or Wigan for DC), the floor had dried out sufficiently and the flooring men were able to come in and fix us.


All except for this section which we actually asked them to cut away. And one day, in the not too distant future, I hope to be able to show/tell you why...

Thursday, 21 March 2013

How Do I Reply?

I have a question. Does anyone know how I can reply to comments that are left on my blog? I've Googled it, and as far as I know I've followed the steps that should make replying possible, but to no avail.
Under each comment that you leave there are two options 'reply' and 'delete'; I click on 'reply' (unless you are spam, in which case I click 'delete') and   


No box, no new page, no options whatsoever for leaving a reply to your kind comment(s). The only thing I've noticed is that when I hover over the 'reply' button down at the very bottom left of the screen the word 'javascript' appears. I Googled 'javascript' and discovered that it's something that can be disabled or enabled (and plenty of other gobbledegook that I didn't understand), so I had a go at disabling it to see if that would make any difference, but alas no.

So I've taken to either replying as a comment or else replying via your own blog, which isn't ideal, but at least shows I'm reading what you're saying.

Does anyone have any hints or tips they can offer? I'd really like to be able to reply to comments to show people that I do appreciate that they take the time to read/comment on my blog.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Big Four, Oh My.

My little bundle of joy turned four today.
Here he is just a few hours old, on the first day of Spring 2009.
Here is at one year (and one day); I can't seem to find any photos of his first birthday, waaah! I know I took plenty, but where they are is a mystery.
Turning two.
And this morning, four years old.
Happy Birthday lovely boy, the little chap who brightens my day by saying 'Mummy, you're pretty' (well trained) and makes me laugh with things like:
'I love your coffee, it's fantastic.'
 'No, don't wipe my nose; put the snot back'
'I'm tired; it's been a long day'
'These potatoes are complicated'
'Don't have too much sugar or your tummy will get big and pop like a balloon'
and my all-time favourite (so far), pointing to John Lewis: 'Mummy, is that the shop where we live?'

Monday, 18 March 2013

Book Review No. 5

The reviews are coming thick and fast now, mostly due to the fact that hubby went away on a work trip to Shanghai and I went with him - oh, the spare time I had to sit and read! 10 hour flight there (although I watched films mostly), 13 hour flight back (read/napped all the way) plus four days of pure, unadulterated child-free time. Yes, we left DC home alone with just a box of matches and a pair of scissors for company. Ha, no we didn't - he went to stay with his grandparents in Wigan and had a high old time playing with/annoying his ten-year-old cousin. A blog post about Shanghai will have to wait for another day as I took lots of photos that I'd like to share using an actual camera rather than my iPhone, and now it's going to take me forever and a day to work out how to get the photos off the camera and onto my computer. Hey ho.

So, let's get to the point and introduce book no.5 of the year: The Thread by Victoria Hislop.

This is a Book club choice and I'm not sure I would have read it otherwise (even though I have another Victoria Hislop book on my unread bookcase.) The blurb on the back probably wouldn't have appealed to me; it begins thusly: Thessaloniki, 1917. As Dimitri Komninos is born, fire devastates the thriving Greek city where Christians, Jews and Muslims live side by side.

And already I'm put off for several reasons.
1) The location. I have no interest in reading a book set in 'modern day' Greece. I studied Ancient History at university (right up to MA level because I enjoyed it so much and wanted to be a student for ever), and have a great love of all things Greek (Ancient) and Roman, but give me modern day Europe and I shudder in distaste.

2) The date. Ack, it's World War I territory and I have an aversion to reading anything war-related. Too heart-rendingly awful. For me, book reading is all about escaping and I read for pleasure, so the last thing I want to do is immerse myself in the trenches or concentration camps or war-torn villages and towns. Call me an ostrich, but that's the way it is in my little book-reading world.

3) Religion. Again, call it ostrich-itis, but any mention of religion tends to send me scurrying for the cozy crime bookcase.

Anyway, enough of why I wouldn't read it and onto what I (and other Book Club members) actually thought of it (because I did read it, of course, being the dutiful Book Club member that I am.)

So, the book is set in Thessaloniki and follows the stories of several families (Jewish, Christian and Muslim, but concentrating mostly on the first two) over the course of nearly 100 years, and is ultimately a love story. The city itself is as much a part of the story as the humans who inhabit it with great descriptions that enable the reader to picture what the city must have looked like at various times throughout its history.

I read the book while we were away on holiday, and I'm glad I did because it was the perfect holiday read, we all agreed this at our monthly Book Club meeting. While the history and locations are extremely well described, we all felt that the characters were a little flat and two-dimensional and some of them could have been developed so much more. The story is set over a long period and doesn't delve too deeply, rather than being a more in-depth study of a shorter time span; a bit like a long piece of string laid on a work surface versus a drainpipe on the side of a building, as it were. (Great imagery, don't you think?!) Come the end, the 'threads' of the story do all fit together rather neatly, which is a bit disappointing because sometimes we don't want an ending to be too nicey-nicey. But, having said that, we all agreed that we did enjoy the book and we all learnt something about an era in Greek history about which we knew nothing (or very little.)

I'm glad to have read this book and may well give the other Hislop book on my bookcase a try (when we next go on holiday...)

Friday, 15 March 2013

Hallway Switcheroo

In the early days of living in this house, this is what one side of the hallway looked like (those are 'welcome to your new home' cards on the table, which just goes to show that we plonked the table there early on.)
After a while the large mirror got swapped out for the more art deco influenced one that is still on the wall  now.
And then the jug arrived.
And here it is at Hallowe'en, with the paper bats I made.
But then we got to thinking: up in my office was a bureau that didn't really fit the space properly and which we had considered selling; at the same time it was beginning to occur to me that actually the table in the hall was a little on the small side. As a first step we moved the bureau from my office to the fourth bedroom, but it didn't look right. And then we shuffled and shifted and heaved it down the second flight of stairs and popped it in the hallway, in the space where the table had stood. Et voila:
It fits like a glove and fills the space so much better than the table did; the bureau has a lot more presence (if that doesn't sound too pretentious) and the warm colour of the wood fits with the other pieces of furniture on the other side of the hallway.
The bus stop sign was a birthday pressie from me to hubby which I found at one of the Frome Vintage Bazaars. It probably hasn't found its final resting place yet, but I kind of like it propped there for now.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Book Review No. 4

May I present The Winter Garden Mystery by Carola Dunn.

This is the second in the Daisy Dalrymple Mystery series. I read the first about a year (maybe more) ago and quite enjoyed it; I didn't love it but, as is my way, I'd already got overexcited and bought lots more books from the series whenever I saw them in charity shops, on eBay and on ReadItSwapIt. Hence, this one was sitting in my cosy crime bookcase (alongisde plenty more from the series) just asking to be read and asking me to give the series another chance.

As a cozy series this one differs from most, set as it is in 1920s England (most cozies, in my experience, seem to be set in mordern-day USA.) The social constraints of the era are apparent as Daisy fights hard to be 'independent'; despite her mother's complaints she is employed by Town and Country magazine to write about different stately/grand homes around the country, which is how she so handily happens to be in the right place at the right time to help solve  murder(s). The atmosphere of the 20s is also apparent in the language, behaviour, settings, etc throughout the book (and entire series, I assume), making it a gentle read where the modern world (computers, mobile phones, even motor cars for the most part) does not intrude. I'm sure a historian of the 1920s would find fault with some part of the book, but I enjoyed the fact that we are taken back to a time when things seemed (if not were in actual fact) a little gentler and less frantic.

So, in this book Daisy arrives at the country home of an old school friend and pretty soon she stumbles across a body (that of former parlourmaid Grace) buried in the Winter Garden. The gardener (Grace's beau) is arrested, but Daisy is convinced he's innocent. After the local police do a pretty rum job of trying to solve the crime (ie they don't really bother), Daisy calls on her old acquaintance from the last murder she solved, who happens to be an Inspector at Scotland Yard and together they set about solving the crime.

Some interesting (albeit stereotypical-ish) characters: the overbearing mother, the father who keeps out of the way by emersing himself in his model dairy farm, jolly hockeysticks daughter, son with a secret. And it all comes out in the wash, of course.

I enjoyed this book, and will happily continue to read more in the series.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Photo uploading issue resolved (for the time being)

A couple of months ago, I mentioned not being able to upload any photos to this blog. Apparently I had reached my limit for adding/storing photos for free (1GB). Apart from paying to upload photos, the only solution seemed to be to use Flickr (or probably any other photo storage site I suppose), so that's what I started doing.

Unfortunately, it was a long drawn out process to upload my photos from iPhone to computer, from computer to Flickr and from Flickr to Blogger, hence my blog posts became slightly fewer and further between. However, I recently had another go at simply uploading photos in the old-fashioned way and it worked!

As far as I can see, Blogger/Google don't give any explanation of their storage limit - ie they don't say whether it's an annual limit or a forever limit, and they don't give any tips on how to delete photos to get some of your storage space back. I can only assume, since I'm now back to uploading the old-fashioned way, that it is indeed an annual limit and I plan to be a little more careful with the number of photos I upload to ensure my limit lasts the whole year. I must admit to not being a big fan of Flickr, although it did serve a purpose and for that I must be grateful.

Has anyone else who had the same issue now found that it is resolved?

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

And in other news...

You'll be pleased to hear that after a couple of weeks and a few doses, this little box finally did its job. Hubby was lucky enough to be the one to find the ultimate prize when he went down to let the chickens out the other morning. He offered to show me the critter once he'd bagged it up, but I declined.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Vintage Knitting Pattern

DC has a new jumper, courtesy of Granny.

It was destined from the very outset to be a jumper specifically to be worn when mucking about in the garden, hence is lovely and thick and is the perfect shade of green (with flecks of brown) to hide the dirt, muck, grass and other things that DC (and all boys) love to roll around in.

When he put it on for the first time and ran out into the garden I followed quickly behind to take photos of the momentous occasion.

He's such a poseur. Complete with toy screwdriver as prop. The wheelbarrow and chickens in the background add to the authenticity of this as a "mucking about in the garden" jumper, don't you think?!

When I looked at the photos, they reminded me of the fantastic vintage knitting patterns from the 1960s and 70s. I'm pretty sure DC would have made a perfect jumper model.