Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas. May you have a blessed day surrounded by those you love, and filled with fun and laughter as you celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Here are a few pictures of our day - sadly after Angus's high hopes of having a birthday party for Jesus, he instead ended up curled on a chair with a fever a little over 100f / 40c and didn't want to join in. He was, though, just about with it enough to occasionally open a present or two!

Angus gave Isla "pretty things" which he chose. He particularly loved these hair ties as they are sparkly and have stars. Isla loved them and wore pig tails for the first time. She said, "Pretty hair, pretty pink hair" and wouldn't let us take them out until bedtime.

Granny gave Isla this rocking horse for Christmas. They both love it.

We gave Angus more trains and track for his set. He was really excited and then decided that he didn't feel well and that was that!

Watching the trains go by.

Our Christmas corner. Angus was very excited about the candles. The nativity box has a door for each day in Advent. Inside is a small figure and chocolate. Both children have loved the ritual of opening a door each evening, eating the chocolate and seeing the story unfold.   

That is our Christmas in essence. We hope and pray that you all have a good Christ-filled Christmas too.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Celebrating Christmas

This year for the first time, we are alone as a family. Previously we have been with wider family for the day, either in America with Ken's sister, or my Mum in Macclesfield. We have also had Ken's parents to stay. This year, however, we are on our own.

Rather than finding this disappointing, with a quick bit of mental readjustment and change of expectations we have found this to be liberating. We were talking with Angus about what he thought Christmas was about:
A Celebrating the birth of Jesus. (Okay, ground rules established.)
D Not Father Christmas coming then?
A No, it's a birthday party.
D So how should be celebrate it then? What do you want to do?
A Have a birthday party.
M Normally you would eat turkey and roast veg?
A No, I don't like that. I think we should have party food.
M Such as? Pasta and a birthday cake, of course! With a candle on top.
D  I wonder how many candles we should have.
A Just one big one in the middle because Jesus is the light of the world. And then we can all light a candle off the Jesus one because his light spreads through the world showing people how to live. Can we turn out all the lights on Christmas eve and do that?

So that's what we are going to do. We won't be sitting around a telly watching films, as we don't have one. We won't be opening massess of presents as we will be seeing more family later on and have already had presents from my Mum. Instead, on Christmas eve we will light candles and tell the Christmas story. On Christmas day we will open stockings, go to church and will be eating pasta for Christmas dinner followed by birthday cake. Then presents and party games. Unconventional, but it makes more sense than many traditions. Christmas is, after all, a birthday party celebrating one big present sent to all of us: Jesus. 

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

He's at it again...

My ever pragmatic but aestetically challenged husband decided that this was the way forward to dry laundry:

You've got to love him for his problem solving skills haven't you?!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Another conversation - with Isla!

Mum, Angus and Isla
Mum is in the kitchen cooking dinner
Angus and Isla are playing in the lounge

Angus Mum, Isla hit me!

Mum Isla, did you hit Angus?

Isla Yes.

Mum Isla, it's not nice to hit people.

Isla My (sic) not hitting people. My hitting Angus. Wack

Friday, 9 December 2011

Is it right..

to brag about one's husband?

This is a very spontaneous post but I feel the need to unload. I am currently sitting in my dressing gown on a Friday morning, having had coffee in bed - filter, not instant. I am sitting in front of the wood stove which has been cleaned, laid and lit, with both children and dog out of the house on the way to school with Ken. He has got them up, dressed (okay, I got Isla dressed but that is a small matter), made Angus's packed lunch, sorted breakfast, gave Angus some antibiotics he needs for an ear infection, made sure Angus has taken his medicine to school and has money for non-uniform day, got the dog ready to go out (that is more complicated than  you might think, but that is a post for another day), and is walking them to school. I have had a lie in.

Wonderful. As I said, is it right to brag about the goodness of one's husband?

The cynics among you might be wondering why Ken is able to do this on a Friday and that there must be some hidden agenda. You would be right. Mark is here and they are leaving later today to go walking for three days, but why let a small matter like that get in the way. And anyway, Ken didn't have to bring me coffee in bed or do any of the other things he has done this morning: He could have focused on packing for his walking trip.

On Tuesday we will be celebrating eight years of marriage. Thank you Ken. It hasn't always been a smooth ride due mainly to external influences not personal combativeness, but we have travelled it together, and that's the important thing.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Yet another Conversation

Setting: The porch, where Angus is taking off his shoes and coat after school. Mum is sorting Isla's shoes and Blue (dog) is getting in the way as usual.

Mum: Hurry up Angus. We need to get in and close the door. It's cold.
Angus: pausing from taking off his shoes Mum, something great happened at school today.
Mum: Can you tell me when we get inside? Let's hurry up and go in.
Angus: still not taking off his shoes But I want to tell you now. It's important!
Mum: Well, tell me as you take off your shoes.
Angus: But I can't. I'm a gentleman not a lady and gentlemen can't do two things at once!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Reasons to Live in Heddon

I thought that since we have settled in Heddon on the Wall, you might like a brief tour around the village in a few instalments.

One reason for Heddon was its location: near enough for Ken's work and for him to cycle, and yet not too close to Newcastle to scare me! What we have is a good compromise which we are both happy with, and a stunning view! Our house is on the north side of the Tyne valley, which means we have uninterrupted sunshine - okay, as this is England, uninterrupted except when it is cloudy and raining. We are also high enough up to see for miles. 

I am really looking forward to the view when it snows.

A cloud inversion this morning.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Ten things you should know about Isla

Isla is now two years old. She reached this milestone last Thursday and celebrated with my Mum, Christina, a friend and neighbour visiting from Germany, and us. We started the day with a birthday breakfast, a couple of small presents and the birthday train. Interestingly she remembered the train from Angus's birthday two months ago and thought it was for him.

Isla has confused "Happy Birthday" with "Hallelujah" and spent the day saying "Happy Ujah Isla!"

She also can't quite say "water" yet and asks for "ooter" instead - Aunty Jo you should be proud of her. Isla prefers water to fruit squash.

She is feisty, adventurous and very determined, knows her own mind and can become quite frustrated by her physical and linguistic abilities.

Isla idolises Angus and copies him a lot, which Angus sometimes uses to his advantage.


Although the admiration is quite mutual, Isla's determined attitude means that she gets frustrated with Angus's prevarication in the morning. This results in Isla shouting at Angus to remember his book bag; she will hand him his shoes, push him to the front door and shout, "Agoo school. Come on. Shoes on Agoo." I haven't managed to catch this on video yet as I am usually too busy being equally frustrated! I really should though as it is very funny to watch. 

Isla's comfort object is a blanket. She is not too bothered which of the three she has and is willing to change according to which is being washed at the time (what a relief!) but she has to have a blanket in bed, in the car and if she goes in the buggy.

Isla loves to help - she particularly likes unpacking the shopping and will carefully put it away in the places she can reach such as the fridge.

Fortunately Isla still likes a nap in the afternoon for a couple of hours which means I actually get some time to myself once more. Phew - long may it last.

She has the most adorable curls on the back of her head. Isla had her first haircut a couple of weeks ago. She and Angus were waiting on the chairs as I had to pop upstairs (we do know the hairdresser really well, so don't be concerned about neglect here!). The hairdresser was ready to cut Isla's hair and was told in no uncertain terms by Angus that she could do what she liked to Isla's hair but she wasn't allowed to cut the curls as they were pretty and we all liked them!

She is amazing. I never thought I would like having a daughter - Isla has shown me how wrong I was. Thank you for being you.

Monday, 14 November 2011


The builders turned up to day and ripped out more of our kitchen. The insurance company has coughed up and work has started. Needless to say, I now have dirt and dust all over my kitchen again and also over the lounge floor. The tiles were obviously as stubborn to remove as we thought as evidenced by the pair of safety glasses left on the dining table.

But progress has been made and for this I am grateful. We have put off doing various jobs around the house citing the kitchen as an excuse but hopefully we will be encouraged to begin ticking off our ever-varying list once again. As with all projects like this house, the list rarely gets shorter: the items on the list are just changed or replaced by new ones. Eventually we might feel able to stop keeping a list but right now it helps keep focus.

We also now have a stove in our lounge - a positive move forward but far too tempting in the evening and possibly detrimental to list completion! I will post a few pictures but needed to update you on the kitchen and I am sure you don't want more pictures rotten floorboards and removed cupboards - do you!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Boasting - only of interest to creative types!

A friend has recently had a baby. As she already had a boy and didn't need more boy things, she asked if I could "do him a page a bit like Angus's book."

This is what I made for him. I acknowledge that there are few original ideas here, but all the work is mine including the photos!

This was the layout. The colours were crystal blue, buttercup, and sorbet on colonial white cardstock with a bamboo background. All the inks and stamps are Close to My Heart and the patterned paper is from Caboodle, also CTMH. The embellishments are from various sources.

This feature opens up to reveal a mini album as below:

Most of the photos were taken by me of Joel when he was three days old. The colours in the hospital were too contrasting so B and W made co-ordinating easier and the whole layout cohere better.
I found the quote on a stamp set I have and was delighted as I had already embellished the layout with stars and it this tied it all together well. The space under the flap was left for the family to use. 

I am really pleased with the finished page, (even Ken thought it was rather good!) and as I said, just boasting!

Just a quickie

No news on the kitchen yet. The builder and the insurance company are negotiating.

We went away over half term catching up with friends and family in Macclesfield. It was lovely being able to spend a longer time there and wonderful watching Angus and his friends carry on where they left off several months ago: fewer arguments, more sophisticated games but the friendship hasn't waned. Wonderful. We even had super weather, except the day we planned to go to the zoo...

But the one event that really sticks in Angus's mind was the public bulb planting session in a park next to my Mum's house. We were looking after Josh for the day and so we all wrapped up, donned wellies, took dibbers and trowels and spent a wonderful couple of hours digging holes and planting crocuses and daffodils. The worms were a wonderful incentive! Isla was a star and loved it, getting really cross when bulbs went in upside down: "Wrong one bulb, wrong one!" The whole event did reach comic proportions, however, when Isla realised that the daffodil bulbs were about to have the turf laid back on top. She clearly found this quite stressful and started removing the bulbs back to the bag as quickly as she could shouting at anyone trying to stop her. Distraction bulbs were quickly arranged as the park keeper swiftly "put the bulbs to bed!"

Sunday, 9 October 2011

A Small Achievement..

But quite an important one for Isla.

I was preparing lunch and Isla was busy playing in the porch. Not unusual for her. I could hear silence, then velcro, then silence and then more velcro. This went on for quite a while. Finally there was a shout of "Mummum, shoo. Agoo boots on!"

Okay, so they are on the wrong feet, and she decided for her own reasons to practice with Angus's boots, but Isla put on a pair of shoes by herself and was so proud of her achievement that I didn't have the heart to enforce the "No shoes in the house" rule over lunch. Does that make me a bad and inconsistent Mum? I was too proud of her to care.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Kitchen Update

Three of the floor joists have rotted - the kitchen has to come out.

I am not sure yet if this is good news (I may get a new kitchen paid by the insurance company) or just bad news (I won't be getting a new kitchen to compensate for all the mess and inconvenience caused. The old one will be  made to fit back again).

Right now I have three bags of groceries and only half the cupboard space as the others are piled elsewhere getting in the way. The work surfaces are covered with the contents of the missing cupboards and a whole load of dirt from when the builders removed the rotten plasterwork, which was a whole lot worse than expected. Why doesn't that surprise me? And I have to somehow find space to cook dinner. 

This picture is on its side, but this is what was under our kitchen floor.

And this is the rotten plasterwork. You can't see it, but actually most of the stuff on the wall is falling off.

Next time I will endeavour to write something more cheerful like a cameo of Angus at five or Isla at nearly two. There is plenty of fun material there!

Now, where am I am going to peel the potatoes for dinner?

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Good News and the Not

You may recall the settled nature of my last blog: so many things done, not much left on the "to do" list and so on. To be honest, most of the rest of the work consisted (spot the past tense...) of things such as making decisions about curtains, light fittings, deciding on furniture layout and purchasing missing shelves/cupboards/units (circle as appropriate). Nothing was too essential and we could slow down and take our time making thisour home.

Then we smelled something.

It smelled like a damp forest floor. 

It came from under the sink in the kitchen.

At this point I need to tell you about the kitchen. Although the kitchen originally  had no ceiling, the rusted oven contained the remnants of the last supper, none of the electrical appliances worked and the cupboard insides were a health hazard (medals awarded to Christ and Tricia for stoic cleaning efforts), basically the kitchen was fine. The cupboards themselves, once you could see them, were structurally sound although we removed a couple due to a difference of opinion about the need for uncluttered work surface. Essentially we had a very good kitchen once we replaced the hob and oven and inserted our existing fridge into the newly-vacant slot. Even the floor tiles grew on me. It was the one room which could have been very expensive and proved to be a relief.

Then we noticed the smell.

We thought it was the dishwasher as, naturally, it didn't work and was now being used as a glorified plate drying rack pending a decision about its future.

We ensured it was dry. We turned off the water. We went away for a week hoping it the smell would go away.

It didn't - it got worse.

We pulled out the dishwasher and found...

(No, not a dead rat, that was the last house but one.)

completely rotted through floorboards.

That's right - the dishwasher hadn't been plumbed in correctly (we think) and the floorboards under the machine are pulp. We are hoping the joists aren't rotted through because if they are then the whole thing is even more complicated. As it is, we have had a drying company with dehumidifiers and a large fan. They noticed that the back wall was also soaked and measuring 100% saturation with the mortar falling off. Now signed off as dry, the builders are back on Thursday to rip out half the kitchen, replace the floorboards, replaster the wall, hopefully replace the cupboards and all will be sound. If the joists are rotted then the builders need to take up the entire floor: the tiles, the plyboard, all the floorboards, and consequently the whole kitchen will need to be replaced.We are not sure which way it will go partly as we have noticed that when the tile adhesive was put down they managed to cement in the cupboard legs.

The good news in all of this? For some absurd reason the insurance company are coughing up for the lot. We only have to pay the £200 excess. Phew.

RIP Kitchen - do spot the mostly full wine rack. We may be needing some of that soon! And the gaping hole under the sink where the offending dishwasher lived. I presume you don't want to see pictures of the rotten boards? Good.
The range cooker was a house-warming present to replace the rusted-rancid-grease-filled-one-with-missing-nobs-and-no-temperature-control that was there - I love it!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Back to Life and Living...

I ended the last post two whole months ago (!!!) with a fairly obvious lie - "and then relax." Like, did I really think that would happen??? Not a hope. For a start, when we finally moved in (and yes we are now in our new house, more on that later) only half the house was actually painted and only half the carpets were down. We also had furniture to retrieve from Macclesfield, visitors scheduled for ten days after we moved in, a family holiday planned for the following week, a trip to London for Angus's birthday, then his actual birthday and party, starting school, more visitors, and so on. WHEN DID I SERIOUSLY THINK I WOULD HAVE TIME TO RELAX?!

We do now have 95% of the house painted, all flooring down, and those final jobs are the ones about which people will say not-very-motivational comments such as, "It took us seven years to finish all the small jobs like that after we had building work done." Hopefully we can keep ourselves moving forward and set ourselves some goals. Either that or it will be pure guilt as Ken's parents or Mark come to visit again and look at what they helped with last time and what has happened in the interim!!! To be quite honest, I don't care what motivates us providing the windowsills eventually get painted and the loo is tiled.

We are happy with the house and starting to live life rather than just focus on restoration. We are still sorting through a few boxes in the loft and selecting stuff we haven't used for a while for Freecycle but the garden now looks more like a garden than a meadow and we are putting up pictures.

Hopefully, now that life will develop a routine again based around school, naps and so on, I will catch up on the other things that happened over the summer and post some pictures! Here are a few to keep you going:

This did eventually turn into Angus's bedroom. It is now possible to see his floor - sometimes!
The lounge. Can you see the new fireplace? Much better than previously. And the new paint?
This move was so much easier than the last one (no snow for a starters, and no ill people), that we were able to cook dinner in our new house that evening. I made my Totally Evil Chocolate Sauce. Isla got to lick out the saucepan...
And Angus, meanwhile, found... well, what do you think it is?

This is what happens when you are so focused the following week on unpacking boxes that you don't realise it is 2.00 O'clock, you have overlooked lunch and your proactive daughter decides that she is hungry! Yes, she is eating off the floor!

So there you are. I bit more up to date than  you were previously. I will fill in a few details in the coming week, honest!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

This time next week...

It seems so unlikely, but this time next week we will be packing up in order to move into our new house. Tomorrow the builders will be moving out: the electrician still hasn't quite finished having announced last week that our house was actually dangerous and needed a complete rewire; we also discovered that our garage ceiling was asbestos and so all the builders went home for three days until that had been removed. But despite these last minute glitches the work is mostly on track.
A few pictures to show approximately where we are up to:

The back of the house was originally a boiler house, but has been rebuilt as a utility room with a small loo and shower-room. I don't think much of the door, though. It's really stiff to open and close!

The kitchen now has a ceiling!

The front of the house has had most of the cladding removed, the window replaced with a narrower one the same dimensions as the other bedroom window, and the external walls rebuilt with (nearly) matching brick. The garage, porch and the breeze block wall will have to wait for a couple of years until they are sorted out! Notice we also have an attractive tiled roof.
This will eventually house a wood-burning stove. We have already had it rendered, painted it, and have stone slabs in place.

Most of the rest of the house has also been completed and thanks to Mark, my Mum and Ken's parents, all amazing people, we have several of the rooms painted subject to repainting the holes made by the electricians! Tomorrow the plumber will fit the bathroom, a few odd jobs will be completed and the house will be stripped. Then it's ours.

The next week will, I predict, consist of filling any holes we can find, sanding, cleaning, floor sweeping, and then a lot of painting. At the moment it will be cream throughout with white ceilings (to save making too many decisions. Colour will be added through furniture, curtains, etc.) with oatmeal carpets. Then we will pack boxes, move them 500 yds, unpack them, and make it our home.

Then we rest.

Monday, 11 July 2011

A Conversation

Angus: eldest son of Mum, 4 years old
Jake: Friend of Angus, also 4 years old.

Setting: Lounge

Boys approach lounge and can be overheard in the hallway.
Jake: See, I told you she was in the lounge ironing.
Boys enter lounge.
Angus: Pause Mum, what are you doing?
Mum: Ironing.
Angus: What's that?
Mum: I am using an iron, it's this (holding up iron). I am using it to iron your Dad's shirt.
Angus: Looking puzzled What are you doing to Dad's shirt?
Mum: I am using the iron the flatten Dad's shirt and take out the creases.
Angus: Why?
Mum: Because it looks better and neater that way.
Angus: Still looking puzzled. Oh. But you don't normally do that.
Mum: No, you're right, but I am doing it today.
Angus: Oh, okay.
Exit boys.
Overheard in corridor.
Angus: I have never seen Mum do that before.
Jake: My mum does it all the time.
Angus: Why?
Jake: I don't know. I think it makes her happy.
Angus: Strange.

Yes Angus, you're right. Ironing is strange.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Today at our House...

We had two notable events at our house today - firstly, Ken got to play with his new toy:

It was Ken's birthday last week and thanks to family members clubbing together, we bought him a chainsaw, saw bench and all the accoutrements. The saw arrived on Friday and today he went to the new house to and played with all the wood in the garden! According to Ken, the saw sliced easily through the wood and he had a huge grin when he came home and was telling me all about it! For the chainsaw fanatics about, it is a Husqvana 321el. Yes, we know it's electric, but since most the wood will be cut in the back garden, noise was factor so we bought electric. Ken has decided that if he likes his saw enough (and that looks likely!) he may well later buy a petrol one. I think that is more for play factor and boys' toys issues than practicality. In case you are wondering what the wooden boat thing is in the background, it is the swing set given to Angus and Isla for Christmas from Grandma and Grandpa. It has been moved and erected in the garden of our new house.

Secondly, we had our first crop of home grown veg. Plenty more where those came from.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

And some people make life easier...

As I wrote previously, there are people who make life difficult, and those who make life easier. Last weekend was Ken's birthday. He had intended to spend a lot of the day doing work in our new house. I thought that this was a not a good way to spend a birthday, and with the two smalls trying to help, this could also have turned into a frustrating and not so productive day.

Out went a "Save Ken's Birthday" email to a few friends, and we ended up having a mostly productive and far more enjoyable day. Sadly I didn't get around to taking any pictures as I was too busy doing things, but I really should have. I loved the sight of the Walmsleys, a scouting family Ken knows with three girls aged between ten and three, lined up in one room all stripping wallpaper, and Ken's dad enthusiastically tracking down and removing extraneous wires; Angus trying to use the steam wallpaper stripper and Isla still trying to work out how to rip paper off a wall, interspersed by turning around in circles until she fell over; and Ken's mum arriving with a birthday cake topped by a small Mallard steam engine - wherever did she find one of those!? The day was ended by a typical British barbeque - in other words, damp.

By the end of the day, all the wallpaper had been removed, all holes in walls filled, all bar one room had been washed and all fixtures and fittings were removed from the walls. We are still to tackle the disgusting oven which still has the greasy bowl in it, but the house is starting to feel more like ours now. The builders have put up the frame to the roof and taken down the internal ceiling prior to raising the height. There are cabbages, beetroot and broccoli growing in the new veg patch and the children's swings have been put up in the garden. Only a bit of sanding and some painting to go now... Okay, rather a lot of painting.

Thank you so much to all of you who helped to make Ken's day far more fun.

Sorting the drains in the back yard - are you meant to blog about drains? Since when did they become interesting?!

Foundations laid - where the yellow bucket and stepladders are, will be a shower, with a sink and loo around the corner. Along the other wall will be washing machine, tumble drier, etc.

The new roof is on and this was followed by them taking out the existing roof. Fortunately they covered it all in plastic as it rained hard last night. I went down this morning and we haven't had any water ingress. Phew.
Yes, this really is a cement mixer, jack hammer and angle grinder parked in our hallway...

This will be lovely lounge. This will be lovely lounge. This will.... If I keep saying it, it may happen one day. Just not yet.

Monday, 30 May 2011

House Update

There are some people in life who appear to be able to make things unintentionally very difficult. Maybe, though, it is not so unintentional but a reflection of a subliminal desire to be in control. The local planning office, it would appear, have some of these. I phoned the planning office some weeks ago to enquire about what exactly was needed to change our unattractive and leaking flat-roof for a more attractive, warmer and generally superior pitched and tiled roof. Allegedly I had to fill in a form, draw pictures of said roof, maybe include a photo, and write a cheque for £20. Allegedly the planning office like pitched roofs so much that they don't really need a full application for planning permission, they just needed to check that all is well and then give the go-ahead. Allegedly.

At the beginning April before we even owned the house, we fulfilled all their requirements, sent off the paperwork and cheque, and waited. And waited. And then waited some more. I phoned the office and left four, or was it five, messages on the answer phone of the designated planning officer. We heard nothing. The builders were getting edgy by this time as they were running out of work to do. They were talking about going home.

I called again and this time spoke to a person. They informed me that designated person was in the office and she would ensure they they returned my call. This time. She did.
"I am sorting out your application now. But I am a little confused: you have filled out all the paperwork for a full planning application but only included the fee for an enquiry."
"Oh," I replied. "I was informed that we only needed an enquiry as you like pitched roofs. I filled out the forms I was told to fill out. What is the problem?"
"You need full planning permission for a pitched roof. We do like them and will give you permission but you still need to go through the enquiry and THAT WILL TAKE AN ADDITIONAL SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS AND COST YOU £150"
At this point I nearly hit the roof, pitched and flat! I had been leaving messages on her phone for the last four weeks! I had fulfilled all the requirements they wanted! Why wasn't I told this before when I first phoned up? What numpty gave me wrong advice in the first place? I WANT TO SPEAK TO YOUR BOSS!

I did. He was very apologetic. They are putting the application through in four weeks not eight and are being very helpful. It is just as well as I told them I would be sending them a bill for the additional costs if they didn't. The builders did run out of work to do and have gone off to other jobs but will be back tomorrow. Phew.

We have used the time to strip wallpaper, wash walls, and sort some stuff in the garden.This isn't easy as Isla and Angus both want to "help". Isla's help mainly consists of moving things around although she tried to strip wallpaper yesterday. She picked up a scraper and tried poking it at the wall in an 18 month-old effort to imitate Mummy and Grandma. Sadly it wasn't very effective and we also haven't seen the scraper since. Angus tries to help too and sometimes is an asset. Other times he gets either so excited that he begins to bounce, or so bored that he wanders off. He is currently trying to lift floor tiles from the lounge with Dad while I work hard at checking that Isla is still asleep. I am curious as to what is going on right now in our new house... The floor tiles appear to be the one thing that we really don't like but that have been firmly and securely fitted.

I also, at this point, need to publicly thank the in-laws Chris and Tricia. They have been staying for the weekend and have child-sat and paper-stripped and garden-tidied and wall-washed and tile-removed and dinner-cooked all weekend. If you know them, do thank them on my behalf.

A few photos of the house so far:

The back of the garage had, at some stage, been extended but was done so badly that it wasn't safe. It had to come down although we had wanted to do that next year. It became evident, however, that it had to happen sooner rather than later. We will be building a proper utility area with downstairs loo and shower.

The builders had already removed the ceiling from the room over the extension is preparation for taking it off and replacing it with a higher ceiling and pitched roof. It is rather noisy in here now when it rains!

We have done a lot of garden clearing and have found three umbrellas, several balls, various dolls and doll accessories, a spade, two brooms, a shoe, a slipper, socks, a dvd cover and various other items all hidden in the long grass and under the bushes!

Another view of the back of the garage. Do you see the small freezer in there? That was left behind along with a double bed, snooker table, some cookery books, bags of clothes, a baby's changing table, horse's feed bucket and grooming brushes, and a lot of other stuff in the garage.

The hole in the kitchen ceiling has been extended to remove all the rotten boarding and prepare it for repair. The builders won't do that until the roof is replaced in case we get heavy rain while the roof is off and ... Let's not think about that.

We still have a long way to go. Most of the wall paper is off and we are trying to work out just how much we can do before we move in. I know what I would like to do but I need to be realistic. I will keep you posted on the balance between dream and reality!