Monday, 18 February 2013

The Transformation Begins

There are times when I love our house: it is spacious, has a wonderful view and lots of things that I love. There are times when I feel the need to apologise for it. I mean, let's face it, the front of the house looks like a tip most of the time: the garden is a mud patch, albeit a very fertile mud patch. Last year we may have harvested our potatoes from June until August and didn't need to buy any more until the week before Christmas, but that doesn't detract from my need to apologise to people for our house looking unkempt, neglected and just plain messy. I mean, have you seen the porch? Oversized, mismatched and rotten.


Today the builder arrived. He bravely climbed on the porch and began the dismantling. The roof was soaked through and a large part of it crumbled in his hands as he tried to lift it off.

The glass was carefully removed with Angus watching safely from a distance, fascinated and also disappointed that he wasn't using a bonfire in the style of Fred Dibnah, or a wrecking ball.

Then the builder removed the rubbish, went for lunch and left us wondering where he had gone to (quite typical for British builders.) So we decided to complete the job ourselves: out came the boots, gloves, three hammers, a muckle great big splitting axe and two excited children (and one quite happy Mummy too!)

A split second later that entire wall came down.
And push! Great team work. Do you see that rock in mid flight?
Job done. The builder returned, smiled and offered to clear up all our mess! He's back tomorrow to replace the front door panel. Then the rebuild, everything from the top windows down. Good eh?

The house looks better already. Although there is still the matter of the mud patch to sort out.  We have plans, though, honestly we do!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013


On Saturday Jo, Allan and the cousins in Connecticut awoke to this:

Meanwhile in Newcastle Angus and Isla were doing this:

Note the lack of jumpers.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Fun in the Snow

A couple of weeks ago we had some snow. Okay, so not nearly as much as Jo, Allan and co in America yesterday, but quite a lot for us. In fact, we had so much snow that Ken, Angus and Mark, who was visiting for the weekend decided to build a snowman. Not just a snowman: a BIG snowman. 

Here is the photo Mark:

And then the following week after some more snow, Ken build an igloo. Sadly the day after this we had a rather fast thaw and all the snow went in 36 hours. Fun while it lasted though. 

Friday, 8 February 2013

Are You Ever Amazed by Yourself?

Firstly, is that title grammatically correct? It doesn't sound quite right but I can't find another way of expressing what I want to say: on Tuesday I did something and was totally amazed at my achievement.

I am talking here about a positive sort of amazement: not the self-deprecating, self-loathing, embarrassment kind of amazement that many of us suffer from.

It all started with Isla's boring bedroom. Isla's room, like the rest of the house, had plain cream walls. You may remember the pragmatic approach that Ken and I adopted to house decorating when we purchased this place: remove all wallpaper, repair walls, paint them all in a cheap neutral cream and add colour later. Isla didn't even have a light shade.

Most of the rooms look fine but Isla's looked drab. Until Tuesday. This is what it looks like now.
Since you may not have seen Isla's room, her room is not really low. The bed is a midsleeper and has a den underneath which you can't see in the picture. Just wanted you to know.

So why the amazement?
Six reasons really
1) I had the idea (largely inspired by a picture in a magazine, but lets face it, I was inspired and that is amazing enough for me.)
2) I managed to find the materials easily and was prepared to do the job while the creativity still had momentum.
3) I got off my bottom at a time of year when I am frequently very demotivated and actually did the job.
4) It looks far better than I could have expected particularly as I have never wallpapered before.
5) The job is finished. Really finished. Not half done or even mostly done with a "All it needs me to do is..." qualifier.
6) The entire overhaul including wallpaper paste and light shade cost me one afternoon's work (really, from start to finish), some scrapbook paper offcuts and £18.50.

Good eh?

The acquiring of the brown leather effect, £35.99 per roll wallpaper: "Excuse me (To shop assistant) Can I purchase one of those rolls of wallpaper (indicating one of four rolls opened for samples)?" "Not really. We are not allowed to sell them." "That's a shame. I only want a small amount and not an entire roll." "What do you want to do with it?" "Make a tree on my daughter's bedroom wall." "Oh, so you want a sample then. Will this be enough? (Unrolls a generous arm's length and hands it to me) Looks thoughtful You may need some more branches. Would your daughter like a large sample as well? (Unrolls another arm's length) But, you have to understand, this is a sample." Smiles and walks away.
Vicki, if you look closely, all these letters are decorated with stamp sets you gave me. Thank you! Each letter has a seasonal theme.

I am still in disbelief.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Happy Belated Christmas

Seriously, I haven't even wished you all a Happy Christmas - except those we saw and visited over Christmas. That will be most of you then!

We had a crazy Christmas time. Angus even started counting how many "Christmases" we had this year, and finally decided on four, although there was a debated five.

Our first Christmas was a trip to America to visit with Jo, Allan and the Boys. We had a fabulous time and the highlight for me had to be the joy in both children with Skiing. Jo was lent boots and skis for both of them and she very kindly gave them lessons. Isla wimped out after falling over but eventually even she wanted another go (although, sadly, too late. She had to suffice with the back garden. This was enough to whet her appetite for next time though: to hear her talk about skiing you would imagine Callum had taken her down a black run!) I would download the video Jo took of Angus going down a run but our Internet won't permit. Trust me, Angus was ecstatic. I was so proud of his determination and stamina. He is not known for his physical pluck but he was so keen on what he was doing and obviously being so well taught (who would have thought that steam engines could be a Incorporated into a skiing methodology? They can - really. Very effectively too.) that he kept at it in very cold weather and was happy doing so. He and Isla still talk about it and have it all planned out for the next time (are you up for that Jo?).

Our second was coming back from America when we stayed with Ken's parents. We had flown in and out of Edinburgh so acted as present couriers. A short but enjoyable visit with the main highlight being Angus and Isla's delight with crepe bandages given to expand Isla's medical kit. 

Then we came home and were met by my lovely Mum who had come to stay for a few days and we had Christmas number three. Mum had a spare Dolls' House which she gave Isla for Christmas. Angus and Isla both adore it: the odd stories and characters which live in the house could fill a blog in their own right. Currently we have several pirates, Miss Fielding (Isla's nursery teacher. It's just as well that she doesn't know that her alternative reality is in our front room) and her teaching assistant Mrs McGuirk (ditto), a blind baby who doesn't want to see octopuses (!!??) in the local river and a few as yet unidentified and fluid characters. The house has already had several repairs mainly due to unforeseen volcanoes and earthquakes (I wonder who gave Isla those suggestions? Actually, I don't wonder at all.) and currently has red tape holding on the front door and broken banisters. Better than not being played with at all.

Christmas Four was in Gloucester with my Dad. All his side of the family minus us had met together earlier so we had a lot of presents waiting for us there still under a beautiful tree. The one sadness of moving to Newcastle is that we are further away from my side of the family and don't get to see any of them anywhere near enough, so it was particularly enjoyable spending the weekend with my Dad, his wife Jackie and Stephen, one of my brothers. Sadly for us, Stephen and Anya, his partner, have now moved to Uganda for two years with VSO, so we also had a chance to wish them well and say goodbye.

That all took up most of January!

Isla also started nursery, a milestone for her and me. I actually had a free afternoon last week. My goodness! She will be going two or three afternoons a week and mostly enjoys herself but due to illness and snow days we haven't had consistent attendance.

Let's see if we can load some pictures.

Okay, nope. Will have to try another day. Jo, do you have any photos I can link to or Angus's video? Trust me, we had a great time celebrating Jesus's birthday and I pray you did too.