Monday 31 December 2007

Year End Review

2007 was not a good year for me. It was probably one of the worst years that I can remember. In the last year I have lost a cousin and an uncle and now my teenage nephew has cancer. From the point of view of the cottage the achievements of the year have been blighted by the problems that we have had with the living room carpet and floor. Overall not a year to remember.

Wednesday 26 December 2007

Just another day

It felt like Christmas yesterday when we went out the pub with the neighbours, but today it doesn't feel like Christmas anymore. My mother's decision not to come, to us, for Christmas has left a hole in our plans. We've got plenty to do, we just aren't doing what we expected to be doing. So I made my weekly trip to the greenhouse to check on things. The inside of the greenhouse looked like a bomb had hit it. Pots were empty and there was compost everywhere. As a result I have spent quite a time today animal proofing the greenhouse, blocking up holes and covering as many pots as possible with mesh and stones gathered from around the garden, to try to prevent any further attacks. I have not had to do this before and it should not be necessary. After all it is Boxing Day. And yes I could box somebody!

Friday 21 December 2007

The other half of the bed

The missing part from the bed has not been delivered so I have cancelled the order and requested a refund. It is just as well that my mother isn't coming for Christmas after all.

Monday 17 December 2007

Christmas in limbo

My mother has declined the offer to come to us for Christmas even though I explained, or tried to, that she would have to spend Christmas on her own. I know that we are a long way from her but my brother and I had the travelling sorted out. Her reason for not wanting to come is because it means cancelling the milk and newspaper! So I am not sure what we are going to do for Christmas. It's too late now to arrange anything else and at the moment I don't really care as I've got some bug. Perhaps now is the time to look for good deal on a holiday for Christmas 2008. I quite fancy going away for Christmas and leaving the rest of the family to fight over who goes where.

Friday 7 December 2007

Half a bed

We've ordered a new bed for my mother to sleep on when she comes to stay at Christmas. We had to sell the old bed, because it wouldn't go round the corner at the top of the stairs, when we moved here. So until now the third bedroom has been bed less. I saw this bed on the Internet, when the bed that we really wanted could not be delivered until after Christmas and we are not quite sure what we are getting. It was due for delivery today but we only received one part of two. The second part is promised for delivery before Christmas. The courier has managed to loose it overnight and it will now have to be re-ordered. How do you loose half a bed? I do sometimes wonder why this country has not ground to a halt.

Sunday 2 December 2007

Sparkling ice

We recently had to replace our 15 year old fridge freezer. I'm not sure if that is really old in fridge freezer terms, but anyway it became noisy and smelly and eventually thawed out. So we have replaced it. I carefully followed the instructions, that came with the news fridge freezer, of not switching the thing on for six hours after delivery. Cleaned it with sodium bicarbonate and turned it up high initially, but then forgot to turn it down when I put some food and drinks into it.

Tonight, unaware that it was frozen, I opened a bottle of sparkling water and it went everywhere in the kitchen. Once we had cleared up the mess I attempted to get some water out of the bottle and realised that the bottle contained a solid lump of ice.

Sunday 25 November 2007

Three score years and ten

Last night we went to a seventieth birthday party at the neighbours. A small marquee had been put onto the side of their house and from our house the red lighting that the party girl's son-in-law had used made it look like a brothel. They are quite respectable really so we wondered what was going on. Once inside the house we found that most people had congregated in the kitchen where waitresses were serving drinks and there was a mountain of food on the buffet. Although we had been told that Del boy was not going he was already there knocking back lager straight from the bottle. During the course of the evening his WAG put in an appearance and was introduced to me - they have only lived next door to us for a year. At first I did not realise who she was (we were not expecting them to be there) when this wet fish of a hand was poked in front of me. From behind she looks like a WAG but from the front she does not. She disappeared rather like Cinderella shortly after breaking some wine glasses. So the glass slipper probably will not fit her.

Thursday 22 November 2007

The me job

This is the time, in between the last stint of work and the next stint of work, to catch up with myself, which means appointments with the doctor, the dentist, the osteopath, the hairdresser, the cottage and if I am very lucky some time to myself. It is really just a different sort of work.

Wednesday 14 November 2007

All hell is let loose

Last night I should have gone to my flower arranging evening class, but as a result of the weekend's socialising I didn't have time to get together what I needed for last night's arrangement. So I was in the kitchen when my brother phoned from the London hospital where his son is now undergoing chemotherapy. He started by telling me that he couldn't cope with any more. He had had a message on his mobile phone from our mother's next door neighbour, to say that our elderly mother had had a fall and he had phoned for an ambulance. Could I phone the neighbour and find out what was happening? which I duly did - before the ambulance left for the hospital, shortly after my mother reached casualty and again after she had been assessed. In between all these calls I managed to get to my evening class to find out what we are doing next week.

My mother is confused, cut and bruised and was kept in overnight as a precaution.

Sunday 11 November 2007

Party in the south

Normally I would be quite keen to travel down south for the weekend and a party. But at the moment I am working full time. So we drove down to Chertsey on Saturday, went to the party on Saturday night then drove back today. This was devotion to duty on my part. I didn't have to drive. I navigate on long journeys but overall it wasn't much of a weekend and after Thursday's bombshell I wasn't in the mood for jollification. Nobody could consider me selfish. I felt hat I had to agree to go to the party which was held by the friends of my husband, who are selling up and retiring to South Africa. We may never see them again, although we are invited to go out to South Africa any time. I would like to see South Africa but I am not sure that retiring there is a good idea.

Thursday 8 November 2007

Black thursday

This evening must have been one of the worst in my life. As I drove home in the dark and wet my ususally silent mobile phone went twice. Wondering why I was suddenly so much in demand I stopped in the library car park to have a look at my phone. My husband had sent me a text message to say that my brother had called him and would be phoning me. (Our house phone is currently not working so my husband has had it redirected to his mobile phone). Then my brother had left a brief message. Thinking that there was a problem with our mother I phoned him back but got his voice mail - I left a message that I would be home in 15 minutes. So 15 minutes later I was on the phone again and this time I got through. I asked him how he was and he said things could be better or something similar. I could hear noises in the background and thought that he must be in a hospital but it turned out that he was at Clapham Junction. Then he went on to tell me the most awful news - his 18 year old son has cancer. As he went into detail my heart pounded in my chest as if it was about to burst. Tomorrow my nephew has a liver biopsy to try to identify the primary tumour. It will be about Tuesday of next week before they know whether or not the cancer is treatable. We have an awfully long weekend ahead of us.

Monday 29 October 2007

Last day of freedom

Today is my last day of freedom for three weeks. The necessity of work has raised its ugly head and I have three weeks of full time work ahead of me. So today I have enjoyed myself - having a lie in, getting ready for tomorrow nights evening class and spending as much time as I could in the garden before the light went. There is always something to do in the garden and our garden is still at the construction stage. So we will be at it for some time to come. The short days and dark nights have forced me in doors to plan for next year but before that comes Christmas, which also requires some planning. This afternoon I made a start by making the Christmas cake. As I write this the aroma of he cooking cake fills the kitchen and I know that winter is on its way but I would rather not think about it. The cold weather and dark nights are so depressing and this is only the second day after the clocks went back.

Sunday 28 October 2007

An extra hour of rain

So now it's winter. Last night the clocks went back and we had an extra hour in bed or as it was raining when we went to bed and still raining when we got up we had an extra hour of rain. Given the weather that we have had this year, an extra hour of rain was the last thing that most of us needed, but we should know by now that we don't always get what we need. Somebody took pity on us and by mid morning the rain had stopped and the day had brightened up. However, it was still a strange day, as the day after the clocks go back always seems to be. Most of the first day on the new time seems to be spent working out what time it used to be and when it suddenly gets dark realising that it is not as late as you think it is.

Thursday 25 October 2007


I couldn't believe my eyes when I looked out of the window this morning. In fact I had to look twice to believe what I was seeing. The tubs on the patio looked empty and there was compost all over the place. At the weekend I had taken out the geraniums, bizzy lizzies and petunias which were now past it and planted up the tubs with pansies. The tubs outside the front door were the same. Today was really too busy to sort out his disaster, but sort it out I had to do. The pansies had been tossed around and some had lost almost all the compost that they had been planted with and were now bare rooted. The culprit was no doubt some animal that prowls our garden at night time. This is war, I thought. I replanted all four tubs and weighted down the surface of the compost with stones, which I found around the garden, in the hope of preventing a repeat of this vandalism

Wednesday 24 October 2007

The day that didn't happen

For the last week or so I had had a funny feeling about today. I had an appointment in Surrey and somehow just wasn't keen to go. Normally I am raring to go if there is the chance of doing some shopping in London. I woke feeling not quite with things, but decided that it wasn't enough to cancel the planned trip. Then the taxi to the railway station was late and I thought if it doesn't arrive I wont go and that will be it. But it did arrive and got me to the railway station on time. Next the train was late - waiting on the platform was very cold, despite the welcome sunshine. At Crewe the connecting train was waiting or I just managed to get on it as it started to move. It is half term and the train was packed. The carriage where I found a seat was like being in a moving open plan office with mobile phones constantly ringing and excited children constantly asking 'are we there yet?'

I got to my appointment to be told that it had been cancelled. The person with whom I had the appointment had been held up. This wouldn't be a problem if we still lived in Surrey but it felt like a wasted day. I was down there so I was not going to waste the opportunity of doing some shopping in my favorite shop in Regent Street. Fortunately they had a sale on and as my husband pointed out, what I saved on the clothes that I bought, paid for my train fare. Perhaps the day didn't happen after all. But it did. Maybe I should have trusted my sixth sense and stayed in bed.

Saturday 20 October 2007

My official birthday

I have decided that today I will have my official birthday.

Actually my birthday was on Wednesday but on Wednesday my husband was late home from work. When he told his boss that it was his wife's birthday he just said 'O'. We eventually ate about 9 pm - macaroni cheese and chocolate cake - hardly the healthiest of meals, but both were home made. On Friday he was allowed to come home early to make up for working late on Wednesday. But he then went out to fix a friend's computer and came home late so we had an over cooked meal.

Tonight we shall have to share our meal with the rugby but I have decided not to even try to go out as I expect that the rugby will be everywhere.

Thursday 18 October 2007

Another blotted copybook

The sofa that we had ordered for our snug, from a well known furniture company, was due to be delivered tomorrow morning, but I have just had a telephone call to say that the delivery has been cancelled because of a problem with authorising the final payment from my husband's credit card. No effort has been made to sort out the problem with the payment authorisation and they have admitted that had it been sorted out yesterday when I telephoned to check the delivery time, that the delivery, for tomorrow, could have gone ahead. I have turned down work for tomorrow, now all for nothing and the new delivery date of next Friday is not so convenient, as I want a morning delivery which they cannot guarantee. It is no wonder to me that the country is in the state that it is in, when this sort of incompetence seems to be the norm. Thinking about it, I don't know that they even apologised to me for what is a cock up on their part. So yet another delay in our attempt to get the cottage straight.

Monday 15 October 2007

Hell's teeth again

More problems with the crown, or so I thought, so off to the dentist again. After getting me to open and close my mouth several times, scrutinising my teeth and my biting action and fiddling with my jaw the dentist decided that my bite is fine, as are my teeth. He says that he can see nothing wrong and that maybe I will have to put up with it or maybe it is a sinus problem. I am pretty sure that when I go to the osteopath, who has been treating the sinus problem, later in the week, that she will tell me that it is not - it's a dental problem.

Saturday 13 October 2007

Unlucky thirteenth

We returned home about 3 pm this afternoon. The cottage was surprisingly quiet as we opened the door. No burglar alarm to greet us. We soon realised that our power was off and there was the tell tale stale smell. The fridge and freezer had thawed themselves out and the answerphone has stopped working. So as soon as I had my jacket off I was throwing out the contents of the freezer. I had been meaning to thaw it out and given it a clean. Now I understand why some people empty the freezer before they go away.

The holiday was alright but we won't do seven nights in seven beds again or by tomorrow morning eight nights in eight beds. The ferry crossing was much better than I expected and the driving in France was also les stressful than expected but we did have the assistance of a TomTom.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights were spent in three different chateaux. This was the three nights Luxury in the Loire with gourmet dining that my husband had won. Luxury varies. Monday was the most luxurious and Wednesday probably the least luxurious. On Thursday night we came down to earth in a small hotel in San Malo but it was right on the beach and was quiet and comfortable which are our main requirements and you can only have so much luxury. In our quest to fill up the car boot with cheap wine we went first to a hyper market where I wanted to have a look at everything but my husband only wanted to look at the wine. He wasn't very impressed with what they had, so it was off to a discount store near the ferry terminal, where we found wine that he was prepared to buy. We had made a mistake with our wine purchasing. We should have bought more wine than we did from the wine caves in the Loire Valley. Next time we shall know better. Eventually we manage to get out for a pizza at a French Italian. A change from gourmet food.

Later in the evening, in the hotel bar we met a South African couple who were in the France for the Rugby World Cup. They took us to be English fans also in France for the rugby and I think that they were disappointed when they found that we were not rugby fans. Still we managed to have a chat with them. I think that the whole world has heard of Jonny Wilkinson.

Friday 5 October 2007


Today is the day before we go away for a week. My husband recently won a three night break in the Loire Valley and we have added extra nights on at each end to make it into a seven night break. So what we have ended up with is seven nights in seven different locations or seven nights in seven different beds - one of which is an overnight ferry crossing from Portsmouth to San Malo. It's ages since I went on a ferry and I've never done an overnight crossing. I'm not sure how I am going to cope with it, as I can remember feeling slighly queasy on a ferry from Tangiers to Gibraltar some time ago. Since then I have done quite a bit of dingy sailing and been alright but that's different. So that is one issue. The other issue is that we are taking our right hand drive car to drive on the wrong side of the road in France which means that my husband will be driving from the passenger seat and I will be navigating from the driving seat. So I am not exactly looking forward to the next seven days. Never mind, by this time next week it will nearly all be over and we should be back in England. There is nothing like wishing your life away!

Tuesday 25 September 2007

Hell's teeth

When my old chemistry lecturer used the expletive 'Hell's teeth' I am sure he had something different in mind to my recent experiences. Today I went to the dentist for the second time in a week for him to adjust the bite on a crown that he fitted back in April. To be honset it has niggled on and off ever since it was fitted but last week the problem became more than a niggle so I had no choice but to go back to him. Yesterday I had more discomfort so today it was back to him again. I always thought that dentists could work out how to alter your bite from the marks that your teeth made on those bits of paper that they ask you to bite on but apparently that only shows the pressure points. He has improved things, but I am not sure that I won't be visiting him again, in the near future.

Wednesday 19 September 2007

Back to square one

This morning the builder came to repair the wooden floor in the living room. He decided, maybe luckily, that he only needed to patch the three areas of the floor where the wooden blocks have expanded and it wouldn't be necessary to take up the whole floor. Still the disruption is the same whatever he decided to do. For the umpteenth time we have the living room furniture in the dining room, pictures stored in the hall, curtains stored in a bedroom and most importantly the carpet is in the garage. At the moment we aren't sure when we will be straight again.

Monday 17 September 2007

Whip away

It could only happen to us. We took some off cuts of the carpets, that we have had fitted, back to the store to have then whipped to make mats - whipping is the tem used when carpet edges are bound. The whipped mats should have been ready to collect by the end of July but they weren't and it has taken until now to track them down. Now, the store has them ready to collect and we are about to move the living room furniture into the dining room and once again the cottage will be upside down. So they have agreed to keep them for a bit longer.

Friday 14 September 2007

Rose arch

The second half of the trellis was put up this evening, with the rose arch joining the two halves of the trellis. It looks good but maybe we should have chosen the more expensive option. We had to make a decision in about five minutes flat when I mentioned that we might add a rose arch to bridge the two sections of trellis, at a later stage. It was the ususal workmen thing - that could cause problems and it will cost extra. So why don't we do it now? We had a quick look at the catalogue and chose the cheaper option which saved us £50. Once we have spent that £50 on roses, nobody will be able to see the details of the arch suporting them.

Tuesday 4 September 2007

Deva bargain

There was a report in The Times yesterday about a survey carried out by the Royal Bank of Scotland which has named the top 20 'bargain' addresses. I know most people read yesterday's newspaper, yesterday, but I have to read it a day late, some days, because my husband takes it to work so I don't see it until the evening, at the earliest, but yesterday I worked until 9.00 pm and didn't get home until 9.30 pm so the newspaper had to wait.

Third of the top 20 'bargain' addresses is Chester or if you prefer the Roman city of Deva. A 'bargain' address means that you can have a wealthy lifestyle on the cheap. Beverley in East Yorkshire was considered the top 'bargain' address and I have to admit that I would rather live there than in Chester, maybe because I was born and brought up in East Yorkshire and I remember admiring Beverley as an attractive market town. The criteria to be considered a 'bargain' address are posh shops and restaurants, cultural attractions, good schools, luxury car dealerships, quality hotels, sporting facilities and affordable housing. I suppose Chester has all of these. But I can honestly say that it costs us just as much to live here, just outside Chester, as it did when we lived down in Surrey, near Guildford. Chester scored highly in this survey for, amongst other things, its medieval shopping arcades which are known as The Rows. Admittedly Chester seems to be a bit of a shopping Mecca with some people but I cannot see the attraction myself. I would rather shop in Guildford any day. Shopping in The Rows is a bit like going into a rabbit warren and you need a lot of money and a lot of time. Really you need to be a bit of a diva or maybe it should be deva to appreciate these medieval shopping arcades.

Friday 31 August 2007


The dining room curtains that I collected last week have been draped over the dining room table and chairs since I got them home. They are now draped around the windows after I spent the afternoon gathering them up, putting in hooks and hanging them from their poles. It took all afternoon but I managed to get them right first time. It's amazing where the time goes to. Anyway after three years and four months in the cottage we now have matching curtains in the dining room and snug. Slowly we are getting there.

Saturday 25 August 2007

Quaker meeting

Last night we went to a social evening in the village hall, which was mainly put on for the benefit of the Quakers, who have been camping in a field in the village for the last month. Apparently there have been three camps of ten days. I am amazed that anybody is prepared to camp for that length of time in a wet Cheshire field without proper toilet and washing facilities. The Quakers that we spoke to were in the main young and seemed to accept a cold wet camp as part of life or their religion. Some were dressed for the beach while other looked as if they were dressed for an expedition to the North Pole. We didn't manage to establish what they had been doing to occupy themselves in our village, which has neither a pub or a shop, other than playing Quaker games and maybe sending a post card home via the post box in the centre of the village or phoning home from the telephone box which surprisingly hasn't been vandalised. This is the gun slinging, knife wielding wild north west where eleven year olds are shot returning home from football practice and family men are attacked defending their homes. So how long before the telephone box is vandalised and will the Quakers return next year?

Thursday 23 August 2007

Service with a smile

This morning I went to the nearby market town to collect the dining room curtains. As I walked from the car park to the shop I was thinking this is quite a walk - I hope the curtains aren't going to be too heavy. The curtains turned out to be not only too heavy for me to carry but also too cumbersome, so the nice man in the shop gave me the option of moving my car to a side passage near the shop or he would carry the curtains to my car for me. I went for the latter option - it seemed easier than trying to negotiate my way through streets that I don't know very well. He was very nice about it and admitted that I could not have parked the car any further away as we walked to the furthest corner of the car park. He told me about his trip to London the previous day and how awful the weather had been in London. That made a change as we had good weather yesterday.

Wednesday 22 August 2007

Trellis by twilight

The trellis, that we have been waiting months to have put up, has a last started to see the light of day or rather the dark of night, as a start was made on assembling it in the twilight this evening. First the side gate, which took five weeks to make, was installed then one side of the trellis was put up. The chap that did the work this evening left about 9 pm and will return when the rose arch that we have decided to add to the trellis, has arrived.

Friday 17 August 2007

Mission not accomplished

This afternoon I went into Chester on a mission to buy a birthday present for my husband and to change my mobile phone. For about two years now I have been using one of my husband's second hand cast off mobile phones. I managed to sort out his present. Socks weren't an option - he had recently bought himself some.

The mobile phone didn't get changed. The Orange shop was hot and busy. My fault for trying to change my mobile phone on a friday afternoon in the middle of August. So I'll exist with the second hand cast off for a bit longer.

Tuesday 14 August 2007

Another wet day & another delay

Yet another wet day and to make matters even more depressing we had an early morning call from the guy who was supposed to be fitting our gate and trellis today to say that he would not be coming. He will now be coming a week today. The reason for the delay is because apparently the trellis posts would not fit onto the delivery van. So they should now come in next week's delivery and not this week's as was intended. Well that's an excuse that I haven't heard before.

Sunday 12 August 2007

A weekend of two parties

On Friday night we went to a fortieth birthday party at one of the neighbours, who live down the lane. The weather was fine and we sat outside admittedly we were dressed against the evening chill. In the dark we managed to spy our next door neighbours and we spent most tof the evening chatting to them - something that we hadn't done for some time as we rarely see them. Del boy had shaved off his mustache and was there without his WAG so I didn't recognise him. Inevitably there was a disco and karoke which the younger guests had a go at. We were surprised to hear several old number played, some of which must have been hits long before the party girl herself was born. Around 11 pm they played Those were the days and As tears go by and we felt that it was past our bedtime so made our goodbyes and staggered the 100 yards down the lane to our house. We heared Del boy come back not long after us. He let the burglar alarm off as he came in which was not surprising as he was knocking back the drink.

Then on Sunday afternoon we went to a garden party for charity. This was held in a half acre terraced garden on the banks of the River Dee and was a much more sedate affair. After a tour of the garden we sat by the river in the sun, drinking tea from bone china cups and eating sandwiches without their crusts and home made cakes. The proceeds from the afternoon were several hundred pounds all for a good cause.

Sunday 5 August 2007

Rain or shine

On Friday nights we religiously watch the weather forecast and plan our weekend activities accordingly. So on the basis of the forecast that we saw on Friday night we planned to garden on Saturday then do some shopping and indoor jobs on Sunday. How wrong the forecast was. Saturday was partly miserable and Sunday was glorious. So we didn't quite achieve what we wanted do but some things were done in spite of the weather. The last place that I wanted to be on a sunny Sunday morning was sitting in the car in a traffic jam in Chester but that was where I found myself. We would have done the shopping on Saturday if we had our own piece of seaweed to forecast the weather from. Or maybe we should invest in one of those little houses were the lady comes out when the weather is fine and the man comes out when the weather is bad or maybe it is the other way round - I can't remember now. Anyway Sunday was the last day of the Laura Ashley sale so we had to go to order a sofa for our snug. At the moment we are using the living room and if we want to use the snug we have to move a sofa into it, which is quite a performance as we have to move the stereo unit to get the sofa through the door and more importantly it is not the right colour for the snug. Then when we want to use the living room the sofa has to be moved back. So to make life easier we are having another sofa and as it is a bit of a luxury, we are buying it in the sales. As what we want is a small beige fabric sofa, I thought that it would be easy enough to buy from any furniture shop, but no - they are full of large leather sofas which seem to be all the rage, at the moment. Somehow not appropriate for our Victorian cottage. So Laura Ashley it is. It takes about eight weeks from order to deliver so we should have the sofa by the end of October which will be around the time that we will want to start to use the snug, as we use it more in the winter. Originally we were going to leave this purchase until the January sales but that would mean not having the sofa until about March by which time hopefully winter will be almost over. Well winter seemed to be the last thing on my mind as we sweltered in the car in the traffic in Chester. It just happened to be race day and the streets were full of race goers dressed in what would once have been their Sunday best. At least they had good weather and didn't get the usual soaking which often happens on race days.

Sunday 29 July 2007

The great outdoors

Today, at last, was fine and we managed to spend the whole day in the garden. For a change there were no dark clouds threatening rain and we didn't have to wonder will they or wont they. We managed to get so much more done than we have on previous weekends when we have been rained off either partly or totally. So much time is wasted putting away tools, watching the rain and wondering how long it will last and will we be able to get out in the garden again when the rain stops. Then when the rain is prolonged deciding what to do with ourselves in the house. There is no shortage of jobs to do in the house, but if we start something will we finish it before we are able to go out into the garden again? However, the garden is still quite wet and we have a waterlogged flowerbed with some rather sad looking plants in it. Last year with the hot weather that flowerbed looked more like a beach. Knowing whether to plant it with bog garden plants or drought loving plants is now becoming a real headache. Although, what is probably more concerning to us, is the level of the farmer's pond in the field adjacent to our garden. Normally it comes right up to our boundary but at the moment the water level is so high it has come into our garden. We have never seen the level of the pond so high, even in the winter. Normally the cows that graze in the field keep the level of the pond down by drinking from the pond but this year they don't even seem to be grazing in this field let alone drinking the pond.

Saturday 28 July 2007

Morning officer

Today being a Saturday we normally try to have a bit of a lie in. So this morning I wasn't very pleased to woken up about 7 am by a banging on the door. At first we ignored it but it wasn't going to go away, so reluctantly my husband struggled out of bed and into his dressing gown and down the stairs to open the front door. To his amazement there was a police officer standing outside. No we are not suspects in any crime. The officer had come to the wrong address! There is a house with the same name, as ours, about four miles away in the next village. Apparently they had called the police out. I just hope that it wasn't really urgent and that if we ever need to call the police out, that they come to our house and not the one with the same name in the next village.

Friday 27 July 2007

A bargain

Today I did our weekly supermarket shop in the largest Tesco in the area. It's big. It's open 24 hours and it is just over the border in Wales so all the signs are in Welsh as well as English. The staff all seem to speak English and the till receipts are always in English. If I spoke Welsh I could try it out on them but I don't so I may never know if I could have a till recepit in Welsh. Because it is big and I don't shop there every week I go up and down each aisle so that I don't miss anything or more importantly any offers or bargains. So today I spotted bargain of the day, week or maybe even year. A ten litre green plastic watering can for £1.23. Now that we have three working out side taps and a water butt I decided that a second watering can would be a good idea - one for the top of the garden and one for the bottom. It's quite a hike from the bottom of the back garden round to the front garden with a watering can full of water. I am now beginning to think that a third and fourth watering can would be a good idea. But after all the rain that we have had do we need a watering can at all? Have I bought a bargain or a white elephant?

Thursday 19 July 2007

Window dressing

Finding the curtain fabric that you had in mind can be like finding a needle in a haystack round here. I have spent five half days scouring five shops to find the sort of curtain fabric that I had in mind. Now, if we still lived in Surrey one trip to Debenhams in Guildford would have had the matter sorted. What is so difficult about pink and green on a beige background? If I wanted beige on its own I would be spoilt for choice. No problem if I wanted black, brown or orange. To my mind, too modern for our Victorian cottage - alright for a modern house. I don't want old fashioned chintz. I want a modern floral. My dining room has been pink and green for 20 years and I am not changing my colour scheme now. Anyway we already have the meadow green carpet and the beige walls. What else would you put with a meadow carpet but flowers? At last I have found what I was looking for in little shop in Neston. Even my husband admired the curtain sample that I brought home without being asked what he thought, which must be a first! Today I ordered the curtains and was surprised at how reasonable the price appeared to be. I have always felt a bit guilty that I do not make curtains and that made to measure curtains were a bit of a luxury. I have never made curtains and neither did my mother. I could hardly expect here to teach me - she couldn't even sew a button on. My father used to do his own mending. He could even use my old sewing machine. Even if I could make curtains I can earn the money to pay for them more quickly than I could make them and its not as if I am short of things to do. So just a few more weeks of having odd curtains in the dining room.

Tuesday 17 July 2007

£60 premium

Another day and another report into rural living. Today the study of the Commission for Rural Communities reported that it costs £60 per week more to live in the country. I haven't tried to put a price on the cost of living in such a rural area but now someone has done it for me. I am not surprised, we cannot walk anywhere from where we live and anyway there are no pavements and no street lights. When I say that we cannot walk I mean that it is too far to walk unless you have nothing else to do. In Surrey we used to be able to walk to the shops, the railway station, the library and the GP. Now we have to drive to all of them, so a car is an essential. There is the occasional bus to, I am not sure where, but the bus stop is a mile away. The nearest shop is one and a half miles a way so I try to be organised and not run out of things. We don't have gas, even though we can see the field through which the gas pipe up to the Wirral runs. We have oil fired central heating with the oil stored in a tank which looks like a big green pig. And we don't have drains - we have a septic tank. We have got used to the drains blocking up and my husband has become a dab hand with drain rods. What we do have is a cottage up a quiet country lane. Quiet because there are only three houses up the lane and at the bottom of the garden is a pond and a field with cows in it. This may sound idyllic, but the views are spoilt by unattractive farm buildings. However, I have to admit that I have lived in worse places than this.

Monday 16 July 2007

This red and noisy land

According to a report in the Home section of yesterday's Sunday Times the area of north west Cheshire where we live is one of the least tranquil areas in England. It is coloured fluorescent red whereas where we lived in Surrey is pale green. So, so much for the peaceful countryside. I didn't really need the Sunday Times to do a report on the issue . I could have told them if they had asked me. We live four miles outside Chester in a village which is essentially a farming community and we live between two farms. One farm is a dairy farm which is usually quiet but it can be noisy. The second farm is a battery chicken farm from which we get a constant hum of the machinery maintaining the temperature in the chicken sheds. Then not far from here are the A540 and A5117 roads which are currently undergoing major roadworks. Normally we can hear the hum of the traffic in the background and now we also have the whine of the roadwork machines. And not a day goes by without the piercing screech of sirens of police cars or ambulances. Our first house in Leatherhead was on a main road, near the railway station and not far from the M25. Our second house was in a quiet and attractive village between Leatherhead and Guildford. Both locations were quieter than this cottage in Cheshire. From the noise point of view our quality of life was better in Surrey - the green and pleasant land.

Sunday 15 July 2007

Beginning of the end

Wet weather dictated jobs in the house today so at last we managed to put back our bedroom, which means that we moved our bed back from the third bedroom and borrowed the curtains from that room as the windows are about the same size. The bed clothes that go with the room are still packed away in a suitcase in the loft. My husband could not be bothered to go up into the loft to get them - next weekend perhaps! I need to order some new curtains for this room. Up till now we have had two odd pairs of curtains at the two windows in our bedroom as our previous house only had one window in most rooms. Having a king size bed in the third bedroom which, at best, is a small double bedroom was a bit tight spacewise. Now that room needs a good clean even though it was only decorated last Autumn. And I just need to sort out our clothes which are currently spread around all three bedrooms and the study. Then there is the dressing table to sort out. Moving the bed back was just the beginning. When we moved out of our bedroom to start decorating it took me a whole week to find alternative homes for everything. This is just the beginning of the end.

Saturday 14 July 2007

Sold a bargain

Today is a landmark day for us. Today is the day that we sold our first item on e bay. Or rather my husband did, but it was my idea. I thought at least we could give it a try. People seem to sell all sorts of junk on e bay so why shouldn't we? After several attempts we managed to sell the old fitted bedroom to someone who obviously wanted it and they did have to come and collect it. To take it out of the bedroom it had to be taken to pieces so most of it was flat packed, with no assembly instructions, and very dusty having spent quite a time in the corner of our garage. Whether or not they have bought a bargain I do not know, but if they can put it together they deserve to have bought a bargain and we have regained a corner of our garage.

Tuesday 3 July 2007

Retail therapy

We both needed to do a bit of clothes shopping so I pursuaded my husband that a morning at the local designer outlet, where everything is supposed to be at least half price, would be a good idea. It's only about five miles away and in the week it's fairly quiet and parking is not a problem. As we walked from the car park towards the shops the area that we were aiming for was cordoned off by police. My husband inquired what the problem was and was told that there had been a robbery from the jewellery shop. Like a little boy, he wanted to stand and watch but I dragged him away to the M&S outlet shop where he soon forgot about the robbery even though he hates shopping. My husband has a habit of buying things in the wrong size or colour, so to prevent a lot of mistakes I have got into the habit of supervising his clothes shopping. His purchases sorted out I left him to his own devices while I did some shopping for myself.

One morning of shopping was enough for my husband and this afternoon he stayed at home while I checked out the nearby Matalan and Dunelm Mill. Both cheap and cheerful shops that we did not have down in Surrey. I didn't find anything that I wanted to buy in either shop. All a bit too cheap and cheerful. Like anyone I love a bargain but I also want quality which you sometimes get at the designer outlet, even though it may be a second or last seasons model. I am not quite sure what to make of these low cost shops that do not exist in the south of England. Perhaps they think that southerners have too much money to want or need to buy cheap things and it is only the poor northerners who have no choice but to buy their wares. Even though I was born in Yorkshire I think of myself as a southerner, because I have lived most of my adult life in the south of England. I think that I will have to live up here a bit longer before I adapt to these northern shopping traits.

Saturday 30 June 2007

Return of the jinx

Another wet day so we thought that we would do some jobs in the house. The much wanted living room carpet was fitted about three weeks ago now, but we still had not put the room back properly. We have so much to do that I could be up all day and all night for about a month, regardless of the weather, and still we would not be straight. I have decided that the cottage has been upside down for so long now that a few more weeks of chaos will not make much difference to things. So when the weather is dry we are gardening and when the weather is wet we are doing jobs in the house. The garden has been so neglected recently that we have weeds as tall as me in the garden and there are annuals grown from seed that have flowered and gone to seed in the greenhouse, before I have had the chance to plant them out in the garden

Today was too wet to garden so we set about getting the living room straight. We had got everything back - furniture, TV, curtains, pictures, ornaments - when I noticed a bump, like a mole hill, under the carpet in front of the fireplace. My husband and I both looked horrified. This happened before the carpet was fitted in front of the french windows. The wooden floor which is thin and cheap and put down 25 years ago has swelled up. Last time my husband managed to sort it out but now we have a carpet on top of it. We have checked the carpet for any further bumps and will keep a watching eye on the situation. At best the bump will dry out and go down. At worst more bumps will appear and we will have to have the carpet up and the floor replaced. I am not sure that I can face yet more upheaval and furniture moving. The jinx of the living room has returned.

Wednesday 27 June 2007

Brown Wedding Anniversary

It does not matter to me that today is the day that Tony Blair resigns and Gordon Brown takes over. June 27 is our wedding anniversary even if my husaband did forget to buy an anniversary card. It's raining as usual at Wimbledon and we can now blame Gordon Brown for this miserable wet weather. Brown weather!

In keeping with the new Brown prudent and abstemious regime we did not celebrate our wedding anniversary this year. Sixteen years is now officially a Brown Wedding Anniversary. We have kept our carbon footprint to a minimum and done our bit for global warmimg. We have not travelled anywhere or gone out to eat in a restaurant where the food has had to travel around the globe in order to present itself on our plates. Last year by coincidence we had tickets for the Centre Court at Wimbledon on 28 June. So 27 June was spent travelling down to Surry where we stayed two nights in a rather seedy hotel, but we did get to go out for a meal on our wedding anniversary and again on the night of 28 June after our day out watching play on the Centre Court at Wimbledon. We saw Roger Federer play Tim Henman. Federer was awsome. Henman was unlucky to come up against him so early in the tournament. We had not been to Wimbledon since 1992 so had not seen Tim Henman play in the flesh. Television pictures are so good today that the players look exactly as you expect them to. So now we could say that we had seen the great white British hope even if he did lose and we had also seen the the best player in the world.

Monday 25 June 2007

The misery of a monday

Last night when I went to bed it was raining. I suspect it rained all night. This morning I was woken up at 6 am by the neighbour feeding their chickens. They have never woken me up before feeding their chickens at 6 am, so why of all days are they waking me up today. Even with my eyes shut I could tell that it was cold, dark and wet. Luckily for them I went back to sleep. I had to work till 9 pm this evening and I did not want to be awake at 6 am. As it continued to rain and the path from the house to the drive became more and more flooded. I had to draw up a plan of action, in order to get everything that I needed to take with me, from the house to the car. Before I got myself ready for work I had a trip out to my car wearing my cagoule and wellingtons to put my certificate in the car. I went off to work dressed in anorak and wellingtons carrying an umbrella, my work bag and a carrier bag containing my shoes. To get to my car I had to wade through several inches of water flooding the path. At my car I had to change from my wellingtons in to my shoes under the shelter of the umbrella then put the wellingtons into the boot. The alternative to this is to try to balance on the stone setts edging the path and if you can't manage that you end up on a very soggy lawn. Fortunately by the time I came home the water from the path had gone down so I did not have to go through this pantomime in reverse. But worse was to come as I set off towards the main road the lane was flooded in places and before I knew where I was my mini and I were in the middle of a giant puddle of indeterminate depth. I had never experienced this before - should I turn round and go another way or should I keep going? I decided to keep going and came through the puddle unscathed. Work was very quiet. Everybody was at home keeping dry and waiting for some play at Wimbledon.

Sunday 24 June 2007

Groundforce here

We have created a new flower bed next to where the patio will be if we ever get it paved. The retaining wall of the flower bed was moved in May of last year in the hope that we would get all this done last year but then my husband found the pipe, which we have had problems with, under the flower bed and both our mothers were in hospital down in Surrey and Sussex at the same time and everthing got a bit behind. So unlike Alan Titchmarsh and his two or three day projects it has taken us 14 months. Today was the day when we started to plant it up. I am afraid my husband is no Alan Titchmarsh more of a Tommy Walsh and I am certainly no Charlie Dimmock. I like to think that I am more of a Rachel de Thame. So I am the designer and my husband digs holes for the plants under my supervision. We make quite a good team as long as he digs the holes in the right place. We didn't get finished, we got rained off and unlike Alan Titchmarsh or our gardener friend, who worked in the rain next door, we called it a day and let nature water the plants in.

Friday 22 June 2007

Two day event

Today was the second day of a two day stint working in the small health centre pharmacy. It wasn't as bad as I thought it might be at the beginning of the week. When I was so stiff on Tuesday I was dreading these two days but they have not been too bad. It hasn't been too busy and the staff have behaved themselves. I was lucky to have a dispenser at all. Last week she wrote off her car in an accident which sounds as if it wasn't her fault. The other dispenser, who covers for days off, is 14 months pregnant! according to the counter assistant. When I queried this the counter assistant corrected herself and said that she was 14 weeks pregnant. The pharmacist that I am covering for has gone to Glastonbury. Now that they are showing it on television why bother to pay all that money to get cold, wet and muddy when you can see and hear it better on the television, sleep in your own comfortable bed and have a hot bath or shower whenever you want. To be honest, weekend and all night pop festivals have not appealed to me since I went to an all night gig after finishing my A-levels and threw up at 3 am in the morning. As the music droned on in the background I just wanted to disappear into a hole or be at home in bed. I had never felt so wretched in all my 18 years. I had learnt the real meaning of being sick and tired.

Tuesday 19 June 2007

Stiff as a board

Yesterday morning I planned for the washing machine to do the load of washing delayed from Sunday, then I would do this, do that and do the other before having a sit down, then cooking lunch and going off to work at 1.30 pm. Well the washing got done and so did some of this, that and the other but there was no sit down before the lunch was cooked. All seemed to be alright when I arrived at work at 2.00 pm but by 5.00 pm after three hours of standing I was definitely starting to flag and I still had another four hours of standing ahead of me. I am not sure how I made it through to 9.00 pm. Today I am exhausted and my back is as stiff as a board. So this morning I had no choice but to take things easy and pace myself which is what I should have done yesterday. I am not sure what the osteopath will make of things. She has told me to try to stand differently which is easier said than done when you have other things to concentrate on such as making sure you dispense the correct medicine. I don't ever remember being this stiff before and I have stood for just as long if not longer. The osteopath in Surrey understood my back. I am now on my fifth osteopath in Chester and I think that I have at last found one that understands my back. After three years of being told that things were alright, by the other four osteopaths, this one realises that the problem, that I have spent three years complaining about, does exist. Perhaps it would have just been easier to go back to the osteopath in Surrey.

Sunday 17 June 2007

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink

We woke up this morning to find that our cold water supply was off. After all the rain that we have had over the last few days and we have had plenty, it was unbelievable. Apparently it was caused by low pressure and was only off for a few hours but it meant that the load of washing that I had intended for the washing machine to do this morning didn't get washed. Sometimes living here is like being in the Dark Ages with no power or running water.

Friday 15 June 2007

Gate shopping

When we woke up this morning everthing was sodden from a night of rain and it was still raining. It wasn't going to be a day for gardening so we went to look at trellis fencing and gates for the enhancement and security of our estate - two farm workers' cottages knocked into one. The guy that my husband has asked to put them up, who incidently was gardening next door in an oilskin and old hat, had recommended that we look at two places the other side of Chester. The first place that we went to was a garden centre which sold everything but the kitchen sink and of course had the obligatory coffee shop. It was all rather cold and damp and soggy and to make matters more depressing they did not have the trellis that we were looking for. Whilst we were there I realised that it was a long time since I had been to a garden centre. I had forgotten just how entrancing they can be. Even on a wet day I am like a child in a sweet shop where plants and flowers are concerned but I had decided that we are not buying any more plants until the last lot we bought are in the garden. So it was back into the car and off to the next place, which was different and quite interesting. Apart from fencing and gates they also sold all sorts of things agricultural and equestrian. We have never lived in quite such a rural area and I had time to take it all in while my husband answered a call on his mobile phone. There was everything that you could want for a horse from garlic granules to horse shampoo. We looked a bit out of place, two not quite townies (I think that we are actually urbanites) next to the jodhpured and wind swept girl looking at straw. In the next aisle were the most enormous nails and nuts and bolts. Intended for a giant, I think. For the little people in the farm worker's cottage they have a small gate which is only for display purposes. It's too small really and they will have to make one for us. So that will be a wait of another five weeks. I am not setting any deadlines for work outside - our weather is just too unpredictable even if we have a workman who will work in the rain.

Thursday 14 June 2007

Deadline achieved

Today is the day that the deadline, that I set back in February, was sort of met. We are only ten weeks behind schedule. By coincidence ten weeks is the length of time it took for the builder to make the alterations that we had done in 2005. It just goes to show a carpet shop what can or can not be done in ten weeks. That's enough moaning - these delays will all be forgotten about now. No the won't, otherwise we will end up in the same pickle next winter when we plan to get the hall, stairs and landing decorated and carpeted. Anyway today the third of the three carpets was fitted but very nearly wasn't as the carpet fitter was so late arriving that we thought that he had forgotten about us. I was wondering how he was going to get the carpet into the house as the path is flooded and the front lawn is sodden but he managed somehow with my husband's help. It was after 7pm by the time he finished. Too late, I thought, to start putting things back into the bedroom - we will have to exist with the current jumble for a bit longer. Now things are really beginning to take shape. We now a have a bright and airy bedroom with a bright and airy shower room off it. When we bought the cottage the bedroom had an old mahogany effect fitted furniture with old beigish carpet and dated and dingy flowered wallpaper. The bedroom now has white fitted furniture with a sky blue carpet and walls painted cornflower blue. The difference is tremendous and the space has been used to much better effect by turning the room around and laying it out differently. The cottage is now starting to feel like it belongs to us and not someone else.

Wednesday 13 June 2007

Three fine days and a thunderstorm

At last we have managed to get ourselves synchronised with the weather. The weather has been fine and sunny and we have had the time to get our into the garden and start attacking the weeds. The house is still not straight. We now have two of the three carpets, down but the rooms need to be put back which involves unpacking numerous cardboard boxes, washing ornaments and sorting things out. The house has been upside down for some time now a few more days or weeks are not going to make much difference. When the weather is fine I would rather be out in the garden. I am one of those people that gets up in the morning and wonders how long I have to spend on jobs in the house and other things before I can justify going out into the garden. To me the garden is the outside room for a dry day and the house is the inside room for a wet or miserable day. Having had the necessary three fine days we have now had the requisite thunderstorm and the weather is now all change to being wet. The lightening flashed, the thunder clapped and the heavens opened and within a very short time our front path was flooded and the back lawn looked like a lake. It saved me from watering the garden.

Tuesday 5 June 2007

One, two, three

Thet say things come in threes and today they certainly did. Today was a bad day. A day can not really get any worse.

Work was one thing. My sinuses were aching and the last place that I wanted to be was work. Keeping the work experience fifteen year old occupied and coping with the loud and recently employed counter assistant drove me to the point of almost feeling that things could not get much worse. When I am working I find it very difficult to concentrate when there is a lot of noise in the background. In addition to the noise annoying me the counter assistant managed to stand on my foot and she is a much bigger woman than I am. So I now have a bruised foot to go with my aching sinuses.

The second thing was that when I came home at lunch time I found that a small area of the wooden floor in the living room had lifted up. We have until Saturday to get this sorted as the new carpet will be fitted then.

The third thing was that tonight when I tried to set the video to record the Andrew Marr programe I found that our twenty year old TV had gone pop. My husband was out and I don't know how to connect up our old portable TV to our relatively new video recorder. Well I would know if I had the time to read the manual but tonight I didn't have the time. By now I most definitely had had enough and went to console myself in the bath.

Saturday 2 June 2007

Breaking old ground

The concrete breaker that the neighbour promised us six months ago finally arrived today. The van that it was in was stolen, then found and impounded by the police. So now that the pipe under the flower bed has been sorted out, by the plumber, my husband has had fun using the concrete breaker which must be one of the ultimate boys' toys and my husband is still really an overgrown boy.The concrete raft in one corner of the flower bed has now been broken up and we can now get on with moving soil into the flower bed. Then we will be able to plant up the flower bed and make it a real flower bed.

Tuesday 29 May 2007

Refund, refund

The much delayed refund from Carpetright hit my credit card on friday, 17 days after they took back the faulty living room carpet. In contrast the refund from the other carpet shop, an independent, hit my credit card on Saturday as soon my card was swiped. This says a lot about the attitudes of these different shops to their customers.

Monday 28 May 2007

It's a bank holiday

Yes I can tell it is a bank holiday without looking at the calendar. My husband is home. It is raining and the next door neighbours are away as they usually are on a bank holiday and just to make me absolutely positive, that it is a bank holiday, their burglar alarm is going off!

Sunday 27 May 2007

Getting straight

Yesterday was a busy day. The plumber came first thing, with plan B, and got the pipe sorted out. We then went to look at carpets for the living room. Having opted for one of my real possibilities. I then had to take the samples back to the second carpet shop carpet where they were very reaonable about a refund for the deposit that I had paid. In the afternoon we took advantage of the fine weather and did some gardening. Today we are back to miserable weather so we had a go at putting the furniture back in the living room. So another day of moving furniture but with a bit of purpose this time.

The dining room is looking good with its meadow green carpet which has replaced the gaudy patterned carpet of the previous owners. For the living room we have chosen a parchment beige carpet from the same range. It is a very light carpet so we have chosen to have it stain protected. Now that the carpet is ordered and the fitting date arranged I am beginning to wonder if it was such a good idea to have chosen such a light carpet for a room which is the thoroughfare from the kitchen and dining room to the conservatory and garage. My mother will tell me that I have made a mistake but I am old enough now not to need my mother's approval for everything. It will look good when we finally get straight.

Friday 25 May 2007

A carpet dilemma

Today I went to the carpet shop that the new living room carpet was supposed to be coming from. Earlier this week I had phoned the shop to ask what was happening to the carpet. They admitted that they were unable to get hold of the carpet that we had ordered and offered to let us choose another more expensive carpet and pay only 50 per cent of the difference in the price. The lady in the shop was very attentive and I came home with three samples, not convinced that any of them were what I was looking for. If we aren't happy with one of these samples we can have a refund.

Later I had to go to a DIY store and took the opportunity to pop into a nearby carpet shop where I found two real possiblities. So tomorrow will be carpet hunting again and hopefully it will be third time lucky

Thursday 24 May 2007

Doors to manual

This morning after waiting what seems like forever we had a carpet fitted in the dining room. The dodgy looking plastic tiles were no problem. The fitters came through the front door leaving it wide open and asking to see which the carpet was to be fitted. I explained what I thought was the easiest route and we then ended up with the French windows from the dining room open, the French windows from the living room into the conservatory open, the conservatory doors open, the conservatory door to the garage open and finally the front garage door open. After two hours of beavering away the carpet fitters had the carpet fitted. It then took me an hour to vacuum the bits up from it and I don't know how long to shut all the doors.

Monday 21 May 2007

Bedroom carpet

Having had the chance to look at the state of the underlay in the living room which looks to our inexperienced carpet fitting eyes as if the carpet was glued to the underlay and not fitted to gripper rods we have decided to have the second carpet that we ordered from Carpetright fitted by a carpet fitter employed by us. Before posting the letter to Carpetright informing them of our decision I did check with the carpet fitter than he would be prepared to fit a carpet from Carpetright. He seems to be happy enough. I had thought that Carpetright's reputation might be so bad that only their fitters would fit their carpet.

Sunday 20 May 2007

Hobson's choice

Today I promised myself that after painting the dining room fireplace, I would have an afternoon in the garden but yet again I had to spend all day in doors on a lovely sunny day. Really we should have gone to the charity walk in the village but the only charity that we know is this cottage. We started our day's endeavours by moving the dining room furniture yet again. Some into the living room and some into the hall. Then it was a trip into the unknown as we took up the old carpet. Taking up the carpet was easy enough but the underlay was another matter. As we took up the underlay it separated into two layers. The top layer came up easily but the bottom layer stuck to the floor. In the dining room end it was like strips of old licquorice which we had to scrape up with a wall paper scraper. In the snug end we had to scrape up what looked like congealed tomato soup. Two hours later the underlay was in six dust bin bags waiting for the dust man to collect. Then we had to clean up and finish the painting so that the new carpet can be fitted hopefully on thursday. I say hopefully because the floor in this room is some dodgy looking plastic tiles. If the carpet fitters will not fit the carpet on top of them I am leaving and will not be here when my husband gets home.

Saturday 19 May 2007

Two joiners & a plumber

This morning normal service was resumed and we were out numbered by work men. Two joiners, one for the back door and one for the bedroom door and then the plumber came to have a look at the pipe that W has been promising to sort out for six months. The plumber and my husband went out into the lane to look for the water meter which they eventually found mired in mud. But it didn't help - they still couldn't turn the water off. So the plumber is comimg back again next week with plan B. At least the two doors got replaced.

Thursday 17 May 2007

Surgery for free

This afternoon I had a visit from a young man to tell me that Scottish Power tree surgeons would shortly be round to prune the trees, in our garden, that are growing into their power lines. Apparently they come round to prune the trees about every five years. We have three trees that qualify and we are going to opt to have one of them - an ash tree - out. And they will cut the tree up into logs which we can burn on the fire when we can't afford to pay their bills or have a power cut!

Wednesday 16 May 2007

Refund on the way

It's now eight days since Carpetright's fitters took up the faulty living room carpet and there is no sign of a refund on my credit card. So today I phoned the store to chase it up. The charmless manager phoned me back to tell me that the refund process had been initiated and would take 10-14 days. But from when? Today or eight days ago.

Sunday 13 May 2007

Driving in the rain

As we left the hotel in Weybridge it was pouring with rain so we decided against a walk round Wisley before setting off back to Cheshire. I'd have been happy to walk round Wisley in the rain but I didn't fancy spending four hours sitting in the car in soaking wet clothes. So we headed back straight after breakfast. We drove all the way in the rain and managed to do it in record time. I say we, my husband drove and I navigated a route that he knows like the back of his hand. I would be prepared to share the driving with him if he were prepared to share the housework with me which he isn't. So I do all the housework and he does all the driving.

The drop in temperature was noticeable when we arrived back at the cottage. Funny how you don't notice the increase in temperature when you travel south.

Saturday 12 May 2007

Down to East Grinstead

My brother moved to East Grinstead when he got married and my mother moved there to be near him after my father died. So today we went down to see them. My mother is now frail and forgetful after last years 'coughing do' which landed her in hospital for ten days. She wont move from her much cherished bungalow but how much longer she can live there on her own is the question that my brother and I keep asking. The small garden is over grown but the gardener is coming for one of his twice yearly visits, next week. You can write you name in the dust in the bungalow but as my mother adamantly told me - it doesn't get dirty. If only she would put her glasses on.

We had lunch with my mother then visited my brother late afternoon. We discussed how we think our mother is managing but reach no real conclusions. We have suggested sheltered accommodation in the past but she was not interested.

The sun was setting on another day as we drove through the pretty lanes of Sussex towards the Surrey Downs.

Friday 11 May 2007

Weekend in the south

My husband rarely goes anywhere without his laptop so he has let me borrow it to do this blog. Today we drove from Chester to Weybridge for a weekend of visiting our mothers. The drive was uneventful and the weather was dry. As we drove through Buckinghamshire towards the leafy lanes of Surrey I began to feel as if I was coming home. The landmarks look familiar and the countryside looks softer and more attractive than the hash landscape of Cheshire and the Wirral. Something that I had forgotten was the volume of traffic clogging up the roads in the south east and of course it was the early friday afternoon rush hour when we hit it. We are spending two nights at the hotel in Weybridge where we had our wedding reception. Tonight we should have gone out for a meal with my mother-in-law in Surbiton but she has gone to stay with her daughter in Northampton so we have the evening to ourselves. By the time we got ourselves out to look for somewhere to eat in Weybridge it was pouring with rain so we grabbed a table at he first suitable Italian restaurant where we had a surprisingly good meal. We decided on a post-prandial stroll around Weybridge, fortuneatley the rain had stopped. We found several other suitable restaurants for future reference and frightened ourselves looking in estate agents windows. A move north is a one-way trip!

Tuesday 8 May 2007


Yet another carpet problem! This morning the carpet shop from which we had ordered our new living room carpet phoned to query how much carpet we needed then phoned again to inform us that they didn't have enough carpet for our room. We found this difficult to understand as they measured the roll, of carpet that they had in stock, in front of us and there was enough carpet but somehow a piece of that carpet has been cut off and sold to someone else. They assured us that they have some more on order but don't know when it will be in. So yet another twist in this carpet saga.

At least this afternoon Carpetright's fitters managed to turn up to take up the faulty living room carpet. So this morning we moved the furniture from the living room into the dining room and this afternoon we moved the furniture back. This wasn't the way it was planned. We seem to be going backward not forward. The living room seems to be jinxed.

Saturday 5 May 2007

Millionaire's Row

Last night we went to the 'Drop In' at the village hall for a drink or two and a chat to the neighbours from the nearby villages. Unusually N & G, from the end of the lane, were there and we spent most of the evening talking to them as we had not seen them for some time. They have been doing up their cottage for about ten years now and still have not finished it. I am determined that it will not take anywhere near as long to do up our cottage. The conversation turned to Del boy who is beating us all in the doing up house stakes. Apparently he has informed Gthat he is a millionaire. So there it is we live on Millionaire's Row.

Friday 4 May 2007

Marathon's end

What a relief to get to the end of the three week marathon! Had I known what a state the cottage was going to be in at this point I would not have agreed to take on this three weeks work that have just come to an end. It has been a very difficult three weeks, not made any easier by the good weather which has meant that the greenhouse, garden and pots have needed regular watering, hence eating into my precious evening time. For the next few weeks I can concentrate on the cottage and even the garden if I have time and the weather is suitable.

Tuesday 1 May 2007

An unexpected call

When Carpetright failed to turn up to take up the faulty living room carpet on April 12 we re-arranged the taking up ceremony for May 8 which is one week from today. This evening my husband said 'guess who called today'. I replied that I had no idea. A carpet fitter called him this afternoon asking where we were (both at work) as he was outside our house and no one was in. He'd only managed to come a week early this time! Where did the right come from? Carpetright don't seem to be able to get any thing right.

Monday 30 April 2007

The final straight

Today I entered the final straight - only five more days to go before this work stint finishes. The end is now in sight.

Sunday 29 April 2007

Missed deadline

Tomorrow is the deadline, that I set earlier this year, for the completion of the decorating and carpeting of the main rooms in the cottage. It isn't going to be met and it is not our fault that we are so behind. It is the fault of Carpetright who have made such a cock up of fitting a carpet then resolving the issue of it being faulty. The cottage has now been in chaos since the beginning of February when the living room carpet was fitted and it has now become a way of life for us.

Monday 23 April 2007

Glad it's grey

Today is another grey, wet and miserable day and I am working so I don't mind. At least it will be another day of not needing to water the garden, pots and greenhouse etc. When it is wet and miserable and I am working I don't feel as if I am missing out on the opportunity to be out in the sunshine and fresh air and getting on with the garden.

Sunday 22 April 2007

Rain at last

After several weeks of dry weather at last we have had some much needed rain. Normally I am not keen on wet weather but when I woke up this morning to hear it raining I was pleased. My prayers had been answered at last! The pots, the garden and the greenhouse will not need watering for a few days at least so I might get a few minutes to myself.

Thursday 19 April 2007

House proud

At the moment there isn't enough time for me let alone time for the house so it will just have to be dirty for the next two and a half weeks. Well it wont really be dirty it just wont be as clean as I would like it to be.

Wednesday 18 April 2007

Hot head

I am just three days into my three weeks of work and I am not sure how I am going to get to the finishing line. Tonight I had an argument with my husband about having too much to do, which I do. The root of the problem is that we are so far behind with the work on the cottage and the garden because so many tradesmen, workmen and neighbours have let us down. My typical evening is come home from work, water the greenhouse and the plants in pots (which should be in the garden but aren't yet), have something to eat and wash up, have a bath or shower and wash my hair if necessary then check my e-mails, watch the Ten O'clock News and go to bed. Then at 7am the next morning I am back on the treadmill again. This hot weather isn't helping as I wouldn't need to do so much watering of plants if for instance it was raining.

Monday 16 April 2007

Three week marathon

Today is the start of my three week working marathon. Next sunday it is the Flora London Marathon which I am thankfully not entering, instead I have my own personal marathon of standing for seven and a half hours each weekday for the next three weeks whilst dispensing/checking around 300 items a day plus I don't know how many trips up and down the stairs to the stock room and CD cupboard. Fortuneately today was not too busy which gave me time to catch up with the staff as I had not worked there for nearly five months. So now I am up to date with the relationships of the younger members of staff and the ailments of the older members of staff. For the next three weeks I shall be living in a different world!

Saturday 14 April 2007

An expensive morning

This morning we went to the Door Warehouse to order the back door and bedroom door that we need for the house. We managed to get there with only one wrong turn this time. My husband groaned as he pulled out his credit card to pay for them. Then it was off to the garden centre to buy three bags of compost (three because they were on offer three for the price of two), one plant pot and one packet of seeds. Again the poor credit card took a hammering although only a small hammering this time. Next it was off to the carpet shop from which we were to buy a new carpet for our living room. It was our lucky day. The carpet that we wanted had been discontinued and the shop had in stock about a metre more than we needed. This time it was my credit card which took a hammering as the refund from Carpetright, if we ever get it, will go back onto my card as I paid for it in the first place. By now it was afternoon.

Friday 13 April 2007

Another roll in the carpet saga

My husband has tried unsuccessfully to contact the carpet shop which should have taken up the living room carpet yesterday and has ended up making a complaint on their website. Yesterday was a completely wasted day and if I hadn't known otherwise I would have thought that it was friday the thirteenth yesterday, not today. By the way the carpet shop that I had assumed was well known and is now infamous, in our house at least, has in my opinion waived its right to anonymity and is Carpetright.

Thursday 12 April 2007

The carpet saga rolls on

Today was the day that the living room carpet was to be taken up but guess what they didn't turn up to take it up. What should we have expected from this shop? They have over charged us on the deposit and so far not refunded the difference. They tried to tell us that that the carpet wasn't faulty.They have undercharged us for the second carpet that we ordered from them - that was a big mistake on our part ordering two carpets at once. They didn't send us a detailed invoice after the estimator had measured up for the carpets and when we did eventually receive it three months later it gave a whole new meaning to 'creative accountancy'. So I expect that we shall be moving the furniture back into the living room at the weekend. I am working now for the next three weeks so the carpet will have to stay put until some time in May.

Wednesday 11 April 2007

Door estimate

After several days of P the joiner talking to our answer phone and me talking to his voicemail we have managed to speak to one another and we now have an estimate for replacing the back door and the bedroom door. A new bedroom door was something that we had planned for but we had not expected to have to replace the back door so soon.The back door is alright but it is the frame that has gone rotten. The frame has a glass panel at the side of the door and at present the door is a non-standard door. So the whole thing can be replaced now with a standard size door or can be made to fit our non-standard door which will no doubt lead to problems when the door does need to be replaced. Nothing seems to be simple and straight forward and the cost of a door frame, glass, replacement door and fitting is nearly into four figures.

Tuesday 10 April 2007

Back to work for a rest

After all that decorating, gardening and furniture moving it was back to work for a rest today!

Monday 9 April 2007

The furniture merry-go-round

At the beginning of February we moved the furniture out of the living room into the dining room in preparation for the carpet being fitted. As soon as the carpet was fitted we realised that it was faulty and would need to be either refitted or replaced, so we had not put the furniture back into the living room. Whilst we were negotiating with the carpet shop about the refund for the carpet we were told that we could use the living room and that they would come to take the carpet up when we were ready to have a new carpet fitted. Consequently we put everything back into the living room - furniture, curtains, pictures, TV, the lot! Now we have been told that as we have asked for a refund the carpet shop want to come and take up the carpet in the next two weeks and we have agreed 12 April as a suitable date, but that now means that we once again have to move the furniture out of the living room into the dining room.

Once again we seem to be living in one cottage knocked into two and the jumble makes Steptoe's front room look tidy.

Sunday 8 April 2007

Gardening - an Easter Sunday treat

Having got as far as we could with the decorating of the dining room we treated ourselves to a short stint in the garden. It was wonderful to be out in the fresh air! Now I am praying for rain - the garden is as dry as a bone and the water butt is empty. At least we don't have a hose pipe ban. Maybe all the doom mongers are right about global warming. I am sceptical, but I don't expect to be watering the garden at Easter. Neither do I expect to be having tea in the garden on Easter Sunday as we did.

Saturday 7 April 2007

Decorating again

We have started decorating the dining room/snug in earnest. Never mind the fact that the living room furniture will once again be in this room from monday and the weather is, surprisingly for a bank holiday, fine, warm and sunny. We really should be outside gardening but we are already weeks behind schedule with the decorating thanks mainly to a certain carpet shop.

Friday 6 April 2007

More doors

Today is Good Friday and we should be relaxing and eating hot coss buns but this morning we went to look at doors. Not just for the bedroom but also for the back door as its' frame has gone rotten. We went to the aptly named Door Warehouse on a nearby trading estate and managed to make three wrong turns on the way there. The choice of doors is amazing and as we were only looking it is more difficult to concentrate the mind on these things. We came away with several brochures and the contact details of three more carpenters/joiners, just in case we hear no more from P.

Thursday 5 April 2007

The open door

About 10.30 one Saturday night, some time ago, the bedroom door fell off and my husband temporarily fixed it. Now that the bedroom has been fitted we need a permanently fitted bedroom door. C the carpenter did come to give us an estimate in February but the estimate never materialised. We are now pursuing the matter with P the joiner who should have phoned last night with an estimate, but didn't. How many carpenters/joiners does it take to get an estimate and how many will it take to fit a door?

Tuesday 3 April 2007

Bedroom fitting

The fitted bedroom that was postponed from February is being fitted today (and yesterday). There seems to be an awful lot of noise and banging - far more than I remember from last time we had a bedroom fitted. Plus the next door neighbour is also making a racket today. I am sure that it will all be worth it in the end. Well it will have to be.

Saturday 31 March 2007

New neighbours

We used to live up a quiet country lane on the outskirts of a Cheshire village. We still live up the country lane but it is no longer quiet. New neighbours moved in last November who have no respect for the countryside and its' ways.

I am not sure whether he thinks he is David Beckham or Del boy. He drives a black pickup, has a thin moustache and tattoed arms. If he had co-respondent shoes I would say that he was a spiv. His wife has long bleached blond hair and looks like a WAG from behind. I haven't seen the front. She drives a black Audi with a personalised number plate.

Work has been on-going at the house on an on/off basis ever since, sometimes starting as early as 7am and sometimes going on as late as 10pm. He has a quad bike which he rides up and down the lane, making a terrific noise, as his garden is too small for it. The back garden is floodlit so that the kids can play foot ball and the front of the house is usually a blaze of lights.

I wonder how long it will be before they have had enough of the mud?

Friday 30 March 2007

The day job

Yesterday I worked four hours in the morning and four hours in the evening. In between I came home, had something to eat and managed to sit down for about one hour - so a siesta of sorts.

I have found working up here a bit of a challenge. I do some work for a supermarket and that is pretty much the same as down in Surrey except with different staff and customers with slightly different demands. Also I work for an independent and that is pretty much the same as an independent that I worked for down in Surrey except with different staff and customers with slightly different demands. The challenge has been to understand the colloquialisms and accents without picking them up myself.

Wednesday 28 March 2007

Spring must have arrived

Well the clocks went forward at the weekend and we are now on British Summer Time. The days are feeling warmer and the dairy farmer, whose farm we back onto, has put his cows out into the field after over wintering them in his barn. So I guess it is at least Spring.

Tuesday 27 March 2007

Neighbours & Coronation Street

The next door neighbour D is building an extension onto the back of his house. We objected to his being given planning permission to build the extension. Every other person that we know who has applied for planning permission has been refused permission if a neighbour has objected. But we object and D gets planning permisssion. We live in an area of 'green belt' and we think that the extension is too big, too close to our house and not in keeping with the surrounding area and houses. Probably worst of all it blocks our view of the farmer's field and we now look out onto his tiled pitched roof. The first thing that we see when we pull back the curtains in the morning is this roof - it's like looking out onto Coronation Street. If we had wanted to look out onto a roof we would have bought a house that did so.

Sunday 25 March 2007

Caught on camera

The next door neighbour who I shall call W is looking for a new window cleaner and a decorator. We are also looking for a decorator and a window cleaner, but we have not had a window cleaner since we moved here because we replaced the old windows then we had building work which made everything nice and dirty and we also have swallows nesting under our eaves for most of the summer. Hence a window cleaner would have been waste of time.

Any way next door's window cleaner cleaned their windows, earlier this week, for the last time for some time to come. Having cleaned their windows he then stole a roll of lead from our other next door neighbour, who is currently building an extension and I shall call D. D was able to prove this because he has CCTV cameras around his house.

Thursday 22 March 2007


At last after three weeks of waiting we have heard that the manufacturer has decided that the living room carpet is faulty. The salesman from the well known carpet shop phoned with the news and asked if we wanted to re-order the same carpet or choose another one. I replied that we would like a refund. To which he responded that he would go ahead and reorder the carpet. So I repeated that we would like a refund. He didn't know if the manufacturer would do a refund and would have to ask the manager. Today the manager phoned and offered a refund or the option to choose a more expensive replacement carpet. After our experiences over the last few weeks we are going to take the money and run to another carpet shop!

Thursday 1 March 2007

Sunset & stars

Late yesterday afternoon we had one of those glorious sunsets that the north west often sees, with candy floss pink clouds gradually darkening until a the inky blackness of evening descended. As I looked out, alone, into the darkness through the kitchen window, all I could see was the lights of the kitchen and my face reflected back. Even the single light which usually burns at the farm was not there. The wind shreked around the house screaming through the windows and the rain hailed down. Later the sky cleared, the wind dropped, stars came out and I had company.

Wednesday 28 February 2007

Inspected & plastered

The independent carpet inspector came to inspect the living room carpet this morning. He looked at the carpet, asked me some questions, said he could see exactly what I was talking about, spent 30 minutes crawling round it, took some photos, drew some diagrams and said that he was unable to discuss the carpet with me. Apparently he writes a report which goes to the manufacturer who then decides what to do about the carpet. The manufacturer informs the carpet shop who then inform us. This will take about two weeks. So it is another two weeks, at least, of living in an upside down house. This would not have happened in Surrey. We would have gone to our tried and tested, reliable carpet shop (ie John Lewis) who would have fitted the carpet without any problems. I know that there are John Lewis up here but the nearest is one hour away. The cheapo shop that this carpet came from is ten minutes away.

The plasterer, now risen from his sick bed, also came this morning, to plaster our bedroom. He said not to put the heating on to dry the plaster out but to let the wind dry it, as it whistled through the recently fitted windows. If it is dry by the weekend we can do that 'serious decorating' that should have been done last week.

Monday 26 February 2007

Lost in the mist

A few weekends ago we had bright but crisp and cold Saturday. As the day wore on we were expecting a sunset. However, as the sun started to go down the mist started to roll in until all we could see was white. I wondered if it was the end of the world and would anybody notice that we had gone.