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.