Wednesday, 23 October 2013

WOYWW 229

Back again – still loads to do in our new house and in my new ARThaven, with a lot of unpacking, sorting and putting away to be done. It is all still in a state of flux and things are not all in a fixed position yet. Here is how it looks today.

WOYWW 229

I have got Sheba, my Cougar cutting machine, out of her box and she is installed where she is going to live, waiting to be connected up and ready for use. The space above my main work area now has various shelves and rails. The shelf on the left has a rail with rings and clips to suspend my unmounted rubber stamps and various other bits and pieces. Mum’s old spice rack is on the right, at the moment housing all my distress stains, but they will probably end up back in a box as I shall want the shelves for things I use more often. Above, underneath the top shelf, I have put two Ikea rails for my collection of punches. Andy (chief builder) constructed the shelf unit sitting on the work surface, and this is where my carousels live, with small drawers underneath. The little black chest came from my dad’s workshop and will eventually be painted. Please see previous blog posts for more detailed photos. The wall unit on the left has small cardboard boxes with various contents – I am not happy with the arrangement yet and this will be re-organised at some future time. Lots of storage space underneath, with moveable units on castors where I need to sit – pulled out, these provide additional work surfaces.

I have already begun on a new project for our house – replacement doorplates for the downstairs doors. Upstairs, the original beautiful Art Deco ones remain, but they have been removed downstairs. I have made a silicone mould from an original one, and so far I have cast two in Friendly Plastic, but I think I shall be looking for a cheaper material to make the rest – I need to do some research on this, and if anyone has any helpful suggestions I’d be grateful – I had considered polymer clay or UTEE but both these options are probably a bit pricey too. I don’t know a lot about resins or other materials.

02 Original and Mould

03 Mould and Plates Made from FP

Once trimmed up and painted, I am hoping to create the effect of antique brass like the originals.

We have now got Mum settled in the annexe after an extremely rocky and traumatic start – lots of stress that I could well have done without! I have been remarkably well over the move but this past week have had some bad days when I haven’t been able to do anything but rest. It’s all catching up with me a bit, I think!

That being said, we are extremely happy in our new home, and love the house, the area and the nice neighbours, and having so many amenities so close at hand. All the renovations are marvellous and make life so much easier, and my hubby has to do less to help me these days. I can cook again, and my new kitchen and bathroom are an absolute dream. Trawl back through my blog posts for photos of all these delights – the before, during and after photos! The builders are here again today finishing off a few jobs and it won’t be long before everything’s complete. We’ve still got lots of boxes to unpack, though!

For anyone wondering what this “WOYWW” is all about, click on the logo in my sidebar and it will take you to Julia’s blog where all will be revealed.

Friday, 18 October 2013

My New ARTHaven–Starting to Get Organised

I haven’t posted for a while about my new ARTHaven because we’ve been so busy with other things, and it was relegated to a dumping ground, and for some time I could hardly get in there. The office is up and running, but there is quite a bit of organising to do in there until I’m happy with it, but over the past few days I’ve had a blitz on the ARTHaven proper and things are starting to take shape.

First of all, last time the builders were here, work has progressed on the sink. Andy has put a plinth under the unit – at first we weren’t going to bother, but decided to do it in the end because the laminate flooring stops short and it looked a bit untidy.

01 Sink Unit Plinth

The first stage of constructing the shelf for the microwave.

02 Beginning to Create Microwave Shelf

The shelf complete, with the microwave. Eventually I shall paint this shelf white, to make it look a bit tidier.

03 Microwave on Shelf

The tiling is now complete, and the microwave has been wired in, and everything is working fine.

01 Sink with Tiling and Microwave

You can see that I have also started organising all my paintbrushes. Whether they will live permanently on the sink is another matter! My whole ARTHaven is in a state of flux at present…

It’s great having a sink upstairs as it means I can easily wash up my morning tea stuff, without my poor hubby having to carry trays up and down the stairs for me all the time! Actually, there are so many helpful adaptations built into our new house that my hubby is having to do far less for me all round, which is great for both of us.

I have also moved Mum’s old pine table from the ARTHaven proper to the space which it exactly fits, in front of the balcony door. This table is quite lightweight, but strong, and is easily moved. I have put my vinyl tablecloth on it, and it will be useful when doing mixed media work, with the sink beside it, and just the other side of the wall through the doorway, all my mixed media stuff on the shelves. This is not a fixed position for the table, and I shall also use it in the main ARTHaven, where it fits nicely in front of the storage units. If I have a friend round to share some crafty/art time, it will be good to have another table to work at.

02 Table across Balcony Door

It was always my plan to be able to use this table beside the sink, which is one reason why I asked Andy not to put the cupboard doors back onto the sink unit.

You may remember a while back that I posted about getting an Indian textile doorway hanging (known as a toran) for the doorway into the ARTHaven proper from the office section. The other day I put this up, together with a curtain made from a double layer of voile, one of a pair that I made to go over the spare bed in our old house – I thought the colour was perfect with the hanging. (The Indian voile drapes I bought at the same time as the toran are for use elsewhere.)

03 Curtain Closed

It is installed on a flexible net curtain rod on the other side of the doorway, and can be drawn aside if necessary. I shall make a tie-back for it eventually, as it is fractionally too long and trails on the floor.

04 Curtain Open

The other curtain from the pair, I think I may hang over the balcony door. The curtain there is not very nice, and the curtain pole much too heavy-looking. I have a fairly short brass one that might just do.

Last night I installed some shelves and other refinements in the space between the wall units above the main work area. This is how it looks now, although the contents of the shelves will no doubt change until I make a final decision about where everything will go.

05 Main Work Area Gen View

Some detail: I have installed two of my four Ikea rails high up under the top shelf, allowing just enough space above and below to take my punches. Compared with other people, I own relatively few punches, and there is some more space to the left for additional ones. I also have some very large ones, and some small ones, that don’t hang on the rails, and these are in boxes at present.

06 Ikea Rails with Punches

This small pine shelf unit is my mum’s old spice rack, which she said I could have when we were packing up her old house. I love the way my complete set of Dylusions sprays fit on one shelf – but I think it is unlikely that they will remain there because I shall probably create a spray booth elsewhere in the room, but they do look good there! The objects on the shelf above are a collection of clear mounted stamps which don’t yet have a home – each one is individually boxed. On the bottom shelf are all the supplies I use regularly, such as Glossy Accents, alcohol blending solution etc. etc.

07 Spice Rack

This pine shelf used to be in the upstairs loo in our old house, and had pine supports which I removed.

08 Shelf with Hanging Rail

I replaced the pine supports with a pair of fancy metal brackets which I bought recently at B&Q.

09 Fancy Bracket Detail

A few weeks ago I bought some stainless steel rods which I was going to use with this system, but they proved much too flexible and were bending under the weight of the things hanging from them, so I have put in an old piece of wooden dowelling which I had.

10 Hanging Rail Detail

I found the split rings and the small metal clips (which are supposed to be to clip name badges to the clothing of conference delegates) on Ebay – I bought 50 of each. I am using this system to hang all my rubber stamps mounted on Easy-Mount foam – as well as a few other odd bits and pieces, I have put the stamp(s) and their original backing sheets into individual zip-lock bags so that I know the name and manufacturer of each stamp for future reference. All I have to do is unclip the relevant stamp, extract it from its bag, use it and replace it. I got this idea from a picture I found on Pinterest – here and here. I thought this was such a cool idea that I had to incorporate it into my ARTHaven somewhere! Not only do you get a convenient hanging system, but a useful shelf, too.

Andy made the unit to sit on top of the work surface, and I am using this for my carousels, with small drawers and other bits and pieces underneath. On the left is the new Stickles carousel I bought a few months ago, and in the centre is my fabric caddy with all my regular-use tools, on its dual function revolving base – a Martha Stewart circle cutter! On the right is a new craft spinner I  bought recently, with my Inkylicious Ink Dusters and a couple of Tim Holtz blending tools. I have also got a couple of Dad’s old pipe racks for small pliers and tweezers.

11 Carousels

My friend Lucy came to visit me the other day, and she told me she has designed a marvellous carousel to hold the complete set of Distress Inks. She says she will be doing a detailed blog post about it soon, with the pattern, and I am keen to make this – I have seen something similar online and know that this will be exactly what I need to make my Distress Inks a lot easier to use than my previous system – several piles of ink pads, with the one you want at the bottom (of course…) or latterly, in a Really Useful Box, also not desperately easy to access the one you want. The carousel is designed to be made from A3 sheets of foam board, assembled with hot glue, and I have the materials all ready to construct it.

General news – today I am having a bad day with my M.E., which is hardly surprising given how much I have been overdoing things lately. My only surprise is how well I have been till now – and how much I’ve managed to do! I am sure I shall be OK again in a day or two. I have had a good rest today and not done much but have a lovely shower in my beautiful new bathroom, wash my hair, and take some photos!

We took Mum and got ourselves registered at the local doctors’ surgery yesterday, and today I had a call from one of the GPs, asking me to arrange an appointment for some blood samples to be taken, and to have an ECG. This is as a result of my problem with my legs swelling up – this doctor also said she didn’t necessarily expect to see a positive result, but it was good to have an initial “MOT” to give a base-line as I start with a new surgery, and she said that my colitis is likely to be causing continual blood loss even if I am not aware of it, possibly leading to anaemia which may be a cause of the swollen ankles. I shall be going next Thursday afternoon. So far I am very impressed indeed with the efficiency of the new surgery and think I shall get on well there – not that I am one for popping in all the time with every minor ailment, but it’s good to know that they are aware of my problems and will be keeping a watching brief. I have also found out how to start the repeat prescription procedure for my colitis medication, so that I can collect it from the pharmacy which is only a couple of hundred yards away. The surgery is only at the bottom of the hill, and both will be easy for me to reach independently once I get my mobility scooter.

It is great living in an area with so many amenities so close at hand! Previously we had to drive 5 miles to access anything, although the village shop was very good, and had a post office too. We now have two small supermarkets, post office, a baker, a florist, a pharmacy, the surgery, the vet, two local churches, and – as my hubby discovered yesterday – the mobile library comes every other Wednesday, only a few yards from home! There are also several quite excellent takeaways (2 fish and chips, Chinese and Indian) for those days when I am not well enough to cook, or when we feel like a treat! We love the area, and the neighbours are very friendly. I think we are going to be very happy here.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Our New House–Mopping Up Operations

After nearly three weeks in the house since the move, yesterday I finally got completely fed up with crunching my way across the downstairs floors and decided to start cleaning up. The original tiled floor in the utility room and back passage by the back door was a total mess – there had been a manky old brown mat there, and when it was taken up, it left a sticky rubbery residue which attracted even more dirt. I got down on my hands and knees and with a scrubbing brush, hot soapy water and a scraper, managed to get it all up. One more scrubbing session and it’s now nice and clean. Once the builders have finished, I shall touch up the new bits of concrete with tile paint to match the floor, and the base of the arch which needs a touch of emulsion, and then I shall seal the floor and make it look really nice.

01 Utility Room Floor

The only jobs remaining to be done in the utility room are a bit of plastering by the airing cupboard door, and the grouting of the tiles around the sink. After this I can do my last bit of painting to finish it all off.

02 Unfinished Work around Airing Cupboard

My suspicions about the large circular mirror in the bathroom were correct. The grab rail over the bath has had to be lowered. I could see the pained expression on Paul’s face as he reluctantly agreed – the top holes are covered by the mirror, but I managed to persuade him that if he filled the lower ones, I would be able to make them invisible! He hated leaving anything that spoiled the finish of his perfect work! The mirror looks absolutely great now it’s in position, making the room look much bigger.

03 Circular Mirror

You would not believe how hard it is to obtain a large, plain circular mirror like this. I searched endlessly online and could only find plain ones that were too small; everything else had fancy frames. In the end I found a company that makes bespoke mirrors of all shapes and sizes and ordered the one I wanted.

The grab rails in my bathroom are now all installed, but they proved a perfect pain. They look great, but it was a question of style over function – they are not at all well designed! First of all, the chrome covers which snap on to cover the screws popped off all the time, and in the end Paul had to fix them with some powerful, quick-setting adhesive. Also, because of the square shape of the handle, the covers would not slide around the corner of the handle, and got in the way when trying to do up the screws. These screws (which Paul decided in the end were long enough after all) have hex heads which need to be screwed in with the use of a small supplied Allen key but because the cover kept getting in the way, the maximum turn you could get was half to three-quarters, which meant it took simply ages to tighten each one – there were three top and bottom on each grab rail (a total of 24 screws). Because of the restricted access, it was quite impossible to use a power tool, and the whole process was laborious in the extreme. Paul was getting extremely fed up with this so in the end I attached the one over the bath into its new position, sitting on my shower stool in the bath! Really, you would think that the designers and manufacturers of these things would at least test their product before it hit the marketplace…

04 Grab Rail Attachment Detail

I now have a grab rail by the loo, and two in the shower, as well as the one over the bath. They all work extremely well. Despite the problems with installation, they look very stylish; I did not want the “hospital” look in my bathroom but wanted to maintain the modern, streamlined look throughout. I love the contrast between the natural colours of the wall and floor tiles, and the polished chrome finish of the various fittings. The next picture shows the grab rail for the loo, and the first one for the shower.

05 Loo and Shower Grab Rails

This is the second shower grab rail. Having tested them all, they are all in exactly the right place!

06 Shower Grab Rail

Tim the electrician didn’t come on Friday, but will be here tomorrow (Monday) – he has already installed the fan in the loft and will need to fit the grilles in the ceiling over the bath and shower area, and connect it all up with a vent through one of the roof soffits. He and Paul were a bit concerned about making the right sized holes in the lath-and-plaster ceiling, but I pointed out that there were two small hatches painted over, which would presumably be made of wood, and they agreed that it was an excellent idea to utilise these for the grilles, even if they were not in a central position – I said that didn’t matter because the fan would operate just as well even if they were a few inches off-centre. Tim also needs to wire in the microwave in my ARTHaven, and replace the underfloor heating control with a timer control, and then hopefully his work will be done.

When Chris removed the door from the utility room into the back passage and created the arch, he saved the architrave, which Paul has now installed around the doorway into my bathroom.

07 Architrave

It is a bit damaged and I am going to repair this with some filler.

08 Damage to Architrave

Paul also needs to finish the threshold in the bathroom doorway; he is going to cut a piece of hardwood to cover this gap.

09 Threshold

My jobs in the bathroom include some final painting to touch up, and also to emulsion the arch into the shower area, and paint the plasterboard at the back of the shelves under the counter, and paint the pipes there. After this the bathroom will be complete.

My hubby took me to B&Q on Thursday and we bought another loo seat (the one I bought online unfortunately won’t fit) – a soft-closing one – what decadence! – so I can now go in comfort!!

10 Loo Seat Hinges

You will see that I have chosen a loo seat with chrome hinges, to echo the other shiny chrome things in the rest of the bathroom.

Here is the basin with the cabinet over, and the accessories that I bought recently at Wilkinson’s – they tone perfectly with my new bathroom!

11 Cabinet, Basin and Accessories

I also bought the free-standing chrome caddy for shampoo, shower gel etc. etc. which you can just see in the grab rails photo above. I have also got some lovely pebbles and shells and a pottery candle holder, and one or two other bits and pieces to decorate my beautiful tiled counter-top.

Yesterday, the silicone having set overnight around the shower tray, I was able to try the main shower for the first time. The large fixed shower head works beautifully with a lovely gentle stream of water. The secondary, hand-held one, is the same as the one over the bath, and has a really nice strong mains pressure stream, and sitting on my shower stool I was able to wash my hair with more ease than ever before in my life, especially since becoming disabled.

Once Tim has finished in the bathroom, I shall be able to clean up the bedroom and get my furniture into the right places. I have now emptied all the wardrobe boxes and managed to hang everything, but access is somewhat restricted until the furniture is moved. There was only one small section of wardrobe with full-length hanging space, but I managed to remove one of the lower rails from one of the two sections with hanging rails one above the other, so I now have plenty of full-length hanging space. There is room for storage boxes underneath, too. My hubby put our spare blankets into two boxes last night and put them on the high top shelf, and I shall put the spare pillows and sleeping bags in space bags (from which you extract the air with a vacuum cleaner) and they will join them – once I can find the space bags!! I also have four under-bed storage boxes, and with the new shelves in the bathroom underneath the counter, I am not short of storage space.

Yesterday I cleared a lot of junk from the annexe sitting room and hoovered the floor. There are just a few finishing touches to do in there before Mum arrives on Wednesday. I have made up her bed, and everything is unpacked in the kitchen and in her wardrobe and chest of drawers, but it will be up to her to organise things how she wants. It will give her something to occupy herself in the days to come, and I am sure she will enjoy arranging things how she wants. When she has chosen where she wants her pictures, we will hang them for her. Today I dusted throughout, and polished her sitting room furniture, and mopped the kitchen and bathroom floors. All that remains to do is to clean the window and move the rest of our stuff out of there, and to put everything back in her bathroom. The hinges on her kitchen window need replacing as the window will not stay open. The new hinges are waiting to be fitted probably tomorrow.

Paul has now gone off on holiday for a fortnight, and will finish the threshold into my bathroom on his return, and also tile around the sitting room fire – the dark red tiles are far too heavy looking with the mahogany surround, and there was obviously a grate with an arched aperture prior to the gas fire being fitted, which now does not look right. The fireplace itself is a magnificent original art deco feature – originally I didn’t like it and was all for replacing it, but it has grown on me, much to my hubby’s delight, and I was pleased that my art deco clock exactly fitted in the centre. I also have a reproduction art deco lamp which you can just see on the right hand side.

12 Red Tiles around Fireplace

The completion of the Man Cave is the main outstanding job now. The doors arrived last week, and it is now secure, and my hubby has been busy bringing his boxes over from the garage in our old house – we were informed at the end of last week that the new tenants will be taking up residence on Tuesday, so the garage needs to be clear by then. His boat is now residing temporarily in the barn of a friendly local farmer! My hubby told me he met the new tenants yesterday and they are thrilled with the house, and have promised that they will not be painting over all my artwork as they love it!! I am soooo relieved…

Work still remaining to be done on the Man Cave includes finishing the bitumen roofing felt and adding the guttering etc. and completing the cladding up to the roof apex, and a final bit of finishing off on the interior walls. With the space-age insulation, it is going to be nice and warm for my hubby, and large enough to live in – I have told him if he misbehaves he will be sleeping up there lol!! The lovely big window which was originally in Mum’s sitting room, and the glass side door, give lots of light, and there is ample room across the end for my hubby’s new work bench.

One of the doors will be electrically operated, and there is a power point nearby for charging my mobility scooter battery. Once we’ve got settled and got Mum installed, my hubby will go up to my aunt’s and collect the scooter for me.

So things are definitely progressing, and at last I feel as if I am getting on top of things.

Health wise, my feet, ankles and legs continue to be swollen. My hubby took me to the doctor’s and she said it was circulatory rather than a joint problem, and as I suspected, probably due to my having been on my feet far too much recently. She asked for a urine sample to check my protein levels but was pretty sure it wouldn’t show anything, and she also wants me to have an ECG once we are registered at our new surgery, to check that my heart is OK – I already have a heart condition (left bundle branch block) but since contracting M.E. and being unable to take exercise, this has been symptom-free; previously on exertion I would suffer mild angina-type pain and breathlessness but this no longer happens and most of the time I am totally unaware of it. However, she is covering all the bases and I was impressed with her thoroughness. She palpated my legs to see how far up the swelling went, and it goes above the knees. She told me to rest as much as possible with my legs elevated to help the venous return – fat chance! There’s still far too much to do for me to take as much rest as I want or need!! It hasn’t been quite so bad today so hopefully it will improve in the coming days.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Our New House–Gradually Getting Straight

My second posting today – it has been so manic here and even though we’ve been online for a week now, I simply haven’t had time to do anything much on the computer.

I cannot believe that we have been in for over a fortnight! The time has simply flown by, and lots has happened since my previous post.

First of all, I was beginning to get really stressed about the imminent arrival of Mum, because I knew I wouldn’t be ready for her, and my hubby phoned my sister and arranged a postponement. She is now due to come down on Wed. 9th Oct. (a week today) which has certainly taken the pressure off. The annexe is still not ready, but at least I’ve got most of my boxes out of there now and it will be a lot easier to get Mum’s stuff straight.

I have ceased camping out in there, too, which is absolutely great. I wasn’t enjoying sleeping in Mum’s bed much and couldn’t wait to get back into my own bed again, and eventually Paul said he could clear most of the bedroom and confine his tools and equipment to one corner, and my hubby and I assembled the bed. What bliss to sleep in it again! The rest of the furniture isn’t yet where it should be, and I can’t really get at the wardrobes, so there’s still an element of camping out, but at least the end is in sight.

Huge progress has been made on the bathroom, and it is all but finished. Last week Paul arrived coughing and spluttering with a cold, and announced, “I’ve got the grout!” Very painful. Andy said it was more likely too many late nights and too much to drink… As of today, Paul still has a small task to finish on the loo (there is a tiny leak in the pipe leading down from the high-level cistern to the bowl) and the silicone has to be applied around the shower tray, so I can’t use the area beyond the arch yet, but today he completed the drainage from the bath and basin, and on Monday Tim fitted the cabinet, and all the tiling and grouting is now complete, so great celebrations this afternoon after they’d all gone – at last I managed to get my hair washed and have a real soak in my fabulous new bath! We have arranged it so that I can reach the tap with my foot, so I can add more hot water without having to sit up! How decadent is that? It is utter luxury and I am more thrilled with the whole bathroom than I can say.

02 Bath - First Use

In the bath is Boris (my bath lift) lying on his side drying after my first bath! I am delighted with the non-slip floor tiles, and when the winter comes, I shall really enjoy the underfloor heating. On the bottom right of the above photo, you can see that Paul has constructed a small platform on which the tap is mounted. This was created from an offcut from the utility room worktop (a brilliant idea of his – it blends so well with the tiles, being a very similar colour and texture), and it is extremely strong. It covers the access to the plumbing and drainage for the bath.

03 Basin and Cabinet

The tiled counter with the basin and cabinet above. We had some fun with the cabinet. It has lights down the sides, and these are turned on by passing your hand over a sensor on the right hand side of the cabinet. It was a bit annoying, because when I bought it, I knew the exact size of the space, and chose one which would fit perfectly, and only when we opened it up and read the instructions did we discover that there was supposed to be a 150 mm gap between the sensor and the wall in order for it to function properly. There simply isn’t enough space to allow for such a gap, and there is just room to pass your hand between. Both Tim and Paul were able to get it to work (albeit intermittently) but I couldn’t get it to work at all. I did a bit of lateral thinking, and decided it was my rings that were causing the problem. We tried with a piece of card, which worked after a fashion, and when we tried a piece of black card, it was perfect every time. I have now discovered that my black hairbrush handle works just as well!

Under the counter, on the shelf, I have put my rectangular basket – this is only temporary, and I may eventually try and get some more of these, preferably a better fit, for storage of bathroom supplies.

04 Shower

The shower is now installed in the section beyond the arch, but not useable until the tray is sealed all around.

Both this shower, and the bath tap, have a secondary, smaller shower (I never thought I would end up with 3 showers in my bathroom!) – I tried the one on the bath tap today and it is very powerful. I was able to sit on Boris and wash my hair with ease. You can see it sticking up to the right of the tap in the next photo.

05 Towel Rail Radiator in Use

Looking back towards the doorway into the bedroom from the arch, you can see the towel rail radiator now in use. It is a dual function one; when the heating is on, it will come on with the other radiators, but when the heating is off, it can be operated electrically. Tim has installed a timer so that I can set it to come on and off automatically.

You can see that Paul has installed a grab rail for me over the bath. He is not happy that the supplied screws are long enough so he will finish the job tomorrow. Lying in the bath, I suddenly remembered that we haven’t installed the large circular mirror over the bath, and I have an awful feeling the grab rail is too high… If Paul moves it down, the upper holes will be covered by the bottom of the mirror, but the lower ones may have to be filled, but hopefully they won’t show too much. I have three more of these grab rails; one will go beside the loo and the other two in the shower.

Final house picture taken today – the Three Wise Monkeys in the man cave on their tea break!!

01 The Three Wise Monkeys

It was so nice having the three of them back on site together again. Both Andy and Chris have been off doing other work, and Andy was on holiday too.

I have not posted all the photos I’ve taken since the move. If you want to see them all, you can follow any of the photo links which will take you to my Photobucket site, where you can access the full set. I am afraid that the photos in each daily sub-album are out of order – I have been communicating with Photobucket about the problem of custom organising of albums since they revamped the whole site, to no avail; naming the photos is also a problem, so I am afraid they are just “as is” – all muddled, but at least the sub-albums are arranged in date order so you can follow the progress.

My hubby’s man cave is almost complete, and you can see that he’s installed some shelves. The garage doors were delivered yesterday after a fortnight’s delay, and today my hubby started bringing garage boxes over. Our old house is going to be let, and the new tenants are arriving on Tuesday, so the race is on to get all the stuff over before then. He has enlisted some help, and tomorrow when we go to Totnes we will be picking up a few more boxes.

Although progress is being made on all fronts (building work, unpacking, getting organised), everything is taking me three times as long to do as expected, because with every job I attempt, I can’t find half the stuff! Things have a habit of appearing and then disappearing again, too, which can be very frustrating!

My joint and muscle pain became so bad shortly after the move that for a few days I could scarcely put my left foot on the ground – it felt as if I had sprained it. Both ankles and knees have been very swollen and painful and I haven’t been able to get down on the floor at all until today, which has been a real nuisance with everything that needs doing. My ankles and feet feel extremely tender. This is what they look like tonight.

Swollen Ankles 2-10-13

My hubby has made an appointment for me to see the doctor tomorrow morning, but I don’t expect him to be able to help much – I am sure this is all the result of being on my feet far too much, and with sufficient rest, as the pressure diminishes over the next weeks, I shall return to normal. My once shapely legs are looking like tree stumps at the moment! We’ve got to go back to our old doctors’ surgery in Totnes because we won’t be registered at the surgery here for another week or so.

My stairlift was eventually installed – five days late. All that time the understairs cupboard stuff was all over the hall and sitting room cluttering the place up, and I couldn’t progress with box unpacking during that time. I could have done with the stairlift earlier, given the state of my legs, but it has been extremely helpful since its installation. My one complaint about it is the incessant beeping it makes, which is driving me nuts! I spoke to the company (and mentioned my gripe about Andy having to drill the hole) and told them how I hated the noise it makes, but of course they were not prepared to do anything about either complaint. I am sure there must be a simple connection which could be disconnected to prevent the beeping, but it’s the usual nanny state stuff, covering their backs and dumbing down the equipment – I do realise there are people who are not able to understand the working of it and need the beeping to warn them when the lift is away from its charging point etc. but I wish there was the option of having a choice. Anyway, I shall just have to live with it, and hope the racket doesn’t wake my hubby when I come up to bed in the small hours – it certainly makes enough noise to wake the dead!!

My wonderful kitchen is now fully operational, and I have had 2 big Tesco deliveries since being back online, as I attempt to restock my food cupboards after firstly running everything down for the move, and secondly having reduced stocks anyway because I haven’t been able to cook for so long. The reduced height, easy-access worktops, sink and hob are nothing short of brilliant, and I can prepare food, cook, and wash up in comfort, and am enjoying beginning to cook again.

My first attempt at “real food” after so long surviving on takeaways and ready meals (my dear hubby has done his best and I am so grateful to him keeping us going all this time, but my time has come again and it is lovely to take the pressure off him, especially as he now has to do so much more driving) was a firm favourite with both of us – liver and bacon. I was a bit worried that I might have forgotten how to cook, but I stepped back into it after all this time, as if it had just been yesterday! The extractor hood over the hob is so powerful that I was able to chop onions over the sink, using my wonderful sliding chopping board which fits over the sink, without shedding a tear or even smelling the onions! Cooking them was the same. It is absolutely amazing.

Tonight I cooked a rice pudding (complete with lurvely brown skin!) and I am looking forward to doing some baking again, too. In today’s Tesco delivery was some stewing beef, and I am looking forward to doing a casserole. We have also had cottage pie, and I’ve got some salmon and chicken in the freezer waiting to be cooked. And pasta… sooo many lovely things to look forward to!

The kitchen is a dream, and I’ve got it organised how I want, with everything to hand. Once the utility room is finished (tiling still to be done around the sink, and finishing off around the airing cupboard), I will be able to get that area cleaned up and we can be civilised again! My airer in the back passage, and the airing cupboard, are now fully functional, although the bottom of the airing cupboard still has builders’ supplies being stored in it, and they will keep leaving the door open and wasting all my heat, despite a post-it note on the door asking them to keep it closed!

The kitties are settling in well, although they greatly resent being confined to my hubby’s bathroom during the day while the builders are around. Up until today, the garage has been open at the front, and the builders are in and out, leaving the side door open, so the kitties could easily escape onto the road. Phoebe is pretty freaked out anyway, having them around. As soon as the builders have left each day, we let the kitties out and they have the run of the house and seem quite settled now. They’ve been in the garden a few times at the weekend and in the evenings, and Phoebe manages to get herself lost each time – but always in the same place, so I said to my hubby he should look there first, instead of panicking and asking the neighbours if they’ve seen her!

Just a few odd jobs remaining to be done now – Tim the electrician will be back tomorrow to finish the power supply to the garage and outhouse (for the main freezer) – he couldn’t install the consumer box until the doors were fitted, because it was vulnerable to being stolen. He has also fixed a few more bits of cowboy wiring that we’ve discovered since we moved in, and all now seems to be well. He is going to fit a double extractor fan in my bathroom, probably on Friday – with a vent over the bath and one in the shower, being served by a single powerful fan in the loft and venting out through a soffit. I can then be as steamy as I like in my girlie bathroom!!

I shall try and get back into the swing of things online over the coming days, but there’s a lot to do and lots of catching up to do. I will be following up on all your lovely comments as soon as I can – I know there were some pending from before the move. You are not forgotten, and your comments are very much appreciated.

As for my poor ARTHaven, it is a massive dumping ground at the moment and I can hardly get in there. At least the office is workable, although there is a lot of sorting and putting away to be done. I’ve got most of the bedroom boxes out of the ARTHaven proper now, but I really can’t tackle the rest until we’ve done a lot more in the rest of the house, and got Mum installed. It will all come straight eventually – I’ve just got to be patient and keep plugging on with the unpacking, and try not to do too much at once but factor in lots of rest times. Hopefully this will eventually restore my shapely ankles and the tree stump legs will be a thing of the past!!

Our New House–The Move at Last

We have moved at last! The date of writing is Thurs. 19th September, but we will not have Internet access until Tues. 24th, when hopefully I shall be able to publish this, and any subsequent posts during the coming days. [Now posting on the evening of 2nd Oct.]

I worked absolutely flat out for three successive days – not a good move in my state of health but unavoidable if we were going to be ready for the removal men at 8 a.m. on Monday 16th. I am now suffering the consequences with a great deal of muscle and joint pain but fortunately not the overwhelming and paralysing fatigue that usually accompanies payback after overdoing things – I think I am still running on adrenalin! The past couple of days I have factored in some rest time and this afternoon did very little but watch TV and doze.

The move went without a hitch. The firm sent two vans and a team of five strong young men who were very efficient and careful – nothing went missing and so far we have discovered no breakages. Two medium sized vans are better than one huge pantechnicon in our neck of the woods with the narrow country lanes.

It was a very busy day and they didn’t finish until mid-afternoon. We had labelled all the furniture and the boxes still remaining to be taken over with the room of their destination, and a few days before the move, I labelled the door of each room with a post-it note so they knew which room was which. In each room I put a rough plan of where each item of furniture was to go. All this advance preparation was extremely helpful and enabled the move to be efficient and straightforward.

When packing banana boxes, I listed the contents on the side of each one and when my hubby brought them over, I asked him to stack them with the list at the front so I could easily see what was in them. This helped immensely. However, my hubby only labelled his boxes with the destination room and no list of contents, and before the move, when we needed to find certain things that were already packed, it involved going through dozens of boxes to find what we wanted! You can imagine what this was like with his garage stuff – he packed everything and marked all the boxes “garage” so when I asked for a specific tool for a job, it took about an hour to find it. The only problem I have experienced with my system is that every time I want something from a specific box, it always seems to be at the bottom of the pile!

Our move has been complicated by the continuing presence of the builders, although the entertainment value is worth a guinea a minute, and I shall really miss them when they’ve gone! I have spent more time over here than my hubby, and have got very accustomed to having them around, making cups of tea and sharing banter and laughter.

Bedroom 1 is absolutely full of stuff. The removal men had to put most of its furniture in there because there wasn’t room on the landing for more than a couple of pieces, and the rest of the room is full of Paul’s tools and equipment, stacks of tiles, my new bath, radiator and other bathroom things, while he completes work on the bathroom. This means that at present I am camping out in the annexe, living out of a suitcase and unable to find the things I need – with the weather suddenly getting cooler I was in need of some warmer clothes and it was a struggle to find the right box as most of my personal stuff is scattered around the house in different piles of boxes. My ARTHaven is just a dumping ground at present, and it’s quite hard to get in there! I can just about plough a narrow path to the desk, which is important as there is some office stuff to attend to, but as for getting my ARTHaven up and running, that has to be bottom of the list of priorities at present.

I am really jealous of my hubby. His two rooms are now more or less unpacked, and early on, he even unpacked his teddies. I don’t even know where my teddies are…

Various things have been happening over the past couple of days since we moved. First of all, the Sky engineer came and set us up – I am extremely impressed with Sky, who offer a home moving package where they transfer you from the old to the new house, and provide new equipment (dish, cables etc.) as required, all absolutely free of charge! They were also prepared to come on the day I specified, and on my choice of either morning or afternoon. However, when it comes to the phone and Internet, it’s a different matter – because BT owns the infrastructure, our connection to the system has to be at BT’s convenience, and they couldn’t provide an engineer until a week after we’d moved! Says it all, really, doesn’t it.

Once we are connected to the Internet we shall have such super-fast speeds that we shan’t know ourselves. I read recently that people in rural areas were complaining that they were only achieving speeds of about 4 Mbits/sec. Four!! We have had to be satisfied with 1 or less. On the fibre-optic system we will have access to in the town, we should expect to get speeds of between 30 and 40! We’ll be getting our downloads yesterday.

My hubby arranged for an aerial specialist to call, and he checked the system and proved what we’d thought – that this was just another example of cowboy wiring and nothing worked properly! It is all now connected up correctly, and after buying my hubby a cheapo freeview box, he can now watch TV in his study. We are going to get another for his other room. Mum’s TV is now all ready for her to watch when she arrives.

I am getting a little concerned about her coming as soon as the 28th, as I haven’t even made a start on sorting her annexe, which is at present full of our stuff because I can’t access various parts of the house owing to the builders’ presence. I had hoped to have a few days of rest and peace and quiet before her arrival, but now it will be pretty amazing if I actually manage to get her annexe half way straight before she comes.

The engineer called yesterday to fit my stairlift, but the call had to be aborted because the straight rail would not turn the corner at the end of the hall in order to go up the stairs. The engineer was quite annoyed because he said the salesman should have spotted this problem and ordered a rail in sections, and he had to go away without fitting it, and it will now be done on Monday. This is a major bore, not just because I could do with the energy-saving benefits of the stairlift, but I am not putting everything back under the stairs only to have to get it all out again, and the place is cluttered up with even more stuff than necessary.

Our electrician has installed a fused spur switch on the outside of the understairs cupboard and said all they needed to do was drill a hole on the other side and run a cable inside the cupboard behind the bottom stair to bring the power to the wall side of the stairs where the lift will run. However, the engineer said (get this), “We are not allowed to drill any holes”! How can they fit a stairlift without drilling any holes? The rail has to be mounted on brackets all the way up the stairs for starters! He said there was too much risk of hitting a cable or something, and proposed running the cable from the fused spur, along the surface, on top of the stair carpet on the bottom stair! How utterly ridiculous. This morning I asked Andy to drill a hole for me, and he did so, but said he resented doing their work for them – if they are employed to fit a stairlift, they should do it properly and not expect customers to get in third-party contractors to do half the job for them! He said I should charge them £10 for having to do this ourselves! I said that if they give me a £10 discount, I would certainly give it to him! (When the Sky man came, he had to drill a hole in the wall of our house in order to screw in a bracket to hold a strap to brace his ladder. It seems nobody can be trusted to use common sense any more to do the simplest job. Andy said I should insist he fill the hole afterwards or water would get behind the rendering and it would crack off if it froze. He said they always cap the hole so that any subsequent Sky engineer who needs to examine the dish in future can use the same hole.) I am so sick of this nanny state we are subjected to. One day they’ll say they aren’t allowed to climb ladders at all, in case they fall off and hurt themselves.

Not only can I not access any of my personal stuff, but the kitchen is not fully operational yet because all the contents of the utility room have been cluttering the place up, preventing me from getting to my food cupboard (not that there’s much in there yet!). Today, after Andy finished some more work in the utility room, I was able to put the cleaning stuff in the cupboard under the sink, and put my first load of washing on this evening. Everywhere I look, there are things I want to do, but am prevented from doing so by ongoing work, or waiting for certain things to happen. It’s very frustrating, and I can’t even use the time to get Mum’s annexe sorted because there’s so much of our stuff in there, and I’m camping out in there too.

The sitting room is my only refuge really! It’s cluttered with some remaining boxes, and the fact that my original furniture layout clearly isn’t going to work, but until the hall is clear of understairs cupboard stuff, I can’t move the table from the sitting room to the hall, and until that’s gone, I can’t move the second armchair into the bay window. It’s like one of those little puzzles where you have to move the squares around, with only one space, to create a picture.

Amidst all this chaos, we have two very confused kitties who are having to spend a lot of time in my hubby’s bathroom. We are letting them have the run of the house during the time the builders aren’t around – we can’t risk them letting them out into the garden, especially as my hubby can’t kitty-proof the perimeter until the garage is secure. They were very confused and clearly upset on the first night, but they seem fairly content in the house now – it’s amazing how quickly they settle. However, we’ve been having problems getting Phoebe to use the litter tray and not anything else she takes a fancy to – I am determined that we don’t get into the pattern we had before, where she peed on the landing carpet at the first sign of stress… When we let them out, they are very clingy with us, and full of affection and purrs. Today Phoebe was playing, which is a good sign that she’s more settled, and of course Beatrice is enjoying doing what she does best – being nosey.

Anyway, to practical things – the building work is progressing well. Here are some pictures from the past few days, starting with the bathroom.

Paul has now more or less completed the tiling in the main part of the bathroom.

01 Tiling Bathroom Corner

Here he is constructing the counter. On the right, between the window and the arch, my counter-top basin will be installed, and the bathroom cabinet mounted on the wall above. You can see the electrics installed ready for it. Under the rest of the counter will be some shelves for storage.

02 Paul Working on Bathroom Counter

In the next picture you can see the basin placed in position, and progress being made, tiling around the arch. Paul has decided to tile up to a tiling bead about 4 inches in from the edge of the arch, which will make a nice feature, and solve the problem of what to do with the cut edges of the tiles.

06 Continuing to Tile around Arch

The counter is looking great now that Paul has tiled it, and along its front edge. That’s as far as we’ve got with the bathroom to date.

05 Tiling the Bathroom Counter Edge

Moving on to the utility room, Andy has been busy. He has installed the new sink. Before he went on holiday he was pretty fed up with B&Q because they didn’t have the smaller sized base unit in stock, despite it being a stock item, and on his return from holiday he was really annoyed with them because they still hadn’t got it in! In the end he bought one elsewhere, and the sink is now in, and working – in this picture it’s still got its green protective film.

09 Utility Room Sink

He has installed some units in the back passage, which is really part of the utility room, through the arch. There is a wall unit, and underneath, two wall units mounted as floor units – he needed to keep them shallow to allow access, and this was an ideal solution.

07 Back Passage Wall Unit

Here is the base unit as it stands today, with its worktop. It doesn’t show terribly well in this photo (the space is pretty confined and it’s hard to get good photos) but the work top extends to the left of the unit, up to the boxed in pipe-work to the left, giving a bit more space and a corner for storing something or other!

03 Back Passage Worktop being Installed

To the left of the boiler, under the electricity fuse board, he has installed another 400 mm door to match (it now has a handle) to cover the electricity meter and various other rather unsightly bits and pieces. There is no bottom to it – it is hinged onto a piece of wood mounted inside, and the hinges are self-closing so it does not need a magnetic catch to keep it closed. To the left, you can see the bi-fold doors installed in front of the airing cupboard.

01 Cover for Electricity Meter

In addition to fitting the units and finishing the worktops etc., Andy also completed the airing cupboard today. In the next picture you can see him completing the construction of the first slatted shelf.

04 Completing the Slatted Shelf

Here it is, installed in the airing cupboard. You can see the supports on the right for further shelves. Beyond them is a gap, into which he will install a hanging rail at the top, to enable me to air things on hangers rather than folding them onto the shelves. The construction of the shelves in our airing cupboard in the old house enabled me to do this, and I refined the design by asking Andy to install a short length of wardrobe hanging rail which I found lying about, complete with its fittings.

05 First Slatted Shelf Fitted

Andy has done something very clever which I would never have thought of – he has made each slatted shelf so that it is removable – “in case,” as he said, “You want to wash the elephant – you will need room to air him.” How thoughtful!

The next job was to assemble and suspend the airer in the back passage. Here is Andy, with Chris looking on, wrestling with the airer, installing the slats into the cast iron mountings.

06 Andy Wrestling with the Airer

He and Chris had a long discussion about how to pass the ropes through the pulleys in order to hang it correctly. The airer came complete with instructions but unfortunately (like many other things) the instructions seem to have disappeared, and they were trying to work out how best to do it. This morning Andy was very shamefaced and said he’d found them, but wasn’t prepared at first to admit where – in his lunch bag “for safe keeping”! Paul said, “You prune!”

However, the instructions were no use at all. This is what that particular part looked like…

Airer Instructions

Somewhat less useful than a chocolate teapot. I am going to send a picture of this to the supplier and suggest they make some better copies of the instructions!

The airer finally installed. There is a double rope at the left hand end with which to pull it up, and a cleat to wind the excess around. I shall be trying it out as soon as my first washing machine load is completed. I have always wanted one of these old-fashioned airers as I’ve always loved them, and they work so well. Pulled right up to the ceiling, the washing shouldn’t impede progress along the back passage too much, I don’t think.

02 Airer Installed

Finally, this is the state of the garage now. Here is Chris installing the lining panels over the silver insulation material. This is space-age technology – extremely efficient insulation, and we were teasing Chris and saying we thought he was making himself a space suit when he was cutting some rather curiously shaped pieces! This material will make my hubby’s man cave extremely comfortable summer and winter. It lines the roof too.

07 Chris Applying Garage Lining

I will try and compose further posts over the next few days with more photos, and hopefully I shall be back online by midweek next week.