Is it really only Wednesday?

Because I feel like I’ve done a full week’s work already!

Monday’s jobs were to track down Dougie (done, he hadn’t got my text last week, but I spoke to him and he’ll be back as soon as he has a free day – he’s also been alerted to the boiler wiring issue and will take a look when he’s back), ask Magnus if he was free to help with decorating the landing and hall (no, he’s off on holiday – Magnus is a great traveller, so I look forward to seeing all the photos on Facebook) and turn the twin room purple:

Yesterday I had to go into town, so the house-related part of the list was:

  • Pop into Pollards to ask them a quick question about a house they’ve got for sale
  • Visit Elizabeth’s to have a look at curtains
  • Visit Janet Street Carpets to have a look at carpets

The house I had the question about had gone under offer that morning, so it was a bit of a moot point, but sales fall through with alarming regularity up here, so it may not be game over with that one.

I found curtain material I absolutely loved for both the living room:

and the kitchen:

and then had slight kittens at the price, which with window widths of 7’6″ worked out at just under £300 for the living room and about £500 for the kitchen!  I remembered that Riverside did curtains, so went and had a look, but the prices were about the same – until I found a pair in their sale bin almost identical to the black and silver pair above, for £59.50.  The one problem?  I hadn’t measured the drop I needed, only the width, and at 54″ I wasn’t sure they were going to be long enough.  I asked if they’d stick them aside for me so I could check, as it was the last pair, and they very kindly stuck them in a bag for me and told me to bring them back if they didn’t fit!  Sadly they didn’t, I need a 66″ drop, so I’ll be sending them in with Mick when he goes into town on Friday.  I’m not sure what to do about the curtains, might have a look at Curtain Exchange or eBay before I commit to getting some made.

Also to go back with Mick on his Friday afternoon trip to see his mum will be the two books of carpet samples that Janet Street Carpets lent me.  I’d remembered the Cottages.com rep advising me to go for a quality carpet with a high wool percentage, so I spent a fascinating 20 minutes learning all about how wool fibres react in a carpet and issues like reverse pile.  After a fun Tuesday evening with Mick spent holding carpet samples against the white woodwork and then putting bits of offcut oak from the downstairs skirting boards on them to get an idea of how it would go with the furniture, we’ve settled on an 80/20 wool blend from Summit Twist in Olympus, which is a dark neutral beige.  It comes in three grades, and as the difference between the middle and the best is only £2 a square metre £21 versus £23), I think we’ll probably go for the highest.  Wool carpets are graded by pile weight, which is the number of ounces of carpet pile (i.e. the wool bit, not the backing) per square yard, and the Summit Twist’s top weight of 50oz means it’s graded as suitable for heavy domestic use, so it’ll be fine for the stairs and landing as well as the bedrooms.  We also need a special underlay because of the underfloor heating, at £8.99 a square metre and I reckon I’m going to need about 40 square metres in total – they’re coming on Monday to measure up, as they’ve got two jobs in the area.

Today we had no rain forecast, so I bit the bullet and decided to paint the gate.  First job, scrubbing all the green bits and bird droppings off with a wire brush, then sanding down any wire marks.  Finn, my Welsh cob, came wandering over to see what I was up to and provided moral support by farting loudly at me whenever I looked like I was flagging!  Of course, sod’s law dictates that once I’d got started with the actual painting part, a load of showers came over.  After having to re-paint the same bit of gate three times to get the raindrop marks out, I gave up in a huff and went home for some lunch, which, of course, I ate in glorious sunshine.  Back down again once I’d finished and another two hours saw the first coat finished.  I’ll need to wait for another supposedly dry day to get the second on, but it’s looking pretty good, I think.

I’ve still got the dormer to paint in the twin room, but I did touch-ups on the purple today and I want to make sure they’re completely dry before I put masking tape over it, so tomorrow I’m going to attack the landing.  Wish me luck…

We’re on countdown

We’ve had David for 2.5 days this week and he has finished pretty much everything he can do on the list – the remaining items need someone else to do something first.  However, he broke the news that he’s going to America for a couple of weeks at the beginning of December, which means in all likelihood if I don’t nab him for those jobs before he goes, I’m not likely to get him back until January.

Since there’s nothing like a deadline to focus the mind, Mick and I have agreed to put our collective feet to the floor and try and get the house completely finished by the end of November.  We’ve pushed on pretty well, with David’s help, and bits of it are now starting to look like a home rather than a project.

Painting the woodwork in the twin room while Ophelia lashes the windows.  The slate roof barely made a sound.

David has an incredible knack of taking my rather garbled description of something and making me exactly what I had in my head.  This little build-out hides where the underfloor heating pipes go into the wall and will be a useful shelf for keys etc.

The kitchen became a workshop while the weather was so vile!

One thing Mick wanted David to do was a piece of wood putting into the top of the dormers – there was a thin piece sticking down between the plasterboard, which I’d tried painting, and it just looked awful.  This is much neater and will be painted white.

It’s amazing how much more finished the house looks with all the skirting boards and door surrounds in place.  We had a big tidy-up downstairs this morning.

Also done by David but not photographed – a bead around the landing ceiling and the loft hatch, a thin piece of wood planed down and slipped in behind the bannisters to hide the underfloor heating insulation, and the top three stairs shimmed so that there isn’t quite so much of a difference with the top step, again because of the underfloor heating insulation.

We took a deep breath and ordered the furniture yesterday.  The shopping list consisted of:

  • 2 wardrobes
  • 5 bedside tables
  • 1 3-drawer chest
  • 2 2-over-3-drawer chest
  • 1 floor-standing cheval mirror
  • 2 small wall mirrors
  • 3 3ft beds
  • 1 5ft bed
  • 3 3ft pocket sprung mattresses
  • 1 5ft pocket sprung mattress
  • 2 upholstered dining chairs (these are going in the dormer windows in the two larger bedrooms)
  • 1 corner TV unit
  • 1 lamp table
  • 1 extending kitchen table
  • 5 cross-backed dining chairs with padded seats

All of the furniture is solid wood and I had a feeling that I was probably going to have to shut my eyes when I handed my card over, but the total, after a very generous £297 discount, came to £5,200, so thank you Riverside Interiors!  We also spent £3,050 with them on the two leather sofas and a friend of Mick’s was selling a coffee table in the same range of furniture we’ve picked for £100, so that makes our total furniture spend to date £8,350.  Looking at our original budget, we’re £300 over on the wooden furniture and £1,950 over on the sofas, but we’d originally budgeted for fabric, not leather, before we were advised by the agency that leather would be better if we were accepting dogs.

We had a visit today from Alex, who’d come over to have a look at the area in front of the house and the garden so he could quote for sorting it out.  We need the whole area in front of the house scraping back, a weedproof membrane laying and then covering in gravel, bar a long strip about a metre wide to the right of the gate, which will stay as grass.  At the back, we’re having a gravel path put in along the back of the house and then the rest of the garden will have the top layer scraped off.  As we know from our own house, the problem with making a garden out of a field is that it’s always trying to turn itself back into a field.  In theory, if we scrape back deep enough, we should hoick out all the docks, thistles and other unwanted field pests.  Unfortunately we’ll have to fork out for some turf rather than waiting for grass seed to take, otherwise the photos are going to look a bit weird when it’s advertised, but at least it’s the right time of year for laying it.

Lots for me to do next week, and I have a list that would probably choke all three of my horses, but tomorrow’s first job is to try and give my sheep a contagious disease!  About a third of them have come down with something called pinkeye, a mild conjunctivitis, and I’ve been advised that it’s best to try and get them all to develop it and get it out of the way, as it normally clears up by itself in 6-10 days and after having it they build up an immunity to it.  So I shall be down the road in the morning to fetch the feed troughs and then holding the sheep equivalent of a chicken pox party!

Oh Ecclefechan!

Back in December, I put up a post about what I’d like under my Christmas tree, and one of the three buildings I picked was Tigh Achenechan (or Tigh Ecclefechan as I keep calling it).

At the time, I thought the asking price of £200k was optimistic and reckoned £150-160k was more realistic.  It disappeared off the market a couple of months ago, but when I drove past it at the weekend the For Sale sign was still outside it and today it popped up in my Facebook feed from the agent.  It’s been repossessed and a new home report has been done.  The new asking price?  Just £129k.  Hopefully someone else will buy it before we finish Ethel’s because I suspect if I go and look round it, heart will want to overrule head!

We’re still inching forward down the road.  No David so far this week; if he hasn’t appeared by the end of next Monday I’ll drop him a text and find out what’s going on.  Mick finished sanding the twin bedroom and landing and painted the landing ceiling while I was lying on the sofa full of cold at the weekend and now I’ve got a base coat on the twin bedroom walls and will start on the woodwork tomorrow.

While I was away, Pete turned up and picked and pointed the little fireplace in the double bedroom and laid a new hearthstone on top of the old one.  He’s done a fabulous job.

I’ll need to stick some dried flowers or something similar in there to make it clear that it’s not for actual fires, but I’m so glad we’ve managed to show off some of the old stone.

That’s the way to do it

Every year my mother, my cousin and I go away for a week together somewhere in the UK and stay in a holiday let cottage.  This year it’s been a particularly interesting experience for me, because Mum booked a 4* cottage through the agency I’m going to be using – Dove Cottage in Nairn.

I have to say, it’s gorgeous.  A period cottage in Nairn’s Fishertown, a short walk from the beach, and not expensive.  The living room has given me serious fireplace envy:

And the kitchen looks very familiar – I spy another Howdens afficionado!

The bedrooms are set up as two doubles and a twin, with one of the doubles being downstairs off the living room.

The bathrooms are neutral with a big walk-in shower upstairs and a bath downstairs.  (I need to try and track down those loo roll holders!)

And outside there’s a small courtyard space.

A few points that I need to learn from:

  1. Although the cottage takes dogs, and judging by the visitors’ book many guests do bring them, you wouldn’t have known.  It was spotlessly clean.
  2. One small grumble in the visitors’ book about the beds being too soft.  We’ve found them softer than we’re all used to, but absolutely fine.  However, I think I’ll go for mattresses in the medium-firm range.
  3. The Belfast sink in the kitchen is beautiful, but there’s no draining board for things we’re washing up by hand and as that’s a real wood worktop, we don’t want to put wet stuff on it and leave rings.
  4. I need to think about mirror placement in relation to power sockets – I don’t ever use a hairdryer, but Mum does and though she chose the twin room as it’s nearest the bathroom, she’s been using mine to dry her hair in as it’s got a big mirror near a plug.

One bonus of being a tourist so close to my home patch is that we went to the big sheep sale at Lairg on Tuesday and I bumped into David, who was selling there.  I got a little confused, but I think he’ll be back either next week or the week after to get the jobs list finished.  Can’t wait to get back to work down the road and get it finished now!