Archives for the month of: October, 2013


Progress has been made with most of the wall tiling done. It actually looks even nicer than I had hoped. Grout will be light grey but first they need to be sealed.


Fake walls and ceiling are now up – ceiling height is now at the standard level for modern houses. Thankfully the room does not feel much smaller and the lowered ceiling makes the room feel warmer too. The base for the shower tray (recycled plastic) is in and tiling commences today.


Final post of the day. As you might have gathered things have gathered apace here and the scaffolders have also just arrived to put up the structure for the roof repairs. Most exciting of all though is the final decision making for the kitchen.

Local cabinet maker Ian Cameron-Smith will be making it for us in stages but we first have to decide on the materials. He popped over with samples last night. The plan is for oak block worktops and oak cupboards painted in Edwardian White with cast iron knob handles and a belfast sink. Hoping the budget will stretch to the cabinets by the sink and cooker and an island unit initially with a dresser to follow later but we shall see. It should be in in time for Christmas and means we have to get on with cleaning and sealing the stone floor and the wonky walls before it is installed. I love a deadline.

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The gorgeous Hebridean Sheep from Colt Cottage have finally moved in to our field. We have seven ewe lambs at present with another eight still to come. They are totally gorgeous and seem to have found a nice sheltered spot close to the burn and near the road that passes the house. Here’s a closer look. They are gorgeous lambs with thick black wool and beautiful curled horns. They are also incredibly hardy, barely acknowledging the weekend’s storms. Hopefully they will help batter down the bracken in the field and won’t mind us coming and going with the kids and the strimmer!

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Biggest development this week is the installation of the new downstairs shower room. Here are some before pictures so you can appreciate its many delights in all their glory:

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So yesterday the plumber had the fun job of ripping it all out. The tiles were very wonky so we had assumed the walls would be too. As it turns out the walls are pretty OK the tiles were just very badly applied (half a wall full fell on the plumber’s head after one tap!). Apart from it being hideous there are a few reasons for doing the shower room – one is there is a small area of damp caused by the bad workmanship, the second is that all the sanitary ware was in some way damaged and thirdly there is nothing worse than doing dirty DIY jobs and not being able to get clean! There is also no storage in the downstairs bathroom and it is our only shower.

Here’s how the shower room looked yesterday afternoon. The very faint pen line on the wall is where a new suspended ceiling will be – the walls will all be studded out to conceal the pipework today.

A blank canvas...sort of

A blank canvas…sort of

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Not so much a daily blog as a monthly of late, due to being a single parent of three for a week. Normal service has now resumed, thankfully, and while Matt gets on with one of his “morning jobs” – not filling wood, pulling up nails, sanding a door or any of my other suggestions as they are apparently “evening jobs” – I am getting a chance to catch up.

The biggest development has been getting used to the wood-burning stoves which we are now skilled at lighting and keeping stoked up. We’ve just had a delivery of wood from a different supplier. Our first batch was OK but under seasoned and so smouldered rather than burnt. At first glance and use this batch appears better – bigger, lighter logs that burned efficiently – the stove was still well lit this morning after being stoked with five logs at 10.30pm last night. We’re also looking into buying in bulk from a wood co-operative to stock up on the processed compressed logs which are hotter, cleaner and more efficient but more expensive. We’ll see.
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It was also half-term last week so we had some trips out to the local chocolate factory, Threave and the beach – the first two with grandparents in tow. There’s great auatumn colour this year and we even saw a scampering red squirrel at Threave.

Finally, I leave you with an image of Arthur’s helpful attempt at laying the lounge fire!

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In other news, I have managed to keep The Beast – aka our boiler stove – lit for 24 hours solid. Think I have finally mastered the balance of draughts to keep it ticking over without constantly tinkering.

Had a literary day in Kirkcudbright with the kids. Our great local bookshop, Solway Books, is celebratig Usborne’s 40th birthday with a word search competition, crafts and a lucky dip. All the excitement meant I got to browse the books too. We came away with a mix of children’s and adult’s books and then went to the library to pick up a book I had reserved, to find out how many babies one lady could have and to browse the children’s section. Final stop was Lunch at Polarbites and picking up the makings of posh hot chocolate to take home.


The end of the garden is now rabbit-proof, we hope, so we have started to create raised beds for our annual vegetables. One down, 16 to go…if we can bear it!

Each bed is 4m x 1m and we have built the frame from scrap wood and pallets. Our soil is well draining but acidic and stony. There is about 20cm of decent top soil under the grass but beneath that is a layer of stone – not quite a pan but hard work to dig out.

The process for the herb garden involved removing sods, digging in compost and planting. In the veg garden, rather than removing the turfs, we are turning each sod over in situ and then covering with a layer of compost. We inherited a compost heap with the house. The top 30cm is nettles and roots but beneath that is some really great compost – albeit with some odd ingredients hidden in amongst, like plastic cups and bins! The final stage for each bed is creating a frame for the anti-bird netting. As you have probably guessed, this all takes quite a while. We are planning on forest gardening as much as possible!

The playroom stove is in and lit. A bit smelly to start with while the paint settles and heats but the room is lovely and cosy now. Hoping to strip the wallpaper in here tomorrow…


And this is how the fireplace used to look.