Archives for the month of: December, 2013

Christmas is almost here and Plunton feels pretty much ready. Here is a picture of the kitchen from Friday morning (when I was making mince pies). Sadly the kitchen no long looks like this but for the best possible reason – we’ve had to cover everything with dust sheets so the plasterer can fix up the walls. They’ll be back tomorrow to do the last wall and the ceiling so, hopefully, I can use it on Tuesday for all my Christmas dinner prep.
kitchen_mincemeat
Once the plastering is finished we can sit back smugly and feel satisfied that we have achieved all we had hoped to by Christmas (and a little bit more!) Plunton is now water tight, warm (thanks to the wood-fired heating) and I have a proper kitchen to cook in. We can also get going on more of the small-scale jobs we can do ourselves in the New Year – decorating the shower room and kitchen for a start, plus the play room, and start to think about our outdoor plans. More on that in the next post.

image

A fun weekend at Plunton saw us making a four inch hole in a 2 foot thick stone wall and, as a result, having to remove the plaster-and-lath wall and put up new plasterboard. Exhausting work but had the happy result that we can now crack on with the kitchen fitting. Turns out the kitchen fitter has two sisters living in the southside of Glasgow, one next door to friends of ours! Nice to have a natter about Sammy Dow’s and the joys of southside life. Kitchen fitting should be done and dusted tomorrow, sink plumbed on Thursday and we might even have it plastered by the weekend if we can strip the remaining wallpaper in time.

image

While the kitchen was out of bounds the boys and I got on with the pre-Christmas clean. It took almost all day but the house is now ready for decorations and guests and while I was crawling around picking up lego the daughter-in-law and granddaughter of the former owner arrived with a Christmas gift and card to invite us over for a Christmas gathering on Sunday afternoon. Finally starting to feel more festive, just in time for the weather to turn frosty.

It’s been a bit of a stop-start couple of weeks with work on the house. We have had a stuttering start to the kitchen installation which we are hoping to complete next week but what we have of the kitchen is lovely (see previous Island Life post) and it should only take a couple of days to install the remainder next week – if our DIY goes well!

But we have made much better progress in other areas. Our scaffolding has been taken down so our chimney stacks are all repointed and watertight, our cast iron gutters have been repaired and painted and our wooden fascia boards have been overhauled. If you ignore the masonry paintwork which we’ll do in the summer the outside of the house is looking lots better and, along with getting new external doors, it means we have another big item ticked off our pre-Christmas to-do list – specifically, Plunton is now watertight!

The other niggling job that was finished this week (this very lunchtime in fact) is reinstating the back staircase. For reasons lost in the mists of time the useful back stairs were partially removed by the last inhabitants – with half of them left hanging in mid-air and the remainder stored in the garage. I suspect this was due to using the former kitchen as a bedroom.

The joiners who replaced our doors came back to reinstate them for us so we now have a quick route from the connecting room (AKA laundry, tool storage and baby-changing room) to the utility kitchen.

Here’s a couple of before and after pictures.

before_stairs

after_stairs

Once we get round to overhauling the utitilty we’ll build storage into the gap under the stairs.

And, of course, we’ve also been attempting to keep going with all the many Christmas jobs. Arthur had his first nativity yesterday (spectacularly mis-cast as a wise man) and we are going to a panto at the High School t tonight. We’ve also managed to order a wreath for the front door and will probably be getting a Christmas tree next week once the kitchen is all done and dusted. Iris has been practising her Christmas songs around the house ready for her performance next week and then it’s the holidays. We’ve also had a couple of house visitors – Ellie brought Arthur’s friend Elijah this morning to update us on the appointment of a new head at Iris’s school and James Finlay popped in earlier in the week from Cream O Galloway and welcomed us to the neighbourhood with a tub of ice cream. We also popped into Colt Cottage to talk smallholding with Jo and resident WWOOFer Anna. Christmas gift to each other will, I think, be signing up as WWOOF hosts.

wpid-IMAG0270.jpg

We have a kitchen island. Sink and wall units will now be coming next week (as it looks like we will have to make our own hole in the wall for the extractor). We are also thinking of pulling off the old plaster and reboarding as the plaster is badly damaged in parts. Fun weekend of DIY for us. Anyone who fancies exchanging bed and board for a few hours’ labour is most welcome to visit!

wpid-IMAG0269.jpg

wreath

After a wonderful family wedding at the weekend it is now suddenly advent and I am feeling distinctly lacking in festive cheer. In fact, on Tuesday I had a giant what-on-earth-are-we-doing?! Naked Lunch moment that took several hours to subside.

After spending an hour digging out various Christmas items from the garage they were left sitting forlornly in the middle of the hall while I railed against our unfinished floors, unlit fires after a long day out of the house, peeling paint and unfinished DIY jobs.

Of course, Bing Crosby came to the rescue planting this delightful ear worm in my head until I regained a sense of perspective. So up went the wreath and, while still not feeling desperately festive, I am ploughing on with the mechanics of Christmas preparations in the hope that the bonhomie bug will oust the bah humbug beastie before too long.

So, here are my blessings –

I have a beautiful family with a new member and a beautiful if care-worn house
I have space, quiet and a refuge from the winter storm raging outside
Christmas greenery has just been blown off our larch tree, to save us cutting some later
I have well-fitting doors which are keeping out the wind and the rain and chimneys and gutters fixed in the nick of time – although amazingly our wonderful roofers have even turned up in this weather.
I have a warm and functioning shower in which to get clean
I have 7 weeks’ worth of logs to keep home and hearth warm, most of which are now stacked in the log shed
I will be getting a fully functioning kitchen next week so I can cook and prep in the same room
And above all I have people at Christmas who won’t really mind or care if their card is late, their present badly homemade and my decorations covering a multitude of sins

And now, off to bake for a school meeting tomorrow and Saturday’s Christmas fair.