Archive for Dec, 2012

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 11 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


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Merry Christmas

Sunday 23 December 2012

Apologies for my absence which has been mainly due to the decorating frenzy going on in this house, although on Wednesday I was taken to the Harry Potter Studio Tour by Stephanie as a late birthday present – there will be more of this at another time.

The room is painted and wallpapered, and although I have yet to put up any Christmas decorations or even to wrap presents (yes! I have been that busy) I feel that we’re now on top of it.  At least it’ll be habitable for Christmas Day when both the girls will be joining us as well as Carl (Steph’s boyfriend) and our friend Mr Ellis.

In the absence of another post before Christmas Day – and trust me, there definitely won’t be time for another one – I hope you all have a wonderful Day with the love of your friends and family around you.  After all, that’s far more important than anything else.

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It’s Done

Sunday 16 December 2012

Last Thursday morning, right on breakfast time, window man turned up with our new window and proceeded to fit it.  For a while we were a bit affronted that he’d (a) disturbed our breakfast and (b) made us shiver a lot while we ate it, as the outside temperature was -4 oC, but then we remembered that Christmas was coming and we were grateful that the window was at least in place before it arrived.  To add insult to injury our Aga went out the night before so we didn’t even have that to huddle round in the kitchen, but we were okay, we survived the experience.  He didn’t take very long and made a very nice, tidy job of it, so we paid him and off he went.

On Saturday morning builder friend arrived to start making good all the plaster and skimming over things like the filled-in doorway and the serving hatch that we had never used as a serving hatch (so one could argue that it was just a square hole in the wall).  Gone now!  We’re gradually reclaiming our walls, which Gordon’s parents seemed determine to fill with doorways and serving hatches (okay, there was just the one hatch and two doorways, but they each had their own wall).  To paint a general picture, wall one had a serving hatch and large doorway, wall two had a doorway, wall three had a patio doorway and wall four has two doors and an inglenook fireplace, which doesn’t leave much actual wall.

This morning I went out to buy wallpaper, we have paint at the ready and are just waiting now for the plaster to dry enough to paint over.  I’m not sure if it will be completed by Christmas but I think we’ll have a good stab at it.

And then we’ll put the tree up!

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And Breathe ….

Friday 7 December 2012

After the panic set in last weekend, wonderful builder friend decided to (whispers) skive off work on Monday and managed to finish the brickwork enough for window man to come and measure.  Window man told me that since the windowsill will be lower than 800 mm, building regulations mean we have to have toughened glass just in case we fall against the window, which will add about £100 to the job.  I assured him that in all the time we’d been here we’d never once fallen against a window, but apparently that’s totally irrelevant.  If the window is lower, then it’s toughened glass just in case.  I found Gordon outside to check that was all right, but by then we’d both reached the ‘whatever’ stage and agreed to go with the toughened glass.  Window man was pleased, gave us an estimate and left.  Ten minutes later he came back as in all the excitement of procuring extra money he’d forgotten to actually measure the hole!  He promises to come to fit the window with its toughened glass on the 14th, which is next Friday.  Let’s hope he’s able to do that.  In the meantime the hole remains hard-boarded and draped with a bedspread to keep out as much of the cold as possible.

We had some sad news about Ferdinand our stud bull – basically he’s ‘broken’ the tool of his trade!  According to the vet this can happen if the cow is bony and he knocks it on the way up.  The most common reaction when I’ve told people about this is amazement and the first comment is usually “but there’s no bone to break” and they’re right, but it isn’t a proper break.  Look it up – it’ll make you cringe if you’re a man and according to the internet (so it must be true because everything you read on the internet is true), it can happen to humans too.  Be aware, men out there!  Gives a whole new meaning to ‘safe sex’, doesn’t it?  It also means that Ferdinand is now pretty much redundant and will be taken away on Monday.  Time for Floyd to step in and luckily he’s been rehearsing with the heifers, but he’s older than Ferdinand was when he went in with the cows so hopefully it’ll be okay and he shouldn’t need a box to stand on.

The downside of all of this is that a percentage of our cows may not be pregnant.  No calf, no milk.  We were expecting them to start calving in January as they usually do, but don’t know when Ferdinand had his accident.  If it was only recently there won’t be a problem, but if it was earlier in the year and we’ve only just noticed then we could see a serious drop in our milk production.  Oh, and our last batch of calves have pneumonia!  We’ve never had pneumonia here but due to the wet conditions this year there’s a 20% increase across the country.  They’re on antibiotics and are responding well, but calves can die from this so we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Sunday 2 December 2012

For quite some time now Gordon and I have been discussing modifications to our main lounge.  It’s a room just off the kitchen and one we seldom use except when we have gatherings: friends round for a meal, birthday parties, that kind of thing.  Years ago his parents pulled out the existing window and put in a patio door.  Unfortunately it was put in very badly with a thin plank holding the rest of the house up above it.  In the intervening years the weight of the house has bowed the plank, pressing down on the top of the doors, making them difficult to slide open as well as cracking the wall above and shattering one pane of the double-glazed bedroom window.  You may remember a few years ago I photographed a blue tit who was nesting in said crack – that’s how big it is!  We decided the door was unnecessary and took up space on the wall, so thought we’d put a window back.

Anyhow, we approached a friend who is also a builder (handy!) and asked if he’d undertake the work for us.  We obtained a quote from a window company for a replacement window and were good to go – just as soon as it stopped raining.  Our builder friend turned up this weekend fired up and keen to make a start so without further ado off we went.  The door was very reluctant to leave the wall and it looked like it had been finished off originally by filling all gaps with rock-hard cement, but eventually it was out.

2012-12-01 13.39.22

Then we realised just how cold it was outside.  Stupid, I know, but none of us had taken this into consideration so the room is as cold as a morgue – not that I’ve ever been in a morgue.  Come to think of it, a morgue could possibly be warmer!  Also, while I was chatting to him when he made a start, I was idly picking off the wallpaper since that was part of the plan – replace the door, redecorate.  How hard could that be?  Gordon rang the window company today who informed him that unless they could measure the gap by Tuesday they wouldn’t be able to do anything until after Christmas!  What!!!!  They didn’t tell us they were stopping for Christmas quite that early in the year and now we have a horrible feeling we’ll be spending Christmas in a cold room with hardboard nailed over a gap where the window should be.  Our friend is rebuilding the bottom half of the wall as well as putting a lintel above the gap, but he can only work at weekends and both he and Gordon are looking dubious about whether he’ll be finished by the end of today.

To add insult to injury, Gordon smugly said “I knew we should have waited until after Christmas to start this”.  Why didn’t he say that before?  And the dust!  Well, if any of you have ever had building work done then you’ll know about the dust.  The best I can hope for is the hardboarded gap to keep some of the cold out and that the vacuum will cope with that amount of dust.

I have a really bad feeling about this.  I’ll keep you posted!

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