Tuesday, 28 October 2014

We're Going on a Kitchen Hunt!

When we first bought this house, we were lucky that it already had a kitchen.  (Remember that it had been an office housing 60 people.)  A room at the back of the house had some kitchen units with work tops and a dishwasher.  It's a reasonable size and, luckily, could have been an awful lot worse.

The dishwasher disappeared before we moved in, broken apparently.  We got a socket put in for a new cooker, bought a new dishwasher and fridge as the ones from the other two houses had been fitted.  And we were up and running.  There was a horrible cupboard affair housing the boiler but with wall units attached.  As storage was relatively short, it stayed.  There were also cupboards in what we call the breakfast room (originally the kitchen, we think) and we put up some stand-alone shelving here and there.

Originally, the plan was that we would make the kitchen the utility room and what we currently use as the breakfast room into the kitchen.  The pantry would be the pantry (inspired, aren't we?).  We wavered from this plan once we settled in and actually used the space.  Our thinking now is that we will make the pantry the utility room and have two kitchens (is that greedy?).  Sounds weird but the breakfast room, which we think is the original kitchen, has very little space for kitchen units.  But the idea is to have a giant island with storage, then to refurbish the original cupboards around what was once the inglenook fireplace.  We don't want to take out the door to the back stairs so are trying to incorporate it into the design.  Not sure how it will look in reality but here is the design.

On one side of the island, between the door to Cuffer's lobby and the door to the back stairs, will be a range.  We are still considering an aga.  S has been on a cookery course at the local aga shop and is sold on them.  It would look wonderful but we're not sure how difficult it would be to cook on or how practical it would be for my mum.  However, we could keep the current cooker in the second kitchen as well.  Under the window on the other side of the island, which was once an inglenook fireplace, according to the surveyor, will be a sofa with, hopefully, room for some small tables.  The idea is that people will be able to sit there and chat while food is being prepared.

Then we will move to the second kitchen to eat.  This will have an unfitted look, housing a table, chairs, some units and perhaps the dresser that is currently in the breakfast room.

The designs are by Neptune.  They have their head office, which is packed full of their furniture, and an outlet store in Swindon.  Well worth a visit, if you're local.  At least I think you can visit if you're the public.  When we went there, we had to sign in and then they gave us coffee.  That doesn't even happen at John Lewis.  Perhaps they thought we were buyers from some department store.  For kitchen design, we had to go to Kitstone in Marlborough.  Go there if you don't have the courage to test the system in Swindon.

The Neptune style is slightly New England, which I like.  Neutral colours, plain lines, simple.  Here are some shots of how it currently looks with the designs of how it might look.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

I Can See Clearly Now...

S has taken it upon himself to repair the windows.  And I have to say that he is doing an excellent job as well as saving us a fortune.  The quote we had was roughly a thousand per window.  Of course, he has had to buy the right tools and draught-proofing bits and pieces but overall the costs will be minimal compared to the savings.  And friends who are also engaged in a renovation project have given us loads of bits of wood that will do nicely to replace any rotten bits.  He has started with his study window.  The only trouble is, it's taken a while (she said, tactfully) because he keeps getting distracted by...er....other 'jobs' (aka golf).  So, one window nearly finished.  And only another 22 to go!

Study window heading out of kitchen door (logs in the background)
Shutters but no window.  Not sure about that green, after all...
Arty shot - gaping hole and no window
Still no window
Taking out the top window
Taking shape - note gravestone to the left, remnant of the collapsed wall
Putty looking good...
...Must be all that putting practice on the golf course.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Dog Proof Fence: the Sequel

The second dog proof fence has been erected, at the bottom of the garden.  It's on the wall that separates us from the Church offices, once the Old Rectory stables, I think.

BF - Before Fence - Our Side
BF - The Other Side
And then the lumberjacks arrived again, to remove the huge pile of debris that you can see in the first photograph.  It was all the vegetation that we have removed from around the garden as we have excavated and macheted our way through the overgrown plants.

Once they had cleared the heap, we could at last access the final corner of the garden that remained hidden.  It is overlooked from the Churchyard.  The youths gather in that corner.  And drop their litter over with gay abandon.  I filled the wheelbarrow.

I've been dying for ages to excavate the area beyond the Rector's Steps.  And this is what emerged.

Once cleared, the space looked huge.  Sprocket went to investigate.

Note the beauty of the new dog proof fence.  And the fact that the dog is this side of it, which proves that it was well worth the money.  The red bricked area that you can make out down the pathway where Sprocket is standing used to be the access to the stables.

Sprocket investigates the area for squirrels, ever vigilant, while I uncover a low wall that borders the garden, which we will reinstate.

I revealed the wall along the length of that flower bed.  Exciting.

And once I had excavated the end of the garden, we needed the lumberjacks back with their shredder!

Oh.  And how about a picture of some logs?

Including some neatly stacked logs in the log store.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Lumberjacks at Dawn

The lumberjacks were too jovial for eight o'clock in the morning.  There were four of them, three men and a woman.  "He's Ben and he's Ken," the leader of the pack introduced his team.  "And you can call me Jen,"said the lady.  "And I'm Zen," said Nigel.  The humour was almost too much to take at that time of day.  "We'll have four cups of tea, white, one sugar.  That's not how we take our tea but it makes it easier."

They were here to despatch the Leylandii.  A difficult decision, as I have said before.  They shielded us and absorbed the traffic noise, providing homes for wildlife and a widdling post for Sprocket.  But they were dead and raggedy on the inside.  The arboriculturalist didn't like them and nor did the lumberjacks.  We'd plucked up our courage and given the word: off with their heads.

We were out a folk festival that day.  Yes, we're that kind of people.  But before we left we were sat in a row in the breakfast room watching the spectacle through the window.  Who needs 'Tumble' when you can have lumberjacks at dawn?  (BBC programme about gymnastics.  No, I didn't watch it either!) Ben dangled from the thinnest branches, hauling his entire body weight up by his arms.  The trees weren't easy.  Not a single trunk but numbers of trunks, like a very complicated candelabra.  They strimmed the trees of twigs first.  Then began cutting back the trunks until we were left with a cactus-like structure made of wood.  They left it standing, to be 'timbered' later and started on the second tree, but it all took longer than expected so they had to leave the job half done to return another day.

In the meantime, Ben had a virus which caused vertigo.  Not great for a lumberjack.  So it was a couple of weeks before they came back.  Again, I was out so didn't get to watch.  But I came back to piles and piles of logs, massive rounds of wood and so much space and light.  As it turned out, both trees were dangerous with branches rubbing against one another and wearing away so that a gale force wind was highly likely to bring one down and, along with it, the current kitchen.

With the trees gone, we have a large space for a kitchen garden and, of course, more fruit trees.  We have two damsons-in-waiting, ready to be planted.  But a lot of work to do first.  S is going to cut the logs into usable, storable sections.  Then we have to find somewhere to store them.  And move the stones that we piled there following the wall saga.  Then we can start work on the soil, trying to replenish it ready for planting.  And dig up the concrete under the gravel to give a straight line across to the 'orchard'.  The loss of the trees is a step forward in terms of creating the garden in my head but there is still so much work to do.

Preparing for Action
Did I Leave a Lumberjack up that Tree?
Strimming the Tree Down to Basics
Revealing all the Trunks
A Closer View
The Bare Bones Revealed
Starting on the Second Tree
Both Trees Strimmed
The Cactus Tree
And More Logs
A Half Cut Tree
Can You Guess?
About 35 Years Old
Hard to Grasp the Size - About Three Feet in Diameter!
Add caption
The Cactus Tree with a Pigeon on Top

And Logs