We've now been in The Larches for almost six months. If you've been reading previous blog posts you'll know the history of the house and how 'abandoned' it was when we took it on late last August.
We were very lucky in 2009, the summer seemed to go on till late November so we worked outdoors on fields, hedges and vegetable plots. We rescued chickens and found tenants for the stable block. We seem to have missed the passing of autumn (I just didn't notice it because of the warmth) and next thing I knew we were in winter.
Forced indoors we found a great builder and he and his team created a functional utility room from a large room off the main kitchen. We mended the central heating and lined 3 of the 5 chimneys, repairing two huge log burners in the process.
Put it this way: We did lots.
In our previous modern cottage in Oxfordshire we had precious little furniture, blond wood from Ikea ruled and the house was spartan, shaker-like. In this house we looked like the bailiffs had just been in, so since September we have bought pieces of old furniture from the auctions (real cheap but beautiful pieces.) Last week we bought a slim Edwardian wardrobe which is silk lined!! It is warm mahogany brown with a mirrored door, it cost just £50. That's almost cheaper than Ikea!
[I might have to leave you briefly to go outside and smack the rooster's bum: He's outside my window cock-a-doodle-doing.....]........
......OK I'm back, he's gone off in a huff towards the neighbours property. I can't see if he's got a suitcase or back pack but I think he's running away from home!
We are not made of money but over the next 5-10 years we will refurbish and bring back this house to look comfortable and as far as possible we will return the Victorian features to the house. It is our project and we relish the task.
HOWEVER the previous owners have made some of this task a teeny-weeny bit difficult. The family bathroom is interesting, the white glossed exposed beams look like a crucifix suspended above the bath. The dark blue walls will take immense layers of undercoat to change....
.....I'm OK about the outlay in paint........what we will NEVER afford to change is the ensuite bathroom attached to our master bedroom.........
There must have been a sale on of blue glass blocks from B&Q that day, or maybe Diamuid Gavin had just finished a garden project nearby and offered the remainder of his sculptural clutter as a job-lot.
Let me describe: Behind most of the blue glass lies a desperately bright LED light so at night when you turn the lights on, you feel like launching into an Ethel Merman song! (wow I'm old.) As we live on the side of a mountain in the middle of no-where I'm pretty sure our need to pee is causing quite a big drain in the local portion of the Nation Grid reserves...not necessarily a good thing for the environment. Luckily one by one the lights are going out. Being that the bricks are cemented into place we can find no way to change the light bulbs even if we wanted to! Derrrr!
At floor level the row of bricks has just 6 lights remaining. My children like to lie on the carpet here (forget the hygiene aspect, I have.) They lie there gazing through the bricks at the chorus-line of giant spiders who pass by blowing raspberries at us while mouthing through the glass,
'Ner-ner-ner-ner-ner-ner. You can't get me!'
In the picture you can just see the circular shower wall, constructed entirely from the blue stuff....good god! On Master Chef, Greg Torode regularly berates contestants for not knowing when to stop adding stuff to their dishes. This bathroom is a good example of that failing...
If you would kindly glance at the picture of the ensuite again, (sorry I don't mean to torture you) on the wooden wall beside the bath, there is an inset blue brick nearest the floor. If you lie on the floor and you have long nails (mine were bitten away in early September) you can inch this brick out of the wall. (Why the hell would I want to do this? I hear you moan...) In order to get to all the heating and hot water controls for the whole house of course silly!
Friends who have visited have been known to step back and clutch their chests when they've seen this bathroom, so in someways I'm glad we can't afford to change it, so amusing is the reaction. It shall forever more be my piece de resistance...it certainly makes me smile each time I see it.
I'm a wily old fox nowadays, interrogating each and every workman that comes to the house. I smile sweetly, bit like a crocodile, as I gently enquire;
'Have you ever worked on this house before?'
No buggar's confessed yet but I'll catch him eventually, we're here for the duration, we're The Archers at The Larches.