Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Coming Of Winter

December is only days away and the winter weather is already starting to bite. There have already been a few nights when temperatures have plummeted and an icy chill has crept into our ‘not-quite home’.

Living in a former, draughty workshop, whilst we slowly renovate it to create a new, well-equipped residence has already proved quite an experience. But with winter fast approaching, we are about to face even more of a challenge.

Don't want any of this yet thank you!
Progress is sadly quite slow – life just seems to take over, leaving limited time and resources to attack the project with much speed. However, we have organised our surroundings to incorporate the main features you’d expect to find in any home, just in a rather, shall we say, alternative way.

The windows here are single glazed, metal-framed affairs that have seen better days. Breath on them too hard, and you feel a pane of glass may just fall out. The walls are not particularly insulated – there is much to be done in that department – but at least the odd leak we noticed in the roof has been repaired. We realised early on that the key here is to endeavour to maintain a constant temperature by leaving a few well-placed oil-filled, plug-in radiators ticking away, but even so we definitely feel a nip in the air come night time.

In the evenings, we congregate around the electric, log-effect fire whilst dreaming of the log burner that we hope to install. We have piled extra duvets on the beds and have hot water bottles at the ready. Chilly as we may get, there is a definite order in which we have to perform renovation tasks, to end up with the home that we really want, and we are far from the stage of adding a new heating system.

My latest project has been to buy a scrapbook and fill it with pictures and ideas for colour schemes, fixtures and furnishings etc to give us something more tangible to aim for. Browsing it’s pages gives me a warm glow – which is obviously just what I need right now!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Developing A Twitch

From the moment that I arrived at my new riverside home, I was very aware of the huge amount of birdlife that surrounded me.

With our home offering such an expansive view over the river and surrounding countryside, there is certainly a wealth of wildlife to watch. Various gulls ride up and down the river on the tides and circle noisily overhead; swans glide gracefully past, sometimes pausing to rest on the opposite bank; cormorants sit drying their wings on the mudbanks; a lone heron can often been seen on sentry duty at the water’s edge, and was for a time, joined by a couple of egrets.

When all this is playing out right in front of your nose, it’s hard not to develop at least a passing interest in nature. I did wonder whether the novelty of watching the birds would soon wear off, but I’ve become keener than ever, to the extent (and surprise of my husband) that my Christmas list for this year includes a new pair of binoculars!

For me, I suppose this is actually a return to birdwatching – revisiting a pastime that I was encouraged in as a child. We spent many a family holiday, drifting round the Norfolk Broads with my Dad eagerly pointing out various feathered species. I just couldn’t ignore his enthusiasm. I soon learnt to identify the grebes, moorhens, dabchicks etc, and was given the ‘I-Spy Book Of Birds’, which became a holiday staple.

I’ve now progressed to a couple of slightly weightier bird-identification tomes, but remain quite childlike in my excitement when I see something that’s a little unusual. I’m now eagerly trying to identify birdsong, something that’s currently proving a slightly frustrating experience, but hopefully I’ll learn.

So compulsive twitcher I am not, but I do enjoy spending some happy interludes enjoying the constant comings and goings of the birds around my new home.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Adapting To Change

When we initially made the decision to move to a more rural location, I was a little concerned that I would feel somewhat ‘cut-off’ and struggle with the fact that it would take much more planning to go anywhere.

Not to say that I haven’t always loved the countryside to some extent. It’s always provided a perfect haven for family holidays, when I’ve embraced all that it has to offer.

Many years ago we had a lovely holiday in a quite remote, farmhouse location in rural Wales.  I had no problem adapting to the peace and tranquillity of our holiday setting, and felt sad when it was time to leave. What did come as a total shock was the fact that I just couldn’t seem to slot back in to my normal urban life when I returned home. It took me ages to feel any level of normality again.

In more recent years, we’ve made frequent visits to our static caravan in East Anglia, enjoying the countryside setting, returning to the suburban location to which we had then moved.

Despite all of this, however, I didn’t expect to settle in to country life quite so seamlessly, following our latest change of location. I don’t miss much at all about town life and have ventured out to the urban sprawl far less than I would have imagined, choosing instead to enjoy what the village and surrounding countryside have to offer.

I sometimes even feel relief to return here after a busy shopping trip to town, with all the noise and chaos that seems to entail – not that I ever really noticed it that much before!

What's more, my skin has certainly thanked me for the change. My evening cleansing routine yields far less grime than it did in my former life - although it comes as a bit of a shock as to what is revealed during the same regime carried out following a day I've ventured back into town!

Yes, I have certainly adapted very easily to change!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Being Entertained

There’s no doubt that moving to a property that sits on the riverbank has provided me with a stunning view and the opportunity to watch a large variety of wildlife on a daily basis.

However, the river has also been the provider of a much wider range of interest than I would have imagined. Depending on weather and tides, I often see boats of all shapes and sizes passing by, but on a couple of occasions they have provided a larger source of entertainment.

One Saturday morning, shortly after arriving here, we were sitting quietly in our new home (such as it is pre-renovation), when our peace was shattered by an almighty bang! I jumped off the sofa, and my son exclaimed, “We’re being shot at!”

The source of this startling interruption? A cannon. Not firing at us, but to herald the arrival of a kind of river carnival. A flotilla of assorted boats decked with flags, carrying a host of eager individuals frantically waving. Off course, we went outside and dutifully waved back, after all it was quite a novel sight (for us anyway).

More recently I wondered why I could suddenly here voices coming from the river on a Sunday morning. Not just voices having a conversation, but amplified voices. When I wandered out to the garden, I could see a number of rowing boats making their way along the river, some with a cox barking orders, not from a traditional megaphone, but via a kind of radio mic. 

In all, 28 boats congregated directly in front of us, then proceeded to start a race, back in the direction from which they’d come. The only problem was we didn’t get to see who won!

I can certainly view much more of life from my current home, than I ever could from my suburban dwelling that delivered nothing more than the sight of the odd pedestrian or car passing by and a few bedraggled starlings in the garden. The river itself is constantly changing with the tides and whilst their are some regular wildlife visitors, other creatures just seem to pass through.

And of course there are things going on in the village itself. There are two pubs which offer entertainment and the odd community event, and a recent sign in a nearby field heralded a forthcoming ploughing match!

The pace here is slower and we tend to stop and watch the more simple things in life, which give us as much (or more) pleasure than the bustle of town can often offer. It may not be ‘full-on’ entertainment, but for us it’s a great novelty!