Monday, 26 January 2015

The Beginnings Of A Bathroom

After months of settling into the ‘glorified shed, trying to create order out of chaos and tweaking our renovation plans time and again, work has finally commenced on what is destined to become the bathroom.

I look forward to showing you a picture of our
finished bathroom, instead of someone else's!
The one-time workshop office has long been cleared of its former contents, and the hard graft has now begun. As I write this post, the walls are being insulated and lined and plans have been made for the electrics to be re-routed. The plumber has been booked to attend to all the pipework and install our chosen suite. I now feel that things are really moving.

It will be such a luxury to have a bathroom to call our own, as for several months now we have been surviving with a washbasin and toilet, popping to my mother-in-law’s for baths and showers. The day I get to use our own bathroom for the first time will surely be worthy of a celebration!

Of course, the big question is, ‘Will it all go according to plan?’ We have already learnt that the statement, “It will take twice as long and cost twice as much as you first think,” is not just an ugly rumour.

Setting that aside, it’s an exciting time, and I’m looking forward to all our plans taking shape!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Mixed Reactions

When we moved to our ‘glorified shed’ all those months ago, we experienced a whole range of responses from people that we know.

Some family and friends listened to our plans wearing contorted expressions that conveyed an odd mixture of pity and disbelief. Others nodded encouragingly, albeit with a distinct look of scepticism, whilst a rare few got quite excited about the prospect, voicing a wish to do something along similar lines.

Since moving to our new rural location, visitors have been few. There were obviously those so horrified at the prospect of camping out in an old workshop whilst slowly renovating it, that they couldn’t bring themselves to come near. Others have visited, endeavouring to look keen about what we’re doing, but actually adopting a rather shocked expression. However, we have had a couple of visitors that have expressed elation at our new view – which is beautiful, and quite priceless – and a kind of understanding of what we are doing.
Our floor's not quite this good - yet!

Last week I visited the hairdresser and was chatting about our big project. The more I related to her, the more her smile dropped and a look of concern swept over her face. Her burning question seemed to be, “But is it clean?”

Well, of course, when we first arrived it wasn’t ideal. We had to remove numerous cobwebs and a copious amount of dust, but the situation is now much improved! The floor had seen better days, but we’ve now buffed it up to something very manageable – bearing in mind this is all to be replaced in the fullness of time. And of course, we keep abreast of a kind of modified housework whilst competing with the need to do an enormous amount of renovation work. Those that have been brave enough to visit have remarked that it’s all now quite cosy.

To some, it would seem that we are living on another planet, as opposed to just a ride away in the countryside. Or maybe they are worried that we have developed some contagious ‘urge-to-renovate’ disease, from which they may get contaminated.

Despite what some may think we are able to receive visitors, even if they may get asked, “Can you just hold on to that for a minute, while I just knock it in with a hammer?”

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Trial And Error

When we moved into the affectionately named ‘glorified shed’ last year, we felt we that we had quite a firm plan as to how the renovation work would take shape.

Light and airy would be good
We hadn’t originally planned to live in the building whilst doing it up, but when our thoughts of moving a static caravan on site went awry, it seemed to be the only logical step. However, we have to admit that it was the best thing we could have done.

Living in the space, such as it is at present, has helped us to reshape our design and decide on what will be the most practical layout for our new home. The bedrooms will now be in a totally different place than first intended, the living area will be much more open plan than we had thought and we are now starting work on the bathroom, which we decided shortly after moving in, will be in the former office as opposed to the first location that we had considered.

Longing for my bathroom!
Spending the last few months living in the building has made us view things somewhat differently. Not only are we changing design plans, but rethinking the materials that we intend to use and the type of heating that we may install.

I would say to anyone converting an old building (in our case a former workshop) into a new home, live in it, however bizarre that may seem at first (we’ve likened our experience to a kind of glamping) to be sure that you create the home that you really want!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The People On The Bus

In our village we’re fortunate in that we do actually have a bus service, although it’s frequency varies from hourly to two-hourly and at certain times it doesn’t run at all. However, as a route it’s quite good, linking two towns that have shopping centres, calling at a couple of other villages in addition to ours, along the way.

From time to time I take the bus to one of the shopping centres about an hour’s ride away, enjoying the passing countryside en route, although I’m ultimately using the service to reach my chosen destination. It would seem, however, that although many of my fellow passengers are using the bus for the same purpose, there is a steady flow of people who use this bus route purely to enjoy the view!

I quite often overhear conversations along the lines of, “I don’t normally get this bus, but fancied a look at somewhere different,” or, “I like to come on this bus just to see all these little villages and a bit of the countryside”. I suppose that’s quite nice to know, even if we’re sometimes crammed on the bus with our shopping just trying to get home, with many seats taken up purely by ‘sightseers’. But it does feel strange to now be living somewhere that people want to come and gawp at!

On one recent journey home, as we reached the edge of my village, I heard a woman proclaim, “Oh, look, we’re at that funny little place with the really narrow street!” “Yes,” I thought, “That’s my home! It’s quite nice really.” Although I actually live down the bottom of an even narrower lane off said little, narrow street, which obviously represents a novelty factor for some! It’s always odd when you hear the place that you live being described by an ‘outsider’ – it makes you view it from a different perspective yourself!

For my part, I’ve become increasingly aware of the homes that I see in the neighbouring villages, as in some cases the bus passes ridiculously close to their front doors. During recent trips, when all the Christmas lights have been blazing, I couldn’t help looking in at some of the rooms, which looked very welcoming indeed. I felt quite envious of their cosy warmth and orderly designs, knowing that I was on my way back to the ‘glorified shed’, where there is a bit of a draught and much work to be done before we can enjoy the same level of interior d├ęcor. Still, these homes act as a reminder of what we’re aiming for – rustic charm, but with a splash of our own personalities included.

I do quite enjoy my bus ride, and despite some of the more odd comments that I hear on the course of my journey, quite like the fact that others seem to make the trip just for fun!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

What Is Happiness?

I was a bit incensed to learn of the latest global survey about ‘happiness’. For a start, what is the real definition of ‘happiness’; surely it can range from mild contentment to exuberant ecstasy, and is not something that can be measured like a shoe size or expanding waistline.

When I was at school, we were constantly told not to use the word ‘nice’ in our essays, as it was too loose and vague a term. Similarly, using the word happy can be equally as uninformative, with it meaning different things to different people in different situations.

The survey was something I felt driven to write about, but it could be argued that it doesn’t quite fit in with either of my blogs. I suppose that I could have posted this on my other blog, where I certainly achieve some ‘happiness’ in the form of ‘pleasure’ when I go bargain hunting. But I decided that my rural blog was more appropriate, as I experience ‘happiness’ in a more ongoing form of ‘blissful contentment’ due to living in such lovely surroundings.

With regard to my own state of happiness, this fluctuates greatly, depending on current circumstances, the mood of those around me and even the weather! I am happy, as in feeling grateful and fortunate that I have a lovely family and a home (of sorts as it currently stands); I experience ‘happiness’ as in pleasure when reading books, indulging in hobbies or visiting certain places. But there are times in life when I get very sad – losing and still grieving for my two sisters and experiencing some quite difficult times in life, financially and emotionally. Happiness can certainly fluctuate greatly between one day and the next.

A chemical in chocolate reportedly
gives us the 'feel good' factor
I was not impressed, therefore, with the lady who appeared on Breakfast TV, sporting a smug expression and declaring that, “We are all responsible for our own happiness.” Yes, to some extent we can moderate our reactions, but we are not in control of everything that happens to us. Has this woman never experienced an unpleasant, or indeed disastrous, occurrence in her life? Well, lucky her! Losing loved ones, suffering abuse, living in war torn areas and so on are situations which we cannot control or choose. Similarly, those suffering from depression should not be told to, “Pull yourself together”, as depression is often the result of a reaction to awful circumstances or even a chemical imbalance. We would all prefer to be happy, but with the best will in the world that is not always possible.

Anyway, back to the survey. It’s no surprise that the nation rated the least happy was Iraq. Who can blame them with what they have to contend with? There also appeared to be a fair few ‘unhappy’ people in Western Europe, which leads me back to my original question, “What is ‘happiness’ anyway?”

Furthermore, what is the point of this survey in the first place? To state the blooming obvious? To give those who purport to being happy a pat on the back? Or maybe it’s to give us something else to moan about – after all, what really makes many of us ‘happy’ is having a good moan!