Saturday, 27 June 2015

We’re Making Progress!

It’s been a busy week here at the glorified shed – things have been happening that are actually noticeable!

So far much of the completed work had been ‘behind the scenes’ so to speak, with underground drainage, removal of old pipework, rerouting of some electrics etc, but now there are changes for all to see.

Progress has certainly been made with regard to transforming the former workshop office into a bathroom. In recent weeks Mr H has been insulating the walls, putting up plasterboard and laying a level floor. Now the plumber has been in and put all the pipework and drainage in place for the washbasin, shower, toilet and bath. It’s now clear where each will be and it won’t be too long before they’re actually in place! We’re frantically ordering and buying all the paraphernalia needed for the finished, much anticipated, bathroom.

There's still much to be done in the living/kitchen area!
And as if this wasn’t enough, we’re also in the process of a having a new front door fitted. Not the sorry excuse for one that is peeling and cracking and is still bearing a sign marked “Entrance”, harking back to its workshop days. We’ve chosen a good solid door, with a small ornamental glass section, sporting antique-style fittings, and have even selected the paint colour in readiness. However, the job is far from straightforward, as the whole surround and frame has to be replaced first.

But once the bathroom and door are both complete, we’ll have our first proper taste of how our home may finally look, which is quite exciting!

Our thoughts are already turning to the next job on the list – insulating and plasterboarding the walls and ceiling of the main room, which is to be an open plan arrangement comprising kitchen, lounge area, dining area, home office space and hobby/crafting area. Hopefully we’ll see the addition of a wood-burning stove before the onset of winter too!

These are exciting times here at the glorified shed!

Friday, 19 June 2015

The Things I’ve Learnt So Far

Since moving to moving to my rural home in the glorified shed last autumn it’s been quite a learning curve. Settling into my new surroundings and embarking on a renovation project like never before, have each involved many new challenges and lessons.

Spot the heron!
So this is what I’ve learnt so far...

A building or renovation project does not, as rumoured, take twice as long and cost twice as much as expected to complete. It does, in fact, take at least three times as long and cost at least three as much as expected – well, in our case anyway. I’ll let you know if those figures change further. Of course, if we weren’t trying to live in the building at the same time, and could afford an expert team...

Having taken an interest in birds since moving here, I’m now able to identify quite a variety of species on sight, but am yet to master identification by song. With the odd exception, I can rarely identify a bird by its call, though I often wish that I could. The other day I heard a very shrill noise, and was just wondering which bird it belonged to, when my husband walked round the corner pushing a squeaky wheelbarrow! I still have much to learn!

Sadly, a fair amount of rubbish gets washed up with the tides on this stretch of river – but on the bright side we seem to acquire an endless supply of footballs!

In a small village, you may think that people don’t know you or anything about you – but you’re wrong!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

The Wayward Swan

On our return home from a recent trip out, we drove through the gate to find a swan pacing up and down in our car parking area. Said swan appeared somewhat agitated, intermittently peering anxiously through the chain-link fence that borders the river, in between wandering back and forth.

We decided to give it a wide berth and carefully made our way round to the front of the glorified shed, where we realised there was a trail of white feathers, leading back to where the swan now stood. On following the trail, we discovered that it started at a small gap in the bushes, which separate our garden from the river. A number of feathers were stuck on the leaves around the small opening, indicating that the swan had pushed through the gap, far smaller than itself.

The swan had obviously burst through the bush in some hurry – but what had caused its haste? An altercation with another swan? A daytime visit from a fox? We could only surmise.

Despite its agitation, the swan didn’t appear injured, so we tried to coax it back to the water by laying a trail of bread between its position and the easiest route to the  river – to no avail. We eventually decided to consult the RSPCA who said that it would come out in due course, unless we managed to remedy the situation in the meantime.

Our next thought was to give the swan some water, which it eventually drank, then ate a piece of the bread, which seemed to revive it slightly. We left it to recover and went to sit further along the garden. In due course we heard the pad of feet approaching and the much calmer swan appeared around the corner of the building.

It then slowly made its way down the lower path of our garden (between the bushes and river) whereupon it looked momentarily surprised (if that’s possible for a swan), as although the tide must have been in when it had arrived, making the river almost level with the garden, it had now gone out, leaving some distance between the two.

Finally, after much more pacing and deliberation the swan made it back into the river, where it swam off at some speed. So all’s well that ends well.

We had been starting to think that we’d acquired a permanent, resident swan!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Village News

Our adopted rural village is a peaceful place, often untouched by the chaos of the outside world. (Though I say adopted, my husband is a ‘returner’, having lived here many years ago).

Things here jog along at a steady pace with often very little to report. So much seems to be slowed down here – even the rubbish collections are fortnightly and the buses run one to two hourly, sometimes not turning up at all! Therefore it’s rare that l have any local news to report, however minor.

But I do have news – in a very loose sense! Firstly, at the time of the general election, we also voted in the parish council election, which has resulted in a few new faces on the parish council. In fact, at the last minute, the campaign for the election got a bit dirty, with a letter circulated by existing council members, literally running down the opposition. This was a move that obviously backfired (not surprisingly) hence their replacement!

And shock news! The bell-ringing night has changed! The activity has moved from a Tuesday to a Wednesday, which certainly managed to confuse me. It may sound sad, but you get used these little routines and use them to keep track of the week. Not that I’m a bell-ringer, I just can’t help hearing the enthusiastic chimes from the ‘comfort’ (hardly that yet) of the glorified shed.

Although our home is tucked discreetly down a narrow lane and our forays into the village mainly consist of trips to the village shop, the odd drink at the pub, standing at the bus stop or a wander to the recreation ground, we ourselves have obviously become news. There are certainly people that we are not yet familiar with, but who seem to know us. My daughter was quite surprised the other evening, to get off the bus and be greeted by a stranger saying, “Hello Amy how was your day at work?”

She arrived home quite stunned, saying, “But how did she know who I was?”

The village grapevine is obviously hard at work, but actually shows what a friendly place this is. I’m glad that our ‘news’ is quite minor – long may it stay a peaceful place to live!

Monday, 1 June 2015

The View It Is A-Changing

As we approach our first summer at the ‘glorified shed’, I’m aware of how much the rural landscape has changed over recent weeks.

My immediate view of the river, that runs just metres from my window, has been somewhat obscured by the leafy growth of bushes and trees along the edge, which now allow only for mere glimpses of swans, herons and egrets that frequent the water and opposite bank. In turn, the birdlife has changed, with only the seldom appearance of the once numerous cormorants and not the slightest glimpse of a lapwing or redshank in weeks!

The garden area, which burst into life with its spectacular blossoms in the midst of spring, has now become awash with green, interspersed with brightly coloured roses and the golden offerings of the laburnum tree.

And of course the surrounding fields have changed too, many have been filled with the vibrant yellow of oilseed rape (although now being replaced with swathes of green), with its pungent aroma and tendency to trigger my hay fever. Indeed, we’ve all noticed an increase in sniffles since moving to our rural home, a slight downside of country living, but one far outweighed by the benefits of the new lifestyle.

The country lanes have become harder to negotiate, with hedgerows and trees encroaching more on the roads, causing motorists to exercise more caution – and that’s not a bad thing at all!

Once we’ve experienced our first summer here, we'll have had a taste of all the seasons in our rural retreat, each of them bringing a different aspect to the landscape which I’ve loved. The ever-changing wildlife, diversity of colour and altering moods of the river all keep me interested in our rural surroundings.