Monday, 7 September 2015

Have You Herd?

Our newest ‘neighbours’ at the glorified shed are a herd of cows that have been moved onto land across the river directly opposite us. We’d been seeing the cows for some time from a slightly further distance, but their new grazing station is that much closer.

We often hear their gentle mooing and watch with a modicum of trepidation when they get too close to the water’s edge, but by and large their presence does add to the whole ‘country appeal’ of our rural home.

However, we know the story of the wayward cow, and are on standby should the tale repeat itself. Many years ago, a somewhat brave (or possibly clumsy or stupid) individual made its way across the river and arrived in what is now our garden. Its distressed moos were heard in the early hours of the morning, alerting people to its presence. It was finally escorted from the premises by a bemused policeman and a slightly red-faced farmer.

One morning recently, we woke to the sound of louder mooing that sounded much closer than usual and for one moment thought that history was repeating itself. It was a false alarm, however.

More on the nature front, I’ve once again spotted a seal in the river. As I sat outside enjoying an early morning coffee, a lone seal swam past. At first I was only able to see its head above water, but then it decided to make a dive for it, treating me to a view of its whole body as it arced over into the water. It was very obliging of if to perform right in front of me, next time perhaps it could be even more obliging and make an appearance when I actually have a camera to hand!
Then just yesterday my son was delighted to spot a weasel in the garden – so now we’re all keeping our eyes peeled for a glimpse of one too!

There’s no doubt about it, the wonderful view, proximity to nature and interesting wildlife compensate greatly for the slow renovation of the glorified shed!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

A Year On

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been living at the glorified shed for a whole year now. How time flies – and how ‘normal’ this glamping existence has become!

Visitors are sometimes surprised that we appear to have made relatively little progress on the surface of things, with the renovation process seeming achingly slow. But there are a number of reasons for this gradual approach.

Firstly we were starting with a near blank canvass – a utilitarian shell, formerly a workshop, designed without any creature comforts, or even insulated walls! We really had to start from scratch, redoing electrics, laying new drainage, insulating and plasterboarding walls – the list goes on!

Secondly, where possible we are doing a large amount of the work ourselves to ease the budget (Budget? What budget? See below). Our time is obviously limited as it also has to be spread around work commitments – my husband’s design business, for which I also do copywriting; family commitments – a son still at school, a daughter bringing up a young son alone, another older daughter with slight learning difficulties and two elderly mothers for whom we are the sole carers; and just having a life!

Lastly, limited funds. We’re not of the ‘Grand Designs’ variety of homebuilders, with a budget of many thousands and a crack team of builders to hand. We’re slowly buying materials and paying necessary workmen (basically plumber, electrician and carpenter for specialised jobs) as we earn the pennies.

At least the view takes care of itself!
All that said, we have come quite some way since we first arrived at the ‘shed’ last September, making it at least liveable, however ramshackle some of the arrangements may seem.

As I write, the next major stage of electrical upgrade is taking place and the bathroom is nearing completion, with the ceiling going up and the plumber booked for the big installation of the suite (technically not a suite, as we’ve chosen individual pieces that work well together). What luxury it will be to step into a fully fitted bathroom of our own, as opposed to turning up at my mother-in-law’s with a towel!

All the months of running wires and pipes, working on walls and planning and replanning designs, we’ll have a finished room at last. The next big push is bringing the large, open-plan living area up to scratch with cosy insulation and a wood-burning stove.

Who knows, next year we may even get the kitchen area fitted out and some bedroom walls put up!