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Thursday, 25 June 2009


At the start of June each year, Travellers gather with their families, traditional wagons and horses for the trek across the Pennines to the Appleby Horse Fair. This family are returning home and there are many groups still camped on local roadsides enjoying the get-togethers.

Their snug caravans have even less space than my "snug" next to the kitchen. In the winter there will be a log fire and all the books I want within arms reach are beside my sofa.

There is even the original toilet behind me! A bit too intimate at times but very handy. From here, french windows lead to the gravelled area and a cat-flap allows Tigger to come and go as she pleases. This means that she now has her litter tray in the small shed and has caught on to this arrangement very quickly.

I made some sails to cover the empty spaces below the sink and to hide the recycling basket and stuff like that, and...

I cleaned up the old fireplace and bakers oven and hung some chicken pictures and...

I spray painted some chicken wire and cut it to size and stapled it to the inside of the cupboard doors of the china cupboard. I saw it in a magazine and thought it looked good. I'm happy with the result but I dont know how long it will be before the wire gets out of shape and saggy.

I also did lots of rearranging of goods and chattels and took dozens of empty banana boxes to the skip so I'm ready to show the house to my sister who arrives from Dorset tonight. She will have started her journey at about 8am and I will collect her from the Megabus stop at Scotch Corner at 10.10pm tonight. We will be at my place about 15 hours after she left home and then we shall talk a bit or so and some more.

Cheers Gillian

Monday, 22 June 2009


I have just read what I have written and realised that I have "blog-mouth". That is what you get when you haven't been able to blog for ages because you have moved house and BT haven't been as well organised as you and you suffer from withdrawal symptoms without an internet fix each day.

This pic shows me cooking my first real meal in my new kitchen. It was
"Sung Choi Bao" from Kylie Kwong's lovely book of recipes and stories. She is, as her name suggests, a Chinese Australian. Many of the early Chinese settlers have kept their ethnicity even after quite a few generations as Australians and there is a rich tradition of Chinese (and other asian) cuisine in Oz. They were the first "take-aways" in Geelong, where I lived for a few years in the early 70s, and I remember lining up with saucepans to be filled and taken home to be swiftly reheated. This was in the days before plastic containers and plastic carrier bags.

I must say that there are less Chinese ingredients on the shelves here in the UK. I seek Sichuan pepper. Indian cuisine is catered for more than Chinese and Thai only seems to come in packets. I have noticed that Milton Keynes Fresh Food Market caters very well for a large variety of fresh fruit and veg and very good prices too. It serves its market. The market here, in Bishop Auckland, is for pastry and bread. Pies, baps and stotties abound. The favoured meat is pork and it is usually served as bacon or sausage. Apparently most coal miners kept a pig out the back and slaughtered it at the years end, so pork is still a favourite. I shop for meat at the local farm shop and have been thrilled with the quality and consistency AND PRICE.

As you can see, I have calmed down the colour scheme and added an extractor to keep the air cleaner and changed the lights...and as you cannot see, I have also stabilised the taps, cleaned the cupboards out and been down to the tip quite a few times. The woman at the tip looks forward to seeing me arrive and has taken the old light fitting away as if it was a great treasure. I'm so glad. I hated it. This light is not enough and another one will be added soon.

I went the whole hog and bought a TV for the kitchen!!! Well why not? I can keep an eye on things while I stir my pots. The armchair is Tigger's scratching post and hides her litter tray, although there are plans afoot to train her to use a litter tray in the small shed, now she has become an expert at using the newly installed cat-flap. She settled in remarkably quickly after having a sojourn at the local cattery while the move was on.

I had the chimneys swept before moving in and had a "living flame" gas fire put in the sitting room, then I had chimney cappings put on and then.... we had the "HAILSTORM OF THE CENTURY".
The hailstones weren't enormous but were rapid and fell straight down the chimneys. Quite a bit of soot was dislodged and the garden was inches thick in a few minutes.

D went to put some stuff away in the shed and forgot that there was a pond below the white stuff. He came in with a very,cold, wet right foot and as you can see by the out-lying stones, there wasn't much to indicate where the pond was until it all melted.

I spent a bit of money on a couple of blokes who scraped, sanded, filled and painted the stairwell. It is a three storeyed place and there are two flights of these convoluted stairs. They look so much better without the polystyrene ceiling tiles, thirty years of embossd wallpaper covered with regular doses of emulsion and frequently added nail holes and patch-ups. Oh I love the stairs and they will keep me fit. I had the stairwell painted in a Dulux paint that says it will reflect more light and I will eventually have the stairs carpeted. I looked into lovely stripey runners but they are very pricey and the stairs are not that well looked after at the edges. Top floor is next to be done.
Cheers to everyone,
I will catch up with my reading of blogs soon