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Friday, 29 January 2010


As you open the front door you see this. There are rooms to each side and this staircase leads up.

This is the view at the first floor return. On the left is the space where the master bedroom will be. It now houses the parts that will become the whole bathroom. The old wardrobes have been destructed by DJ with a sledge hammer and taken to the skips. The clothes have been sorted, the boots, the shoes, the hangers, the belts, the hats, the clutter of plastic bottles that promise some improvement in female bits and pieces.....All sorted and de-cluttered.
Then you go up the next flight of stairs.

Then there is the top landing. We have hung the Tom McGuinness print of Murton Colliery on the way up and Glen's "Crowd" at the top above the Goblin Teasmade. Because we now sleep on the third level, it is very handy to have a teasmade at the top!

The room at the top will eventually be the guest bedroom. For a couple of months, while the bathroom is being built, we will live up here.
Tigger loves this top landing and spends lots of time chattering at the jackdaws who live on the guttering and telephone wires. Sometimes it resembles a scene from "The Birds". Last week a hundred or so gathered on the rim of the gasometer. Hopefully they have now all flown away.
News tomorrow on the trellis!!!
Cheers Gillian

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Marmalade Making

I was a bit preoccupied with boilers and central heating and nearly missed the seville orange season. A friend at W.I. claimed to have made 50 lbs already, so I dashed off to the shops and bought 3kg and made the above. I've experimented with plain and flavoured, namely, ginger, lime, whisky and black treacle, but not all in the same jar!
The main, plain lot didn't reach setting point before I had to go out, so it had to be re-boiled but it doesn't seem to have done it any harm. But I'm way short of 50lbs....more like 14lbs.

All those hours of fine slicing (about 3 actually) are some sort of excuse for the slow sock knitting. I'm going to have to make more effort if I plan to get a pair a month knitted. I pondered giving them as xmas gifts and have ceased knitting this one while I decide, so that if I do I can make the foot the right sort of size.
B and A have nearly finished installing a loft ladder and floor boarding so that lots of stuff can be stored up there. I can hear them hoovering now and soon I shall go up for a look.
The snow has all gone, for the moment. There are rumours that more is on the way. I'm off over the fell to Staindrop for dinner tonight so I hope it holds off for a bit longer. I don't want it tomorrow either for a drive down to DJ's but the sky is looking a bit heavy so I won't be surprised.
Cheers Gillian

Saturday, 16 January 2010


The "engineer" (they used to be called plumbers) came three hours ago and already the temperature of the house has risen from 9 to 18 degrees Celsius. The condensate pipe was blocked inside the boiler and needed flushing clean. A simple job. More on this later when I have calmed down.

Tigger has not been further than an inch from me during these tough few days. She seems to sense my needs and concerns and attempts to sit on me and knead me into quietude.

She has also shown great concern for the news from Haiti, particularly watching the ever changing band of news flashes at the bottom of the screen. No disrespect to human tragedy, but she is so smart, I wonder if she is looking for news about all the cats.
She sat on the upstairs windowsill in between sitting on me and going foraging, and chattered as cats do, to the jackdaws which lurk around the guttering and telephone wires. They live on.
Now we are both back downstairs, in the sitting room with the gas fire on and watching some dancing show on TV. She is curled up, in her little bed, rather fatigued by the last week and I am on the other sofa turning the heel of the sock.
Perhaps tomorrow I shall go on the first walk of the year in Wolsingham.
Cheerful cheers, Gillian

Thursday, 14 January 2010


I'm not actually in the attic but this top bedroom does have a ceiling which slopes at each end to match the steep roof. B the builder is coming round next Wednesday to install an attic ladder and some basic flooring in the space above, so that it can be used for storage. DJ and I have both had long lives so far and have need for space to store the treasured remains.
BUT... I am in the upper room because the boiler is still not working. G and J, the cheerful plumbers, turned up as promised this afternoon and started by pressing a few buttons to reset the gadget. A great WHOOOOF of sound indicated that the boiler had lit. We celebrated the hot water gushing from the tap and the rapidly increasing warmth of the radiators. The temperature of the thermostatic controls went rapidly from 10 degrees C to 10.5 degrees.
They left jubilantly but still slagging off "Ideal" boilers as the plumbers' worst nightmare and arranging to price a new "Baxi Platinum" to install with the new bathroom.

So, I got out some wool and settled down to start a new project. I have five WIPs. A throw, a scarf, a hat, a sock and a jumper. But a new pair of socks was the most inviting. Sue
has planned to knit the equivalent of a pair of socks a month this year so I took on the challenge to join her, mainly because I had this enticing ball of Noro in the stash. I haven't ever knitted with Noro before.

Anyway about ten minutes after the plumbers had left and I had phoned DJ with the good news and sorted out the Noro, the house went deadly quiet again. The boiler had lost another life. If it was a cat it would have four left but I will definitely put it out of its misery before the rest run out.

I didn't spoil the plumbers' day by calling them back. I can press reset buttons and an "Ideal" engineer is booked for Saturday and anyway I'm in a warm room.

I haven't ever knitted with Noro before and was a bit concerned about its harshness and its lack of resilience, but others rave about it so I carried on knitting and the purple shade is just starting to appear now. It will be quite a surprise if the socks look anything like a pair.

I have played with the Windows Photo Gallery software to alter the colour of the photos so that the yarn colour is as realistic as possible and it has changed the background remarkably, indicating how much manipulation has been needed.
I shall knit on and hope to get some nice dark stripes soon.

I'm here on my own so the lack of a bath or shower is not a problem to anyone else. DJ is having horribly similar problems with his boiler but he would need his own blog to tell you all about them and the b---dy gas cooker!
Perhaps Spring will be early this year.
Cheers Gillian

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Bloody " Ideal" Boiler!

On the first day I moved into this house, the combi-boiler failed. DJ paid out £318 for an engineer to come round and install a new circuit panel and cover any further emergency repairs and parts for one year. A couple of months later it proved its worth when the pump went. Fortunately it was summer and it only took a couple of days.
Last Saturday morning I woke to a strange dying-from-exhaustion kind of noise from the combi-boiler (hot water and central heating). Nothing worked, it wouldn't do anything even when re-booted. This time the boiler-insurance company was impossible to contact. Their phone was engaged all morning so I resorted to paying a plumber to come and sort out the frozen condensate pipe. It was easily solved by arranging it to drip into a bucket inside the cupboard instead of trying to issue condensate through a frozen outdoor pipe.
This morning I woke at 5.30am to hear the exhausted boiler dying again. I rang the insurance company straight away....well before the rest of the country woke up and got on the phone. They took my details and announced that "Ideal" boilers was no longer part of their firm and they could transfer me but not until 8am. I rang back then, but the rest of the country was well risen and using their phone button fingers as fast as they could. There was no possibility that an engineer could get to me today. An engineer would ring me back and arrange an appointment. No-one rang me. I tried again later and did a really good version of being a pensioner, on my own, un-well and incapable but was told that the soonest I could see an engineer would be Saturday. No idea when, just hang around your cold home till one turns up or you die of hypothermia.
G the plumber came by after work and had no luck. He has gone home to study the "Ideal" boiler manual and try to stop swearing about how awful they are what b-gg-rs they are to fix. He will return tomorrow afternoon. If he can fix it HOORAY!!! and I will turn all the radiators on and have a hot bath. If not I will book into the local hotel till the engineer comes on Saturday.
Right now I'm in the top bedroom which is quite cosy, with the electric dimplex, the cat, the laptop and the TV. I journey out to do hurried visits to the toilet and make tea and toast and microwave ready-meals.
I was going to visit DJ and get him to have a little break from lorries, but I need to be here and anyway he has had a really rough time with his boiler playing up and not giving him a hot shower or heating his rooms properly and his cooker not getting hot enough to cook anything. It all costs money and causes plenty of angst.
Perhaps it's time to have a holiday. It was a long and tough year.
Cheers Gillian

Friday, 8 January 2010

Good Old Fashioned Snow

The snow has sent me back a few decades.
Apart from lighting real fires with coal and having porridge/porage for breakfast every morning, I got my pensioner bus pass out and went on the bus to the shops with a shopping bag. Mind you, so did everyone else. The buses were full and only a bit late and everyone was chatting away. It was easier than digging the car out and de-frosting all the important bits and the sun was shining brightly and the snow was only ankle deep.
I've also put on a vest under my top and a hand-knitted jumper over it so that the central heating can be left on 21 degrees most of the time. I work in Celsius because of all the years I spent in Oz so 21C would be 70F.
The bedroom has been shifted up to the top floor so that work can commence soon on the new bathroom. I anticipate a suitable quote for the work this weekend. Will I ever finish? I'm now dreaming of a new kitchen and I badly need a loft ladder to easily access all the storage space in the roof and then......
Cheers Gillian

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Things Go Well...Purewell Cat Fountains

I'm posting again because I have waited for this. It took a bit of time and effort but Tigger now accepts the Purewell water fountain as her own water supply. She hung about the kitchen taps for quite a while, hoping that they would suddenly fountain forth. DJ found it difficult to keep denying her and I must admit it was sad to keep booting her off the bench top near the taps, particularly as we had allowed her to drink from them before and claimed the procedure as "cute", but at last.............. she admitted that she knew what the new gadget was for. DJ has got so good at lighting the snug fire, that it all became close to red-hot tonight. The smoke I saw was not a leak in the stove but a log on top getting hot enough to start burning. It was quite a furnace.
I think that fires are "boy" things. I would have lit it successfully but would not have turned it into a furnace except by mistake. I would have worried about its red-hot glow. But DJ was thrilled wth it all!!!
I still sit beside its snug warmth, with a lovely box of chocs and a glass of wine, but soon to bed.

Cheers Gillian

Happy New Year

It is still snowing.
This is the view onto the street from the sitting-room window, showing my car being covered with snow again. It is blowing side-on at the moment and has been at it for a couple of hours since I took this pic. Cleaning off the snow and de-icing the windows is a fairly new procedure for me although I have faint memories of getting a car ready for trips from Leeds to Skipton during my teaching rounds at Skipton Girls High School back in the early seventies. I had an intensive course in handling "black ice", "deep snow" and "iced up car-parts" and often followed the snow plough over the Pennines to school only to find that the student buses had not made it, so classes were cancelled and I then had to follow the snow plough back to Leeds.

The Snug has a wood-burning-stove and so DJ cleaned the fireplace and grate and loaded it up. It is terrific sitting in here with it roaring away and the snow blowing horizontally outside. It cheers up the place as well as warming it. It burns paper, firelighters, kindling, logs and smokeless lumps. It goes from cold to red hot in an hour.

You can just detect the flames reflected in the bottom half of the french windows, just above the cat-flap. But Tigger's access to the outside world and her toilet has been ignored. She couldn't face the blizzard and got more and more distressed until I relented and gave her an indoor litter tray. She dived into the litter before I had finished pouring it into the tray and then used it thoroughly.

Luckily we have plenty of supplies to see us through in case we get snowed in and neither will we want for much. We won't starve and will have cheerful warmth, music, wine and TV.

BUT it is getting less and less of a novelty as each snowflake falls.

Happy New Year to you all,

Cheers Gillian