Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Bramble cottage update & more

Hello everyone!

Back after the Christmas break, but still off work.  The days are flying by and I have loads to do, but I need to learn and chill out sometimes.  Blogger are playing silly buggers and have done something to my blog, so the layout for me typing is all weird.  Apologies if this looks funny - we will see when I click 'publish'!  

Christmas was lovely. Time spent with my family, including a 5 and 9 year old, who were so excited!  Didn't have to worry about being off as my part time week started on the 25th December and I had a couple of leave days thrown in before for good measure.  I know I have Christmas off for the next 5 years now!!  

A friend popped over before Christmas with a present for me.  I unwrapped it, thinking it was an eco sex toy!  *don't look at me like that*  It is a pastry case maker! 

Start by putting your dough balls in the tin - 

Use said tool to smush the dough balls -
 et viola! Perfect cases for mince pies!!  A clever little thing, made of wood so double points from me! I do like wood.

I needed to go to the local garage and get my levels checked.  I wasn't quite sure what that meant, so just asked for a 'levels check' when I walked in.  He said "You've just moved down the Lane haven't you"?  It seems everyone knows everything around here.  "Pop back home and have a cuppa, come back in a hour".  So off I went.  Returned later to be told my oil was fine, antifreeze and washers topped up and everything in order. "No charge" he said.  I decided to bake some extra mince pies and gave the guys a couple of boxes, with some bottles of festive Stella Artois to wash them down with!

Onto the Bramble cottage update!

The kitchen is nearly done.  Just some tiling, new lights and painting and it should be finished.  Not quite sure when the tiling will be done as I haven't found tiles I like yet and funds are low due to Christmas splurging......but, the worktops are in and curtains made! 

That wall might be part tiled to prevent splashes from the hob, but haven't decided yet.  The wall will be painted 'box tree green' I think.

What do you mean I have a jar problem?
(the sad thing is, that is only a fraction of the jars I have).

...and the lovely solid chunk of oak is now fitted above Stanley the Rayburn!

I was very lucky this year!  Father Christmas brought me lots of lovely things, but more importantly, things I needed!  Take this rather smart 27" LED television for example!  Fits perfectly next to the fireplace and is simple enough for even me to use! 
Just the ugly 'black ash' shelving to burn, erm, replace and then the lounge is done! 

My little tree is still looking good on the coffee table.

The wind has picked up today and it is cold.  Will light the fire in a bit - have noticed the log pile dwindling rapidly, funny that.  

Now, the Bramble Cottage girls! 

Their run is up and erm, running!!  They moved in a few weeks ago and seem happy enough....

The mezzanine level that they weren't too sure about at first, but now are up and down the ladder all day! 

At vast expense, the fuse box was replaced with a proper RCD thingy-ma-bob, so I could finally get an outside plug!  The blue disc heats up slightly, to prevent the drinkers freezing in the winter.  The bricks are from my ugly storage heater in the lounge, so will hopefully keep both drinkers frost free!  

The girls are enjoying their run.  I am so pleased with it.  With a tub trug and rubber glove, I poo pick a couple of times a week and it is so easy to keep clean.  Looking out of my bedroom window today, I saw a fox in the paddock next door to my lane.  It was massive!  Pleased that the girls are safe, but there will not be any free ranging if I am not there.  

I now have the dilemma of what to do with the rest of the garden?....The cement mixer is not a permanent feature by the way....although there will be a log store against the fence behind it.  

I can probably get a couple of large raised beds in there, then put gravel in between.  You can't see it, but the oil tank for Stanley is on the left, with a huge wooden support for a clematis that I want to remove.  I will plant another one, but this is gigantic and hasn't been chopped back in years.  The wooden support is about 1/2 metre away from the boundary fence, so that wastes space.  I do need a productive veggie garden.  It is something that I couldn't live without.  Me pottering in the garden, hands covered in compost, whilst talking to the hens is something that makes me, me!  

Talking of things I would like, I have been in discussion with Mum & Dad about getting a dog.  I grew up with dogs and I would dearly love one, but work makes that tricky.  Mum & Dad haven't had a dog for a few years and would like another one, but they go away to their house in Germany every so often......the solution?  A DOG SHARE!!  *squeals with excitement* 

Dad isn't too keen, but will come round to the idea!  I have been looking at rescue centres locally, trying to find a one year old scruffy mutt for a few weeks.  I have researched insurance, costs, food etc and I can afford it.  The plan is to have the dog here when I am home and drop him/her off on my way to work where s/he will stay when I am away.  I will pick her/him up again on my way home....Seeing as I only work 14 days or so a month - many of those are very short days, it will work out well.  A friend dogs shares and the dogs soon get used to staying in two different homes.  

I am erring towards a Parsons Terrier - slightly taller than a Jack Russell terrier - I love their cute little faces & scrappy nature.  Look at that face! 

I mean, who could resist??

I am not rushing into anything (unlike normal)!   I have seriously thought about it for months and wanted to have a dog for years.  This is the only way I can do it.  I have spoken to Jase and he is happy to help out if I need it.  Friends down the road have also offered to help and one of my new neighbours have a new puppy which I have said I could look after if they are stuck.  I am sure they would return the favour!  Plus I had a couple attend a chicken course who run a pet companions service, just a couple of miles away if I ever need them.  The problem now is finding the right dog.  It can't be a puppy, as much as I would love one!  At least 9 months - 1 year old would be best.   

I watched The Edible Garden with Alys Fowler last year - she had a scruffy terrier called Isabelle, that would sit in her bike basket whilst she cycled to her allotment.  Jase has visions on me doing the same!!  It seems that most people in the village know me now, and know I have hens, so might as well live up to my slightly skewed reputation! Who cares?  I'm just me.  I could burst I am so excited about getting a dog.  

Ok, so this was supposed to be a mini update, but I have waffled on.  How unusual.  At least I haven't ranted this evening! 

If I don't speak to you before New Year, then I hope you all have a lovely time.  I plan to stay in with the fire, enough M&S snack goodies to feed a small family and watch dvd's! Bliss.  

I will leave you this evening with a picture of how my (little) *cough* fabric stash will look one day!

C x x x

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Has he been yet....?

Happy Christmas everyone!

I hope you all have a lovely day and Father Christmas brings you everything you wished for.

Am off until the 02nd January, so will update my blog soon!

Off to Family to stuff my face now!

C x x x

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

...and relax....


Right, 10 minutes to upload pictures and explain where I have been for the past couple of weeks! I seem to be stuck in a loop, where I sit down to update my blog and get sucked into the world of the internet, youtube videos, that are all linked and before you know it, you have lost 7 hours, your tea is frozen in the mug, (believe me, it does in this house) and you need to go and shave again....!

I always forget how manic things are at this time of year. Four Christmas fairs, coupled with moving house, builders in and work, have been driving me completely loopy. Loopier than usual.

Firstly, the fairs!

My little stocking & robin tree decs -

'Long sock' stockings were popular!

I sold so many hot water bottle covers!

I like adding little touches to my stall, like a wooden spoon in a mixing bowl with the mini cakes and filled stockings to show what Father Christmas might leave....

I did really well at the Weyhill Christmas fair this year. It makes all the hard work worth it. Old customers came back to see my wares and it was lovely to see them! One lady from Denmark bought so much from me! She even made me a felt heart to hang on my tree and fill with sweets! Will take a picture next time......

Work on Bramble cottage continues. It took Matt so long to dig out the area for the run, he worked so hard on it, but someone deemed it necessary to concrete in railway sleepers! They support trains for God's sake, you don't need concrete to support a bag of compost from the garden centre!!
You remember the garden as it was? Here well things have changed slightly -

and here -

I was sure I had taken a picture of the finished run, but can't find it now. It's dark, so will take one when I get a chance. The girls moved in with squeaks of excitement! It was so funny to watch. They are getting used to the ladder to take themselves off to bed, and only needed a bit of encouragement, with corn and a gentle shove to go up. It would appear that a couple of my hens suffer from vertigo.
As the eglus are on two levels (ground floor and mezzanine)!!, I asked matt to build a panel that slots in, so I can separate the runs for introductions. It works brilliantly! More pics to follow!

A neighbour saw the pile of sleepers in my parking space. She rolled down the window of her shiny black4x4 and I was greeted by peroxide blonde hair and ridiculously oversized sun glasses. "Those sleepers, I want them. I want raised beds for vegetables"!! She barked. Once the urge to say "I want, doesn't get" had passed, I explained that I hadn't decided what to do with them. She drove off leaving a cloud of dust in her wake and spewing gravel against my front door. Manners cost nothing. Another neighbour then knocked at my door and explained that a old lady down the lane was after some sleepers for her veggies as she had trouble bending down and wanted raised beds. "How much would you like for them, if you aren't keeping them"? £20, a hand shake and the deal was done. Nice.

The kitchen is 'work in progress' The base units are in, but still waiting for the worktops to be fitted. Matt had to move the electrics for the new hob & cooker. Chasing out walls, drilling and lifting floorboards....

It will be stunning, I keep telling myself!

A local company are making the worktops out of recycled floorboards. I have seen them and they will look amazing. Only slightly more expensive than standard Ikea block worktops, but they look old and more in keeping with the cottage. Need to make curtains to cover the front of the base units now.

The best news I have had all week is that Jase has found somewhere to live! We viewed a flat 2 weeks ago and they have now accepted his offer. Things tend to drag, but hopefully he will be in sometime in January! So pleased for him. I actually got a bit 'motional when he told me.

One thing I have learnt with old properties is that you cannot hang large pictures on the walls.....all my walls are 'out' so nothing hangs properly! I don't mind. Quirkiness is great. The freezing cold isn't. I am stunned at what a difference central heating makes to a house (obviously). With the Ecrap-omy 7 heating here, it is always cold. Time to move my bed into the kitchen to be next to Stanley the Rayburn. I have resorted to using a mini oil filled radiator in the spare room, as it is baltic in there. Polar bears have moved in. Can't wait for the real winter temperatures. At least I have lots of logs for the open fire.

The EDF saga continues. Another appointment missed and a £20 compensation cheque received so far. They will be here on the 15th December to remove my 'payment-dodging-chav' key meter. It is like an addiction, checking how much power I am using! Ooooh, 37p for the washing machine, the kettle costs 3p. I must get out more. At least when the other meter is fitted, I can't see how much I am using, The bill every month will be a shock.....The electrician will be here on Monday to install my new RCD consumer unit (fuse box to the layman, like me) & the outside plug for the hens' underfloor heating - joke.

6 large Christmas puddings made this week and many, many orders refused..... :0( I hate letting people down, but I can't make any more this year. Next year I will be more organised. I now have 13 puddings to deliver/drop off/post and that's me done! Had Bing's Christmas collection crooning away in the kitchen whilst I steamed the puds. Dead festive. So much so, that I bought a mini tree from the Fairground centre and walked it home, to a bemused look from drivers. Well, the tree is only 1.5ft tall. He looks great on my coffee table.
Next was the mantlepiece decs, only an oak beam inlaid into the brickwork, so after a few panel pins, dried orange slices, lights, floristry wire, hammered thumbs and lots of swearing, the lounge is decorated! Is 180 lights too many?? I won't look at the meter when the lights are on. Much.

Time to pack for work, wrap the last of the puddings and then chill out for the evening. I treated myself to The Polar Express dvd in the supermarket today. And a large bar of chocolate. *wishes there was a tiny font, so you couldn't read that last sentence*

Thanks again for all the positive vibes for the move. I'm settling in nicely now. Christmas is fast approaching...fa la la la laaa, la la la la......

C x x x

Friday, December 02, 2011


Evening All!

Sorry, been really busy with the house and Christmas fairs!

Kitchen is still a tip, chicken run looks amazing and I still have boxes everywhere.

Back to work in a day or two, but will upload pictures to my laptop now and try and get posting this week!


C x x x