Monday, 30 September 2013

Renovation project - The wonderful world that is Wilmslow, UK

Renovation project - The wonderful world that is Wilmslow, UK

The trip home is going reasonably well, I am stressed out of my head but I am getting to see my daughter and granddaughter most days and it is lovely to be able to bath her and put her to bed, the baby that is!

The last time we visited Wilmslow, there was the most wonderful Artisan market, this time we are told there is a car show, we go to have a look and being Wilmslow this is obviously no normal car show. We had expected to see cars parked on a field somewhere but no, there are crowds of people on the roads, we notice some very nice cars pass by, but being Wilmslow this is not unusual, until we realise the police have blocked the roads and this is the car show!

There are Porsches, Ferraris, and an awful lot of other cars that I don’t know the name of. The cars are driving around the town centre; the most exciting bit is that there are actually a few formula two type cars!!!
Rather than just tootling around the cars are almost racing, at one point, the wheel spins and drifting in the middle of the traffic lights with just one police man stopping traffic and a few hundred people leaning forward to get a better view!

We have a walk around some of the stalls that have been set up and look at the car we will buy (when we win the Euro Lottery!!!!!)

The funniest bit is that a couple of Porsches actually come out of the supermarket and end up in the car show, they do not look out of place and this is why we didn’t know the show had started.

The Wilmslow area of Cheshire is a very nice area and if you ever get to visit the UK I would recommend spending a couple of days in this area, taking in Alderley Edge, Jodrell Bank and the Cheshire Plains, you can car spot, people watch (you will meet many of the biggest name football players here) or just idle away a few hours in fabulous scenery. And if you want the big city lights Manchester is just a short train journey away.

And when you are hungry there are so many restaurants or cafes to choose from, or you can just get pie and chips the best is Big Blue, but again being Wilmslow, it is gourmet pie and chips with a bottle of Prosecco!!!!!

We also recommend getting a Chinese take away from any of the local take a ways they are the best we have ever eaten Yang’s and Flame and Wok are our favourites (and now we don’t get paid to advertise these, but feel that they are just too good not to mention)

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Renovation Project - Visiting the UK

Renovation Project - Visiting the UK

We are up bright and early today as we are going back to the UK. The ferry leaves at 8.30 so we have to be there at 7.45, it is only a 45 minute drive so we leave at 7 am, we call in the town square to pick up some fresh bread and can’t believe how busy everywhere is.

As we drive I have a sudden panic as to whether we have locked the door, normally John just says shut up, but this time he is not sure, so we turn around and go back to check and yes it is all locked, but now we are late, this should be no problem as the roads are usually so quiet, what we don’t plan on is the fog, it is like pea soup all the way to Roscoff and then we hit a traffic jam! We are one mile from the ferry port and not moving, it is already 7.45!!!!

By the time we get in to the ferry port it is 8.30, but luckily the traffic jam was all ferry traffic and we still get on it.

The journey over is nice and easy and luckily the fog does disappear.

The night is spent at my brothers and then it’s on to my daughter and the baby, it’s strange but I feel really stressed, we have so many people to see and so many things to do on our short visit, I just hope we can get everybody in!

We spend the night babysitting and the baby knows who we are as soon as she sees us, a couple of days are spent trying to relax and enjoying the family, I have also started to know the names of the “in the night garden gang”!!!

The most amazing thing is that we get to see a lot of firsts, these are the things I have panicked bout missing with my baby granddaughter, but we get to see her crawl, see her stand for the first time and see her cut her first tooth!!!!!

Living away does not mean that you miss all of the important stages in the babies lives, it does mean that when you visit you have much more relaxed quality time with them and I’m sure she has saved all her milestones for when we are there.

John has some fantastic news but we can’t say yet.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Renovation project - We have a kitchen sink, but no running water!!!!

Renovation project - We have a kitchen sink, but no running water!!!!

The floor is all laid and set, and I have to say it does look fantastic.

Next job is finding a sink to go in there, the one that was in place is now in a million pieces but we do have 3 more in the barn, we look through them and find the one in the best condition, the only trouble is, it’s absolutely disgusting.

I spend the day cleaning it and it does come up unbelievably well, john makes the unit to put it on but we then have all sorts of dilemmas, john thinks it is too small and we need to get a full size sink unit, I am adamant that we are going to use an old original, I really want the room to be as recycled as possible.
So we decide to suck it and see, we are going to the UK tomorrow so when we come back we will be able to make a decision, or John will have been brow beaten and agree with me!

We also put the frame in place for the new cupboard which will house the water heater.

We still do not have any running water in the kitchen and it is a case of using the beautiful new bath for washing the pots, but good things come to those who wait. And as we have been waiting a long time for this kitchen, it really had better be good!!!!!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Renovation project - How to tile a kitchen floor

Renovation project - How to tile a kitchen floor

The next few days are a flurry of activity, the kitchen is stripped entirely, the new units are removed and you can finally see the lovely tiled floor that I spent months scrubbing by hand, I enjoy it for approximately ten minutes before we begin to lay the new tiles.

It is a little bit heartbreaking until I see how nice the new tiles are going to look. This is one of the things that you do have to be aware of, you may have an idea of what you want but sometimes it just won’t work. When we had decided to keep the tiles we were also keeping the old partition wall between the hallway and the kitchen, with this gone there is a big step from the hall down into the kitchen which would require covering and also the hallway would be on show and the tiles are not there!

When the mains drains were connected, they used the hallway and we now have a long strip all the way along it.

But the biggest tip here is to always look on the bright side (otherwise you may just sit in a corner and cry, lots!!!!!) the bright side is we get to have some fantastic black tiles that will make the kitchen look amazing, rather than having to choose a blue or orange colour scheme to go with the floor.

John starts to plan the tiles and the biggest tip here is to try to find a straight run that is in your eye line. This will make the tiles look square even in a room that does not have one straight wall!!!!!

The tiles go down relatively easily, and it is one of the few periods of time that the air is not blue around us.
Try to keep the tiles as clean as possible whist you are putting them down but do not stand on them! Once this is all done the floor must be left for a minimum of 24 hours for the adhesive to set (the longer the better especially in a cold damp house).

Once the tiles were set it is time to grout them, first is the cleaning to get the dust off and I could really see what they were going to look like, I’m getting excited all over again just writing this!

Then it’s back to reality with the horrible job of scraping the joints, how much time will I have to spend on my hands and knees on this floor? Once scraped we can add the grout and again it is 24 hours before we can use the floor.

So far this has meant not being able to use the kitchen for 3 days and nights, luckily we have good friends here and 2 of those evenings have been spent elsewhere, and both places are better cooks than me, I’m beginning to think having no kitchen is not such a bad thing!

Top tips
  • Empty the room
  • Make sure the floor is clean and free from any bits or debris
  • Find a straight line that you will see when you come into the room (there’s not much point finding a straight line that can only be seen from a certain angle that nobody will ever stand at!)
  • Do not mix too much adhesive (it will only last so long and it doesn’t take much time to make more if you need it)
  • Keep the laid tiles as clean as possible
  • Do NOT stand on the tiles once they are in place
  • Leave the floor for at least 24 hours before grouting
  • Scrape the joints to ensure that there is enough room for the grout to be added
  • Clean as much grout off as you can whilst you are doing it

Friday, 20 September 2013

Renovation Project - The BBQ finally makes it outside

Renovation Project - The BBQ finally makes it outside

Today gives us another big dilemma, well it’s not a dilemma for me as I know exactly what  I want, it’s a dilemma for John as he doesn’t want to do what I want, I wonder who will win?????

The wall between the kitchen window and back door is one that was in a really bad way, it is the part of wall beneath where the old toilet had leaked and there had been really bad rot, something has to be done to the wall, I want to remove all of the plaster and expose the stone wall but John thinks the stones may not be good enough to be exposed. We discuss this for quite some time until I point out that for how long it is taking us to discuss it we could’ve done it!

He eventually agrees and oops he was right! The stones are not good enough to be exposed and the plaster has been put on top of cement so trying to get it off is a night mare, we spend hours on this job knowing that we will have to replaster, this is the royal we as actually it will be John replastering and not me.

Once it is all off we realise it was the right thing to do as the wall is not in good shape and there is still some rot in the beam above the door. John removes all of this and treats the wood.

I end up with a dreadful headache and now we know it is the fumes from the wood treatment, even with a mask on the smell is terrible, it does not bother John at all but this is something worth noting, if you are going to use chemicals you may react to them, be aware!!!!!

Next to come out is the kitchen sink, again this has been concreted in to place and there is no option but to remove it with brute force. This is not a major issue as we have a number of old sinks that we can replace it with, we just have to find one with no cracks or chips.

The most exciting bit of today is that the BBQ finally makes it outside, it has been moved to the kitchen terrace (or the bit of hard standing that is outside the kitchen window) but one day this will be our kitchen terrace!!!!

We are actually going to have a real kitchen, the house is definitely starting to come together I’m so excited I don’t worry too much about the fact that we won’t have a working kitchen and my beautiful bath will be used for pot washing!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Renovation project - Is French plaster the same as English plaster - Noooooooo

Renovation project - Is French plaster the same as English plaster - Noooooooo

It’s time to get the kitchen ready for the new floor, john decides to plaster the entire back kitchen wall, and discovers that his new super duper plaster is no longer quite so super or duper!

It is not that good on a big surface and we are back to the normal cursing, he manages to get it finished but he’s not happy, I say it looks fine, this does not help, then we go on to the:

It is not fine

I don’t do fine

I do perfect.........

I try to appease him but give up, (I am almost expecting to see him jumping up and down having a proper tantrum!!!!) he’ll get it sorted at some point so instead I go back to my wood stripping.

Personally I think it looks fantastic as do friends that stop by and have a look, but John is a perfectionist! It is mad to think that he is getting so upset by a wall when we are still living in a building site, but these things do happen, it is something you have to come to terms with when using materials you are not used too and that are very different to what you have used for the past thirty years.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Renovation project - Apologies for the unplanned break

Hi everyone

Many apologies for the interlude in the blog, but thank you for all the messages I have received, it really is amazing that people around the world have missed us.

I have had problems with the computer, the camera and then became quite ill.

All is back to normal and the blog will pick up where we left off, hope you continue to enjoy it