Saturday 30 April 2011

Sunrise through the early morning mist.

It was not I that took this picture! Mike goes off for a walk about 6a.m. and takes the camera sometimes. He meets all manner of people on these walks. Today it was a landscape gardener. He is to come along and get rid of/trim/cut back the awful leylandii which are totally masking the views at the rear of the house.

One of our cherry trees in blossom. So far I have found two pink ones at the rear. Others are white, not sure which are ornamental and which will bear fruit. I am not up on cherry trees. Yet.
There are cherry trees at the front, and in the middle of the lawn. All in blossom at the moment.

This is our sitting out area, by the summer house. The path to the right leads to a small wrought iron gate. But as this is straight on to the road , almost onto the t junction, I cannot think what use it is to have.

Also in the seating area one of the buddhas contemplating the pots of lilies.

I had hoped to get them into the garden proper, but as yet, we are still mulling over where to put what, so they will remain in their pots for another year.

I tried out our wood burning chimenea, despite the fact it was a glorious day! The wood Mike had bought was a bit big and has just smouldered. But once we get the right stuff it will be very useful in the summer evenings. And I do love the smell of wood burning. We intend to have a wood burning stove installed inside the house.

Oh! Nearly forgot. We found out how to work the wine coolers in the dining room. I should have known - most things in this house have a remote control, even the lights, and there was this wee remote which I had thought was to redirect the sound from the radio into different rooms. But no, Mike discovered it turned the wine coolers on. So we have two bottles of white wine in there and see what happens!

Just as we came in from outside our friend from up the road called by. Now my normal reaction to any visitor is to drag them in and put the kettle on or open a bottle. But she was accompanied by a very large Dobermann....Not knowing where our three cats were I had an uncomfortable chat on the doorstep, feeling so bad as this was so totally against my grain. And this the person and husband who had given us what was one of the best meals I have ever had, the day after we moved in. Anyroads we got invited for afternoon tea on Monday, so havent completely blotted our copy book.

I am so unused to a social life after running a b&b for nine years and being at paid guests beck and call it is hard to get my brain into gear that I am no longer in that situation! Always having to be around from 4p.m. onwards. Not forgetting the mornings and breakfast and cleaning rooms and making beds. I still find it difficult to go and sit in the sitting room and watch the television as for many years, come the evening I would be in my bedroom watching it there. Even though this is a different house I still have that feeling of possibly having to disappear should a guest want to be in the sitting room. How daft is that! And when Phoebe, our parrot starts the jungle noises, it really doesn't matter, whereas it did before. That sort of taut feeling that everything had to be right for others not us.

They do say you have to be mad to do b&b. Lets hope sanity is slowly coming back.

Thursday 28 April 2011

Getting oot and aboot.

Yesterday I attacked the upstairs bedrooms (2).
I made up the two beds. One Super King size which is also twin beds when unfastened, and a double. Bearing in mind we have down sized from seven bedrooms I had thought I had freecycled a lot of bedding, and pillows, but somehow have ended up with enough pillows for a ten bedded hotel..... I will do another recount and may then have another load for charity. Also hung some of our many pictures. Again, I seem to have far more pictures than walls, so another re-think there.

In the evening was Rotary. I took my friend, who has showed an interest in joining, for a second visit. She still wasn't put off and is to join.

This morning Mike and I went in to Fraserburgh to sign up at the doctors. The computers were down. Just hope I do not have any health problems till after the Royal Wedding and May Day, the day after which "They should be back on." So they are going to Westminster too?

We then slowly drove up and down streets looking for an alleged 'Garden Centre' - in the middle of a town???? We found it. It was one of those gems of a place which you enter and it goes off in all directions. Full of pots, hardware, plants in a sunny courtyard at the rear, naff water features, garden ornaments, paint, pet food, bird food, fire hearths, grates, guards, buckets, food containers, seeds, stuff you havent seen since you were a child. Total bliss to be honest!

We bought (hopefully) the right attachment for our hose to fix on to the outside tap. A pot to hold one of my now re-potted orchids, a packet of Californian Poppy seeds, and managed not to buy a very cute hedgehog planter.

Next was the electric shop. I have never in my life seen such a big television as was on display! Almost as big as the screen in the cinema I went to as a child for Saturday matinee. But all we wanted was an aerial connector to extend what I have on in the bedroom so I can watch my rubbish, while Mike watches the more serious stuff. I could watch t.v. in the kitchen, where our predecessors left us the wall mounted t.v. But somehow this is too decadent for me, and too disturbing for our parrot who is in bed and asleep by 7p.m. She doesnt bother about us trundling around doing kitchen stuff but would be totally unsettled by 'Britains Got Talent'.

Then it was on to a bike shop. Mike wants to get a bike to tour the countryside in. He is up at 6a.m. every morning and walks. His other plan for the bike is that he can cycle to our friends who live nearby, leave the bike at their house and get on a bus. This entails him obtaining a bus pass, which he is entitled to, but the hoops one has to go through I wouldnt bother. But then I get sick on buses.
He was shown a variety of bikes and received lots of good advice. But the prices of said bikes was - to me - a quarter of a car. In a very low whisper the shop person said, "Go on the internet." However, he cant wait that long, and has subsequently purchased one in Peterhead for much less money.

Then it was time for coffee. Last night, at Rotary, my friend who is the superintendent (?) of the Fishermen's Mission in Fraserburgh and most of North Scotland actually, had told me about the restaurant there. So that's where we went. What an experience! I am not sure the other patrons were fishermen. They did not have the yellow wellies, or the tan cowboy boots which do seem to be de rigeur around here. Howsomever, none of them batted an eyelid at the ancient couple buying coffee (instant yeuk), and the female of the pair hurtling off to the loo.
Half way down the coffee I asked the woman who had served us if himself was in. Establishing he would be in the office, I went down the corridor, knocked on the door and astonished himself! He came and joined us, and then gave us a quick tour of the place. Upstairs was a Memorial Room for all those lost at sea. This gave the bereaved a chance to visit, somewhere to mourn as of course there would be no grave. I did find that very moving.
The Mission supports families who "Fall outwith the tram lines" of help and assistance from any other organisation. And that support continues until the children, if any, reach independence, be that starting work, leaving college, or, even older, leaving university. Or if the widow finds a new partner. The other fact I came away with was how many millions are donated to the Lifeboats and how very little finds its way to the Mission.

We had to then shoot off to the Lighthouse Museum. Here we were meeting the Best of Banffshire and Buchan Bed and Breakfasts group for lunch.

After exchanging all our news and taking up most of the cafe there, which overlooks the sea, and is one of my favourite eating places, saying Hello to Virginia who is the curator/manager or whatever she is called, can never remember. We usually get a full on promotional talk from Virginia, but this time she just limited herself to threatening us with a FULL guided tour in the Autumn. I think she considers us good practice. We then moved on to visit the Fraserburgh Heritage Centre. This was set up and is run by volunteers. And all credit due. It is a fascinating trip down memory lane in all sorts of directions of Fraserburgh and its many worthy and famous citizens.

Bill Gibb, fashion designer, to name but one. Look it up on the internet for all the (surprising)people who hail from Fraserburgh.

The weather continues sunny and, today, much warmer than yesterday. This is the beach.

And this the harbour.

Mike took the picture - ( always make sure you have a yellow van coming out of your wife's head.)

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Trying to prioritise - and slow down.

This is my summerhouse. In there I intend to do my sewing, drawing, write my book, pot plants, grow seedlings, listen to my music, drink wine, chill out. Have I done any of these? Not yet. Although if you look very closely there are three tomato plants on the verandah! From my friend Lucy. Remember the name, Lucy is one hell of a character.

In the drawers are all my fabrics. The chair in front is a sliding rocker I bought for a fiver and have reupholstered, but not finished as it needs trim and brass headed nails to finish. There is also a cushion to finish for it, one of the long round ones to fit into the small of your back. Everything there but not completed. Lots of other projects in mind to sew.

The above is Aphrodite at the Waters Edge. Bought from the NEC (near Birmingham), many years ago, and cost quite a lot of money, which I seem to remember we didnt have, but we fell in love with her on sight. A water feature. And when we went to collect it after the exhibition, we got to meet the artist, in her studio, who made it. (No I cant remember her name. Or even where her studio was, but it was near Tamworth.) The water comes out of her ears (well in that area) trickles down her breasts, most tastefully I promise you, and once placed so you dont see all the wires and plug, brilliant! Aphrodite used to sit in our conservatory in Tamworth and hasnt really fitted in anywhere since. She certainly did not go in Greenbrae.
But there is hope for her here at Cherry Cottage.

The Bistro set outside the summer house.

The wooden set, repainted today by moi, outside the summer house. Table legs yet to do.

So all in all quite a productive day. The sun was shining, it was warm, no wind. So what did I decide to do? Off to Peterhead, New Look, Dorothy Perkins, Superdrug, Happit, M&Co., retail therapy. Yeah. And feeling guilty all the way. So -

Back to paint all the outside wooden furniture.

Then sit on the unpainted furniture and have a wine down.

Entertained the joiner come for a looky.

A lot to be said for prioritising. Not sure about the slow down. I really havent been brought up that way. Can an old dog learn new tricks?

Monday 25 April 2011

More neighbours stately gnomes.

Cairness House. From the front. Haven't found a picture of the back as yet as it has an amazing curved bit, similar to the avenues in Bath. This is the house we can see from our front window.

Now this, below, is Crimonmogate, which I think has a far more wow frontage. The owner of this one is a member of my Rotary and we all went for Christmas drinks and nibbles. Christmas before last. This Summer I am having a bit of a do and hope the owners have as good a time here as I did there! They wont fall over servants here as I did there.....

And finally, this is Cortes House. I dont know much about this one at all, but you can book it for £3736 a week! Bit different to the self catering holidays we used to have.

After a very gloomy start to the day, and rain, the sun came out. It is still warm and no wind. There was always a wind at our previous home. You would think that being nearer the sea it would be more windy here, but so far, not so. Unfortunately, yet again, I had concentrated on housework and by the time the sun made an appearance I was too weary to do any more than drive to Argos, buy some more curtain rings and another cat door. The joiner is calling in this evening to "Hae a looky."

Leaving Cherry Cottage you drive with fields on either side. One ploughed field to the rear of us. The rest are grass. Cows, calves, horses, sheep, including one small field with ewes in and their lambs, almost all the sheep have twins. After a few minutes you come to a cross roads and can see the sea. Left is to Fraserburgh, right to St Combs, straight on for Inverallochy and Cairnbulg. Fraserburgh is a town. The other three are fishing villages. Well, they were. The houses there tend to be all gable end on to the sea. So living there you have to come outside to get a sea view! So onto Fraserburgh. The golf course is on either side of the road, the sea side is on dunes. So I now drive to my nearest town with the sea in view all the way. At the end of this road is a cemetery on your left, and Argos, Lidl and Pets at Home facing you , with Tescos on your left. If you turn right there is the esplanade, and then the harbour.

Aren't I the lucky one.

Sunday 24 April 2011

Settling in..

As a friend said to me today, you forget about the chores when the sun is shining, and you are not having to keep things done and dusted for paying guests any more. How true. Lesson learned the hard way, as I trundled on this morning, and when I had finished the sun had gone, the clouds had gathered. But I managed a sit outside on the verandah of my summer house/studio/sewing room/authors den/wine down area, in the afternoon, if only for a short while. These are the views from there.

Sith, to give hime his full Gaelic name, Cait Sith, which means, 'Fairy Cat', joined me. Sith is quite neurotic and needs almost constant reassurance that all is well. For a very large cat, he is a bit of a wimp.

We are beginning to place our stuff outside as well as inside now. My outdoor furniture never did get all its painting done last summer, but now I do have the time to finish it off and make it look good. So what I should have done this morning was have gone outside with paint brush, not carried on indoors! Note the table that should match the chairs.

This planter has lovely rock garden type plants in, sedums etc. It used to have a statue within it/on top of the 'bowl', which was a fountain. Androcles and the Lion no less, with water spouting out of the lions mouth. Not something I would have chosen to buy. But my sister in law used to work at a garden centre and they were clearing out for the next season of stuff, and it was going free, so she gave it to us. When it eventually packed in pumping water, Androcles and the lion were placed in the herbaceous border at our previous home as a statue. The rest of it Mike planted up and we have brought the thing with us. When we came to view the house there was a large wooden tub in this area, ours looks far better I think!

Well I have finally emptied all the boxes downstairs. The dining room is empty of them. My piano is in there, I have found the plug (its an electronic effort) and the sheet music. I haven't played it for about seven years so need to practice. The dining table and chairs are now ordered (and paid for.) Delivery is a week Tuesday. Hope we have chosen the right combination of colours of chairs....

This really is a new life. After nine years of catering for paying guests I am trying hard to realise that I can go into any room in the house - if I wish - in my pjs, minus make up, without a fixed smile. Now its a real smile! I don't have to worry about the parrot being too loud, (other than annoying to us on occasions.) It feels like a big relax of the solar plexus.

After many years of looking after others, parents, siblings, children, guests, its really taking a big breath of fresh air. Inhale deeply. Pity the lungs are so shot that it all ends up in a big cough!

Friday 22 April 2011


Road to Craigellie.

Sounds a bit like Dornorm (Doreen and Norman) type house name, but I dont think it is. The area we now live in is Craigellie, and the house belonged to the feudal lord of the area. Surrounded by scaffolding and in the morning mist it doesnt look too impressive!

The other stately home to our left is Cairness House. I know a fair bit more about it as I have had the tour. It is now owned by two men, Julio and Khalil, who are very, very enthusiastic about renovating the house and furnishing it with antiques and paintings. Almost as keen on the exterior, planting trees etc., as they are on the interior. They offer bed and breakfast as well as being a visitor attraction. For once Visit Scotland did not insist on them having ensuite bathrooms, and did not inspect their wallpaper seams, as they did with me.....

Our four footed neighbours. Lots of sheep and cattle around here. At Greenbrae there were only a few sheep and one dairy herd, and a few bullocks occasionally, being fattened. The farming there was agricultural, barley, oats, wheat and oil seed rape. The plant most grown around where we are now are Tatties. Lonmay is famed for its potatoes. Indeed there is a farm shop just up the road which has at least 25 varieties.

Another beautiful sunny day today. But there is a cool breeze. So I have remained inside apart from a few brief forays outside to hang the washing. Again totally different from Greenbrae where I soon learnt never to hang out washing as it disappeared over the horizon on the very strong winds we experienced there.

Today was a break from emptying boxes. I was a practising Perfect Housewife. What a difference! Vacced all through, mopped, cleaned all mirrors and pictures. Bathroom done. Mike does his own. Kitchen spotless. It took me all day just to scratch the surface of it at Greenbrae. Seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms, sitting room, dining room, snug, library, hallway, corridors. This is heaven! Having said that I was pretty exhausted come lunch time, but I could see what I had done!

The cats have been so well behaved and have settled in really well. Still no cat door - the joiner I rang had the flu. They are let out in the morning and disappear for quite a while. Then they ask to go out whenever and ask to come back in again, face at the glass door and a yowl. In the evenings they havent asked to go out at all, if they did I would ignore them! Litter trays conveniently out of sight under the stairs if required.

Phoebe, the parrot, is lop sided, but doesnt seem to mind. Two of the castors on her cage got smashed on the move so I cant move her around. I am contacting the suppliers to see of I can get replacements. She has had a bath, plant spray shower, and is also being very well behaved, very few jungle screaming sessions now she is able to see what is going on all the time, instead of being shut up in the snug at Greenbrae, so as not to upset any guests.

So, all in all, things are looking good. If I could just get the wine cooler to work. But then I dont like white wine, so why bother? The red wine is perfect!

Thursday 21 April 2011

Almost a week now!

This is the garden to the left of the house. Or the right if you look at it from the front. Far bigger lawn area, even, that we had at Greenbrae. This according to the man who cuts the grass and has been off to B&Q and buy the second of new lawn mowers. The first was electric and bought specifically to do the wee bit of sloping garden at the rear. The second is a petrol driven machine almost identical to the one we sold with Greenbrae! Does he think we are made of money?

Kitchen dining area, now without boxes. Tell a lie, just the one,if you look closely, now gone down to the summer house/ sewing room/ craft area/art den. Please note my 'Marilyn' chairs from John Lewis. Love them. No you will not be seeing me sitting on them full frontal naked. Too horrid to even contemplate. Those of you who are old enough think Christine Keeler.

From our front window we can see Cairness House, stately home. Far better class of neighbours here!

And theres me standing by the front door of Cherry Cottage. Wondering what on earth himself is doing in the middle of the road.

We went off shopping this morning. To Fraserburgh. Now our nearest town. We toured the Cooperative - good with food - so saith the advertisement. Ended up at Tescos for the few bits we couldn't find at the Co-op. Like free range chicken or free range anything or organic, and basil.

Called in at the Tourist Information Centre to bid a fond farewell to the staff there. Barbara on duty today gave us a list of recommended joiner, electrician, plumber, not very touristy stuff! BUT turns out she is an in law of our nearest neighbours. What a small world! And very useful for good relations. Although, we have already been visited, twice in fact, by Dorothy, our neighbour who actually lived in this house and then built a bigger one across the road. Dorothy brought us a lovely chrysanthemum plant and a card. (Sorry Dorothy but chrysanthemums do mean funerals to me. But this is a very cheerful yellow.)

Had lunch at the cafe overlooking the beach. I could have took some amazing photos of the beach, the sea, the lighthouse at Rattray, the wreck at Cairnbulg (our nearest village), but all was shrouded in a sea mist. Which kept rolling back and forth, so one minute you thought, grab the camera, then it had all gone again.

So back home. More sorting.

In our dining room which has this wonderful (?) range of glossy black fitments which include fridge freezer, DAB radio/cd player which has speakers all over the house (!) and two wine coolers. Well I couldn't find any way to turn these wine coolers on. Having spent a fortune on wine so as to fill up our new wine rack in the kitchen, there was some white wine which I put into the wine cooling cupboard and then realised it wasn't turned on. After much cupboard opening and climbing on chairs to see if it was at the top of all the units we had to admit defeat and will have to phone our previous owners and ask, "Did you just do all this for display?"

Last night I went to my Rotary. I had invited a friend who had shown interest in joining. When we arrived there was no-one there.... I have never gone before and found I was the first, but I do live a lot nearer now! So much for giving her a good impression.

Also, in the bar was a chap from visiting from another Rotaryclub. So I had to welcome him, then set up everything, the lectrum, the gaval, the visitors book, then the taking the money book. I was shattered before we even started! As usual we had a good turn out and a very good evening.

On the way home I saw three large deer in the field next to our house.

Tis a good place to live.

Must mention that in the morning yesterday I went to Cairnbulg/Inverallochy. Two villages one one one side of the road the other on t'other. Visited the Post Office. Got some cash, asked about getting hold of The Handy Pages. This is a directory of all local businesses, joiners, plumbers, everything. The Post Office Man said, "You can borrow mine, so long as you bring it back." He didnt know me from Adam. Next stop was the village shop. Friendly local shoppers, "Go on wify."

"No I am looking round to see what there is."


Library. So much information I was totally overloaded.

Coffee morning going on in there.

"Have ye anyone buried at St.Combs?"


" Nay bother, do ye want a coffee?"

Sometimes, only sometimes, you wonder if there is a god. If there is - she is living in the North East of Scotland.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

A few short miles....

from where we lived before, but so different.

This is what made us late for Sunday lunch! They are sheep, and eventually surrounded the car, and carried on down the road.

This is what we had escaped from!

This is the dining room. Every other room was the same, and the summer house, and the garage even worse.

The kitchen.

This is St.Combs. We were taken out for Sunday lunch by our friends, and this was the view from the restaurant. The foreground is stones placed by the hotel. The actual beach is lower than them but you can see a bit, its a lovely sandy one, but also has rock pools, in some parts. Just look at the colour of the sea!

We moved in on Friday. Just in time for BT to install our new phone line. Broadband was also to be installed. After numerous telephone calls, nervous breakdowns and swearing (me)(me)(me) we finally had switch on this afternoon (Wednesday.)

So here we are. More pictures tomorrow when I have unpacked a few more boxes.

Thursday 14 April 2011

You just have to laugh!

This is so true to our current situation!

Our removal man said we would need 100 boxes. Obviously a professional. I had looked at him askance. But we are down to only three empty ones and still have the last minute things to pack, including the computer and two t.v.s.

I am now packing bags and stuffing them in my car with the things we will need asap and not have to open boxes to find. I have, of course, to leave room in the car for three cat boxes.

In the morning the cats will be put into an empty bedroom, with food, litter tray and water. As they all hate each other they will still be fine in the bedroom as it is very large. They will have their travelling boxes to sit in if they wish and the quilt off our bed as a comfort blanket.

Once we move them into the new house the only place I can shut them in is one of the bathrooms. They will have the same comfort blanket, litter tray and food and water, but in a much smaller room. And the vets is further away....

I have moved cats quite a few times now and each time it has been something of an adventure.

Probably the worst one was moving four cats, two rabbits and a goldfish. This was from Yorkshire to Staffordshire, so quite a long journey. One of the cats escaped from its basket within minutes of us setting off and sat and dribbled on the daughter who was supposed to be helping, but was no help at all. Being screamed at for dribbling, the cat disappeared under my seat, the driving seat, and being petrified it would get under the pedals, I had to do an emergency stop on the motorway. By this time the cat was in with the rabbit, who was not impressed, and had also become soaked from water sloshing around the fish.

Tranquillisers are often advised for moving pets. My father in law kindly donated his two ginger toms, before he would agree to moving out of his vast mansion, to downsize into my sister in laws, not quite so big, mansion. These two had to be moved from Cumbria to Staffordshire and he had already arranged for tranquillisers from the vets. Morning came for us to depart from Cumbria with the two cats. Well one of them was obviously psychic. Always slobbing around 24/7 one of them could not be found. He was eventually, but, by the time he was it was me who needed the tranquilliser. It was quite worrying driving down with two cats sitting very, very still, with that glazed fixed stare. I thought, I could really do with some of whatever they are on.

The parrot will also be in a cat basket/carrier. She is a good traveller. Main problem is getting her into the carrier. She has been trained, by me, to "Step up", onto my hand. And later to "Step down". This is fine so long as she doesnt see the cat box.

We had a practice run today as Mike wanted to check the cage would fit in to his car. So I had to put her in a cat box while he took the cage outside and put it in the car. Seemple. Well, no, she saw the cat box. So while I had one clawed foot doing as it was told, "Step up!" the other was firmly fixed to the side of the cage. The beak was , to be fair quite gently, holding on to my thumb. However, knowing she can crack a walnut I wasnt too comfortable with that. For some reason if you hold a towel above her head, or any piece of material to be honest, she will obey. So having prepared myself with a tea towel stuffed in my pocket I held this over her head and she was in the cat box in no time and I only had a bruise on my thumb - not copious amounts of blood. (And the worry that she will remember what me sticking my hand in tomorrow and saying, "Step up," will mean.)

So, tomorrow it all happens. We move, lock stock and cats and a parrot. And no tranquillisers till after it is all over. The wine is of course in the bag marked will need asap.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

I have had enough now....

Packing, cleaning, packing, cleaning.....

Theres only so much I can do in a day. And now I have only one left.

Sandwich for tea tonight and a take away tomorrow. Kitchen cleaned, cooker included, so no touching that.

So many boxes. Still a few to pack with last minute stuff. Of which there still seems an awful lot. I am nearly at the point of being fed up of the two dvds I havent packed, cannot remember which box the rest are in.

Now surrounded by bags as well as boxes. Stuff I dont trust the removal men with. And the stuff I am going to need, may need, almost immediately. Cat food and parrot food! Ah, and a wine glass.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Three evenings to go....

Here is the promised picture of a cherry tree flowering.
The spinney to the rear of Greenbrae has lots of cherry trees, and pine trees, rowans and a solitary holly, so doesnt have berries. The birds love it. Plus we have a feeding station out there and nest boxes. Single ones and a terrace for the sparrows!

The above is a picture of a Marsh Harrier. Earlier this week we were told to watch out for one as it had been seen heading for our river, the Ugie, in the valley. So far, not seen. What we have seen are two white pheasants, not together, but in the same field. Our resident,normal coloured pheasant, Percy, is calling in the spinney. It is that time of year. Funny way to get a girl friend, walk up and down, shout and then flap your wings, which make a loud whirring noise. I am hopeful one of the white ones will hear him and answer his call.

It was only a week ago the field across the road was sown and already it has a green tinge.

Isn't nature amazing.

Down on the ground, at the coal face so to speak, its still packing boxes. This last lot remain unsealed as we are still using the things that will go in them.

Mike has done two trips today to our new abode. Hopefully, that is the last of the outside stuff. He did ask me why he was taking plant troughs with grass in them. Ah but there are plants underneath the grass! Well I think there are.

Monday 11 April 2011

Some last minute advice!

I used the packing tape for fastening down boxes, resisting the urge to do anything silly with it, popping bubble wrap and realising I had packed the deoderant.

Morning started off well. John Lewis delivered my four new kitchen chairs. Up the drive came the big van and Mike leapt outside and said "I'll move my car so you can turn." Car wouldn't start, flat battery.

How do you get out of a car, come inside and sit down and have a cup of tea, make the dinner, eat the dinner, go to bed and get up next morning and realise you have left the radio on in said car?

So I had to do the jump start. Being pushed down the drive and praying the post van would not come up it at the same time. Very, very nearly. I had just got the engine to fire when I was nose to nose with the red van.

Later, he put the chairs together, just fixing the legs to the rest of it really, so not much swearing. They are lovely. Anyone interested they are John Lewis Marilyn Chair. Black. For the older ones this was an iconic design chair and Christine Keeler was photographed, naked, seated on such a chair, bits hidden behind the back of chair I hasten to add. Very famous image. Not to be repeated by me.

The day continued with the (almost ceremonial) sealing of boxes with the packing tape. Well lots of "Yaah theres another one done."

And labelling. Which has been done very optimistically. Garage. Ground floor bedroom. Upstairs left bedroom, Upstairs Right bedroom , Office, Kitchen, Summer House.

When I just know they are all going to be piled up in the dining room, for us to sort, " At yer leesure."

Sunday 10 April 2011

Plant life under the Big Sky.

Rogersii. About ten foot high in early June.
This is what I was trying to describe in yesterday's post. Beautiful. Laburnam Avenue/Tunnel.

Here our cherry trees are beginning to flower. I will take a picture when there are a few more blooms. Having said that it better be before Friday! I think they are coming into flower much earlier this year. The bluebells are also quite advanced. Leaves well up. It was quite a late start to the garden flowers. Usually there are crocuses after the snowdrops then the daffs. It was as if one day there was nothing and then suddenly they were all out at once.

We have many different types of daffodills. Staggering the flowering season. Except this year they all seem to be out together. There are some daffodills which have the most exquisite scent. I must remember to locate them pretty soon and dig some up to take with us. Most unlike what you purchase in the supermarket. No smell at all. Nor have the roses. Only supermarket lilies are worth buying for scent, oh, and freesia. Lilies are one of my favourite flowers. I have pots of them. This time round I will be planting them out into the new garden. I noticed last year that they were becoming way too big for their pots, but with the hope of moving still in my mind I split them and re-potted them. I know that once in the garden rather than a pot they will be huge again.

I have taken some of the Rogersii to take to our new house (and give to my friend Lucy). Readers of my former blog will remember my pride at this plant's success. It comes from New Zealand and I was told it would not grow well here. Well as you can see from the photograph at the top it did do very well. The three spikes pointing up to the sky are its flowers. But I prefer it's leaves. Large, serrated, and a gorgeous dark purple, which then go green.

Our buyers came this afternoon. I pointed out to them what the garden was now showing from when they first saw it. And what was to come. Giving them some of our home made jams, she said,

"Oh, if you make gooseberry jam I would love that."

I said, "So do I, but they are your gooseberry bushes now!" and the rhubarb, and the butler sink full of herbs, way too heavy to remove....and so on. We have done an awful lot to this garden over the years. Quite an achievement. Half an acre is way too big for us now. But I still can't wait to get stuck in to a new garden and do an awful lot there.

Now there are 5 sleeps to go! Four more days of frantic packing. Cleaning. I seem to have become a bit more organised in my packing and havent had to re-open boxes having packed something that I then needed.

Just think this time next week I will be unpacking!

Saturday 9 April 2011

Oh boy, oh boy!

Absolutely thrilled that the garden in the 'new' house has lilac trees. And a laburnam.

Both these bring back memories of my early teens and the house I lived in then en famille.

I had just started secondary school. Private, posh, all girls, high school that I went to on a scholarship. The top girls that passed their 11 plus were selected...I hated it.

At the same time we had moved from a terrace house with an outside toilet and a back yard and a wash house. Dont worry I am not going to take you down that memory lane.

We moved to a detached, with bathroom, my own bedroom, and a beautiful garden. In the garden were lilacs all along the front garden and laburnams down the side garden. Coming from a street, with back yards, not gardens, I can still remember the ecstacy of seeing all that colour that I could touch and smell.

Through all my moves of then on I never had a decent lilac or any laburnam. Our last move before we came here there was a white lilac, which, quite frankly, was an apology for a lilac. It flowered but was quite spindly and didnt smell. Here at Greenbrae there is a lilac. But it never flowers properly. The first year I realised it wasnt flowering so hacked it to the ground, as that what it said to do in a book. Well it grew back, lushly, and has only ever had one bloom in the last eight years. So I hardly ever felt like cutting it and bringing it in the house, that would be cruel!

Mike has just been to CC taking more outside stuff to park behind the garage there. And reported back on there being at least two lilacs. And we had already noted the laburnam. Just up the road from where we are now our neighbour has an open garden every other year and he has an avenue of laburnams, or is it a tunnel? Not sure of the proper description. To view that in full flower is awesome. But even one tree I shall take pleasure in. I am not that keen on yellow flowers but make an exception for laburnam.

Today I am shattered. Tired out. We spent almost all yesterday just sat around waiting. The stuff I had offered on freecycle blocking everywhere and waiting for people to collect. And waiting and waiting.
"I'll be there between 9a.m. and 10a.m."
No show.
"I'll be there between 11a.m. and noon."
2.30.p.m. "I was in the garden and forgot the time."
The table and chairs man never appeared. Every time I emailed him it bounced back .....
Then just as I was ready to sit down and relax the other lot arrived , who were to take the most and did so. Watching them depart with a precariously, piled high trailer, was a nail biting moment. They came back this morning and took the rest. Nice to know I have just about set up home for a lady that had nothing. She now has a cooker and a bed, a sideboard, wallpaper, paint, t.v. cupboard, bed side tables. Satisfaction all round. The man for the table and chairs also arrived. And our friends came for a wardrobe. So no more freecycling, till we move and find half the stuff we have taken we dont want!

I still do not have one empty room. Tell a lie, upstairs both bedrooms and bathroom have been cleared, but they never had much in them anyway! 5 more bedrooms and bathrooms to go.

The last Saturday here at Greenbrae. While the rest of Britain is apparently sweltering in a heat wave and yes, it is sunny and warm here too, but, as is fairly usual here, there is the wind. CC has high hedges all around so just maybe my next Saturday wine down will be outside and without having to anchor the table and holding the wine bottle between my knees. Cheers.

Thursday 7 April 2011

Lest we forget.....

and ever consider moving again.

I got quite a lot more done today than yesterday. Mainly consisting of just flinging stuff into any box that came to hand. Not strictly true. But I do worry that method is not in my make up and some boxes are heading to be labelled, "God knows."

I really find it difficult to make decisions as to whether to keep stuff or not. I have quite a few things that I know could be/are worth a fair bit of money. But currently the energy and time to research is not available. Thinking back when similar circumstances arose and I got rid, only to see self same item make fortunes for someone else. So I haver between being ruthless, the items in question just will not suit my new lifestyle, then remembering why I obtained them, I liked them once.....or thought it a bargain, and worth far more than I had paid for it.

Many years ago my career was suddenly brought to a halt by a change in political masters.

At the time I was a Senior Officer in local government. My speciality was in Consumer Law, for which I had trained and qualified. In charge of a team of Consumer Advisors I had a very responsible job which I loved.

The Consumer Advice Department was promptly closed down by the incoming Tory Councillors. (They believed that their voters, the traders, hated us. Turned out to be totally the opposite as we championed their rights as much as the consumers.)

Under the Employment laws of the day they could not make me redundant. They got round it by redeployment and I became the highest paid clerical officer in the Pensions Department of the local authority. Shuffling papers around in a job that was actually specially created for me as the department didnt know what to do with me was not much fun. I spent a lot of time in the bowels of County Hall, asbestos lined as it turned out, going through dusty old files and then checking to see if people had died and were getting paid their pensions still.... Oh joy.

I took what leave was owing to me, quite a lot, as I say I loved my job. Gathered up all the bits and pieces I had gathered around me over the years and booked a stall on Barnsley Market, Thursdays was Flea Market Day. I did 6 Thursdays. I was a success. I ended up doing house clearances to keep up.

From there I moved into Craft and Curio Markets. Usually held on a Saturday(my leave had run out!) in some Public Hall or another. This was before car boot sales began.

There came a time when I had to decide whether to pack in the day job and become a full time Antique Dealer.

But fate stepped in. As it usually does. During the political turmoil of the cuts in local government I had met the Trade Union man who was fighting for our jobs. I married him. And became pregnant almost immediately.

You get more money with local government on maternity leave. So my decision was made for me.

Once my maternity leave was over I came to a mutually agreeable pact with the Pensions Department and I was allowed to keep my maternity pay and depart. Huge sighs of relief on both sides.

The rest is another story.

But that experience gained in dabbling in curios - well, who knows. I still have the one string fiddle that says its a Stadivarius! Though I doubt it.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

This is IT!

After yesterdays jog up and down the local high streets I returned to the internet highway and my favourite online store John Lewis.

Hook, line and sinker, just fell in love with this and this is what we are to purchase. The chairs are called jelly chairs (I think) and come in red, amber, green, (no we didnt go for the traffic light ensemble) amethyst, clear, and smoky. We will probably have a combination of colours, minus the red. (Without the fruit - can't stand pineapple.)

The rest of today has been somewhat frustrating as I do not appear to have actually done much at all.

In the morning a chap came to collect some garden furniture, metal table and four chairs, which I still like, but are now so rusty, having spent last winter hidden by the rhodendrons, I could not face, or have the energy, to wire brush down and re-paint. The chap who came to collect them gave us a potted life history along with intricate details of his marital status and how his garden was progressing. He also brought with him a rather ratty looking poodle which our Sith cat decided was possibly something to eat....

Its hard work this freecycling. They dont just come, whip the stuff into the boot and depart. Oh no, you have to stand outside and listen to the life history, the ups and downs of clearing brambles, and how he has to use a mobility scooter to go shopping. So we loaded up his car for him...

I then tried to re-contact the second hand furniture man, who had promised to phone, and hadnt. Well, he must have sold the business as there was no reply.

The next dealer in Peterhead was obviously Asian, but with a Scottish accent, one of the hardest to actually decipher. I finally worked out that his van had gone for its MOT and was unlikely to be of any use until after we had moved.

So I then tried Gumtree. This is a bit like Freecycle except you put a price on stuff so it isnt free. Meanwhile I am still getting people pleading with me to let them have the stuff I have posted on Freecycle, all of which I have also posted as being taken. The stuff that hasn't gone no-one appears to want.

Meanwhile our farmer is preparing the fields for sowing. It is half term here in Scotland, so the driver of the tractor is the younger generation of our feudal laird. Driving just like a boy racer he's giving the following flocks of birds quite a shock, theyre not used to ploughs doing wheelies.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Time for a wine down....

One would never believe how long everything takes! Get up. Breakfast. Shower. Dressed. Emails checked. Find something to post on freecycle. Post it.

Phone second hand dealer in furniture. "I am selling the business - but what have you got?" Perks up when I commence list of what I have got. Coming tomorrow.

Sort through all car boot stuff which fills a space 10 feet by 2, repack. Put in car boot. Mike takes to new abode to unload into summerhouse.

Check emails. Send directions. Empty paint pot cupboard. Label pots to leave for touch ups. Box paint to recycle. Find rolls of unopened wallpaper and lots of half used rolls. Back to computer to offer on freecycle. Pack up paint brushes, grouting kits, light bulbs. Back to computer to check emails. Send directions. Lunch time!

As we do try and support our local businesses we decided to take the afternoon off and go and have a look for dining room furniture and kitchen chairs.

At Mintlaw, the next village to where we are now, has everything. The doctors, the chemist, the library, the post office, the academy (secondary school), two primary schools, indoor and outdoor bowling, the vets, fish shop, butcher, hairdresser, florists, fireplace shop, a small police station, undertakers, Spar, Nisa, Costcutter, the biggest garden centre in the North East, and a furniture shop. So thats where we went.

We went in, we walked round, we saw one glass topped table, which was very small, with some quite nice black chairs. We came out again. Five minutes.

Now if we were acting our age there was plenty to choose from. Parker Knoll recliners, oak everything, foot stools, and some very daring wall furniture. How about that then. But we are not acting our age.

So we decided that as Fraserburgh was to be our nearest town we would take our custom there. Have to say here that the weather is fantastic, sunny and hot. In fact, as I said to Mike, after all these years this is the first ever time I have been to Fraserburgh and the sun has shone.

So we hit Maitlands, which prides itself as being a department store. The furniture bit was up a flight of stairs, no escalator, and no lift. So I hauled myself up the stairs, which were really odd, I only have little feet but I hit the riser at every step.

Well it was just like Grace Brothers. Remember "Are you being served?"
Men in suits.
One man walked forward, "Can I help you?" I replied, "Dining furniture."
The finger was crooked and another man walked forth. "How can I help you?" Teeth like grave stones.
"Black, glass topped."
I swear he had to take three big gulps of air.

Now I aim to dress fairly trendily, New Look and Dorothy Perkins are my favourite designer fashion. So there I am in tight fitting denim jeggings, and loose top, blonde bobbed hair. Okay dont look too closely or you will see 62 year old face, but I do not expect to be summed up as the G plan , Parker Knoll recliner, but he obviously had done just that. How dare he.

After swallowing a few times, he said he could show me something on the computer. And then waited for me to say "Whats one of those?" He did show me on the computer and then told me it would be eight weeks delivery. Probably takes that long for them to do a deal with IKEA.

We then went next door to HOMESTYLE. Yet another 'department' store. Which in Fraserburgh just means you have to go upstairs.
This time I sent Mike up to suss it out.
"There is some."
So a few puffs on the inhaler and up I went. To see - not a lot. Back down I espyed a mug in the sale, "Time to panic" it said, so I bought it.

We came home. Back to checking the emails and finish sorting through the paint. Been a long day.

But we bought some wine on the way back from our own lovely village shop where there are no stairs.

Monday 4 April 2011

Well now.....

Today we returned to Cherry Cottage, our new home in just under two weeks.

We went so that the current owner could explain to us all the technology built in. Dont ask me to now explain it to you, most of it went over my head. Suffice it to say that there are remotes to turn on everything and anything; almost every room is wired up for sky, telephone, computer, music, radio et al. The lights - remote control. There is even a cd player in the sauna. Yes, we have a sauna. He apologised that the summer house would not receive t.v. signals since the digital change over......but there was a way round it......NO!

There is a fridge freezer built in in the kitchen. There is also one in the dining room, and at least one more fridge for your wine, possibly another for your beer, in there as well. So why am I even considering hanging on to my white American style fridge freezer, when the kitchen is black work tops over pale wood? There is also a built in oven and hob, so why am I considering hanging on to my double oven cooker?(and I think I have packed up its manual and dont know in which box!) Both these items would have to be stored in the garage - just in case - am I totally mad?

To say I am shell shocked is to put it mildly. This is our fourth visit and it is only now that I am realising that quite a lot of our furniture just will not 'go'. The rooms in the house we went round today were all now empty. So what is to remain came more to the fore.

Whilst focussing on pruning what we have, so it will physically fit in, I have not looked at the aesthetic fitting in. And the dining room I really have to re-think. This was where our five dark wooden shelving units were to be put. (I think I have packed up about twenty boxes of books, so we do need shelving) They just will not 'go'. We were to buy a new dining table as our buyers are buying the tables here, but I hadnt really gone beyond a table that was oval, just because I have always wanted one, that would extend for when the family were visiting. Now I am seriously considering something along the lines of the picture above.

The television that here sits on a brown wood cupboard would look totally naff. The fittings and electrics are all there in the 'new' house for the t.v. to be fixed to the wall. So be it. Yet another item to freecycle.

And do you know what I have just done? Freecycled all my house magazines! So I can't spend the evening trawling through for inspiration. Though I do remember something about Philip Starck dining chairs.....

Sunday 3 April 2011

All change.

A beautiful weather day today. Double figures in temperature. No wind. We did have a short sharp shower early afternoon. By then Mike had collected up all our solar garden lights, switched them off and packed them up. We have so many here that our new small garden will be like a fairy grotto!

Meanwhile I continued the packing up of boxes. Sorting another load for the charity shop. More for the car boot.

The computer desk was collected. The sideboard still in situ.... and no word or sight of the person who said they would be collecting today.

The marble table top is to be collected in the morning. Lots of people wanting it but I went for the one who said he could collect. I sometimes wonder at the people who check their emails, see something on offer, immediately hit the reply button and rave about whatever it is and say its just what they want but do not say they can collect whenever. I dont mind when it is so long as I am told. I had one lovely lady who said she wanted it and as she has already taken some things from us I know for a fact that she hasnt the room in her car, nor has she the strength to even move it an inch. It must be just a knee jerk reaction to seeing something that is being given away.

The marble table top was left in the house when we bought it. There it sat on top of two plastic pedestals. Over 6 feet long and 3 feet wide and very, very heavy. For a while we didnt know what to do with it. We leant it up against a wall and binned the two plastic pedestals. Our own pine kitchen table was placed in the kitchen and I had the idea to place it on top. This gave us a huge work space and plenty room to seat all the family with room to spare.

Normally it is covered with a tablecloth, the pvc ones, at Christmas its one with tree baubles on! But it has been a very useful item, fold back the table cloth and make your pastry.

Tomorrow we are to visit our 'new' house and receive instructions on how all the wiring works, surround sound and t.v.s etc. We were to be given the key to the garage, so we can take across garden stuff, pots and so on. But they havent managed to empty it yet, so we are to get the key for the summerhouse instead. Now thats quite a dangerous thing to do......

I may just move in.

Saturday 2 April 2011

A stony furrow to plough.

Every year the fields are ploughed, over centuries, and yet every year appear all these stones. Sometimes there are huge boulders that appear. They come to the surface all by themselves. Isnt that weird. You would think by now there wouldnt be a stone left. Bit like life really. And Nature creates all these wonderful cloud formations.

So when you are ploughing a stony furrow, remember to look up as well as down.

There, a bit of philosophy for you.

So if I dont manage paragraphs in my posting today I shall consider launching this machine into the stratosphere!

Had fun and games with people on freecycle today. This is a site to save things going into land fill but you cannot be bothered to try and sell them you offer to others free of charge. Today people have been contacting me about a sideboard, a computer table, portable t.v.s and bedding, that I had offered. The amount of people who expect you to deliver astounds me. Some there is no please or thank you. One just said , "Deliver to ...." and gave an address in Aberdeen. Thats a tank load of petrol, an hour and a half round trip, why the hell should I?

Then there are the people who email you immediately the item is posted saying me, me, me and when you say o.k. and give them directions, they then email back - after a few hours - and say they dont want it after all. Meanwhile you have hung around waiting for them to come. So rude and inconsiderate.

Anyway, the bedding has gone - off to Ghana would you believe!

Both t.v.s to a lovely family.

The sideboard is still here and may be collected tomorrow, once they get around to measuring their car..... and the computer desk also sits waiting for a man who despite saying he would come today as he was free all weekend, then realised we were not in Aberdeen so will come tomorrow.

The latter two items have had a lot of people asking for them, some no doubt who would have collected by now.....One's faith in the human race does get dented now and then.

So that was my stony furrow for the day. Now the sun is out and I await the sunset.