2012 already? How did that happen?

Another month (almost) without a post! What an exciting life I lead …

Christmas was quiet, just as we like it. Although we don’t go overboard at all, we were left with a mountain of food, which we are slowly working through (details on Reactive Cooking). We went for a walk at Easington on Boxing Day, somewhere – astonishingly – we hadn’t been before. Nice beach, but the wind howled as it usually does on the East coast! We had a lovely New Year’s Eve, cooking dinner for friends, and then going round to another friends to see in 2012.

Then we went down to Norfolk to spend 24 hours with my daughter and her son, which was entirely splendid, and we built a Lego crane. I knitted him a Ron Weasley sweater – my first knitting in about 30 years! – and it only just fit; he is a Long boy. So I’m remaking it, but I ran out of wool, and Boyes didn’t have any more. Another (huge) ball arrived yesterday, so I can proceed.

Our Christmas present to the houseWe don’t buy Christmas presents for each other, instead we buy things for the house. This year it got a “Keep Calm and Drink Wine” sign, which is on the wall in the dining room; we feel it an excellent mantra. Also, an electric blanket (warmz! fab!), and a Truecall call screening device. We are plagued with spamming telephone calls here, and this has stopped them dead in their tracks. Highly recommended.

And now it’s January again. This time of year is a bit depressing, but we are off to the Peak District at the end of the month for a Morris dancing thing – there’s about ten of us going, so it should be fun.

Happy (belated) New Year, all!

we *shall* have warmz

More firewood

And yet more wood. We bought a trailer load from someone via Gumtree during the summer for £100, and it’s mostly that which is in the log store to the right of the photo. He had a stack more to sell then, but we had nowhere to keep it; I gave him a ring a couple of weeks ago and he still had the rest, so we went over to see him yesterday and arranged to buy it from him. He brought a trailer load round, and there is still about half a trailer load to come, which he is prepared to store for us for now, and that lot cost us £150.

We had a handy gap between log store and bike shed, so we put a pallet on the ground, and stacked the new lot on that. Pete constructed a couple of stay bars across the gap, and we chopped most of it before it was stacked, then hurled a tarpaulin over it. So now we have loads and loads of wood to keep us warm, most of it ready seasoned, all of it paid for, and so the weather ghods can just bring it on this winter. If it gets really, really cold, we’ll just set up camp in the living room with laptops.

Now, of course, it’ll probably be the mildest winter on record for centuries, but the wood will keep 🙂

how much wood does a woodchuck chuck?

logs for the stove

Attentive readers (if there are any) will recall that we installed a woodburning stove last year – a thing of much joy, and much smaller gas bills (even more joy). We have been acquiring cheap wood all summer, and even scavenging from the tip, in preparation for the threatened freezing winter that awaits us, to the point that our little back yard was overrun with bits of timber waiting to be chopped up – but nowhere to store it.

We were keeping our bikes in a bike tent, which was not, shall we say, the most durable of shelters, and it died completely during the gales last month. So we measured up, and got the local shed place to quote us for building a bike store plus log store, to go all along one wall of the yard. £790, they quoth. So when we’d picked ourselves up, we googled a lot, and ordered a wooden bike shed off t’internet for £159, and a log store similar for £200. They arrived this week, and Pete manfully assembled them; the bicycles are now ensconced cosily in their new abode, with the bike trailer and various other bits and bobs, and the log store is now not quite where we planned, but in a more convenient place. This entailed trimming a bit off the kitchen window sill, and taking the log shed roof off and cutting it to shape, but this didn’t seem to phase ‘im indoors, and up it went.

So yesterday and today, between us, we have split pretty much all the logs we bought cheap a couple of months ago, and stacked them in the woodshed, and have chainsawed up all the other bits and bobs of salvaged wood, and we have space for another trailer load, which I have reserved for a hundred quid from the bloke we bought the last trailer load, and that will be enough to see us right through the winter, $deity willing.

There’s also about six bags’ worth of logs in the house, in the log station and stacked round the fire, and several bags of rubbishy (but very cheap, or free) bits and bobs that came from last year’s skipful, or salvage, or whatever. So at least the living room will be warm, even if we can’t afford to heat the rest of the house 😉

And the gas direct debit is now £21 per month, which is nice (although I bet it won’t stay there).

In other news, I have new glasses – my prescription had changed a huge amount, to the point where I needed less strong lenses (!), so I now have rimless ones for the first time ever, and I’m really pleased with them. And I can see properly, which is a bonus – no longer have to take my glasses off to read my phone! Also got a pair of photochromic ones in cool Gok Wan frames, and tempted to give up contacts all together for now, as they’ve been playing me up, but then of course that might be due to the script change, I guess.

trudging on

Took a couple of things to the framers in Anlaby – a mooooose (well elk, really) tea towel that Pete brought back from Helsinki, and was far too nice to just use, and a Paul Kidby sketch of Rincewind which we bought in Glastonbury about nine years ago, and has been rolled up in its tube ever since. I therefore have no idea how it got a couple of creases in it, but never mind. This place also frames tapestries, so I shall take my aubergines up there next week when I go to collect these pieces.

Also went to Fields to take advantage of their 1lb of sossidges for £1 – we bought four sorts of sausages, two of their stonking Cornish pasties, and a beef and stilton pie, which has been stowed in the freezer.

We picked up my fish tank from Beverley first (yay! fish tank!); it’s only a teeny tiny thing at 30cm cubed, but it’s enough for now, although I’m a tad worried that it might prove to be totally addictive. I can’t even start getting the water balanced yet, as it’s going in the fireplace that Stu and Rich knocked out over the weekend, and it only got the cement in there today, but no matter. I’m really quite excited – I’ve wanted an aquarium for years, and now I have one.

Then we went to Morrisons and did a megashop – not done one for two months; “what do we need?” “everything”. So we bought everything then came home and pretty much collapsed, after making a valiant attempt to tidy up. It doesn’t look much better, but everything that can be put away has been.

Can’t remember, really. Potted up some plants, took a Bargeful of rubble to the tip, lost the indoor watering can, went to B&Q (yes, again), called into the fishy place and bought some plants and sand for the tank, and Looked at Fish.

Today, I was brave and went to the dentist. And in fact it was OK – he’s a good dentist, and gentle, and I’m not nearly so spooked.  Took my bike there – first trip out this year, which is shocking I know, and went the long way round; about 4 miles, and my word, I can feel it!

weekend 26/27 Feb 2011

The kitchen on its way to the tip

On Wednesday, we looked at the wreck of the house, kept telling ourselves how lovely it would be when it was all done, and realised that the dining suite we bought for £1.47 (yes, really) when we moved it really wouldn’t do any more. I had a quick look on eBay, and found an extending solid oak Ikea table, with six leather(ish) chairs, for £185 starting bid, stuck a bid of exactly that on it, and expected to be trumped. But no – we won it. Which posed a bit of a problem in the short term, because there is NO BLOODY ROOM anywhere in the house right now, and the old dining table has a microwave and pans and a plugin hob and god knows what else on it.

Thankfully, some friends came to the rescue, so on Saturday we took two trips to move the table and chairs in the GermanBarge over to their garage. The stuff is vair nice, although the table is a little bigger than we expected, but it’ll all look lovely. Brian and Lesley fed us firstly with coffee, and then with a lovely impromptu lunch, so thanks once again for your assistance!

We went home and resisted the temptation to just light the fire and slump; instead, we finished emptying the kitchen cupboards, and dismantled them, stowing them all in the aforementioned GermanBarge; the only thing left in there, cupboardwise, is the sink unit, and it’s empty, and we’ve blown the bloody doors off. Martin the KitchenMan will be coming to do his working survey at the end of this week. We had sossidges for supper from fabulous Fields (did a quick detour while in Anlaby collecting dining set), the final run for the old gas cooker, which the plumbering man will be removing when he does the plumbing. I’ve also ordered the dishwasher now.

On Sunday morning, we took up the carpet tiles and lino, and found some really rather nice floorboards underneath. The rest of downstairs has sanded and sealed original floorboards, and we keep wondering whether this would be practical for a kitchen. But probably not. We added these to the boot of the car, and trundled off to the tip; Hull City Council tip staff are fab, and help you with anything bulky, so it was a quick trip. Thence on to Wickes to look at paint (two tester pots bought), and a sausage, egg and mushroom roll for breakfast from the very excellent van in their car park.  Then home via Tesco for cat fud, taking down the old cooker hood (already gone on Freecycle), and then a hot bath each, and a slump.

Up early again this morning, as the gasman cometh, and again tomorrow when he returns with the relevant parts. Still, at least we’ll have reliable hot water then. Won’t we?

Documenting of the kitchen is here on Flickr, should you be interested.

weekend 19/20 Feb 2011

Lazy, really. We sauntered up to Dukes (cafe bar on Princes Ave, just at the top of the road) for a No2ID meeting, which was thinly attended. So much going on – ANPR, NHS spine, DNA database, census – but nothing to hang a campaign around now that the dreaded cards have gone, but we will soldier on. We stayed for a lunch of not very good burger – the fat chips were not in any way crisp, the stilton on my stilton burger was not melted.

Came home, lit the fire, Pete chopped up some wood. I watched Have You Heard About the Morgans, which was really not very good. Lazy.

Sunday was fairly lazy too – cooked a small fry up for breakfast, went to Beverley to Lakeland(s). Bought spring form cake tin, egg spray glaze (whoever heard of such a thing), vanilla extract, food tongs in one Lakeland. Had to be led away gibbering after spotting the most surreal thing in the store (and there are many) – a device for lifting a device for poaching eggs from the pan. Poaching devices come in two colours, poaching device device in just one – what a dilemma for the stylish chef! Picked up three bags of ground almonds for the price of two in Julian Graves.

Had a forage in the fabulous Boyes (as it were), picking up a mechanical ice cream scoop (top tip from Lorraine thingy who had a baking prog on the telly – ideal for putting muffin mix into the pan), a pepper grinder like a cat (*just* horrible enough to be fun), a pack of red hair dye.

Then onto the other Lakeland, where I found a leather jacket of fabulosity. It had a cunning sort of arrangement where an inner middle section/hood zipped in and out, for extra warmth. Pete insisted I had it, and the assistant very kindly unzipped the zip in/out bit to show me how it works, and then we all discovered it had a faulty zip, and it was the only size 14 they had (size! 14!). I prepared to lay on the floor and throw a tantrum, but was thwarted, as they offered to check stock at the warehouse, and found another, which will be delivered to the Beverly store on Wednesday, which is terrific. The swing ticket said £179, so I hope they don’t try to charge me the price on the web site!

Watched The Men Who Stare at Goats, which we thought was hilarious. Cooked moussaka, a slow cooker full of tomato and lentil soup, and some chocolate and banana cakes for the freezer (but we had to sample them).

In other news, the builders are here bricking up the back door and knocking through the hatch, so the kitchen works can begin and chaos will rule.  My single ring induction hob arrived this morning, and it’s cracking; I so wish I’d persuaded Pete that a full induction hob would be as good as gas, but there was no budging him. Builders were here at 7.30, so it feels like going home time now. I’m not looking forward to the next few weeks …

so that was Christmas

We had a woodburning stove installed on Christmas Eve – thought we’d never get it done before the holiday because of 4 weeks of snow, but the builder was a hero and went up on the roof in -5C to do the necessary, ghod bless him.

As you may see from the video, our tradition is to hang a big branch from the wall, so we trundled over to the old cemetery on 23rd and brought a selection of branches home, and then selected one to hang and decorate. This caused the fire installer to bang his head a bit, but he didn’t mind too much.

And then we just … vegged. Lit the fire every day about 10 a.m. and just sat on the sofa in front of it. Watched a stack of DVDs, a little television, and barely left the house. It snowed on Christmas Eve, which was remarkably seasonal of it.

We didn’t even go for any walks, as we’ve both had this horrible viral thing and, indeed, I’m still suffering from it 3.5 weeks on.

We woke up a bit around New Year, and had people round for nibbles and home made wine on the 30th, then a grown up dinner party on 31st, with eight round the table. Two delightful evenings, and we shall make them new traditions, I think – must get more wine on the go for next year!

Then we had the weekend off to recover, after which we had two small boys (and their mother) over for tea on Tuesday, so we’ve only just taken down the decorations – they’re in the loft now until next year.

Consulting the database (yes, I know), we watched:

The American President
Strictly Ballroom
Doctor Zhivago
No Country For Old Men
Brassed Off
The Fabulous Baker Boys
Con Air
Fargo Special Edition
The Rock – Special Edition
Grosse Pointe Blank
Postcards From The Edge

Which doesn’t actually look all that many, but is for us. We also saw The Snowman with the aforementioned small boys.

So … that was that. This year holds a likely trip to France to a friend’s 60th birthday party (which we shall do via the Hull – Zeegbrugge ferry), a kitchen makeover in Feb/March (we frightened ourselves to death today in the granite worktop shop!), and further decline into badgerdom.

Happy New Year, all!


Am rediscovering Wii, as it is too cold and dark to go cycling in the early mornings, and I’m too much of a wuss to do it in traffic.

I set it all up in the living room, then decided that as we no longer wanted the ancient television in the kitchen, I’d take it up to the bedroom and set up the Wii there (we put the telly on Freegle and got not a single enquiry – clearly an ancient 14″ CRT beast is too dreadful to contemplate, even for free).

In the meantime, Pete moved all the home entertainment stack yesterday, in order to relocate the television from its mount on the chimney breast, to a new mount in the alcove. Except the new, clever, cantilevered, tilt and turn, tea making stand is utterly useless, and will have to be returned, so in the meantime, the big LED tv is back on its original stand, perched ever so slightly precariously on a hi-fi trolley.

By this time, I’d discovered that the first location for the bedroom Wii kit was hopeless, as it was too far away for my ancient eyes to see it clearly; I moved it all somewhere else in the room, and discovered that the combination of my ancient eyes, and the ancient small screen, meant I couldn’t play Wii Tennis as I couldn’t see the ball. So we’ve just put it downstairs again.

How did all the wires get so tangled in less than 24 hours, FFS?

In other news, it is a year yesterday since we moved to Hull. I don’t understand what’s happening to time these days – it’s all been zipped. To celebrate the anniversary, we had lunch in Beverley, and finally hung our ancient wooden guillotine on the wall above the fireplace. Time to get the knitting out.

weekend 10/11 July 2010

How on earth can it be July 2010?  I don’t know where the century has gone …

Nothing too exciting this weekend. It was punctuated with visits to feed, water and entertain Starsky the rabbit – we have a reciprocal agreement with his Blobs; we rabbitsit, they catsit. On Saturday morning we cycled over to Anlaby Road to return the bike saddle I bought last week, and exchange it for a saddle bag. It was exceeding hot, and we decided to do no more cycling that day. Instead, we took the car (shock horror) to Makro to return the inkjet printer we bought just before Christmas. However, I cannot lay my hands on the receipt, and their invoice query system was down, so that was a wasted journey.

On Sunday, after checking on Starsky we went over to Walton Street Market, and bought some of their cheap plants – there’s now a window box of geraniums, and two pots of ornamental grass and marigolds, under the front window. After lunch, we continued on with the Avenues Open Gardens, and bought a load more plants while trundling about. The gardens have really inspired us to get on with our back yard – it’s not a bad size, and if we clear it up and plant it nicely it will be transformed. Especially if we get rid of the sodding palm tree that Gavin planted – anyone know how much a tree surgeon costs?

Spent a couple of hours when we got home getting stuck in – between us, we removed the huge fern, grubbed up most of the yellow poppies and other unidentified general Stuff. The composter is now officially full, and there are two more containers of garden waste to dispose of. Pete also cleared out all the weeds that are growing between the paving slabs – this is an endless task, so we’re going to plant some thyme between the cracks. He popped over to deal with Starksy, while I swept and tidied up, and did the watering, then we had pasta with mushrooms for supper, and slumped in front of Julie and Julia – didn’t finish it, but I think the Julia bits are much better so far.

Not sleeping well due to the heat, and we have Pete’s mum’s funeral in Sussex this week.


garden after blitzingWe used to have a nice garden in Long Ashton – not huge, but south facing, with big patio and a fish pond that Pete dug. Here, we just have a rear yard, north facing, with high walls. It’s not very big, it’s not enhanced by the sodding palm tree that Gavin planted (so appropriate for an urban yard, don’t you think?, but the cats do like climbing it), and it was quite overgrown, which has of course just got worse since what has been passing for spring arrived.

It was getting hard to do anything out there – even hanging the washing out was a bit fraught – but every time we looked at it, we thought it was going to take ages, and somehow we just couldn’t make a start.

But yesterday, I suddenly snapped – I’d walked over to Aldi for some shopping, made a huge vat of meatballs for the freezer, and slumped for a couple of hours, and then just decided to go and make a start at about 3.45.  Pete came and joined me, and between us we emptied out all the old pots, scraped out the weeds from the cracks in the paving slabs (front and back), pulled up all the dead stuff, Pete laid two of the slabs Gavin had taken up to plant the aforementioned sodding palm tree (thankfully, he left them), and we rearranged all the Japanese Acers in pots that we’d brought with us (and the black grass, and the heuchera, and the gargoyle is now in place).  I also cleared up the empty wine bottles and jars that were stashed out there (they’re still stashed, but tidily now).

The compost bin is full, and four bags of garden waste are in the car ready to go to the tip, and the extraneous plastic plant pots went on Freegle, and are being collected in about 15 minutes (gotta love Freegle).

The acers will go in the ground, but it’s the wrong time of year, I think – we’ll do that November-ish when they’ve stopped growing. And I can plant some bulbs, and put something climbing against the walls and fences. And now there’s enough room to sit out, so I’ll keep an eye on Freegle for garden furniture, because the corner is a nice sun trap in the morning.

We have an outside light that can go up, we’ve moved the old table round the corner out of the way, and it generally looks a whole lot better. It only took 3 hours, too – lord knows why we left it so long 🙂