Tuesday 22 September 2015


Today - you never know - the scaffolders may actually arrive. They couldn't come last week as it was raining. Fair enough - but we have been waiting since February. And that is ... March ... April ... May ... August ...  seven months ago. This will only be the third time in as many years we have had scaffolding up. Quite normal. Ah it's September, time to get a scaffolding firm round again. We love paying out hundreds of pounds to have men lumbering about on the roof - so say fixing the flashing on the chimney or repairing worn stone work. Much rather do that than go away on a trip to Venice on The Orient Express or enjoy a wholesome visit to the Scillies. There again, it's a dry sunny morning. What other reason could there be for their not turning up? Let me count the ways. They can't blame the rain today, that's for certain.

As this roof job will cost us an arm and a leg - whenever anyone actually turns up to do it, that is - we are having relatively inexpensive improvements to the kitchen. New worktops, a splashback from spare tiles left over from the bathroom job in 2003, and, my tour-de-force, upcycled orange boxes and crates as shelves.

Yep it'll look just like this:

Lovely (?).

But the major decision is -  to paint or not to paint? The magnificent crates I have in my possession have had a good wash down. (They have been in mum's shed for at least thirty years.) Said crates are the genuine article but the word 'pristine' cannot be employed here. They are - though - the orange boxes of my childhood. They are my friends from when I used to pretend to have a flower shop and I used them as impromptu shelving. I was, at the age of six,  ahead of my time. A trend-setter.

Back to today. I don't want expensive shelves and cupboards. ( Don't I?) I just want new 'marble' work-surfaces in our kitchen and a new worktop in our old breakfast room - so I've got some space to roll out pastry ( which I do on a daily basis - oh yeah).  It could be a selling feature. Instead of looking from our sitting room through to a glass-fronted cabinet, packed to the brim with bone china, Wedgewood, cut glass and other expensive heirlooms, the casual observer ( purchaser?) will be able to look through to the soi-disant breakfast room and see ... old orange boxes, splintered and cracked, dusty packing cases of uneven size and wooden wine crates. All the rage.

Or not.

To top it all I am bringing to the scene an ancient set of shelves which are already in a state of partial paint-work. Not the trendy - just rubbed down, shabby chic look. More the I-was-painted-on-one-side only-forty-years-ago and said green paintwork is so pale it looks barely coloured. Shabby chic or just shabby?  Richard says he can't decide whether I am determined or just mad. But I have a vision. Watch this space. It could catch on. Dirty packing cases in a food preparation area? Mmm. Maybe I will paint them. At least paintwork can be wiped down. But will it fit in with my colour scheme? Oh decisions. Just think how much time and money I'm saving ...

Thursday 17 September 2015

Life is what happens when you're making other plans

It was fascinating to read the plans I'd made for the first few weeks into early retirement - five years ago.True to form each day was carved up into tasks and leisure interests - like a timetable - the years of teaching casting a long shadow. But, more importantly, the activities I packed in - or tried to pack in - from within a few weeks of leaving teaching - were mostly achieved - some were not - and haven't been to this day. By 2010 I'd worked 32 years full time. I suppose it wouldn't have been sensible to just stop everything and simply do nothing. But - five years on - I still haven't been on a cruise - and we're still waiting for the third lot of scaffolding to go up for yet another roof job. More surprisingly - looking back at my planned schedule five years ago - it doesn't look as if I had any intention of doing nothing! Yet perhaps that's what I should have done. Built-in leisure.

Fat chance!

Life is what happens when you're making other plans - so saith the late, great John Lennon. Lists of things to do then seem remarkably familiar to my to-do lists now. I am still filling sacks with papers, unwanted fliers and things we no longer need. It's as if this household needs perpetual sorting! Of course the things that 'happen' ie life - according to John Lennon - such as mum's stroke, Richard's recent prostate cancer scare, a leaky chimney, repairs to the garden, improvements to the kitchen - all create disruption. Moving furniture, boxing up, throwing out, sorting other people's clothes, storing irreplaceable letters from world war two and beyond, cleaning, decorating, gardening - all these events take time, space, readjustment and money.

By Christmas this year the life I want - not 'what happens when making other plans' - but those plans I have in mind include :
The final roof and chimney job EVER to this house to be finished and perfected. No more leaks!
Bathroom roof also to be in pristine condition - so all we have to do is decorate! Simple!
New worksurfaces in the kitchen.
Better use of the breakfast room so that we can use that as the main kitchen - re-siting the cooker - and more worksurfaces.
New storage and new dishwasher in the old kitchen - so it becomes a utility room.

Again - all these plans are about the house. Let's hope my plans to arrange a cruise or boat trips around the Channel Islands get made. Since I've had the Mitchum classic 'Build My Gallows High'
on pause since breakfast-o'clock today - and it's now after midday - what are the chances of achieving that holiday? When other people retire they go round the world.

I seem to fill bin bags. Enough!
Got to re-prioritise. Time for leisure. Time to retire!

2016 is not going to be 'life is what happens when you're making other plans' ... I've got three and half months to get back on track. Who said retirement was boring? What time have I had for boredom??

Right - now to sit back and watch 'Build My Gallows High' before the pause facility blows up!!
New year's resolution? I'm either nine months late or three and half month's early!