Saturday 30 January 2021

Inside the house: one room tidy, but still a work in progress


We cracked on with sorting out the two boxes with our big hi-fi in (won in a competition many years back) today, and put them away in the 1750 coffer in the Library.  Then I was able to finally move things around and get this room more ship-shape (though more is planned to change lighting).  The big coffee table is one we are "looking after" for Gabby who has no room for it in her city flat.  Elements of this room were elsewhere in our old house - the beautifully carved modified mule chest at the end of the room used to live in the blue bedroom before, which is a shame as it is such a beautiful piece of furniture.  It has two simplistic dragons on two of the panels which tie in well with the Japanese candlesticks sat on it, and the dragon-wrapped vase in the centre.  That came from stock!  

Sorry this is a bit blurry. Keith drilled the back wall and hung these three pictures this afternoon.  The big North Wales farm scene used to be in the Morning Room in the old house, and the two Gillian McDonald prints either side were in the sitting room and top hall before.  The cushions are going to mostly have new covers when I get around to it and those blue curtains came with the house and will be changed later on.  The old quilts on the sofa catch a bit of cat hair!

The paintings of Venice used to be in the Morning Room too.  The little jade coloured foal was in stock but I fell in love with him and he is going nowhere.  The carved figure in the hearth is a Chinese Immortal and was in a couple of places in the old house, but had ended up down in mum's flat, gathering dust.  Beside him is a little wooden Buddha with a split base.  The lady who lived here before had lots of Buddha's and there is a HUGE one by the pond still, which she may come back for.  The little joint stool on the right was in our bedroom, and the Chinoiserie lamp was in our sitting room.

    The sword was in the sitting room before and will be going into the Library when we are sorted out in there (nearly there now). Then a small linen-effect uplighter cylinderical lamp (just ordered) will sit on the other joint stool to gently underlight the painting.

    I have put some more of my china out today, but some of it will come down and go into car boot boxes as I find the better stuff.  Less is going to be more in future though.

    We have just had rain today, though snow was mentioned for some parts of Wales.  I've not seen the news today but a friend further North mentioned it on the higher land above her property.  

    Keep warm and safe everyone.

Thursday 28 January 2021

What a palaver!

. . . a palaver over our  bed that is, to replace our beautiful Gothic bed which we had to sell back to the new owners of our old house as the headboard was just 2" too big to go up the stairs here.  Keith was all for demolishing the bit above the door frame, but was talked out of it on the grounds that even if it got through that, the next low bit of ceiling would also need to be demolished!  He did LOVE that bed . . .

   Anyway, we thought we will just get a stop gap cheap bed frame which we could put our mattress on to get us up off the floor, and then we would order a decent bed from a private eBay listing once Lockdown was over, and such things could be collected. 

    Tam ordered one, on a next day delivery basis.  It didn't turn up.  Or the next day, or the next - although it was apparently on the van and out for delivery. Then she looked up the feedback on the company and lots of people slammed the delivery company they were using.  Oh dear.  We gave it a week, with her chasing it, but after 5 days we saw a fabulous antique 17th C carved "headboard" which had been repurposed from another piece of furniture or perhaps a large Church fitting.  The price was right.  It could be delivered for a further £85 (from Somerset).  It really didn't look like we would be getting the cheap bed any time soon, so we decided to buy it and make up a new bed when we found a good bed base in a dark colourway.  Should the cheap bed turn up, it could be used short term and go into the guest bedroom when we put together the good bed.  

    So we ordered a suitable good base from another company, and took out a case against the non-delivering eBay firm.  Of course, the minute we did that, the blardy bed WAS delivered the next day, and it took two hours for Tam and I to turn it from flat pack to bed, and Keith and I got a good night's sleep last night and didn't have to roll out of the bed onto our knees (me) and then stand up, or get in the wrong place in the mattress in the dark (just a slit of light around the edge of the door) and then wriggle down the bed like a caterpillar until in the right place (Keith)!!! 

    We have a couple of weeks before the other bed base is delivered, so need to get the guest bedroom emptied by then (good progress has been made) and in the meantime the antique piece will arrive early next week.  We measured well and it will go up the stairs without a problem.

The "big house" which our new home was once the coach house for.

    Today I have worked flat out all day long, unwrapping more stuff, and putting away.  Also taking apart the linen-covered "wardrobe" Gabby had in her teens.  It has made way for the long low linen covered shelving which will mop up lots of "stuff" in the pink bedroom.

The First Celendine of the year!  This quality photograph was taken on a Scenic setting (through glass)!!!!

The photos were taken on a short walk Keith and I took this morning - along a no-through lane with lovely views.  It's lovely exploring.

    Keith got the new kitchen clock up for me, and a little brass horse-head hook that always held the teatowel in our old house.  It's one my dad bought me, so I treasure it.    Then he drilled the wall in the living room and we have 3 paintings up.  It looks lovely.  Apart from the two boxes containing the big hi-fi which we haven't decided on a home for yet.  We'll get there. . .

Wednesday 27 January 2021

Almost like the old days- Llanfihangel Helygen

 Today we had to go out (beyond Llandrindod Wells - known by the locals as "Llandod") to go and pick up a replacement UV bulb for the water system, and a spare filter (we have one spare, but as we were there, it made sense to get another as the spare one here is about to be used).  The bulb lasts a year, the filter 3-6 mths.  The water here is not spring water, as it was at the old house, but from a holding system which have not had sight of yet - we suspect it is a lake! judging by the amount of mud in the filtration system . . .  Anyway, the UV kills any bugs and we have been boiling all the water (as advised by vendor with stick-on label over the tap!!)

Tam came with me, and we navigated across country (by far the quickest way) and spotted a lovely old church on the way, and on our return journey, stopped to investigate.  It is Llanfihangel Helygen (St Michael in the Willows)- though now surrounded by oaks and a couple of yew trees.  It was - not surprisingly - locked and we couldn't see much through the windows, but we will go back in better times and explore.  It is in my book "Wales's Best One Hundred Churches" by T J Hughes.

The small font is Norman, and the church dates to the 11th C.  Built in the Radnorshire vernacular style, inside it has a triple pulpit and 14th C beams.

I doubt that it ever serviced a large population - in the 1851 census there were just 97 parishioners, with names like Morgan, Lloyd, Morris and Hamer.  Strangely, when I was sat in the car in town tonight, waiting for Tam to come back with our fish and chip supper (we spent all afternoon making up a bed so now our mattress is off the floor), I looked across at Morgans the butchers, and saw an earlier plaster sign inscribed with "Hamer & Son, Family Butchers."  An unusual surname - not one I've heard in Wales before.

Anyway, we are still trying to get things straight here but having to change furniture around to try and provide the most useful storage (out goes a a linen wardrobe that was middle daughter's and in its place will go its partner, a storage unit which is lower and longer and has more useful shelving).  That is somewhere at the back of one of the stalls of course, and needs to be clambered to and then rebuilt whilst the other must be dismantled and take its place!  We are three big storage cupboards short here, having sold them with the old house.

    Anyway, bedtime calls.  Hopefully a good night's sleep now I don't have to roll in and out of the bed on the mattress on the floor!  

Monday 25 January 2021

Exploring Narnia!!


Here you are - if you ever doubted we might be moving somewhere less scenic than our last house, here is proof that not only is it beautiful here, it is even lovelier, especially in the snow which makes everything magical - just like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia.

We walked away from the direction of the town (though there are some footpaths down that way we can't wait to explore) We are spoilt for choice around here.  Apologies for the power lines but it's hard to escape them.

Above, the lane led to this corner, where the view opened out:

Isn't it lovely? The trees were holding onto an ochre colour and others more silvery.  The stream on the way into town translates to "Silver Stream" - isn't that poetical?  

We were drawn into this woodland - there is a footpath along here and we can do a circular walk when spring is here.  The sun hadn't got to the trees here so the snow was still on the branches and twigs and it was breathtaking.

We dragged ourselves away and strolled back home, where it was equally magical in the garden:

We have landed on our feet here - we offered on this house from desperation, frightened of losing our buyer, and it wasn't love at first sight, it was a sensible option which ticked lots of boxes.  YET - the minute we got here, we felt at home and the views out of every window make me hug myself with pleasure!  The biggest bonus is being very much in the country but still very close to a small quiet town with a good selection of shops (and brilliantly placed for Antiques Fairs on the showground when such events can safely take place again).

I can't wait to see these weeping trees in bloom . . .

Friday 22 January 2021

Lots more boxes flat-packed


Here is Little Whale watching the birds in the garden.  I got feeders for them and they have peanuts, sunflower seeds and fat balls now.  A Greater Spotted Woodpecker was an early visitor, along with Nuthatches and Blue & Great Tits.  This window is on the stairs and LW has made it his favourite spot.  They are still settling in, but now that the house isn't being besieged by noisy men with boxes and furniture, they are starting to look on it as home.  It will be a week or so until we even think of letting them out to explore though.

    Here are the old stables - four big stalls where the coach horses would have lived.  They are now crammed with our outside belongings and Keith's wood for future projects.  They are painted blue as that apparently discouraged flies.

    Lots of things have been ordered over the internet as we can't go to the shops because of Lockdown (many of them being closed because of that anyway).  Deliveries are a bit hit and miss, depending on who is doing the delivering.  Arriving tomorrow is a front door bell with two receivers, one for upstairs and one down, so we won't miss anyone at the door.  Nothing is more frustrating than a "you weren't in" chit put through the letterbox when you were in all the time.

    The Sky man came yesterday, but unfortunately we will have to wait until Lockdown is over before it is installed because they aren't allowed inside customer's houses during Lockdown.  Wales always does things differently, just because it can, but it is likely it will echo whatever happens in England so we may be in for a lengthy wait.  Boris is saying it could be summer before Lockdown is lifted . . . As all the tv we have at the moment is films and serials on Netflix, we have had to order an aerial to receive terrestial tv - that should be arriving tomorrow, so then we will have Freeview.

    The much-needed bed (24 hour delivery) still hasn't been ordered and Tam belatedly checked the feedback on this eBay company, only to find lots of irate messages about the poorness of the delivery company used.  We will have to wait about a week from the date of the order and then if it still hasn't been delivered, we will get our money back and start over again.  NOT ideal.  

    Part of our Wilko order has also gone astray - again something much needed - a cutlery tray for the drawer (we had a fitted drawer in our last kitchen), and something else I have forgotten (my brain is fuddled as I am writing this at 2 a.m. as I went to bed, slept for an hour and was then wide awake again).


It is a week since we moved in.  On the following day Tam and I did a short walk to explore the lane beyond our property.  There is a very steep bank down to the stream in the bottom.

    Here is the lane we walked along and you can just glimpse the stream to the right.  Below is a footpath sign (we can't wait to explore that) but it doesn't lead to a viaduct as the top roundel suggests.

This hill above the quarry is one we can see from our bathroom window.  There are lights on at the quarry at night, twinkling away.

    Tomorrow I hope to get the last couple of boxes of books unpacked and on shelves.  We made good progress today - Keith making himself handy with his drill and putting up cup hooks, and hanging our ceiling fixing we got back in November from the one narrow beam which separates the cooking part of the kitchen from the eating area.  It's hung high so there is still plenty of room to walk underneath.  Tomorrow it will be the masonry drill bits out so he can do some more sorting out.  Hopefully some pictures will get hung too.  By Monday I hope to have all boxes currently on the ground floor, emptied or stowed away (there are some car boot sale boxes currently under the kitchen table, waiting to be put away.)

    We need to decide where the hi-fi we once won in a competition will live (it is quite bulky) and have a bonfire to burn the bags and bags of wrapping paper I have amassed.

    On Sunday it is due to snow - we had a fall of wet snow today but it didn't lay.


    I took photos but the snow didn't really show up!  

    Right, I suppose I should try and get back to sleep again . . .  So much has been happening these past few days and the exhausted sleep of recent nights has rested me sufficiently for my brain to suddenly go into overdrive, excitedly planning. I am glad to say that we made the right choice buying this house - it suits us very well and I am delighted.  I still can't believe the views as I look out of the windows.  Am grateful not to worry when it pours with rain (we had a leaking chimney and the outhouse roof would leak too if the wind was in a certain direction, blowing the rain onto the wall.)  Being close to a small town suits us too - no more 20 mile round trips to get shopping.  

    Enjoy your weekend and keep safe everyone.

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Too busy to even blink right now!! Plus photos from our new house

 Well, you all know the saying about fitting a quart into a pint pot - here it feels like a gallon is trying to be squeezed in - dozens of boxes of books and "stuff", quite a bit of which is being jettisoned into boxes market Car Boot, to go into storage.  We had SO much room at our old house, and although this is still quite a roomy house at things go (a tad under 2,000 square feet) it has more limited storage,  and although there is a BIG dry attic, it is up a very steep flight of stairs - "Sheffield Stairs" Tam calls them, from her years in Sheffield where so many houses were shoe-horned into steep hillsides and the stairs are almost like ladders!  Anyway, we will get straight sooner or later and I will just have minimal china on display in future.  I have hardened my heart - although it took this move to make me realize that I have so many pieces just through habit.

Library - with the bedhead which didn't fit up the stairs!  It has gone back to live with the folk at our old house, who were happy to buy it.

    I will go through my books again too - most of the archaeology books will go - I'll concentrate on my Pictish/Insular Art ones and some Celtic books.  There will be further culls of my cookery and countryside books, and even my literary biographies - have SO much on Thomas Hardy, and the ones I have read I am unlikely to read fully again.

Kitchen in chaos!

    Knowing which box holds something we actually NEED is a right PITA, but we will gradually get there.  I am spending time unpacking in the kitchen (all morning today) and then this afternoon I will crack on with the books.  We're trying not to think about the Pink Bedroom and Guest Bedroom contents.

Living room with chairs and tv!

    Anyway, everything is here now so we just need to get it sorted.  Priorities have been established too!

    Just a few photos of the house interior at the weekend - when we just had the bare minimum delivered last Friday.  There will be more as we get straight in each room.

Saturday 16 January 2021

We have finally MOVED

 I can finally write that it has come to pass and we are now living in our new forever home, and the relief is tremendous.  We had worked so hard on Ynyswen down the years - we had lived therefor nearly 33 years, and it had been a huge money-pit, but we had brought it back from the brink of dereliction, restored its features and given it a future.  Yet when it came to selling,  people would come along and expect to find it in its own private estate, rather than a lovely old Welsh farmhouse that - by its definition - was next to a farm.  FINALLY the right people came and fell in love with it and they couldn't wait to get in and it is THEIR new forever home now.

    We finally got away at 2 p.m. ish, for the hour drive up to Builth.  The cats travelled pretty well apart from a few complaints, and a poo from Theo in the first 5 minutes which meant windows needed to be opened!!  They had to go up in the attic straight away, and be locked in so that everything could be unloaded - the Essentials that was.  The rest is delivered on Monday and Tuesday.  

Above and below: the view from our bedroom window that we woke up to this morning. A bit gloomy due to the weather, but you get the idea.

    The cats racketed around up there - Alfie trying to open doors which then shut with a bang!  Not conducive to a good night's sleep and so Tam and I had to open the attic door and put up with Alfie and Little Whale complaining in loud voices and taking it in turns to come on the bed.  Ah yes, the bed - we couldn't get our tall headboard up the stairs so are on the mattress on the floor.  We are going to try and remove the top batten of the door frame tomorrow in the hope that will make the difference.  We have already had to take an axe (!!! all we had to hand) to knock out a worktop in the Utility Room to make room for the fridge-freezer to go back against the wall.  When plumbing in the washing machine we had to ease the water inlet out of a pipe clip which prevented us connecting the other end.  I got it free with a large screwdriver, and managed to bend my little finger nail right back.  It is still feeling rather sore.

View from Tam's window.

    Anyway, all the boxes we had marked Kitchen, E for essential, are now unpacked and unwrapped and put away and the kitchen looks a lot more like home.  

View from the pink bedroom - hills behind the stables.


    Tam and I got a short walk in this afternoon, exploring, and have found an inviting footpath which we will walk when we have a bit more time.  We took some photos today, but the internet is bad (we have it through a hotspot via a mobile) and so I'll try and add some later.

I said there were lovely views - this is from the lane close to the house.

Right, back to bed now.  It's 5.42 a.m. and I couldn't sleep, so came downstairs to finish this post.

Tuesday 12 January 2021

Probably the last post from our old home

 Well, we're nearly there.  The Removal people come today to start packing away our goods and chattels - they will have 40 fits when they see how many boxes are books (ahem!) not to mention how many boxes have Fragile on them . . .  

    The last few days have been non-stop - yesterday was a 12 hour working day, and Monday was 14 hours.  This includes deep cleaning where possible.  Some rooms have to wait until Friday when the last of the furniture vacates the property.

    We are sad to leave, after nearly 33 years here, but also greatly relieved as the maintenance here is just too onerous financially and physically.  Keith can't climb ladders any more so any maintenance jobs have to go be paid for now, rather than done by ourselves.  Getting the gutters cleaned costs £140 and the only chap available is a bit of a waste of space - either the gutters aren't emptied properly or he manages to block the downpipe.  Hopefully when we move the Odd Job man used at the new house will be up to scratch - he comes highly recommended and has been doing work there when necessary for years.

    Heating bills are big too - we can only afford to have the heating on a couple of hours in the morning and again after our evening meal.  It is SUCH a big house (4,500 square feet).  

    Despite having lime plaster and render, there is still a damp problem in the attic, which I have had to try and disguise every winter because of being on the market.  Something we can do little about as the quality of the stone used in the top of the chimney stack got worse the higher they built (and ran out of good stuff and used porous shale instead).

    Our buyers will find there is a leak in the inglenook chimney - I assume the capping is letting water in, but we can't climb up a ladder to check and as the house had sold, and he's had his surveys done, and brings fresh money to the house, he will have to get it sorted.

    The UV filters were fixed yesterday, but the company need to come back on Monday to finish the job.  We have UV filters at the new house too (private water supply).  

    The Pandemic is a real worry, especially with moving and having lots of strangers touching all our belongings and being in the house, so we will have to be very careful and all windows and doors will be open and wipe everything down with Dettol spray. 

    Keith gets his first jab on Monday - would you believe, AFTER we have moved and it's first thing in the morning so he and Tam will have to be away by 7.30 to get to Carmarthen in time.  I will probably get mine around mid-February and I have noticed there is a Vaccination Centre in Builth so that will be a lot more convenient - 2 mile journey instead of 50 miles.

    Anyway, stay with me.  We have a temporary set up for broadband until signing up with another company so I hope I will be able to post when the dust has settled and we aren't clambering over boxes.

    Keep safe everyone.

Sunday 10 January 2021

Never underestimate the power of a Jammy Dodger

 Haven't had one for years so a packet sneaked into last week's shopping was very welcome! Just one and it was BLISS - the wee sugar hit I needed after ironing, packing, packing and more . . . packing.  Nearly there now.

My friend's geese.

Right, back to the bubble wrap.  Now have a roll taller than me and 100m long, but we are still getting through it at a great rate, as much needed for all the prints paintings here.

Thursday 7 January 2021

Having a two-cat lap . . .


This was the photo Tam took of me earlier on, with a tabby cat under each arm! Theo to the left and Ghengis to the right.  They were both SO happy to have cuddles!

Ghengis gets SO jealous if Theo has beaten him to it on the lap stakes and yesterday was absolutely GLARING at Theo, very put out!  Tonight they were happy to share me.

Fluff breeds under the bath . . .


Slowly, we are inching towards the "done" and closer towards stuff being taken from this home to our new one (all kicks off next Wednesday).  Paperwork is being read and signed and we are rather hoping we don't get bad weather to put things on hold.

    The last couple of days have seen all the airing cupboard and a coffer full of bed-linen being emptied and bagged and the last two spare duvets being put in ziplock bags to flatten and travel smaller. Plus packing of more awkward stuff.   Today the deep-cleaning began and the main bathroom is now sparkling.  I couldn't believe the mass of fluff under the bath!

    I have 3 more bathrooms to render pristine but those shouldn't take too long.  I had a good vacuum up in the master suite as there were lots of dead cluster flies (I shan't miss those when we leave!) and we had our Removal chappy coming to do a final recce and bring more supplies yesterday.


    Footprints in the snow on a recent cold walk - the size of them suggested Badger (and there are LOTS around here).

    I cannot quite believe what Trump incited in America.  The man is an utter lunatic and needs removing from power soonest.  

    People might be moaning about the speed of the rollout of the vaccine for Covid, but hearing about what hoops people have to jump through in France, at least we're well ahead of them!

    Still enjoying Shameless, and enjoying nature programmes which give us wonderful armchair travel to all parts of the world.

    Keep safe everyone.

Sunday 3 January 2021

Great Uncle George's Antlers!!


I have now gotten to that stage of the packing where I am having to contemplate the difficult-to-wrap items, like the Antelope shot in India by Great Uncle George.  As you can see, the Army also had difficulty in sending it home to England too, hence the antlers being chopped and pinned . . .  I think it may have to travel independently with us in the car!

I think, all in all, we have some things to travel with us which aren't exactly run of the mill . . .

Sorry for blurry picture.  These are 3 of my earthenware storage jars accumulated down the years and a big Chinese vase on the right.  All were meant to be being passed on before moving - like THAT was going to happen in 2020!  They will go up in the attic and be passed on when we can safely do car boot sales or the occasional Fair (to clear our stock) again.

We are nearly right out of bubble wrap - I shall use the last of the thick heavy bubble wrap on the pictures, but we had stacks of those (some from the house, some bought to sell which have obviously not had an outing!) and I just have to hope I can contact the removal people via phone or email though they are not working until Monday week . . .  

Trying to be positive but right now I am getting quite worried (scared even) about the move because of Covid and this new rampant variety, and the possibility of a return visit from the Beast from the East again - that would be making its presence felt exactly at the time we are moving (mid-January).  The route from here to Builth has some hills (not the least the ones getting to our house!) and the thought of trying to negotiate the tight steep uphill bends of the Sugarloaf in snow and ice (if indeed possible) is not a cheering thought.

Anyway, another photo from a recent walk to round off: