House & Garden

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Of mice and men

Part of owning a dog is picking up its excrement. I must now thank my father for taking care of that task for the family dogs when I was growing up.
Now it's my turn :(

As an aid we bought a poo composter when we picked Kita up and I've been out in the garden today digging the rather large hole necessary to install it. Whilst doing so I attracted the attention of a few little Robins. I've come to the conclusion that they must smell the dug up earth, it's the only way I can think that within 5 minutes of starting they were hopping around me.

These chaps (or chappesses) have very little fear and get incredibly close. Having popped back to the house for my camera I snagged this shot which pretty much sums up most of the looks I was getting.

After finishing up for the day I wandered back into the kitchen and noticed the mouse trap was closed. Obviously you're missing the back story here but we realised we had gained another occupant as well as Kita the other day when we found mouse droppings in one of the kitchen draws. The following day confirmed this when A saw the little begger run under the fridge.

So whilst in Homebase picking up a few items I got a non-lethal mouse trap. I know a lot of people don't really like mice and would use lethal traps but honestly, they're still wildlife. Fair enough you don't really want them in the house but they're still lovely little creatures.

Anyway, back to the closed mouse trap. Initially I thought it had probably just been kicked or Kita had knocked it. It works on a counterbalance thing so that once the mouse has gone in for the food, it tips up closing the door behind it.
Picking the trap up it felt a little more than empty. A gentle shake confirmed it had a victim.

Another quick camera job:

He wasn't in the jug long, just so that I could take a quick shot. I put him back in the trap so I could release him. Normally you're meant to go around 4-5 miles away from home to truly disorient the mouse but it was late afternoon and just getting dark so I thought the back of the garden would do.

Crouching down I gently opened up the trap door and instantly the mouse shot out the end. It was like I had lit the fuse on a little canon which fired him out the end!

We're pretty sure we know how it initially got in, we've temporarily plugged the hole for the moment until I can sort out something more concrete (quite literally).

I love living out near the wildlife.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Meet Kita!

She's been here a whole four hours now, and seems to be settling in nicely. She's definitely very smart, and highly motivated by food, so should be easy to train.

We've had a few wanders round the garden boundaries (on the lead), and a run in the snow:

and she's explored the downstairs of the house very thoroughly. She seems to have accepted her bed, and is currently enjoying a yummy rawhide bone.

Though she seems to think that I might take it off her...

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Another pic

Just a quick post to upload another picture, this time of the front of the house.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A little announcement

Not entirely relevant to this blog but it seems a good place to post this as it's really only been a feasible consideration since we've moved here and out of our tiny little flat.
A & I have been discussing this for quite some time and both of us feel the time is about right to do something about it. So, in a relatively short period of time our family will be growing.

That's right, we're getting a dog.

In our discussions we've gone back and forth on the merrits of getting a puppy versus a rescue dog. We've made many trips to a local animal shelter over the last year or so and seen a few dogs that we'd like to have homed, there are plenty of beautiful animals out there that need loving homes.
On the other hand there's the whole puppy experience and watching a small ball of fluff grow a personality.
In the end though we have decided, initially, to rehome an unwanted pet (we will probably get a puppy once we know we're competent dog owners). Today we went back to the animal shelter (we'd been down earlier in the week) and took some time to find a pet that matched our requirements (and us theirs).

So I am exceptionally pleased to announce that Kita (pronounced Kee-ta) will be joining our family next week! :)
She's a lovely natured 3 year old Lurcher, who's tolerant of other dogs and cats although she can be a little nervous.
Pics will appear when she feels comfortable to be photographed and I'm really looking forward to introducing here to you all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Boxes Return

Well, I've been spending a lot of time moving stuff from the old place to the new, and I can confidently say that the floor is no longer clear of boxes. I'm sure it will be, in time, though.

Why is it that the last 20% of the stuff takes 80% of the time to move?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The office is shaping up.

Originally I had planned to give my new office a couple of quick coats of paint and then move everything in and be happy. Yeah, right.

The walls in my office have gone through various stages of decorating involving multiple layers of paint and wallpaper, including one of those strips of wallpaper that goes around the mid rift of the room only (usually covering a join between two different patterns of wallpaper top and bottom).
This being my new office for the next 'n' years I really want to feel at home in it and feel like it is mine (yes I know I own it so it is mine but I need to own the spirit of it as well). So the wallpaper had to go.

I really had thought that would be quite a simple task and now I know quite a bit better. The top half of the room was relatively ok to strip but I believe the paper on the bottom half was attached with super glue. Honestly. That's the only substance known to mankind that could keep the paper on the wall like that.
As usual though, A came to my rescue with a wallpaper stripper that's been languishing in the deep depths of the upstairs cupboard in the old place.

Now the boot's on the other foot and I have the upper hand. >:)

After many, many hours stripping and prepping the walls I have now managed to finally get some paint on them. First coats only but I feel like I'm getting there. I'll have second coats on two of the walls by the end of tonight and there's only one wall left naked at the moment. It needs a little more prep work and is being a little stubborn around the window but I know that in the end, I shall be victorious.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Room by room summary as I see it - Yule 2005

I'll try and make a habit of posts like this one; they should do well at keeping us on track and letting us know how we're doing. We've been working hard and don't feel like we're camping here any more, so now is a good time to start:

The living/dining room is starting to look sane, which is *so* nice. There are now no boxes in it, the sofa cover and cushions are back on the sofa, and you can walk all the way through it. I've seen the old living/dining room look worse than this just from 'living'.

The kitchen is nearly organised; J's been spending the day as the plumber today. He's fixed a leak under the sink, and plumbed in the washing machine and dishwasher. Good lad; I wouldn't know where to start. We did a test run with each and tightened a connection or two, and they're now functional and leak-free. That means that all the cleaning stuff can go back under the sink (which I cannot *wait* to shine!) and the baking pans/tins can go back into the cupboard that has the plug sockets in. (The old owners had an interesting approach to DIY. Nothing is properly fixed to anything, and if they wanted to put a unit against a wall where a plug socket or any other outlet was, they just cut a hole in the back of the cupboard. We have outlets in some very strange places...) I don't think we have quite as much kitchen cupboard space as in the old kitchen, but I think we'll be OK. There will doubtless be much reassigning of cupboards before I'm done, though.

Our bedroom is a very similar size and shape to the old one; the bed is in (and made every morning!), but the wardrobes are currently in the 'second bedroom'. This is partly because we want to paint our bedroom, and partly because J doesn't want the bedroom to feel cramped; he's quite keen on the wardrobes staying in a different room. I don't like this idea; the second bedroom will be a guest room, and I don't want to have to keep my clothes in a guest room! Decision to follow.

The second bedroom is currently a dumping ground; J is, as I type, stripping wallpaper off the walls of his office (the smallest bedroom). That means that all the stuff that would go in the office is in the second bedroom, along with the chinchillas and lots more 'stuff'. Since J works from home (but is currently on vacation till early January), it is important that his office be set up quite swiftly, and that he is comfortable there.

My sewing room (the second smallest bedroom) is also a dumping ground; again, I want to paint it, but I'm happy to finish the rest of the move before concentrating on it. If I let myself start thinking about it too hard, I won't want to do anything else. :D

The upstairs bathroom is something of a priority; apart from being ugly, there has in the past been a small but persistent leak around the tub seal which has slightly damaged the floor boards in the adjoining bedroom (#2). We want to ensure that the damage is known, understood and controlled ASAP.

The downstairs loo also needs a quick re-vamp. It has a carpet (always a dubious idea in a household containing men, and especially boys, as in the case of the previous owners) and the wallpaper is a mildly unpleasant rose-sprig design. We can do better. :)

The garden is large for the age and type of the house, and has been well cared for in the past, but neglected recently. It's in generally good shape, but we have grand plans for it.

DIY #1

Had a few jobs to sort out today. First up was fixing a few leaks under the kitchen sink which seem to have caused water damage to the laminate over some unknown period of time.
So it was off to B&Q in town to pick up some bits & bobs then a quick trip back to the old house to also grab some of the stuff left there.

Once back I set about dismantling the U bend and cleaning it up and applying PFTE tape and Plumber's Mate putty to seal everything up. Testing was positive and it was a successful start to the diy campaign. Just to note that it's also the first bit of plumbing I've ever done too.

Next up on my list was installing the hose pipe that we'd bought the day before. The great thing about this job was it required power tools. Only a drill mind you but a power tool none the less. 30 minutes later and voila!

A coffee break or two later it was onto installing the washing machine and dishwasher. We've already decided the kitchen is going to be replaced at some point, mostly because it's not to our tastes but also because it's just so weirdly layed out. Nothing in it has been done quite right. Plug sockets are in strange places (cupboards) and the plumbing is a bit of a mess (and until earlier, leaked).
The drill was called back in again to creating some routing holes for pipes and a lot of wrangling to route power cables behind cookers and such ended up with things finally sorted. So, everything is pretty much in.

Dinner now and maybe some more paper stripping in my office afterwards but that's everything ticked on my list for today.

Stratigraphy of a compost heap

The weather was so good on Thursday that we spent most of the morning in the garden. I started raking leaves, but had nowhere to put them, so decided to investigate the compost bin that's been left in one corner of the garden.

It was an interesting experience. The bin is one of those with a 'gate' at the bottom so you can dig out the finished compost, and a lid at the top so you can add fresh matter. It was almost full, with a pile of green-black slime on the top. Not so much compost, as rotting grass.

However, the compost in the bottom of the bin, although very compacted, was dark and lovely. Hmmm.

Further investigation proved that on top of the good compost was a thick layer of dried, brown moss, and that was topped off by many mats of grass, in various stages of dehydration and failure to compost.

I suspect that the bin was originally owned by a keen gardener, or at least a keen composter. I think it was then neglected for a while (resulting in a luxuriant growth of moss), and then a novice composter has simply chucked cut grass on top of the whole thing each time they've finished mowing the lawn.

Anyway, the whole lot has now been dug out and the uncomposted material has been replaced in layers, along with layers of some of the mature compost and layers of fresh leaves. The green slime has been redistributed into small clumps, and may yet produce something worthwhile. We shall see.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Garden Pictures

Ok, so here are some initial pics of the garden and back of the house I shot earlier this afternoon before it got too dark.


We have a Hedgehog!

Ok, this may seem a little odd but us ex-town folk don't really see these chaps very often. When I just headed out to empty some rubbish into the bin I heard the tell tale rustling amongst the leaves. Upon further inspection I found a rather large Hedgehog snuffling about!
I'll have to sit out one evening with the camera and see if I can't get a shot of him.

I'm going to enjoy living in a village :D

First Post!

Hi all and welcome to our new blog about our new home.

We're a little short on time at the moment having just moved in a couple of days ago, the place is a bit of a tip with our possessions all over the place but we're enjoying the freedom of our new garden already.

Our previous house was a 2 bedroomed raised maisonette without a garden on an old council estate. We've been there a while but have just outgrown the place with our hobbies taking up alot of space. Combined with our own desire to have more general living space and some outside space we ended up on the housing market. Thus we have finally moved into our beautiful new house and fully intend on documenting here what we do to make it our own.

I've got some pics to upload, hopefully they'll be up soon!