Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Starting on the Kitchen.

We have started on the kitchen which is both exciting and scary. Its the largest room in our house and its right in the middle.

Here is the kitchen before.....on the day we moved in. Its wasnt awful or anything.....we loved the flagstones, that there were patio doors (which are just out of the photo beside the fridge there) and how big it was but not much else.Just not our taste and it was, and looked very cold.
The scary RED hallway was also hastily covered in 4 coats of magnolia, a quick fix to calm it down. I love red but not that RED- it gave me a headache.

The kitchen also had the staircase in it- a strange metal spiral staircase, more suited to a maritime museum I think! It felt weird having the stairs in the kitchen, they also felt very unsafe and made a horrible clanging sound as you climbed them. Euan took his grinder to it....that was a fun day!! Literally sparks flying everywhere!
We have since put in a stud wall and created a small hallway for some new boring straight stairs.
There is just a ladder for the time being until we can afford a new staircase.Climbing a ladder at 5am to get a shower in your slippers is not that much fun I have to be honest. And quite sore on your feet! 

The original flagstone floor created a real dilema. It was lovely and would be extremely expensive to put in nowadays but the reality of having a floor like that in Aberdeenshire is basically living with a block of ice right in the middle of your house for 6 months of the year. After the first freezing cold winter and the 3rd Emma Bridgewater mug got smashed to a thousand pieces on it.....we decided that it had to go.We first laid down a very thick wool carpet underlay which acts as an fantastic insulator and helped to even out any slight unevenness in the level of the flagstones. We then laid a new chipboard floor on top which worked really well. The kitchen is nowhere near as cold, the difference is really incredible.

So here it is just now from the same angle as the above photo....Its rough obviously, thats the new stud wall and doorway.....and the new chipboard floor laid but its more of a blank canvas now.
We are going to lay the new oak flooring this weekend. As usual there are pets photobombing every photo!

We brought our Redfyre with us from the last house and sold the range cooker the previous owners left.

This is the reverse of the new wall. To the left is the entrance porch and to the right is where the new stairs will go. Behind me is the door through to the living room.

I am going to paint this huge 19 drawer unit, change the knobs and Euan will build a dresser top for it. 
It was the first thing we bought for this house actually - a gumtree bargain at £100.We couldnt actually fit it in our old house or our car! So we had to borrow a car to collect it and ask the previous owners if we could store it here until our exchange date.

So, its moving forward. No hope of being finished by Christmas but never mind- We will be washing up from Christmas dinner in the Utility room for sure!

Hope you are all enjoying the festivities and the run up to Christmas .........making time for Mulled Wine.......thats one of the best things about Christmas xxxx

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Christmas in the Farmhouse

Its my favourite part of Christmas...the decorating!!!!! Last year we had nothing out because the Living room was being worked on and in total chaos. People always say that if you start picturing a Christmas tree at a house when you view it, then its the house for you! We had to wait 16 months to put our tree up at a Drumhendry so we have loved decorating the house even more than usual this year.
We put it in the wee snug off the living room but as its all open plan through here- we can still see it from the main living room. I wish I had made up the sofa neatly before I took this picture now.

Now, this old sledge I might do a bit more with this year- I got it at a local junk yard known as 'Steptoes yard' in the summer for £3!!! Its perfect for some more of my pixies and reindeer from Maileg to ride on.
It would have looked more Christmassy with snow outside but its actually 12 degrees in Aberdeenshire today! Crazy.

I love Maileg pixies....I have quite a few now- heres some mega ones joining us in the living room.....

 We finally got rid of that awful ceiling light fitting but I havnt found anything to replace it with....I can buy table lamps all day long but I really struggle with ceiling lights.

I was really pleased with the mantle piece .....The wooden NOEL came from M&S and the greenery from the woods by our house.Mr Darcy the cat just snuck into the bottom of this picture....theres almost always a cat or a dog hiding in my photos if you look closely.

I really love looking at other bloggers christmas decorations at this time of year, I hope you have enjoyed looking at mine. xxxx

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Garden makeovers and Autumn approaches

We have been living at the farmhouse for a year now, I cant believe it! This summer we have been working on the outside and garden; it resembled a builders yard/tip when we got the keys- generally a mess of junk and rubble. With a little mechanical help and a summer of hard graft- we have build a vegetable plot, a sandstone retaining wall around the back of the house where there is a difference in ground levels, 3 news sets of steps, laid a smart patio at the front, tidied up rather a lot of crap, built a new roof on the porch and dug out some flower beds.......I feel knackered just typing it!

Its not quite finished - the top step isn't done in front of Miss Molly there and a few other tweaks to make but it started to rain today and I think that's the beginning of the nasty winter weather so we may not get much further now this year. But hopefully the grass seed we put down here will grow a bit. I bought the old Cart Wheels on Ebay.

We are so thrilled with it now- its been just a mess for the last still looked like this 3 months ago when the digger made two distinct levels and believe it or not, it looked even worse when we bought it!

** wee update 8th November**
The awful weird patio front doors that you had to walk sideways through are gone....a weekends work had us make a new door frame, fill in the gap left by the old doors and fit a lovely proper front door. Even the Postie was excited about having a letter box to use!!

Excuse the compost bag in this one....I was just about to put in the buxus cones either side of the new steps ( Buxus £15 each- bargain in B&Q) 
We were lucky in that the gorgeous sandstone was everywhere in the garden and so we had just enough to build this retaining wall the whole way round the house. I have become a champion cement mixer let me tell you!!

We had been stepping on a wobbly breeze block to get to the front door but no more.....lovely steps!

And here is the veg garden! We are growing an amazing crop of weeds at the moment but next spring- we will get stuck in. There is 7 raised beds in it with little gravel paths between them.


Inside, I have put out some little decorations for autumn, a few wee pumpkins here and there, twinkle lights on our mantle piece. I know I put on too many pictures of the living rooms but they are the only almost finished rooms!
Plus, I look at my blog from work and wistfully pretend I am at home......


Its been an amazing summer up here in Scotland, the best I can remember for several years and we have been thankful for it. Now that the weather has turned, we will be starting on the kitchen! Yikes xxx

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Maggies final adventure.

This week began sadly.

On Monday, it was a beautiful day and we spent it outside, building the stone retaining wall. The patio doors were open and we were in and out all day.
After eating our own dinner, I went to grab a shower before my night shift and left Euan to feed the animals. That was when we realised little Maggie, our blind elderly cat wasn't there.
She was always the first in the queue at dinner time-beginning her 'feed me' bleating at 6pm on the dot. Its quite funny to watch her racing through from the kitchen and making a sharp right into the utility room -she has only missed the doorway gap a few times and ran straight into it.
But she wasn't there. She wasn't anywhere.
We panicked, neither of us could remember when we last saw her after breakfast, we hadn't noticed her all day, we had been too preoccupied. I phoned work and said I had a family emergency and we frantically searched the garden and area immediately around the house. Maggie is so brave and loves being outside but she hasn't left the garden since we moved in a year ago. We ran up the driveway anyway, which is 1/2 mile long all the way to the road calling her. The farmer has recently harvested his barley fields and has ploughed and re-sown the fields so they are brown and flat all around us in every direction. Maggie is white- she would stand out a mile off. We were out looking for her well past dark, combing the ditches, woods and fields and then we turned the house upside down.
Its about a mile to the nearest house. There was no way she would get that far.

She just vanished. I cried myself to sleep worrying about her, all alone out there somewhere, cold and scared. I was terrified that a fox had taken her or a buzzard. Neither of us got much sleep, every noise outside made us run to the door thinking she had found her way home.
We were out again first thing, re-checking everywhere but by this time, the realisation that we would not see her again was sinking in. She was very frail, more so in the last few weeks and completely blind. We both began to feel that she wasn't really lost, she had simply slipped away to hide and spend her last moments alone. It was heart-breaking.

At work on Wednesday I kept to myself, I didn't want to talk to anyone, I was too upset. I know we both secretly hoped that when we pulled up at the house that night, she would be there to meet us. She wasn't of course. The best we could hope for was to find her little body; if she had gotten lost, there was no way she could survive two nights out in the open.
I didnt want to give up and Euan knew that I was finding it really hard to accept she was dead -that night he found a butterfly sleeping in our wardrobe -he said that it was Maggie, she had turned into a butterfly and flown up to heaven.

On Thursday morning at work, I went onto the local Cats Protection webpage, I don't know why really. There was a message on the noticeboard asking for suggestions for a location for a car boot sale so I sent a response suggesting the village park in Luthermuir. At the end of my message, I decided to just add that we had lost our little blind cat in the unlikely event that someone found her in the woods and thought she had been abandoned. I did not expect to get a reply.

My heart jumped out of my chest when I opened an email a few hours later from the CP saying that a cat that sounded like Maggie had been handed in to a Vets in Brechin. I was shaking too much to phone them myself so I texted Euan, who was also at work and asked him to call.
I told myself over and over while I waited for him to call me back....'it wont be her, dont get upset when he tells you, you know it cant be her' was her. It was Maggie. A lady had found her at a nearby farm, and brought her in.
Euan's crew was about to leave his fire station on a shout when he got my text and he asked his crew manager if they could hang back a minute while he made the call. They all knew we had lost our cat (don't worry, it wasn't a serious incident they were heading to) and he said he had to stop himself from crying like an idiot in front of his crew when they described little blind Maggie over the phone.

The Vet told us that she was in quite a state when she was brought in and with her age and blindness they very nearly put her to sleep.............but she perked up after some food and a drink and then they were contacted by the Cats Protection lady who works with them about my email!
I still cant believe it-it feels like a miracle. To get to where she was found, Maggie, who cannot see a thing and is just a tiny bag of bones, had walked over a mile through ditches, woods and farmland, along a country road and survived 3 days without food or water at her age. She made it to a house in what's mostly just farmland in every direction, someone kind found her who bothered to pick her up and take her to a Vet.
It was sheer chance that I sent that message to the CP, a message really about the Boot sale!
Although I had phoned our own Vet because Maggie is micro-chipped, I didn't think to phone any other Vet! Given where we live, its not like she would be shut in someone's garage so we didn't see any point in posters or anything like that. We didn't think she could have made it out of the garden in all seriousness.

She started meowing and purring as soon as we came into the room at the Vets- she must have heard our voices in the hall and they said she hadn't made a sound before that.
She is now curled up in her bed at home, where she belongs.

We know she isn't going to last forever, maybe not even that much longer but it was agony not knowing what had happened to her and I just cannot believe we got her back.
Euan and I  (okay Euan, more than me- but I helped) made a big carrot cake and took it round to the lady who found her to say thank you.
The week ended much better than it had begun. Life eh? Sometimes you just cant believe what happens.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

The gardens coming on.................slowly!

We have been busy the last few weeks, mainly working outside landscaping the garden.
As usual though, I have been pottering and rearranging a few little things here and there in the living rooms and dining room. Its a disease!! I have about an hour when I get home after a night shift before Euan gets home from his and its my 'pottering' time.
A few wee things have changed, we put up a mantle shelf and got the door frame on.  Still got that hideous central light fitting!

Watching the tennis yesterday afternoon as you can see......isnt the huge old style TV aerial a delight?? We dont have one on the roof yet.
Its the final today and I feel nervous already.....especially after watching poor Lisicki loose.
Come on Andy!!!

We have quite a big garden with virtually nothing in it, I could count on one hand the number of plants.
There is one beautiful rose though, growing against a wall and I picked some blooms for the house.
They smell as gorgeous as they look and it was lovely to be able to pick something from the garden instead of buying flowers.

I dream that the garden will one day be full of flowers like this.........but for this year our goal is to get it landscaped, tidy and ready for planting things next year.
Our to do list is......

  1. To get the pond filled in.
  2. To get the garden relatively flat so Euan dosent have to get up speed on the old tractor mower to get over areas of the lawn.Although it is pretty funny to watch.
  3. To build a proper vegetable plot...white picket fence and everything.
  4. To get some more trees planted on the north side.
  5. To get rid of the wierd wall thing built around the beech trees and reuse the stone ......
  6. To build a small retaining wall around the back and side of the house to tidy up where the extension meets the grass and 3 new sets of steps.
  7. To get a nice gravel path around the whole house.
  8. To mark and dig out out some flower beds.
  9. To stay away from garden centres where I will be tempted to buy pretty flowers with nowhere for them to go when I get home. 

We had some help from a digger to get the pond filled in finally.
We removed the fake fur from inside it and sold the 'porn shed!' on Gumtree (We did not share our thoughts on what the previous owners of our house had been doing in there!) and we dismantled the decking underneath.That was a job and a arms are seriously beginning to resemble Popeyes. Everything at the moment is heavy lifting and lugging rocks, digging, pushing loaded wheelbarrows.....its safe to say that my dreams of flitting around my country garden in a Cath Kidston dress aint happening any time soon!!!

We had let the water drain away since last Autumn and evacuated the newts (hundreds of them) and frogs to the local pond, using the hole as a dump for rubble in the mean time.Its been an eye sore for months now.
It was a bit mesmerising watching the digger make light work of such a big job......but eventually, the pond and big bank were no more.

We were left with this- the dogs and chickens were straight on it to investigate. We have sewn grass seed in that area for now.

After a few days of trying to dig the trench for the retaining wall foundations out ourselves with spades, we admitted defeat and called the digger back- its took him 2 hours to do the whole thing which would have taken us a few weeks- its mostly clay so it was very slow going by hand- a total nightmare. Beautiful isn't it?!

So outside pretty much looks like a right mess just now. But its progress and that is exciting.

We have reused some timber from the old pond decking to begin making the veg plot.
Euan and I are big fans of River Cottage and have been dreaming of having something like that and growing as much ourselves as possible.We know next to nothing about growing vegetables! I bought an Alan Titchmarsh book on Amazon last week and figure, we will learn by our mistakes.
I pictured in my head a really pretty white picket fenced area with raised beds in it and little gravel paths in between so we have been building this area little bit at a time.

 I will put on some pictures when the veg plot is all finished. 

Its going to be so nice but, I think by the time we have completed it, we will have missed the time to plant a lot of things for this year. But it will be waiting, all ready to go next Spring. 

I am off the sleep now after my night shift........Have a super weekend and if you are a tennis fan- I too will be screaming at the TV and hiding behind a cushion later on xx 


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Back at last

Hello!! Its been so long since I wrote anything on my blog. Thankyou for not sending me to the sinbin and unfollowing me!
I have thought about blogging an update on our progress with the renovations so many times but I havnt had any decent photos and the place has been such a mess for the last 7 months with walls coming down, dust everywhere, tools everywhere, a pile of plasterboard in the Living room behind the sofa for has been a long slog over the winter.
We didnt even get up our Christmas Tree until Christmas Eve- there was just nowhere to put it in all the debri.
But we have now almost finished the Living Room/Dining Room which is open plan and takes up the whole front of the original house and the little Sitting room extension at the front. Its still a bit sparce, we only got the furniture back in a few days ago after the carpet fitter was in but I wanted to put some pics on- let you see what we have been doing all this time! We have done everything ourselves (except cut the hole for the new window in the gable end) and its just nice to have one place to sit down and relax in that feels like ours.

Here is the Living room before.....not great 'before' photos I am afraid, it was the day we moved in in September.

Its basically one large room with a fireplace at each end. Before, there was a smaller bit (here in the photo) sectioned off at one end. It was too small to be useful and had a fireplace we didnt like.The stove hadnt been plumbed in correctly so it was also useless.Thats the huge mirror that we had to actually cut from the wall, plasterboard and everything as it had been glued.
The larger Living room side didnt even have window to the outside in it so it felt really dark.It leads into the little Sitting room extension which they had built covering the external window and one of the 6 (some are going) external doors in the house.

You can see how dark it was with the stone wall and without a a cave!

We took down the stud wall dividing the space and moved the main Living room to the other end- the one with a window. We removed the weird dado rail thing which had an extra layer of plasterboard GLUED underneath it round the entire room.....just repairing, smoothing, filling and sanding the wall after this took us a long time.
We put up a new wall, this time dividing the room better proportionally, keeping the Living room at the end with the larger window and creating a Dining room at the other.
We built a false chimney breast with an oak beam mantle, layed a new hearth and plumbed in a larger wood-burning stove. Its seriously toasty in there when the stove gets going.
We went with good old Magnolia paint for now as its cheap and cheerful.

  Looking through from the Dining end.......

You can see though to the little sitting room extension..... We sold the external glass door that was there and replaced with a reclaimed old pine one but it isnt fitted yet and theres no door surround or anything either.
The light fittings arnt staying either....not our taste but not offensive enough for the expense of replacing them just yet.

I love the fireplace Euan has built, we stuck brick slips on the back to cover the dirty stone behind it. The flue coming out of the top is actually just placed there- the real flue exit is out the back of the stove into the original chimney. Its all an illusion!

At the other end, there was an exposed original stone wall but they had ruined it with an open fire which was not done safely at all and was a major fire hazard ( a definate nono for a firemans house.) With the lack of natural light, it felt very 'cave-like.' so it had to go.
We covered it and on my birthday in March, a builder knocked through a window - that was a great day! The light flooded in and we could see the garden.

That's Euan and my Papa in the photo, putting the window in with the builder.

We had to design a fireplace that would work with the existing ugly concrete mantle which was very low, so we came up with the brick arch and fireplace which we built in front of it. We laid another new hearth there and put in another woodburner.
We havnt got it properly set up yet so I will put some nicer pictures up when we do but you can see the space.

 This is a good before and after. That pine bookcase is right in front of the old open fireplace.....where the new fireplace is now.You can see the start of the new stud divinding wall going up.

I dont know if we will ever light that stove- the one at the other end heats both spaces really well but it looks the part! You can see the new window in the dining room...that room needed natural light so badly.

Euan made a lovely job of boxing it in and built me a window seat to look out onto the garden.
I should put a better photo on of that. Here it is from the outside.....we plan to add georgian bar to all the windows eventually....add some character!

I am still unsure about the carpet. I came home from a night shift after it had been laid in my absence and cried ( silly I know, its only carpet!) because it was a lot darker than it looked in the carpet shop.
It cost me 3 months overtime and we had the very cold and drafty floor boards for the last 7 months ....the wooden floor were actually nice but just too cold. Its not a warm house so we are doing everything we can to make it warmer. I was so excited about getting the carpet and its too expensive to change so I hope it grows on me.

Then there is the wee sitting room at the front... as it was the day we moved in....

Which now looks like this..........

Again, not totally finished or totally furnished but a vast improvement on concrete blocks!
We changed the outside door for a window, it meant the room could be used much better rather than kind of being just a 'through' room.It will be a little sitting room and one day when we have kids, a play room.

So those are the latest developments. We have pretty much run out of money for now so over the next few months, now that the weather is warming up (Yes, even in Scotland) we will be tackling the garden. Thats mostly just labour and time.We are so lucky to have a large garden, we have a hundred ideas as its kind of a blank canvas and I cant wait to stuck in.

But yesterday, we decided to just enjoy being in we got ourselves a giant trampoline second hand on dont need kids to get much fun!

Isla was desperate to get up on it but then got scared......

Euan did some awesome tumbles....

 I hope you are all well and survived this horrendous british winter and I am looking forward to catching up with everyones blogs xxxx