Friday, 18 July 2014

Here, there and everywhere

What a view - taken from our garden and is the view from our kitchen and sitting room.....wonderful

We can see the sea too
'Our' beach....just 10 minutes walk from the house

Picnic lunch today

Hello!  I do hope you are having a lovely summer. Sorry to have been so absent.  We are safely moved.  I can't tell you what a relief it is to be here and beginning our new life.  Major house renovations, followed by selling, buying and moving from one end of the country to the other, while solo parenting for a good few weeks, came with a fair few stresses and strains.  But, after a month or so of being homeless (staying with my parents and then in a rented cottage) we moved into our new home about 5 weeks ago (I think, I'm losing track already).  So, we're here and we love it although it still feels rather surreal and rather as if we are on holiday.  We have had four lots of visitors staying so far and another two sets this coming week - thankfully I was pretty efficient with the unpacking and it was all done within the first couple of weeks.  Helped hugely by our first visitors - my mum and dad, who entertained small people and did lots of digging in the garden.  Yes, garden.......I can't tell you how exciting that is!

This little girl absolutely loves to walk

This big little boy will start high school after the summer - how did that happen?

This girl spends most of her time in a mysterious world of her own

Walking part of the Speyside Way - from Knockando (where we visited the wool mill, what a perfect spot)

This boy is coping so well with being uprooted......and he has even more freckles this summer!

One of my favourite short walks, ever - Loch an Eilean (and Inshriach nursery and tearoom is a favourite spot too)

We were away for the week last week with John's parents and had a lovely time exploring Strathspey.  John and I know the area well but it was new to them and to the children. We had almost perfect weather but we were pleased to come back home and do a bit more settling (and entertaining).

Just for my records - Finn is in a real tree climbing phase - this is the scariest yet!
We'll be off again in a wee while, down south to soak up the Commonwealth Games.  We're all pretty excited about the three events we have tickets for.  Shortly after that we have some time in Elie, Fife with my family.  So........I suspect I'll not be around here much but I wanted to pop in, record some photos and say hi to all.  And to apologise for the lack of commenting and communication in general.   I'm not going to promise a great improvement just yet - I think that will have to wait until the children are settled into the new school term next August/September.  In the meantime I hope you are enjoying some sun and maybe even some relaxation!
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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Out with the old.........and (fingers crossed) in with the new

I think I'm working on the assumption that you may be as nosey as I am about looking at houses.....maybe I'm wrong but then you don't need to read further!  I like the idea of having some photos gathered here so that we have them to look back on.  The house seems fresh in our minds just now but I'm sure some of the details of this very quirky old house will fade with time.  I'd also like to remember what a house can look like when it is very tidy and clean, please don't think it normally looks like this.  It required a great deal of effort to keep it uncluttered for the month it was on the market!
I have intentionally never shown the front of our house before - anyone who knows our local town reasonably well wouldn't have too much difficulty working out where we live from a picture of the front.  Especially since I have mentioned in several posts about the lovely street that we live on - we're less than 100 metres, down the cobbled dead-end street, to this and this and this (and this and this).  But since we'll only be here for another handful of days I don't think I mind if anyone manages to work out exactly which house we're in (I'm not sure if I have been silly about this but it didn't feel right before now).
Our funny old house dates back to the early 1800s, or possibly the mid 1700s - no one seems certain (I always planned to do some research, sadly I haven't managed).  But it is clear that it was built as a single house and certainly long before the ones that now adjoin on either side.  It would have been such a grand house too, with lovely formal rooms on the ground floor.  Now, they have been split off into an office on either side, each with their own entrance.  And our front door is the original one in the middle (nearly the middle, nothing is straight in this house). Our wee front hall opens up to the main entrance hall (originally there would have been doors leading to rooms either side - now the offices) with the spiral stone stairs to first floor.  This is one of my favourite parts of the house - although normally it is full of dogs and pushchairs!  I just love the stairs and the stable door into the courtyard garden.

As I mentioned, and you'll see from the floor plan, nothing is straight.  Not many right angles!  And the walls are very thick.
The sitting room is a beautiful room, especially since we removed the blue shiny wallpaper, green carpet and garish blue curtains.  The cornice only extends round part of the room so it was probably at least two rooms that have been joined at some stage.  What you can't see here is the kids' toy shelves and so on which are behind the photographer!  We put the fire in too and we'll really miss that - obviously the huge old fireplace was already there and it was only right to have a fire roaring in it again.  All the shutters on the first floor are original and working - it is lovely to use them and I like the feel of these rooms without curtains.

The dining room is probably where we have made the most difference.  It had a false ceiling which lowered the height to just above the top of the door.  It made such a difference to take it back up to full height and restore the damaged cornicing.  I don't suppose we'll ever have two such lovely rooms as this and the sitting room again.
The kitchen is small (we have to eat in the dining room, no option for being lazy) but the window is big which really helps (for me, anyway).  We replaced the cooker, sink and work surfaces and painted the units and walls.  All of which gave it a bit more character without costing us too much.
The wee first floor shower room was put in just before we bought and is the only room we haven't touched other than a quick paint - I still really like it after seven years.
I don't suppose we'll ever have a bigger bedroom. But I'm not sure it is actually that useful, provided there's enough room to move I just tend to think of our bedroom as somewhere to sleep - I like it to be comfortable and reasonably attractive but that's about it.
We have been lucky to live in a house with so much character, space and light - but it does have it's down parking, very small garden, small kitchen and funny shaped rooms.  But for us, for the last seven years, it has been home.  And it is us, our family, that makes it home - not the actual walls.  We will take away so many memories, some rather hard but many more rather wonderful.  Home, for me, is also made up of some special furniture, from my mum and dad and grandparents, which I love for sentimental reasons as much as appearance.  What makes home for you?
I think this is quite probably enough rambling for now - the next house is almost ours, hopefully we'll be sure by this time next week.  If all works out we'll be living in a much smaller, completely new, bungalow.  It couldn't be more different - but fewer worries about maintenance, a proper sized garden (to start from scratch - so exciting) and a view. Good things to look forward to.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Sunshine and bluebells -and giveaway winners

Hello!  Just a quick pop in to say hi and announce the giveaway winners.  I'm delighted to say two new-to-me lovely people won..............Sara (sewlittletosay) wins the knit fabric (from Annie) and wee robot bag, and Gill wins the cafĂ© apron.  I have emailed you both for your addresses. Winners were chosen by random number generation, I'm sure I could work out how to prove that to you with a screen shot.........but can you please just trust me?  Life is very very busy right now and my head is constantly spinning with ever growing lists. 

I generally love lists when they are the sort that things can be ticked off.  But almost everything on my lengthy list is at the stage where, once I complete one task it generates another, or, is handed over temporarily to someone else but still needs following up so I can't actually cross it off.  I do find it intensely annoying since I'm not creating a sense of satisfaction from fully completed tasks.  Still, the upside is that one day, when this is all over, I'm sure I'll instantly forget all the trauma - only to be completely shocked next time we move (but secretly I'm currently hoping that won't be for a very long time)!

And the photos?  Well, they are to remind me why this is all worth it.  I made a 24 hour visit up to the Black Isle a couple of weeks ago.  And, blissfully, had an hour all to myself before going to a meeting.  I took a walk along the old railway line between Avoch and Fortrose. If all falls into place, and we secure the house we are hoping for, then we will be able to cycle and walk this route to our primary school. Won't that be wonderful? We plan to live in Fortrose and there is a school bus to Avoch as, although it is only about 1 1/2 miles, the road isn't safe for walking - the road is sandwiched between the sea and the steep hillside, waaay down below the path from which I took these photos.  I'm sure that most days the kids will catch the bus, but I do like to know that we will be able to use our own steam too.

The wee town in the first photo is Avoch and that's where John is living just now.  It is likely that the rest of us will be joining him there in about 3 weeks a teeny tiny fisherman's cottage not far from the harbour.  We'll have to hope for good weather while we're there as there really won't be room to swing a cat (not that I'd want to!).

I'm hoping to pop back next week - would you like to see some photos of our current house?  I have been planning to show you the 'tidy and ready for viewings' photos but wanted to wait until missives were concluded.  That was due to happen this morning so I don't need to feel strange about showing you round our house (although I'm not certain yet that they have been signed since our solicitor is off sick, I'm trying not to take it personally!) .  I can't quite believe that it will only be our home for another 10 days or so.  What a strange thought.  My poor parents are gearing up for a noisy invasion for a couple of weeks before we go north.

Wishing you a lovely weekend when it comes.
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