Bumper update…

“But every time it rains
You’re here in my head
Like the sun coming out
Ooh, I just know that something good is going to happen
And I don’t know when
But just saying it could even make it happen….”


OK… Mothers Ruin here… Switch her off…  Go on…. Ease the volume down on your Kate Bush CD collection that’s been playing steadily since she kicked off the tour. There we go…. That’s better…. We’re all doing it, of course, (we must be as it is rumoured that each of her albums are working their way back into the Top 100 chart this week!) but now is the time for a little bit of, well, ME! That said, there is soooooo much to update you all with in this post  that its necessary length will, I suspect, render it unfinishable for some of you. Mothers Ruin will be to somebody else what Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White has been to me (THREE TIMES I’ve tried and failed to finish it! I just don’t understand!). Similarly, a fresh blog post is so astronomically overdue that you may find that you have forgotten who the principle players are (rather like the second series of the BBC’s The Village which seemed to be delayed soooooo long from the first that by the time it came around I had completely forgotten who was who, why they were there and what the hell was going on, only managing to stick with it because Maxine Peake is so talented that I would, frankly, pay to watch her clean a toilet….)

Anyhoooo – For too long I have been stuck up a ladder painting and finding myself so suddenly immersed in society again has clearly over-excited me, so I’ll stop rambling and get down to business…

Let’s kick things off with two notes of congratulations. Firstly to Marie on the birth of her first son, Henry…

 

And also to Laura on the birth of her daughter, Lucy

The workmen arrived, as planned, at the end of July. As my inability to control the situation increased so too did my hysteria and OCD, much to Nathan’s amusement. I don’t know if you’ve ever had any building work carried out in your home, but honestly, it’s hell! The constant requests for tea and coffee every 12 and a half minutes, the dogs barking and whining with each bang, crash or roar of a powertool, the haze of dust that hangs in the air for hours after they’ve left for the day before settling in thick powdery swathes across every surface, the inevitable holding of one’s breath and then resigned exhalation as they bring in some huge piece of kit and bash it off of the freshly painted front door, the silent storm that rages around toilet etiquette i.e. Put the seat down and DONT pee on it! Oh yes, it was Calm Logic nil, Hysteria 42. In the end, I retired to one room and sat out the week there, with the dogs, waiting until it was finished. Still, I think it was worth the stress. We moved into the house with this very dirty, very 90s kitchen…

 …which was completely stripped out within a surprisingly short time… (Like 2 hrs!)

…and replaced with the new units. We selected a pretty standard kitchen with very few adornments – my main aim was ease of cleaning and longevity of style. We went with simple doors in shade ‘dakar’ and a dark wood worktop. I dont think this will ‘date’ in the same way as other choices may have. We also selected a neutral splashback (you can’t see it here, but it is actually a white on white floral damask design) as I didn’t fancy spending the rest of my life scrubbing tile grout clean (did I mention I have a touch of the OCD?)

 

 About 8 years ago I got so fed up with Nathan continually hanging his coats and bags on the back of the dining room chairs (there it is again!) or tucking pairs of shoes underneath them after kicking them off as he came into the house that I took drastic action and threw the whole lot out, table and all. Having had a bright and sparkly new kitchen installed I decided that it was time to take the ‘crazy meter’ down a few notches and desist eating meals on our laps. Thus, my parents (avid treasure hunters) were asked to scout about for a vintage settle and a dining table which, I’m thrilled to report, they managed to find AND deliver on a recent visit. £85 for the two pieces was,  I thought, a total bargain! In additon, I’ve purchased a couple of chairs from Steptoe’s Yard in St Cyrus (the name says it all, but the place is magnificent if you are prepared to spend several hours rummaging and several more negotiating a reasonable price!) to complete my new mismatched dining suite. The kitchen walls and woodwork are going to be painted in Little Greene’s pale grey-blue ‘Drizzle’ (you can see the tins sitting on the settle, ready and waiting to be put to use!) and the furniture is all going to be painted in a range of complimentary tones. We’ve also got an old enamel topped kitchen unit, a 1960s shelving unit and an old wall mounting plate rack for displaying my favourite china (also resting on the settle waiting for me to get to it, and also from Steptoe’s Yard)…

We’ve also just bought ourselves a nice Swan retro fridge freezer in cream which is currently residing, still boxed, in the middle of my hallway! To give you an idea, they look like this…

 

Whilst we are on the subject of shopping – we’ve secured some other lovely bits and bobs recently too, including the 1950s and 1960s dishes below (I’ve got multiples, but just took a picture of one of each to show the designs), the carltonware lookalike dish, 3 of these earthenware jars…

….and this lovely green dish that now sits on my bedside table.

Thanks to the keen eyes of my parents (on yet another trip to Steptoe’s) I was also able to procure a dressing table chair to use with, um, the dressing table (it needs recovering, so I accept no responsibility for the odd choice of fabric! Yet another job to add to the list…)

 I was also the recipient of a rather wonderful belated birthday present in the form of this art deco light fitting, which looks fab in my boudoir! 

To complete the period feel I’m now just looking for a suitable frame for this 1920s French fashion magazine so that I can add some interest to a rather bare expanse of wall opposite the bed…

Anyway, I digress! Enough with the ‘stuff’ already! 

As the kitchen was being torn apart and put back together again, so too was our bathroom. Whilst it was a pain to have so much additional work going on, I’m quite relieved now that it was all completed in one go and we were able to regain some semblance of normality again within about 10 days. When we viewed the house the bathroom looked like this:

 

Revolting, huh?! 

We quite liked the pitched skylight, though, and thought that with some fresh paint and a clean it would be an interesting feature to an otherwise small and boxy room…

The bathroom, much like the kitchen, is not totally completed. We still have filling and painting to do, light fittings to change and mirror to hang etc. This picture will give you some idea of the changes, however. We opted for a curved ‘shower bath’ with glass screen and rainfall showerhead, matt black ‘wet wall’ with a slight linear pattern, white furniture and white metro tiles with black grout…

 

Whilst we’ve been fortunate enough to have professionals come in and deal with the kitchen and bathroom, I’ve not been entirely idle myself these past few weeks. Having already painted the external windows and front door downstairs I was faced with horrendous possibility of climbing a ladder to complete the job UPstairs! Not one to give in I was able to force myself (and yes,  I know that our upstairs windows arent actually THAT high – everybody keeps telling me that – but given that I am frightened of heights I may as well have been hanging off of the Eiffel tower) up the ladder to get the job done. My arms and shoulders were agony after several days of clinging desperately onto whatever I could reach, not to mention my nerves which were in tatters after our lovely village postman discovered that I was afraid and decided that it would be amusing to give me a loud and shocking blast of the horn on his Royal Mail van each time he drove past…  In fact, I’m pretty sure that even Dexter was having a good chuckle at me as my legs began shaking at the first rung of the ladder…

Despite the lack of support from those around me I think that I’ve improved the look of our property to some degree. Here’s the before and after shots…

 

 The original plan was for me to completely renovate the front of the house and re-paint everything, but after too many days of butt-clenchingly terrifying painting I have been forced to admit defeat and a nice chap came over today to quote on finishing the job! 

In other news – we got chickens! We’ve talked about getting them for such a long time and things finally just fell into place for us. We were doing the rounds at Auchenblae open gardens and got chatting to a neighbour who keeps hens and she was very encouraging. Within a few hours of this conversation we then spotted an advert from a local man who was looking to find a new suitable home for his birds, coop, feeders etc, and by the end of the week they were with us! With so little time to prepare we were forced to put together a small, ramshackle run as an interim measure…

(For those that are interested the chooks are named Nigel, Babs, Elsa, Margo, Betty and Hetty!)

 Since then, however, construction has started on a much larger and more permanent run at the end of the garden. With repurposed telegraph poles, a load of cement and tonnes of rain it was like a ‘Ground Force’ tribute act…. We’re getting there though and you can see here the new structure at the bottom of the garden as well as the new bed that I put in. If you look closely you’ll see a line running across the garden where an element of terracing has already been put into action. We are going to plant a hedge on the far side of this line with an archway clipped into it. That way, the portion of our land that is closest to the house will be our ‘garden’, whilst through the arch will be our working land with chickens, vegetable patch, fruit trees and cut-flower patch…

Despite trying to juggle a multitude of different home projects at the same time, Nathan and I are conscious that it is important to take regular breaks and so we still make time to get out and about exploring new pieces of this county that has become home in the last year. Just last week I met Nathan from work on his half day finish and we made an impromptu visit to Cove Bay in Aberdeen. After six months of driving past the sign I’m glad I finally know what’s there. Incredible that this rugged and dramatic coastal walk exists just half a mile from Nathan’s office…

 We made even more of a discovery just yesterday when on the way home from yet another trip to Steptoe’s Yard (they say that ‘variety is the spice of life’, but this is not a concept that has ever been quite natural to me! This is the person who, having discovered the gooey delights of Ben and Jerrys Cookie Dough Ice Cream ate so much of it in an unnaturally short space of time that, now, he can hardly bare to look at it, and who, as a kid, could quite easily sit through his Wizard of Oz VHS three times in one afternoon for five afternoons a week. So yes, I go to Steptoe’s a lot! shoot me!) we decided to investigate the St Cyrus Nature reserve a little more closely and found that just beyond the sand dunes and old river bed is a huge sandy beach! My aunt, sister and niece are coming up to stay next week and I’m thrilled at the prospect of taking the wee one to the seaside to have a splash around and build some castles in the sand! Fingers crossed for good weather! 

And perhaps when we are done having adventureso by the ocean, we will stop off at Garvock Hill to ponder the view over a picnic…

 

 Needless to say, we are still absolutely head over heels in love with our new dwelling place. And, in finishing things up here, I’d like to reproduce this short description of Auchenblae that I found in an old book entitled The Parish of Fordoun published in 1893…

The outline of the street is still pretty much as it was; the houses occupy the same sites, but many of them have been vastly improved both internally and externally – new storeys have been added, rooms have been widened, windows have been enlarged and the primitive thatched roof prevalent in days of yore has disappeared, and now, with hardly any exception, the houses are slated. Altogether the village has an exceptionally clean, comfortable and prosperous appearance.

It stands on a gentle rising ground, washed by the rivulet Luther, amid beautiful scenery, and commands a fine view of the hill of Strath-Finella, a prominent object on it’s western side. About a mile distant in a westerly direction is the entrance to the richly wooded glen of Drumtochty; while a little over the same distance to the NE rises the Knockhill, whence an extensive view can be obtained. Round the eastern base of this hill the Bervie Water sweeps; and below it, to the south, lie the lands of Castleton and Mondynes. Within easy reach of the village, lying to the South, are the Monboddo woods, which shelter the mansion-house of that historic name; and among other snug residences enfold within their embracethe farm steading of Drumsleed. Westward, round the shoulder of Strath-Finella, the Howe of the Mearns opens out in all its grandeur. Such are the surroundings of Auchinblae.

It is worth mentioning that this book, or at least a map contained therein, proves that our property existed in its present position at least as early as 1828, a big difference to 1900 as we had previously been advised!  

 

More soon, I’m sure, but for now the work continues…

 

Much love, dear readers

 

MR x x x 

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