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Barny Update

Just a few pictures this week because it’s been all about the belt and braces stuff; essential, but not thrilling, unless you’re into this sort of thing…

Cutting a trench for electric cable (with Barley big-dog supervising). The builders hum the Thunderbirds theme tune when The Farmer slides back the barn doors: He’s got a weapon for every job.

Upstairs walls. I found 360° mode on my camera and made myself dizzy turning circles so I can’t remember what rooms these are.

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A view down to our vaulted hall (Lords of the barn); a frame to hang my loo from (airs and graces) and mocked-up stairs (could they be made permanent if the budget runs out?)

Sorry, that’s all I’ve got (apart from a mountain of insulation which is currently blocking the tractors in and doesn’t warrant a photograph despite what it cost). I did warn it might not thrill, but hang in there for the next instalment when I hope to bring you (DRUM ROLL & TENSION BUILDING PAUSE…)

THE WINDOWS!!

Plain Barny – It’s a kitchen ‘sulk-off’!

The Farmer and I are at a stand off over our kitchen cupboards. He doesn’t like my suggestions and I doubt I’d like his very much (I can’t be sure of that, I discourage input on his part. His primary role vis-à-vis interior design is to look at my ideas and reject them.)

Healthy debate isn’t unusual for us, and we can resolve the trickiest of dilemmas with a robust ‘sulk-off’. He/she who sulks the hardest wins the day. Although sometimes he wins by default, like when something exciting occurs and I forget I’m sulking in my eagerness to share, or (and this is the worst) when I’ve been busily sulking for days before it dawns on me that he doesn’t actually know we’re having an argument. He’s not a talkative bloke at the best of times, you see, and that one’s a double whammy because by then I’ve used up my sulking reserves ahead of the actual battle.

I guess sulk-stamina is a reasonable strength-of-feeling gauge, and I’m willing to give it my all in a kitchen sulk-off. It will be a sulk to the death… Or it could be if I was certain of what I wanted myself.

It’s all too confusing: Scandi, urban, rustic, industrial… Frankly, there are just too many choices when you spend as much time as I do scrolling green-eyed through pinterest.

I need help.

Below are four choices. One of them is my favourite and has already been rejected by The Farmer [that doesn’t rule it out yet :-)] another is my best guess at his choice (I haven’t actually asked him… that would encourage interference) and the other two are liveable-with compromises.

Do feel free to voice your choice of favourite. In a best case scenario I’ll have extra ammunition for the impending sulk-off ahead: Worst case scenario… it’s possible you may not hear much from me over the next few days.

Metropolitan blue URBANModena Concrete industrialModena Malmo light SCANDIRUSTIC

 

 

Rustic Spooks

Our patch of the countryside has its share of  loitering spirits and ghostly legends. The stories shared by down-to-earth, country folk who are oft inclined to cynicism, which makes their recounting all the more chilling.

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In the neighbouring village where I grew up the spirit of a desolate vicar was known to haunt the church. His only son had perished in an outbreak of cholera which claimed the lives of many villagers. The source of the outbreak was traced to the churchyard well and it was believed that the water had been contaminated by sewerage run off from the vicarage.

In the depths of guilt and despair, the vicar sealed the door to the chancel which he and his son had used. The door remains closed to this day, and only the vicar’s tormented spirit has passed through it since.

Following a spate of sightings in the early eighties (including an incident in which the church warden’s dog greeted and jumped up at an invisible being, resting its paws on apparent thin air) a service was conducted to offer our restless spirit forgiveness and eternal peace.

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A more recent ghost is the headless airman who thumbs a lift on the road which passes alongside our farmland. Once a USAAF airfield, legend has it that if you glance in your rear view mirror as you drive across the ‘drome you may see him sitting behind you.

The lady from whom we brought this farm was a sharp, forthright sort with a no-nonsense outlook on life. She had purchased the land and the Tudor farmhouse from the War Ministry when the airfield was decommissioned, and she recounted to me that when viewing the property she had clearly seen the ghost of an American Airman hanging from the farmhouse rafters.

Tudor Farmhouse

Whatever she saw that day must have seriously scared her because she demolished that farmhouse and built a new one further along the lane.

I could go on. It seems every pub in the nearest town has a resident spook… Cromwell’s mistress, a maid known as Nellie Ketteridge… and that’s before you travel on to the mansion house…

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Take care out there people!

 

 

Barny Update – another comparison shot

I missed this one yesterday but it’s too good to leave out (so many pictures to trawl through – the joys and tribulations of trigger happy digital photography).

The before picture in this one was actually taken in 2012 when the barn was in use storing hay for the horses (who had also kept the grass in the paddock trimmed!)

Hmm… we might need a horse or two in that paddock again 🙂

Barny Update – Then and Now

Barny Update – Then and Now

Midway through (our budget at least) I thought I’d share a few ‘then and now’ pics of our barn conversion.

All this has happened in the last six months…

We’ve kept the door on the left (an upcycling project maybe, any suggestions?) and the Sister covets the nifty (temporary) sliding doors for her shed.

The beautiful bricks are insulated now (and waterproof too!)

Almost unrecognisable! The inside has changed a bit too – upstairs…

… and downstairs.

But it’s the outside that knocks me for six every time I walk past it.

I can’t wait to see what the next stage brings.

Barny Update – Interior Design

I’m not getting ahead of myself. This isn’t me adorning my 3D designs with cushions and trinkets (though I might confess to having played that game. Once or twice).

No, the plumbers have to know where to run the pipes (all 400 m of them) for my bath and everything plumbery (including the kitchen sink) before the floors are laid. The electrician will thread cables through our walls ahead of plaster-boarding (I think they call this the ‘first fix’. Get me, learning the jargon.)

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It all feels rather premature, but I need to decide what I’m having and where I’m putting it all. Right now.

What fun! Let’s crank up the 3D designer.

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The 3D design of my bathroom had everything slotted in, but it was quickly pointed out  by the experts that I’d altered the room’s dimensions to suit my intentions. Apparently, that doesn’t really work.

Back to the drawing board.

This is when those quirky features I thought were so cool come back to taunt me. Like the full height vista of rolling fields I’d imagined myself enjoying while I steeped in my bath with a view. What I hadn’t imagined was a garden table below a picture window which beautifully framed my upstairs toilet.

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We played ‘puzzle-my-bathroom’ for several days, me and the builders. We shifted a couple of walls (the builders’ idea, not mine. Bless ’em, they’re learning). They even made plastic templates of basins and bogs and bath tubs in an effort to hasten my decision making. I’d love to show you a photograph of the ‘hallelujah’ templated bathroom but no sooner had I said “That’s it!” than they ripped up the temporary floor to start shoving the pipes in.

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Do it quick! Before she can change her mind!

And so… on to the kitchen.

I’ve found a nifty online kitchen design app…

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… and I’ve cautioned the builders that my initial ideas may not take full account of the room measurements.

Another bloody great window. Sockets to place. A feature wall and feature stairs to accommodate and the wishlist is long. I might need more templates… dishwasher, fridge, cooker, sink, island, larder unit, microwave, spice rack…

Hell. And I thought the bathroom was tricky.

 

 

 

 

Why an allotment?

Are allotments a particularly English/British thing? Or do they exist in cities and towns worldwide?

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So, how did my allotment learning discovery begin..

Hmm….might have to go back a bit and dredge through my thoughts.

Often I have a dream of escaping the world. Or at least, many of the modern trappings, some of our western ways of living. It occupies a lot of my ‘musing’ time.

Trying to find a balancing solution to life…

There are of course many things I appreciate – light and warmth and protection from the elements are particularly useful!

But houses? Not so much. They take an enormous amount of striving for.

Be it rent or mortgage, there will always be a lot of effort involved to keep a house going.

Electricity and gas and oil. Logs and coal and chimney sweeps. Insurance and telephones and internet. T.V and washing machines, fridges, freezers and cookers. Floors and lighting, wall coverings and furniture, curtains, vacuum cleaners,….ornaments!

Then of course –…

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Rustic Guest Eve – Autumn in the Greenhouse

Rustic Guest Eve – Autumn in the Greenhouse

17342725_10208442691045415_4717142129990079088_nI’m welcoming my lovely sister, Eve, to the farmhouse kitchen this week. She’s the one who got all the green-fingered genes. It has been said that farmers don’t make good gardeners, and I’m no gardener (good or otherwise) so consider myself well blessed to have a sister who not only keeps me fed with the sweetest of fresh produce from her allotment but also scents the farmhouse with the pick of blooms from her garden. Lucky me!

This post was originally shared on Eve’s Lots of Pots blog. Do pop over and visit her there.

As you can see from the pic, we both got our share of the tea-drinker genes so I’d better get that kettle on.


I love my greenhouse.

And recently I had a slightly sad/slightly cathartic day clearing out the bleached cucumber stems, the almost naked tomatoes..

Rescuing the drought ridden scented geraniums… (I took my eye off the ball on the watering front –  forgetting, in my autumnal self -pity, that there were still a few plants in there which needed me!)

…..picking smelly (in a nice way!) leaves to dry – lemon verbena, rose geranium, mint…

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…finding small, hidden late summer gems among the drying foliage… still glowing with summer colours.

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Eventually it was swept – and clean(ish)  – and looking rather bare.

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I am trying to think of winter as a time for rest, a gentle slowing down for the plants and for me… so convinced myself to plan ahead, create my winter haven.

So a kettle – of course! …and a spare kettle just in case…

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A fire – bliss – and a good store of logs…

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A bit of rug (not too muddy yet).

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and a favourite armchair – hoping that it won’t get too damp as I love it so.

Which reminds me – make a plan to stop the roof leaking!

A few late blooming summer plants…

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They will need to be re-homed somewhere warmer before long. I very often lose my scented geraniums – house is too hot, greenhouse is too cold… so I hope to find a better place for them this year.

And last but not least – a pair of woolly socks and a bottle of wine. 🙂

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So here I sit, writing this, in my – at least for now – comforting greenhouse.

Ah….cosy.

Barny Update – Weatherproof by Winter?

Barny Update – Weatherproof by Winter?

With the days drawing in the push is on to wrap our barn up snug before winter arrives. Waterproof, windproof and hopefully a bit more comfortable for the builders who will be working away in there through whatever the dark months throw at us.

I got up close and personal with our beautiful corrugated-steel roof this morning.

That meant scaling this ladder…

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… and taking lots of photographs because that climb was only happening once.

Except I forgot to take my camera up.

So I had to do it again, to gather proof that I’d braved the scary ascent.

Here’s me scampering about like I was born to be off the ground.

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I wasn’t and thankfully they didn’t photograph me trying to get back on the ladder. Coming down is the worst. I’ve promised the builders they won’t have to nurse-maid me up there a third time.

BIG TICK – roof finished and conquered. (NOTE TO SELF – chase guttering order while the scaffold is still in place.)

The gutters are going to be galvanised steel as well, and we’re slightly concerned that we might have gone a bit too cheap rustic with them…

 

… but, hey,  this is meant to look like a barn, right? (And have you seen the price of cast iron or aluminium gutters??) At £5 per meter for steel versus £27 per meter for ali or iron, they’ve got to be worth a shot.

Next BIG TICK, the gorgeous, feather-edge cedar has been delivered to clad the external walls. Our most expensive single purchase so far, but just take a gander at this:

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The barn is stacked to the rafters and it smells like an evergreen forest but the builder’s aren’t getting much chance to appreciate that. They’re masked up and spraying all 1118 linear meters of it with a weather protection oil. And it’s all got to be done twice… front and back. I feel like I should be apologising.

By the next barny update I should be able to show you some on the walls. 🙂

But it’s a BIG (angry) CROSS for the windows. After six weeks of chasing with no encouraging response from the suppliers (they were “very busy” and it was “mad there”) I finally got my order confirmation with a delivery date 7 weeks later than originally promised. Which takes us to the end of November. They’ve allowed me a generous 4 days to confirm the nitty-gritty or risk losing that slot…

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… measurements, colours, handles, trickle vents, fire escapes, transom and mullion alignments (no, I don’t know either).

So that’s probably what I ought to be doing right now, instead of writing a blog post. I do hope that winter holds off. (NOTE TO SELF: order scarves and gloves for the builders.)

 

 

 

Rustic Nostalgia

Rustic Nostalgia

I wrote a post about corn dollies a couple of weeks ago and it inspired a very old friend of mine to Google the infant school teacher she and I both remembered so fondly.

Here’s us, back in the day.

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My friend is second from left. I’m not in, it I must have taken the photo.
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That’s me on with the grin and friend diving behind me. (We actually got drummed out of the Brownies but that’s a whole other story.)

I wanted to include a picture here of  the very first book I wrote. It was part of a trilogy entitled Walks Along the River Bourne. But I’ve wasted too much time hunting for it in the attic and come away with only a cobweb cardigan. I’m sorry, you’re missing a treat it was beautifully bound with original artwork on the cover 🙂 Self-published, of course. By an 8 year old.

Anyhoo, I digress. One thing led to another, and we arranged to get together to revisit old haunts of our primary years and retrace our steps along the river Bourne, where we’d spent so many happy hours.

We set off on our hike, and immediately lost our way because the beautifully descriptive print-out of the route was rather too wordy for our basic navigation skills (and we were gabbing too much to concentrate).

“… passing hedges, into the next field, through another hedge, the path turns left on a walkable field-edge beside a hedge of hawthorn [a confusion of hedges].The heavier clay of this side of the parish can make it heavy going in wet seasons. But it’s a pleasant downhill trek through a gap over a rather wobbly stile [we never found the stile] into a long, narrow slipe of a meadow, then over a step-stile [nor this one] into a bigger meadow and down to a little footbridge…”

The directions got waylaid in the wonderfully detailed wording, and some of the landmarks had changed:

“Passing the last cottage, go through the gate, closing it carefully as there may be stock in the meadow. The high bank may be the lynchet of the old lane. This is a fine spacious meadow dotted with oaks, populated by rabbits, with views of distant wooded hills…”

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Ploughed… but still a view of distant wooded hills.

It didn’t matter to us. We found ‘our’ river Bourne.

And remembered, and played silly buggers on the fallen logs… just like back in the day. We even took a selfie in front of our primary school.

Here’s to rustic nostalgia, a lovely day and the dear old friends who keep us young. I don’t think we’ve changed at all.