Sunday, 29 December 2013

Working on the windows

It is glorious sunshine as Dave works on replacing the double glazing in the kitchen window. I am afraid that I can't report great success and he has gone to watch Burton play feeling very frustrated.

Our shed

This sign is on one of our large agricultural sheds. Researching the company produced the following information from the Vale of Aylesbury Plan:

In the 1930s the Crendon Concrete Company was set up at Drakes Farm, a short distance to the south‐east of the village. What started as small scale gravel extraction expanded into a highly successful industry producing concrete framed agricultural buildings and providing much needed employment during the depression years in Long Crendon. Competition in the late 1980s followed by a recession in the early 1990s eventually led to the closure of the Crendon Concrete Company in 1994.

A cold start

This is probably one of the coldest days so far at the farm with frost making the road outside white. The wind has dropped though so it feels much more pleasant and the sun is shining.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Winter's day

As always the beauty of the view makes it all seem worthwhile. After the gales it is still here today and the light on the bare fields and trees is amazing.

The hounds

It is a beautiful day and we hear the hounds out hunting. It is almost impossible to see, but in the middle of the photograph is a red dot which is as close to us as the huntsmen came. It is a case of third time lucky as the last two times they have been out we've failed to spot them.

More wallpaper

This sample was on the walls of what will become one of our guest rooms. It was found beneath later paper which itself is quite old.It is a pretty feminine pattern for a building that seems to have spent most of its life as a very functional farm.


While Dave is working on the windows I start to catalogue the few original samples of wallpaper that remain. This was revealed in what is now the bathroom. I don't know how old it is but feel it may date back to Victorian times. I wonder if there was more until recently as now the house only has a few fragments still in place for me to rescue.

Sitting by the fireside

It is lovely to be able to light the log burner - a rummage in my handbag even produced a single Ferrero Rocher to share! I would love to say that with the fire everything is much warmer but Dave has the windows out for painting. At least the fire gives us an incentive to stay and work for the full day.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Our front step

Now the builders are on their holidays I can reveal our lovely stone step. Most of the time it is covered in old underlay and a piece of plywood to protect it from damage.

French grey

Watching a programme about Liberty in London I catch a glimpse of a door, appropriately enough in Paris, painted French grey. It makes me think this could be the perfect colour for all our black painted woodwork. The wood is too worn to be left exposed, the black is too dark but cream felt wrong, this seems like a lovely fresh alternative which will work well with the metal hinges and latches and the exposed wooden beams. The door I have experimented on leads to the stairs.

Sadly depleted

When we arrive at the farm I find that the gales have played havoc with my holly and ivy tied to the front door and only a single piece of ivy is left. The run up to Christmas has been very stressful with the project feeling out of our control and I feel this sad offering rather reflects my mood. Later I walk up the lane and retrieve my holly branches from out of the hedge and remake my festive spray, regaining a brighter outlook at the same time.

The gales

We have had some terribly strong gales in the last few days and one of our Staffordshire blue roof tiles has been dislodged. Although too blurred to be really seen in my photo you can possibly just make out (half way up the eaves) a wagtail taking flight. Since the swallows left our roof has been the constantly alive with these birds presumably hunting for small insects between the tiles..

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas Day

We drive over to Somersal Herbert in the morning to celebrate Holy Communion at St Peter's church. Now the leaves have fallen the church is visible across the field from our farm (where the sheep were before they moved closer to home). It is so cold that as we sing we can see our breath, it's a beautiful day though and I am very glad that we have made the effort to come here.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Oak Trees

We have bought three oak trees to plant on our of our field boundaries and today they arrived at the farm. They are safely in one of the barns until, hopefully, they can be planted to celebrate the new year.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Extra Glossy Holly

I brought home a bunch of holly from our hedgerow and I can't believe how shiny the leaves are. In previous years I have always bought it from the market and this is so incredible by comparison. The birds took almost all the berries a week or so ago - the only ones left were right down by the ground. Next year I will try and cut some and keep it in the barn.

Sadly there is still no sign at the farm of our young cat with her kittens. Apparently they have been sighted down in the village where I guess there is less coming and going.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Well done Jamie

We arrive at the farm with a dozen hot sausage rolls to find, after the mayhem of yesterday, only Jamie there. He has lit the fire and is using it to dry out bricks for rebuilding our other fireplace. It is a wonderful welcome although he didn't hear us arrive and we nearly give him a heart failure when he came back with an armful of logs. He has worked so hard on this project and always remains very positive which at times we've badly needed. Between the three of us we demolish half the sausage rolls in a late breakfast!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Our log burners arrive

Today we feel much more cheerful as amazingly our log burners have arrived.

A few weeks ago we had chosen the Charnwood C-5 (it was cheaper than our original choice which matters when you are purchasing two and for me there was the added attraction of the Charnwood name). Because our builder could get a slight discount and as we didn't need them before Christmas we were happy to let him order them but to our horror he discovered that the next delivery date was expected to be the third week in February. We immediately did some phoning round and Dave found a firm in Stoke who had had a small delivery earlier this week and could let us have two, even better they could be delivered in a couple of days time at no extra charge ... and they were significantly cheaper than at the original stockist. A piece of much needed good news.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Bathroom anorak

Yes this might seem a contradiction in terms but you know you have become a little too knowledgeable about a subject when on arriving at a bathroom showroom you are ecstatic that they have the Vitra S50 on display. It was what I thought would suit us having got the catalogue and so it was great to actually see it, the salesman was very helpful and we spent a most productive hour together!!

Window troubles

We are having to replace two of the front upstairs windows which were poorly made. Our new ones though are somehow deeper than the originals despite the company coming and measuring them up, it is all very stressful and eventually Dave and I leave the building team to it.

We should have known, on Grand Designs it is always the windows that cause problems.

Monday, 16 December 2013


Today is manic, we have people everywhere tackling plumbing, plastering, building and electrical work. It is quite overwhelming. Everyone wants instant decisions, sometimes about things we haven't even begun considering yet. Suddenly the farm doesn't feel 'ours' any more and I have reached a real low point and will be glad of a break from everyone over Christmas and hopefully time to draw breath.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Christmas is coming .. ready or not

We decide to go and buy our Christmas tree. We have gone to the same farm every year and want to buy before the weekend rush. We are pleased with our choice and even more so when we get it home and find that it fits in the allotted space with about an inch to spare!

Road sweeping

Our road is so muddy that I decide to sweep it. Most of the cars that pass by comment that they have never seen anyone doing it before - so it's no wonder I find grass trying to grow in the middle. It's slow work but satisfying and warming on a misty grey day.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Oh no ....

To our dismay we now have two poles in place of the one we started with. Apparently because a telephone line is fixed to the old pole (although it isn't connected to the house) the top will be sawn off and it now becomes the property of Open Reach. You really couldn't make this up. The old pole is also leaning away from the new one so it looks extremely drunken.

We have had enough and Dave and I leave them to it.

The second pole is in place

The replacement pole is up - it is very substantial and should last for ages. The process of moving the wires across is a slow one though and there is a large team onsite.

Pole day!

Well today we are going to have one electric pole removed and another replaced because apparently it's rotten. Fortunately the sun is shining and the ground pretty dry.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Festive greenery

I was delighted to be able to walk round our hedges and collect a festive bunch of greenery for the front door (I made sure it was detachable so it can hopefully survive the builders!) Although the birds have taken almost all the holly berries there are some beautiful red hips from the dog rose and lots of ivy.

With all our time spent at the house the last week has been a rush of Christmas cooking and writing cards, but today in the sunshine and enjoying our very mild December weather making this was a real pleasure.

A tidy up

The builders have concreted the parts of the path they dug up a couple of months ago and inspired by this we had a good tidy up leaving the front of the property much smarter.

A new electricity pole

When Western Power came to put our supply underground they realised that the post from whence the supply came was actually rotten and so we have to have a replacement. It arrived today and just missed landing on Dave's raspberry canes. We will keep our fingers crossed for tomorrow when it goes up.

Sunday, 8 December 2013


Our little kitten has had kittens of her own. She kept trying to get this one to follow her but every time she turned her back it crept back to hide in a spare bit of drainage pipe which had an opening too small for her to follow. We will have to find out what to do to get her neutered as she is still very young. I would love for her and her kittens to stay up at the farm so will try and feed her. I spent ages watching them whilst Dave painted window frames.

Window repairs

Dave works to replace the window which was blown out in our dairy building. It had been damaged before and there isn't much wood to keep it in.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Clearing up

The oak tree has been cleared from the lane and the ivy which was twined around it helps to create a lot of smoke as the farmer lights a huge bonfire in what was the sheep field. They have now gone back to be nearer him as they get ready to give birth to early lambs.

We view the damage

We got off lightly - although the exceptional winds managed to break almost all of our barn roof lights, and threw the pieces everywhere, the house and it's new roof and chimneys were unharmed. Testament to the builders careful work.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Gale force winds

The winds were terrifically strong and brought down this huge oak in the lane leading to the farm. I had stayed home to do my Christmas cookery and it was very wild here, at the farm it was obviously even worse.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Late afternoon

The sky has just a gleam of sun shining through. Heavy gales are forecast for tomorrow.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Window painting

Our replacement windows have now arrived but we decided to buy them primed only and so Dave is busy painting them whenever the light is good enough.

Bathroom decisions

Today we went over to a bathroom showroom - there are so many choices to make, each item seems to come with more options than I would have believed possible! And all costing more money than Dave would have believed possible!!!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Bulb planting

I treated myself to a collection of Sarah Raven tulips which I've planted in large planters ready for the spring. They are a lovely selection of deep colours which should look good against the red brickwork.