Cellardyke … the Gas Man cometh

An early start this morning as I drove over to Cellardyke for 08:00. Not early enough, and I’d forgotten that the car needed more petrol as I cranked the engine and the Feed Me Fuel light glowed a smug hue of yellow in the darkness of this Edinburgh morning; I arrived around 08:30.

I know I’m getting old when I arrive at the house and the first thing I do is switch on the kettle. I’m surprised I didn’t rub my hands together and mutter, “Ooh! I think I’ll have a nice cuppa, first!” I don’t even drink tea or coffee. And even if I did there was neither a teaspoon in the house, nor a drop of milk!

I know I’m not getting that old when the kettle boils, I open the cupboard and instead of reaching for the tub of Options Belgian hot chocolate I decide to eat an entire 200g bar of Co-op Fair Trade chocolate for my breakfast. I certainly felt much better for that. Yum yum — thanks Mum for the house-warming gifts (I later had some cup-a-soup for my lunch too, that Mum had left us).

I had work to do before the gas man arrived — there was no “WHERE WERE YOU?!” note through the door when I arrived, so I knew that I’d beaten him there. When he pulled up around 10:30 I’d painted one wall with anti-damp paint, removed the fixtures in the bathroom (with a hammer!), filled in the resulting holes in the wall (*whistles and looks innocent*), and was in the process of a) trying to close a window with a hammer and a file, and b) removing, measuring, cleaning and trying to refit various bits of ‘door furniture’ — a ridiculous collective term for handles, door knobs, letter boxes and numbers.

Our gas boiler — a ‘back boiler’ behind the gas fire in the kitchen — was last made in 1981. Of its 140+ servicable parts Scottish Gas can now successfully get their hands on twelve of them. Thankfully the one part that does need replacing they can get. Still, we will need to replace this antique some time soon. Preferably when we have the money to do so! In the words of the gas engineer, the standard boilers are “a hundred times safer” than these back boilers. That’s always good to know.

While he was upstairs fixing a couple of radiators (one that leaked, another that didn’t come on at all) I sat in the kitchen on a beanbag (one of only 3 pieces of furniture in the house), supping a mug of cup-a-soup, writing my Deep Impact presentation.

Cellardyke … the royal visit

Blimey, we’re exhausted! Today was our third visit to the house in Cellardyke this week, and it was really beginning to show in our energy levels. Having already visited Tesco, the local Civic Amenities Site (the dump!), WH Smith at the Gyle (shopping centre) and B&Q (affectionately known in our house as “Bob & Quentin’s”… but it would appear it really stands for “Block and Quayle”. I digress…) we met my Mum off the bus and drove her to Cellardyke.

Cellardyke Kitchen
Mum and Jane in the kitchen at Cellardyke, following our first heated lunch in the place.

While Jane cracked on with painting the lounge walls, Mum and I explored the cellar (discovering what looked like a treasure chest, but containing only blankets and sheets) and the garden, which will need a lot of work done to it in the Spring. I am still delighted each time I climb the garden and can look out over the roof of the house to the Firth of Forth and the Isle of May. I don’t think I shall ever tire of that view.

The filler in the small(er) bedroom had dried so I began to rub it down in preparation for painting, only to discover that not only did some of it need re-filled I had also missed ten rawlplugs buried deeply in the opposite wall. How do you remove them, without also removing chunks of plaster? The only way I know how to remove them at all is to screw in a fresh screw, and with a pair of pliers give a healthy yank. More filling. More waiting. I went to make myself useful in the kitchen.

Mum had gone for a walk by now, so I turned off the gas fire, cranked up my personal CD player (through speakers) and began to rub down the kitchen wall with a wire-brush in preparation for … guess! That’s right: painting! The wall — which is at the front of the house — shows signs of damp. Some paint was flaking off, in other areas the paint had a chalky texture. I consulted my Big Boy’s Book of Interesting DIY Things and it helpfully advised us to treat the outside wall with something like Thompson’s Water Seal… during dry weather. In Scotland?! They are surely taking the piss! And the inside with some kind of anti-damp primer sealant fixer stuff. I’ve just spent a good few minutes checking out the Thompson website, and I have to admit getting quite excited about water sealing products. Sorry!

We finished the evening at the famous Anstruther Fish Bar for fish and chips, before a long, weary and wet drive to Selkirk and back. A fine day.

Tomorrow, we stay at home!

Cellardyke … lights and action, but no camera!

I forgot my camera. Again! Doh! Tomorrow: I promise, I promise…

While there was no camera, there most certainly were lights. I installed new overhead spotlights in the kitchen, and in the hallway. What a difference. I know that sounds obvious: gosh what a difference when you can see the room you are in, but the new lights have transformed the kitchen.

We also put together three IKEA uplighters (from the Anthrax-esque ‘Not’ range) which we purchased for a cool £5.50 each! The bulbs (energy saving ones) cost more than the actual light … incredible!

We got a lot done in the house today. After five years of marriage Jane and I have finally worked out how to work well together: we don’t! Instead we work to our strengths, which complement one another. I prepare the walls, remove rawlplugs, fill holes and cracks, sand things down, and Jane paints.

We discovered that one of the radiators isn’t working, at all — it could simply need bled — and another is leaking, at least the floor in front of it is wet. We’ll need to get that seen to before we order carpets; which we were hoping to do tomorrow.

We’re getting there. I’ll post some photos at the weekend — while I’m supposed to be writing a sermon!

Cellardyke … repairs

Jane and I were in Cellardyke yesterday working on our house. We’re cracking ahead now with the decoration and repairs. Jane tackled the paint work in the conservatory and the living room while I installed some skirting board in the living room and small(er) bedroom. It was the first time I’d installed skirting board (do youinstall it?) and the result was rather good, even though I say so myself. I also had fun removing a built-in wardrobe in that bedroom, with a few well-placed kicks.

It won’t be long now until we have the carpets and linolium laid and can think about buying furniture; we even took a sneaky trip to IKEA yesterday evening, and came away with over £100-worth of lighting, which I’ll install on Thursday.

We’ve tried to go for energy saving lighting throughout the house — our little effort for the environment (and budget). What I couldn’t get in IKEA last night I managed to get in B&Q this morning. (Incidentally, B&Q observed a two minutes silence at midday for the victims of the tsunami in Asia … although it was actually 3 minutes and 26 seconds. Good effort, though!) The lighting at IKEA was impressively cheap, we got three uplighters for £7.90 each (!!) which should look great in the house. One of the problems with the house is that upstairs three of the rooms have no overhead lights, and in the rooms that do have lightswitches by the door, these control wall sockets! It’s like a scene from the film The Money Pit, with a Hollywood effects-crew-inspired wiring plan!

I was on the phone to Mum yesterday, she is going to come up on Friday morning and we’ll drive her up to Cellardyke to see the house. Mum hasn’t seen the interior of the house, as we couldn’t get the keys when she and Char (Anderson) visited in September; that was during the long drawn out episode between putting in an offer in July and finally completing the sale in November!

I keep forgetting to take the digital camera to the house to chart the progress, and perhaps even post a few pics on this blog. I’ll remember tomorrow, I promise…

Cellardyke — I’ve finally visited!

Well, today I finally visited the house that Jane and I have bought, in Cellardyke, Fife. And now I’m excited about it. It was hard to get excited about a property that I hadn’t spent any time in (discounting the 30 minutes we spent there in June, looking around before deciding to buy the place).

Today was a hands-on day: I ripped out a cupboard in the living room, fitted a new lock to the front door (the old one had half a key stuck inside!), and cleaned the kitchen (an industrial cleaning task that took most of the day); Jane, her Mum and Dad painted. Everything. Including me! They painted two bedrooms, a hallway, a stairwell and most of the upstairs’ ceilings. A good job, well done. And amazingly, with such a generous slapping of white paint on any available surface we still have some left in the giant tub (a B&Q bargain, if ever there was one!).

Once the parents(-in-law) left Jane and I just pottered around, got paint on ourselves, and began to get a feel for the place, measuring rooms for carpets (I got to use my new sonic measuring toy, er… tool!), discussing furniture (with an open Ikea catalogue and measuring tapes in hand) and putting the pile of free, local newspapers to good use making to-scale plans of a kingsize bed and dining room table. It gave us a good sense of how much space there would be, or not, in the rooms. And how much money we’d have left. It’s not a cheap business furnishing a house. It’s almost worth considering getting married again!

I’m itching to get back there now and get on with the job. I’m not good at long drawn-out projects, I like to get stuff done NOW. “Never leave a job half-done,” my grandmother used to tell me. I don’t think I’ll get back there before Christmas now, but it felt like a good start.

Now, does anyone know how to fit skirting board?…