Wednesday, 30 November 2011


I learned a new word on Sunday: wev. The shortest possible form of the ubiquitous and highly underrated "whatever", or "wa'eva" in Bri'ain. In one short utterance, my life has changed. Because "wev", this house is, undoubtedly, going to be built.

I arrived back from South Africa yesterday morning (did you notice I'd gone?) to a steroid-charged wind and icy rain. My first thought was this: "Oh my goodness, why did I leave SA?" (It's summertime there; need I elaborate?) The second thought was this: "My house! My house!" We're running on a schedule tighter than Madge's abs and have literally not a day to spare if the weather turns nasty. Which is hilarious considering the time of year, but I'm notorious for living on the edge. So little wonder I was panicking about the progress of the timber frame erection.

But do you know what? Despite yesterday's tempest, the lovely people at Lowfield not only delivered the frame parts - and they are, I can assure you, many - but by the end of today a large portion of the frame is already up. Which serves to remind me that "wev" happens, my house is being built. It is! How frabjous is that? Great decision to go for timber frame over labour-intensive and weather-dependent traditional blocks: in just days the skeleton of the house will be installed. The roofer's organised, as is the brickie and everything else.

So, lovely Bri'ish weather (not to mention - although I shall - cash flow headaches), I say to you: Bring it on. Because, "wev", it's happening.

Check these out:

Sunday, 20 November 2011

OPH Rhapsody

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Building our first house,
A sharp look at reality
Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies and see,
Scaffolding, cranes and towers of concrete blocks,
Because they're needed to erect the frame,
Bricks up high, footings low,
Any way the wind blows doesn't matter as long as there's

no rain

The roof is on,
Put the fascias on the eaves, added soffits
with some ease
Mama, work has just begun,
On cladding with some mortar and the bricks
Mamaaaaa oooh,
Don't know how long it takes,

We're hoping we can start the screed tomorrow,
Carry on, carry on, before it freezes over

It's late, winter time has come,
Wind whistling through my spine,

body's aching all the time
Goodbye, ev'rybody, I've got to go,
Ignore my social life while I work all day and night
Mamaaaaa oooh,
Time to fit the doors,
And the windows too to make us watertight

I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Electrician! Electrician! Will you do the first fix please?
Plumbing, flooring, plaster, all add to exciting

Kitchen choosing, then the bathrooms
Lay the heating, add the floorboards
Build the wardrobes, paint the walls - magnifico

We've never been so poor, our bank thinks it's a crime
We're mortgaged to the hilt, our assets on the line
Bur in the end we will have a house so fine!
Hard work yes, easy no, now please with me go
To take a look! Yes, we will with you go
(With you go!) Come with me! We will, yes, with you go
(With you go!) Come with me! We will, yes, with you go
(With you go!)) We will, yes, with you go
(With you go!)(Now we) Now we with you go
(With you go!) Now we with you go

(With you go!) Ahhh
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go
Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia, we will go
Because it's done, the house is done, it's time for us to see, to see,
to seeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

So you think I have chosen a fab, funky kitchen?

So you think we will love all the colours and lights?

Oh, baby, ain't this shower the business?
Windows are high class, door to the garage is just fine!

Nothing really matters,

Except that we love it,
Nothing really matters,
Except that we will love living here.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Three days in ...

... and we have concrete (sorry, but it's the only way unless you're rolling in cash) footings, less of a mound of earth and one very happy pink-hard-hat-wearing blogger. We had many hiccups on days one and two, mostly revolving around really, really fascinating things like sewerage pipes and water supplies (I know! I can barely contain my excitement) but all, I think, sorted. My bank balance is not happy, but I can live without a kitchen. An esteemed commenter and a brilliant blogger in her own right passed me a nugget of wisdom yesterday that made me realise that a kitchen can consist of the following items: somewhere to stash tea and bread; a fridge to hold milk, marmalade and other spreads as well as cheese (protein); a knife and a spoon; a kettle and a toaster - imho one of these:

Sorry ... a bit off the subject. The point is, I've spent a fortune on what goes into the ground but that's the important bit, right? An Alessi kettle would more than make up for the lack of kitchen or, indeed, paint, and with a splash of creativity we can still finish the house beautifully.

Now if only I could wave my magic wand over the large garage aperture and fill it with a timber, mechanised, insulated door that costs just £20. Well, a girl can dream, eh?

Here are some pics of the latest developments. Not as pretty as the kettles, I know, but I can't actually live inside a kettle. Pity.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Lights! Cameras! Action!

Yes, we're finally there!!! A comment truly, extensively and indubitably worthy of all those exclamation marks. We finally broke ground yesterday, and by the end of a day in which a fabulous big yellow digger unearthed an astounding mound of, well, earth I am now the proud owner of a swimming pool. It was actually rather disturbing to see the girth of the hole, and my previously mirthful comments to the tune of 'the garden will be the size of a postage stamp' aren't looking too far from the truth now. Oh.

Anyway, let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Day one, tick. Problem one, tick. Sigh. The lovely foreman was philosophical about it while I jittered at the edge of the hole (and, it must be said, sanity by this stage) but we've hit our first problem. Problems, actually. Not only do they have to move the neighbour's water pipe, thereby having to cut the supply for a time which is short but not sweet for the neighbours, but the same neighbours' waste pipes are gushing into our property (rather than into a proper drain - how did that happen?) and we have to reroute them. I don't know the upshot yet but I can see my kitchen budget being swallowed into pvc piping.

Then there seems to be a discrepancy about the ffl (finished floor levels for those readers who haven't been through this already), my groundworker working to one a whole 75mm lower than the plans show and asking me to install that additional amount of insulation. Ummm, I don't think so, not at £28 per sheet of the stuff!

THEN he tells me he wouldn't ever touch liquid screed again after a disastrous first attempt with it. Do I listen? Do I spend four MORE hours online finding reviews? Yes, in fact I do.

But let's not panic. No, really, let's not. For what's the worst that can happen? As my yogi said the other day: There are only three things in life which are real - God, the universe and me; everything else, because it changes and is transient, is not real. So rather than panic, I'm going to stick with reality, for the first time in my life, and have another cup of tea.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Wise words

Not from me, but from the person whose opinion I respect and trust most. Here is an excerpt from her reply to my last post's question:

In negotiation, there's a thing called BATNA - best alternative to negotiated agreement. In other words, if I don't get something out of the negotiation, where does that leave me? In your case: if I don't get this kitchen, where does that leave me? If I choose this wallpaper, where does that leave me?

Bearing in mind that 'nothing is so good it lasts eternally', you should probably just go with your gut. In your case, a well-informed and therefore very trustworthy one. Also: how happy does a kitchen counter make you if it's not filled with kids' lunches, birthday cupcakes and my mince pies? Get good, solid basics (they don't have to be the best as long as they are durable) and sort the rest out with accessories. Or something.

It ends where YOU decide it ends. Not necessarily because you are certain that there is something better (yet), but because you know that what you have chosen is good enough.

Now pour yourself a glass, willya, and relax! You'll make good decisions - not always great, perfect, fantabulous or perfect, but since when was good not good enough?

Okay, I'm done. Cheers!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Choices and choices and choices ...

... what do they MEAN?

Well, for one thing they mean endless surfing (not of the marine variety, more's the pity), store visits, trade show attendances and talking. Talking about quality and warranties. Talking about prices and availability. Talking about suitability and discounts. Oh my goodness, if I had a penny for every hour I've spent doing my research for OPH, I could have paid off my mortgage already.

And that's the paradox of modern life, isn't it? On one hand, we have so much choice we are undoubtedly able to find exactly what we want for the price we can afford. Economics the only way I understand it. On the other hand, we spend so much time looking for a more suitable/cost effective alternative to the zillions we've already found, surely our stress levels reach combustible proportions? It's exciting, to say the least, to find the front door that makes your heart beat faster or a deal on wooden flooring to put a smile on your mortgage lender's face .

But where does it all end? Do I simply choose the nth one and draw a line under it? Do I toss a coin? Do I literally exhaust all options before making that all important decision or simply make one and stop looking (for fear of self recrimination)?

Seriously, I want to know.