The front and back door are next to each other, they’re actually both back doors or both front doors. Almost twins.
Very cute and slightly peeling with their stand against 5 years of rather damp summers.
The front and back door are next to each other, they’re actually both back doors or both front doors. Almost twins.
Very cute and slightly peeling with their stand against 5 years of rather damp summers.
When I moved into the wendy house (2008), the garden was completely covered in low maintenance and BBQ friendly patio. Bleak. Sitting on the loo with the doors open, produced the sort of view that would induce minimalists’ premature ejaculation. A bit dull.
Now, the vital view from the loo has been cluttered with the sort of frivolity that might lure a Victorian for a brief promenade:
I love my garden, I spend a lot of time there watching the butterflies before Sampo eats them, pulling weeds and contemplating blooms. I still have patio, but the lines are broken by borders full of colourful and scented plants that change with the seasons.
The Avenue is about to get ripped-up and resurfaced. It’s an old bumpy and pot-holed road so this is good. But it’s caused a big kerfuffle amongst residents because of a combination of things including
I met a huddle of about 6 highway workers having a round of tea this morning. Very nice chatty people. I feel like they’re the only ones in the whole organisational chain that have shown any good common sense, but they’re not planning to put the markings in the right place around my drive….yet….
I’ve also sprinkled Poppy, Campanula and Forget-me-nots here. A couple of each have taken root and I’m hoping they’ll self-re-seed and spread to make a green foliage and blue summer border. A winter Jasmine is also beginning to settle on this border, to add some winter colour. I may try to train a Ceanothus up the wall to add spring colour and winter foliage.
From the drive you open my garden gate to see some more Foxgloves, Ferns, logs, a thriving Ceanothus and a white Wisteria that will eventually cover the woodshed and fencing.
A hot water radiator warms the air in the small yet ample bathroom. My recently washed clothes hang, unsuspectingly, on an airer. Meanwhile a scented candle loiters, invading the unsuspecting laundry. It could turn into a Turkish style bathroom.
The real sneaky part in this equation is the little blue dehumidifier. It blows warm air at the laundry while attracting the moisture to condense on a couple of frozen metal plates. Genius. There are 6 different buttons on my dehumidifier – that’s more than a handful – and I’ve pushed them all! The hardest part was balancing between the roll-top bath and sink to take this picture. HA! Scented dry laundry on a rainy day in a house too small to fit a tumble dryer, and NO MILDEW!
I’m a winner!!
During a conversation about Reading town pubs, one fellow suddenly blurts out
I love your house!
wendy: that’s the right answer, me too (huge cheshire cat grin)
fellow: it’s like a secret courtyard hidden away from the city, in the heart of the city!
wendy: (HUGE Grin – pours the fellow more alcohol)
Not the ‘splat’ of squishy birdpoop dropped from above. Too large for mouse droppings. Not the firmer logs of rat or hedgehog poop. A pub discussion concluded that my garden has been invaded by an escaped tortoise. Hmmmm….
I wonder who and what my visitor is?
A friendly chap from the Reading counci Planning and Building Control department visited the wendy house today. He took photo’s of my sample PhotoVoltaic tile, copies of the installation drawings and photographs of my roof where I’d like the tiles placed. They will generate electricity for my home with enough left-over to sell back to the national grid.
He sucked his teeth and said that he wasn’t going to recommend that the tiles could be installed. He said it’s possible that someone higher-up the chain might value the ecological benefit over maintaining the look and feel of the local conservation area, but he didn’t think it was likely.
He will be putting this in writting after discussing it with colleagues. He gave me advice on how to re-attach crumbling ancient tiles without calling a roofer with a ladder and health and safety insurance. He didn’t look at my staircase of doom. He didnt put his head into the attic and see the crawl-space. His advice was well-meaning but impractical.
I used facebook to voice my disappointment. A heated little thread arose that included Dr. friend, who works as a government consultant specialist on environmental issues. Dr friend drafted a couple of letters for me to send to key MPs. Here’s one he drafted for the in-credible UK State secratary for Energy and Climate change:
Dear Mr Huhne,
I am writing to let you know about a problem I am having trying to reduce my carbon footprint and help increase the supply of renewable energy. Basically I am trying to get permission to install solar tiles on my roof (http://www.solarcentury.co.uk/homes/about-solar/c21e-solar-tiles-and-slates/). Everything I hear both the government and my local council say about the urgency of the climate change issue makes me think that I should be being actively encouraged in doing this sort of thing. However, because I live in a conservation area (i.e. one where almost all of the houses are old and therefore very energy inefficient) my local council is saying that that they will not let me have these fitted. How is it that the government can all a minor issue such as the aesthetics of roofing tiles prevent people from making important upgrades to their homes in order to reduce both their carbon footprint and their reliance on an extremely volatile energy market.
Can you provide me with any details of what your Department is doing in order to ensure that the Department for Communities and Local Government are taking this issue on board. As far as I can tell, the current localism agenda is going to make it even harder for the government to encourage and support householders like me to do my bit.
Quality stuff, for free, because of facebook chatter. Excellent!
I’ll be adapting it to provide details of my location and council and copying it to the local council so they know what i’m up to. Feel free to use this yourselves if you have similar challenges
Our correspondent from Barcelona recently provided this little tid-bit:
Most modern English place names have their origins in Old English, the Anglo-Saxon language; most of the other contributions are either oddities or window dressing. Recurring elements that help us to do our own detective work include the endings “-ham” and “-ton“, ancestors of “home” and “town“; Hampton is a combination of the two and Hampstead means, more or less, “homestead“. The “-ing” generally means a place was founded by the followers of a certain chieftain: Reading is called after an otherwise forgotten man, Reada, whose name suggests that he had red hair, and Hastings after Haesta, who was probably quick-tempered.
This all female branch successfully avoided Royalist pre-procreation ceremonial fervour while plotting the overthrow of several magnificent vegetarian feasts (and swapping gardening tips)
Hull Truck Theatre entertained us with not one, but two Alan Bennetts in an autobiographical play featuring an outstanding yellow Bedford Van and a colourful unconventional lady
The Wendy House toilet has a high wall-mounted cistern. Fabulous water pressure flushes the toilet with a gravity induced whoooooosh.
But the cistern has always filled slowly with a noisy trickle of water. The whole arrangement is reminiscent of Victorian school washrooms. While waiting 15 minutes for the cistern to fill is not a problem when I am alone, for guests it introduces a timing problem at peak use times.
With an imminent Wendy House party, home improvements are on the menu. Replacing the limescale clogged cistern valve. Yay. No problem. Or so I thought. A quick trip to the DIY shop where the sales assistant didn’t even know what a valve that controls the waterflow into the tank above the toilet was. Sigh. I picked the valve that looked most like the one already installed and toddled off home. So far so good. I switched off the water supply to the house then climbed on a tall bar stool to reach the cistern, remove the lid and start trying to unscrew the current valve.
Things started going wrong. A bit of the old valve broke off in my hand. A close inspection of the instructions for the new valve revealed that despite diagrams I could now work out what this meant
fit ballvalve using backnut(s) provided and ensure that the spigot(s) are used to centralise the tail of the hose
The backnut, spigots, tail nor hose were labelled in any of the 4 diagrams. Quickly I resoted to visual matching, make the new one look like the old one currently looks (without the limescale or broken bit). Then I realised that I would probably have to take part of the wall away to access the pipes.
The doorbell rang
Hello I’m Rob White and I’m canvassing for the Green party in May’s election. Can I ask you if you know whether you are going to vote in the election
I can ask you, you know if you’re going to vote, or you are going to vote?
errr… ..um, I am going to vote
Are you going to vote for the Green party?
Valve in hand, I look at the two young perky faced boys on my doorstep
Have either of you ever changed a cistern valve?
Oh no, that’s very complicated, I’d call a plumber, you’re a brave person
They start backing away slowly as if I’m holding a loaded weapon. I’ve replaced cistern valves before. Normally its a couple of minutes, an easy job. Their lack of willingness and skill is a tad disappointing. I reassure them about my vote and non-violent intentions then call Kevin.
Wonderful Kevin sorts out my cistern with Canadian calm
Cistern refill time has sucessfully been upgraded from a 15 minute trickle to a 30 second flow. Result! Almost grounds for a proposal.
your rafters look good
(Photo voltaic tile installation specialist)
your timber is in good condition, No sign of wood worm
Excitement levels are steadily rising in the wendy house. A quote and verbal agreement with a solar-tile provider, a verbal agreement with a roofer. Now I’m waiting to hear from Reading Borough Council about my ‘pre-application’ for planning permission – required because I’m replacing the whole, ancient (circa 1843) roof, building in photo-voltaic tiles (not panels, these are imitation tiles) and living in a conservation area – must conserve the look and feel of the outside of buildings in the area.
Fingers crossed, this is the start of me practicing my PRINCE2 training in my private life!
Two men from John Lewis’ electricals (JLE) arrived to take away my defuncted Indesit and replace it with a magnificent miele. Miele’s company slogan is ‘Forever Better’ they build products to last and provide better user experiences. They pass-on the cost of achieving this goal to their customers. I’d rather not have to replace a washing machine several times in a decade. This machine should last me several decades. Awesome!
The men from JLE looked at the old Indesit which came with the house 3 years ago. Audible tutting noises….
JLE: its not disconnected. We can’t do anything until its disconnected. I’ll go away and come back in 10 minutes, that should give you time to disconnect it
wendy: Oh, I thought you guys would do that as part of the removal and deliver
JLE: Oh no, that’s a whole different service, that’s installation, we haven’t been instructed to install your machine, you’ll have to do that
wendy: ashame, if the sales-process had offered me disconnection and installation I would probably have bought it
I pull the washing machine out from under the kitchen counter, turn the valves on the hot and cold water supplied to the off position, disconnect the supplies, remove the water-outlet pipe and unplug the machine from the power source. Easy. Didn’t need to pay someone to do that, I’m glad John Lewis’s didn’t sell me that service.
JLE: remember to remove the transport bars before you use it. If you don’t remove the bars it will break the machine
wendy: transport bars? what are they, where are they? are there any instructions?
JLE: just read the manual miss, its all in the manual, do what it says in the manual
After loading the Indesit onto their trolley, both removal men washed thier hands it my fabulous butler sink. The transport bars hold the drum in place while the machine is being moved. The instructions were clear and easy to follow, within 5 minutes my Miele was connected to power, water supply, water removal pipe and ready to go. Awesome.
The handbook had lots of user instructions
Did I read them? Did I?
The wendy house was built as a Coach house in 1843. It has the original walls, beams and roof. It creaks in high winds, and hot summer suns, it rattles in heavy rain. Sometimes there are unusual single clunks that cannot easily be attributed to expanding or contracting pipes, roof slates, or doors.
The normally cautious Sampo treats these noises as if they were Matrix. Her ears perk-up, she listens, often looking upwards while sitting extremely still, then slinks wide-eyed towards the sound. A few minutes later she returns relaxed and chatting
Sometimes it feels like we are not alone
As a pre-school child one of my absolute favourite games was Wednesday’s washing the bathroom floor. Mumsie would fill up a beach-bucket with warm foamy water, give me a smallhand-size brush and leave me in the bathroom. I was allowed to slop the hot foamy water all over the floor. What FUN! When I’d finished I told mum and she’d come in and finish off the details with her own BIG bucket of soapy water and a towel. I’d help with the towel
During my first week at school, when I got home on Wednesday I asked for my bucket to help wash the bathroom floor, but mum had already done it. I cried
Psychologists call this ‘Classical‘, as oppose to ‘Operant’ conditioning, where a person (originally tested with dogs) learns to associate the co-occurence of an event (bell ringing) with a rewarding experience (enjoyment of food) such that when the event contiunes without the reward the dog behaives as-if the reward is coming.
For me this was associating ‘fun’ with washing the floor, the association still exists to this day. As soon as the hot soapy water hits the bathroom floor, I’m thinking ‘YAY Bubbles, SWISH!
Thanks to mumzie for having the insight to let this happy association happen
It was a graceful departure, no explosions or fires, no flood, it didn’t take-out any other appliances on its way down, no uncertainty about the end
I was able to work out how to remove the half washed laundry and finish the job by hand. Hand washing and rediscovering the world of the laundrette until I can arrange a replacement
(warning: gratuitous gushing)
Isn’t the internet fabulous? Within 4 hours of the washing machine biting the dust I had read multiple product reviews and store-supply and support reviews, selected a new washing machine, measured-up the space to check it fitted, purchased and booked delivery of the new machine and removal of the old machine. Before the internet this activity would have taken days, carefully fitted in around work and ivolved trips to multiple stores. How easy it is to do the research and find the right solution from the comfort of your connected home – NOW. I love how the internet has changed my life
(gratuitous gushing over)
From the orangerie, she looked around the garden “it reminds me of Derek Jarman’s garden‘. She described pebbles, driftwood, wilderness holding-up brave plants. A pleasing story, as if she could see potential in my newly planted garden. As if she had a vision that flowed with my own anticipation
Later, I placed felled tree-stumps in the borders and a few big pebbles between the about-to-overgrow plants
This christmas she gave me a book, so I can see Derek’s garden for myself. As with his films and life, it continues to inspire
Inspiration is one of the best presents ever
moben sales staff (MSS): you live in a bus station?
wendy: not that sort of coach, the victorian horse-drawn type of coach, it used to be a stable too
MSS: what size is the kitchen?
wendy: small, 87 x 111 inches with 2 doors and a low sloping roof with a skylight
MSS: shall we call it a square kitchen?
wendy: No, lets call it an oblong or a rectagular kitchen
MSS: approximately a square kitchen
wendy: No, its an oblong
MSS: approximately an oblong?
wendy: 87 x 111 inches
MSS: approximately an oblong then
nestling in a faux snow-leopard fur jacket
filled with water heated in a kettle
from my woodburning stove
Sampo has developed an outstanding new skill. It’s as if she wants my hot water bottle to hatch. Even when it is hidden beneath a duvet and wooly blanket combination Sampo can find the bottle and lie on it. When I wake in the morning the bottle is still warm because Sampo has been incubating it all night.
Here we see Sampo trying to hatch a cushion infront of the Wendy House woodburning stove.
with a bleed screw and radiator key.
This is something that I do every year. It happened this week – bleed my radiators. Many of my US friends will not have heard of this charming old country annual tradition. Most houses I visited in the US were relatively new and had hot-air circulation systems providing the heating, not radiators.
When my neighbours house was built in what used to be the substantial Wendy House garden they were given the on-street parking permit for the Wendy House. They were required to build a tandem double driveway for the Wendy house and the Wendy House is no longer entitled to an on street parking permit. Every year the Council sends me two application forms for on street parking permits that I am not entitled to.
I’m considering applying despite my lack of eligibitiy, incase they actually give me a permit. Then I will be able to park near my home when another car blocks my driveway.
I knocked on about 10 different doors asking if anyone in the house drove a small red Vaxhall Corsa. No-one did, but everyone gave me very helpful advice, telling me which houses I didn’t need to ask and which houses were strong contenders. One house was high on everyone’s list, the house with the jungle growing out of the window. The one hidden behind a sizeable hedge. The one with a sign advertsing a room vacant for a student.
I knocked, I asked. No, no-one in the house drove a red Vauxhall Corsa. I moved on.
The tiny Corsa was parked in a position that effectively blocked 2 driveways, which is illegal. The car was also parked over one foot away from the curb and across a road parking space. These were not signs of a skilled driver, a careful or consderate person. A baby seat was strapped in the back, a St. Georges flag decorated the rear window.
Poor Tanking thomas couldn’t get into the Wendy House drive and I don’t have a street parking permit. One of my neighbours kindly offered to let me use her drive. I didn’t have to find a place miles away, outside of the restricted parking zone and catch a bus home. My favourite Fiesty neighbour started ranting on my behalf about how inconsiderate and ignorant the Corsa owner was. Fiesty neighbour offered me her spare street parking permit.
I photographed the Corsa, its parking permit, and got into Thomas to move him into my neighbours drive. As I started Thomas, a large blond lady come out of the jungle house, briskly walked up to the Corsa and got in. I jumped out of Thomas and ran up to the Corsa before she pulled away, tapped on her window. She said nothing, just nodded as I explained that she had blocked my access, that I couldn’t park on the road and asked her not to park there again. She nodded, pulled away and drove the wrong way up a one way street. Both my neighbours watched.
wendy: she knows where I live and could make life really difficult for me if she wanted – I told her all she needed to know and have photographic evidence
Fiesty neighbour: you should report her for driving the wrong way up a one way street
wendy: I think she would guess it was me, wouldn’t you guess it was me, and she might want to take revenge.
Fiesty neighbour: yes I’d guess it was you if it was me, you’re right, but she broke the law and is a pest
wendy: she’ll suffer for it because of who and how she is, I dont need to be the instrument or a focus of her suffering
The Wendy House doesn’t have this type of timework. Adding it is on my list of those things that one day I might do….
Things move around in the kitchen. They move when I’m not looking. They are not malicious, just playful. Last week I lost the milk. Two days later I found a rather warm and lively milk bottle in the microwave. My mugs often move from the dresser to the microwave.
I wonder what I’ll find in the microwave this morning?
lady at stable door: I live in that house there, we’ve just had a wasp nest treated and those left alive are a bit cranky, probably best to keep the cats in and the doors and windows shut
wendy: there’s a lot of them about this year
The people that packed my belongings in Seattle, unpacked my belongings in Reading, had no interest in maintaining the integrity of the alphabeticalisation of my CD collection. I cringed with the knowledge that I would not be able to find a CD in less than 27.5 sec (on average) because I would not know where it was, on which shelf….
Strangely, for nearly 2 years, there was always something better to do than spend an afternoon reinstating the alphabeticalisation of my CD collection. Until today. Today
David Bowie sits next to David Byrne and Nirvana by No Doubt
Paul Bendell, MBPR, from Berkshire pest control took one look at the nest and in classic call-out service person style he shook his head slowly, sucked air through his teeth and said
Sampo has a duff sense of smell. She ignores catnip, freshly cooked fish, chicken, meat, any and all cheeses and cat-treats. Sampo compensates for her lack of olfactory sensitivity by being hyper-sensitive to sound. Her favourite sound is me immitating a Sean Connery accent.
Tip #1 for winning Sampo’s affection – immitate Sean Connery