Monday 21 March 2011


Last night, whilst eating dinner, the security light outside the kitchen tripped on to cast a glare over the back garden.  Nibbling delicately from the bird feeder was a pair of muntjack deer, which explains why the seed in that feeder had dropped so quickly.  Islay is now worried for the vegetables she has (not yet) planted.

Since the last update, we’ve had a couple more contractors round, and I’m starting to get my head around what we want.

Our friendly local plumber Ian came around for a half hour look-see.  That turned into an hour and a half long discussion with me about options and the like.  He confirmed what we already knew - that the boiler and heat pump was very old - and added some more subjects for discussion.  We’re now hoping to get from him a quote for replacing the current oil boiler with a) a new oil boiler, albeit a much more efficient one, or b) an air source heat pump.  The latter sounds pretty interesting, with an approx £6k cost for the device, we can move off oil-fired heating entirely.  What’s not clear to me is whether the house is suited to a heat pump.  More research is required.

We also had friendly near-local builder Francis Neville to prepare a quote for roofing and for insulation.  He hacked (actually neatly sawed) a hole in the top floor bedroom to reveal a 4” deep space with a very thin sheet of very old insulation in it.  He seemed to think that 50mm Celotex and then thermal plasterboard would make it nice and cosy.

Also, we’ve had a full wiring check conducted.  Our poor electrician quoted thinking it would take him a day (despite us warning him of the size and confusion of the place), and it has taken him two and a half days to work out which circuits power what and how it’s all put together.  The final report is not yet in, but the relatively good news seems to be that it’s not as bad as we might have feared and that little remedial work needs doing.

I got the mowers running.  This necessitated a full oil change on the ride-on mower, something I’ve never done before, which turned out to be pretty straightforward.  I was very chuffed when the engine kicked into life.  Together Sarah and I gave the full lawn its inaugural hair cut, taking just over an hour.  I reckon I’ll be able to do it in two hours singlehanded once I’ve worked out efficient routes.  Good news here is that the ride on mower has, I kid you not, a drinks holder which did a great job of holding a can of Coke this around.  In future I imagine a bottle of beer might live there.

Finally, I stripped all the picture hooks we weren’t using off all the walls.  Despite leaving holes behind, this has made the house look better.

With the mowers running, the next official project is to tackle the media room.  Sugar soap, Polyfilla and decorators calk are lined up, and we’d like to get it ready to paint within a few days.  I am nervous, who knows what state the walls will be in when we get up close and personal.

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