Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Reflctions, new short story

I've been quiet for a while, what with one thing and another - this short story being one of the reasons - it's now been handed in as part of my creative writing portfolio.. Please read and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!


The poster outside the theatre reads: The Glitzy, the Glamorous, the Gorgeous - Jo Johnson. Final week.

Jo sits before the mirror, carefully applying lipstick. The dresser leaves; the costumes are hung in performance order, ready for the quick changes called for during the show. The dressing room is full of flowers; cards surround the mirror.

Jo gazes round; has it really been so long? Is it really time to retire? To hang up the sequins and satin for the final time? It only seems like yesterday that …

# # #

'Right, love, I’m just running Isobel into town to get a present for Mandy’s party this afternoon. Are you sure you don’t want to come with us?’

‘No, thanks, Mum. There’s nothing I want, and, besides, I have my end of year project to get on with.’

‘OK then, see you later, be good,’ Mum says, and they’re gone.

I didn’t want to go to town with them, just to hang around watching them riffle through every gift in the shops, and every book on the shelves at Waterstone’s. Besides, I have my project to finish. I’m two years older than Isobel, and Mum trusts me to be left at home on my own nowadays.

So, finally, I have the house to myself. This is what I look forward to; my special times. I switch the pc on, ready to work. Now I’m in Isobel’s room, opening the wardrobe door. She’d kill me if she knew what I was doing, but she doesn’t. I’m always very careful to put things back exactly where I get them from; she’s never guessed what I do when she’s not here.

Mind you, I don’t think she’d notice if I did put anything back in a different place. She’s quite messy. Stuff’s falling off hangers, everything’s higgledy-piggledy. Not like my wardrobe. I have everything hanging in colour order. It looks lovely and tidy when I open the door. My shoes are in pairs on the floor of the wardrobe, not like these. It’s easy to see how I get ready much more quickly than Isobel.

My fingers feel along the different fabrics until the faint prickle of the Lurex tells me I’ve found it. A tingle runs down my spine as I lift the hanger from the rail. This illicit borrowing never fails to excite me. I strip off my jeans and t-shirt, putting them neatly on the bed. My skinny body, slighter than Isobel’s, despite me being older, develops goose bumps.

I hold it out in front of me to admire it. I’d been so jealous when Isobel had been the Christmas Fairy at a fancy dress party last year. She’d looked lovely, but I know that I would have looked gorgeous. I have short blonde hair, with natural curls. Isobel’s heavy, dark plait just didn’t do the costume justice. Don’t get me wrong, Isobel did look beautiful. Everyone said so - but I would have looked stunning.

I remember that whenever we used to dress up when we were younger, I was always the girl, and Isobel the boy. I’ve always been daintier, with a rosebud mouth, and extra long eyelashes. She takes more after Dad, but I resemble Mum, and she was a model before she had us.

I slowly slip the dress from the hanger and spread the skirts on the floor. Now comes the best bit... I bend down and slide the smooth, silky lining up against my body. I’m now encased in a fresh, pink skin. I clip the wings onto the straps. The metamorphosis is complete.

The reflection in the mirror shows beautiful, golden-haired fairy Jo. Gold gossamer wings flutter gently. Fine ribbon straps lead down to the pink satin bodice, overlaid with gold mesh. Delicate and feminine; I feel so special in this dress. I’d like this to be my everyday clothes – no more jeans and t-shirts.

I find the pink tights, tossed on the floor of the wardrobe, and carefully pull them up; it wouldn’t do to snag them! I pirouette, revolving like the ballerina in Isobel’s pink jewellery box. My shimmering, iridescent wings reflect back the sunlight streaming in at the window. I wish I could step, like Alice, into the looking glass, and be the fairy girl reflected there.

Oh, no! I can hear the car pulling into the drive! Where has the time gone? I slip out of the fairy finery and in seconds it’s back on the hanger, in the wardrobe. I grab my clothes, and dash to my bedroom to tug on my jeans and t-shirt. I didn’t have time to take off the tights, but she won’t be wearing them today. I can return them when she’s at the party. I pull on a pair of trainers, and rush downstairs, nearly colliding with Mum and Isobel in the hall.

‘Everything alright?’ Mum asks. ‘You look a bit flushed.’

‘Yes, I’m fine. Did you get what you needed for the party?’

‘Did we? We found the most amazing handbag! It has compartments for everything, so Mandy won’t keep losing her things. It has little loops for lipsticks, and pens. And it’s in leopard print furry fabric. She’ll love it.’ I get the distinct impression that Isobel has fallen in love with it and would like one for herself!

Isobel runs upstairs.

‘I’m going to have a shower now, Mum. OK? Then my hair has time to dry.’

‘OK, sweetheart. I’ll start making lunch soon.’ She looks at me. ‘I’m making a cuppa, d’ you want one?’

‘No, thanks, I’m working on the computer.’ I turn away, and walk upstairs. I am actually doing my project in no time.

The tantalising aroma of sausages tickles my nose, my mouth is watering. I realise I’m hungry, and begin to type faster to get my work finished. Then Mum’s voice calls:

‘Isobel, Joseph? Lunch is nearly ready. Time to set the table, please, one of you.’

‘Right, Mum,’ I shout. ‘I’ll just log off, then I’ll be down.’

‘Thanks, Joe,’ says Isobel, ‘I’m just finishing drying my hair.’

‘No problem, sis.’

I run down and set the table. Jo is hung up again until the next time we’re alone.

# # #

That was the day I decided to come out with it. I’d hidden myself in Isobel’s closet for long enough. When she had gone to bed, and Mum and Dad were sitting with a bottle of wine, I took a deep breath:

‘Mum, Dad; I’ve got something I want to tell you.’

‘What’s that, son?’

‘You sound serious, sweetheart, whatever is it?’

‘I …I…’
‘Spit it out, lad, spit it out. We’re waiting.’

‘Well, you see …’ Despite my project on assertiveness, I can feel my cheeks burning, and my eyes prickling. My heart is pounding, my palms are wet.

‘Tell me, does this have anything to do with the fact that you’ve got Isobel’s tights on, by any chance?’

I look down. She’s right! I’d forgotten to take them off! A small patch of pink between my trainers and my jeans betrays me.

‘Well, er, yes, it does, actually.’ I feel like my heart’s going to jump out of my mouth. ‘I like wearing her clothes. I’ve been doing it for ages, when there’s nobody else here, and it feels right. I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with me. I mean, I don’t fancy boys, or anything, but I belong in girl’s clothing. I’ve been thinking about it for ages, and just didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to tell you.’

‘Dad and I have wondered, you know, sometimes. Just little things you’ve said, or done.’

‘Then why didn’t you say something?’

‘You’d have been embarrassed, and insisted we were mistaken, that’s why.’

‘No I wouldn’t!’

‘Yes, you would! We had to wait for you to speak to us about it. Anyway, love, what have you decided, after all your deliberation? Have you come to any decisions?’

‘I want to go to drama lessons, and then, oh, I don’t know, go on to some sort of acting school, you know, like RADA, or somewhere. Not like ‘Fame!’ I don’t want to do musical stuff, I want to be Grand Dame. I want glitz and glamour. I want to wear fairy costumes, ball gowns, wigs and high heels.’

‘Good Lord! I’ll never hear the last of it when I get my next posting - my son wants to be a drag queen!’

‘No, Dad. Not a queen at all. An actor, specialising in cross-dressing.’ How could I get through to him? ‘I’ve been doing some research, Dad. Did you know that Danny la Rue was in the Navy, too? That should shut the ratings up! And he got an OBE. I’ve been looking to see where the local drama classes are, there’s one on Saturday mornings, in town. Can I go, Mum, please?’

I’m feeling quite calm about it now. It’s such a relief to have said it out loud. Mum and Dad look at each other. Dad still looks a bit worried, but Mum, well she’s absolutely fantastic!

‘Sounds like a good idea, to me. Don’t you agree, Jack? I’ll take you down at the weekend, and we’ll see what they’re offering.’

I could hardly believe my ears!

# # #

So, that’s how it started. I went to Mme. Estelle’s Drama Academy every Saturday. It was harder than I thought it would be, but I persevered. I couldn’t believe that Mum and Dad had been discussing me; I wished I’d screwed up the courage to say something sooner.

In the first play we put on after I joined the Academy, I was a support character; no lines, just a lot of standing around, trying not to look bored. The following year, I was chosen to be the leading man, and Mme. Estelle couldn’t understand it when I refused the part. She persuaded me to take it: ‘A leading man, at fifteen! Silly boy, you must take the part – actors need to accept all sorts of roles when they’re starting out. Be patient!’

Then, the next Christmas we put on a panto, and my dreams came true. I was the Dame. I was the Dame! I was in heaven!

As you know, talent scouts regularly tour the theatres, looking for the next star in the making, and one of them liked my work. Bob’s your uncle, as they say. I was offered a place at a stage boarding school, and haven’t looked back. It was difficult leaving home. I even missed Isobel, believe it or not, and was homesick for a couple of weeks. However, the work was so interesting, and, I have to say, hard, that I didn’t really have time to miss home too much.

Well, you know the rest; there are no secrets in this business. Now I wear frivolous frocks and sequinned satin almost every day, and I get paid for it. Handsomely.

I wonder what would have happened if Isobel hadn’t been the Christmas Fairy?

Monday, 23 November 2009

battery operated toothbrushes

I like my battery operated toothbrush. I've tried a few different models, some with rectangular heads, some with round ones, and others with a rotating round part within a non-rotating outer set of bristles.

The one I've settled on doesn't have replaceable heads, as I found I was frequently nipped by them. It has a small, circular rotating head, and that's it. Simple.

It uses two batteries to run it, and since I try to be ecologically minded, I use rechargeable batteries.

Today, I decided it was time for a new toothbrush, so rootled around in the (very large) cupboard in the bathroom, and found one. I removed it from its packaging, prised off the base of the battery compartment and then the fun began.

I know, you weren't expecting fun, but, hey, it's half past ten on a Monday night, so why not?

So ... I prised off the base of my old toothbrush and shook it to extract the batteries. No joy. I banged it gently on my hand. No joy. I swear that rechargeable batteries develop middle-age spread, a bit like me.

I hit it quite hard against my hand, and there was a slight movement, but not enough to be able to grasp the batteries. Now it was time to get really tough.... I banged it against the wooden chopping board in the kitchen - yes!!! a whole quarter inch of battery emerged, enough to pull out first one, then the other. Hurray.

I returned to the the new toothbrush and tried to insert the batteries. No joy. They really have put on weight!! It's exactly the same model of toothbrush, bought on the same day, from the same shop as the other. I know this because I bought about twenty at the time, (they were on special offer).

At last, one went in - I'm sure I heard it laughing - but the next one really, really didn't want to be re-homed. I was brutal, and slapped it in - then stopped. Drat, I'd put it in upside down!!

I'd slapped it quite hard, so it was nearly all the way in, just an eighth of an inch protruding. Surely I could extract it? No, I could not.

After breaking two finger nails I decided that since I was human (yes, I am) I could do that human being thing and use tools. I got a thin knitting needle (if you're a keen knitter, look away now), the needle is not quite as straight as it once was, but I don't believe it felt any pain. The battery just stared at me as if to say "Huh, did you really think that would work?"

Tweezers didn't do the trick either, so I took out my tool box from next to the sink cupboard, and opened the lid. I couldn't see the pointy-nosed pliers, they must be on holiday somewhere, but I found a pair of wide mouthed snub nosed pliers and smiled to myself. The battery stood no chance!

So .... I went to the freezer and took out a pot of sorbet, wrapped a section of paper towel around it and applied it to my right forefinger. I'm glad I don't swear or the kitchen air would have been blue.

The battery won the battle with the pliers! It clearly has heard of those reptiles that leave part of their tail behind when bitten by a predator, and thought it would try something similar.

The pliers came away very rapidly from the battery, bearing a triumphant circular bit, then snapped the fleshy part of my finger. It still hurts now, but at least it's not throbbing like it was.

There's always a silver lining though - I did get to eat the sorbet after it had done sterling work in reducing the pain :-)

The battery is still in the new toothbrush, the wrong way round, and I've found another new toothbrush, with non-re-chargeable batteries in it for tonight.

Some battles I don't win. But I live to fight another day. I still like the electric toothbrushes, though:-)

Rainbow Chard, Jewelled Stir Fry, Quick vegan supper

As I stood at the kitchen window, the late afternoon sun slanted through the leaves, creating jewel-like glowing clumps. I had made no plans for my evening meal, so I went out into the back garden to see what I could garner for supper.

I harvested four different colours of chard, plus a standard white-stemmed variety. They don't look as good here in the sink as they did with the sunlight passing through them, but they're still quite stunning.

I decided on a simple stir fry, so took some celery from the fridge, a couple of onions from the basket, and started washing and chopping. Here's what I used, and how I made it:

4 sticks celery, sliced
2 large onions, cut in half, then sliced
8 sticks of chard
3 cloves of garlic, more or less, to taste!
2 chillies, finely chopped (remove the seeds and inner white ribs if you like it less hot!)
sesame oil
olive oil
soy sauce

Cut the ribs from the chard. Chop the ribs in the same way as you would the celery. Roll the leaves of the chard, and slice about a quarter inch or so thick ribbons. Don't they look like a dragon's lair of jewels?
I had red stems, bright cerise, orange and dandelion yellow stems, and the plain white ones, too.

In a large pan pour a glug each of olive and sesame oils. Gently fry the onion and celery until almost cooked through, then add the chilli and garlic.
Toss in the stems of chard, stir for a minute or two, then add the shredded leaves. I'm afraid the steam prevented me from taking a good shot of the leaves wilting down - sorry!

Splosh in some soy sauce, stir everything quickly together for about two minutes, and you're finished.

I served it with jacket potatoes, because my partner was here, and he loves them (so do I, but I would probably have had some rice noodles if I'd been alone).

A drizzle of toasted sesame oil over the top just finished it off nicely. The colours still looked lovely, even when cooked, and it tasted just great. What's more, it didn't take long to cook, and most of it came from the garden and cost very little - yay!!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Avocado, tomatoes, garlic, chili, lemon, dill, guacamole, simple raw food

Dill Guacamole. Super fast food.

I was peckish and felt the need for something almost instant, yet very tasty. I have several avocados which are either ripe, or approaching ripeness, so this seemed a logical starting point -oh, and the fact that I love avocados also helped a little:-)

I happen to have some fresh dill, and wondered how it would marry up with the avocado. I was pleasantly surprised by the blend, and will certainly make it again.

I gathered together the ingredients you see above:

1 medium avocado - mashed with a fork
1 medium red chili - diced
1 lemon - zested and juiced
3 cloves of garlic - crushed or grated
5 cherry tomatoes - finely diced
5 sprigs of fresh dill - remove delicate leaves from stalks
Salt and Pepper - to taste

Split the avocado and remove the stone by tapping your sharp knife hard against it, then twisting the knife. The stone should loosen nicely.

Mix all the ingredients together, seasoning to taste with freshly ground salt and pepper.

Pop some bread in the toaster whilst you mix - it really doesn't take long. Or prepare some cruditees if you prefer somehing cold, or eat only raw foods.

I've tried many variations on guacamole, and this new blend is deliciously different. I hope you'll enjoy trying it. What is your favourite guacomole recipe?

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

boasting, my words were chosen,

Congratulations to Christine from "Christine's Chatter" for her winning contribution:

Tthis is the photo for which the words were written. November 1, 2009, Write with Pictures.

Isn't it sad that so many children today don't realize that cakes, cookies and biscuits can be baked at home?

If it doesn't come wrapped from the supermarket, it's not "real" for some.

You can share so much with a child when you're baking - math, motor skills, sharing, mixing, tasting, creating, sharing secrets, the science and magic of raising cakes and dough - oh - and most of all - LOVE.

Keep on baking, people, keep on :)

Monday, 9 November 2009

serendipity, charity (thrift) shop bargain

One of the gods must have been distracted as he/she was running a bath the other day. I know this because whichever god it was allowed the water to run too long.

The water overflowed the heavenly bath, and cascaded down upon me as I walked home from uni last Wednesday. I was wearing canvas trainers, and a light jacket. The sun had been shining in a clear blue sky when I'd caught the bus early that morning.

I was soon uncomfortably damp. Well, actually, my feet were positively squelching as I walked! I called into the local charity (thrift) book shop to shelter from the worst of it, and looked at a few books - I've bought many books there over the last few years, and taken a few back, too! It was thanks to a poster in their window that I became a founder member of the Ashton Book Group - another good thing:)

I then set off again, but, since I'd been in the book shop, I thought I might as well take a look in the non-book shop of the same charity further down the road. I'm very pleased that I did.

For a few weeks now, since the autumn clothes have started to blossom on the rails, I've been looking for a raincoat. Not a shower-proof coat, not a cagoule, I have at least one of each of those, but a raincoat. A coat that would go down to my knees and keep me dry. Not one did I see.

However, on the "expensive" rail at the back of the charity (thrift) shop, I spotted a few coats. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say, so I wandered over to have a look, carefully avoiding the feet of a smoky grey cat prowling amongst the jungle of rails.

My eye was taken by a stone coloured trench-coat, with hard plastic, mock leather buttons - I know, it's a weird description, but that's what they are!! The coat had a detachable thin acrylic check lining to add a tiny amount of additional warmth, in shades of red and black and brown on the stone background. Very neutral, therefore very useful.

I tried it on over my fleece jacket, and it fit! It boasted a £55 price tag from BHS at the neck, and another cardboard tag saying "Petite fitting" dangled from the sleeve. The original receipt from BHS was in one pocket, and in the other a small plastic bag containing a spare button and a scrap of fabric for necessary repairs. The receipt is badly faded, but it looks as if the year of purchase is 1992!!!!!

The fabric tag inside the coat proudly states that it is a raincoat. I bought it for the £5 they were asking, and carried on walking home, immensely pleased with my purchase.

Serendipity is all around us. Had it not rained, I wouldn't have broken my journey in the shops, but would have simply walked on home. Thanks to the rain and a soaking, I found what I've been looking for:-)

When I reached home I got changed out of my wet clothes and shoes, and thought about cleaning the coat. I'm happy to buy things from charity/thrift shops, provided I can wash them. I know people who insist that they couldn't possible buy second-hand clothing, because you don't know who owned it before you. Those same people will stay in a hotel and sleep in a bed which has been slept in by complete strangers. Not only that, they will dry all parts of their bodies with a towel previously used by goodness knows who.

That's different, they cry, the sheets and towels are washed!!!! I know it may be hard to believe, but I wash the things I buy from charity shops. So where's the difference?

Drat, I digressed!!

So, I looked at cleaning the coat. The label says "dry clean only" - no, not going to do that! The collar was grubby from being tried on, but the coat was clearly unworn, with its cardboard tags still attached. I sprayed the grubby collar with pre-wash spray, left it for a few minutes, then rinsed it off. I squirted on a little liquid soap and rubbed it in, then rinsed that, too.

I left the coat over the sink and went to set the washing machine to a gentle, cool wash, and put some liquid in the dispensing drawer. I picked up the coat, and whoosh, I was covered in cold water, and so was the floor. The water I had used to clean the collar had stayed between the lining and the coat fabric, instead of draining in to the sink. The outer fabric had held it like a bucket, and my lifting it was its clue to soak me for the second time that afternoon!!

After the shock, I was delighted!!! I know, how could I be delighted when I'd just got soaked? Easy. If the water stayed between the outer fabric and the lining, that was a pretty good indication as to how waterproof my new coat was - i.e. very :-)

The coat survived the washing machine, and I've worn it a few times now. It's kept me lovely and dry, and also warm, as there is ample room for a decent fleece jacket to be worn under it.

So there you are, serendipity in action, the charity/thrift shop made a fiver, and I'm one happy Christine :-) What's your favourite bargain buy?

The girl who silenced the world for 5 minutes

I was sent this link in an e-mail, and was intrigued, so followed the link and watched this young girl talk to her "elders and betters".

I'd like for you to do the same when you have five minutes to spare. I only wish that all the "movers and shakers" out there could be compelled to listen and act on the issues she raises.

The girl who silenced the world for 5 minutes

first frost, frost patterns,

It's a beautiful sunny morning, but it's cold,
very cold. So cold that Jack Frost has left his
trademark traceries on the conservatory roof panes.

They say the best things in life are free, and I consider the delightful designs left by the icy visitor to be one of the best free shows there is. So ethereal, so delicate, I love to look at them and marvel.
Wouldn't they make lovely lace fabric?
You can see how gloriously blue the sky is - it really is a beautiful world!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

When I am Old I Will Wear Purple

Well, it's happened! What? I hear you cry. I have grown old without noticing. I know this to be a fact, because I caught sight of my reflection in the supermarket window yesterday.

As you know, I'm in the middle of my loft conversion, and life is somewhat chaotic, to put it mildly. Yesterday the weather turned colder, and I slipped on a pair of purpley-pink fleece tracksuit bottoms - I don't wear the top because it takes too much effort to remove it quickly when I have a "tropical moment", but that's another story.

I pulled on a short-sleeved purple t-shirt, to cope with the aforementioned flushes. So far, so good. A black fleece jacket topped it all off neatly. No problems. I sat down to edit some stories I'm writing, and worked away until about noon. I decided to walk down to the supermarket to wake up my circulation - I don't know about you, but I end up with cold fingers and toes if I'm just sitting here typing, so a walk to the shop and back is just enough to restore the blood flow - I don't necessarily buy anything.

So I dragged a jacket from the coat cupboard in the porch. It was chilly, and rain was about, so I grabbed a waterproof one - bright red with turquoise reverse side. I opted for boots because of the rain, and the only pair not bundled away because of the loft work are a burgundy shade. They clashed a bit with the trousers, but hey, it's only the local supermarket! They didn't clash nearly as much as the scarlet jacket!!! the handiest gloves were a sensible beige, and the umbrella was brown. My hat black and purple.

I really didn't give it a second thought, until I caught sight of my reflection. That's when the poem came to mind, and I realised I had grown old. Here is the poem, one of my favourites :-)

When I am Old I Will Wear Purple

When I am OldI will wear Purple!
When I am an old woman,I shall wear purple - - With a red hat which doesn't go,and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pensionon brandy and summer gloves and satin sandals,
And say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
and gobble up samples in shops
and press alarm bells
and run with my stick along public railings,
and make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
and pick flowers in other people's gardens
and learn to spit!

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
and eat three pounds of sausages at ago,
or only bread and pickles for a week,
and hoard pens and pencils
and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
and pay our rent
and not swear in the street,
and set a good example for the children.

We must have friends to dinner
and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me
are not too shocked and surprised
when suddenly I am old,
And start to wear purple!

--Jenny Joseph

My friends would agree that I started to practice years ago, my enemies, if I had any, would say far worse! I wear what I like, when I like, and it has to be comfortable! But I really didn't realise quite how unco-ordinated I looked, and must try harder - as my school reports often said!!!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

In the midst of death we have life

You know you have days when you think to yourself (though, come to tink of it, how could you think to anyone else??) - "I wish I'd done this yesterday!"? Well, this is one of those days.

I've just come in from the gareen, having harvested what I believe will be the final runner beans. Here they are, on the right. You could be forgiven for thinking I've taken leave of my senses (yet again, I hear you cry!), but I haven't. No, really, I haven't.

In the midst of death, we have life. Those dead-looking papery beans that you wouldn't give a second glance in the greengrocer's, contain next year's (and possibly the next, and the next) seeds. In this case, some of them are somewhat slimey, because I didn't collect them yesterday in the dry, but this evening after copious amounts of rain.

I wanted you to see how awful and unattractive they look, so that you don't despair when it comes to harvest your own next year - you know you'll want to give it a go - it's free, organic food!!

I mentioned the beautiful colours the other day, but I've taken this photo so that you can see how different they look to the small beans you find inside the runner beans when you're eating them. Those tend to be either greyish, if very small, or this lovely pink when they're middle sized. As they grow larger, and riper, they develop the delightful speckling that you can see, and the colour goes through a purply pink to the deep coral. They are beautiful - nature is a marvel!

Just for those of you who think size really does matter, here are some against a couple of tape measures. I've used a couple so that you can see inches or centimetres, whichever is your preferred measure. You see, I might have lost my mind, but I'm still considerate :)

I'm going to go and enjoy some of the beans with some sprouting brocolli and tiny Charente carrots, tossed with some potatoes and drizzled with toasted sesame oil and fresh lime juice. Yum!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

loft conversion, update, lights

I no longer need to go upstairs (still a new word in my home vocabulary!) with a lamp afixed to a band round my head like a miner's helmet :-)

The lighting system is now up and running, or glowing, I suppose I should say. I chose simple white globes which could accommodate energy efficient bulbs, in keeping with my green outlook, and they look fine.

Did you know that nowadays an electrician will only fit approved lights in a bathroom? Well, he will. Fortunately the one I had chosen was an approved model, as well as coming complete with its very own energy saving lamp.

The other thing the electrician insisted that he was obliged to fit, was a mains operated smoke alarm. Here it is, adjacent to the globe at the base of the stairs. I hope, that since it is sited here, by the new porch, and thus a whole room and hallway distant to the kitchen, that its dulcet tones will not be heard too regularly.

I should tell you that when I was growing up, we knew the toast was ready when we heard Mum scraping off the burnt bits over the sink. Even with a toaster she had the capacity to burn bread. Some skills are valuable, that one, alas, was not. Funny thing was that she baked lovely bread, really well. It was just toast that she couldn't manage.
The reason for telling you that small historical fact is so that you will understand that when I have toast, I like it to be really well done - it's what I was brought up on. Sadly, smoke alarms tend to believe I'm burning something, they can't appreciate the subtle difference between beautiful dark brown toast, and charcoal. I can.
So, I have glowing lights, and a smoke alarm. All working. I have new switches, some of them two way, to illuminate my "upstairs" :-)
The grey snake appearing out of the tiles is not, as you might imagine, the trunk of an emaciated elephant, it is the cable which will breathe life into the shower. Maybe tomorrow. We'll see.

I also have ......... - wait for it - ................ radiators! Yes, really, radiators, fastened to the walls, and linked up to the central heating system. Wow! One of them cost me a couple of pounds at a charity auction, a few years ago, the other I bought new at the weekend. Look at how neatly they are fixed, though! Aren't they neat?? No pipes coming up from the floor, they're new plastic water pipes, of a very small diameter, which enter the rooms through the stud walling. Beautiful - thanks Paul :-)
Actually, I think, if you look really hard, you can spot the bathroom radiator coyly appearing in refelection in the mirror, so you didn't really have to wait for it at all, but that would have spoiled the drama somewhat!
It's nearly all over, as far as the workmen are concerned. Rob and Paul, the builders, Kevin, the carpenter, Paul the plumber, and Ian, the electrician have been an integral part of my life for the past three and a half weeks, off and on. They've all been lovely blokes to have around, and I'd have any one of them back to do any extra work that's needed in future.
Rob reckoned it would take them four to six weeks, and despite the builing inspector insisting on extras, like the ventilation roof tiles at £7+ each (45 of them, no less! ), things have proceeded well, and they've finished within time. Well, Rob did get Mario (such lovely curly hair, makes me remember insisting my mum cut all mine off when I was about three), in to do the majority of the plastering to save time, but even so, they've done well.
This saga is nearly at an end - apart from the painting and oiling I now need to do to decorate it all :-) Talk to me nicely and I might tell you a little about that, too.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

loft conversion update

The plumber arrived in a black mood, his van had packed up and was in having major surgery. Next thing I know my builder comes to me to impart bad news. The plumber said the fittings that came with the new toilet were useless, and water would spray everywhere if he used the connections provided, it needed to go back to the shop.

I bought the loo about four years ago at a car boot sale from a guy who was clearing his warehouse, so it couldn't be returned. I was annoyed because I told the builder at the outset to show the sanitary ware to the plumber, as I didn't know what fixings were included, and that would give him the opportunity to obtain any necessary parts. Clearly that hadn't been done.

I spent hours trawling round looking at toilets, trying to find one without a million little ledges to collect dust.

How many of you can say you enjoy cleaning the outside of your loo? Hold still, I'm having trouble counting. No, I'm joking, none of you has your hand up, do you? And small wonder, I don't know anyone who enjoys the task.

Have you ever looked closely at a toilet pan? Most of them are so badly designed that they have creases and crevices which appear to be quite unnecessary. The more modern, and, needless to say, expensive, models are much simpler in outline, and relatively easy to keep clean. I really can't justify the expensive models in my tiny en-suite. I haad chosen this model because it is relatively sleek and crevice free, and also a compact size. The cistern is the tall, free-standing section behind the pan. Very neat.

David suggested possible ways around the problem, but the plumber was clearly in no mood to listen to an amateur!! So off we went.

Ultimately, David found several designs of flush systems that might fit the existing loo, and we bought a couple of the likeliest for the plumber to look at on his next visit. This was postponed due to his lack of transport. When he did arrive, he was in a better frame of mind, and prepared to consider modifying the existing fittings and sealing with silicone.

The loo is now in situ, and tomorrow the plumber returns and water will flow through the sanitary system. I hope it remains in the system and doesn't end up all over the floor. Keep your fingers crossed for me!!

boasting, my words were chosen, vegan ethic

I know I shouldn't boast, but I'm still at the stage where I find it amazing that somebody chooses my work above others!!! I liked this for its simplicity, yet the underlying message is there, for those that can, to see!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Today's Writing Prompt: Nursery Rhyme
Rewrite a nursery rhyme. (Have fun with it!)
(Here's a link to a bunch of them, if you need to refresh your memory!)
One-Minute Writing of the Day:Writer: Christine

Baa baa black sheep,
How's it make you feel,
Knowing that you're there to be somebody's meal?

Congratulations on another win, Christine! Clever and dark.... I like it.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

the wall is gone

One of the first things we did when I bought the bungalow was to redesign it, as you do! I decided that I would widen the hall, making the large double bedroom into a small double by moving an internal wall back a couple of feet. and create a single bedroom where the hall is now.

I didn't know, then, that the internal walls of a bungalow carry the weight of the roof, unlike in a house, where the external walls take the weight. Sadly that meant that for quite some time now, I've had a little corridor storage area between the new wall, and the existing wall, which needed removing.

It couldn't just be knocked down, though, as it's supporting the roof. So, finally, the builder has installed an RSJ to do the job of the wall, and David and I dismantled the old wall, brick by brick. It's now been plastered over, and the hall is enormous!

I'll just get used to all the space, then it will be time to erect another stud wall and box it all in again. Why do we buy properties just to change them? At the end of all this I'll have 3 bedrooms and a separate lounge and dining room, instead of 2 bedrooms and a lounge. It will be worth it, it really will.

In the midst of the brick and plaster dust, this is what I tell myself. Sometimes it's hard to believe, but I know it's true.


loft conversion, shower room

It's really beginning to look like a shower room! Wow, how fantastic - I'm so glad I got builders in and didn't wait to do-it-ourselves!!

When I'd finished tiling the bathroom downstairs (it's a bungalow, remember, so there wasn't an upstairs until now, and it still feels strange to say upstairs and downstairs!!) I had three boxes of large, white bevelled edge wall tiles left over. I'd assumed that I'd be able to buy more when the time came to do the shower room. Wrong! They've been discontinued, bother!!

So, off we went for a trip round the local tile shops - and can't you spend a fortune??? I decided that I would remain cost conscious, and finally found some reasonably sized white tiles at £7.99 a box, and bought the 9 boxes the builder stipulated. My eye was caught by some mosaics. Oh dear, they did look sparkly and indulgent. They were. £14 a square foot. But I bought three of them, to inset a two-deep row around the room. It makes such a difference, don't you think?

I bought a three foot high mirror to be included in with the tiles, as it's something I've done before, and I think it's so much safer than a wall-hung mirror. There's no way it can be knocked down if it's grouted in place!! It looks lovely, as you can see.
The plumber is due in a couple of days - how can it be so exciting? I can hardly wait. Watch this space :-)


Monday, 26 October 2009

Boasting - my words were chosen

Well, as you can see, another short piece made the grade :) It is such a good feeling when someone you don't know decides that my writing is goodl thanks C Beth :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Fiction: Wedding
Write a brief bit of fiction, with a wedding as the setting.Friday Fiction is your opportunity to write a short (short, short, short) story. Many participants use more than one minute for Friday Fiction prompts, and I open up the One-Minute Writing of the Day contest to entries of various lengths.Click on the "Friday Fiction" tag beneath the post to see more examples of Friday Fiction writings.

One-Minute Writing of the Day:Writer: Christine

I eally didn't want to be a page boy, not even for my lovely sister. Then I found out I had to wear a skirt. Calling it a kilt doesn't stop it from being a skirt. You can imagine the fun that gave my mates at school.

Now everyone's here, in this cold marquee, smiling and drinking champagne, while I have an iced cola - great.They all look so happy, but then they don't have a breeze blowing where no breeze should blow, and bare legs under a pleated skirt. The velvet jacket and tartan bow tie just add insult to injury.

Now they want me to smile for the camera! Who do they think they're kidding?I think I'll use this dirk to carve my name in one of the trees outside. Yes, that'll make the day go better.

Maybe I could force just one smile for them...

Congratulations on another win, Christine! One thing I really enjoyed about your response was that it was set at a wedding, but wasn't about the bride and groom. And it definitely made me smile.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

runner beans, free food, seeds, harvesting

Well, it's that time of year when things start to slow down in the garden. Although the days may still become warm and sultry, it's decidedly cooler in the evenings, and the plants are beginning to shut themselves down for the winter. Some will die down completely, others will slumber gently until the gentle warmth of Spring calls them forth again.

My runner beans are still flowering their little socks off, or would if they possessed any! At the same time, they are creating the seeds for me to harvest, and dry out, ready for planting again in the Spring. Free food :)

I always leave one plant, at least, to grow long, plump beans, which I don't harvest to eat. I allow them to stay on the plant until they have dried out. They don't look particularly attractive when they've turned papery in texture, and brownish in colour, but they contain that precious cargo of next year's seeds. For that alone, they could be considered beautiful. They have served their purpose, and that's a wonderful thing.

The photos show the pods agains the sunlight. If you look closely, you can see the shape of the beans within the drying pod, as the light can pass through the thinning shell of the pod, leaving the shadowy outline of the beans. Harvest when brown and dry.

The last shows the dried out shell, and some of the hidden treasure from within, revealed just for you! And aren't the beans pretty? Such attractive markings, and glorious colours. Bright pinks are fashionable just now - I wonder what a dress would look like created from fabric patterned like the beans. Probably quite attractive, I'd say. But then, I'm biased.

I store my harvested beans in an envelope, on which I write the variety and the date - I used to think I'd remember, but nowadays I know I won't, so I write it down. If I have plenty, I share them with family and friends who also appreciate organic, fresh food.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

loft conversion, update, progress, Velux fire escape window,

Well, the Velux fire escape window is now happily settled in its new home, looking over the south-facing back garden. I just hope that I never have cause to use it, because it's a steep roof overlooking a hard, unforgiving patio area, and I don't much care for heights! I'd probably take my chances on the stairs.

Talking of which, the stairs now have a wall either side of them, unplastered, as yet, but walls nonetheless. There'll even be a handrail eventually - but that's jumping the gun slightly!

This shot is from the top of the stairs across the bedroom to the fire escape, I think it'll be lovely when it's finished, but then, I would, wouldn't I?

This photo is taken with my back to the fire escape, the shower room is on the left, then the stairs, then the storage area leading to the space above the garage. We'll need to floor that once the builders are gone and we can get on at our own pace.

Here you can see the Velux in the shower room, and the view of tree tops :-) You can see the interesting angles caused by the hip of the roof. This has generated fun and games. The original shower tray I bought was 1200 x 900, with a quadrant at one end. Lovely - yes, but way too big because of the restricted head room! I've bought a more sensibly sized 760cm square stoneware one on eBay, which David is collecting for me today. Thankfully, the electrician and plumber are both on holiday this week, so I haven't held them up. Perhaps I'll retain the bright yellow steps as a towel rail. What do you think?

The plasterer arrived a short while ago. He has such a mop of dark curly hair! He probably hates it, very few of us are content with what nature gave us, are we? But it looks gorgeous - I'm sure he has the girls at his feet, especially following the recent TV series The New Romantics, or whatever it was called.

More another day - bet you can't wait!

Friday, 16 October 2009

short story, dead man in the loft

When the builder told me he had to move a dead man in the loft, I was taken aback, to say the least. I'd been in the loft several times, and nary a corpse had I seen!

Once he'd explained to me what he meant, I decided that therein lay a story for children, and since one of the modules I'm taking this semester at uni is Writing for Children, this was serendipity, indeed.

This is the first draft of the story that evolved from this chance phrase, I hope you'll enjoy the idea, and bear in mind that it is only a first draft!

There’s a Dead Man in Our Loft

The builders arrived yesterday. Two of them, wearing clothes so scruffy Mum wouldn’t let us be seen dead in them! Tufts of grey wire sprout out of the back bit of Frank’s baseball cap. Paul’s bald. I always thought that your hair turned grey then fell out, but Paul’s much younger than Frank. Maybe he’s had chemo-therapy; Dad’s friend Eric’s hair fell out after he’d had chemo, and he was only 30.

Mum’s going to have a baby, and our house is already full! There’s me, I’m Amy, my sister Brenda, and my brother, Chris. And there’s Mum and Dad too. We’ve got three bedrooms, but one’s only tiny. Chris has that one, and I share a bigger one with Brenda. There’s no room for the new baby. He’s a boy, so the scan says, so we’re having the loft converted into a “Master Suite” for Mum and Dad. Chris and baby Danny will have Mum’s old room, when it’s been decorated, of course. They won’t want a room with roses all over the walls!

* * * * * * *

I was deep into my Nancy Drew mystery, when I heard Frank, the builder, asking Mum if he could have a word with her. He was speaking very quietly, and for some reason, whenever I hear people speaking softly, my ears have this habit of trying extra hard to hear what’s being said.

I wish I hadn’t heard what Frank said to Mum, though! I don’t know what to do about it.

‘Mrs Jenkins, could I have a quick word with you? We’ve uncovered a bit of a problem.’

‘Oh dear! What sort of problem? It isn’t going to hold up the building work, is it? The baby’s due in four months, and I really need to have the bedrooms sorted out before he arrives.’

‘It’s nothing we can’t handle, don’t worry. We’ve come across this problem before. There’s a dead man at the far end of the loft needs moving.’

‘What?’ Mum’s voice went quite high, then she sort of laughed, nervously. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. There isn’t a dead man in my loft!’

I heard them walk upstairs, so couldn’t hear what they were saying any more. I felt like somebody was squeezing my tummy muscles, and I found I was holding my breath. How could there be a dead man in the loft? Was it like when they found the Princes in the Tower? Had a body been shut up to die in the loft space years ago, when the house was new? Or had a burglar broken in and died up there, starving to death with a broken leg, unable to climb back up the chimney?

My mind played all sorts of little film clips really quickly, trying to make sense of it, but couldn’t. What did it mean? Who could I ask? Should I tell someone, or not? Does it count as a secret? Should I phone the police? I decided I’d tell my best friend, Zoë, about it, and see what she thought. I bet she hasn’t got a corpse in her loft!

* * * * * * *

I was sitting, reading, when somebody else’s hand turned the page for me! It was a hairy, withered-looking hand, with long, yellow nails. My own scream woke me up. The thudding in my chest was so loud I though the house would wake up, but nobody moved. I wish they had woken up, my skin was all goosey, and I was scared. I pulled the duvet over my head, and closed my eyes tightly. I must have gone back to sleep, eventually, because next thing I knew Brenda was opening drawers and cupboards with her usual clatter.

‘Zoë, come over here, I want a quick word with you.’ I stopped, I was speaking like Frank! ‘Zo, quick, I need to talk to you before we go in. Let’s go over there for a minute.’

‘Hi, Amy. What’s up? You look a bit flushed! There’s no need to pull me, I’m coming!’

‘There’s a dead man in our loft! I don’t know what to do.’

‘Don’t be silly, Amy, there can’t be a dead man in the loft. Your whole house would be stinking and full of flies. I’ve seen films where they find bodies, and there’s always big bluebottles, and they use the larvae to see how long the body’s been dead.’

‘But I heard Frank tell Mum. He said they had uncovered a problem, there was a dead man and they had to move it.’

‘You must have misheard him. There can’t be a dead man in your loft. There just can’t. How would he have got there?’

‘Maybe he was burgling the house, fell and broke his neck, and just died. Nobody would look for him in our house, because nobody would have known he was there, would they?’

‘Noooo, no, I suppose that’s possible.’

‘Or maybe he was entombed, like the Pharaoh’s slaves were.’

‘That’s not very likely, is it? Though sometimes when old houses were built they used to put a small animal, or child, in the walls for good luck. But that was in really old houses, and yours is only about 200 years old. And I don’t think they did it with grown men, only children.’

‘The thing is, Zo, what do I do? Should I phone the police? Or will that get Mum and Dad into trouble? Even if I make an anonymous call, I’d have to tell them the address. Then when they come to the house they’ll hear my voice and know it was me sneaking on my parents. So that’s no good.’

‘I don’t think you should do anything yet, the bell’s about to go. Let’s go and line up, we can think about it in class, it’s art first lesson.’

‘You don’t think Dad could have killed anybody, do you? He does get very cross sometimes.’

‘Don’t be daft. Your dad wouldn’t kill anyone. Everyone gets angry sometimes, but we don’t go around killing people!’

The whistle silenced us, but my thoughts were still whirling round like Sher Khan’s eyes in the Jungle Book, making me feel dizzy. We muttered to each other while we painted, but Zoë didn’t know what to do, either. I decided that I would look in the loft when I got home, and see what I could discover before I did anything else.

* * * * * * *

Once I got home, I told Mum I had some homework to do, and went upstairs to my room. I could see Brenda and Chris out in the garden, Mum was in the kitchen, so it was all clear. I crept up the new staircase into the loft on tip-toe. I felt like a crime scene investigator, looking for evidence – I love all the CSI series. The afternoon sun through the new roof window made the loft space look golden, not like a crime scene. I sniffed the air deeply, but couldn’t smell anything rotten. Nor could I see any bluebottles, or any other sort of fly. I couldn’t see any little white maggots wriggling around, either, though I was quite glad about that. I can’t look at the TV screen when they show the maggots, and have to wait until Mum or Dad tells me it’s OK to watch again.

There weren’t any cupboards that might have hidden a body, and the chimney was quite narrow up in the loft, so nobody could have got in there. Where could this dead man have been found? Unless he’d hung himself, but I couldn’t see any hooks in the rafters above my head, just a few dusty spider’s webs, long since abandoned. And Frank said he’d uncovered a problem, but Daddy would have found a man just hanging there when he put the Christmas decorations away each year.

* * * * * * *

‘How’re the builders getting on with the loft, Mum?’ I asked when we were having our pizza, later.

‘Don’t talk with your mouth full, sweetheart, you know it’s rude. They’re getting on alright. They’ll be taking up the old boards and laying the new floor joists tomorrow.’

‘It’s odd having another staircase. The new banisters look really pale, like the ghosts of the other ones. Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to mention ghosts.’

‘Why on earth shouldn’t you mention ghosts? You know there’s no such thing, really.’

‘Well, yes, but after this morning …..’

‘After what, this morning? Did someone say something to you about ghosts at school?’

‘No. Sorry, I heard what Frank said to you. I wasn’t listening, I just heard him.’

‘Heard what, sweetheart? You’re not making much sense.’

‘I heard him tell you about the dead man, Mum. Then you went upstairs, and I didn’t hear any more. Was it a very old man? I’ve been thinking about it all day. Where did they find him? Where is he now? Will there be a post-mortem? Are we in trouble?’

‘Whoa, hold on!’ I couldn’t believe my eyes, Mum was laughing! ‘There isn’t a body in the loft, love, it’s not a real dead man.’

‘But Frank said …’

‘I know, I was confused too! Oh, you poor girl, worrying about dead bodies in the loft all day. Oh dear!’

‘Stop laughing, Mum, stop it!’ I was all mixed up. I was angry because Mum was laughing at me, relieved because there was no dead man, and embarrassed because I’d got something wrong, and, what was worse, told Zoe about it. I could feel my cheeks glowing, and my vision blurred. I sniffed, and stood up quickly to leave the room before anyone noticed.

Mum followed me out.

‘I’m sorry, sweetheart, I wasn’t laughing at you.’

‘Seems like it to me.’

‘No, I was laughing because I’d thought exactly the same as you! Who was he, what was he doing in our loft, how did he die?’

‘Well, it’s not funny.’

‘No, it’s not. Except that it is when you know what Frank was talking about.’

‘Why? What did he mean if he didn’t mean a real dead man, what other sort is there? A live dead man?’

‘No, come up to the loft with me and I’ll show you the dead man.’

‘I’ve been up there. There isn’t one.’

‘Oh, yes there is, come on.’ She took me by the hand and squeezed it. ‘Come on.’

At the top of the stairs Mum pointed to the other side. I couldn’t see anything except a couple of dirty cups next to a pile of bricks.

‘What?’ I asked, still a bit cross.

‘Do you see the bricks over there, like a little wall, under the long piece of wood?’


‘Well, that’s what builders call a dead man. A pile of bricks that isn’t actually a wall, it just supports the beam. And the beam supports the roof.’

‘But he said it was a problem.’

‘Yes, it is. He has to take down the bricks and replace them with a huge chunk of wood so that we can have a nice, neat wall across that end, otherwise it would have to have a kink in it. That’s what he meant. Frank had to bring me up to show me, just like I’m showing you, because I’d never heard of it either. So we’ve both learned something new. Now, let’s go and finish that pizza, shall we?’

* * * * * * *

I’m going to have to think very carefully about what I’m going to say to Zoe. Maybe I could pretend I knew all along, and was just teasing her.

loft conversion update

It's two weeks today that the two builders arrived on site, or, in my home, as I prefer to call it! They have worked hard since their arrival, and a plumber, carpenter and electrician have also appeared, played their parts, then exited, stage left.

They arrive at about eight every morning, except Sundays, and leave around fourish, having made still more impact every day. You can see here how space-age and silvery the loft looked when the insulation was installed, the silver being like the two slices of bread in a conventional sandwich, surrounding a thick layeer of custard, or rock wool.

It almost seems a pity that all the lovely light reflective surface is then concealed by plasterboard, but I know it's only practical to do it, I'd be forever catching and snagging the fragile foil if it was left there!

The small Velux window in the shower room has been installed, and today the fire escape Velux is being fitted. This really irritates me, having to have a fire escape window fitted. Not only that, but because the window is above the purlin in the loft, I need to have a step fitted so that I can reach easily to step out of the window in the event of a fire. To cap it off, I need a sign fixing to the cupboard in which the step will live, to tell me it's there for use in the event of a fire! This is my bedroom, on what is now the first floor, not a hotel room somewhere with countless members of public passing through - or, at least, I hope not!

This is the space where the new Velux will be sited, hence no insulation there. You can see plasterboard visible at the sides, covering up the lovely silver.

The penultimate photo shows the fresh braces across the roof to stabilise it. Seems a shame to cover up such lovely white, clean looking wood, but then I think of the dusting if I kept them all, and there's really no contest. They get covered up :-)

The new side walls cover the supports for the roof trusses. These were built of brick, very clumsily, when the bungalow was constructed. They are called "dead men", for some unfathomable reason, which made me think that a story lurked there. (see next post). These brick installations have been removed and replaced with huge chunks of wood, so that the dimensions of the room are slightly greater than they would have been if they had had to block off the originals.

It's all good fun - not clean, but fun :)

boasting, my words were chosen, creative writing sites

It never fails to give me a thrill when my words are chosen on one of the site, much better than a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers. This was on One Minute Writer. Thank you C. Beth :)

Here is my small offering on "Connection"

One-Minute Writing of the Day:Writer: christine

Her nose was a tinge purplish.

Her hair dark and spiky.

Skin slightly ochre tinged, but oh, so soft.

Lips puckered gently, but soundless.

Her eyes opened wide and found me.

I was lost in their depths from that moment.

"Well, Mum, here I am, let's get on with our lives."

Congratulations on another win, Christine! This was a beautiful description of such a miraculous moment.
Posted by C. Beth at
5:00 AM

I was saddened to see that Pictures, Poetry and Prose has been (temporarily, I hope), suspended due to unfortunate home circumstances of the site producer, Laura Beth. I wish her all the very best in her search for a suitable position, and hope that her wonderful site will soon be up and running again. It has inspired me so much, along with C. Beth's One Minute Writer site.

As an embrionic writers I count myself lucky to have discovered these sites, both of which I appreciate as a method of sharing my writing with others, and enjoying theirs in return.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

loft conversion update

My calves keep going into cramp with the unaccustomed exercise of running up and down my lovely new stairs!!! Am I complaining? -Oh, no :) (Well, maybe a little, when it wakes me in the middle of the night, if I have to be completely honest!)

This, believe it or not, is the embrionic shower room :) Sadly, the shower tray I bought ages ago, in readiness for this very moment, is too large in proportion to the room and the other sanitary ware, so, more shopping is required. It's hard work, project managing :) fortunately, I bought the shower tray, a lovley, heavy stoneware one, with a shaped end, in a sale, so I'm hoping to sell it on Ebay, or at the local supermarket, and not take too great a loss on it!

Here you can see that floor-boarding has actually been partially laid - a real, solid surface, so that it is no longer necessary to ensure that our weight is over the joists, just to be on the safe side! A fine assortment of tools is also visible - a good indication that the workmen will return, and not disappear to another job:)

Sadly, the sky framed by the lovely largish Velux , is overcast, but I'm assured that sunshine will be equally visible, someday. The inner frame of the Velux has to be returned, as it's spoiled by what appears to be where a screw is forcing up the wood from below, which is uncceptable in an item that costs over £250.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

bungalow loft converstion, clutter

When I bought my bungalow about four years ago, one of the first things I did was to hire an architect to draw up plans for a loft conversion to provide a master bedroom and en-suite in the spacious loft.

The plans were approved, and I paid for builder's instructions to be drawn up, too. Since then, the clutter has become a mountain, as you can see. This has been moved down into what was my bedroom, but will, henceforth, be know as the dining room. Minor clutter has been moved over the garage, where there is head height to stand, but it's not worth including the space in the conversion.

It's a good sized loft, and I've been looking forward to having the work done. Foolish girl!! The builder assured me that he would phone two weeks before he planned to arrived to commence the work, so that I would have time to clear my precious, and not so precious, belongings out of the way.

Sadly, this didn't happen, as you knew it wouldn't, didn't you? You were ahead of me! So, at lunchtime on Thursday I took the call that said 'We'll be there at eight in the morning to start the work, alright?'

'Well, not really, no, the loft is full of "stuff", you were supposed to give me a couple of weeks notice before you started.'

'That's not a problem, we'll help you shif the stuff.'

'Well, alright, then, if you don't mind helping to shift the clutter, yes, you can start. See you tomorrow.'

Oh boy!! What you've seen is just some of the clutter. I let my partner know they were arriving next day, and he very kindly drove over to help me to move and stack things up into the love pile you've seen. We were both exhausted.

However, by four o'clock Friday afternoon, I had a staircase into my loft space!!!! :-) Isn't it lovely? OK., there is a gaping two foot hole at the top where the landing will be, so it's a mite dangerous, but it's there! As I want the tread to be simply varnished, not carpeted, the builder has even gone to the trouble of laying a piece of hardboard over every one of them, and covering the whole lot with dust sheets. Impressive.

The dust sheets are not as pristine looking now as they were when I took the photos, though, believe me! Muddy boots leave a trail, and sawdust and loft insulation. Lovely.

I'll let you know how we progress :-)