Huge house / holiday / car update

Oh lord alive, I’ve not updated for a while, and there is much to say… There follows:

So, let’s start at the beginning (since that’s generally a good place to start). At the beginning of the week (the one before the one before this one), as we commenced our ‘week of tormenting the house’ we discovered the availability of one, free, DAF44. Now, to those who are unfamiliar with the DAF, it’s a car with a constantly variable transmission driven by big belts. It’s really awfully clever, and now, apparently, Mercedes do something similar.

At any rate, I’d fancied one for a while and it seemed like the perfect (simple) vehicle to get Kathryn so as she had an automatic to drive to work. It does, however, need some floor.

It’s also not a runner. Ignoring this, at the beginning of the week we headed down to see it, and decided that for the cost of transporting it, it was worth it. So, at the end of the week Joggernaught (not Juggernaught) arrived outside our house, somewhat reluctantly, and covered in a 3 year accumulation of tree-gunk. Some scrubbing by Kathryn (and a little light helpfulness from me) and she was kind of off white. Not exactly going to win Concourse, but presentable. Which probably relieved the neighbours. J-g needs a service, some fresh petrol, and I spent a lot of time persuading the passenger side door to shut. It’s in need of a little adjustment still, but it does shut, which is altogether goodness.

Annoyingly, the idea was to get the car and decide later if it was salvagable, but it’s kinda cute and it’s burrowed into mine (and I think Kathryn’s) heart somewhat. But there’s a financial limit on what we can do, so we’ll have to see what we can sort. Kathryn’s devoid of driver’s licence at the moment anyhow, and we’ve not even got the Autodata manual to get it serviced, so it’s just sitting for the time being. Shots of the DAF are here

The week, however, was mostly spent gutting and redecorating the office and the bedroom. This did not entirely go to plan. Essentially, the idea was that we’d empty the bedroom and the office, sand and paint the office walls (which were already stripped), strip, fill, sand, paint the bedroom walls, paint both floors, varnish ’em and move back in. Oh, and construct a desk and a wardrobe at the same time.

Unfortunately, although it mostly went pretty well, we had two disasterous walls in the bedroom (which now await my attention to replaster), and some lazy sod had applied wallpaper over old wallpaper. This doesn’t come off unless you attempt to apply filler over it, at which point it leaps from the wall with reckless abandon. And the wall that used to have a fireplace in is also a complete state – one which requires us to attack it either with cloth or wallpaper, as it’s also a strip-and-replaster job otherwise.

But we achieved an astonishing amount (with some assistance from my Mum and Parmito, who popped down for the day and opted to spend the day sugar-soaping the walls in the office); the bedroom is so-much-nicer…


Bedroom, before decorating


After decoration, or at least part way through

A bit of a change, I hope you’ll agree.

To be fair, we’ve not spent the last year sleeping on the camp bed, but it does let you see how hideous the carpet was.

So yes, the office now looks like an office, too. This is awesome…[House reno photo sets]

Anyhow, because of the disasters we were a day late heading from there to Brizzy to see Nikki and Kate. But we piled in the car and headed down to see them having spent some time making the house liveable. Having got down there we headed down to Weston giving Pepper and Eddie a chance to run around like maniacs, and Kathryn, Nikki and I a chance to take photos of them running around like maniacs (and a few of each other). Despite the sun-shine the wind was cold, April this year feeling a lot like, say, November.

Anyhow, ‘cos I’m lazy, the photoset from Weston is here.

We then spent a few hours the next day (monday) mooching around Bristol. I love Bristol, it’s a great city, and were I staying in the UK it’s one of the places I’d be happy to live (and could actually afford to live). Oxford is beautiful, but way too expensive to stay; Brighton (the last place we visited) is another I’d happily live in… Anyhow, I wanted to show Kathryn what I mostly feel is ‘my city’, so we took a bit of a wander. Mostly around the St. Nicholas market area; we were going to head up into Clifton but unfortunately, no one warned us that Fopp has reopened. Sucked in as we were by the sound of cheap music and cheap books calling us, we ended up spending far too much time and money in there… and thus Clifton and the Camera Obscura and such shall have to wait for another day.

So the photoset from Bristol is here… (see, really blindingly lazy, but you’re getting an update, what more do you want?!).

Anyhow, we then headed up to the Lakes, this was for somewhat of a working holiday in that we had 7 hotels to visit to check out as wedding venues. In the end, what we thought might be a hard decision turned out to be astonishingly easy; in that one hotel really stood out as being just the most gorgeous views, the nicest staff, and just really the hands-down winner. After some trecking we did come up with a second, but it’s not really in the area of the lakes I love. It’s a beautiful place, and quite definately a fantastic venue. Had we not have seen the one we’ve fallen for then it’d’ve been first. But yes. So I rang the Registrar today; there’s not many times available, so when I get home from work today we’ll have to sort it, hopefully.

Because my birthday fell while we were in the Lakes, we did take a day off from venue hunting, and wandered up to Easedale tarn. Kathryn got me a shiny shiny book (and it turns out a Suzanne Vega single, and something that’s not arrived yet…). It was wonderful to be up in the fresh air, on a mountain, in the quiet again. Just looking out over the vista was beautiful. Being as we’d not done lots of walking to build up to it, we just went up to the Tarn and back down – but that alone was a fair walk – and the weather though cold was clear and sunny most of the day. It rained for literally a couple of minutes (really lightly) just after we got back, and while we were preparing to head out for Dinner. Kathryn also took me to dinner at an italian restaurant in Grassmere which was just lovely. The food wasn’t anything to write home about (it was fine, not unpleasant or anything, but definately itallian as cooked by the english), but the company was excellent :)

The next day was back on the road, touring more venues. Poor old Brick’s exhaust’s temporary repair started to give up; I suspect the road up to the hostel was to blame, but he soldiered on; slightly more throaty and distinctly more rattly than is ideal… and we headed, after touring venues, down to Manchester.

The lakes photos are here.

Kathryn’s friend Helen lives in Manchester, and she showed us the city a little (We toured Ontario basin in Salford before heading in to the city); we spent lots of time chatting to her and her housemates, and had a very good chinese takeaway. I had a thoroughly nice time – and it was really really nice to sleep in a proper bed. It was also fantastic to meet one of Kathryn’s friends. I’m not very good at being not-shy, but I tried… No photos from Manchester because, well, most of the things I wanted to photograph were inconveinently located in the kinds of areas where taking a camera out is an invitation for someone to take the camera…

So, huge thanks to Helen for showing us some of Manchester and putting us up for the night :)

Then onward again, this time to Brighton. 

Brighton is one of my other favourite cities; although I’ve not spent much time there, that which I have has been good, and it has a thriving music and culture scene. Unfortunately, it’s also home to West Pier, something which I have watched disintegrate since my youth. I love West Pier, I think it’s the most damning inditement of our Listing laws that there is a Grade I listed building lying in the sea. One which could, and rightly should, have been saved.

Anyway, ignoring the ranting, the plan was to chill out in the afternoon, get some food, head to the hostel to book in and go clubbing. All of which we did. We headed to the museum too, and encountered work of a very cool musician called Al Start; we also risked life and limb entering a variety of bookshops and other-small-thing shops, but the clubbing bit? Friday night at the Candy Bar was quite empty. Even come 11pm there was not much life there. We did have a game of pool, which was excellent, and then headed back to our Hostel. Finally we spent Saturday Morning touring the shops and going down to see Brighton and West Pier. We’ve already had the rant, so you could just have the photos

So, finally we get to the Car. Poor old Brick has racked up 1000 miles this week; he’s burnt virtually no oil, but he’s dumped around 3 – 5 litres of coolant. Flushing the radiator was inadequate, it seems. And while short journeys are conducted fairly reasonably, long ones are only okay as long as you are very, very gentle with the throttle. And no suddenly stopping for fuel or you’ll get that coolant explosion.

However, we seemed to get away with just topping up the coolant regularly; but what we didn’t get away with was 1000 miles on top of the 12 or so thousand miles on the temporary exhaust repair. It snapped sometime up in the lakes, and unforunately the hostel near Brighton was actually up an unmade track, and that spelt the end of the front section which, it seems, also had a temporary repair at some point.

Unfortunately, about 40 miles from home the exhaust gave up completely, shearing into 3 separate pieces; and the RAC bloke couldn’t bodge them back together. Thankfully, the very nice RAC bloke towed Brick home (despite me only having roadside assistance) – his argument being that it was freezing cold, and it’d take him as long as it would to wait with us. He was an absolute star, and will mean that the RAC get my recommendation and continued custom. They rock.

Unfortunately+, I can’t seem to get hold of a new exhaust for Brick. Well, I can get a stainless steel one, but I deem that somewhat excessive. Especially when Rebecca’s looking at being finished fairly soon…  I’ve got to head to work now, so we’ll save the rant about cars and money for later, shall we?

Author: KateE

Kate is lord and mistress of all she surveys at