About Me

This Old House

NOT QUITE SAFE AND SOUND

We Are In- Just About!

Well, we’re in! I’d love to say that we’re in safe and sound but, strictly speaking, that wouldn’t quite be true. After a two year search for the ideal property, a year of being ‘sale agreed’ before we finally moved and a long, cold winter where at one stage we stood and watched the snow falling through the roof onto the floor of what will be our bedroom, we are finally settled. It has been quite a journey thus far though.

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Fire lit for the first time in our new home

Day One Was NOT Fun

If you read my top tips for moving post (catch up here), you’ll know that one of the things I advised was knowing when to stop on moving day. It’s best to accept that not every box will be opened immediately. After a full day of moving, I should have taken my own advice and sat down with a glass of wine in the middle of the chaos. Sadly, I did not take my own advice.

Having finally stowed all our carefully labelled boxes and handed over the keys to the Old Manse (you can read about our renovation of our previous home here), my hubby and our three went off to explore the neighbourhood leaving me to get my bearings in our new home.

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The empty drawing room in The Old Manse

Instead of pouring myself that well-earned glass of wine and taking a perch on an upturned box as I should have done, I set about trying to move the huge box that the removals company had dumped unceremoniously in the middle of the kitchen.

Somehow in the midst of this operation, I managed to slip, performing the splits (a feat I have not achieved in around 30 years). There will be those yoga bunnies among you who regularly manage such manoeuvres but, as simply walking uphill is a struggle for me at the minute, I can assure you that I am in no condition to be flinging myself about in this manner. Worse than that, not only had I fallen but I had managed to get myself stuck in this unnatural position, wedged between kitchen box number 2A and a cupboard. I was unable to move and in the worst pain I had felt since childbirth!

Thank the Lord for mobile phones. I had my mine in my pocket and a very panicked call to my hubby saw him abandoning the kids with my friend Aly as he raced up the street to haul me up and help me to the sofa.

I knew I had done something pretty serious. The pain was excruciating. We debated back and forth about whether to call an ambulance (Andrew’s idea) or not (we were only in five minutes so there was no way I was going to suffer the embarrassment of being carted out of the house by paramedics). In the end, we called my poor, exhausted mother who had only just arrived home after spending the entire day helping us move and clean. She is a nurse and even at this stage in our lives, she is still our go-to person in any kind of emergency.

I was in such a state though that my hubby was insistent that immediate help was required so my neighbour, a retired GP, was summoned and our first real introduction involved him examining my already highly discoloured thigh. There’s nothing like making an entrance! Heaven knows what he made of us but he was very courteous as he diagnosed a torn hamstring and told me that I would be off my feet for quite a while. Not what I wanted to hear considering the house was in complete uproar. I’m not sure what the British Medical Council would make of his advice but he prescribed paracetamol to be washed down with that long-awaited glass of wine.

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My very sore thigh

And The Fun Continues

A day or two later I was purple from heel to hip and hobbling about on crutches.

My first priority on moving in was to make sure the kids were settled and to make their rooms cosy but it was a struggle with limited movement. As my hubby worked hard to pay for this expensive folly of ours, my wonderful mum continued to come round to help unpack and to assist me where she could. She hadn’t even got around to taking her coat off on one occasion when I asked her to help me hang curtains in my son’s room.

There was a blanket box in front of the window and as neither of us were fit to climb over the boxes in the garage to retrieve the step ladders, she decided that the box was the ideal height to allow her to reach the curtain rail and hopped up on top of it. Considering that I get my accident-prone tendencies from her, you can probably guess what happened next.

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The window mum fell through

As she went to step down, she slipped and put her elbow through the ancient glass window. Thank goodness she hadn’t bothered to take her coat off. If she had, her arm would have been cut to shreds and she could have been very seriously injured. Apart from a small scratch and feeling shocked, she was thankfully unscathed, which is more than could be said for the window. We managed to patch it that night with cardboard and had it repaired the following morning but at this stage I was starting to doubt the wisdom of our move.

Taking Ownership

The house didn’t seem to want us. The wonderful atmosphere of our old home just wasn’t present here. It was more than just the dated decor and that the fact that it didn’t yet feel like ours, there were other things too. My key, which had worked for the first two weeks, suddenly wouldn’t work and the lock inexplicably popped off the front door.

I had prayed in every room as soon as we got the keys but it felt like we needed to bless the house and really take ownership. My small group from church came over and we prayed again upstairs in the derelict flats and throughout the property, clearing it of anything negative that might linger and blessing it for the future. The builders arrived shortly after I returned from hospital (yes I underwent major surgery in the midst of all this) and stripped the upstairs flats back to brick.

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Our builders begin the work of renovation by stripping the upstairs flats

I managed to hobble up the fire escape to ensure they saved the original doors and protected the coving from the rigours of the kango hammer. I even sent my middle child ‘skip diving’ to retrieve the old Belfast bricks that had been discarded there. The once dark and depressing flats were opened up and we began to get a sense of what the space could be. From then on, the atmosphere has changed and thankfully we have had no more major incidents since.

Bringing Life

Whilst I will have to wait a little longer to give full reign to my creativity on the interior of the house, my hubby’s domain is the garden and he has set to work bringing colour and life to the exterior. As spring gets into its stride, the once barren gardens which had next to no plants in them now have fruit trees and shrubs thanks to my clever husband with more than a little help from Fox’s Nursery in Portadown. Our window boxes are bursting into a riot of colour and after what seems like the longest winter in history, it is wonderful to be able to fling open the doors and let the kids play outside.

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My hubby is a ‘more Is more’ person when it comes to flowers and planting.

It might not quite be in keeping with the character of the property but we have purchased the biggest trampoline we could find and it is acting as a honey pot for the children of the neighbourhood. It does my heart good to see my kids making friends and hear them shrieking and laughing in the garden.

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Having fun on our enormous trampoline

We’ve spent the last few months since moving in getting to know the house. Now, with plans in place and planning permission granted we are almost ready to embark on the major work of renovation and rebuilding. Before then, we’ll need to undertake another move into temporary accommodation to give the builders space to work. I can’t quite believe that we are having to move again so soon but one thing I know- this time the first thing I open will be the wine!

Are you starting a building project or renovation? Are you in the midst of a project or just about to start? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments section below.

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