So Christmas is now a distant memory and it wasn’t quite what I pictured this time last year. When we bought This Old House, I had envisaged that by December 2018, work would be complete. I saw myself carving the turkey in our dining room with the scent of a real tree in my nostrils as the soft winter light poured through our beautifully restored stained glass windows.
Well…. maybe next year.
This year I tried not to think about the black mould that is starting to grow on the coving in the living room and endeavoured to forget about the fact that we still have no roof on the back of the house.
We did have a wonderful relaxed family Christmas though. As we didn’t really have the space this year to host, we had dinner at my parents’ house with the whole clan on Christmas Day and with my hubby’s family on Boxing Day.
We pared things back this year with gifts but the kids still got far too much. That said, we tried to ensure that in all the busyness and present opening, we counted our blessings and remembered those less fortunate.
As part of their Christmas gifts, we always make a donation to charity and this year that charity was Action for Children. You can find out move about their campaign and the work that they do here. I want my kids to realise, that there are many families who will not have had a Christmas tree or a big Christmas dinner and won’t have had piles of gifts to unwrap.
Whilst my kids are far from perfect, I’m pleased to see that they are getting into the habit of counting their blessings. The best gift we got this year was a box with two little notes of thanks from my children composed by my eldest daughter to my hubby and me.
We also make sure that as a family, we remember the reason for the season. We were at church for a beautiful service on the Sunday before Christmas and again on Christmas morning. We may not be in our forever home yet but at this time of year my thoughts turn to two teenagers from Nazareth making an arduous journey over 2,000 years ago to find that there was nowhere for them to stay. There are so many families across the world to this day making similarly arduous journeys to find there is no welcome for them at their destination. Whatever happens with this build; however long it takes; whatever it costs, him, me and our three; we are very blessed compared to many others.
In spite of being behind our original schedule, it’s exciting to see the shape of the finished building developing. The view from my daughter’s bedroom window of parliament buildings is glorious. I plan to put her desk below that window so my little dreamer can loose herself in revery over her artwork.
Overall, we are making some good progress. All credit to our builders. In spite of the fact that they nearly got blown away in high winds before Christmas (along with several roof joists), they have been pressing on with the rear extension. We are now up to ceiling height on the first floor and are almost ready for the roof to go on at the back- just in time for the roof to come off the main house at the worst time of the year!
I’m googling tarpaulin suppliers to see how much it might be to wrap the whole house as I am guessing it will be less than the cost of replacing all our floors, ceilings and plasterwork if the rain or snow decends.
We are hoping to save what we can by lifting the tiled floor we uncovered in the old kitchen area and re-lay it in the side hallway. We also plan to lift the wooden floors in a couple of the bedrooms and salvage them for use in the hallway and kitchen.
Reclaimed wooden floors to match ours start at about £60 per square metre so it would be worth the extra effort required to reuse what we have. It will also be satisfying to know that the floors are original to the house and in terms of the environmental impact of the build, I’m keen reuse as much as I can. I suspect much of my time in January will be spent pulling nails out of planks of wood but I’m more than happy to do that to preserve the integrity of the building (and save the cost of new flooring).
My husband is a retailer and the festive period is particularly busy for him. We are currently enjoying a couple of nights away as a family in Newcastle (County Down) to try and recharge our batteries a little before school starts on Monday.
Christmas Yet to Come
I have high hopes that 2019 will be a year filled with excitement (and continued challenges). God-willing it will be the year that we complete our building work and move into This Old House. If you are embarking on a move, a renovation or a remodel in 2019, I hope it goes well for you. Here’s to a year filled with challenges conquered and dreams fulfilled for all of us. Happy New Year!