Earlier this year I realised that I was getting into the habit of staying at home too much. I would think of going out somehwere and then it was ‘But I really ought to…’ ‘That’s a lot of petrol…’ Where would I go?’ and so on. The more I thought about it the problem was that I was going alone. Now sometimes that is fine and I prefer being alone but sometimes it is more fun if someone else goes with me plus having made the arrangement I will stick to it. When all this came up in conversation with my friend Lindy, who also lives alone, we decided we would get into the habit of going out on what she christened ‘Explores’ together and we made a list of places we would like to visit – some she knew and I didn’t, some I had been to and she hadn’t and some we had heard of but neither of us had visited. One of our early ones was to Lampeter to see Mrs Snail’s new shop which I knew she would like as much as I do.
A few days ago we went again to deliver the final chair from the set I have made new seat covers for. And whilst we were there another friend of Jan’s came in and mentioned that she had had a visitor staying and had taken them to Talley Abbey to have a picnic. Neither of us had heard of it and Katy explained it was a ruined Abbey with 2 large lakes – a very good spot for a walk and a picnic. So this week we headed off to find it. It didn’t disappoint.
Apparantly the original plans were very ambitious but before very much building had taken place a squabble with Whitland Abbey over who owned what land led to legal battles which bankrupted the Talley monks. After a good explore of the ruins we walked around the outside of the newer parish church next door but as I had Roo with me we didn’t go in.
Then it was through a gate into a field with a flock of sheep who were not amused at having to leave the bits of shade they had found against the wall by the gate and go into the hot sun! And, yes, even though Roo is very good amongst sheep she was on a short lead just in case. We were able to walk round the edge of the first lake but the bridge over the stream which joins them to the second was closed because it was unsafe. So we found a shady spot and had our picnic.
On the way home we stopped in Llandeilo and bought ice creams from an amazing confectioners. How I got out of there withut buying loads of chocolate I do not know! It is called Heavenly and is not mis-named!
We had planned to explore the town but decided it was too hot – another explores day for that one. Any excuse for another ice cream!
Way back in February I told you all that I had bitten the bullet and ordered a new wood burning stove for my sitting room. (If you missed it you can find the post here https://goingbattyinwales.wordpress.com/2022/02/20/building-resilience/) One big enough to heat the whole of the downstairs and allow me to use my Air Source Heat Pump less thus saving on my electricity bills which are becoming ridiculous.
A conversation with my friend Lindy, who heats her bungalow entirely with a wood stove from the same company I chose, made me realise that the new fire would work much better if the downstairs was more open plan. I should explain that my house has a really weird layout. It is very long and thin with the rooms opening off each other. You come in through a new porch to the kitchen, then my workroom, the sitting room and finally a spare bedroom. It is all because it was originally 2 small cottages which went derelict after WWII, were bought in the 70’s, and renovated with an extension either end to give a garage at the kitchen end and a bathroom at the other. When we moved in my workroom and the sitting room, the downstairs of the larger cottage, were open plan. As both the owner and the builder doing the renovations smoked a lot of cannabis the ‘renovations’ were a bit odd, shall we say! We replaced the kitchen, knocked the 3 very cramped bedrooms upstairs into one generous bedroom with en suite, turned the huge downstairs bathroom into a single bedroom also ensuite and put up a stud wall to divide the open plan livting room into two as we needed more wall space and wanted a cosy sitting room. The picture on the left has the new stud wall to the left and the stairs wall to the right in my workroom. The right hand picture is the sitting room with the small wood burner lit.
I didn’t want to go back to the original single living space – I have tried having my desk and / or my sewing machine in the sitting room and I find it hard to relax with ‘jobs’ in my eyeline. So after much head scratching and with Lindy’s thoughts to help me, I decided to take down the top half of the wall. It was clearly going to be a job that needed 2 pairs of hands – one to cut and one to hold – so she very kindly offered to help. There were some very useful electrical sockets on the workroom side above the cupboards so we decided to make the cut a little higher and just hope that the cables could be re-routed. But as I had an electrician coming at some point for another job all was not lost if they has to stay as they were for a while. It took 2 days and made a lot of mess but Ta Da
Apologies for the poor lighting but it was late when we finished and most of the small lamps had been moved to safety! There is still some filling and touching up of paint to do but I knew that the fire installation would make more so chose to do it all at the same time.
Then last week the fire arrived. Alek and Jason from Beacon Stoves were brilliant! I had cleared the room of small stuff and moved the furniture out of the way but they put down dustsheets over everything and cardboard to protect the floor then got the old fire and the flue liner out. They were quite impressed by how little soot or tar there was up the chimney – that told them that I only burn well seasoned wood. Then we had a discussion about how I wanted the new stove installed. I could have the flue coming out of the top which would push the stove to the back of the space meaning I would only need the hearth extended slightly. Or I could have it coming out of the back which would mean the stove sat close to the front of the existing hearth and a bigger extra piece would be needed. I would also need a bigger insert into the wooden mantleshelf to prevent it getting singed. But forward would mean the heat was less likely to get trapped in the enclosed space and would be easier to put pans on (a bigger surface area and easier to reach) so I decided on that option. They cannected it all up and put the first lot of cement round the flue pipe where they had had to cut away to get the old one out.
The next day they returned and Alek had found a piece of slate cut in a curve which he thought I might like for the hearth although he had some other pieces he could cut to another shape if I preferred. He put it down in front of the fire and we all stood back to look – it was perfect! Then I had to consider the piece to go in the shelf. Could he cut one to match the curve on the Hearth? He was a bit surprised – he hadn’t been asked for a shaped piece for that job before – but, yes. So he set up his bench and cutter in the carport and used the hearth piece as a template. The mantleshelf is not solid – it is boards cladding a shelf constructed of cement and old roofing slates. So the fascia board was cut away and the piece of slate inserted. A final tidy up of the making good around the flue and the job was done. But the fire could not be lit until everything had dried. So the following afternoon Alek came back to carry out a check that the flue worked properly with a smoke bomb and lit the fire demonstrating how to operate the air intake and so on. We both knew that I was perfectly capable of lighting fires and knew about using well seasoned wood but we both had to sign that he had done his job so we went through the procedure!
It was a mild day so I didn’t stoke the fire again after he left but the stove was still giving off heat almost 4 hours later. Toasty!
A friend sent me a photo of a property advertised in an Estate Agent’s window which she thought might appeal to my son. His home is a terraced house in Luton with noisy neighbours, on a busy street and with very few green spaces or views. His job is stressful and he loves spending time at my place where it is quiet and he is surrounded by trees, the sound of the stream and birdsong. For some time he has been looking for somewhere small near me; somewhere with no neighbours or road noise. It has proved elusive! The place Rachel had spotted was down a long track in the middle of nowhere – a renovation project which had halted when the owner died and certainly looked promising.
The agent’s details gave confusing information about where exactly it was but I thought I had located it on the map. I passed the information to my friend Lindy who, in her teens, used to be the retrieve driver for a group of hang-gliding mates and LOVES locating hard-to-find places. She came up with the same location but also found images on google maps and that it had failed to sell at a previous auction. So of course we had to go and have a look and a day out exploring the neighbourhood.
And we found it. Over the Easter weekend my son came and had an official viewing. It will be sold at auction in a few weeks time so now he just has to work out how much he can afford to bid.
Meanwhile having seen the place, Lindy and I drove on to find a Church we had seen marked on the map (or rather the churchyard as the church was locked).
It too was in the middle of nowhere and seemed to serve a huge parish judging by the gravestones. We had a picnic then a walk down a footpath to a bridge over the river.
And finally home by a rather circuitous route and another walk along the river at Cenarth on a newly constructed walkway which gives pushchair and wheelchair access.
Just before Christmas my dishwashed stopped working. A small blinking light informed me that one of its tubes was blocked. It did not tell me which one or with what! I decided that the first thing was to take out the filter at the bottom of the machine and give it a good scrub. Be very grateful that I did not take a photo of the filter – not a pretty sight! I put it back nice and shiny and clean but the light blinked on.
It seemed pretty unlikely that the inlet was blocked. Mains water should be more than clean enough and there has been no discolouration in what comes out of the taps. Nor had I moved the machine which might have kinked a hose. So it was somewhere else in the drain.
I went outside, pulled the flexible hose from the machine out of the waste pipe and checked both as far as I could see or feel. I wondered if a slug or frog had crawled up the pipes so was very relieved to find nothing.
Back indoors I took the filter out again and peered into the depths. I could see where the waste water must go and there was a spring clip holding the first part of the pipework together so I carefully prised it off. There was clearly a small section joined at both ends to more pipework with seals but I could not shift it and was scared of breaking something. I put the clip and the filter back. Time to call an engineer. It was a few days befoore Christmas and I was self-isolating in case my cold was Covid (and did I want to share my cold with anyone else anyway?) I decided to wash up by hand untilafter the holidays.
So as soon as everyone started work again I emailed the engineer who has repaired my washing machine several times. He was happy to come but what make was the machine? Miele. Only Miele engineers can repair those. I rang Miele. A delightful lady with a very strong ? Italian? accent and I had a tortuous conversation the upshot of which was that the call-out charge was £140 and that did not include parts. I declined her offer to send someone out and started pricing up a replacement.
The next day my very practical friend Lindy was coming over to help me with another job (there will be another post on that when it is finished) and asked ‘Do you have the instruction book for it?’ A rummage through the box file was like an archaeological dig through strata of devices I no longer own, some of them I cannot remember ever owning. But in there was treasure – the dishwasher manual. And sure enough, in the Troubleshooting’ section was ‘How to get into the drain’. Having unclipped the spring thingy I could lift up the small section to reveal a one-way valve. It implied that one finger could easily remove the section. As I had stood up to get better light to read the booklet Lindy was the one lifting it – and wriggling it – and jiggling it – and eventually easing it out. And there was the problem revealed. A small, short, shiny metal tube. Part of the dishwasher shaken loose from somewhere else?
No. When I looked at it carefully and scoured my memory I realised that it was the nut off the end of the plunger of a cafetiere which had been lost months ago! I had loosened it so that the dishwasher would flush out all the small grains of coffee from between the mesh layers. I had looked for it in the filter and where the waste pipe discharges to no avail. It must have lurked in the pipework and then eventually shifted into the valve.
So now I have a working dishwasher and a spare cafetiere. Result! And all it cost me was a slice of cake to go with Lindy’s coffee.