Category Archives: Building

More door decisions

I asked the decisive person in the family (see this post) today what colour she wanted the new front door to be, and she wants the old one back. Or, failing that, black.

So she doesn’t count.

I also asked mum and dad, who are concerned that we could use it to show allegiance to a political party, football team or university college. Another dead end. What do people read into this? I live in Ipswich, where half the doors are Oxford Blue on inspection. But it is a Labour seat. I suspect ITFC has a lot to answer for. Mum thought Norwich colours might be a bit radical. I suppose so, but am grateful that it wasn’t an early Victorian trend to go for Canary Yellow and Easter Green on one’s portal to the world.

I am wondering about choosing something remotely National Trust, say from Farrow & Ball, but don’t want to send the message ‘please burgle me’. I had liked the trendy grey that has been springing up everywhere (apparently derived from primer, according to the Telegraph). But we already have reclaimed brass fittings, so that is not such a clever idea. We also have to consider what colours we might like in the glazing. Hmm.

This decision has to happen tonight, unfortunately. The painter popped over today with samples and can put on the undercoat in the morning.

So I really ought to stop doing this and get on with it. Ideas gratefully received, as ever, or we end up with ‘pregnant hormonal pink’ or Cath Kidston. Interesting thought…


Spurius Claims

Now normally I trust the BBC. At least I do on matters of ‘Fact of the Day’ as found on their homepage. Today’s QI fact states:

“The letter G was invented by a Roman called Spurius Carvilius Ruga.”

Now, stop me if I’m wrong, but poor Spurius here already had a letter G in his name (albeit lower case). Does nobody check these things?

I am somewhere close to having a second child and busily nesting and preparing, which leaves little time for blogging. This is not intentional, but I do intend to get back on track before long. For example, our house has to be checked soon to see if it will be ready for me to give birth in. Hmm. At the moment, there are rooms like this:

and the front door is something like this:

which makes me wonder if Bean is likely to be born in a barn at this rate. Not your typical Easter solution – more Christmassy I think.

I also just booked the car in to have the back door handle fixed on the side we’ll need to open to get the baby in and out, should we wish to travel with it. It cannot be opened from the outside. I think I have enough nappies, I know we have some newborn clothes somewhere and for some reason it is also important that I imminently: take Lily to the dentist and also have her eyes seen, take a bunch of excited year 7 girls out to ‘All Fired Up’ to paint mugs, help IKEA stay in the black (both online and in person) and visit various people/fit in various activities before it is too late to ever (seemingly) do them again. Two children sounds like a lot more than one. Especially when the ‘one’ has hit the terrible twos with major anxiety at ever being away from me.

Now to chase up all the excess admin that is lying around as part of our new filing system. Or maybe lunch. There isn’t time for both. And there certainly isn’t time to be thinking about where we would be without the letter G.

Oodness me, what’s ot into these uys? Don’t they know there were Eyptian, Hebrew and Reek letters for it? Why does Latin et all the ood facts?

Conversation Area

We all need to talk to our neighbours more, according to the BBC, who no doubt sponsored the Silver Jubilee street parties and appear not to have neighbours themselves (unless you count White City tube station).

I would have put links in that last paragraph, but I am pleading pregnancy again and wanting to be pragmatic.

Pragnancy, if you will.

Back to the point.

I live in a Conservation Area (note spelling) at the front of my house (Multimap Birds Eye view, North facing). The back doesn’t count, which is just as well as it needs a lot of doing doing. Near me and slightly upstream is a house which had a bomb diffused in it two years ago. It had recently been left by an aging brother and sister who were no longer aging to the Gentlewomen of Ipswich, c/o the Salvation Army. It is an old house. A large, old house. It would suit a film set well. Not the kind of film I enjoy. The front garden is overgrown and the whole thing is in a state of disrepair, although we did get ideas for our new front door from it by careful peeking through the undergrowth.

The Gentlewomen of Ipswich (c/o the Salvation Army), politely pointed out that great houses full of maintenance needs and undiffused WW2 bombs were not really what they were after and, being a fussy and persuasive lot, sold it to a property developer in March. The place, not the time.

I have not met this property developer, but I imagine I would not like to. I have not been her friend. She applied to build a new dwelling at the rear of the large house (it does have a large garden, reaching back to the road behind us, which is more than I can say for our garden). I did some pre-pregnancy thinking (the sort that works better for me), and realised that there would be consequences on the Conservation Area if parking were not adequately provided and retained at the back for both houses in the process. I also decided to complain about the number of trees she intended to remove in the garden, which conveniently hide our bathroom and daughter’s bedroom from the gaze of a low block of flats most seasons of the year.

Anyway, the dwelling was allowed to go ahead, with a vast number of restrictions. Including, satisfyingly, my parking objection. But not a lot was said about trees. I fear I may have to get a larger pot plant in the bathroom window. 

In October the developer from March put in an application to have the parking restriction removed, citing a few rather sketchy reasons. I was informed by a neighbour who was unable to make much of a fuss herself and who moved the planning notice to somewhere I was more likely to see it. Knowing my neighbours well enough: several are older, some are very busy with long hours or children, a few are new to the street, I realised that I was the person to get in touch with the council again. Very Wife of Noble Character and not a Threescore type of thing to do at all. I am not a letter-writer by habit and don’t usually complain about anything if I can help it.

It’s good to know your neighbours. It’s nice when they ask you to stand up for them. So I acted on their behalf. 

We heard that we won this week, so the developer cannot have it her way. The consequences would almost certainly have been detrimental to the street view in the long run, so I am pleased about that.

I am dreading the conversation with the neighbour who mentioned this to me though in the first place. She also wants ’20’s plenty’ signs put up along our stretch as we are near a primary school and a dangerous corner. Perhaps I should conserve my energy.

Proud sisters

I was going to blog about the time I lent Jimmy Carter my hammer. Or, as dad points out, his hammer.

“Gee Lucy,”  I believe he said, “can I borrow your hammer?”

I was doing a Habitat for Humanity ‘blitz build’ in Hungary in 1996. It was wonderfully surreal. I only got on the team after memorising a phone number and saving some money from working in London for a year. I use the story when I want to illustrate how unlikely events in life can be. Of the ten houses we built in five days, I was on the same house as Jimmy and Rosalind. What are the chances?

However, hoping for a neat segue into my sister’s very recent HFH building efforts in Kenya proved unbloggable while she was away because I didn’t know how it was all going. Nor is it fair to make comparisons since she has returned. Why? Because now I find I am inordinately proud both of her and of our cousin, the team organiser and person who sacrificed her biythday (sic) while building houses with no straw in the African heat. I saw some photos on facebook of it all. Comfort zones were well and truly abandoned, and valuable lessons in building to Kenyan design and standards were learnt. I also noted there was no cement mixer. Result: a far more convincing and sacrificial effort than my American just-add-water approach in Vac. I see my sister is now offering to build houses in the UK. I’m sure this will wear off, but if it doesn’t, maybe I should hold her to it.

Talking of siblings, my daughter is now at the age I was when I became a sibling, as illustrated by figure (i), a rare glimpse of me on this blog, along with my little brother, taken in 1979.

Figure (i)

Now my daughter and I do share a silly sense of humour, so after going through my baby book with her yesterday and explaining that her uncle was not her cousin, we did a photo shoot. The result is in figure (ii). Note the lack of sibling. That would be explained by the fact that the sibling should not be arriving for another 19 weeks or so (see figure (iii)). Said sibling remains anonymous in all respects, and appears to be healthy and progressing well so we trust we will be thankful for what we get and find a name that suits in due course.

Figure (ii)

Figure (iii)

Proper Architecture

Since February I have been tentatively learning the saxophone, although I fear I ought to be practising a little more. I was sent a link the other day, which sums up how I feel some of the time when listening to music, but puts it far more eloquently. I don’t know if I can copy the video link in directly, but I would strongly recommend listening to Michal Levy’s animated short films Giant Steps and One, via this link:

Apologies, incidentally, if you have been checking this blog and getting frustrated when I haven’t been updating it as much recently. I have good reason, as my energy levels are particularly low while they work on supporting an extra little person, who we hope to welcome into the world around Easter time.

Which reminds me, I am starving.

Oops: overslept

Apparently, I was informed by the radio this morning, residents of Ipswich were woken today by the sound of medieval bells. I wasn’t. We put special double-glazed units into our sash windows recently and were woken by the radio instead. I wish they’d get their facts right.

Another Day

We are all hoping that the Rain, Rain will Go Away and maybe not come back this week at all. It is not up to me, but it has meant an early finish to the work in the garden today.

We deliberated and decided to take down the rest of the wall and rebuild it entirely. Having considered rendering the end of the neighbours’ house, we realised (thanks in part to dad) that a brick walled garden in a town house is the right thing and there isn’t a better time to do it for us. Because the builders have turned out to be particularly slippery we won’t be using them again after this, but the wall we have so far is good. It will be done by the end of the week, unless they feel like taking a month over it.

In a separate twist, the reclaim yard brick merchants who they use (the only one in the area for old bricks, and a company who ‘only take cash’) went into administration today. There were just enough of the bricks needed for our wall, which had thankfully been ordered in time and were collected today.

And by the way, who voted ‘Other’? Was it you dad? Or someone else? What do you suggest? Email me or leave a comment below.

A brick too far?


Now the builders want us to decide whether to remove the remaining bit of wall to the RHS so that the new wall all looks the same.

What would you do?

You need to come and see this

… which translated, means

Whatever quote we already gave you, think of a number and triple it

I am now at the start of another tradesman-intensive week of preparing oddly sugared caffeinated drinks, keeping Lily out of harm’s way and leaving many doors open.

Let me show you where we are up to. It might make more sense than I could at this point.


Actually, we were just having this middle section of wall rebuilt. Now the wall to the left (the Pisan architecture) also has to come down, and the neighbours at the back are away. Let’s hope they are as understanding as we think they are. As we are now a three-skip, five-day job the builders have kindly offered to rebuild the wall at the front for free – it doesn’t even belong to us. Hmm. And those neighbours are out. So maybe I will avoid making any more enemies and go and put the kettle on again.

Sitting on the Fence

I wanted to blog before, but haven’t been able to get to the computer much as our windows have been cleverly double glazed and refurbished this week. I have been looking forward to them being done and the result is good. Photos will follow.

The fixing of the fanlight, a final part of the job, revealed a great deal of rot, which is a shame as we now have to decide whether to do Something Drastic when our new front door arrives. And we are in a Conservation Area!

Now we are between tradesmen. Tomorrow the skip arrives and the bricks for the new old back wall in the garden. Owing to neighbours fixing the top of the wall without talking to us first and then admitting it probably is our wall, we are left with a gaping hole where a gaping hole does not belong. There was a buddleia somewhere along the line, but the story is too long to relate today.

All our decking and a small shed had to be removed to see the state of the wall. It is not good, and every time the brickies come to see it they pull a bit more off, to try and convince us. They also try to embarrass us by making me – a mere maths teacher – do the calculations in my head and on my mobile phone. This is Intimidating and Criminal and not the thing I like doing when Someone is crying. Anyway, the job is urgent and now we have to empty and move the large shed and also negotiate with the neighbours on another side about a small wall at the front. And they keep finding more things that need attention.

What with the new front door, paintwork and boiler, this is going to be an expensive summer.