Five O’Clock Shadows

Being awake a lot in the night – or at least so very early in the morning – is never a good sign for me. It means myriad different things at different times, but for now menopausal hot flushes and simply having too much on my mind are the most predominant reasons for my current persistent sleeplessness.

Today I woke long before 5am, and tried for an hour or so to get back to sleep but right now my brain is ablaze with bright flames of thought burning away at my futile attempts at restfulness. So here I am wrapped in a blanket in the living room, drinking a cup of tea and blogging, writing down all these incandescent thoughts that are consuming me so much this morning.

There is so much to do here, so much we want to change to make this house our own that it feels overwhelming at times. Where do we start? Which room, which task, in what order? Reason tells me of course it’s going to take time to get to all done, there’s no magic wand to wave to suddenly paint woodwork, paper walls, lay new carpets, replace a fireplace, put in a new kitchen.

I do understand the logic of taking our time with this, only doing everything once and doing it properly so making do with everything as it is for now, but oh how I hate living in limbo in the interim… Emotionally I want the entire basic blocked-in canvas of a comfortable home to relax in first and foremost, and only then think about adding in the details as necessary, much later in the process.

Right now it feels like we’re trying to achieve too much all at once, fulfil too many important tasks all at the same time and failing to make any real headway, and I find it frustrating to be planning so much in theory for our future home yet making what feels like so little practical progress in our present environment to move us towards that ultimate goal.

In reality we are getting things done in the house, of course, slowly but surely, but inevitably my chattering childish impatience distorts my perspective. ‘Are we there yet, are we there yet, why aren’t we there yet?’ my impish brain whines and implores. These are the kind of restless thoughts that keep me awake, taunting and haunting me in the dark.

I know I need to sit tight and wait, know that when we’re finally finished it all I’ll be so glad I didn’t rush right in wielding my paintbrush with gay abandon just to cover temporarily wallpaper we’re taking down eventually anyway. I know I need to focus on where we’re going with decorating our house, not on where we are right now. But still I’m fretting at the enormity of it all, my clamouring five o’clock shadows refusing to give me any peace…

It’s Curtains for those Venetian Blinds…

I’m not a great fan of venetian blinds – or vertical blinds for that matter – and yet when we moved in to our lovely little house (three weeks ago today!) we found either venetian or vertical blinds covering most of the main windows throughout. Many have already been removed and given away (woo-hoo!), but the two biggest windows – the two bay windows at the front – are still each dressed only in their two and a half metre wide ventian blinds.

We’ve bought bold bright curtains to replace them with, although our initial intention was simply to leave the blinds in place until we get round to redecorating the rooms. But the weather is already turning colder and it’s getting darker much earlier, and as we both hate looking at those stark slim slats like sliced-up suits of window armour every evening we’ve taken the decision to put up our new drapery before we decorate.

We’ve also chosen to fit voiles within the window recesses for added privacy and for better light diffusion, but unfortunately couldn’t find any in the style we liked with exactly the right drop so I now have to take up about 8m width (for both bay windows) of soft silky fabric by exactly 2 inches, all to be pinned and hemmed by hand. So it looks like I’ll have a busy couple of days ahead with my needle and thread…

PS Although I don’t like venetian or vertical blinds, surprisingly I do have a penchant for roller blinds. The only rooms without blinds in place when we moved in were the kitchen and dining room windows – these are all currently adorned with fussy 1980s terracotta patterned curtains, soon to be replaced with three practical roller blinds we took with us from the flat.

PPS Don’t worry about the fate of the large venetian blinds – they will soon be gracing the large living room and kitchen windows in my youngest daughter’s house – waste not, want not; one man’s meat is another man’s poison, etc – she really loves them! 🙂

Problem Solved!

Before we moved up from London to Inverness recently, we took the difficult (but surprisingly liberating) step of shedding much of the everyday household detritus collected and collated over the decades.

We carefully packed those precious smaller articles we cherished, but happily parted with the larger, bulkier items of purely functional furniture like the dated lumpy old sofa-bed and practical-but-boring el-cheapo wardbrobes. We wanted to start afresh in our new home, and for all we knew we would potentially be buying a relatively modern house with a smaller proportioned living room and already-built-in bedroom wardrobes, so didn’t want to pay to move and store furniture we didn’t plan to keep long-term.

And now we are here, in our wonderfully un-modern house with nothing remotely resembling a built-in wardrobe in any of the bedrooms and a beautifully large sunny living room. So we easily found ourselves a new made-to-order sofa to suit, but have spent the last two weeks researching and reviewing and narrowing our options when it comes to potential bedroom furniture. Our bedroom at the moment consists of our bed, two small side tables acting as temporary bedside cabinets, an open clothing rail replete with clothes hangers and lots of stackable storage boxes.

Our dilemma to date has been deciding exactly what we want to buy and where we want to put it, but finally our problem has been solved! We’ve found two lovely wardrobes online, along with one perfectly-proportioned chest of drawers and two good-sized bedside cabinets – not all matching, but all complementary in design – and have ordered them today. Four out of the five items were already reduced in the autumn sale – woo-hoo! – and we also found a 10% discount code to apply to our whole order, saving us a tidy sum overall – result!

So here we are, two very happy bunnies today looking forward to our new furniture for the future! 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Solve

One Liner Wednesday: Gardening

‘I like gardening – it’s a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself’ – Alice Sebold

With our new house we’ve inherited a nice-sized mature garden front and back (not too big, not too small), so it’s going to be an adventure finding out next year exactly what we have growing in it! For now there are two very old rickety plum trees that need some serious cutting back of old dead wood (it actually breaks off in your hand, not good), and two much younger (and so far more manageable to prune) apple trees.

There’s also a large-ish odd-looking tree I don’t recognise that definitely needs taken in hand (it’s grown so large it blocks some of the light coming in to the conservatory), and a few overgrown shrubs and bushes (again needing to be cut back), but for now much is lying dormant, so only time will tell what else we might have under the soil, waiting to surprise us in the spring… so apart from taking some time to prepare it for the winter, we decided to take a wait-and-see approach…

So yesterday armed with determination, a pair of sharp secateurs and a small branch saw I spent much of the day putting in some much-needed manual labour in an attempt to make a start to getting the most tangled areas of our back garden sorted out. As well as cutting back myriad branches as necesary I also raked leaves and weeded flower beds, tidying and clearing bit by bit. I came in at dusk absolutely exhausted but feeling thoroughly invigorated – I honestly really enjoyed myself, the whole day was literally a breath of fresh air… 🙂

One Liner Wednesday

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Manual

Heady Mix

Right now I’m filled with a heady mix of excitement, exhilaration, and exhaustion. My brain feels frazzled but fizzing with fun ideas.

We moved into our new house in Inverness just over a week ago and it’s been pretty much non-stop for us ever since, unpacking and sorting out previously stored belongings; sourcing and arranging utilities; researching potential new furniture, soft furnishings, wallpaper and paint in anticipation of future changes… and in between, a constant conveyor belt of household shopping and cooking and washing clothes and living everyday normal life to the full.

Both daughters (who live close by) have already visited with their partners and young children, and thankfully everyone loves the house as much as we do! Son (who lives in Paisley, not far from Glasgow) is due to visit us closer towards the end of the year. My husband and I wake up every morning amazed that we actually own this house – it looks far from perfect on the surface at the moment, with someone else’s carpets and curtains and wallpaper – but we know what we want to do with it and can’t wait to get started on changing that!

Our to-do list is growing as fast along the bottom as we can tick things off from the top, at the moment it feels a little like we’re constantly running to stand still, but we know this frenetic time will pass soon enough and we can slowly settle in to life in our new home, comfortably calm at last 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Heady

Oh My Days!

Oh my days, Fandango seems to have swallowed a dictionary for breakfast this morning – our One Word Challenge today is copacetic… WTF? I had to look that one up, and apparently it means ‘in excellent order’ – ha!

Suffice to say, everything is most definitely not in the least bit copacetic in our new home in Inverness all of five days after we moved in! Our eclectic collection of stuff we had in our London flat is almost all sorted out – as in mostly unboxed and put in place – but we’re remaining mindful that we have a LOT of redecorating to do, absolutely everywhere, so everything will have to be moved around to allow for painting and wallpapering and new carpet-laying… It all feels quite exciting, but also quite daunting.

I know some people prefer to buy a house ‘in walk-in condition’ where absoultely nothing needs to be done, but unfortunately for us the house we loved most is decidedly dated in its decor. It’s an old 3-bed 1930’s bungalow that was updated and extended to what would have been a very high standard in the late 1980s, adding a bigger kitchen and dining room and conservatory, but basically it probably hasn’t been touched since.

So we have a very heavy, solid 1980s wooden fitted kitchen (to be replaced sometime in the future); a heavily ornate wood, brass and marble fireplace (ditto); shiny vinyl striped and floral wallpapers in a variety of traditional patterns; and brass doorknobs and light fittings throughout – including an overbearing sparkly chandelier in the dining room… yuk! All the windows have either venetian blinds or vertical blinds and fussy pelmeted curtains, and the carpets are mostly heavy wool in horrendous hangover pub floor style designs… gross… none of it is to our taste in the slightest…

We’ve got lots planned, though, and have already bought bold new curtains and poles and roller blinds and soft, light-diffusing voiles to put up once we’ve redecorated the walls. We’ve chosen new wallpaper for the living room and master bedroom and have already decided on paint colours, so hopefully we’ll get started on that soon. It’s such fun to visualise how it will look, our beautiful house, once we get it all the way we want it. It’ll just take time… quite a lot of time… Luckily we have the rest of our lives to do it in! 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Oh

Scottish Summer Sea

Experiencing the usual combination of warming sun and chilly wind and showery rain all together clamouring for attention on the same blustery summer day can only mean that I’m definitely back in Scotland – a bracing walk along the pebble beach between Fort George and Ardersier this afternoon left me pink-cheeked, tousle-haired and smiling at the sheer magnificence of the ever-changing weather. It certainly feels good to be home again 🙂

Weekly Smile

Tastes Differ

One of the hardest things I’m finding about house-hunting is dealing with everyone else’s opinion about what kind of property we should be looking for, and where. I mean, my husband and I tend to live our own life in our own way, so we already know from experience that what suits us does not necessarily suit anyone else.

We like what we like and accept the fact that tastes inevitably differ – not just in terms of decor but in the layout of the floorplan of each property and how each individual room space is used. We know we need to choose a home for ourselves, not for everyone else, even if everyone else hates what we end up with.

But we’ll choose a house for ourselves and make it a home that we love, and then hopefully everyone else we love will grow to love it too, because they can’t help but see that we love it regardless ❤

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Differ

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Where

Where have I been hiding for the last couple of weeks, some of you may have been wondering? I realise I kind of just dropped off the edge of the blogosphere without a word of warning and haven’t really made much of an appearance here since. But don’t worry, I’m still here, you won’t get rid of me that easily!

The good news is my husband and I have finally sold our flat in London – third time lucky – and as of 31st July we have moved back to Scotland to live. We’ve not actually bought a new house yet, but are avidly house-hunting here in Inverness and in the meantime we’re staying with my mum and dad nearby until we find something we like.

It feels a bit odd camping out in someone else’s spare room at our age, but we’re incredibly grateful to have the option to have some breathing space between selling one property and buying another. Conveyancing processes vary hugely between English and Scottish law, making it incredibly difficult to both sell in England and buy in Scotland at the same time, so this seemed to be the perfect temporary solution.

Luckily for us it suits mum and dad to have us here for the time being too – with dad still recovering from his fourth stroke it gives mum a bit of breathing space too to have us around, and it seems they both appreciate the extra help with dad’s ongoing care, which is great for all of us right now.

We had initially put our leasehold flat on the market in the spring of 2017, but soon realised we would ideally have to extend our lease to make a good return on the property, so withdrew it from sale after only a few weeks to complete the lease extension process. Unfortunately for us that took 13 long months of legal wrangling with a difficult-to-deal-with freeholder to achieve.

And so in the summer of 2018, complete with lease extension, we put the flat on the market again, and soon found a buyer who was happy to offer the price we were looking for – so far, so good. But unfortunately six weeks into the sale process our buyer was made redundant and therefore withdrew his offer before the contract was signed. That was such a huge blow for us, and we felt so devastated we took the flat off the market again, to lick our wounds and regroup…

And so on to this year – with a great deal of trepidation and inevitable caution we warily put the flat back on the market again in the early spring, where we soon found a brand new buyer who absolutely fell in love with our flat, and this time thankfully the sale process has now completed successfully – woo-hoo!

So here we are back in Scotland, my husband and I, right back to the area where we first met 46 years ago, ready to start a brand new adventure in our life together. Wish us luck with our house-hunting, and hopefully the perfect home is out there waiting for us to find it, although for now we’re not entirely sure exactly where! 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Where