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Reconstruction begins

Yet another minor excitement in our property improvement lives…. our new shed has been delivered, in pieces and complete with a rich smell of preservative. Originally our plan was to throw out the pre-existing one, a misshapen and rotting thing that stands (just) in our back yard, home though it is to every wood-loving creepy-crawly for miles around and safe haven though it is for spiders so large, it is a wonder we don’t hear them stomping around at night. But then we discovered that we could actually move the structure sideways a little way without too much of it falling off or disintegrating to dust and having done this, a brand new one will fit nicely on the old concrete platform. Well, you can never have too many sheds, can you? One of them will soon act as a garage for our cycle trailer, soon coming home to us after living with friends Rich & Gerry for a few years.

The shed is the first part of our order placed a few days ago which started as a long shopping list of kitchen-related parts but which we added to once we realised that the discount we were being offered would be applied to anything we bought at the store that day. We very quickly thought up some more goodies, throwing in some rather nice flooring which we have used to cover up the bare and rather unattractive chipboard in one of our bedrooms. We do a lot of our shopping for materials at B&Q, largely because every Wednesday is their ‘Over 60’s’ day when they offer discount to all who have reached this age. As you might expect, on these days the place is full of grey-haired old men and the clatter of Zimmer frames can be deafening but fortunately they also employ people of a certain age at the checkout. It was here we met Reg who was in no doubt that his role was mainly to ‘translate’ for those who need it – things like metric measurements for those who grew up with imperial or the wonders of the economy light bulb.

We really feel we are turning a new leaf and getting into reconstruction mode now, using different skills and different muscles too, many of which are complaining, but then that’s nothing new. There are still little distractions, of course, like when the house catches us out with one of its bits of botched DIY. One evening we spotted water emerging from beneath the refrigerator, just a small pool, but it was coming from somewhere hidden away at the back. Investigation revealed a tiny hole in an innocent looking water pipe which had been dribbling happily away for days, even weeks. Replacing this pipe with a new section disturbed another joint nearby which started squirting water down the wall and once again this needed to be ripped apart and replaced. These are examples of poor quality plumbing work that is dotted about the house, little of which is fatal but it is annoying when the water won’t stay inside the pipes.

While I am still grovelling under the sink, Kate is watching TV, absorbed as I have never seen her before. She is not normally much of a sports fan but the Commonwealth Games in Delhi has been the focus of her attention for some days now as she waits for the hammer-throwers to begin. Why? Simon Wardhaugh at the 2010 Commonwealth Games Because she has a nephew competing, not for this country but for Australia, in this little-understood event. We both still remember him as a small boy when he visited the the UK and came out for a walk with us. His concern over dangerous snakes in our countryside was a rather touching sign of his Aussie-ness. Both Simon and his brother Jamie giggled and imitated the word “woods” in a terribly English accent, then corrected the name. “It’s not woods, it’s the bush, Auntie Kate”. Simon Wardhaugh is now a giant of man but still very young for his chosen sport and the 5th place he gained at the Games does him great credit, competing against some of the best in the world. Well done mate!

We are spending much time out of doors here this week as it has been unseasonably warm and dry for some days. Time therefore to crack on with jobs that will soon become impossible when the rain arrives and the cold winds recommence, Goldfinches on the wirelike repainting the fence and wall around our back yard. Kate calls my attention to the telephone wires above us where no less than twenty-eight goldfinches are sitting watching us and laughing, no doubt, at our attempts to entice them to our seed feeder. We know there are thistles in full seed in the country park just a short flight away, far more tasty than what we have on offer. These birds will soon be packing for their flight over to Spain where most of them will spend the winter. Let’s hope they make it!

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