Friday, 26 September 2008

One step forward, two steps back.

Our plumber has emailed to say he will be here next Tuesday. Would you mind if you're reading this, perhaps just keeping your fingers crossed? It would only be for a few days and could make the difference between having loos and having to keep running down the garden!
Dodo has put in the window sills and finished plaster boarding around the window frames and doors. Then he'll start the tiling in the bathroom.
Niels has been building the kitchen. Progress has been slightly hampered by the unpacking of a number of broken items! Last weekend he 'popped' down to Ikea in Edinburgh (I took the picture when we were there in May - still no camera) and exchanged the broken sink. This week we are hoping to exchange the induction hob with its shattered glass top. This item comes from the distribution centre and not the store, and as you would have guessed involves a whole new set of phone calls and reference numbers and explanations as to why we left it so long before unpacking the boxes - the ninety day 'take back' period is at an end. But for all the moans about Ikea, they have been helpful and sympathetic and appreciate the long drive we have to get there. They could best show their sympathy by opening an Ikea in Inverness, but that probably isn't an option! This morning Niels is fitting the free hanging extractor fan that will be hanging over the induction hob if we had one. It seems enormous and I'm worried it will block out all the light and views, and that I shall knock my self unconscious every time I cook anything. It seems to be very low and generally in the way. But Niels has a plan and has taken down some of the ceiling, which we've only just put up! so he can push the extractor up a bit and hide it. Now I'm worried we'll trip over the top of it on the landing! I'm meant to be corner taping. I would like to say I'm improving but that wouldn't be true. And so it continues!

Friday, 19 September 2008

Operation camera

Hooray! I've had a letter from Olympus. Their technicians have examined my camera and found the fault to be caused by a knock or a drop! I did explain that in a covering letter but it's good to know me and the technicians think along the same lines. They are going to overhaul it and give it a full health check with a six month warranty on all parts. I'm sending my cheque off today and hopefully will get the camera back shortly, completely recovered from its ordeal. I've really missed it, even though it's only a camera!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

More progress - even without the camera!

I can't write without a camera! I find it really difficult. But I promised an update and things are slowly progressing. You'll have to imagine the house full of boxes of unpacked kitchen and bathrooms, of plasterboard, trestles, benches, ladders, tubs, tools, cables, bags of insulation and in amongst it all us, together with Dodo, a lovely man able to turn his hand to most things related to house building. One day last week just for a moment there was a cacophony of sound comprising, me on the drywall sander, Dodo on electric saw and Niels and the plumber on electric drills. It was wonderful!
Yes, the plumber returned and completed the first fix. He has promised to return next week to install the bathrooms. Running water! A loo! A shower! What next? Both the loos will be wall hung and Dodo has built the frames to support the 'hanging fixture thingy' We have finally ordered the rest of the tiles for the kitchen and utility room. The underfloor heating has been laid and later today Dodo hopes to tile the shower room floor.
Myles did a great job on the taping and joint filling but wasn't able to complete it. I've had lessons now in taping and scrimming and applying corner tape. My corners need practice they're a bit wobbly. I've also taken on the drywall sander. A huge, unwieldy, awkward giant sized vacuum cleaner contraption with a long pole and hose attached. The pole is heavy and my tennis elbow has advanced to tennis tournament elbow, but I'm winning, apart from the ceilings which I've passed to Niels to tackle. It beats going to the gym, I'm developing muscles in my upper body that have lain dormant for years! We both feel tired but the house is being dragged by its ears to the next stage.
They say no news is good news but there is an ominous silence regarding my camera! I have a very bad feeling about it. Have Olympus buried it? I miss it. Without it I realise how often I used it. I'll give it another week and if I still haven't heard I'll contact them.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Old rocks and raspberries

Going back to a time before I dropped my camera! We recently had visitors and took a trip to Knockan Crag. Robin (not ours) is keen on geology and the area we live in is noted for its ancient landscape with rocks of 3,000 million years old. Apparently the Moine Thrust Zone, a geological structure running through the region, is enough to send many a geologist into a frenzy of excitement
Robin, I thought under the circumstances then, was quite good at actually not showing his at all! I suppose really Knockan Crag is best suited to young children and people like me, who don't know much about old rocks - except they're not good for dropping cameras on. And someone like Robin who already has a good knowledge of geology at university level has advanced a bit beyond the picture board story approach with handles to turn demonstrating the movement of the earth's crust. He probably already knows that the best way to view the earth is to imagine it as a peach, although I didn't quite get that bit!
He did get animated at one point, or at least his right arm did, and pointed something out to his mum.
If I was a geologist I'd get excited by this - a giant peach stone? Seriously it's a good place to come to and there is a short circular walk which takes in some beautiful views, well marked along the way with simple facts and figures relating to rocks and structures. What is harder to take in, is the enormous time scale involved in the age of the earth.
But by far the best thing about old rocks is that they're good for growing wild raspberries. We picked these at the end of our walk. There were only a handful and Robin said he didn't like them because they were inside out (something to do with the seeds being on the outside) that's geologists for you! And we were happy because that meant the rest of us got five each and they were very delicious.
I will be doing an update on the house (sadly still without camera) hopefully later this weekend. Our plumber returned and we were just so happy to see him we forgot to be stern and disapproving - more to follow!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Disaster strikes

The most awful thing has happened! I've dropped my camera. I can't believe I did it. Well, I can actually. I dropped myself at the same time! Careless or what? The damage I inflicted to myself is nothing compared to that of the camera! As my feet went from under me and I went into free fall, knowing I was about to crash land on rock, the entire life of the camera went before me as it shot out of my hand into the air where it spun round entirely in slow motion, turning over and over as it made its final descent. Oh, and it hit the rock with such a bang and a crash (by comparison I just made a sort of 'ouch' sound) before bouncing off, and landing in a puddle! Bugger (am I allowed to say that?) I've switched it on and tried to switch it off like you do with things that don't work. But it stays on, and none of the buttons work. The only sign of life is in the remote control button, and that just glows blood red. I'm not technical, but internal bleeding doesn't seem a good sign.
Now I have to send it to the hospital for sick Olympus cameras. It wasn't until I drew the camera that I realised what a lot of buttons and knobs it has that I don't know about! And if the camera doesn't pull through I may never know.
Oh dear - I hope it gets better soon. Now I'm going to go and have a glass of wine and sharpen my drawing pencils!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Things to do while waiting for the plumber

I love it down here at the bottom of the garden. When the tide is out I clamber up on this rock and sit. This morning the tide was right in and I could only glance over at my rocky ledge. There was just a hint of the first taste of Autumn in the air. One of those mornings that is crystal bright and still, the day not quite having made up its mind what to do.
Like me! I know I ought to be doing something to the house, but at the moment it's difficult to know what, so I looked around outside. when the land was excavated the burn was diverted down alongside the garden
before rejoining its original bed further down away from the house site
Don't wait for these pictures to get more interesting - they don't! But I wanted to record that I did actually make a start today at clearing the burn of all the debris and tree roots and mud that have been clogging it up for the last umpteen years.

I was going to do a before and after picture, but it wasn't easy spotting the difference except afterwards I looked very muddy
OK, it's not a raging torrent yet, but in the winter it will be, and it was satisfying having just a little bit of influence on this watercourse as it makes its way down the garden and into the loch
And speaking of which I just went down for one more look. The water was so clear
There were some fish, some small thin ones, and a crab scuttling along sideways, and all at the bottom of the garden, how lucky is that!
What's less lucky is Myles has gone walking for a couple of days! Maybe he's gone to work for the plumber? Maybe he's got a plastering job in John O Groats? To be fair he was always going to combine working for us with a bit of walking and camping. And this morning the weather was good so he needed to set off. I have hired a dry wall sander for next week and another job I can combine with clearing out burns is sanding down walls - it can't get better than that can it!
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