Moving in fits and starts
Every Saturday evening we have a special meal, eaten at the table with the “nice” china. That dates us, doesn’t it? And every week we raise a glass and say “What a week!” Well, yes, once more this has been very busy and challenging. We are still moving on – moving in fits and starts towards making the house and the garden what we want. These last few weeks we’ve been fighting the weather that has been too hot or too stormy. Both of these bring the nasty little biting flies out in numbers. Now August is past they will diminish hopefully. We have also been struggling with the insane growth spurts in the wood and the garden and the strange and just bloody awkward plumbing.
Most of all however we had a very frightening few days with our oldest dog, Chloe. She celebrated her 15th birthday earlier in August and quite honestly doesn’t look or act her age. The vet says she wants something of what Chloe uses, she looks so young still. We reckon there’s a very dusty and raddled portrait hidden somewhere. Last week however I woke up as she kicked me and found she was having a seizure. She went rigid, began to shake violently and her eyes rolled up. I yelled for help and picked her up, stroking and nursing her as she shook more, foamed at the mouth and after several minutes began to scream in a high pitched voice. I was terrified. It lasted over five minutes – a long time for any dog, let alone one her size (5.5 kilos) and age.
The night vet was soothing and gave us good advice over the phone that helped when she had a second fit a few hours later. We took her into the vet the next morning and they ran tests that were reassuring – bloods good, nothing on the ultrasound, temperature and heart both normal. She had three more fits, each on shorter than the last and then nothing. She’s been fine ever since so we wonder if her eternal curiosity led her to sample something alien from the garden. We are keeping a very close watch but travelling hopefully.
Thinking about the garden we decided to try mowing again but the old Husqvarna refused to start once more. We’d run out of patience waiting for the promised spare parts, visits to check it over and other non-delivered mower services. The grass was up over the dogs’ heads, the wood was out of control again and neither of us are up to hand trimming. We looked hard at our bank account, got in the car and went searching for a mower that actually worked. On the far side of town we found exactly what we needed. An Irish company called “Simplicity” make a lighter, lower and – yes, simpler – mower. It drives with individual levers not a steering wheel, it mulches the cuttings and it is so much fun!
Here is the promised picture of me on the mower. We’ve already cut the “lawn” and part of the path in the wood. I managed to ground it on a hidden rock but we got it free again. As the ground is very rough and neglected I will need to go out and mark obstacles before we go any further in. The mower moves well on the lawn and slightly bumpy ground but will be a bit jerky on rougher terrain. Moving in fits and starts until we get it smoothed out and under control I think.
Once the mowing problem was solved we turned our attention to the bathroom. We purchased a new unit with lovely big basin months ago but only now feel strong enough to tackle the fitting. The first job was getting the old basin out and capping off the water lines. We had a constant leak despite all my efforts until our joiner, Dom, showed me the “penny valves”. These are tiny screws set in a join – turn them 90 degrees and presto! No more water. Wish I’d known about them last week. Still, as Jacqui says, our problem is simple. We are not plumbers.
Neither of us are strangers to hand tools. Even, much to the horror of any men around to power tools of the drill and saw variety. But we are emphatically not plumbers. We do have YouTube, helpful but as much of our house is old some of the problems scarcely exist on line. We also have a book from my father, “How to fix almost everything” from the 1980s which is fabulous.
We’ve been working on the basin for a week now. The waste pipe is concreted in and in the wrong place of course. The fittings are different and needed four visits to different shops to get pipes, elbow joints, a different waste trap, new brass connectors… We may be slow, it may be awkward and downright painful occasionally but we are slowly turning into “hobby” plumbers, in fits and starts. I think we would probably be hovering around NVQ Level 2 by now. Or perhaps not…
So now I have to go down and do the final fit for the basin. I’m really stiff, I’m not looking forward to it and, let me be honest, I’d much rather take the mower out for a spin. Maybe tomorrow. And I’ve almost finished my stash of jigsaws. After several weeks this was the latest result – oh poop!
For those of you wondering about some book news, I am still waiting for confirmation of Impress’s status. There are still some books around if people want them and I’m exploring options for book five, “A Long Shadow”. My collaboration with Jem Cooney, “Puppy Brain”, has reached the proof-reading stage (oh joy) and I expect it will be available for Christmas. I’ll post details as soon as I have them.
Thank you for reading. Your support and encouragement means a great deal. Keep well and see you in two weeks.