It has been a while since I posted - largely due to the lack of time and energy because we have been moving house. However, this morning I find myself wide awake with time to spare. In our new house this morning, at 5am we were woken up with the sound of an alarm going off. We knew it was from outside but couldn't figure out where it was coming from. The sound was reverberating around a small courtyard area between kitchen, garage and shed. Wherever we listened it seemed to be coming from somewhere else. Eventually the police turned up - the culprit was a discarded smoke alarm amongst a pile of rubbish that still had the battery in it! Too late in the day to go back to bed, so I decided to blog.
People tell you that moving house is stressful. My past experiences certainly were but they were a long time ago, once when our first child was 3 months old, it was the middle of winter and we were moving from Dundee to Aberdeen to a house I had not seen. The next time was 3 and a half years later when I had 2 toddlers and was 7 months pregnant with Mary when we moved from Aberdeen to Inverness. Both these were stressful.
31 years later and I have to say, this move has not been stressful. It has been physically exhausting, has taken much longer than we wanted (still some clearing to do in the old house) and I don't ever want to do it again, but I have not felt stressed.
So what has helped avoid the stress? Partly a recognition that it was time to move on. Partly that we have moved into a house that suits our present circumstances very well. Partly that we didn't have to vacate the old house on the day we moved into the new one.
We booked the same removal company that had transported all my things out to the new studio a couple of months ago. They had done an excellent trouble-free job with that and they quoted a very reasonable amount for the house move. Four men turned up at 8.30 on the Thursday morning and started packing up china, glasses, books and kitchen things. We had done a lot of sorting out beforehand and made seemingly endless trips to the local recycling centre and to the store for the Highland Hospice charity shop. The aim was to take two days to make the move, one van load being taken on the Thursday, the next on the Friday. By 3pm on the first day they were ready to head to the new house - just a few minutes along the road. Our son-in-law, Steven, has been doing some improvements around the new house for us and we knew things were not finished so we phoned him to warn him that we were on the move.
When we arrived, Steven (the plumber), his friend Angus the joiner and Brian the electrician were still working on things - and then 30 minutes later two plasterers arrived to fill up the various holes made by doing the work! 5 tradesmen working in a 5 roomed house with four men carrying in boxes that there was no room for - quite amazing to see.
We had planned ahead - we had booked into the Lochardil hotel for dinner, bed and breakfast. This was probably the thing that most contributed to the lack of stress. At 7.30 we simply stopped unpacking, locked up the house, went back to the old house and fed the cats, then up to the hotel for a lovely relaxing evening.
The removal men turned up again the next morning and before mid-day it was all over with. We collected the cats and brought them round to the new house. They were in their element with boxes to jump in and out of (favourite pastime!) and seemed quite happy to explore around the house and garden. We resorted to a take-away dinner that night, but I had found and unpacked the plates and cutlery so it was a civilised meal, eaten at the dining table - and Steven had got the dishwasher installed, so we didn't even have to wash the dishes.
We have done a lot to make the house our home - bringing things from our last house that we really like, such as the living room light fitting that we had specially made about 10 years ago and the stained glass window that I had made for the front door 13 years ago. The window is now fitted into new garage doors that we had specially made. This was a bit of extravegance, but it was the only way we could use the window because none of the windows in the house were the right size and shape. Our new doors have to be the poshest garage doors in town! We have still to sort through all the pictures and decide where to hang them. There will not be room for them all, so we may have to devise a rota system. We did get rid of some of them, but most are pictures that we have because we like them and many have sentimental value. There are watercolours painted by my father, a painting of Aberdeen overlooking the harbour that we were given as a wedding present, family photographs, funny cartoons, paintings of places we have been on holiday and that sort of thing.
The joiners made such a good job of the garage doors that we went back to them and asked them to make a larder cupboard for the kitchen. There is wasted space on one wall - where all the boxes are in the picture above. We found we were quite able to walk around those boxes for a couple of weeks, without getting irritated by them or tripping over them, so filling the space with a practical cupboard seems a good idea. At the moment my larder is in a shed in the garden. What used to be my "feltmaking studio" is now the "utility room" housing the washing machine and drier, the big fridge and freezer and storing lots of things that haven't yet found a proper home. Before the winter sets in we will have to insulate the shed so that we don't have the water freezing, but at the moment it is working well.
I have been busy in the garden - mostly just trying to keep the grass short and trimming the hedge, but I have planted the edge of a raised bed with herbs - parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme! (plus mint, chives, oregano, dill and a few others that I can't remember, but they don't make such good lyrics.) Hedge trimming is something I haven't done since I was a teenager. Len bought a rechargeable trimmer and I tried it out for the first time two days ago. Wow! 20 minutes and it was all done with virtually no physical effort at all - worth every penny. However, I will know better next time about preparing to do the job. Picking up the clippings from the gravel below took longer than cutting! Next time I will put a sheet down first.
I found an early purple orchid growing in the grass a couple of weeks ago - not sure how it comes to be growing here, but I carefully avoided it when cutting the grass.
We have still to get our pond sorted out. We got someone in to clear up the garden and dig out a hole for the pond but they only managed to dig down about 40cm when they hit something rock solid. So, the plan now is to build up the sides so that the ponds sits in the middle of a rockery. We plan to make a water feature out of an old chimney pot that we got last week. We took some of the furniture and some bits and pieces across to Auldearn Antiques and came back with a cheque and a chimney - a good deal. We brought part of the root of our lovely pink waterlily and it seems to be happy enough in its new home, even though the pond is not yet deep enough. It seems to be a fairly hardy plant - in its last home it survived almost drying out when the pond got a leak, and then several months in a plastic bucket while the pond was repaired, so I hope it will survive the move.
Of course, one of the things that made this move so much easier than it might have been was the fact that I had moved my work to the new studio. Not only did this mean that there were three empty rooms to use for sorting and packing, but I had somewhere to retreat to. Going to work was always a rest despite being incredibly busy. Orders just seem to keep coming. The shops we supply keep asking for more things, galleries are selling wallhangings and we are getting quite a lot of passing trade. Local people are beginning to find us and holiday-makers are stopping in to see what we do. One visitor recently got inspired by what she saw, but wanted something a bit different from what we had available. She spent some time browsing amongst our selection of tweeds - this is a photograph of the bag we made for her.
Yesterday evening I was busy hand-stitching a large pile of Morag hats which will shortly be heading to Skara Brae on Orkney. Over the next few days I should be finishing off an order for Canongate Jerseys & Crafts in Edinburgh. We are being kept busy!
I have managed to fit in offering some felt making classes at the studio. Last week Kira and Pamela came to make mobiles. Kira made three lovely exotic red birds and Pamela made some sheep. I now have to find time to do some felt for myself. I think a large hanging for my new home would be a good idea.
Kira (opposite - making a start on her red birds) is a ceramic artist and offers ceramic painting classes. I have had a couple of enjoyable mornings at her studio in Beauly painting tiles for above the basin in our upstairs loo. They have still to be fired, but I am pleased with the design - two intertwined Celtic birds painted in a mixture a reds and oranges. This is a try-out (just 14 tiles) before planning for the kitchen. The kitchen has a very wide window and space between worktop and window for two rows of tiles. As the kitchen is quite bland - maple look units, beige worktop, white walls - I want to introduce some bright colours. Tiles seem like the way to go. But I will need about 100. At this rate, I may not have time to work!