Monday 31 October 2011

Brave Soldier

Thursday sees us coming to the end of our penultimate week in Hastings and still doing the rounds of Dad's old haunts, like a stroll down memory lane (to him; obviously we've never been to these places so it's just nice new, unfamiliar places to chase about and sniff). This time Hastings's Alexandra Park is the target, the top end by 'the reservoir' (Buckshole) where Dad and the brothers, as kids, used to catch gudgeon and sticklebacks by dipping empty milk bottles on strings with a tempting piece of bread inside. That was as far as 'angling' got with any of them.

On Friday we were off straight after breakfast, headed towards Faversham and the caravan but this time via helping 2CV Llew to rebuild the steel fire escape on the end of a Steiner School out by Petham (near Canterbury). We drove first to Herne Bay to transfer to Llew's big Volvo estate, well down on its springs as the back was loaded with the chequer-plate treads for the escape steps, with the mud flaps groaning on the ground at every bump. The school is currently on half term, so there were no kids about and it is in a lovely countrified spot - all grass fields and places for dogs to chase about and find interesting smells. That said, we actually spent most of the 4 hours of the job sleeping in the cavernous rear of the Volvo on a big blanket.

There was a brief drama when Dad, silly old fool, wrangling a nut and bolt on one of the treads had a spanner slip off a nut, jerking his right hand too fast at the sharp endge of one of the treads, giving him a nasty gash, an impressive amount of blood and a bit of a wobbly moment. Llew guided him to First Aid where he got bandaged up but the lady advised seeking proper medical aid. They completed the job with Dad helping out one handed where they could and then headed back to the car in Herne Bay, and from there straight to Faversham's minor injury unit where a nice nurse named Sandra gave Dad three stitches and some co-amoxiclav "sweeties". By now Mum was out of work and came round to meet us to head for the caravan; checked with the nurses whether Dad had been a "brave soldier" and presented him with a lollipop much to the amusement of the staff.

Once through that drama, they could begin the weekend proper, but more of that in the next post.


Thursday 27 October 2011

International Finance

More hum drum here in terms of living - walks, meals etc - so I thought I'd give you an update from the world of International Finance. Irish house buying law works a bit bizarrely compare to the UK in that the two sides do not 'exchange' on the same day. The buyer has to make a firm, legally binding commitment to buy the property (that "Contract of Sale" Mum and Dad signed last week) but the vendor is not similarly tied in for several weeks. Everyone seems to agree that this is weird and a bit unfair on the buyer but it's Irish law and no-one has been able to change it. I guess 50% of those affected (the vendors) like it like that and if you are in a chain I guess it doesn't matter; it'd be like swings and round abouts.

At the time of the CoS, we have to pay a good lump of the money across - normally 10% or so, but in our case, because we've sold the Faversham place and have the money sitting there, we decided to pay it all across and the conveyancing fees. So that's where we are, pretty much all paid up and waiting for the other side to get through the searches (bankruptcy, good 'title', rights of way etc) so that they can give us the keys and, presumably, deeds and documents to prove we own it.

This gives us a strange one-step-removed feeling which is a bit frustating and we can't wait to get in there and start. The only timings we have to go on are some original predictions (the source of which we cannot now remember; possibly the Irish solicitors) of 6-8 weeks from start, which we calender'd out to 2nd Dec, and a more recent promise that we'd be in by Christmas. The solicitor has now transferred all the money and correspondence to what our lovely contact, Mary Rose, amusingly calls "the other side" along with something called the "Closing Searches for completion and return" and ends "We look forward to hearing from you with Closing Documents and Keys to the property". Woo hoo! Mary Rose promises to "let (us) know the minute the keys and documents arrive!!!" which is fairly exciting if a bit woolly in terms of timings and deadlines.

Chuggin' on


Tuesday 25 October 2011

St Helen's Woods

A couple more pictures from our walks down Dad's Memory Lane, this time in Saint Helen's Woods. Within easy walking distance of Pud Lady's and also very adjacent to Dad's senior school, these woods were frequent haunts and used for rough-treating ordinary street push-bikes (this before the days of mountain bikes), climbing trees, damming streams, playing dens and games of "Commandos" etc. You can imagine a gang of then about ten similar age 'Herberts' let loose to get covered in mud, tree stains, leaves, twigs and other bits of forest and make sure you're back for about 5 - Tom! You're the oldest, don't lose any of them!

This is now a nature reserve and is squirrel heaven so I run and run and run, pretty much picking up one squirrel as the previous one escapes me up a tree,so I am in continuous hot pursuit, while the H toddles along behind Dad for the hour. That's enough exercise for him. He needs a lie-down after that. The other favourite dog walk down here is the Firehills, which I have already mentioned; the rabbit-grazed sandy cliffs and gorse thickets down by the coast at Fairlight, just east of Hastings.

Other than that we are just jogging along, killing time as we get through October (and in Mum's case, also November). Everything we can do about speeding the house onward is done, we just have to patiently wait while the legal cogs slowly turn. Mind you, yesterday a month's rain seems to have fallen on Ireland in 24 hours causing plenty of flooding, certainly in areas like Dublin, so Dad has sent a mild email to our estate agent asking him to check "we've" not been washed away. We also await the money transfer for the conveyancing fee which we've ordered. We need to post that off to the Irish solicitors.

Hum drum hum drum

Hope you Silverwoods didn't get flooded out!


Monday 24 October 2011

More caravan

The evening of Friday had seen us all gathered again at 2CV Llew's caravan, all be it Mum slightly delayed by meeting a burning hedge in the lane and having to call out the Fire Brigade. Might have been just an excuse to entice hunky uniformed firemen into a leafy lane at night but we're saying no such thing. Mum arrives with all the ingredients for a nice risotto and the evening is warm enough for us to stay outside and fire up the log burning converted LPG cannister. Autumn does come, though, in terns of the change from chilled whites and Prosecco, to the more hearty reds. Dad cooks, we all relax into the evening, beds get wrangled and that's another evening gone.

On Saturday, Diamond is being to taken to favourite restaurant 'Le Cygne' in Saint Omer (Northern France) by John for a birthday meal, so we are babysitting Ragworth. Mum, Dad and I nip over to collect him mid morning, leaving the H asleep in the van. This lets Mum drop us all off at the Albion pub carpark from where Dad and we dogs can walk the nice hour's walk round the Creek bank to the Shipwrights' Arms and back to the boatyard that way. Dad has been warned that Rags can be a bit problematic with other dogs, but the footpath is crossed regularly by secure 'kissing gates' so Dad can let Rags off the lead and just grab him easily enough should any dog walkers come the other way. Not many do; most people time that walk to end up at the pub when it's open!

We then have a relaxing day around the caravan with all three dogs off the lead and mooching around. Diamond and John return at 6-ish to collect Rags and Diamond's comment is that never was a dog more fitted to the caravan lifestyle! He looks the part and definitely enjoys the day. Mum's cooking tonight so it's a bit more adventurous; a roast rack of lamb with vegetables and very nice too, judging by the bits of vertebrae we get at the end. Also it's a bit chilly in the wind so having got a good coal-assisted fire going in the burner for Diamond and John's visit, we now let that burn down low and retreat indoors for tonight's feast.

Sunday sees Dad get up on the alarm and vanish off to lead a Deer Walk for the Friends of Kings Wood in Challock Forest, showing the public the delights of the fallow deer rut. It goes well and they all see and hear plenty of deer and plenty of rutting buck behaviour. Dad returns and we decamp to Icklesham where there is a family meal at the Queen's Head involving Mum and Dad, Pud Lady and Dad's younger bro and sis-in-law. From there we all retreat back to Hastings where bro can show us all his holiday slides of Galway which include some of our tentative new house which bro tracked down on his way to/from the west coast.

Enough for this one, then. We are now back in the old routine of Hastings and Pud Lady's, of which more tomorrow.


Sunday 23 October 2011

Moving the boat

It's been a busy weekend, which I'll tell you about over a couple of posts rather than try to squish it all on this one. Friday saw us all headed once more for Hollow Shore boatyard and another weekend of caravanning but first up we had work to do on Friday. We had to swap cars and take the 2CV down to Llew's workshop. The main mission was to be to shuffle all the cars in the place about to make space at the 'bottom end' for a rather tall boat and trailer combo which wouldn't quite fit through the door at the top end where there is a concrete ramp. This meant for we dogs, plenty of chance to chase about the outbuildings and rabbit-rich territory, and to play with Boris-the-barking-bastard (as he is now known by 2CV Llew).

Boris, pictured here was already filthy when we first arrived and is here wrangled to a length of rope to restrict his access to further dirt and oily sumps of cars but unfortunately when he runs out of string he gets frustrated at not being able to get at whatever is going on and sets up barking. We know from his nights here that this is persistent and loud; Llew is a bit ineffective at stopping him, so he just gets shouted at repeatedly to 'shut up' which has no effect whatso ever, hence the new name Boris-t-b-b.

The shot down the length of the green house gives you some idea of the layout - the cars are all down the far end in this shot. We had to move them all towards the camera - some of them, including a lovely old 'Hercules Poirot' Citroen Traction-Avant even started and ran under their own power (which surprised Llew more than it did Dad) and then take the big boat shown here all round the back way, Llew skillfully reversing the Volvo estate and this trailer round 4 narrow 90 degree bends in the process to get nearly there. The boys then manhandled the trailer the last few yards in, whereupon one of the trailer wheels collapsed an underground rabbit burrow inside the greenhouse, the cave-in stopping the trailer and canting it over alarmingly. They had to jack it back upright and slide a bit of ply under the wheel to continue.

With all that fun and games complete they savaged the leylandii hedge you can see in the boat picture and had a mahousive bonfire of the bits, they helped landowner Mike to move a big diesel tank with a mini-digger (Health and Safety?), and they whipped the last two remaining wheels off the 2CV for their anti-rust paint treatment.

After all that interesting day we were all rounded up and piled back into the 2CV and headed off to meet Mum at the caravan.


Thursday 20 October 2011

Contract of Sale

A quick picture of George Street in Hastings Old Town (horizontal street with shops), just to remind you where we are at the moment; good ol' Pud Lady's getting well spoiled in all directions. We had a special mission yesterday while we were waiting for things to progress in the house-buying sector, we had to go buy a specific item for a special lady (no names no pack drill, we will reveal all when a special day (for her) is with us). Mum gave us instructions and Tom pointed us in the direction of the excellent, non-chain, shops which proliferate through Hastings Old Town.

We scored the 'item' in pretty much the first shop Dad went in, so we could then spend the rest of the hour's parking ticket wandering up and down alleys and the olde back streets which climb the cliffs behind the high street-front houses. Down here is a tiny flag-stoned 'twitten' climbing the hillside called Cobourg Place. Too narrow for cars and with frequent bits steep enough that they are replaced by steps, the top of this 'street' is where Pud Lady and the late Stamp Man lived when they were first married and had only so far produced Dad's elder brother, Tom. Apparently the removal men did not love them very much (!) and they got very fit pushing prams and any shopping up the mountain, not having, in those days, any car. This is 1955-56 we are talking about, so Dad was barely an evil glint in Stamp Man's eyes. The picture barely does it justice only showing the bottom few yards - Cobourg Place goes round the corner and up, up and up to where you can see the dark green tree top centre of the picture.

Also yesterday the two bits of paper arrived which allow the house-buying to progress. These were the Contract of Sale, which everyone has to sign to tie in the buyers (Mum and Dad), but weirdly not yet the vendors, to the deal. Also the second International Draft which is the balance on paying for the house in Euro. We all drove to Diamond's yesterday to find Mum so that all the signing could be done, and Mum and Dad had fish and chips as Diamond was off out with John to Canterbury for the evening.

Today, with the vital documents signed by all parties, Dad posts them off safely to the Irish Solicitors. Once they arrive that's it. We are legally bound to buy the place. No escape unless the vendors choose not to sell to us, so it feels like a real milestone. Needless to say, though, it is not the end of the affair or indeed of paying for things - no sooner does Dad email the solicitors to say the CoS is in the post, than they are onto us again for another International Transfer, this time for their own fees for doing the conveyancing. Still, other than this, we beleive we are now all up to date this end and can only sit back while the searches go on on the Irish side (presumably for new motorways, mining subsidence, bankruptcy of vendors, environmental stuff, Rights of Way etc), same as they all did over this side when we were selling in Faversham.



Tuesday 18 October 2011

A Good Blaze

A couple more pics from the last weekend, one of a good loggy blaze going in the recycled LPG tank burner cum brazier we use as a patio heater at the caravan and the 2nd of Haggis doing artistic at the Firehills. By the way we now think we've changed the email address within this blog, so all you commenters who used to send me replies, may be able to re-start that and they should arrive here instead of hitting the ends of the cable running to the old address and fizzling out.

So we are temporarity back in Hastings, at Pud Lady's establishment and back in the now familiar routine of only being allowed out in the garden on a lead in case i take off through one of the many badger holes, walks in the Archery Fields nor farther afield and of Dad playing Scrabble with Pud Lady. Honours are still even in that, even after 26 games - 13 and a half to Dad, 12 and a half to Pud Lady but almost certain to catch up at the next game.

In house-move land we are now through all our legal mallarky and we have got to the stage of having to transfer money across to the Irish solicitors, which Dad accomplished yesterday, and we await something called a "Contract of Sale" through the post, probably today.

It's all go.


Monday 17 October 2011

The Fire Hills

We are all off for another weekend of caravan living where we can meet Mum and do a proper family weekend again. We're missing that and looking forward to all this being over so that we can start doing it for real again on the other side of all this mallarky. First, though, Friday sees us off to the Fire Hills, Hastings's answer to the Burren scenery - rabbit-grazed close turf and gorse thickets constantly in flower. It's Friday morning and full sunshine, so the world and his wife are out there walking the dogs. We meet hundreds.

It's after lunch that we head for the caravan planning to hit Faversham early enough for Dad to do a couple of errands in town and then heading out to the boat yard to set up and wait for Mum to finish work. Dad lights the big log-burner chimney fashionned from an old LPG bottle by 2CV Llew and sorts out the power and gas for the caravan. There is nice red wine breathing. Mum arrives with a chicken to spatchcock and roast but they realise there is no roasting tin and no foil. The chicken gets jointed instead and then slow-fried in butter (which becomes "braised in its own juices"). It's a warmish evening, so we eat outside, all be it wrapped in some chunky jackets and coats. Mum has brought some cooked rice along (Thanks Diamond) and green salad. All the 'braising' is good news for dogs, as we get our normal tinned food enhanced by delicious gravy.

The bed in the caravan proves to wrangle into a king sized double bed. We know this because the fitted sheet off the bed from home only just fits round all the cushions and there's acres of space for all of us. The caravan games become a sort of practise run for when we move - Mum and Dad are looking at buying a second hand caravan similar to Llew's to use as home while the house is not yet habitable, so Mum is having fun 'playing caravans' imagining how she will organise the living side of things while we're first over. The feeling is we'd prefer a slightly bigger van so that we can leave a bed permanently set. It would be annoying having to convert back from bed to 'table and seats' every morning and back again each evening. We'd also need the shower to work. (Llew has not set his up as he does all that at home). We've sussed out though all the heating, lighting, kitchenning, storage and even emptying the toilet "cassette" (don't ask).

Both mornings at the boat yard are really frosty, with white rime all over the cars and grass. A taste of things to come, maybe, but in the caravan we are as warm as toast. We wait for the sun to melt the frost away before anyone takes a car out to source breakfast or the papers. Mum is also keen to blitz the caravan, which she finds a bit 'bloke-ish' under Llew's command. Cleaning materials are obtained and multiple saucepans and kettles of hot water are heated up so that all the cupboards, worktops, kitchen equipment etc are cleaned and put away. Dad jokes with Llew that he won't recognise the place but also won't be able to find anything. Llew laughs that he "hates it when women do that" but I don't think he's serious. We also dispose of some seriously old ketchup, BBQ sauce and bean tins, replacing them with new. There is also a very old solid jar of Safeway coffee at the back of a cupboard. How long have Safeway not been in existence?

Fun times had by all. More on this weekend in the next post.


Wednesday 12 October 2011

Three Wheels on my Wagon

We spend much of Tuesday back up the old haunts of Faversham and about. We drive up after breakfast in Hastings to the boat yard to collect the 2CV and then to drive that across to Llew's workshop just east of Canterbury. Dad's mission is to do the rust-proof thang on the remaining three wheels (2 rears and the 2nd spare) - that is to scrape, chisel, wire-brush and hammer-peen the inner face of the rims (normally out of sight) clear of rust, then coat them with a quick drying gloopy layer of zinc chromate primer, and finally a hard glossy layer of "axle-black". The theory is that they will then last a good few more years and this is the final bit of titivating the car into its best possible state for the Irish adventure and its Irish life. Touch lots of wood and not wishing to, in any way, tempt fate, but it is sounding quite sweet at present in our humble opinion.

We dogs love it at Llew's. His 'workshop' is actually some huge abandoned greenhouses once used for commercial horticulture and now cleared and full of cars and car bits. Earth-floored under the glass, they are as dry as dust and the dust has long since started to pick up car-based grot such as he rust and dust from power tools, dripped oil and solvents as well as the leavings of passing chickens, rabbits and other beasties. the stacks of car bits and well-loaded shelving and racks make superb nooks and crannies for a dog to explore looking for interesting smells, and there are acres of this stuff.

So, while Haggis might mooch about and mainly sleep, I am everywhere, in, under, between, through, over, behind and beside. Llew's own dogs, the tea-drinking Rosie and the mad Westie pup (almost a year old now) who has become know as Boris the B*****d by Llew, who cannot stop him from barking and taking on bigger dogs, tend to be kept tied up on looooong strings which is OK till they wrap themselves round the aforementioned junk, trailer wheels, cars etc. So when I'm in range, Boris helps with the searching, but mainly I am way off at the far end of a greenhouse or under the hedge where his rope won't reach. Rosie, like Haggis, sleeps through most of this.

Unfortunately, I tend to emerge covered in the dark dust and in need of a shower so, wouldn't you know it, I am pristine, white and fluffy today having been shampooed again. Mum will be impressed when we next meet (unless I can think of another way of getting back to filthy). The wheels done, we return the car to it's parking and hop in the 'modern car' to head back to Pud Lady's place.

Today was mainly about Dad doing the Hort Soc accounts. He is Treasurer just till the end of this financial year, and can then hand the baton on to 'Alf' the new guy. So he must crunch the numbers for 2010/11 and pass these in to the auditor for checking, before presenting them at the AGM in December, his parting visit to the Society and swan-song. He's been doing it for 11 years now, so has probably done his share. He will be pleased to hand it over at last.

In between that, when the figures were starting to fry Dad's brain, we went for a walk across Hastings's West Hill hoping for a look in the Castle. The Castle though, is now pay-to-get-in and also No Dogs Allowed, so we satisfied ourselves with a gawp from outside and took these couple of pictures, one of the Old Town with its net huts, beached fishing fleet and touristy bits from above and the other a chunk of castle entrance.

Supper time now.


Monday 10 October 2011

Lucky Heather!

We spend the night in 2CV Llew's caravan in the Hollow Shore boatyard close to Faversham. If the truth were known, Dad is going a leeeetle bit stir-crazy in Hastings. He doesn't want to appear ungracious or ungrateful but realistically he now knows no-one in Hastings and is not in any clubs or organisations to distract him, so short of dog walks and playing Scrabble with Pud Lady, there's not a lot to do and he was looking forward to the prospect of escaping for a while. Sorry, Pud Lady!

It was a lovely warm afternoon and evening as we drove up there after a roast lamb lunch (the lamb bones in our doggie bag for when we got there), and Dad texted Mum to say we were on the way. We all met up at the caravan and sat around on the 'patio' Llew has rigged up outside the door. We walked along to the Shipwright's Arms for Dad to have a couple of pints of Goacher's "Shipwreck", and then back to the caravan. Mum disappeared briefly in search of food, returning with pizzas and coleslaw and milk while Dad sussed out the electrics and the gas for the caravan. We are looking at buying a small, 2nd hand caravan to live in while we're making the Erroll house habitable, so Mum and Dad were kind of enjoying 'pretending' to be caravan dwellers.

The pizzas and salad, with coffee were eaten out on the patio as dusk fell, a candle doing the honours for relaxing lighting. Although there was a warm breeze this was mainly passing through at tree top height and did little to upset the candle flame. The Mum was gone, leaving we dogs and Dad to retreat into the caravan and sort out sleeping arrangements, basically Dad on one side bed, we two dogs on the other. We opened a window to keep airing the van through the night.

Dad woke early on the alarm, needing to link up with Mum again to take the 'big Citroen' into the main dealer's in Rainham for a service - Mum drove Dad back from the garage, dropping him at Oare Creek before heading for work. We mooched around for the morning waiting for 2CV Llew to arrive; he and friend Derek were hoping to lift Derek's sailing boat out of the water, but the tide never came in high enough to the crane-out slipway, so they'd have to put it off to Thursday. Anyway, the wind, in the opinion of the crane driver, was a bit borderline safe for hefting yacht hulls about.

So now we're back here in Hastings, Dad catching up on emails, facebook and barge-blogging, plus playing a couple games of Scrabble with Pud Lady, and I'm on here!


Saturday 8 October 2011

Engineer's Report

A bit of a driving day for Dad yesterday. He must hot-foot it early on up to Gravesend to help out with a move of the Cambria from the 'trot moorings' down to Royal Terrace Pier, where she can take on drinking water and where they load a mountain of food provisions care of Asda's on line delivery service. The barge is off on another 'respite for young carers' adventure under the Skipper Richard Tichener. That drive means Dad re-acquanting himself with the good old A21 snail-trail, the only major road between London and the coast not yet upgraded to be a motorway or at least dual cabbage-way.

Job done, he drives all the way back to share lunch with us and to take us a walk and play a quick game of Scrabble with Pud Lady before the next mission, which is to take us up to Faversham to see Mum and to grab a supper supplied by Diamond (with whom Mum is currently lodging - "Yay! My Landlady Rocks!" says Mum).

In between Dad gets back the Engineers/Survey report on the Project Erroll house, which is also pinged across to Mum. Seeing it in black and white is a bit scary and causes them both to wobble briefly but then, on mature consideration (ha! - letting their hearts rule their heads more like!) 99% of the issues described (damp, woodworm, dodgy floor-boards, bubbling plaster etc) they already knew about because they jump out at you when you walk in the front door, so they steady their nerves and decide to soldier on. Pud Lady is delighted as she already loves the place.

Diamond's John supports this as he has 'been there and done that' on one house already and is doing it again on another. You just plod way, he says, doing the 'labouring work', call in the tradesmen when you have the job exposed and stripped down so that they can see the worst of it all, only pay for them to do the skilled stuff and it can be very enjoyable. He also advises clearing any rubble or plaster choppings every day as the last job so that a) they never build up and b) you are not scrambling over them first thing next morning.

He also advised (as have other chums) buying or renting a caravan to use as on-site accommodation so that you have somewhere to retreat to at the end of each day/job to get cleaned up and warm and dry, rather than having to reconnect power / water / sinks etc each night and disconnect each morning. Mum and Diamond are straight onto E-bay and find a good selection of locally available 2nd hand caravans for hundreds, rather than thousands of Euro. John further advises taking plenty of photos of the bad bits so that, should you ever get disheartened, you can look back at how much you have achieved and get your spirits back up. That one, to be honest, Dad would almost certainly have done anyway, being an keen photographer. Finally, John re-assures us, we might be better off than him anyway as he had to fit all his repairs and rennovations in around a full time day job, and could only really 'play' at the weekend and evenings. We'll be able to 'play' full time.

Game on! Where's me rigger boots and hard hat?


Thursday 6 October 2011

Old Roar Gill

Memory Lane today for Dad takes the form of Local Nature Reserve "Old Roar Gill" at the top end of Alexandra Park in Hastings. The 'gill' bit is a sandstone gorge with, at times, impressive noisy (roaring?) waterfalls and a foaming white stream. It may be 'gill' (as per the nature reserve signs) or it may be "Ghyll" as in local roads Ghyllside Avenue etc, nobody seems to have decided. Perhaps it is one of these place names that pre-dates the populace being able to spell and/or being bothered about how you spelled it. Anyway, it's a lovely leafy walk down in the bottom of the gorge even though today there was precious little water, several completely dry waterfalls and no roar.

We precede this mission with our now regular stroll to Ochiltree Road and the archery fields (where we notice they have a team of young offenders doing community work clearing scrub - we approve!) and a small diversion to go see Watermen's Close. This barge-related location turns out to be a set of almshouses established by the Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the City of London, a quiet little retirement community set up in 1973 in the St Helen's Woods.

The Scrabble-athon between Dad and Pud Lady continues and honours are still even. We hear from Mrs Silverwood that she is keen for Dad (and therefore we dogs also) to head for Ireland as she is loaded down with assorted Silverwood childrens school runs and taxis to after school activities. Dad is asking her to be patient just a few more days while we get the main car serviced and the Irish part of Project Erroll up and running. We have put a surveyor / engineer in to the 'probable' house today to assess whether the septic tank is legally positioned relative to the property boundaries (Don't ask - it's an Irish thing) and to have a quick scout round for any other issues he can see. If that all comes back positive, Mum and Dad can sign something called a "Contract of Sale" (light blue touch-paper) and then pretty much sit back (and in this case decamp to Silverwood's and be Uncle again) and wait for it all to chug through. Days, Mrs S, rather than weeks. Hang in there.


Wednesday 5 October 2011

Hastings Old Town

Autumn is definitely here and the Indian summer 100% gone. As I write this a-top the hill that backs Hastings, it is blowing a hooley and driving drizzle across the garden. It's not been that bad all day though and in the morning we did get a chance to repeat the walk round to Ochiltree Road and around the archery fields and, later, Dad continued re-acquainting himself with the old hunting grounds by taking us to Hastings Old Town.

Here we parked along the end of the Stade and went for a stroll among the beach-launched fishing boats to take a few pictures and fell in with one old boy who was happy to chat. It was still good fishing, he opined, but this year the weather had been a problem. He'd been a fisherman all his life and showed us his old boat, now laid up on the shore, RX73, the "young Flying Fish" (not the one in the picture here). Bought brand new when he came out of the Navy after the war, he'd used it right round till ten years ago. Now he only goes out with his son, though on a more modern boat. You spend less time on the sea, he says, but you seem to catch more fish. His family had always been Hastings fishermen and they'd had boats called Flying Fish in their family since the Middle Ages, he said.

Back home, Pud Lady and Tom were sharing the cooking today, cheese or mushroom omelette and a selection of vegetables. Dad has bought the house a Scrabble set and Pud Lady is enjoying taking on Dad at regular intervals for some hotly contested games. So far honour is even. Dad also showed Pud Lady all the photos, warts and all, of the Project Erroll house. She is quite excited about it and prefers it to the other options Dad showed her (including the one we got outbid on). Says it will be more fun and has more potential. Go Pud Lady! You've made Dad very happy. He was worried you'd think he'd lost his mind.


Tuesday 4 October 2011

Moving out of the old place

And so we came to our last ever day at the old place. Dad was up early and nipped out to buy fresh milk - the fridge-less, sauce pan of 'cold' water method of keeping it cool gave out in the continuing heatwave. Then Mum's up too and the final bits of retreating from rooms and hoovering behind us could commence. The left over contents of each room were sorted into which car they'd best go in, or could they be left for the Angel B or the new inhabitants, or were they destined for the dump. The old king-size mattress was folded in half, tied with twine and shipped to the tip. It is too tired to be worth shipping to Ireland but was a useful stop-gap to give us comfortable nights 'camping'. A builders bulk bag is also filled with debris for dumping.

By 09:00 ish, Mum must leave for work so she packs the Fiat's share into the Fiat and heads off, knowing that after work today she will head for Diamond's, not back here. Dad must take the 2CV round to 2CV Llew's workshop just east of Wingham, where Llew has agreed to store various bits rather than leave them in the not-particularly-secure 2CV, with its canvas roof. Dad gets back by midday and has time for a last minute flurry of hoovering and sweeping before even the hoover must be loaded into a car. He texts Bev and Craig to say 'ready when you are' and retreats to the sandwich shop over the road for a bacon roll and a shop coffee, to await their arrival.

13:00 rolls round and it's game on. Dad passes them the keys, there are a few last minute instructions and questions (gas meters, wheelie bin days, water cocks etc) and B+C are pleased with a gift of fizz to see them well set up in their new home. Then it's finally dog beds and dogs into the car and we are off, watching the old place in the rear view mirrow. The run to Pud Lady's in Hastings is un-eventful, we de-camp into the house and I am let out for the usual charge around the garden (where I predictably vanish through the badger hole under the fence not to re-appear for 10 minutes by which time everyone's getting a bit stressed).

Dad is so exhausted after his ten days or so of moving house in a heat wave that he retreats to a cool bed and gonks out for an hour and a half. After that he's a bit more human and can spend some time chatting and catching up with family and then, when brother Tom returns from work, move all the stuff from the car to his old room. It is a bit weird to be back in your own childhood bedroom and look at the picture - there is still the buzzard "muriel" painted by Dad when he was a teenager (it was inspired by some display panels used as background in that week's Top of the Pops!). The room has been re-decotorated several times since but they always carefully paint round the buzzard.

We are now back on the internet courtesy of a Vodafone 3G card

More soon


Sunday 2 October 2011

And they Waddled Away

Our final full day at this address, and it's as hot and stupifying as all the previous week, making us all just feel like a good lie down instead of an arduous day's packing, cleaning and preparing to move out. Mum attacks the kitchen cupboards assisted by the Angel Betty and Dad sets about the greenhouse and shed. The new buyers are due to arrive at 11 to help Jezz-the-Windows in removing the bay window main panel once again, so that they can lift their sofa in. They have 2 sofas, but they decide that only one will really fit inside the room, so the buyer's Ma and Pa are collecting the other one later. The buyers decide to wait here, so they end up helping Dad clear the Greenhouse.

Eventually Ma and Pa arrive , the spare sofa is loaded and they are out of here till tomorrow when they actually take over the property. Mum and Dad get stuck into dump runs and final blitzing, working their ways in from the periphery to the hall then the front door assigning all the remaining stuff to one of the three cars, to 'give away' or to the tip. By about 2 the heat's getting too much for any of us and we all retreat for a good lie down.

The Angel B comes up trumps with an offer of supper and drinks. Mum and Dad jump at the chance to sit in proper comfortable chairs and eat at a table - they are all getting a bit fed up of camping and eating off paper plates on their knees on folding chairs..

And so to the final night here, on the mattress on the main bedroom floor. Tomorrow is a day for the final few dump runs, cramming everything that's left into the cars and getting them dispersed off the drive. This has to be by 13:00 legally, but Dad has arranged with the buyers that we all meet in the drive for a hand over at some point late morning.

Sadly, Dear Reader, this will also be cause of a break in transmission. As Dad finishes his contract with British Telecom and they turn off the landline, so too does the broadband service get turned off. We will be unable to see the internet for a few days till we get a broadband Wi-Fi dongle sorted out, so no more Deefer-Dawg for a few days. We have tried to get this sorted in this town but the only mobile phone shop here is run by an inept 12 year old with the intelligence of a ham sandwich, so we have not succeeded so far. When we pop up again it will be on the new email address (not that you'll need to know that). Meanwhile, not much point commenting on this blog through normal channels - email us off line if you want us to know anything

So, for now, wish us all luck and good fortune in our moving about, hoping that we stay safe and return to normal transmissions as soon as possible in the Brand New Life. Project Erroll is game on!

See you soon


Nearly There

Our final weekend at this current address and the pressure is on, despite the stupifying heat to clear the debris of the house move from the premises so that new owners, Bev and Craig, can move in to a nice, tidy, cleaned house. Mum attacks the kitchen, clearing all the cupboards and sorting the food and old ingredients into keep-and-take-with-her-to-Diamond's, give away to the neighbours, feed to the birds, and chuck. We don't like to waste food but there are, inevitably, bags of Iranian raisins at the back of that cupboard, or packets of semolina in the bottom of the tub labelled Chinese Ingredients, which have gone past sell by.

Dad's job is the loft, with its load of old University books and its boxes of pre-digital 'Truprint' photograph packets (remember those?). Dad has been as trigger happy for at least 40 years as he is now and, pre-digital this involved reels of 36-picture films which you'd send off to Truprint and get back with the glossy postcard sized pictures and the strips of negatives cut into fours. If you were lucky, says Dad, maybe half a dozen of your 36 would be use-able in photo albums. The rest, left in their packets, accumulated in shoe boxes, hopefully clearly labelled as "Bovington Tank Museum 1981, film 2 of 3" or some such, and found their way into the loft.

You were always going to do something with them and never did. Well, Mum and Dad have finally decided that what they're going to do with them is landfill, so they joined the old bread makers, lost shoes, Open University Law books, transparent push-chair covers, ancient PCs and Billy Joel LPs in the back of Dad's car on the way to the tip. Normally, Dad would stand at the loft hatch, Mum at the bottom of the ladder and everything would get passed down, potentially spilling out of dusty boxes and landing on Mum's head but not this time.

They found, fortuitously that at some point in the last years, they'd bought a wad of tough, transparent plastic sacks. Each lot, box or what ever, could be neck-tied into one of these bags and dropped through the hatch onto the landing where it would not burst, especially if it was landing on the stuff already dropped, and this way everything was 'got down' and 'brought down the stairs' to the car without anyone getting damaged. Dad is then (shock! horror!) able to hoover the completely cleared loft floor, a feat not possible for the intervening 17 years!

Also on the Saturday, the new owners wanted to move some of their stuff into the house, it being the weekend and them not being available to hire vans etc on the real day, which is Monday. We had three visits from them through the day (one in the middle of Doctor Who, which is never going to work as a method of making frineds with Mum and Dad!), each with the same hire van but each with different accompanying helpers. First up is Craig's mate in a big Shogun, and his Dad in an ordinary car, 2nd comes Bev's parents who are happy to sit in the garden talking to Mum and we dogs while Dad introduces Bev and Craig to the neighbours either side.

So by the end of Saturday, as the troops eat their fish and chips and drink Prosecco (the latter kept cool by leaving it dunked in the pond) sitting on the borrowed folding chairs or a 'blanket on the ground', watching Doctor Who, steamed through the internet, the screen propped up on an upturned wicker basket, a pedal-bin and a baguette cutting board, they are both knackered from the day's efforts but feeling like they are getting there. Loft and kitchen are cleared, rubbish is got rid of, most of Bev and Craig's stuff is in the living room. Only really the shed to go and some titivating. Then we're outta here.

Movin' on