House Warming

‘Hahaha!’ says the heating engineer, recoiling as he takes his first glimpse of our boiler. ‘I know this one. Saw it three years ago and it was on its last legs then!’ The boiler makes the mighty whooshing sound that’s become part of the soundscape of our new home. It’s followed by the tinkling of falling ash particles, like the Grimsvötn volcano in miniature. ‘That,’ says the heating engineer, ‘is what we call The Boiler Death Rattle!’. There’s clearly no hope for the patient, but how about the rest of the heating system? The heating engineer and his apprentice - yes, a real live apprentice! As someone who once worked with ‘disaffected and disengaged’ young people, you’ve no idea how hard it was to find apprenticeship schemes - crawl into loft spaces whilst ghostly echoes of their laughter trail down to Tom and I waiting in the kitchen. The verdict is not good, but as yet we have no idea what it will cost to put right. ‘I’ll try to send you a quote before I go on holiday!’ says the heating engineer. Maybe we should have established if he was going off backpacking for six months...

It’s been interesting to see people’s reactions to the new house; the location is wonderful, but there’s some work to be done inside. I was very cheered up last week when some dear friends visited and saw exactly what we’d fallen in love with. It makes an occasionally daunting project somehow seem more manageable. And talking of labours of love, I was very touched when the postman turned up with a housewarming present from my sister. She’s a very busy bunny, but has spent hours stitching this beautiful cushion for me. It arrived with a copy of Carol Klein’s lovely book, ‘Life in a Cottage Garden’. The idea is for me to loll around on the cushion reading the book, but after all my sister’s hard work, I’m a tad reluctant to squash that cushion just yet!

Coming up for air after my recent writeathon, I spent a brilliant morning in the company of Welsh tweeters, Preseli Mags, Lins, Kathryn and Squizzey at Lins's beautiful home. I’m always struck by how comfortable meetings with friends I’ve only ‘talked’ to via the internet are. The only reluctance came from Topsy, Lins gorgeous dachsie, who took a bit of winning over until a dog treat and the smell of Mag’s homemade brownies forced her to make friends. Mind you, I’d go a long way for one of Mag’s brownies, so I may have to work on Topsy which is another good reason for meeting up again.

One of the joys of moving to a new garden is the pleasure of seeing what’s coming up next. Along with the 'seventies house, there's some dramatic 'seventies planting, like these red hot pokers lighting up the garden in the twilight yesterday evening.

And then we stood at the end of the garden and watched this...


Pauline Barclay said…
So delighted that you have found your own little paradise. As for the work, phew we know about that our villa, we bought 3 years ago, needs a complete rebuild....we've attacked some of it...rewiring, all new windows and patio doors and much more, but much more to do....a bottomless money is needed...laugh...enjoy it all! It looks fab! Hugs x
HelenMHunt said…
I too have experienced 'Boiler Death Rattle' so you have my sympathies. The garden and view look lovely though.
Glenda Manus said…
Thanks for your comments while coming over for a visit to my blog yesterday. We bought and restored a 1920's bungalow cottage about 15 years ago. It was a monumental task but worth it! These old houses have great bone structure and make for some interesting stories.
Frances said…
Chris, thank you for the update on your new home. Surely, it's better to hear about a deficient boiler at the beginning of summer than during another season? I admit I would also have wanted to know more about the boilerman's upcoming long holiday...but perhaps he takes these holidays after a long winter's toil.

That view is spectacular!

I know what you mean about being reluctant to squish that marvelous cushion made by your sister. It's terrific!

Must be fun to watch the garden show you its annual performance, and definitely must have been fun to meet up with those folks!

Best wishes to you and Tom. xo
Lins' lleisio said…
What a beautiful cushion, made with love. How special. A new family heirloom. Topsy's been missing you since you've been gone and is waiting for her next doggie treat. We must do it again. It was lovely to just sit, chat and eat. Perfick. Such a relaxing last picture, enjoy.
Teresa said…
Your house surroundings are breath taking. Enjoy!
When we bought the house we live in the house was also in dire need of repair. Nothing like your boiler, but some Nip here a Tick in there but, ten years after moving there I still think we choose well.
And my surroundings are quite urban not like yours. I could live in a gardenshed with that view ahahahahahah.
Flowerpot said…
Your new home sounds just wonderful Chris though sorry about the Death Rattle of the boiler - been there done that! Fabulous views though and hope you are enjoying them tonight and every night.
Debs Carr said…
Apart from the dratted boiler everything looks and seems fabulous. I love that cushion and those flowers and that view is magnificent.

I hope you'll both be blissfully happy in your new home.
Pondside said…
It sounds as though you've found the place for you and Tom. No matter the problem with the boiler, if the things that you really need are there (like that sunset!) you are in the right house. Try to enjoy the reno process and take lots of photos - but spend as much time as you can outside while the weather is nice. The inside work will keep.
I love the cushion - could you ask your sister about the pattern? I have a sister who'd love it.
elizabethm said…
Oh wow, what a view! Taking on a new house and garden is an exciting thing to do. I am so glad you got there after all that travail. Enjoy it now, boiler and all.
Norma Murray said…
All the very best for your future happiness in your new home. And don't forget. You've got all of the summer to get that old boiler sorted out.
gaelikaa said…
I love reading about your idyllic Welsh life. Sounds like the perfect atmosphere for writing in. I suppose your boiler repair man rather shattered the atmosphere! "Boiler death rattle" indeed. Ewww!
Preseli Mags said…
What fabulous red hot pokers. A new garden is such a voyage of discovery for the first year. What a lovely house warming present. I wouldn't want to squash that lovely cushion either. And it was lovely seeing you again too. We must do it again - I can always make more brownies!
Fennie said…
I am wondering how long it will be before two heating engineers and a rattling boiler figure in one of your stories. What you haven't said is what the boiler burns? Oil - always troublesome and expensive. Anthracite - very sixties but possible, I suppose, although today it probably has to be imported from China rather than being dug out from just down the road; or propane in tanks and cylinders requiring endless Elfandsaftee inspections. I know there's oodles of gas in the water underneath your photograph - would you believe I was once the secretary of a body called the 'Celtic Sea Oil Committee' (it never met during my tenure of the post, I wasn't even sure who was supposed to be on it) but Pembroke and Ceredigion were hailed as the new Shetlands. All seems rather unlikely now. A propos of which I've just met a boiler (in France) that runs on wood chips. You have something on the back of a tractor into which you put any old rubbish and then you blow the result into a shed with a great Archimedes screw which feeds the chips into the boiler. As sustainable as the day is long. The Archimedes screw however sounds like your own boiler's death rattle. Love the red hot pokers! Very Edward II.
Ahhh, now THAT'S what makes it all worthwhile. Wonderful sunset.

Makes me smile when builders come round to give a quote and you hear a sharp intake of breath as they scratch their head/chin, and you know what's coming next... :D

Bluebell Books said…
awesome garden shots.
I wonder how you manage blogging while writing.


let us know if you wish to have your book listed in our blog.
Wow! Wow and thrice WOW! That last pic!!!
Jenny Beattie said…
That cushion is beautiful and the red hot pokers remind me of my own growing up in the 70s. They're outrageous.

Good luck with the quote and the work...
Elizabethd said…
What a beautiful situation you have found. I'm sure the boiler will be a 'minor' inconvenience compared to all those wonderful scenic views.
Chris Stovell said…
Pauline, yes, we to have to keep a watchful eye on the money... although at the moment no one's telling us what we need to spend!

Helen, it's not good is it? Such a graphic description too!

Glenda, thank you. That's a good point about the bone structure. I think beneath the ravaged face we may find some true beauty!

Frances, we're a bit concerned that it'll be winter again before we persuade someone to do the work. And we probably need rewiring (not us, the house!). Yes, we're really enjoying the garden - it offers something new every day.

Lins, aw! I miss Topsy - I have to get my doggie fix where I can! Hope to meet again soon.

Teresa, thank you. We do feel very fortunate to be here... just as well we can step outside with so much to do inside. Like you though, we'll get there!
Chris Stovell said…
Fp, yes, that's the point, isn't it? To remember to take a good look at those views every day and NEVER take them for granted! Thanks for reminding me.

Debs, thank you. I think we've found 'The One'! Certainly in terms of location we couldn't have wished for more.

Pondside. Thanks very much for your excellent advice. It's too easy to feel a bit daunted by the inside work, when, after all, the previous owner has lived here very happily for years and only moved reluctantly because the garden was getting a bit much. You'll find the tapestry kit at Hope your sister enjoys it. I'm still very touched by my sister's gesture.
Chris Stovell said…
Elizabethm, thank you. It's a huge pleasure discovering this garden and the rest will come (in good time!).

Norma, hello m'dear. Good to see you. I think it's going to take all summer! But, yes, right now is the time to enjoy being able to sit outside and soak up the sights.

gaelikaa, it's been brilliant for writing so far (phew). Just lovely to be somewhere quiet. Not the place for anyone who likes plenty of shopping and nightlife though!

Mags, it was lovely to meet up again (brownies or not!). It's lovely coming to a mature garden to see what's arriving. Someone seems to have planted it with great care and an eye to waves of colour. Now we've just got to tidy it up a bit and keep on top of it!

Fennie, I'm afraid it's oil, aka liquid gold and like everyone else I know we take a deep breath whenever it's time to fill the tank. Interesting about us being the new Shetlands, although I'm glad I don't have to look at loads of oil rigs at the bottom of my garden (famous last words). You did make me laugh with your Edward II comment - my poor red hot pokers won't seem quite the same now!

BSM, it was the laughter and the way they kept saying 'interesting' to each other that made my blood run cold. We still haven't had the quote so I'm now very afraid!

Bluebell Books, welcome and thank you for your comment. I'll pop over and visit.

SBS, yes, I think we've done it!

Jenny, they are outrageous aren't they? Amazingly though they sort of work in a blg block like that... not so great one at a time!

Elizabethd, we thrilled to bits with the outside views. The inside views aren't quite so great but we'll get there!

Popular Posts