Saturday, 26 March 2011

Looks like we made it!

There's a blog title for all the Barry Manilow fans in da house!  Talking of houses...!!!  Yes we are finally the proud owners of a tiny bungalow in Grange-Over-Sands and it does feel good to finally have a roof our heads.  (Think I may have inadvertantly split an infinitive there, sorry!).

It's a gorgeous little place - 2 beds and an open plan-ish lounge/ diner/ kitchen - hard to describe, but it is lovely.  The neighbours on both sides are delightful and I know we'll be really happy here.  There's no getting away from the fact that it's in need of a little sprucing up, especially the kitchen which went in in 1976 and hasn't been updated since.  The lino is a symphony of orange and browns which perfectly match the bright orange formica work surfaces.  Maybe I should just leave it - I've heard that retro is in and I have a brown and orange Kenwood Chef dating from around the same period which will blend in perfectly.  Watch out for us on the next series of Life on Mars.

We finally got our grubby mitts on the keys on Monday which was an exciting day in many ways as we spent the morning watching the Arnside Bore.  Now I know I may have been somewhat dismissive of the idea of watching a wave come up the estuary, but if you ever get the chance to see one it's certainly worth a look.  The wave itself was really rather small, no higher than a few inches, but the volume of water it bought behind it was breathtaking - it was like we were watching the tide come in on one wave, and you can certainly appreciate how people get very easily stranded.  It was hard to believe that high tide wasn't for another 2 and a half hours - but by that time we were long gone and frolicking in our new abode.

New back garden
It's been an up and down week all the same - all though the ups have been very much higher of late.  Poor old Steve has been battling a dreadful toothache and we'd already had one visit to the emergency dentist in Kendal hospital, but it all kicked off again yesterday morning so we ended up spending the early evening back at the hospital for him to have the marauding molar removed.  Horrible as it was it's done the trick and although he's still somewhat sore at least he's on the mend and it's a great excuse to eat lots of ice cream.

Monty's gradually getting used to the place.  I don't think he was at all impressed when we removed him from his lovely home in Delores with all the wonderful woods for him to roam in, but once we can start letting him out here I'm sure he'll forgive us.  The bungalow is an odd sort of a layout and we're basically living upstairs and the floor creaks and moans a fair bit which is spooking him, but he'll soon get used to it.

Right now we're sat in the bar back at the campsite making full use of the free WiFi before we get unceremoniously booted off on Thursday.  Steve has been busy moving and smashing vast lumps of limestone in an effort to clear enough space in front of the house to park Delores and we're nearly there.  On Friday we're heading south to clean and clear the house ready for our tenant and move all our goodies up here.  The estate agent wanted £300 to 'professionally clean' the house.  £300?!!  I'd lick it clean for that!  I shall go armed with a shed load of Mr Muscle and a pair of my finest Marigolds - I mean, just how clean can a toilet get?  I'm sure it will be wierd going back but it'll be great to finally get all our familiar stuff up here, there's only so long you can live with a floral print sofa.

I'm planning on keeping the blog going for a while yet as there's loads for us to discover up here and I want to make sure we remember all our adventures, I've been amazed when I read back through at just how much we forget about some of the things we've done, must be my age!  It's been a tough old 3 months but we've finally made it (assuming all our worldly possesions don't go awol somewhere up the M6), we're living in a truly beautiful part of the world, I have a fabulous new job and we're all incredibly happy, and I honestly don't think you can ask for more than that now, can you?

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Is that Jo Brand warming up her vocal cords?

View from Arnside Knott across the Kent Estuary

Just asking as I think the fat lady may be about to sing.  We were with our solicitor on Friday and we exchanged contracts, with him absolutely assuring us that we will definitely complete tomorrow.  I hope so as we've now told loads of people and will look really silly if it all goes pear shaped!  I can't even begin to comprehend this properly, which may sound really wierd, but it's been a very long journey for us in every sense of the word and to now be within sight of the finishing line seems somehow surreal.  The new place is so perfect in so many ways and we're buying it fully furnished which means we can sort of move in right away - with a little creative thought.  The bed will have to be a split single bed and the furniture is designed for a little old lady rather than two sprawling 40 somethings, and don't even start me on the kitchen - an absolute symphony of 1970's brown and orange - I mayhave to post pics once we're safely in there.

The entire week has been focused on the house move - in between working jolly hard of course.  This week saw me discover the unexplored joys of Ormskirk and Burnley though with work taking up most of the day their joys still remain largely unexplored if I'm honest.  Steve came with me to Ormskirk and headed off to spend the day photographing barnacled bums on Crosby beach.  If you're not familiar with Crosby beach then don't worry about him getting arrested, the bums all belong to an Anthony Gormley collection of statues in the harbour.

Please forgive me if this isn't down to my usual standard, I've tried very hard to keep these lively and up beat but right now I'm so distracted by the idea of moving into our new home tomorrow that I'm finding it hard to concentrate.  The lack of concentration is in no way down to the large glass of Malbec I just consumed - for purely medicinal purposes you understand.  To help keep me distracted in the morning we're planning to go down to watch the Arnside Bore, which is like the Severn Bore only somewhat smaller.  There's a huge spring tide tomorrow and sometime between 11am and 11:30am the bore is scheduled to strike - which is probably around the same time that we'll be hearing from our solicitor so trust me, I'll need a distraction, I'm not remotely easy company when I'm stressed and what better way to disctract me than by watching a wave.  At the seaside.  Doesn't sound all that special when you put it like that does it?

Kent Estuary up close.
I've really enjoyed reading back through my ramblings this year as, although it's been frustrating at times, things have been unfolding and changing on an almost weekly basis.  We came up here on 2nd Jan expecting to sell our house and buy 'Bonkers House' in Kendal and now here we are having not sold our house and buying a small place in Grange-over-Sands instead.  In between we've considered the relative merits of 'Heart House' and 'Head House' and ended up finding a much smaller place which is just about perfect and yet is something we wouldn't have considered looking at 10 weeks ago.  If 2011 has taught me anything this far it's that I need to be open minded and flexible, though if things calm down a bit after Easter I won't be upset at all.  Once we get the keys we need to make a couple of small tweaks to allow us to move Delores up and then we need to sort out the removal guys to bring all our goodies up from Fleet - which will probably happen sometime during the first week of April.  After that we've got a few weeks of unpacking  and sorting out lives out before we can begin to establish what will pass for normality in our new life.

It's been an absolute roller coaster thus far but at no point has it crossed our mind that we're not doing the right thing.  Morecambe Bay has totally won me over. Being a fan of the Cornish coast I wasn't sure if I'd take to a tame bay like this, but it's truly stunning.  At high tide there is the most enormous expanse of water and at low tide the bay is a mosaic of sandbanks, pools and channels.  It's a constantly shifting and can completely change from one minute to the next.  At the weekends we've taken off to the hills and lakes and discovered that there is so much to explore that it's going to take us quite some time to get bored with it all, though there are definitely some places we'll be avoiding in the height of the tourist season.  I still can't believe that we're living somewhere people come to on holiday and dream of living - just goes to show you can make anything happen if you try hard enough.  Or are bloody minded enough.

I promise I'll let you know how things go tomorrow, but bear with me as we'll be leaving behind the free WiFi of the cafe and it may take a little while to sort out broadband etc. at the house.  Steve is in charge of sorting that out and all I can hear at the moment is him cursing at how slow things are up here, I'm fairly certain that if he'd done this research prior to us making the offer he'd have used it as a bargaining chip.  Anyway, time for me to go and burn off some energy making dinner and tormenting the cat and maybe getting an early night.  It's going to be a long day tomorrow and heaven knows I need my beauty sleep!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Wherever I lay my hat.

"Darling, where's my hat?" is the most often heard phrase in Delores for two main reasons, firstly because it's bloomin' cold outside and secondly because, despite Delores only being 6m long and just over 2m wide, it's alarmingly easy to lose stuff.  Somewhere in the depths of her many cupboards lie assorted socks and at least one bra.  They must be here somewhere as they're not really the sorts of things you'd lose anywhere else, are they?

Campsite taken from Arnside Knott
One thing we can't afford to lose is any of the paperwork from the assorted solicitors and mortgage companies.  We've trained most of them to email us stuff but they still have this obsession with sending us a hard copy, the upshot being that as a result of this whole house moving process one small corner of the depleted rainforest will be forever on my conscience.  On a brighter note we did manage to complete phase one this week by completing on the 'buy-to-let' mortgage on our home in Fleet and bagging a tenant on the same day.  You may well think that at least that's one less thing to worry about but you'd be wrong, now we have to worry about getting landlord's gas & electricity certificates, clearing the house, cleaning it to within an inch of it's life etc. etc. etc..  Must be rather like being a nervous parent when your child gets married, you know someone else is meant to be looking after them now but your just not sure they'll do it quite as well as you would.

Work and house stuff has kept us pretty busy this week and in addition to that we're now learning what it's like to share our limited living space with germs.  Yes, having managed to dodge every cold and flu virus so far this winter, I've now been hit with a doozie.  I have a throat like sandpaper and a somewhat less than attractive hacking cough.  Of course I can't just take myself off to bed as, when the bed is out, it takes up around 2/3 of the space inside, so instead I have to make do with curling up on the sofa, but it's just not the same as cool clean sheets when you're feeling grotty.  The lack of spare room is also a distinct disadvantage for Steve as he has nowhere else to crawl off and sleep when my snoring reaches it's zenith.  (And you thought a hacking cough was unattractive!)

Hats are essential.
In an attempt to breathe some life into my bones we headed for Windermere today.  We took a pleasant stroll around Bowness and enjoyed hot pork rolls down by the lake shore for lunch.  We were lucky to hang onto our rolls as we were being constantly harassed by a couple of stroppy swans.  What I'm most curious about is where in their evolutionary history did swans develop a taste for roast pork?  I have little doubt that in a swan versus small pig fight that the swan may well win, but I must have missed the Attenborough show where he uncovered their ability to roast said pig then rustle up a pot of apple sauce and a fine bit of stuffing.

And so here we now sit, tucked up for the evening in Delores whilst Monty gets up to heaven knows what mischief on his nightly patrol of the neighbourhood.  I'm busy writing this blog to keep all our friends and family updated with our escapades and Steve is trying to release sheep from a 'tractor' beam and muttering about daddy's sheep being too big to get through the ice ray. Don't worry, he's not been at the local mushrooms, he's stuck on Chapter 2, Level 1 of Farm Break and would welcome any assistance you may be able to offer.

Our solicitor reckons we could complete on the house up here by this coming Friday - but we've all heard that one before so I'm trying not to hold my breath too hard.  If by some miracle we do then we can at last look forward to being reunited with our assorted missing undergarments.  About time too - it's beginning to get parky again.

Monday, 7 March 2011

The end of the world is nigh.

Well, maybe not for a few trillion, trillion, trillion years or so, according to the lovely Prof Cox, but it's on its way.  Kind of makes you wonder why you bother when we'll all eventually end up as atoms in some sort of entropy driven sea.  Maybe RBS will have replied to my fax on their "Emergency Completion Line" by then.  It's possible I suppose...

View from top of Ingleborough
So, house move dramas aside, what have we been up to for the past week or so?  Doing our best to explore our surroundings and making the most of the gorgeous weather, that's what.  On the W/E of 26/ 27 Feb we pootled around locally on the Saturday before hiking our way up Ingleborough on the Sunday.  Whilst the weather was good for hiking, no rain and not too much sun, the wind on the top was like nothing I've ever experienced before - I could genuinely lean into it.  Steve nearly lost a glove when the wind whipped it out of his hand but luckily he managed to sprint after it and pounced just in time.  It's a good job I'd had a hearty lunch else I could have been blown clean away.  And just to be sure for next time I had a hearty dinner too.

Work has regularly been taking me to pastures new and this week I found myself in Skelmersdale.  I have no wish to be disrespectful to the good folk of Skelmersdale so I'll just say it looks like a very practical town and has a nice co-op.  If you ever go there though don't plan on having a nice picnic lunch on a local park bench - they removed them all such was their popularity with the local youths.  Nice to know the young folk like to get out and about in the evenings.

This weekend we have tried to distract ourselves and on Saturday this resulted in a bit of an epic (for us) hike.  We set off with me in charge of the map - not that I ever get us lost, more that I have a hugely optimistic idea of how close together places are.  12 miles and about 5 hours later we staggered back to the site, but we'd had a fabulous time and even found some fairy steps.  Rumour has it that if you can climb the Fairy Steps without touching the sides you'll see a fairy.  Let me tell you the only person likely to be able to climb those steps without touching the sides would be Kiera Knightly, if she'd gone on a crash diet and held her breath the entire way up, at which point the halucinations she'll be more than likely experiencing will probably include fairies.  I was begining to regret my hearty meals from the previous weekend...

The Pepperpot
Which brings us to yesterday and another glorious day.  Steve had, rather sensibly, confiscated my map so we toddled around Silverdale and spent a lovely hour or so up near the Pepperpot  which was built in honour of Queen Victoria, though I've no idea how a 20 foot high pepperpot connects to our longest reigning monarch.  We passed the time  admiring the fantastic views down over the Kent Estuary to the Lake District and across Morecambe Bay to, well, Morecambe.  Later on, having enjoyed a lovely, if rather nippy, barbeque, we decided to head back to the Pepperpot to watch the sunset, equipped with a flask of tea and a packet of Jaffa cakes.  The sunset was as gorgeous as ever so we hung around for another hour or so to watch the International Space Station go over.  We passed the time by practising our owl calls in an attempt to attract owls.  We failed.  How come assoirted members of the Famous Five, Secret Seven and Swallows & Amazons have no problems with this?  The best I managed was a rather pervy sounding wolf whistle which, if anyone else had heard it, could have given them entirely the wrong idea about our intentions on top of a lonely hill after dark.

And that's us all up to date again.  The waiting continues and, with fewer than 4 weeks remaining on the site, our focus is sharpening by the second.  We're still convinced we want to stay up here and we know it won't be as smooth sailing as we'd hoped - certainly not for the first couple of years anyway - but we'll make it, and I'm sure we'll have some great stories to tell.  Most of them involving really cheap nights out and frugal weekends away...

Friday, 4 March 2011

And then there were three...

Ok - extra bonus points to anyone who can name the artist..?  Jimmy Saville's old record club - what can I say?  Old habits die hard!  There's three of us in Delores and three vans left on the entire site.  And where did one of them park?  In the pitch directly next to ours.  The magnetic properties of Delores live on!

I never meant to leave it a week between posts but sometimes circumstances just get in the way... You know that mortgage company I mentioned last time?  Well they've been at it again, which means today I'm under the influence of a fine bottle of Pinot Grigio and so it's best to leave the proper blogging 'til tomorrow.  On the day of completion the mortgage company suddenly decided, at 11am, that they wanted more info.  They needed this info so urgently that it took them a full 24 hours to tell us exactly what it was. Ever the optimist I sorted the required info and sent it to them within 2 hours. That was at 11am today.  Have they responded yet?  Of course not, that would require them to view me as a person and not just a case number.  And so we face a weekend in hiatus, pondering our future.

Seeing as it wouldn't be generally acceptible to spend the entire weekend with my mates Pinot & Grigio, I'm going to have to spend some time doing something else, which will probably mean finding another hill to climb.  So, if I'm not around tomorrow updating the blog send out a search party.  I'll either be halfway up a fell or have fallen down in a local bar.  It's a tough call but I know where I'd look first.