Tag Archives: Chardonnay

Do you need more storage? An Ikea Pax wardrobe might float your boat.

Mud & Marriage – A Housebuilding Adventure is available in paperback from this website or from Amazon.co.uk in paperback or on Kindle.

Well … I have made my first foray into writing an article for a magazine – I am very happy indeed and feel really lucky to have been given the opportunity. I was invited to write the article for the April edition of i-build magazine and I am very pleased with the result – thank you editor Emily Smith.

Self-building is a big life changing experience and writing the book is another. When I wrote the article I was thinking of other self-builders battling the wind and rain trying to get their build watertight – as being watertight is a major achievement and signals a significant step in the process of building a home. I suppose April showers are all part of the process. If you are building at the moment I feel for you, but hang on in there; it’ll be worth it, there is light at the end of the chilly and damp tunnel. One day you’ll look back fondly – it’s amazing how you forget the sogginess (but you do).

I don’t know if you have read my previous ramblings, but I have said in the past that I wish we had built in more storage at the time of the build. Well, Mr Clark and I took the plunge and now we have a fabulous Ikea Pax wardrobe.  Actually it isn’t just a wardrobe; it is a whole wall of storage with drawers and shelves, which we customised for the space with the help of a lovely young lady at the Southampton branch. We went to Ikea for dinner – who doesn’t love their meatballs – and came away with a printout of exactly what our wardrobe would look like. When it arrived, Mr C put it all together himself … he demolished a light fitting in the process but I think he enjoyed the challenge. It prompted an overdue spring clean which can only be a good thing and Oxfam will be happy.

As I wipe the salad cream off the ends of my hair (I’ve just had my dinner) and the dinner medals off my jumper, I would just like to say – before I have a glass of Chardonnay, thank you for reading my blog. It would be lovely to hear from you if you felt like dropping me a line.

Back view small

The bigger picture

It’s amazing what we human beings can put up with eh? Heartbreak, the dishwasher going kaput, chronic back pain, a small child with a cold sneezing right in your face.

I have a lovely friend who is usually as cool as a cucumber, and has been waiting patiently for her house sale to go through and for the other party to tick all their mortgage offer boxes and get on with it. She said to me today that Mrs nice guy had gone out of the window during a conversation with the estate agent – I wasn’t surprised, but I suspected that Mrs irate guy was firm but fair even though she was still in the dark as to what was actually going on. She was just spitting out the last feather when she saw a young man on the TV who was in real pain through the ravages of a dreadful disease. It stopped her in her tracks and she said to me that her situation was put into a rapid perspective.

I know how hard it is to see the bigger picture when your carpenter has buggered off and left you in limbo without a word, or when you are glossing your fascia boards in sub-zero temperatures. It can completely disappear when your husband tells you that if you drink less wine you could lose weight. I don’t know why it goes, it just does. We’re only human. I reckon our dilemmas do matter; they loom large at the time. I would just say that your TJI joists will turn up eventually and your windows will get fitted. You might even get all your VAT back – imagine that. Taking a step back to look at things is always good. When I teach art classes, I always get my students to have a look at their work from a distance, and then they see what needs to be done. It works every time.

In my experience, managing your own house build makes you resilient and is character building, even if you aren’t ready to have your character built. I think it is a good thing on the whole even if you are a perfectionist. I know it seems mad, but if you take on your own house build I expect you will find yourself saying ‘that’ll do’ even if you thought it could never ever happen – not in a million years. Even if you had previously said ‘I will have those exact Heritage taps’ – out loud. But if the budget runs out, the dreaded C word will rear its ugly head… Compromise. Building-wise I say don’t compromise on what is important to you, but Screwfix do have some decent taps. http://www.screwfix.com/c/bathrooms-kitchens/taps/cat820012

I’m going to practice seeing the bigger picture. There’s a particular Picasso painting I can meditate upon which pokes firmly at the pain invoking parts of the grey matter, but first I might need a large glass of Chardonnay.  But what is all that shouting about…oh my God Mr Clark’s shaver has burst into flames – quick get the fire extinguisher!


Wood burners and wood pellet boilers?

I have just cleaned out our Olivieri wood pellet boiler in order to take the picture below. When Mr Clark cleans it he doesn’t get any dirt on him whatsoever, I now look like a chimney sweep and wouldn’t look out of place next to Dick Van Dyke tap dancing on the rooftops. We were fobbed off with a boiler with no pull out ash box and have to regularly clean it out with the Henry Hoover. My shuffle ball change moves are a bit rusty for those sorts of chim chim-in-ey shenanigans and I am now in dire need of a bath – good job the boiler is on eh.

Olivieri went out of business a few years ago so getting spare parts is tricky. We had to get some new grilles made for the grate and now the fire box has cracked the grilles keep plopping through. I smoked out the whole house recently when I opened the boiler door to investigate what had gone wrong when flames had gone out. Mr Clark went to see his friend Mr Decmar who gave him a couple of suggestions in the grille department. Wrapping stainless steel wire around the grille has done the trick and has now made it possible for us to keep warm and have hot water. Thank you Mr Decmar. We love our Olivieri boiler but it is a bit of a fuss -pot and isn’t to be trusted. Pellet boiler technology has come on leaps and bounds since we bought ours and it would make sense to get a new one, but I would be very sad to see our Olivieri go, it is part of the family with its funny ways and noises. I would also have to learn a pretty special tap routine and do a lot of busking to pay for a new one.

Do we wish we had included a back boiler when we installed in our Clearview Pioneer 400 wood burning stove in the sitting room?  Yes we do. It would be free hot water, what were we thinking?! Oh well what’s done is done and what could be better than sitting on the sofa with a nice glass of Chardonnay watching Strictly Come Dancing?


Good advice: www.homebuilding.co.uk/advice/key-choices/heating/cost-effective-woodburners

Olivieri small 003           sitting room Nov 2014 007