The Planet Rock Hairy Rock Show on the radio, racing through the winter landscape in a muddy Skoda Yeti, Mr and Mrs Clark made their way to the Bath & West Showground to the Somerset Homebuilding and Renovating Show. They sang My Woman from Tokyo by Deep Purple at full blast as they passed Stonehenge on the A303, take that you pagans! They shouted and sang When I was a Boy by ELO, harmonising very nicely indeed. This was going to be a grand day out. Read more
I have been following The Girl in the Hard Hat Shirley Alexander on Twitter for a while now, and reading her blog about an astounding barn renovation that she took on near Blairgowrie about 80 miles north of Edinburgh. I was so impressed with the scale of the project and the fact that she has done the vast majority of the work herself, I really wanted to meet her.
She very kindly accepted my request for a rendezvous and we met in a café in London near to where she works as an accountant. I didn’t know Shirley at all, but from the picture on her blog with tool belt and a slight scowl I had an image of a tall and slightly scary Amazonian woman. My image, as it turned out, was completely wrong – in walked a small, pretty, smiling lady – she must have immensely strong core muscles I thought to myself…
How many of you woke up this morning in Britain singing that Bonnie Tyler song? Mr Clark was treated to a rendition on my awakening. He wasn’t impressed.
I opened the shutters wide and what did I see? A completely grey sky staring back at me. Then the sun came out about an hour later – oh well. According to my horoscope in the Telegraph magazine, the solar eclipse is auspicious. I am still waiting for that ‘unexpected conversation this week that will help me branch out and break new ground’.
I had a long chat with a lovely young lady from Homebuilding and Renovating Magazine yesterday. It wasn’t ground-breaking but a very good chat nonetheless. We talked about the Homebuilding and Renovating shows, as Mr Clark and I went to quite a few of them before and during our self-build. It was at one of the shows that we met a couple who were by then on their third house build, and they, along with Mark Brinkley and David Snell (the house building gurus), inspired us to go ahead and project manage our own build.
For us the shows were a vital part of gathering information for essential items, from roof tiles and ground- source heating, to sewage treatment systems and flooring, we always came away with bulging carrier bags full of brochures. If you are planning to go to a show, take your list of stands you want to visit, wear comfy shoes and also take a flask and sandwiches – gather as many free pens and sweets from the stands as you can, and have a lovely time eyeing up all those things you would love to have but you probably can’t afford (luxury mobile homes or caravans for living on site being one of them), they might not let you eat your sandwiches as you try out the comfy seats but you could have a go and see what happens!
You can read more about our Homebuilding and Renovating Show visits in my book Mud & Marriage – A Housebuilding Adventure, available from Amazon.co.uk or from this website.
We have lift off! I hardly ate anything for four days in order to squeeze into my dress for the book launch! There were loads of lovely people there to help me celebrate. The Newbury Weekly News fab photographer Geoff Fletcher came and took some pictures along with Trish Lee their brilliant arts lady. You could get a Kubota digger through the gap in my front teeth so I tried not to smile too much. It was a lovely do though.
My sister Kate made the carrot cake (pictured) she’s so clever. You’ll be relieved to hear that I didn’t eat the whole thing; the ladder would’ve got stuck in my teeth for sure.
I have friends who are just embarking on their own house builds and I would like to suggest a small reading list to help them on their way. These publications certainly helped Mr Clark and me along the way with our self-build and I’m sure their wisdom will help you.
- Homebuilding and Renovating Magazine www.homebuilding.co.uk
- The Housebuilder’s Bible by Mark Brinkley homebuilding.co.uk/magazine/books/housebuilders-bible-10
- Penguin books Dictionary of Building www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780140512397,00.html
- The VAT Act (You think I’m joking!)
…and of course I foisted a copy of Mud & Marriage on them too in case they need some handy top tips.