Saturday, 16 April 2011

My 50 Day Challenge Has Begun...

Making the Fixy-Up Habitable.

Starting the microholding can't really be done until we've moved into the new house. Moving into the new house can't really be done until it's safe to inhabit and has power and a water supply. Heating can wait, as we're getting closer to summer with every day that passes. So here is my first blog post of progress from Day 1 of 50.


It's been a dry day, so we headed off to the house this morning, complete with flask, to meet up with son and his pal, who were making a start on clearing away some of the rubbish and taking it to the nearest tip.

Not wanting to travel over there with an empty car, we decided to load up with the first of the planters and my two juniper bushes that sit by the front door.

I was trying to be so organised... except that, in my haste, I lifted one planter the wrong way and the bottom fell out of it! My poor little juniper bush shot out the bottom, complete with its tangle of roots and soil, and went rolling along the drive! Soon fixed it all back together, not quite as good as new, but it's intact.

As soon as we arrived at the house, we got the planters sat either side of the front door, so it has the beginnings of a 'lived in' appearance. I got a bit of the front path weeded whenever I could escape out the front. It was such a beautiful day and, without all the clouds and rain, we have a sea view from the front door, which I hadn't even realised until seeing it today!

Inside, the cottage absolutely stinks of mouldy dampness, so the first thing we started to do was lift damp carpets and get then hauled off to the tip. In between times, I got chatting to the next door neighbour, who was (how lucky was this?) having her chimneys swept! Yeah!

We got the sweep to go up on the roof to check our chimneys and give the main one a good clean out - he said it looks fine to light, just as soon as the water is on to fill the tank/back boiler. Heating and hot water will be from the open fire and back boiler, which will soon be reconnected to three radiators. We're hoping to have this fixed up and back to working order as soon as possible.

Son's pal brought his dog with him, so it had a great time in the garden, running around with dozens of footballs and floats. I suspect someone in the previous owner's family was a fisherman! I have saved a lifebuoy to hang somewhere (I want to paint it to say SS Frugaldom) and son has saved a pair of oars for who knows what? We binned all the lobster creels, but I've saved all the fish crates and dozens of panels of glass - these will be my makeshift seed beds and coldframes for immediate use.

Eventually, I got the electricity meter reset and then had to go back into the village to put credit on the key. That's when I met the electrician & plumber, so an inpromptu invite was extended to visit the new house to do a quick assessment of the electrics and plumbing. (Smart thinking, methinks. )

The power is now on - we have electricity, albeit dodgy electricity, so it got switched off at the mains before we left. We need a new fuse board and a lot of the wiring updated. With luck, it won't extend as far as a complete rewire.

Friends arrived for a quick visit, so we had a chat with them and showed them around the place. I think they were suitably impressed by the amount of work that needs doing within the space of 50 days! I actually think they'll be praying for us, but we appreciate any help, whatsoever.

Next up was the water, as I was dreading the supply being turned on it case the place instantly flooded. Hmm... when plumber went to turn on the water main, he discovered it hadn't been turned off, so he opened the valve on the stopcock indoors and...

Water started running... from several burst pipes! It was quickly turned back off again, but several bursts have been found. It appears the system was not drained down, it simply emptied itself into the house, probably last winter. Again - we were prepared for the worst, so we did expect there to be burst pipes.

Then another friend arrived, so we had the tour and then sat on the upturned planters out in the back yard, having a natter and a good old laugh. One day soon, I'll be able to refer to this as, 'entertaining guests on the patio'.

Anyhow, we did manage to strip off more layers of wallpaper and lift the THREE carpets from one room! I also spent quite a bit of time running around with a mop and bucket, mopping up water after watching it spurting from various points throughout the house! H started scraping the polystyrene tiles from the ceilings to reveal woodchip!

I've managed to salvage loads of 'useful' things for the garden, like wire, buckets, wood and even an old hen feeder. The budget is everything, afterall, and a penny saved is a penny earned. We can't afford to waste anything - not even the old, heavy duty, plastic boards that we found. These will make a fantastic garden bench! Talk about Steptoe's yard... all that's missing is the horse!

You'll see the funny side of this once I tell you the rest...

I also got to meet the other next door neighbour, who came out to chat when we were carting all the rubbish down the side of the house. I recognised her and she recognised me! So H and I went in to see her spectacular, terraced garden. It is fantastic!

Amidst all that was going on today, we could hear the cock-a-doodle-doo of another neighbour's cockerel, so we've let the neighbours know about ours. Not a problem, as there have been goats, pigs, sheep and all sorts of stuff in the back garden of our new house, apparently.

Later, when pal and I were out at the front door chatting, someone else I knew walked past, so we had a brief catch up. It really did feel like being home - familiar faces everywhere.

I reckon there must be around 30 houses in the village and they mostly look immaculately extended with large, landscaped gardens. I had just mentioned this, when the plumber informed me that it's known as "millionaire's row" and that we have no fewer than two different captains living there! I'm sorry, but I really did almost choke and laugh at this... Frugaldom in millionaire's row!

Oh my! I really must learn to be on my very best behaviour and get them all on board the good ship Frugaldom! I hope they can all appreciate the funny side of a fulltime frugaler coming to live in their midst. I've now acquired a couple of extra window boxes, courtesy of my current neighbour, and will get these planted up tomorrow with my Aldi begonias and marigolds, so the place can begin to look a little presentable.

Notice to all callers: Please use the front door and bring your own teacup. Don't use the back gate, as it's about to fall off its hinges, and please ignore the scuff marks on the doors, that's where we have to kick them to get them open. I feel like 'Ma Clampett' from the Beverley Hill Billies! But I promise not to serve up roadkill for Sunday lunch.

Today's top find, buried in overgrowth and boards that have now gone to the tip (barring the salvaged plastic for making a garden bench) was this rhubarb patch!

I have something edible in my garden!

See you in Frugaldom.


  1. Sounds like a very productive day....and you already have food growing in your garden, well done!!

    I look forward to following this amazing adventure. I would LOVE to do the very same thing.

    But I don't think we could afford to buy a cottage even in the state yours is in (at the moment!).

    Sue xx

  2. Fantastic I am so excited for you - cant wait to read more and see your progress

  3. Wow, how hard you have worked today, I'm amazed and a little envious of all your energy.

    I'm excited to hear more!

  4. Well, sounds as if there was a lot achieved yesterday Nyk, the place will be unrecognisable by the time day 50 rolls round, I can't wait to visit. xx

  5. Yesterday was a busy day for visits, but I'd wait until we have water and a loo before anyone thinks of popping in for a cuppa. :)

    Sue15cat - NEVER GIVE UP HOPE because ANYTHING is possible in life.

  6. Haha.....I know, that's why we ended up where we are now, we placed an advert and started the dream. Now we just want to make it even more our own.

    Although my Lovely Hubby is from Scotland where property is so much cheaper we live in the South of England due to his work, so property prices even tumbledown wrecks are firmly out of our price bracket for now....I am on the look out though and will continue to be until we find 'IT'.

    Thanks for your wise words and good luck with your dream.

    Sue xx

  7. As you know, I wish you all the luck in the world with your fixy-up home, it will take time but I know it will be worth it.

    Take care, and remember to look after yourselves as well as doing up the house, I know how much it can take out of you.....having just moved ourselves. I miss the cottage so much, loved the garden, but realise that for us the dream was not to be. We are settling in here, and OH still has the garden at Amisfield to keep him occupied one morning a week. He manages to potter in the container garden at the back for a while as well.

  8. How wonderful to discover a view of the sea! AND a bed of rhubarb! Life is good eh!

  9. maybe my dream was right then with that view of the sea ....spooky

  10. Nyk-that was just a brilliant post, felt like I spent the day with you (helping of course!).

    Rhubarb is definitely a good omen!

    Sft x

  11. Really, I think the question has to be ... tart or crumble for that rhubarb? :)

  12. Rhubarb aplenty for tarts, crumbles and sponges. I could even trade some out through LETS. :) Or, if anyone wants to make some rhubarb 'champagne', send me sugar and lemons. :)


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