Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Category: Home improvement

Pizza my heart

A pizza oven has been on my dream house wish list for a long time and no I don’t mean one of those attachments you can put on a Weber barbeque. I’m talking roaring wood fire in a domed oven in the garden, long handled pizza peel in hand deftly whisking out the perfect thin and crispy pizza. But it’s always stayed a dream just like having a ride on lawn mower and a kitchen with a stable door. That is until now.

After extensive negotiations and many hours of internet research the lady of the manor has given me the green light to try to build a pizza oven. Because of course I’m not going to do it the easy way and just buy an oven, no that would be far too straightforward (and bloody expensive to be fair) so I’m going down the DIY route. On the face of it it doesn’t appear to be too tricky a task, providing my dome building skills are ok the rest is actually pretty straightforward.

I’ve found a great guide for building one that I spotted on another blog and I have now got most of the materials needed. Having a load of random bricks spread around the garden turned out to actually be quite useful! I’ll try to write at least a couple more blogs about it in due course but the intention is to turn this pile of building materials into the greatest pizza making machine outside of Northern Italy in the next few weeks. Wish me luck!

Shall we get the paddling pool out?

Did you see it at the weekend? That was spring that was, one whole day of spring and now it’s gone again for another year. Mother Nature has replaced the rest of the spring period with a new season called ‘stay home it’s torrential’ or SHIT for short.

Not quite this sort of weather is it?

Not quite this sort of weather is it?

So we did what every proper English person should do when the you get the first sunny day of the year; we spent the whole day outside. Soaking up the sun and trying to turn our pale English skin beige. Matilda got a little carried away and asked if we could get the paddling pool out, you have to admire her spirit but I didn’t really fancy a trip to hospital with a child who has hypothermia.

Sunday morning was spent wandering around Marlborough, looking in the shops and having coffee and cake (or babycino’s and ginger biscuits if you’re Matilda and Henry). We also let Henry loose with his reins on for the first time; hilarious watching him trying to run everywhere and shouting “NANNA” at the top of his voice every time my parents got too far away. He also decided that Matilda was the only one who could hold his reins, which has the benefit of keeping 2 children in one place!

The afternoon however was all about planning and in particular garden planning. My mum is a gardener and with her help we have some grand plans for the garden, a lot of work to be done but can’t wait to get started. We’ll hopefully have a garden that is both home to lots of birds, bees and bugs and perfect for 2 crazy children to run around in. I’ve of course already started a Pinterest board that features seats and a bug hotel amongst other things.

The garden during the Autumn

The garden today

I’m also about to start planting the first of the veg seeds in the greenhouse, amazing what a bit of sun does for your motivation and optimism. Especially considering just a few nights ago it felt like the house was about to blow away.

Anyone else feeling the spring vibe? Any grand gardening plans being made?

This isn’t just any oven…

OvenThis is the fools new oven.

An oven of dreams, one that actually heats up and has a fan.

An oven that will make the greatest mince pies, birthday cakes and Rhubarb crumbles

An oven fit for the finest leg of lamb, free range chicken or shoulder of pork.

An oven to produce crackling to die for and yorkshire puddings the size of a Yorkshire woman.

Oh yes, this oven is going to change our world, just as soon as the lady of the manor gets off the sofa and starts baking.

The great house adventure – the hallway

I’ve mentioned our house and the DIY activities a few times, but thought I’d do a series of posts to share what we’ve done because to be honest I’m pretty proud of our efforts! So here’s part one all about our lovely hallway.

The lady of the manor and I bought our first house just before christmas 2009, it was something we’d been thinking about for a while but saving that deposit is never easy when you’re paying £700 a month in rent. So we took the decision to move in with the inlaws for 6 months to finally get the money together. We’d always dreamed of owning a Victorian house but couldn’t quite afford a 3 bedroom one in Bristol where we’d been looking so we widened the search and happened upon Trowbridge where house prices were just that little bit cheaper.

Although the house had some of the original features still (floorboards for one) it did need some updating and improving. We’d never done any DIY before having rented for so long, but I’m always willing to give things a go. The lady of the manor also doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty but her attention does tend to wane fairly quickly and she is prone to the odd destructive moment without thinking what to afterwards! One such episode saw her ripping up the carpet in our hallway and off the stairs. This was the only area downstairs that wasn’t wood floor and included covering the hall way which is normally tiled in these sort of houses.

With the stair carpet removed our hallway now looked like this and was the beginning of many hours work for me with a sander!

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 We wanted to restore the stairs and hallway to something close to the original design with a tiled hallway and a carpet runner on the stairs. I sanded the stairs back to the wood getting rid of all the glue and old paint. We then painted them white and lived like that for a while until I had time to tackle the hallway. We hoped and prayed that under that carpet was a tiled floor. On pulling it up we found that actually there was a concrete floor which was strangely higher than all the other floors. A little chipping away at the edges revealed a glimpse of a tile and much excitement from us;

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The concrete came up pretty easily in most cases and after half a days work we were left with this;

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Apart from the big hole near the front door the floor was actually in pretty good condition and just needed a good clean. The hole still needs repairing, although I do have the tiles now to do it, but a little girl has got in the way recently! But the rest of the floor and stairs is done and we are extremely happy with the finished result. Its exceeded any dreams we had when we bought the house. Why anyone would have covered this up in the past is beyond me.

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A year of celebration – the gallery

 The prompt for this weeks gallery is celebrations, while I do of course have many photo’s of the usual suspects i.e. birthday’s, weddings, parties etc I realised that actually this has been a year of celebration for the good lady and I. So in no particular order, the reasons I’ve had to celebrate this year:

  • Bought our first house (a fab Victorian terrace)
  • Got our first dog (the beautiful Bracken, an english springer)
  • Managed to get promoted in April and get a company car allowance, which meant buying my dream car (a Mitsubishi Outlander aka the fire engine) and finally getting rid of the £500 banger we’d been driving since selling our previous car to fund the house purchase.
  • The lady of the manor got pregnant with our first child, due in April 2011
  • Successfully applied for new job at the same company and in the process of changing as we speak
  • My sister in law gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby boy in November

So as you can see a pretty cool year all in all with lots more to celebrate in 2011. But what about the photo’s right? Well I’ve spent many hours since buying the house renovating and improving. The most exciting part of which was discovering an original tiled floor under concrete in the hallway, so here are the before, during and almost after photos! Just giving it a good clean up and re-seal now…