<![CDATA[The Barkers - Amanda's Blog]]>Tue, 12 Jan 2016 14:18:08 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[The first TBISO Xmas]]>Mon, 28 Dec 2015 20:58:22 GMThttp://www.thebarkersuk.com/amandas-blog/the-first-tbiso-xmasDecember arrived with a bang - and for the first time we put up the Xmas tree during the first weekend of December as a Xmas Party wouldn't seem right without a tree... 8 feet of xmas tree was ordered and assembled, and left to see if the cats would be attracted to it. After an initial sniff or two, they realized it wasn't a new toy and we began the task of balancing on various chairs and ladders to get it decorated. We had buy quite a few new decorations as our last house was significantly smaller, at least now we have a foundation that we can build on over time.
The whole house has been well and truly 'broken in' - accommodating over 60 guests and supporting over 165 meals - and that was just during December.. We also welcomed a number of overnight guests and they were all either very polite or we didn't actually run out of hot water for any of the showers. It is lovely to have a house that fits everyone and the layout definitely flows well. However, no matter how nice the house is, it's still a lot of work, so I am now off to put my feet up......after cleaning the oven....
My main New Years resolution for 2016 (apart from trying be a more regular blogger who is nearly as funny as Jenny C), is to schedule bigger gaps between parties! 2015 saw us welcome 158 delightful friends to TBISO - and hopefully they will come back in 2016!
<![CDATA[The clock has a friend!]]>Mon, 09 Nov 2015 18:26:31 GMThttp://www.thebarkersuk.com/amandas-blog/the-clock-has-a-friendThe blog has been suffering from a lack of attention recently for a variety of reasons:
1. The house is now built so there isn't that much to report on
2. We haven't had time to make any significant headway on the list of things that we still need to do
3. My spare time has been taken up with reading a fellow bloggers' blog, which is tracking the progress of Modjajdi and her crew as they head south . Each one of Jennys' posts has me in fits of laughter and makes me realise how dull my blog is, so I guess I have also been suffering from a bit of stage fright too!

Still - a rare window of opportunity opened up this weekend and we were able to make some blog worthy progress at last! Top of the list was fixing the bit of dripping gutter that had decided to pop out of its clips in the last lot of rain we had. Not sure how rain can make it pop out and then it needs 2 people, lots of puffing and swearing and a cat onlooker to get it back in again...
The 'last minute door' that was added to the ensuite gym has now been varnished - much to the disgust of the cats as they can't stand the smell!
The major achievement though was finally getting the top of the fireplace sorted out. The top brackets had be cut off when it arrived as it was too big, and we were left with a 'simple' task of 'simply' screwing them into the side of the fireplace and the putting up the magnetic panels... 2 previous attempts earlier in the year resulted in complete and utter rejection of the task being anything near 'simple' and required a lot of time, patience and head scratching to get it right. Fortunately Dan managed to see a way through it, disappeared into the garage to cut things up (for quite a long time!), then balanced on the ladder waiving various power tools around his head, and the job was done, transforming the fireplace from an eyesore into a feature - and it looks better than any of the pictures ever did!
Whilst we were pondering on the issue, we also managed to evict a whole family of unknown bugs and yards of spider web from the inside of the roof lanterns. 3 meters high doesn't sound a lot, but when you have to climb a ladder that gets you that far off the ground, it's very high! Good job we don't have to do that every week....

So whilst the list is far from finished, at least we are making progress!
<![CDATA[This time last year....?]]>Sun, 30 Aug 2015 14:10:08 GMThttp://www.thebarkersuk.com/amandas-blog/this-time-last-year

It's hard to imagine that so much is different this year, than last year. The weather is the same (it always rains on a bank holiday in the UK!), but instead of living in the tiny rented house and spending every spare minute (and penny!) on the house, we are now firmly settled into TBISO. The furnishings are still 'work in progress' and will be for a while as we find and buy pieces we like, but this time last year we didn't even have a roof on....this months major purchase is a clock to go in the living room, it's very hard to find one that is a bit different as well as being BIG - the joy of a 3m high ceiling means that we need large items to make an impact.

The paperwork mountain is slowly declining - although each time I knock off a bit and close the file on that particular part, weeks later they come back with more questions and we are once again digging around for information. The hardest part at the moment seems to be proving who we are to SSE (whom we have been a customer of for nearly 10 yrs!), and that we have indeed done a self build... All to get the PV panels registered and SSE paying us money for once, rather than taking it from us.   The council tax ratings have also come back this week, and they are wrong, so yet more paperwork needed to dispute the ratings... Will it ever end? Sometimes I think we will be shovelling paperwork forever - but at least the mortgage is all sorted now and building control have no need to come back ever again...

Just a small clock...
<![CDATA[Three percent..]]>Sun, 14 Jun 2015 12:27:15 GMThttp://www.thebarkersuk.com/amandas-blog/three-percent

It seems like a long six weeks since we ordered the sun blinds for the downstairs windows and bifolds, and the blackout blinds for the bedrooms upstairs, but on Thursday this week they arrived.... The chap from Premier blinds worked really quickly and in a few hours all 12 were up! And the best thing was they all fitted perfectly, unlike our other previous attempts.

The '3%' material is dark grey so you can't really see them when they are up and when they are down, they cut out 97% of the UV, but you can still see through them... The wonders of modern technology!! We could have really done with them last weekend - it's typical that today the sun has gone and it's overcast with no need for blinds... Having them in the bedroom is great though and it's much easier to sleep in a slightly darkened room. And we can now have guests to stay in the upstairs bedrooms without needing to pile pillows and duvets in the window sills to try and block out the light.

First they are up, then down
Charlie helped out by climbing the ladder and getting stuck and so long as we don't drop them too far down on the bifolds, the cats can still follow the sun!

We also reached another milestone this weekend, as we welcomed the 100th visitor to TBISO. It will soon be time to record the commentary that goes with the house tour... Not bad seeing as we have only been here for 3 months...!

The plant was for us, but Emma did get a box of chocs... Which she left behind, so we then ate them...oh well, it was the thought that counted, sorry Ems!
<![CDATA[Railing day!]]>Thu, 07 May 2015 18:44:05 GMThttp://www.thebarkersuk.com/amandas-blog/railing-day

Nevermind Polling day - Railing day is much more important! After a few weeks of no word from the railing people, we got a call yesterday asking if we would be at home this morning at 9am so they could fit the railings on the back steps. Early morning meetings were rearranged, and yes, we were in! It only took them a couple of hours to fit them and do the final coat of paint and we are finally ready for the 'it has to be the last inspection please please please' by Building Control so that we can get the house signed off.

Ensuite gym - check

New window even Santa could climb out of sideways - check

Fan in annex - check

Railings on back steps - check

That should be a full checklist, with lots of ticks then we can get back into the real world of standard domestic mortgages and be able to eat again...

Watch this space for what happens next, because if there is one thing I have learnt over the past year, is the unpredictable nature of inspections and sign offs...!

Despite not really wanting them, they do look rather good and finish the back door entrance way off - and now we won't break our necks in the dark!
<![CDATA[Blinds... In progress...]]>Sun, 26 Apr 2015 18:20:03 GMThttp://www.thebarkersuk.com/amandas-blog/blinds-in-progress

Fortunately Permier Blinds are better than Hillarys as not only did the chap turn up, but he was early! He gamely waved a tape measure around and took on the challenge of getting us some 'invisible blinds that keep the sun out but we can still see out of', as well as the blinds for the high level windows. The long awaited velux blind that will help me sleep beyond 4am also arrived, but they shipped the wrong one! So that went back and eventually we got the right one... Easy to fit and keeps a lot of light out! Magic!

In 4 weeks time TBISO will be invaded by workers again as they fit the large electric blinds for the bifolds and all the other blinds. Job done - and hopefully we will have a cooler summer and some furniture left that hasn't been rotted by the sun... That is if the sun comes out again and we don't get stuck with a wet summer! Let's see...

Another weekend has passed in a blur of jobs - including a furniture delivery for a new set of drawers which very helpfully turned up without the bolts for the feet... So they need to come back and finish the job off. That seems to be the theme for this weekend as we still couldn't finish the top of the fireplace off either, but that should be sorted next week.

Our favourite Sparks will also be back to fit a fan in the annex and one day the railings for the back steps will turn up then we can get building control back and get it all signed off. Living here, it's easy to forget that we haven't got full sign off yet, until the mortgage payment goes out... We need to get onto a normal mortgage ASAP!

Oh, and the rain also gave me some time to give the website a facelift for 2015 and update the final stages... Take a look!

The new drawers without feet...
Bobby's new favourite spot of the day..
And Charlie's new favourite spot..
<![CDATA[Reassured!]]>Tue, 14 Apr 2015 20:09:18 GMThttp://www.thebarkersuk.com/amandas-blog/google-what

This time last year we were just settling into the rented house and stripping out the last bits from the old house. I can remember feeling sad when we left the old house in the evenings, and a bit anxious as to whether we were doing the right thing - as, after all, the house could not have been THAT bad if we lived in it for 3 years...could it?!

Here we are a year later, in our marvellous living room and super glad that we took the plunge and went for it! We will always have memories of the old house and some of it still lives on in the new house, but we are warm, safe, have running hot water (all the time!) and don't need the heating on in April...that's just some of the advantages of the new versus old house!

The jobs list is still growing and shrinking - the ensuite gym is now sorted and only missing some shoe racks, the main store cupboard upstairs is now racked out after a day of drilling and levelling with one eye on the Grand National and the Boat Race.... The cats have found their favourite spots based on the time of day... The next challenge is getting some blinds sorted out for the dining and living room so that we can keep some of the sun out and off the furniture. After a load of hassle with Hilary's blinds we have found a local company who are coming this weekend (fingers crossed that they do turn up!).

Then we will focus our efforts on the garden for a while to take advantage of the nice weather - after all, the upper patio won't build itself!

Doing the upstairs store cupboard.. Before, during and afterwards...
Charlie and Bobby in this weeks favourite spots...
It's getting tidier but the garden still needs a lot of attention!
<![CDATA[The missing photos from the last post...]]>Wed, 08 Apr 2015 08:23:04 GMThttp://www.thebarkersuk.com/amandas-blog/test-post
Tidy sheds!
Old friends have come back to play.. The hippos are back in the sunshine as is Bella... And the camellia is having a good year!
TBISO by night... Easy for all to see apart from the takeaway delivery man!
<![CDATA[Getting straighter...]]>Tue, 07 Apr 2015 18:43:27 GMThttp://www.thebarkersuk.com/amandas-blog/getting-straighter

Ok, so things aren't quite at 90degrees just yet, they are getting straighter. The lovely sunshine today tempted us down into the garden and now the sheds are clear and usable again (ready for growing the summer veg!) and we found some old friends that can come out to play again.

Upstairs is also looking good, now we just need to buy some racking to finish off the linen cupboard. The Easter sales have also encouraged more spending and the final unit for our bedroom should arrive... In 4 weeks!

We now have lists per room and are trying to stay on top of the budget. Most rooms have curtains - waiting for a visit from Hilary's Blinds next week to help us work out how we can keep some of the sun out of the back of the house to protect the sofas and table, and hopefully a velux blind so we don't have to get up with the birds (even on weekends!).

Despite the long to do lists, just having one household to look after is already showing its benefits and now all the hard work in the garden can be rewarded with a beer now that we have a fridge... This time last year the coolbox from the other rented house never really kept them cool after a full day of grafting on what used to be a building site!).

<![CDATA[Really don't understand....]]>Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:37:04 GMThttp://www.thebarkersuk.com/amandas-blog/really-dont-understand

Hello Fans! Sorry it's been a long time but I have been busy packing so I was ready to 'move' (humans are odd - I move all day, but then they made such a big deal of 'moving' I figured I should play along...) and then I have been really really busy exploring our new home. We love it - not only do we get to have daytime and night time sleeping spots, we now have to move every 2hrs to make the most of it. I really like the top of the stairs in the daytime but my afternoon nap has to be on the master bed - which Charlie has till lunchtime then he moves onto the green chair which has magically appeared again.

The humans are slowly calming down - at least the Hoover and the noisy black thing that makes tiny holes in the wall (not big enough for me to get my paw through!) are now put away, which is good because when I counted the 70th little hole, I gave up counting but they kept drilling! There are lots of metal poles above the windows now - some have fabric hanging off them, others are bare. Not sure what they are for, but they are great for a game of hide and seek when they have fabric on them. I like the pictures that have reappeared - I missed seeing all the boats and I know Mum did too.

This Saturday, having been left alone for a few hours, Charlie and I got up for our dinner and found out we had been invaded! There were at least 20 big people and 2 smaller ones, all running around the house.. We had nowhere to sit? But we did get to eat our dinner in peace as once they had a hug and cuddle they left us alone... Not sure what that was about, maybe they were stress testing the house or something..

Nevermind... We all survived! Gotta go now, need to get back up on the landing before Charlie does as he is currently hanging out with his new friend... See ya! Love Bobby x x x

Putting up the metal poles - some with fabric but most without!
Charlie likes his new friend ... But not more than me!