Thursday, 21 May 2009

Hot house

It's 26 degrees in our extension right now. I've popped home to load the car with stuff for our upcoming trip to France and have had to open the doors right up. It's suffocatingly hot. I've put most of the plants into a massive plastic tub with three inches of water. Rob has been gloating over our lush, green outlook (the neighbours look onto another property) which we hadn't really thought about when we bought our place. If the weather carries on like this, the lushness will no doubt shrivel up. The forecast for London is sunshine, while in France where we're headed it's heavy rain. Oh well.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Herbie Hancock

We used to live less than a minute from the cheapest florist in the East End so our flat was always full of flowers. At Rob's insistence I might add. The new locale means getting to Broadway Market before it gets too crowded on a Saturday (ie in the morning) and paying a bit more. So far I've managed it a few times but then get annoyed at the decaying debris left behind. Rob hates dealing with dead flowers. As do I. Actually I'm sure I read somewhere that growing flowers is bad for the environment (chemicals in the run off water, actually using water that could be better used elsewhere, eco footprint from transporting them across Europe etc etc).

So here's a good compromise I hope: herbs. Not just cut herbs in a tea cup but actual live ones. I'm kind of wishing I'd thought of this before the concrete got poured because it would've been cute to have a little groove inset in there for the pots to sit in. Next time maybe. I'm not much of a green thumb so chances are these little puppies won't last through the week. In the meantime, they're pepping up every meal and I've even got my three-year-old drinking mint tea.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Six months on, no splashback

Nothing much to report on the house front. Teia was due to come back this week and do the splashback and make a start on the cabinet but is still tied up on his other job. Two colleagues of mine have had extensive building work start and finish on their homes the last few months... while our job is in limbo, waiting for those last few days of work to happen.

The main problem is that our job hasn't been effectively project managed from the get go. The general day-to-day issues Teia took care of himself, but the architect would normally oversee things to ensure the job ran smoothly. As our budget was under £80K (ie peanuts to most architects) we didn't really benefit from any useful input after the drawings were done, except for a few emails to suppliers.

If I was to do this project again I wouldn't engage an architect in the same way as it was an ineffectual use of our money. If you have less than £100K to spend you're better off buying the drawings from the architect then paying for hourly sessions when you need them. It's extremely unlikely this would add up to 15.5%-20% of your budget (most architects charge this as their fee). I was told this advice before we started this project and chose to ignore it.

Also, the drawings and costings weren't foolproof - the lighting was left off (quite a major oversight) and a sliding door was drawn into a load bearing wall which meant we had to redesign how it worked. We naively thought that using an architect would mean the entire job would be costed accurately and there'd be a tiny margin of error, and it would get done in a set time frame.

Hindsight is a marvellous thing isn't it?

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

House warming party

We just had the first May Bank Holiday weekend in England, and it was a significant weekend for us as we had a few reasons to celebrate. Firstly, 10 years of marriage (no-one thought we'd last this long, least of all me!), our eldest just turned six and our youngest is about to turn three, and sod it, despite the house not being completely finished we decided to have a house warming BBQ too. I only sent out the invitations a few weeks ago to try and keep the numbers down, and fortunately loads of people had booked trips away or had other engagements. As it happened we ended up with 18 kids and 40+ adults throughout the day, which was plenty.

As you can see from the photos, the weather was cracking - perfectly sunny and completely still, which was lucky as later in the evening we set off 10 Chinese night sky lanterns over Hackney. Even more incredible was that some late arrivals got a bit lost, but found our house by following their noses to the source of the lanterns. The same couple were trekking around Victoria Park the next afternoon and found one of our lanterns still pretty much intact in the park! Amazing co-incidence! (And quite frankly I'm impressed that they were able to leave the house at all, we took two days to surface after the party...)