Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tuesday 20 January 2015

In a fortnight where there was a little too much upsetting news for my liking (ageing parents...), the one thing that has kept me cheerful is our holiday cottage, that I mentioned in my last post.

As I've mentioned on this blog before, B. lives in a house that he built himself, in the same grounds as his father who lives in a big farmhouse behind B's house. This farmhouse has several barns and outbuildings, in various states of disrepair. One of them in particular always looked like a perfect candidate for converting into a holiday cottage. I used to joke about it, then my jokes became a bit more serious and one day B. agreed that it might be fun.

The renovation started 5 years ago and B. worked on it in his spare time, the holiday cottage competing for attention with skiing, tractors and motorbikes! We never really knew when it would be finished, often it would be 'next Easter' and that Easter would come and go and still we wouldn't be done. But there wasn't any real rush.

Cat helping out

After B. built pretty much everything himself single-handedly (my contribution being the occasional sweeping of the floor or, more likely, tidying up the kitchen in his own house or running another load of laundry so he could concentrate on this building), we are now at the point of furnishing, as you can tell from the last couple of photos. It's not quite finished yet - we are now having heated discussions about pieces of furniture and every day the post arrives with several parcels containing glassware, duvet covers, bath mats and everything else you need to run a home. Last weekend the sofas and the white goods arrived, and it's looking more and more that we can take paying guests from Easter - yes, this Easter!

There is still a lot to do, but I've started thinking about creating a website and marketing the holiday let in order to make it profitable. It is a steep learning curve but I'm very much looking forward to having people there, enjoying a holiday in a cottage that we think is very cosy!

A few details: it's a 2 bedroom cottage which sleeps 4. Downstairs is all open plan with a kitchen with woodburner cooker and induction hob on one side, and living room with woodburner on the other side. The back doors open onto a patio/seating area that is completely private and overlooks a large field with hedges.
Upstairs are two bedrooms, one main bedroom with double bed and one smaller bedroom with two single beds. Bathroom with bath/shower over bath/basin/toilet/bidet. Bedding/towels/logs/electricity included. The cottage is situated about 2 miles outside Pulham St. Mary, which has a village shop and a community centre with a cafe, open 6 days a week. The next village along, Pulham Market, has two pubs. The market town Diss is a 20 minutes drive away, Norwich half an hour, Cambridge is 80 minutes and the coast about 40 minutes. There are lots of public footpaths near the cottage and of course when you come back, you can warm up by the woodburner or have a barbecue on the patio!

The website should be up and running very soon, but in the meantime you can start to follow us on Twitter (@oldhorsestable) for updates... (and some more photos of furnishing in progress are here

Maybe see you there sometime?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wednesday 14 January 2015

I still do bike rides, at least once a week. Every Sunday morning B. has race training at the dry ski slope in Norwich, and I come along and cycle for almost 3 hours. Getting up at 7.30am on a Sunday morning isn't always easy, but then when I ride out of the ski club into the fresh air, I feel quite smug at being out there so early.

Of course, the location and time limit my range a little bit - always starting from the same location means you always explore the same area, and I have to be back by the end of the morning, even though B. doesn't complain about a few extra runs if I'm late. Oddly enough, most Sundays I seem to be able to find something new - a little country lane I hadn't spotted before or had always wanted to go down but had never made the time for, a church or nice building I haven't seen previously - and I've also developed the knack of being back just when race training is finished and all cleared up.

Last Sunday was my first bike ride of this year. During the week I keep a close eye on the weather forecast - I can cope with most weather conditions but relentless rain is not one of them. I'm very fortunate in that most weeks, the weather is kind enough for me to go out. I sometimes get the odd shower, but lycra dries very quickly (and by now, I have a big sports bag full of tops and leggings!). This week it was windy - very windy - very icy windy! I thought beforehand that it was warmer so only wore my leggings, not my thermal leggings underneath, and boy, were my legs cold at the end. I only warmed up properly once we were visiting B's dad in hospital that afternoon.

Anyway, on to some photos.

St. Remigius at Dunston

First snowdrops!

St. Mary's at Swardeston. The father of Edith Cavell was rector here, and she is mentioned on the war memorial. Last Summer I had a proper look inside the church, where there is lots of information about her. A very sad story.
The lychgate was built and donated by a member of the congregation in memory of his wife at the end of the 19th century. I don't know why but I do like this lychgate - maybe because of how it came to be, because of how good it still looks more than a 100 years later, of because of its honest simplicity.

St. Peter's at Swainsthorpe, sadly locked, but with a bonus cat...

St. Edmund at Caistor St. Edmund. I've cycled past this church many times and you can also see it when you drive along the A140, the main road for us into and out of Norwich. Considering its location (at the edge of a Roman town), I had expected a bit more of it, but I found it slightly disappointing. It probably didn't help that every time I stood still, I noticed how cold I was, as this was towards the end of the bike ride!

Every church has something unique though, and this one's no different. Most porches have corbels and they're often angels facing outwards. This one has a bishop and a king, and unusually they face each other.

The highlight for me was the church graffiti - which you find very often - but this one, they think, represents Norwich Cathedral. It certainly looks like the cathedral!

20 miles in total - a bit shorter than usual because of the strong wind. We warmed up with a hot chocolate at the club house and then went on to Hughes Electrical to buy a fridge/freezer, dishwasher and washer/dryer for our almost-finished holiday let - but that's a blog post for later this week!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Happy New Year!

It's the 'twelfth day of Christmas' today and our first day of back to normal. The alarm clock went off at its usual time of 6.29am this morning, and to my disappointment it was still dark when I opened the curtains and the kids were just as reluctant to get up as they were before Christmas. It feels like December, the midst of winter, but without the warm glow of Christmas lights. At the moment I can see why January can be such a depressing month!

We had a lovely break though, and it felt like much longer than just two weeks. Lots of lie-ins, pyjama days, endless cups of tea, knitting, reading and plenty of good food - for me that is what the Christmas period is all about. 

The Christmas holidays aren't complete without a trip to Holland to celebrate New Year's Eve and my mum's birthday on New Year's Day. So on Tuesday last week 12yo and I set out very early in the morning to catch the daytime ferry to Hoek van Holland. We almost missed it because of an unexpected flat tyre, but the AA delivered fabulous service and half an hour after ringing them, we were on our way again - phew! 

When I go to Holland with 12yo, we always visit the Hoge Veluwe - I'm sure photos of the National Park have featured on my blog before. It doesn't matter what time of year you go, it's always a special place to visit. This time we went on New Year's Eve, hoping it would be quiet as people were busy preparing for the festive evening. We managed to grab the coveted seats in front of the fire with a coffee before we set off on a bike ride

Twenty miles in total in a frosty, snowy, foggy landscape

We normally pack quite a lot into our trips to Holland, but this time 12yo came down with a bit of a bug (probably just a little overtired) so we were forced to slow down a little. Not a bad thing and we still managed to do the things that made me feel that I'd been 'home' for a few days.

12yo is such a good travelling companion for my trips to Holland - he just loves being there and is enthusiastic about all the things I want to do. A few years ago my dad bought us two little folding bikes from the Hema (my all-time favourite shop), very basic but light and easy to manoeuvre. We love riding these bikes into town, which means being a proper part of traffic - cycling is very different in Holland from the UK and much more fun really. Another favourite ride is to cross the river with a little ferry and then cycling back and riding over the bridge across the river.

All too soon it was time to head back to Britain again. A very busy ferry and 12 hours later and we were home, and at the moment it looks as though I won't be back till May. At least I have our week in Lyme Regis in February to look forward to, else January would really be a very depressing month!