Blathering on about everything and nothing and what makes me sad.


Hello, it’s me …

How are you all? Okay I hope.

I’m hiding upstairs. Well, not hiding exactly. The Doctor has a meeting of the book group he’s in. So I’ve come upstairs with my crochet, except I decided to write a blog post instead.

It’s been a funny week. Well, it’s been a funny few weeks actually. I’ve not been entirely myself. I’ve not been anyone else, obviously. I’ve just felt a bit sad. Now, I wasn’t going to write about this, so I don’t know why I am now. I figure people want to read happy blog postings don’t they? Not that this is going to be a miserable one. I’m just digging a hole here aren’t I? I’m generally a happy person. Anyway … more on that later.

Did I tell you I’ve got builders next door? I probably have. I’ve become quite anal talking about builders. I’m going insane with them. They only seem able to bash things with a hammer and they’ve been seven months banging away with a hammer.  I’m sure they are doing a lot more than just bashing around with a hammer but from my perspective, it doesn’t seem so. Honestly, I’m really surprised more builders aren’t murdered by the neighbours. The owners of the house are coming over from America next week, so that will be fun, especially as they are supposedly going to camp in the garden. That’s what one of the builders told us. The house isn’t finished. How unfinished can a house be that you can’t actually camp in it, as opposed to the garden. Quite honestly our house has been unfinished for years but I can’t see us camping out in the garden.  Anyway, how can it not be finished after seven months of hammering?  I could have done loads in our house if I’d done all that hammering.

So, I’ve finished a novel as opposed to hammering about the house. I’ve probably rabbited on about this ad nausea. But I’m so excited because yesterday it went to number 2 in the Amazon chart in Canada. In case you don’t know about it, I’ve put all the details below. I’d like to celebrate with a glass of wine but I’m on another diet and that of course means no wine. Well, you can have wine but not if you want chocolate and if I have to choose then chocolate comes first every time. What would you choose? I need to diet. It’s unhealthy being overweight isn’t it and I hate it when I can’t squeeze into my clothes. I can’t keep buying a size larger as tempting as that is. I’ll be as big as a house soon. No, it’s time to take action. Otherwise I will outgrow everything they sell in ‘Evans’

Anyway, back to writing. It’s hard work writing. You spend all day, every day, alone, stuck in a little room having a weird relationship with people who don’t exist, at least not outside your head. Then you get confused and start calling people by your character’s name. I spent most of last year calling Andrew, Adam. If you’ve read ‘Secrets and Lies’ then you’ll know what character I’m talking about. Then your book is published and you spend days biting your nails worrying that no one will buy it and then when they do, you spend more days biting your nails worrying if they will like it. Then you spend more time worrying that your book won’t climb the charts and that you’ll be a total failure. Then it doesn’t sell as you’d hoped and you spend days crying in the loo.  It’s hellish and if that wasn’t enough, members of your own family don’t seem interested in your work. Hence the sadness I mentioned earlier. It’s odd how they just seem to make out that the books don’t exist. My own brother unfriended me on Facebook, I mean who unfriends their own family? I did think hard about writing about this on my blog. But I always seem to be hiding my feelings from everyone and I am human and it does hurt, especially when they turn their eyes away when someone else mentions your books, almost like it’s something to be ashamed of. This happened only the other day. It’s not just close family but extended family too. Am I tapping into something? Friends are very supportive but I’m cautious about people on Facebook who suddenly turn around out of the blue and accuse you of all sorts and then block you on Twitter. This happened shortly after my mum died and it was quite devastating. Their accusations were extremely hurtful. I’ve worked hard for my success, as little as it is, and I’m happy for anyone else who has success. Especially if they have huge success because it shows what is possible and that inspires me. But, just recently, I’ve wondered if it was worth all the work and the disappointment when certain people disregard it. Still, I’ll mull this one over. Meanwhile I’ve almost finished a romantic comedy. It’s an unexpected love story. I’ve really enjoyed writing about these characters and can’t wait to share the book with you. It’s a romance with a difference.

More news! ‘The Dog’s Bollocks’ has just had its cover reveal in Brazil. I love the cover. The title has changed to ‘Harriet’s Misadventures.’ It was difficult to translate ‘The Dog’s Bollocks’ apparently 🙂 I can well imagine it was!

Anyway back to the psychological thriller ‘WATCHING YOU’ Here’s the blurb.

‘When Libby receives a friend request from her dead uncle she knows it’s time to be afraid.’

Here’s what one reviewer said.

‘The book alternates between present day – after Ewan Galbraith’s release from prison, focusing on his promise that he will take revenge on everyone involved in his murder conviction – and the build up to the carnage of Millennium Eve, and the structure works really well. The writing is taut and just wonderfully edgy, and the characterisation is excellent: as well as the main characters, I particularly liked the police team – involved in the investigation of the earlier events, again handling Libby’s protection – and the light focus on their personal lives as the main story twists and turns around them. Doubts that you’re getting the full story start to creep in as the pages turn faster, the threat increasing and getting ever closer with every new text message and photo. But the “stunning twist” of the Amazon description took me totally by surprise – convincing, credible and a suitably shocking climax to a book that had me on the edge of my seat from its opening pages.’

I hope you’ll like this. Do let me know what you think. It’s currently 99p/99c to download. You can get it here

 Aw, this is so annoying. My laptop is doing the weirdest thing. It’s like it’s been taken over by a weird entity. It’s just doing its own thing and jumping all over the document. I think the cat is responsible for this. He sat on it earlier. That cat is so much trouble. Yesterday he forced himself into a hole at the back of the cupboard under the sink. He never goes into cupboards. I was quite calm at first and then when he didn’t return, well you can imagine.   He just disappeared. I was frantic and getting ready to call the fire brigade when the Doctor, all calm and collected said.

‘Shake his treats.’

Well, I thought that would get him more worked up. I mean, can you imagine being trapped somewhere and hearing your favourite sweet jar being rattled? How upsetting would that be? Anyway, in this case, it worked and he squeezed himself back through the hole much to my relief. This cat! When I was writing my thrillers I would play really scary music to get me into a tense mood. I’d be really into the novel. The music would get scarier and scarier and then suddenly the door would open and in walks the cat. I’d jump out of my skin which in turn caused him to jump out of his skin. What a pair!

Anyway I’ve been ‘blathering on’ as the character from my new comedy would say. I think you will like her. I hope you do anyway. There I go worrying again.

I’m going to make a cup of tea. I’m crazy about Angel Grey tea at the moment by The Tea Experience. They make fab teas. What’s your favourite? I’m a touch obsessed with tea. I have lots of teacups and boxes and boxes of tea. Right now I’m addicted to ‘Fikka’ by The Tea Experience.

I’ll say bye for now, until next time. I will put the links below to the books.

Much love

Lynda

x

Easter, Novels, Stress and Building Work

AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD ON 5TH APRIL.

YOU CAN PRE-ORDER TODAY. ONLY 99P/99C

Hi Everyone,

I can’t believe how long it has been since I last chatted to you on here. I do mean to post but things have been so hectic with writing that there just hasn’t been the time. I’ve also been contending with building work but more about that later. Not my building work, I hasten to add. I would hire decent builders to do my work. (Note to self. Calm down before blood pressure rises … again.

The exciting news and that most certainly isn’t about the builders but about my new book. It isn’t about me murdering a builder, in case you were wondering. That’s for my next novel. You see, I can’t seem to stop talking about builders. It’s like I’m suffering from builder overload. There must be a medical name for this. BST, I imagine. Builder stress disorder. Anyway enough of this, I digress and that’s no good.

So, my exciting news.

 I have a new book out. It is the third thriller. You may know me for my romantic comedy novels. Then again you may not know me at all,which is fair enough.

I was in the middle of a romance when this thriller came to me and the characters Libby and Ewan just wouldn’t leave my brain so I knew I had to write their story. I’m so pleased I did. I enjoyed writing it so much and I so hope you enjoy it.

I’m giving you a little taste of the novel in with this blog post. I hope you enjoy that.

Here’s the blurb.

Ewan Galbreith is out of prison. Libby Owen is scared. Fifteen years earlier she saw Ewan murder her aunt and uncle with their own shotgun, and now he’s coming for her.’

The novel is currently available for Pre Order at the promotional price of 99p/99c so get yours before the price goes up. The audio book will be out later in the year and the paperback is out on the 20th April. BUT the kindle version is released this coming Thursday 5th April. Hurrah. I can’t wait for you to read it.

There will be a romance out in the summer so keep your eyes peeled for that.

So, it’s been a difficult book to write as the cottage next door ‘has had a few repairs’ Those are the words of my neighbour, not mine. I have a word for those few repairs. it’s Gutting.’ I have a word for the builders too but I won’t use it here.

This whole episode has been very disappointing to me. I had a wonderful neighbour. She was American, highly intelligent. She had a doctorate and could debate any subject. I miss her terribly. They loved their old cottage which was originally an old pub. The cottage still had the old doors with lounge and saloon printed on them. There was beautiful oak panelling in one of the rooms and there is still the old pub sign outside. I live in a very quintessential English village and it’s in a conservation area which means there is a limit to what you can do so as not to ruin the beautiful aesthetics of the village. My neighbour died and left the house to her American relatives. They love it (they say) they love the history (they say) So with this in mind they proceeded to remove the lovely panelling and knock down walls. They neglected the old pub sign and knocked down an outhouse that was an old urinal from way back when. Heaven knows what else they are doing as the builders are now boarding up the windows so no one can see. Meanwhile my little cottage trembles with the thuds and the drilling as they break up floors, knock down walls, install a modern kitchen and plastic windows The builders are often rude when we ask questions. They block off the road outside our cottages, even though no one owns the road, so no one else can park there. They’ve been working on this cottage for six months. I’ve written a whole novel in that time and am halfway through another. How have I written it with the constant drilling and hammering? By putting in earplugs and then headphones on top of those. Madness!! I think perhaps I work better under stress. I remember I wrote Pink Wellies and Flat Caps when we were having our own extension. Which I have to say was much quieter by comparison. Still, on a positive note, let’s hope we get lovely new neighbours when the house is sold.

Phew … end of building work chat. Except to say it has had a detrimental effect on me and I have had to watch my blood pressure which has a tendency to go up. Onto nicer things. I hope you have a fabulous Easter with lots of chocolate. I’m attending Slimming World so no goodies for me. An Easter goodie for you. ‘Remember Me’ is 99p as a special Easter promotion. So two novels for £1.99 which can’t be bad.

REMEMBER ME https://goo.gl/Y6jSJQ

WATCHING YOU  https://goo.gl/JYytX9

HERE’S YOUR SAMPLE

‘WATCHING YOU’

Prologue

1st January 2000, 1 A.M.

 

Her bare feet pounded the gravel, the sharp stones cutting mercilessly into her skin. The wind whipped cruelly at her hair and played with her new chiffon dress until her legs became entangled within it. She pulled herself free from the material without once slowing her pace, her heart drumming in her chest. She could hear the blood pulsating in her ears like a wild war dance. Her scalp tingled. Something had touched her. She fought back a scream. It was a branch, just a tree in the blackness of the night. Keep going. She couldn’t stop. A firework boomed and lit up the night sky. She tripped, scattering the detestable gravel. A small sob escaped her lips before she dragged herself up and continued on. He’d seen her. He’d seen her. That’s all she knew.  Keep running. Don’t look back. An orchestra of colours exploded in the sky and lit up the tall iron gates of Greystone Hall ahead of her. She thought back to the house and nausea rose up in her gut. Soon she would smell the pungent odour of seaweed. Her heart beat a steady rhythm now. She knew the beach wasn’t far away. Excited voices and the sound of drunken laughter broke through her pulsating eardrums. People were partying on the beach. It was the beginning of something new, something exciting, a new start.

‘Happy Millennium,’ someone shouted.

She tripped in her haste to reach them. Her mouth connected with cold sand, it scratched her skin.

‘Help me,’ she choked. ‘Please.’

‘Had too much?’ said a voice.

There was laughter from a small group huddled around a camp fire.

‘Hold on,’ said another. The voice concerned.

She felt someone touch her.

‘Fuck, she’s bleeding.’

‘Call the police,’ yelled another.

There was scuffling and someone wrapped a coat around her. It was warm and comforting.

‘Christ, what happened?’ he said.

‘Someone shot my Aunt and Uncle,’ she moaned, trying to get up. She couldn’t. She was exhausted.

‘I think they’re dead.’

 

The things nightmares are made of

It’s been over a year since we had the builders in. That’s the right phrase isn’t it? I’ve only finally recovered. I think I will be scarred for life. But I have reached that stage where I could actually consider having builders in again.

At the time though, my excitement at having an extension I have to admit dwindled by the day.

I stupidly escaped to Cambodia for three weeks in the vain hope it would all be over when I got back. Instead I came home to a demolished kitchen and a living room that looked as though squatters had moved in. My lovely husband had shoved everything onto the couches, into corners, and in piles on the floor. I stared aghast.  The corner of the room that had once housed my couch and a little table with romantic candles now had a makeshift sink and washing machine. My living room in a matter of days had become lounge, kitchen, bathroom and junk room.

Image

‘The tumble dryer finally broke,’ says my husband.

It just gets worse.

‘But we’re on the way.’

To madness I find myself thinking.

‘The builders arrive every morning at 7, so you’ll need to be up.’

‘But I’m jet lagged,’ I whine.

Oh God, did I agree to this. Can we go back?

‘Oh and the bathroom is coming down today. Come and meet the builders and see the portaloo.’

Why is making it all sound so glamorous? I just want to lie down and die. I’m so jet lagged. I don’t want to meet builders.

‘This is Dan, and Steve,’ says Andrew introducing me.

My lovely garden looks like a building site. I look at the portaloo and want to cry.

Image

 

Lovely Dan
Lovely Dan

‘I need to lie down,’ I say only to find the bed unmade, Why is it men cannot make a bed? Is it that hard?

‘Well, there’s no point, we’ll be getting in it again later. ‘Says Andrew casually.

I groan.

Now, I should tell you I am one of those women who clean up as people work. If Andrew does DIY, I’m there with the vacuum cleaner, vacuuming the dust as it falls. I’m dead serious. I can start working and if there is some mess on the floor I have to remove it otherwise I can’t concentrate.

To top it all. I’m right in the middle of a novel.

‘How can I write?’ I moan.

Honestly I’ve never moaned so much in my life.

‘You’ll cope,’ says Andrew.

He’s very understanding as you can tell.

I take another look at the living room and decide we can’t live like this and spend the next few hours sorting everything out. Dan and Steve keep looking at me and I see fear in their eyes. Oh yes, things are about to change. I’m home now.

I had these builders in my home for six months. During that time I had five periods. It’s no fun, trying to change a tampon in a portaloo when the builders are sitting outside it having their tea break.

I wrote a complete novel with them here. It was ‘Pink Wellies and Flat Caps’

PAW1001_Kindlecover_nobleed_198x128

Dan became my own personal little helper. He would run out and bring in the washing when it rained. He took in parcels for me and the whole six months had me calling, ‘Dan,’ numerous times.

Then we had a little holiday. Just a week but we were so stressed that it became an emergency to have a break. We stayed at a lovely cottage in Cornwall which had a bathroom and a kitchen. I was in heaven. While we were away we arranged for the heating people to come in to install our new heat pump…

Right, I need a minute, a cup of tea and a Valium if I am to carry on. Just the word heat pump reminds me of that horror. Forget Freddie Kruger and nightmare on Elm Street. Forget Norman Bates and Pyscho. Just think heat pump and a company called Verdalec. There I’ve said the name. I’ve actually said it. I have never wished evil on anyone but If I could perform spells on these people I would do it tomorrow.  We were doing well. Dan was wonderful. Steve was excellent. Kevin our main builder was brilliant. Everything was going according to plan and then along came Verdalec. There I have said it twice now. I emailed Dan to ask if they had been and whether the heat pump was installed. It took a long time for lovely Dan to reply. Of course, I understand why now. Finally, a text.

‘Hi Lynda, yes they have been. They were everywhere so we couldn’t do much.’

Oh yes, anything to get out of working and having another tea break with doughnuts. Of course, I was later to discover that lovely Dan had queried their mess and had actually gone behind them to clear up so it wouldn’t look too bad when we returned home. Bless his cotton socks. Because I cannot begin to tell you what it looked like when we returned home and this was after Dan had cleared up. I walked into the living room and my stomach sank. I don’t know why. It had looked like this for some time now but after leaving the lovely cottage in Cornwall it just looked a hundred times worse somehow. I went upstairs to take our suitcase and unpack and must have groaned so loudly because Andrew and Bendy came rushing upstairs. If only cats could talk. Bendy would probably tell you he seriously considered leaving home. The poor little bugger had no cat flap and was forced to stay out all night. His food was left outside as there was nowhere in the house for it. His kitchen had gone, which had once been his sleeping place. Our little cuddles on the loo (best not to go into those) had gone, as we no longer had a loo. Plus these big burly men came every day and scared the shit out of him so that he spent most of his time under the duvet. I can tell you I came close to joining him often. We were now all staring at the hole in Andrew’s office door and the scratches along the stair wall. I leaned on the bannister for support and nearly went down the whole flight of stairs as it came away in my hands. Andrew rescued me. I stumbled into the bedroom for a good cry and then saw the black footprints up the bedroom wall leading to the loft.

Bendy explores the building work.
Bendy explores the building work.

‘I’m phoning Dan,’ said an angry Andrew.

‘It’s not his fault,’ I hiccup.

‘Come on let’s go into the summer-house,’ he suggested. ‘That’s our sanctuary.’

Now Is the time to hide behind the cushions. This is worthy of a movie, I tell you. The summer-house was the one place not touched by builders. A place to relax, escape it all. I opened the door, a cup of tea in one hand and my laptop in the other. I opened the door and gasped. Someone had been in there. You know how you just know these things? Of course there were the giveaway signs. Bearing in mind I had cleaned the summer-house thoroughly before going away. It wasn’t just a feeling that someone had been in there, it was more the dirty footprints that gave it away and the throw on the chair all messed up. Of course the mud on the carpet was a complete giveaway.

‘I’ll kill them,’ I cried.

‘Right,’ said Andrew with that look on his face when he means business.

Oh, why did I ever go on holiday?

Dan explained that there had been about six people who came to fit the boiler and heat pump. That they made some mess and that he queried it but they said some mess is to be expected. So Dan, vacuumed and did his best to put the stair bannister back.  Andrew then left a stroppy message on the answer phone of the director of the heating company. Two days later someone came to see me and the damage. We went upstairs and he looked at the door and the boiler.

‘Well you can see the size of that.’ He said.

For one awful minute I wondered what it was we were talking about the size of. Fortunately it was the same thing. The boiler.

There in moments in life when you have to bite your lip isn’t there? This was one of them. I chose not to bite mine.

‘Yes,’ I said.

‘Well it was difficult for the guys to get that in here. It’s a small cottage in all fairness.’

‘Yes but in all fairness, the guys could have removed the door,’ I said.

He looks thoughtful.

‘How can you be sure hour guys did it?’

Now I saw red. Was he blaming it on Dan or the other builders?

‘I’ve had my builders here for three months. Dan even tells me when he spills water anywhere. I somehow think he would let me know if he bashes my door in. Your guys did it.’

‘Okay, we’ll obviously pay for the damage but you understand that damage happens when things like this are done.’

Finally he went. After agreeing to the pay the cost of painting the bedroom wall and fixing the door. I then decide not to go away again while I have work being done in the house. Of course it stupidly didn’t occur to me that they could do just as much damage when I’m in the house as when I am out of it.

Even this sight of me doesn't drive the builders away
Even this sight of me doesn’t drive the builders away

To be continued…

Doughnuts and Valium (the best combination)

Even this sight of me doesn't drive the builders away
Even this sight of me doesn’t drive the builders away

I thought to myself, because I do that sometimes. I talk to myself also (more than I should) but let’s not go there. I thought to myself, let’s write about this building work, after all it might be cathartic. Before I even wrote three words there were tears falling onto the paper blurring the words Okay, there would have been had it been on paper written in ink. In fact the words may well have been blurred by the scarlet red of my blood, so suicidal have I felt. But… there is always something good to be found. I don’t have to worry about dieting. It’s quite impossible to cook anything. The slow cooker is buried in brick-dust, the kitchen no longer exists and even heating up two TV dinners has become a skill. Balancing one on top of the other, making sure the dish covering one is just large for the top to take another TV dinner while continuing to rotate nicely. Wednesday night has become fish and chip night while Sunday has become Roast dinner down the pub. I buy the builders doughnuts and myself hot cross buns. I’m drinking copious amounts of wine (mostly because the doctor won’t give me Valium and wine is the next best thing) I don’t have to clean (no point) I use someone else’s bathroom as I don’t have one (luxury) and I always have a man about the place. Some of them are admittedly as good as useless but I have men never the less. I don’t have heating but I do have a small electric fan heater which we sit huddled over. I have found washing using a bucket isn’t so bad. I’m beginning to wonder what the fuss is about sinks. So between popping pain killers and laughing till I cry I am managing to stay sane amidst the chaos which begins every day without fail at 7.30. Come rain or shine I drag myself from my bed at 7 or earlier and am sitting in my tatty towelling robe when they arrive. They sadly realised quite early on that I am no Brigitte Bardot so why pretend? If Andrew can cope with the morning nightmare of me then so can they?
There is Mark, also known as ‘Dipstick Mark.’ Named thus by us. Dipstick Mark swaggers around all day swigging from his never-ending cans of Red Bull. I imagine he is flying by the end of the day and seems incapable of doing anything without an ensuing disaster. He plumbed in pipes for the heating and then forgot to turn the water on. We attempted to later that evening only to have a flood. Dipstick Mark returns to repair said damage and fits a tap in the bathroom so we have water upstairs. He then forgets to turn the water back on. When we do turn on the water we discover said tap has a leak. ‘Dipstick Mark’ almost flooded out our bathroom and ruined our new ceiling.
There’s lovely Dan, who I would adopt if I could. I’m not sure life will be the same once Dan goes and I won’t be able to shout ‘Dan,’ every time something doesn’t seem to work. Dan flies out to bring in the washing if it rains and takes in any deliveries. It’s like having my own manservant but without the ‘Mam’ bit.
There is lovely Kevin, the boss. He doesn’t say much but does plenty. There are two Steve’s otherwise known as sparky and the plumber. Not being versed in this language I spent several days waiting for someone called Sparky to arrive. I finally said to Dan,
‘I must keep missing Sparky. I haven’t met him yet.’
Dan patiently informed me that Sparky is the trade name for electrician. Well, I’m not to know that am I?
I’ve had four periods during the time they have invaded my home. Trying to insert a tampon while sitting in a portaloo with three builders outside having a tea break is no fun at all.
I’ve read builder nightmare stories of course but you never think it will happen to you. Oh, be afraid be very afraid. These builders are all the same. I’m actually lucky to still be alive after a rain of scaffolding came hurtling towards me. I have slipped on the mud inside the house not outside I hasten to add. Lovely Dan places the dust sheets neatly on the stairs every day showering the living room in a cloud of grey making the room resemble smoky Joes by the time he has finished. There was also the day they forgot to tell me that although I could see a cat flap hole on the outside, they had actually plastered it up on the inside. That night the cat couldn’t

Bend the cat has a tea break
get out to pee, hence the house reeks of cat pee now.
The worst thing possible they have done is… filled my fridge with Snickers bar. The overwhelming temptation has proven too much and was a disaster for my diet. But I am proud to say I weakened only once and stole one. ‘You’re roughing it very well,’ said Kevin. Is that a gloat I see on his face?
But enough of my story telling. Have a look at the photos.
All donations to the new building fund to repair builder damage can be sent to me directly.
Lovely Dan

Our living room/bathroom/kitchen/junk room

Living room

Bendy thinks ‘Ah this looks promising.’

This looks even more promising


Progress

Our current draining system

But it will be worth it

A builder, a builder, my kingdom for a builder

Now I’m not a difficult person. I don’t ask for very much. I don’t want diamonds or extravagant holidays. I try to see the positive in everything and have vision. However if anyone had told me what was in store for me at Marlborough Cottage after we purchased it I think I would have been a touch nervous. We moved in over ten years ago and we were very aware that the kitchen and downstairs bathroom would need to be replaced at some point and that the whole cottage needed renovating. At the time I had such vision and really imagined that three years on we would have a beautiful cottage but as usually happens life takes over. Money was not available and everything seemed to cost more than we could ever have imagined. After decorating the whole house we felt that other things could wait and we could live adequately in Marlborough cottage as it was. This was not always a happy state of affairs. Our first winter was like something out of the film ‘Ethan Frome’ and if you haven’t seen that film, then you really must.’My hands cold as ice’ (Mattie from ‘Ethan Frome’) In our bathroom my hands tits and bum ‘cold as ice’ I kid you not. I swear if you do not pee quickly it will turn to ice mid-stream. My shower gel has iced up in the can before now. I see you shaking your head. It is true. The only heating in the bathroom is a little fan thing on the wall and that has to go on at least forty minutes before a shower. After a few weeks I devise the perfect routine.  First put bath towel in tumble dryer for thirty minutes before shower and fan heater on about twenty minutes before shower and then quick dive into bathroom and under the hot water where skin tingles from going to one extreme to the other. Jump from shower, wrap hot towel around oneself and dive into warm living room. What a palaver. But we managed to survive. The other problem in the winter became the night time wee. The bedroom is also freezing and the only saving grace is the electric blanket which I assure you has stayed on number one all night this winter. Andrew and I must have more cuddles than any couple I know.

Our bedroom, quaint if not cold.
A horrified friend warned me this could be dangerous, not the cuddling, of course, but the blanket. Andrew is not that electrifying in bed, well he might be, but I wouldn’t tell you now, would I? There is a risk of electrocution she advised. I assured her the risk of frost bite was even higher. Having once braved the loo in the night and returning to bed like an ice cube I decided drastic action was needed. Let’s say I devised a little loo for us upstairs. I won’t go into more detail. Then, of course there is the kitchen. I don’t have a kitchen in the winter. I have just one big freezer. The olive oil in my cupboard is currently frozen as is the peanut butter and honey. Oh, it is not a joke. On Sunday I convinced Andrew to help me prepare dinner because more than fifteen minutes in the kitchen means you cannot chop carrots or onions, especially if they have been in the fridge. I got as far as the garlic and could no longer feel my fingers. We almost collided with each other in our rush to dive back into the warm living room. Oh, you are pitying me, I can feel it. The waves of pity are just penetrating through the virtual world of the internet.  But I get to be very close to my lovely hubby if nothing else. At least the cold is better than the rain which floods in under the back door. In the winter at least the bathroom is not plagued by wood lice. You see, one can always find the positive. In an attempt to keep warm I light lots of candles. Perhaps not the most sensible thing seeing as this house has a history of fires. It’s okay it is safe to read on but only just.  About 89 years ago poor Miss Marshall lit a candle in her bedroom, the same bedroom which is now ours. Our neighbour now 92 remembers it well.

‘Smoke was billowing from the window and we rushed to get in. The next thing I remember was Miss Marshalls charred body falling through the ceiling and landing on your living room floor.’

Now that does make you shiver? and I won’t lie and say we have not heard noises from upstairs because sometimes we have.

The lounge where Miss Marshall fell to her death
Another blog posting I think. Then, of course there is the odd case of the house deeds which were strangely lost in a fire at the solicitors. Our predecessor’s Molly and Clifford had two fires in the freezing lean to which I referred to earlier. Then there was the day that yours truly nearly went up in flames. Andrew was upstairs working. I had just showered and quickly grabbed my flowery flowing skirt that tied at the waist. It was a bit chilly so I decided to light some candles to warm the place up. I only meant to warm the place up, you understand, but someone else obviously had other intentions of warming me up. I had already lit those on the fireplace and was lighting the few I had put on the coffee table when I had a strange hot sensation in my leg. I ignored it, as you do. I then went to rub it only to find my skirt was on fire. Of course I can write calmly about this now. I frantically tried to untie the knot of the tie-up that held my skirt while repeatedly calling Andrew. God help me the damn thing was knotted. I began to frantically tug at it to get it over my hips, while the flames were licking further and further up my skirt.
‘Andrew,’ I screamed hysterically. No response. ‘Andrew, help me, please.’
No response. Oh my god I was going to burn alive like Miss Marshall. I ran dramatically towards the wall almost knocking myself out. Smoke was everywhere along with floating pieces of my skirt as Andrew opened the door at the bottom of the stairs. He did not rush, it seems, because he thought I had seen a spider or a dead mouse. I ask you! Trust me I do not scream hysterically when I see a mouse or even a spider. When I am burning to death I may have a tendency to scream hysterically, justified I think.
I swore never to have candles in the house again. But of course I lapsed. A few years went by and they were no more fire incidents so I put it down to bad luck. Then only a few months ago when Andrew was in Taiwan, Bendy and I were sitting cosily on the couch when there was a strange bang from upstairs. Bendy jumped onto the coffee table almost knocking over a vase of flowers. I jumped up to catch them, throwing the cushion I was using to lean my net book upon, straight onto the candles on the table.
Gently stroking Bendy I realised there was a burning smell. I looked behind me to see the cushion on fire. I quickly doused it with water and sighed when I saw the large hole. Was this Miss Marshall striking again? We never did find out what the bang was. But we are brave here and do not give in to ghosts and still light candles. Full blog posting on this here. Are you over your trembling, shall I continue. Okay, Onto less frightening house complications.

Last summer we replaced the front and back doors. Ten years on and we started thinking we really should do more. The past few years we got side tracked with family weddings, trips abroad, Andrew’s studies which seemed to go on forever but yay he finally graduated to Dr Cook in August

Andrew's graduation
and there was a sigh of relief all round. So, this year is the year of the builder or at least so we thought. We phoned the builder who had built a new home for our neighbours and he seemed very keen.

‘I’ll pop to see you,’ he said.

Three weeks later we phoned again to see if he was still interested.

‘Oh, yes, I’ll pop round on Friday.’

And he did and he advised us of an architect whom we contacted.

‘I’ll pop a quote in the post for you this week.’

A week later we went on holiday for two weeks. We returned, still no quote. We phoned, no answer, we left a message, no response. Perhaps he is sick or something, I said sympathetically. Oh, I am so innocent.

Andrew not so innocent phoned several other builders to get as many quotes as possible.  Meanwhile, we had the plans drawn up and applied for planning permission. Still no quote. Then the lovely Julian came. He was very impressive and spent a long time with us.

‘I’ll put a quote in the post. You should have it before Christmas.’

We got planning permission. Christmas came, Christmas went. We flew to Cambodia and flew home to NO QUOTES. I was in tears.

‘We will never get a builder.’

‘Things take time,’ Andrew advises ‘It may take a few weeks.’

A few weeks! I am beginning to think these builders work on years. Three months later we ask more builders for quotes, we ask our friends if they know builders. Andrew begins to talk of doing it himself.

‘I’ll take a week off work,’ he says with a grin.

Not funny!

Another builder visits. He doesn’t even ask to see where the extension will go but from the plans assures us it will not be a problem.

‘I’ll pop the quote in the post.’

Haven’t we heard that before?

Another visits and thinks we want an extension to cover the whole garden… We explain the plans and tell him we want a new kitchen/living area to go onto the existing lounge and a downstairs loo plus a bathroom upstairs and another small bedroom. He says he will have to ask his mates who couldn’t make it today. At the word mates, we look at each other suspiciously. He also happily advises us that if he can’t do it he knows someone who throws these things up really fast and cheap. Yes, right…

Three months on we get a quote from the first builder for 60,000 pounds, minus fittings and decorating. I pick Andrew up off the floor and ask can he take two weeks off work to do it himself. He scoffs. Then nice Julian’s quote pops through the door. Oh, at last. Except it isn’t a quote. It is Julian telling us he now can’t do it. Basically he has been offered bigger jobs. Charming.

We wait for ‘It’s not a problem’ builder quote.  Meanwhile another one visits and seems very unassuming.

‘I’ll get the quote to you in a week’ and HE DOES. Impressed we are.

Andrew looks into the price of scaffolding and I start to worry that he is serious about doing it himself. Oh, good lord.

The builder who got the quote back on time phones to say he would like to discuss it with us. He wants to come and see us again without us asking. Ooh, we get very excited. Meanwhile, another comes and Bendy runs and hides again. I begin to wonder how he will cope with all the work when it starts. Then on Wednesday the prompt builder arrives and guess what? Bendy is all over him, at one point putting his paw onto his knee so he is sure to see him and give him a stroke. It’s a sign. I tell Andrew this later and he just scoffs but he agrees this is the guy for us and his quote is reasonable. I can’t believe it. In just eighteen weeks he will start work with his team.

I so hope I can post good things…