Sunday, 20 May 2018

House wandering through the UK

Jackie with Frodo cat
Continuing our strange life (to some) of wandering through the UK housesitting, we are now in Epsom, Surrey looking after old Frodo cat while Richard and Helen take their two week action holiday in Peru visiting Machu Picchu, Nazca lines and many places we visited last year - fond memories for us!

Richard and Helen, who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Friady 18th, are mum and dad to our friend Sarah and hubby John who live back in our home village of Alvechurch and allow us to use their home address as ours whilst we travel. We both already knew Richard and Helen through Sarah, but I have only visited their house in Epsom once, though Jackie, knowing them much longer than me, has visited before and remembers Frodo cat as a kitten. She's now an old 19 year old very sweet cat that likes company. She can no longer climb the stairs and walks around like a real old girl, but she's very affectionate and likes company, so for the two days so far that we've been here we've carried her upstairs in the mornings so she can join us on the bed while we have morning coffee. It's very comfortable here, Richard and Helen have a fabulous house with a superb garden and its a 15 minute walk into Epsom town through a park so, coupled with the great weather we're having at the moment, it's perfect!

Little Frodo cat
Corinne in action at her house
In the week since our last update we have finally finished decorating at Corinne's house. In the nine days we worked there we cleaned, emulsioned and glossed three bedrooms, the ceiling and gloss in the bathroom, the hall stairs and landing, the lounge, kitchen and dining room, cleaned the outside front and prepared the drive for new gravel. Ian and Helen did the garden and Corinne sorted, cleaned and did a bit of painting - what a team!

Corinne, where did you get that hat? And those trousers....!
The cleaned front of Corinnes house - and a full skip!
It all finished for me on Monday lunchtime as I had an appointment at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham to have a biopsy taken on my right hand which required a stitch and dressing, so no more work for me for a few days. It looks like the skin cancer I had in NZ 5 years ago has reoccurred which will mean a further minor op if the biopsy comes back positive, that along with the other minor op on my chest to remove another suspect bit on 29th May. Bit of a nuisance, but at least it's easy to spot and treat so things could be worse.

James, daughter Fiona and 18 year old granddaughter Becky
We finished looking after Sooty cat in Hall Green, Birmingham on Thursday morning and drove straight here to Epsom to have an evening with Richard and Helen and learn where everything is, how it all works and meet Frodo cat. Before we left we managed to squeeze in the second two of Jackies big birthday celebrations, (the first one being at my sisters 10 or 12 days ago), the second one being a joint celebration at my daughters house in Kenilworth on Sunday last where my granddaughter Becky is about to celebrate her 18th. That was a great day with Fiona, James, Becky and youngest, Jenny (eldest grandadughter Abbie is currently away at Manchester university, so she wasn't there) and even though it was sunny outside, we didn't move from the dining table after a fabulous lunch, as talking took over!

Relaxing with Sooty cat and a glass of wine at the end of decorating
Monty dog, Corinne and Jackie at Helen and Ian's house
The third celebration was an afternoon tea that we prepared at Sooty's house for when homeowner Abi paid a brief visit back from  Malvern to collect her repaired car. We (or should I say mainly Jackie), prepared the whole experience, low alcohol bubbles, cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off (obviously!), pastrami pinwheel sandwiches, salad, smoked salmon, prawns, stuffed peppers (plus more), cake and I baked cheese and plain scones, served with clotted cream and strawberry jam, washed down with a pot tea in cups and saucers. Abi provided posh table cloths and bunting, all served in the back garden in afternoon sunshine - how very British!

Abi and Jackie and the full afternoon tea birthday experience
Jackie with brother and sister Clive and Sarah
Her fourth and final celebration was yesterday here in Epsom, on her actual birthday, when Sarah and her brother Clive came. It might have been the Royal wedding of Harry and Meghan, but I'm afraid we missed it, celebrating Jackies birthday in the sunny back garden with Sarah and Clive instead. More low alcohol bubbles, quiche, salad, couscous, potatoes etc. and another birthday cake with candles washed down with several pots of tea. Sarah did say how strange it felt arriving at her parents house, ringing the bell and being let in and looked after by us rather than them, but at least she could show us some things that Richard and Helen didn't have time to do before they left.

Richard and Helen's lovely house
It's not all relaxation here, plant watering is required!
Today, Sunday papers, enjoy the house and garden in warm, sunny weather and fuss little old Frodo cat. It might be a strange life to some, but to us it's just fabulous.

Frodo cat seems quite relaxed though....

As did Sooty cat when we looked after her

A regular visitor to Richard and Helens back garden, a green parakeet. We really like them, but they screech a lot so R&H are not quite so fond of them

In case you didn't see it in the above photo with Clive and Sarah, here's Jackie's birthday cake with the big '5-0' candles ready for her to blow out

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Housesitting, house renovating, friends catch up and curry nights out

Sooty cat
The last blog seems a very long time ago, it was over two weeks, so this might be a long one, though really it’s been tip, strip, fill, sand, paint, gloss. Repeat!

We had a lovely visit with Denise and Paul, my first birthday cake, and candles and lots of catching up. Then a full meeting of the Monday Club, including Tim from Derby. Talk quickly turned to the mobilehome, I hope we don’t become bores.

Sooty long cat
Sooty hunting cat
Tuesday Abi to the airport and an exciting day visiting charity shops looking for DVD box sets to put in the mobilehome (sorry) before defrosting the freezer and meeting “oh, did I forget to tell you, I have a lodger” Paul. A 50 something teenager from Cardiff who stays 3 nights a week, microwaves his dinner and retires to his bedroom, not a problem.

Wednesday the car went to Abi’s mechanic, also a 'Paul', for a service and cam belt change. Don’t think he was very happy, it seemed a harder job than expected as B drove it away at 21.00 after walking round to see how he as getting on three times......
Malgosha, Ian, Brian, Corinne, Helen & Jackie

Thursday the big day with Corinne, will the lodger have moved out? She hadn’t heard from the agents and last contact with the tenant had been 8 days before when she’d tried to explain how hard it was to find somewhere (she’d been given two months) we weren’t holding our breaths. Miracles do happen though and the house was empty, filthy and full of rubbish but empty. Hurrah, on with the working clothes then and down to it.
Jackie hard at work

Corinne is an old friend from my IVC days, she was also in the mountaineering club, and part of the Helen and Ian curry group, so linked in three ways. She and I even jumped out of an airplane together back in the day. She moved to Oz 11 years ago to give up being a research scientist and train as a vet, easier and more affordable there than here at her age apparently, the house has been let out since, but after not being a well bunny, she has decided now is the time to liquidate her asset. Timing wise it worked well for us, she can have us till we go to Epsom......

So as above really, H&I have done the garden, on a really hot Bank Holiday weekend and we have decorated a house between the three of us, with a couple of days last weekend from Malgosia, a friend of hers from round the corner. It’s been a laugh, hard work but very very satisfying. Monday may be our last day as we do have a couple of things to do before we go south, and B is having a biopsy on his hand as a mark has appeared in the same place as one of the original lumps he had removed. If it hadn’t been for its positioning they probably wouldn’t have bothered with it, so we are not really worried, but being on his right hand it will slow him down a bit!
Bit of an accident removing the radiator

In between decorating we’ve curried, twice, with Corinne and H&I, the first time with Manu and Crystal, lovely to catch up with them before her parents come over from Hong Kong to celebrate M&C’s wedding, last night, a great party.

We had one day off, managing to fit in the financial advisor, his dentist and his visit to the dermatology clinic, close to Corinne’s so really I didn’t get a full day off. The car has been back and forth to Paul as a warning light comes and goes, and is performance and fuel economy down? Still can’t decide. And Sooty has been to the vets. It’s been hard, but very enjoyable work, and today we are of to Fiona’s (B’s daughter) for lunch. In fact we should be out the door.....

Note to self: 'remove rad valve slowly, the water is under pressure!'
First curry night out with Manu (taking the photo), Brian, Crystal, Corinne, Helen, Ian & Jackie
The gypsies moved onto the field by Sarehole Mill and their dear little children were playing in the ford in Green Lane on a hot afternoon as we drove through with the car windows open. Not a good idea! Water and wet cloths came in through the windows!
Everyones worst nightmare. A can of wood stain Corinne had in the boot of the brand new hire car she had exploded whilst she drove, here's the result. Here Helen is working quickly to clean it out before it dries....
Jackie and Corinne working away
The three of them making progress. It doesn't look too bad now, will she get away with it when she takes it back?
Second curry night out at Diwans. Corinne, Helen, Ian, Jackie and Brian
And as a thank you, Corinne paid!
Saturday night out at the Barton Arms for Manu and Crystals 1st wedding anniversary or their blessing for Crystals Hong Kong parents visit
Today at Brians daughters house: Fiona, soon to be 18 Becky, Jenny and Jackie
Oscar the cat, James, Fiona (Brian's daughter) and Brian's 18 year old granddaughter Becky (looking at her phone of course)
Back at Abi's and our housesitting duties, Sooty the cat balances to take a drink from the garden sink