Friday, 26 September 2014

Bex's Apple & Blackberry crumble recipe

by Bex

This crumble is my new local crumble recipe made from brambles we picked opposite the house and using apples from our local farm shop, grown practically on our doorstep!  I adapted the same recipe I used for my rhubarb & apple crumble in the summer but without pre-cooking the apples as I am more tired now and wanted fewer things to wash/fit in the dishwasher!  I also added a bit more to the crumble topping as a wee experiment - chopped almonds (would have used ground but I found chopped ones in the box!) and the zest of the lemon to add a bit of zing to the topping as well as not to waste a good zest ;)

For the filling:
400g Bramley apples, peeled, cored & chopped
300g other apples, peeled, cored & chopped
200g blackberries (we only had 180g and it was dark when I made the crumble so I didn't pick any more)
40g golden caster sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the topping:
140g flour
100g butter
100g demerara sugar
60g rolled oats
20g chopped almonds
zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180oC.
Place the apples and blackberries in a medium sized shallow oven proof dish.  Pour over the lemon juice and evenly sprinkle over the sugar, cinnamon and ginger.

Place all the ingredients for the topping into a food processor and blitz until you have a crumbly mixture.  Cover the fruit mixture with the crumble.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Serve with your choice of cream or custard.

It was just the right combination of tart and sweet and the zest in the topping turned out to be awesome!  I would highly recommend it :)

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Up & Down

by Bex

It's a weird feeling when you move home and feel like you've both upsized and downsized at the same time.  It sounds confusing but let me explain; we've clearly upsized in our new home to a house from a flat and with a bigger square footage, a garage, driveway and a garden of our own.  We absolutely love our new house and feel extremely lucky to be living here.  The feeling of downsizing just comes from the fact we have grown used to our very spacious rooms and lovely high ceilings in our old Glasgow tenement flat.  This means quite a few pieces from our old home just won't fit in our new one.

The first of these being our wardrobes.  I'd suspected without even seeing the new house that our very tall Ikea wardrobes might not fit as it's a relatively new build and they tend to have lower ceilings than older houses generally, never mind our super high ceilings!  In our flat, we could fit large suitcases on their sides on top of the tall wardrobes and still have space before the ceiling.  Luckily Nik was in touch with the owners of our new house and managed to find out (just in time) that actually no, they definitely wouldn't fit.  They were 6cm too tall and that's without even taking into account the coving.  We tried to sell them to our buyer as it would save her having to buy, transport (up 2 flights of stairs) and build her own wardrobes but she had already made other arrangements.  In the end, in desperation of how to get rid of these rather large (and in total quite expensive) wardrobes out of our flat we thought we'd have to list them on Freecycle for anyone who would come and dismantle them and take them away.

Nik then had the idea that maybe the ceiling in the garage might be higher than in the house so asked again for a measurement from the old owners.  Hoorah!  They'd fit in the garage.  We'd already asked all our removals companies to quote including dismantling and then rebuilding of the wardrobes at the other end as I am clearly not in a position to help with that at the moment!  It does mean we have some very swanky storage in our garage but there's still room for my car and we have other plans for the other half of the garage which I'll talk about in more detail in another post!  Obviously we also had to buy smaller wardrobes for the actual rooms in the new house which was a cost we didn't envisage (on top of replacing fixtures which were stripped from the house like toilet roll holders!)  - thank goodness for our new 19 month 0% interest cards!  We won't be going mad on them as we don't want to rack up lots of debt but it will help when there is so much essential baby and house stuff to buy all at once!  Plus 19 months gives us enough time for me to be back at work to help pay it off before any charges occur!

Having a smaller wardrobe has definitely made a difference to me as I'm having trouble unpacking and sorting all my clothes without spreading into other rooms for storage.  (I already kept my dresses in a wardrobe in the spare room where they are again now, the only difference being I organised them by colour - I'm so sad and I know it won't last!)  Losing the extra 35cm of height has made more of a difference than I expected and we're trying to have less furniture in the rooms in order to keep a spacious feel where possible.  Our bedroom has a built in cupboard which Mum & Nik did a fabulous job transforming the inside of so we didn't need another wardrobe for Nik's stuff (although I'm starting to think it has more space than my wardrobe so I may be angling for a swap!)  And before you ask, yes I did have a clearout before we moved but I think I may need to be more brutal!  It's hard without knowing what might fit me after pregnancy though!

So, the next two items from our old home which didn't fit in the new house are both lamps.  You may have seen pictures of our 'Arco' lamp (a bargainous £70 on ebay!) and huge paper lantern (massively reduced in the habitat sale years ago) both in the old living room.  We'd thought the big paper lamp which was almost floor to ceiling would certainly be put into storage until we one day might live in a house with taller ceilings again (I can't bear to part with it as I just love it so much) but we hadn't thought about our Arco lamp causing problems.  It was only when we tried to reassemble it at this end that we saw the top part of the arch touches the ceiling.  Bugger.  With the lampshade on it would hang down a bit lower but would just look silly in the room and make the whole place look small.  It has therefore also been relocated to the garage (again, more on this later but it may be coming clear that the garage will be used for more than just cars and storage!).

Our kitchen, too, feels a lot smaller.  Although the house is overall bigger than our flat, it's split into a lot more rooms meaning it sometimes feels less spacious than where we were before.  You all know how much I LOVE my old kitchen.  I always knew I would miss it as I've grown used to having so much space, storage and surface area for cooking, baking and entertaining.  Even when house hunting we knew we'd have trouble recreating a similar space down south.  There seems to be a much greater tendency to have a separate dining room down here meaning kitchens are much smaller.  (We were extremely lucky with our old one having been converted from a living room with bay window years before we moved in.)  Our new kitchen is certainly one of the bigger ones we'd seen but doesn't compare to our old one and definitely won't fit our table in it.  We have plans to knock down part of the wall between it and the dining room asap to open up the space, preferably before the babies arrive due to the noise and mess it will inevitably cause during the work.  We'll also need a dresser in the dining room to take the overflow from the kitchen cupboards.  (Yes, I do have an addiction to vases, platters and cake stands almost as much as shoes, necklaces and clothes in general!)

The only other thing which we're having trouble fitting in (that we've noticed so far) are some of our larger pieces of art.  The large square frame from above our old fireplace might only look reasonable hung above the stairs on the landing as in any other room it would take up more than half the wall height and be rather domineering.  My gallery of 9 safari prints from our honeymoon would similarly take over a whole wall in this house so we're thinking of hanging them along the landing upstairs in a row rather than a square format.  I'm not sure yet where my 1m wide canvas of Black Rock Cottage will fit in either but we'll find a home for that too.  Also, our living room has much less wall space than we're used to as it has 2 walls with windows and another 2 walls with double doors as well as lower ceilings.  A lot of my other photographs and our paintings should all find new homes more easily being more standard sizes but we're waiting until we've decorated to decide where everything will go as they're all getting re-jigged to fit in with my new decor ideas and the new layout.

None of these things take away from the fact we have a lot more space overall now and we compromised on location to enable us to afford that.  We've definitely lucked out in that regard too though as we're already loving the country lifestyle and have what seems like a great community around us!  The benefits and positives of this house FAR outweigh any of the little issues I've mentioned above, I don't want to seem like I'm moaning as I would definitely choose this house again and again.  Especially as the stairs at the old flat were already getting too much for me to climb while growing our twins, never mind with two external growing babies to humph up with me!!  I am LOVING having a driveway which guarantees I can park right outside my door and just step into the house when I'm knackered after a day out or shopping trip!

Have you ever had trouble fitting in your beloved home-wares after moving?  Have any of you moved from a period property to a new one and missed features such as high ceilings, cornicing and fireplaces?  I'm wondering what I'll do with my pumpkins and Christmas candle display this year ;)

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Newborn photo shoot with Zoe Stewart

by Roz

When baby star was just ten days old, the three of us headed through to Edinburgh for a newborn photo shoot with the lovely Zoe Stewart.  Despite thinking about getting some photos of Aaron before he was born, I left it 'til the last minute to enquire and book an actual shoot and Zoe was so lovely about squeezing us in - especially as she was pregnant with twins at the time!  We ended up doing the shoot on a Saturday and I remember how daunting it felt to think of driving our new baby all the way to Edinburgh but he slept the whole way there and I remember us feeling quite excited at just how magical the car was for making Aaron sleep.  Boy has that changed in recent weeks!

We arrived at Zoe's lovely bright studio and were made to feel very welcome.  The studio was lovely and warm, and after a chat about the types of shots we were after, Aaron was stripped and Zoe set to work starting to capture some gorgeous images.

Zoe managed to capture a few poses straight away but then Aaron properly woke up and either went from demanding to be fed or completely wide awake.  I think he fed on and off for the first 5 hours we were there!  Looking back it was the beginning of his first growth spurt / cluster feeding.

I actually love the above shot of him in full on scream, is that bad of me?!  I was trying to snap a picture of him lying on the wonderful crocheted purple, star shaped blanket that Linsey made for him.  Isn't it gorgeous, Aaron is a lucky wee dude. 

I was beginning to get a bit stressed out that we were taking too long to get any shots but Zoe was so lovely and said we didn't have any time limit, just until it got dark outside, which was so lovely.  Despite this Aaron just seemed far too interested in everything that was going on to let Zoe capture some shots, so we decided to head outside to the Botanic Gardens to see if the fresh air would encourage him to have a wee sleep.  Zoe knew of a lovely spot filled with bluebells so we headed there and the walk worked!

He even stayed asleep while we stripped him down to his nappy.  He's all snuggly in his basket which was warmed up with a little hot water bottle.

Zoe got a lot of shots in the gardens and there were a few bemused passers by who were quite surprised to find a tiny baby in the woods.  The walk to the gardens hadn't just wiped out Aaron though, I was shattered and more than a bit uncomfortable so B walked back to Zoe's studio and got the car to drive us all back.  After a cup of tea and a sit down back at the studio we tried for some more indoor shots but it just wasn't to be, Aaron wanted his mum and all the milk!

I couldn't help but think maybe Zoe wasn't able to get that many shots, it had been a long day and I genuinely couldn't remember what photos we had snapped in the morning.  Zoe was lovely, she was confident she had snapped some great shots but invited us to come back for another shoot for free as she couldn't believe how awake Aaron had been and was convinced he wasn't actually only 10 days old!

We decided to trust Zoe and wait on receiving the link to our online album...

...then not long after we arrived back in Glasgow this appeared on Zoe's Facebook page.  I don't think there are words to describe how much I love this shot.  I mean the bluebells and the light are just gorgeous, but look at my boy!  His smooshy cheeks, his hands, his fluffy hair.  I couldn't love it more.

And here are two more that I love...

B plans on telling Aaron we found him like this in the woods!

Incase you can't tell already, we are so happy with the photos Zoe took of Aaron and I couldn't recommend her more!  Zoe's studio has a wall of windows to let in lots of light, I didn't take the best photos of it but given I was pretty tired I'm sure you'll all let me off.  I just wanted to show you all how lovely it was and all the outfits, props, blankets etc. that Zoe has for photos.

Amazingly, despite her gorgeous twins arriving only a few weeks ago, Zoe is back working one day a week already.  Well, she does have one of the best jobs ever, snuggling with newborn babies :)

Thanks Zoe for capturing some beautiful portraits of our little man :)

Roz xxx

P.S. here's an outtake photo that I just had to share, this is 10 day old Aaron pushing himself up and trying to climb out of the crate!!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Moving 500 miles - the good, the bad & the ugly

by Bex

I've been trying to start this post for days now.  I'm just not sure where to start.  I should warn you now, it's ended up ridiculously long as I just started writing what happened over the 3 moving days.

Everyone knows that moving house is one of the most stressful life changes you can go through.  Doing it at the same time as being 6 months pregnant with twins just adds to this, not to mention the fact that Nik had already moved down to Brighton to live in the hospital as his new job started a month before we could get in the house.  Pregnancy obviously limits what I can do when it comes to lifting, organising and just having energy at times!  For this reason we decided to book a removal company which would also take care of the packing for us.  This actually didn't add as much extra cost as we thought it might, although it was still pricey considering all the stuff we have and how far we needed to get it!  The story about removals ended up being the most epic part of this post so I was going to split that off into a separate post but the story probably just makes more sense all in one go with the pictures too so apologies for this long, boring post!

After a number of quotes, we had chosen to go with Britannia who had provided the most competitive yet realistic quote (a couple of really cheap ones didn't fill us with confidence when moving our precious belongings such a long way, especially since one of those didn't even come to assess our property despite us explaining we had a lot of stuff in our 3 bed flat!)

Unfortunately as a result of various delays, not helped by poor communication and a number of mistakes made by our English solicitor (including spelling Nik's name wrong on the contract!) our exchange didn't take place until 10 days before our planned moving date.  I'd thought our removals were booked anyway (the sellers weren't able to confirm theirs until exchange had taken place and were very concerned the move date might have to change - leaving us homeless as our Scottish sale was binding for that date already!) but when we tried to confirm it, they informed us they were now fully booked and not available until the week after!  With only a week and a half to go I was in a bit of a panic as we made our way through the rest of the list - our next 4 choices were all unavailable!

On a particularly stressful day, Roz came over to provide hugs and company and rang her removal guy (we'd had a quote booked with them before but had to cancel as they were running late and Nik had been on nights so needed to sleep) and he squeezed us in for a quote that day, phew!  When he came round early that evening, he was lovely and reassuring saying he should be able to give us the dates we needed.  I was quite surprised as he was only there for a few minutes as opposed to around 15-30 minutes for all the other quotes we'd had and thinking back, he didn't really look in any cupboards except the ones I showed him explaining my shoes were in the boiler cupboard (our bedroom used to be the kitchen!) and the big kitchen cupboard full of random stuff and ladders but we'd already emptied the attic so he was able to see that all piled up in the spare room.  I was a bit concerned the quote might be quite high as he knew we'd lost our previous company and were moving so soon.  Luckily it was very reasonable and although more than the one we'd initially chosen to go with, it still included everything we needed (including dismantling and rebuilding of our wardrobes) and he could do our dates.  It also wasn't the highest quote we'd had and given they'd been recommended by both Roz and Ali, we felt happy that they'd be worth the cost.  Of course, we did ask if there was any chance they could knock £100 off and he agreed that if we paid cash that would be fine.  Job done - tick!

When the day came for them to start packing (the day before they were due to load up and leave), it became apparent about half way through that they had definitely underestimated just how much stuff we had in our flat.  We were lucky in our flat having a lot of storage, especially in our kitchen and our 4 big wardrobes in the spare room and bedroom.  Unfortunately despite coming to assess all this, when Nik had previously explained that our flat was not an average 3 bed flat and we had more stuff than the average person, they didn't expect all of the cupboards and drawers to be full.  This meant that they were going to need a lot more boxes than they thought and I was VERY concerned they might not fit it all in their two trucks (they don't have big lorries - another reason we never rescheduled the quote before as we weren't sure they could do such a big job).  It also meant that it was taking a lot longer than they thought.  This was mentioned to me by the supervisor on the day and he said the boss would be in touch to discuss it.  Cue panic, what was going to happen?  Did they want to charge us more?  Were they going to get all our stuff down south?  Were they even able to finish the job?  Stress!!!  Not ideal given my current situation.

Luckily by this point Nik's Mum & Dad were there to help me with anything else (taking heavy bins out, any last minute hooks or screws to come out of walls, etc.) and to drive my car down for me so I was able to fly on the Friday and avoid a massive and what would basically turn out to be impossibly uncomfortable journey of 462 miles in my car!  Being like Nik, they helped keep me calm, explained not to worry, it was up to the company to sort it out, we were paying them a large sum and they'd quoted us based on what they assessed when they came to the flat.  It wasn't my fault they had underestimated the job and they were sure it would all be fine.  Anyway, the guys all left around 6pm and we went out for dinner with Roz and Aaron and I never heard from the boss.  I planned to ask him to just speak to Nik anyway as it was Nik who had the contract and had discussed our flat with him previously and I just wanted to be left out of it so it didn't stress me out anymore.

I hardly slept that night and eventually got up at 3am after I had a nosebleed so I dealt with it and then packed a box of shoes.  The guys all came back early at 8am to finish packing and start loading.  I have to hand it to the packers - they were really nice and worked really hard.  They seemed to be doing a great job of packing everything well and were still cheerful with me despite obviously being so busy.

Unfortunately I did get all stressed again as the boss turned up and was saying how he had underestimated the amount of stuff in our flat.  I didn't really know what to say but I started feeling a bit uncomfortable as they were frantically trying to finish everything off to get on the road.  We eventually left to deal with some solicitor stuff and to get some lunch.  When we arrived back they were just about done and asked me to check round the flat.  There were little bits in each room which I piled in the hall to be packed and I found a drawer and a shelf in a cupboard in the kitchen which had been missed so they quickly packed them up.

Once everything was in (literally 2 trucks to the brim) it was 4.30pm.  (They'd planned on leaving about lunchtime.)  The boss then took me aside and said he wanted to sit down and have a chat with Nik and I when we were all at the other end.  He was perfectly nice about it but said how busy the job was, the overtime the packers had had to do, they'd worked through lunch to try and get finished as they obviously still had a long drive ahead of them.  He also mentioned the fact they would be staying off the M25 and therefore having to wait at the other end before unloading since I'd told him a few days before that we wouldn't get the keys until lunchtime when he mentioned that they'd arrive at 10am!  At the time he said this wasn't an issue, they would just leave their hotel later to arrive around 12pm instead so we wouldn't get charged for waiting time and it meant they'd miss traffic anyway.  I got the impression this was now more of an issue as they were concerned how long it would take to unload at the other end.  Unfortunately there is absolutely nothing I can do about when we get the keys - it's all down to the solicitors and banks!

This discussion was stressful and worrying as I wasn't sure what outcome he was expecting from this chat with Nik and I but he obviously just wanted to get things off his chest as he was worrying about it (having clearly miscalculated our job).  He wasn't unpleasant and just wanted to point out all these things and I didn't respond as I didn't want to get into any discussion as I felt none of this was our fault.  Yes we have A LOT of stuff but we have a big flat with a lot of storage (and I have a lot of hobbies as well as far too many clothes!) and he did come round to assess it for himself so I felt it was a bit unfair that it felt like we were almost being blamed for the fact we ended up with a lot more boxes than he'd expected (94 instead of 50 apparently).  It didn't actually surprise me that there were 94 as the other quotes we'd had had estimated 100 boxes.  Also, the quote from this company was the same or similar to others we'd had and wasn't even the cheapest so we weren't expecting any issues like this.

I'd already made the decision to leave any issues up to Nik and after they'd left with all our stuff, we got the last few bits & bobs (and Bertie, our fish) together in the car, cleaned the flat (we booked our cleaner to come that last day and borrowed a neighbour's hoover (just as well as 6 years worth of dust behind wardrobes and drawers was pretty minging!) and I said goodbye to our lovely (spookily empty) home for the last time.  I left a note for the new owner with some flowers and a bottle of wine and we dropped off the keys at the estate agent.  Then me and my little suitcase were dropped off at Sarah's for me to spend the night and MIL & FIL & Bertie drove off in my car down to Durham.

Leaving behind my gorgeous, beloved kitchen!

Crikey, what a day!  It was nice to just sit and chill for a bit while Sarah put her kids to bed and then Claire (another of my bridesmaids) turned up as a lovely surprise to say goodbye!  We all had fajitas and chatted for a bit before an early night for me as I was up at 5am for my flight!

It was so nice to be able to get up and take a quick flight down with minimal luggage knowing I didn't have to worry about driving all that way which would have been tough, even as a passenger with this twin pregnancy.  My taxi driver was lovely and it turned out he had 2 year old twins so we chatted all the way to the airport about various things.  He even drove right into the collection point (rather than free drop off) so I didn't have to walk so far and he walked me into the airport as he wanted a coffee anyway.  The flight, too, was great and went so quickly as I was sat next to a lovely lady from California (married to a Scot so lived in Scotland) who was also pregnant and heading off on a delayed honeymoon.  We obviously chatted too about all sorts and suddenly I was at Gatwick!

A quick train & bus ride later and I was in Brighton at Nik's hospital meeting the nurse on his clinic.  I had to wait for him to finish so went next door for a coffee and cake and was soon stressed again!  It was 10:51 and I had a text from the removals boss to say they were outside our property!  I just had to text back to say I would let them know once we had the keys.  As soon as Nik was relieved (they managed to get him cover from 11am as he couldn't get the day off!) we headed to Uckfield with the stuff from his hospital room to await the call to say we could get the keys!!!

We stopped into Waitrose for a sandwich and as soon as we got back to the car, the call came!  The estate agent was just up the road and we let the removals know we would be there soon (we knew they'd gone for lunch now as we spotted one of the trucks in town).  Arriving at the house was so exciting, there were horses in the field across the road and lots of woodland and fields round about.  Plus we couldn't see the trucks so it meant I could go in and see the house for the first time without them biting at my heels to get in and unloaded!  You probably already know that I had never seen the house before as Nik spent a couple of weeks down house hunting without me as I was working as well as still feeling quite sick, it was just too much to try and squeeze in time all the way down south at that time.  Nik did take a very good video for me (following my strict instructions to look in all the cupboards and out of the windows, etc) but obviously I was excited to wander around the empty house myself (and take lots of before pictures to share of course!!).  Of course, I love it!  It wouldn't be worth all the moaning if Nik had thought I wouldn't since we're obviously stuck with it now and it would be a pretty expensive mistake!  Luckily he knows me well and having seen the video, I had a pretty good idea anyway and I wasn't disappointed.  :)

View of the horses from the guest bathroom window :)
Just for Liz ;)

When the removals still hadn't turned up after I was done exploring the new house, we texted again and they were sat outside the wrong property as they'd followed the sat nav rather than our instructions on how to find it.  I sat on the big windowsill in the living room and Nik went to fetch them and we were soon busy directing which boxes were to go where as some were being reallocated as we have different rooms now.

I think they loved it every time I said "that one can just go in the garage", luckily we have a huge garage!  I found this day MUCH less stressful as everyone seemed in a good mood and the unloading took hardly any time at all in comparison to loading (helped by the fact we were no longer up 2 flights of stairs and there was no packing left to be done of course).

All the boxes in our much smaller kitchen!

It was quite chilled out, chatting with the guys and picking and munching brambles off the bushes over the road.  We even got to meet some of our neighbours throughout the unloading.  We spotted next door first so went over to say hi, then met a woman from the cottages round the corner and later her husband.  They were all lovely, stopping to chat and introduce themselves.  That afternoon we also received a visit from a new friend, Justine, who I was introduced to by Siobhan via facebook when she found out we were moving down here.  We'd been chatting on Facebook for a few months and she'd been giving us lots of advice on areas, etc when we were house hunting as well as pointing me in the direction of a local twin group.  Not only is she lovely and super helpful online, she turned up with her family (we had arranged this in advance, she's not a stalker!) on moving day and brought us an amazing food parcel to help us out which was even more wonderful as we had no fridge!

She even brought us milk in a cool bag with ice packs around it as she knew we had no fridge yet!

Enjoying the yummy chicken pasta salad from Justine :)
(with the only cutlery I could find - a serving spoon!)

Anyway, I better just sum this day up now as it's already become a bit epic and possibly very dull!

Nik had the discussion with the removals boss and it turned out all he wanted was for us to pay back the discount he'd given us (although he thought this was £165, we didn't argue) and we just agreed to this as we felt they'd done a good job and we could see they had worked extremely hard.  What we didn't know at this point was that in their panic to get everything on the truck and save time, they had stopped packing our stuff carefully and just took our furniture to the trucks with our stuff still inside.  My dressing table was stored upside down in order to fit everything in the best way but with stuff still in the drawers, everything was tossed upside down leaving a complete mess, chains tangled, nail varnishes, etc dropping out the back of the drawers when they carried it in across the drive.  Luckily nothing was broken which sadly can't be said for one of my favourite pieces of wall art, the big, unusual and irreplaceable candle holder which used to be on the kitchen wall.  Instead of packing the 11 glass tealight holders carefully in paper as they had all of our kitchen glassware, they'd been placed loose in a canvas bag which was tied shut.  I actually saw them drop this when the trucks were opened but had no idea what was inside.  Unfortunately 3 of the tealight holders were smashed to smithereens leaving me with the challenge of trying to find 3 identical replacements or 11 new ones which will fit in the wire holders!  I would have actually preferred they broke all our drinking glasses - much easier to replace!!

I still haven't had a chance to go through my craft drawers to check for breakages yet after they were carried down full but our spare bed (a divan with 4 drawers) also received similar treatment with the 2 sections being stored on their sides and being put back together with all of the old photos, wedding memories, various trinkets I'd received from my late grandmother and various other irregularly used items such as diving gear basically strewn around the insides of the bed and no longer neatly organised in the drawers.  Literally hundreds of photos and negatives all needed to be scooped out of the bed insides and placed back in boxes.  Not easy for a pregnant lady but I spent a good couple of hours (in phases as it was too sore) fishing everything out from the bed and reorganizing it!  Not fun.

Overall, I would probably recommend the company but would definitely advise you make sure they have fully assessed your belongings properly to avoid any similar stress and unpleasant surprises!  They were actually very careful in our new house and made sure to watch the walls and banister when carrying large items up stairs.  They also put everything where we wanted it in each room and were happy to move bits of furniture to where we wanted them.  They also did a great job of rebuilding our wardrobes after dismantling them for me in Glasgow.

Other little good & bad things about our move include Mum & Dad arriving just 5 days after we moved in (they brought my car the rest of the way as my brother lives in Darlington, very handy for the in-laws) - could be stressful to have visitors so soon but they obviously knew we'd be a bit chaotic, especially as I am limited in what and how much I can do each day - but they were actually lifesavers!  It was SO helpful to have people who could help lift things, do little jobs, build flat pack furniture, move boxes around, etc. so we managed to get SO much done in the few days they were both here (and they're both great at DIY!).  Also, rather than fly home just to fly back again in another month just in case the babies come early, Mum decided to stay as she planned to come for a couple of months anyway to help out with the twins.  She's now here until January which has turned out to be a godsend as I've been getting more and more tired and uncomfortable so having someone else around while Nik's working has been a great help!  We're also having fun planning craft projects for the nursery too so we'll hopefully get started on some of those as soon as we get the garage organised after our next Ikea trip!

We've also headed to the pub for dinner on more than one occasion (and a couple of yummy Sunday roasts already), especially handy when we didn't have a fridge (we used a cool bag with bags of ice for about a week but have a small temporary fridge now until our new big fancy one arrives!) and the food has been lovely, not to mention what is apparently the best beer ever keeping Nik and Dad happy!

My first selfie in the new house - ready for our 2nd meal out at the pub (1st with Mum & Dad)

As for other things we've been doing without - we've discovered that it's apparently the done thing in England to really strip the house when you move!  Our vendors took all the curtains & blinds (we were offered these at a cost of £2000 including the poles but they weren't to our taste so we weren't willing to spend that much for things we'd want to replace anyway), all toilet roll holders and towel rails, even those attached to tiles - very annoying!  We managed to negotiate that they leave the soap racks attached to tiles in the showers and the toilet roll holder in the main bathroom although they took this in the end as well.  Again, we were given the option to buy them but they were very expensive and we felt as fixtures (especially in tiles) they should have been included as they weren't mentioned at the time of viewing whereas we always knew the fridge/freezer wasn't included.  Where they have removed curtain poles and things from walls, they have done a very good job of filling and painting over any holes at least.  It seems we were actually quite lucky as my uncle recently informed us he once bought a house and even the bulbs were taken!  Ridiculous!

THE most annoying, inconvenient and inconsiderate thing, however, was the oil.  As we're in a much more rural area, there is no mains gas so we have our own oil tank for our hot water and central heating.  We are responsible for filling it up and the previous owners did leave us a note saying we should order more asap as it was very low.  Moving in on the Friday afternoon gave us no time to get this organised before Monday, when the oil ran out!  Seriously, they left us 3 days of oil!  This not only meant no hot water (until we discovered the electric immersion heater which was way too hot and left us with scalding hot water (not ideal as our shower was also stuck on one super high temperature) but also meant once we did get the tank filled up, having to pay extra for emergency fast delivery, the boiler wouldn't start again as air had gotten in the line so we also had to pay for a restart and service as soon as we moved in!  Thanks very much for that!  It also turned out they had left the hot water on full all day every day (in summer!)  We can only assume they wanted to use up all the oil they'd paid for.

Our oil tank is strategically disguised by the cube of bushes in the corner of the back garden

Right, just one last thing to mention as I really must end this post at some point!  The spiders.  Literally dozens of them, inside and outside the house - webs all over the windows, up in the attic and corners of the rooms and showers.  Something I will just have to get used to now I'm living in the country again.  At least they're not like the big old Glasgow hairy monsters!  Luckily I don't have an actual phobia, they just creep me out and I don't like the thought of the bigger ones crawling over me in the night!  *shudder*

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Our Glasgow Flat

by Bex

Before I show you the pictures of our move, including the flat being packed up and emptied, I thought I'd share some more of it as it was.  I've shared the kitchen and study before in great detail (as two of my favourite rooms) and often the living room all decorated for Christmas or Halloween but not much of the rest of the flat.  We really loved our Glasgow flat, it was an awesome old tenement with huge amounts of space and we got it for a great price!  It has gorgeous features such as high ceilings, ornate cornicing, ceiling roses, a fireplace (albeit not functional but it was pretty and I loved decorating it at Christmas and Halloween), a bay window and original floorboards.

As much as I will miss all those awesome features, it did have its downsides, especially as we're finally starting our family (and with two at once!).  The two flights of stairs were starting to get tricky as I got slower and slower getting up them!  The parking was starting to drive me nuts, I often didn't have problems parking outside but occasionally coming home late in the car meant parking far away - another issue made worse by sore hips and pregnancy.

The garden was shared and down 2 flights of stairs.  I would always pack a bag if I planned to go and sit out in the sun (book, snacks, drink, towel to sit/lie on, phone, sunglasses, etc...) so I wouldn't have to run up and down stairs for anything, I may as well have gone to a local park for all I carted down there with me!  Plus, it was starting to get taken over with all the fruit & veg our neighbours were planting.  Not usually a problem and they were usually very considerate and were happy to share it but I was a bit annoyed when they decided to dig up quite a large part of the lawn to plant a raised bed!  It's not that big a garden and the part they chose to dig up was where I liked to sit as it had the sun most due to various shading from trees missing the area (probably why they chose it for growing things)!  It wasn't as private as it used to be either since our neighbours decided to chop down ALL the plants, trees and bushes (including a couple which we think were technically on our side of the short fence!) one day with no warning, leaving our pretty little haven bare and exposed.  It just wasn't the same anymore.

Moving to a house with a driveway, garage and garden came at the perfect time really!  Despite the stress and extra worry when having to move so far during a twin pregnancy but I'm sure I'll moan about that in another post!  ;)

Having said all that, we will miss our flat after 6 years there including some very special times.  Here are a few photos of it we took for the sale before it all got packed up...

I have been dying to redecorate the bedroom for years now as the furniture is all a bit mismatched and not to my taste anymore as it was collected over many years from various flats.  I can't wait to be able to design a few rooms in the new house from scratch like we did with our bathroom and study in the Glasgow flat.  Watch this space for more info on our new home and lots of pictures to come of it all as I get to add my design ideas to the new place :)

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