Tag Archives: House move

Hear, hear

I can barely admit it, but I sent the Resident IT Consultant to the tip with – nearly – all the audio books last week. He was reluctant, and it wasn’t because of the trip to the tip as such. It was the throwing away of books. It made him feel quite ill.

But by the time I put the boxes on the drive next to the car, my mind was made up and I felt fine. I suppose he just hadn’t got that far in his reasoning on whether or not this was an OK move.

This was yet another conundrum caused by the house move over three years ago. We are still clearing stuff, and doing well in the garage at the moment. Thank you for asking. But those boxes had to go.

No one has listened to any audio books for years. We will very soon have nothing on which to play them. Did I mention they are cassettes? Not CDs. For all we know the ribbons could have dried and withered and be completely unplayable anyway.

In a last-ditch attempt to feel better, the Resident IT Consultant phoned Oxfam. Whoever he talked to there had a hard time getting their thinking round to cassettes. And no, they don’t take them (we knew that) and could think of no one who does, but trying to be helpful suggested a competitor.

He then phoned the library, asking the same thing, i.e. does anyone anywhere have a use for cassettes? The person there found the idea of cassettes even weirder than Oxfam did.

And that’s it, really. Technology has moved so fast that what seemed perfectly normal less than twenty years ago, is now obsolete. It doesn’t matter that the books are good or how many we have or the amount of money they cost. They are no use.

So he went, and came back with an empty car. I assume the audio books are now in cassette heaven. Maybe someone could build motorways with them?

And should we want the books back most must be available in more up-to-date formats. ‘All’ it entails is spending money on the same books again, and hope that at some point technology will slow down enough for such an investment to make sense.

The Secret Room

I know this is a luxury ‘problem,’ but the other week I discovered that Bookwitch Towers is a five bedroom house. And I feel slightly idiotic not have realised this before. Although, you could also ask why the estate agents didn’t advertise it as such. Surely the cupboard under the stairs really meant that the Dursley’s house had one more bedroom than they thought?

Our secret room isn’t quite a cupboard. It’s small (like the rest of the house), and a silly shape, but you could easily put a bed in it, and a desk or a reading chair.

Or you could, had someone not put lots of ‘junk’ in there first. And that was the trouble with the previous owners as well. They used it to store coats in, and the occasional granny.

But having emptied out all our boxroom contents to redecorate the room, I looked and saw another bedroom. And it was quite nice! Both the discovery, and the room (after it was painted).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a freshly decorated room to re-fill with junk.

Cinnamon buns for Theresa

The things I do for Theresa Breslin! At the moment, as you may be aware, I’m in the process of having a new kitchen put in. By now I actually live in hope that it could be finished one day. Not this day, certainly, but some kind of day. This year.

A couple of years ago I was in touch with Theresa just before the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and she generously suggested buying me tea somewhere nearby. But then I felt too exhausted and cancelled all plans for Edinburgh, and there could be no tea.

To make up for what must have been a dreadful disappointment for Theresa, I mentioned we were about to relocate Bookwitch Towers to Scotland, and she must come and have coffee and cinnamon buns at my – new – place. ‘Soon.’

Yeah, right. It takes a while to move, and once you have moved you need to unpack. While my ‘new’ kitchen wasn’t perfect, it could have assisted me in the baking of cinnamon buns. But I had no time. And then the oven died, and there could be no baking. Instead there were hasty plans for a new kitchen a little sooner than intended.

So that’s where we are now. Almost at the point where cinnamon buns could be planned, and made. I bet Theresa’s holding her breath…

Yes, we have no kitchen today

Or tomorrow. Possibly some sort of kitchen next week. Maybe.

But that’s beside the point. It will be like childbirth, I suspect. Horrible while it lasts, but nice enough once you’ve got what you wanted. (What’s the kitchen equivalent to a baby who vomits down your back for six months?)

The non-kitchen

Times have changed in 27 years. While the bill at Ikea came to roughly the same amount this time and then (yes, that’s seriously weird), unlike last time we made a new kitchen we have disposed of the old one rather differently. Back then we didn’t even have to throw away the higgledy piggledy bits of worktop, as one of the people who paid money for our cast-offs, happily took the debris off our hands.

This time we broke all the cupboards into bits and chucked them into a skip, and that’s that. I am the first person to go the recycling way, but I can’t see anyone wanting what we had.

And the money we made proved to be a problem. I spent it on a much needed break for us in The Lake District. The Resident IT Consultant bought our very first video player. Perhaps we ought to have discussed the spending before spending…

I’m finding the whole kitchen thing more distracting than I expected. I’ve read a little. Panicked over unpaid tax, and water in places it has no business to be. But basically I won’t be back to normal – whatever that is – until we’ve come out the other end.

Journey to the River Sea

When I came upon the audiobook of Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea, as I was unpacking the children’s books a few weeks ago, I looked around, wondering where the ‘real’ book was. And then it hit me; I didn’t actually own a copy. I had borrowed it from the library to read (you can tell this was a long time ago, can’t you?), and returned it when I was done.

But I did buy the audiobook, because I thought it was such a marvellous story that Daughter might want to read it. This was when she was still a reluctant reader, while fully enjoying audio books. And Son was in full audiobook mode as well, although he did read too. We had a few years during which we as a family consumed an awful lot of cassette books, including the odd chewed-up tape. I remember this, as Eva Ibbotson’s book was one that got entangled, much to my horror. (Luckily the people who made it were happy to supply a spare cassette, meaning I didn’t have to buy it all over again.)

I remember buying a copy of the book to give away, too, so it’s not as if I was being particularly economical about it.

So there I was, filling my shelves with books, and no Journey to the River Sea. I looked at the cassettes, and I looked at the empty gap among my Eva Ibbotson books, and knew I needed to own this one.

Eva Ibbotson, Journey to the River Sea

What’s more, I felt it needed to be the original cover; the cover of the book I had read, and none of the newer looks. But now that you can buy used books online, it is at least possible to choose your edition, and for a reasonable price.

The gap has been filled.

(As a matter of interest, has anyone who knows this book come across an ‘adult version’ of it? Some time after I’d first read it, I discovered an adult novel by Eva that sounded similar, so I read that too, and realised she must have written it first, since it had practically the same plot, only a little more grown-up. I’m glad she re-wrote it, as the children’s story is far superior.)

The well-travelled library bed

I spoke too soon. It could be that Son would quite like the hifi somewhere in that room. The – ahem – library-cum-guestroom-cum-firstborn’s bedroom. We’ll have to see.

The much-thrown-about bed has been slept in. It’s the one Son adopted from some people in the Wirral a few years ago, which – on arrival in Edinburgh – proved too large to go down into the tenement basement flat, and which instead was walked round half the block, taken into the tenement opposite, through and out into that ‘garden’ and chucked over the fence into Son’s garden and in.

Bed move 2

A year later it was similarly chucked uphill back over the fence when it was time to move elsewhere, but at least this had been planned and there were more chuckers.

Another year on and Son sent the bed to us to be his bed in the new bedroom. And because there was a lot of decorating and unpacking needing doing, the poor bed has been shoved back and forth, with no room to call home. Until now. For a while it thought it would always have to stand on its side in the livingroom. But then it was displaced by the Christmas tree and spent December in the hall.

To make up for all this, the witch went to Glasgow and bought it something new to wear.

Flying bed

And then, when the hifi had been pondered and the now stationary bed slept in, the Resident IT Consultant and Son crept into the Grandmother’s flat while she was out and stole her kitchen table. But not her one and only. She has a collection of them. We needed a temporary desk for the boy.

They also lifted a rather nice bookcase, which I’ve had my eye on for almost 25 years. Although that was with permission.

Almost there

Bookshelves

And here they are, the ‘final’ shelves with actual books on them. Son is coming to inspect ‘his’ room, and the question is whether he will approve. Or will he notice there is no space for his hifi? I mean, who cares? Who in their right mind would use a large machine to listen to music?

We also need to get our three-book joiner to come and secure the whole shebang to the wall. Or else we could have a repeat of that time over twenty years ago when Son reckoned these shelves looked like ladder… The crash was very loud. Luckily both Son and the shelves and the books and the floor were pretty much as before, afterwards.

The eagle-eyed blog reader might feel like pointing out that there are some gaps still. That’s because I expect to have more books to put in there. Next week. And the week after. Also, there are double rows. Any book I want to find in future will be behind.

Fife farmer tours Scotland!

Attention please! James Oswald’s fifth crime novel, Prayer for the Dead, is out today. And no, I’ve not read it. Yet.

But I was happy to see that James will be doing a whirlwind tour round Scotland to meet the fans. He blogged the dates, and I happened to see the link on facebook. Now, I would have liked more notice for the launch in Edinburgh this evening. I don’t believe I will be able to make it. Probably. But it’s good to know that James will cover a decent number of Waterstones all over Scotland.

One of his facebook friends pointed out that there are bookshops in London too. There obviously are. But I’m really glad that the list is Scotland only, and not because I want to deprive anyone. I just feel it’s useful for Londoners to see that there is literary life up north. And that James isn’t being flown in to appear at Waterstones Piccadilly, or anything. They have enough going on as it is.

And as James points out on his website, he actually needs to do some farming as well. Those animals don’t look after themselves, or at least, I don’t think they do. I’m guessing they want feeding and watering, or whatever it is sheep and cattle require.

At Bookwitch Towers we are busy catching up. The Resident IT Consultant was unpacking my books (yeah, I know I already mentioned this), when he got to the ominously labelled Last Books box. What that means is they are the books I read as we were packing last March/April, which didn’t make it into the other boxes.

I’d already forbidden him from reading James’s third Tony McLean novel, because he hadn’t actually read the second, and I said the spoilers were such he’d thank me for it. But recently he was finally able to tackle The Book of Souls as it was unpacked along with most of the adult fiction. Number three only emerged yesterday, so I rewarded the Resident IT Consultant for his hard work on children’s fiction by saying he could read The Hangman’s Song now.

Meanwhile, I hurriedly claimed Dead Men’s Bones, number four, for myself, in case he has designs on reading it before me. And then, before I even got started, I found out about number five…

This post was brought to you by the letter F.

Height matters

We are slowly putting books onto the ‘new’ shelves. The Resident IT Consultant couldn’t wait, so got working on his four last boxes, the contents of which I had, in a moment of excessive generosity, said he could put on ‘my’ shelves. As long as he put them in double rows. They are only IT books, so can be obscure at the back, at the bottom.

That’s what I think. Anyway, with my crummy eyesight, I can’t see book titles at awkward distances, nor can I bend down to browse in stupid places. The latter has less to do with eyes than knees, though. So my books are going to be in the best spots.

I was hoping he would see the light, and perhaps get rid of a few more books while doing this final sorting. I stood and watched as he worked, since I had a short break from kitchen duties, when he got to a rather tall book. It wouldn’t fit. Wondering if I needed to offer it to share with my picture books on a taller shelf, I never had time to say anything before he muttered, ‘well if it doesn’t fit, that might be a good reason to get rid of it.’ And with that it went on the discard pile. Oh, the happiness of it!

For me. I expect the book was less impressed. Let that be a lesson to you. Make books too enormous, for no obvious reason, and out they go. Possibly never in, in the first place.

Preserving books

Much to the bemusement of the decorator, we started making marmalade when he was here to paint Son’s bedroom. Pardon, I mean the library. I’ve come to the conclusion that Son and any other over-night visitors we may have, will be sleeping in the library. Not at the same time, naturally.

I think we’re past the stage where we put books into Son’s room. It will have to be a library of sorts, in which one can also put sleepers. Dusty, perhaps, but with plenty to keep an insomniac company.

Where was I? Yes, we were making marmalade. And by that I mean that I chop citrus fruit until I’m blue in the face, while the Resident IT Consultant puts the largest cauldron on the hob and boils Seville oranges and lemons for hours on end.

I reckon it was this that struck the decorator as odd. If he eats marmalade, he gets it out of a bought jar. I feel it’s odd that in all his visits to people’s homes – and in his job he makes a lot of house calls – that he hasn’t come across more preserving going on.

So he asked lots of questions on the how and the what, and a little on the why.

‘We’ make two kinds. The marmalade with loads of peel in it for the Resident IT Consultant. And the – nicely bitter flavoured – jelly for the peel-hating witch. Although, I have to admit to occasionally scraping a peel-free spoonful out of his marmalade jar, because it does have a very good flavour.

I sent the Resident IT Consultant out for some last Sevilles yesterday, and he panicked because they were coming to an end, and he had to go to one more supermarket in his search. But we should be all right now.

Just wish I’d hung on to more of my empty jars in the move. I used to have a very nice jar collection…

The marmalade books