Six hours to go!

Monica is still asleep or lying awake, excited, while I’m watching the clock. I suppose there are less hours before she sets off, taking the long check-in deadlines into account.

Dave, from the cottage, has just been in to ask if I’m serious about housing his metalworking tools. He’ll make an inventory when he’s at his Mum’s over Christmas; it sounds like he’ll be happy with one wall. The flooring of the workshop starts tomorrow but can’t finish until some of the material arrives on Friday.

I took the opportunity to borrow a vacuum cleaner so that I can clean up Bandit’s mess before you arrive: she’s such an untidy dog. Karin left all the dusting mops and cloths that I need to have the place in reasonable order. It’s just about ready for it so I’d say we need to clean about once a month. That’s good because it’ll coincide with bath night!

The moon set nicely over the hills opposite, tonight. It’s the first time I noticed it from the parlour window: without the tides to observe, there’s not such an incentive to note its waxing and waning.

The first stretch of fence is up, nice and strong, with our own kissing gate. Can’t wait to test it! Ralph found his receipt for £450 for last year’s cow grazing on Warland Farm. The good news is that the cow-owner’s name is on the paper so I can go ask him to stop when we’re ready.

I think I’ve worked out an easier way to divert the spring from behind the shippen, by cutting a trench diagonally uphill from behind the barn. I’d quite like to get digging to clear out behind the barn soon; it’s a job that has to be done, no matter what. After the recent rain, there’s a lot of water flowing through the barn walls and across the back floor which can’t be doing the structure any good.

I got one quote to insure Angela, the Land Rover IIA: £300, fully comprehensive. Not bad. If the Co-op are anywhere near it, I’ll give them the business, though. I didn’t realise they were in the game until recently. They’re very active with Internet advertising for their services.

There was discussion at Jessica’s dinner about the state of the road. They didn’t like either of my two ideas: let it collapse to stop the car-parking business; or get the road adopted by council. They want to have a nice, tidy road that everyone pays for fairly, though they have no idea how to engage the car-business guy.

I found some different wood in a new part of the wood-pile. Dense and hard, it burns slowly with good heat unlike the birch and softwood offcuts that have warmed me so far. I’m encouraged that the firebox stove will be even better when we get some proper wood laid in. Both Jeff, the odd-job guy, and Denver, one of his mates, have access to timber offcuts. Jeff is bringing some stair-manufacturer’s waste up on Friday. Denver gets the long, thin strips removed to make boards from rough timber; this is much better suited to the wood oven and the pottery kiln. That they both can get stuff indicates that there’s plenty available nearby; there are lots of furniture works still hanging on to their mills. There’s a certified green-waste recycler in Sowerby Bridge that has cheap waste from tree-surgeons etc—he’ll only deliver six miles but, when we get our own truck or trailer…

Denver also left the card of a mate who ‘does chimneys’. After a chat with Dave, next door, we’ll probably want to open up the flue in the other room soon. It’s inhospitable without it and I doubt we want to run the central heating just to warm that room. I calculated that the Aga uses 10 litres of fuel per day, so a full, 1,100 litre tank will easily keep us going for three months. The current cost of kerosene makes that £6 per day. I’ve ordered more, so that the tank is nearly full over the holiday season. Didn’t like the idea of ordering a delivery at New Year, with snow and ice about.

Ralph’s clock has a habit of stopping at twenty-five past bedtime. It goes fine, all day, but jams up overnight while trying to raise its arm to strike one of the late half hours. I’ve located a couple of quality horologists, in Rochdale and Halifax, that can see to it when we have some money to spare. Neil’s clock is in excellent condition and very reliable, so I always have one chiming to remind me to check the other.

Bandit’s coat has had a bit more use because it’s been wetter these last few days. She’s not used to it yet, and will probably never work out how to step backwards into it, but is starting to associate it with going walking and so has decided to tolerate it. She’s not the only dog in a coat, either, so there’s no need for her to be embarrassed.

One of the first jobs Monica’s likely to want to do is to buy a telly. I was going to ask Al’s advice but I’m enjoying not having a telly for a while. There are plenty of cheap places to buy such things in the nearby towns but there are also a few local dealers who would be very glad of our business. Everyone knows everyone, of course, so it should be easy to get a recommendation. Karin suggested the B&Q surplus store in Rochdale and I had a look in there yesterday; it was so depressing I couldn’t stay to look around. I’m still keen to try the computer route but we’d have to wait a couple of weeks for that to arrive. There is a TV point in the drawing room and every bedroom, too, so there’s scope for different solutions in different places.

I had another nostalgic look at Treanleur Lodge on Google Earth, yesterday. They’ve got new images, I believe, from the satellites and from the street view. I rode my virtual bicycle North along Lough Feeagh to look at the bogs and the beautiful desolation. Must ride South to the sea, next, to take a look at the sailing there. I hope we can go visit soon, for a holiday at least. Bandit would love to see the sea.

I tried hard to think of something we could give as Christmas gifts without engaging in a mad rush of pointless shopping. My best ideas were home-made toffee or biscotti for everyone and faggots for those who burn wood. A couple of days’ effort would knock those off. Stacy asked whether I’d made the Christmas cake yet, as the meal is to be here. I said that we were providing dinner, not Santa Claus. She said she’ll bring the trifle. I might make a cake but, with your arrival followed by the furniture’s delivery, it will be hard to find the head-room to focus on Christmas until well after the cake-making window closes. There is the option of buying stuff in, which isn’t as daft as it sounds. All the local businesses will be bursting to make their best for the season and we can show-case Calderdale produce to the family. Ralph’s favourite pie-maker goes nuts at Christmas, apparently, making fancy stand-pies out of all sorts of goodies, alongside his normal pork perfections.

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