About Alison

Escaped to the country with ideas common to a lot of us, of country walks, pubs and the odd bit of "building"! not quite the quiet life I'd envisaged, but always full of ideas follow me and my other half on our adventures to find our own bit of heaven, in the Forest of Dean.
You can also follow me on Twitter @alisonbarton1, or join me for chats on my other blog http://cupofteaandachat.blogspot.co.uk/. enjoy!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Lights, Camera, Action!

The sitting room we inherited

Nothing spurs you into activity more than physical discomfort. We moved into our little Forest cottage in the summer and even then it was cold,”indoors.” As the evenings started to draw in through autumn we started to feel the chill even more and the light was never quite, well bright enough to see. I was thinking of getting my eyes tested and constantly cleaning my glasses, but had to accept it was the general gloom of the interior once actual direct sunlight stopped shinning through those tiny windows.

Starting to "improve"?

We knew we had to change the windows, and put in a much better heating system, but like a game of chess there were things that needed to be done first. As there was no natural light in the back room behind the little sitting room. My idea was to knock down the dividing wall so the light from the front of the house came through to the back. Once we had reconfigured the rooms we could then site radiators and run pipes. Great, but remember these walls are 20” thick. We started so we had to finish as the weather was getting colder. We had to dismantle most of the existing heating system as we worked and now had limited options to keep warm.

The wall down dust and boulders
Because of the dust we had set up camp in our bedroom, but do you know dust can come through floorboards and carpets! When we were busy it was not so bad, but once we stopped, I had taken to getting into bed with a thick cardigan on and knitting with gloves on. I looked like a character out of a Dickens novel, all poor and Victorian!

We would leave the windows  and solar panels to the following year, but the difference with the wall going down was amazing even though the floor was full of boulders and dust half tiled and half cement, it looked brighter already.

Phil working hard

Simultaneously to getting this work done we had been scouting around for a local company to install a multi fuel burner with a back boiler, big enough to heat the radiators around the house. I am not sure if this was my idea It’s pretty technical and a bit detailed and doesn’t sound like one of my brainwaves. We had discounted both calor gas and oil as impractical and too expensive.  Solar energy was only ever going to be a top up, alternative option, after all its not Florida
We asked neighbours for recommendations of someone local who could do a good job. We got quite a few suggestions and started asking them to quote. We had a lovely time to start with all these chatty local guys coming round having a cup of tea and slice of cake with us, talking through the plan and adding their own ideas. They were so friendly sometimes I felt I should invite them to stay for their Dinner. When we got to the forth one it started to get a bit tiresome. Two hours was not an unusual time for them to spend measuring, talking and drinking my tea. Then we waited for the quotes. After a week Phil started calling them back.

Brr freezing outside and in!
the "beast" holding the promise of warmth & cosiness
They were all up to their neck in work and would send us a quote ASAP. Three weeks later, nothing,  with another round of calls and promises coming to nought we came to the conclusion they spent all their time going round chatting to folk and living off tea and cake laid on during their mammoth visits and didn’t actually install anything. Having invested so much time we tried to recruit one guy who although “busy” had shared a lot of good ideas with us, but he had to tell us he couldn’t actually do the job because he was too "busy!".

 He came round about three times advising us and he was great and we selected a burner with his guidance and he delivered it and helped Phil and good old brother in law carry it in. It was a beast I have never got so excited over a lump of metal with a glass door in it before, not even a new car has thrilled me to the extent this handsome multi fuel burner did. It was, actually beautiful and it hinted at warmth and cosiness something I yearned for with a passion.

Alison x

Next time Phil becomes an expert central heating engineer!

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Let me know what you think and what your ideas are, its good to share!