Category Archives: Work Begins

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I feel like every time I write in this blog it’s another “sorry I haven’t blogged for a while! blah blah” – thing is, we’ve been in the house for a year now… and whilst there is a lot that needs doing, a lot’s already been done. We haven’t got the cash for new projects at the minute really, and our day-to-day living isn’t all that exciting! Jack and I are barely in the house enough together for us to blog about food – quite often it’s cooking for one, which is pretty difficult and not all that exciting… I could do you a charming ‘how to make pasta slightly less boring after making it for the past week’ post but that’s probably about it…

 

Still a lot is changing around us in our lives – Jack is working his notice at the restaurant after getting what sounds like is going to be an amazing new job opportunity. My part-time pub job is all change as it’s been bought by new owners. Here’s hoping they both work out okay!

 

One thing we have been able to do is paint the lounge. I saw a great paint chart from Graham and Brown with a ‘Great British Paint Colours’ theme to it – there was a Police Box Blue… and as massive Doctor Who fans, we couldn’t resist… Jack was worried that it’d make our small lounge a little dark, but actually it turned out to be pretty cozy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots of Love from Jack and Betty xxx

Jack and Betty’s House

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We realised (with regret) that we haven’t actually shown you the house! (a silly mistake, to be sure) So here it is, and a little about it.

 

no. 19, Jack and Betty's House

 

The house we bought is in a small, industrial Black Country town – it’s exactly what we were looking for – a Victorian terrace – a house with a bit of history to it. We’d looked at a few things that were a bit similar a little further afield, but with little success (you can read a bit about it in our ‘how to decide on location‘ guide). Ours was only listed on the estate agent’s website, rather than on anything like Rightmove so it had taken a little while to us to find – we went to see it with some trepidation – why was it so cheap? What was wrong with it?

We instantly fell in love, though – the house really stands out in the street; it’s the only house that’s been painted bright red, for one. The black masonry and the detailing in it is lovely (if a little worn). It looks teeny-tiny from the outside, but as the estate agent said (repeatedly), “it’s like a little TARDIS inside”. It’s a little bigger than some of the other houses that we’d viewed of a similar age, and a lot bigger than any of the newer houses that we’d seen.

after we'd taken up the floor, before we'd painted

the living room, just as we started to paint

The front door leads right into the living room, it was all very plain inside – the walls were a sort of pale mauvey colour (which Betty tried to photograph, it just looked like brown) and the living room leads right into a really good-sized kitchen. Going even further back there’s a small, but fully-equipped bathroom, and on again from that is a terrible, little pebble-dashed extension (the less said about that the better, it’s a bit of a sore subject at the minute). Upstairs, there’s a good-sized landing with two main bedrooms, and a little ‘bedroom’ (read:cupboard)  about the size of the room Betty grew up in. Literally big enough to fit in a bed, and a wardrobe, it’s the room that the boiler is kept in. Then upstairs again is a loft conversion – we think this was probably used as a kid’s room, there’s a little, (quite dangerously situated) alcove that was being used as a wardrobe.

On the way out I think we’d pretty much decided, we asked the agent about an odd square in the middle of the living room floor. “It probably leads to drainage, or pipework”. But on further inspection, it was a cellar!

the cellar door

There are real stairs that would have led to the cellar, but they’ve been blocked off. We suspect that because of the loft conversion, the stairs up to the first floor had to be moved around, blocking off the stairway that leads beneath the house. As it is, there’s a rickety little wooden set of steps, and the real brick stairs will be reduced to keeping wine on (if we really brought wine, and could be bothered to go that far to fetch it).

The house has already thrown up some challenges, and we’re sure there are plenty more to come. Nothing’s really finished yet so we don’t want to show you too much! We’ll let you have a peek soon!

Love from Jack and Betty xx

Sanding a Floor

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We promised an update on this ages ago! The house has come a long way, we’re still just sorting through all the photos! Here we remember that fateful day that the boys sanded our living room floor, and the three of us varnished it. The whole thing was a) a massive pain in the nether regions and b)rather expensive! We love how it looks but in the end it probably would have been cheaper to buy carpet… Not sure this is something we’d attempt again in a hurry! Still, it looks lovely and the hard work definitely paid off.

 

 

We used a mahogony effect stain on it in the end, it’s very shiny, and a bit dangerous when Betty’s got the wood polish out – like a wooden ice rink!

 

Some tips:

  • Try your darndest to get any nails, pins and staples out of the floor before you start
  • There are always going to be some nails, pins and staples left in the floor, no matter how hard you try – expect to go through a few belts for the sander – it all costs money!
  • Expect to go through more varnish than you think – you can always return any tins that you don’t open so it might be worth buying extra to save you going back and forth
  • We varnished ourselves upstairs, at night, just before we went to bed. That way we didn’t need to worry about stepping through it when we needed to get through the house!
  • Don’t get any gloss paint on it – it’s not fun.

 

Love from Jack and Betty xx

Happy New Year!

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Jack and Betty

such a modern couple

Happy new year everyone! We wanted to share with you our personal New Year’s Resolutions! We have joint ones this year, because a problem shared is a problem halved, as they say.

This year, Jack and Betty will:

  • Give up Smoking – and about time too! We could be spending the money on other things, and we’ve both got our health to think of. We’re going on a bit of a health kick anyway which leads us nicely to…
  • Eat More Healthily – Jack’s a very good cook, and Betty makes a reasonable effort, but too often we go for things that are really bad for us – bacon and cheese being among the worst offenders – Betty’s also very guilty of scoffing down a lot of biscuits (and lately mince pies), so we’re trying to eat well, but better. If anyone can recommend some tasty, but healthy recipes that would be amazing!
  • Exercise More – This is more Jack’s thing really, he’s taking up running with a little help from our friends. Betty’s pretty certain she’s going to try to get along with her ballet workout DVD again, and at the very least get on the exercise bike again!

Wow, we sound like the worst couple ever – we’re really not, we just wanted to make the effort to be a bit better than usual this year. Jack’s got a few ambitions that he wants to fulfill that need him to be in good shape,  and Betty’s tagging along for the ride, as it were.

We have some resolutions for the house too! Among them are tearing down the extension this year, scary stuff! We’ll keep you posted.

Love from Jack and Betty xx

One Moment Please…

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What a week so far! We’ve both been putting in full days – going to work, coming back to the house, and working till late evening, then leaving again, going to work etc. etc. Sam’s been amazing too, we both owe him a lot of drinks!

 

Jack is down at the house now, but he’s working later so Betty is going there to put on her workboots and get down to business!

 

Betty’s To Do List:

  • Eat Soup for Lunch
  • Check out Jack’s work from today
  • Wash the walls down with sugar water
  • Paint the ceiling in the loft conversion and start on the walls

 

No photos for the time being, we’re stuck for a way to transfer them from cameras and phones – we haven’t got our computers down there so far and no internet connection either. Please hold the line!

 

Love from Jack and Betty xx

 

Starting Work.

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Jack couldn’t come down for the first day of work (excuses excuses) so I went with our friend Sam to the house yesterday morning to start the gross, messy work. Sam is the most excited person in the world about the house, he’s really into the fact that he has a new project to play with, and as Jack isn’t… the most practical of men, he’s going to give him some DIY lessons.

 

First job’s first! We have some pesky wood-boring insects to exterminate, so the laminate flooring in the living room needs to be up, and gone, stripped down to bare board. Apparently the only damage is in a small section of the floorboards, the only section in the house that aren’t original boards and presumably weren’t treated correctly when they were laid.

 

 

Sam puts up with Betty documenting him for the day

We took up the whole thing fairly quickly – incidentally that hole that you can see there is the cellar – originally the entrance would have been closer to the foreground of the photo, there are some nice brick stairs that lead nowhere down there, and instead we’re having to climb down a rickety set of wooden steps. It was an absolute nightmare trying to get in and out of the house yesterday, whilst leaving the cellar accessible as I dealt with setting up a new account for the Electricity token meter.

 

Betty uses a wrecking bar

The boards underneath aren’t too bad all in all – there are plenty of staples and nails to remove, but other than that they’re in pretty good condition. We’re seriously considering sanding it all down and varnishing it. I do love a wooden floor, although they’re not as insulated as using carpet or laminate, will it really affect our heating bills that much?

 

On the To Do List now:

  • We put in a good effort cleaning yesterday (Jack’s mom has been a saint) but the whole lot needs a thorough scrub
  • The carpets need cleaning throughout the house
  • Pull up the rest of the tacks and nails from that floor
Those are really the pressing jobs that need to be done before we can get anything else sorted.
Love from Betty (more from Jack this week!) xx

At last!

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Our good friend Sam climbed atop his Defender to take the ‘for sale’ sign down for us – it’s a wonder the estate agents didn’t come and plaster a massive SOLD sign over it – but they’d completely forgotten the house was on their books in the first place, so they may not be too fussed.

 

Such a good feeling to finally get rid of this.

 

Love from Jack and Betty xx