I have been blogging from the sofa, which feels quite decadent. I brought the computer over because if I do not finalise my choice of car insurance in the next 24 hours, the car will be uninsured and when I run over a person I will be ruined forever. As will the person that I run over. However, I am disinclined to spend my evening on a chore as unpleasant as investigating car insurance, so I thought I would write about our house instead.
Mr A reckons (from desultory research) that our house was built around 1850, and was a pub that catered for the local cricket pitch and archery field. It still retains a cricket bat and ball motif above the front door, a cellar underneath the room nearest the street, and a very large doorway between this room and the living room, but we don't really know much about the pub layout.
We have a mortgage deed that shows that it was still a pub in 1874, it transferred to its current location next door sometime after this, and has been remodelled since with the removal of some of the floor area at the back and the addition of the garage and shower room. More houses were built on the cricket pitch and archery field, but the park (which still hosts local cricket) and the bowling greens remain.
We moved here at the start of 2002, and undertook a few major jobs early on: removing the wall between two small bedrooms to make Mr A's office, installing an I-beam to support the sagging purlins of the roof, insulating the loft space and decorating Mr A's office and our bedroom. We used several different workmen: builders and decorators recommended to us, who all turned out to be fairly unreliable, either in their standard of work or willingness to complete the job required.
Then there was a gap, when we did very little, except on an emergency basis, and always due to water. If we lived in a hot, dry location, I'm sure we wouldn't need all this remedial work. Perhaps we'd have to deal with termites, or fires, or air conditioning units instead.
Anyway, Alf has been different. He came to us by recommendation, like the others, and the first job we gave him was replacing some lead on the roof to prevent water coming into the hall. That went well, and the next job was bigger: replacing the flat roof over the kitchen. He's rendered the external wall of the shower, rebuilt our bathroom, repaired the hole in the living room ceiling, replaced the parquet, the doorframe and the broken sill between the living room and kitchen, repaired and painted the front door and side door, and now is renewing the whole of the outside of the house, this time with the help of his two sons, occasionally accompanied by their dogs.
They have replaced the decayed brickwork over the front door and the garage, and repointed the bits that needed repointing. The gable ends of our house have ornate bargeboards, which are matched exactly in the house built opposite across the road. At the highest point in the centre and at the two lowest points of the roof are decorative posts - at least there used to be posts, until they rotted through. Only one remained, in the centre of the gable at the back. But they were still present on the house over the road, and Alf has copied the design, so we now have our posts back. I love the character it gives the house.
Then there's the colour. Previously the house was painted a yellowy cream colour (the matching house opposite remains unpainted brick, and how much less effort that would be). We have chosen a pale violet, which sometimes looks pink and sometimes blue, depending on the light quality and time of day, and the lintels and sills are picked out in white. It looks brilliant. The weather, however, has deteriorated significantly, so the photo is a bit dull. But we love it.