Many days and many miles later….

Wow! It’s been a long time between posts, a long time and more than 10,000 miles in fact.

The house was finished and photographed for listing on the rental market. It’s a totally different house than the one we moved into in June, and I’m pleased to say, the agent has now found a tenant.

Tom and Paul finished the shed without any hitches. We had all our belongings locked up inside and the house listed for rent by the the 10 October. We then spent a relaxing two days with my sister, Wendy, before flying over to Melbourne. We spent another two days there relaxing before the long haul flight to Manchester. After having crammed three months worth of renovations into three weeks, those few days of relaxation were so, so welcome.

Fast forward another two weeks – Paul’s dad, Glyn, came out of respite the day after we arrived and he’s improved remarkably since then. I have him (and us) on a low salt, high iron diet, and I think it’s helping considerably. He has a good appetite (that’s putting it mildly), and I certainly don’t have him on a calorie restricted diet. Yet he’s managed to lose approximately 6 kgs, which must be from fluid loss attributable to the lower salt. Previously he was buying pre packed meals, canned soups etc and warming them in the microwave. Not really the thing to be eating when you’re retaining copious amounts of fluid and are supposed to be on a low salt diet.

With his heart problems, fatigue is inevitable. Apparently, his heart is weakened so it struggles to get sufficient oxygen around his system. I figured high iron levels can only help, so we’re having one meal of liver each week, one meal with a lot of kidneys incorporated, and I’ve frozen lots of small pieces of liver to add to soups and sauces. We also eat copious quantities of fresh veges. We’ve always eaten more veges than most people I know but now we’re eating much more than we normally eat. It’s amazing how many veges you can get into a blended soup.

Thank goodness for my Thermo-mix. Yes – I brought it over with me. It’s invaluable for blending liver into sauces and soups, and works just like a stock cube for adding flavour. Tonight we had chicken cooked with a mushroom sauce. To make the sauce I used the thermo-mix to cook onion, garlic, celery, a few chunks of liver, a tomato and two large mushrooms. When cooked, I blitzed it all with a small amount of cream, and then added it to a cooked chicken thighs and sliced mushrooms. The liver was totally unrecognisable as liver, and it didn’t taste half bad, even if I do say so myself.

Sticking to a low salt diet means very little pre-bought products. Reading the labels on packaging, there’s way to much salt plus the dreaded corn syrup in so many things. Wow, how clever marketing is. The marmalade Glyn normally buys is marketed as having a reduced sugar content. Reading the label, sugar is listed third behind ‘fructose/sucrose syrup’ (another name for corn syrup). So, sugar has been replaced with dreaded corn syrup. Thanks, but no thanks – I’d rather take care of my liver. I’ll be pleased when they put back the sugar, and leave the fat in milk, yogurt etc back where it belongs. And now I’ll get off my bandstand….

Anyway, between shopping, cooking and gardening we’re keeping busy. The garden was very overgrown when we arrived. The lawn, which was almost a foot high has now been cut, the gardens have been weeded, re-planted and mulched for winter, and we’ve removed a lot of the moss from the paths.

dads back garden

Now with things sorted in the house, and with Glyn currently doing so well, we’re hopeful of being able to take advantage of our time here to experience England in more detail, and also to get to see some of Europe.

On the horizon at the moment:

This Monday, a night in the Yorkshire Dales.

A Week-end in Norwich and an opportunity to catch up with Kerriann. We were hoping to do that next week-end, but then we realised we have a Bridge commitment with our good friends Joan and Gordon on the Sunday, so perhaps we’ll have to put that off to the following week-end.

Early in December we’re hoping to have 3 – 4 nights in Prague. Prague apparently has the best Christmas markets in Europe, and being a bit of a Christmas freak, I can’t miss that opportunity.

And then before you know it, Christmas will be here. There’s talk that this year England may get a rare ‘white christmas’. That would be rather special…


Laying laminate flooring and other things

Last week saw a new roof put onto the shed, the flooring almost completed, the lounge painting completed, the kitchen almost completed, and some other small jobs finished, or on the way to being finished.

Don’t let anyone tell you laying laminate flooring is easy – it most definitely isn’t. Poor Tom and Paul would put anyone straight that would suggest it’s easy. It took them three solid, hard days, most of which was spent on their knees. They finished around 3.30pm on Friday, but at 2pm I seriously wondered if they weren’t going to curl over. They looked absolutely done in. It’s almost finished now, with just a small amount of edging quad to go in on Monday morning.

Whilst the guys were laying the kitchen floor, I finished off painting what I could in the lounge. After Tom went home each day, Paul would finish painting the bits in the lounge I couldn’t reach, behind the fire place and most of the ceiling.

The heat pump looks much better on white walls. The Eagle was only temporary for today's football final.

The heat pump looks much better on white walls. The Eagle was only temporary for today’s football final.

Last night with the painting virtually finished, and the floor almost completed, we moved the lounge suite, rug and TV unit back into the room, and we hung the curtains. What a pleasure it was to be able to sit in front of TV in a nice room, with curtains shutting out the world for an hour or two last night. None of it’s a perfect job. How could it be in a far from perfectly built house. But wow, what an improvement. We’re very, very happy with it.

So much nicer than dark wood walls.

So much nicer than dark wood walls.

Today Paul had made several tip runs to get rid of a weeks accumulation of rubbish. On the last one he brought back a trailer load of pine chip mulch. It’s not a mulch I particularly like, but it’s very successful at retarding weeds and lasts well. My sister, Wendy, came across from Lonnie for the day and helped me to cut old carpet into strips which we’ve laid around the edges of garden beds and then piled the pine bark mulch on top. Hopefully it’ll keep the gardens easy care and weed free for tenants. Then they’ll only have the lawn to content with, and hopefully when we can come back to the house, the hard work we’ve so far put into the garden won’t have been completely negated.

The kitchen is almost finished. Still to do is the tiling, a bit of painting around the windows and door and hang the blind. We have valances that match the lounge curtains but I don’t thing we’re going to get a chance to get them up. It won’t matter. Hopefully Paul will get those small jobs finish tomorrow.

Next week the guys will complete the shed ready to store our belongings at the end of the week. We have the real estate agent coming on Tuesday to photograph the house for finding a tenant. By Saturday it all has to finished, everything has to be in the caravan ready for when we can come back. All our other belongings have to be packed in the shed. Our caravan and ute have to be in storage and our bags have to be packed for the UK. Next Saturday and Sunday we’re staying with my sister in Lonnie before leaving for Melbourne on the Monday.

It’s been a hard, hard slog, but we’re on the home stretch now. Well, that’s the home stretch on this side of the world. We haven’t had time to think about what awaits us on the other side of the world yet. We just haven’t been able to let ourselves think further ahead than taking each day as it comes here, head down, bum up, and nose to the grindstone.