Saturday, 5 April 2014

Todays Thoughts

So the plan for today is to visit some flooring showrooms and possibly head out to the Cosi Homes showroom in Meath to look at finishes that they after applying external insulation.  One of Kieran’s ideas last week was that parquet flooring would look great in our living room and hallway.  And he’s right... but it’s also expensive so this week we want to see just how expensive!  I guess we’ll also get idea of carpet prices both for the stairways and landing in the house plus to recarpet the apartment - that needs to be done whether I sell or rent the place out.

We had Cosi Homes in on Thursday to talk about external insulation.  When I spoke to Martin on the phone he seemed to think that we wouldn’t be able to do the front but on Thursday he reckoned we probably could… but we should check with planning first.  Now the thing is, I actually emailed the planning office in Bray a few weeks ago about this and got told what I already know - planning permission is not required for external insulation but the following shall be exempted development for the purposes of this Act –development consisting of the carrying out of works for the maintenance, improvement or other alteration of any structure, being works which affect only the interior of the structure or which do not materially affect the external appearance of the structure so as to render the appearance inconsistent with the character of the structure or of neighbouring structures”.    

The thing is we knew the above and the section in quotes is what we need cleared up!  So guess I’ll have to try again.

Right, back to looking at my photos from Greece (last August/September!) until the shower free up (I miss that sun!)

Blue Sea

Saturday, 29 March 2014

It's All A Bit of a Muddle

The last thing that I feel like doing right now is writing this because to be writing implies that I have some form of structured and ordered thought process going on.  And that is probably the polar opposite of what is happening.  When we started this process (a week ago!) I thought that it would be something along the lines of 

  • Get some Builder Quotes
  • Pick a Builder
  • Pick a Kitchen
  • Pick a Bathroom
  • Pick Flooring
  • Get work done
  • Move In

Instead Builder 3 contradicts Builder 1, Builder 2 only wants to look at individual bits of work, Builder 3 doesn’t agree with something surveyor said, etc etc etc.  Anyway, today Dad (a structural engineer) and my Uncle (an architect) came to the house as we wanted advice on the kitchen.  Some things that I took for granted (and certainly not something that any one of the three builders contradicted) was the assumption that we could completely remove a bit of supporting wall that was remaining if we used a steel beam.  Eh no you can’t.  Not only that but there’s no guarantee we can even bring it back far enough to allow continuation of counter space.  To do that we will need to get an engineer in (Dad’s not set up for this sort of thing anymore) to check the foundations to see how things are down there and what minimum width of wall must be left to take the load that would be coming down through it.  

Our plan had been that we would get as much done as possible before moving in.  To me this makes perfect sense as it’s much easier to get work done on a house while it’s empty.  No furniture to protect/move around.  No mess to come home to in the evening.  No resident crossing path with builder etc.  However both Dad and Kieran thought it odd that we weren’t moving in as soon as the kitchen is ready.  Am I alone in thinking that it would make sense to get as much done as we can before moving in??

Something Kieran has asked me twice now is “what’s the timeline?”  I mean we don’t have one, we just want work done and then we’ll move in.  Now I’m thinking that we should treat this as a software project and the question really is “what are the project requirements?”   What are our requirements and once we have those we can come up with a work units and estimates (costs and time I guess).  So, what are our requirements?  We haven’t actually sat down and asked ourselves that.  But my initial thoughts would be “get as much work done as possible before we move in”.  That requirement then has to be broken down further.  I mean i think it makes sense but if somebody gave me a requirement at work which was “make me a system that does ABC” without actually telling me what exactly that system should do then I’d throw it right back at them.  Neither we, nor anybody else can plan this thing properly until we actually do a proper requirement gathering phase.  I just don’t think my  “get as much work done as possible before we move in” requirement is enough for us to further analyse the individual bits of work.  So, I guess that’s the next step…  this is definitely going to be  a longer and more complicated process that I expected.

Apologies for the nerdy work language above but putting it in this format may just help us (me at least!) figure out how we get to the next step :)

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Bathrooms and Builders

Well, I can safely say that this Saturday was a fairly busy, full on day even though it seems as if we didn’t actually do anything.  We left home at 10:10am yesterday morning and apart from two few minute gaps in the afternoon we weren’t back home until 6.40m in the evening  What did we do in that time?  We visited four bathroom showrooms and spent 3.5 hrs in a freezing house showing two builders around for quotes.  


Builder no 1 turned up at 12.10.  I expected him to be about an hour… it was a freezing 2 hrs later before he left by which time we had a lot more ideas on what needed to be done than before he turned up.  He was full of ideas in terms of the kitchen area (which is dark and small) and boy oh boy did he love the attic space!  Builder no 2, whose favourite phrase is “Jesus Christ” (said in best Polish accent) will definitely come in cheaper but he’s a real “it’s your house, you tell me what you want done” type of guy.  Which is great… if you know everything that needs to be done!  Bringing my Uncle, the architect in for a chat about the kitchen, hopefully next weekend.


We have a decent sized bathroom but there isn’t room for a shower and a bath in there.  We were definitely going with a bath until we were in Tubs and Tiles (amongst other places) and saw a great wet room area shower.  You don’t make the bathroom a wet room but the area for the shower would be of that style.  We’re still undecided at the moment but it would be very luxurious :)


The widening of the driveway for two cars is going to be more complicated that I’d hoped for.  Our real issue is that we can easily widen it to get two cars in but also need for those two cars to be able to get out independently of each other.  We’re not in a housing estate, we’re on a road and I don’t want for one of us to have to move our car for the other person to get out.  Not an acceptable solution I’m afraid.


In between builders and bathroom showrooms we did stop in The Harbour Bar (Bray) for a toastie for lunch.  I haven’t been in there since the ‘90s… what a really gorgeous pub!  Think I’ll be visiting there again (though not necessarily for food!)


So tasks for this week - provide a room by room break down of all the work that we need/want done in the house...  

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Tackling the Ivy

Yesterday (Monday) we decided to make a start on the ivy that is taking over the shed.  In truth, we didn’t expect to make huge progress as we don’t actually have any of the right equipment but we had a pair of gloves each and one small army knife so we reckoned that that would be a start to allow us to rip off some of the external ivy to at least expose the shed windows and allow the door to close.

External before:

Shed Exterior pre Cleanup


And this is where we were after 30-40 mins of cutting and pulling...

Shed Exterior post Cleanup

Internally we went from

Shed Interior pre Cleanup

to this

Shed Interior post Cleanup


So nothing too dramatic but a start of sorts at least :) 

Monday, 17 March 2014

We got the keys

Hmm.. third attempt at this now. I'm trying to use Mars Edit for my posts (which i've done in the past) but it doesn't seem to be playing along today. Anyway, we bought a house. We started looking for a house in January of 2012. We finally got an offer accepted on a 3 bed semi in Bray in October 2013. We got the keys on Friday 14th March 2014. It needs a bit of work and a lot of TLC. When we first started looking for a house I wanted something that needed nothing more than a bit of cosmetic work. I certainly didn't want a house that required a builder to create a decent driveway, make a chimney stable, staple the concrete wall and demolish (and hopefully rebuild if money allows) a dodgy extension. But hey, this is Ireland and we got out bid on a number of time before finally becoming the couple that did the outbidding. It's a 1935 semi with a south facing back garden and it has the original front door and doors inside. We'd like to keep all of those though we'll need to do some form of draft proofing on the front door. The inside doors have all been stripped down so hopefully a nice lick of paint will restore them to former elegance.. that and some more appropriate door handles.

Back of House

The wooden decking out the back is apparently on it's way out. Suggested as much by the surveyor and Dave's brother Raymond (he'll be our DIY instructor :) ) it's not going to last much longer. Pity as on the priority list it's not at the top. The garden needs a bit of work but again that will have to wait. But at least it's not a jungle yet and we should be able to prevent it getting that far. It's a good garden for dogs!

As far as the kitchen goes the vendors took everything bar the sink and cupboard doors and carcasses... oh and they left the extractor fan too (but took oven/hob). However, yesterday we found a dishwasher (no the house is not big but it's an integrated dishwasher and we just missed it. Boy does it smell but so long as it works then it's one less appliance to buy!

Speaking of appliances, we were looking at a Bosch gas hob yesterday... €399 in Power City. The same one is only 249 sterling up in Newry. Another Irish rip off!

Our fireplace is possibly original... I don't like the colours of the tiles on it but hopefully we can replace those in-situ... in the future.


The house itself got the seal of approval from Dave's niece Cliodhna on Sunday so all is good with the world :)

First Visit

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Sugar… in its many forms and types

[I actually posted this in February 2013 however as MarsEdit is now not playing it appears to have been deleted] Sugar… in its many forms and types Caster sugar. Icing sugar. Light Muscovado sugar. Dark Muscovado sugar. Demerera sugar. Soft dark brown sugar. Soft light brown sugar. Golden Caster sugar. Granulated sugar. No doubt there are more types of sugar that I could add to this list but this will do for now. Right now, I have six of the above different types of sugar in my baking cupboard. Six? Seriously, who needs such a variety of sugar in their cupboard… especially when I don't actually put sugar in tea or coffee, I only use it for baking! And, more importantly, what is the difference between all these types of sugar? That last question is the question that I asked myself this morning as I was checking that I had all the required ingredients for todays bake (ginger cake available from That particular recipe calls for dark muscovado sugar. I checked my baking cupboard to find I had caster sugar, icing sugar, light demerera sugar, soft dark brown sugar and golden caster sugar but no dark muscovado sugar. At this point I wondered "what is the difference between all these sugars?". A bit of a google and it seems to be to do with the amount of molasses in the sugar and who the sugar is refined. Muscovado sugar doesn't get spun in a centrifuge either… can't say I knew that any sugar went through that process! Maybe that's why it's such a thicker, clumpier sugar? This page provides a nice high level overview of the differences (for anybody who cares!) and I at least understand a bit more about the difference between all these sugars. But I still wish I didn't need quite so many of them in my baking cupboard :)

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Eat a small lunch tomorrow...

as we're going out for dinner tomorrow night.
This was the message that I got, via OCS, from Dave on Thurs 15th Dec.
Me: Oh, okay. Where and what time?
Dave: Nosh in Dalkey at 7pm.
Me: Okay. You do know that tomorrow is both our Christmas team lunches so we'll be eating a v late lunch.
Dave: Yes I know but it's already booked.
Me: Okay.

So, even though I'd been spoiled with a surprise birthday weekend away at The Old Convent the previous weekend I thought that maybe this was an additional birthday dinner (my birthday was Weds mid week) or something.

By 2.30pm on Fri afternoon I'm asking when we're heading for lunch... I have dinner in 4.5 hours you know. By 3pm it was "I have dinner in 4 hours". I finished eating about 3.50 thinking "Oh my God how am I going to manage dinner in 3 hrs?!"

Met Dave at Pearse St Dart station at 6.25 to head out Dalkey on the Dart. At the station we're discussing how full we are and I say that I may not even do the early bird menu as I'm so full... may be better to just order a single dish off the a la carte menu. We get on the Dart and out comes Dave's phone and he's texting away. I assumed to his sister or Carlos. Phone goes away and we natter away (probably about how now hungry we are!) until we get to Dalkey.

We wander down to Nosh and wander in...
Totally Unsuspecting Arrival

I pretty quickly see my brother and his wife Jia there at a large table and I smile to them thinking what a coincidence that they're there that night.
First Recognition

I then follow that thought with "who the hell keeps taking photos of me... and why??" before seeing somebody I recognise at the other end of the table... possibly Amy and Eoin or maybe Fiona?
Oh and you're here too...

Then my clearly "not with it" brain kicks in to action and I think that possibly these people are sitting at the same table for a reason...


And maybe that reason is to surprise me...

And which point I promptly start crying!
And the tears...

Before the Mascara Runs...

Before deciding that sitting down would be the safest thing for me to do :)

Thank you to wonderful sister Ciara for organising this... pretty amazing considering that it was organised when Grace was probably only 3 months old and she had my 2 and half year old godson charging around the place and all done from the US! Thank you to Dave for getting the phone numbers of some friends from my phone without my knowledge and passing those with email addresses on to Ciara. And thank you to everybody who was there... Paul, Jia, Ciara, Eunan, Fiona, Jonathan, Fiona, Mark, Amy, Eoin and Sinead.

Mark and Eoin


I discovered that I


surprises and that week in December was just full of them!!

Posing with the mug