A great cause of excitement last week was a new downpipe. No, really - I was delighted to get some guttering fixed.
Such are the joys of living in an old house, which may have stood for hundreds of years but could do with some help to keep it standing for several centuries more.
During the summer, one of our new neighbours asked me what the funny brown handprints were at the bottom of my white-painted bedroom windows.
Turned out she was referring to a couple of the many rotten patches on our wooden window frames, not something that could easily be washed away!
We noticed before we moved in that assorted repairs were needed to various window frames, external painting, slipped tiles, patches of repointing and all the climbing plants that are hell-bent on growing round the gutters and under the roof.
So this summer we finally bit the bullet.
First of all Matt and Godfrey came round to cut out the rot and fix the woodwork. They also sorted out windows that were painted shut, added new lead weights to rebalance the sashes and replaced broken sash cords, so our windows now work hurrah!
Along the way Matt was also a source of words of wisdom on our garden and wildlife.
Sample exchanges include: "Matt, I'm assuming this is a weed, the one growing out of the bottom of the garden steps?" "Yes, that would be a buddleia." and "Matt, what's this 5 foot tall plant with leaves like a cabbage?" "Judging by the flowers, that would be a poppy". Ah well, so much for me thinking I should be able to recognise poppies and buddleia.
When they came to repair the kitchen window, Matt also pointed out that we had a couple of baby collared doves nested above it.
|Matt repairing the kitchen window.Spot the nest above it.|
I'd noticed that what I thought was a dozy pigeon had constructed a hammock in the vine, but hadn't realised anything had hatched. Lovely.
|Two baby collared doves, nesting above our kitchen window|
Once Matt and Godfrey had worked miracles, the painters, Paul Chappell (strapline on his sign: "Only Constable painted Dedham better") and his colleague Martin, came round to repaint all the outside woodwork.
|Martin & Paul: miracle workers in action|
Paul and Martin also had to double up as expert gardeners, pruning their way through assorted wisteria, vines and roses to reach the windows that needed painting.
Here's an example of how the vine had grown over the kitchen in window in just a month between Matt's repairs and Paul's painting:
|Rampant vine climbing over the kitchen window.|
NB: One day I'll get round to planting herbs in those pots...
|...or maybe I should be making wine from all the grapes?|
Paul and Martin really made the outside of the house look immeasurably better. Now, when I walk down the garden path, I can smile at the nice new paint work rather than worrying about what might leak.
It's a great relief to have the window frames fixed and repainted, assorted gaps and holes in the brickwork repointed, slipped tiles replaced and guttering repaired.
Finally we can hunker down for the winter and let the weather do its worst.