A sudden burst of energy has overtaken me and I am having a clear-out for the first time in years. Yesterday I found a cupboard containing Christmas cards from 2005 and decided that it was time to take action. Today, it’s the boxes which have piled up. While I have often been told that it is normal to expand to fill the space that you have, in a house this size it is definitely not a good idea. Here is a glimpse of some of what we have cleared away:
When I opened an overflowing cupboard I found a pile of unused envelopes left behind by Sotheby’s after the contents sale in 1994. All of them had lost their gum in the damp air. There is a further room waiting to be tackled, full of boxes from London which haven’t been opened since I moved here in 1995. They will have to wait for another wet day.
Now I need to find a system to stop the piles growing again. Perhaps I will finally succed in my aim to have everything tidied into logical places where I can find it - ie all sewing implements together, all candles in one cupboard and so on. Then I won’t keep buying new every time I can’t find something and think I have run out; I might even save some money as a result.
I wonder! Perhaps someone could ask me in a few months how far I have got …… ?
We kick off this weekend with snowdrop walks. Picking a date in the autumn seems so straightforward but as the time approaches it becomes a case of will they/won’t they? Each year snowdrop flowers peak at a different time and in early January it looked as if they would be very late indeed following our December brush with the arctic. We chose the same weekend as last year when we were only just in time.
But now, like a miracle, they have caught up and are coming into flower, just in time. Some on the northerly sheltered slopes are still coming out, but the displays are there to cheer us up despite the grey Shropshire weather.
We are open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (1.30-4pm), serving teas in the Victorian kitchens until 5pm. The kitchens rely for heat largely on the old kitchen range which was lit today for the first time in weeks and we held our breath to see whether it would smoke out the room. To everyone’s relief the smoke went straight up – and out – of the chimney. My dream is one day to restore the range and see it working properly again – with the price of oil it might even become economical to use.
So, keeping fingers crossed for a fine(ish) weekend, a warm welcome awaits you ….
Joy! – the new – that is to say new to the Hall – lights are finally in situ and well worth the wait. They have actually come from a London church that has been stripped of its fittings, rather wonderfully, a church that was built by the builder of Stokesay Court – John Derby Allcroft. A kind and thoughtful person seeing that they were about to be abandoned, rescued them, and brought them back. It feels a bit as if they have come home and it’s already hard to remember what they have replaced.
Contrast this with the frustration of my new fridge/freezer. Bought from Currys at New Year to replace one with a freezer door that wouldn’t seal any longer, it only works intermittently. After many calls to those numbers which ask you to choose from endless options and state clearly what it is you have bought, I got through to a person, and was then visited by an engineer. Who informed me it works perfectly. The small print in the instruction manual states that the appliance must be installed in a room with an ambient temperature over 10 degrees. Ha Ha! In Stokesay’s kitchen the temperature in winter drops below 10 degrees as soon as the heating goes off.
Some yorkshire puddings may have frozen and defrosted over and over again and have been thrown out. It could have been worse. As they say, it’s a known unknown.
Unfortunately Curry’s doesn’t accept that it isn’t fit for purpose. It’s all my fault, they say, I should have read the instruction manual before purchasing it and it isn’t their responsibility to inform customers of this particular problem. And no, they will not exchange it as it is working properly. When I asked them what I should do with it, they suggested asking the Council to come and take it away!! But it’s new, I said…..
So it seems I am expected to heat the kitchen to warm up the fridge, or get rid of the appliance and buy another one. Why does Alice at the Mad Hatter’s Tea party spring to mind?
And yes, I could and should not give up at this point – but complaining is draining, and I’ve decided I need to conserve my energy for happier things.
Like the wonderful lights which put it all in perspective.