18 January 2014

A White Welcome! January 18th 2013 /14

This time last year the snow had fallen. 
What a day to move into a new home!

White Welcome! 

I had been awake in our Devon hotel High Bullen Golf and Country Club  since 3 a.m. which is when the forecast had said the snow would come in.
They were wrong by about half an hour.
Every hour I was up, looking out the window, convincing myself that it wasn't too bad....
By breakfast time even I had to admit that more than 1 foot of snow was not a light scatter!

Ron and I went to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Ah. No breakfast, the chef hadn't managed to get in.
However, the (then) owners , Jane and Martin, (High Bullen has since been sold and is under new management) invited us to their private house for breakfast, and were as concerned as us about moving in - or not.

The Gaffer from Pickfords Removals called me at about 8.30.
The Good News: the big lorry, he said, was nearby at the Portsmouth Arms.

I had no idea where that was back then - now we frequent the pub often for a lovely meal & game of snooker. The pub is adjacent to the Portsmouth Arms railway station, a small wayside station on the Tarka Line 28 miles (45 km) north of Exeter St. David's station and served by trains running between Exeter and Barnstaple. It serves a number of rural villages, and was named after the pub -  itself named for the Earl of Portsmouth.

Portsmouth Arms

The Bad News: to get from the Portsmouth Arms to Chittlehamholt involved coming up a steep, narrow, somewhat snowy lane. Ah.
"Not to worry" said the Gaffer, "Let's give it an hour and see how we're doing then."
I responded that I WAS worried.
"You are paying us to move you," he said kindly. "We do the worrying not you."

Just in case, however, we took up Jane and Martin's offer to join them for dinner that night, and booked a room at the hotel for a second night. I didn't fancy staying in a new house with no furniture, no beds or no food!

As it happened, the lane was cleared and with the furniture transferred to a smaller transit van (all pre-arranged and paid for) by 9.30 we were moving in to our new home!

Looking back, I wish I'd taken photos of the house "unfurnished" and also of the pile of boxes in the room that was to be my study.
Because we didn't have time to think about where some things were going to go, any boxes of doubtful content went into the study. Which meant when I eventually looked in there a few days later - it was piled from floor to ceiling!

I had to phone Kathy about mid-day to tell her to find a hotel and stay in London. She was supposed to be coming down the next day, Saturday, with the horsebox and horses. Road conditions were too unsafe. 'Stay put,' I said. Adam, bless him, sorted her out, took her to a hotel near the stable yard and took her shopping for more (warm!) clothes - she only had an overnight bag!
In the end she stayed in London for an entire week longer, because by the time the snow had cleared down here in Devon she - and the horses, cats & pigeons were snowed-in in London!

Rum and Ron in the snow January 2013
By five o'clock on January 18th last year, it was dark. No more snow had fallen, but it was bitter cold out - and in. The heating was working, but the doors had been open all day because of in and outing. The beds were in, but not put together. We were glad we had the hotel to get back to for a hot bath and comfy night.

One other problem. One completely unexpected.
Ron and I were alone in our new house (with Rum the dog) The removal men had gone - they would be back early next morning. We were shattered. Boxes everywhere, furniture only sort-of arranged. We locked the doors, turned off the lights.
And the pitch blackness hit us! We couldn't see one hand in front of our faces. No torch - no idea what box they were in. Nor had we any idea where the switches to the outside lights were!
Feeling with our hands, one tentative step after another we shuffled along the front path and out of the gate. Ron found the car - put the headlights on! Phew! Let there be light!

Lesson learnt on day one. There are NO street lights in the country.
Always know where the torch is - and keep the battery charged!

So, that was a whole year ago. We are now settled in and there have been lots of changes. We lost Old Rum in early March - we still miss him, but we have Bonkers Baz instead.
We also lost Jasper, one of the horses, but we've acquired instead Ishi, Adams ex-racehorse (who is now in foal) Squidge the Exmoor Monster and Ruby a nice young coloured mare.
We have new hens, a new pigeon loft for Ron's birds. Lovely neighbours, and birds of so many varieties flock to the garden.

And today?
Well, we have had a lot of rain. The fields look like we are growing a crop of mud, but I took these photos yesterday:

primrose by the front door
the fist snowdrop

spot the hiding from the rain cat! 
winter jasmine by the front gate
violet - by The front gate (apologies for the blur)
Pirate Island - in our woods

Me and Baz after a walk in the pouring rain
January 17th 2014
I love it here in Devon.
I love this house.

The best view in the whole world
My Home from the Lane
Come back tomorrow - the full report of a Wet Walk in the Woods!

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Thank you for leaving a comment your interest is very much appreciated! It will be published as soon as possible - depending on whether I am at my computer or walking up the lane, or being chased by the goose or helping mend fences after the pony has broken through YET AGAIN.... :-)