No longer a virgin!

Yellow-nose-2While more Welsh weather sets in and a gale blows outside, the painting continues inside. It’s been a steep learning curve as I was a ‘decorating virgin’ when I came to the property but I am discovering the best techniques to apply different paints to a variety of surfaces on-the-hoof, so to speak! I have finished the front kitchen now but am horrified at how long it took me. Painting old pipework and covering other people’s drips (I should have sanded first – live and learn), painting woodwork so stained that six coats still hasn’t covered the previous colour, trying to paint rough wooden doors which were made by a previous incumbent better skilled at farming than carpentry and attempting to paint walls and ceilings in different colours when the dividing line is so wonky it’s impossible to get a straight edge, are all time-consuming to the max.

So having invested in a large step ladder, I started on the back kitchen which involved scaling a 15 foot wall to the top of the pitched ceiling – super scary as I am not good with heights. But as the cat was my only accomplice, I had no option but to take a deep breath and brave the top run of the ladder singing at the top of my voice (la la la la la la la) to take my mind off the fact the floor was an awfully long way down. The wall above a worktop required lateral thinking though and I ended up putting a smaller step ladder onto the surface and tentatively climbing aboard. Even then, to reach the top of the wall I had to stand on tip-toe (sporting a head torch) with a very long brush in my LEFT hand. NEVER again!

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If I thought that was bad enough, there was worse to come – the mother of all battles was with the flexible filler. Deciding I could do a better job of painting if I filled the nooks and crannies (everywhere due to the age of the property), I found a tube of flexible filler in the squirting gun that had been left after fitting the kitchen a few weeks ago. It could have been a scene out of a slapstick comedy! It went everywhere but its intended target and mostly all over me and the floor. Definitely ‘woman out of control wielding a decorator’s gun’! I eventually worked out a technique for getting the wretched gloop into the holes and gaps but every time I thought I had finished, put a screw in the end of the tube and scrubbed my hands, I saw a bit I had missed so the process was repeated 8 or 9 times. The whole episode was very stressful and I had to reach for the Rescue Remedy afterwards. Had I been a drinker, it would have been Brandy but as Rescue Remedy is preserved in Brandy, I had both! I have been ‘blooded’ (ancient hunting ritual to initiate newbies), or equivalent thereof with the white stuff. In any event, officially, I am no longer a decorating virgin!

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On other decorating news…..Talisman has moved in! He stands right next to me when I am working in my study (and as I am writing this), so I don’t have to go outside to see his lovely face. You might ask, ‘how is this decorating?’ Well, it’s an Arab horse mural (Murals Wallpaper), not Talisman at all but it could be as the likeness is so remarkable. I am now thinking of having a natural scene, maybe woodland, from the same website for a corridor upstairs. The murals are photographic and so real that it really feels like you are in the scene. A brilliant and innovate way of bringing the outside in!

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While on the subject of home improvements, I recently discovered that one of the hideous upstairs carpets covered a stained wooden floor in excellent condition. Bingo! I felt like I had hit the jackpot. So, with the carpet now relegated to a would-be vegetable patch, the space has been turned into a dressing room (an indulgence I can justify living on my own). This means I have another room just as I want it and without cost. Marvellous! I love it when you make new and unexpected discoveries in your home or your environment. I can think of many examples since I moved and each feels like a gift.

Wall-3There has also been progress with machinery…..’good bye quad bike and hello tractor’! Last week, I took delivery of a lovely blue tractor (which goes beautifully with the newly painted barn and is also my favourite colour – not why I bought it, obviously)!

The quad didn’t have power steering and was super-heavy on my arms when towing in 4WD on the steep banks, resulting in tennis and golfers’ elbows on both arms, very painful. The tractor has power steering and much ‘bigger balls’ so nothing is a struggle or potentially as risky. In fact, it’s far better qualified for the job on all counts.

We will be getting better acquainted once the ground dries out, which will hopefully be sometime this year! Meantime, I am under strict instructions to read the manual which is classed as ‘bed-time reading’ but it’s sending me to sleep just thinking about it. Very effective!

On the horse front, Talisman looks like a Yettie, having sprouted a large winter coat in no time at all. He’s being clipped next week but meantime, is having an outside bath following exercise whatever the weather (yesterday it was pouring, though the shower is warm) and then relaxing under the solarium to dry off, while I trudge around soaked and having to drip-dry!

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His re-training is going well. He had a trip out last week to a local competition centre at the end of a dressage show they were holding to make the acquaintance of whiteboards and an indoor school. Well, I was dumbfounded, he didn’t bat an eyelid at the boards and knew he absolutely needed to stay inside them. It was just like he was a dressage pro! That’s one box ticked but, of course, riding in a competition and working in with other horses is another new experience he will need to have in due course.

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At home, on the other hand, I never thought I would get my jumps out of mothballs as the last time I used them was 7 years ago before I started endurance. As horses learn by trial and error, I am constantly thinking of ways to make things clear to Talisman. For instance, he can wiggle on the approach to a fence coming off a right-hand turn, so a post on the left and right corner has been handy for trotting figures of eight, emphasising the straight line coming towards the jump, then circling away. Another exercise for achieving the same result would be using ‘tram lines’, ie. two parallel poles on the approach to create a corridor, sometimes used to train a straight halt. We are currently trotting to a pole placed three short strides (of mine) in front of the fence and cantering one stride to the jump after it. This ensures a we get a good pop as Talisman’s canter is not very adjustable in front of the fence yet. He is loving his jumping which has made him even more enthusiastic about his work! He watches me like a hawk from the field when I put the jumps up and the minute he walks into the arena, he’s on full alert anticipating the action. This is a good thing as it puts an extra spark into all his work in the school but I have to admit, there have been a few too many sparks flying out hacking!

Pics: Relaxing in the field is such tiring work; the new blue baby tractor; arab horse wall mural; jumping training


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