Monday, February 26, 2007

Vinosafe walk-in wine cellar, storage for 1,000 bottles

And the first item to go on eBay following the move is the wine cellar. 

Edit: deleted expired eBay link. 

Tomorrow three pieces of furniture go to the local auction house. At the weekend boxes of books will go to Oxfam and a big box of cat blankets and bowls will go to the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. It felt strange but calming to be scrubbing the litter trays so they could go to a good home.

This is the vinosafe in varying stages of dismantling ready for the move:
vinosafe picture 1/5 vinosafe picture 2/5 vinosafe picture 3/5 vinosafe picture 4/5 vinosafe picture 5/5

Thursday, February 22, 2007

End of two eras

Yesterday was big day for us.

We are happy to say that we finally exchanged contracts on Avon Cottage yesterday and the sale will complete on Friday. We had a great 13 years there and feel like we are passing a piece of history over to a new set of caretakers in a better state than we got it. From talking to Karen and Andrew, our buyers, we are sure that they will take as much care of it as we did.

We are sad to say that Cleo passed away yesterday. The problem with her tooth at the end of January proved to be an aggressive form of cancer and the vet warned that she did not have long left. We watched her very carefully and yesterday we knew that the time had come to take her to the vet, while she was still purring. She was almost 17 years old and we are very grateful to have had her for so long.

cleo as a kitten hiding behing a plant pot cleo as a cat on a chair
Cleo at eight weeks / Cleo as an adult

Both Mark and I are relieved that the stress of the last few weeks is over, Cleo is not suffering and it now feels like a new start in Fairfield Street.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Avon Cottage Empty ...

... but Wandsworth house full!

"Well the move seemed to go smoothly" he said, looking at the chaos around him.

Breakfast room full of packing boxes
Breakfast room full of packing boxes

Dining room full of packing boxes
Dining room full of packing boxes

Living room full of packing boxes
Living room full of packing boxes

It took the movers four and a half hours to pack up the cottage. The 17 metre van was full, we literally could not get another item in. And it is now all in our Wandsworth home!

We cannot move; we have two complete sets of *everything*. The bedrooms upstairs are just as bad. It will take a while to digest this lot. A few trips to the local auction house and municipal dump will help. And expect to see quite a few items appearing on eBay, we have already sold a washing machine and a day bed. There will be more to follow...

Oh, yes, and we had a lovely meal at The Food Room and fell exhausted out of the taxi and into bed.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Moving house tomorrow

And as you might expect the run up to tomorrow's house move has been hectic. Mary's Mum, May, flew down from Scotland on Thursday for a "farewell tour" of the cottage. We drove down Thursday night (with Cleo) and worked from home Friday so we would be ready early Saturday to continue the clearing out.

Primary target was the garage: boxing up the last dozen cases of wine, dismantling the VinoSafe, clearing out the accumulated unwanted possessions (or junk as Mary calls it) and doing tip runs to dump the rejects.

Saturday we went to Plummer's Restaurant with Bob&Lynne and Mike&Lynn. Mike deserves an serious award for good neighbourliness. When he and Lynn lived next door he fed the cats, took in the post, checked for intruders when the alarm went off and generally kept an eye on the place while we worked in various locations or countries Monday to Friday.

Even after they moved (about 10 miles away) Mike still used to do all that for little return apart from our heartfelt thanks and the occasional bottle of duty free malt. We have no way to thank him enough for what he has done over the years but we did offer him (and family of course) a free holiday in Italy.

Sunday was a family gathering: Mum&Dad and Ian&Sarah came down, partly house-cooling and partly because Sarah had never seen the cottage. After they left it was more tidying and sorting till it was time for our supper, traditional Sunday roast pork. Monday Mary stayed down at the cottage with May and Cleo while I drove back up to London for two days work. Back down tonight and the furniture van arrives at 9 o'clock tomorrow morning.

We shall have deserved our Valentine's meal out by the time tomorrow night arrives.

Wines of Australia at Planet of the Grapes

Last week four of us "lads" from work went to a wine tasting at Planet of the Grapes. A small but select crowd were present, a dozen all told including Matt and Marc from POTG and Chris the presenter. As Chris was a wine maker and the group was small we were able to have more of a conversation than a presentation which made for an interesting and informative evening.

The Tasmanian sparkling is a method champagnoise wine to rival the French. The Reisling too was very much in an old world style and the Virgilius Viognier stood out amongst the whites. Unfortunately it is too long now for me to recall a ranking amongst the reds.

Mary joined us at the end, after her Italian class had finished, and got to taste the reds left over from the "no shows". We all chatted some more, polished off what was left of the meats and cheeses, then got a black cab back to Wandsworth for a supernumery glass of red.

The Wines of Australia with Chris Unger

 • Jansz 2001 - Tasmanian sparkling (GBP 16.50)
 • Mesh - Eden Valley Reisling 2006 (GBP 14.50)
 • Yalumba - The Virgilius Viognier Eden Valley 2004 (GBP 22.50)
 • Brokenwood - ILR Semillon Hunter Valley 2001 (17.50)
 • The Menzies Coonawarra Cabernet 2002 (GBP 22.50)
 • Vasse Flix 'Heytesbury' Cabernet Margaret River 2002 (GBP 33.50)
 • Yalumba Hand Picked Shiraz / Viognier Barossa (GBP 17.00)
 • Langton's Yalumba The Octavius (GBP ???)
 • Yalumba Dessert Muscat NV (GBP 9.50)

Monday, February 05, 2007

House Clearance

Did you know you can get sixteen and a half cases of wine in a BMW 330Ci Sport? That's 198 bottles with no room for passengers! Mind you it doesn't do much for the handling and acceleration. I was breaking gently well in advance of junctions and roundabouts (US: circles).

When we met our buyers two weekends ago ["Avon Cottage Under Offer"] the talk was of completion by Easter, last weekend this turned into "third week of Feb" and by last Tuesday it was Friday 16th. O-o-oh ****, that's less than three weeks away. We still had to clear the house, dump the rubbish, move the wine, ship the furniture, spring clean the place and complete the actual sale.

So we brought the skip hire forward and this weekend, while Mary was in Scotland, I was down the cottage in my blue overalls filling the skip. I thought 3.5 cubic metres (4.5 cubic yards) would see us through the next two weekends. But no. By 11:30 the thing was full.

The rest of the day was spent clearing Jabba the Shed, disassembling the shelving in the loft and casing up the wine from the Vinosafe. The VSP 214 holds a thousand bottles and that means quite a few round trips.

Sunday was preparing the Wandsworth house for the furniture onslaught. Moving furniture from room to room so we can free up the back bedroom as a temporary furniture depository. The 16.5 cases are all safely in the cellar but boy are my back muscles aching today.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Amy's View

Last night we went to see Amy's View at the Garrick. Stall tickets were GBP 45 but Top Table were doing a deal. Two course meal at the Palm Court Brasserie and stall tickets for GBP 35. So you get a free meal, get to see the incomparable Felicity Kendall in an excellent production and still have a tenner change. As the Americans say "Go figure".

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Cleo's teeth

Poor old Cleo had some teeth out yesterday. Thank goodness she goes in regularly for blood tests for her thyroid levels. Since her last visit she had taken to dribbling a bit and recently got a bit smelly. It never occurred to me it was bad breath indicating dental problems.

I took her in yesterday expecting a five minute visit to take a blood sample and walked out minus cat having signed a waiver form for an operation. A worrying few hours passed until the vet called at 1pm; a general anaesthetic always has some risk and for a 16 year cat that has to be a concern.

Fortunately she is a robust old girl and came through it and recovered well from the anaethetic. After discussion with the vet, Emma, we decided to leave her in overnight and collect her this morning. So now she is back home with a heap of antibiotics and pain relief. Now we await the results of the biopsy to find out whether it was a nasty infection or something worse.