Tuesday, February 28, 2017

North Downs Way 05 - Otford to Cuxton

Kent Tuesday 28-February-2017.

Over a year since our last leg of the North Downs Way! An early start to catch the train down to Otford. First step was in fact backwards. We had to make a detour to see England's only Grade II listed pond.

Otford Pond

It was a glorious day for walking archtypical chalk downland and deservedly an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


We walked along several sunken lanes, not just on this day but on other legs of the walk. I love them, they speak to me of maybe Roman or prehistoric times and our ancestors crossing the ancient landscape. To walk in the footsteps of our predecessors is a real thrill.


Sometimes it is not such a thrill. Mostly the NDW follows the ridge but sometimes it dropped down to the bottom of the escarpment and then, of course, back up again. Here is a sight to make the heart sink.


We passed some lovely old timber-framed cottages.


The second of two milestones we passed on this day. "Farnham 71 miles, Dover 54 miles". So we are well over half way. I am not planning to do the Canterbury loop. The NDW intersects or runs concurrent with the Pilgrims' Way at several points but we are doing the NDW not the PW.


The last stretch was a mile and a half off the NDW to get to the nearest train station at Cuxton and a well earned snooze on the train home.




This leg: 17 miles
Total so far: 78 miles

Friday, February 03, 2017

The Other Place 04 - Kitchen and Bathrooms

Cisternino, Puglia, Italy. Friday 03-February-2017.

This trip was all about the kitchen and bathrooms - well shower rooms actually. We arrived to discover the scaffolding up and the work progressing at a cracking rate.

Corso Umberto I

Via la Fiera

For the kitchen we had options from the designer Scavolini kitchen from Euromobili, via a custom built version from a local carpenter to the cheap-and-cheerful option from Conforama (more like a B&Q kitchen). In the end we went for the latter.

The "design committee" 

A couple of days later we went back to discover that the builder's brother had preemptively started building stone walls where the units were to go. We'd been thinking of wooden carcass not stone so he had to demolish his little walls.

The new staircase and shower-room walls are replastered and the concrete steps stone-clad.

Stairs to terrace and door to shower room

Stairs to the terrace

The roof had been curved because of the two barrel vaults below. Now it is levelled with lightweight, expanded clay granules and a floor laid over that. I had been concerned about extra weight but the granules are not too heavy and provide some useful thermal insulation.

The roof terrance

Inside the two ceilings in the public rooms (living room and kitchen/diner) are now sand-blasted, re-pointed and looking lovely.

Living room ceiling

Dining room

What was the family bathroom is now the utility room. The old bath has gone and will be replaced by a laundry sink and a washing machine.

Utility room

The small bedroom was way too small so we demolished the internal non-structural walls and reinstated them further over giving us a decent sized bedroom, a shower room and reduced the wasted corridor space to a minimum. It also enabled us to repair the arches which had been mangled by the previous walls.

Small bedroom

The terrace is a bit of a building site for equipment storage but they have carved out a niche to house the new boiler. The Italians very sensibly like to install boilers on the outside - greatly reduced risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Terrace with new niche for boiler

After a major planning session we repaired to our local cafe for coffee.


As well as all that we also decided on all the shower room fittings - two of everything please. After that we headed off to Bologna for a well earned city break.