Monday, March 11, 2019

Benson Row - 01

Penrith, Cumbria. Monday 11-March-2019 to Tuesday 19-March-2019.

The latest acquisition in the M&M Enterprises property portfolio is a holiday home in Penrith on the edge of the Lake District. Mary has been saying she needs a project to keep her busy and stop her from getting bored. This is that project.

When we sold Trullo Azzurro last year we started by looking for another property in Italy. Somewhere in, or on the fringes, of Cisternino old town. Somewhere without stairs for when we get old and our knees are going. We also wanted some outside space. This was proving impossible even ignoring the budget. There just aren’t many properties that fit the bill, if at all, never mind on the market.

So instead we repatriated the money and started looking in Penrith which we know and like. When we found this property last October, we made an offer which was accepted but kept it quiet from most of our friends as we expected a certain amount of stick from them. We broke the news to family and a few close friends shortly before completion which was then, of course, delayed.

It is a three bedroomed house with a decent size cellar but no outside space at all. We have right of access across the courtyard to get to our back door but that is it. It is an early Victorian mid-terrace house that was once two back-to-back houses, now combined into one. It is the one with the burgundy window and door surrounds. The middle door is an alleyway to a small yard.

The plan is to use it initially for ourselves, family and friends but eventually (especially after the kitchen refit) to put it on AirBnB for others to rent.

Floor plan

Living Room

Dining Room

Kitchen. This is a major component of the project: a complete kitchen redesign. We have two local firms currently producing designs for us to review.

Back Bedroom

Middle Bedroom

Front Bedroom



We finally completed on Monday the 11th March. We drove up that morning with the car stuffed to the gunnels including two single bed frames strapped to the roof and two vacuum packed, Swiss roll mattresses in the car along with all manner of other stuff. The first thing we did on receiving the keys was to assemble the beds release the mattresses and go down to the pub for a beer and meal with our Penrith friends.

Tuesday was delivery day for a whole load of bedroom furniture that we had bought from Barker and Stonehouse in the January sales. They were very good at holding back on delivery until we had access to the property. So Tuesday was literally a case of making my bed and then lying on it.

Wednesday was spent assembling the rest of the bedroom furniture: two wardrobes, two chest of drawers and a bedside cabinet. Fortunately I have had plenty of practice with IKEA furniture and a decent power screwdriver made the whole thing relatively painless although still tedious.

The rest of the week and weekend was more shopping for furniture and useful items like a fridge and microwave, a Dyson and various kitchen bits and pieces. Also visits from various trades to get quotes for works identified by the surveyor most of which it turned out were not needed!

  • The builder reckoned the damp was condensation and the damp specialist confirmed that. 
  • The roofer said the felt we could see was a sign the roof had actually been repaired and no work was required. 
  • The timber treatment man said the colour of the soft timbers showed it had been treated and the rest was solid oak which woodworm blunt their teeth on. 

And what timbers they are too. Magnificent, gnarly bits of old oak. Not neatly sawn, they just have to be recycled timbers from some older building, the Victorians would never have been that cavalier with their roof timbers. Another clue to recycling rather than purpose-sawn was one rafter that didn't reach the ridge and was held up by an oak prop.

Saturday was Penrith Parkrun, more shopping and then in the evening a dinner party at a friends' house. Andrew makes delicious home-made limoncello and arancello which we sampled possibly more than was strictly necessary!

Monday was, joy of joys, a trip to Gateshead IKEA to choose and buy furniture for the other two bedrooms. IKEA should patent their special time dilation secret they clearly have whereby it seems hundreds of years pass inside the store and you come out to discover that only a couple of hours have elapsed in the real world.

Tuesday we drove back to London for a quick turnaround and then out to see George Ezra to recover from an action packed and productive week.

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