Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Brunswick Road 03 – Flitting

Penrith, Cumbria. July-2021

I have added a new word to my Scottish vocabulary “flitting“. It has cropped up twice in different contexts in the last couple of weeks. It means "moving house". Although in our case, flitting has been more like a cross between Tetris and Tower of Hanoi.


Tower of Hanoi:

We have done multiple, partial moves. Given that moving house is supposed to be one of life‘s more stressful events we seem to be holding up pretty well.

Move 1: Leaving Heathfield Square. We sold our main home in April 2021. We were not moving into a new property but still had to clear everything out. Its contents went in multiple directions:

  • Part A - Some stuff went to our London garage.
  • Part B - Other belongings went to Bolting House, one of our buy-to-let properties, which was untenanted and up for sale. We used it as a temporary storage for some of our excess furniture and also allowing for the possibility of reletting it. 
  • Part C - Some stuff came up to Penrith and into our Benson Row home which as a result was bulging with furniture. 
  • Part D - Some then got transferred into a garage and a lock-up we have rented as temporary storage. 

In June we bought Brunswick Road and continued the multipart moves:

Move 2: Leaving Benson Row. Benson Row will be tenanted from mid-August and so we have had to clear out most of our stuff which we did in stages using a local removal company and our trusty car. With the two houses only 6 minutes walk apart some was also done on foot with a sack trolley. 

  • Part A - moving our bed, mattress, bedroom furniture from Heathfield Square and assorted belongings across to Brunswick Road. We left some furniture behind as we had a house full of guests due to visit. 
  • Part B - multiple car trips between the two properties with a boot full of boxes, clothes, et cetera. 
  • Part C - once our guests had left we completed the big furniture move of the sofas and as much else as needed man, van and muscle to move.

Move 3: Leaving Bolting House and Garage. We have found a buyer for Bolting House and fortunately they want to take a fair selection of the furniture but we still have to clear out the remainder. We used a man and van to transport both that and as much of our belongings from the garage as would fit in the van.

  • Part A - from Bolting House double bed, mattress, wardrobe and a load of kitchen stuff most of which had come from Heathfield Square.
  • Part B - from the garage as much as filled up the van including a Chiminea, shelving, a sundial, boxes of books, Christmas tree and decorations, two bicycles, a partridge and a pear tree...

Now the organising, sorting and rearranging begins - Tetris on steroids.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Brunswick Road - 02 The Demolition

Penrith, Cumbria. July-2021.

The Dining Room Fireplace: after the great success of exposing the lovely, stone fireplace in Benson Row it was a no-brainer to attempt to the same in Brunswick Road. We had hardly got the keys when Mary attacked the fireplace to create an investigatory hole. 

That looked promising so we went the full hog with hammer and chisel to expose a couple of square metres of the chimney breast. We definitely have a massive sandstone lintel but lack anything resembling side columns, just a hodgepodge of sandstones and bricks. 

There was clearly a back boiler at some point in the last century when they reduced the opening and you can still see a couple of pipes sticking out of the side. We have commissioned a local stone company to insert two uprights either side of the opening, remove the modern infill and fit a new hearth.

The Pantry under the stairs: Given the position of the stairs between the living room and dining room there had to be a space under the staircase but there was no door visible on either side. Some knuckle rapping in the dining room wall made us suspect a blocked up doorway. Conversations with the neighbour confirmed that there should indeed be a useful space. So it was a repeat of the fireplace: create an exploratory opening followed by a full exposure. 

The original Victorian doorway exposed.

Hey presto a substantial storage space.

Written on the wall in pencil “This was a pantry until 1955 “. Well that gives us the date for the blocking up. 

The Kitchen and Bathroom: We know it is going to be completely gutted and redone but Mary made a pre-emptive move by ripping out a couple of the manky old cupboards to create space for a new freestanding fridge and a built-in oven and microwave. The latter still in their packaging, these we had pre-ordered before the works begin to ensure we could get the models we wanted before AEG change the specs. The remaining cupboards were musty so their doors went as well! 

Next Mary ripped the panelling off the side of the bath to investigate where all the pipes went. This may or may not help with the planning of the conversion into a shower and utility room.

The Shed: the previous owner, or his tenants, left literally a shed load of old rubbish. Most of that went straight off to the tip along with all the rubble from the fireplace. I am practically on first name terms with the guy on the gate at Flusco Recycling Centre. The exception was a gas powered barbecue which looked in reasonable nick and has now gone to a friend.

Living Room: No major plans to uncover the chimney breast in the front room based on what we have seen in the neighbours front room. We did however remove an electric fire to reveal two previous generations of wallpaper. There ought to be an air vent so we will cut a hole large enough for a small peer into the void behind.

Dining room (again): Mary doesn't like carpet in a dining room (food gets into it) so she ripped up the BRAND NEW carpet. We gave it away to a good home via FaceBook market place so it didn't go to waste. Mary then sanded and varnished the floors.

That is enough deconstruction for the moment. Next some construction...

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Brunswick Road - 01 the purchase

Penrith, Cumbria. June-2021.

What do you do when you sell your main home and have w-a-a-y too much stuff to fit in your second home? Do you:

  1. get rid of stuff
  2. rent a lock up to store furniture
  3. rent a garage to store bicycles
  4. buy a new, bigger property
  5. all of the above

The correct answer according to Mary is e).

Announcing the Penrith Money Pit II, acquired 15-June-2021.

The original plan had been that Benson Row, Penrith was a second home to be let out on Airbnb while we were in Italy over the summer. Covid buggered that plan. Having lived here since the start of the first lockdown, Benson Row became our main home. 

Following the sale of Heathfield Square and moving our belongings we discovered that Benson Row is not large enough for all our stuff plus we can’t Airbnb it while we are here living in it. So we using some of the proceeds from the sale of Heathfield Square to upsize here in Penrith. Are we mad?

We made an offer on the Brunswick Road property just as we completed on the sale of Heathfield Square and took possession on 15th June 2021. The estate agent's photos make it look a bit odd due to the extreme wide angle lens they use. The original blurb:

"Found in Penrith Town Centre on Brunswick Road is this recently renovated* 4 bedroom town house. The property is deceptively spacious and briefly comprises of entrance vestibule, hallway, living room, dining room, kitchen which has been extended and a bathroom on the ground floor. On the first floor there are 2 bedrooms and a family bathroom, on the second floor there are 2 further double bedrooms. This property is ready to move into and would suit a first time buyer, it would also make a fabulous family home or rental investment. The property is situated within easy walking distance to the shops, schools and local amenities. Penrith offers easy access to the M6, A66 and the Lake District National Park"

* "Recently renovated" is the estate agent's euphemism for tarted up cosmetically: new carpets throughout, every room repainted definitely papering over the cracks, a new bathroom on the first floor, a newly installed central heating boiler which turns out to be an old, presumably reconditioned,  replacement, and so on.

Front elevation. Typical Penrith sandstone building. Our front garden needs some work; the neighbour's garden with its bath full of flowers attracts many admiring glances and comments.

Working from the top down. The second floor is not a loft conversion; it was built as a three storey house. 

Second Floor: Bedroom 4.

Second floor landing with lovely, original Victorian banisters.

Second floor: Bedroom 3.

First Floor: Bedroom 1, this will be our bedroom.

First Floor: Bathroom, created by the seller by stealing a chunk from bedroom 2.

First Floor: Bedroom 2. This will be our study / home office.

First floor landing.

Ground floor: Kitchen. This will be completely ripped out and redone.

Ground floor: Dining room. We plan to expose the fireplace hidden behind the chimney breast. Also convert the window into French doors out onto the yard. There is an ancient boiler in that corner cupboard which we will replace and re-site into the to-be shower room

Ground floor: The original bathroom. The bath will be replaced by a shower in order to allow us to move the washing machine from the kitchen into here.

Ground floor: Living room. We know there is likely to be a sandstone fireplace in here as well but have no immediate plans to expose that. 

Back yard. No garden but we do have a small yard and shed, unlike Benson Row, so we will have outside space to sit out in, have BBQ's, hang laundry, store bicycles, etc.

So we will have plenty to do. When agreeing to this purchase with Mary, the deal was I do NOT have to do any decorating after all the lockdown 1.0 painting I did in Benson Row.