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. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Ullswater Way - In the Footsteps of Dorothy Wordsworth

Penrith, Cumbria. Summer-2020.

Ullswater is our nearest lake and there is an Ullswater Way, a circular walk of 20 miles (plus a couple of additional, optional loops). Over the two lockdowns this was part of our exercise regimen, doing the complete route in sections. The walks are described below in chronological rather than geographical order.

Part way through this I was contacted by Paul Westover of Brigham Young University who is compiling an open-source electronic edition of some of Dorothy (sister of William) Wordsworth’s Lakeland writings. Unfortunately, the pandemic had made it impossible for him to visit Cumbria and take his own photographs. I happily gave him permission to use any pictures from the blog. Also his wish list of photos gave us purpose and focus to our later walks - as well as being delightful walks in their own right.

Pooley Bridge to Howtown and back (20-May-2020).

Our first section of the Ullswater Way: a circular walk from Pooley Bridge on a beautiful sunny day.

We parked up at Pooley Bridge car park which was free at that time because work on the new bridge was still in progress. Lovely undulating path, sunshine and blue skies.

It's not often you come across a finger post in Latin signposting the way between two Roman forts.

A stop for Mary to adjust her socks and me to admire the view.

Dalemain Loop (06-June-2020)

Our second walk was not around Ullswater itself but a pleasant, easy walking optional loop north from Pooley Bridge.

Passing the 14th Century Dacre Castle.

As we passed a field of cows they all came ambling over to have a good peer at us. I suspect they thought we might be bringing food!

There were some lovely wooded paths.

Clover was in full bloom.

Aira Force to Patterdale (and back) (24-Jun-2020)

A section of the north shore. Not wanting to rely on the infrequent bus service along the shore we decided to do an out-and-back walk from Aira Force.

Pleasant low-level paths through woods and fields.

Hallin Fell (11-Jul-2020 morning)

Another loop where the lakeside section is part of the Ullswater Way.

We parked up near St Peter's church. The walk starts with a steep uphill to a monument with stunning views.  

The descent to the shore was via a route Mary found on the internet, on a path not shown on the OS map. Followed by an anti-clockwise loop along the Ullswater Way to Sandwick and then back up to the car on paths and country lanes.

Dorothy mentions visiting “Harry Hebson’s house” in Sandwick: “I longed to go in for the sake of former times.” Sandwick is tiny but we have no way of knowing which of the half dozen cottages was Harry's house.

Joining the Dots (11-Jul-2020 afternoon)

We could not claim to have done the whole of the Ullswater Way if we missed even a single footstep. So we devised a route using the OS maps making sure we included the missed sections around Howtown connecting Hallin Fell and where we turned back on our very first walk. 

North of Howtown we managed to find an out-and-back that used parallel paths so we were not literally retracing our foot steps. Lovely views of the lake on this section.

Gowbarrow Fell (16-Jul-20)

The Ullswater Way has two routes around Gowbarrow Fell. We did it as a circuit as we were on our own thus ensuring we covered both branches of this section. Dorothy Wordsworth mentions seeing a “large Troop” of deer at Gowbarrow Park but there were none on the day we were there. 

We parked up at the Aira Force carpark (for free as we are NT members) and started up alongside the beck. Then it was steep climb up to the summit but we were rewarded with great views.

Unfortunately on the home stretch Mary slipped and fell heavily on her foot. She hobbled back to the car and we drove straight to the Urgent Treatment Centre at Penrith Hospital where they fitted her with a surgical boot. As it was a Saturday we had to return on the Monday for an X-ray which indicated that nothing appeared to be broken but it took a third visit, this time to Carlisle, to get a specialist to confirm. This put her out of action so it was a while before we got back to the Ullswater Way. 

Pooley Bridge to Aira Force (11-Oct-2020)

This straightforward section completing the north side was scenic and not too strenuous.

We were able to do a one-way walk because friends were visiting us between lockdowns and did the "two car shuffle" - park one car, drive to the other end in the second car, walk back to the first car and use that to retrieve the second car.

Patterdale to Townhead (14-Oct-2020 morning)

The southern shore has no through roads so we did this and the next section in a single day with the aforementioned friends and another "two car shuffle" parking up at Patterdale and Pooley Bridge. 

A rainbow near the start of our walk - you can just see the hint of a double rainbow on the left hand side.

The path goes past Side Farm of which Dorothy Wordsworth wrote "Mrs. Luff’s large white Dog lay in the moonshine upon the round knoll under the old yew tree, a beautiful and romantic image – the dark Tree with its dark shadow, and the elegant creature as fair as a Spirit." We were able to confirm that a yew tree is still there but which of the three in the grounds of the farm (one on the left, two on the right) it is impossible to tell.

Townhead to Pooley Bridge (14-Oct-2020 afternoon)

After a picnic lunch we continued the second part of the day-long walk, covering some of the same ground as our very first walk.

Pleasant wooded paths undulating up and down.

Stybarrow crag from across the lake, photo taken especially for Paul Westover.

It was getting a bit overcast and atmospheric by the time we finished at Pooley Bridge.

So we can tick the Ullswater Way off the list but given as how it is our nearest lake I am sure we will do some repeat walks.