June was a good month for progress on the house.
I hit the ground running after our holiday...
Monday 1st June: Ordered all the decorations for the church Multi-Stake Seminary Graduation dance that's coming up, did 4 loads of washing, 4 loads of dishwashing, caught up on emails and ordered new beds for Tom and Jack.
Tuesday 2nd June: I did one coat of paint in Jack's room (covering the jungle green with white! This was Tom and Harry's old room), and some guys came and built a new shed for us behind the cabin. All the stuff from the old shed had been at the bottom of the garden, covered over with the old shed roof, so I spent quite a long time cleaning mud and slugs/snails off everything, and getting it all organised into the new shed.
The new shed's smaller than the old one, but everything fit in quite nicely. We haven't got any bikes in England now. I loved having everything super-organised and clean in there, and getting the golf clubs and other stuff moved out of the living room!
I also painted two more coats of Jack's walls, ironed for a couple of hours, then built Jack's new bed.
Thursday 4th June: Got Tom's bed built, and got his room (Lucy's old room) looking all ship-shape. Tom had previously scrubbed all his skirting boards, shelves etc. It's a tiny room, but he has plenty of storage space. He's been keeping his room really tidy since getting his own room.
We also got Harry's room (Jack's old room) thoroughly cleaned and re-organised. It's so nice when you know everywhere is really clean - even behind the wardrobes!
Friday 5th June: Jack's room looking very white and clean! It's his first time having a double bed and a desk, and he loves it! He needs a proper chair still, as he's using one of the new patio chairs at the moment! I hadn't finished painting the wall with the window in at this point yet though.
Saturday 6th June: The older kids and Scott went up to church in the evening for a fundraising activity for camp. They had an Italian evening, where Tom and the other Deacons were waiters. (Tom with Alistair Kent and Caleb Erickson.)
We had a skip for a week, and this photo is from 10th June, when we had cleared the patio (which had been completely covered with rubbish) and I'd got it swept and weeded, and put the patio set out for the first time. So lovely to have the patio back! There was still some wood on the lawn, which we kept for fire wood.
On Thusday 11th, Jack took part in an Athletics meet for about seven schools, in which he came 2nd in the Hurdles, and 2nd in Discuss. Jack also belongs to the school Golf Team!
On Friday 12th June I finished making these posters for the Seminary Graduation Dance, and in the evening drove over to Northampton with Lucy to meet up with Emma Corre, her kids and a few others who came to help, where we decorated the hall for the dance. I'd assigned all the refreshments out, so didn't need to worry too much about those.
We put the big banner up in the hall, and used the smaller poster as part of a photo backdrop in the foyer.
I couldn't be at the dance itself on Saturday 13th June, but it sounded like it went well. Here's Lucy and Bethany Doughty using the photo backdrop and props.
In the afternoon on the 13th, I met up with Liz Knight and Patr Kitchen at the train station, and we traveled to London. Last year, Liz had been looking for someone to go and see 'The Piano Guys' in concert with, and I'd agreed to go. I'd not heard of them at the time, and ended up not listening to a single one of their pieces before the concert. I could have looked them up on Youtube or something, but never really got round to it, and thought I might as well just listen to them live for the first time!
We met up with Liz's sister and twin nieces beforehand, and had something to eat in Pret a Manger, then made our way to the Hammersmith Apollo. I'd not been there before, and it was quite nice, and absolutely packed!
Liz and Patr queued up in the foyer to buy some merchandise while I went for a wander upstairs to explore the building.
When we got to our seats, which were fairly central and not that far from the front, I was amused to see we were sitting behind a row of Senior Missionaries! We got chatting to them of course, and had a lovely time! I also saw President Jordon, the Mission President, sitting a few rows away, so went and sat with him and chatted for a bit.
As for the concert itself, I was in complete bliss from absolute start to finish. The guys themselves (who incidentally are Mormons) were really funny and entertaining, the big screen showed videos throughout the music which were visually gorgeous - set at various locations throughout the world, and the music itself was heavenly - fantastic mash ups of some of my favourite modern music, with beautiful classical music. The depth and layers to the music just seemed to fill all my senses completely, and I felt transported!
I've listened to some of their recorded pieces since the concert, but they just don't compare to the live music, so I don't bother! I've said that regardless of cost, next time they come to the UK, I will be making Scott and all the kids come with me to experience it. I think it will help the kids understand the joy of this kind of music, without having to endure some of the more boring/long sections of traditional classical music. I didn't have one moment of my mind wandering off during the show - ALL the music was riveting.
During the interval (Liz's sister bought us all icecream), the Jordans came over (Sister Jordan had arrived by then) and all the missionaries and us had a fun chat. I've got to know the Jordans a little bit from various Stake Conferences etc. and they're great.
After the concert, we got the tube back to King's Cross, then the train home. We basically talked about how wonderful it was all the way home! Liz and Patr have been complete fan-girls for a long time, and I wouldn't say I'm one now (not bothered about having the T-shirt/mug/programme etc), but I will definitely seek out that kind of live music again. What a lovely surprise that just going along to accompany Liz turned into something I loved so much!
In the June the garden sprouted nicely! The scented roses on the trellis down the garden bloomed beautifully, and our raised fruit bed did very well.
I snapped this picture of Harry on 19th June... it made me so happy to see him! It was before school, and he'd got a little pot, and was picking himself strawberries for his packed lunch, and singing to himself! Nothing beats seeing your kids being happy and doing wholesome stuff!
After school, Harry and I got permission from Mr. Allen, the headmaster, to pick Elderflowers from the school trees. We collected a load, then went home and prepared some Eldeflower Cordial ingredients.
In the evening on the 19th, Scott and I got ready to go to Ben and Anna's house for a Murder Mystery evening. We had all been given cards telling us which character to dress as. Scott was some explorer chap - Major Payne, and I was an English country lady - Gladys Knott-Me. I'd bought Scott a hat from Amazon!
We got there fairly early, so I had chance to spend a bit of time with Ben and Anna's kids, who I love! They are so sweet!
Scott and Ben (a German)!!
Everyone arrived and I'd bought my camera and tripod, so we could get a picture of us beforehand - it was so funny! Josh and Linnea Erickson, and Mallory and Kurt Grover came too.
The murder mystery was set at an archaeological dig in Egypt, so Anna had set up the kitchen as a tent! We had an Egyptian meal - I'd bought a starter of pitta bread strips, hummus, olives, sundried tomatoes, cream cheese with chili sauce, tomatoes etc, Anna had cooked a gorgeous sweet curry, and Mallory had made some amazing Baklava for dessert which we had with honey icecream. Yu-um!!!
We then listened to a tape, complete with background sound effects, which guided us through the mystery. It was a bit daft, with various people having to leave to be killed off, or coming back as new characters etc, then a big discussion at the end about who we thought had done it! What a laugh! A good evening!
The next day, Saturday 20th, Scott was at something with the older three kids, and so Harry and I decided to walk into town and get ourselves some chips! We had a nice time on our little date!
On 21st June, our Elderflower Cordial had 'stewed' for long enough, so we strained it and bottled it, including setting aside two jars for Mr Allen, and Harry's teacher, Mr. Dickinson, who had been there when we'd asked permission to pick the Elderflowers!
Another crop of strawberries from the garden, 25th June.
In the last week of June I worked like a Trojan with the decorating again. I sanded the marks on the dining room ceiling where the old wall had been, painted the whole dining room ceiling, and repainted some of the dining room walls and kitchen ceiling.
This picture is pretty boring, but I love that you can't see the marks from the old wall! It's only taken me 10 years to do!!
I also painted FOUR coats of paint on the back of the doors into the living room, finally covering the dark brown varnish. This is them partway through. I spent a few 5 hour stints doing this, while watching/listening to Amazon Prime programmes on my Kindle Fire (which now has white paint slodges on it!)
I had to wait a few days for the gloss to dry thoroughly, before using a Stanley knife and glass scraper to get the edges around the glass looking beautiful and neat. I've got a scar on the inside of my left wrist now, where I had an accident with the razor blade in the glass scraper - a deep little cut, fortunately in between two veins!
I also removed the sealant from round the bath and sink, and re-sealed them (a PIG of a job), glossed the radiator and some skirting board in the dining room, and sanded and painted two lots of undercoat to the doorway into the kitchen, and all the downstairs toilet woodwork.
There's still a fair bit to do in the house, but I keep stopping and admiring the bits I've done!
I had thought they'd stopped making proper oil-based gloss, and had been dreading painting everywhere - thinking I'd have to use the less hard wearing eggshell paint, or the horrible streaky water-based gloss, but I got some gloss from Wilkinsons, and it turned out to be good 'spreadable' old fashioned stuff, which was really great to paint with. I think my relief at the decent paint is what lead me to do so much!
On Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th June it was our Stake Conference. I went to Northampton in the evening on Saturday and we had a really good meeting. I said goodbye to the Jordans who were finishing being Mission President and wife the following week. President Jordan made me laugh, by saying I have the prettiest eyes, and did lots of people tell me that?! (Umm... no!)
After conference on Sunday we went for a walk round the outskirts of town. (Not sure where Jack was!)
The golf course.