Monday, 30 November 2015

Guest Post - Home Renovations: The Planning

Whilst I'm moving home, I've asked some lovely blogging ladies to fill you in on all things housey!

First up is my friend Jen from Jenstar Knits. Not content with being a full-time engineer, superstar knitter and owner of Jenstar Knits, she's also renovating her home whilst being pregnant! Phew! Jen has written a three-parter on the various stages of her stunning extension!


Ever since we moved into our house nearly 4 years ago my husband and I always had the grand plan to extend the living space and rip out the awful garden. It’s not that it was a small sized home but we felt that the space could be used to much better effect and I, personally, always felt I had a Grand Designs type project in me. After getting married last summer we were both left with that “what do we do now?” feeling that so often happens so thoughts quickly turned to what kind of extension we should do, where it should go and how much we could afford to spend on it. Many of the surrounding neighbours have extended, be it conservatories, sun rooms or double story extensions, some have gone well but a number have had issues either with the build itself not being finished to their satisfaction or by being let down by their contractors and nearly all of them didn’t have the wow factor that we were after.

After researching options, and talking to friends and neighbours, we agreed that a single story extension into the area where our current patio was would make the most sense. Our garden is north facing so this area was never used to sit in and was just very large corridor to the other parts of the garden. We also had a very large area of garden taken up an impractical raised bed and another patio area which we didn’t like as the level was so high it lacked privacy from the surrounding houses and gardens so we wanted to reclaim this space and have all this area ripped out.

We then set about contacting various local companies to see what they would propose for us, the key one being Dab Den, as we both loved their style and they came highly recommended by a colleague of mine. Funnily enough Dab Den were the only company to respond to our requests so we had them come out, discuss our ideas and measure up the space to provide a quote. One of the great things about this husband and wife team is that they are the architects and the builders so the price they give you, barring specification change, is the price you pay. Unlike getting an estimate from an architect and then having to find a builder separately only to find the cost to build has dramatically increased, we felt confident that we could achieve what we wanted in the budget we had.

After reviewing the three different options Dab Den drew up for us we quickly agreed on our favourite, which just so happened to be within permissible development rules which meant no planning consent would be required, this reduced cost a little and also meant we wouldn’t have to wait too long before kicking off the project. All that would be required is a building warrant and completion certificate but Dab Den had the plans reviewed by Aberdeenshire Council anyway just to make sure that they were happy with things.

No sooner than we had signed the contract and paid the first deposit we discovered that we’d have an additional pressure on the timescales, I was pregnant! Was it a good idea to be taking on such a big project? Well nothing ventured, nothing gained and we both agreed (my husband with some gentle persuasion) that this is the kind of thing that would be much better to get out of the way before this little person arrives rather than after.


Thursday, 19 November 2015

Sorsha At 6 Months Old

Six months ago I gave birth to this little cutie but that's all forgotten when I see this wee face!

Just as she did when she was 4 months old, she still amazes me with her progress. Today was her six month review with her Health Visitor (who I'll really miss when we move as she's the ONLY non-judgemental HV I've come across so far). She was absolutely raving about Sorsha and couldn't believe how clever she is! Not only does she tick every box for abilities of 6 month olds, but she can also do everything a 9 month old is expected to do and some things that aren't expected until she's 1! We're so proud of her!

She's now 16lbs 5¼ozs and 65.5cms long, can sit up, roll around and has started bum-scooching. She babbles, can say Hiya and Dada, drink her milk and eat using pincer fingers. She sits unsupported and stands with her hands on the sofa, correcting her balance if she wiggles slightly, although we're there to catch her if she falls. Her sight and hearing are still very good and she responds to her name and follows sounds.

On the down side she's not sleeping as well as she did to start with and is waking during the night to drink a whole 240mls of milk! She sometimes does this in one sitting, but sometimes two or three, which is tiring! And because she drinks around 6 bottles of 240mls a day, she needs her nappy changed quite often!

We're also trying baby-led weaning which is really good fun and it's great to watch her trying things out! So far there's only one thing she didn't like, and that was brussel sprouts. She actually said "Bleurgh" before she spat them out!

She likes lots of things including pasta, toast, bread, cheese and yogurts, especially moussey ones. It's fascinating to watch her inspecting anything new, and she always starts with a disgusted face then changes it if applicable!

We still go to the local buggy walks and we'll miss all of our friends from there when we move. It's still by far the best group I've joined and I really hope there's something similar in our new area. We have already stopped the other groups, and Sorsha passed her Turtle Tots level 1 to get her first swimming badge and she's doing an underwater photoshoot on Monday! We're going to try the local pool classes next as they are a lot cheaper, so hopefully they are as good! She loves to come on walks with us too, and Allan got a LittleLife Voyager S3 backpack carrier which makes it easier to transport her but also allows her to see properly. She's always loved trees, flowers and wildlife and it's so adorable to see her in there!

We had a great time at Sorsha's first Hallowe'en party! I was hoping to make a costume, but I just didn't have the time or tools to hand so she dressed as a pumpkin after laughing out loud at its smiley face in the shop!

We also took her to see a local fireworks display, and despite an initial jump she enjoyed it!

We're really looking forward to the next few months with Sorsha. We move next Friday, so we'll have a new house where she'll have her own room and more space to play, but it'll definitely be more challenging as she becomes more mobile! She'll also experience her first Christmas and if she liked the fireworks, I'm sure she'll love all the lights!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

NT Live Hamlet In Sony 4K

I've been to see a number of National Theatre Live performances since it's launch in June 2009. It's the best of all worlds, I get to see amazing productions of amazing plays with an amazing cast, all for slightly more than a cinema ticket. My favourites include Frankenstein, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Coriolanus and now Hamlet!

When I heard that Vue cinema in Aberdeen were showing Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch, I jumped at the chance to see it. I'm a huge fan of Benedict and I really wanted to try out their Sony 4K screening.

I was not disappointed, it was fantastic! I'd never seen Hamlet before and only vaguely knew the story, in my mind it was always a very serious play. How wrong I was! I was laughing out loud, especially at the scenes where Benedict was dressed as a soldier (no spoilers here!). But in true Shakespearean fashion, it was also immensely moving. It is, after all, a tragedy.

The story deals with complex relationships between family and friends, mental health, loyalty and deception during a time of war. The acting was spectacular as you'd expect, but Sian Brooke's performance as Ophelia affected me the most, so beautiful but so fragile.

Filmed and shown in Sony 4K, which is 4 times the definition of HD, instantly the quality brings you closer to the theatre than ever before. Being able to see the expressions and movement with such clarity in a way that even those closest to the stage wouldn't have seen was immersive.

I would seriously recommend that you try out NT Live showings at Vue for yourself. With Of Mice And Men starring James Franco and Chris O'Dowd showing from 19th November, I'd say that could be a good time to do it!

Written in collaboration with Vue Cinemas

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