Living Between the Lines

One sugar or two?

We are having some building work done at our house. This work has taken the form of an orangery, which is being attached to the kitchen and is to be followed by the fitting of an entirely new kitchen. Exciting stuff if you can stand it.
The work has of course, been a tad disruptive. An exterior wall being knocked down, a patio dug up, nothing has been quiet nor without its share of rubble and dust. My kitchen has been dismantled, My routine shattered. My tactic is to remain calm and carry on.

a calming walk around Bishops Waltham Palace Ruins
A calming walk around Bishops Waltham Palace Ruins

We have taken to visiting local places of interest.
Porchester Castle in the summer rain.
Porchester Castle in the summer rain.

At this juncture, I should say that I was not wholly in favour of this project at the start but have grown to appreciate it, if a little reluctantly.
It is my late sister’s fault of course. She and her husband once bought a ridiculously large, antique table that saw them through many a dinner party over the years. The table is just short of 5’ wide and at its shortest is 8’ long. At its longest, with an additional three leaves inserted, it stretches to more than 15 feet. A beast of a table indeed.
Needless to say, we inherited the table on her untimely death, along with the entire contents of her house and not forgetting, her lovely son, he who has Asperger’s, and who has opened our eyes to another world in more ways than one. (That is an entirely different story of course and one that deserves to be told when I have the strength).
For the past few years, the table has languished in storage. I knew Dave would love to have it in the house but our house was just not large enough.
Ever since the other Christmas, when we brought it back and put it in our living room so that we could seat 20 guests, he has insisted we need it, with our ever growing family.
In the end, we decided to keep it in the kitchen at its shortest length and extend the kitchen by adding an orangery so that we can extend the table when necessary.
Is this the first time anyone has extended their house to accommodate a table? It would have been easier and cheaper to get a smaller table, it is true but now that it is nearing completion, I have to say, it was a good idea.

With such a large project on the go, there have been a succession of workmen arriving since late July. Each arrives with their own peculiar beverage requirements. Hence, I have become accustomed to brewing tea with, tea without, tea with two sugars, tea with one, tea with none, coffee with one and coffee with none…etc. etc. The permutations are now ingrained on my brain along with their names.
Not being particularly keen on providing refreshments for all and sundry, as a rule, I have found myself duty bound to do just that in this case. My kitchen is unrecognisable of course with the old fixtures having been dismantled. The table is covered in protective cloths and the dust hangs heavy in the air.
It is 11.30am. The dogs have been fed. They have had to be kept away from the kitchen area today, while the orangery floor is being screeded. A playpen/room divider, bought for use with the grandchildren, provides an excellent barrier as you can see.

Keep out
Keep out

The dogs have been kept in the house all morning, I will have to let them out in a minute. I check what is happening beyond the kitchen. The screeders have finished and are loading up their large lorry with wheelbarrow and boards. The rear doors are flung wide. Seeing the screeders are leaving, I go outside via the living room patio doors and push the orangery doors to. That’ll keep the dogs off the wet floor.
I then do something most uncharacteristic of me, I do not check the position of the side gate, I open the side door and let the dogs out. Realising my error immediately, I call Flossie back but she has spotted her chance. Charlie hovers uncertainly by my ankles, Flossie tears through the open side gate and heads for the front drive where the lorry has begun a slow roll towards the open gate. Flossie sees the open gate.
“Flossie, No! Stop!” I shriek and with a sprint worthy of a 100 metre professional, I race across the garden in time to see her nip round the corner, heedless of the lorry’s wheels which grind to a halt, and out of sight. One of the young men jumps out of the lorry and asks if he can help.
I tell him I can manage but am amazed to see that Flossie has stopped in the lane to sniff the opposite ditch and most uncharacteristically, allows me to walk right up and grab her collar. I grab said collar and ignoring Charlie who has followed me and is relieving himself on the grassy bank, I march her back into the garden. Thanking the young man who offered to help and pleased that it ended so well, I shut both dogs in the house.
I cannot believe that I did not check that gate. After all these weeks in which we have had builders and electricians, coming and going, I have never once lost a dog. Well, I suppose I didn’t lose one today really but it could have ended in tears that’s for sure.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, is that one sugar or two?

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • Teresa

    It’s looking lovely already and I think it sounds perfectly right to extend to accommodate the table! It sounds like a fantastic piece of furniture and so useful when the family all come to visit.
    What a fright Flossie gave you. I’m so glad nothing terrible happened – I had my heart in my mouth reading about the lorry.
    I love the pictures of the ruins – very atmospheric xx

    • Debbie

      Thanks Teresa – can’t wait for it all to be finished. As for Flossie, I haven’t run so fast for ages! The ruins are lovely, there is a museum and plenty of grass for picnics (my daughters take their children there often) It is all free too. Very relaxing! 🙂

  • hilarymb

    Hi Debbie – lovely story telling – and that extension sounds exciting … I suspect many of don’t inherit a house full of items that we might actually want – but that in your case was the sad story. It’ll be good to have that and other memories … I know my SIL won’t sit 13 for a meal – there’s always an extra place laid …

    Glad the dogs are still with you … I guess it’s just more exciting outside! Cheers Hilary

    • Debbie

      It certainly is more exciting outside at the moment, we currently have a tree full of wasps. having got rid of one lot that had nested using an air brick in the house for entry, we now have another lot but cant find the nest…watch this space! 🙂

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