Edinburgh Renovation part 4

We are in!

Mummykimmy rainbow

To say it’s a miracle is genuinely an understatement. Marc sent me a video at midnight of him papering the toilet. The Wee Man took unwell and we had a couple of nights in hospital (just for observation, he’s fine). Rod shifted everything in a 24 hour period ably assisted by our pal Andy using only a large van. I and my friend Alison were in the old house with our marigolds and bleach until nearly midnight.

Yet somehow here we are.

So what have we done since I last posted?

Well, the bit that made me happiest was the toilet.

Mummykimmy toilet ba

It turned out as fabulous as I had hoped, despite stripes and a small space being a fenickity f*cker of a combination. Certain commentators have called it camp. I take that as a compliment and accept the sparkles in the stripes are a tad OTT.

Mummykimmy sanded floors

The dining room floor was sanded and coated twice with varnish, the bargain rug and splendid lampshade installed – all I need to do now is hang the leafy curtains.

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My black handrails for the stairs went on to my white walls and look freaking awesome – just wait till I’ve got all my black and white photographs up on that landing wall.

Mummykimmy stairs ba

Marc created a frame for the hole in the wall, ready for the door which is coming this week. We’ve put up a temporary door to stop any small children from tumbling six feet onto a stone garage floor. I’m still searching out the best provider of stairs, so any recommendations, please send them my way!

On Saturday the carpets were installed. I’m not sure who was more delighted – me or Marc, who actually tipped the fitters. I wanted the same colour in all bedrooms, stairs and living room to help the energy flow and it bloody worked! The carpet looks different in each room, reflecting the light and the wall colours. It’s lush. It makes the house smell like a showhome.

Today my garage doors were changed for patio doors and the vintage side window was smashed in favour of uPVC. It’s made a huge difference to the look of the house –  and the guys who fitted it were lovely. My friend Karrie, who’d popped by with scones, took his card for her own patio doors.

Mummykimmy garage

As much as I’m desperate to keep up the momentum – I think we’re going to take a break on the renovations for a wee while. I want to paint the house, change the driveway, landscape the garden… But they can all wait. Meanwhile I’ll content myself furniture shopping on Gumtree…



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Edinburgh Renovation part 3

Day 11 in the Big Other house…

Many miracles have happened.

I got diamonds for my birthday on Saturday – they were just on the end of the saw that put a perfectly rectangular hole in my wall.

Mummykimmy diamond saw

Another miracle was the boiler getting reconnected and working! Well, apart from the pressure gauge and apparently that’s quite an important bit, so I’m happy to spend £12 on a new one. Other mannas from heaven included finding the exact missing part for the sander attachment hiding at the back of a shelf in B&Q and then, in CarpetRight, discovering an off-cut of black lino that precisely fits my toilet – reduced to a fiver.

Mummykimmy boiler

Mummykimmy fiver lino

Marc, despite breaking down on the bypass at 9.30pm and needing a tow to my house, is in remarkable spirits. He didn’t even mind ripping up the hall carpet which was glued to the underlay which, in turn, was glued to the floor (????)

Mummykimmy stairs before and after

I suspect Andy did most of the graft – he spent much of today pulling out staples from the floorboards so Marc could sand them. He also, incidentally, looked after my boys while Marc and I dashed to the carpet shop. They loved him and he was still smiling when I returned so I think he had fun.

We’re getting to the really good bit where rooms are starting to look finished. The wallpaper is up and I nearly cried when I saw it.

Mummykimmy car walls

Mummykimmy feather walls

He even managed to disconnect the big ugly handrail that ran right down the middle of the driveway.

Mummykimmy railing

I’ll be assisting all day tomorrow and Thursday so that the carpets can get fitted on Friday. I’m excited. I don’t even mind if I just paint skirting boards for eight hours.

Rod, who’s back at work, is shifting as much as he can by evening. Last night it was the contents of the kitchen and tonight it’s half the boxes in the attic. This is a lot of boxes. We’ve effectively been camping out in our present rented pad leaving the majority of our belongings packed from Aberdeen. The boys, of course, got into the one box that contained all their books and squealed with delight when they found Stickman. The poor deprived children who’ve had to make do with only 500 plastic toys instead of 5 million for the past nine months. Just wait boys. Your playroom is taking shape….

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Edinburgh Renovation Project part 2

Day seven in the Big Other House…

I think I might have repetitive strain injury. Today I painted the kitchen twice with specialist tile paint. It cost me £38 for a tub and saved me about £500 on retiling the kitchen. A third coat is required but Marc took pity on me and said he’d do it. So instead of this:

Mummykimmy kitchen orange

my kitchen looks like this:

Mummykimmy kitchen white

I thought I was pretty early to the house this morning. I turned up at 8.45 carrying Starbucks coffee. But no. Marc had been up since 6.30 and the plumber had been and gone. Take a look at this:

Mummykimmy pipes

Now look at this:

Mummykimmy no pipes

Spot the difference? I have never been so happy to see a hole in a wall.

Our plan to knock through into the garage playroom involves rerouting pipes and removing a radiator. There was a small moment of panic on day five when the plumber said he might not be able to reattach them to such an old boiler and we should really get a new one – at £1200. Luckily Marc stepped in and persuaded the plumber it was worth a try. If it doesn’t work I’ll be contacting Scottish Power and financing that particular cell in my spreadsheet.

Decision made, the plumber came back and cut everything off in time for the cute builder to return tomorrow and use his big tool. The only thing was, the plumber turned up at 7am, catching poor Marc in his pants (he’s staying in the house while we renovate). Luckily Marc is a pragmatist so he was content to throw on a T-shirt and shorts and supervise. Now the dusty messy knock-through job will be completed before we start painting downstairs. Score.

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Other achievements over the last few days include this discounted light fitting, picked up during a two and a half hour trip to B&Q.

Being with Marc in B&Q is a bit like being with a pig in shit. He bartered on my behalf in just about every aisle. We got a £60 rug for £22. He found curtains that exactly matched the idea I’d described that morning, then persuaded an assistant to mark them down by 15%. We both got very excited over black dimpled tiles for the toilet splashback. When the octogenarian who assisted us argued that they had no barcode and were not tester tiles, Marc charmed him into selling us the box for less than the cost of the two tiles we’d originally wanted. To finish with a flourish, he led me and our groaning trolley through the trades till.

So where are we now?

Today I chose carpets. The guy is coming to measure up on Monday and fit on Friday. Marc and his assistant Andy painted my bedroom dove grey and KD’s bedroom comfy jeans blue, including the radiators which now blend in to the walls. Every ceiling has now had a coat of white and the Wee Man’s room is no longer electric blue thanks to a couple of generous layers of white. Tomorrow the feature walls will be papered and on Sunday my harlequin toilet will come to life. I’m planning to film the wallpapering and speed it up – if that works, I’ll share it.

Blue and grey (with the old purple still on the door!)

Grey and blue (with the old purple still on the door!)

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Read part one here



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Edinburgh renovation project

Day 3 in the Big Other house…

My eyes are burning because I’ve been bleaching for the last two hours.

The noise of weeds being scraped off the driveway has mysteriously stopped.

I plunge my Marigolded hand into the oven to scoop out the first layer of dissolved gunk. I make a mental note to buy another can of oven cleaner.

I rinse the cloth, scoop a few more times then decide I really must find out where my driveway weed scraper has gone.

I step outside into the sunshine, hear voices and look over the saggy fence to spy Rod sitting with our 97 year old neighbour.

“Don’t lean on that fence!” she warns me as I drape my yellow hands over it and fix Rod with a look. He’s unrepentant. He and his new pal have been having a grand old time chewing the fat. “Er, I really must get back to the garden,” he eventually says.

Mummykimmy keys

We got the keys three days ago after the 3rd longest 9-month period of my life. I’ve already had two driveway specialists in to quote and Marc has roared in. Remember Marc? So far he has stripped the wallpaper in two rooms – this one:Mummykimmy dining room

and this one:

Mummykimmy toilet

Today he called in some guys he knew and suddenly a builder is coming tomorrow to create a door where there was previously wall. A new patio door has been measured and ordered. He knows a driveway guy. I swear, this man has superpowers. I’m so so happy he’s my project manager and painter and decorator and joiner and designer and entertainer.

He came later today so Rod and I got on with the clearing and cleaning. The kitchen is now spotless and I’ve bleached the tiles in preparation for a coat of white tile paint. The bathroom is sparkling, the driveway is merely crazy paving, and we’ve figured out that a ratchet should remove the railing the previous owners installed for an infirm family member.

I found three sets of rusted shears in the tumbledown shed and managed to get one of them to cut back some of the overgrown bushes in the back. We’ve decided to rent a small digger to level the garden and are trying to figure out if we can afford artificial grass. Rod saw a huge roll of the stuff in B&Q today and we both got quite excited until he decided he quite likes mowing grass so maybe we’ll get turf instead.

I got to choose some wallpaper today which was fun. I’ve been really stuck for our bedroom. The one I wanted was £110 a roll from Matthew Williamson:

mummykimmy peacock wallpaper

The one I got was £12 a roll from B&Q:

mummykimmy feather wallpaper

The toilet downstairs was very bright and quite blue. I would rather it were very chic and black and white. So I’ve bought awesome striped wallpaper, a minimalist mirrored cabinet and some new taps. Together with black lino, black splashback, black skirting and a black radiator it could become my favourite room in the house.

Considering we bought the house after one viewing – you have to move fast in Edinburgh – it’s been full of wonderful surprises. Gorgeous wooden floorboards under the carpet; high quality thermal underlay under stained carpets; wooden internal doors on the fitted wardrobes which precisely fit the four doorways we needed new doors for (mirrored wardrobe doors are much cheaper); treasures in the shed; a Smeg hob and a cupboard under the stairs which even Harry Potter would be happy to sleep in.

Mummykimmy understairs cupboard

I think the aspect that makes me happiest is the fact Rod has finally seen the potential and even got a little bit excited about the house. I had to really twist his arm to buy it and then reassure him for weeks that we’d done the right thing.

If you’re interested how our wee renovation project unfolds then click FOLLOW up there in the top right – or on mobile scroll down to click Follow – thank you!

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Mummy martyrdom and the wonderful day

It was the apologetic post about being a “Smug and Judgemental Mother of Girls” that made me fall in love a little bit.

I’ve been reading the Facebook updates from Peter and Jane for a few weeks now and I’m convinced the author and I would be best friends. From her “Fuck It All Friday” to her mentions of the “bastarding summer holidays”, she pretty much nails it every day as far as mother martyrdom goes.

And yet.

After I’ve snorted and chortled and liked and commented, I can’t help but hope her children don’t read what she writes. My mum always said the first day of the summer holidays were her favourite and she was really sad when we all went back in August. She has come out with things like “I never wanted you girls to go to the kids clubs on holidays – I wanted to spend the time with you” and she will sob every time my sister goes home to London. I quite like it.

family pic

My family❤

So either she’s an excellent liar or my sisters and I were angel children or she really did – and does – enjoy hanging out with us. I also suspect, not that I’d ever tell her, that life was a little bit simpler 30 years ago. No mobile phones, more community spirit, less financial pressure and so on.

I have three separate friends who’ve used the line “to save our marriage” over the last few months. These are solid couples – they’re just parents of small children. The lack of sleep, the endless noise, the relentless pace, the MESS will wear down even the most devoted childhood sweethearts. We LOVE to read bloggers who voice our innermost rantings because it reassures us it’s normal to find it all so difficult.

But I think we need to keep it in perspective.

Today, for example, was a wonderful day. It really was.

mummykimmy rucksack

Rod took the Wee Man off on An Adventure. They packed a rucksack full of gluten-free sandwiches and marched off into the Pentlands. KD and I tidied the house then met a friend for a very civilised Morningside brunch. He slept for an hour afterwards, allowing me to weed the driveway jungle, and when the adventurers returned, exhausted, we had a lovely quiet half hour playing with Play Doh.

It wasn’t even three o’clock so we casually got into the car and headed west, kind of maybe looking for an ice cream shop, but actually finding a National Trust garden which we had to ourselves. I took my shoes off, walked in the spongy grass and thought “Gosh this is nice. We’re all quite chilled out.” That is not a feeling I am overly familiar with.

mummykimmy garden

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We had dinner all together – an awesome recipe I’ll share at the end of the post because it’s such a sneaky way to get veg into your children – and the bath and bedtime routine was a bearable decibel level. So here I am and Rod’s gone off for a swim and actually, life’s not too bad.

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Recipe for hidden veg pasta:

Fry a diced onion in olive oil. Add a squidge of garlic paste.Throw in a small diced courgette, four or five broccoli heads that have already been steamed, half a red chilli (deseeded and finely chopped), a few chopped up sticks of celery and half a chopped red pepper. Once they’re soft, squidge in some tomato paste and then a tin of chopped tomatoes. Mix well then put the lid on and leave it over a low heat for a few minutes. Meanwhile, boil your chosen pasta (gluten-free in our house). When the veg mix is ready transfer it into a plastic bowl and blitz it with a hand-held blender or, if you’re fancy, put it in the food processor. Mix it into your drained pasta that you’ve put back into the pot then throw in a handful of spinach. It takes about two minutes to cook. Transfer to whichever plastic plate the child insists upon then drop some tomberries (ickle tiny tomatoes I found in Sainsbury’s) and shredded ham hock (again, packet from Sainsbo’s) on top to make it look cool. Voila.



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The 21 hour date

It’s a bit like Stockholm syndrome. You wish for five minutes peace and yet you miss them as soon as they’ve gone.

It took a bit longer this time because I fell asleep three and a half minutes after we’d dropped the boys off at their Auntie’s. I napped all the way from Ayrshire to Perthshire, despite Rod’s questionable music choices, and woke up just as we parked at Gleneagles.

My pang for my children was almost immediately smothered by my raging thirst.

Mummykimmy boozing

It was the beginning of an eight hour session – the pace slightly slower than days of old – but the price considerably higher given our choice of venue.

Mummykimmy cocktail

mummykimmy eating steak

There were cocktails and steaks and a fine bottle of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. There was even a trip to the bar, a place we normally bypass in our sprint to get back for the babysitter. It’s been recently redecorated and we liked everything about the turquoise walls and art deco style, except the bar stools. We did not like the bar stools. They were far too slippy. An attentive bartender came to try to assist us (the bases were very heavy) but seemed puzzled by our assertion that surely they had had many complaints about the bar stools. Neither of us could sit for long without sliding off.

“They’re perhaps designed so that you lean forward and chat to the bartenders,” he helpfully – and diplomatically – suggested.

The next morning, having fallen asleep on each other on the couch and stumbled up to bed around 3, we had a lie in. Nobody yelled “milk!” or elbowed us in sensitive parts or demanded Coco Pops, which made a nice change. Instead we went out for breakfast, read the papers and ate poached eggs, like grown ups.

The highlight of our prolonged date came at 10.45am when we walked into the Best Spa In The World.

Mummykimmy spa

We didn’t come out for three and a half hours. My aromatherapy massage was with a Hungarian called Sonny and I can confidently say it’s the best spa treatment I’ve ever had. The foot massage alone was worth the money. The whole experience was perfect from his soothing low voice to the classical music, heated bed and wonderful aromas from the oils. I felt like he kneaded out all the grumpy and left me feeling renewed. I realise this sounds ridiculous. Rod laughed out loud when I said pretty much those exact words outside in the hot tub as the rain fell on our heads.

Mummykimmy spa ready

We drove back to the kids in stages, stopping off to visit friends and their new baby and then my mum. Of course when we did eventually get to them, they ran straight past me and into their daddy’s arms and the wall of noise smacked us square in the forehead.

They’re in bed now and I’m about to make the lunches, pack the bags and prepare everything for the week ahead – but I’m doing it with a spring in my step.

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The Wee Man starts a new chapter

Our little boy had his primary one introduction this morning.


Thug Life

It was a huge day for me. Thinking about it now, it’s as if I’ve taken Tim Peake’s place and I’m suddenly able to see the whole picture from a great height.

All the moves – from Glasgow to Aberdeen (serviced apartment, then rented house, then our own house) and then Aberdeen to Edinburgh (rented house and – soon, soon – our own home) have led to this. All the job moves for Rod, all the resettling in nurseries and neighbourhoods, all the challenges for my wee business – they’ve all been for this.

I am so proud to say that he is shortly beginning his primary career in one of our capital’s best schools. I saw today for myself how passionate the staff are about education. I stood in his classroom, with its door out into the playground and interactive board and treasures of resources. I met some of his classmates and talked about football. I shared a joke with another parent, dressed in army fatigues and clearly as proud of his child as I was.

I listened to the depute head give a presentation about the sort of things the wee man will be learning over the next year. I heard parents talk about fundraising and socialising and getting involved in the curriculum. I exchanged smiles with other mums whose smaller kids were being equally demanding while we were all trying to pay attention. I felt welcome and like I was being inducted into a pretty awesome club.

I was hyper-aware of how lucky we are and I don’t take any of it for granted. Millions of children don’t even get an education, never mind one as good as this. We live in a country that provides this level of schooling for free. How amazing is that?

Rod and I went back to collect the Wee Man from his classroom and – somewhat nervously – asked how he’d been.

“He’s very smiley isn’t he?” the teacher remarked and told us how he’d spotted two boys who looked shy and scared and so pulled them into his game.

I nearly burst with love.

All his nursery teachers were outside when we arrived and they excitedly asked which class he was in, who his teacher was and if he’d enjoyed himself. I was touched to see how much they cared.

The Wee Man, for his part, had a massive smile on his face and proudly showed off his name badge with his class on it.

I feel like we’ve reached some kind of finish line. We’ve made it through those tough early years. We’ve done excellent groundwork. The next chapter is about to begin.



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