The Pig Yard

April - This has been an exceptionally busy month with lots of activity and changes. Continuing plans for the kitchen, decisions, reversal of decisions and then more changes of mind. Work starts at the beginning of next month.

We also managed to catch colds this month Steve first and it really laid him low for a fortnight as it developed into a chest infection whereas Jane shook hers off after only a week - shows who is the fittest.

The Easter Weekend was incredible with some of the best weather we can remember at this time of year.

We got out for a cycle one Saturday morning and noticed the huge warehouse being built between Kislingbury and Northampton. It's strange how such monstrosity seem to just pop up out of nowhere overnight. This will be a new Sainsbury's distribution centre and seems incongruous set amongst beautiful countryside, old oaks and thatched cottages.

Thankfully the village of Rothersthorpe, where we live, is on the western side of the M1 and has been largely unaffected by the developments in the past ten years.

The weather was good enough to get some interesting flying done. It's always good at the beginning of the season to have some light winds so that we can get used to the experience without it being too difficult. The problem with light winds is that you don't go very far.

This particular evening Nick flew the first part of the flight which took us west across Northampton and then just when Steve took control the winds dropped to nothing and we hovered about with nowhere to land. Given time, and it did seem like a very long time we picked up some drift that helped us land on the Upton One building site, but we had to avoid a large crane on the flight path into final touch down.

When we landed the crew were waiting with the security guard who was only to happy to give us access and after parting with a bottle of wine we packed up and retired to the Red Lion in Kislingbury.

The garden suddenly burst into bloom heralding the fact that spring had arrived earlier than usual. It was great to start the process of tidying the borders, strimming the lawn edges and of course cutting the grass. The pond is still looking very sad but the surface is constantly moving with all the tadpoles who are thriving in the murk. One of our many 'must dos' is to find the hole that the water is leaking through.... thank goodness the heron has had any fish we inherited. Jane's failure at motherhood mortifies her, Pip, an orange pip nurtured by Lucie has turned up her toes. She was fed with the special feed, watered, repotted, covered for the winter months but neglected this year as we were told she would survive......

There's always plenty to do.

A sure sign that spring had arrived was the new born lambs gambolling in the fields. this chap was quite curious as to what we were doing walking in the middle of his field. No doubt if we'd taken one step closer he would've been off like a shot to the safety of his mum who was no doubt not far away.

For our 36th wedding anniversary we met up with the "family" to go for a walk from Fawsley Hall across the fields up to Badby. It was a beautiful late afternoon and we had a drink at a pub in Badby before heading back through the woods. On the way round we came across the original entrance to Fawsley Park and stopped for a photo opportunity with the usual suspects. Through the woods there were numerous felled trees cut ready to be logged and it seemed such a waste for them to be left lying around. They would have been a great boost to our firewood collection.

The Dower House Fawsley has been in a seriously dilapidated state for over 100 years and although it is a recorded ancient monument there have been no attempts to stop it collapsing completely. It is made up of wonderful towers and spiral chimney pots. This is typical Elizabethan brickwork at its finest.

It would no doubt cost millions to restore to its original glory but surely there is someone out there who could take this on as a project and stop it falling down completely. The problem maybe English heritage who have a penchant for allowing ancient architecture to be lost forever rather than bend their principles.

This month Jane had one of her dreams come true. She has yearned to get a more economical car for day to day use and the Smart is both economical and stylish. She fell in love with it instantly and it has become a difficult choice between cycling to work or taking the Smart.

When Steve came to check the oil he first had to find the engine and it was very small, in fact a sewing machine might take up more space. It was a bit worrying to find that the oil was very low a sure sign of neglect so Jane has booked it in for a service only to find there were a number of items that were part of recalls. Let's hope they don't find anything seriously wrong with it.

Arthur Miller plays are always very poignant and the local theatre tend to put together a worthwhile production. This time it was the Compass Theatre Company and they were excellent.

The story revolves around two brothers who haven't seen each other for over fifteen years and they meet to sell off their dead fathers furniture and possessions. Everything has its price.

Each brother has differing success in their lives, one a successful surgeon who has divorced and subsequently suffered a mental breakdown the other a New York city policeman who made sergeant but didn't progress any higher.

Throughout the play "The Price" is foremost. The social and emotional price as well as the actual value of possessions.

After much debate and deliberation we decided to have the hall and landing painted by a professional painter. This included the staircase which used to be a dark mahogany wood stain and didn't help with the lack of light in the hall. We expected the work to be completed within a week but the painter managed to make it last two weeks mainly by working from 8 am until just after lunch and then going home on the pretext that he had to wait for the paint to dry before applying the next coat. It's our belief that at the kind of prices he was charging he only needed to work half days to make a living.

Although he's done a good job we think the eggshell paint he's used on the stairs is very soft and will scratch very easily - Jane demonstrated this by catching a fingernail (not intentionally) on a newel post leaving a scratch through to the mahogany stain.

We arranged to take a break with Graham and Sue for the last weekend of the month and so headed towards Suffolk on the Friday. We'd booked into a pub, bed and breakfast, a few weeks ahead and hoped that the accommodation would be comfortable and not too noisy. On the way we stopped off at an Owl sanctuary because Graham had an owl sponsorship (Snowdrop) as a Christmas present. The Griffin Pub in Yoxford was a very old building with lots of low beams so the phrase of the weekend was mind you're head. The first evening we ate in the pub which was very pleasant.

On the Saturday we visited Minsmere, the bird reserve, that happened to have free entry. It was an excellent morning and we were lucky enough to see some birds we wouldn't normally see, e.g. Marsh Harriers and Avocets. a visit to Suffolk wouldn't be the same without driving into Southwold. It's like going back into the sixties. There is a pier, beach huts, beautiful sand and very few amusement arcades. We walked the length and breadth of the town before stopping at a pub for an early dinner.

Sunday morning arrived all too quickly. We stopped off at Framlingham and Stowmarket on the way back. The former, although small, had a marvellous castle but the latter was an old market town that has been ruined by unsympathetic modern developments.

We arrived back from our weekend away to find the workers (Lee and his mate) finishing off removing the kitchen units and floor tiles. The bad news was that the floor tiles had also brought up the screed from beneath and the new floor could not be laid until the screed had been replaced. Firstly we had to find a builder who could do it at short notice and then we would have to wait a couple of weeks for it to completely dry out until the tiles could be laid.

Fortunately, after some persistence, we managed to get BJB (Bernie) to come one evening and do it. After a normal day at work he arrived just before 7pm and worked through into the dark finishing at 10:45.

This whole episode has delayed the fitting of the new kitchen by at least two weeks. Hopefully the floor tiles will be laid week commencing 14 May; the units fitted 21 May and the special work surface two weeks after that so it's likely to be mid June before we get back into our kitchen again. Meanwhile we are cooking with two microwaves in the utility room and washing up by hand. No hardship really as I am sure some people do not have kitchens as large as our utility room.