Has your world ever revolved around house renovations? Elisabeth Hobbes is in the middle of some major renovations and shares the associated craziness with us.
You find me slightly frazzled as we’re in the middle of house renovations. We’ve got to the stage where we either wanted to move or improve, and decided to embark on a mini Grand Design by building a garden office, an attic conversion, knocking through from the dining room to the kitchen.
To start with, the builders had to remove all the ceilings upstairs and lower them so we’d have enough head height in the attic. Cue a frantic couple of weeks dismantling furniture, ruthless chucking or charity-shopping ten years' worth of possessions, and entirely emptying the first floor, including carpets. We sealed up doors with plastic and went away for a week’s skiing holiday while the builders thumped holes in the house. For three weeks in February my children lived in a tent in a bedroom with no radiator and my husband and I slept on the living room floor. Just to add to the fun I came down with Scarlet Fever which I knew nothing about, though friends enjoyed pointing out it is what Beth died of in Little Women.
Thankfully all that is over now and the children are in their beautiful new rooms. The staircase sized hole on the landing is covered with insulation panels (blocks? sheets? slabs? I’m not technical and this is why I’m not up the ladder) and my husband is starting to dismantle the kitchen so the builders can knock holes in the walls.
Phase Two will have started by the time you read this and we’ll be roofless while they put a flat roofed extension on the attic itself so positive thoughts for good weather are appreciated!
It’ll be worth the disruption because once our bedroom is up in the attic, my daughter’s old room will become my office. I’m already planning my colour scheme and trying to resist collecting more trinkets.
Fortunately I have Festival preparations to take my mind of the building site/bric-a-brac shop I’m currently living in. My town holds a biennial festival of arts and music called the Barnaby Festival. It’s based on a much older event called St Barnabas Fair from the 13th Century. Readers of Redeeming the Rogue Knight might recognise the name because Roger and Lucy attend it. Our festival lasts for a fortnight in June and this year rather than enjoying the efforts of everyone else I’ve joined a choir. We’ll be performing folk songs including some written by a local poet and set to music by one of the members of a favourite band of mine, the sadly now disbanded Bellowhead. I think I’ve managed not to fangirl too much in rehearsals (by the cunning ruse of avoiding all eye contact with said musician). I love singing and haven’t performed in public for years so I’m really excited, though my children have already said they’re refusing to come watch. I also have to decide which group I’m going to walk with during the parade on the main Saturday. My daughter’s school always goes but this year to mark the centenary of Womens’ Suffrage the organisers are hoping to have one hundred women marching in purple, white and green. I’m very tempted to join them and take my daughter too as I’m keen to ensure she knows about the history of her right to vote.
During the festival I’ll be running a Blind Date Book Exchange. We’re inviting visitors to wrap a favourite book and write a description or synopsis that doesn’t give away what it is, and a recommendation of who might enjoy it. We want people to leave one on the stall and pick one they fancy. I’ll be adding a few of my own, naturally.
Things are getting busy in The Day Job too because we’re heading into assessment and report writing season. My Year Ones are deep in the world of split digraphs and grapheme-phoneme-correspondences (yes, they really have to know the terms) but we’re also starting some of my favourite topics on the Human Body and Minibeasts (why we expect them to know linguistic terms but think ‘invertebrate’ is too hard is beyond me). There will be lots of making bodies out of Playdough and bug hunts in the school grounds. I expect nothing will top the year we went on a woodlouse hunt and ended up witnessing unexpected live births in the classroom or the time we counted more snails into the classroom than we counted out at the end. I always say I would love to write full time if I could afford to, but I do think I would miss some of the classroom fun.
My daughter is in Year Six so the SATs are almost upon her. She’s been working hard all year and we’re looking forward to them being over and planning a trip to Harry Potter World to celebrate the end of hoop-jumping. I’m not sure either of us are ready to say goodbye to her primary school as we’ve been involved with it since my son started preschool there in 2008. There will be tears come July.
All this means I still have to find time for writing. I’m hugely excited and honoured because Mills & Boon have asked me to write one of a series of four books set in Scotland with my great friends Janice Preston, Lara Temple and Nicole Locke. We’re following a family back in time to uncover a mystery and my Tudor romance is giving me lots to research. I studied the period at college and university but not much about what was happening in Scotland at the time so I’m fascinated by what I’ve discovered.
This gives me a perfect excuse to plan a camping trip or two. We went to Harlech, the Llyn Peninsular and Conwy at the end of the Easter holidays to look round a couple of castles, though Welsh and Scottish architecture are very different and nothing quite fitted the bill. It was a good excuse to get the caravan out for his first trip of the year and we discovered a very nice 1950's café that now opens in the evening and serves a rather good espresso martini. We’re planning a half term trip to Stirling where the opening of my story takes place then heading over to the West coast where our imaginary family have their land.
With all this going on I often forget I have a new book coming out at the end of May. Beguiled by the Forbidden Knight is my sixth book for Harlequin, which I can’t quite believe. Keep an eye out on PHS next month for an exclusive excerpt!
Elisabeth Hobbes latest book Beguiled by the Forbidden Knight, comes out this month. You can find out more about it on her website, or follow her on Facebook, and Twitter.
Do you have a crazy renovation story you'd like to share? Are you a Festivals fan? What do you think of the blind date book exchange idea? Tell us in the comments or join the #MyWorld discussion on our Social Media.