I have had a number of very useful and interesting People in my house this week. People who will render the exposed stone fireplace (yes, I can hear you sucking your teeth in horror, but I feel that all that brown stone in front of me as I sit on my sofa is like living in a cave), who will do something sensible and regulation-compliant with the rat's nest of electrical cables and consumer boxes, who will sort the very rattly, whistling-draughty bathroom window, and who will make lovely linen-look blinds for my front windows so that passers-by can't look in at night through the dense old-lady net curtains and see me eating inappropriate meals (rice pudding, biscuits, wasabi peas. Not all together) at ridiculous hours in front of the telly.
One of the curtains has been pulled aside so that Tosca can sit on her blanket and look out of the window. Except that Lottie thinks it's her blanket, her window, her duty to be the Neighbourhood Watch cat.
Er, no, I haven't finished that unpacking and putting away yet.... Next week more People will call, to survey this fireplace and arrange the installation of a wood burning stove. And later still, builders will transform the very tatty utility into something crisp, clean, organised and functional without discoloured corrugated plastic sheeting for a roof.
Tomorrow the carpenter comes, to fit a narrow mantel shelf above that replacement black beam over the fireplace, so that I can have candles and the like on it at Christmas - you know how silly I get over my Christmas mantel - and my bathroom window will be sorted also; it rattles like an old train if you so much as sneeze in its vicinity. And a cat flap will be installed so that I don't have to go to bed at night leaving a back door and an inner window open just because Scooter has become nocturnal.
The very nice young electrician who called to survey the crime scene of cables today gave me a hair-raising account of how, if something went wrong while I was touching live wires, I could die instantly, electricity coursing freely through my limp and lifeless body, because of the deficiencies of the aged trip-switch-free box. I thought immediately in horror of how, even when dead, I could kill my dogs as they came to give me a sympathetic lick, and we agreed that a nice, modern, safe consumer unit would have to be installed at once.
I must say that I knew all this already, having rewired our old house ourselves many years ago, and having heard the same tale from the doom-laden man who came to inspect and pass the work we had done then. It is in the nature of electricians to tell tales of horror and instant death to anyone who will listen; they can't help themselves. Instead of an albatross, they wear a necklace of fuse wire round their necks, from which hangs a job sheet detailing the many ways to instant and fatal electrocution ("and she stepped out of the bath and set her wet foot on a floorboard in which there was an exposed nail that had been hammered through a cable, and the current shot up through the nail and .... dead. Instantly."
And then he took the definitely-dead double oven unit out of its housing, fixed the loose connection, heaved it all back into place, tested that it was now working properly (it was - hurrah!) and refused to take any money for it.
Tomorrow while the carpenter works, I shall do something with these plums that I picked from Lizzie's neighbour's tree; something that involves using my resurrected oven, I think.
But now I'm off to bed. We had such an early start today, as the sunrise was so lovely, luring us out before breakfast unwashed (well, me - Flossie never washes, the scruffy creature) and uncombed. Somehow, we have started keeping country hours. Millie came with us for part of the way, and was waiting to greet us on our return.
Oh, and those modern tiles in the porch, by the way.... think old slate instead. Or reclaimed stone; the builder isn't sure yet what's in the warehouse. If I'm lucky, in one large slab. And maybe a little double gate, to slow the surge of animals out of the house onto the road - I'm going to talk to this man, maker of beautiful things, very soon about that. (Look at his 'Prestigious Jobs' and marvel.)
Night night from the slow lane, with its occasional very exciting bursts of speed.