Wednesday, 24 August 2016

All change on the road to BS5

Brexit means Brexit said the Primeminister in July. Would that put everything on hold for the UK economy and BS5's small contribution towards it?

Now I do not have access to the current PM so instead, I had a cup of tea this week with my local Estate Agent Jon who sold this house to me back in the day. He happened to be walking past as I was perched on the wall cleaning my shoes and in one of those easy catch-up moments, I invited him in for a cup of tea after he had finished valuing number 57.

The valuing task is one that has increased enormously these last six months; there was but a pause of a week for the Brexit result to sink in (Bristol as a whole voted remain) and then the forest of For Sale signs kept on with its incessant march along my road. The valuation numbers are not of themselves super-massive (in a city-wide context) but they have more than doubled during my tenure, and most of that growth in just the last year.

Six houses of the ten I can view from my front wall have turned over this year alone - about £1.2 million pounds' worth right there. There have been six more at the other end of the road. Incoming neighbours are all about the age I was when I bought this house and they still move here because it is more affordable than other city zones but the game is just £100, 000 more expensive if you are playing it today.

There is a telling sign of the gentrification of my road: a decade ago, folks putting stuff out at the front of the house (very BS5) disposed of generationally used twin tubs - today they still put stuff out but this barely used flatscreen TV, seen only this morning, tells you all about the change.

On it goes.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Sniffing courses and the inquisitive cows of Wellow.

This weekend was an active one for us both and for Boris the Basador.

I finished my Friday tasks and  drove from BS5 to Jemma's in Bath. We had dinner together and some TV Olympics ahead of a busy weekend.

On Saturday after morning walkies and the usual larks in fields near home, Boris hopped into the back of the car to attend a scent course at Kelston just outside the city. This is the location for Avon dog services - before I knew him, Boris had his puppy training there. Saturday offered a course to teach your hound to sniff things out, both with and without assistance. I thought it might be academic as little old Boris can sniff a treat at about a light year out, but he learned plenty, and of course much of it was about the dog owner looking out for signs of behavioural change in the hound too. We met five other hounds but none was a inquisitive as B-man. HE scored throughout the course and the advanced class beckons!

On Sunday with his nose at the ready, we walked a six mile circuit from the village of Wellow taking in Combe Hay, cows, fields, churches, 'property porn' (being nosy!)  and a refresher at the pub when the route was complete. Happy days.

Monday, 15 August 2016

From Uganda to BS5

One of my favourite errands here in BS5 is a wander to The Sweetmart. It's a happy grocery store near here and the walk to it takes in the cycle path, a good train spotting stop (!) and just the sunny, kind disposition of Easton, my neighbouring part of Bristol. It's a fine task.

I wandered there today because the week has started warm and sunny, so the errand sort of presented itself. I was also on a mission to use stock from the weekend cooking as the base for a leek and potato soup, so that was the extent of my shopping list.

The Sweetmart has its reduced to clear section, just like any good store and today my soup ingredients were right there. Spot on!  The Sweetmart started in around 1972 after the expulsion of Ugandan Indians and Asians by Idi Amin and the family's arrival in BS5.

What I enjoyed most of all todaywas the change in atmosphere that is always present as you walk into St Mark's Road and past The Sugarloaf. People look you in the eye and smile or nod - traffic is considerate, cyclists are plentiful and not too speedy, people are relaxed. There are fine places to eat and to wander -  churches, mosques, Christians, Muslims and all manner of people just mix along together in the colourful street. There's always activity and commerce and people working hard and yet it is infectious and relaxing all at the same time.

Pictures from this pleasurable outing today:

Thursday, 11 August 2016


Ahead of selling the house that hosts BSFive I have been working my way through some decoration and improvements. This last fifteen month period has seen a good deal of cleaning, undercoating, painting, wood filling, wall filling, sanding , painting and varnishing. The fireplaces have been restored downstairs with a wood-burner installed in one and a wood store utilised in the other - both with a good slate base.

Today I finished the front door part of this long project and this was a very transformative and satisfactory process. My initial colour choice was shiny black but then, with encouragement , I engaged my imagination. I whittled it down to an 'Atlantic Blue' and a 'Sage Green'. I would have been happy with either but my good pal MC took a picture of the door as it was and then scanned in my colour choices to show me the look of the final choice. This was a  very, very useful bit of photoshop work. With a decision made for green I consulted a  couple of catalogues and then the paint aisle of a couple of stores. Farrow and Ball happened to have the most suitable colour match and they were not savagely more expensive than Dulux.

Stage one was some Brasso work. Numbers unscrewed and off, but the knocker and letterbox and key fob all stayed in place. The Brasso drips and spills did not matter at this stage. The Brasso worked a treat and the years rubbed away after perhaps six hours of combined effort. I chatted to new neighbours and old as I worked this project from start to finish and that was pleasant and more like the days when I moved in.

Next: sanding - a power sander for the panels (but not driven beyond first gear) and hand sanding into the grooves. After sanding came masking tape and scalpel to protect all that brass work. After masking came the gloopy and hard-to-work-in undercoat. I applied it and left that for a day and then with a brush, a roller and a bit of tutoring and planning, on went the Farrow and Ball Number 19, 'Lichen' for its first coat. Two further coats followed and a few little extra touches to leave for 24 hours.  Today the masking came off and bought a little paint with it, so there's a remedial job for later.

Door furniture all back on, and voila, a result to be proud of both at the front of the door and the back of the door!