Monday 20th. January, 2014 – I learn new skills 

Tom with the new door we made today

Woke early because Rachel had to get off to Glasgow where she was meeting Ann at the exhibition of crafts at the SECC. I walked Mix and then breakfasted in the farmhouse. Tom and Dorothy arrived and we set about our task for today which is to start on building two new doors for the former stables. We already had the materials, all we needed was some fine weather – and that is what we got.

The first task was to build the frame of the first door – the doorposts were measured out and the cross-members. It was then a case of cutting the wood to size and putting in half-housing joints at the end of each bit of wood. Tom showed me how to measure down half-way through the wood, put in a cut and then chisel of the top section. I watched Tom performing this feat, but by the end of the day I was doing it myself – I really don’t think that I had ever used a chisel before.

Tom demonstrating how to make a house joint

Once the joints were all made we joined the wood together to make up a frame. It was about this time that we stopped for lunch and during the lunch break I loaded several of the cases which I had found containing Rachel’s clothes into the Granary so that they would be there for her when she returned home.

Tom with the frame of the first stable door

After lunch we filled in the frame using some of the left over flooring from the summer house. There wasn’t sufficient so we picked up Tom’s trailer and bought some more wood from Pearson’s (whose profits have increased enormously since I came to the Borders). While Tom hitched up the trailer I took a snap of Dorothy’s hens:

Dorothy’s hens seem in fine fettle

Soon we got the door completed and, if the weather holds up we will make a second door tomorrow. It shouldn’t take as long as the first as I now know what to do and will be able to be useful from the start. But what an education I am getting!

After Tom went home I did my ukulele practice and then joined Mum and Digger for dinner – Rachel was late home from Glasgow (she had really enjoyed her day) and Olive doesn’t get into Berwick from teaching in Dundee until nearly ten.

I watched University Challenge and later on I caught up with Bletchley Circle which I thoroughly enjoyed. It is quite an unusual premise – girls who worked at Bletchley Park during the war, meeting after the war and solving problems by using the skills they developed while working at the code-breaking centre. Also caught up on the news and Newsnight – I realise that I don’t follow the news nearly as much as I did when I was working. Life has centred in around our adventures here and I am kept totally occupied with trying to develop all of the new skills required for my new way of life – learning to become practical and to work with my hands. In the tiniest possible way, I’m beginning to understand what it must have been like for those who forged out into the New World and built their own homes and established new places to live – I know that is clearly ridiculous, all I have done is helped to build a summer house and half a door for a stable, but it is a different mind-set and who knows where it is going to lead.

Mix and I wandered around the policies and hoped that it would remain fair until we had made the other door for the stable tomorrow.


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