A secondhand bed

Does the thought of a secondhand bed gross you out?  It was actually described as “Victorian” (although I have my doubts), if so, third or fourth hand might be more accurate.

Well, yesterday I bought this “secondhand” bed from an auction (photo from the catalogue)  It’s only a small double (4ft wide instead of 4ft 6in wide) but mattresses that size are far more common / affordable that I would have thought.  The head and footboards are oak and it has a sprung metal frame.


My aunt and uncle have given me four single beds from their London flat which are currently in storage, so buying more beds was really not on my agenda. Bidding started at £10 – there were no takers, so dropped to start at £2 – I tentatively raised my hand, someone bid £3, I bid £4 – they pulled out. Yep, I won it for £4 (plus 40p commission). I hadn’t really even looked at it before the auction so in the break I had to dash over to check it could be dismantled!  It could and I made a furtive phone call “Dad, please could you put the roof rack on your car? I’ll explain when I get home”.  Where I’m going to put it in the house is more tricky though, it will actually fit pretty well in the small bedroom (which is too small for a full double) but I wasn’t really planning on putting a bed in there (I was thinking craftroom / library / study), hmm… one to sleep on I think (sorry).

I didn’t get the cushions on top of the bed in the photo though – they were won by a guy who looked like Neptune.

Tenacious Crows

So house renovation is mainly about chimneys, fireplaces and crows, right?  Well, that’s what it seems like it so far…

I was busy scraping the paint off the range and the crows kept gargling at me down the chimney – probably telling me to get lost, so I retaliated by shouting back up the chimney at them, had no effect on the crows but it did bring Dad running 🙂

As I need to get a chimney balloon, I stuck my head up to try work out what size I would need – I was not amused to discover the crows have completely disregarded the fact their nesting season isn’t meant to start until April and spent the last two weeks of February chucking twigs down the chimney.  Grrr….

chimney twigs

Then, to add further insult to injury, three strange sooty lumps appeared – my first reaction was one of panic, thinking they were bits of masonry, but nope…


…it’s bits of roast potato.  A peace offering?  Or do they think I’m their baby bird?  The worst part was that they smelt amazing!


That’s grate!

The grate for the Yorkist range was broken in two and severely warped. There were some firebricks which presumably had been used to balance the broken pieces up but it was actually so badly warped that the pieces didn’t fit in the space for the fire any more. It’s not a standard rectangular shaped grate but a trapezium. I did a little bit of googling in case anyone made replacement grates specifically for Yorkist ranges but nothing came up.


The grate rests on these little brackets and as the damper casing on the right sits above it – any new grate would also have to sit down on the brackets.

grate brackets

So I made cardboard template:

grate template

took it to the local blacksmith and came back with this:

new grate

Looks perfect doesn’t it?  Except if you compare it to the photos above, you’ll notice the damper casing is conspicuous in its absence.  Basically, it’s a testament to why I should never be allowed to measure anything.  It fits the space perfectly but not one of the brackets is sitting in its allocated space – like in the photo below:

grate bracket

Meaning that it sits about a cm higher than it should and therefore the damper casing doesn’t fit.  The blacksmith had said not to worry, if it didn’t fit perfectly as he could adjust it – but as every bracket was out, I didn’t trust myself to be accurate enough about where it needed adjusting and I’d already driven to Laxey four times about about the grate.  So I explained to it Dad and he came around to the house with his dremel, grinder and a drill with a stone attachment.  I painted the brackets so we could see where the paint transferred to the grate and know where to cut (Dad thought I was very weird for doing this which I in turn thought was very weird because I’m pretty sure it’s something I learnt ‘at his knee’).

painted brackets

This is what the bottom of the grate looked like before grinding:

bottom of grate before

After a lot of grinding, testing (painting) and grinding again it looked like this:

bottom of grate after

Not as pretty but….

grate in situ

Hurrah – the slipper fits 🙂  Oh and I also had the blacksmith make me an ashpan – which you can see below the grate.  The bit above the grate is on a hinge (it’s been up in all the other photos), it is for a kettle and is apparently called a ‘falling crow’.

Unfortunately, this means Dad now knows I’m keeping the range and I’ve had a whole weekend of lectures and anecdotes about how inefficient open fires are and how they actually make centrally heated houses colder by drawing all the warm air up the chimney 🙁  Yes, yes, I know but….