My "love affair" with home renovation began at the tender age of 11. That's um, many decades ago, not sayin' how many... and I wouldn't change a thing.

It's All My Dad's Fault...

Beechcroft - 1973Beechcroft - 1973

Back in 1971, my dad bought a lovely large home on a Beech-tree-studded lot, near Preston in Lancashire, England. At the time, my dad ran a "scrap yard" and dismantled old factories, and took up old railway lines and "sleepers." It was tough work, but dad didn't balk. After leaving the Army, he swore he'd never take orders from anyone else - ever again. And he didn't.

A Fortune in Scrap

He later wrote a book on "scrap recycling" called "A Fortune in Scrap - Secrets of the Scrap Metal Industry" and it still sells to this day! Now why am I telling you all this? Well, after being in the home a year, dad decided we should have a swimming pool. Yes, a DIY swimming pool. Guess who dug the hole? Me and my brother.

Later on, dad decided we should have an extension built out back, with a "loggia" on the ground level, with a top level that accessed my bedroom. So, of course I was "up for that!" It meant installing a sliding glass door in my bedroom for access to the roof top.

Dad built a brick wall as a balcony on the roof deck, and my job was to point the bricks. Look, he did tell me to wear gloves. Did I listen? Nope. What happened? I pretty much lost the skin on the ends of my fingertips! Who knew mortar was that abrasive? LOL. Well, I know now and that's something I'd never do again without gloves.

dad literally bought the farm... 3 Times

At age 17 in 1977, dad sold the scrap yard which was called Maudland Metals, and decided to buy a farm. One farm mushroomed into three, and boy oh boy, did I ever learn a lot of DIY stuff there!

Hough Clough Farm, Chipping, UK

Aerial view of Hough Clough FarmHough Clough Farm, 1976

The first farm was Hough Clough - around 30 acres - and feel free to pronounce that however you want, as we all disagreed on the "right way to say it."  (For the record, I pronounced it Huff Cluff).

I had rabbits (hated it), sheep (they're cool), a few naughty cattle you couldn't catch, and four goats named Angela, Betty, Chrissy, and Donald.

Dad decided he wanted to have horses. Have you noticed that dad did a lot of "deciding"? Ha! So on the day of the 12 horses' arrival, me and my bro were still busy building a horse pen. Looking back, my dad was often a "cart-before-the-horse" type of guy. But that's how he got stuff done.

Hough Clough farm needed modernizing, and I couldn't wait to try my hand at hanging wallpaper. Turns out, I was pretty good. Thing is, my bro spotted that I'd hung it upside down... and he was right! Dang it. I left it "as is." No idea if it's still in my old bedroom at the farm.

Little Blacksticks Farm, Chipping, UK

Little Blacksticks FarmLittle Blacksticks Farm, 1977

The second farm was Little Blacksticks - around 20 acres.

We had sheep graze on it. That dang ram was always butting down the stone wall to make his great escape... followed by his entourage of ewes. Anyway - on that farm there stood a very old "farm house." It too needed renovating. I almost started singing "Old MacDonald had a farm."

Fixing gable end of an outbuildingBrother Alan on ladder; me on the ground
Susan and brother by a stone wall at Little Blacksticks FarmBrother Alan, and "SupaBees"

A kitchen was installed, along with a bathroom upstairs. And those stairs were so narrow and winding. We found wattle and daub walls with horsehair. I painted a lot of newly plastered walls, let me tell you.

The farm was eventually sold to the owners of a British Hotel company called Trust House Forte.

Yup, that's me with the bushy hair. I never said farming or DIY was glamorous.

Sheep shearing at Little Blacksticks FarmSheep-shearing time!

Sheep Shearing

But I was also busy shearing sheep. Well, OK, not the actual shearing part... I meant to say "rolling the fleece." After the shearing, the was a lot of bleating going on as mama ewe called out to her lambs!

Although it's a back-aching job, the lanolin in the wool made the skin on my hands lovely and soft!

fairoak farm, CHipping, UK

Fairoak FarmFair Oak Farm, 1977

The third farm was Fairoak - around 40 acres, I think. That farm is where I learned to milk cows, raise calves, and sheep. Farming really teaches you the value of hard work and discipline.

Dairy cows do NOT take a day off - and neither did I. At the time, I lived in a small travel trailer on the property. I completely gutted the interior and put in a small kitchenette, and a makeshift shower. I was living large. Every teens' dream to have their own place.

Four Years Later...

Fast-forward four years after leaving Hough Clough, Little Blacksticks, and Fairoak farms behind... I moved to the USA in 1980, and made central Florida my home! And every home over here I've left it in better condition than I found it.

My bro still kids me to this day... he says that the rooms in my home get smaller and smaller due to the multiple coats of paint I've done - hey it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind, right? Right.

I love rearranging furniture too. That costs absolutely NOTHING to do. Bro would say, "you're messin' wi' me 'ead" every time he'd pop on over as the rooms were completely rearranged!

Forty Years Later...

Dad at his 80th birthday partyMy Dad, Ken

It's been quite a ride, and I loved every minute of it. Even when the cows disappeared, the sheep got out, and when I was too late to save a lamb when it was born and froze to death on frosty ground. So sad.

But all the DIY stuff is with me, every day. Dad passed away in 2015. And today (as I type this on May 20th, 2024) is very special.

It's the day this website began its journey and my dad would have turned 96. I dedicate this website and my love of DIY to him. Miss you, dad.

NOTE: Just wanted to add here stuff I've personally tackled (to date): I have...

  • changed out 5 toilets,
  • 4 bathroom sinks,
  • 3 water pumps,
  • 2 water softeners,
  • built a lean-to shed,
  • installed 6 kitchen faucets,
  • 4 shower heads,
  • renovated a full bathroom,
  • removed old crappy shower doors,
  • painted every wall in every house,
  • installed ceiling fans and regular light fixtures,
  • added mini blinds,
  • attached regular curtain rods and hung drapes,
  • installed "good" laminate flooring,
  • ripped out carpets,
  • installed tile,
  • stenciled a backsplash and a fireplace wall.

I've probably missed something out but the good thing is I can always come back here and add it in!