Category Archives: Dara Towers

Supermarkets

Since we’ve moved to Rickmansworth we’ve predominantly shopped in the two supermarkets nearest to us: Waitrose and M&S Food. There’s certainly no knocking the quality of either, however with our wedding in the planning and much to save between now and then we’ve been looking at options for saving money. Now that we’ve finally got ourselves a car, the number of new shopping options has opened up to us, as had the whole concept of doing a weekly shop.

For our first weekly shop we took a friend’s recommendation and visited the Tesco in Amersham. It’s larger than any supermarket in Rickmansworth and has a rather superior ambience than the Tesco in Ricky. Certainly you can get just about everything there. We stocked up good and proper. 60 items for £101. Average price £1.68. Seems like a good start, food quality was fine and Tesco really promotes itself on cost, so how does it compare?

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Final post from Dara Cottage…

Well, it’s moving day tomorrow and we’re off to Dara Towers in Rickmansworth. At 8am tomorrow the Aussie Man with a Van team will be round to pack everything up and cart it up two or three flights of stairs at the other end. Full packing is the best thing since sliced cheese. photo4

We’ve had a tough week painting the new flat ready for occupation. I had a crazy fool idea to paint three of the walls in the living room with stripes in the manner of the decor at Delisserie in Hatch End (one finds inspiration in the strangest of places). While Dan and his parents attended to the rest of the flat (three shades of coffee in the bedroom, green hall and bathroom), masking tape and careful edges were my territory for three days. Provided you use decent masking tape (the blue stuff from Homebase is good) and have a reasonably steady hand for the touching-up, it’s not too difficult.

It’s a bit sad to be leaving Pinner with its snickets and strange assortment of people, but semi-rural Ricky awaits with the promise of lakes and a lovely Waitrose!

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Buying in a Recession: in search of a new Dara cottage

We’ve finally taken the plunge and bought a new pad of loveliness. Yes, bought. Despite these times of financial horror, we’ve taken advantage of the lowest interest rates since 1694 and shall be moving to Rickmansworth (known locally and affectionately as ‘Ricky’) as soon as we get everything sorted.

The search for our new flat took up three days last week, which is probably as speedy as you’re likely to get. We saw eight properties – four flats, three houses and a maisonette – so we had a pretty good idea of what we could get for our money. Some of these places were, er, interesting, to say the least. Let it never be said that we shunned the prospect of viewing the maisonette with the astroturf garden or the flat that could’ve been a set for Life on Mars. One of the flats – the only one with a balcony, albeit north-facing – was pretty lovely, but was sold the day after we viewed it. One of the others had huge ceilings and loads of space, but was a 25-minute walk from the station. The latter was a total lads’ pad. Copies of ‘Nuts’ and smelly ski gear all over the place! The biggest house had nice wooden floors, fireplaces, a decent kitchen and a garden – but the front room opened straight out onto the road and there was a pub carpark next door (nice pub, though).

Tiresome.

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On the road to a tamed hamster

Well despite officially being night time for hamsters, Tiggy was quite active this afternoon and we thought we should take the opportunity presented to us in encouraging her out of her out of the tubing. Fortunately we’d come across some good advice that was not to give hamsters places to hide away until they’re trained. A thousand thank yous to the Hamster Central website for giving us the confidence to reconfigure the cage to a much more basic state. It was out with the house, out with the tubes and out with the log – for now – until she’s trained.

This still leaves the hamster in a far from austere cage, as there are still two levels, the wheel, chews and so on. The massive benefit is that Tiggy will now be accessible wherever she chooses to make her nest, which will in turn allow us to interact with her regularly and tame her as the days progress.

As it transpired it required some amount of contact with her to move her out of her cage while we modified it and then back in again. Fortunately we’re well prepared for such manouveurs as we have a hamster fort and a hamster enclosure fence which are ideal to place a hamster in while working on the cage. This interaction worked to our advantage as although Tiggy remained nervous, as we encouraged her in and out of her various environments she began to let us stroke her and even – briefly – hold her to place her back in her cage.

We’re certainly not there yet, however the absence of nips from the ham is a sign that if not entirely at ease she doesn’t regard us as predators either. This encounter has tired us all out, as we’ve retired to the couch while Tiggy, after a spot of running on the wheel – the first time we’ve seen her on it in days – has retired to the shady area under the first floor.

The road to training a hamster may be long but I feel there’s been a confidence boost all round and we’re now in good stead towards the goal of a happy and tamed ham.

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Tiggy the Troublesome

We bought Tiggy, our new hamster, a giant cage, thinking that as a young ham she would be running about all over the place and getting into all kinds of scrapes and fixes. She has two levels, a wheel, a log with holes in it and a length of tube that takes her outside her cage and in again. She’s a very well provided-for hamster.

To begin with, she set up camp in one corner of the base level, which was okay  because we could at least see her, even though she wasn’t very interactive. Dan and I have literally read every website and book on baby hamster taming we can get our hands on this week to figure out how to get our silver-haired little monkey beast not to flee us in fear – all to no avail.

Eventually, she moved herself into a blue plastic house that came with the cage. This made the situation even worse, because she then wouldn’t come out during our waking hours. We had some success on Thursday, when we moved her house (with her in it) to the base level, then took off the upper level and the cage itself and waited for her to emerge. We put fencing around the base so she couldn’t high-tail it out of Dodge when our backs were turned. We managed to get her out of the house and she did a bit of scuttling about to her water bottle and sat on the top of the base a couple of times thinking about whether to venture into the new lands below.

Then we had a bright idea. We removed the house. She has plenty of darkened space under the mezzanine level, a log and the corners to hide in, but at least we’d be able to keep an eye on her. What actually happened was that she moved wholesale into her tubing. Can’t lure her out, can’t clean her out and can’t handle her to tame her. Big fat fail.

It’s hamster night time now, so we’ll have to wait til later to see what can be done.

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Tiggy arrives in Dara Cottage

Dara Cottage today welcomes a new member of the family. Continuing the tradition of having a hamster in residence, we’re now joined by a female Syrian hamster we’ve named Antigone, or Tiggy for short. To celebrate Tiggy is enjoying the ample surrounds of a brand new cage. Here’s the very first photo of her:

The first photo of Tiggy, our new hamster
The first photo of Tiggy, our new hamster

More photos will follow in due course but for the next few days Tiggy will be getting used to her new surrounds. We’ve long become used to the scurrying and industrious sounds of a hamster in the house and we’re pleased to welcome them back today – and in such an adorable package too!

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