Sunday, 29 April 2012

A year ago this Sunday....

.....we woke up after an uncomfortable night sleeping on an inflatable mattress on a cold concrete floor. We'd moved house.

The removal men had packed us on the 27th and we'd left Eastbourne at about 5.30 p.m to the new house. Fortunately, because it was the day of the royal wedding and a bank holiday, the roads were almost empty. I've never got through the Dartford river crossing so quickly.

The team arrived about 9 a.m on the 29th and unloaded the two vehicles (it was at that stage I realised just how much 'stuff' we had and have been making a concerted effort to re-home things). They left about lunch time. We were on our own in a new house and a new area.

Although we've only been here a year we've had a couple of milestones in our new home. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary a few weeks after arrival (actually we were in Italy but you know what I mean).

Lake Garda

And Mortimer discovered he loved rolling on the lawn and had his first birthday.

First birthday pose

The house needed needs a lot of work and sometimes I think we've been quite slow. But there's no particular rush and we've been exploring our local area and making new friends.
However I thought it would be fun to see some  'then & nows' (if only it was before & afters!)

Most of the now shots were taken last night or this morning. If you're looking for beautiful interior shots then look away now. I've done no styling, plumping of cushions or straightening of bananas (although I probably should have done). And I just get a photograph that does the sitting room justice.

So the first room to be tackled was the sitting room. Although we had no cooking facilities except a kettle, microwave and counter top halogen oven (and no fridge) we knew the sitting room was going to cause most mess so had to be done before the kitchen.

On moving day
This morning (with wonky bananas)
Other end

Original fireplace

Chairs are work in progress!

It looks like the room is the same colour as before but Burnt Verdigris has replaced banana yellow and peach.

Phase one of the kitchen has finished and just before Christmas we could cook properly. Phase two (next year) will be to turn 'The Orangery' into a dining area. At the moment the dining table is in the kitchen (it's too cold in The O). When done the table and island unit will swap places.

So when we arrived we had this

Missing oven
and this

and now

That dog gets everywhere
And finally

Barista bar

The Orangery hasn't changed except for housing the island unit. Once the weather warms up we will probably move the table in there again as it's nice to eat looking out on the garden.

No oranges - just a lime & a lemon tree
The worse time for me was the few weeks we spent where the only places we could sit was at the dining table or at our desks. Then the electricians arrived and we spent 48 hours with only one socket and one light bulb in the whole house but you know it will be worth it so you just grit your teeth and have another glass of wine!

The office is looking worse than when we moved in as it's the current project. The pistachio & coffee walls along with the surface mounted plumbing  & electrics have gone,

1950's ice cream colours

It's that dog again
Plasterboard arrives this week so were well on our way.

Upstairs hasn't really changed as that's next on our list. But I couldn't take sleeping in an ice cream parlour so slapped on some paint in our room and made new curtains.

A little more restful

The bathroom hasn't changed at all, still yellow with brown carpet. Nice.

Of it's time.....
The main guest room had a quick paint job as I really didn't think it fair that friends should sleep in such a dingy room.


A tad more cheerful
And last, and definitely least, is the third bedroom. At the moment it's Andrew's temporary office, the "dressing room" and where I do the ironing. Hasn't  got a lot going for it really.

So there we are one year along. I think tonight deserves a glass or two don't you?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Birthday at Blakeney

Sunday was Andrew's birthday so we downed tools for the day and went out exploring. First however was Mortimer's walk where he,reluctantly,posed with the birthday boy. Very uncool.

Doesn't look a day older

One of the reasons that we moved away from the south coast was to explore areas of England that were unfamiliar to us and so I thought that Andrew's birthday was a perfect opportunity to go somewhere new. So with the starting point of finding a restaurant  I decided on the north Norfolk coast and lunch at The Moorings in Blakeney.

This part of Norfolk has some gorgeous scenery and is popular as a place for holiday homes. Blakeney High Street was immaculate with every shade of Farrow & Ball paint visible on the front doors.

Beautiful brick & pebble house
Secret courtyards
There were lots of little lanes and small courtyards to peer at.

At the end of the high street you arrive at the quayside and a footpath to Blakeney Point where you can see seals. It wasn't the weather for that so we will go back again, we also noticed boat trips to see the marine life as well.

Low tide


Back in medieval times there had been a guildhall in a merchant's house, sadly only the basement remains but the brickwork is stunning.

Blakeney Guildhall

Lunch was a relaxed affair, great food locally produced. Andrew opted for an asparagus & crab salad followed by a beef roast. I had leek & tomato soup and then asparagus & goats cheese salad. We both finished with lemon tart and an espresso. Delicious!

By now the rain clouds were well and truly gathering so we headed back up the High Street to the safety of the car.

Beautiful brickwork
Back home we drank champagne and ate birthday cake. Andrew had requested a chocolate cake and so I used this recipe, one I've used several times before as it is so good.  I did have a bit of a disaster as I cut it while it was still a bit warm so it somewhat fell apart. Fortunately the ganache glued it together and it still tasted good. Doesn't look quite the same as the recipe though!

The ultimate chocolate cake

Until next time


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Pin power

This wasn't going to be my next post. I had decided that I'd given you quite a few lovely images lately and that isn't the current reality in Nelson House. The office has bare walls, everywhere is covered with dust, Mortimer seems to be moulting (but he's a labradoodle I hear you cry) and the kitchen floor resembles a spaghetti western film set with tumbleweed replaced by balls of black hair.

My desk (which currently doubles as my dressing table) is covered in fabric samples for my next upholstery project, yes I know I haven't finished the last one yet.

I was even going to post photos of these horrors. The joys of restoring an old house.

But I relented because it's another grey, miserable spring day. There is promise out there though with the apple blossom poised to explode into pink loveliness.

Sunday morning - before the grey descended

Actually I wasn't even going to show you the apple blossom. I was just going to tell you that yesterday I pinned just one image to my French Style board and within minutes it was being repinned around the world. Amazing.

Courtesy of

Until next time


Sunday, 8 April 2012


We're not far from Spalding in Lincolnshire, an area renowned for bulb growing and with a striking similarity to Holland. Daffodils are probably my favourite flowers, I think because to me they are the first real spring flower, and this year I wanted to go and see them where they grow.

It so happens that in Spalding is Springfields Outlet shopping centre. Big shopping malls are not my favourite places to shop but this one has several advantages:

  • it's quite small (Andrew can manage nearly all the shops before getting bored)
  • it has 38 acres of gardens
  • and a garden centre
  • it's outside - plenty of fresh air
  • it has a Tula handbag shop

and where else can you shop where a family of ducks waddle down mainstreet?

So last week, when we had the gorgeous weather not the grey mizzle, we headed out.
I wasn't disappointed as there were acres of daffodils to be seen although no laybys to stop and take photographs, so this one is from the moving car.

Speed blur in the foreground!

Once at Springfields we headed for the show gardens and although some of them were being prepared for summer the woodland walk was a delight. Hyacinths and daffodils were in full bloom and some of the tulips were out too.

The scent was heavenly
Fortunately not a native to Lincolnshire
Dreaming of a woodland garden
Still dreaming
Parrot tulips & hyacinths
The fresh greens are just so lush
So vibrant
and vivid
After a stop for coffee Andrew insisted, nay dragged me, into the Tula shop where he very thoughtfully bought me the pale green handbag I've been coveting for a couple of seasons. Must have been the Spring air.

Now the distraction of the warm weather has gone we're cracking on with the office. Actually cracking is the operative word as whilst I was up the step ladder, attacking the wall with a hammer & bolster, a large piece of concrete render swerved on its fall and hit my foot. Despite the fact I was wearing steel toe cap boots it managed to break my little toe, not the first time this particular appendage has suffered. In fact under an x-ray it would probably look like crazy paving! Will have to eat easter chocolate to allay the pain.

Until next time