Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Borough Market, London

Last weekend we were invited to stay with Andrew's sister in London to help celebrate her birthday. We all love these trips to the capital, we get our fix of city living and Mortimer gets to play with his pal Dexter along with a hundred other dogs in the park.

Are we there yet?

You may remember when we went at Easter we took a trip to Liberty of London, well this time it was Borough Market, a foodie haunt near London Bridge station. It has become a magnet for tourists and some of the prices are a little on the steep side (£6.00 for a jar of Bonne Maman compote?) but the variety of food was extraordinary, and the quality superb. You could certainly buy the ingredients for a stunning meal or just graze on the ready cooked food available. We had a fabulous time and as the trains from our nearest station go into London Bridge we're considering another outing. Thanks Carole!

The Shard, London Bridge

A taste of summer
Almost autumnal
Andrew was very taken with the saucisson storage system (shown above) and is tempted to make his own from some bushel boxes we have.

No cooking required!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Sow's ears & silk purses

Last year our local council decreed that certain lanes in our village needed some new footpaths. This was good news as we sometimes streetwalk Mortimer, particularly in the winter, and the grass verges can get muddy or you are walking down unlit roads.  Unfortunately the paths have not been a great success, mainly due to the shoddiness of the work and materials used. A few inches of topsoil was scraped off, wooden boards laid to the sides and then the area was filled with gravel. No care was taken so sides are uneven, if the path crosses someone's drive no proper finish has been made so stones just tumble across and if there was an obstacle, for example an uncut hedge, there is no path. Finally all waste spoil was dumped (albeit vaguely levelled) on one of the ditch banks. If it wasn't a council project I think it could have been labelled as fly-tipping.

We don't usually walk this route in the summer, preferring the orchard, but the previous evening Mortimer had indulged in a spate of grazing the June drop apples making him very unwell. It was decided that a walk on the lead would be best. As we walked up the lane we could see a patch of pink in the distance, not previously seen. Getting nearer we realised that it was a large patch of beautiful ornamental poppies and it slowly dawned on us that we were standing where the spoil had been tipped. Further along the walk we found the front garden from whence the seeds had originated. I hope they spread as they won't harm the wild poppies and the combination is beautiful.

Mortimer couldn't see what the fuss was about.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Two down, two to go

The astute among you may have noticed the statement 'and as we had, at last, finished the winter project of the bedroom,' in the first of the Montreuil posts and wondered why there hadn't been anything on the blog. The answer is  that Andrew and I have two different definitions of 'finished'. His is when he can hand the room over to me for decorating and mine is when the last painting has been hung (which actually means that the room isn't quite finished yet!) So although there are still decisions to be made on art for the room and the hooks that Andrew rashly promised to make for me, enough is in place for a reveal.

All four bedrooms are about the same size, the two in the front being slightly larger as this was traditionally seen as the best side of a house (think front parlour).  The other differences in Nelson House are that they have cornices and two windows. So although slightly larger, our oversized bed worked best in the smaller back bedroom particularly as I have allocated one of the rooms as a dressing room and so it doesn't need any furniture.

So, remember this?

Mid destruction
Previous posts have shown the standard progress for this house, all plaster off the walls, 50mm insulation installed, plasterboard & plaster and at least one radiator to move.

I like my bedrooms to be  calm spaces without much distraction. We both read in bed and have used the tight beamed lights before. Individually switched they spread very little light across to the other person. Andrew hid the light switches on the side of the chimney breast, which he had extended to make it central in the room and allow the bed to fit. This wall is the one where we are still deciding on which painting/s to hang.

The room at night
The room faces south and is subject to strong sunlight. I made the curtains (Clarke & Clarke Malena for those interested) with blackout linings but had a concern about fading of both the curtaain fabric and the duvet cover. Because I wanted a hint of colonial style I chose wooden Venetian blinds which control the light but still enable a breeze. I love the way light is filtered through these, reminding me of siesta time on holiday.

I love the way the light is filtered

I could be on holiday!
With the slats open we have this.

Regular readers will know that I'm not keen on rushing out and buying new things for the house, money aside there is too much thrown away these days. Sometimes you just need to think about what you already have and see if it will work. It may need painting  - our bed is quite old now and originally pine but a couple of coats of Dulux Breton Blue has transformed it. The light fitting came from two houses ago and was originally in the bathroom, as we wanted something with a clean design it works beautifully.

Adding old pieces, those a bit battered but loved, give personality and texture. I love Lloyd Loom chairs and have a small collection (I would have more but Andrew put his foot down...) I don't mind that they've been repainted over the years. Here I have given it a contemporary feel with a cushion cover made from a crisp cotton offcut I had.
Old Lloyd Loom chair
The French oil lamp was acquired when I had an antique shop, I couldn't resist the colour and it has proved useful in power cuts.

19th century French oil lamp
Paint(Farrow & Ball Oxford Stone) and carpet aside the only new purchases were the duvet covers. I love pre-washed linen, the colours are usually gorgeous, the texture is lovely and it dosen't matter if you hate ironing!,but sadly they can be expensive. However I discovered that La Redoute have quite a good range and nearly always have 50% off. Perfect.

So we now have a calm space for the end of the day which is just as well as next week a cement mixer arrives and apparently I'm the chief floor spreader. I keep telling myself it will all be worth it...

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Giant hogweed

Our orchard dog walk takes us past a patch of giant hogweed (heracleum mantegazzianum) which I love. Introduced in the 19th century as an ornamental plant they are a relative of the more delicate cow parsely. I think it's the scale and architectural quality of them I like, Andrew kindly posed for me last Sunday and whilst he is 6'2" they tower above him.

Giant hogweed
Sadly many gardeners get rid of them because they can be nasty beasts. If you ge the sap on your skin which is then exposed to sunlight they can cause quite serious blisters. So best admired from afar.