Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Sandringham Estate

We live less than 20 miles from Sandringham but in almost four years had never visited. Friends kept telling us that it was a lovely place for a walk but we just never got there, we always drove past on the way to the beach. But on a recent  cold, frosty day we wrapped up warmly, threw Mortimer in the car and headed off.

It was really lovely to be in woods again, although we're surrounded by trees and are in the orchards every day it's not the same as walk in an English woodland. The Queen has 600 acres in the country park and you are allowed to wander in most of it. We elected to follow one of the marked paths, just to make our life a little easier. Most of the ground was dry although there were a couple of muddy areas to negotiate. Mortimer was in his element, charging around investigating everything. We finished the afternoon with a hot chocolate and a piece of shortbread and promised ourselves another visit soon.
Low winter's light
Andrew & Mortimer playing hide and seek. Mortimer always wins.
Part of the Scenic Drive
You may remember Andrew has a log fetish - he took this shot

I love the colour of the bark

New scents
A frosty path
One of the few muddy sections
Andrew using some weird photo effect on me -just can't trust him & a camera
They could almost be shelves
Mortimer taking a break
Onward to hot chocolate!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Back track

You may remember that when I posted at Christmas I said the next post would be a progress report on the garden room. Sadly I got side tracked with Ely cathedral and frosty mornings but I've dived back into the archived photographs and so here we are.

Just to recap, the existing single storey extension has been refigured and the open room, loo and laundry area has/will become a wet room, hall and garden room which leads off the kitchen and is the location for the dining table. Our self imposed deadline of Christmas lunch in the garden room was fast approaching when we admitted defeat and called in professional plasterers. This was well worth it as what would have taken us a fortnight took two men just over half a day.

The brick is being left exposed

In this half day (7.30 to 14.30) they did all the ceilings and the walls of the garden room, hall, part of the wet room and made good the kitchen wall. Brilliant guys.

The hall from the kitchen

Next step was to seal and undercoat. New plaster is notoriously absorbent and so we did a 50/50 white emulsion and water mix. I persuaded Andrew to do the ceiling as he didn't need a ladder, poor chap came out like he'd had a fight with the roller.

Sealed and undercoated

I'm a bit faddy with paint, I prefer to use Fired Earth or Farrow & Ball because of the texture and I find that the colours 'live' more but they are quite expensive and also tricky to get in our area. As the hall and garden room lead off the kitchen we wanted to use the same colour for both and I needed it neutral. I have a large collection of table linen which I will use to be change the style of our dining area at a whim. The colour I wanted was Fired Earth's Alabaster but it meant ordering online which was going to get expensive. Now, B & Q have had a bit of a falling out with Dulux and have swapped their main paint range to Valspar, an American company which has been manufacturing paint for over two centuries. I have never used them but, like Dulux, they promised to mix any colour. So I headed to our nearest B & Q with the Kevin McCloud/Fired Earth paint swatch and had a tester pot mixed. Back home it went on the wall and was a very good match. And it gets better!  I'm not a fan of silk paint, although you can wipe it, I much prefer matt. Valspar were offering a scrubbable matt paint which, although a  doubting Thomas I thought I would try, particularly as the hall is a high traffic area. This next bit is like an advert for paint! Mortimer, unless you can throw a towel over him quickly, will come in and shake. Just like this.

Muddy water
So I got a damp cloth with a drop of washing up liquid and unbelievably…

Mud free
So I would definitely recommend Valspar. Just take any expensive paint swatch in and get a scrubbable paint back - and it covers well.

At the moment we are using the room although it is not finished. The floor has to be laid and then the cupboard which will disguise the washing machine and dishwasher needs to be fitted.

The appliances discreetly hidden under a table cloth!

But we are loving the room and even during winter we have sat at the table with the trifolds open enjoying a cup of coffee and the sunshine.

Enjoying the winter sun

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Frosty mornings

The cold and crisp weather of the holiday period has been a welcome break from the grey skies and muddy walks. In the orchards the Howgate Wonders have not been picked (apart from by us villagers) and the colour is spectacular when the sun hits them. They are also a welcome treat for hungry birds.


Bird treat

Mortimer loves the cold weather and goes straight on to the lawn for a roll.

Happy dog
Although his regular watering holes are a tad more difficult to access.

The orchard and surrounding fields take on a rich hue in the low winter sun.

A contrast to the skeleton bare Bramley apple trees in the shade.

Andrew has complained that the blog has too many photographs and not enough narrative - not like him to encourage me to witter on! Will try harder next time!