Freedom, Fine Weather And Friendship

Finally, Winter has released its grip of our part of the North- West.  A week of glorious sunshine culminated, yesterday, in a particularly special and memorable day.

Exploration is always interesting and, often, exciting.  Spent in the company of a kindred spirit with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the area, exploration becomes a joyous, life-affirming and memory-creating experience.

My day began with tree and rose planting.  Three roses (two climbers and one shrub) and a hawthorn were added to our scheme, in the front garden, before 9.30am.  Wild flower seeds were added to the mix and our vision of the quintessential country garden continues to evolve from theory to reality.

At 9.30am, conveyed in a beautiful red Beetle by my friend, I began my voyage of discovery.  Villages and towns were revealed and sampled, shops, markets and views explored.  We meandered through Ormskirk, Parbold (complete with sherbet ice-creams eaten on the hill) and Skelmersdale, to name a few, wandered merrily through Cedar Farm before arriving at Bent’s garden Centre for a delightful tour complete with gorgeous lunch.

Returning home just before 6pm, laden with homemade cordial, the boxed remains of a sumptuous dessert and several uplifting/amusing plaques, I was fully sated.  Special aspects of the occasion are buried deep within, to be mulled over and considered at will.  A very precious day indeed.


Back To The House Renovation!

I hope that your week has been a peaceful and successful one. 

Here, almost all the stained glass windows have been re-leaded and cleaned.  Our specialist, Paul Bradbury, is very talented and I wholeheartedly recommend him to you.  The final window – on the second floor half landing – is dark and a completely different style from all the other stained glass in the house.  At Paul’s suggestion, we are removing the panes and using them as display items.  In their stead, we will have a commissioned piece.

Allowing the house to relate its history has been a driving force of this project.  Whilst we have no intention of replacing or reinventing lost features, integrity demands that we preserve as much as possible and sympathetically include further beautiful and useful additions.  Including a new window, which fills the top floor with light and elegance, helps with that aspiration.

The week witnessed the flooding of the kitchen, as a lead pipe broke (whilst being replaced) in the bathroom above.  Disasters frequently present themselves as a conclusion to the “school run”; approaching the house at 9am-ish and 3.30pm-ish, usually leaves me pondering which part of the fabric of the building – and/or which builder – will be in a less desirous state than when I left!    “To be fair” (a local colloquialism), almost all disasters are due to the parlous state in which the house was maintained for a large part of the last 42 years.  Slowly, but surely, the neglect is giving way to a phoenix-like transformation.

By being completely oneself, we give permission to others to be entirely who they were created to be, rather than the façade which the world forces upon them.  My final struggle, during the last 7 days, relates to this belief and the subject of flooring.  Having been guided by my guardian angel builder for 8 weeks, it was time for me to assert my preferences, tastes and opinions.  I can’t afford Amtico for the bathrooms and the Karndean, I liked, blew the budget at a whopping £40 per square metre – minus the trim, contrasting edging and fitting.  Add to that, the limited range and it was back to faithful lino or vinyl. 

Well, well, well, hasn’t vinyl changed?  The vinyls, I chose, came in a range of fabulous colours (with embedded glitter for candlelit pazazz) and were not masquerading as stone, wood or anything else!  They have 15 year guarantees, so who could ask for more?  How many people would be averse to changing a floor every 15 years, especially when the expected lifespan of even a “top-of-the-range” cooker is less than that? 

So, as I return to the “patchworking” of the cloakroom walls – a notion adopted from Jocasta Innes – remember, assert yourself; restored stained glass is gorgeous and vinyl is NOT the second-rate option.


I Have A Kitchen!

Washing up in the bath lost its appeal very quickly, far more quickly than the five weeks it took to replace the kitchen.  Gloriously, the pain is past and dilapidated ‘70s chipboard and formica have given way to various woods, stainless steel and ceramic tiles.  What a difference!

The various highlights of the kitchen (French porcelain sink, stainless steel range, glittery grout etc…) have to bow before the genius of the gifted joiner and wood artist, David Summerfield, who made my larder cupboard, various wall units and an island table on castors.  I found Dave on the internet, as I trawled through, looking for a show-stopping larder cupboard.  The quality of his workmanship leapt out of the screen and I knew I had struck gold!  He will work from “back of envelope” designs, photos, archived pictures – you name it, Dave will look at it and create it – then, there are his own designs.  He really is amazing with wood.

So, if you are in the process of creating a kitchen and need a splendid product, very reasonably priced, look no further.