Monday, 5 August 2013

In the corner of a foreign field...

IF I should die, think only this of me;.
 That there's some corner of a foreign field that is for ever England. 
 The Soldier,Rupert Brooke

I've been in France.

 Yes I know, ME traveling, amazing isn't it?.

A mad panic of selling virtually half my summer wardrobe on eBay to fund the last minute flights, getting a passport after 17 years (£81 now ?!! crikey) and sorting out dog sitters, chicken shutter-inners and other peoples gardens.
There was a reason for all this though and it wasn't good, sadly not a holiday.
My Daddy passed away.
 He had been very, very poorly after an operation that didn't go to plan.
I spent a few days over in scorching heat in the corner of a foreign field surrounded by acres of beautiful sunflowers, grape vines and old, old houses with sunbleached shutters in gorgeous shades of blue and green.
 I was with my lovely family and although it was an incredibly sad time it was also some of the best days I've spent with my brother, sisters and my brave mum in a very long time. Just us, no husbands, no kids.
Laughing, chatting, hugging.
  When something tragic happens, your emotions are all over the place and they are certainly heightened so funny things become hilarious and little bit sad things, become very sad.
I kept thinking my dad would go mad at us mucking about in the pool, swimming with the dog and talking in the garden until the early hours,watching amazing thunderstorms way past bedtime, exploding meteors and reminiscing about when we were kids but he'd of loved the fact that we all pulled together to look after mum and their house that is in the middle of no-where off the beaten track near Duras (and my mum doesn't drive!)
My brother and I took charge of the vast gardens and my sisters, the house and the cooking. I have never gardened in such heat (36 in the shade!) and never in my pyjamas that were ringing wet by lunchtime! The ground was like concrete, which I later found out when I managed to stick a hand fork through my gloves and finger instead.

I remember my dad best from when I was little, we'll quickly flit over the teenage years as I was vile and rebellious and tried the patience of a saint! Nevertheless I was a real daddy's girl, we all were. He named our sailing boat after us 'Sa'nicajac'  which has a bit of all our names in and many breezy days were spent fishing in Cornwall on it. My love of gardening comes from my Dad, he won prizes for his flowers at the local shows and was always a great source of knowledge that I could turn to. Although we didn't see much of each other when they moved abroad, your Dad is your Dad and it's like a little piece of you dies when they do.

I'm going back later this month for a couple of weeks with my brother and maybe bringing mum back with me to rainy old England. Maybe I'll see a bit more of this pretty area then.They had a lovely life and some lovely friends there, so I know that will be so hard for her to sell up and move back but France seems a very long way away when you need to get there quickly.
At the funeral, which was hastily sorted out within 2 days, they buggered up the music a bit and 'La Mer' by Charles Trenet managed to turn into a Boyzone song sang in Italian, I can hear my father tutting!...

so Dad..this is just for you. x

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Putting pretty back

Hillbilly Bella

Living with a grey sitting room is like living in a thunder storm. Well that's what I've decided anyway. hmmmm...bald bloke is not pleased with me. Fussy mare that I am.
It looked lovely when the sun shone (and when the brightness of all that snow shone through the windows) but who am I kidding? I live in England for goodness sake, by a big hill that makes its own micro climate that consists mainly of rain. We get a lot of  rain here.
So commences the process of putting just a little bit of pretty back.

 It has to be Celadon green. I LOVE Celadon green and it goes nicely with calamine pink and grey and funnily enough that olivey-yellow colour. Plans are being made.....
In the meantime, now that the stinky boys have both gone, along with the gadgets and remote control cars, pairs of crutches (found under the bed) and the general stinky stuff older boys seem to hoard, I once again have an empty house. Just me and the furry ones.
It's quite strange to start with I think I had 'empty nest syndrome' and although it was a relief to be shouty, stinky and untidy boy-free, I had that strange feeling wash over me that all of a sudden I was all alone.
It was the exact same feeling you get a few days after you give birth..but for the opposite reason. Funny that.

Inbetween a nasty chest infection and hacking cough that has lasted at least a month and looks like its got no intention of leaving just yet..oh and another dog bite (the perils of working outside in damp,sub-zero temperatures...and walking other people's dogs) I have been sanding and painting and planning and buying stuff I shouldn't on ebay..oops.

This was stinky Georges room.I couldnt believe the state it was in when he moved all his junk out, walls had to be re-plastered and the carpet cleaned 5 times! They're an 'orrible lot these boy creatures.Festering in their lair infront of the x-box.
It's going to be the guest bedroom, so all those visitors we couldn't have to stay before, can.
 Calm pale duck-egg walls and a pretty wardrobe filled with pretty pastel coloured 1950s hangers...both eBay bargains.
Our lovely old, but rather knackered looking, black metal bed has gone back in here and they'll be some other old bits and bobs added too.

 Bald bloke sprayed the fireplace with barbeque paint and it came out a treat. Looks like new.
 I remounted this beautiful iridescent vintage butterfly and added a little label.

 I need to track down The Laundry lady to purchase some of her gorgeous 40's style bedlinen, I've been hankering after some for a very long time.

 I still plan to sort out the loft and put some stuff in my shop or on ebay but the whole house seems to be in some kind of 'state' at the moment, once its sorted out a bit more I'll have some space in my brain free for the next mission.I find it quite therapeutic de-cluttering and simplifying our lives. All the curtains are being replaced with simple linen roman blinds.All the walls are being painted in calm ethereal colours and my hoards of 'stuff' are being relocated. Even the peace lily in the lounge is finally flowering after years of just leaves.

As part of the simplifying process,my Beastie truck got sold. I had been worrying myself silly about the MOT in July as it needed a heap of work doing and an even bigger heap of money to pay for it.A mountain of money almost. Scary. A young man came up to me in a car park on Valentines day ( ooh I thought my luck was in !!!) when I was walking the dogs, asking if I wanted to sell it. I was quite attached to my old truck and my heart was saying nooooo and my head screamed a sensible yes, a deal was done a few days later and he bought it for great price, in good knowledge of all the work it needed.
I'm now the owner of a boring old Ford estate, very economical, comfy and with a working radio. woo. (the enthusiasm is overwhelming there dont you think?) It's not going to seduce me with it's fancy gadgets and shiny finery I'm afraid, but it'll do for the mo.
Unfortunately the bloke who sold it wasn't as honest as me and the second day of ownership the blinking thing wouldn't start. Aaarrgh!
This was the snowy sunrise view of the hills out of the window the other morning. They were far more pink than they look in this rather bad photo and the moon looked like a glowing silver orb.
It was silent but for the birds chirping away. So pretty.    Roll on Spring....

Cheerio for now x

Monday, 4 February 2013

Grey January...

Our lovely 17 year old 'Desmond '
I'm slightly shell shocked by last month. (oooooh nooo doom and gloom!! ..surely not again I here you groan) Sadly, we lost another of our Kitties, lovely miss Daisy, also known as the cat with the most made up names: Dee-dee, Desi-arnez, Debbie McGee(lol), Maggie or Desmond,  but mostly Desmond thanks to Pete for some strange reason. She was the replacement kitty to cheer up a pining Basil after his sister Betty was run over many, many years ago.
 Our lovely, fluffy, friendly girl who had the loudest purr in the world and who wagged her giant bottlebrush tail like a dog, finally had to make that last visit to the vets with me. Very sad.
Poor old Desmond.
I do so miss her and her two lovely daughters Maud and Ethel. I get quite worried that Mr. B who is 18 this year and my lovely old black Labrador Red, who is 14, aren't going to live forever like they promised me they would. Basil wanders from room to room making the most dreadful sad howl. Poor old chap doesn't quite understand where his furry soulmate has gone.
sad Basil

I also lost an Uncle too. It was strange seeing my cousins again who are in their 40s who I hadn't seen since our early teens.We remembered times from our childhood and their Cocker Spaniel dog.
In our family you always seem to be remembered by your dog.
My second cousin Richard gave an amusing sermon involving urine, well the word 'urology getting muddled up with eulogy' (toilet humour must run in the family). It was much needed on what was a freeeeezing snowy day sat in a freeeeeezing Norman church.

When I was a teenager in the 1980s, that cousin called Richard was in a pop band. He happened to be the very talented pianist in The Communards (and Bronski Beat).. anyone remember them? Jimmy Sommerville and his very high voice might ring a bell.
 Now and again he pops up on TV and even hosted 'Have I got news for You' not long back. Fancy that!

The oldies came over from abroad and it turns out my poor old dad is really quite poorly. Losing his only brother has probably not helped matters much either.
France seems a million miles away when you don't possess a passport, your mum doesn't drive, you refuse to drive longer than an hour and a half and they live in a part of France that is in the middle of no-where. Hmmm.
He's having a scan tomorrow to see what is really up with those lungs of his. Fingers and toes are crossed.

In between the dips and gloomy bits there has been some good stuff, like my 'little' brother coming to stay. How I adore my little bro. We laughed sooo much and stayed up ridiculously late eating strange cheeses. he also made me try this posh salami and I likened it to eating someone else's scabs.(I haven't by the way..eaten someone else's scabs) much to his amusement and my utter disgust and horror, watching random old movies like 'The Fly' and drinking proper BRITISH tea.
The stinky boys idolise him and bombard him with questions about fancy cars and the latest gadgets and about once being the British Tae-kwon-do champion.
He's far more cosmopolitan than his 'hillbilly' knackered-pick-up-driving sis.
 I think we've talked on the phone more this year already than in the past 10 years he's lived in Canada. He's having a totally pants time at the moment, going through a horrid divorce, so laughter is what is needed... and Cake and BRITISH chocolate... so I'm told.
big Strudders little Strudders
 As you can see he's not so little, 6'3 in fact. Now we know who stole the tallness genes from his 4 older 5 foot nothing sisters.(I just grew outwards instead of upwards!)

Meanwhile, back at Shabby Towers, and inbetween an epic hair colouring disaster (I'm currently sporting muddy, dark, dishwater coloured hair..urgh) Bella nibbled the teeniest bit of wallpaper off from half way up the stairs, this in turn led to a chain reaction that ended up with my hall walls having to have the plaster chipped off back to the brickwork.
Cheers brown hound.
I know the hall needed decorating but we weren't quite prepared for it to that extent! Revamp time me thinks
.This is my mood board so far...


You might notice I'm moving away from the 'flowery stuff' and have gone a bit grey.Well, we've always loved the salvage/industrial look, old signs and letters off pubs, so we are going for a mash-up of old and new. I also have a colourful old fairground sign to put up somewhere. Pete is insisting that he wants the stairs to be dark grey. I'll need a little more convincing before he wields that paintbrush. A whole lot of simplifying life and home is going on at the mo,well, that's the theory
As it happens the last of the stinky boys is moving out later this month into his first home so before we decorate his room again and make it into a spare room and whilst it's void of boy-stuff we are going to completely empty the loft and garage (an epic chore) and then I will eventually be listing many bits of 'stuff' in my Blogshop.
 It's going to take a while, so be warned, I might be absent from here for a quite sometime.. but I've got pictures, mirrors, old chapel chairs,eiderdowns, vintage blankets, quilts, a pair of  rare Edwardian light bowls (from the hall) a Laura Ashley olive velvet Osbourne chair and kitchenalia galore to add at some point.
Ahhh clear out time! if you are interested, keep an eye on my side bar on this blog.

cheerio for now x

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Feeling festive twice over

Hooray! I'm actually looking forward to Christmas, now that makes a change doesn't it?
Probably because I'm actually seeing some of my spread-all-over-the-world  family this year. My not so little Canadian based brother is coming to stay, (he's nothing like me.. tall,dark and sporty as opposed to short, fat and blonde) but with the same stupid sense of  humor, we laugh soooo much when we're together
The oldies are trundling over from France and hopefully I'll even see my sister from Thailand too.Yay!
 We are having 2 Christmasses, a family one and a gifty one..mainly because pay day falls 4 days later than the big day and someone forgot to save any money up because of urgent plumbing repair jobs and a getting carried away with a certain room being
 Oh well, it will be fun having two festive days.We'll be like the Queen and celebrate things twice.

We even have two trees this year, the big fake one we bought in the sale last year and a little frosty larch one. I found some blue baubles in the loft from about 15 years ago and decided to go a bit patriotic and a bit kitsch in the dining room....

behold the Kitschmas Twee;

you can't see the bottom as I ran out of red spotty ribbon!

I sooo love these 1950's paper balls

some decorations get sneaked on the tree every year
and are looking a bit worse for wear 'well loved' these days

you can't beat a blue flocked reindeer
meanwhile, in t'other room, grey stag head has his headlights on ready...
  and it's all a bit sensible and frosty looking (still no blinds...)
don't tell the chickens!!!

...and it was all a bit frosty looking last week here too...loverley

 We are training Belle to wear her jingly Christmas antlers but she spends most of the time thinking someone is behind her. When they do fall off, she tears round the house with them in her mouth making sounds more like of a herd of Santa's reindeer.
Butter wouldn't melt hey?
 Old man Red, being very nearly 14 very deaf and almost blind will sit for ages in them but really is more bothered about getting his tea on time. My first ever post was about Red in his flashing Christmas hat, must be 5 years ago now...crikey!

it wasn't me...
 He has the delightful aroma of cabbage about him lately, lets hope humans don't end up stinking of cabbage when they reach 13 and a half in dog years... maybe it'll be sprouts after next week. Just for a change.

 Hopefully I'll pop back a bit more often next year but just for now ...
Happy Christmas to you...have fun! xx

Monday, 3 December 2012

49 and a half shades of grey

Before you ask....nope this isn't about THAT shade of Grey!

It's not very exciting stuff I'm afraid, what we've been up to really, something and nothing.
 I'd love to tell you we'd won the lottery and had buggered off to see the Grand Canyon in a convertible dining on nothing but sticky buns but alas, it's just been the normal boring stuff. Although, saying that....

Stinky littlest boy joined the Royal Air Force.He looks soooo grown up in his uniform, it's quite scary.

We went away 'oop North' and got to see the seaside on a stunningly beautiful but chillllllllly day where Bella unfortunately got poked in the eye with a stick (she's ok by the way) and Red got wooshed over by a big wave. We've also been doing a spot of decorating which has taken FOREVER but for no reason other than I can't be bothered with it all... oh and lack of funds to do it all in one go.Yep it's still not quite finished but I'll show you some sneaky peeks..

Cyril..who smells like old socks. Nice.
One job always ends up turning into 5 million more in this house,which I may have said already before.
The simple task of decorating the lounge, just a lick of paint so we thought but bigger cupboards had to be made either side of the fireplace and that in turn made the plaster fall know how it goes in old houses..urgh.
One.  Big.  Money.  Pit.
 I must admit I ended up sneaking off and making cups of tea or getting sidetracked by a magazine instead of getting on with stuff like the hideous chore of sanding.

 I'm turning into a right lazy tart in my old age.
paint;F&B Downpipe, Pavillion gray

Our 10 year old sofa had split at the seams and was becoming more than a bit uncomfortable, It was embarrassingly bad. Unable to afford the feather filled sofa of our dreams just yet, a trip to the 'Dodgy Furniture Store' surprisingly came up trumps with a simple grey velvet number (the never ending sale price and interest free credit for 400 years not surprisingly swung it). The evil twins Olive and Flo decided to pee on the our other one too, right through all the scatter cushions, seat cushions and base, not once but twice. 
 Library sign from 3potato4, a pressie from my little brother.
  They also did it on me when I was asleep in bed.Yuk! Now that was a seriously eeeeeevil thing to do at 3am I can tell you! I believe it was my punishment for having them spayed and keeping them holed up at home with a litter tray. It made the 'requiring of a new sofa' decision much easier though.
The not-so-little kitty gits will be banished from the lounge unsupervised from now on though.Grrrr.

Anyway, I've done a complete turn around in my ideas for this room, I'm not sure whether it works or not but we'll see. After about 10 pots of  tester paint we decided to go with the warm grey walls that stinky George's room was painted with. It was just right with the grey sofa and some charcoal roman blinds which will eventually be made from some bargain £25 linen-look curtains purchased from Ikea.(the shutters I long for are also on hold due to lack of funds).
shop letter via ebay from France

For someone that suffers with bouts of depression like me, it could be a dangerous step to go grey all the way, not to worry though, there's a bit of frivolous nonsense Cyril, the stuffed finch, a large French metal shop letter, a painted pigeon hole cupboard and some kitsch 60s stuff thrown in for good measure.

Cyril came from ebay, glass dome £4 (bargain!)Homesense,

 I was amazed to read in Homes and Antiques last month about vintage taxidermy as I had purchased the exact same butterfly on the cover and 'Cyril' only days before its publication. Fancy that hey?!

We bought some picture frames too from Ikea, a whole bunch of them half price for £4 each and filled them with some lovely butterfly prints from the wonderful emporium named Rockett St.George  (one of my very favourite online haunts)
 The lacy-but-industrial-looking rusty metal lampshade came from there too. It makes a lovely pattern around the room when you use the right kind of lightbulb!
 I usually hate any sort of change, become a grumpy mare and have sleepless nights worrying if it looks right or not but this time it was nice to go for something a bit trendier or colours I like but wouldn't normally consider. Luckily at this time of year you get lots of discounts, free postage and offers to tempt you, so lots was done quite cheaply.
Wooden stag Rocket&Rye, they sent the lovely snowflakes in my parcel as a pressie!
It's all looking appropriately wintery and festive now that we've begun 'Christmassing' up the house too.
One thing I do like is that by having plainer basic stuff, we can ring the seasonal changes with cushions
( yay for CUSHIONS!!!)
Velvet cushions cox &cox, vintage barkcloth cushion, ebay.
And if I do find it all too depressing and grey, there's always plenty more paint in the garage...

Cheerio for now. x
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