Succession to the throne

I am so excited by my new loo seat for the downstairs cloakroom.  It is a thing of beauty, handmade from solid oak and wonderful to the touch – clearly I won’t be rubbing my hands and caressing it once it’s in place but for now it’s resting on the loo in the  middle of the living room and I just love it.

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Oak throne seat

Doors, a Victorian melodrama

In my old flat the biggest wrench was leaving behind the big Victorian windows that adorned my living room and kitchen. I would look at properties and write them off because they didn’t have ‘the windows’.

‘The windows’ from my previous flat

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Being a tad impetuous I decided to buy the windows below on Ebay, even before I’d found my house.

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This is where it gets a bit crazy.. my original flat had a lovely big garden where I intended to store the windows.. however the windows came in one very large frame and as my flat was part of a Victorian terrace there was no way I would be able to carry the frame through the house and to the back garden. I paid the Ebay seller a small fee for time wasting and then forgot about them.

Not long after I found my house in Wally. I checked Ebay to discover the seller had been let down by another buyer and so they were for sale again. So I bought them for a second time.  When we went to collect them she had also failed to realise that they were too big to remove from her garden, luckily a friendly neighbour allowed us to dismantle his gate to get them out.

At Wally the terrace issue raised it’s head again but my new neighbour very kindly allowed us to take down part of his fence and we were able to cut through his garden to get to mine. The windows spent the winter languishing under tarpaulin.

The hole in the wall waiting to receive

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Now the tragedy is that windows were actually too tall to fit in the space, being part of a terrace meant that raising the roof wasn’t an option.  We also considered lopping a great chunk off the bottom but this would have meant the doors would no longer effectively be doors as they would be too short to walk through without bending down.

After much wringing of hands I conceded that the window running along the top of the frame would have to go. The builder putting the window in just kept telling me to throw them away and get new windows, the dreaded PVC.

It seems everyone is ripping out these windows and replacing them with the PVC bi-folds but they just remind me of the old ‘ranch sliders’ – the sliding doors that became the rage in the eighties. Granted they let in a lot of light but I’m not convinced that they altogether suit small Victorian properties.

The windows should be in by today so I am waiting nervously to see how they will look, my biggest fear is whether they will let in enough light.

The first part of the frame has gone in!

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They’re in!

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This green and not so pleasant land..

That early bit of spring-time sun always makes you think of the garden. In this house I knew I had one but since moving here in September it has been ignored or used as a dumping ground for building materials. It didn’t really have much going for it, unless you like mountains of ivy.

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All along I’ve thought the garden is the not a priority. If I have any money left at the end of this renovation then perhaps the garden can benefit from it.  At least that was the plan until I realised that when I knocked the kitchen wall out and put the windows in, I would be gazing out at it, or put another way it would be glaring in at me.

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So yet another workstream has begun. After all, half the purpose of having a room that looks out to the garden is about having a garden worth looking at.  It’s taken four men two days to more-or-less clear it. They uncovered two butler sinks, one of which was home to a frog. I felt sorry for the poor fellow losing his home like that. I only hope he managed to hop away safely to a new residence.

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Living room doors

Despite constantly pulling out the tape measure I’m always surprised by the size of things in real life once delivered. So when the new (reclaimed) doors were strapped to the roof of car I had to wonder whether I’d been looking at the wrong measurements. Apart from being incredibly heavy they seemed huge.

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But once propped up against the wall they seemed more or less normal

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The doors had been stripped and as they will be doors to the exterior they will need to be painted. On the outside they will be green but on the inside I am still slightly unsure as whether to leave them as is or to paint.

This is them from the outside – ignore the orange this just masking tape. They are currently in Fired Earth’s Wild Olive but I’m struggling a little bit with the underlying yellowness of this green so they may end up being Farrow and Ball’s Caulke Green. Like Little Bear said they will need lots of layers of paint on the outside so it’s not a complete waste.

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Ebay purchase #102

Ebay purchase #101

Ebay for the most part has been a friend during this development but I have bought some doozies… I try not to think about those objects too much. The sorry article usually finds its new home is in my bin or if it’s lucky in a box in an attic. Sometimes you have to take a gamble and act on a hunch, one that says yes, I’m going to look great at your place. One of those hunches is winging its way down from North Yorkshire as we speak. I bet my builders can’t wait. The things they hate the most are  typically the things I adore – basically anything preceeded with reclaimed, antique or original.

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Reclaimed brass taps for the downstairs cloakroom.

Hello bricks

The writings been a bit sporadic this year. After Christmas there was a bit of a lull. I changed builders, I went on holiday which far from being a bad idea, is actually essential during a long development.  Living and sleeping in the dusty environs had left me with an unshakable cold which turned out to be a sinus infection. Relentless breathing of dust it turns out isn’t terribly good for you.

Anyway my house is covered in murky brown stuff, thick and lumpy. After a bit of investigation online which presented the most polarised of views  from those who say leave well alone, the render is there to hide something terrible – to those of  marvellous transformation.

Well after a very short period of deliberation I decided the brown-stuff had to go. Whenever I showed people a picture of my house the first comment would be – what are you going to do about the brown stuff? Followed by,  what actually is it?.

It’s work in progress but in my uniformed opinion it’s all looking pretty promising.

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So up went the scaffolding

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and then the curtain, which in my head I assumed was something to do with the big reveal – obviously something from reality TV has seeped into my psyche. But actually this was just to stop the dust from flying into neighbouring properties.

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And now in about two weeks time I shall see the final result…but as I said things are already looking rather promising.. a sneaky peek

Entrance before

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Entrance now

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I now have two weeks to decide what colour the masonry and window sills are going to be…

The ghosts in my house

I once had a flatmate from Japan who told me she found it strange that we mostly lived in second hand houses.  Personally I’ve always preferred the character of old houses and while appreciating the clean splendor of modern builds, I couldn’t imagine living in one – unless of course it was coupled with an expansive ocean view or verdant greenery.

When I moved in I was aware that there was a bit of junk in the attic but having filled the place with my own junk I wasn’t in a hurry to delve into anymore boxes than I had to. In recent weeks the personalities of the previous inhabitants have started to emerge.

The house was built around 1850 as servant quarters to a large manor house that has since been turned into a municipal building and from what I  understand my property has not changed hands too many times since.  So here are some snapshots from the attic, starting with something grizzly from the 70’s…

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Less said about these the better.

What I found next was entirely fascinating and had me musing about how bereft we should feel about the loss of letter writing and printed photos. I found a little cache of letters which I have only briefly looked at but none-the-less felt charmed by the writers hand and the civility with which the correspondents addressed each other.

This letter is dated 8 December 1940, the person explains how she has moved away from Southampton as it’s been bombed and most of the shops are gone. The writer explains that the town is destroyed and that all their windows and doors were blown in, and for twelve nights they had very little sleep.

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The latest find however is a clothes dryer, I have no clear idea of it’s age I guess it could be from any time from the late 1800’s onwards but I’m going to find a suitable place in the house to resurrect it. I’ve  waxed it and little bear made a minor repair. The wood has come up very nicely, the pulleys are still in working order, it’s really just the ropes that will need replacing as they are layered in ancient dirt.

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