Category: Family life

Poo tree..

The clouds are a watercolourist’s delight today, grey leeching into darker grey with the foreboding promise of a deluge, which is a bit of a concern as we have a tree-back-slash-large-bush that has developed the questionable power of smelling like dog shit every time there’s rain. It’s potency is so far reaching that innocent pedestrians have be known to check the soles of their shoes when they walk by.  Whilst the comical delight is strong, the aroma is not but I think I’ve finally discovered the culprit…

The source of this sick joke is the viburnum beetle, an insidious little creature whose larvae not only manages to munch away at the leaves, but also passes a very smelly excrement that seems to come into it’s own in damp conditions.

For something so powerful to be coming from something so small and not furry with four legs and fed on meat is quite mind blowing.

Help is at hand..this is my first choice of action as recommended by various websites.  After that it’s adios bush, which would be rather a shame…but this is war. And I will win, if only for my nose and the postman.

 

Laters, Kate x

 

Illusions x

It’s a mad old time at the moment – both kids starting new schools, husband working away from home during the week, scaffolding up, decorators in both inside and out. It does mean Bella’s room is finally being decorated – more on that later.  But making the final decisions in consultation with her has meant much pinning on Pinterest. First there’s been finding the line between what she wants now versus what I believe would stand the test of time and take her through her teenage years…an interesting discussion.  But there’s also been a feeling of walking between a real world and an imaginary one and reaching a point where the two seem to collide into a strange reality.  As we’ve both been pinning and sharing inspiration it’s become more and more obvious that what looks good isn’t always practical, and if it isn’t practical, does it deserve it’s title of good? Take the kids room above, an eclectic vision of white pepped with colour and texture.  But the ladder..why?

At first glance this is a minimalists wet dream with toys framed beautifully to catch the eye like tempting abstract art.  Except how can a child reach them? Stand on the rocking chair? Maybe borrow the ladder from the picture above?

Same problem here.  Except don’t you look at all of these and feel sorry for the kids? The toys are so carefully chosen and exceptionally curated, not because they’re fun to play with but because they’ll photograph well, give the right image..this is a sickness that is contagious..

Or else you’ll get the room where there aren’t any toys at all.  Because..well..playing is just so overrated isn’t it? Far better for kids to just to suck it up that they’re going adults and get used to it, perception over substance, pretence over truth, the new modern dream…maybe I need to go and live with the Amish..or not! But embracing what is beautiful and what is practical seems a basic, honest step…

 

Laters, Kate x

Greece 2018

What better way to embrace the autumn than with memories from the summer..the following are a few of the best from our soujourn in Greece where if there’s a theme running through it’s crystal water and the beauty of clouds. And the fact that for a whole month my kids only wore one swimming costume…

 




Laters, Kate x

Front Garden..

Heading to the DIY shop today for wire brushes, sand paper, fillers and primers whilst imagining the perfect front garden:  I have this quiet obsession developing for a statue of a dog to stand sentinel by the door – I’ve already caught myself searching on Ebay so I know it’s serious. It can’t be an expensive one as I’ll never persuade The Husband (hmmmmmmm – mind at work – present for Father’s Day?!, ‘Here Husband, have the concrete dog you’ve always wanted but never knew you did..you love it, don’t you?!’) Besides the chances are it’ll get nicked, but there’s a persuasive voice in my head saying ‘get a faux concrete one and paint it with yoghurt, the resulting green algae will soften, age and add character’…will it be enough to blur the line between kitsch and statement? It’s a risk..

But I can see him there already, proud, endearing, ever present…with a party hat on for birthdays, skeleton mask for halloween and baubles for Christmas: Fun, joy and no poos to clear up.  Win win.

The search for the perfect Fido has meant other garden art has also popped up, some of it sublime.

(All pics Pinterest)

 

Think I’ll need a bigger garden..

Laters, Kate x

Ice Water Challenge x

There was this post about the cold water challenge three of us set ourselves in September: Could we swim in the open air unheated pool without wetsuits through the winter? Then last week, the Beast from the East dropped the temperature and raised the question could we rise to the ultimate challenge in the snow?

The air temperature was minus three, the water was one degree but both the pool and sky were an inviting blue.

For those that asked, no the changing cubicles are not heated and are open to the elements.  But this helps – you get acclimatised and your core remains constant.  Strangely the two moments of biggest shock are when you’re changing into a cozzie on the cold concrete floor(why-the-f***-am-I-doing-this-I-must-be-mad) to when you’re changing back again from a soaking wet swimsuit and you’re feeling fine – your whole perception of temperature and what cold is has changed – it is literally mind altering, though it helps that there is a sauna to run to to warm up for a good twenty minutes, but you’re still walking around in the wet in silly temperatures..it’s a large pool.

Oh how we laugh in the face of adversity!

The temperature categories for cold water swimming are anything above five degrees is cold water, five degrees and below is ice water.  This was the first time we’d actually swum with ice.

Sophie heading in – there’s no hanging around – commitment is the name of the game.

My turn!

Adding a little bit more magic to a special day: The life guard serenading our swim!

We only effing did it!

If you’d told me in the summer that this is what we’d be doing in the snow, I’d never have believed you. But this bonkers, wonderful, incredible experience has steadily proved that anything is possible: You don’t have to be the best, the fastest, or the winner…you just have to do it. And preferably with a great mate.

 

Laters, Kate x

Bella’s room x

There’s a promise I need to keep and that’s redecorating Bella’s room:  Never an easy thing when they want identity and you’re spending the hard cash.  So in the knowledge of generational divide and the spirit of finding the grey area she’s been pinning her inspiration.

(All pics Pinterest)

 

I don’t think I need to worry. Hashtag my girl is growing up. Fast.

Laters, Kate x

The three amigos x

This school year and certainly the start of 2018 has been tainted by the unavoidable: Our eldest facing the horror of Year 6 secondary school exams.  A hideous time and one of the horrible consequences of living in London where there are too many children chasing too few places.

As a parent you can make the decision whether to join the pressure party or take a more fatalistic approach – for many reasons, our choice is the later.  But even the choice of a relaxed attitude is not without it’s mental fuck ups: Guilt, doubt, even fear – We chose this school route for them – nobody put a gun to our heads – and when the kids are lining up to go into another exam it’s not easy to stand firm against a serious onslaught of questioning anxiety.

A shining light during this time has been our weekly cold water swims at the open air lido in Tooting.  Started at the beginning of September as a conscious way to replicate and appreciate what the kids were going to go through, it was meant as a challenge – could the three of us swim through the year without wetsuits? We’ve watched the saturated colours of summer turn to the stark realisation of winter, leaves turn and mists fall.

We kept going, even when it meant swimming in the sea in October.

Each week is the unspoken question – is this the week we fail?

And each week, as we emerge newly pink it’s like we’ve been fitted with a new coat of bespoke armour ready to face the world: Bulletproof mate, bulletproof.

It’s been a joy, a pleasure, life affirming and life saving.

I swear our blood is a different colour now.

Laters, Kate x

The details..

Sometimes it’s the big things that lift a room from the regular: glowing parquet floor, high ceilings, large windows and stunning plasterwork. The oversized mirror ticks the boxes too.


But sometimes it’s the little things like subtle panelling that just catch the eye and jog the memory that can also be tasty.

It’s this train of thought that has influenced plans to elevate the study-renovations-on-a budget: Adding a layer of trim above the skirting boards to suggest height and grandeur, a rectangle of trim on the ceiling to imply cornicing and plasterwork where there is none, simple beading on cupboard doors to give them a sense of age and a box of trim on the wall above my 99p fireplace from Ebay (I jest not) to infer wealth and affluence.

 

(All pics Pinterest)

Because until you can’t make it. Fake it.

Laters, Kate x

Progress x

It’s all happening at Chez Bentley.

The bathroom suite is still in our bedroom!

But the carpet in the study is gone!

But I’ve managed to eek out a workspace…

For now.

 

Laters, Kate x

The builders are here..

We’re in a little bit of chaos.  Our lovely builders who did our kitchen texted on Monday to say ‘we have a slot free starting tomorrow, so would you like us to do all those other little jobs you’ve made a list of?’ Which is great in one way, because we were just about to decorate the study (although we were in that phwoo phwee stage of ‘should we do this just before a Christmas that we’re hosting? It’s going to be tight and I’m not sure if we should lose the present cupboard just yet’)…Except they will help make the study really special by fitting the fireplace, making new shelves and giving us the kick up the backside to get started.  It was panic stations yesterday.

It’s all cleared now.  And the spare room looks like a reclamation yard again.  Which is a shame…

Because that’s where we’ll be sleeping for a while as the family bathroom suite is now in our bedroom…another one of those ‘little’ jobs on the list is to replace the bathroom floor.  We converted the bathroom from a bedroom eleven years ago and whilst most of it has stood the test of time – I still love the Cole & Son wallpaper –  the floor hasn’t.  It looks tired and because the house is old, tiles have cracked so it’s farewell horrible floor, you’ll not be missed.  And hello wooden floor when you come! Yup, as a huge fan of my wooden floor in the kitchen – best decision EVER. We’ve made the potentially impractical decision of having similar herringbone parquet but on a smaller scale in the bathroom.  Except the kids are now older and to be honest…and boats are made of wood…..and the joy of wood is a) it doesn’t show the dirt and b) it’s flexible. Win bloody win.

We also made the mistake of scrimping on the taps and shower and ordering from Bathstore. Never again.  They need to be replaced as well. Sigh. Most of the tiles will remain, although the ones around the bath will go.

I’m hoping to keep the Victorian style tiles to the left of the bath, whilst the rest will be replaced with white/grey marble.

The final job on the list is to plaster and skim the backdoors into place that were retrofitted on the ground floor.

 

There’s not a space untouched..

 

 

Laters, Kate x