Category: house

Ode, owed x

 

We lost Molly on Wednesday, just a few weeks before her 17 birthday.  We knew the end was coming, but we were hoping she’d hang out just long enough.  We got her as a tiny puppy, small enough to sit in my hand, when I was going through repeated miscarriages and then a long bout of infertility; she was our first baby.

 

 

And my, she was a character! There was the incident when we had an architect to visit, and quietly and silently she took every item out of her bag, from phone to keys to hankies and carried them downstairs to a pile in the sitting room.  Another time, when Bella was being potty trained and we were laying a patio in the garden so Molly couldn’t be let out – this was the time when she was very funny about where she did her business  – we took her for a walk, but nothing. So we closed all the doors and expected a disaster. In the morning we came down to find a perfect poo – in Bella’s potty! During one lot of building renovations we had to live in Brighton for two weeks – and ended up buying Molly a square of fake grass to persuade her to wee! Although her favourite thing to wee on was discarded cigarette wrappers…she’d scour the common for them, then perform a dextrous three legged expulsion of both satisfaction and disgust. She also had a deep held hatred of pigeons, particularly  in her garden – all we had to say was ‘is there?’ and she would hurl herself through the dog flap to charge out to see off the infernal infidels.

 

 

When I finally became pregnant with Bella, Pauline, a local elderly lady started walking her to help me out – in those months, my world became very small in an attempt to hold onto the pregnancy – Pauline and Molly became as thick as thieves – Pauline would drop in at any time saying, ‘I just wondered if Molly would like a walk,’ and very often, on a Sunday, they would get the bus to the London Oratory and go to High Latin Mass together.  One priest once made a fuss, but never again, the other Fathers rallied around and even the Bishop said no, God cared for all animals, and promptly blessed her!

In later years, when Pauline became housebound, I would walk the kids to school, drop Molly off at Paulines, so they could spend the day together, then do the reverse at the end of the day, taking Pauline her shopping. Pauline is in a home now, still going strong, she knows Molly hasn’t been in the best of health, but I haven’t broken the news to her yet. It’s something I dread.

 

 

Our hope was that she would pass away in the garden, under her favourite tree; we had reached the point where quite often we were checking to see if she was still breathing.  Then this week, she developed a bladder problem, and we knew the time had come.  It is such a horrible call to make, you know it is a greater act of love to make it.  But it doesn’t make it any easier.  Particularly, as she did with us – rally when she got to the vets, she even went for a little walk, had a good sniff around…except we never got to the vets as such because of Coronavirus; they had to come out to the car with us staying 2 metres away. They gave her a strong sedative, and John carried her in the street, with me stroking, until she slipped into a deep sleep. Then we laid her on her red towel on her bed in the boot of the car, still stroking her. The vet came back out, and very gently asked if it was OK if they took her now. She wrapped her up like a baby and carried her away to give her the final overdose of anaesthetic inside: The Coronavirus has long tentacles.

 

 

The house has felt very strange without her. We knew this was coming, but the end happened far quicker than I think I was prepared for. Her bed, her bowl, her collar, the sound she made across the floor, the constant bumping and tumbling as she made her way around. But somehow we are getting little messages and reminders. The above picture is a still from our online sketchbook art session last night – and there’s Molly on her shoulder.

 

This is a screen shot from my copy of The Times homes supplement today.

She’s gone. But not forgotten.

Laters, Kate x

Garden Pod Planning..

 

In moments of lull I return to the task of designing the pod for the garden:  This summer is on it’s downward slide, which should be the siren call to have it planned and built all ready for next so I wonder why I haven’t yet done it.  Is it because there’s an acceptance that the journey is the richest bit? In my mind, the excuse I’m offering up is that I’m tussling between two strong statements – modern and boho.  I don’t know if it can be both.  I take each element on it’s own and turn it round, looking at it from every side, weighing up the pros and cons. Do they cancel each other out? I know I want two thirds to be a seated pergola with a covered roof but with walls that would filter the light, to provide respite and privacy.  Is the choice modern simplicity that’s kind on the purse? Or is this a last hurrah that requires something a little more?

 

(All pics Pinterest)

Laters, Kate x

Borders x

Chelsea Flower Show starts this week which means all things leafy and green. It’s made me think about our garden plans again and re-query the sticking points, one of which raised borders, yes or no, pros and cons, what material, where and how high?

There is a practical reason for wanting raised beds – we have a patio that requires power washing every year, but in the process the plants in the beds get waterlogged and generally die which means I’m in the same position each year looking at my sad, dying borders. Besides there’s something delicious about sharp edged, rendered borders, particularly when they’re painted dark.

Except I have a strong, internal design rule that like women, things outside should be able to age so that they look better with every passing year with the accumulated patina adding to their interest.  The obvious answer would be box hedging: great on the eye.  But wouldn’t solve the water logging problem. And we have the dreaded Box Tree Caterpillar, which destroyed the box hedge we used to have.

A brick wall would be fab.  But expensive.  So thoughts are currently leaning towards railway sleepers: Natural, dark and reasonable price bracket with the Brucie bonus of almost instant satisfaction.

(All pics Pinterest)

I need to sleep on it.

Laters, Kate x

Update x

The crochet is going great guns, particularly as we’ve come up with the perfect project to encourage repetition, practise and ideal tension: We’re making what can only be called ‘little socks’ for my dining rooms chairs to replace those sticky pads that only work to gather dog hair.

We did experiment with a garden string and twine, but for ease of make we’re going with a thick grey wool, though we’re both anxious about longevity – time will tell.

It also helps that the six chairs round the table are back with their newly woven seating, looking enticing.

So that’s only seven chairs and twenty eight more socks to go..

Laters, Kate x

Design Hero 1

Those true, authentic, all singing, all dancing design heroes – the things that not only work well, look good, but also punch high above their weight in terms of financial outlay and usability.  And for us, this £12 Nisse Ikea chair has to be up there at the top…we bought 6 of them for the garden four years ago, more as a stop-gap than anything else, but they’ve proved their weight in gold: They spend their lives outside, except when we have dinner parties or Christmas or birthday, then they get wiped down and in they come, still looking as good as the day we bought them. They’re light, flexible, sturdy and generally a brucie bargain – it helps that their light is shining more brightly at the moment as our ‘proper’ dining room chairs have gone to be re-woven, re-caned, re-woke…

(This is a pic of one of the less trashed seats…one was so bad it could be used as a commode.  That’s baaaaaad.)

But you’d never know these were the ugly sister.

(All pics Ikea)

 

Tres chic and tres cheap.

Laters, Kate x

Splashing Back x

Oh the unbridled joy of the hunt: I have found a company in Oxfordshire – The Douglas Watson Studio –  that specialises in English handmade and hand painted ceramic tiles.  And what beauties they produce..

 

The price point is high, but certainly cheaper than originals: Roughly £15 – £25 per tile on a sliding algorithm of less colour, less cost.

 

(Pics from The Douglas Watson Studio and Pinterest)

Tiles in situ: Such a small area to cover really………………

Laters, Kate x

A project x

There’s a project gaining traction, think space and do-ability: An office pod in the garden.  It’s been mooted before – it almost happened last year, but the husband was between jobs so it wasn’t the right time.  But the green light is now on to start thinking, planning and budgeting because I’ve worked out over the years, the more time you give to these three, the less it all costs because you work out whats important.  And what’s not.

The pod will need to be heated and although I love the romance of a proper stove, I believe in London, with concerns over air pollution and consideration to our neighbours, a cunning side step to an electric copy, like we did in the cellar will be the way to go: It will provide the visual representation, the heat, but none of the negatives.

Besides there’s always the joy of what goes round the stove..a small area to tile means flex in choice!

At present is a toss up between the modern approach of concrete tiles with large, dramatic patterns.

Or – and I was reminded of this option after seeing this picture of Alexandra Tolstoy’s cottage and splashback – a blue and white delft option.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could create your own? Pictures of coded memories??

(All pics Pinterest)

 

Decisions, decisions…

Laters, Kate x

Do fashions for wreaths change each year? Possibly is probably the answer – because despite the dogs being blinged to their eyeballs (including the recent addition of festive dark glasses, a cunning buy from a party shop) the pull for me for wreaths has become pared back natural.  Sadly our wreath of many years doesn’t quite hit the spot is on the door – it’s  simple version of fir cones except they’re covered in glitter, and every time someone brushes past, a fir cone falls to the ground..I think a bit of tender loving DIY is needed or it’ll become it’s own epitaph..

The perfect excuse for a little bit of Christmas craft. And breathe.

Laters, Kate x

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Exterior x

It was my birthday yesterday – Yippeee me! Meet my presents – Alfie and Bear, the two best dogs ever who now bookend the front door in regal fashion, the finishing touch to the newly painted exterior which finally can get it’s unveiling.

We also have new window boxes, made to size from a great company on Etsy so they sit properly within the window frame.  The black of the boxes contrasts the graphite of the paintwork.

The boxes have been planted with ivy to soften and tumble over edges, heucheras for their colour and cyclamen as they were the only white plant readily available at this time of year.  At some point trailing white geraniums will be added. It will be a pleasure to see the living wave of colour and white expanding and flowing out over the window sill.  I’m even thinking about adding them to the first floor.

 

The painted graphite on the outside of the house has been dramatic.  It has given the whole house a presence, made it feel bigger, added a modern gloss without compromising its history.

 

Very happy.

Laters, Kate x

 

 

The dark side x

The exterior of the house has been undergoing it’s dramatic transformation to the dark side…the scaffolding is now down but there’s a still few bits to go before the grand reveal: The front step is being taken back to stone, the letter box is changing to brass and I’ve ordered shiny black window boxes for the ground floor bay to act as a contrast to the dark grey…they’ll work a bit like the new black drainpipe does, drawing the line between black and not – without them I think the eye will register only black.  I’m after bright green trailing foliage and white flowers to balance the drama. Finally all the stone in the front garden needs a good blast to bring out it’s colour…it’s interesting times…

 

Laters, Kate x