Thursday, 17 August 2017

A brief domestic interlude

The first new-to-me dresser, acquired in a dealer-swop last week for four kitchen chairs.  It was looking a bit unloved when we picked it up - it had never been polished and the wood was dry and sun-faded, and a couple of the boards were loose on the back as it had been STAPLED together, rather than nailed.  Obviously the cheapo end of the market when first sold.  Now it is glowing and looking a lot happier decorated with the (bathroom! - it didn't get far!) "Yuan" china.  The cream scales were one of the first things I ever bought at auction, That would have been 1985.  They came from the one at Blandford Corn Exchange and cost the grand sum of £3.  They were in regular use until recently, when I got a rather smart singing and dancing set of modern scales with a good sized bowl on top which is now my go-to set, even for pounds and ounces weighing.  The basket (with Hydrangeas) on top is one that my dear departed friend Annie made.

I fell in love with this battered old pine cupboard at auction last week.  Someone has replaced the original top with huge slabs of pine, and it works!  It is going to take a bit of configuring about where it will go in the room, and there is much head-shaking from the man in my life, but hey, if I can live with it sticking out a bit somewhere, then so can he!  The old brass dairy bowl (used for apples) came from Malvern, and has been patched and mended, but that adds to its character.  The red French enamel pan is my dye pan.

This is the other pine unit which came from auction.  I took the black handles off before painting it with a couple of coats of Annie Sloane chalk paint in Antique White.  It's a very thick paint and it took me all afternoon to paint this, but looks much brighter already.  I have ordered a job lot of ceramic handles in a jadey green (Fleabay again) and will replace all the knobs on the kitchen cupboard fronts with them.  This is to hold my kitchen aids - mixer, breadmaker and electric pressure/slow cooker, which are bulky and took up room on the worktops prior to buying this.  I need to repaint all the cupboard doors too (same colour though, as it's easy on the eye).  Excuse mess and muddle in the kitchen - it looks like a bomb has hit it right now.  Oh, and I bought a pretty copper effect drainer to replace that horrid plastic thing.  It's all change here at the moment.

We bought several punnets of reduced strawberries, ate some fresh (with ice cream) and dried the rest.  I have to say, I don't think I shall bother again as they seem to be All Pips!

Cheesey Grins - bread muffins with a stuffing of grated Cheddar.  Eat when still hot.  Oh My!

A hasty fat Pizza made at the same time.  (Cheating and using the Dough setting on the Panny).

Gay's Key Lime Pie.

The other pair of Fleabay curtains. These are vintage Laura Ashley from the 1980s and are perfect for "best" in the sitting room.  These will only go up for viewings.  The morning light from the East is very strong in the summer and fades curtains, so I have the sacrificial dark terracotta/russet ones up for everyday use.

On Monday morning Keith went to Brecon to collect the furniture we had bought at auction.  He got the best of the weather as when Gay and I finally set off, it commenced to pour - and I mean, POUR!  We got soaked to the skin!!  We drove to Newcastle Emlyn as I wanted to go to Crosspatch, the lovely Patchwork shop there.  I had allotted myself some spending money and this is what I bought.  The Birdie Inn Bag pattern which is keeping me more than busy at the moment as I mindlessly sew small hexi's in the evening.  This calls for 1/2" hexi's but mine are bigger so I will need less of them.  I am looking forward to starting on the embroidery.

Slightly more of an indulgence was this beautiful table topper set, complete with materials and pattern.  I saw it made up in the shop and the design was so unusual I just fell for it.  I think I will need to sit down and REALLY concentrate when cutting it out etc, but I am sure I can do it!  The colourway I chose is a sort of warm autumn tints with pale terracotta, so it can be used to dress the sitting room when we have guests.

Now Gay has gone home, and I am left with memories of a happy holiday - we have been friends for 45 years (we started off as penpals).  We just pick up where we left off last time when we meet/talk on the phone and have long ago reached that stage of a companionable silence between friends when we have exhausted the conversation around our interests. 

I am back in my routines, and working through the long "to do" list which got thought through and written down after all the sleepless nights of the past 3 weeks.  It is a relief not to be wired for speed any more - I actually got 7 hours' sleep last night, which is a vast improvement of the 4 hours maximum I have been managing on lately.

I'm getting rid of the filing cabinet in here so the next job is to go through and chuck out 98% of the contents . . .  I may get in here and start the wallpapering and painting tomorrow if I'm not terracotta-ing the sitting room instead . . .

Eldest daughter Tam is at the Green Man Festival this weekend and we pick her up on Monday, so there's lots to look forward to, especially as I want to get Gabby and Danny back to visit whilst Tam's here.  It will be full house again for the first time since Christmas.

More photos from St Fagans

Inside the red house still.  A view through to a back bedroom.

We coveted this beautiful comb back Welsh chair.  It is stunning.  We have a similar one, only heftier, which someone "modernized" by cutting the top (comb back) off.  Keith is going to restore it this autumn/winter. . .

A lovely drystone constructed pigsty, very reminiscent of the tinner's Beehive Huts on Dartmoor.

Above and below: Inside the mill.  I have always felt an affinity with water-powered flour mills and this one was no exception.  Probably because I have millers and a journeyman baker in my Devon ancestry.  A lovely building.  Below: quern stones which were used in great antiquity until quite modern times to grind corn into flour.   I should imagine the resultant grit included in the flour did a wonderful job of polishing teeth flat too!

Above and below: further construction happening and these beautiful early Medieval buildings are being reconstructed from the groundprint of buildings uncovered on Anglesey.

More photos now:

The fireplace in the cottage by the Gorse Mill.  I could settle right in here!  Below:  it looks like Little Black Riding Hood lives here!  Very Scottish Widows . . .

The row of old miners' cottages, where each cottage encapsulates a different period.  The photos below are relevant to the first and earliest house (late 1700s I think):

As you can see, purely practical - no "boughten" stuff!

A lovely old Welsh dresser with Pewter plates and a few practical jugs and mugs.

Up the wooden stairs to Bedfordshire.  If you tripped on your nightie here, you'd come down faster than you went up - these are STEEP!

Drool - another primitive combe back chair.  A stunner.

Now: I have a date with a paintbrush, some Annie Sloane antique white paint and two needy pieces of furniture  . . .

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

A day out at St Fagans

We  visited St Fagans today (for a tour of Welsh vernacular architecture and social history) - I seem to have taken a fair few photos!  Here are a few to get started, as I just cannot sleep (yet again) despite having a couple of glasses of vino.  My brain is so buzzy and it's pointless laying in bed and making lists of "fings to do" in the house . . . of which there is a VERY long list, I might add. 

These first two photos were taken inside the red house below.  I love the pseudo flitches of bacon above the fireplace.  Note the snug box bed here too.

I managed to catch a sneaky photo of my friend Gay taking HER photo!  As you can see we were lucky with the weather (after getting soaked to the skin yesterday).

The "posh bed" upstairs, under its ceiling of knotted straw rope.

A shame I can't wipe out the figure in the background as this was such a peaceful little window on the world.

Back tomorrow with more photos as these are loading soooooooooo slowly tonight.  I am glad to say I am feeling better now I'm on half the dose of steroids and only 3 more days to go before I can knock them on the head completely and get on with life again.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Car boot bargains

Car Boot Lamp - £2.50, plus serendipitous shade from the Range, £6.99.  To go in the kitchen when the new dresser is painted up and in place.

OK, it's from 1994.  I still love many of the room settings though, and it is full of ideas for crackle glazes, painting furniture etc.  Useful and inspirational.

Above and below, a selection of little dresser pieces for the white dresser, £6 the lot.

A £3 cast iron French crock pot, nice and small, for a small 5 minute loaf of bread.  (Slightly worried now about using my lovely green one, as it said NOT to put it in the oven without anything in it.)

Right, we're off out any minute.  My new kitchen stuff from the auction is in residence.  Gay made a Key Lime Pie, and I made a loaf and two Apple Gingerbread cakes this morning.  It has been a LOVELY day in the kitchen.  Off to the craft shop now!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

I passed the Vet

Just a quick update to say that after speaking to the OOH Doc yesterday, she wanted to see me.  Then when we got down there, she suggested I might have a Pulmonary Embolism, so wanted a whole raft of tests done - bloods, X-ray and ECG.  I am glad to say that whilst we had quite a wait (because of having to sit around for the bloods to be analyzed) I finally got told that I had no chest infection, that there was just the slightest whisper of a crackle on one lung (Pleurisy symptoms) and that the pain I was getting round my chest (tight band) was muscular.  I was very relieved to be told it was this and NOT a Pulmonary Embolism or a heart attack!  I just have to take paracetamol up to 4 times a day to control the pain around the diaphragm which is what stopped me from doing much.  Last night I then managed six solid hours' sleep - the most I've had in three weeks now - and I felt better today.  I'm stepping down off the steroids too and will be glad to take the last one!

A good night's sleep enabled me to cope with a busy morning walking round two car boot sales and then doing the grocery shopping.  The bootsales were very worthwhile, as I got some bits for the house (a lovely table lamp which I then found exactly the right shade for in The Range later) and some stock too.  My Fitbit tells me I have walked over 21,000 steps today (nearly 14Km apparently!).  I shall be relaxing the next 3 days, now my friend Gay is here.  It's lovely to have her down here again and I am looking forward to showing her a few new places.  Tomorrow we are off to Cross Patch (patchwork and x-stitch shop) at Newcastle Emlyn, then down to Cenarth Falls for a pub lunch. 

So, I was mending anyway by the sound of things but the side-effects of the steroids haven't been helping me in the long run as you need to sleep to heal - and relax properly.  The more stressed you get, it has a knock-on effect on the asthma too. 

Photos of some of my buys today to follow.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Two steps forward, one back . . .

Well, sad to report my health has taken a downturn - that's the trouble when you can't rest completely and having spent all day yesterday at an auction, even though I was sitting down, I am not feeling too chipper today and hardly slept a wink last night.    The Pleurisy pain returned on Thursday evening and is worse now than when it first hit me over a week ago.  Not good when you have a dear friend coming for a few days.  I think we will be sitting looking at a seaside view with a good book apiece whilst she is here!

I was talking about synchronicity and things suddenly coming together and blimey, they certainly did yesterday.  The plans I had for revamping the kitchen took a whole new turn when this lovely little dresser (which I had fallen in love with last week) was unexpectedly back on the market after the folk who had measured up for it found it didn't fit.  We grabbed the opportunity and have bought this one as well as the pine one.  At the auction, I also got two more pine pieces and that is the revamp of the kitchen all sorted - just need to get it all home and start rearranging things.  Our original "dresser" is going - it is a lovely old honey oak Arts and Crafts sideboard, which Keith made a dresser top for when we first arrived here.  The pine dresser will go in its place and have the blue and white china on display.  This white (French?) dresser is going in what was the dark corner with the dark cupboard and I am full of plans for having pretty things displayed on it.  It needs repainting and I want to paint the top frieze with Cow Parsley.  I have just bought some Cow Parsley curtains in duck egg blue - clearance (!) from Argos and have sourced a similar roller blind from Homebase, which I hope to go and pick up on Monday as I am planning a trip to Swansea. 

At the auction I bought a shabby old pine base cupboard which someone had seen fit to fix three massive "planks" of pine on top of in lieu of a missing top - it is quirky and whilst it needs some work, offers good storage space.  It is going to go where we have an old luggage rack at present, and the luggage rack will be passed on.  I also bought a modern pine double cupboard to make a "return" storage unit between the sink and the inglenook, and we're going to put a worktop on it.  So . . . much to be sorted, when I am better.

Meanwhile I am going to go and find some mindless sewing to do (brain just not in residence to cope with x-stitch) - I managed to rip my decent trousers wide open on a metal upright on a table yesterday so have to fix those - talk about a wardrobe malfunction!  Several inches of middle-aged untanned thigh is not a good look to sport in public!!

UPDATE:  The a/b's have stopped working (as of Thursday evening I think, looking back) and I am now developing a chest infection (which is why I felt so rough and drowsy all day yesterday - I had put it down to overdoing things, and spending all day at the auction after an early start).  Just waiting for the OOH Doc to phone back and then when Keith returns from foreign parts, he can take me down to get checked out.  I felt better for just Thursday morning and then it has been downhill ever since.  Never mind.  Hopefully it will be sorted soon, and I will be able to enjoy having my friend Gay here for the next few days without collapsing in a heap in a corner.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Still bejeebered

Morning all.  You won't get much sense out of me today as I have been awake since 3.15 a.m. (again).  I shall be glad when I can start stepping down off the steroids, although at the moment I do still need them as my breathing wasn't good in the night again.  From tomorrow I can start slowly reducing the dose.

I bought this little Arts & Crafts child's chair at the Fleamarket on Sunday.  I just fell in love with it.  It's so individual and quirky, and probably a one-off piece - I can't find anything remotely like it design-wise in Internet-land.  It will go in our Unit this week and hopefully someone else will fall in love with it and buy it.

When I was in The Range buying Seagulls the other day (!), I grabbed a couple of packs of 99p bulbs.  When I am better, I am going to get Keith to help me refront a little slate-fronted raised beds down on "mum's" patio and put them in there. 

Being a glutton for punishment, I bought a tray of about 8 lbs of very ripe Peaches when we were at Chris Thomas's Greengrocer's warehouse at Abergwili on Tuesday.  For £1 I couldn't leave them behind.  I peeled and stewed up half of them yesterday for desserts this week, and then turned the rest into Spiced Peach Jam.  Looks good doesn't it?  Shame it hasn't set properly!  I shall put it back in the Maslin pan this morning with some of my home made Pectin and boil it up again.  I hope I don't lose the lovely pale colour and have it going brown.  I'll put up the recipe later.  UPDATE: hmm, didn't use enough pectin, still didn't set much better, so Pouring Jam it is then!

It is feeling very autumnal in the mornings now  and I will have to crack on with sorting out the garden and tidying it for the winter when I'm back to normal.  Anything with Large Leaves is going to be hoiked out and since that is a job for the mattock, I need to be completely well again before I tackle it.  I have a nice White hydrangea (£5.99 from Lidl recently) to go in the spot where the Oriental Borage has been for years (that's all talk and no trousers - small flowers in early spring and then gigantic leaves the rest of the year.)

As I laid awake last night, more plans have been going round and round in my head and the to do (and to buy!) list is getting ever longer.  However, I had a surprise yesterday when Keith suddenly set to and made me a shelf to go in the bottom half of the built-in storage cupboard.  We dragged out the contents which had not seen the light of day for many a year, and sorted through them. I didn't remember accumulating 7 cake tins (recycyling ones from Christmas choccies or biccies), but there was a useful wicker basket which my gardening stuff in the Back Place will be transferred into, and a little wicker shopping basket which I will polish up today and offer for sale.   Ditto a lovely old sycamore chopping board - too big for my needs.  Now my mixing machine, bread machine and slow cooker/electric pressure cooker are all stowed away out of sight.

Today we are going to pick up the Fleabay shower (brand new one) and this afternoon going to view the auction at Brecon.  There is a lovely modern pine dresser there (guide price £300 - £400) which would look great in the kitchen, but we can't afford it and I have a shabby old dresser already. 

Right this won't do.  Enjoy the sunshine (hope you have some too).

Further update: whilst we won't be bidding on the Nice Dresser at the Auction (fortunately it is a bit too big, either for the room or for us transporting it home), there is another piece we both like.  It needs a little tlc though, so hopefully will come cheaply.  On our way back we called in to the shop where we have our Unit, and came by a small pine dresser as a swop with another dealer for 4 pine chairs we had.  How's that for serendipity and synchronicity?  She desperately needed a set of chairs for a rental house her daughter's moving into, and the pine dresser is just the right size to go where the dark and gloomy slidey-door ex school cupboard is in our kitchen.  That can then be freed up to be sold in our Unit.  We've had it a long time - probably 25 years now.  It has served its purpose.

BTW, I have been sitting all day today, being driven or driving, and feel a bit brighter tonight. 

Oh, and remember I took 7 damaged jugs down from the kitchen beams?  Well, when I had washed the blue and white jugs from the bathroom, I ended up putting the four of them across the central beam (which has had stuff taken off it and was looking rather bare).  Photo to follow.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Resting . . . but achieving lots

I had to go and visit my neighbour this morning to arrange about picking up a shower unit later this week.  When we were looking at her geese and new hens, I spotted she still had LOADS of rhubarb and begged some for Keith, who loves it stewed up with crystalized ginger.  So I cooked that up on my return.  Half to be eaten this week, and the other half in the freezer.

Lovely Dandelion puff motif on the new voile panels in the bathroom.  One wasn't enough, it had to be a pair so I bought the other one today.  They look lovely.

The other two Seasidey bits for the top of the cupboard.

The china wot was there.  John D Wood's "Yuan" which I still love, but am having a long break from.  I'll get it all washed and wrapped and put away tomorrow, and then think whether or not I offer it for sale (but no-one is really buying old china like this any more - yet it was so collectable once.)  I also (get me!) removed 6 jugs from the kitchen beams so I only have them along the one beam now, my favourite ones.  I'll never be minimalist, but I can be "lessist"!!

There are now a pair of these smart copper spot lights in the sitting room and it's made a big difference to the lighting.  I was able to get my way and suggest that Keith no longer needed the standard lamp which I have loathed for many years and couldn't wait to see leave the room.  It was surprising how it broke the room up and made it look smaller, probably because of the big shade.

New to me curtains from Fleabay.  £15 including postage and packing, which I thought was good.  A good bit darker than the other (now faded) curtains I made and had up there for several years.  Again, the dark colour draws the eye to the end of the room and makes it look bigger (it's about 23 feet into the bay).  The new terracotta paint will be darker than what is on the walls at the moment.  I have bought some vintage 1980s Laura Ashley curtains too, also from Fleabay, which are on their way to me as I speak.  They are "for best" - viewings only.

Above and below: after tea I finally found the time to pick most of the Golden Rod flowers.  Here they are with stems, and below, mostly just flowers.  84g (I need 100g) but I may get another handful from what is left tomorrow.  Then I shall boil them up, simmer for an hour, leave to cool and then strain off and freeze the liquid until I have the mordant (alum) and some more wool spun up.  I just need to be "ill" long enough to "rest up" and do the spinning!

The "tops" I bought in town yesterday.  I saw a machine embroidery of puffins in the Stitch magazine I brought recently and thought, that would be great done as a needle-felted piece.  Banging away with the needles at the moment is probably not conducive to healing my Pleurisy, so that will have to wait until I'm fully better.

This is the book I read about when I was researching my dye project.  It sounded right up my street and it IS!  I've only read a few pages so far but am going down to immerse myself in it now.

FINALLY,  a photo of the wallpaper I loved.  I went and bought two rolls of it today which will be enough for in here.  It has a little touch of the Strawberry Thief in it, along with the Moongazing hare, and also reminds me of scraperboard work from the 30s.  Keith HATES it!!!