scribbles tagged ‘homestead history’

Party lift

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

A creature of habit, on Sunday morning I carry my empty bottle and glassware to the recycle bin in the garage. I rarely meet anyone in the lift. This week, the 5 people in the lift chuckled when they  saw my collection of 3 bottles and one commented that my Saturday might looked more fun than his.

this is a week’s worth of bottles… honest…. ……that didn’t sound very convincing did it”

Chorus “No

stairwell only in emergenciesThe stairwell in the lofts is currently out of bounds, except for emergencies. It’s full of paint fumes. People would get high on the stairs if they accidentally used them.

lift out of orderOne of the two elevators is not working, due to be repaired within 2 weeks.

Can you guess what’s happening?

Sociability enhancements! I’m loving it.

Long waits for the elevator to arrive mean people meet each other while waiting. Frequent stops at each floor mean the elevator quickly fills with people, packages and puppies. We talk, smile, laugh.

It’s jolly nice.

I hope the elevator stays broken for more than 3 weeks.

what do you think of that »

Big white balls on the ceiling

Sunday, August 9th, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

Bare bulbs in basic ceiling fixtures provide harsh and inadequate light for the Wendy loft. At the moment.

Lighting6 months after moving in  I’ve gotten around to ordering lighting fixtures from ‘Lightworks‘ an awesome little family company that renovates old fixtures, designs and makes new fixtures and just loves lighting. I’ve spent several visits just sat on a bar stool in the shop talking to Charles and Kathryn while Wes walks through and the new puppy tries to get into the showroom.   They are lovely people.

LightingI’ve bought some plain pendants with 18 inch hand blown glass globules ‘shades’ that will cover two bulbs. The photograph is of the shop demo with an 8 inch globe. I’ll have bigger balls, in each room.

I’ve also commissioned them to renovate a standard lamp (circa 1920s) that mum and dad bought as a housewarming gift when I moved to Seattle in 2000.

Charles and Kathryn loved this and told me that if it was being sold today they’d expect about to get about $2,500 for it. WOW, that’s added a couple of zero’s onto what mum and dad paid for it!

By November the loft should have adequate lighting…

4 bits of fabulous banter »

Forgetting to remember

Saturday, June 27th, 2015 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

City HallTo enrol for automatic payment of Wendy loft property taxes, I had to find the right website, print a form, find a pen to write on it, find an envelope to put it in, find a stamp to put on the envelope, then it get it to a snail mail address at the Gotham city style country treasury office

They send an annual invoice with a 2 date payment schedule. The first instalment is due 6 months after the invoice

I forgot to remember to pay my first instalment

The county has a reminder system, but you need to know that you have to sign-up for the reminders. I didn’t sign-up, I assumed I would be reminded

They’re not making it easy for me to give them money on their schedule

what do you think of that »

Mind the gap

Sunday, April 19th, 2015 | tags: ,  |

My furniture is shrinking

Starved of the natural moisture provided in the old, damp, Wendy House of the UK

It’s showing the strain as gaps appear. Oh Dear

shinking wood

Cupboard door no longer fits

shrinking wood

Seams in cupboard panels no longer meet

shrinking wood

Panels in my settle no longer reach their supporting borders


3 bits of fabulous banter »


Saturday, April 11th, 2015 | tags:  |

Oil copies of Rembrandt portraitsBen BauerAll my key art pieces  are hung.  They’re delivering mood changing and enhancing views from carefully chosen apartment walls.

Phillipo Lippi’s “Madonna” reminds me to wash my hands as I move from the bathroom into my bedroom. She prays for me at night and watches over me sleeping.

A couple of Ben Bauer views of the Minnesota landscape bring calm and countryside from the distance into the main living space.

Rob Piercey’s Snowdonia landscape and boats bobbing in Portmadoc harbour (Cei Ballast) show both peaceful and expansive opportunities for a fresh day. They greet me when I open my eyes each morning.

The 16th century maps in the living space show where I’ve been. They map my history with places.

A couple of (oil copies of) Rembrandt portraits keep an eye on everyone who enters my apartment and guest room. The evening light runs across them highlighting different brush strokes and their eagerness to look into my world.

Still unhung are the 20 Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac prints. I’m waiting to find out where and how they can move the apartment’s “feel” in the best direction. For now, they decorate the bedroom floor and move around the apartment in pairs and triads, testing the local light and mood like lost souls.


1 wonderful musing »

the scary balcony

Saturday, March 28th, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

Shadows from evening sunshineDog park in distanceExchanging the Wendy House staircase of doom for the Wendy Loft scary balcony, is a novelty. As the weather warms I’m sending myself as a scouting party onto the balcony to discover it’s virtues:

To the east in the morning an active dog park & neighbours’ BBQ’d balconies of similar scariest quotients

To the North in the evening dramatic shadow cast through the legs of a local state route ramp


The grass is yellow from months of snow-covered sun starvation. Now we’re in a ‘drought’. It hasn’t rained since I moved here in November. The local’s tell me the snowfall has been very light. It seems to come 3-6 inches in a couple of hours, but only for a couple of hours and not frequently. During the winter months snow falls and stays, gradually accumulating then spring temperatures above freezing melt it away.

1 wonderful musing »


Monday, February 2nd, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

Marriott hotel firepitAfter a 2 month sojourn in Norfolk, Virginia, container port, my belongings arrived in Minneapolis. Hooray! They avoided the big storms.

Alas, when they arrived I wasn’t in Minneapolis to greet and shepherd them into the loft. Arizona’s nice this time of year.

pre-occupied kitchenWhile my belongings have been elsewhere indulging in meditation and mindfulness, I’ve been preparing the loft for their arrival, adding peanut butter, porridge oats, honey and tea to the empty kitchen cupboards. I’ve not yet found a local Marmite, or twiglets, source.

My dusty things arrive today

Today I spend my first night in the loft

This is as near as I’ll get to what my aunts and cousins call ‘settling down’ which is what they think I should be doing. Apparently, I’ve left it a bit late…

5 bits of fabulous banter »

Dyson animal unpacked

Monday, January 19th, 2015 | tags: ,  |

Dyson packedI’ve picked up a cleaner, ready for when my dusty stuff escapes from the container port in Virginia that has held it since mid December.

My last vacuum purchase was a Dyson animal canister vac. It was a joy to unpack and worked a treat for my 7 years in Britain. I want that again.

This Dyson animal is an upright, my first. Unpacking was an unpleasant surprise. How should I get into this box? How many bits of over folded and slotted cardboard? How many plastic bags? A bag to carry all my pieces? Totally unclear which bits go into which pockets in the bag. The bag was something I don’t need or want. Nearly 30mins of frustrating unpacking and it doesn’t even have an auto-retractable cable.

It feels flimsy, not sturdy like my canister, I hope I grow to love it because our first meeting has not been auspicious


Dyson unpacked

what do you think of that »

Bob the building manager

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

Bob the building managers officeBob the building manager is a hero in my world, and it’s only my first day in the Wendy house loft. Bob’s not his real name. We met in the car park of my apartment building. It started with a friendly hello and within the hour I’d discovered many things that make Bob a hero. Bob:

  • Was a fireman for 20 years, in the military for 20 years, working in schools for 20 years. This is his retirement job. He showed me his office, it’s a treasury. He reminded me of the fisher king.
  • Sorts through the waste in the building dumpsters. He pulls out stuff that can be reused, rather than recycled. He cleans it up, fixed it, then takes it to the Salvation Army centre. He proudly showed me two vacuum cleaners that he’d fixed.
  •  Collects the ‘art’ that is thrown out and uses it to decorate the room where all the garbage falls from the chutes on each floor. He calls it his gallery, and it is, cheerful diverse pictures.
  • Carves wood into toys for children, planters, decorative mail boxes. He has a series of aeroplane hanging in his office.
  • Has dozens of grand children, their faces all smile down from around his tool board in his office. He introduced me to each one, and his siblings and parents.
  • Lives in the building with his wife who has a wicked sense of humour.
  • Told me that someone very, very, very senior, in the company I work for, rents an apartment in the building. Told me how much the rent was. I nearly fell over. Clearly a different floor plan to mine, bigger and with downtown views on the top floor.

Garbage disposal chute endBob's carvingsI could have spent the whole day hanging out with Bob, he was great company. I’m glad I decided to live in an apartment instead of a house.

If  can, I’ll spend time helping Bob

2 bits of fabulous banter »


Sunday, January 11th, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

homeSince November my key fob has been a little empty. I returned neighbours keys. Instead of a house key I’ve been using a hotel swipe card.

Now my key ring has returned to full jingle-too-big-for-pocketness. It holds

  • Apartment mailbox key
  • Car key (fob)
  • Garage,  apartment building key (fob)
  • Apartment door key
  • Security storage locker room key

My apartment is empty because my belongings are in a shipping container that’s been caught in a container jam in Norfolk VA since 23rd December. Meanwhile I can start visiting my empty apartment to fill it with new electrical goods and work out how to get the internet working before moving in.

This may be the last time I see the polished concrete floors before they’re covered with cosy Persian rugs…

The keys tie me to a cosy life with a home even if the building is still bare.

1 wonderful musing »

Queen of the Orangerie

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Sampo is the Queen of the Wendy House Orangerie. Here we see her surveying her Queendom, making sure the rug doesn’t escape and no unanticipated guests can sneak in through the new French doors. Sampo doesn’t trust those French doors.


1 wonderful musing »

Sated sofa search

Saturday, April 26th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

sofaI bought my first sofa aged 31 in 1994. At £899.00 it was a BIG purchase. Only the house and car cost more. We visited many sofa shops, we asked friends, we searched online. I saved up for a year and we used interest free credit for 3 years. It was a cast iron frame, hand made, sofa bed. I loved that sofa, it was so comfortable, in forest green, mustard and rust colours. The sofa moved several houses with me and eventually went to Seattle.

After 10 years of intensive use, in 2004, it looked its age. The arms had faded, the pattern was dated. It was still awesome to sit and sleep on, but I’d tired of it. I tried selling it on Craigslist as an imported, handmade classic British sofa. But even for $50.00, there were no takers. Eventually I got to a point where I was grateful that someone just took it away. It left to adorn a nice fellow’s mountain cabin porch where his Great Dane would enjoy lounging on it.

I’ve procrastinated on buying another sofa since then. 10 years of procrastinating, that deserves some kind of award. Close friends have pointed out that a front room without a comfortable sofa is not really good enough. I’ve got individual chairs, I’ve got a 17th century ‘Settle’, I’ve got a love seat. There are places to ‘sit’ comfortably. But a sofa seems a social necessity.

sofaSince moving back to the UK I’ve been searching. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to my search for a sofa. I’ve sat and bounced on sofa’s in stores, on my own and with friends. This has helped me to refine my awareness of my sofa purchase criteria to:

  • Enough room for a cat to run underneath it
  • Enough room for a vacuum cleaner to run underneath it
  • Classic or innovative design
  • A  tight proportion of seat-space to sofa-size. No big arms or areas not used for sitting-on
  • Plush, something that says ‘luxury’
  • I can fall asleep on it (sat-upright and lying down)
  • It can fit through my cottage front door and round the immediate hallway corner
  • Must tone in with my golden and orange Persian rug

Finally I took my credit card to Bright of Nettlebed and commissioned a 2.5 seated Coleridge with claw and ball mahogany legs, feather seat cushions. The photograph was taken in the Nettlebed showroom. I’ve placed my choice of fabric over the back.  The gold is a thick thread that has a delicate pattern as part of the weave using different textures. The orange thread is thick, like a dense chenille. It reminds me of the

  • Designs of Charles Rene Macintosh
  • Warmth of fire
  • Symmetry of Japanese designs
  • Gentle curves of nature.

The sofa will arrive in August… …when they’ve made it.

3 bits of fabulous banter »

nature’s pace

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 | tags: ,  |

April 2008. As found on moving in, lots of patio and a small  lawn
Stalking a Cautious cat

April 2009. Rearrange Patio, introduce borders, do some planting, and put a hair sculpture over the drain lid
April garden 

May 2010. Almost getting some ground cover and some flowers to welcome me home from work

March. 2011. Add more garden furniture…. wait for plant growth
Morning light

April 2014. Enjoy the Easter sunshine and the last few years lf plant growth taking the borders to waste height. The dwarf trees (Acers) may stretch to near 6ft in another decade….
Spring in the garden

2 bits of fabulous banter »

colour saturated grass

Monday, April 14th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Estate Agent #1

  • This is the only other coach house on sale in the area, one more bedroom but no garden or off-road parking
  • Buyers can find out what you paid for this house, and when you bought it
  • I had to explain to my Indian client what a coach house was, he just didn’t understand
  • Someone will walk into the garden and fall in love with this place before they’ve even got through the door (Indeed, that’s what happened to me)
  • Oh! That bath…
  • We’ve never had a problem showing houses to people with cat allergies, we did have one client bitten by an owner’s dog. The dog had been locked in the garden and the client was told not to go into the garden
  • I’m from Bristol

Estate agent #2

  • This is the most desirable area in Reading
  • Double off-road parking is worth around 20K
  • We don’t get many character properties like this downtown
  • I’m from Bristol

Estate agent #3

  • I can tell you what the other agents said (he did, and he was wrong)
  • Fantastic (repeatedly, like a carbon copy of his colleague that I spoke to on the phone)
  • What a fantastic kitchen
  • Our website is new and really good, it’s got pictures of the founding partners on it
  • We’ll do a TV presentation for a character property like this one.

I didn’t get the impression that any of them offered anything that would add any real value over the property details and access to buyers that have been pre-screened for a mortgage. None of them really told me about their access to the type of people that would like to buy the Wendy house. I suggested excluding:

  • couples planning to start a family – dangerous staircase, downstairs bathroom
  • elderly people or planning for this to be a last, retirement, home – dangerous staircase, downstairs bathroom
  • people over 5″8 – low beam crossing the dangerous staircase
  • people that love to cook – tiny kitchen separated from the dining area by the hallway

Estate agent #1 was the least offensive, arrogant. She listened and related to me as a person most effectively.  Maybe I’ll have to make my own promotional materials pack – showing related documentation from my purchase, guarantees on work done, local service professionals etc

7 bits of fabulous banter »

7 year itch

Friday, February 28th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

Based on a light weight trend analysis, I suspect I might be moving home this year.

  • 86-93 home in Loughborough (including a year living in Edinburgh with my Mortgage, weekend place, in Loughborough).
  • 93-20 home in Hampshire (Southsea then Warblington).
  • 00-07 home in Seattle (Redmond, I meant to move downtown but somehow never got round to it).
  • 07 -14 home in Reading town (intending to stay here for a while yet, but the trend suggests otherwise).



3 bits of fabulous banter »


Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Original Light SwitchesSwitch malfunction.

Light SwitchesFlicking these white plastic switches had no effect on the lights they’re supposed to control. Unscrewing the faceplate showed that a small piece of plastic that acted as a ‘catch’ for the switch was broken. I needed to replace the faceplate and switch mechanism.

All the light switches in the Wendy House are the same style. Another one feels like it will break soon, frequently failing to work. I wanted to replace all of them with  switches that have a firm action, are well made mechanically, are good looking, compliment the House style. I took my design brief to a local retail DIY store.

The switches were displayed to show their faceplate, they were packaged in a way that prevented me seeing the mechanical action, materials and quality. Darn.

I chose flat, reflective-nickel, switches. Black to compliment the old oak beams in my ceiling and wrought Iron door furniture. Black to make the switches easier to see against the light walls in the dark when I’m fumbling to turn them on. Unfortunately, the behind the scenes mechanism is deeper than the back-fittings of my old plastic switches. Replacing them was not just a process of swapping the plates and re-wiring. The masonry drill came out and the wall hole had to be made deeper. A bigger job than anticipated. Why aren’t switch box sizes a standard? Pah!

Now I’m loving my new sleek nickel switches, they have a very pleasing action with a good ‘thunk’ when they fall.

1 wonderful musing »

Laundry ship set to sail

Sunday, February 16th, 2014 | tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,  |

Laundry ShipAnother stormy weekend chez Wendy House.

A temporary break in the flood production system. No rain this morning.

Laundry to be washed and dried. No modern tumble-drier accessories. My laundry its catching some rare sun rays in the Wendy House wind-swept garden.

Extra ballast had been added to the ‘airer’ to prevent it attempting a take-off garden tour. Bricks.

The ships that carried lumber from Seattle to San Francisco, to build the beautiful houses there, carried stone back to Seattle as ballast to weight the ships appropriately on the return journey. The stone was used to build many of the Historic buildings in the Pioneer square area of Seattle. Awesome.

Sampo stretchSampo is staying in.

The RSPCA has warned that cats are likely to take-off in these strong winds. Despite her own substantial personal ballast, Sampo’s a cautious cat.

Sampo’s not risking any unplanned flights.


7 bits of fabulous banter »

French doors

Sunday, December 29th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |


installing internal French doors

Installing internal French doors between the Wendy House Orangerie and front room

French doors? According to internet gossip, the French have a reputation for not being very good at keeping out invaders and these doors have big windows so invaders can see what to steal and they are easy for burglars to open, not very secure.

The cool air from the Orangerie, in the winter, is drawn around the heavy drapes by the warm air from the wood burner rising up the stairs to the hayloft in the North wing (bedrooms). A draught. On cold winter days the drapes stay closed to trap the warmth in the main living space where I lurk like  vampire afraid of daylight. This won’t do if Mum’s going to be visiting this winter. Costing on ugly UPVC doors were all rather expensive, especially given how ugly they are. I found a carpenter and briefed him with

‘simple, plain design consistent with Victorian period. Wrought iron hinges and door furniture, bevelled edge glass, that’s the one fancy thing I want’

His sketch captured the ethos well. True to French insecurity, no locks on these internal doors. It took a week for the carpenter to make the doors and 2 days full of sawdust to install them. It took me a day to put two coats of varnish on them and a day to buy new Voiles and hang them without the use of the irritatingly ineffective superglue and rod solution that the last owners of the Orangerie had installed.

The droughts have been subdued with a beautiful work of art. Daylight has found the front room in winter. Mum can visit.


3 bits of fabulous banter »

white lines

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |
Dropping curb and adding house number and name sign

Dropping curb, adding house number and name sign

This year I discovered that cars could legally park in-front of my driveway entrance. I discovered when a person on vacation in the USA left her car across my drive blocking my car in.

I took the bus to work, £25 per week bus fare seemed very expensive, a lot more than the £10 diesel costs. Not knowing when, and if, I’d be able to use my car was very disheartening.

It was also disheartening that a person would choose to block my car in, it seems such a mean spirited thing to do. When I’d knocked on my neighbours doors to see if they knew the car owner, could contact her and ask her to move, they were all wonderfully outraged on my behalf. Some had seen her before, none knew how to contact her. One neighbour offered to park her car so close to the offending car that it would be unable to get out without knocking on neighbours doors. We decided against this potential emotional escalation path, and giggled.

The council wouldn’t put their white lines “Access Protection Lines” (APL) outside my drive until I’d dropped the curb. This is when I discovered that every time I drove in and out of my drive I was breaking the law by driving over the public pathway. Oops. Myself and rather a lot of my neighbours were all breaking the law.

To avoid breaking the law I needed to arrange to drop the curb. To be able to ask the police to remove people parked in front of my drive I needed APL. I gave the council a cheque and some sweet-talk – you know so much, you’re so good at your job, I’m just so ignorant of all these things etc.  The road workers were at my place before the cheque had even cleared, 2 days later, at the weekend! Sweet!

  • 4 road workers including  “Mr. Reading” a local looker. He did compare favourably with Brad Pitt.
  • A compact digger
  •  A truck
  •  Pick axes, spades and all sorts….

It took them a day to rip-up the pavement, half a day to lay the concrete foundation and half a day to lay the surface tarmac. Less than an hour to paint the APL

Hooray! Confident, legal and easy access to my driveway has been established. Peace of mind

Then, I added a house sign to the mix. The name and number of my home with an arrow to help people see which way to go to find the Wendy House. My neighbour used his cable-less drill to fix it. As he fixed the sign he told me stuff I didn’t know:

  • People deliver mail for my house to their house and they then bring it round to my home and post it through my door.
  • People knock on their (3B) door to ask where 3A is because it’s clearly not between 3 and 3B.

He’d been suffering without telling me, so English, he was thrilled that I’d decided to put this sign up.

Front of house access sorted.

3 bits of fabulous banter »

open sesame

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

finished curbI reversed onto my drive, with no bumps or bangs as would happen before my dropped curb. Beautifully smooth. A figure in the dark opposite is fiddling with my neighbours door. I get out of the car and can hear the figure cussing.

Wendy: Can I help you?

The elderly lady sounded distressed and talked about how the keys my neighbour had given her weren’t working. I offered her a cup of tea in my place and I’d call my neighbour’s mobile phone. She calmed down and tried the keys again.

Wendy: it probably won’t make any difference, but I’d really like to try the keys.

She gave me the keys and the door unlocked smoothly with absolutely no problem

Wendy: I’m magic

The lady laughed. We exchanged praise of my lovely neighbour and went our separate ways.

I’m magic and available for all your ‘locked-out’ needs

what do you think of that »

the mixed step

Thursday, October 17th, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

Doible-sided, A4, photocopied, instructionsLots of these. Unlabelled.

Have NEXT ever put their Self-assembly instructions in front of actual customers, observed them using those instructions to assemble their cupboard, then updated the instructions to remove the big problems?

No. If they had followed this standard good design process then it would have taken me 2 hours, not 4, to construct the cupboard.

The instructions include 17 steps on double-sided, A4, photocopied paper. Before starting these steps NEXT recommend that I check I have all the required parts and the right tools. Because those aren’t steps, I do them before the steps and wonder. What’s a step?

Step one

  • Has no meaningful title to tell me what I’m achieving. They are an ordered list
  • Step one contains a list of 5 numbered things to do, sub-steps? They actually don’t appear to require the order implied by their numbers
  • Introduces the concept of a cambolt. What’s that?! It’s not mentioned on the list of fittings or parts that I checked before taking any steps. A quick look at all the other steps shows that I’ll be using a lot of ‘cambolts’ and there’s something on the fittings sheet labelled  Ø15 that I have 61 of, next to an unusual style screw that I also have 61 of. I’ll guess that this is a cambolt
  • The step tells me what the numbered pieces actually are, 1 is the ‘top panel’, 3 is a side panel, 9 is a ‘rail’, 2 and 5 are legs. Hooray! It’s about preparing the top and back legs to slot into other bits

Step 1 completed, not understoodHere’s step 1 completed in the Wendy house Orangery.

Putting in the cambolts and dowels took about  5 minutes.

Working out what I was supposed to do, interpreting the instructions, took about 10 minutes. 15 minutes per step for 17 steps? This doesn’t bode well. Hopefully I’ll be able to apply learning from step one later down the line, and the steps will be faster.

I got step 1 right. Phew. If only all steps had been this unambiguous…..

3 bits of fabulous banter »

NEXT self dissemble

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 | tags: , , , , ,  |

instructions first pageThe delivery man carried my cupboard on his shoulder. Even before it arrived in my hall I’d realised that it was self-assembly. My heart dropped. At the price charged for the cupboard I hadn’t expected Self-assembly, I hadn’t anticipated spending Saturday morning with a screwdriver. Sigh.

Page 1 of 20 Is the cupboard that difficult to construct?

2 people, as tools, to construct it?  I’m offended at being called a tool, I want my cupboard today and my friends, who are not tools may not be available to help me for emergency cupboard assembly….

2 screwdrivers, phew, I’m equipped. Actually I also needed a hammer for inserting dowels and a pair of pliers to removing pieces inserted in the wrong place due to design asymmetry and instruction ambiguity. Now I understand why the sales person was so keen to sell me insurance against getting the furniture scratched.

Helpline?! Goodness, it must be difficult to construct!

This phrase nearly put me off unpacking the box:

“Self-assembly items cannot be returned once assembly is part or fully completed unless the item is found to be faulty

I wonder how many returns Next get from people like me who didn’t realise self assembly, unlike me are scared by 20 pages of instructions and a ‘helpline’ for something that should be simple, and read this no returns as evidence of difficulty to construct and Next pre-empting, to avoid, arguments with its dissatisfied customers.

Important?  they want me to check that they’ve sent me the right bits? Cheeky! They should check they’ve sent me Pacakge contents listthe right parts.  They don’t think I should involve my children in the construction process? Do they think I’m a complete idiot, unable to take responsibility for making decisions about my children and taking responsibility for my own poor decisions. Bloody cheek.

About half the text on the front page is NEXT covering it’s back against customer complaints and returns and treating customers as ignorant, irresponsible, or devious. Thanks NEXT

After 5 years of looking for a cupboard this size and shape I wasn’t gong to let these poor first impressions put me off. I started unpacking and gathered my tools… what happened next is another story….

5 bits of fabulous banter »

cinderella cupboard complete

Sunday, October 13th, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

cupboard complete!A little space in my entrance hall is aching for a cupboard. I carried a tape-measure in my pocket for 5 years, diligently measuring every small cupboard I encountered. Like Goldilocks uncovering non-conformity problems:

  • Too tall – block the hall window light
  • Too deep – block the kitchen door opening
  • Too wide – block the front door opening

I learned to see ‘wrong size’ at a distance, I stopped measuring and hope gradually dwindled. The space in my hall gradually attracted stacks of practical boxes. As I walked by them I thought ‘crazy box woman’ and sighed. I suspect I’m not alone in feeling a disproportionate pleasure from finding durable, functional, beautiful home storage solutions.

Then while off to buy some food I walked passed this in a shop window display.

It looked right. I got excited as I slipped out my tape-measure to check I wasn’t fantasizing. Yes! It fits just right. It’s sturdy, the colour compliments the room. Purchase made, delivery arranged. What I didn’t check was whether it was self assembly or not, but that’s another 4 hour story….

6 bits of fabulous banter »

smoke signals

Monday, October 7th, 2013 | tags: ,  |

Neighbours Bonfirewalking home from downtown I noticed a large stream of swirling white smoke coming from…. ….my house


Maybe I left a candle burning unattended and my whole home is now going up in smoke. My heart sank and I broke into a run. Luckily it was just a garden bonfire in my neighbours garden. I took in my ash-speckled laundry and climbed the wall to talk to my neighbour. A group of people were clearing the badly overgrown garden, I acknowledged their good work and said next time I’d help of they warned me. Then a friend’s face turned up and I discovered that they’d bought the house, so I now have new neighbours who are old friends! Excellent result. Reading town is a small town in many ways.

6 bits of fabulous banter »

bayonets are so ‘not in’

Saturday, October 5th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

used lightsWhile having a bath the last bulb in my light fitting blew. Darkness.

The next morning I fought procrastination and took a trip to buy some bulbs. At the store I realised that I didn’t know what size or fitting to buy. I plumped for the ‘common’ size and bayonet fitting.

I found a screwdriver to open the sealed bathroom light fitting and a bar stool to stand on, then started fiddling. I managed to open the fitting without breaking the glass cover, remove the blown bulbs, then notice the bulbs were the unusually small screw fittings – not what I’d bought. A quick scout around the house uncovered a couple of small screw fitting bulbs in my bedside table lamps. Phew. Easier to go to bed in the dark than bathe in the dark. Screw fit bulbs in place and bathroom light fitting reconstituted.

Just call me capable. Even without the aid of power tools.

6 bits of fabulous banter »

download, install, commission and personalise

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013 | tags: ,  |

court cupboardA side-effect of the new job is extra funding to solve all those household inefficiencies that niggle without breaking the home experience.

Recently, while downtown purchasing a cushion or 2, curiosity pulled me into the British Heart Foundation Charity furniture shop. I found a court cupboard and a welsh dresser fronted with beautifully carved linen scroll. Bargain price. The British Heart Foundation even took my old ‘modern’ furniture away for free. A modern minimalist somewhere will be thrilled to find my old furniture!

Meanwhile, the Wendy House is looking darker and more Jacobean than James, in Jamestown, drinking Jameson whisky. We’re not on fashion, we are coordinated in our out-of-fashionness. Yummy.

welsh dresser2 days of shuffling the contents of my old, and new, cupboards. A couple of sacks of stuff for re-use emerged and we’re ready for everyday living again.

Now I’m looking for a carpenter and a heating engineer. If they talk technical in a friendly tone of voice,  and get excited about the unique opportunities I’ll be dangling in front of them. They’ll be in.

Prepare yourselves for some almost interesting home improvement posts before the winter sets in…

2 bits of fabulous banter »

resurfaced by working class heros

Monday, August 12th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

The ‘highway maintenance’ team who resurfaced the Avenue (where I live) were all very

  • friendly
  • bald
  • tanned
  • efficient
  • male
  • quality focussed – nice job!
  • quick – they stuck to schedule despite all sorts of problems like having only half of the pre-ordered tarmac delivered when they were due lay the tarmac

Yay for road workers!

Before digging starts Road surface removed Half road resurfaced completely resurfaced road

The council processes and staff were more than disappointing.  It’s an odd choice to resurface the Avenue, which is a cul-de-sac, rather than one of the more well-used through-routes in Reading town.

1 wonderful musing »

door to door

Saturday, August 10th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

Ready to paint the door framesThe next weekend that we see a decent sunshine forecast. I’ll be out with my sand paper and paint brushes. A glossy new coat of paint on my front and back door frames is on the books…   …or table…

The front and back door are next to each other, they’re actually both back doors or both front doors. Almost twins.

Very cute and slightly peeling with their stand against 5 years of rather damp summers.

1 wonderful musing »

vital view from the loo

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

view from front doorview from the Wendy House toilet(Warning: ‘I love my garden’ post)

When I moved into the wendy house (2008), the garden was completely covered in low maintenance and BBQ friendly patio. Bleak. Sitting on the loo with the doors open, produced the sort of view that would induce minimalists’ premature ejaculation. A bit dull.

Now, the vital view from the loo has been cluttered with the sort of frivolity that might lure a Victorian for a brief promenade:

  • A slate slab covers the drain-lid and supports pebbles stolen from Pacific and Atlantic beaches
  • A black hare keeps an eye on approaching guests
  • Rockery shrubs and grasses provide Sampo with delicious hors d’oeuvres
  • A Rhus provides shade in summer and colour in autumn
  • Honeysuckle and wisteria cover the fence filling the garden with sweet scent and beautiful blooms.

View from sleeping quarters in the North WingEchinops and beesI love my garden, I spend a lot of time there watching the butterflies before Sampo eats them, pulling weeds and contemplating blooms. I still have patio, but the lines are broken by borders full of colourful and scented plants that change with the seasons.


1 wonderful musing »

wendy way maintainance

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

RoadworksThe Avenue is about to get ripped-up and resurfaced. It’s an old bumpy and pot-holed road so this is good. But it’s caused a big kerfuffle amongst residents because of a combination of things including

  • No residents road access during the 4 days that the road will be repaired
  • Residents given only 3 working days notice of the works
  • Some residents have building works, on their house, scheduled to coincide with the road-works. Builders are busy in the summer and rescheduling is difficult, especially if the building works were in preparation for your daughter wedding…
  • Several businesses have customer parking that is only accessible via the avenue. These businesses weren’t warned of the work because their address is for their front doors on another road and the council didn’t notice their business access via the Avenue
  • The road-markings will be redrawn exactly where they were – which was often in rather silly places. the council isn’t taking the opportunity to re-align the lines that mark driveways with actual driveways. How silly is that?!

I met a huddle of about 6 highway workers having a round of tea this morning. Very nice chatty people. I feel like they’re the only ones in the whole organisational chain that have shown any good common sense, but they’re not planning to put the markings in the right place around my drive….yet….

what do you think of that »