One Last Post About Our Last House

Just for my own records so that I can look back at things on here, I want to share the estate agents images of our last house.

Its always interesting to see pictures of your house taken from another persons perspective. The agent that we used to sell our old house did not send a ‘professional’ photographer round (like some of the other agents used as a selling point for their services!) We used one of the cheaper online estate agents and the local expert did a decent enough job with her little compact camera.
old hose frontold loungeold dining roomold kitchen 1old kitchen 2old bedroomold bathroomold garden

A Visitor In The Garden

Two days ago I promised to share some photos of the progress that we have made in our garden.

However, instead of the before and after type of post that I had planned to write, I am going to deviate a little and just share some snaps that Rob took today of an unusual visitor we had in our garden this morning – a pheasant!

I love this random nature kind of stuff! It doesn’t happen very often as I live in a fairly urban environment in a provincial town, so this kind of thing makes me happy. I love seeing animals in real life rather than on the telly (spoken like a true townie there!). Its just a shame that I was out at the time!

Rob just about managed to take a few photos of the birdy, right before our gobshite of cat Poppy came up behind him meowing her head off and scared the poor thing away. She really is daft that moggy of ours, she has never quite learnt the art of sneaking up on things. That big mouth of hers lets her down every time!*pheasant 1pheasant 2pheasant 3pheasant 4And here is the cat acting all like “whaaaaaat, no I didn’t ruin your chances of taking any arty wildlife shots Rob, Im just here casually minding my own business, sitting on the fence, deciding where to take a shit in your new inproved garden that you have been working hard on…..”Pop 1Pops 2Pops 3Pops 4Pops 5Pops 6Pops 7

BTW here is how the garden used to look like if you are interested!

*I don’t know where she gets that from! Who says that pets are like their owners!

Garden Update

Things are coming along nicely in the back garden, so its time for a little update on here. There is still a long way to go, but things are starting to take shape and show how potentially fantastic the garden will look when its done.

While I have been out working weekends, Rob has been working extremely hard in the garden shifting rubble from one part to the other, building a pathway and levelling the patio area.

Below – from this patio of shamecut your grass

Below – to this, how the garden looked last yeargarden currently 1We had built the timber frame work for the steps, but still had a mound of earth at the end of the patio which you can see to the left, and a wonky, dangerous slope down to the grassy part of the garden.

Below – To this, the gardens current state.garden nowAs you can see we have the beginnings of a path! And look, no mound of earth on the patio!

Below – A close up of taken by Rob on his phone of how the path and stepped levels will look. We will eventually have raised vegetable beds on each of the slate shingle steps. Exciting times!garden path

Burn Baby Burn

Yesterday we had a burn up in the garden using our upcycled incinerator made from an old washing machine drum.

I attempted to take some photos of it using Rob’s DSLR (on full auto of course!)fire 3Above is about the best of my efforts! I managed to snap some of the smoke, sparks and glowing embers.i start firesAnd one of Rob in his filthy work clothes feeding the fire.

We then proceeded to have this conversation, or rather potential row*, between the two of us…

Rob – “You’ve cut my head off, you donut”
Me – “Yeah, I know. It was deliberate to respect your privacy when I upload these pictures on my blog”
Me (after a brief pause) – “How do I stop the blooming flash from flashing?”
Rob – “Put it on a slower shutter speed”
Me – “How do I do that?”
Rob – “I thought you studied photography**”
Me – “Come on, you know I am a dumb ass. Just set the bleeding camera up for me!”

So he did. And he took the below (much better) snaps, while lying on the floor, while I stood behind him ready to pat out any sparks that might land and ignite on him!

fire

Photo by RobPhoto by RobPhoto by RobPhoto by RobPhoto by Rob

Eventually he let me have a turn with his camera and I took this snap from about as close as I dared to, hoping not to singe my eyelashes!fie upMan, these photos are making me excited about the long balmy summer evenings, camping in the camper van, sitting around a fire with a few beers talking rubbish. Roll on summer!

These photos are also making both Rob and I want to work on our night time photography skills! Or composition and photography skills in general (in my case!)

*Every conversation between Rob and I tends to be based around insults. We love each other really!

** I studied photography A Level in the late 90’s, where I learnt about F stops and the like. And then in the preceding decade and a half I completely forgot all about F stops and the like by being lazy and using point and shoot cameras! Rob frequently likes to remind me of that he knows more about photography than me without studying it at college. I frequently like to remind him that no one likes a smart arse.

Crimbo 2013 and a Restoration Project

This year Christmas seemed to come and go quicker than ever! We took our decorations down today, and before its all completely behind us and forgotten about, I want to do a quick memory dump type post on here all about this years festivities.

This year, for our meal, Rob and I went over to my Mum and Dad’s along with my sister and her family. One of the things that we were most looking forward to on the day was seeing my oldest nephew receive his present from us. He was really spoilt this year as Rob restored a bike for him! And he got a Nintendo DS from Father Christmas! What a lucky boy!

I think I mentioned on here, wayyy back in November, that Rob was making a right old mess upstairs and was treating our house like its a workshop/garage (yet again).
Well, it was for a good cause, as he was restoring a bike for my 6 year old nephew. So all is forgiven.

Rob spent every evening and weekend in the run up to Christmas working on his project. He put in a hell of a lot of man hours and spent quite a considerable amount of money on the new old bike (around £70 infact). But it was a labour of love, and he got as much enjoyment out of the tinkering on it as we hope the nephew will get out of riding it!
Plus, the youngest nephew will do too, when it gets passed on down to him!

Yes, it was a lot of money and effort, and we could have bought a brand new bike for the same amount. It was worth it because Rob reassures me that a brand new bike with the same spec would cost around £100 – £150.
Oh well, at least we have saved another bike from going to the landfill and done the greener option!

Here is a picture of the bike in its before state. The bike was given to Rob for free by his friend who’s 9 year old son had outgrown it. Said friend did plan on fixing it himself but never got round to it. He had a lucky escape.bike b4 1

The bike had its fair share of rust on it and parts that needed repairing or replacing.rust 1rust 2rust 3rust 4

Rob dismantled it, cleaned away the grime and rust from the parts he could salvage, striped down the bodywork then resprayed it, fitted new tires, pedals, chain, saddle and handle bars and cut out vinyl stickers to his own design to give the bike a brand new look in the nephews favourite colour orange.dismantle meshiny spokessprayinmore sprayinspare bed spray boothprimedstickeredfront stickerswheels onta dah

Rob did an amazing job. He is such a perfectionist and has made it look like a completely different bike! My nephew was a little overwhelmed with his present (in a good way) and that was worth every moment of the house being abused and the spare bedroom being used as a spray booth and the choking on spray paint fumes.*

Other things that happened giftwise were as follows – I got Rob a Good Pub guidebook to keep inside the campervan, so that wherever we end up, we can always find a decent boozer serving decent ales! I also got him Mad Men season 6 which I cant wait to get stuck into.

In return, Rob got me Orla Keily’s new book Home, which I had been drooling over in my local Waterstones for some time (the staff had to literally wipe the slobber away from my chin and prize it away from my grubby mitts every time I looked at it**), its basically MCM interior porn and I love it! He also gave me a copy of Betty Crockers cookbook (I saw one come up at a sensible price on Ebay some time ago, and told Rob to order it for me for Xmas) which I equally love. Again, it is all my favourite things – vintage, tacky, mid century Americana kitchen kitsch and in my favourite colours of yellow, pink and turquoise! I also got some bargain Le Creuset bits, which I bought for myself in TK Maxx with £20 that I owed Rob. I told him that instead of me paying him back, here is my Xmas pressies from him! We are so romantic us two, eh!

*Don’t try this at home kids. Spraypaint stuff outside.
**Not really. Honest.

All photos taken by Rob

Some Things We Have Dug Up In Our Garden So Far

Lets pretend that we are digging for time team instead of landscaping our garden.

Here is a list of what we have uncovered in our garden –

  1. Some vintage crazy paving
  2. A plastic pond shell (still) buried in the lawn
  3. A whirligig spike
  4. Half a dried out dead frog (all that was left in Toad Hill. Read this lengthy post if you want to know WTF I am on about!) And no, I don’t know why there was only half of a frog either. We never did find the top half.
  5. A used syringe. Nice.

I saved the best for last did’nt I? I really want to believe that one of our house’s previous owners/tennants was diabetic. But somehow I think not.

The Plans For Our Garden

Its another long post about our garden I am afraid. I promise this will be the last one for a while! I will eventually get round to sharing more about the house. Thats the fun, colourful part. Or at least I think so!

Below is a little mock up that Rob put together quickly, when he planned out the garden. He had to (literally) draw it to explain it to me. I always get a mental block and can never visualise what he is droning on about!

The deal in our house is that I plan the house and Rob plans the garden and the camper van. I am the interior designer and Rob is the builder. Obviously neither of us will do anything the other really hates. After all, I stopped myself from putting doilies in our bedroom, much to Robs relief*. Luckily both of us are pretty laid back and have similar tastes, so this arrangement works pretty well. Except when Rob tries to explain his plans to me.

garden-designSo this is the plan for our future garden. If you look back at the photos in this post, it makes more sense. On the right hand side will be 5 levels down (the plan shows 4) with raised vegetable patches. We then have our future patio area with a raised bed along the side, made from decking timber, and the plan is, to also provide extra seating for BBQ’s and the like. Then a nice new path made from some bricks our friends generously gave us. We are keeping the huge pine tree, and the massive bush. Down the side of the lawn we will have low maintenance edible plants like Bay, Thyme etc. I hope.

So thats me explaining years of back breaking labour in a paragraph. Now lets show some more photo’s of the work so far.

The below images were all taken by Rob on his iPhone.gar b4 1

The demolished Toad Hill.

The almost demolished Toad Hill.

weedy lawn

Before....

Before….

.....and after

…..and after

Tod Hill is no more!

Toad Hill is no more!

other side

Rob is future proofing, by laying pipework to get his dream workshop/shed at the end of the garden wired up.

Rob is future proofing, laying pipework to get his dream workshop/shed/man cave at the end of the garden wired up.

gar 3

And finally. Poppy was as helpful as I was with the gardening. In that she lazed around and watched Rob do all the work!

And finally. Poppy was as helpful as I was with the gardening. In that she lazed around and watched Rob do all the work!

*Did anyone see Kirsties home for free the other day, where they dyed some doilies for a bedroom on the show? Hah! Same great taste is all I can say! And yes, the male half of the couple who’s home they made over hated them! 

Our Garden Currently

Warning – This is a long rambling post to introduce our garden on the blog!

I am hesitant to share these pictures on here. Our garden is a long term WIP and these photos are from the last few years, plus how things currently look. It will be years before I can share the final ta-dah! pictures. But I do want to share the progress we have made so far and show how far we have come. And are garden projects ever finished?

Plus I am showing the interwebs just what a state our back garden has been in. Hint – really bad.

We are very lucky to have a large back garden. Councils built their houses back in the 1950’s on huge plots of land, compared to the postage stamp sized gardens that new build properties come with these days. Although (and I apologise for sounding like a huge dick to all the peeps who live in flats and yearn for a garden) I do think it might be just a tad too big. It just scares me the amount of weeding, mowing and maintenance that it requires. I would happily just concrete over the whole lot, but Rob wants to landscape it……and then spend his free time gardening. What a weirdo.

Another not so great thing about our back garden is that it slopes downhill, and is very lumpy and bumpy. It had some shocking “improvements” made to it over the years, and then was not properly maintained for decades (pretty much like the rest of the house!)

When we first moved in, there was a crumbling shed at the end of the garden, which I have no photos of, that was full of empty beer cans. We ripped it down and burnt it in our garden incinerator. We are now left with a handy concrete patch at the end of our garden which we will in time either put a shed or greenhouse on. It currently has various piles of bricks, car tires and crap on it.

We also have three original brick outbuildings that have asbestos in the roof (nice), and originally housed the outside toilet. These were also left full of rubbish, as the previous owner of the house did not bother to clear them out when he sold us the house. So when we first moved into our house back in 2010, we took many trips to the local tip in the Beetle clearing away rubbish. These days things have changed. We now do it in the camper van! I jest, I jest! – Nope, we just spend a small fortune on Hippo bags!

We also inherited a huge tree trunk. Who knows where this huge random log came from. It was just left in the middle of the lawn. We could not shift it for love nor money! It was too heavy for two men to lift into a wheel barrow to wheel it away. Poor Rob tried everything to get rid of it over the years –
Sawing it – man vs log. Log won.
Burning it – two bottles of parafin later, it was barely scorched.
Chopping it – Rob borrowed an axe. The log blunted the axe.
It was like Chuck Norris this bloody log, it was a hard arse that refused to be defeated/die. Eventually it met its nemesis when Rob borrowed a chain saw from a friend. Rob enjoyed that day. Victory was sweet! Plus he got to play with a noisy power tool! Boys eh!

Lets start by sharing a cute picture of the garden in the snow. Its not so bad eh? But everything looks pretty in the snow. This is just to ease you in gently. The V shaped lump at the end of the garden is the Chuck Norris log BTW!snow dome o shite 1snow dome o shite 2I love bright yellow period. So we painted the outbuilding doors in sunny yellow and planted some fruit trees in yellow trugs, which have so far bore us bountiful harvests of zero fruit.

Below is another snap of the patio area in the rain. Note the overgrown grass and rubbish piles. Please prepare yourselves, there is much worse to come!yellow doorsWe also had the worlds worst patio™ that was always covered in weeds (shown in the photo below). Basically a previous owner of the house had laid some plastic over the crazy paving shown above, piled some sand on it, not bothered to smooth it out , then piled some patio stones on it. It was pugly, wonky, a trip hazard and was contantly overgrown with those pesky weeds.patio of shame

fucking weedsThis photo was not staged for my blog! I hang my head in shame at what a state we let our garden get in. How embarrassing!

Earlier this year Rob lifted the patio stones and uncovered the crazy paving. I love it, its cute and retro in a kitschy Retro Renovation way. Unfortunately it does’nt cover the area that we want for our future patio, and Rob is not up for my suggestion of smashing up some new stones to create a crazy paved extention. So its going. Sob. It was nice knowing you Mr Cray Cray P for this one summer of love at least.

Another thing to mention was that at the end of our garden was a huge mound. We think it was an old compost pile, and this took us three years to shift it away. We named the mound Toad Hill, as every time we dug into it, loads of frogs would leap out of it! I think they liked the damp woody conditions, thats the only reason I can think why they lived there, we don’t have a pond, nor do any of our close neighbours! Anyhoo, these slimey little hoppers scared the s**t out of me and Poppy. Eventually we covered Toad Hill with a camping ground sheet in an attempt to kill the weeds that grew on top of it, and the frogs packed their bags and moved on.cut your grassI would point out Toad Hill, but its hard to spot amongst all the weeds and overgrown grass. We do mow our lawn, I would like to point out. Honestly!gah grassAt least the blanket on the washing line is cute I suppose. Right, now I have disgraced myself online (yet again) by sharing all the above photos, its now time to show how the garden currently looks.garden currently 1garden currently 2garden currently 3Its a bit of a building site at the moment, but so much better! I can’t tell you enough how good it feels to look out the window to see this, instead of what I used to see.

I will talk you through our plans for the garden in another post, as frankly, Im bored s***less of blogging about gardening!

Well done if you made it to the end of this post BTW!

Lately #7

Here is the 411 in Hels and Rob land. All the happenings in May and June so far –

  • I bought Nigella’s Kitchen and Hugh’s Three Good Things in a 2 for £10 offer at WH Smiths. Bargain! Have I told you blog readers how much I love Hugh? The man sure knows how to wear an apron well.
  • Our washing machine broke, so we ordered a new A+++ one. I always buy the most energy efficient appliances I can for my budget. The old one gave us nearly 8 years of service. I hope the new one does the same.
  • Rob took apart smashed up the old washing machine to get the drum out to use as a fire pit (don’t ask!) He always has strange ideas!
  • Why am I blogging about washing machines? Who cares? YKYAGOW…..
  • Our back garden is a proper dump. We now have a washing machine drum, a pile of car tires, a bonfire patch, overgrown weeds and lawn, loads of cat shit and car/campervan parts everywhere. Its more like something out of Shameless than The Good Life type garden of my dreams! One day maybe…
  • I made this recipe for flapplejacks twice in one week! Nom nom!
  • I discovered Grimes‘s Tumblr
  • And this blog called Shit London. Its kind of the opposite of Spitalfields Life!
  • Back when we were on holiday last summer in the New Forest, I spotted a great vintage shop in Brockenhurst called Pineapple Retro. Sadly it was closed so I could only press my nose against the window. So we went to the pub opposite for a drinky or two instead. Here is the owners house tour on Apartment Therapy. I love their collection of mid century glass!
  • After using the same mobile phone for over five years (yes really!) I finally got around to sorting out a new tariff and got myself a shiny new smart phone and joined Instagram! I cant wait to Instagram the f*** out of Glastonbury!