New home snapshots

Farrow and Ball downpipe on walls

Goodness, hello my poor old deserted blog! How’s everything going over here? If anyone’s still out there, hi! *waves* Hope you’re all well.

I’ve noticed I’m not the only one whose blog has been receiving far less attention than usual. Are we all about to jump ship completely to somewhere like instagram? Is this the death knell of blogging? Who can say. Speaking for myself, at least, the intention to write posts over here still arises fairly frequently, but the notes section on my phone has become littered with half thought out ideas and three-sentence-first-paragraphs, abandoned as something always seems to pop up half way through any attempts to write a post.

Still, the baby is napping now, the other two are dropped off at school and nursery, so I thought it was high time to pop by and say hello and share a few quick snaps of our new houses. Because, drum roll please, we finally moved in two weeks ago.

It’s not completely 100 per cent finished (of course!) and the builders still have a bit of painting to do, a leaking basin to fix and a few other bits and pieces to sort out. But we’re in and it’s really rather wonderful!

Most of these photos were taken just before we moved all our stuff in, so it’s more a tour of paint colours by room than anything else, but I promise to share some more pics once we’re properly unpacked and there aren’t boxes in every corner…

So, here we go:

We’ve knocked through the wall that separated the front two reception rooms and now have one big sitting room / playroom. At the far end (the playroom half), the most gorgeous original door opens up onto a plant room and then to the garden.

VIctorian house

The colour on the walls is Down Pipe by Farrow and Ball. A lovely rich, deep grey. I was a bit worried before it went up that it might make the rooms look too dark, but I am really delighted with the final result.

Farrow and Ball Down Pipe walls

Out the back, the plant room is still filled with paint and various things for the builders. I can’t wait to get it cleared and put up more shelves for plants. But for now, I have a few hanging down in the light.

Plant room

The main kitchen is untouched since we bought the house. I thought I could live with the old tiles, 1950s cupboards and MDF work surfaces for a few years until we do an extension, but it turns out I can’t. We’ll be saving up to put in new work surfaces and cupboard units and (of course!) my favourite open shelves made from scaffold planks. The kitchen is tiny, but joins on to a big dining room, complete with the most beautiful built in shelves.

Kitchen shelves

This room gets loads of sun in the morning, which is glorious. It’s painted in Farrow and Ball Cromarty and, at the risk of sounding like a Farrow and Ball rep, I absolutely love this colour as well.

Upstairs, we’ve got three bedrooms. The nursery is packed floor to rafters with boxes at the moment and for some reason I’ve not taken any snaps of the boys’ room, but here is our room in the evening sunlight just before we moved in:

Bedroom

It’s a total mess in here now (our room always being the last to get sorted after we move anywhere) with all sorts of bits and pieces (photos / pictures / mirrors) lying around and waiting to be put on the walls. I snapped a reflection of me and the littlest for instagram the other day:

SaOh, and the walls here: F&B Card Room Green.

Finally, my favourite room in the house, our glorious bathroom. We’ve pushed the boat out here, grabbing some space from the back bedroom so we can have both a walk-in shower and large freestanding bath.

bathroom

If you remember my post from a while ago, featuring inspiration for this space, I feel like it’s come out pretty well. As with all the rooms, it’s not completely finished — we need a shower screen to be fitted and the vanity unit to be put up for the basin, but then it’s just a case of adding plants! Will share more photos once it’s done.

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A new garden and some new plans

With great excitement, we handed in our notice on our rental house recently.

Our definitely-completed-in-six-months building project is now at the start of month eight and, finally, builders have started on the final phase. The project has been drastically scaled back (the attic conversion is now going to have to wait for another time) but I am insanely excited at the prospect of finally moving in in mid June.

Most excited of all, possibly, at the thought of our new garden.

The view of the garden from the upstairs window

When we bought the new house, the one (and only) concern for me was that the garden was a bit smaller than our old one. In our last house, the garden was extremely long and extremely narrow (5mx20m) and though our new garden is almost a metre wider (believe me, in London, these kinds of small additions count for a lot!) it’s about two metres shorter.

But, after eight months in our rental house with just a tiny shaded courtyard out the back, the space is looking pretty palatial right now.

Since we moved in, while all the building work has been going on, I’ve been taking photos of the garden. Both to give myself some proper “before” shots to look back on, once the “after” is resplendent (hem hem) and also so I can remember what will flower where and what everything looks like at its best season of interest.

Garden

So this view, above, is looking from the patio down to the end of the garden in early Spring (with a little ornamental cherry in bloom in the middle of the grass).

Pyracantha blossom

And this is how it looks right now, with the old spiky, but rather attractive pyracantha in full blossom.

London garden

And this, above, is the view back to the house, from the end of the garden.

As you can see, it’s all pretty overgrown, but there is lots to work with. The shrubs and trees are mature but now too large for their spaces, so my plan with these is just to do a bit of a constructive edit. I’ll prune some right back and remove others, to leave a smaller number to shine. There is an acer, in particular, that is going to be delightful.

Arch

The patio is separated from the garden with some rickety trellis, that is looking pretty unstable now. I think it will have to come down fairly soon (or fall down on its own) but I love the idea of a separation here and am thinking I might try and put a huge corten steel circle in, as a modern take on a moon gate. Watch this space!

Fence

The equally rickety fence at the back conceals three lime trees and a small strip of council-owned land. Both neighbours have taken the fence down to reclaim the land and absorb it into their garden. After a mere 20 years, apparently, it will be your own… And the wooden bear was left by the previous owners. The boys already love it.

Pond

There is a small and rather sweet pond, backed with overgrown dogwood. I am planning to coppice the dogwood asap, so that next year it will just be a small collection of bright red newly grown stems, reflecting in the water.

The lawn is curved at the sides and covered in moss, but a great space for the boys to play. I’m not too bothered by the moss actually, but I do plan to straighten out the edges, so that it’s a regulation rectangle, surrounded by similar-sized beds.

Camellia

There are quite a few flowering shrubs jostling for space, but little herbaceous interest in the beds. A camellia in the front garden is looking nice. A pieris could have a chance to shine with some judicious pruning around it. All in all, lots of tidying and shaping to be done, and then some herbaceous perennials planted in the newly created gaps.

Scrappy side return

At the side, a really quite large patio with a pergola that we’ve had to remove (it was dripping damp into the house). Here, I am planning on festooning the fence and walls with green and making a shady little evergreen nook to sit in on really hot days.

And, what’s this here? An extremely ugly add on to the house, you say? A no, no, no! This is actually the room in the house I am most excited about because, for the next few years until we can afford to build a side return, this is going to be my plant room. My urban jungle. My green retreat. My wannabe-orangery. It’s a bit hard to imagine, looking at it like this, but I have high hopes of making something very beautiful in here!

So, lots to do, lots to decide and lots of promise for the hot summer months. May mid June roll on as quickly as possible!

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Home inspiration: relaxing bathrooms

Eclectic bathroomI am, once again, deep in the throes of a house renovation.

It’s been six months since we bought our new house and moved into rented accommodation while we did the building work. We originally thought that it was a four month build (ha ha ha, *head falls off from laughing so hard at the naivety*) and we’re now at the point where we’re about to start the attic conversion and bathroom redesign. Still, on the bright side, the house is no longer subsiding, after lots of underpinning and so on, so that’s always a good start for any potential home…

Taking up my brain space almost all the time, right now, is the planning of the two new bathrooms. I am writing endless lists, visiting lots of bath shops (there has been much fully-clothed entering of baths in showrooms) and, above all, pinning endless images to Pinterest for inspiration.

My aesthetic is along the lines of contemporary rustic, pared-back, simple and relaxing. Does that make sense?!

Top of the list is a roll-top bath, floral tiles on the floor, white-painted tongue-and-groove walls and taps for the basin coming straight out of the wall. It will be bliss if we pull it off!

And these are some of my favourite pics that I’ve saved up while planning, found on Pinterest, but linking to original sources.

Claw foot bath…

Clawfoot bath
From Design Sponge

I love pretty much everything about the image above (c/o Design Sponge and do click on the photo to see the full house tour, which is all similarly amazing…) But it’s the black-painted claw foot bath that I’m planning to use. I’ve wanted a claw foot bath pretty much forever, but have never had a bathroom with enough space for one before. In the new house, the claw foot tub will sit in front of the sash window, and I’m dreaming of a Farrow and Ball dark blue / black colour on the exterior. A proper statement bath, a perfect place in which to lie back and read.

…with bath caddy

Wooden bath shelf caddy
From Rightmove

And over the top of my luxurious tub, I’m planning on having one of those amazing wood hold-alls to put a book, or maybe a glass of wine, to enjoy while I stretch out.

The picture above, incidentally, is from a glorious house I saw on RightMove, for sale in Clapton, Hackney, with the most fabulous interiors I have ever seen. If you’ve got a spare £1.3 million and are in the market for a new house, take a look at the rest of it.

Wall taps

Concealed shower
From Concepts and Colourways

A recent obsession of mine: concealed plumbing. Taps and showers that come straight out of the wall, without any pipes. Amazing! I am completely hooked on this idea, and pretty much every place where I can manage it, the taps or shower head are going to come straight out of the wall, rather than from the basin or pipes.

Floral floor tiles

Geometric floor tilesAs in the bathroom floor in our old house, I would like once again to have some geometric / floral floor tiles. The top image are some favourites of mine from Fired Earth, but I am going to try and search out a cheaper option. (I was blithely going ahead imagining we would get these exact ones, until the hubby pointed out that to buy enough for our relatively small bathroom was going to cost us upwards of £1,000. Yikes.)

I adore the bottom image, courtesy of Elle Deco in Sweden, because it is both clean and pared back at the same time as busy and intriguing. A brilliant combination…

Tongue and groove panelling

Tongue and groove bathroom panelling
From Beach Studios

Oh, yes another long-term obsession, tongue and groove panelling just classes up any space, doesn’t it? I love the grey paint in the bathroom above, but the plan for ours is to have it going half way up the wall, painted white, and with another (pale) paint colour on the walls above it. Mind you, now I am sitting looking at this photo, I’m wondering if I should change my mind on that decision and reach it all the way to the ceiling…

These photos, and even more, on my Pinterest family bathroom board if you fancy a look.

Tell me, what is your dream bathroom?

Introducing Blanco, Ginger, Polka and Dot

Pekin bantam urban chickensGoodness, but it’s been a long time since we first got our chickens and I’ve been meaning to introduce them to you ever since.

Turns out, though, that chickens are seriously hard to photograph. I guess it’s all that pecking about. Getting them to stand still long enough for me to take a photo has proved almost impossible and so, seven months after I first started trying, I admit defeat and bring you some chicken chat along with some far from perfect photos.

Friends, Romans, countrymen and blog readers, let me finally introduce you to Blanco, Ginger, Polka and Dot.

As you might remember, the chickens were a Christmas present for the boys last year. Or rather, on Christmas day, they unwrapped a giant, empty chicken coop and a card saying, “we’re going to get pet chickens!” Turns out a three-year-old doesn’t think this is much of a present at all, so rather than waiting til the Spring, as we had planned, we set off a week later and bought our first three chooks in the cold months of early Jan, delighted to welcome Blanco, Ginger and Nero to our family.

Chickens on a windowsill

I did quite a bit of research into breeds beforehand, as I knew I wanted something good with kids (obviously), who would make good pets and also, ideally, that wouldn’t cause too much damage in the garden.

Pekin bantams seemed the best bet and luckily we found a breeder relatively close by with some to sell.

They’re very small, compared to most chickens, and as a pure breed they don’t lay every day, year-round. (Hybrids have been bred who will lay almost constantly, even in the winter, but they stop earlier and die younger, which seems a bit of a shame to me…)

They’re insanely cute, with beautiful feathers, and fluffy feet, which means they’re not as keen as pecking around in flowerbeds as other breeds can be. And they’re very docile and good-natured, so they’re great with children.

Pekin bantam feathers

Their home is an Eglu Up, with an extended run, made by Omlet. It’s a ridiculously expensive system, but easy-to-clean, well insulated in the winter and fox proof. Ideal for an urban chicken keeper.

We had planned to put them straight onto the grass, but the breeder told us that they don’t like getting muddy in winter (those feet feathers again) so instead, for a good few months, they sat on our newly-laid patio, crapping all over it, and staining the sandstone with little white circles. We loved them so much, we didn’t care…

I used to let them free-range all day long, sitting watching them from the window inside on days when it was really cold. The three of them loved nothing more than to perch on our kitchen windowsill, fluffing up their feathers, picking off the occasional grub and having a little chat.

Until one day, in February, a fox darted into the garden and ran off with Nero, escaping over the back fence in the time it took me to run out, shouting, and trying to chase it away.

As a newbie, non-hardened, chicken keeper, I was completely devastated and spent most of the afternoon in floods of tears and, needless to say, the chickens now stay inside their run, unless we’re physically in the garden with them.

A few months later, we bought two new hens: Polka and Dot. It was slightly stressful trying to make sure they were integrated happily (I read countless horror stories about new chickens being pecked to death when they joined an older flock) but after a bit of abuse from Blanco in the first weeks, they now all rub along together really well.

Polka the pekin bantam chicken
Polka the pekin bantam
Pekin bantam chicken
and Dot

Since the destruction of the gigantic greenhouse, we’ve moved the coop to a dedicated area at the back of the garden, where they have a layer of bark on top of bare earth, which I’m sure they’re much more happy about.

And now that it’s much warmer, it’s been much easier to let them free range, as I’m out in the garden on sunny days anyway. They peck about on the grass and seem to have a good line in eating weeds and not any precious plants, for which I’m pretty grateful.

Pekin bantam chicken
Ginger, heading straight for some weeds
Pekin bantam chicken
Blanco, when we first got her, before her comb grew. What a fluffy chook!

But, of course, one of the biggest benefits of chickens are the daily eggs. After an eager wait, all four chickens are now laying and, on a good day, we get four gorgeous little browny-white eggs that, quite genuinely, taste far better than anything you could buy in the shops.

Egg from pekin bantam
Freshly-laid egg
Pekin bantam egg
Freshly fried egg. Tiny, isn’t it?

Popping out to the coop a few times a day and checking on the eggs has become a really enjoyable part of my day. There is something so utterly miraculous about the whole process.

But, that’s not to say chicken keeping has been 100 per cent plain sailing. One thing I didn’t appreciate before we got the chickens was what a pain it would be when they “go broody”.

Blanco has done so twice so far this year, meaning she sits on an egg, refusing to move and hoping, fruitlessly, to hatch a chick from it. (On our one-day chicken keeping course that we attended just after buying them, I naively enquired how you know if there is a chick inside an egg. The woman looked at me, a little bit surprised and said, “well, it depends if they’ve met a cockerel, doesn’t it?”)

We’ve yet to find a good way to solve the broody situation, despite trying a range of approaches from letting her get on with it (if they really were hatching eggs, the chick would appear in three weeks so they should snap out of it by then) to more aggressive things like putting her in a “broody buster” where she sits in a wire cage all day long which keeps her cool and doesn’t allow her to sit down.

None of them seem to have worked especially well, but the issue of chicken broodiness is a huge one, perhaps for another post.

Also, especially since Nero was snatched, I find the fox issue quite stressful. If I am in the garden with them and have to pop inside for a moment I spend the whole time worrying that a fox is seconds away from rushing off with them and every little noise implies imminent chicken doom. As a result, I tend not to let them out of their run unless I know I will be able to sit outside for a good stretch of time. And then, instead, I feel guilty that they’re not as free range as we had originally planned.

Basically, it’s maternal guilt all over again, just with chooks.

But, hey, I guess that shows you just how much I love them, right?!

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A-hunting we will go

Lacock bakeryRiver in LacockI’m just back from a long weekend in Wiltshire, once again looking at our dream house to try and force us into a decision about whether we’re really going to sell up in London and head for the countryside…

We seem to be almost chronically unable to finally make the decision – torn between the idea of raising the kids in a bucolic idyll (there really is land for that alpaca herd that I’ve been dreaming of all these years) and the convenience, culture and fabulous diversity that is life in London.

On the one hand, we’re already a bit cramped where we are now. Every day when I walk out of the front door with the pram, I crash into one or other child, or the walls, or a pair of shoes that’s been left lying around, and swear under my breath, desperate to go somewhere with more space for two active boys to run around.

My husband and I both grew up in the countryside and always had the tacit understanding that we wanted to raise our kids the same way. Fields, cows and grubby knees, not tower blocks, exhaust fumes and savvy five-year-old tube aficionados.

But every time we think “”That’s it! We’re definitely going to go now!” I remember all the really great stuff about London and get terrified about leaving it behind.

House in LacockPub in Lacock

Where we live now, we’re a two minute walk from an amazing park, five minutes on the bus from the fantastic Horniman museum (where we go every week) and within a mile from our house are three great primary schools, probably 50 good cafés, an arthouse cinema, endless excellent independent shops, another amazing London park and… … oh, you get the picture, the list goes on.

Our local school is a brief stroll from our house and I’m already friends with people I just happen to see when they’re doing the school run every morning. I worry about giving that up for a drive to school each day, wrangling the kids into their car seats, never getting any fresh air or bumping into people.

My sister and her family live ten minutes from us now, my other sister in the centre of London and my brother an hour or so south. Does the promise of a bigger house and garden make up for the lack of family close by?

And – far more importantly – would I change the name of this blog if I no longer live in London?!

These, my friends, are just some of the endless debates that keep me awake at night, my brain ticking over and over, treading the same paths and reaching no conclusion.

Ford in Lacock

But our visit this weekend was the third to our dream house, already strung out over a couple of months. It’s time to bite the bullet and make a decision.

I’ll let you know what we decide.

(All pics here are not from the actual place we’re planning on buying, nor of the house itself because, y’know, this is the internet, but of the nearby and very beautiful Lacock that we had a good mooch around on a drizzly Sunday…)

PS. I had another post written for posting later this week to introduce you to our chickens. But *gulps and tries not to sob* a fox came and snatched Nero yesterday and ran off with her before I could catch up with it. I am feeling rather ridiculously traumatised by the whole thing and want to cry every time I see the other two chickens wandering around calling for her. (The sproglet, however, has taken it very much in his stride and said to them, “she’s gone, girls, she’s not coming back. The fox took her and eated her all up…” so I guess that’s one good thing at least!) Anyway, I will have to re-write it to, sniff sniff, only introduce you to the two still living, but look out for a lot of chicken chat in the next week or so.

Experiment: growing succulents in water

1012 Terra
© 1012 Terra

I found this stunning photo on Pinterest (where else?) a little while ago.

It’s of a sort of terrarium-slash-vase called the 1012 Terra glass vessel (you can buy it here) and is made by a Japanese duo called Daisuke Tsumanuma and Kenichi Yamada. I have been lusting for such wondrousness in my house ever since seeing it.

At around £60 per single vase and factoring in the need to post it from Japan, my dream of having a row on the mantelpiece seems a little unlikely. But that’s not the only problem with this picture.

See all those plants? All those succulents and cacti? With their roots growing right in the water? Hmmm, exactly. Succulents and cacti thrive in desert conditions with hardly any watering at all, so I was a bit surprised to see them sitting there, apparently healthy, in permanent deep water.

After a bit of Googling, I came to the conclusion (as had many others, it seemed) that the photo was simply that, a nice photo to sell the terrariums, rather than a serving suggestion for succulent growing.

But then I found one tiny little internet discussion thread that seemed to suggest you could, in fact, propagate succulents straight into water and they would then grow special “water roots” which would be different to normal roots and they could stay in the water forever. Could such a thing be true?

I plan to take some cuttings from my succulent collection and give it a go. The plan is just to suspend a leaf slightly above a glass of water and see if the roots happily go down and grow there. Nothing more complicated than that!

If it does work, then I shall move the water-grown succulents into my lovely new Monti by Monti vases, a present from my husband for Christmas. They’re gorgeous (see below!) and just waiting for the perfect inhabitant.

Monti by Monti vases
© Monti by Monti

I’ll let you know how I get on…

The bottom of the garden

What will go at the bottom of the garden? Endless hours, days and possibly even weeks have been spent pondering this dilemma in the three years we’ve lived in this house.

Our house renovations / remodeling / decorating / re-decorating where the kids have drawn on the walls are almost finished. (Yes, I know I’ve been promising pictures for the best part of three years and just as soon as I manage to have a single room tidy enough to photograph I will grab my camera and snap away…)

So now we’ve moved onto the garden. After similar pontifications on the fate on the pond, we finally decided to get rid of it, and the biggest two-thirds of the garden are in the process of being dug out and re-planted in time for next spring.

But the bottom third currently still has my old greenhouse in it and I am still, still undecided about what do with it.

Let me tell you the options in the hope it helps me come to a decision.

Option one: replace the greenhouse with another, smaller greenhouse and surround the greenhouse with raised veg beds.

Allitex greenhouse at Hampton Court show | Wolves in London

Aka, the sensible option.

I love my giant greenhouse but it is too big and too dangerous to keep (I found that one of the shelves is made of asbestos the other day and the glass panes have a tendency to drop out of the sides and smash). Plus, I don’t really use all of the space for growing plants, but a lot of it for storage.

So, obvious answer: replace it with a small greenhouse and a small shed (even better: a combination of the two) and then surround the area with raised veg beds and I can keep on with all my vegetable and fruit growing. Which I also really love.

Cons: erm, none really.

(Okay, I know that the greenhouse above, which I photographed at Hampton Court Flower Show a few years back is surrounded by flowers, not veg, but imagine artichokes in place of the blooms and that’s basically what I’m aiming for…)

Option two: install a cool pod-style studio.

Ecospace studio

At the moment, the kids are in one of our three bedrooms, we’re in the other and the final one is a spare room slash study. Which means, in practice, a double bed that hardly ever gets slept in is surrounded by endless bits of paper and books and all the other dross that I need for my garden design course or that won’t fit anywhere else in the house.

I have my eye on one of these awesome studios by ecospace (website: www.ecospacestudios.com), which would look really cool at the end of the garden, and I could use for working on all my assignments and into the future if I start my own garden design business. Perhaps we could even put a small daybed / sofa in there for people to sleep on if they come to stay.

Cons: The expense is by far the biggest one. I am finding the website a bit hard to read properly, but it looks like it would cost around £20k for a studio the right size for our garden. Which, sadly, I don’t have sloshing around a bank account at the moment. Also, the fact that it might be a bit lonely working at the end of my garden. It might not be the most fun for people sleeping over in the winter months to have to use the bathroom in the house and then walk down the path in their PJs and slippers in the freezing cold / drizzling rain to go to bed.

Option three: pigs. Of course!

Micropig
© Petpiggies

So, erm, I just discovered that the minimum amount of space you need for a micropig is 36m2. And, guess what, the space at the bottom of the garden is… …36m2.

A match made in heaven?

Oink oink, I think he’s just snorting, “Buy me Sabrina, buy me!”

Cons: the husband is not convinved this is a “sensible option.” He just might have a point.

Well, written out like that it’s clear what the winner is. Anyone have any last ditch arguments to swing it over to the pigs side?!

Urban Jungle Bloggers: planty wishes for 2016

Ladder of plants | Wolves in LondonHouseplants | Wolves in LondonJade | Wolves in LondonI’m a bit late with the December post for Urban Jungle Bloggers. As the eagle-eyed among you will have spotted, it’s not actually December anymore.

But the theme for the month is planty wishes for 2016 and I love it so much that I can’t miss the chance to join in, even if it’s nearly two weeks belatedly.

My planty wishes for this year are very simple: I just want more plants!

Lots and lots more plants.

Houseplant ladder | Wolves in LondonHouseplants | Wolves in London

To represent my plantopia, I’ve gathered together every single plant I have in my house and put them all into one place. (That place being a rather lovely old wooden ladder…)

Essentially, this is the look I want in every single room of the house by the end of the year. Ha ha, does that sound a little bit crazed?!

I need to work out positions for the plants where they can’t be too destroyed by the children, as well as simply buying quite a few more plants in the next few months, but that’s just the practicalities to figure out before I can achieve the dream!

Watch this space, friends, 2016 is set to be the year of the houseplant chez Wolves in London.

On the blog: plans for 2016

String of pearls plantI didn’t go to the inaugural Blogtacular in 2014 (I was busy pushing a baby out of my lady parts at the time) but I saw one quote from it repeated time and again:

“You will always have more ideas than time… …and that’s alright.”

It resonated with me as much as it clearly resonated with everyone else too. Phew! I thought. It’s not just me…

But 2015 on the blog was the year where I had lots of ideas but so little time that, actually, it didn’t really feel alright.

I started the year bursting with plans: ideas for new blog series, thoughts for fascinating articles, inspiration for stunning photos and oh, y’know, hundreds of amazing genre-busting things I was going to do with my blog. (Okay, that last part is a slight overstatement, but you get the drift.)

But my time felt more pinched than ever before and the huge majority of plans fell by the wayside.

So 2016, I hope, will be the year to resurrect some old ideas and start some new ones too. What can you hope to see on Wolves in London if you drop by in the next 12 months?

Gardening

I started my Gardening A-Z last January, full of excitement and with the intention of writing a fortnightly article explaining something about gardening. I got as far as, erm, the letter D. Not, I hasten to add, for lack of ideas or things to write about, but simply because I was finding it really hard to take a photo I could use for my article on “earthing up”…

I plan to resurrect (and hopefully finish!) the series this year, which I still feel as excited by 12 months later from the original plans.

Also, in a few days time, I am starting the second year of my garden design diploma. Last year was all about plants, this year is all about the “principles and practice” of design itself. I’m thinking of running a series about designing your own garden (in fact, I have had the first few articles written for a few months now) so if you’re hoping to overhaul your garden in 2016, look out for my thoughts on inspiration, designing, planning and planting your space.

Craft

Well, 2015 was not a year of great crafting, it must be said. But my recent reacquaintance with my knitting needles led to a flurry of hats knitted up before Christmas and a jumper for the sproglet is currently in process.

Friends, I must share both photos and chats about such things with you far more often!

But not just knitting; I finally have a permanent desk in our spare room where I can work and sew. The sewing machine is out of the attic and I am determined to get back in the sewing vibe again in 2016.

Wolves in London at home

We’ve been in our little Victorian terrace in SE London for more than three years now and have been almost permanently renovating that whole time. And yes, it’s true, we’re still not finished (I must get round to painting that hallway still) but the majority of the rooms are more or less there. And long-term readers will know that I’ve been meaning to share some room tours for a while now, so that is definitely on the cards for the springtime, once there is actually a bit of light back in the house again.

And the last one is definitely the hardest to achieve…

A bit more Sabrina

I realised a while ago that all of my favourite bloggers regularly include such amazing things as… ….photos of themselves!  I know, who would have thought it? Imagine reading a blog and actually have more than a vague awareness of what the blogger writing it looks like. Some people I have seen, the revolutionaries we might call them, even have photos of themselves in their sidebar! Futuristic or what?!

I mock, of course, because I think I have only three photos of myself on this blog anywhere*, and it’s something I have been meaning to address for a while now. When I’m reading other blogs I like to know who is talking to me, rather than just a faceless collection of words, so it’s only fair to assume others might want the same from me.

Why so few photos here so far (an average of one for every year I’ve been writing the blog, ha ha)?

It’s not just that I never think I look nice in any photo ever, but also because there is nobody around who ever takes a photo of me. I am always the one with the camera.

So this year, I am determined to have a crack with some self-portraits using my tripod and the self-timer on my camera. Cue much awkward posing and discomfort, I am sure.

Sooo, them’s the plans. We’ll see how many I manage to follow through with, but if any of that sounds like your cuppa, then please do visit back again. And of course, finally, a big thanks for checking in here and reading my frequently overly-long thoughts on life, the universe and everything. May 2016 be a wonderful year for you!

*Fact-finders, there is one on my About page (which is taken from my wedding), one with me wearing my homemade maxi skirt, and one of me pootling about in Hong Kong which is now more than four years old.

Over on Pinterest: houseplant heaven

Houseplant heaven | Wolves in London
Helsinki botanical garden © Ukkonooa

Since joining in with Urban Jungle Bloggers these past few months, I’ve been seriously bitten with the houseplant bug.

I’ve got to confess, for a long time I thought houseplants were a bit 70s. A bit naff. A bit macramé pot holders (though they, of course, are now massively back in fashion…) And, most of all, a haven for endless dust.

These days, though, I’ve got a “more is more” philosophy on plants in houses. My collection of ferns in the bathroom has outgrown its spot and been moved to new positions throughout my home. A recently acquired hoard of succulents sits on the mantelpiece. And upstairs, I’ve got some lovely little tillandsia in glass baubles, waiting to be strung from an old branch.

Houseplant heaven | Wolves in London
© Decorating with Plants, Time Life Books 1978 via Supreme interiors
Houseplant heaven | Wolves in London
© Sunset ideas for Hanging Gardens, 1974 via The Secret Garden blog

But not enough! Not enough! I crave ever more interesting and new ways to introduce houseplants (the weirder, the better) to my relatively dark and small Victorian terrace.

I’ve been pinning away some of my favourite images for inspiration to a new board, Houseplant Heaven. Do go over and take a look if a green indoor oasis is your style too, you’ll find the photos in this post, plus many many more…