The big move: an update

Blue glass windowHello, hello! I write to you from the other side of endless box packing and unpacking and moving out of one house and (sort of) into two others…

I was going to give you a blow-by-blow account of the hellish ins and outs of the two moves from last week and the week before, but perhaps it’s best to draw a veil over it all and just focus on what’s ahead.

Sitting room Bay window

Suffice to say, we did manage to get all our stuff out of our old house in the end (a day late, thanks to our removal men, so it was a big relief we had decided to move out a week before completion!)

And now most of our shiz is in our rental house, and almost completely unpacked, hoorah. And a few other bits of our shiz (fridge, washing machine, kitchen table – the things that are already here in the rental) are sitting in our new house just where they are supposed to be. And, even more excitingly, we’re meeting the builder there tomorrow morning to run through all the structural stuff that he’s going to start working on on Monday.

So, fingers crossed, within a month or so, it will be a house that is no longer subsiding!

Kitchen Bedroom

Meanwhile, we also have architects working on designs for planning permission for the attic extension, and I have my brain running through all the plans for the other gazillion things we’ll need to do before we move in.

Anyway, I wandered around the new place on completion day, snapping some pics with evidence of how it is currently. I think the term is “potential” right?!

But the ceilings are high, the windows are huge, and there are some lovely original features dotted about. Actually, I just can’t wait to move in.

Hallway Window Door arch

I am writing this in a terrible hurry, as I’ve just dropped the sproglet off for his first day of school. I am proud to report, I remain dry-eyed! I say a day, but, actually, it’s just two hours this morning, of playing, so I am hoping he will be okay. He seemed pretty cheery as I left him. I suspect the reality of a full week next week might be a little different…

So, a month of huge changes! Happy Friday to all, hope you have a wonderful day and a great weekend.


Five on Friday: ups and downs

Instagram photoYes, this week was, indeed, one of ups and downs. But let’s start with the positives:

  1. Hurrah, we did exchange on our house purchase last Friday! At 4.55pm, five minutes before the deadline for the day, I got a call from the solicitor to say it had all gone through. Huge sighs of relief all round, not least from the poor estate agents who had been somewhat frazzled, I think, by the endless issues with the chain. We complete in three weeks and I am just finally allowing myself to think about the fact we’re going to live in a lovely house on a road I love, in a part of East Dulwich I love and that, wow, it’s all really happened!
  2. To compound my good mood, on Monday morning I noticed that my latest photo on instagram was getting a fair few more likes than usual. And when I say, “a few” I mean more along the lines of many multiples more. It’s the one above, of my kitchen shelves. I had a little investigate and discovered that it had somehow, somehow found its way into the #dslooking top posts selection and by the end of the day I had more than 1,000 likes and a new 150 or so followers. To put this into context, in case lots of instagram influencers are reading, this is about four times more than I usually get. I was rather chuffed! (Though, also, isn’t instagram a funny place? Yes, my shelves are kind of nice, I think so too, of course, but this is so so so so far from a really great photo, or even one of my best photos, that it does amuse me it’s my most popular…)
  3. Incidentally, I put up another photo of a different set of shelves in my house yesterday – this time my bathroom – hoping to capitalise on some of the same success, but no such luck, ha ha. I guess it was a one off alignment of the instagram stars.
  4. But the downs… …also on Monday morning, I set off for the dentist to have a fake tooth fitted. Years (and years) ago when I was a student, I had a dodgy filling put in by a dodgy dentist, which meant one of my back molars ended up cracking and had to be removed. There’s been a gap there ever since, but recently my (hopefully non-dodgy) dentist noticed that the tooth above had started to slip downwards. I’ve had endless appointments at Kings Dental clinic to discuss what to do (pull out the slipping down tooth, or try and push it back up again?) and finally opted to have a fake tooth put into the gap, with the hope that the top tooth will start to go back into its rightful place. This is a very long, very boring dental story I am realising as I’m writing it, but the short version is: new fake tooth means my jaw no longer connects anymore. Only the slippydowny tooth meets the bottom teeth for the time being. So I left the dentist with a huge lisp and am unable to chew any food except on that one tooth for, erm, probably about the next six months. I’ve been working on the lisp, which I find embarrassing, and I almost sound like normal again, but chewing is still hard and I’ve been only eating soft things all week. Which isn’t ideal when you’re pregnant and starving all the time. Anyway, that’s my woeful tooth story over so onto the final down…
  5. Also on Monday: the buggers who had said they’d rent us a house close to our new house and close to the sproglet’s school decided they didn’t want to rent it out after all. Which meant I’ve had a frantic week desperately trying to secure a new rental house for us to move into in a fortnight’s time. We’re planning on doing lots of building work on our new house, so we need us and our furniture to be elsewhere for the foreseeable future. Nothing has come up in the right location, but I’m just hoping we’re going to find somewhere before the week is out. Please, please keep your fingers crossed for me!



Back! And an update


Hello chickens! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? That short break turned into a slightly longer break, but now here I am once again, assignments handed in and all the other bits and pieces that had been keeping me busy are more or less sorted out.

So, what’s been going down round these parts while I’ve been away?

Well, firstly, the long-awaited move. We have, quite literally, been round the houses since I last mentioned all our grand plans for an escape to the country. After all that umming and ahhing about what to do, we decided to put our house on the market and take the leap, buy the dream house in the country and just give it a go and see how it worked out.

But… …no sooner had we accepted an offer on our house than a few changes in circumstances hit us all at the same time, which meant that, actually, it made infinitely more sense to stay in London for another couple of years and we would (hopefully!) be in a good situation to move in time for the littlest to start school in 2018, rather than the sproglet this September. The sprog himself, incidentally, also just got a school place at the absolutely brilliant primary at the end of our road and his nursery is already being amazing about helping make his transition there as easy as possible (he’s a bit shy, bless him), so we feel as if we’ve made the right decision.

So, rather than take the easy option and just stay where we are, we decided to give ourselves loads more work and buy a fixer upper round the corner from us for a bit of extra space, vast amounts of extra money, months spent renting a flat later this year while we do the work and, oh, you know, all the associated hassle of moving house and doing somewhere up. Honestly, it’s the sensible option really. Really.

So we’ve been in the throes of mortgage agreements and booking surveys and replying to solicitors accusations about “wood boring insect infestations” in our current house and all sorts of fun things like that.

In more enjoyable activities, the littlest turned two last week. We had a family trip to the transport museum on the day itself and a family party at the weekend, last Sunday, on what must have been the first truly hot day of the year. It was utter bliss, sitting outside, the sun beating down, the bees bumbling around the flower beds and listening to all the toddlers shrieking in delight at they played with the water table and took endless turns on the brand new slide.

My garden design course continues a(very speedy)pace with endless assignments and deadlines that I struggle to meet. Yesterday I gave a presentation on the incredible Jacques Wirtz, who is best known for his amazing cloud pruned hedges. Here’s a picture for you in case you’re into that sort of thing:

Jacques Wirtz's family garden
© Wirtz International

If you are, do look him up, his work is brilliant and has aspired me anew on the whole garden design career.

We’ve finally bought a couple more chickens to make up for the loss of darling Nero a few months back. So Blanco and Ginger have now been joined by Polka and Dot and the settling in period seems to be fine, so far…

Oh and finally, I’ve really been debating about whether to ever mention this here, but do you remember when I took a trip to Wiltshire last year to look for houses? One thing I didn’t say is that we were actually filming for a TV show, and, ahem, it was on TV last week. Yes, we were some of the hapless non-buyers in Escape to the Country. I have actually been dreading it coming onto TV, convinced that I would be portrayed as a terrible human being, but in fact, it was really fine. Yes, I seem to have a cut glass accent so strong that dogs surely wince when they hear me talking (something I genuinely wasn’t really aware of!) but other than that, I don’t think I came off as a massive douche. And the kids are adorable, of course, in their little spot at the beginning.

I’m not going to go as far as give you a direct link here (I’m a little too embarrassed for that), but if you are interested, we’re in series 16 and it’s the one where Jules Hudson goes to Wiltshire with a “young family”…

Apologies for the serious lack of photos in this post. I’ve really been on a break from everything: blogging, social media, even picking up my camera, so the past month has been completely undocumented. I have to say, it’s been refreshing not reaching for my phone or my camera the minute anything happens. The photo right up at the top is of the morello cherry tree in our front garden, which is stunning at this time of year, heaving with blossom.

Right, phew, that’s about it. Normal blogging service to resume from now on, with more focused and much shorter posts! I hope you’ve all been well in the past few weeks. Roll on summer, roll on more warm weather.


I wrote this and took the photos a week or so ago, but couldn’t find my camera lead to download anything… Pleased to report that *some* progress has since taken place!

I’ve been a little quiet this week, because last Saturday we moved home.

After three months away, we’re finally back in our pad.*

It was a week earlier than planned, as my Mum’s house – where we were staying — was clogged up from the flooding and the drain situation was getting a little unpleasant. So, everything wasn’t exactly finished when we got back here.

There’s still quite a lot of this…

Hole in the wall
What a lovely hole in the wall
building work
Oh no, this sort of thing isn’t at all dangerous with a toddler running round. Honest…
new plaster
This is one of the “good” walls. Nothing, but nothing is painted yet… I think they look quite beautiful though.


But also lots of lovely renovations already completed, like this…

Fireplace tile
A tile from our reclaimed fireplace, brand new in the sitting room
Newly laid (and newly mopped) parquet floor that runs throughout the downstairs of the house
Shower valve
A shower! We finally have a shower
Fired Earth tiles
And this is the bathroom floor, fully covered in Fired Earth tiles**
radiator valve
Most exciting to me: though slightly dusty, this is one of our lovely radiator valves because, hooray, we finally have central heating

So, there’s still a way to go, but we’re in, we’re heated and we can wash. What more do you need than that?!

I’ll show you some proper photos of completed rooms when (or if) they get finished…

*A fact that always reminds me of the amazing Robert Lowell poem, Home after three months away. Check it out if you like a bit of modern poetry.

** If you like these tiles, I’m selling our spares on eBay right now!

Related articles:

  • A bit more about our house and everything we needed to do to it…

A new house

Meet Mabel.

Toilet paper doll
Mabel greets you and says she’s pleased to meet you

Mabel scares the crap out of me.

You can see why, can’t you?

scary doll
This look is just absolutely terrifying…

For the last seven months, Mabel has been sitting on top of the cabinet above the sink in my bathroom.  Under her skirts, she’s been keeping her treasured belongings safe:

medicated loo paper
What’s that under your skirt? Oh…

But this morning, I’m taking Mabel off to the charity shop. It’s a momentous occasion and I thought it fitting to photograph her before she goes.

Mabel is the very last remnant of the previous owners still left in my house. (Well, apart from all their decoration, wallpaper, tiles and such like, anyway. Perhaps I should say she is the last possession.)

We moved here last September, to a house that had clearly been someone’s home for a very long time.

On the one hand, it was the perfect opportunity for us. A classic “fixer-upper”.

The house hadn’t been updated for a good while, at least 50 years. There’s no central heating (yes, I know, we picked the absolute worst Winter to go without central heating, with the temperature still at “fricking freezing” even in April), there’s no shower, there’s no dishwasher, there’s nothing, in fact, that you could call a “mod con.”

So we get to start afresh and do it up exactly as we like. It’s a massive project and I love nothing more than a project.

But on the other hand, it’s also quite sad. The couple who lived here before had been here for 65 years. Raised their family here. Watched their children grow up and move out. Filled the house with their possessions. Possessions like Mabel.

When we moved in, the man had just died and we were buying the house from his children. So we said it was fine to leave any furniture, possessions or anything they didn’t want to have to clear out.

We slightly regretted having said that, after we moved all our furniture in and there literally wasn’t enough space for everything.

But over the last seven months, we’ve sorted through things, got rid of bits and pieces, earmarked the things we want to try and keep and find a new home for (well, retain their old home, really) among our own possessions.

And now, Mabel, and her old-fashioned loo roll, are the last things to go.  Sure, we’ve got a phenomenal amount of renovation and work to do still, but once Mabel’s gone that marks the point from which the house holds only our possessions.

Which is nice for us, but the end of the line for the previous inhabitants.

We never knew the family, but I’ve felt as if we’ve got to know them a little. From all the 1950s furniture left here; from the choice of flowers planted in the back garden, and the fruit trees espaliered against the wall; from the pack of photographs we found that had slipped behind a cabinet, showing them sitting in the garden in the summer, surrounded by blooming flowers; from the neighbours who stopped, aghast, to tell me off when we cut down the giant cactus in the front garden; from the stories they told about how the man used to give miniature cactus plant cuttings to the local school children; from the floral wallpapers, a different one in every room and the rolls of spares we found in the attic.

I’d like to think that we’ll be here that long as well, a fixture in the community at the ends of our lives, our children reluctantly selling our house and the neighbours reminiscing fondly about us. But, you know what, I suspect it’s unlikely. We’ll probably move on in a few years, tempted by the lure of the countryside or a bigger house or the chance to live abroad…

So goodbye Mabel, may the charity shop treat you well.

Charity shop pile
Mabel in the charity shop pile by the door. Also, a little peek of one (just one) of our many floral wallpapers

And may you find a new home among people who don’t think you’re half as creepy as I do.