Thursday, 27 April 2017

Old Things Redisovered

I was having a clear out of our shed and found two stained glass panels that I made about twelve years ago and had forgotten about. I used to be really into this and even made some window panels for our house, but lead and unborn babies don't mix, so I gave it up when I discovered Monkeychild was on the way and haven't touched my soldering iron since. However, after finding these I think I should pick it up again.

I repainted the wooden frame around the fish panel and hung this and other one on some tree branches in the orchard; its like like having an outdoors gallery.

When Husband was clearing out our former next door neighbour's shed for them he found an old washstand complete with its marble top. As our neighbours had said that we could have whatever we wanted from the shed, these came back with us.

As you can see the wash stand looked very shabby - no wonder after living in the shed for fifty-odd years! 

After a sand-down, I reached for my faithful standby: garden paint and gave it a few coats of purple paint and the change is totally satisfying.

I've been sloshing the paint around quite a bit recently as we decided to turn our tatty summerhouse into a temporary office space for me, whilst our new neighbours' builders renovate their house. Needless to write, that these works are rather  noisy and not ideal when trying to write reports and the like.

So - cue more garden paint and me painting the inside of the summerhouse ; it took a whole weekend to do - longer than I'd anticipated!

Afterwards came the best bit - kitting it out with all the essentials: desk and chair, retro kitchen cupboard and cooker. Luckily, I didn't have to buy anything new, just took a few things from the house and in doing so, made more space!

Its really made a difference, as I can now make a brew when I'm in the garden and also have the perfect writing space - all for the price of a large tin of paint and a few hours work.

During my shed clear out I also found a(nother!) washstand that I brought years ago and had the brainwave to put it on the decking next to the summerhouse, so I now have somewhere to wash my hands after gardening and before I brew up! 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Reclaimed: In Different Ways

This post is going to have a reclaimed aspect to it, as some of my recent activities and buys have had a re-use and recycle theme to them.

Firstly though, is that I landed the exciting opportunity to write a feature about enamel signs for Reclaim Magazine. This magazine is relatively new and I came across the third issue of it last year and was instantly hooked. Each issue focuses on interiors that have a strong sense of style through using vintage and antique furniture and also features people within the reclamation trade; an aspect that's close to home as its an area my Dad used to be involved with.

Luckily I had some photos I had taken previously of enamel signs in-situ on my travels, including those in my collection such as this recent purchase that now lives on the bathroom wall.

But writing the feature also gave me the excuse to make a field trip to Ross-on-Wye to photograph the frontage of the amazing Gwalia shop with its enviable collection of signs. I particularly love the Palethorpes' sausages sign.

After writing and re-writing my drafts, the feature's copy was emailed off to Reclaim last month and now a few weeks later its included in the current issue of the magazine. 

So, what else have I been up to?

Well, it was fab to finally meet up with fellow blogger Emma aka Ivy Black Chat, last month. We met up in Stroud and naturally I had to show her some of the best bargain haunts after having a long gossip in one of the town's many cafes. Check out Emma's blog here for some pics of our day out together.

I've also been busy making Monkeychild's outfit for her school's World Book Day event. The sewing started off fine, but had me swearing like a trooper by the time I finished it. Monkey wanted to go as Violet Baudelaire from the Lemony Snickert books, 'A Series of Unfortunate Events', so to make the outfit I turned to my trusty 1970s Simplicity 9848 girls dress pattern that I originally used for last year's Alice in Wonderland dress.

I used the pattern to make both the grey dress and the laced-up bodice, and luckily found enough lengths of spare fabric in my stash to sew the majority of the outfit. Monkeychild was well chuffed with it, so all my efforts paid off even though its been the trickiest outfit to make.

When it comes to secondhand stuff, I haven't brought much recently apart from a Fair Isle cardigan during mine and Emma's charity shop trail in Stroud, and a pair of patent DMs and a Ghost jacket from eBay.

These were absolute bargains; the DMs have been broken in thank goodness, which makes it a lot easier for the backs of my heels! I used to wear a lot of Ghost stuff back in the early '90s and still have most of them tucked away. Their black dresses looked very gothic and were ideal for clubbing.

Finally, as I started off with a reclamation theme, I'll end with one too. 

I've been keeping my eyes on my neighbours' skip whilst their builders strip out next door. This has paid off as the other day I noticed a set of cupboard doors taken off and left outside, which were original to the house (1900) along with lengths of skirting, door frame architrave and metal door hooks. I asked the  builder if I could take them and he said "Take all you want mate" - so I did!

He even knocked on my door later to ask if I wanted another pair of cupboard doors - too right I did!

This morning I had another knock on the door, but this time it was from a friend, Pollie Math, who had spied the stoneware sink that the builders had also ripped out. She's setting up a local artists' studio and was on the look out for a studio sink and this matched the bill. So, cue her and me (wearing bright pink rubber gloves for grip and steel-toe boots) this morning in the rain and mud, attempting to roll said extremely heavy sink from next door's garden into mine. I think the parents on the school-run outside the house thought we were a total pair of nutters - and they'd be right!

Note polite notice to other skip scavengers in the locality!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Brontë Country

After watching the BBC's superb bio-pic about the Brontës, To Walk Invisible, back in December last year, I decided that when we were next in Lancashire we would nip across the county-line into West Yorkshire and visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum.

Well, that's what we did during last week's half-term holiday and I was so pleased that we went as its a place I've longed to visit, especially after reading and re-reading all the Brontë sisters' books ever since my teens. 

Haworth Parsonage - the Brontë's family home between 1820 and 1861 - was sold after the death of the Reverend Patrick Brontë, with all the family's possessions and furniture also being sold off soon afterwards. Although the parsonage was modernised by a later nineteenth century inhabitant (including Charlotte's earlier remodelling of some of the rooms), it essentially remains the same structurally since the Brontës. Luckily, the parsonage was brought for the Brontë Society in 1927 by a benefactor and has been run as a museum ever since. Over the decades, the Society have been able to acquire a significant amount of the Brontës' fascinating personal effects and furniture, which are all on display.

Once inside the parsonage, we were allowed to take photos but only without the flash, which explains why some of my photos are a bit grainy. 

The above is the dining room where the Brontë sisters did most of their writing at the table pictured, witnessed by its scratches, ink stains, a candle burn and Emily's initial carved into it.

These photos were taken on the stairs with their worn stone steps; including a niche where a longcase clock is positioned. This is the original clock that Reverend Brontë used to wind up each night before going to bed.

Upstairs are all the bedrooms, including a little room (above left) which was known as 'The Children's Study' before it later became Emily's bedroom. One wall still has pencil marks on it from when the sisters and their brother Branwell, were children.

The blue-coloured room was Charlotte's bedroom (she also died here) and is painted in the exact same colour as when Charlotte used it. It also contains lots of displays showing Charlotte's possessions such as her shoes, letters to her friend Ellen Nussey, her wedding bonnet and drawings.

From this we went into Bramwell's dark and tiny room and then into a larger room, which housed more exhibits including first edition copies of the sisters' novels, their art and needlework boxes, paintings, sketches and even the brass collars worn by their dogs, Flossy and Keeper. 

A letter signed by 'Currer Bell' aka Charlotte Brontë

Also on show was a brooch containing Anne's hair, a lock of Charlotte's hair and a spotted handkerchief belonging to Anne, which was stained with her blood - probably from her TB.

Afterwards, we made our way down a cobbled lane past the churchyard, which was crammed full with gravestones.

I'm glad that the weather was drizzly and very misty during our visit as it made the parsonage and graveyard so atmospheric. 

Haworth itself is a pretty village with its period stonework buildings and it didn't seem to be too 'touristy' either - probably because we made our visit in the winter rather than the summer! 

It has some lovely independent shops too like The Cabinet of Curiosities, which sells soaps, bath salts and lots of other fabulous things all housed in an amazing apothecary shop interior.

Not forgetting Monkeychild's favourite shop of all...

...Mrs' Beighton's Sweet Shop crammed full of sweets - I chose the liquorice torpedoes!

This is what I imagine Stella Gibbons' 'Cold Comfort Farm' to look like!

On our way back to Preston, we had a few stop-offs to admire the wild moorland landscapes, which are truly beautiful and have left me feeling inspired to paint them.

P.S. Do you have a favourite Brontë novel, if so which one?

I think mine would be 'Wuthering Heights', closely followed by 'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall'.

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