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In Inside

Small room, big trouble

To misquote Swifty, I knew it was trouble the moment I walked in to the toilet, and to sort of  quote Pulp,  it had ‘woodchip on the wall.’

After a prolonged hiatus on getting the inside of our house finished I am on a mission to get most of the downstairs completed by Christmas. When I say ‘I am on a mission’ it is actually me doing as much of the work as I can, paying only for the skills I don’t have or need an expert, like the electrics, but otherwise saving the money where we can to get the house fully renovated.  I …

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In Wellness

Mix a pancake

Stir a pancake, Pop it in a pan. Fry a pancake, toss a pancake, catch it if you can.

When I was little I never understood the ‘Don’t forget the pancake on Jif Lemon Day’ advert. It was extremely clever advertising to establish their product, essentially processed lemon juice, as synonymous with Pancake Day, but I didn’t understand it because we never ever ever had lemon juice (fresh or processed) on our pancakes.

Growing up, pancakes were firmly reserved for Shrove Tuesday (usually after an afternoon spent watching Shrovetide Football in town, but that’s a whole other story). It simply never occurred to me to eat them …

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In Inside

The art of slow decorating

Prising open the encrusted paint lid, I get my wooden stirrer (one tip already covered in dry paint from a previous project) and carefully submerge it, all the way to the bottom of the tin where I can feel a thick layer of sediment. In steady slow circular motions the chalk, china clay, titanium dioxide and pigments come together once more turning through the tones of grey to resemble one of the fifty shades with which I have painted our house. I delicately pour it like double cream onto a pudding into my painters tray and carefully climb the step ladder.

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In Inside

Mistletoe and December skies

He is nothing if not stoic, brooding on his watch tower  like a mottled tawny and brown drowned rat,  tail feathers scraggly forlorn and drooping down, raindrops dripping off the ends. His head turns and he looks straight down at me before swooping off silently over the fields beyond the road side hedgerow. This is how December has greeted us too; swooping and silent.  And somewhat schizophrenically with dismal mornings of endless rain giving way to glorious afternoons of blue skies and long shadows and back to evenings of gales and streams of rain. I yearn for a properly cold spell.

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In Outside

A seasonal tilt

International Coffee Day, Chocolate Week, Halloween, my mum’s birthday, the extra hour in bed: some of the reasons I love October. But here’s my confession; I don’t like ‘spiced’ things – lattes or biscuits, I can’t stand pumpkins (except carving them), I’m no fan of trick or treating (American import) and I don’t like dark afternoons. I do like getting cosy though and starting the move towards winter hibernation and everything hygge. To the Anglo-Saxons this time of year was known as ‘Winter Fylleth’ because at the full moon winter was supposed to begin.

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In Outside

August August

August, the height of summer, some may think. Or perhaps its depth.Either way this year has been the kind of summer that children store up as memory of all summers. Sunshine and barbecues, icecreams, open windows on hot nights and paddling pools.

In one of those neat word plays, August is named after Emperor Augustus, (after the latin for venerable or consecrated)  and originally had only 30 days. It was thought necessary to add another day in order that Augustus might not be in any respect inferior to Julius. Thus Augustus was exceptionally august in altering August. The only Augustus I can think of is …

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In Inside

We are on a break

It’s slightly incongruous to be writing about the inside, when I am literally writing this outside, and spending so much time out doors at the moment. In fact, I have been taking a break from painting and decorating. Since the start of 2018 I have done nothing to the interior, save for a few touch ups and ordering some carpet for the stairs and landing. It is no understatement to say that I get daily pleasure from the soft woollen pile under my toes. I actually take time to notice it everyday because I am so grateful not to have floorboards anymore or the old …

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In Inside

Love handles

What makes a house into a home? Or more accurately what makes a house into an Instagrammable home, because that’s all that matters these days. Right? For me, it starts with the details. I don’t mean the obvious things, like artwork, textiles, ceramics, (although of course I love spending time finding the right finishing touches).  But I’m talking about one layer down from that, the things that are designed to have function, but which can still be aesthetically pleasing in their own right. The things that perhaps weren’t originally intended to be noticed; handles, knobs, doorplates, keyhole covers, locks. They can tie the rooms together, …

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In Wellness

Chocolate cake charm

I love baking. It is relaxing and therapeutic with the weighing and measuring, the stirring and whisking, the magical alchemy of bringing together disparate ingredients into something utterly delicious. It is mindfulness and mindlessness at the same time, with a treat at the end of it all (except the washing up). Out of all the things I like to bake, cake is the number one favourite. Not just any cake, but milk chocolate cake from the superbly retro Be-Ro recipe book.

The Be-Ro recipe book was my baking bible as a child. My mum has two ancient editions, one of which has fallen apart from …

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