Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Walk of Shame Revisited

Waaaay back in the midsts of time (June 2012), I wrote a post about the alley at the side of our garage which, at the beginning of that post looked like this

And by the end of the post, looked something like this
Definitely a little tidier, but still a mess when all's said and done.
Fast forward a couple of months and DC's wendy house was popped in the space next to the tree (as seen at the far right back of the photo above.)

And then our next door neighbours started having work done on an extension. It all worked in our favour really (in the end at least) because they needed access to the back of their house, which was most easily achieved by coming through the Walk of Shame (although they have a detached house the other side of it has a garage built all the way across their plot of land which would have meant the builders using wheelbarrows to move tonnes of earth dug out for the footings, etc; by using our side alley instead they were able to get diggers/dumpers in and out which saved lots of time and money.) In return, the builders used their digger to rip out all of the shrubs, weeds, etc that had been preventing the Walk of Shame becoming a Garden of Eden. Ha.
And one little boy was in digger heaven!

(Yes, that it Father Christmas on his t-shirt; it's his absolute favourite and is worn year-round.)

But let's go back in time just a tad because before the digger could start to clear the shrubs and before the diggers and dumper trucks could get down the side of the garage and into our neighbours' garden, all of the stones, the coal bunker, and various other bits of detritus had to be moved (luckily, the builders moved it all.) But where to put it? Ta dah: the space at the back of the garage, which was a bit of an odd area with a couple of little walls (can you see them in the middle and towards the back of the photo?) which served no apparent purpose (here's hoping the garage wasn't being propped up by them...) and some plants. 
Although before that could be done, more digging and clearing had to take place, so hubby and his little helper set to and did a marvellous job of clearing this bed. Most of the plants were rehomed elsewhere in the garden.
Once the stones, etc were moved this is what the spot looked like.
Nice, eh?
Over the next couple of months diggers, dumpers, builders, bricks, concrete blocks, hardcore, you name it was shifted down the side alley, through torrential rain, snow, more rain, churning up the grass and leaving behind a LOT of mud.

But then finally, a couple of weeks ago the building work was done and we were able to start work on the side alley. First a new fence and gate were erected (by the builders), then hubby (with a little help from DC & I) wheeled barrow loads of gravel round, then hubby moved all of the stones/spare paving slabs and roof tiles, and the coal bunker back. Phew.

There's a lot of fun to be had with a green bucket.

Leaving us with a side alley that now looks like this (not quite finished as we have to wait for our neighbours to do something with a hole under their fence panel, hence the spare fence panel still in our side alley and the gravel ending halfway up the path)
and the back of the garage looking like this. Please excuse the butt-ugly water butt and the trellis to nowhere as we're still debating what to do with this area of the garden; plans include (but are not limited to, depending on what day of the week it is) re-siting the greenhouse, knocking down and rebuilding the garage, not knocking down and rebuilding the garage, extending the patio along to this part of the garden, putting DC's soon-to-be-erected trampoline here, etc, etc.
Finally it's not quite so shameful. But still a work in progress.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Can You Tell What It Is Yet?

This beauty has been living in pieces since I sold my house in Reading way, way back in 2005. A crying shame for sure; it's been in a loft in Henley, a storage facility in Reading, back to another loft in Reading, and finally the garage here at our home in deepest Somersetshire.

Once upon a time this lovely graced the front room/parlour (aka the 'nosey' room, since it overlooked the street and was a great place for watching the neighbourhood goings-on) at my Granny's house in Bristol. When she died and the house was sold, this gorgeous item came to me.

And finally, a few weekends ago we got it out of the garage, shuffled it into the living room and hubby put it together.

There's something you don't see often enough these days!

Once it was fully assembled, we carried it into the snug and, ta daaaaah, popped it up against the chimney breast. 
We've been debating what to do with the chimney breast/fireplace for a while now, looking on eBay for the 'perfect' surround, and all the while there was this lovely heirloom out in the garage. It's not that we'd forgotten it was there, but it had been earmarked for use in the living room when we get round to having a chimney breast/fireplace built in there. However, we think it suits this room much better. Not to everyone's taste, I know, but we rather like it.
Here's a comparison photo to show what the chimney breast/fireplace looked like on the day we first viewed the house in July 2010.
And another from the day the builders started work on the house back in April 2011.
Next on the list is a little bit of colour for this room. When we had the house renovated, we asked the decorator to paint every room white, because we couldn't think of what colour we would want each room before actually living there. Once the carpet was laid and we started moving some dark oak furniture in, I plotted to paint the room a deep, dark grey or purple. My plan was to paint the entire room, but I thought I'd start with the chimney breast and see how it went from there.
And so I present to you Carragheen by Kevin McCloud for Fired Earth.
Rejected by hubby (and then me) as being too dark. And defintely too dark for the entire room.
So, it was back to B&Q for another look at the purple range; this time Dulux Twilight Cinders 2.
It's actually darker than it looks in these photos, but after a couple of weeks of sitting and looking at it, it looks like this colour will be given the boot too. We have decided it is too 'new build'. That's our way of saying it's too modern for us - it's the sort of colour you might see on a feature wall in a show home. And we're not show home people.

So, it's back to the drawing board as far as colours go. Hubby has suggested green. I'm not convinced.
Oh, and on a completely different note, a trip to one of our (many) local charity shop turned up another frame for just £1.99. A quick couple of coats of Dulux Bowler Hat (originally bought as a contender for the walls of the snug, but again rejected as too dark) and here's another of DC's art works ready to be hung (if we ever get round to deciding the best spot.)

Friday, 15 February 2013

He's Been Framed

At nursery and pre-school DC is quite the little artist. At home he prefers to wield the scissors and make small piles of squares out of what once would have been the M&S Home catalogue, or somesuch; he leaves them all over the floor, of course.

Those of you who are parents, grandparents or similar, will know what it's like to find curling bits of cellophane, tatty pieces of paper, fluffy/felty/woolly/scrappy bits of who knows what thrust into your hands by your little darling(s). Some of the said 'art work' isn't that bad, while some is destined for the recycling bin just as soon as the small child is occupied enough with the tv/iPad/box of matches that they won't notice what you are doing.

So, what of the stuff that you keep hold of? Well, if you're anything like us, some of it gets stuck to the fridge-freezer and then rotated into a drawer when new 'worth-keeping' (in Mummy's opinion) artwork comes home. And then one day you're searching for something completely different and come upon an enormous pile of 'art' stuffed in the drawer and you think 'I really should do something with that' (and by 'something' I don't mean start a fire or put it through the shredder.)

So, when the planets are aligned and you find a large pile of artwork plus an old frame that needs either using or binning plus a tester pot of paint - this is what happens:
When my Mum moved, this VERY faded print of the Clifton Suspension bridge in Bristol came down off the wall in her old house and didn't go back up in her new house. She asked me to take it to the charity shop, but I decided I could use the frame, so I kept it (sorry charity shop.)
I don't know if you can see from the photos very clearly, but it's a dark wood frame with a hint of 'gold' running round the inside edge.

The frame had been well put together and it took a bit of effort for me to prise the nails/staples out.
But eventually I got the back off.
And bade farewell to the print.
As luck would have it, a new tester pot of paint had recently come into the house. A very dark charcoal grey by Dulux known as Bowler Hat. Although the colour wasn't right for the wall(s) that I had in mind, I thought it would make a great colour for a picture frame. And so I set to with my paintbrush (and I'm so lazy that I didn't even bother to sand down the frame [let alone use primer] before applying two coats of paint.)
My first thought was to put this piece of fingerprint art in the frame, but the white paper against the cream border didn't really work (plus the picture was slightly too small for the border.)
A little shuffle through the rest of the art in the drawer and this little beauty was declared to be perfect.
I even 'signed' it on behalf of the artist; handily, one of the nursery teachers had even written the date on the picture, so I added that too.
And then I wondered if I might perhaps prefer to hang the picture this way, which is a bummer now I've written DC's name on the other edge.
Oh, and in another furtuitous turn of events, the day after I'd taken the frame apart and started painting it, DC knocked anoher picture frame over and it broke. The fixings/hangings on the back were perfect for fixing/hanging our new frame, so I whipped the screwdriver out,
took them off the old frame
and attached them to the 'new' one.

It looks like a right old dog's dinner from behind, but who's going to see it?
You can expect to see a retrospective of DC's work, entitled The Early Years, at the Tate Modern very soon.