Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Scrubbed and Polished!


Way back in December Lucy turned 21.  One of her presents was tickets for both of us to go to a Maroon 5 concert at the O2 arena in London.  It was supposed to be last weekend, but Maroon 5 have postponed until next January!  So we looked around for something else to do, and came across a ‘pamper day’ at a local hotel on Groupon.  I am not usually all that keen on beauty treatments, but Lucy really wanted to go so we packed our swimming costumes and off we drove!  We had 2 ‘mini’ treatments each, a pedicure and a facial.  Look at my toes!

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We had a really lovely lunch, all healthy stuff, sitting in the bar area.  The waitress asked me if I was Merlin’s owner!  I didn’t recognise her at first, so asked her what her dog’s name was.  It turned out that we used to walk our dogs together about 8 years ago!  Sadly she had lost her dog earlier this year too.

Our day was made when we ventured outside to the pool (the water, a balmy 30 degrees) and then the sun came out!  So we sat in the sun for the afternoon, perfect!

Remember my craft challenge?  June was supposed to be make a bag, which I am pleased to report I have done.  It’s a doggie bag!  I made it from a pattern in Lynette Anderson’s book It’s Quilting Cats and Dogs.

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Friday, 21 June 2013

Home Decor

I feel as though I have neglected my blog recently.  Partly because Merlin has been so poorly, but also because we have been decorating!  We are reluctant decorators really, and it has pretty much taken over our lives  over the last few weeks!  So I thought you might be interested to see what we have been doing. 

We live in the seaside town of Worthing on the South Coast of England, about 50 miles due south of London.  The town expanded during the early part of the 20th century and our house was built in 1929, along with our neighbours.  It is a quirky house – like an L shape with the inside corner drawn across, and all the rooms are different shapes, a carpet fitters nightmare!  We have lived in this house for 20 years, and seen both kids grow up here.  I can’t imagine us leaving for a while, as they both still live here, so it was time to do some updating!

We started at the front and worked back.  We had these rather splendid double oak doors with stained glass – but unfortunately they were going rotten.  They would swell up in the warm sunshine and some days we couldn’t open them!  (I got stuck outside several times until I started taking the back door key with me!)  So rather reluctantly we decided to get a new ‘composite’ door.

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The new door is so much smarter!  Much easier to open and close, so much more secure and will be draught free in the winter!  It looks really pretty from the inside.  This picture (below) is taken from the hall into the porch.

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We have a massive hall.  It is like another room, and we  have used it as a dining room when the kids were little, when the real dining room was a playroom.  About 15 year ago, we bought this rather splendid oak dresser:

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It has magnificent carvings all over it.  We sought advice from an auction house, who told us that it has really crisp carving, with several different influences, art nouveau, art deco etc. It fitted perfectly into our hall.  We painted all the woodwork in an antique green colour, and I had an eclectic collection of plates on the plate rack.  Here’s another angle, looking towards the stairs:home 004 

We loved it!  But is was time for a change.  The hall is quite dark, and coloured woodwork is not so fashionable now, nor the Laura Ashley wallpaper below the dado rail.  So after several weekends of rubbing down, undercoating and glossing, here’s what it looks like now:

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We sold the dresser (on eBay!) and bought a new oak sideboard (  The big red tulip picture is one of my photos on canvas.  We have new funky lights from  The wall light casts lovely patterns over the wall.  It has made such a huge difference!  We are thrilled to bits with it!  I keep going out there to have another look!  Just a couple of finishing off bits to do, like tidy up those cables drooping off the shelf.

We carried on decorating up the stairs and onto the landing.  We have fitted a wooden venetian blind to the very large window half way up the stairs, which overlooks the back garden.  Really pleased with it as it blocks out the powerful rays of the sun without blocking the light.  Maybe I will be able to hang one of my quilts on the wall up the stairs now.

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We also updated our bathroom, with new tiles, new shower screen and flooring.  Again, it looks fab!

Phew!  I think that might be it for another 20 years or so!!  (Although secretly, I would like a new kitchen, maybe next year!)

Wednesday, 19 June 2013


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Sad news.  Merlin, our flat-coated retriever passed away this morning.  He was very poorly so we took him to the vets and he was put to sleep.  We have had a fantastic 10 years with him!  He has bought us so much joy!  We will miss him terribly – it already seems really strange without him.

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Rest In Peace Merlin, we love you.

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This last photo taken just 2 weeks ago, his last outing to the beach.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

May/June craft challenges

I am afraid my May challenge to scrapbook as many online challenges as possible ended up making way for decorating!  I did do all the UKScrappers challenges, and found the fabulous Counterfeit Challenge Blog, so I am happy enough.  Maybe I’ll come back to it in the autumn and have another go.

So for June, I am going to make some bags.  I have a lovely pattern (with a little applique black dog, and sewing kit on the front) from Lynette Anderson that I want to make.  I would also like to make some small bags from the lovely little kits I have been getting from Seamstar.

In the meantime, the sun is shining, it’s nice and warm, and look at all these self-seeded aquilegias that have appeared and overwhelmed one of my borders!

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Sunday, 2 June 2013

Sunday Morning Ride out

We were a bit stumped with what to do with ourselves this morning.  Usually on a bright sunny morning like this we would pack a flask of coffee and a couple of hot cross buns, and take Merlin, our flat-coated retriever for a long walk across the downs.  In fact, we may well do more of the South Downs Way.  But sadly, Merlin is unwell; in fact, we are quite worried about him.  He is back to the vets tomorrow for tests to find out what is wrong with him. Hoping it’s nothing too seriousSad smile

So we decided to get the shiny Honda motorbike out for ride!

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(We need lots of practice as we have a really exciting holiday booked for later in the year which involves hiring a Harley Davidson and riding the Pacific Highway up the coast of CaliforniaSmile). 

We set off in the direction of a National Trust property called ‘Uppark’.  It was a stunningly beautiful ride!  We left Worthing on the A27 going west and turned off at Arundel to meet the A272 at Bury Hill.  We encountered dozens of cyclists puffing up the hills, whizzing down the other side, and enjoying the warm sunshine!  We rode through lush green countryside.  This Spring has come really late in the UK due to a long wet cold winter, but everything is in full lushness now!  The trees are clothed in the brilliant lime green of new leaves, and the fields are green with young crops. The hedgerows along the side of the roads are full of white frothy cow parsley.  We rode through leafy tunnels where the trees touch over the road, and the dappled sunlight filters through.  At times we came out of the trees and high banks either side of the road to stunning vistas of rolling hills patchworked with lots of different shades of green.  We rode through little villages, just a few quaint old cottages, and maybe a cosy looking pub (must make mental note to come back to some of these pubs!).  There were signs on the side of the road advertising farm shops, village fetes, and the South of England Agricultural Show, but my favourite was a little hand written sign that said ‘ Beware, ducklings crossing’!

As we approached Uppark we rode through another leafy tunnel and came out to this stunning view.  The brilliant yellow of the rape seed plants took our breath away, so we stopped to take some photos.

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Just look a the blue sky and little fluffy cloudsSmile!

Unfortunately, you have to pay entry to Uppark to get to the cafe, and as we didn’t want to stay long, we decided to motor on.  We took the road towards Chichester, which passes Goodwood motor racing circuit, and it was then that Maurice remembered that the Breakfast Club was on today, and the theme was Super Cars!  So in complete contrast to our lovely countryside ride, we drank our coffee amongst ‘petrolheads’ admiring the (rather gorgeous) super cars.  Which one shall I have?  A McClaren, a Jaguar XJ220, a rich red Ferrari, or a Porsche?

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You will be glad to know that we were home in time to watch the MotoGP motorbike racing at lunch time!