Thursday, 15 January 2015

Developing crewelwork at the Royal School of Needlework...


In 2014, I attended another three short courses at the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace. Somewhat ashamedly, I have only just managed to complete the first project, despite actually attending the 'Developing Crewelwork' course back in August.

For two lovely summery days, this was our view from the teaching studio...


Part of me thinks that the view is worth the course fees alone...

During the course we were taught how to transfer our design onto the fabric using the prick and pounce method which was new to me.

And many months later, here is the finished product - well the embroidery is finished. I think I will likely make this into a cushion for the sitting room...but first I need to definitely come to a decision as to what final colour accents I will be using so I can chose a toning backing fabric.



As ever, the teaching quality of the RSN programme was excellent - if you are UK based, or here on holiday it is such a lovely way to spend a day or two...

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The main bedroom - adding some much needed storage...

Just before my sister came to visit in September, I spent a week banishing the dark pink walls of the main bedroom, and replacing them with an altogether more serene shade of pale grey (Shadows by Little Greene). However, what this room still lacked was any decent storage for clothes.

One of the jobs I had always intended to do from the time I bought the cottage was to have wardrobes built-in to the alcoves on either side of the chimney breast. To bring back some authenticity to the room, I also wanted to reinstate the Victorian fireplace.

Joe (the builder - but actually a carpenter by trade), spent a week custom building wardrobes for me. They are predominantly made from mdf. He completed all of the woodwork, and then I spent a weekend repeating multiple coats of primer followed by a satinwood finish (Pure Brilliant White Satinwood by Dulux). He also installed a simple cornice all around the perimeter of the room to make the finished robes look seamless.



I'm delighted with how they have turned out - and it is a novelty to be able to store clothes in the bedroom!

I chose a simple shaker style for the door trim, and added small glass faceted door knobs to tie in with the curtain finials and the chandelier...


For the final touch to the room he also installed an original Victorian combination fireplace that I had found on eBay. This chimney is one of those I had capped in the summer, so it was never intended to be a working fire - however, it does allow for positive air pressure to flow from the room into the chimney breast and prevent damp from occurring.

It is nice to bring both some much needed utility and some character to the room. My next job is to finally get some curtains made for the window, and then start to think about the finishing touches in decorating the room...

Thursday, 1 January 2015

The kitchen refresh...the final touches


2015! A happy new year to all!

Back in mid-December I had a builder spend the week here completing the first round of small building work I plan to undertake around the cottage.

Part of his efforts was to add the final touch to my mini kitchen refresh. I finished the repainting of walls, cupboards and the re-tiling back in August. However, there was one glaring element that was beyond my DIY skills that I couldn't wait to change...

The original sink (image above) was made of dark grey/black moulded fibre-glass. As well as not being to my taste, I just felt that I was never really able to get it clean - this was mainly due to the difficulty in removing the existing lime scale staining and build up (this is a problem in this part of the UK, as it is a hard-water area).

But, thanks to Joe's efforts, I now have a lovely alternative - a white ceramic sink (Reginox) and a new mixer tap (ikea).



It is actually now a pleasure to wash dishes!

And, until such time as I embark on the kitchen extension, this is the first room that I can say is now complete!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

The first cottage Christmas...


So it is nearly Christmas - the first for me in this little Victorian cottage. The last three weekends and weeknight evenings have been spent finishing off the last bout of re-decorating for the year. Consequently, there hasn't been a great deal of Christmas trimming completed. But the essentials are in place - a wreath for the front door, and a tree.

The wreath is from Home Sense, to which I added the burlap ribbon....


In the past few weeks I've managed to banish the dark olive green paint that used to grace the sitting room. It has also received the Little Greene treatment - this time I used Inox (224). There are many elements to still work through in the room, but at least there is now a neutral and relaxing background.

I finally had the chimney sweep visit two weeks ago, so now I'm in the process of learning to light fires that manage to burn longer than 30 minutes - its an evolving process.


It certainly helps to add a festive element to the sitting room...

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Scenes of Rye...


Just before my sister returned to Australia we spent the day in Rye which is on the East Sussex coast. I'd never been before, but had heard many positive things about this ancient fortified hill top town...and as it is now only a one-hour drive from where I live, it was an easy day trip for us.

The town is very compact and easy to stroll around. We started at one of the information centres which had an amazing scale model of the town - as you listen to a brief history of the town and its royal connection,s areas of the model light up. It was a perfect start to help us navigate our way around.

We started our exploration at the bottom of Mermaid St - the oldest street in the town and one which is full of half-timbered houses from the 15th and 16th centuries. Rye itself is full of galleries, boutique shops and small antique centres, so it is perfect for pottering.

Here are some scenes from our walk...


The Mermaid Pub - the oldest in Rye








Although originally surrounded by sea, Rye is now actually about 1 1/2 miles from the coast. So after a traditional lunch of fish, chips and mushy peas (though not for K, she hates peas) we drove the couple of miles to Winchelsea so she could see a traditional British coastal beach...with pebbles rather than the typical Australian sandy versions...


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Hampton Court Palace ...


I have been to Hampton Court Palace quite a few times over the last year as a result of attending courses at the Royal School of Needlework, but I hadn't actually visited the Palace properly itself for about 15 years. My sister was keen to visit when she was here in September, so we spent one Friday exploring the Palace and the gardens.

I have to say, I love Hampton Court - I think it is my favourite of all of the Royal Palaces. I do also love Windsor Castle for its beautiful state rooms, but there is something about Hampton Court - perhaps the centuries of history and the mark that has made on the development of the Palace.

It was a full day outing. We started at 10am when it opened, and finished, exhausted, at 4pm. We used the audioguides which were some of the best that I've ever used. Unlike some historical buildings where the guide just provides enough information to keep the crowds moving through at pace, the guide for Hampton Court was incredibly detailed. From Tudor, to Baroque to Georgian - we learnt a great deal of detail of the development of the Palace over the centuries along with the various royals who inhabited it.

We decided to follow the guide in historical order, starting with the Tudor section of the Palace...

The red brick detail
The tudor kitchens

The Great Hall

The beautiful ceiling of the withdrawing room

Henry VIII's window in memory of his third wife, Jane Seymour


After lunch, we moved through to the Baroque section of the Palace. This section dates from the extensive improvements made by William and Mary, and is my favourite section of the Palace. It is where the RSN rooms are located, and quite often we have a few over the gorgeous parterre gardens from the classroom windows...






And finally, no visit to Hampton Court is complete without a close inspection of the gardens...and even though we were there in late September, the very mild autumn we had here in the UK meant that the borders were still showing off their fading summer beauty...



I can't recommend a visit highly enough...




Monday, 8 December 2014

A return...

Image via
 

Goodness, how is it already December? This blog has been sadly neglected. Quite often I spy the laptop from the corner of my eye, but just haven't been able to summon the motivation to open it and edit photos etc.
 
That's not to say that things haven't been happening. Although work was incredibly busy through late Oct-Nov, I finally found a clear weekend recently to tackle painting my sitting/dining room. So, the ugly olive walls have gone to be replaced by a pale, calm grey...now I just need to sort out all of the other details in the room.
 
In other news, winter fairs have been visited, Christmas gifts purchased, wrapped and posted, other gifts made, the Christmas tree has been decorated, and a wreath made for the front door.
 
Winter has finally arrived in the UK, and it has been very cold for the past week - on a positive note, the chimney sweep came to sweep my fireplace today, so tonight I can light a fire for the very first time...lacking any sort of experience in these matters, we'll see how successful I am...