Sunday, 28 February 2016

The long-awaited bathroom reveal...

This blog has been quiet of late, but that is not to say that there has been no progress on the renovation front. Over the past six months I've been chipping away on changes to the cottage bathroom. With the other rooms in the house, I've tended to work industriously for a week to get all of the work done at once. Mainly due to needing to wait for tradesman availability, I did the bathroom work little by little...and I think that makes me all the more pleased with the outcome.

First, let's remember where this room started...

It was dark, but with a lovely original fireplace and edwardian style bathroom fixtures that I quite liked.

However, I was not so enamoured with the cobalt blue walls, the slate-effect lino floor covering and modern radiator.

Work started back in August of last year. I primed the walls which made a huge difference, and had a plumber install a more appropriate period radiator...

Then I started to work on the fireplace. This chimney is capped and I was fairly certain that I would repaint, but I did want to strip off the layers of yellowing gloss paint...


After (before repainting)

The bathroom floor had been worrying me as it was quite bouncy in places. I wasn't sure if this just due to loose floorboards or a more serious problem with the joists. So I had a handyman come to lift the floor and check...

He managed to cut through a water pipe necessitating an emergency call to the plumber...the good news was that the boards and joists were in good condition. The floor was then ready to have a new, lighter coloured lino flooring laid.

The ugly bath panel definitely had to go, and I used tongue and groove mdf to make a new panel...

Finally, my lovely electrician returned and replaced the ceiling light and installed two wall scones for me...


Finally, it was just up to me to paint and install new towel holders and robe hooks etc. I returned to my favourite Little Greene intelligent eggshell paint for the walls. I had intended to use the same colour as in the kitchen and main bedroom, but the slight pink-beige tinge to the wall tiles meant that wasn't possible. Instead I chose a pale grey with a warmer undertone (wood ash) that I'm very happy with.

So finally, here is the result:

And one final before and after...

It is such a pleasure now to walk into this room. Now onto the next project...

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Chatham, Cape Cod

In early November, I went to Boston MA, for an international meeting for work. As I'd visited Boston in 2013 during my travel fellowship, I decided to spend a few days seeing a different part of the state. My colleague E and I left London on the Friday before the meeting so that we could spend the weekend exploring Cape Cod.

After collecting the car at the airport, we made our way south (old school style without a sat nav and just some printed instructions from the car hire company). After a few wrong turns when we reached Chatham, we finally found the lovely inn where we spent two nights.

The New England fall weather lived up to expectations with a beautifully sunny are some scenes from our stay in Chatham...

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Handmade Christmas decorations...using black(red)work embroidery

This year, I made some handmade Christmas decorations for my mother to give to her friends. In the summer I did a two-day course learning blackwork embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework. Although we were learning traditional blackwork techniques, we worked the sampler with red embroidery thread. At the time, I thought it would be a nice effect for Christmas.

Using one of the sampler patterns, and worked on white belgian linen, I embroidered each of the individual motifs.

Each of the decorations was backed with a red fabric with white stars.

And then stitched together with a 2mm satin ribbon loop

Turned the right-side out and pressed, ready for their filling and finishing touches

Filled, and a small ribbon bow added for decoration.

I think they look quite festive!

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Venice - St Mark's Square and Murano

Part of wanting to re-visit Venice, was the opportunity to visit some of the places for which it is renowned and of which I had such limited memories of my previous visit. So early on Saturday morning, I left our apartment and wandered towards St Marks hoping to arrive before many of the tourist crowds. My route took me over the Accademia Bridge with the above view of the Grand Canal.

After about 15 minutes I reached an almost deserted St Mark's square. For anyone who has been to Venice, this is a rare occurrence...but at 8am on a Saturday morning, there were only a few other tourists and quite a few joggers.

St Mark's Basilica - the bench like structures in front of the church are the boards that are laid around the city during the aqua alta so people can still get around when areas of the city flood.

I had been into St Mark's Basilica on my previous visit, but hadn't been to see the Doge's Palace - which was my main destination for the morning. The pink and white marble exterior is exquisite.

The palace opened at 8.30, and so I was also able to explore without hundreds of other people. The palace also afforded some wonderful views across Venice.

After I left the Doge's Palace, I queued briefly to go into the Basilica. It feels far smaller than some other European and English cathedrals, but the mosaic work is incomparable.

As I left St Mark's Square the crowds were beginning to build, so I made my way back across the Accademia Bridge for views back towards the Doge's Palace and the Campanile.

I met up with my friends for lunch, and as the weather had become so lovely, we decided to hop on a vaporetto and spend the afternoon on Murano (with an obligatory gelati!)

My last view of Venice as we caught the vaporetto back to collect our bags and make our way to the airport. I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to return to visit after so many years, and explore such a wonderful city properly...