Saturday, 25 October 2014
I am finally catching up with some photo editing and posting. In mid-September, my sister came to visit from Australia for a fortnight. We spent quite a few days visiting royal buildings, or those with royal connections. The first of these was Hever Castle - which was the home of the Boleyn family. Hever is in Kent, and is only about 10 miles from where I now live.
The property was built as a country home in the 12th century and came into the possession of the Boleyns in the mid 1400's. Anne Boleyn spent her childhood here, and also lived here during the period in which she was courted by Henry VIII.
After the death of Anne's father, Henry VIII took possession of the castle, later bequeathing it to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleeves.
Like many properties of its period, the castle fell into some disrepair, until it was purchased by William Waldorf Astor at the beginning of the 20th century. He undertook some extensive renovations, so whilst the outside of the castle looks Tudor and even earlier, parts of the interior are definitely Edwardian. Astor did restore many rooms sensitively to their Tudor origins - he even completed a large extension to house staff and visiting guests...but designed it to look like a Tudor village.
The lake and beautiful colonnades were also developed during Astor's ownership.
Although we visited at the very end of summer, there was still some lovely sights in the gardens...
There were even some locals to greet us as we arrived!
Next up - Hampton Court Palace...
Tuesday, 14 October 2014
I finally feel like I've been making some progress in the garden. For the first three months after I moved in, my only efforts in the garden seemed more akin to destruction than beautifying.
You see, this is what the garden was like the day I moved in...
Lush, green, but not quite what I had envisaged - the bright blue garden shed and large deciduous shrubs were not part of the plan.
Instead, my pinterest garden board is generally full of pleached trees, and single colour borders...
So, I resorted to three months of digging out every misplaced and overgrown shrub in the garden - I finally bought a mattock...if only I'd done this three months earlier this task would have been an awful lot easier than digging them out with a spade.
Here is where the redevelopment of the garden has reached to date - I've just started to re-plant the beginning of a structure to the new garden scheme...
Ideally, I would have loved to do a row of pleached limes along the fence - unfortunately, it is such an ugly expanse of fencing, that I really needed to plant something that was evergreen...which narrowed the options considerably. I eventually settled on evergreen magnolias.
They will be underplanted with predominantly hydrangeas and hebes. I did find a type of gardenia at the garden centre a few weeks ago. I didn't think they survived the UK winters but these are a supposedly hardy type - time will tell in the coming months.There are small hebes along the front of each of the two long beds - these are a small version which only grows to about 60cm. They are called 'Champagne' but are actually white flowers with the slightest hint of lavender. The upturned plant pots are serving as spacers for the planned hydrangeas - I've not been able to order them in time this year, so these will now need to wait until next spring to be ordered and planted.
I've installed a steel-edge garden edging to give a cleaner demarcation between lawn and garden beds. Unfortunately my lawn looks pretty dire at present - I had a major problem with perennial weeds that is still not yet resolved. I've laid turf in the new areas that were reclaimed from the large shrubs and seeded the dead areas with lawn seed. I'm hoping these will start to germinate before winter sets in. The small strip of grass that used to run along side the deck was actually a trough and full of weeds, so I decided to replace that small section with gravel.
Finally, I've dug a new garden bed just before the decking (in front of the shed). This is going to become home to some David Austin standard roses. I'm about to order them, ready for bareroot delivery in November. I am fairly certain that I'll be planting a variety called Winchester Cathedral. The soil is quite heavy clay...but the website assures me that roses do very well in clay!
It is a long way from what I have in my mind, but at least I feel like I'm building towards something now...and I think most of the heavy work is complete. Once the roses are planted that is really as much as I can do for this season - apart from planning and scheming what else to add next year come the spring.
In the very far corner, I've planted a small crab-apple tree...
...and I'm already looking forward to the spring blossoms.
In other news, my feline friend has been a frequent visitor...
As you can see, she makes herself quite at home...
...and now her brothers have also invited themselves in...meet Chester and Teddy!
Wednesday, 1 October 2014
You may recall that when I moved into this house, the main bedroom was a questionable shade of pink. How anyone found this a calm and restful space I'll never know, but each to their own...
I had long planned to paint the room, but was holding off until I could have a builder undertake some work in this room. After months of trying, I finally had a builder come last weekend to quote, and even he can't undertake the work for several more months. Coupled with the fact that my sister was coming from Sydney to visit, I decided to at least make a start on making this room much more my style.
A week of painting everything in the room (walls, ceiling, woodwork, door and even the radiator), and things are altogether far more calm and serene...
The walls are painted in Shadows (223) Little Green intelligent eggshell. Everything else is brilliant white.
I've also had shutters installed at the window - I was somewhat restricted to a cafe-style of shutter (rather than full window), to reflect those downstairs in the bay window.
The robe hooks on the back of the bedroom door are now very pretty silver and faceted glass (from Laura Ashley).
The new curtain rod also has lovely faceted glass balls on each end. Obviously, the curtains are still to be made!
The new chandelier light - Bryony flush-mount chandelier from BHS - a bargain at £60.
There is still quite a bit of work to do in this room (a little by me, and the rest by the builder):
- Make curtains - I will be doing this, but I can't just quite decide what fabric to choose. I am thinking of a white linen/cotton mix as I already have some mixed patterns on the bed linen (ticking and toile). But I need to make a selection soon, as curtains will be essential once the weather starts to become cooler.
- Artwork - I have yet to hang many of my paintings/artwork in the house - and none in the bedroom. I think I'll wait until the builders are finished before I make some choices of what to put in this room.
The list of work I have requested of the builders...
- Reinstate Victorian cast-iron fireplace. I have managed to purchase a beautifully restored original fireplace on eBay...which is now waiting patiently in the garage.
- Install built-in floor-to-ceiling wardrobes on each side of the chimney breast.
- Install coving/cornicing all around the room - the house has most of its original skirtings, but no coving in any of the rooms...I must check it this is how the house would have been constructed, or if they have been subsequently removed. Either way, I'm planing to install a simple period coving around the room perimeter - to also help the wardrobes blend in more seamlessly.
Hopefully, I'll have a date for the work to be completed sooner rather than later...but in the meantime, it is a much nicer room in which to relax and rest.