Tag Archives: cat

As if we were ever going to have a boring utility room…

Apologies for such a long radio silence, it’s not been a good few weeks due to never-ending lurgy and the sad loss of a good friend, so blogging has slipped down the list of priorities. But, hello – how are you doing?

I haven’t forgotten I promised more info on items in the sitting room or that I still have room reveals to do. They will come eventually, I promise.

Meanwhile we have been turning our attention – amongst other things – to what will be the utility room. It was the old kitchen:

Old Kitchen

It is now currently a dumping ground that is too disgraceful right now to share pics of. It’s a pretty good size for a utility room and, honestly, we’ve struggled a bit with ideas of what to do with it. Home gym? Bar? Games room? Sauna? But in the end, what we want and need is a utility room/storage so that’s what it shall be. It is also where The Humph will reside at night and is home to the cat tunnel.

But who said utility rooms have to be dull? Admittedly we need to keep the costs down so are turning to good old Ikea for plain white units and worktops and we’ve also selected a wood effect laminate instead of real wood floor. That’s allowed me to squeeze the budget enough to go slightly crazy with other things!

So, how about Farrow and Ball’s Pelt for a wall paint colour – a deliciously dark purple which will look great contrasted with the white units, no?

Farrow and Ball Pelt

Farrow and Ball Pelt

And the feature wall (yes, that’s right, our utility room will have a feature wall, obviously) will be this stunning beauty which is SunBird by Matthew Williamson. We only need a couple of rolls, so totally justifiable, right?

Matthew Williamson Sunbird wallpaper

Matthew Williamson Sunbird wallpaper – stunning copper background

Whilst I’ve reluctantly accepted we will just have plain white Ikea units (and Oly even won the common sense/financial argument against high gloss) we did want something a little more ‘us’ than an Ikea handle so I finally found these bad boys:

Chinese style handles

Chinese style handles

And all that coppery brassy goodness is just crying out for light fittings that I’ve been eyeing up for a long time and am delighted to finally find a home for. Hello Plumen gorgeousness!

Plumen Drop Cap in Copper

Plumen Drop Cap in Copper

And to top off all this excitement, we’re getting a new stunning top-of-the range washing machine and dryer from my new and totally bestest friends at Samsung. Who knew a washing machine could be sexy? But yeah, I know, isn’t it? And it has it’s own app. Yep.

Samsung ecobubble washing machine

Samsung ecobubble washing machine

So, we’re off to Ikea tomorrow to order the units and our favourite tradesman is due to start in a couple of weeks. We have until then to sort all the crap, decant and paint the walls.

Do you like our choices? Too crazy for a utility room – or would you expect nothing less?!

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Mexico, househunting and a little shower….

Yes, I know, I promised that when we got back I’d be sharing actual pictures of the house and what we’ve achieved. What can I say, I’m a terrible tease!! But, honestly, since we landed a couple of weeks ago we’ve been really busy and also slightly distracted by house-buying; more on that later.

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Tulum

Mexico,thanks for asking, was absolutely everything we needed it to be. Whilst the poor UK was drowning (literally, in horrendous flooding) we were luxuriating in the glorious Riviera Maya.

Here’s the highlights:

Critter spotting – our resort was set in an ‘eco jungle’ so was alive with critters which we absolutely loved. Every day there was something new to spot or say “hello” to (or “goodnight” as it happened…..every evening on the walk back to our room I insisted on roll calling all the critters we’d seen that day and saying “night” to them. I’d blame the cocktails but the truth is, I’d have done it sober too.)

Not a single mosquito bite – yep, that’s definitely a highlight. I am normally absolutely bitten to shreds despite the strongest tropical repellent. Not this time! Thanks, we think, to the eco balance of the resort and the aforementioned abundance of critters (iguanas and spiders galore) who were no doubt guzzling up the evil mozzies.

Snorkelling with turtles – next to our resort was a small fishing village called Akumal, meaning ‘place of the turtle’ in Mayan because they feed on the sea grass here. We just hired (mandatory) life vests and waded into the water from the beach; within minutes we saw a huge turtle. In just an hour in the water we were joined by 5 turtles and a couple of absolutely huge stingrays. Loved it. Oly did not love the resulting sunburn as much…but guess who advised him to wear a tshirt under his life jacket? This is what happens when I’m not listened to.

Ouch!

Ouch!

Not getting stung by a lionfish – there was great snorkelling right off our resort beach too. One day we spent ages getting incredibly close to a ‘really pretty fish’. I loved watching it, spent ages right by it, getting closer and closer until Oly got bored. We google imaged it later to find out it’s kind of venemous and you shouldn’t really hang around  with it. Ooops.

See how pretty he is? An easy mistake, no?!

See how pretty he is? An easy mistake, no?!

Coba – we’ve done Chichen Itza before and so this time went to the Mayan city of Coba, which was incredible. In a couple of weeks you’ll be no longer able to climb the ruins of the grand pyramid so we’re lucky we made it in time. I say lucky….to be honest, I can see why they’re closing it, it’s pretty unsafe now. I hadn’t realised how absolutely incredibly petrified I am of falling until I had to get back down (my fear stems back to a nasty fall down a fire escape as a 5year old). So, yes, I was the ladylike tourist who bumped my way back down to safety on my ass……

Tulum – not far at all from our resort so we just hopped on a bus and enjoyed the incredible views. Seriously, postcard perfection. And back at the resort in time for lunch and a siesta in the sun, what’s not to like?!

Tulum ruins

Tulum ruins

CocoBongo – that’s a nightclub/show type thing. Check it out. I have never ever seen anything quite so amazing or crazy and we absolutely loved every minute of it. We considered going back a few nights later it was that good. Darling Husband losing our room key at 5am didn’t even dampen it – nor did the stonking hangovers.

Hiring a jeep in Cozumel – a quick ferry ride and we had a day with our own (knackered!) jeep exploring the island. We beat all the cruise tour parties and just did our own thing. There was an embarrassing incident outside Starbucks (yes, we feel the shame, but I so wanted a frappuccino) when Oly couldn’t get the handbrake off. But a friendly local soon came to our rescue.

Oly loved the jeep

Poser

Doing nothing – damn, that was good. We did get out and about quite a bit but the rest of the time we just mooched, ate, lay in the sun, drank, played in the waves, listened to audio books (best thing when sun bathing!) and generally relaxed. We even squeezed in a trip to the spa and sat in the jacuzzi watching the sun go down discussing the year that was and how much we’d achieved.

And.....relax......

And…..relax……

Lizards – a little known fact is that I have a total fascination for lizards (much to Oly’s mum’s disgust – she’s not so keen!). Mexico is a total haven for iguanas and geckos and our resort in particular had tons of them – still very wild so not keen to get too close to humans. I tried, believe me. So, meeting this fella in Cozumel made me especially happy.

We mirrored expressions

We mirrored expressions

So, pretty much – that was Mexico.

We came home to very exciting house buying news. No, we’re not selling ours before you all start putting offers in; not sure we’ll ever sell this house now.

The exciting news was about Oly’s brother who has recently been trying to buy  his first house where he currently lives in Birmingham. His job is now changing which means he is going to be covering the North of the UK now, so he took the only sensible decision – to move to Leeds. Yay!!

Almost as soon as he told us we were on Right Move checking out what he could get. We were privileged that he wanted us to help him with the hunt and we’ve really enjoyed it. A couple of weeks and a  few viewings later (such fun!!) and he’s had an offer accepted on an amazing terrace about 2 minutes walk  from us!

Oly is absolutely over the moon at the thought of it and I’m pretty damn chuffed too; he’s such a lovely guy we’re looking forward to seeing much more of him. But it does help explain my lack of  recent blog progress.

Once again, I promise to get taking photos and showing you what we’ve actually done with the rest of the house. So, stay tuned. Yeah, yeah, I know – you’ve heard that before……….

Ahem!

Ahem!

Oh, I almost forgot about Him. He had a lovely holiday in a luxury cattery whilst we were away, you’d think he would’ve been grateful……….

Oly went to pick him up and on the drive home (about 20mins) suspected he may have had a little accident in the car (Humph, not Ol).

On putting his cage down in the hallway and lifting off the lid Oly said, “I think he may have weed himself”, just as Humph dramatically leapt from his cage and little poos went flying about 10 feet all over our lovely new 100% wool carpet. Quite literally a shit shower. Or a dirty protest.

Thankfully we own a carpet cleaner but it wasn’t quite what I wanted to be doing after a night flight. So he is currently referred to as The Little Shitbag who is capable of concealing a dozen poos in his little fluffy trousers until it is time to unleash them. He’s still damn cute though.

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How to varnish a table that was waxed

This isn’t the most exciting post, however, it may be helpful for anyone else deciding on a varnish. Besides, it’s a break from posts that contain the cat.

We made a bit of an error in judgement with our new dining table. We had it made – in solid oak – by the joiners who made our kitchen cabinets – the legs are painted in Farrow&Ball Railings to match the island colour, the top is wood.

(It’s an amazing table by the way, much better than what we may have afforded in a store and we were able to provide our required measurements. Anyway, I digress……)

A varnished oak table with Farrow and Ball Railings on legs

We wanted to retain the character of the wood and yet also not have to worry about scratches etc. So we were advised to go for a wax finish, which we did but very quickly realised this was a bit of a mistake!

The wax was marking with any wet ring stains from cups and glasses and, more importantly, coming off if you put your elbows on the table for too long. Now, whilst it could have been a great way to ensure proper table manners, it wouldn’t have really been a practical way to live.

So, after much um-ing and ah-ing and internet research we decided to scrap the wax and go with a varnish (laquer) instead. We had only applied one coat of liquid wax with a couple of good buffings so didn’t think this was beyond our skills to get it off and go again.

Maybe worth reminding you at this point – we’re not particularly practical and we’ve certainly never varnished anything before (unless a manicure counts?) so we were a little bit daunted and worried about ruining our new table. But after some great advice from the incredibly helpful  Wood Finishes Direct we were armed with all we needed and it actually turned out to be a dead easy job.

We stripped all traces of the wax from the table using white spirit and scotch pads (so much less messy and effective than steel wool we were advised by our friendly website and how right they were!).

Then we sanded it really well. We wetted the wood with water (once more great advice from our web friends) to check we had an even colour and no wax remained. We didn’t have an even colour, so we scrubbed those bits again with white spirit and repeated the wetting with water. An even colour was achieved – we were good to go.

We had opted not to use a wood stain as we were happy with what the wood looked like wet – an indication of what it would look like with the varnish applied.

We applied the varnish with some incredibly nifty foam brushes that made it a doddle and avoided brush marks. A quick denib between each coat with some sandpaper and, 3 coats later, we were done!

We used Manns Extra Tough Clear Varnish and it was every bit as good as the reviews said. Went on like a dream, no smell, dries quickly and was a lovely matt finish with just the slightest sheen.

A wooden table varnished with clear laquer

The result is a table we’re very happy with and has, so far, proven to have been a wise decision. We’re hosting a birthday dinner next week for a friend, so that will no doubt test it further.

Norwegian Forrest Cat on bed

Ooops, he sneaks into a post once more. Oh, come on – is this not cute?!!

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Yet another cat bed

Oly had a plan for the window in our dining room. The cat has tweaked those ideas.

Lord Humphrey

Lord Humphrey

Ol is a huge music fan and has a small collection of much-loved vinyl. He’s always wanted somewhere to sit and listen to said vinyl so we decided this window presented the perfect opportunity.

(I think he has dreams of the good little wifey in a pinny baking bread on a Sunday morning whilst he sips coffee and Ella croons another crackly jazz classic. But that will never be, I don’t own a pinny.)

Whilst on the lookout for stylish chairs Oly announced he also needed a foot stool – the Sunday morning fantasy apparently came complete with somewhere to put his feet.

So that’s how my cursor came to rest on the ‘chaises’ category on my new favourite website – made.com

To be honest, I’d been looking for an excuse to buy one since I fell in love with the beautiful curves of the Halston Panama. (They also do this in an amazing hot pink but Oly’s fantasies rarely involve pink furniture. At least, I think they don’t……)

Before we talked ourselves out of it, this was ordered but it’s only recently it went to its rightful place. And since then, it’s been a firm favourite with a certain someone:

From the rare occasions we’ve been able to sit on it we can confirm it’s super comfy and beautifully finished. We wanted to add a splash of colour so opted for a lovely cushion from David James Interiors – made from Sanderson’s Bellflower fabric, a bargain for £12.50.

I’d hoped the cushion might have put the cat off. But no, stubborn little sod.

Chaise longue and Sanderson cushion

Something new to cover with fur

We do have some friends who really don’t like cats (the fact that they’re our friends trouble us slightly). To them,  allowing the cat to steal the chaise will be sheer lunacy. But seriously, could you resist this face?

But I've been so tolerant of the mess, I only want a little sit down

For those who really don’t care about the cat (weirdos) and are purely here for the paint – the wall is Farrow&Ball’s Cornforth White and the woodwork All White.

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Filth

Getting tired of looking at this

We don’t seem to have much luck with plasterers. The first one we tried to contract broke his leg just after leaving our house.

The second kept cancelling and eventually we had to sack him off.

The third got started around 10 days ago. When we say ‘got started’ that’s probably being generous. It’s taken him days to really get started. He’ll turn up, do a bit and then either have to go and tax his car, get fitted for a suit for his brother’s wedding, smoke a fag or or run some other mysterious errand.

We’ve discovered several key facts about our plasterer since he’s been (occasionally) in our house:

  • He works at a slow pace. Treacle would give him a run for his money
  • He’s a bit stupid (sorry, but it’s true) so needs to be told the same thing on several occasions
  • His bucket has a leak in it and it will flood into your new kitchen diner from above, through the light fitting (no lasting harm done thankfully)
  • He can eat his own body weight in biscuits
  • And above all? He’s really really really messy.

Admittedly, we always knew the plastering stage would be a touch messy given the state of the walls and the artex ceilings but  he gets it EVERYWHERE.

We won't be having overnight guests any time soon

We won’t be having overnight guests any time soon

We now feel like we’re living in a bit of a building site and, I’m ashamed to say, we’re not even attempting to clean it up each day. I’m too ashamed to even share the photographic evidence. We are living like pigs, surrounded by plaster filth and detritus.

That damn carpet is holding up better than we are

That damn carpet is holding up better than we are

So, all in, we are finding our patience is exceedingly stretched and we’re not really getting anywhere fast. Still, he’s an honest lad, desperate to do a good job. We had been hopeful it would all be completed within the 3 week timescale he originally gave us but that is looking more and more unlikely – particularly as he ended up in A&E last week with chest pains……turns out he’s torn a muscle in his chest, right by his heart. How? Stretching to do our ceilings. Ooops. So, now there’ll be a few days off whilst he recovers from that.

Will we ever get rid of the artex that plagues us?! Even the cat is getting stroppy.

Meanwhile, we are limping towards the finish line with our kitchen diner. All will be revealed soon – promise! – but it’s looking, quite frankly,  incredible and is the one thing maintaining our sanity. Just.

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Bye-bye hideous kitchen. Hello, ‘the something room’.

We were delighted to get home and find this sight greeting us:

Outside oven

How on earth we managed to cook Christmas dinner in this is beyond me…..

That oven had absolutely no place in a proper kitchen and deserved to be put outside, unloved and unwanted by the skip, like the bad, crappy, naughty oven it is.

The overflowing skip indicated that the old kitchen had been ripped out.

The overflowing skip indicated that the old kitchen had been ripped out.

Hooray the kitchen was gone! It was a room where you ALWAYS had to put the light on, even in the middle of a bright sunny day, just to see what you were doing.

Old Kitchen

Darker than the inside of my troubled mind…..

It has also signified the final piece in the puzzle that has been our electrics. It’s a long, boring, story involving a missing earth, a dodgy connection and multiple failed safety inspections. We have had electricians hunting for days to sort out our very weird, illogical electrics and the final problem lay in this ceiling.

It’s now all sorted but because of it the false ceiling also now needs redoing – it was a choice of cutting holes in that or the en-suite floor (being directly above). For obvious reasons, we went with the ceiling. Now the final part of the electrical work will be paying – and we are DREADING the bill. <gulp>

Rip out

The pointless hanging light contraption remained. Almost ironically.

Already this room seems bigger and brighter.

Already this room seems bigger and brighter.

Anyway, we really have very little idea what to ultimately do with this space and loosely call it the ‘utility room’ as that’s the primary function it will serve. Well, actually, it’s main function is that it’s where Lord Humphrey sleeps as his cat tunnel is in there.

Oh, and its other function will be to store the spare freezer. And the new boiler. And some furniture. And paint. And all our booze (hic). So, it’s clear why this room has a bit of an identity crisis.

So, for now, we’re just going to plaster, get the damp proof course finished off and concrete over the floor. Plumb in the washing machine and tumble dryer and that’ll be about it. Well, we may put the dart board up.

This room is way down the list of priorities at the moment and not something we can justify spending cash on so it may remain unloved for a little while. Though not as unloved as the kitchen that used to be in here.

We all know this room swill become known as 'Humphrey's Room'. Why are they fighting it?

We all know this room will become known as ‘Humphrey’s Room’.  Aren’t they all?

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Kitchen diner – the grand plan

It may not look like much, but this is the cunning master plan:

photo

The grand plan

Now the space is opened up we can finally begin to imagine what it may look like.

Day 2 has seen new pipes under the floorboards as well as prep to lower the ceiling above the kitchen end.

Humphrey and a saw

Humph claims it was all his hard work and that’s why his paws are so dirty.

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