A little life lately catch up 

This is rather epic as I haven’t written a general chatty post for ages. I’m hoping to return to my monthly updates as I love having a record of what’s going on, this is basically a three month version of my usual end of the month catch-up. My camera roll shows that we’ve gone from snowdrops in February to bluebells at the end of April, and we’ve been very busy in between too.

I didn’t post a February update deliberately. It was a quiet month, as well as a short one. For Will, F and me there was a lot of home pottering and local days out. However it was a very bleak month for a number of our friends, though, with bereavements, redundancies or health problems. Our little family bimbling along happily in the midst of this seems quite unfair, but a lot of time was spent with others and hopefully helping to support them.

March arrived almost before I realised it and life has been so busy since then. Almost too busy to be honest, everything went a bit bananas as soon as we heard the date our kitchen was going to be redone. Our oven and dishwasher both broke before Christmas, so we decided to bite the bullet and get a completely new kitchen rather than spending a not inconsiderable amount of money getting new appliances replaced in a kitchen that was falling apart in places and was not to our taste decoratively.

We’d done all the decision making and ordered the cabinets and appliances quite a while ago. Then we went into the waiting phase before hearing when they could come to fit it. Of course it did not happen in our relatively quiet time in February or the first half of March. Instead we found two weeks before that it was all starting at the beginning of April. This was great as we were so ready to get it fitted and have a working kitchen again. It did mean, though, we were racing around a bit ordering things we had selected but couldn’t order until we had a date – like the flooring. We then had to pack everything up whilst trying to work out what was still needed in the interim and setting up a mini kitchen in the dining room. In the midst of all this we went on holiday to Norfolk, which was lovely, but was perhaps not the best timing. Although having a rest elsewhere – with a fully stocked and working kitchen – was wonderful.

When we’d finally had a few late nights trying to carry heavy furniture about and not wake up the toddler who sometimes gets disturbed if we sneeze too loudly, the kitchen fitters arrived and it all started to disappear and be replaced with dust, dust everywhere.

As it was so noisy at home on my non-work days, F and I roamed the countryside for a week or so in search of car naps, lunch and toddler friendly activities and parks. In a way this was fun – and we discovered an amazing park complex really near us which is always a winner – but it was still so nice to get back to normal after Easter with a morning pottering out to park, shops and Library and no need of the car.

Easter was spent by the sea at the family railway carriage in Kent, we were so glad this was arranged as we were midway through the kitchen floor being fitted so we had no oven, washing machine or fridge as they needed to fit the floor underneath where they’d all go. Having to go out every day at Easter when everything’s so crowded wouldn’t have been as fun as our weekday adventures either, so all in all another welcome escape.

The kitchen is now so nearly finished. There is just some plastering to get rid of two holes in the wall and some rough concrete for it to be completely finished. We’re then planning to paint the whole thing as some rather exciting yellow paint was revealed where we changed the layout of the cupboards in the utility room. We are so pleased with it though, having a working oven (and quite a fancy oven at that!) feels like the height of luxury. Let alone the dishwasher which is genuinely magic: press a button and no need to spend ages washing up – literally getting more minutes in the day. Just as importantly, it now looks wonderful and much more us, all the fun accessorising can now start!

In the midst of all this, F turned one and a half. It is slightly blowing my mind that she is now nearer to two than one. She’s walking further and further and is properly talking which is just amazing, as you never know what new word she will have learnt next. No swear words yet thankfully – ‘booooob’ is probably the most embarrassing. If I ever have another child I definitely need to refer to milk instead!

Will’s most proud we’re already on five types of birds (‘duck’ – for ducks, geese and gulls – ‘owl’, ‘peacock’, ‘penguin’, and ‘bird’ for everything else). Her interests are almost like a mini me of her Daddy at the moment which makes me think genes have more to answer for than we suspect. Her favourite toys are balls – ‘ball?’ is a constant refrain and she’s already disappointed at my lack of skill at football. She is also obsessed with birds, moths and bees. When Will’s out entomologising she copies him (so cute) although I’ve now got two people who stop and stare at bushes looking for bees. I’m sure some of this is nurture, but she spent twenty minutes clutching a moth that Will caught the other morning (no moths harmed, it was in a pot), which makes me think there may be some innate interest there as well.

April also saw me leave F for the first time overnight – I went on a hen party to Brighton – I completely forgot to mention that in my outline of our lives during the last couple of months above, usually this would be a big event, but it kind of got lost in the general hecticness. It was a mixed success I would say. In a way I’m glad I tried it, but she did scream a lot apparently, as she will only really accept me at night, and woke up very confused after going to sleep fine. I really enjoyed the hen weekend (an actual cocktail!), but I’m not going to rush to leave her again anytime soon I don’t think.

After all this excitement this month is turning out to be slightly more relaxed. We have got a wedding which we’re away for (we’re glamping – finger cross weather!), and a Christening , but also have some much needed free weekends which seem just as sweet after hurtling around the country so much in April.

Useful and beautiful

I have been thinking about the idea of what ‘home’ is a lot lately, mainly because we are in the process of selling our house and buying another. A lot of this is based on the assumption we will be moving to our new home in the New Year, which is by no means certain as yet – hopefully I’m not tempting fate too much!Found on Pinterest

Found on Pinterest

I am incredibly excited about moving, partly for very prosaic reasons like having a shower screen instead of a curtain, a decent sized kitchen where more than one person can be at a time without accidental bottom goosing (fine when it’s just me and Will, less good for visitors) and of course the most wonderful thing of all – room for a dishwasher! I am fantasising about the dishwasher, specifically going to bed and waking up in the morning to find the washing up done. Dishwashers are real life house elves.

There are lots of more emotional reasons too. A big one is that this will be the first house we’ve bought together, Will already owned the house we’re currently in so I wasn’t involved in choosing it. This will be our grownup married home. It is also a lot bigger than our current house so we hope very much it will be our ‘forever’ home. I don’t think I appreciated how different it would feel from our current lovely little house, or how much I wanted to move to something a bit bigger, to allow a bit more space to actually think about how a room is laid out, and design it so it feels both beautiful and ours in a way that no amount of pinning things on Pinterest can.

Since our current house was already fully furnished with Will’s things when I moved in, a lot of the actual moving in or interior design part was working out how to fit two people’s stuff in one house and deciding what we should get rid of. The bookshelves were the most pressing issue, between us we have 12 bookshelves in use in a small two bedroom house. This has meant that if you follow the William Morris statement of ‘have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’ we have ended up on the ‘useful’ end much more than the beautiful. Simple things like a washing basket have had to be carefully measured to see if  they will fit the space. When our old chest of drawers fell apart we had to get a replacement that would fit where the old one would, in a very tight space, which turned out to be a reasonably priced and perfectly practical one from Ikea, but it wasn’t exactly something that made me pleased to see it everyday.

It makes me particularly sad when I see all the gorgeous second-hand, just needing a lick of paint furniture out there, and especially as I really don’t want to buy everything new. As far as I can see it, we are all drowning in stuff, why make more and more new stuff, using energy and resources, rather than just use something someone no longer needs? Especially when there are so many lovely vintage pieces to discover. It makes me a little embarrassed about the idea that we have filled a two bedroom house with our stuff, but I try to be pretty ruthless with everything apart from our three areas of shame – which I do believe make our lives better on the whole. For curiosity’s sake, I should probably say that these areas are books, which I feel needs no justification, especially as we generally buy books secondhand in the first place, and take piles to the charity shop quite regularly. The next is craft supplies, which build up in a scary way and need quite a lot of space to store, but they generally allow me to make things in a more ethical and thoughtful way than buying from new, so I still think they’re allowed. Finally, we have lots of kitchen stuff, which generally comes under the useful banner, with the occasional beautiful thing thrown in as I have an obsession with homeware.

Whilst realising we’ll always have to be careful not to get carried away in these areas, I am keen to not fill the new house for the sake of it (we will have a few rooms that we won’t be able to furnish at all initially – we are so lucky I know; space is such a luxury). I don’t ever want to feel that our stuff is weighing us down so much that we are getting as cramped and crowded as we feel in our current house, as that would suggest we have got huge amounts of junk, which won’t be making us happier I can guarantee. I also have a feeling that when a house is designed to just store stuff it is not so much about feeling like a lovely happy space to be in. I am treasuring the idea that with the next house we will have the time to really think about how we want different spaces to feel and furnish in a way that can make everything, as far as possible, into something beautiful and useful. It’ll be a lovely challenge.