Monday, 26 January 2009

Holidays and homecomings

Hey folks,

It's nice to be back and I hope my return finds you all happy and well.

My holiday was a combination of a break and a chance to catch up with a very old friend. We had an outrageously wonderful time cruising up highway one, taking photos, talking about everything under the sun, beachcombing, drinking coffee, reading books and traversing thrift stores. I brought back a number of wonderful momentos, from pink hair and free shoes to large chunks of driftwood. You should have seen the face on the woman at the airport when she searched my bag! I don't think she'd ever seen anyone come through security with a bag full of stones and driftwood. It was highly amusing. Not exactly traditional sorts of holiday momentos but it works for me ... and that's the main thing :)

As lovely as my holiday was, it was lovely to be back home. I missed my little cottage, and not so little dog, the grey cloudy weather and pouring rain. There is some crazy kind of comfort in terrible weather that makes curling up inside seem like the best idea in the world.

And so, I came back to the chaos I had left (well I had only been here 3 days before I left again! Give me a chance) and have spent a couple of days sorting everything out or at least as well as is possible given that I have another week and a half until the sofas arrive and another 4 weeks until the remainder of my furniture arrives. That's a whole month until I can store my books!

That said, it is lovely furniture and worth waiting for. It has been handmade in Derbyshire and comes from a company called Hectic House. They do some really lovely stuff and it has been an excercise in restraint to have retricted myself to what I need.

That said, the purchasing of furniture for the house has been really interesting and taught me quite a lot about myself in terms of how I view value. I have been really very lucky in inheriting some lovely pieces of furniture from my family, including some travelling trunks and a blanket box (the alliteration wasn't intentional, I promise) which I absolutely adore and I think really set me thinking.

I must admit that I have never been much of a fan of the throwaway culture that seems to have developed over the last twenty years or so, and have always been more of a fan of things that are older and treasured. I will readily admit that doesn't necessarily mean perfectly cared for as my tastes tend to run a bit more towards the worn-in and comfortable. I can't say I have ever analysed it particularly but I suppose it's got something to do with an appreciation for craftsmanship and quality that you don't see so readily these days with everything being precision manufactured by machines. There is a personal touch that's missing from it, and I suppose it's that personal touch that really makes it for me.

And so, this led me to some really interesting places to look for furniture. Obviously, there was ebay, and the second hand shops, word of mouth and freecycle. And then came the vintage furniture websites. Not a word of a lie, some of the furniture made me drool it was so gorgeous. Especially when I happened across a wonderful website called Sylvan Tutch that does some of the most beautiful work I have ever seen, despite being a touch too expensive for me. That said, I would be quite happy if any distant admirers fancied sending me some of their stuff as a present, and this was how, many hours later, I ended up at Hectic House, buying most of my bedroom furniture and several bookcases to boot. The workmanship and quality of their work looks excellent, and given that, quite reasonably priced and more importantly will look fundamentally excellent in my bedroom with all my stuff and are an excellent canvas for my creative output.

Added to that, I have some rather beautiful bookcases on order, which will fit rather beautifully either side of my chimney breast and look nothing short of spectacular when I have my real fire crackling in the grate, rather than the gas monstrosity that the old owner had installed. If I weren't so nice, I would think the previous owner ought to be strung up and shot for some of the things he did to my lovely and beautiful cottage. Lucky for him I am a forgiving sort...

And the other piece of big news is that I have got my kitchen on order. The most amazing chap came out to have a look at what will soon be my kitchen/dining room and designed a kitchen plan for me. We have decided on worktops and kitchen doors and I am really excited. The kitchen doors are going to be cottage cream with inlaid arches and tongue and groove panelling, a gas hob and inbuilt double oven, with wooden worktops, and a Belfast sink (not optional! Pretty much compulsory as far as I'm concerned). This sort of gives you a taste ... (but mine'll be better *grin*)

I think I might finally have found a trustworthy builder so it looks like we're on the verge of being able to get cracking. More news soon and will post some more pictures as I get rooms more sorted.

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