Best. Present. Ever.

From the Best. Husband. Ever. (Or for PITY’S SAKE! My iMac — on which I compose, then cut and paste longer posts — just green lined ‘husband’ and suggested ‘spouse’. Nearly threw the damn thing through the French doors. The computer. Not the husband, who opted out of his usual Sunday morning long sleep in favour of some layout work in the living room). That he works so hard so I can spend most of my days frittering about to make life pleasant for us is something I don’t think I’ll ever understand. As the lyric goes: I must have done something good.

And I’ll probably never know what that was.

Moving on.

In the making life pleasant for us category (just ‘cause he makes lots is not reason to SPEND lots division) I looked into all sorts of options (including assorted DIY possibilities), had site visits, got quotes and chose a local firm to turn my conservatory from a sauna/ice box into a room with year-round use. The head of the company kept saying from the start that the disruption would be minimal, to which I would always reply that the recent roof repairs were disruptive and this was going to be nothing in comparison. There is no reality — there’s only perception. I have that tattooed on the inside of my eyelids.

I have had Harriet and her guys on the brain a lot. We’ve sorta been through the same thing, but in reverse. We ‘upsized’ seven years ago: that tiny city center flat above to a four bed house with conservatory in a not-all-that-big town between Himself’s golf course and Himself’s office. Harriet, her husband and son have gone city from a bucolic decade in the country with all the downsizing that goes with that choice. Her blog posts on the story are quite a read. Every spare good thought I have goes to her and her family these days.

No culture, NO places we’d eat out (save a most excellent, award winning fish and chip shop, to which we restrict ourselves to monthly visits lest we look like some of the blubberous cliental we see there each and every time), nothing of any personal concern or interest to us in our current town save its convenience. I have a ten minute walk to a retail center with a large grocery store, two big box home improvement stores, a popular catalogue store, CVS-esque drug store and a few others that have on occasion been useful (i.e. the big box pet shop for fine wood chips for strawberry mulch). The street is on a quiet development and those neighbors I’ve bothered to get to know are perfectly pleasant, though as a CF not-working-outside-the-home wife I don’t have anything in common with anybody in my immediate vicinity. Meh. I pretty much knew that was going to be the case when made the decision to head north. My nose has lost no skin on this. We didn’t know very many people in our 501 flat 1930’s Art Deco building either. The people closest to me are a minimum of 2500 miles away — in several directions.

We brought a mere half dozen bits of furniture with us when we headed out of our Big City. In a show of the greatest restraint, I did not buy furniture with wild abandon once we got the keys (too busy getting rid of the disgusting magnolia with which each and every wall was painted). We had ordered a bed from Selfridges — the Saturday after 7/7 when the walk down Oxford Street was like a walk through a ghost town — to be delivered once we got into the house, then we splurged on a Natuzzi, then a big ol’ Expedit so we could replace some of the cardboard box bookcases…then got the word we were off to Hong Kong so stopped buying stuff. During our first year there a few small pieces were acquired to remind us of our time in Asia, then we kinda went a little nutty and bought LOTS of stuff once we found out we had an entire shipping container for our return. BIG stuff

like the ‘antique’ medicine cabinet we designed then had made in Macau to fit this spot exactly. Watching the movers unload it from the sea shipping container, unwrap it and slide it into this spot was nerve wracking. I kept thinking: ‘did we get the dimensions correct?’ despite having measured the spot EXACTLY then allowing for the skirting boards then taking another inch off each dimension.

Himself is utterly convinced this says ‘silly gwielos paid far too much for me’. When we were home for good, I kitted out the guest room and imported the kitchen furniture from the States

via Amsterdam as their import duties are FAR less that this country’s. Once in the EU — no duty crossing the border. Clever, eh?

It’s taken a long time to get this far. There’s still stuff to do. Right today we could down all our stuff to a three bed house with ease, but I can’t imagine trying to chop it all down to fit into a two bed flat.

This monk’s bench was a terribly useful piece in The Shoebox. Seating and storage: can’t beat that combo in any abode no matter the size. It’s been painted many times, as was the flat. It only took a few hours to paint one half of The Shoebox, then move everything to the other side to paint the second half the next day. Here at the house, I used the bench to store all sorts of glass things in the conservatory which wouldn’t be affected by the extreme cold and wretched heat that used to occur in the conservatory sunroom. For the first two weeks we lived in the house, while waiting on a red left-hinged Smeg, it was our fridge.

Ages ago I had an idea for a tarten-esque design. I washed it in a pale dusty pink

and those pencil lines were easily drawn with the help of the strips I use for rotary cutting fabric for quilts. However, last week I painted the initial wide white strips, added black and grey and greens and it all just got too mucky. SO not the image I had in my noggin. Not even gonna show you my fail, which I don’t normally mind doing. Back to the drawing board.

Silly bench is larger than when we bought it for the many layers of paint. This is a ‘textured’ white: white, then sponged with a different white mixed with a little water so the base for the new design is not so flat but not a very good pix I’m afraid.

Back in The Shoebox, the last major work to do was a new bathroom (nearly eight years after we bought it). I gave it a cow theme. Silver galvanized buckets on the walls for storage, a clock that looked like the top of an old fashioned milk can (now in Himself’s bathroom, the ensuite of the master bedroom) and a green grass bath mat. The walls that were NOT tiled were painted with big black cow spots. My favourite spot was on the ceiling and two walls at the corner. Dr. W., who bought the flat, was asked by yours IWOM-ly if she wanted me to paint over the bathroom in the color of her choice (she made a full price offer less than 36 hours after the flat went on the market — sorry Harriet — so I made her new curtains, had the carpet professionally cleaned and left a gift basket of goodies the day we left, which was the day before she moved in). ‘Oh no’ she quickly replied. ‘I love it!’.

Dr. W. and her husband were at the BMA building up our road right where the bus was blown up in London on 7/7/05. She called me within a few hours — after they did what they could for the survivors, and did their level best to match up body parts — to say ‘Don’t worry dear, I still want to buy your flat’. That had not even occurred to me. Those were my pre-mobile (cell) days so my concern was trying to meet up with Himself — who, with the help of a security guard, snuck out of his locked down office in The City — so we could blag our way past the police to get in our building. We spent our final three weeks in London behind the several block police cordon. Try as you might, as you left through the main entrance to the building where we lived for a dozen years you could not avoid the huge white screens hiding the destroyed bus less than a hundred feet up the street to the right.

To remind me of happy times there — and the fact those 12 years in a tiny central (WC1) studio flat (bought as a repossession and worked on constantly by the clever ICOM with help from professionals when needed) equated a four bedroom house with conservatory sunroom in my Husband’s Homeland —

I went for that Holstein look again. However, it was too…stark. Some outdoor wood sealer (leftover from the blue potting bench project of earlier this summer) took care of that yesterday while he was at the golf. Only when you are showing cattle are they bright and clean anyway.

Best go pry Himself from his wee trains so I can feed him brunch.

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About iwom

American by birth, Irish by heritage, Scottish by marriage. Housewife.
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