Monday, 28 May 2012

the good, the bad and the ugly- clutter

Hope you all are enjoying a wonderful summer as we having are right now in the UK !
Boy, was it time to have a few rays of sunshine instead of all the rain!
And there is nothing like a fresh bunch of Sweet William to put a spring in your step..

 My lovely neighbour about whose house and garden you can read here

...has managed to sell her house within a month of putting it on the market, for a really good price with a decent profit.. and really it got me thinking.. about presentation and about adding to the value of your property.

The house I live in with the Modern Country Gentleman is really not very exciting, but with vision and a small budget, a lot could be achieved.And who knows, we , too can sell for a decent profit and buy our dream house near the sea!!

So I have now started on the first step : to de-clutter.
This is where the ugly comes in..

But I have done my best, starting in the kitchen..this side is usually covered in all kind of bottles of olive oil, vinegar , spices, honey, a breadbasket, scissors, some old Christmas decorations, placemats- a whole area covered in stuff...

..but this is better I think..
 and this part is usually covered in glass jars -to be used for jam - and crockery that needs to go in the dishwasher.... but this is better too I think....

There is something very liberating in de-cluttering..I can really recommend it !
This is all going to the charity shop - or to family or friends..

..which will give me a nice and tidy wardrobe again....

..and once I get going it's almost impossible to stop !!!

I am so pleased we finally have some gorgeous weather were you can sit outside in the evening, have a nice meal in the garden on the terrace,
 a glass of wine, some salad , a huge bowl of pasta with.. errmm ?!?

cat ?!?

...have a lovely week !!!!


Friday, 25 May 2012

Lost and found...

Now for some good news in this big bad world...Tilda is safe and sound and we have got her back home. I found her under the floor of the village hall in one of the ventilation shafts.. She is in OK shape , has had LOADS of water to drink and had lots to eat, I had to clean her of dirt, oil stains and badger smells and she has now cleaned herself as well and is now resting on "her" sofa..... Have a good rest of the week! XOXO Bea

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

on the tourist trail- a house tour of a gentleman's farmer's residence in the Netherlands- and a missing cat

Today I would like to take you on a house tour of a country residence in the Netherlands- a sort of small trip abroad, if you like- without airmiles!
The North of Holland is mainly agricultural countryside apart from Groningen and Leewarden, two relatively big cities like the size of Bath ( in the UK.)
My mother remarried -to a farmer - that was a bit of a surprise as she is pretty arty- but she's very happy- and they moved into this house about 25 years ago. This is my mum and my step-dad some time ago.

Houses this size are not really called "farms" ( " boerderij " in Dutch )but "Heerenboerderijen"  which means "gentleman's farmer's residence"- I suppose it has to do with the size.They are normally humongeous with huge barns.To the North of the city Groningen, you will find quite a few of these houses dotted in the landscape.

The whole place consists of the main living quarters at the top, then a sort of in between part of the building which is still 4 rooms and a kitchen- where in the long lost past the servants used to live- and then the huge barns which are enormeous buildings in themselves- (there are three barns.)

Because of this split into three parts, this kind of farm-house is called ( in the Netherlands  ) a " Kop-Hals-Romp" farm- or a Head- Neck-Body farm- the head being the main living quarters, the neck the servants' quarters and the body the barns.

The main living quarters have very high ceilings and huge took a heck of a lot of fabric to get curtains for this place ! This is just one of the two living rooms, this one has a fireplace.

It has a very ingenious way of separating the two rooms so if you are with a group of people,where one group wants to sit in front of the fire- and the other group wants to watch t.v., you can draw the sliding doors to and you will have the room with the fireplace closed off from the other room.The doors run quite smoothly on rails and are very light to close but are actually made of very heavy solid wood.

You can see a bit of the wooden surround where the doors fit into on this picture here above. The fire place living room, and the main living room,plus the dining room corner form a huge room made out of three bits...

I have had some lovely festive meals in this dining mum adores fine china..
You can see here a blue and white dinner service which she had for a long time.. which was her day-to day- dinner service..I always love blue and white , don't you ?

It was very similar to Villeroy and Boche's "Vieux Luxembourg"..
But after years of use she was so short on plates as bit by bit through breakages she lost more and more of those, that she looked around for another dinner service which she now has- it's called " Aragon" and it's also from Villeroy and Boche.Sadly, discontinued, although I have found a website where you can still get parts...the link is here  
Here is some Villeroy and Boche " Aragon" to give you a bit of a feel of the's really lovely..

                                            Coffee cup and plate..

                                                             Serving plate..
                                                                 Serving dish..

Bear in mind I never lived in this house- I was already grown up and living with my then boyfriend when my mum and her new husband moved here... And I won't inherit this either.. as my step-dad had quite a large family before he met my mum, and we all have to share the inheritance- plus the house prices have dropped so much that I really don't think anything will be left when they pass on... It's quite a lovely big place but it's a bit big I think for two people- which is basically what it is- but what do I know!!

This is the kitchen- I would say about 4 times the size of a normal kitchen.I used to joke and say to my mum she should fit in 4 more tables and so be able to serve breakfast and run a bed-and -breakfast, as there are 5 bedrooms and a separate bathroom - alone upstairs ( apart from the main bed room and bathroom ) - but she never did .

This is the main bathroom which is en-suite to the main bedroom.

And here is the main bedroom- the chair in the background is standing in front of a huge walk-in cupboard.

This is the main entrance hall with the stairs leading to the first floor and the 5 extra bedrooms and bathroom..

And this is the view from the back towards the front door..

This is the view from the first floor towards the staircase.. the house is full of pictures that I painted once upon a time..

And this is one of the 5 bedrooms upstairs..

The servants quarter housed a small Lace Museum till a few years ago which my mum started and which she had for quite a few years, exhibiting her lace collection which she loves.
The garden has loads of flowering shrubs and herbaceous borders ..

and it's own canal !
It's really a great place but my mum and step-dad are really get on in years now so they are thinking of moving to somewhere smaller..

So if you have fallen in love with the Netherlands and would like to buy this place, this link here will lead you to their estate agent.

Well that's it for the tour.
I'm linking this to Tablescape Thursday

update - Tilda - the cat above - has been found safe and well...
Well it's a gorgeous day today but I have been up since 20 past five roaming the fields- I've had throat infection, scrathed cornea, and now a missing cat-it comes in threes- right? - My lovely cat Tilda has been missing since last night ( she never goes out as I have had 2 cats killed on the road here )- so please hope and pray for her safe return!! I have dropped an A4 print with a picture of Tilda on it ,in almost the whole village and put the same A4 up on the village hall notice board and lamp-postswith our phone number and a descirption of Tilda- and I may do the door to door tonight as very few people were at home- to check in neighbour's garden sheds! Wish me luck !! XOXO Bea

Monday, 21 May 2012

Spring has sprung.. of appleblossoms and speedwell..

It may still be too chilly but the trees and the plants have decided it's definitely we now have all the apple-blossoms opening with their deep dark pink...I love this pink, don't you ??.....

..and the speedwell with it's lovely shade of pale blue is everywhere..

Between resting with my throat infection I have tried to let my cat rascals run around a bit outside....

or they will go stir crazy..

The dogs spent quite a bit of time with me on the bed while I am working my way through some old detective novels which is super cosy...

And Maud has taken a fancy to the picture of Harris, our previous dog...

I think Harris would have been secretly quite flattered by Maud, she's such a cutie.

It's back to the sick bay for me as I have just come back from the doc with a damaged cornea which he says " will heal very quickly" ..drat!

So I'd better pop back to bed and try reading the newspaper with one eye!

Have a great week!!


Sunday, 20 May 2012

Think creatively .. and think on your feet...

Today I wanted to show you some examples of how to add some fun and lovely things to your house by just thinking creatively and keeping an open mind about stuff. I have always made things myself and there is something very satisfying in thinking outside the box and coming up with something different from next to nothing.

These are my lovely cats in Rosa and her daughter Miou-miou ,which I had in Holland, together with Rosa's brother, Peter,  and in the back ground you can see some colourful polkadot fabric.
 My boyfriend and I at the time were students and we had practically no money, and no sofa to sit on.
I remember the day he came back quite proudly with some seating elements in horrible dark brown corduroy, which he had picked up from the Salvation Army.
The dark brown was very oppressive and besides not too clean so I was looking frantically around for some inexpensive material, when I found the cotton polkadot fabric.It was really dress making material but what the heck- the quality was pretty good.It was my first excursion into do-it-yourself upholstery but it lasted for years and we were super pleased with it. Just to show you don't always have to go the proper route- and always use expensive upholstery material.Besides, at the inexpensive price you could afford to play around with loads of material.

Once I got going I really felt encouraged and the next thing I made was a big bedspread full of colours and a view of an exotic building with palmtrees,( of which I had seen a picture )  made of leftover fabric.I think some of the fabric was even material used for pyama's which had just the right golden satin look.This made the corner with the bed in the main room we lived  from a horrible eyesore into a nice colourful area with an exotic feel.
When I moved to London I happened to walk one day to the tube, and saw two builders carting out a whole load of furniture out of an appartment they were doing up- and chucking everything into a big skip / dumpster. Amongst them, they were rolling these fine armchairs covered in Colefax and Fowler fabric direction I asked them if I could roll them to my place..and they did not mind..

So you have to be quick and jump in sometimes, but these chairs were in perfect nick and just lovely to have- much too lovely to throw away.So don't feel too shy if you see people throwing things away!
 By the time I had moved to England I was tired of the exotic bedspread so it found a home with my mum who had always liked it.
I was going home via the high street in the small town outside I now still live, and saw two big fabric sample books standing next to some bin bags.I love free material, so I had a quick look and noticed that most of the fabrics in there were lovely coloured cottons and one sample book was all silk.
It's not easy to figure out what to make of 200+ bits of material, all from a different colour, but I hit on the idea of a patch work bedspread and cushions .As long as you keep things symmetrical you can sort of make it work.

It ook a bit of figuring out but in the end it looked really good together.
And the cushions I could also use outside. The bench you see here below, painted white, I also got from a skip/ dumpster outside someone's house.I had no garden bench at the time and it looked fine to me, so while I was almost putting the thing in my car, the owner of the house arrived home- so I asked him - just to be on the safe side, if it was OK I took the bench." Go ahead, it's horribly uncomfortable" he said.But with my cushions it was perfect- and I still have the bench now!

I hope I have inspired you a bit with my adventures- always think creatively and think on your feet!! Have a great week!! XOXO Bea

linking to Metamorphosis Monday

Friday, 18 May 2012

Life is better with a hat .

 I have always worn hats.I have to admit I don't "get" it that people don't wear them anymore.What's not to like?
A hat is not there so you can look ridiculous or eccentric but because a hat protects you against the sun, the rain, and all that kinda stuff. 

And this started pretty early with me when I was running around as a grashopper . All thanks to my mum who made sure I had my head covered.

So here are a few of my favourite hats which I have loved and worn till they went to the big hat shop in the sky.

My straw pith helmet.

                                        image source here

Fantastic when the sun beats down on your head.I have taken this hat everywhere - it has been all over France and Italy in cars and aeroplanes and it lasted forever.Here it is in the Tivoli Gardens outside Rome.

My upturned brimmed straw hat with blue trim was the one that came after the straw pith helmet .It has been with me everywhere as a guard against the hot sun- especially in California ,where I bought it..Again, even though it was straw, it lasted a long, long time.Here is is on the Queen Mary.

Here it is working hard in Santa Barbara.

Now remember, not only do you protect your head against the sun beating down and getting a heat stroke, but you do protect your skin as well .You won't notice at the time but you will later on in life. Joan Collins put
her youthful appearance down to the fact she never goes out into the sun without a hat and she never has .

Here's a second hat I bought in California which is a bit over-fussy . It has become my gardening hat - perfect ! So even if you look a complete fool you still have your head protected.

Of course the weather in the Northern part of Europe is not so much a matter of too much sun but rather too much rain- and it can get darned cold as well.A hat  is so much more practical than an umbrella which you forget ! Here is my black velvet hat with fake leopard trim .Yes, I know leopard skin is really for tarts and ladies who  work in bars.So sue me- I don't care ! :-)
This is on a demo to keep BBC Radio 4 on Long Wave.I was one of the coordinators, and it was one of the reasons why I came to the UK.
 The hat is keeping me dry against the lovely English drizzle .I had this hat for years as well and I think it is still somewhere .

The winters in this part of the world can be pretty darn cold too- so after the leopard skin trim hat , I found a black wool one - fabulously warm.

Of course there are other reasons apart from the rain, the cold or the sun to wear a hat..

..although this hat is the only one that has not brought me any luck .
It's quite a pretty hat- but take my advice and don't buy anything second hand for your wedding.

I think it brings bad luck .I bought this from a second hand shop as I thought it so pretty.Wrong!.O-well- if we knew everything before-hand we probably would not go out of the house anymore !
Moving on !
My present hat is this one which is perfect in rain, hail storm and snow- so just the average summer day in the UK you might say.
Perfect! Just like all the other hats, I probably wear it daily.Not indoors though -OK!

So chuck that foul umbrella and get yourself a hat!
 You know you want to!!
Have a great weekend.

linking to Inspiration Friday
              Friday Flair Features 
               Show and Tell Friday