The Dining Room

Greetings! It is late winter here in the Edwardian house and we are all well.

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Over the last year or so, the dining room had gradually been turning into a stock room for my new venture – boxes were piled high and it was getting difficult to even get into the room. I have just had a major clear out and hope to keep the dining room clutter-free from now on. While it was tidy I took a few pictures.

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I think this will be the year that we finally get around to fitting window coverings in this room. I quite like plantation shutters but they can be very expensive and might be difficult to fit on the french windows. So perhaps we will get roman blinds instead.

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It would also be nice to one get a wood burning stove fitted in the empty fireplace, though I wonder if it might be too hot for people when they are seated at the table?

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I guess there is a fair amount of room between diners and the potential fire though.

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I will investigate and keep you updated.

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In the meantime, Miss Rose says hello!

Christmas in the Edwardian House

img_6689Well hello! Is it December already?

img_7781We are just about prepared for Christmas here at the Edwardian House.

img_6722It is always reassuring when Christmas has been delivered. Ruby inspects.

img_6900I planned to make a few sausage rolls for Christmas functions and ended up with eighty!

img_6901They look good though.

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Oliver won’t be the only member of the household to need a diet when next year comes around…

img_6800Ruby being companionable at breakfast – secretly she tries to dip her paw in the milk jug when she thinks I am not looking.

There is not a lot to report on the house front as most of the work is complete. I am still waiting to get curtains for the dining room, and there is more work to be done in the garden, but that’s about it!

img_6808Rosie wishes you a Merry Christmas! As do the rest of us!

 

Midsummer in the Edwardian House

IMG_2388Here we are in midsummer and as you can see the front garden is going well.

IMG_2366The lavenders are enormous and attract so many bees. I counted a total of 36 bees on the four plants this afternoon when I was watering them. Mostly the big bumble bees but some honey bees too.

IMG_2107I cut some of the lavender and have hung it to dry. Ruby inspecting.

IMG_2368The Japanese anemones (Pretty Lady Susan) are in flower.

IMG_2364As are the hydrangeas.

IMG_2365The Lisaura will flower in late summer.

IMG_2146 (1)Here is one of the lilies from our friend Mindy, who brought the bulbs from her own garden in Portland, Oregon when she and her husband John came to stay and look after the cats for us last year.

IMG_2367The two larger types of Japanese anemones (Montrose) are budding.

IMG_2296Out the back, the fern garden is looking good. I have put bark chips down to help keep the soil moist and the weeds at bay.

IMG_2291I tidied up the corner down the side of the house by the gate for my garden tools and bought this storage box. This was where the pile of logs had sat since the giant silver birch was cut down when we first moved in. On the weekend I moved the logs across the road to our neighbours as they have a wood burning fire and can make good use of them next winter.

26308181325_ff0fc6651d_oNow, here is a photo of the back garden from a few months ago, complete with squirrel stealing the bird food. As you can see the garden was a bit of a mess. Everything was neglected and overgrown, there was bindweed and brambles/blackberry bushes everywhere. The first thing that I did was cut back a lot of the vegetation behind the birdbath there, which I blogged about in my last post. It was a kind of privet growing in amongst the holly tree. I cut it all back and it took several weeks to get rid of all the cuttings in our garden waste bin. I also started to clear the garden beds.

IMG_1851This is that back right hand corner after I cleared it and dug away a lot of the soil. The original plan was to get quotes for a new fence along the back but, as you can see, there is a bit of a rock retaining wall here and the soil level has risen with all the years of leaf litter from the trees, meaning that the fence is buried about a foot under ground level and would take major excavation work to remove.

IMG_1855Here you can see what bad condition the back fence was in. The missing palings, however, were good for the hedgehogs, as they need to be able to roam freely between gardens to feed and breed.

IMG_1856Further along you can see that part of the fence has caught fire at some point in the past. Also the position of the neighbour’s shed means that access to replace this section of the fence would be almost impossible.

IMG_1854The same goes for the structure in our other neighbour’s garden.

IMG_1884My solution was to attach brush screening to the fence to create a more pleasant looking boundary. I also cut back some of the lower branches of the giant yew tree in the garden behind ours.

IMG_2396It makes a big difference, so I plan to put some more along the fence along this side too. In the back corner you can see that I have planted some ivy to obscure the low breeze block retaining wall. I have also planted some Spotted Laurels and small cypress trees and continue to weed the garden beds. The lighter-coloured and variegated foliage on these plants will be an effective foil to the dark green of the yew, holly and conifers that dominate the rest of the garden.

IMG_2148This was taken a few weeks later and you can see that the privet is growing back nicely and the holly looks much neater with all the lower branches removed. If you look closely you will also see the neighbour’s cat keeping a watchful eye on proceedings from the roof of the shed.

 

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I kept a section of the screening open for the hedgehog to get through.

 

IMG_1916Here is a shot of the hedgehog. We haven’t seen him for a few weeks but they do have a big territory. Unfortunately hedgehogs are not very good at crossing roads, so we hope he is OK.

IMG_1928Down the other side of the house I have been tidying things up too. There is still a lot of weeding to do here too.

IMG_1848By the back door I have weeded and cleared the beds and planted hydrangeas, the old fashioned mop-head variety. What with the crazy paving and rockery borders, this is a very mid-century garden so I am continuing the theme with what I call “granny plants”.

IMG_1847Also geraniums, pink and white.

IMG_2130This was my latest purchase. Combined with the strimmer I bought a few weeks ago, I have started to tackle the grass.

 

IMG_2308After the first mowing. It almost looks like a real garden!

IMG_2314Cat updates. Hello from Oliver – I think he needs to do more to relax.

IMG_2041The same goes for Ruby, pictured here during our recent heatwave.

IMG_2257And Rose. She is playing with the catnip mouse – the look in her eyes says it all.

Early Summer in the Edwardian House

IMG_1079Here we are in early summer. There have been a good few warm days so far and also some very heavy rain yesterday. This means that the garden is having an explosive growth spurt. All of the spring bulbs are spent, as are the primroses, although a few yellow pansies remain.

IMG_1081Hydrangea with new growth.

IMG_1082The lavenders have doubled in size.

IMG_1085Hydrangea at the other end of the garden bed also looking healthy.

IMG_1084Last week I planted this new Japanese maple to replace the other one that was planted last year. This one has more robust leaves so I hope it will withstand the exposed position a little better. The other one kept drying out as its leaves were like little feathers.

IMG_2210This is what the front garden looked like a year ago when we were right in the middle of Stage 2 of the renovation.

IMG_2225It’s good to look at photos like this and see how far we have come.

IMG_0997Out the back the fern garden is coming along nicely. You can see that I have moved the Japanese maple with the delicate leaves to this more protected postion.

IMG_1010The view from the kitchen window is improving. Avert your eyes from the crazy paving path and the leaning fence. All in good time…

IMG_9809With the new fern garden in place, we decided it was time to scatter the ashes of dear old Doris and Orlando. Doris died in Australia in 2009 and Orlando in Liverpool in 2011.

IMG_9810We scattered their ashes in the garden bed around the Dicksonia Antarctica fern that was imported from Australia.

IMG_0369Doris and Orlando loved their fern garden back in Australia, so it’s only fitting that they should have one here in the UK too. You can also see a more mature Dicksonia Antarctic tree fern that Doris is lying under on the left of the photo.

IMG_9638Oliver and Ruby are well.

IMG_9817As is Rosie, who had her fifth birthday in late April.

IMG_0919I finally got around to framing this limited edition print by the artist Paul Bommer which illustrates Christopher Smart’s poem “For I will consider my cat Jeoffrey”.

IMG_0921It was one of the first things I bought for the Edwardian House when we moved in.

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It’s a great piece and I could look at it for hours.

IMG_0922It is in the breakfast room right next to the cat tree.

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In the back garden I have cleared one corner that was dominated by an overgrown holly tree and a shrub underneath it. The entire back fence will need to be replaced so I am just trying to clear it enough for access. The soil level is quite high here too as this was an old garden refuse heap, so we will need to do some digging to lower the ground level.

IMG_0985The lawn hasn’t been cut for three years, though I am managing to get a handle on controlling the bindweed that used to grow in the beds by the compost bin.

IMG_0981I am also tackling the other pest – the blackberries. It’s just about keeping the whole back garden under control until we can re-landscape it.IMG_0984At least you can still see the path down the other side of the house.

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The wall of ivy has this year’s new growth too.

IMG_1002Our neighbour’s beautiful lawn. If only we could annexe her garden somehow…

IMG_9684Grey squirrel helping herself to the bird food.

IMG_0936In the guest bedroom we have replaced the single bed with a double, in preparation for summer guests.

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In other news, we had a nice time on our holiday to the Cote d’Azur.

IMG_0027We stayed in Nice.

IMG_0364Lovely views from the Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill).

IMG_5904We had a day where we drove along the Grande Corniche past Eze, Monaco and Menton and went into Italy.

IMG_5912Eze from the Grande Corniche.

IMG_6121Dolceacqua in Italy.

IMG_0048We visited Renoir’s house in Cagnes-sur-Mer.

IMG_0069Built around the same time as the Edwardian House it was great to see that Renoir also had a quarry tile floor in the kitchen.

IMG_0070It’s just like ours except his tiles are hexagonal and ours are square.

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Interestingly, when I visited Monet’s house in Giverny last year with Frogdancer, he also had a quarry tile floor. I’m glad we kept ours.

 

 

 

 

January in the Edwardian House

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Happy new year! We had a little snow earlier this month. It started coming down one evening and we thought it would probably melt by morning.

IMG_8680It stayed for a day or so though. Not much snow admittedly but this is the most we’ve had in the two years we have been in Leicester. There was even enough for children to make snowballs. Luckily it melted before it had a chance to turn into ice on the footpaths.

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We also got a new car for Christmas!

IMG_8694The bird feeder in the back garden is proving popular, particularly with the family of robins that live in the holly tree. They seem to regard it as their personal pantry and chase the other little birds away. This photo is a few weeks old – the robins now look more like tennis balls with beaks, so we think we are fueling a robin obesity crisis.

IMG_8711Ruby would love to catch one of the pigeons, which are also getting quite fat.

IMG_8746Speaking of husky animals. Oliver getting comfortable on the clean towels I had just put down for a few minutes.

IMG_8870I was looking through my January photos and realised that I hadn’t taken a picture of Rose all month! I headed upstairs immediately to rectify the situation.

IMG_8864She began to pose, as usual.

IMG_8869Time for a chin scratch.

The house priorities this year are carpet on the stairs and landings, finishing off the security systems, and  taming the back garden.

More to follow!

Christmas in the Edwardian House

IMG_5872 (1)We are approaching our third Christmas in the Edwardian House. Ruby on tree inspection duty.

On the first Christmas we were living on the top floor in three rooms waiting to get started with the renovation. By the second Christmas we were part way there with Stage One complete and a semblance of normality. Christmas number three sees a completed build (with just a bit more carpet to lay and a back garden to tame) and plans for the future being made.

It has been an eventful two years.

I will keep you up to date with new developments as they occur, so please do not delete us from your blog feed.

All best wishes for the holiday season from Scott, Mark, Ruby, Oliver and Rose.

 

Early November

IMG_7966It’s early November and the autumn leaves are falling fast in today’s windy weather. Oliver thinks he can catch them as they drift by. Yesterday the window-cleaning/gutter-clearing man fitted leaf guards in the five downpipes to stop them blocking up.

IMG_7962Rosie looking gorgeous on the stairs.

21978416103_72be30a9d6_zRuby getting into mischief.

22060743194_52fd76d8fe_zWe have spent the last couple of Sundays tidying up the garden at the side of the house. Mark tackled weeds, blackberries and even excavated the dirt covering the mid-century crazy-paving path that leads down to the dining room french windows.

22060800204_6e9b33e923_zThe path is still a bit dirty but the rain should clear some of that. Eventually we will cover the path with weed matting and lay gravel down, like we did in the front garden. I also want to plant ferns in these garden beds as it’s very shady along here. The camellia on the right loves growing in this shade and produces beautiful red flowers. The fuchsias to the left of the path also thrive. In the distance you can see that we moved the bird bath as it wasn’t attracting birds where it was originally placed. I originally sited it directly outside the breakfast room window where the cats had front row seats on the window sill.

22657529346_5e5bfa9c7f_zYou can also see we have completed the back garden. Only kidding. I just lay the spare pavers down temporarily on the overgrown lawn for something to look at from the back door.

Next Thursday afternoon the Lord Mayor is coming to unveil the blue heritage plaque and we have about 35 people coming for a reception. Luckily we won’t need to use the back garden! More to follow.

Hibernation

The clocks went back last night so sunset is currently at 4:45pm. By Winter Solstice, on December 22nd, it will get dark at 3:54pm. This means we are moving into hibernation mode.

IMG_7751In the lead up to the clocks changing Oliver was not fully convinced it was morning so he stayed in bed a bit longer.

IMG_7848As the days get colder we seem to get dozens of ladybirds coming into the house – they probably don’t survive outside at this time of year. It gets the cats excited though.

Speaking of hibernation, the hedgehog is still eating his food in the back garden so he hasn’t gone to sleep just yet.

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Rosie inspecting a new coffee table book about one of her glamour idols.

IMG_7861Recently acquired vintage sideboard for the dining room. The new antique shop at the end of the road is getting a lot of business from me…

I am currently doing lots of little things around the house. For instance, last week I hung 33 pictures on various walls. Yes, I counted.

 

 

 

The week continues

IMG_7189On Tuesday I filled all the gaps and nail holes in the stairs.

IMG_7190And on Wednesday I gave them a second undercoat.

IMG_7193Looking good.

IMG_7205I also decided to see how the lounge would look if I applied some obscure film to the bottom of the windows.

IMG_7208This window is quite close to the footpath and because we have Roman blinds people can see straight inside when they are open. I don’t really mind that but now that the new fireplace is installed, and it will be getting dark earlier, I thought there are bound to be times when I nod off in front of the fire and I won’t want to be on display to the entire street. The obscure film is just high enough that it reaches the eye level of pedestrians, which is precisely the same eye level of a person seated on the sofa.

IMG_7214Standing up you still have a nice view outside so it doesn’t feel like I have blocked the entire window. It also helps that the film doesn’t go right to the edge of the glass – it looks more like an etched glass feature.

IMG_7217Someone wasn’t happy though, and I felt a bit guilty for depriving Ruby of one of her great pleasures: observing the street and passers-by, in particular the neighbour’s cat Albus.

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I thought about it overnight and came up with this compromise.

IMG_7227A little spy hole for Ruby at both ends of the window.

IMG_7233After I did that this morning I gave the stairs their top coat.

IMG_7234I am quite impressed with how they have turned out.

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IMG_7272I might even leave them like this permanently, or if I decide I still want carpet I will be able to have it fitted as a runner down the centre of the stairs.

IMG_7278The paint was taking ages to dry – the tin said two hours but  seven hours later it was still tacky in places so I couldn’t risk the cats running up and down on it.

IMG_7275The tin foil barrier seems to working so far. They have to use the maid’s stairs at the back of the house.

IMG_7267The stairs being painted also means that the entrance hall is now complete!

IMG_7270You can really appreciate the architecture now.

IMG_7264I will have to do some before and after shots so you can compare side by side.

IMG_7262Desk in the hall. It’s a good place to leave the mail and is also handy for writing cheques and such.

IMG_7273In other news, I went to the hardware store and bought a leaf rake. I am now prepared for this giant tree – a native lime – you can see the leaves are just starting to turn.

This week

IMG_4737A slow-ish week so far. I fitted the additional hooks in the coat room today.

20268008909_7469708394_zOn Monday this section of brickwork was repointed.

IMG_4748P, the decorator was here today doing some prep work on the top floor.

IMG_4738Yesterday the paint arrived for that room. It’s the total Farrow and Ball cliche, how I could I not do it?

IMG_4710And here’s a picture of Rosie in her crate. It’s an Aga crate and that’s a cashmere blanket, so she’s not really slumming it despite how it looks.