You may recall my earlier post about the Japanese chest.
Or The Japanese Chest Awakens? With apologies to George Lucas. In truth though, there are only three Star Wars films and they ended when I was eleven years old. So there.
Today I went down the street to visit my friend Claire who owns the local antiques/vintage shop called The Vintage Fox, where I previously bought this. What should I find on the pavement but the Japanese chest that had spent nearly sixty years in The Edwardian House!
You can see my post about the chest here.
I knew I should have held onto it! Claire said she bought it from a man who occasionally drops by to offload the odd piece. I had thrown the chest into our skip when we were starting Stage Two of the renovation in April/May this year and six months later it turns up here! As I laughingly told Claire, my builder used to refer to these individuals as ‘skip rats’.
The start of week five. The first job is to get the cats out of bed and into the other part of the house. The breakfast room is their room really. That’s Oliver yawning at the top of the cat tree. Ruby is below and Rosie has taken to the crate lately.
The tiler was here and he laid the floor tiles in the top floor bathroom. They’re great looking tiles but they don’t go with that current wall colour so I will have to think about what to do – perhaps just white walls.
Most of the wall tiles were fixed too.
He has stopped at the bottom as he needs the shower tray fitted to finish off here.
Carpentry work also began today. The guest room window got a new sill.
The creepy top floor cupboard, hereafter known as the ‘top floor cupboard’ (or perhaps ‘walk-in linen press’?) had its door reversed. The door used to open inwards and the top corner dug a big hole in the sloping ceiling. It was also difficult to negotiate your way around the open door to get to the left hand side of the cupboard.
There’s much more room in there because of this change too, though you could potentially push someone down the stairs if you flung the door open quickly.
The cupboard also got some skirting boards.
Downstairs the skirtings were refitted where we had the damp treated.
Work was done preparing some of the old doors that are going into new spaces. Here the old pantry and kitchen doors were prepared for their new lives as the utilty and the toilet door. The pantry door will only have moved about a metre from its original location, though for all of last year it was on the top floor as the ‘front door’ to our flat.
The old understairs door has been split in two to make a pair of doors to go in its original opening. This will mean I can fit shelves into the future walk-in pantry and divide off the space under the stairs where the gas and electricity meters are.
And an article written by Roger Moore, TV’s The Saint.
I cleared all the junk out ready for the decorators. The problem is that at the moment all of our storage spaces have to be empty – the creepy top floor cupboard, the top floor front bedroom, under the stairs etc. so there are great mountains of stuff piled up in all of the ‘finished’ rooms – the dining room, lounge, breakfast room, my study, hallways and other bedrooms. I went up and down the stairs a great deal, trying to at least get things on the actual floor where they will eventually be stored.
Looking out onto the back stairs landing and through to the main part of the house.
I then did some tidying up in the top front bedroom, the one with our Ed Miliband kitchen (the second/spare kitchen where you hold the press call to appear more modest). I carried a lot of junk out of this room too as the floorboards need to be repaired. I also hauled the old carpet down three floors to the skip. This room will be Mark’s study and he will be able to make tea and coffee without having to go all the way down to the kitchen. This is where we lived for the first year in this house – this room was our kitchen, dining room, lounge, my study and the cats’ room.
I cut around the edges of the panel and pulled it away.
The fireplace was blocked up over fifty years ago just before the winter of 1964/5. That means the Fraser family lived here at the time.
This picture makes it all look very neat and clean but I can assure you that there was a whole lot of mess before this. That black plastic bag is full of soot, debris, masonry and one mummified bird. I held a little memorial service for him at the skip, poor thing.
Someone had also tossed a note with directions into the fire grate. Trying to work out who they were and where they were going. At the bottom of the map it says Friends House – so it may have belonged to a member of the Rutherford family, who were Quakers.
It was a very gay time in the 60s. Takes me back to my Newnes Home Management days.
A great deal has been happening today.
B the electrician came and completed the first fix of the utility room and toilet.
Lights. I have decided to go with wall lights in both rooms as the ceilings are so high.
This is the “fisherman’s” light fitting I am using in the utility room. It matches the pendant in the breakfast room.
In the toilet I am having this Tiffany style light above the basin and mirror.
A and R continued work on the wall.
The tree stumps in the front garden were ground down. Before.
The grinder exposed a line of red bricks that had been enveloped by the tree trunk. It wasn’t good for his cutting blades, apparently.
And after. We can now walk straight to the front door from the footpath! The stump of the yew tree that was next to the front door was also ground out.
I continued preparations in the guest bedroom clearing things out and tackling the fireplace.
There was still a certain amount of debris falling into this fireplace that I revealed last year so I donned my mask and gloves and set about trying to sweep the chimney out. It was an extremely dusty job. I ended up just having the vacuum cleaner running a metre or so away just to try to suck up some of the airborne dust. As I swept more and more of the debris out I was reaching my arm further and further up into the chimney. Given my past experiences I expected to come accross a bird skelton or two. On the ledge I felt a large piece of loose metal and pulled it out, bringing a load of debris with it. It was the bars for the front of the fireplace! As I continued there was more.
The ash pan cover.
And finally the baffle – the thing you use to close off the chimney (I know these words because I just looked them up). Whoever had boarded up this fireplace was thoughful enough to leave all the fireplace parts up the chimney. Thank you person-from-the-past!
It certainly saves me a few trips to reclamation yards to find replacements.
I looked up the chimney, which now seems fairly clear (this photo was taken before I did a final sweep – you can see more debris on the ledge). I replaced the baffle, effectively blocking the room from draughts and future debris.
My bucket was full – this is in addition to the foot of debris that I cleared out the last time! It’s a mixture of soot, masonry and a lot of old bird droppings – the pigeons still love to hang out on top of the chimney pot, Rosie watches them every morning from my study window. The content of the bucket was probably 50% phosphate – I could give Nauru a run for their money.
Oliver and Ruby, and water.
The header tank was set in a large wooden box that was filled with crumbled cork and screwed up newspaper, my guess for insulation. The newspapers (The Daily Express) dated from November and December 1928.
In the dining room the final pieces of concrete were chipped out of the fireplace. I have to decide what to do here – whether to have it filled with a self leveling latex filler or wait and lay more tiles, either matching or replacing the current hearth tiles.
After I uploaded my last post I found a picture of Allandale Road from 1962. You can see Hampshires bakery on the left. The shop is now Brown’s Tea Rooms – where Mark and I had afternoon tea today! (I took this photo last year, when Browns was called Lockwoods – the shop with the pale green front). The next business along is Anatolia, the Turkish restaurant. Interestingly, the following building along appeared to be a private home in the 1962 photo. Today the bay window, door and garden are gone and it is the shop where I bought our bathroom tiles (now called Pasha Design).
Today A the carpenter was laying new ply in the first floor hallway to replace all the broken floorboards. There was a lot of debris – broken plaster, old wiring, wood scraps. Yet another empty cigarette packet: Player’s No. 6.
I looked it up and the patent is dated 13 February 1930. This adds to my theory that Martha Baxter was the early moderniser of the house.
A light switch.
The label and string that would have been wrapped around the 50 yards of GEC Vinazo Electricity Cable (‘insulated with Vulcanised India Rubber’) made in England by the Pirelli General Cable Works in Southampton. On one side the little seal says ‘Pirelli General’ and the other side ‘Southampton England’.
And something a bit more local. This is a paper bag from Hampshires Bakers and Confectioners, which must have been an old business on the nearby Allandale Road. There were also branches in Market Street and Hinkley Road. There were still crumbs in the bag. This looks post-war to me – perhaps 1950s? This would link to the second round of rewiring in the middle of last century. There are still branches of Hampshires Bakeries in Leicester but not on Allandale Road. You could probably date the bag if you knew when Hampshires (which began trading in 1900) had only these three branches. In 2009 there were 26 branches.
Yesterday was fairly quiet. JB and a couple of his labourers arrived but couldn’t complete their job for the day as their circular saw blade had been blunted by the plumber.
The boiler got its new home today in the airing cupboard. Looking smart. Much better that its old location.
In the understairs cupboard this magazine showed up – it may have been wedged behind the old electricity board. It is a copy of The Listener from June 22nd 1989. At first I though to myself, oh, that’s fairly recent. I then did the calculations and realised 1989 was 25 years ago! But I remember 1989 like it was yesterday! Uh oh. Must be getting old.
As everyone had gone home today by 3pm I decided to have another go on the scaffold. I stepped out through the bedroom window on the first floor. Here you can see the fascias and end-jacks have been stripped and painted black.
I then lost my nerve on the scaffold and went back inside. It’s something about being able to see down through the boards. I’ll go further next time.
I am thinking about making a time capsule to build into the fabric of the house – behind a wall, under the floorboards, somewhere like that.
If anyone reading has any ideas:
What sort of receptacle should I use?
What should I include in it?
Where should I put it?
I am thinking that I may gather up all the ‘Found Objects’ and include them in the capsule as well. What do you think?