Archive for the Derelict house Category

of finish lines and mirages

Posted in Derelict house, kitchen, Renovation, Uncategorized with tags , , on August 3, 2013 by pimpmybricks

Good Morrow Ladies and Gents all

I have been nudged into wakefulness and summoned to my laptop to write a post (for which many thankyous – it’s good to be missed).  And so, like some crumpled old genie I emerge from my suburban bottle in a poof of wattle pollen.  But I must warn you that this will be a post thrown together by a distracted mind.  Caveat emptor!  Abandon ship all ye who enter here seeking order, coherence or even linear thought.

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But first, let’s do the ritual  sozzas for being late and get that out of the way. Ladies and Gents,  pray silence for the solemn reading of the Proclamation of Lamentations.   Items one to six – issues arising with the Regency Wreck.  Items seven to ten – other matters.  One such other matter, in fact, being the complete and utter lack of internet for five weeks.   There has been much eating of cold turkey around here and it hasn’t been a pretty thing.  It’s not until you’re without it that you realise the full and alarming extent of your dependence.   Mr P, normally the most equable fellow you could ever wish to meet, took to posting boxfuls of his torn out hair to call centres in Manila.  The eventual upshot being that  our illustrious ISP has now supplied us with a dongle (do you not love that word?), and so here I am, bashing out said post.

So then. Life has been somewhat Sisyphean of late.  It’s been tough on the Regency Wreck front – that’s axiomatic, innit – but also across the board really.  There has been some pretty awful news in the family and my own health issues have resurfaced from all the on-going nonsense.   A veritable tsunami of stress, all in all.   Mr P, I have to tell you, has been a Super Trouper of the First Order, with gold medals and epaulettes and everything.  But I, the ex-stress junkie, have been coming apart at the seams just a little.  Madame Flaketastic, wibbling and wavering all over, like a too-heavy thing on a too-slender base.  Hence, you know, the lack of posts.

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And what of the the jolly old Regency Wreck?  Well, it finally resembles a house (more or less), and, in fact, has been hovering within co-ee of the finish line for some time now.  Hovering but not advancing very fast.  Indeed, the very definition of ‘finish’ is something that is hotly contested at present.  And so we are still waiting.  And waiting.  Parables of tortoises and hares spring to mind.  Rather fed-up tortoises with tired legs, I tell you, having staggered around these past two and a half years (I know! really!) under the weight of that big old unliveable house.  And no, that’s not the wind in the trees you hear; it’s the strains of violins.  Overall, the situation with the RW is still…shall we say, somewhat powder keggish… and because of that I think I shall be prudent for once and stay schtum about the whole thing.  Just for a short while longer, if you’ll forgive me. But, as they like to say, watch this space.  I promise posts with pictures and sentences that make sense and no smoke and mirrors.  Maybe even a theme or two.  Soon.  As soon as a spoon.

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In the meantime, let’s look beyond that disputed finish line at the piles of kitchen, pantry and laundry cupboards that are still in the UK, but due to be packed on Tuesday and bundled onto a boat to make their seasick way out here.  I know that it seems an utter lunacy to have a kitchen made on the other side of the world but in fact, even with the shipping costs it’s cheaper and I got rather tired of hearing that no, I couldn’t have real hinges but I could have fake ones with those flat pack affairs behind them.  I mean, really!

In the end we did go with the pink island.  The actual colour has more yellow in it than appears in the photo; a sort of stewed rhubarb hue. At least I’m hoping it does because in the photo it looks a little scarily…pink. IMG_0458

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This last cupboard is for the laundry because – confession time here – I’m a bit of a closet washermaid (without the mob cap) and the pinnacle of my laundressing aspirations (other than, you know, a housekeeper) has for years been the idea of a cupboard into which I can sort clean and dirty washing.  In colour categories, mind you (for dirty) and owners (for clean).   You may call me anal – but let me remind you that Mrs Beeton would have called me organised.IMG_0463So then one pressing question on my mind (that small portion not taken up with matters of porcelain or semiotics, which is another story)… one pressing question is whether copper would speak nicely to the pink island in the kitchen.  Or not.  Because I am having a little love affair with these lights which look to me for all the world like slightly deliquescing jellies:

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And further, whether the pink condemns me to sensible honed granite worktops in grey, and all matters relating thereto.  And on that lovely prosaic note, I am off.

Soon, jellyspoons.

Of progress and wheels – a few before and durings.

Posted in Derelict house, farm, Georgian houses, Great Danes, Renovation, sandstone walls, Sydney with tags , , , , , on September 24, 2012 by pimpmybricks

 

Yo Homeslices – greetings from the sickbed.  Wherein brain-deadness covereth all like a sodden blanket.

I say this sotto voce, just in case Fate is lurking somewhere in the bushes – but it is conceivable that we have passed through the valley of death and begun our ascent. Or to cut the hyperbole, that we have finished the dismantling of the Regency Wreck and have begun the re-mantling. I know!  Craycray innit? But, let me tell you, that valley was wide and boulder-strewn.  Our wagon of hope and fortitude just about perished along the way.

A friend remarked recently that we’ll be on a roll now and my response is yes, we are indeed rolling, but at much at the same pace as the first stone-age wheels rolled.  You know, just blazin’ merrily along. Actually we are in attitudes of agitated despair and glumnitude here because the official moving-in date in November was nudged a while ago to January, which was just about cope-able with, and has now been shunted to the end of March, which is emphatically not.

But  leaving all that aside for one moment – to give you a glimpsette of progress so far, by which I mean that which is visible and therefore of interest to me, rather than structural and buried deep within the bowely fabric of the house.

The stone in the basement vestibule is now golden and gleaming, courtesy of the builder’s wife Lin, who actually should be called Builder II on account of how hard she works.  I began the process and she has taken it over – we have gone from this:

to this:

And the dining room is on the march, from this thing of potential

to this thing of golden glory:

All of which is Mr Pimp’s own fair work.  He has further still to go with his trusty scutch hammer, but even now it is looking almost baronial, don’t you think?  Positively Arthurian!  And opposite, this gorgeous stud and noggin wall has been uncovered, and will remain thus:

The plaster on the wall to the left of Noggin the Nog is a little drummy, so there are perchance more stone revelations queuing there.  That dining room, I tell you, will be a veritable feast of texture. A glut! And, furthermore, I shall be spared the necessity of agonising over paint colours.  Which is always welcome.

And speaking of progress, we escaped to the country a couple of weeks ago, to see how Tortoise the calf was faring.

In-flight catering:

 

And when we arrived we found Tortoise so busy with his homies that he could barely manage a wave:

We also discovered that Miss Brown, one of the two original matriarchs of the herd, with this little blokey in tow:

Which made me extremely, ecstatically happy, because the last two times we saw her she’d separated herself from the herd and I feared she had lost a calf.

So there we have it.  All is well in the Green Kingdom, and stultifyingly slow in the urban one.  And I am off to my sickbed.

 

 

 

 

 

Do I look bovvered to you?

Posted in Derelict house, Georgian houses, Great Danes, Herberts, Renovation, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on June 9, 2012 by pimpmybricks

Well hello!  Greetings from the echoing grove, this place of cobwebs and silence.

Apologies for the even-more-sporadic-than-usual posts (at least I think they are). Thing is, the jolliness quotient has been rather low recently.  Sub-optimal, as Mr Pimperooh would say.  Bottom dwelling, actually. Positively languishing!  And bearing in mind the convention in blogland for upbeat and happy, I have thought to stay mum for the duration.

But recently there’s been a small revolution taking place in these here  bloggity parts – have you come across it?  A group of bloggers have defied the blog(u)topian rule and have been Writing it like it Really Is in a collection of posts under the umbrella title of ‘Things I’m afraid to Tell You’.  Souls have been bared, secrets revealed, the not-so-perfect strewn across the innernets. Exciting and liberating stuff.  I first came across it here.

So somewhat in that vein, and because (like that children’s book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt) you can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you’ve got to go through it,  I think I need to get at least some of it off my chest.  Confined to Regency Wreck matters, because – and I’ve already confessed to a certain confessionalism -otherwise we’ll be here all night. And then we can move onto such niceties as taps and basins. And stone floors and copper islands.  And nickel plated baths and tear-drop taps. And, of course,  the conundrum of the ever-rising bathroom waistline.  You thought it was only trousers and hemlines?  No! Not on your nelly.

Anyway,  please avert your eyes if you are  squeamish about the glumps.

So,  we have been troubled in Pimpsville.  Cast down somewhat, and depleted.  Tempers have been frayed. Sleep has been interrupted.   By day we tiptoe through the tulips, hand in hand through shops and showrooms. Baths, lavatories, showers. A thousand dollars here, five thousand there.  And who cares?  It’s only monay!  But by evening the shadows lengthen and at night come tapping on the door of sleep.  Softly, ineluctably.  My dreams are not the des res havens I wish for at the moment.  No white voile curtains billow languorously at their open windows. No rectangles of pale afternoon light spill in, warming floor and feet.  Instead, they are populated by suited thugs demanding money for  umbrella vending machines in the basement of the Regency Wreck.  And by unruly hoards who rush in tsunamis through the front door in search of self-help workshops or wallets to steal.  It doesn’t exactly need my rusty psychoanalytic self  to decipher the lumbering symbolism in all that.

There seems to be a threshold  beyond which floors that collapse and walls that crumble bring with them a wobble of  the confidence. Suddenly there are doubts about the project, questions about its viability. Relationships suffer, finances dwindle, horizons cloud. Survival in one piece seems no longer axiomatic. To be spending like a couple of drunken sailors can be frightening when neither of us is working,  when jobs become scarcer and scarcer and when the world around us seems more tilting and more wobbling by the day.  Everywhere we go we find closing down sales, liquidation stock clearances.  That means bargains of course, but they are bargains resting on the backs of people who are losing their jobs.  Under all their valiant politeness the dark and fearful waters of joblessness sway. You can see it in their eyes, hear it in their voices.  These are hard times and to be so profligate in their midst brings a queasiness, an unease of the soul.

Things have been wobbly in Herbertsville too, with Mr Derring Do himself, HRH Remington Rem the First jumping one too many fences he shouldna, and utterly eradicating his cruciate tendon. He has had a knee re-construction and a spell in hospital (wooing the nurses left and right, natch, for he is a splendoursome thing, ma boy ).  He was discharged on Wednesday, sent home to an ecstatic Elsie (and a moderately happy me) only to be re-admitted  the next day with…ahem…complications of the waterworks.   And so he is back there again, and it is testament to where my head is at that one of the thoughts I had was “oh my gawd, we could fit out a bathroom for the cost of that”.  Though that was, I have to say, a fairly low on the list thought.

Here he is, shaved, sutured, and stapled. Confused and confounded.  And still utterly himself. Because after all, a Remington is a Remington is a Remington.

And that, said Fred, is that.  Enough off the chest. I shall be back forthwith with baths and taps and the like. And a goodly dose of something closely resembling optimism.  Just you wait and see!

Hubble bubble termite trouble

Posted in Derelict house, Georgian houses, Renovation, Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 19, 2012 by pimpmybricks

Tap tap…testing, testing…1, 2, 3…

It’s been a while, crocodiles.

A month, in fact, since I posted from the sheet less bed in my – oh – old house.  A month in which we have passed through the valley of cardboard and emerged, blinking like moles, into the new suburban light.  A new suburban light which, I’ll have you know, is tinted yellow by bottle glass windows, and brown by  vertical blinds.   A suburban world of architectural wonders, everso shouting children and friendly neighbours. All of which deserves a post unto itself.

But while we were buried down there in our little house-moving purgatory –  stolidly chewing our way  out  through card and packing paper – what of the Regency Wreck?  Well, in fact, it was having a little crisis of its own, quite understandably.

It all began with the builder, a thoroughly thorough sort of fellow, digging away at the layer upon layer of flooring in one section of the house.  In some places there were as many as three or four floors all laid on top of each other, like so (though this is only two):

I mean, actually, when you think about it, why bother to remove old floors when you can simply cover them up?  Just add more as needed Missus and stop only when you can no longer stand up straight.  Anyway, while he was removing extraneous floors, the Thoroughly Thorough Builder noticed some rather suspicious little trails of mud which, when he followed their progress, led him to yet aNOTHer termite nest, very artfully and discreetly secreted within one wall.  And, in the way of termites, those little buggers had gone up and down, left and right, and nibbled away at the floor joists in four rooms. Four!

I give you, ladies and gents of the jury,  exhibit A, itself a mere fraction of the nest:

And what he found was that the floor joists, which conventionally are supported within the fabric of the wall, in the RW appeared to stop shy thereof. In fact, they were held up only by the render on said walls, which, when it was removed to get at the termite nest, resulted in such scenes of floorless carnage:

and this (which is the entrance to my study)

so that you can see almost from top to bottom of the house at the rear.  No need of internal intercoms now:

So the dear old Regency Wreck, which before looked derelict but absolutely beautiful, now just looks, well, abandoned.  Much in the way of the houses of my childhood, except without their dignity or intrigue. It’s as if we’ve taken a rather grand but crumbling old lady, removed her pearls, her lippy and her wig, pulled her arms out of her fur coat and left her revealed and without dignity under a fluorescent light.Our last few visits, to be honest, have been somewhat woeful affairs, characterised by a distinct flatness. We knew this sort of thing was to be expected, of course, but expecting something and encountering it are never quite the same thing, are they?

BUT.  But!  They say diversion is as good as a cure (don’t they? something like that? anyone?) and it just so happened that when we poked our heads above ground after the move, not only the yellow light and the bellowing children were there at the end of the tunnel to greet us , but also  Thoroughly Thorough Builder, gawd bless ‘is ‘eart, demanding lavatories with menaces. And so we have been cantering about the length and breadth of Sydney, peering down porcelain pans.  And as we all know, questions about lavs beget questions about basins, which in turn beget questions about baths (baths! don’t get me started) and many assorted sundry etceteras.  So we are diverted, madly, and in the diverted meanwhile TTBuilder is putting up floors, and patching brickwork….and so it may all come good in the end.

I’m leaving, on a jet plane…

Posted in Derelict house, digressions with tags , , , on December 31, 2011 by pimpmybricks

I thought I’d be spending New Year’s Eve at the Regency Wreck, watching the fireworks over Sydney Harbour Bridge.  Maybe even camping there overnight on a mattress.  Instead I’ll be on an airplane, somewhere over the Indian Ocean without so much as a sparkler.   I’m off for five weeks – back to the Dorset countryside and to London. I shall go stamping all over, and spend a day pottering in Spitalfields (where the streets are paved with iconoclasts); a few days in Marrakesh  (where the streets are paved with Berber rugs); and a few more in Venice (where there are no streets).

(And if you don’t believe me about Spitalfields, take a look at http://spitalfieldslife.com/, which is a true delight).

Right now I should be packing, stuffing things willy nilly into my bag.  Piles of clothes mushroom at the periphery of my vision but here I am instead, at my machine.  Odd – when I have time draped in folds around my feet I can’t get a post together but when I’m on my way out of the door it becomes The-thing-which-cannot-be-put-off.

The highlight of this last year was buying the Regency Wreck.  This time next year I want to be living there (oh, dangerous thingses, these predictions).  The rest of this year has been one of drudgery – an attempt to cobble together the right conditions for health and recovering still (STILL!) from the psychoanalytic training – my sense of humour is not yet inflated, my sense of joy still fugitive. At the end of it all I feel a little colourless, a little pressed flat.    These last few days a poem by Denise Riley has been blowing around inside my head.

As iron sharpens iron

I sharpen the face of my friend

so hard he sings out

in high delicate notes.

A struggle for mastery to most speak

powerful beauty would run any

attention or kindness clean out

of town in angry rags.

Ringed by darkness the heat pulsates.

And power comes in like lightning.

A lion in the room, fair and flowing

twists with unsparing eyes.

Whitely the glance runs

to it and away.  But let it

talk its golden talk if we

don’t understand it.

Grabbed by remote music

I’m frightening myself.  Speak

steadily as is needed to

stare down beauty.  That calms it.

Denise Riley

In this coming year I hope for a lion in the room.  A pulsating heart. Some powerful beauty to try and speak.  For you I wish whatever it is you need and much of what you want. Happy New Year!

Christmas arrives early.

Posted in Derelict house with tags on December 11, 2011 by pimpmybricks

Well then … the DA has come through. Cue fanfare. Ranks of white rabbits, liveried, betrumpeted, and parping. That sort of thing.

And after all the fuss and palaver of the preceding months, other than a requirement to take a photographic record of the house in all its ‘before’ gloriousness, there are no conditions, nothing has been denied us. It feels rather strange – almost too easy.

For all my striking of attitudes about not getting an upstairs bathroom, it seems all three bodies are unanimous that we shall have one. Not to mention the opening in the dining room wall so that we can stroll in leisurely fashion out into the un-garden. What’s more, we’re at liberty to demolish the bubonic lav which takes up a quarter of said un-garden (I kid thee not – it is that small). Also granted us is a modest opening between kitchen and dining room. And the guest shower room with its smokey glass roof – if you come and stay, I can offer you starlit nighttime ablutions and the best lav-side view you could wish for. And if all that were not enough, the Juliet balconies, which were intended as the sacrificial items on the wish list – maybe they should be called the Iphigenia Balconies? – we got those too. In fact, we got all of it.

Powers that be – we thank you.  Everso ‘umbly.

Of course there ain’t going to be no work on the house anytime soon because, despite solemn oaths, (Not-So) Esteemed (At-The-Moment) Architect has not finished the tender documents, nor produced a builder from his hat. Stern words are scheduled for next week. And to be strictly honest, even if he had, the collapse of Mr Pimp’s mine means we don’t have the mountain of dosh needed for the work anyway.

And so, as a consequence, our present house has been primped and rouged and bundled onto the market somewhat earlier than we intended. In fact our first viewing was yesterday, and it was a somewhat disaster-strewn path leading up to it. The washing machine died utterly on Thursday, the boiler on Friday (luckily it was resurrectable, at exorbitant cost).  And the day before the viewing our very nice cleaner did something very nasty to the floor which seemed, bizzarely, to splalm a thin layer of grease over the entire, glossy, re-coated surface. It took us much frantic mopping and a great deal of scrubbing at midnight, then dawn, on hands and knees in pyjamas and dressing gowns to remove it – finishing, oh, what, a very spacious twenty five minutes before the hoardes (six groups) came streaming through the front door.

And the reward for all our sweaty endeavours?  A cold shower, natch, the boiler still being broken.  I swear there’s a correlation between cold showers and heart attacks; they are she-ocking. But anyway we got there,  rather in the manner of an Ealing Comedy.  And we are launched now, bobbing along on the unpredictable currents of the Sydney property market. If you see a paper boat sail past, please wave. Oh, and if you’d like to buy it at an exorbitant, inflated price (in the cause of heritage works, of course), please wave wildly.

So anyway and anyhow, this is one of the estate agent’s photographic offerings of our present house – the least distorted and most representative of a typical estate agently schleckshun. What is it with those wide-angled lenses?

To breathe out into calm.

Posted in Derelict house, dress down, Dress-ups, Georgian houses, Inspiration, Renovation, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 24, 2011 by pimpmybricks

If the first rule of blogging is to be positive and the fifth law is that the ratio of difficulty posting is proportionate to time elapsed between posts – well then, a lot of silence can happen.

But enough of all that – Mr Pimp is, as I type ,winging his way back from Singapore (the silver lining in the cloud of financial collapse).  As well as that,  our house is getting ready for sale  in the next couple of weeks, and there are paint pots and wet dogs and steam machines all tumbling chaotically towards the deadline.

So, by way of buying myself a plot of peace, here are a few pictures from my ‘dark room’ cache.  And the common denominator?  Stillness.  Do you see leaking roofs, spooned floorboards, chipped paintwork, spiders’ webs, torn lampshades, fly-blown blinds, dying plants, grimy tiles or grubby grouting – all clamouring to be seen to – in these photos?

Do you see gob-spattered walls courtesy of Remington Pollack?  Gouged floors courtesy of his smaller, more anxious friend?

Do you see the army of solid burghers all come to fix said ailments – the estate agents, the painters, the gardeners, the house washers, the floor sanders, the window cleaners?

No, nor do I!

I see acres of calm space.  I see a modicum of intersecting lines, but not so many that they intersect thoughts.  I see a bed on which it might be possible to read a poem, where each word might inhabit its own unrushed space and images unspool at their own unrushed leisure.

(The interesting question, with all this yearning for peace, of course,  is why I dream of one life while busily making another one entirely.)

Could I live in this house?  As work on the RW gets closer (whatever you do,  don’t mention the money with which to do the work!) the style becomes a more pressing consideration.  At the moment, it seems to boil down to this – whether to dress the house up or down.

I’d love to credit these pictures but the only annotation in my file is ‘voorhaven’ which is, to say the least, a bit mysterious.  So, usual apologies for usual slack tartishness. It looks very Belgian, though, don’t you think?

Edit –

The pictures are of the home of artist & interior designer Monique Meij-Beekman. Her website is Voorhaven 7 . Photos are by Jan Luijk.

Thanks Jo.