Archive for the Herberts Category

Up close and fairly personal.

Posted in digressions, farm, Herberts with tags , , , , , , , on October 26, 2012 by pimpmybricks

You know,  I want to thank everyone who takes the time to leave a comment on this blog.  A big arm flinging sort of a thank you.  Sometimes it can get to feeling  like I’m wittering away to myself in a corner.  But then  someone’ll pop up and suddenly it’s more like a conversation and all is well.  So thank you, those what does.  Especially those what does regularly.

So anyway and anyway, while the rest of the world is sliding into all that mist and mellow fruitfulness ( please can I come and stay? in about a month?  for about three months?), we in the antipodes are enjoying a brief and lovely seasonal interregnum before we hit the glass wall of  Summer.  When the sun will press the days into flat, metallic discs and the heat will stretch and shimmer as far as the mind can see.  Further, even.

I have been getting up close and personal with the beasts of the land recently – and I must tell you, it’s better than a shot of vitamin B, or a night at the disco.  It fair plumps up the old membranes with cross-species joy. Indeedy.

At the farm the other week, the weather had started to warm up and  so we had the annual procession of the reptiles into the sun. All very stately and solemn it was.  Our resident Carpet Python, a very suave McLaddy, staked a place in the purple herbaceous baxon to sun himself.  Until, that is, the Herberts and all the birds took great umbrage and wapped him with a crescendo of barking and claxoning until he slithered off in search of a quieter life. (His parents, you know, used to over-winter wrapped around the hot water tank in the roof, until the plumber came across them one day, two pairs of yellow eyes regarding him in the dark.  The neighbour was called (we being away), who summarily stuffed them into a hessian sack and dumped them in the Strawberry Field.  Whereupon they went off in a state of high dudgeon, never to be seen again.  They did, though, leave us their offspring; he of the buttery yellow belly and lazy ways. This is not his picture – he is too camera shy and I am too camera slow, but it is a relative of his.

There were also sightings of the Lace Monitor who has taken up residence under the house and is the cause of great canine clamour every evening, the dogs seeming to believe that obsessive licking of the floorboards will deliver him to them. He emerged one afternoon for a stroll and  was promptly chased up a tree by, once again, the Herberts, fearless defenders of the ancestral acres they, whence he stayed for the best part of the afternoon, motionless, pretending to be a branch.  At dusk, when I had distracted them, he gingerly inched his way down, only to be mobbed by a parent magpie as he  trundled with utter dignity and as fast as his stumpy little legs would carry him until he was only a speck at the far edge of the field.  I did photograph him, but the sun was in the lens and he looks nothing more than a very large twig in a very large tree, so here is his cousin who lives somewhere on the internet.  You can see how beautiful he is:

 There were delights of a somewhat more ambivalent nature when I emerged from the house one afternoon to find two tiny red and green finches sitting on the verandah.  I spoke to them politely, as one does, and they seemed to regard me with little surprise or alarm and so I got down at their level and conversed a little more.  Their beaks opened and shut, red little beaks, but no sound came and it finally dawned on me that they had flown into the window and stunned themselves. They allowed me to place them in my hand (oh!) and from there I transferred them to a bush for safety (the tireless Herbs being just around the corner, lounging, but not for long).   Later they were gone. Flown off to safety.  You know that somewhat mawkish sticker ‘Magic Happens’?  Well, apparently it doth. In the garden.  When you least expect it.  And are wearing your scruffiest wellies.

But wait, there is more!

When we arrived we found the dams perilously close to dry and the cows up to their knees in mud, drinking from the puddles still left at the centre.  There followed much unhilarity with ancient and new pumps and finally  a hose spurting fresh, clean river water was taken up to them.  I’ll wager a bet that when you think of water fun, your mind doesn’t turn automatically to frolicking with Belted Galloways in the mud, but I am here to testify that you’re  missing out.   Afterwards I felt as good as if I’d been to the seaside for a day with old friends. You know, buckets and spades, sandy sammies and feeling sick in the car afterwards.  Joy!  They’re excellent sports, cows.  Gawd love ’em.

Other than that, there was the usual Spring parade of floriferous glories and olfactory delights:

And at the end of it all, there was honey still for tea.  Because the farm’s that sort of place.

On the gender of bathrooms and suchlike.

Posted in bathrooms, Georgian houses, Great Danes, Herberts, Inspiration, Sydney with tags , , , , on July 13, 2012 by pimpmybricks

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of taps–and lavs–and shower heads–
And fascinating things–
And why the bath is boiling hot–
And whether plans have wings.”

‘Pols to Mr Carroll (for not being silly enough).

So yes, here we are then –  the bathroom post.  Do you remember the en suite on the top floor, the very existence of which was in doubt for some time?  You know, way back in the gentle rolling mists of Development Applications?  Well that’s the one I’m talkin’ ’bout.

Ahum, bathrooms, I hear you thinking.  Not much-meaning-of-life stuff there, not much angst.  You’d be wrong about the angst, though, because there’s been a small mountain of it.  Verily!  Enough, in fact, to out-angst an entire cadre of existentialists.

Odd, really, isn’t it?  I mean,  would you have thought that specifying a few bits and bobs of porcelain could drive someone utterly to distraction? Could bring on a fit of the conniptions? Several fits, if the truth be told.  No, and nor would I.  But, let me tell you, there has been every shade of pink and purple madness going on over this bathroom.  Not entirely sure why.  My commitment aversion, tubby sure,  but I also suspect it has something to do with the question of whether the Regency Wreck is essentially  masculine or feminine.  Call me fanciful if you will.  Actually, call you fanciful too, because most comments on this blog refer to the house as ‘she’.  Not he or it but she.  And your lovely comments have caused me to ponder.  Because though the house has a certain lightness to it, a certain airiness that comes with  Georgian proportions,  I have tended to think of it as gender neutral.  Androgynous. But it has been occurring to me of late that maybe the house sees itself differently.  (I did warn you, early in the blog, about anthropomorphising, so no apologies there).

My taste, it has to be said, is usually quite masculine.  I tend to prefer commercial designs to domestic because, probs,  I like a bit of drama. I like a bit of big.  I like straight lines, bold shapes and no nonsense.  This is a corner of my bathroom in the last house – a well behaved bathroom, I might add, allowing itself to be  decided on in a trice.  Black marine ply, even in the shower, grain alternating.  And it was a lovely bathroom to use –  all the fun of the fair in fact.  Apart that is, from having to…ahem… recoat and stain that damned shower every six months.  But anyway, we must suffer for our convictions.  We Calvanist types.

This new bathroom, it turns out, has not wanted to be decided upon and does not seem to wish to be masculine. Nor even gender neutral. In fact I think it has distinctly feminine yearnings, which is, I have to say, outside my comfort zone. Some time back when I was trying to grasp what it might look like one day, I detected a white and silver blur somewhere just at the periphery of my mind.  It was no more than a wisp, a fluff of cumulous; more suggestion than fact.  But for a mere suggestion it has proved to be an insistent little bugger, refusing to be ignored, drifting tantalisingly across the mental stage before vaporising again before I can take hold of it.

So how it all translated into reality has been the usual mix of serendipity, frustration, blind choices and that bloody stuff, spondoolicks.  We started with the bath.  The only stipulation was that it  had to be light (three floors to carry it up and tired old floors). That ruled out stone and composite stone.  Most tin baths I found were boring and I won’t have acrylic because I do believe a person should be free to tune the wind section of their band in the bath without the whole household – the whole street! – sharing in the joy.  Forgive me, but I’m English.

So anyway, a piece of shininess, similar to above, has been ordered. Then came the basin, which caused much thrashing about because those that I wanted (modern, sleek) did not speak the same language as the bath. Many introductions were tried and failed.  It got to feeling like a dating agency for fixtures and fittings.  In the end, a basin similar to the one below has been ordered.  Not my first (or second…) love because it’s a little too ‘period’, but at least it speaks to the bath in loving terms and I got it cheap. Or relatively so. Cheapness is becoming quite a factor in our decision making these days. Just call me The Bargain Hound.

And then recently I found this, which caused a swoon or two before breakfast:

After tunnelling down a few digital rabbit holes I managed to track down the printer, but alas! alack! my quest was doomed because the original source was unknown. But undeterred and with much cunning sleuthery (you can see how my days are spent) I have sourced my own original master residing in a gallery in the north of England.  An email has been duly dispatched to enquire whether they will oblige and we are currently dining on baited breath in our house.  Makan unging, as they say.

And if by chance I should fail to secure my swathe of silk, I have another plan up my sleeve, which is far easier to come by but costs approximately two arms and five legs.  There is also the question of whether I could bear to have all those pairs on binocs trained upon my bathing self.  But oh well, there’s always loo roll and scissors I suppose.

And on the Remington front, he is now almost restored to his original debonair self.   The knee is healing, the black velvet is growing back and although he has to go everywhere on the lead, he is quite jolly.  Thanks to everyone who expressed concern.  Here he is at the farm this week, recuperating.

And that, said Fred, is that…other than to report the blue and scarlet parrots eating seeds in the pouring rain just outside my window.  Oh, and the mail which has just this moment come in to say that yet more crumbling walls have been found which require..oddly enough…more monay!  I feel a post about penury coming on.  I’ll be writing it from the Debtors’ Gaol.  Please send provisions.

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!

Waving and drowning, both.

Posted in farm, Herberts with tags , , , , , on April 13, 2012 by pimpmybricks

Boxes boxes everywhere and not a place to think.

Whoever gave moving house top(ish) billing on the list of Stressful Life Events was not telling porkies. Not one word of one.  We are up to our ears in bubble wrap and cardboard.  The sound of brown packing tape has been ripping through the air for days. Every morning we rise prematurely,  strap on our crampons and clamber over mountains of things.  Things to be given, things to be felted, things to be decided upon.  Mssrs Vinnie and Smith – prepare thyselves gentlemen!  As we fold, wrap and seal we find ourselves questioning the sanity of what we are doing, but it is as if we are riding a juggernaut, unable to get off now.  Really, I think we are all a little mad with the stress.  You can maybe picture us – monosyllabic, snappish automata who, even when they fall into bed, cannot escape the Things To Be Done which loop, like bus rolls, endlessly around their minds.  That we are dismantling our home, the place we have stayed longer than any other, is a fact that we ignore by day but it comes bubbling up at night, as these things will.

You can probs tell we’re doing the packing ourselves,  and I would say, having done a topographical inventory of the boxes, that we are pretty long on wine and books.  Oh, and tupperware. Hello, my name is Pimp and I have an addiction to lidded kitchen containers.  However, plastic is no longer fantastic since I joined the food Moonies, which gives me a good reason, I suppose, for a cull (why hello Pyrex, you sexy thing!!).  Wine has also been off the list this last year, which is probably why we have nearly 300 bottles of the beautiful, incarnadine stuff all stoppered up, waiting for health to meander back over the horizon. (Mr P, he’s taken to the white).

Talking of wine, it was like getting re-acquainted with old friends when we took the bottles off their racks, and there were a couple of nice surprises nestled in amongst the Everyday Plonking Stuff.  A bottle of John Riddoch with his sober brown waistcoat on, now covered with a respectable layer of dust.  And a handful of Ebenezer shirazes.  Have you tried that stuff?   Enough to make you leap from your chair in excitement. Like setting a brass band off in your mouth! A subtle wine drinker I am not. None of your modulated, refined pinots. I like ‘em big, boofy and blasting.

But anyway – digressions!  But oh, who wants a dose of reality when both houses are looking so sad, the present one so denuded and the other so deconstructed. We went over the other night to show my brother, who is here from Singapore, and discovered that in my study we could see the moon and the stars beaming down on us.  And the dressing room has been pretty much en plein air recently (due to yet more rotted timbers –  a very fine class of termite preceded us), but that’s all nicely closed up now (as is my study).  The builder, bless ‘is ‘eart, has been working very long hours.

And so have we, in our cardboard hell, so at Mr P’s insistence we decamped for a few days up to where it is green and silent (except that it wasn’t, due to Easter lunacy, but that’s another story). And so we re-stocked our depleted chlorophyll reservoirs, and visited our various house-building fantasy sites (one of them is right there, on the smooth undulating green bit).  You know, for when we’ve done the Regency Wreck.  And for if we don’t move back to the UK.  Or set up that donkey reservoir in Marrakesh.  Or offer our services to volunteer agencies in India.  Or something.

The Herbs, below, riding in economy, Remington a bit too insouciant considering he was in disgrace for chasing a poor cow up hill and down dale.  Me bellowing myself hoarse from the sidelines. Just for funsies, Missus, honest (he said).  And he, a country boy to boot.  The world – what is it coming to?  Like the 1975 Nissan Patrol btw?  A fine beast, is Rusty.

The consolations of Spring.

Posted in Herberts with tags , , , , on October 14, 2011 by pimpmybricks

The Herbs and I are up at the farm for a deep chlorophyll soak and a spot of  the wide open solace which is so abundant here.  The idea was to get sleep for me and cavorting for them.  I forgot to factor in the fact of  Spring and arrived to find the amplifier turned up full on everything.  The days heave with the fanfare of new life and birds and reptiles and everything bellowing the joy of it all.   In the three weeks since I was last here the garden has gone from Winter-bare to out-of-hand fecund, the grass as high as a Remington’s eye, the jasmine galloping full-tilt towards world domination.

The nights are punctured by the enthusiasms of an over excited Master Willy Wagtail who sits in the magnolia outside my bedroom, practicing, like some small loved-up suitor, his four-note song.  Over and over.  And over.  All night.  Every night.  He is thus every year.   May he find himself a girlfriend, soon, please dear universe. His fellows of the same species take up the day space, swooping and diving, marching in with their brass bands and beating on their drums.  There are the Cackling Birds, the Vomit Birds, the Washboard Birds.  The Whompoo Fruit Doves (not a made-up name), altogether more stately fellows,  call in the early morning misty hours to one another from the strangler field in one field to the strangler fig in the next.  They remind me of that childhood rhyme “Two fat gentlemen met in the lane/ Bowed once, bowed twice and bowed once again”.

On my way to the bathroom last night I found this rather fetching gentleman on the floor  of Ms P’s room:

He was sitting very peaceably, minding his own business, but clearly grey polypropylene shag (remnant of the previous incumbents I hasten to add) was not going to be his ideal habitat.  And besides,  I didn’t particularly fancy treading on him in the night.  So with the aid of my trusty broom – I very much like frogs but not on a skin-to-skin basis – and with his impeccable manners intact, we managed to get him out of the front door and into the cool night.  Frogs are no strangers to the inside of this house but invariably one meets them in the Salon of Ease where doubtless they find the porcelain pan a delightfully cool, damp place to be.

There have been other adventures with carpet pythons, with escaped dogs and with a gang of heifers.  But this is, after all (at least putatively) a houseyhousey blog and besides, the adventure with the snake was too sad to relate.

So here instead is a picture of some viburnum flowers from the garden plonked into a vase in my kitchen. Doing their level best to cheer up Mr Moustaches. Which is somewhat of a Sisyphean task.

chez Herberts

Posted in Herberts on July 30, 2011 by pimpmybricks

As requested by M&A. 

I should explain that Danes have very short coats and dreadful temperature regulation. Because Mr Large has a certain tendency to steal and chew things when bored (terrible of me to mention it), he doesn’t get to sleep indoors.  Ms Elsie prefers not to for her own reasons anyway.  And up at the farm it does get significantly cold (hallelujah), so we bought them a house of their own on ebay.

One proud house owner. The other was too fidgety to stay still long enough to pose.

chickens, wordlessness, pictures and bridesmaids.

Posted in Derelict house, Dress-ups, Georgian houses, Herberts, Photo shoots, sandstone walls with tags , , on July 29, 2011 by pimpmybricks

A piece of chicken I ill-advisedly ate in Canberra has left me drained of words (and euphemisms). Instead, here are the pictures from July’s Issue of Country Style magazine, shot at the house.  Do you think the model looks a smidge grumpy?  They all seem to. Maybe it’s the dust and dirt and Hanging Ceilings of Babylon what does it.

The picture above was taken in what I HOPE will be the top floor bathroom.  I’m presently looking for baths anyway.  With my fingers crossed.

Taken (above) on the top floor landing.  That bunch of fake yellow orchids seems to have insinuated itself into most of the pictures.  Its friend was a birdless birdcage but that seems to have got lost. 

 On the stairs in front of the jungle lav.

Ditto.

Sometimes I feel destined for life as an eternal bridesmaid. You know, sidekick to the fab and the glam.

A while back I took my Linn Sondek into an audio shop for repair, and from the excited attention it received from the staff you’d have thought I’d taken in an ageing star of the silver screen.  It happens when I walk Remington, who also draws crowds like a (very unassuming) minor celebrity.  And recently we got a letter from a journalist on the Sydney Morning Herald, wondering whether we’d be willing to do a series of articles about our journey with the house. We would, I think.

Actually all the talk of bridesmaidism is disingenuous because I hate to the be the centre of attention.  To the point where, submitting to my mother’s desire for pictorial news when we moved here from London,  I used to don a vast feather hat for the videotapes.  I know, something I should have taken to my training analyst. So anyway, when we received a call from Grand Designs a while back, my heart skipped a fretful beat. Mr Pimp contacted them way back when, in the first flush of enthusiasm after the auction.  We didn’t hear and we didnt hear and we didn’t hear a bit more, and assumed they were not interested.  Then we forgot about them completely. Mr P is still keen, and Ms P is keen, which is fine, but they’re not HERE (or won’t be) and so it would be me left to rabbit on in front of the camera. Anathema!  Could I fish out my feather hat again, maybe?  A veil?

Remington is, as you can see, terribly excited by it all.

The Herberts at home.

Posted in Herberts with tags on March 31, 2011 by pimpmybricks

We took the Herberts (the dogs) to meet the new house today.  Specifically, to encounter the phenomenon of stairs.  Mayhem ensued.  At least there wasn’t any decor they could damage.

The rugs and chairs are preliminary little presents to the house.  Libations.  Declarations of intent.  The rug was from ebay – for sixty bucks an almost new wool Pakistani rug, hand-made, going cheap because, the ad said,  their cat chewed the binding on two edges.  It also said “Cat, now deceased”.  We did wonder.  The chairs, also Ebay, cost even less than the rug.

My usual photographic dunceness notwithstanding, it was hard to get a picture of Ella (aka Elsie) because she had ants in her pants. Both of the dogs are from the pound and we’re Elsie’s fifth home.  She comes with somewhat anty baggage.  Big Boy, though, he way too cool for baggage.  Or ants.

Big Boy aka Remington.