Archive for the Inspiration Category

Deck the halls with indecision

Posted in digressions, Dress-ups, Georgian houses, hallway, Inspiration, Renovation with tags , , , , on November 23, 2012 by pimpmybricks

Hola mis bellezas, mis peanut sellers and usherettes,

Firstly, a slight digression if I may (if indeed it’s possible to digress from what you haven’t yet begun).  A visit to my stats page recently revealed that someone arrived at this blog via, of all things in this vast and crazy universe, a search for “in my country we smoke lion fur”.  Not once, I hasten to add, but twice.  The mind fair boggles, so it does.  And to compound the mystery further, I could not see how that got them here because when I also typed the same thing into google it didn’t lead me home.  In fact it didn’t lead me anywhere in particular.  Which actually was a shame, because stress is currently so great on the house (and several other) fronts that I was hoping to find a bit of a ‘how to’ on smoking lion fur.  Maybe even a u tube video or two – you know, a sort of wildlife Mrs Beeton.  “Firstly,  trim the manes of two dozen lions…”   But maybe it’s not quite as strange as it first appears because we did, after all, as undergraduates, used to hang our old banana skins over radiators in the vain hope that they might produce datura-esque effects.  Alas, all it ever did was add to the squalor.  And what can I say in our defence?  – nothing, other than that we were all lost to Mr Ginsberg at the time.  Khaddish and all that.  I even used to wear an old 50s leather jacket which moaned and split every time I moved.

So anyway.  Let us begin. Recently we had a demand from the builder for all of the ceiling colours.  All of them! A bit of a surprise, I can tell you, because some rooms don’t even have ceilings.   But I hopped to it and by the skin of my teeth (and a leaking paint pot which erupted all over my hands as I was transporting it to the house) I made the delivery on time.  Cue scenes of builder and painters at the front door tapping their waiting toes, consulting their time pieces – you get the gist, minus a bit of hyperbole if you’re feeling pedantic.   All of which has served as a warning that wall colours might also be demanded with menaces at any unpredictable time and that I must, to put it bluntly, shift my arse accordingly.

Now I love colour.  Love it with a pash.  But my usual MO when choosing it is to take forever, pottering and pondering, doing little pigment mixings, taking note of how the light falls on it,  thinking for a month or two, having a crisis or three, and then finally deciding.  It ain’t gonna happen like that in this house.  We’ve paid for the house to be painted, and painted it will damned well be. But oh!  I deflate like an elderly balloon at the prospect of having to specify all that colour!  And all at once!  Because in so doing we’re back to that great imponderable – what ‘mood’ does the RW want to be captured in?  A rather plain and sober mood that shows off its beautiful classical proportions?  Something a little more Rococo and playful?   Something feminine?  Masculine? Eclectic?  Contemporary? Moody and dark?  Light and airy?  Egads, Sirrah, you do tax me most unfair.

A friend and I were talking recently and one thing we felt was that the house would not look good dressed all in unadorned white.  Not unless we had a vast collection of vast artworks, which, alas, we do not.  Without the vast artwork, we felt, it would be a little boring. Like someone left standing in their petticoats, awaiting the maid to dress them. So colour it must be!  But what?  And where? And how?  My friend suggested I gather together a palette of colours that I like, which all harmonise well. She is right, of course.  I know she is absolutely right, but I am dragging my little hooves to the task like that proverbial horse…  Instead I find myself concentrating on individual areas, hoping they will somehow all end up speaking to one another. Willy nilly and without any help from me. Never ask me to match-make your aunty, or do the seating arrangements for dinner parties. (Did you know, bee tee dubs, that some people do colour boards for their seasonal entertaining? I discovered this quite by chance recently and was aghast but unrepentant about my own failings).

So anyway anyway.  Back to business. My area du jour is the hallway and staircases.  Which are built to a large scale, but which, because we have the extra ‘wing’ at the back, lack light at the ground floor (though it is bright above). I have been playing housey dress-up and fished a few things out of the box.

Firstly, this is the hallway, to remind you.  Or rather, this is the hallway as was, before the builder set about it.  It now sports a bath, a mountain of wood and a very racy (actually mind bogglingly depressing) earlier colour scheme in death-by-yew green and dried blood:

and

Now then.  The sober mood. I have a great love for Farrow and Ball’s Elephant Breath, not only because of the name (and I must say that when in Zimbabwe and surrounded by elephants I didn’t so much notice the colour of their breath as their propensity to tiptoe.  Have you noticed that about them?):

In this sober mode, I’ve wondered about  adding a bit of Grisaille on the right hand wall as you come in, just up to the arch.  I’ve been out and about (digitally) visiting Zuber and de Gournay and the like, but a conversation about money yesterday (conversation would be the polite word for it anyway)  has seen me scuttling from their front doors like a mouse in plain worsted.  This, though, is a manageable version from G&W:

Or this from Cole and Son, but mucho more coconuts:

So that’s one option, and quite sober it is too.

However, my pink furnace is still burning away and I’m thinking possibly this, on the same wall:

but in this colour way, with splashes of a similar hue on various landings:

But having tipped my cap at pink,  I also have to say that a certain blue persistently tugs at me.  Tugs and tugs and won’t leave me alone. There is this, by Axel Vervoordt (stolen from a waiting room mag – you can still see the fold lines):

I like the broken quality of the colour and the way it wraps onto the ceilings.  There is also this:

and even this:

or a pale and interesting version (on seeing this was a pub in London I thought to hasten me back to Blighty where I could sit lose hours (weeks!) with my G&T in a narcotic blue haze):

On other days, however,  a bit of pattern seems to float the boat:

or this (but probs not):

and I positively love this, but wouldn’t do it (or would I?):

This one I pledged my troth to some years ago:

So how to choose?  Sober? Pink? Patterned? Blue?  All or none of the above?

And here are a few more miscellaneous hallways, just for good measure (and further confusion):

 

And before I go,  let me just slide in one last digression, which is slightly more admissible on a housey blog than lion fur and banana skins – I’ve had a few requests for progress shots of the Regency Wreck and they are imminent (honest),  but I am rusticating at the farm for a few days and hope (hope!  what an expensive commodity!) that vast swathes of tiling await my return, photos of which I will then plaster liberally all over t’t blog.

Toodlepip.

Red herrings en route to the Mercuridome.

Posted in Inspiration, Renovation, silver, Uncategorized with tags , , on October 20, 2012 by pimpmybricks

Greetings dearhearts.

I am on a mission!

Back in the days of yore, before we discovered the full extent of the Termite Inheritance, I fell in love with these doors and wanted them for the dressing room.

It was in that faraway time when when we were bathed by a sort of  pre-lapsarian innocence, believing that the budget would provide for everything.  It was before we realised just how bad the house was and how much of our money would go on re-building walls and floors and joists. You know, those things  they tell you are necessary.  Though me,  I’m not so sure.  Floors, I say? Surely all we need are wings, willpower and the merest dab of mousselline.

Since that heady time, my various houseyhousey passions have wandered their usual fickle paths, but to the mirror doors they have remained true.  So unusual is this, I must tell you, that I have been considering a proposal of marriage, or at the very least a long term arrangement.  But even  back then when the world was golden, an investigation into the  cost of antiqued mirror revealed a price that would have sagged the sails of even  the most intrepid retail voyageur.  It was quite bezonkers.  However, being of a ‘can do’ mentality (at least sometimes), I began, undeterred, to collect the hows and the whyfores to do it myself.

And it has taken me –ooo— the best part of a year to gather together  all the gubbins needed for  the alchemical transformation of  new mirror into ‘old’.  I tell you, it’s tough out there in the non-digital world! Mental, physical and temporal co-ordination don’t come easily.  Nothing like the instant gratification to be had at the end of a cursor!

But anyway,  eventually I got my arse into  (low) gear when we were at the farm and I was ill but not prostrate, and in need of a project.  So what follows is not a tutorial exactly, but a scruffy and ramshackle account of how to (and how not to) Do It.

Firstly, gather thy apparatus.  To wit, one pair of red and white polka dotted rubber gloves (colour and dots optional), one spray bottle, one bottle of hydrochloric acid, one tin of paint remover, sundry mirror tiles, and the requisite dollops of time and mental space. Oh, and a mask suitable for inhibiting fumes.  I hang my head hung in shame and admit that I omitted this item.  Or rather, that I tried using a face mask suitable for dust because it was to hand, found it (quelle surprise!) of no use and thereafter held my breath while doing fumey things.  This is why this is not a tutorial.

Proper blogs would have a picture of the equipment. I was in too much of a hurry. Here is a picture of the back of the mirror tile instead.

Secondly, don thy rubber gloves, take thy mirror tile, and consider its reverse side which will probably be coated with a grey plastic layer.  Smear said plastic liberally with paint stripper. And I do mean liberally.  At this juncture it’s advisable to go away and have a cup of tea, read a book, chase some cows or get on with another project.  Because along the same lines as watched kettles, mirror tiles are shy when undressing.  As for how long to drink your tea or read your book – this is a delicate equation that I didn’t manage entirely to crack.  Overnight was too long for my tiles – they came with a copper layer under the plastic layer which I found it best not to dislodge, bearing in mind I wanted a more subtle end result.  On the other hand, a quick cuppa and cursory flick through a mag was too short.  Let’s say – oh – two hours then.

Thirdly, take thy rubber scraper and dislodge the by-now softened plastic layer.  Go about this Gently Bentleyish.  Channel the spirit of a gentle breeze just caressing the tops of waves.  Do not even think of Bob the Builder.  It is less important to remove all of the plastic than it is to not  scratch the copper or reflective surface underneath.  Because, forsooth, those scratches will be visible on the final product.

Ask me how I know about the scratches.

Left hand tile demonstrating the hung-ho method, with most of its copper backing removed. Right hand tile demonstrating restraint.

Fourthly, wash thy mirror gently, and dry.  Treat it as you would a baby’s bottom, but without the talc. Then take thy spray bottle and make a 50/50 mixture of hydrochloric acid and water.  These measurements are  entirely haphazard, by the way; plucked from the ether.  Take a roller tray, or similar somesuch,  fill it with water and have it close by.

Fifthly, identify thy aesthetic and consult it whenever in danger of gung-ho-ness with the spray bottle. If you want a full-on look, give your tile a full-on spray.  If, like me, you prefer a gentle foxing, go at it as would a good butler, with restrained hand and circumspect manner.  Observe intently for any slight changes in the mirror backing – this may take less than a minute – and immediately submerge in your tray of goodly water. Those minute changes will grow and enlarge and may, if you are not quick enough, become a mutant mess that gobbles away all your backing until all you have left is plain glass.  It is easier to re-spray than it is to start again.  Naturally, this stage whizzed by so fast there was no time for photos.

Too much hung-ho, too much time, too little backing.

Sixthly, decide on thy backing colour.  This will be cover thy bare glass patches. Some  people slather the backs of their mirrors in black paint.   Some favour a melange of brassy, silver and other tones.  Me,  I tried silver and found it too pale.  In the absence of a handy spray can of darker silver in the shed I tried grey.  And what I will say unto you is Nah.  Not quite.

And this is the end result.

Looking positively distrait – in reality it was a little less so.

A little calmer, out in the grass.

Not as I would have wished, but passable.  A little uncouth for my liking.  A little short of finesse.  I did several experiments, rearranging the parameters each time and what I concluded was that the process is easy to do but hard to control. The hardest thing of all was taking photos of mirror without making a cameo appearance in it myself.  Even so, I can imagine making something like this:

But wait!  It doesn’t end there.

Because it seemed to me that no matter how proficient I became, the end result was never going to have a certain quality of softness that I was lusting after in the original picture.  So.  Cue more internet trawling, and what I discover I actually need is mercury glass.  The wherewithal for effecting such being readily available.

So, as they are so fond of saying, watch this space…

Weekend salvation

Posted in ceramics, digressions, farm, Inspiration with tags on August 9, 2012 by pimpmybricks

Hello hello! Lawdy, it’s been longer than I thought. Thank you very much for the ahemings and nudgings – it’s lovely and reassuring to know that I’m not blithering away entirely to myself.  Truly.  And actually I’ve thought about posting umpteen times recently, but the landscape around here has been too stress-sodden, too desolate to be worth relaying.  Any post I might have written would have been a litany of despondencies,  unspooling in long ribbons from here to the moon and half way back again.  Though actually, to talk in terms of ribbons is too smooth and silky-sounding when the texture of time has more resembled a mountain of rusty nuts and bolts –  a mountain that must be ascended, one bolt and one knee-breaking nut at a time.

But fear not! I do not come Ancient Marinerishly – I shall uphold (sort of) the fifth law of blogodynamics and not pin you to the wall with my litany of woes.  In any case, for anyone outside the tiny circle of involvement it’s all rather so whatish.  It’s the usual stuff – you know – builder being difficult, plumber being difficult, the contract that we get pressured to re-negotiate, the other contract that seems to have a large sum missing from it.  It’s being expected to pay for scaffolding when we no longer need it.  It’s the giant hoohaa-ery about exterior colours.  You know – that manner of thing. The kind of thing which wakes you in the middle of the night, which causes you to vow ‘never again’, which looms suddenly at you while you’re eating your breakfast and has you in a lather.  Stress!  And the trouble with stress, in my experience anyway,  is that it shrinks one’s world to a tiny claustrophobic chamber in which tap fittings and floor tiles loom vastly, and you become some distracted Alice in her not-so-wondrous-wonderland, tussling to get them back to size, the buggers.

And stress makes you behave badly.  Or at least rudely.  And sleep like a lunatic. And become tired.  And therefore behave even more badly.  Or at least rudely.  And maybe turn to drink or other noxious solutions. (Having just picked out all the good nuts from the nut packet, I suggested to Mr Pimp that we had peanuts and G&Ts for supper.  He thought I was joking. But you mark my words – tomorrow he’ll suggest his own variant).

So anyway, to upkeep my undertaking to the fifth law of etceteras, I give you some things which are keeping the boat semi-sane and bobbing at the moment.

I give you the fifty hyacinth bulbs Mr Pimperwonderful bought and planted in staggered lots so they could bloom over us all through our Period of Need.  I should confess that I  completely  and utterly adore hyacinths.  The colour of them.  The smell.  I could live in a hyacinth-induced swoon all my days.

I give you the dining room floor, now (almost) dressed once more with its sandstone flooring.

I give you these glass mosaics, with which I am having a delirious, shiny interlude.

I give you Hans Coper with whom (or with pictures of whose pots) I spent a surprisingly ecstatic morning.  Simplification of form – I am convinced it’s where it’s at.

But mostly, dear Ladles and Jellyspoons, I give you Salvation by Calf. And this is how it happened.  We were stressed.   We were unhappy.  We did what we always do at such times.  We went to the farm for a spot of rustication, a top up of chlorophyll. A little rose pruning is what we envisaged, a little bad-potting. A lot of nothing very much at all.  And what did we do instead?  Life saving is what!   Think, if you would, tiny calf with paralysis ticks. Think sleepless nights with a sick baby. Think nail baiting will-he-or-won’t-he suspense. Think injections, dried colostrum and conflicting advice. Think midnight trysts by lamplight on straw bales with bottles of milk. Think anxious mother hovering, shiver-me-timbers cold, plumes of huff.  Think flooding relief when finally, FINALLY! the teat is chewed and then sucked, noisily, by the hairy little beast, streams of milk flooding down his coat.  Think Mr Pimp holding  a bib of straw beneath his determined little chin so that the spilled milk doesn’t freeze on him over night. Think the first thought you have in the morning being the calf, the last before you drop off.  Think jealous Remingtons and anxious Miss Elsies bellowing at you over the fields. And then you’d have the gist of our weekend.

We found him like this, almost dead, on his way to total paralysis:

 Mr P scooped him up to take him where we could look after him, bringing on the wrath of his mother Molly and the Grand Matriarch of the herd, Miss Black (a scary thing):

The vet shaved his neck to check for more ticks.  He looked somewhat like a ponderous tortoise thereafter:

Finally, finally on his tottering feet again:

On the last morning, a day later than we were planning to leave, we were able to open the gate and let them both out, Molly to show off her baby (for the second time) and he, to his second shot at life as a tenured lawn mower.  I hope they don’t tease him about his neck.

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.

A little of what you fancies

Posted in Inspiration, Renovation with tags , , , on December 29, 2011 by pimpmybricks

Every so often a colour will cruise alongside me for a while, and then accost, assault and mug me.  It will take up residence  and refuse to budge until something (who knows what) has been worked through.Some years ago it was ultramarine blue.  You know the one I mean – that saturated, dense colour which is only itself and nothing else.  It seemed to de-laminate from the internal murk and rise slowly to the surface until it had lodged itself behind my retina.  It needed to be mirrored by objects in the external world.  I sought it out everywhere, looking for it out of the corner of my eye, restless until I found it.  I bought little bits of it to strew about the place – dishes, glasses, plates.  But that wasn’t enough and so I painted a room in it (well, actually two) and it was a strange thing -the walls seemed to pack flat and fall clean away into space so that I found myself sitting in some humming, velvety place in the upper firmament.

From Annie Sloane's Colour in Decoration.

And then it all died away and left me in peace.  When I see the colour now – in bits of detritus from that time, a chipped bowl, a stained dish – I look sideways at it with oblique glances, the way people look at past lovers.

And then for a few years there were no grand passions.  There was (and still is) black and all its attendant courtiers.  Bathrooms, studies and bedrooms have worn ebony, charcoal and blackberry garb, but those are undemanding, calming colours and so it has been more of a peaceful co-habitation than  a full-scale invasion.

But recently a surprising development has been taking shape. Pink – a soft powdery pink, a thing of no outline, no more than a murmur  or a haze really – this has been creeping up on me steathily, like a cat with buttered paws. It thinks I haven’t noticed, but I have. My eyes seek it out and when I find it I am soothed by it, as if it brushes my internal organs softly, in a downwards motion. If you knew me away from this blog you would know how distinctly un-pink I am, but there it is.  We don’t seem able to choose our invaders, but I am sure we can get something from them.

So anyway I’m putting it here, a flag in the sand, so that when I return from my travels I’ll find it and be oriented (or maybe not, but I hope so).   I can see it in the Regency Wreck – in the first floor room, a gesture of something other in a plain grey room.  A powdered brush maybe, in the hand of a Quaker.  A rustle  of silk.  A blush of the fanciful (does you good).

(I do, for once, have the references for these last three pictures, but I’m buggered if I can find them.  Underneath the suitcases, lists of instructions to Ms Pimp, dogs-who-sense-something-is-afoot, passports, thermal underwear, trousers which need mending, cameras which need charging, canvases which need painting, books which need writing, camels which need watering, rivers which need fording, houses which need building, and elephants which need grooming. Ets which need cettering.  So I will post at some later, calmer date).

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.

Dem bones

Posted in ceramics, Inspiration with tags , , , , , on November 5, 2011 by pimpmybricks

In my quest for ever more esculent ceramic work I came across this duo today – an English and a Dutch designer who met at The Royal College of Art in London. They call themselves Glithero, which I wish they hadn’t, because it’s somehow a dissonant word.   Not sure what I’d call them – artists/designers/performance artists?  They make chandeliers from wax, flammable paint installations, candles made by a serenely beautiful ceiling mechanism that lowers wick into molten wax.  They say of themselves that they aim ” to capture and present the beauty in the moment things are made” and if you visit their website you’ll see what they mean.

My favourite thing of all is their cyan ware – an ancient Dutch/English technique which allows them to imprint the silhouettes of weeds found in central london on ceramic pieces.

Or see here – a vimeo clip of them making a blue ware vase.  Oddly beautiful. And the circular and rather strange piece of music melted my bones and poured them, molten, into a dreaming pool.

Of collapses and corners.

Posted in Derelict house, Georgian houses, Inspiration, kitchen, Renovation with tags , , , on November 3, 2011 by pimpmybricks

We’ve been in a floundering pool here, plunging up and down between hope and despair –  Mr Pimp’s salt mine having gone suddenly, shockingly and spectacularly belly up last week.  No warning, no forecast, no prognostications of doom. One minute the company was fine, the next it was gone. One minute we were trotting along, the next we were two cartoon people, the ground gone beneath our feet, frantically pedaling thin air. A thing of perception and rumour, the corporate world.  No more, really, than a house of cards.

The phones between here and there have been ringing red hot. First there was no hope, then there was some, then none again, then a tad, a sliver, a wraith.  Then none whatsoever, for ever, without hindrance or let up.  In the end the receivers were called in and that seemed so final we expected him back any minute, home again, home again, jiggedy jig.  Now he’s staying there a month.  Then, who knows – there are rumours this morning (more rumours!) that someone might buy this dead company, wind it up and set it skittering across the table top again.

So where does (what’s left of) my mind go for solace in the middle of all this lunacy?  Why, to sculleries of course!  Not sculleries as they have become in modern parlance – pantries, or laundries, or even just kitchens by another name – but those shadowed shivery hidey holes where you stuff your scullery maid or channel your own, buried under mountains of greasy pans and potato peelings and plucked feathers.  Me,  I am an inconvenient mix of the house-proud and the slattern, and love the idea of a sequestered ante-chamber where grungy goings-on can poked away.

In my trawlings I found these, and felt that funny house-love/longing/lust/acquisitiveness.  It’s those half-glassed walls that do it for me.  Secret and not secret at the same time.  Revealed and enclosed…this begins to sound a bit kinkay.

This is Plain English’s Osea Kitchen (though theirs looks to be more of a laundry.  Socks – stylists own):

And this is a house on the market in London: I am trying to decide how it would actually, practically work, to have to go into another room to wash pots etc.  Whether it would be practical, really, when it came down to it.  And whether I could do it without losing my beloved stone arch as entrance into the kitchen, complete with steel and glass pivoting door.  Picture of which I would post but for the fact that my new Mac had a fit of conniptions last night and is now withholding pictures.  It never raineth but it poureth.  Time for a stiff gin and a lie down.

The Iceman Cometh…

Posted in Derelict house, Dress-ups, Georgian houses, Inspiration, Renovation with tags , , on August 17, 2011 by pimpmybricks

…or less pretentiously and more accurately, the Heritage Officer doth.  Tomorrow morning at nine o’ clock, actually. On the dot.  Be there or be square.  This has come about because we rang her,  or rather Mr Pimpernel rang her, the phone being an instrument of torture to me.  We wanted  to remind her of our small existence during Esteemed Architect’s month long absence.  You know, in the hope that our Section 60 might not grow mould or silverfish or strange species of flora in the interim.  And her response was that she’d like to come and see what we’re proposing, in situ.  Quite a reasonable request, really.

This is not, btw, the same Heritage Officer as the one who came to the last meeting.  In fact nothing is known of this new one, other than that she sounds about fifteen years old.  So I feel oddly optimistic and rather clean-slatish about it all,  but we shall see.   I still have my private promise to the house that I will eat my hat if things go well.  And I’d rather not.  I don’t think straw or feathers are legal on the eating protocol.

And this surprise visit does at least bring the house to the forefront of my mind again, having slipped a bit into obscurity, so boring and so deathly silent is the planning process.   And at the forefront of my mind it became festooned with yardages of books which in turn sent me scurrying to my picture files for images of libraries.

The room at the front of the house at street level has been designated the book room. 

In my mind for a while it has looked a little like this, but everything is subject to change.

Maybe a smidge darker, like this.

This next one I love and cannot have but as long as I can have all my books it won’t matter too much.  What will Ms Pimp’s generation do for libraries?  Line all their kindles up by colour?  I can’t imagine, being myself of that species who never, ever parts with a book.  Once, I spent six months calumphing around India and sent all my books, when I’d read them, back to the UK.  Still got them.  Natch.  (Salman Rushie makes much more sense, somehow, when you read him in India).   Of course there are a few books, such as anything by Margaret Drabble and a book I read recently, which are so enraging that they have to be thrown around the room (to teach them a lesson) and then dumped with great ceremony into the rubbish bin. But ANYWAY.  Goodness.  The room:

I rather like the look of the trend to order books by colour in much the same way that I like rows of paint samples.  But it would never do for someone who has to have all their books in roughly alphabetical order so that they can, on a whim, suddenly grab one and rummage through it because as a matter of life and death  it is necessary to know how something or other was expressed by someone or other:

 This (only messier) is more how they generally look in my house – like a great tide of paper, forever edging outwards:

Mr P has his bedside drawers stuffed to the gills with books.  I have mine in a leaning tower next to me.  Death by novel.  Forgive me.

A few more

At the moment I’m venturing into the new book by Sebastian Barry.  The translucent beauty of his words. Wasted a bit on me at the moment, if I’m honest, going as I am through some Granny Grunt phase and wanting only the literary equivalent of crumpets and log fires.  Do other people have such phases?

 So anyway, I’m in the rather strange position of wishing that tomorrow comes and finds me chewing my way solemnly through straw or felt.  She’d have to agree to the upstairs bathroom for that, however.  Maybe I should hobble a bit?

Once upon a maybe time.

Posted in Georgian houses, Inspiration with tags , , , on August 10, 2011 by pimpmybricks

As bloggers go, it transpires, I’m of the slack tart variety.  Lots of mitigations, of course – our house plans disappearing into the black maw of Heritage, the architect on holiday for a month, the editing of my friend’s Phd thesis, the acquisition of a new potter’s wheel on which to make my lumpen creations ( but which doesn’t work – woe!). And last but most – health.

But no-one likes excuses.

So…

Another confession.

For someone who’s taken on a ‘heritage’ house, I’m not really much of a history fan.

Not in the sense of chronology, anyway.  My idea of a good history book is G K Chesterton’s, which very endearingly hasn’t got a single date.  I remember in a history exam a lifetime ago I had the WW1 starting in 1939.  I like to think that was nerves rather than egregious stupidity.  Please don’t pop my bubble.

Nor am I much for all that begetting business of history either. I can’t even seem to quite get my mind around the concept of second cousins and so for the complexities of ‘twice removed’ and ‘by marriage’, I lean heavily on Mr Pimp. ( He having voluntarily dived into the plungepool of genealogy and emerged victorious with a structure quite incomprehensible to me, other than that it resembles a rudimentary mobile .  Or a multi-tiered clothes hanging device. So naturally I didn’t do well in exam questions about kings and queens of England either.  You learn to live with disability. )

But I do like a story.  Especially one knitted from fancy, happenstance and conjecture. A story so full of gaps you can shape it to fit your own whimsy.  There is, of course, such a story about the house.

It goes like this… Once upon a nineteenth century time John Flavelle, an Irishman, and his wife Mary begat several children amongst whose number was another John Flavelle.  See my confusion? And in turn this younger John Flavelle travelled from Dublin to Australia and eventually, with his wife Catherine, begat about ten children of their own.  He also begat, in another way of begetting, the house in the centre of Sydney which we, the deranged Pimps, have recently acquired.

But before all that begetting business and even before that wonderful collapsing portico was a twinkle in his eye, he went to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) to work as assistant to George Baron Goodman, who brought his daguerreotype apparatus to Australia, (reputedly the first), made his subjects endure half a minute of sweltering heat, and charged them a guinea for the likeness.  Our man John, was a trained optician and therefore, I suppose, knowledgeable about lenses.

It was on one of Goodman’s two visits to Tasmania that he (maybe) took this photograph:

It shows the tabacco store of Ikey Solomon, who was Hobart’s ‘principal crook’. But before arriving in Hobart, Ikey Solomon had been London’s ‘King of Thieves’, training a gang of boys to pick pockets for him.  He is thought to have been the inspiration for Dickens’ Fagin in Oliver Twist.

So there you have it.  A picture taken of  a tobacconist’s shop in Hobart around the middle of the nineteenth century, maybe taken by GB Goodman who was maybe assisted by John Flavelle, builder of The House.  In the doorway of the shop stands a man who was maybe Ikey Solomon, who himself was maybe the inspiration for Fagin.  That’s the type of history I love – black and white, all plain and clear.