Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Posting from the interstice.

Posted in Great Danes, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 9, 2013 by pimpmybricks

Yodel Doodle Ladies and Gents

There hasn’t been a ceramics post in a long while on the blog.  Now seems a good time to remedy that, while all things Regency Wreckish are slumped in a bit of a waiting ditch and marking time until the wind shifts and brings change.  I find this clip quite beautiful and magical, for all its ear extensions, bike stands and doing of things one just doesn’t do.  The music sends me into a bit of a swoon and the film making is lovely.

See it here Moire

Neither have the Herberts been receiving their rightful allotted fifteen minutes worth, so let’s put that to rights too.  Or at least let’s give Remington his go, since Miss Elsie is still too harem scarem to stand still long enough to have her photo taken.  First, though, let me introduce you to The Ralph, Rems’ younger brother in all but genes and geography.  Here he is in a park in London, handsome and sleek as a seal:

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The last couple of times we’ve been back in London I’ve been able to assuage my Remington withdrawals by fondling another Great Dane’s ears, Danes being great natural schmoozers and all.  The truly wonderful thing about Ralph is that he comes fully equipped with two people whom I met through the blog (one of the very best things to come out of it), and about whom all I shall say is that they are both utterly delicious and live in an utterly delicious house in Spitalfields.

And I was so taken with Ralph’s beautiful orange collar (and so taken by the colour orange in general), that I took myself off to Harrods and bought Mr Big something a little similar of his own.  (I then went to Istanbul on the way home and treated myself to a bright orange bag so that when we’re off shopping together, we do look a little….shall we say…accessorised.  But neither of us is particularly fussed about that):

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Miss Elsie, who prefers pink, in a rare moment of repose:
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And perhaps, having mentioned Istanbul, I’ll end this somewhat mishmash post with a couple of rugs we fell in love with while we were there, but which, at $12,000 a pop, we were obliged to leave behind.  The first two are samples of a new (to me at any rate) deconstructed design.  We’re seeing them pop up more and more here in Uh Straya at what I believe they call ‘high end’ outlets.  Interestingly enough, the prices here are comparable to the prices there, a symptom, maybe, of America having banned the import of Persian carpets, and the price of Turkish pieces shooting up accordingly.  Either way, these were beautiful carpets, silk on cotton, but I suspect that they, like the patched and over-dyed rugs, will date quite quickly:

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Below we have the old Pimperstich, fingering an eye-wateringly beautiful Memluk.  Oh, the conversations we had over mint tea about whether we should or shouldn’t, could or couldn’t.   Until we eventually decided that we shouldn’t and couldn’t.  And didn’t. But oh, woe.  We were still revisiting the whole thing at the airport! Actually, one main reason we didn’t, apart from, you know, the old spondoolicks, was that we have nowhere to put it.  These rugs don’t just lie there quietly and think of Turkey, they are voluble, loquacious personalities and they demand attention.  I don’t think I’ve outed Mr P before, but he has what might politely be termed a bit of a carpet fetish.  At the farm we have a 60 foot shed and in that shed we have a rather embarrassingly large number of carpets that positively insisted on being bought, only to arrive and find there was no (immediate) home for them. Another thing about fetishes I didn’t know, and maybe you don’t either, is that they’re contagious.  Really!  I didn’t used to have one for carpets, but as surely as eggs is eggs, I do now.  And doors.  But that’s another story.  Anyway, the Memluk:

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I’m thinking just a few photos of Istanbul, outside of the carpet shops, where we did on occasion manage to drag ourselves.  I hesitate to post too many because it was rather an embarrassingly long time ago, but I take heart from Blogland being a place where the mountains of time are levelled into a horizon of the perpetual present.  So, the Spice Market, where I discovered, to my absolute joy, that I could buy Amber in liquid form (and only aficionados of Istanbul and Marrakesh will recognise that I smell of moth repellent):

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And the Hagia Sophia, because how could I not include that? When Mr P told me it was built in 500AD I thought he had his figures wrong, and had casually left out ten centuries.  Because, you know, being English, I’m used to old places being from about the 15th century.  But actually, he was absolutely correct.  As he often is, for the record.

Istabul was a funny old place.  I had not managed to hear one word said against it before we arrived.  And yet it took time to captivate us.  It was a vast, working city which didn’t just crack open and fall into two neat halves, for the digestive convenience of its visitors.  You had to work at it a bit.  You had to get beneath the blare and the noise and the crowds.  And when you did, then you realised (or I did), that you were somewhere really rather ancient and really rather unlike anywhere you’d been before.  Because there is the modern city which overlays the Ottoman city, which overlays the Byzantine city, which in turn overlays the Roman city.   Much in the way of a vast, urban layer cake, it seemed to me. And there was a very definite three-dimensional sense of this too – go through the basements of some old houses and you’ll find yourselves wandering ancient streets down there.  We visited some astonishing Roman mosaic pavements.  There was always a sense that if you dug down just a little, you’d literally be digging through the centuries.  Anyway, enough waffling.  The Hagia Sophia:

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I was extremely taken with these lights.  Actually, I was madly plotting how they could be re-imagined in porcelain.  Because if you stand still for more than thirty seconds in front of me these days I’ll be re-imagining you in porcelain too:

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There are many more, but considering I only stopped by to post the ceramics clip, I’ve bumbled on for long enough.  And so I’ll leave you, Mrs Woodentop in her dressing gown still, with Spotty Dog at her feet twitching and whimpering in one of those impenetrable doggy dreams. Adieu!  There will be house happenings soon.

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.

Half of a postcard from Londinium.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 11, 2013 by pimpmybricks

Hola  mi gente encantadora, mi beach umbrellas, mi leetle bicyclettes.

Now firstly, I should warn you that if you’re not feeling disposed for a bit of glump, you might want to leap over the next paragraph and  land safely on the second, where you’ll find a pink velvet sofa waiting to break your fall.   And if you are so disposed, I just need to break that cardinal rule of Blogland –  Stay Positive or Stay Silent – for a brief moment.

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Because a couple of days ago I came to my machine to write a post to say goodbye and shut down the blog, since all things Regency Wreck are so mired in pessimism and so swathed about with gloom that frankly it’s hard to write about anything in a positive light.    The Battle continues on, roaring then whimpering then roaring again.

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But anyway,  instead of writing that post, I overdosed on cashew nuts, clambered out of my black hole, had a little rummage in my mental pockets and found a tattered postcard from London lurking.  You know, from the trip in April.  How long ago that feels!  Lawdy.  We had only a few days there, but it was the usual emotional homecoming (for me, anyway), the usual slug to the gut walking around my old stamping ground.  I always feel tearful when I first arrive in London.  It’s the tearfulness of returning to a place where your heart is (or a large chunk of it), but not your life.  The city which you have not moved on from but which has moved on from you.  The happily married ex.  You know, all of  that.  And after I’d got over that, we spent our time cantering around the streets like the demented offspring of Mammon, ogling light fittings, sofas, paint colours, dog collars, bits of art. It’s a strange way of being at the moment – swanning around like Lady (Sch)Muck, ordering kitchens and sofas and the like, while on the other side of the mental curtain there are scenes from Dante’s Inferno going on.  And it’s perverse in the extreme, I know, to source from the other side of the world, but there you are.  You can take the Pimp out of London but you can’t take London out of  Pimp.  And anyway, it’s cheaper over there.

So sofas. We are in need of two.  One for the living room, the have-a-cup-of-tea-or-a-glass-(several)-of-wine room, and one for the library/telly room.  One  moderately upright and one supine.  Or maybe both supine, depending on the bevies and the hour.

And I’ve learned an important lesson (not exactly one of life’s big existential lessons, but important within the context), which is to not buy sofas you haven’t first sat on. I’d been having a little online fling with Mr Matthew Hilton for some time before we went.  His lines appealed to my contemporary-meets-traditional notion of the Regency Wreck.  I felt sure I’d be ordering a Lucas

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or an Oscar

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or a Sissinghurst, for a dash of mid century

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But when we espied them in Liberty and lowered our eager frames into their depths, there was what I can only describe as a back-to-bum-interface-situation- situation, the back being hard and the seat soft.  Or was it the other way around?  Either way, the sofas weren’t as we imagined.  Though having said that,  had we left our bottoms there a little longer, we would have discovered, as we did at the house of friends with a Mr Hilton, that the seats mould themselves around the sitter rather oomphily, given a minute or two.  However, by that time Mr P had struck up a little something with this, also spotted at Liberty, and so we ordered one.

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And yes, I’m sticking to my resolve and having it covered in pale pink velvet (though  my heart has roamed onto orange, and mutinous thoughts are twitching in my mind, but too late, too late!).  And incidentally, I’ve lived all these millennia without knowing what a tuxedo sofa is, or even that there was such a designation (which obviously explains that slight sense of there being something missing in life).  I’m perfectly sure that you knew a tuxedo sofa was one where the arms and back were the same height, but I did not.

Which leaves the library sofa still to go.  We were at the end of a particularly tiring morning when we staggered out of the lift in Heal’s to fall almost immediately into the arms of this little number by the Italian company Contempo

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Like me, it doesn’t photograph well – you can’t see its beautiful copper coloured frame, for instance.  Nor can a photo deliver the feeling of falling into a perfect Victoria sponge – neither too springy nor too soft – and lying there, blissed out, amidst the strawberry jam. It was, I tell you, the one.  Sofa home.  Superlative supine.  The only plobs being that there are only two suppliers of Contempo in UhStraya, one of whom simply can’t be arsed, the other of whom is wonderful but in Perth. Which might as well be a couple of countries away. And even wonderful can’t get me samples in under a month, and then there’s the four month waiting period after that and the usual situation of Australian prices being over twice those of Europe.  Why don’t I just go down the road and get something lovely from Mr Somebody?  Well, because.  (I once had a dream about there being two paths across a mountain I needed to cross – one straight around the base and another meandering all over – precipitous, vertiginous, overgrown and given to avalanches.  You can guess the rest).

Anyway, that’s enough of sofas.  There’s another half to the tattered postcard but I must up, up and away to Potty Training, so I will have to find a stamp and mail that other bit later. Laters, potaters.

The fool’s waltz – one step forward, two steps…

Posted in Georgian houses, Renovation, sandstone walls, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 20, 2013 by pimpmybricks

Well hello there campers.  Long time, no thingummies.

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(Please take as read the by-now standard apology for time elapsing, general slack tartishness and various assorted etceteras).

Actually, in fact, I had intended to write a post during our five week extravaganza to the UK, but we went at such a fast clop here, there and everywhere, ordering sofas, gathering paint samples and (most importantly) organising retirement homes, that I had hardly a second to sit at my machine.

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In order to cope with the stress and the sheer wall of anger generated by house issues, our response has been, as far as possible, to pretend that the Regency Wreck doesn’t actually exist.  Instead, we have tiptoed, hand in hand, into the realm of fantasy.

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Not  that nice, safe, unattainable variety of fantasy, mind you,  but the sort that has a margin of realism, something that might actually be pulled off by those with stunning reserves of masochism, goodly sets of blinkers and at least one very impulsive adventure seeker (that would be me, the sort of adventure seeker who always forgets that adventures are hard.  Incidentally, on hearing my (abbreviated) litany of woes, someone at potty training last week reminded me that I was even so lucky to be in my position.  And, of course, she was absolutely right.  I think the mistake is in expecting luck to always feel pleasurable).

In any case, the bummer of it all is that our bolt into fantasy still involves houses!  Do you see what I mean by masochism? Is there no escape? Were we terrible destroyers of houses in other lives who have been set the task of making amends in this life?  It’s bonkers, I tell you, and I watch aghast as we keep on doing the same thing, but keep on we do.

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So this little jaunt into fantasy – it started as a throwaway line.  The best and the worst things always seem to start with throwaway lines, don’t they?  Some friends told us that a house in the Somerset countryside which we know well, which we used to walk past yearningly, had finally come onto the market.  This was the house we dreamed about buying when we were properly grown up. It was the house we asked our friends about every year when we visited – had they heard anything about it, had it come on the market yet?

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And now it was footloose and fancy free and seeking a dalliance with new people.  Excuse me, all potential buyers – but that would be us.  Begone, you scurvy knaves, get thee hence!

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There are complications though. Always with the complications! One, a mere bagatelle, being the mountain of money it would take to secure this house.  We would have to sell almost everything (including that house which will never be finished).  We would have to go cantering over there quam celerrime.  It would take upheaval of the most blithering variety.  The Regency Wreck in comparison?  Would be a doddle.  A waltz in the proverbial park.  But why let that stand in the way?

And while we were at it, drooling over our old love, we had a little look at other houses in the same area.  They got bigger and madder the further we looked.  We rediscovered our old fantasy of doing up a vast old wreck and running it as a hotel.  If I tell you we got down to what we’d serve for breakfast and the fact that I’d need a studio to make the crockery, you’ll see how far gone we are.  If you’re going to be sick, I tell you, be properly so.

There was this one, which utterly smote my heart:

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But it’s near a busy road and the whole village can peer into your windows.  But even so, look:

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and

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And then there was this little tootsie, which is already a hotel.  In need of, of course, dosh and love.  And, oh em gee, new bathrooms:

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and

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The problem with that one is that there’s a car breakers yard just over the hedge.  So then we found another, this one already a hotel and one which Mr P has the  decided hots for (me less so – it’s a tad masculine):

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A grade 1 medieval number in need of a bit of colour and oomph

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But alas alackikins, this one sits in the grounds of an agriculture college and has no land.

And there are more.

But I am off for supper.  I’ll be back in short order with pictures of the sofas ordered, rugs ogled and that sort of thing.  Tooraloo.

Of visitations and kitchen islands.

Posted in Georgian houses, kitchen, Renovation, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 31, 2013 by pimpmybricks

In just over 6 hours Mr P and I will be toddling off to the UK, for the visitation of parents (and the buying of sofas).  Lawdy.  All the manifold house balls hovering precariously in the air  will somehow have to be brought in to land before then. The current crises (colour for the stairs, treatment for the floors) will have to be parked on little piles of crossed fingers in the hope that they’ll magically resolve themselves while we’re away.

Our run up to departure has been an interesting one.  You know, interesting in the manner of the Chinese proverb.

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Mr P’s car has developed a mysterious, and possibly fatal, illness.   Yesterday, while bailing out his old wooden boat, which was sinking, Mr Pimp managed also to drown his phone.  While he was busy drowning his phone, his tender slipped its tether and bobbed off down the harbour, leaving him stranded.  When he got home, his new computer blew up. Miss P developed a stomach bug.  And I sprained my ankle on those lovely flagstones in the basement and am hobbling round now like a cartoon crone with one ankle the size of a small watermelon. But you know what? There’s something almost relieving when the outside universe so closely mirrors the chaos of the internal.  It renders it all quite funny, in a perverse sort of way.  You just set your course and steer straight ahead.  Battle on girls, battle on.

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I don’t know about you, but when I’m a tad overwhelmed by things that need resolving, my mind tends to scuttle into one small corner of the chaos and concentrate on that.  The corner du jour (du? de? Oh, who knows or cares?!) is the question of what colour to paint the kitchen island.  Sadly, we’ve had to jettison my plans for a bronze island – rapidly diminishing piles of moolah for one thing, and for another the big black steel doors who commanded me not to introduce anything else dramatic into that space.  And so it is this question of kitchen islands which comes in a rescue boat at 3 in the morning when I’m stranded on my island of wakeful lunacy and steers me off to saner waters.  Though having said that, I’m contemplating pink. Is that utterly bonkers barmy, do you think?

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So anyway, off we toddle in a few short hours.  To say we’re unprepared for the trip is an understatement – packing so far is a pile of clothes plucked distractedly from their hangers and dumped unceremoniously on a chest of drawers.  I do, however, know the whereabouts of my passport this time.  Someone asked me to let them know in a post whether I found it, and if so where.  So for the record,  I did indeed find it (or rather, the redoubtable Mr Pimp did).  At the farm.  In, of all places, a filing cabinet.  A filing cabinet!  Who in their right minds would keep a passport in such an obvious place?  Mine should have been in the glove drawer where it’s always been.

I’m hearing tales of frigid weather awaiting us in the UK and (apologies to all who’ve had a long hard Winter there) I’m relishing it with utter glee.  Snow?  Oh, yes please.  Rain?  Pure bliss.  I can’t tell you how much I love English weather, especially the rain.  This poem by Hone Tuwhare gets pretty close to explaining why

Rain

I can hear you
making small holes
in the silence
rain

If I were deaf
the pores of my skin
would open to you
and shut

And I
should know you
by the lick of you
if I were blind

the something
special smell of you
when the sun cakes
the ground

the steady
drum-roll sound
you make
when the wind drops

But if I
should not hear
smell or feel or see
you

you would still
define me
disperse me
wash over me
rain

Hone Tuwhare 1922-2008

(found on http://likeafieldmouse.com)

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Tooraloo.

Of walls and Herberts.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 24, 2013 by pimpmybricks

Hola mis damas, mis caballeros, mis little castanets.

Oy vey.  As far as silences go, this one has been an absolute doozie.  Not only did I plunge headfirst off the blogging horse but said horse got so tired of waiting it pottered off to livelier pastures, raised a family, opened an organic oats business and then retired.  And so here I am, mountless.  But, you know, bisons is bisons and tradition is tradition and if I started too many posts without the statutory apols for slack tartishness, you’d think you too had wandered off to some other, more organised blog.  So, dear Ladles and Jellyspoons all – (if there is, indeed, anyone out there still with half a cocked ear) – I bid you good morrow.

And the reason for my muteness?  For one thing I’ve started back at what it amuses Ms Pimperletta to call my ‘potty training’.(http://northernbeachesceramics.wordpress.com/). So there you will find me from Monday to Wednesday, having a lovely old time making oddly gonadal shapes out of porcelain. You’ll also find me engrossed on many a night, strung like a looney between the twin swaying poles of dusk and dawn, wide awake and watching as images of  clay go flowing in plastic glory across the  night stage, and off into the flaring dark. You could call me obsessed. I am, for the nonce, much engrossed by the oddly sexual qualities of orchids, and am trying to render them in porcelain as fine and as translucent as my bumble-fingered skills allow. Let me show you what I mean:

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And this, which reminds me somehow of monks at prayer, piety verging on the disconsolate:

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And from Thursday to Sunday?  There is the house. Natch.  The dear old Regency Wreck. On the subject of which a little caveat, because there follows a short rant, so for those averse to such things, please avert your tender eyes now. Because I have to tell you – we are almost dunfer!  We realised recently that it’s over two years since we bought the house and still there is no moving in date.  In fact we have stopped thinking of moving in at all – it saves on the endless steeplechase of expectation and disappointment.  Mr and Ms Pimp went so far as to join a gym just up the road from where we are renting, and Mr P and I are off for a month next week to visit family in the UK. We were going to do it in December, when we’d moved into the house, and then January when we’d moved into the house, and then February when ditto.  And now we are just doing it.   It has come to feel  as if  there has always been the house and there will always be the house.  Endlessly demanding of door knobs and colours and cupboards and floor tiles and money and money and more money, and energy when the reservoir is dry… and yet never quite getting there.  If I sound a little jaded, it is because I am.  Jaded and absolutely cream crackered.

But (and you can look back now) – there are good bits.  Because there are always good bits.  We are poring over colours (about which, more anon), agonising over kitchens, ogling sofas.  We are thinking what will go on walls.  This all requires a certain suspension of disbelief when, you know, we are never going to live within said walls.  We have found ourselves awash with thoughts of  chinoiserie, for instance. Which was somewhat of a surprise.  Had you once asked me whether we were a chinoiserie kind of mob I’d’ve said probs not.  A bit fiddly, a bit schmancy, a bit opulent – for me at any rate.  But Mr P, coming as he does from several generations of Orient-raised family, has always had a soft spot for it, and Miss P has recently joined in.  And so I have taken up the challenge of sourcing something good, as cheaply as possible.  I have been talking to China.  Several months now of prolix and deeply frustrating emails which start off with a rush and then trickle into intermittence.  Maybe I ask too many questions, maybe I’m too fussy with my requests to add/subtract a bit of bamboo, make the petals finer.  But anyway, we’re getting there and I have learned an invaluable lesson – if you want to save money, you have to spend time (and patience, which is something I’m not renowned for).

Ms P favours something like this for her bedroom, though it has to be said that the bottom portion would be quite wasted, buried under tissues, clothes, shoes, papers, make up, and the general miscellany of what she calls her ‘floordrobe’:

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And Pimpoh finds himself fancying something a bit like this:

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or this:

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Me, I like things a little plainer and a little simpler.  It’s the old Wee Free in me. But even I have been carried away on the  wave.  Just a tad, of course, no deeper in than my knees. Because I like dark things I could, for instance, be persuaded to this.  I’m currently trying to persuade Ms Pimp she wants a version of this for her bathroom.  You know, to go with those dark tiles I’m so enamoured of, but she, she ain’t so convinced:

05_large-1And talking of walls, there’s another thing (actually there is a whole firmament of other things, but let’s pretend there’s only one) – and that is this, the hallway:

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I think there should be a little oomph when you open the front door.  You know,  a small trumpeting fanfare.  And if you can’t afford a line-up of liveried rabbits, you’d best be thinking about getting your drama from the walls. Preferably the wall to the right in our case, which is actually a lot longer than it appears in the photograph.  The problem is that the hallway and staircase also need to sing duets with the rest of the house which is going to be, for now at least, tricked up (or down) in those fugitive, atmospheric greys.  You know, purple greys, brown greys, and their various assorted offspring.  I have ditched, with some reservations, my addiction to moody, inky drama.  It was pointed out to me that the house has a feeling of lightness (in the Enlightenment sense of the word) and that it would be good to go along with it.  And that made sense to me. For now at any rate.  We’ll see whether darkness makes its way in, a little pool here, a dark lake there.  So in all probability the hallway and staircase will be grey also.

How to achieve a sense of drama, then.

There is good old grisaille, of course, and Mr Pimp is very fond of things like this:

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And I have to admit, I can see how it might be fun to find an elephant calumphing along the hall when you stumble downstairs at cock call, all early morning frowsy and bleary of sight.

I had a passionate-ish tango with this offering from Trove.  A panoply of old queens seemed quite the thing to come home to:

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But then I discovered the price.

Still an arm and  half a leg, I am having a bit of a pash with these:

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Or, on a more sedate day, these:

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But enough of such fripperies.  Right now I must leap into the car and hurtle down the motorway to go bed shopping with Ms P, who is currently sleeping on a mattress on the floor.  We shall be without the Herberts, who are staying at the farm with Eric the house sitter while we are in the UK.  All of which is another story.  Finding a sitter has been an education that sits alongside buying Chinese wallpaper.  I have encountered aspects of humanity I had not previously met, even in my psychoanalytic practice.  There were many lovely people who replied to my ad, and a few…what you might call eccentrics.  One good lady, for instance, very kindly sent me photographs of her aura.  But Eric seems solid enough, and the dogs are tentatively accepting of him (“what does his arrival mean, where are you going, can we come too?”).  So off I go, guilty heart heavy, until another day…

The King is dead – long live the King!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 1, 2013 by pimpmybricks

If, like Mr Big here, you’re plum-tuckered out from all the partying, renovating, or just plain whatevering,  I wish you a chill New Year’s Day.  The chillest.

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To everyone who reads this blog, who trots along with me on this lunatic steeplechase journey of ups and downs, who forgives my periods of silence while missing in action, who nudges me when I’ve been silent too long – thank you.  Thank you for your patience, your advice and your humour.  Gawd knows, I need all three! May this coming new year bring us all goodly dollops of health, fortitude, generosity, and a lot of what we wish for. X

Don’t mention the war.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 12, 2012 by pimpmybricks

Once upon a time (or at least a little while ago), Esteemed Architect, gawd bless ‘im, announced that the Regency Wreck originally went by another name.  Really? It was not always called the RW? Well, shiver me timbers.  As he delivered his news, a small moue of ambivalence flickered across his features but we heeded it not, being altogether too gung ho to know more.

I don’t expect you can read this, but here is ocular proof that the house was once known as Pyrrhus.  And I must tell you that when I saw this a little colour drained from the day because, I confess, I am just a tinkly tad superstitious.  Quite against my will, I might add, but I was doused in it from an early age by my mother, who always touched wood and never tempted fate nor crossed her knives.  All of which has left me one of those strange hybrid creatures – resolute and doughty in my rational denial of all such nonsense, yet surreptitiously chucking my spilled salt over my left shoulder.  Just in case.  You know how it is – a little insurance never hurts.

And just in case your days of Greek Lit in Translation are a little fogged and hung about with the rheumy skeins of time past, I’ll remind you that it was Pyrrhus for whom the phrase ‘Pyrrhic Victory’ was coined.  He was the gent who won the battle but lost the war.  Wiki tells me that his victory was one with  such devastating cost to the victor that it carries the implication that another such will ultimately cause defeat.

More than a little contemporary truth in that, I’d say, when I recall our triumphal glee at the auction and contrast that to our feelings now.

So anyway, this was our man Pyrrhus before the battle.  Off to war with a fleet wind behind and a good horse beneath. Full of vim and vigour.  Because, I ask you, how could you go wrong with a metallic six pac like that?

And this was him after,

surveying the future with a sort of grim resignation, poor bugger.  Tired, careworn, utterly over the whole thing and yet compelled to go on.  Much as we sometimes feel really.

If you’re interested, John Dryden’s translation of Plutarch’s Pyrrhus, 75 AD reports that:

“… they had fought till sunset, both armies were unwillingly separated by the night, Pyrrhus being wounded by a javelin in the arm, and his baggage plundered by the Samnites, that in all there died of Pyrrhus’s men and the Romans above fifteen thousand. The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one other such would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders; there were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Italy backward.”

So on that basis I’d say that the Pyrrhic legacy seems to extend further than just our house because there are more fallings out and schisms in one tiny area than I’ve ever come across before.  Which is a shame and a half.  I put it down (mostly) to the cumulative and collective stress of an entire area in transition.

But all this got me to wondering why on earth John Flavelle – he who built the house – gave it such an odd name.  A name with such a penumbra of  unfortunate associations. Was our Irish jeweller a Greek scholar maybe?  Was he a man who wanted to give wry expression to life’s capriciousness? To its steeplechase-ness?  Or did he name the house as he did,  blithely ignorant of its classical associations?

A little internetty delving suggests the latter.

Because as it turns out, Pyrrhus the second was a racehorse!  One, what’s more, in Australia.

I found them both nestled in the classified section of The Courier in 1855.  (Mssrs Google, how I love thee. I will name my first racehorse in thy name). And after wading knee deep through ads for The Crinicrescent Cream, a PREPARATION like no other which will produce so beautiful and magnificent HEAD of HAIR,  the Practical Treatise upon the Cultivation of Sugar Cane, and Row’s embrocation (Beware Of Spurious Imitations), good for the cure of cankerous tumours on cows – in the middle of all that fascination, I found

“J_ Ferbt, Logan River, the Blood Stallion

PYRRHUS THE SECOND,

By New Warrior (imported) out of Doctressby

Doctor Jenner (imported). For terms apply to

WM. DRYNAN”.

separated just a column inch or two from

“FLAVELLE BROTHERS & ROBERTS

BEG to inform the Public that they have

secured the services of Mr. Samuel

Whitby, a thoroughly prictical watchmaker.

From his experience (acquired in London and

Melbourne) and ability, they feel satisfied that

all orders entrusted to them will be thoroughly

and efficiently executed. Watches sent by pri

vate hand or otherwise can be safely returned

by post”.

A long bow?  Probs. But in the absence of any shorter, I shall twangle its strings.

 

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…

Oh my ears and whiskers!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on September 3, 2012 by pimpmybricks

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Most of my posts these days seem to start a little white rabbitishly.  And today is no exception because I’m late, late, late with a new post!  Not late-as-a-plate late, but late nonethewhatsits.  I can’t even claim house matters as mitigation this time, though certain aspects have been a little, shall we say, head crushing recently.

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But let’s skip past all such nonsenses on fleet feet.  Mere bagatelles anyway.  And besides, having blown the chute clear of chaff and other detritus in the last post, I now feel ready to take on some truly weighty matters.  To roll up my sleeves and get down and dirty with the issues of gravitas.  Such as floors.  Yes, floors!  Because I have been contemplating the Regency Wreck’s floors of late.  With some perplexity I might add.

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This is a random example of what we have.  The builder thinks it’s hemlock and in the absence of any other compelling hypotheses, we are happy to trot along with him on this one.  They are a golden yellow colour and swoon-inducingly wide (by which I mean 9 inches). They probs came from a ship docked at the time in Sydney Harbour, since it was easier to procure from ships (I’m told) than it was to source things locally. Mr Bunnings, where were you when needed? And as with everything in the house, the Insatiable Termites from Hell have given all of it a right royal going over, so that the floors are now studded with pieces of metal everywhere under which are holes made by people in the past plunging into the rooms below, up to their knees in plaster dust and surprise.  That sort of thing anyway.  So the idea is to patch some floors from the remains of others, and those which are entirely denuded will get something new.  I’m liking blackbutt myself, because for one thing it’s robust enough to withstand the rigours of the Herberts trit trotting over it on their four pairs of stilettos, and for another it’s palely interesting.  Any flooring in a more robust hue (orange! red!) has me supine on a chaise longue with my bottle of sal volatile to hand. Call me sensitive if you wish.

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So what is really floating my boat at the  moment is bare wood.  Nood, as they’d say here.  In the nuddy as they’d say en Angleterre.

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ImageThe problem is that both builder and architect are unanimous in the view that Boards in the Buff are Immoral, Impractical and just plain Intolerable.  Tung oil is the solution, says one.  China Wood Oil, says the other.  Two pack, say both (two pac? or is that the rapper?).

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ImageBut the trouble with all these oils and rappers is that they insinuate themselves into the wood and they change its character.  They make it look smooth and polished and groomed, and that’s not what we want.  What we want is…well… something a little deshabille. A little time worn, a little feet-of-ages-ish.

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ImageSo I put it to you, ladies and gents of the jury – boards in the buff: achievable fact or impractical fiction? Are the owners of all these spaces really fashion tragics who, like the Flanders and Swann song, actually live in 7a, the house next door?

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Surely, there must be a product which slips in invisibly, the way that some stone sealants do? It must be so! I need it to be so.  If anyone can give me the answer  I shall be forever indebted to them.  I will shower you with big fat kisses (alas not transferable or redeemable for cash) or come to sing under your windows at night. Or if you prefer, I won’t come to sing under your windows at night.

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