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.

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.

 

Up close and fairly personal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But wait, there is more!

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

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

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

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…

Of progress and wheels – a few before and durings.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

to this:

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

to this thing of golden glory:

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

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

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

In-flight catering:

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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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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 sumsing for the weekend

Posted in digressions, Great Danes, Sydney with tags , , , , on June 29, 2012 by pimpmybricks

My sentiments exactly.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we interrupt our regular programming (regular?  I hear you say, to which I reply Sshhh!)…we interrupt our regular programming with breaking news of the Sydney Biennale.  In fact breaking news and exhortations.  Exhortations and great windmilling arms of enthusiasm.  Gestures of ushering, words of encouragement, promises of wonderment if you will only consent to shift your harrises out into the parky winter air and get on over.  Sydneysiders, just do it!  Srsly.  Everyone else, they tell me the aeroplane is a fine invention. Come for a visit!  We can offer you afternoon tea at the Regency Wreck cosily nestled between the termites’ nests… cucumber sarnies served with great gravitas by Remington Rem the First.  Miss Elsie in her french maid’s pinny on the samovar…then off on a ferry to see the sights and a bit of a shiver…what do you think?  Can you be tempted?

So anyway, on Tuesday El Pimpo and I were air-lifted from our lavatory-seeking rut by some lovely friends, and whisked over to Cockatoo Island on a ferry.   And oh, OH I tell you, just get thee hence. Or thence. Just get thee.

And if you do I can, hand on heart, promise you enchantment.  A veritable winter wonderland of delight.  I know I might sound like bad advertising copy but srsly peoples,  it’s the shiz.  In fact, the  hoots mon shiz and a half. With a cherry on the top.

I can’t tell you much about the exhibits, other than there’s a lot of big and a lot of white and a lot of sheer magic.  It’s my personal preference to go to these things knowing nothing, to have a passionate encounter with each piece and then move on to the next, no strings attached.  A form of aesthetic cottaging, if you will.

For once I shan’t drown you in the verbals, but instead garland you with pictures, strew you with images, so you get a bit of an idea (bad pics mine, good pics said lovely friend’s).

A carpet-lined meander in the woods, down to the enchanted cabin

 

And this, whole other universe of light and tiny sound by Philip Beesley.

There is an entire warehouse dedicated entirely to the sexual organs of the insect kingdom, and very lovely were too.  Behold, the love dart of the garden snail:

And many, many other delights.

And when you are sated with installations, there’s Cockatoo Island itself, with its abandoned-industrial aesthetic and slightly melancholic charms:

(above – an example of what I am told is called fibro tudor)

I hope you’ll forgive me my proselytising.  I’ve been good since Marrakesh. And in our next episode – bathroom madness.  Ah, see, now you’re on tenterhooks.  Can you contain the excitement?  Not sure that I can.

Enter stage right…

Posted in Uncategorized on June 28, 2012 by pimpmybricks

I’d planned to sit down this afternoon and write a leisurely post, but a protracted experiment has left me with time only to puff on, stage right, tell you that I am guest blogging (very grown up) over at the extremely kind and supportive Liz’s Dovecote Decor…and then calumph off, stage left for a pressing engagement.

 More on which tomorrow.