Archive for Sydney

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.


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.


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.

finish line

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




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:

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.

Rush rushery and a few ‘during’s.

Posted in bathrooms, Renovation, silver with tags , , , , on December 24, 2012 by pimpmybricks

Enter stage right, a small figure scuttling beyond the spotlight to slide a wrapped package unobtrusively onto the floor .

Greets, Ladles and Jellyspoons. I know! I’m late as the proverbial plate yet again, and this is my very last chance to slide a leetle sumsing in before most of the world shuts down tomorrow.  Apols for going awols.  You know the drill by now. You’ve read the headlines so many times before – “Struggling restorers sink into pits of black despair as more termite damage and cracked lintels are uncovered in inner Sydney Regency Wreck…”  It being blogland and all, and moreover blogland approaching Christmas, I have been loathe to come and spread my glooms abaht the place.  No Bah Humbuggery here!


But wait, because in amongst all the doom and gloom, in all the tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth (they are mere stumps I tell you),  there has been the occasional sighting of that rare and lesser spotted beast – p.r.o.g.r.e.s.s.  Which is serendipitous because I’ve received a few requests for during shots and I’m nothing if not attentive to requests (unless, of course, you require me to don tutu and dance the Nutcracker Suite, in which case I would have to demur in the cause of Public Order).


Tubby strictly honest I’ve also dawdled a bit because progress shots are so…well… incomplete somehow and every time Ive seen said piece of modest progress I’ve had the feeling that if I only waited another day or so those tiles may have been cleaned of grout to reveal their lustrous sheen, or the showers might have arrived. Or this or that or the other.  But work has now stopped for the holidays and nothing will happen until the New Year, and so without further procrastination I offer up a few morsels for your delectation.

But because we’re in the act of flinging a few things into bags and scurrying up to the farm, I’ll spread them over a few days, if that’s permissible.  Herewith, today’s little ration.

This unprepossessing little room was earmarked by HRH Princess Pimp as her bathroom:

G's bathroom

She wanted it dark.  And by gum she’s getting it dark:

g's tiles

Those tiles – they are tho thexy. The patch of light you can see to the left is the window in the pic above, which will be transformed into steel and glass doors onto a tiny Juliet Balcony from where, if you turn your head to the right, you’ll get an eyeful of the Harbour Bridge.  This was granted us by the Powers That Be because there was once a balcony on the back bit of the house.  Precedence – thou art a wondrous thing.

g's tiles 2

And while we’re on the subject of tiles, let me show you this place of unaccustomed glam, which is the en suite.  The very en suite which, if you remember that far back,  may never have come to pass.  Which may have remained, if the purists had ruled the day, a mere twinkle in my eye as I hauled myself down four flights to use the bucket in the back garden.

This is it before:

en suite before

We would have preferred to keep the wooden floor but here in Uh Straya such things are verboten.  We bought the limestone tiles as a job lot for $50 a crate at a rather sad liquidation sale a couple of years ago. In the cause of full disclosure I should say sad for them, lustful for us.

en suite 2

Avec crazy bath and the fireplace stripped back to metal:

ensuite 3

et the lav and basin:



These are the very tiles which are still smeared with dried grout and don’t yet reveal their shimmery glory, but here’s a patch that have been cleaned:

ensuite tilesI must admit that when I first saw the bathrooms I was a little shocked.  I feared we had imposed too much on the house and felt we should maybe have found a way to minimise our impact.  But someone said the other night that they could still see the beauty of the rooms, even though they’ve been rendered functional, and  I was glad to hear that.

So anyway.  That’s the lot for today.  I sit here in my pre-breakfast frowsiness on the unmade bed while the day outside gathers itself for a full-frontal furnace assault. I must up, up and away before the roads melt and become a shimmering mirage.  Laters, potaters XX


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.

On gloves, houses and the Universe

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 23, 2012 by pimpmybricks

Oh dear.  AWOL again – an absolutely unconscionable length of time between posts. And  I can’t even claim to have been missing in action because I’ve been back in Sniddney these past two weeks, plunging up and down in the jetlag and stress pool.  Up and down, up and down.

But anyway, I am back.  Or, for the sake of truth in advertising, bits of me are.  Health has decided to stay on in London; Brain is wandering, lonely as a cloud somewhere over the Indian Ocean.  And Heart… well who knows where Heart is.  Enigmatic thingses, these Heartses, as has been discussed previously, and will be again no doubt. In the radio silence, between the last post and this there was London, which was too heart-filling and heart-wrenching to do justice to in my current state of nervejangle.  And there was Venice.  Which was deliciously, shockingly, shout-out-in-sheer-surprisely-COLD.

It was helpful but reserved people, it was indifferent food. It was that sort of everywhere-allover-beauty which causes your eye to not know where to alight, but to flit instead from this thing to that, as if with ADHD. It was a fantastico exhibition on Japanese tinted photography from the 1890s.

And it was this shop, which Miss Pimperlicious and I discovered while meandering one day, she with her jet lag, me with my streaming cold.

It was a glove shop – an orgy of Glove, the Whole Glove and Nothing but the Glove.  They had them in shades of marigold, sunflower, primrose, turmeric and saffron.  They had marron, cerise, blush, marshmallow and  rose geranium.  I was in utter agony choosing. I wanted yellow.  No, I wanted pink.  Oh, but I had to have green. What about one of each?  In the end I got these

Miss P was able to wrestle me out of the door only when we discovered they did mail order.  And they were cheap!  Soft and buttery and tight-fitting and cheap.  Quite where I am to wear them, living in sub-tropicana as I do, is a little beyond me, but I Had To Have Them.  You understand don’t you?  It was simply impossible to leave without them.

But enough of such fripperies – to serious matters.  By which I mean houses.  You know, that being the (putative) point of this blog after all. Because we have arrived at a watershed.  Today, as it ‘appens.  And I am totes out of my little box with the stress of it all.

To give you the gist, we have had some builders’ quotes for the work on the Regency Wreck.  The additional work we wanted on top of the statutory repairs – you know, the Juliet balconies, the glass roof on the Jungle Lav, and a few holes in walls here and there –   will cost us over half as much again as the Quantity Surveyor’s report.  And that’s the cheapest builder.

And at the same time, our present house is up for auction.  At 6.30 this very evening!  I know!  I shall have to go drunk, or drugged, or gagged.  Mr Pimp will have to shove me under the chairs at the back of the room to keep me from gibbering and shrieking. And that’s not all.  It seems that while we were away we missed an Official Edict wherein all potential house purchasers were promised fire-sale bargains.  So we are hearing a lot of ‘oooh lovely house, quite gorgeous, love the thises and thatses and would really love to buy it and, bee tee dubs, we’d like to pay you one and sixpence because that’s, uh, where the market’s at these days’.  Why, I ask you, could the universe not have organised things the other way around, with the RW coming in cheaper than estimated and the current, much beloved house, selling for way beyond?

Honestly, I think I prefer fanning around foreign climes, buying gloves.

But if you have a second, spare us a thought at 6.30 this evening?  I’ll be the one in the straightjacket.

The guided tour part 1 – in all its inglorious glory.

Posted in Derelict house with tags , , , , on March 14, 2011 by pimpmybricks

I ‘fess up.  The photos I posted yesterday were not the product of my camera (too in-focus, insufficient blur).  They were borrowed from the estate agent’s particulars and, not surprisingly, show the poor old house in the best possible light.  But I decided they don’t do justice to its rising damp, falling damp, subsidence and extensive termite damage (there have been some good quality termites through there).  Neither, therefore, do they do justice to the full extent of our forthcoming heroism (yet to be tested, but we have faith). Or our lunacy, which is, anyway, a synonym for heroism. 

So here are a few shots taken at a canter on one of the open inspection days. 

This will eventually become my study, when the termites have been re-housed and the subsidence made to go away.  Conjecturally it was once the smoking room, before the Maritime Board casually chopped off the back of the house to make room for a lane and the room became the 3x3m box it is now. I love the fact that you get the fanfare of those two huge arches into a deflated parp of the room itself.  It amuses me.  The scale seems on a par with whatever I might get up to in there.

This is in the basement.  That indeterminate pale pink wall to the right is painted sandstone.  My vision, of course, is that it will be stripped to reveal a gently glowing golden marvel, like some inner-city Camelot.  The architect, who is more sanguine than I, (and who works next door, incidentally) warns me that the stone will almost certainly not live up to my expectations, but will be ‘fretting’ and doing all manner of anti-social stonelike things, such as crumbling, housing insects and sweating.  I find the image of fretting stone endearing.  I can empathise.  But I fear I might not like the reality – maybe the stone and I don’t talk the same language.  Maybe I can’t calm it down.  Oh!  But anyway, until that paint comes off, there are the dreams.  The floor, btw, is sandstone flags.  They appear to be less neurotic.

This is the ceiling in what might be the kitchen.  It is in a dimension beyond neurotic.  It has advanced Altzheimers.

But those arches (there are three of them) – couldn’t you fall in love with them?  I did. On the basis of less are entire fates sealed. On one of them there are still the slender coils that once held the servants bells and which presumably jingled and jangled until some poor hapless person had staggered two floors up to the piano nobile to do someone’s bidding.  Stoke the fire.  Tamp the fire.  Adjust my teacup handle. Twitch that curtain.  I have secret plans to get Supergirl initiated in the arcane ways of the bells.  It’s just that I anticipate some battling to determine who is at which end.

One more piccy.

This is the fireplace in what might become the dining room, if we’re allowed to make a hole in the wall and throw the doors open to the half-postage stamp courtyard. The same half-postage stamp yard in which there is no room for my fishpond fish   (are there adoption agencies for fish?).  Be quiet.  Focus on the fireplace. See that piece of metal above the lintel?  That’s the old gas fitting.  It will be staying, whether or not we want it, so it’s rather good that we do. Of course the brick excrescence at the bottom is for the chop.  And you can’t really tell, but the fireplace is huge.  Sadly there was no obligiing person around at the time to give the picture perspective.  Not to mention charm and colour value.

I lied.  One more.

Ta-da.  The one unsullied stone wall, on which many a dream has been founded.  Too bad it’s in the room that’s going to be the laundry and dogs’ bedroom.  I shall have to teach them to appreciate hand-cut and finished stonework.  A sort of advanced, somewhat specialised form of dog training.  The architect pointed out (bad sign, when puns creep in so early) that the blocks would have been cut and finished by convicts.  I did contemplate whether my conscience could allow me to live in the house, but then I decided to be feckless.

Take a bow, Mrs Worthington.

Posted in Derelict house with tags , , , , on March 10, 2011 by pimpmybricks


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