The Black and White Photography Project: Love…

Love

There aren’t many things worthy of being photographed in my house, much as I would like there to be. This little sign was a gift a while back from my sister and I think it’s really cute. It also looks fab in black and white!

Linking up to the Black and White Photography Project over at Podcast Dove.


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Word of the week:

Transitions

Just lately I have been getting woken up by crying somewhere in the region of my feet at least an hour earlier than my brain and eyes are willing to cooperate. I have tried all the usual pacifications with EJ, whose cot has sat at the foot of my bed since he was born 22 months ago. This pattern has not happened since he gave up his early morning bottle of formula a couple of months ago and I’m not willing to go back to that, so I’ve been leaving the room – my presence seems to inflame the situation. I have tried getting extra sleep on the sofa, the sofa cushions alone and then just a duvet on the floor downstairs. None of this has been satisfactory. Then I knew it was time; time to do what I’d been putting off for months – move EJ out of my room and into JJ’s room.

While JJ was at pre-school and EJ with his childminder on Tuesday I broke out the screwdriver and took the side off the cot ready for transfer. Next I got myself trapped in a corner on the landing and realised I should have taken the base off too and then followed a dangerous game of attempting to escape this ridiculous situation whilst not killing myself by toppling down the steep flight of stairs the cot was dangling above.

Eventually I got everything in place after a huge tidy up, clothes sort and Hoover operation. To make the room a little more inviting I finally dusted off the pretty bunting I sourced some time ago to compliment the aqua of the walls (not too girly – but come on, I never asked for two boys and there have to be some concessions to what *I* want – mwah ha ha!). Originally I had put it up using sellotape and blue tack. Not my finest hour in home decorations it has to be said. This time I brought out the big guns – a hammer and tacks! Hopefully it’ll actually stay up for longer than five minutes this time…

Bunting for Boys!

Then it was just a waiting game to see reactions, gauge emotions, and overcome any issues. Night one – EJ would NOT settle – I think it was all just too exciting. JJ got upset because he was tired and had a lively toddler foisted upon him through no fault of his own. I lay on the floor for 45 minutes – eventually he fell asleep and EJ calmed down. EJ awoke crying in the morning (I had already left for work) and JJ tried his best to help out by climbing in the cot and attempting to read a story (even though he can’t actually read yet). Bless.

Night two – EJ down (completely knackered funnily enough) whilst JJ stayed downstairs for a bit. EJ was fast asleep and JJ then demanded I wake him up so he could say goodnight! I managed to get him to compromise by kissing the sleeping munchkin. Then JJ wanted to watch his DVD on full volume. I managed to get him to use my headphones. Eventually JJ was ready to sleep but concerned about what might happen in the morning. I promised him I would leave the stair gate open so he would have access to get help or just get away if he felt stressed in the morning. I was assured that there was no crying in the morning and the boys were happily watching a Chuggington DVD together in the cot. Success!! Long may it last!

Some snaps of the room:

The other transitional aspect to the week was the fact that I had my first parents’induction evening at JJ’s school on Wednesday evening. We were given practical information about gaining entry to the school, uniforms etc, but we were also given quite a detailed run through of the types of activity and learning that we could expect our children to partake in come September. I have to say that everything I saw and heard made me feel kind of excited for JJ and happy about our choice of school. I just hope that he feels the same way when the time comes to make that leap to ‘big’ school.

 

The Reading Residence

The big bathroom transformation!

Well, this is it – you’ve heard all about it here – its been a week of upheaval, plaster dust over everything, bathtime and bedtime routines up the Swanny, bathroom related stuff lying in piles around the house, but its finally (more or less) over!

I took the opportunity to take a few before, during and after pics so that we could assess and share the results.

You may think the overall look of the bathroom before was not so bad – possibly a little 70s in decor, but from a distance, not bad. There were a lot of problems though. A broken old plastic cabinet with one of the mirrored sections being propped up below on the soap dish; a rusty old metal trolley acting as our storage receptacle for everything from shaving gels to bath toys and a pile of somewhat mouldy old copies of What Car magazine the hubster insisted on keeping in there; a horrible limescale stained toilet with a chipped wooden seat; a completely pointless stand-alone shower which couldn’t be used due to leakage issues which had caused terrible damp patches on the ceiling below; and a bath with no shower attachments meaning I was left with no choice but to wash my hair using a kitchen jug to rinse.

chipped old loo seat

Rusty bath trolley

doors fallen off

It was pretty clear that the works that came before we moved here had been done by a cheap and cheerful odd job man with no professional qualifications.

It was an eye opener to see everything ripped out:

But the final result has made me very happy. We chose a shower over bath with a really massive ‘rainforest’ style shower head as I have really missed my showers over the past four years and this was a cheaper option than another stand alone shower, leaving us more room for storage too. We went for a bit of a ‘luxury hotel’ style with no bright colours and after I saw the different choices Elfa of Californian Mum in London chose for her bathroom transformation I was a bit concerned that it would be a bit lacking in personality, but I chose a fun blind to give a bit more of a funky feel to the room  whilst still being in keeping with the colour scheme.

I like the fact that we have the same huge tiles on the floor and walls as it gives the room a seamless, almost ‘wet room’ feel. There is also a space between the sink and cupboard which I can imagine putting in a little pot plant holding stand for a pretty addition (but maybe when the munchkins are slightly older!).

For the majority of fixtures and fittings we have stuck with an old fashioned Victorian style feel (which is in keeping with the fact that the house was built in the Victorian era). JJ in particular loves the ‘telephone’ style shower head (yes that’s right we have a second shower head with the bath taps so that I can easily wash the children’s hair and shower down the bath). Originally we were going to get a beautiful rolltop bath but changed our minds when we saw how much it costs to have a stand alone shower fitted!

So here it is in all its glory:

 

Shower head, or telephone

seamless tiling

Spotlit bathing

Funky blind

Word of the week: Filth!

Filth

This week we have been having our bathroom ripped out (floor to ceiling tiles, plaster, everything) and a new one installed. This work is still ongoing. Needless to say its been a bit of an upheaval. We have one man doing all the work on his own – he’s a lovely Polish guy called Slav (although JJ insists that he’s actually named Scarf). There is so much work for him to do on his own though, including demolition and removal of the waste, tiling, plumbing, electrics and installation of the actual fittings. He will still be working this Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday. This is all arranged and organised through the bathroom fitting service at B&Q so I guess they’re saving money by using one man per job.

On Monday he began removing the tiles and unexpectedly the plaster work began ripping away too. Now we need a plasterer. In the meantime the plaster dust has pervaded the house and we are currently without a bath, bathroom sink, or shower so needless to say everything feels a bit grimy – including us!

The hubster has had the luxury of a hot shower at the gym he goes to. I’ve had the opportunity to shower over at my in-laws house a couple of times but the kids have just been getting a bit of a sponge down in the kitchen sink – great larks…

Bedtimes have been chaotic to say the least with the routine all gone mad.

On my day of cleaning I sat fidgeting wondering just what to do instead – essentially the to do list for the week was abandoned!
Now I am just longing for the work to be over so that we can get back to normal and of course thrill, ooh and aah over the wonderful luxury of a shower, a shower head in the bath (I’m a bit nervous about this one as JJ has a tendency to go a bit mad with the one at my parents’ house!), mixer taps so I don’t have to worry about the toddler burning himself, a mirrored cabinet fixed at a sensible height and an enclosed cupboard so all our bathroom related junk will be out of sight!

I think the bathroom is one of the important rooms of the house to be proud of because this is one place guests are most likely to visit (and examine in minute detail?) when they come round and I most certainly was not proud of what we had before.
Roll on Tuesday…

 

The Reading Residence

There’s no place like home…

There's no place like home

This week’s Theme Game theme is ‘home’. It’s funny how, no matter where I go, or where I live, or where I choose to settle, there is still a little corner of South West London which will always be my true home. My parents still live there, perhaps without them there it wouldn’t be the same. I know that when they sold my childhood home, 11 years ago now, I didn’t mourn for that particular house the way I thought I would.

But now, when I visit Teddington, Hampton Wick, Kingston, Richmond and Twickenham it does feel like going home. Places like Bushy Park (where I learned to ride my bike), The Teddington Cheese (which used to sell coal!), the Anglers pub down at Teddington Lock, the Broom Road ‘Wreck’ (as I always used to think it was spelled) where I swang almost high enough for my feet to touch the branches, before running down to the riverside to feed the ducks and make swings in the fronds of the many willow trees lining the banks, or climb into their gnarled branches for an impromptu picnic – all these places are a part of who I am.

I have seen the way Kingston town has developed and this sense of bearing witness to the history of a physical space makes it feel like home.

I remember once, when I was about 22, going with one of my best Uni friends to stay at her Grandad’s house in the mountains outside Perpignan on the French/Spanish border. He was a world renowned doctor and had another home in Paris. He had obviously travelled the world and lived in many places. We got talking and he asked me where in the world I had lived. At that point it was literally my childhood home in Teddington and my Uni digs in Brighton. He was shocked! I guess by my age he had travelled and moved around and re-located several times. For me though, that made him a nomad. I think there is something a little poignant in the expression ‘wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home’. It speaks of rootlessness and transience.

Last time we visited my Mum and Dad and passed through Teddington, I pointed out my old childhood home to JJ and explained that ‘that’s where Mummy grew up’. A few beats later he said ‘Mummy, is that where I grew up?’ and I had to explain that there was a time in my life when he didn’t exist, long before I ever met his father. I think this was a bit mind blowing for him and I’m not sure he accepts the validity of it even now!

It makes me feel a bit weird to think that his childhood memories will be of the town we live in now – about 30 miles from my old stomping ground. We have only lived here for 6 years and whilst I know a lot of this, and the surrounding areas, intimately, and feel AT home here, I don’t think I will ever think of it as my ‘True North’. But maybe my children will.

Underneath all of these ponderings though, I realise that home is where you feel safe and comfortable. And most importantly home is where your loved ones are to be found. Maybe, at the root of it all, ‘home’ is ultimately about people, and not about places at all…

 

The Reading Residence