Sunday, 1 January 2017

Settled In To My New House

After living in a rented flat for 2 years, I started to think seriously about getting back on the housing ladder. After a somewhat meandering path, I moved in at the end of August, and have been slowly de-weird-ing the house. It has excellent bones (it was built in 1948), but has been the victim of several very unfortunate decor trends and keen but inexpert DIY over the last 60 years. 

Poor house. Stick with me and we'll sort things out.

One of the first things to go was this truly hideous ceiling light in the living room. "Operating room" is the ambiance that springs to mind.

Part of the ceiling cried "take me WITH you!" Something tells me a new ceiling is in order - most of it seems to be held up there by that hideous 1960s ceiling paper.

Much better. (Yes, it's Ikea, and yes, it was inspired by the Death Star.)

The wood panelling around the fireplace is going to be taken down, but as there are definitely worse decor issues in the house, it's not at the top of the list. The gas fireplace works and is very jolly.

I think next year I might need a bigger Christmas tree. I don't think I can cram any more decorations onto this tree.

Here's the kitchen window - the kitchen is an upcoming project, but is tolerable at the moment. I'll definitely be adding a full-sized fridge/freezer (the under-counter one is the devil), a dishwasher and a double oven. 

These little guys are keeping track of my shed keys (there are two sheds!) and the back door key.

Oh, pantry, how I love you. More shelves coming in 2017, including a spice shelf. Prepare to be amazed.

This is the back garden. It is perfectly Kate-sized, as I can mow the lawn in about 6 minutes and I HATE gardening. I have two clotheslines and enough space for the BBQ and picnic table. Result.

This is the "after" photo of the grass. The previous owner had scattered paving stones about in the grass, most of which had been covered over, presumably so she didn't get wet feet when hanging out washing in the winter? Not sure. Grass seed has been applied and it is much improved.

Finally, I ordered myself a custom house address stamp from The Small Object on Etsy. I sent her a picture of the front of the house and she turned it into a stamp. It is stupendous and I love it. Hooray, indeed.

Something tells me there will be more house posts in 2017!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Finished my MBA

I finished my MBA last weekend.

I'm not entirely sure what to do with myself.

Perhaps more blogging?

Monday, 14 November 2016

Voted for Hillary Clinton

And am utterly heartbroken. A friend said that she was cycling through the stages of grief every 10 minutes. I think I'm closer to once an hour.

I said when Brexit happened that Americans should not underestimate the power of a desire to returned to a misremembered past.

I wish I hadn't been right.

I am figuring out what exactly I can do about the result of the election. I will not type President anywhere near his name. He doesn't deserve it.

People saying that they voted for him because of his stance on abortion/small business/taxes/politicians need to have a long, hard think about his stance on women, immigrants, and the rest of humanity.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Visited the Chelsea Physic Garden

A friend of mine was visiting London and mentioned that she wanted to visit the Chelsea Physic Garden. I'd heard of it but had never been. I managed to drive into central London (granted, on a Sunday), and I really enjoyed the garden.

It was a blustery autumn day, with really moody London skies.

We took a tour, which was a bit rambling, but there were some interesting bits and our guide was clearly passionate about the garden.

They had a huge number of medicinal plants, all of which were really well labelled and explained.

We also had lunch at the cafe. It was wildly expensive but the food was really tasty.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Went to Malta

Continuing the Trips On My Birthday tradition (like Paris last year), Charlie and I went to Malta for my birthday. 

It's really full of history: as a strategically placed island it has been the subject of numerous takeovers throughout the centuries.

We spent our first day in Valetta, where we visited St John's Co-Cathedral, the bling-iest cathedral ever. All the decorations.

Then we went out to St Elmo's fort. I would not want to try and attack Malta from this direction.

TravelTed had his picture taken at the fort, looking back over Valetta. There are some serious fortifications - these are people who are used to being attacked over and over.

The Three Cities:

More fortifications:

On the Sunday, we went to Marsaxlokk to see the fishing boats and swim in St Peter's Pool. Brilliant.

Seriously. (And yes, I jumped in from the top of the cliffs.)

On Monday, we went to Mdina, the walled city, and had lunch overlooking the whole country (it's small).

And then on our last morning, we went on a boat trip to Comino, which was absolutely stunning.

We swam in the Blue Lagoon, saw lots of little caves and inlets, and found it hard to believe that we had to go back to the UK in the evening!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Went to Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens had been on my to-visit list for ages, but I hadn't managed to sort out a visit. On my mom's last morning here, we had stayed in London, and our plans in Oxfordshire fell through, so we hit up Kew.

It was expensive: £7 for parking and £15 each to get in (even with our student/senior IDs), but the gardens were excellent. We explored the outer parkland first, before heading up to the treetop walk and then through the glasshouses and into the more formal gardens. 

Do you like my new hat?

Treetop walk selfie!

In the tropical greenhouse:

And then the sun came out!

The main glasshouse is closed for renovation, and we ran out of time (and pep) to see the Queen's garden and the Hive. Next time I'll watch their Top Attractions video so that we don't miss anything.

It was excellent, though, and I definitely want to go back!

Friday, 16 September 2016

Saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

To declare something that will surprise absolutely no-one: I love Harry Potter. I was a bit obsessed in college, and read the books over and over.

When I heard about the new play, I was excited, but figured it would be too hard to get tickets.


Charlie's eldest daughter is excellent at finding Cool Things To Do, and somehow managed to buy tickets for all of us over a year ago. It's definitely the most in-advance I've ever scheduled a theatre trip.

In the grand scheme of #keepthesecrets, I won't share any plot (although you can buy the script if you're that interested).

The plays were excellent, the actors were perfect, and it really was magical - there was quite a bit of stage magic and the staging and lighting were really effective.

If you can possibly get tickets, go!

Now, we're just waiting for Hamilton to come to London!