Our Colourful Cottage

Welcome to our cottage! It felt like home pretty quickly, but we’ve been steadily putting our stamp on it and it’s really feeling like our nest now. As you’ll gather, if you hadn’t already realised, we’re both big fans of bright colours and pretty things. We mainly use the back door which leads into the sunroom, so that’s where we’ll start our tour.

sunroom

Our little cottage is a bit topsy-turvey, with the sunroom that houses our dining table and white goods (and the dog crate), a tiny toilet off that room which doesn’t have a sink so is being used as our coat room and storage, then a little galley kitchen. It has a window through into the sunroom which is an extension, so there’s lots of light.

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Putting Down Roots Down South

I bet you’re all on tenterhooks to find out how the move went! I’ve been online a lot less frequently than before we moved, simply because there’s so much else to do (and also because we didn’t actually have internet in the cottage for the first two weeks). However, this evening it is raining outside, Naomi is studying statistics, the cat is in the garden, the dog is asleep and I am catching up on blogging.

That sentence gives you a peek into some of the things I’ve been busy with: we’ve got a garden! And a dog! Both of those are worthy of their own introduction, so I will write proper posts on each, but for now let’s recap how the move went. Continue reading

Apartment Therapy’s January Cure – Weekend 1

I’m an avid reader of Apartment Therapy. It’s one of those things that people love to hate – lots of articles with dictatorial titles about how you MUST organise your home, coupled with beautiful photographs and enough genuinely helpful tips to make up for the bizarrely fervent imperatives to hang your artwork at a particular height or light candles at every meal.

The website has inspired me to do a lot of things in my flat, from reorganising all my cupboards and drawers to finally hanging my noticeboard and wall planner properly. I’d say a good 50% of the credit for how nice my home looks now has to go to AT for inspiring and pushing me to get on with things. And now it’s inspiring me to blitz through the entire place and make sure that every nook and cranny is clean, with the January Cure. Continue reading

Sleeping in my Living Room, Not Living in my Bedroom

This morning I was following a rabbit warren of blog links (do you ever do that? You start on a post from a blog you read regularly, and then click through to another blog, and then that links to another post, and somehow you end up adding five new blogs to your reader?) and ended up on this post about sleeping in the living room. It opens with a great quote from a home improvement book: “Do you want to sleep in your living room or live in your bedroom?”.

I hadn’t ever thought of it this way before, but that question really identifies the difference between the various places I’ve lived in the lifespan of this blog. Excepting the months I spent back at my mum’s house while I was ill, and the times in Paris and Fort Wayne, I have lived in one room for the last five years. Not always the same one room, of course, but each time my living space was entirely contained within the walls of that single room. Continue reading

Home Sweet Pocket-Sized Home

I’ve been living in my lovely new flat for two months now and it seemed like time to do a photo tour! I’m quite pleased with how much storage I have compared to the old flat, which was about half the size of this one, and the fact that everything has somewhere to live means that it’s a lot easier to keep it tidy. I’ll admit that I did a quick whip round to tidy a few odds and ends before taking the photos, but it took no more than five minutes – it really does look like this most of the time, mum! My fifteen minutes of daily housework habit has helped a lot in this respect.

Several friends have commented on their first visit that they would love to have a flat like this, I feel very lucky to live here. It gets a lot of light as the skylight faces east and the windows face west (there is also a window in the bathroom and the top half isn’t frosted so I can watch the clouds from the shower – far nicer than the cave-like room in my old place). I’m on the top floor of my building so there’s not a lot of noise and because it’s so compact, it warms up quickly and the windows provide a great through-draft on hot days.

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Things are slowly getting a little less explodey round here

It’s slow progress, but my flat is looking slightly less of a mess today. I have rearranged a few things and put stuff away, and today my bookcase arrived (along with two stools – one of which I’m sitting on right now! It’s the small things in life) so soon I will be all set.

Over the last few days I’ve done quite a few things, mostly food-related so I’ve been blogging about them over on my food blog. On Tuesday I had an interview for a babysitting job, and got on really well with the mother and her 8 month old daughter. She has decided that she wants me to be the regular babysitter, but she’s still figuring out what hours she will need and how frequently. We’ll meet when I get back from Whitby Folk Week and talk it over then.

In about an hour I’m leaving for a night away courtesy of the Vegetarian Charity! I’m going to the Cordon Vert Vegan Venture cookery course, which sounds like it’ll be absolutely brilliant. I applied quite a while ago and there weren’t any spaces but a last-minute cancellation and good fortune intervened.

When I get back tomorrow I’ll have to tackle the boxes and try to clear a little more space on the floor so that we can assemble the bookcase. I also badly need to vacuum in here – the problem with having blonde hair and a dark blue carpet is that it’s very obvious when you haven’t cleaned recently!

The flat across from me is coming available next week. I did consider seeing if I could switch my lease – the rent is not a lot more, and the flat is a fair bit bigger – but I am not sure I could really afford the higher rent and I don’t want to move again just yet. I’ll keep my eyes open for the next time it is up for rent, though. It would be nice to have two rooms!

The Agonies of Unpacking

Although I technically moved back into my room on Thursday evening, my stuff didn’t all arrive until half five on Friday, so it is today I must spend tackling the boxes.

My rather over-optimistic plan had been to get moved in on Friday, and then spend today cooking meals for the freezer until choir this afternoon. Since most of my kitchen stuff is still packed, that plan is on hold. Term doesn’t start properly until Thursday and I only have a couple of things to do before then, so the cooking can wait.

Unpacking is probably my second least favourite activity, after packing. At the stage I’ve reached it’s almost impossible to do anything efficiently, because the boxes are just in the way. At the moment I’ve got a half-unpacked suitcase which is lying next to the bureau. All the clothes which will live in the bureau have been taken out of the suitcase and put into the drawers, but now I have to get the clothes which need to be hung across the room and into the wardrobe, and there are half a dozen boxes, three bags and a beanbag in the way. Getting from the door of my room to the sink in the opposite corner is like dancing a delicate ballet followed by some handsprings across the bed which juts out into the centre of the room and takes up even more space. The upshot is that I would far rather sit at my computer, with all the mess behind me, so that I can’t see how much work there still is to be done.

Not a long-term solution, though. And on that note, back to unpacking. As several people have pointed out, this is the last time I’ll unpack in this college. I’m not sure how sad I feel about that at the moment.

 

Vacating

Well, I’ve left you all on that cliffhanger for quite a while! It’s been a busy few weeks. The G&S Ball was great fun, the amount of detail that must have gone into planning it was incredible – everyone had tiny little golden pencils and cute little dance cards with a gold cord to fasten it to your wrist, the food was amazing, the dancing was very cleverly organised (old-world dance names like cotillion and galop, but simple ceilidh dances with a caller) and the orchestra was brilliant, playing magnificently-arranged G&S medleys. My feet were in a total state by the time I got home, I couldn’t walk comfortably for two days (don’t dance in heels, girls) but it was worth it.

After that, the choir tour got going. We had a whole string of 13-hour days with concerts in Kent, London, Lichfield, Cambridgeshire etc. One of the London concerts was an NSPCC Benefit in Southwark Cathedral where I met Floella Benjamin! She was so friendly and lovely, and chatted to me and my friend Emma for ages – we only stopped because we were dragged away to get the coach home. I loved the Hullaballoo videos as a kid which is why I was so desperate to meet her, but she has done all kinds of incredible things as well. It’s been a good year for meeting my heros.

Some other highlights from the choir tour: carol singing in the freezing cold marketplace to raise money for the America tour, lots of giggling with New Kristie, Disney sing-a-long on the coach, hilarity/panic when four people got themselves stuck at Letchworth Garden City, “electrifying” singing in Lichfield Cathedral, amazingly delicious food in Kent… the list could go on for hours.

By last Sunday I was exhausted and had a stinking cold, complete with hacking cough for extra fun. I cleared my washing up cupboard for the first time all term (noteworthy event) and packed probably way too many clothes for seventeen days.

Monday – Friday I was in Manchester, which was bitterly cold and full of excellent people. On Thursday we went to a boatyard and helped steam two planks onto a canal boat, which probably doesn’t sound like much fun to most people but was fantastic. I’ve met a whole bunch of cool people this week.

Now I’m at my dad’s house for a few days, which always means lots of lounging around and watching films and wearing pyjamas. Last night we went to see the new Sherlock Holmes film. I think I remember the old one being rather better, but it was exactly what we were hoping for – totally devoid of plot, full of ridiculously overblown fights and snappy one-liners, and gorgeous costumes. We were at the Rex cinema in Elland, which is one of a handful of cinemas left that still has an Intermission in the middle of the film, and on Tuesday evenings has an organist who plays during silent films. It’s a great place and I was quite sad to see that there were maybe a dozen people there. But it’s still going against all the odds, and its ticket prices are the lowest in the area.

Today I’m off into town to do some last-minute Christmas shopping, and maybe drop in on my foster family on the way back. It’s very odd being back in the town I did most of my growing up in. I feel this way whenever I come back; I never do see anyone from school, and if I did I doubt we’d recognise each other anyway, but I still feel a bit uncomfortable. On the other hand it’s familiar and I already know I’ll end up back here when I’m older. Yorkshire is in my blood, I think.