Ad Lib House Move

Gosh, has it really been seven months since I wrote a blog post? Part of me can’t believe it’s been such a long time, and another part of me can’t believe it’s only been seven months. It’s been a busy summer and I’ve crossed more than one thing off my bucket list!

So last time I checked in, it was February and I had just had my 26th birthday. I’d recently started a Masters course in Child Welfare, we’d had our anxious rescue dog for six months, and I was rehearsing for the local light opera group’s spring production. We were settled into the cottage and Naomi was in the swing of her clinical psychology training. Paige was still wary of the dog, but we’d put up baby gates and everyone was fairly comfortable. I even remember musing that it would be nice to have a period of stability where I could catch my breath and put down roots after several years of constant change.

But of course such a state of stability could not last! In April, we were visiting Naomi’s parents for Easter when we got a slightly odd text message from our landlady, asking where we were thinking would be a more suitable place for us to live long-term. I assumed this was something to do with the conversation I’d had with her about how we’d like to make the front garden a bit more wheelchair-accessible by returning what had once been a gate but had been blocked up by a trellis to its former state, and a passing comment I’d made about living somewhere less hilly. Naomi wasn’t so sure. Either way, we didn’t reply immediately as we were on holiday.

Two days later we got another text: the landlady had decided to sell the house. She wasn’t going to renew our tenancy and we would have to move out.

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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.


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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In September, Birmingham is where it’s at!

This time last year almost to the day, I commented on how much was happening in Birmingham at that time – the Library of Birmingham had its gala opening, the FourSquares weekend took place across the city, I volunteered at a literary festival… it seemed like every week there was something new going on.

The city is a work of art
Certainly true of Birmingham!

Two years does not a representative sample make, but this September has turned out to be even more eventful. I finished my final placement of first year in the first week of the month and since then I’ve been busy almost every day. Continue reading

And then there were two… my new room mate has arrived!

Sharp-eyed readers or those in the know will have spotted a couple of things in the photos from my last post which will make more sense after this one!

I’ve wanted a cat for a very long time – my family have had cats on and off for at least the last ten years, and when I moved out I missed having them around. For a while I did have an illicit pet mouse in my room in college (somewhat an inadvertent acquisition when my neighbour bought one and then discovered she was allergic to rodents…) but as adorable as Stilton was, she was not very good at cuddling.

For the last month or so I’ve been wrangling with the RSPCA, who were very helpful but for various reasons not very efficient, and the upshot is… please welcome Paige! 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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Of Jobs and Swallows

I realised that I didn’t write anything about my job interview at a National Trust house! It all happened quite quickly; the closing date for the application was Thursday 23rd and they rang me on Friday, asking me to come in on Tuesday morning.

I might as well say now that I didn’t get the job (I was second on the list, apparently, from a shortlist of nine). I was very disappointed because it was a really great job, but it would have meant giving up all three of the weeks I’m meant to be away this summer, so there is a small positive.

It’s the first time that I’ve actively enjoyed a job interview! Not so much the interview itself, although the two people interviewing me were friendly and pleasant, but once the interview was over they gave me a free ticket to the house and got me booked onto the first tour of the day. Tickets cost about £10 usually so it more than made up for the cost of getting there.

The house was great! And the gardens and grounds were nice too, although not the best ones I’ve seen. I was there before the place was officially open, so I wandered around outside chatting to the staff who were working – gardeners, grooms, tour guides and volunteers, and they were all happy to chat. I would really love to work for the National Trust, but it seems that now is not the time to start.

I took some photos while I was outside, and one inside, but there is no electrical light inside so there wasn’t a lot of point taking more.

There was a nest of baby swallows in the barn roof
One of the beautiful old cars
This red Rover had been rebuilt, I think
The last two owners of the house both rowed for their Cambridge colleges

I also heard back from the cleaning agency again, after the interview a couple of weeks ago. They had found a client for me, but unfortunately when I told them that I’d be returning to uni at the end of September (I’d told them that before but it hadn’t been passed on) they decided not to give me that client after all, but to put me down for holiday cover and one-off cleans. So I might not get any work at all from that. I’m trying to be Zen about it all.

There’s a Weird Green Bug on the Window

He obligingly stayed on the window until I'd taken the photo, then left

I’m still trying to find work, without much progress, although I did get a response from the cleaning agency when I emailed to ask what was happening: she’s been on holiday and I should have an interview very soon. So that’s good!

As well as weird bugs hanging out on the window, we’ve also got some new tenants in the field next to the house. For context, our house is a bit like those houses children draw: two windows on each floor and a door in the middle, although the porch stuck onto the front right-hand side usually doesn’t make it into toddler art. To the left of the house as you’re facing it is the road, and over the road is the orchard and vegetable patch which fills up most of my mum’s spare time and also fills the freezers. To the right is a field which comes with the house. It’s very, very steep and completely useless for crops (most of the farming in this area is livestock), so the farmer who rents the field uses it for sheep.

The one on the far right is my favourite

Our living room has French windows that look out onto the field, and when we’re sitting in there in the evenings watching TV, the sheep come to the fence and peer through at us. Sometimes they seem to be actually watching the television with us, which I suppose isn’t all that wild an idea – if all I had for entertainment was grass and a manky bath full of dirty water, I’d probably be snooping on other people’s TV as well. Last night I was looking at the sheep looking at us, and noticed that at the base of the fence a tiny frog was trying to climb over the gate. He was clinging to the bar with his front legs, and scrabbling with his back legs. I have no idea why he didn’t just go underneath the gate. In the end he just gave up and sat down on the step for a while.

I'm finally happy with this corner

All this free time has meant that my bedroom is the tidiest it has ever been (and probably ever will be again). I’ve sorted out the corner I wouldn’t photograph last time and moved some things from the other corner of the room onto my chest of drawers. My bluebird print by Tamara Garvey is up; I bought it to cheer up my room in Paris but it looks perfect in this room too, and hopefully it will look lovely wherever I end up next year as well. You can’t see it properly thanks to the reflection of the mirror but you can see it in her Etsy shop, and actually buy your own if you want to. The frame cost about five times what the print cost. Oh well.

That tiny pink blob that’s in front of the Joni Mitchell LP is a tiny paper lantern which the six year old in Paris bought and gave to me. It doesn’t really go anywhere but I like to keep it around. The ladybird card is from my dad’s partner and contained a train ticket to go and visit them next month 🙂


Natural Cheer

Whenever I get too angry or upset, I just look out of the window and instantly feel a little bit better.

This is the view from the window beside my desk
Across the garden
The front garden pond is home to frogs, newts and my stepdad's beloved goldfish
These tiny blue flowers just make me smile
The front of our house, with the office window almost obscured by the holly tree.
Beautiful big red poppies

I might not know the names of all the plants, and I’m not really interested in growing them myself, but I’m glad my mum and stepdad do because they just make me feel a bit better.