Sunday, 4 August 2013

Living room new things

This weekend, I ventured to House of Fraser with my mum as she was in need of some new sheets to fit her new giant mattress in her new house and being a dutiful daughter, I was roped in to standing in the bedding section, debating the perfect shade of white for aforementioned new sheets.

Of course, once I had been replaced by a lovely sales assistant who sensed my boredom/distraction, I was free to roam the homeware department to my heart's content and I was pretty impressed with what I saw. I ended up walking out with a couple of pieces for the flat, two of which I wanted to share with you. 

The first is this off-white snake print leather magazine holder from HOF's Casa Couture range. When my mother spotted me wandering around with it slung over my arm, she immediately demanded that I go and pick one up for her too which, if you know my mother and her impeccable taste, is the ultimate stamp of approval.

My second item is a candle. Now, don't laugh. As most women attest, you reach a certain age and suddenly find yourself lusting over overpriced smelly candles. Its an inexplicable condition. My particular weaknesses are Jo Malone's Pomegranate Noir (of course) and Diptyque Figuier. Unfortunately, spending £40+ on something that you burn is not really an option on my budget (friends please note: these are excellent gifts, should you wish to buy me one) so I'm always scouring for cool candles. Waiting to pay for the magazine holder, I cast my eyes around and they landed on this Linea vanilla and fig candle, or more specifically its silver topper - very Jo Malone and the scent is divine. Coupled with the fact that they're reduced from £15 to £7.50, I wish I'd bought more. 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Into the sun, part two

Oops. Not being very efficient at this whole blogging thing, am I? It's been almost an entire month since my last post. Sorry, day job got a little crazy.


As I mentioned in my last post, when it came to our outdoor space, despite our monumental weekend of potting, painting and scrubbing, we still had much to do on our smaller terrace, the main thing being getting rid of the old rusty fireplace, unused shower panel and all manner of detritus that was cluttering up the space.

Once again, we fell on the mercy of our lovely friend Owen and his giant tank of a people carrier so that we could finally get rid of all of the things that needed to go. A quick google and we found out that there's a Reuse & Recycle centre less than two miles from us, so rather than everything going to landfill and us feeling guilty, it could all be, um, reused and recycled. The shower panel itself weighed in the region of 30kg so I got out of the way, stood on the stairs and snapped photos of the removal process:

In the process of getting rid of everything, we made the discovery that our resident pigeons, angry at the fact that we've closed off their Pigeon Hotel roost, had taken to laying eggs wherever they could - under the tarp that covered the bikes and shower panel, on top of a left over bit of turf and so on. I mean, seriously, worst nest ever?:

Anyway, with pigeon eggs and shower panels vacated, a quick scrub of the tiles and some rearranging meant we were good to go for a day of lounging on the terrace.

We had loungers from our old house which was handy as the second the sun comes out, everything sells out in Homebase. I picked up the outdoor rug the weekend before when I'd popped into a random TK Maxx while I was running errands in Greenford and spotted it in the clearance section for a bargainous £7. I'd been looking for a nice one for a while and it seems that the idea hasn't really taken off in the UK as such.

My obsession with outdoor rugs led to endless googling that always clicked through to American sites or the big blue behemoth, whose contribution to the outdoor rug market was frankly not that exciting. You might be wondering why on earth I wanted an outdoor rug in the first place. Simply, the tiles heat up massively so walking barefoot isn't all that pleasant and secondly, well, they just look nice. Plus, this one is reversible so depending on my mood, it can either be more pink or yellow.

On my TK Maxx adventures I also picked up some awesome plastic plates, perfect for outdoor dining without the worry of stuff breaking. I paid £2.99 for this pink version and £3.99 for a larger light green one.

Now, fingers crossed for another sunny weekend!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Into the sun

At last, London had a weekend of sun and now, if reports are to be believed, a heat wave is coming.  Mr Flatzilla and I decided to celebrate the burgeoning sun by spending two days outside, working on our terraces. Up until now, all we’d done was painted one set of railings thanks to bad weather and empty bank accounts but pay day rolled round last Friday along with a bit of sunshine so we got going.

Our first task was to make Holly the sausage somewhere to call her own. Up until now, we’ve either had to carry her down to the street or sluice the terrace every time she did her business so Sausage Park was born. I’ve been watching various youtube videos about things called Porch Potties but the idea of shelling out vast sums of money for what was essentially a pimped up plastic box seemed nonsensical.

We already had the perfect box – an old Dilling under bed storage box from Ikea that we’d lugged over and two 25kg bags of soil so we hopped in the car to B&Q to buy a roll of turf.

The first step was to drill a load of drainage holes to stop the grass from becoming waterlogged, then we started filling with the bags of top soil. Originally, I’d planned to fill it to the top but as Mr F pointed out, this would've meant using almost 4 bags of top soil and meaning that the Sausage Park would weigh in at a staggering 100kg, or close enough making it virtually immobile. Plus, with only two bags worth, the soil came to a level that meant the turf fitted the box's width perfectly. 

And so, Sausage Park was born and Holly immediately hopped in and christened it, success!

On to the rest of the work and new purchases.Mr F grabbed sanding things, paint brushes and rail paint and got to work while I went on a flower binge in Homebase. Never did I think that I would be the type to spend my weekend wandering around garden centres and comparing different types of lavender but apparently something funny happens when you have outdoor space to call your own. £60 lighter, I'd acquired two types of lavender, a chilli plant, two veggie planters and an assortment of flowers. The lavender plants were both for inside and outside as we get an influx of flies at certain times of the day and after a quick google I discovered that they hate lavender and even though I'm not a fan myself, I dislike flies even more.

As money is tight (although not when it comes to plants, it seems), I've been scouring every website going to find a nice bistro set for the smaller terrace. We currently have a massive six person table sitting in storage, awaiting a time when we can figure out how to drag it up onto the roof but we needed something mini for the odd drink or meal outside. I became obsessed with the Soho set from John Lewis in yellow but when the red set suddenly went into the clearance sale, down from £69 to £48, I figured it would be a better choice as it wouldn't reflect the light nearly as much - there is no greater middle class problem than a bistro table that reflects too much sun as you drink your tea on a sunny Sunday morning.

So after potting, painting and unpacking, we finally have a little place to call our own sun trap (our bikes and remaining shower door that needs to go to the dump are cropped out of what you see here - that's THIS weekend).

Friday, 28 June 2013

Little Kingdoms

As I mentioned in my previous post, since we finally moved into our little flat, Mr Flatzilla and I really haven’t had an opportunity to actually spend much time in our new home.

The reason being that my mum sold our family home of 27 years. As such, we have spent the last five weeks in a constant state of packing, cleaning and more packing. The house that I was fortunate enough to grow up in was beautiful – golden Canadian maple floors, Art Deco as far as the eye can see and a large garden that my friends and I could roam in, later swapping games of tag for lounging, grilling meat on the barbeque and drinking wine in the sun.

It truly was the most beautiful house, so when my mum sat me down and told me she was selling up, I went through several different emotions. At first, I was dubious – over the last decade, my mum has told me she’s selling the house approximately every 18 months or so, so perhaps I didn’t take it as seriously as I would’ve otherwise but this time, it was for real.

After realizing that this was in fact happening, I journeyed through what I can only describe as a spectrum of emotions. It’s funny, I’ve tried to type the next few paragraphs about how I really feel several times since but when it comes to putting it into actual words, it is a very different matter. I sit at my keyboard and I start to feel my eyes sting for a number of reasons or I get a little lump in my throat – sadness, a little guilt, relief but in the end, happiness at what this move as meant for all of us. It’s a long story and not one that perhaps I am really quite ready to share but I will tell you this:

In the final week, watching as paintings came down, furniture was wrapped in bubble wrap and all of the little touches that made it our home disappeared, it became a house once more. Still, a beautiful house but no longer the little kingdom that it once was.

So, goodbye Perryn Road. I will miss you. Yes, I do still have the occasional little pang but I’m sure your new family will love you just as much as we did and make you beautiful in a new way.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Oops / Hurrah

Oops, almost a month since my last post. Since we moved into the flat, we haven't had much time to ourselves as my mother was also moving, nor have we had the internet bar a really poor wifi dongle, so to everyone who's been in touch via email and twitter, Mr Flatzilla and I are very much not dead.

To our continuing joy, we are now move-free (bar the bags I have cunningly hidden behind the sofa) and once again back online, expect a lot of new posts over the coming weeks and thank you for your patience!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Blind rage

As you may've seen on some of the photos I've posted on here and on my instagram (@antoniaesque), our flat has beautiful big old Victorian sash windows, some of which even have the original mottled glass. Having massive windows means that even on the rainiest, darkest days our flat has been filled with natural light, which is lovely - to a point.

With our bedroom facing east, since we moved in Mr Flatzilla and I have been woken every day without fail at 5:30am or earlier. Well, I get woken and then I wake up Mr F with my huffing, puffing and duvet throwing about. You see, the sunlight pours straight through the window and hits me square in the face, like target practice. As such, I spent last Saturday in a hideous grump after the day dawned particularly bright and sunny, turning our bed into an oven.

Now, prior to moving in, we'd assessed this problem and duly, I added 'buy blinds before moving' to my endless list of flat-related activities. Except, buying blinds for a window that is 2 metres in height and 1.3 metres wide is not an easy task. This strikes me as odd seeing as there are plenty of Victorian houses in this country, many of which I'm sure have equally large windows. Systematically, I plowed through the options - B&Q, Homebase, John Lewis, IKEA and then a few more, until each had been crossed off my list. None had ready made blinds, so we'd have to have them made to order which is no cheap or easy feat.

Looking around at all of the options (and baulking at the prices), I settled on Not my first choice but they fell within our budget, had a decent range of styles that could be produced in the sizes we needed and had an express option that meant the blinds would be with us on the Saturday that we moved in. So, I ordered them in, paid the extra charge for a Saturday delivery and duly scuttled over to the flat at the crack of dawn to await the delivery.

And waited. And waited. And waited a little bit more.

While the boys lugged the furniture up the stairs and the men from the National Grid traipsed in and out of our flat to deal with the building's gas leak, I stood guard by the window, keeping an eye out for the City Link van.

When it got to 11:30am and nothing had appeared, I started getting antsy. Calling the company seemed to be the best option, only to be told that thanks to a human error, our blinds were not being delivered on the day that I'd requested and paid extra for, they would in fact be with us on Monday.

At this point, full-on BLIND RAGE kicked in. No explanation, other than someone at their end had messed up. No offer of compensation and when I asked to speak to a manager, they were unavailable. Double blind rage. So, the handyman who I'd booked was paid a half day rate and packed off, told to return on Monday as the blinds were now rebooked for a Monday pre-9am delivery.

But of course, they weren't. Somewhere between the two companies, and City Link, they'd managed to once again mess up our request. Our blinds were not booked on a pre-9am but a pre-noon. Which is great if you don't mind hanging around all day, twiddling your thumbs and waiting for a non-existent delivery. Funnily though, Mr F and I both have jobs so we couldn't sit on the sofa, drinking tea and watching Jeremy Kyle. City Link were about as helpful as a broken wrist at an arm wrestling competition - noone could get hold of the depot, or the driver or apparently their own brain for long enough to figure out where the hell our blinds actually were.

At this point, I'd had to leave the house to actually go to work, all the while alternating between airing my grievances at Simon at (who was actually very nice and helpful in the end, offering us a part-refund for the trauma) and City Link (who were neither, nice, helpful or even remotely apologetic for their incompetence).

So, third time lucky, right? I wish. Now, the sensible thing to do (at least in my book) if there's a pre-9am delivery booked and the driver is not going to make the delivery because of traffic is for the driver to call the intended recipient. Apparently not in City Link's books. More waiting, more rage and finally, a late delivery but I couldn't face another day of dealing with incompetence so I figured being late to work would be worth the hassle saved.

Anyway, the long and short of it, the blinds did eventually arrive but our handyman was now booked up, so we have fallen on the mercy of Mr F's Dad to come and fit them. I am very excited as by the time I get home tonight, the black out blind will be up in the bedroom and I will actually be able to get more than five hours of consecutive sleep, making me a far less grumpy version of myself.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The never ending move

Apologies for the radio silence, blogging is somewhat difficult when you don't have an internet connection but you do have a gas leak, as we found out two days before we were due to move in. Cue panic, no hot water and lots of men in hi-vis vests digging up the pavement outside our building and feeding spray glue through the pipes in hopes that they wouldn't have to rip out our fresh walls to replace the entire building's pipes, which was a distinct and rather scary possibility.

We started moving in last Saturday and it feels like we haven't stopped since. For the initial lugging of the kitchen table, bed and the giant sofa bed (that needed to be taken apart at 11pm on a Friday night after one too many drinks and then was the biggest logistical nightmare to get up the tiny stairs of our building) we were very lucky to have Mr F's best friend Owen and brother-in-law-Rob come to help him heave the heavy stuff upstairs which was great as neither myself or Holly the sausage are much use with bulky things.

Since then, we've been lugging over box after bag after box in carloads whenever we can but it's a slow process as we're having to clear out and edit our lives. Okay, maybe not OUR lives, more MY life as it turns out that I have a never ending amount of stuff that I have accumulated over the years.

I am by my own admission a natural born hoarder and at first, the experience was painful but as I've got into it, I've found myself filling sacks for the bin and bags of clothes for the charity shop. The other day, Mr Flatzilla watched as I systematically emptied an entire massive under bed storage box into the charity shop bag after retrieving just two or three items.

This is a short post but over the next few days, I've got plenty to recount - the blinds from hell, blocking off the Pigeon hotel and a whole heap of other stories that I can tell you now that we have a temporary wifi dongle to see us through the internet drought.