Thursday, 9 October 2014

Decorating the Hilda Ogden Way

There's been some decorating going on in these here parts. I have to admit we haven't been DIY-ing this time though, but instead got Derek the Decorator on the case. He's done two weeks' worth for us and has completely transformed the living room, hallway and the stairs up to the first floor.

This little nook in the hallway has undergone quite a transformation. 
From this:
Via this
To this:
And this. The jug has since been moved and replaced with a photo since the 'artfully arranged twigs' looked a bit much against such busy wallpaper.
What do you think of the wallpaper? Not everyone's cup of tea I'm sure, but we absolutely love it. We first spied it in the window of a lovely ironmongers in Warwick when we were up there for the mediaeval glamping experience last summer. I then sent off for some samples in the various colourways. They arrived, we oohed and ahhed over them and then promptly put them away in a drawer.
But when we knew Derek was soon to arrive it set us to thinking of we really wanted in the hallway, and our minds went back to this wallpaper. We both really liked this colourway and we happened upon a paint that we felt went well with it, and so we decided to go for it. At £60+ a roll it was a nail biting decision because if we didn't like it, it was quite an expensive mistake to make (thank goodness we only needed one roll.)
But, luckily, we both absolutely love it. It's certainly got a touch of Hilda Ogden about it, don't you think?!?
It's by Little Greene and is called Great Ormond Street (in the cappuccino colourway in this instance), in case you were wondering. Apparently it's based on a wallpaper removed from the ground floor rear closet of a very early-18th century house opposite Great Ormond Street Hospital (according to the LG website.) 

The rest of the hallway and the walls up the stairs to the first floor have also been decorated, although just with paint rather than overdraft-enducing wallpaper. We've gone from white:
to 'wheatgrass' (aka beige...)
And up the first part of the stairs, again from white...
to wheat.
The wall at the top has been painted, but I was too eager to get a photo to wait for it to be done. 

Next time I'll show you the changes in the living room/dining room/kitchen - I bet you can hardly wait!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

House Swap Holiday in New England: the shopping!

I cannot tell a lie, I do love to shop. Be it for clothes, furniture, books, or even groceries, I enjoy the browsing, the choosing and the buying. And in the USA I love to shop even more - there is just so much choice and so, of course, my bag came back bulging at the seams and only just shy of its maximum weight limit of 50lb. 

Here's a glimpse of what the kitchen table looked like when I started to unpack my haul.
Then I stacked some of it neatly on the side.
Here are the books. All are cozy crime; got to get my fix while Stateside since they are harder to come by in the UK; best thing was that most of them were second hand - got to love a bargain or 18...)
And here they are in alphabetical order...
Some beauty products; good to stock up on the Clinique while going through duty free and Aer Lingus had a great deal on the perfume that I've been wanting to buy for ages, so I couldn't say no. The Aveda box set is destined to be a gift (no one specific in mind but it looked so nice that I couldn't resist; however, I may find it difficult to part with...)

A selection of clothes; shirt on the left for me, t-shirts for DC. We also bought him a coat which I forgot to add to the line-up, and several more t-shirts. Spoilt.

Craft/home/migraine-solving items

And let's not forget the food stuffs...
Jars of sweet and savoury goodness from the fabulous Stonewall Kitchen. It's fair to say that these jars and the books are probably what added most to the suitcase weight issue.
Savoury goodies. 
Biscuit-shaped goodness.
Chocolate-coated goodness.
Gooey, pouring/spreading goodness.
And a couple of seasonal additions to the home. I already collect the Department 56 Dickens Village series of figures and buildings, and I've wanted to collect the Hallowe'en series for a while so I thought I'd make a start with this little chap.
Plus, of course, some Christmas decorations to add to our ever-growing collection. The one on the far right is of a covered bridge, something you see quite a lot of in New Hampshire and Vermont.
And finally, a little something for the walls. This is a giclee print by the American artist Sabra Field. Hubby and I spotted this when we were looking through the window of a gallery in Woodstock one evening; the gallery was shut at the time so we went back the next day for a closer look and fell in love with several of her prints. In the end we settled for this one which is entitled 'Snow on Snow on Snow.' Apologies for the pretty feeble photos, but I find it really tricky to get a good shot of anything that's framed because the light just bounces off the glass.

 I also picked up this print when Mum & I visited The House of the Seven Gables in Salem; it reminds me of the cover of a cozy crime book and I thought it would look good in the snug. One day I might actually get round to buying a frame for it and hanging it on the wall.
And that's it! Congratulations on making it to the end of this post (especially if shopping isn't really your thing.)

Thursday, 25 September 2014

House Swap Holiday in New England: Part IV, Massachusetts

Massachusetts was our final destination for this summer's holiday; it was just a brief two-night stopover and two of hubby's friends very kindly put us up. We didn't arrive until early evening on the Wednesday and by lunchtime on the Friday we were heading to the airport, but that still gave us all day Thursday and we decided a trip to Boston was in order.

And what better way to entertain a small boy who has quite a thing for Octonauts, than a visit to the New England Aquarium

We found Dory, but no sign of Nemo

piranha - scary!
not a ghost, but a ray

our friends' house - like something from Desperate Housewives
the last supper
sign on the way to the airport - all well and good as long as you're not late for your flight!

homeward bound after a fantastic holiday; already looking forward to the next one!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Book Review No 11: A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke

I seem to make a habit of reading these sort of books when I'm on holiday. I've mentioned before that I tend to take books away with me that have languished on the bookcase for far too long; books that I'm clearly not sure about and ones that I might be happy to leave behind. And this fitted all those categories.

There was a time when books about people living overseas, travelling the world, or just doing odd/different things with their lives appealed to me. Perhaps it was a phase I was going through where I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my own life, and I looked for inspiration in these sort of books. Now I'm older and I still don't know what I want to do with my life, but books like this don't inspire me, instead they tend to annoy me (my reviews of this book, this one and especially this one are cases in point.) Mostly they seem to be trying too hard to be funny or outrageous or both. I don't mind funny or outrageous, but I do object to the 'trying too hard' bit. So, why do I keep reading them? Well, they're on my bookcase, they're great for holidays (see reasons above), and maybe, one day, I'll find one that I really enjoy.

I'm afraid I can't add the usual 'blurb from the back' here as I left the book in Spain (which just goes to show how far behind I am with my reviews since we were there at the end of May...), so I'll just crack on with my thoughts/review. The book is definitely very readable; it's the sort of book you can fly through in a couple of days if you're in the zone, although I admit it took me probably three or four days to finish (at home it would probably have taken a good couple of weeks, if not longer.) There are quite a few laugh-out-loud moments, a few snigger-to-yourself sections and also some interesting points to learn about the French. However, the author clearly had such a bad time living and working in France that it does beg the question: why did you stay there for a year then?

I think it's fair to say that I enjoyed the book, but I certainly didn't love it and certainly I won't go hunting for any other books by this author. If you have an interest in France or have ever lived, worked or travelled there, perhaps the book would be worth a read; but, then again, it might prove extremely annoying to anyone who knows France well and who sees this Englishman as a complete moron and xenophobe.

Friday, 19 September 2014

House Swap Summer Holiday in New England: Part III, Vermont

Without wishing to offend any of the other states that make up New England, I think Vermont is my favourite. I can't put my finger on exactly why that is, perhaps it's a mix of lots of things like the pretty villages and towns, the people, the green-ness, the vistas. Who knows? But whatever it is, I like it.

As with New Hampshire, this was a fairly fleeting visit as we spent just three nights in Woodstock (a favourite town from our previous visit to Vermont) before moving on to Massachusetts.

Yes, it's a year-round Christmas shop

Hours of fun splashing in the river


There was a book sale at the library and I may have bought just a couple
Three billy goats gruff

View from the maple syrup farm

Old school diner

Hubby and I were VERY excited to make a return visit to this fantastic bookshop - Mystery on Main in Brattelboro
The weather in New England sometimes mirrored that of old England!