A Woman In A Man’s Loft

We took the ‘Man Loft’ by the horns this weekend.

There was only ever going to be one way to do this.

There is simply no time to be lily-livered.

I have surpassed my own expectations and have gone from a hoarder to a hurler (check out the arms below if you don’t believe me).

And oh how therapeutic this weekend been.

The whole house has been like a building site but my *soul is beautifully cleansed.

*Note to self – too much Shakespeare on a Friday night is not good for a loft review

So here I am on my tea break surveying the efforts of my project management.  If I’m going to do manual labour, tea is an essential.  Well actually, tea is essential full stop.

Notice I’m doing the unthinkable here and instead of showing a picture of my hot steaming Latte, I’m showing a picture of me steaming in the extra hot loft drinking my tea looking – well, Lofty.

Nice Cup of Tea

Credit : Industrial Lighting courtesy of Iron Man

I always ask myself whether posts are going to hit the right note and be of interest before publishing.  Lofts are a bit of a dry subject and there is nothing special about mine but I’m guessing you have one too or have been on this same journey and I hope that you will humour me with this series.

(Or him!)

Cash in The Attic

So upon realising he is about to lose some vital man space, Iron Man has entered into the spirit of cash in the attic and having realised he has got some pretty top retro gaming equipment, he is up and down the ladder quicker than you can shout ‘I’ll take it’.

And whilst he is caught up with the world trading markets, I am taking the opportunity to get some organisation going on in the space that he has called home for all these years.

I’m guessing there’s going to be some kind of mourning period for him as we say goodbye to the loft ladder for the last time but we are ready to catch him when he falls.

This loft is testament to the fact that I love a lever arch file.  My passion for a course is evident here.

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And of course there were going to be ‘finds’.

This is the tankard presented to me when I moved on from my time in the Harrier Project Office at the Ministry of Defence.  Oh how I loved it there.  The tankard was a rite of passage presented to those that had successfully achieved membership of the Friday lunchtime drinking club.  In my early 20s, I joined the service men and women for a weekly tour of some of London’s finest public houses.  I wonder where they all are now.

White van driverAnd then there was the floristry business and my little van.  A real life lesson on how to go to Plan B when Plan A fails – and quickly.  Some wonderful support from family and friends for which I will always be grateful.  Lots of shoe leather, sweat and tears and recoveries from doors closing in the face.  And then success.

And the opportunity to provide flowers for some wonderful weddings, events and venues including The Queen’s House and London Zoo.  These are photos of photos so the quality is not great.

My little business which I started after quitting many years of work in the City.

I kept going through to my seventh month of pregnancy where size dicated that I was no longer able to climb into the mystery machine.

And then for a few months after The Kid arrived.

Talking of which, here she comes ……….

Kid in the Loft

Look at all of that clear space!  I still cannot imagine it being a bedroom though.

And then some oldies and goodies.

Rowntrees Dairy Milk Box

A chocolate box belonging to my mother and father.  Used by my father for paperwork after the chocolates had been eaten.  He was a very organised man but also loved to keep things in case they came in handy.  There is a lesson here.

Really cute to see that they had written their names next to their favourites.  Nuts for dad and Aero and soft centres for mum.  That never changed.  With Coffee Cream and Turkish Delight being the poor relations, not much has changed there either.

And as was the East End way, the beautiful wedding china – saved for best.  22 carat gold.  One can only imagine how precious it must have been to receive these.  They are too good to be in the loft but then there is the fear of breakage.

I need to give some thought to where in the house they can be safely displayed.

So that is the first cut – still a way to go but we are on a roll now.

I have found it very easy to clear and chuck.  If things are important they stay and will be included in the fabric of the house.  Other essentials will go in the eaves.

And in lieu of a treat for The Kid for her school report, I gift her these beauties so that she may know how important it is to grasp the basics.  She will be expected to use them during the summer holidays in a logical manner, concurrent with a child of her age.

Accounting. Quantitative Analysis

And, if she chooses to stand on them in order to reach the mirror to apply her lip gloss then she will do so will my full blessing.

Because, here within these books is a month of my life that I won’t get back.

No further education on this subject required – thank you very much.

There will now be a temporary interlude in loft updates until the big build commences.

Feel free to share your stories in my comments section.

And, once again, thank you for reading.

Nicky

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Loft Conversion : Bathroom Ideas

High flush toilet

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are about to have our loft converted and I am using the blog, not only to share my ideas (and hopefully gain more)  but also to help crystallise my decision process.  It’s also an opportunity for me to flex my creative muscle and perhaps to dip into the world of Pinterest and Instagram a little bit more for ideas.

I always find that an idea or scheme tends to come from something quite simple which then forms the basis of the design.  Our existing bathroom colours and design all stemmed from a towel that I liked.  The towel duly accompanied us to every bathroom, tile and paint showroom until I could see it all coming together.  Always good to have a dry run with your props in a pre-prepared bathroom mock-up in Homebase!  No point not liking it when it’s too late is there.

So, we will gain a largish bedroom and bathroom which will be all for us.  Grown-up space.

The bathroom is getting the attention at the moment and our recent foray into a bathroom showroom has shown how much choice there is today compared to eight years ago.  I started with an idea in my head which involved a bit of pattern.  We are also working slightly blind here as we only have rough room sizes to go on at the moment but we will need to buy quickly once things are underway.

Of course, all the ideas I am seeing are in huuuuuge bathroom displays and there will have to be a scaling down exercise to fit our humble abode!

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Bizarrely, I was immediately drawn to a marble effect sink.  Initially thinking how ugly it was, I kept finding myself going back to it. They say everything makes a resurgence and marble it seems is no exception.  Up until now, I would have given marble a complete swerve.  Whilst very fashionable and decadent in the 70s, marble has probably been quite high on my ‘gawdy’ factor list for many years.  I really love this bathroom set up and the colour ways.

Marble sink. Patterned tiles. Higt flush toilet.

As tends to be the way, I have since on a recent holiday found myself bumping into marble sinks everywhere.  The hotel room and possibly every bathroom I visited.  I have to confess to having become rather taken with the idea now.

Marble Sink

I am also very taken with the high flush toilets.  The very same ones that everyone couldn’t wait to rip out and replace with the low flush modern systems.  Funny that!  I need to seek some more practical advise on the wisdom of this but I can see it working quite nicely alongside the sink.  In terms of practicalities, I’m not sure we will have sufficient height for this sort of toilet.  I’m absolutely loving these tiles though.  This is the pattern loving part of me being addressed.

High flush toilet

I am also rather fond of the white brick tiles in the bathroom – this idea lends itself to the pattern being on the floor.

White brick tiles.

I pretty much have a free hand on colour schemes and designs in the home and Iron Man’s only stipulation is that we have a walk in shower cubicle that doesn’t feel like a telephone box with a decent pressure shower.   We have seen several that would be suitable and favour those with minimum chrome.  Something like this would be perfect.

Shower Cubicle

With the addition of some not so modern taps perhaps.

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So I guess on reflection, a couple of points are starting to emerge in terms of colour – I seem to be drawn towards grey and white.  The style is leaning towards old-fashioned with a bit of a modern twist.

The thing I want to particularly avoid is having everything in a line.  Obviously the bathroom won’t be huge but I do like to create an illusion of space where possible.

The next step is to address some of the practical issues around sizes and heights.

What do we think of the marble idea then?

Would love to hear views and suggestions.

Nicky

 

 

Home Etc

We’re Going Through The Roof

A decision has been very quickly reached in the household in the last few weeks.

Not just reached, but put into action.  There really is no stopping us.

Quite swift work I should say.

The decision has been made to go up rather than out.

I talk not about our svelte-like physiques but our home.

We have decided to have a loft conversion.

Loft Hatch

Rumour has it that this is due to Iron Man’s terrible snoring.

Personally, I will not have a word said against this man.  

It’s bad enough that he is going to be losing some key ‘man space’.

Lofts (particularly ours) are his domain.   The place where he goes to ‘not put things away properly’.  My only role is to shout futile instructions from the bottom of the ladder.

I do the occasional ‘Ofloft’ inspection and have made some very useful recommendations.  Whether or not they have been acted upon is another matter.

Finding boot sale stuff in the Christmas section is really hurtful when you’ve put so much effort into being the remote assistant.  

But it’s none of these things.  It’s space and we need more of it.  Actually, we want more of it. 

But what we gain in space we lose in storage.

Storage Boxes

This will mean a bit of fine tuning in the hoarding department.

Well more than that.  More like a damn good clear out, several hissy fits and floods of sentimental tears as we say goodbye to a lot of stuff that I we would probably rather keep.

I cannot stand clutter but I also don’t like to part with sentimental things.

I realise that makes me sound quite mad and I’m sure that when I hug my curtains from John Burns Drive, my first big girl home of 25 years ago, I will appear even madder.

The fact that these curtains have been in the roof for 20 years and are unlikely to come out again means that their journey down the loft ladder will probably be their last.

I’m still going to have a bloody good cry though.  They were my pride and joy.   My lovely top floor flat in Barking could well have been a Penthouse in Manhattan.  It was that wonderful.

I guess a good sign that an item is no longer useful is when it’s still in the removal box from the last home.

Packing Boxes

And our Christmas department would rival Selfridges.

The fact that we have a tree with three sides – is precisely what makes us the people that we are.

The fact that we have several other trees is evidence that we have aspirations to muscle in on the Harrods Parade.

And having stored clothes from Age 0-50 also means we could deck out floors 1-5 too.

And then there’s the cards.  Every card of The Kid’s for the last 10 years – birth, Christmas and birthday.  My cards, my parents cards and cards to and from people I don’t actually know.  That is going to be tricky.

Storage Boxes

And shock horror – the 18th & 21st keys.  That’s half the loft for starters.

Do people even have these keys anymore?  Do people even know what they are?

I wonder.

Such a rite of passage to receive and yet they serve no purpose, other than to sit in the loft.

Then comes Memory Boxes – and – well let’s just say it’s rubbed off on The Kid.

My memory boxes contain everything that’s ever made me smile, laugh or cry.  That’s one hell of a lot of things.

The Kid now has a memory section of her own and I only have myself to blame.

So my question today is :

‘Is it possible to be sentimental when you have no space?’

What do people do with their ‘stuff’?

The upside of all of this is that I get to exercise my creative side and start planning what it’s going to look like.

This is the fun bit.  One bedroom, one bathroom.

20 million colours and designs to choose from.  Not very long to do so.

No particular ideas as yet, other than a few thoughts around copper and silver.

I shall be checking in again with more thoughts around colours and designs soon.

If you don’t hear from me, it will probably be because I’m trying to decide on a sink!

Bathroom Sink

Until next time

Nicky

 

What’s Your Story Little Fairy?

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There are several reasons why I named my blog Not Just the 3 of Us.

One of them was to acknowledge how our lives are so much richer because of the people who are in it.

Being a bit of a sentimentalist at heart,  the Christmas Tree putting up ceremony for me and mine is full of lovely memories of all of these special moments and special people.

It’s the 5th of December and the decorations are going up so grab yourself a cuppa because we’re going to have a little trip down Memory Lane.

Our tree decoration generally takes a while because as each little bauble comes out there is a little story and memory.

A lot of the stories go back to the days when I moved in to my first flat aged 22.  This was a very significant time in my life and holds a truly special place in my heart.

I think it’s safe to say that there wasn’t much money around during those five years.  It was a time when donations were greatly received.

I also didn’t have a Christmas tree.

Donations came in from various people that Christmas.

Sheila and Johnny

Sheila and Johnny are the parents of my lovely friend, Tina.

Sheila & Johnny came up trumps that year.  Not only did they provide me with a tree (which interestingly was made of all plastic and felt like stickle bricks) but they also gave me some lovely decorations and lights.

Group photo of the decorations

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The Lights

I’m going to do a big shout out for the lights here.  I kid you not they have been going every blooming year since.

Every year we have the ceremony of the lights and they have not let us down.  They have been with me for 24 years.  I am not sure how many years Sheila and Johnny had already had them but I think it’s safe to say that they don’t make things liked they used to.  You guys would be proud.

Joan

I first met Joan on the 1st January 1991 whilst surveying the empty flat that was to be my home for the next five years.  Joan lived opposite and had been in the block for many years.  She was the ‘Guardian’ of the 6th floor and she told me in no uncertain terms how she would like to things to proceed.

Noise and loud parties would be frowned upon and the 6th floor should be kept spick and span.  I dutifully obliged and felt reassured that I was going to be under the watchful eye of Joan.  I do seem to remember my mum mumbling something about an old cow under her breath but I’m sure she would never have said that.  Must have been beef for dinner that day.

I think I managed to be a good neighbour for the best part of five years and only managed to fall foul of the rules once.  I was well aware that Joan would always know what I was doing.

On entering my front room that first Christmas and seeing my tree, Joan declared “you can’t have a tree with no fairy” and rushed off and returned with this lovely lady who we now know as “Joan”.

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I was so touched by this offering.  Coming from a home where Christmas was so steeped in tradition, I knew that every item of Christmas ware held a special place in the house from whence it came.

It would have its own special story.

So thank you Joan for adorning my tree with a fairy that year and for all of the years since.

I would also like to apologise for phoning the council and telling them that my flat was too hot.  I am only grateful that you managed to intercept them when they called and you were absolutely right to be waiting for me on the doorstep when I came home from work that night.

I would also like to say that you were right, I did have a couple of boyfriends while I lived there.  Although, the night you saw the boots on my doorstep was not one of them.  They actually belonged to a friends husband who was dropping off some things for us to take to Australia.  He was ‘old school’ Joan and didn’t want to tread on my carpet with his dirty boots.   I know you would approve of this.

Iron Man and The Kid don’t like the fairy.

They think she is scary.

Your work in my house is done Joan.

The Wicker Decorations

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My mum used to love to come to my flat during the day while I was out at work.  She called it her haven.  No 89 John Burns Drive came to us just after we lost my dad and I am glad that it held a special place in her heart too.

I also know that while she was there, Mum would do a cupboard check to make sure I had enough food.  Being a war child, mum’s cupboard was always well stocked with tins.  Emergency supplies.  Seeing my cupboard  empty, she would think I wasn’t eating.  I explained many times that I only bought what I needed and that I didn’t need emergency supplies but she still insisted on restocking and I would come home to a full cupboard.

She also felt sorry for the tree and thought it looked a little bare and so came the wicker decorations.  She was very proud that they had cost 10p each.  I love them.  I often wonder what she would say if she saw how much they were being knocked out for at Christmas markets now.

It is very poignant that we generally acquire many of these things after people have left us.

There are two ways of looking at this.  One is to be sad.  The other is to cherish the memories that they have left behind.

We do the latter.

Snowballs

The top decoration from the family home.  I love these snowballs.

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What I particularly love is that they are yellowing and showing their age.

They also smell of Christmas.

There is nothing quite like the smell of Christmas decorations.  That lovely ‘tinselly’, dusty smell that you get as you open the box each year.

Riches

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When dad came home with these one year, I really thought we had ‘arrived’.  Richer than all riches.  There is such an elegance about these silky baubles that I feel special just looking at them.

When Two Homes Come Together

Iron Man came with a full set of his own Christmas memorabilia to join the gang.

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New Additions

And along came The Kid in 2006.

Here are her first tree decorations from her Nana Joy and Nanny Jan.

So there we are.  All done.

And before you start thinking this is one of those idyllic social media and blog stories of a perfect day, I’d just like to say that The Kid was an absolute horror from the moment she got up.

Further I really would love to put Joan on her pillow one night!!!!

I won’t of course.   Iron Man first.

How does your tree decorating take shape?  Do you have similar stories to share?

Nicky

 

My Random Musings

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A Bit Of Everything
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

My Guilty Pleasure – Window Boxes

Window Boxes

One of my treats to myself is updating my window boxes seasonally.  I always say if the window boxes are looking good outside, all is well inside.  Time has a hand in that too but I do love to come home and see them looking good on my window sills.  Having a big bay window also has its advantages because I can also see them when it’s light from the front room too.  It also gives a little privacy too as we have an open window during the day.

I tend to have a favourite idea or a colour scheme in my head that I transfer to the window boxes.  I will pop anything in to achieve my desired look.

Window Boxes. Bay window.

This was last summer’s efforts (below) being changed over for autumn and winter.  I’m a big fan of having a nice baby Cordyline for a bit of height but these ones have outgrown the boxes now and need a bigger home.  I like to pop all the old plants into another container in case I can recycle them the following year.  I’ll certainly get something more from the geraniums and pansies (which I’d grown already from my own seeds the previous year).  Hopefully the Salvia may come good too.  It really doesn’t have to be expensive business if I can re-use old plants.

I had a real thing about lilacs and purples with both a dark and variegated foliage last autumn so I set out to create these.

I really struggled to get what I wanted but Pansies, Lavender, Ajuga (Burgundy Glow and Braunherz) and various Carex are all involved here.

As I couldn’t find all I needed, I decided to pop in some Chives and Thyme to complement the colour scheme.  I wasn’t sure they would hack it in with the other bits but they have.

I have to say that this selection of plants took a while to come into their own and peep above the edge of the window box.

However, they have all of a sudden gone completely mad and I am now looking to change them around and move some bits to make it more comfortable.

The Lavender is about to pop and I suspect the Ajuga would like a bit more space.

Also, not one to pass up on an opportunity for change, I couldn’t help but notice these lovely yellows whilst at a garden centre in Cornwall at the weekend.

The ones on the left have really grabbed my attention!

Sanvitalia. Lysimachia.

The need to join the party don’t you think?

Just need a few consecutive days of dry weather to get cracking.

Nicky

 

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