Scotland and phase 1 of house renovation complete! and a wee surprise…

It’s been a long time since I last wrote which has actually been on purpose.  Since my previous post life has been interesting!  I found out to our utter joy and happiness that I am pregnant!  Yep, there is an actual little baby growing inside of me.  To say it has felt surreal does not do it justice.  It wasn’t until the scan a couple of weeks ago when I saw the bouncing wee bubba inside of me waving it’s arms and legs that it suddenly felt real. I don’t have many friends who have had babies so it is difficult to talk about how it has really felt.  Part of me in the early stages felt like it was all a big mistake and I was just putting on weight!  But when the reality started to hit I became incredibly excited.  But then comes the anxiety before the first scan as to whether you will a healthy little baby or not… anyway suffice it to say everything looked good and hubby and I could breathe a sigh of relief.

I’ve been quite lucky in regards to not having had morning sickness.  There has been the odd moment of nausea but that was as far as it went.  However the tiredness….oh my word the tiredness.  It’s the sort of fatigue you get right before you come down with the flue where you literally cannot keep your eyes open and your body is almost trembling it’s so exhausted.  Finally this lovely symptom is starting to ease off though and I’m beginning to feel a little bit more like myself.

Telling our family and friends was one of the best moments of my life.  Especially my husband’s family who literally wept tears of joy 🙂

I can’t really shake that feeling of ‘please god let everything be OK’ and I am still anxious that something might go wrong.  The internet is filled with horror stories and I know that miscarriage is so common, I know quite a few people myself who have endured such a horrible loss.  But I also don’t want to concentrate on that feeling, I want to enjoy this experience each day as it comes and I’ve stopped feeling so nervous about getting excited at the prospect of becoming a mum.  Whatever will be will be but I know that so far so good and at least the first trimester is over which is when there is the highest likelihood of something going wrong.

We had spent a week in our little slice of heaven in Scotland and although I did a lot of sleeping I think it did me the world of good being out of the dustbowl and right by the seaside…

View from the house… how lovely is our little summer house!

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The sea… a 2 minute walk from the house, bliss

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After coming back from Scotland we came home to fine that Phase 1 of the mammoth house renovation is done!!  It’s looking so good and it’s so nice to not be living in a dustbowl anymore.  Below are some pictures of the new bathroom…

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First bath!!

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We put a lot of thought in the bathroom as we had a blank canvas to work with and we both always dreamed of having a beautiful bathroom.  My pride and joy is the roll top bath we got from The Cast Iron Bath Company.  It took four men to lift it and even they could barely get it up the stairs!  So glad I wasn’t there that day…   I did search on ebay for a used bath which we could spruce up but some of them were really gross and were going for about £400!  So I decided to splurge as this will last us forever.  Choosing a colour was difficult but in the end we settled on Farrow and Ball Pigeon as we thought this was quite a serene colour and would fit in with the period style of the bath.

A lot of what you see in the bathroom is actually from ebay, we saved a lot of money that way.  The sink, taps, shower, toilet are all from there and I reckon we saved hundreds of pounds sourcing it that way.

There will be more photos of the house to follow but I want to wait until some of the new furniture has arrived so I can show it in full glory!

Phase 2 is currently being thought about and now with a baby on the way I’m more inclined to just get everything done as quickly as possible so that we have a finished house by the winter.  So we are meeting with a kitchen consultant next week (which I am so excited about!) and are in the process of getting quotes for a new skylight and extension doors.  I’m also desperate to get the downstairs loo done as it’s damp and smelly and just reminds me of how awful a state the house was when we moved in….

This bank holiday weekend we are due for some hot summer weather which I am so excited about… we have my sister and brother in law staying with us and today we’re heading for a lovely walk to Epping Forest followed by a movie night in (when you’re pregnant you apparently have very limited energy in a day so no going out for us!)  Then tomorrow it’s a summer roast chicken lunch in the garden with seasonal favourites jersey royals and asparagus to match! Mmmmm…

Do you have any nice bank holiday plans ahead of you?  I hope you have a lovely time whatever it is you end up doing 🙂

A week of simple slow living…

What a lovely week I’ve had since my last blog post.  I’ve been consciously trying to slow down and be mindful of those instances when I am feeling calm and serene which I focus on enjoying.  Don’t get me wrong, the old pangs of anxiety have often reared their ugly head but when they have I’ve talked them down and frankly asked them to bugger off.  Usually it works..!  Anxiety is definitely something that has plagued me since I was a tiny girl and I was under the impression that having ‘butterflies in my tummy’ all of the time was a pretty normal way to feel.  Clearly as I’ve got older I know it’s not and for the sake of my own health and happiness and hopefully my future children’s I am endeavouring to make life changes in order to reduce my anxiety.   In this post I am going to write about some of the little things I have done which have made me feel a genuine sense of calm and cheer.

Let’s start with food…because that’s usually the thing that occupies my mind the most!  I created the most delicious slow cooked chorizo, bean and leek stew I ever could have imagined (sorry to toot my own horn so blaringly but when something goes right you have to acknowledge it!)  I used my favourite Brindisa cooking chorizo with my all time favourite Brindisa Navarrico Large Butter Beans.  Despite having a gazillion recipe books (and the collection grows almost every week) I really enjoy cooking without anything to follow.  I love seeing what is in the fridge and coming up with a recipe based on what we have.  I flinch at how much I used to chuck away simply because I had not planned well enough.  As I become older though I become a bit less frivolous with buying lots of food and a bit more conscious of not wasting anything.  Perhaps this is my hubby’s awesome mother and nanny rubbing off on me who would genuinely save and make good use of a left over teaspoon of baked beans.  We live in such difficult times where more people are having to access Food Banks than ever before and it’s important to respect the food we have and try not to waste anything.  On a lighter and sillier note it also sort of feels like Ready Steady Cook trying to rustle something up with only limited ingredients!

Has anyone ever noticed how beautiful leeks are?!

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In the midst of cooking….

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As the week progressed I started unpacking my vast array of recipe books and came across my River Cottage Handbook on cakes.  I started to flick through it and realised that in all my years of baking (there’s been A LOT of cakes) I have never made a Victoria Sponge, which frankly is a bit absurd.

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So I did!

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I also found my little pie bird and knowing I needed to use up the bacon, mushrooms and leeks in the fridge I made a chicken pie…. again toot toot, absolutely delicious!  Served with a nice mustardy spinach salad and this went down a treat!

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Now I’m a girl who loves a bargain and I stumbled across a huge pot of these Narcissus Bridal Crown daffodils in Waitrose….for 45p a bunch.  So I bought 5 bunches!  One of the loveliest things about the start of Spring is the arrival of daffodils but these take it to another level.  They are so colourful and frilly and their fragrance fills the room with the most beautiful scent.

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Now a confession… hubby and I have never seen Homeland or Broadchurch before.  I know I know…heard it all before.  We’ve been gradually working our way through Homeland but on Sunday we snuggled up on the sofa and had an intense binge session of Broadchurch.  We watched the entire first season and well…wow.  I completely understand why everyone was so into it and I do regret not watching it at a time when everyone was talking about.  Olivia Coleman is just wonderful in it as is David Tennant.

We went shopping on Saturday and found a sofa, finally!  It’s the perfect size for our nook and now it’s just about choosing which fabric we would like for it to be in.  Easier said than done!  We’re just waiting for some samples to arrive and then we can press on ahead.  We also found a bed we very much like for the main bedroom on Saturday.  Initially we had our hearts set on the Seba bed from Lombok which is made from Indonesian teak but because we’re now having such light wooden floors in there we didn’t feel it would look right.  So we’re going for a fabric bedstead which will give us a softer look in the room.

The house is still coming along beautifully.  Late last week we had the Victorian sash windows installed throughout the house and they look stunning.  Game changer.  They have genuinely transformed the look and feel of the house from inside and out.  They were extraordinarily expensive so I did always have an anxiety that it would not be money well spent but I was wrong and… I can’t stop looking at them!

The bathroom is now tiled and some of it is grouted and hopefully soon the shower fixtures will also go in.

And one of the most exciting parts is… the front door is in and the old gross one is out!  We have bought satin brass door furniture and we have decided to paint the door Farrow and Ball Lichen.  It’s a beautiful shade of green that we both feel would look lovely with the red brick and would suit all seasons.  I’m already picturing how a wreath would look on it… but that’s my unhealthy obsession with Christmas which does not seem to abate, no matter what month of the year it is!

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Tomorrow I’m spending the day with my mum and we’re going to go to Petersham Nurseries as I want to get some inspiration for the garden which we’re going to get started on quite soon.  Our lawn is currently not a lawn but a bit of land with the occasional sad sprout of weed that rears it’s eager little head.  It’s clear that it’s beyond the point of no return so we will need to dig it all up and prepare the ground for some new turf.  This is all very very new to us so if anyone has any gardening tips for setting down new lawn please do let us know!  Also I would love to plant some fruit or veg that doesn’t require a huge amount of space so if anyone has any tips on that I would welcome them…. I wonder if they do a Gardening for Dummies book…

Speaking of books I spent some lovely hours in the garden this week soaking up some rays and working my way through two very different books.  One of which is Roald Dahl’s Matilda.  Yet another embarrassing confession… I have never ever read Matilda.  When my friend found this out she looked at me as if I had sprouted a second nose right in front of her and then she automatically brought her daughter’s copy in for me the following day.  I appeared to have committed a cardinal sin so I got to reading.  It’s incredible, I love Roald Dahl’s The BFG more than life itself so it is a bit of a travesty that my folks never gave this to me.  It’s a lovely book and I was utterly absorbed in sweet little Matilda’s world for a good while…

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I also stumbled across this little book from a shop I was in…. I couldn’t resist.

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It’s genuinely hilarious but thought provoking and also made me feel that despite some of the most horrendous events that occurred last year… onwards and upwards and let’s all stick together to make this world a bit of a better place.

I hope everyone has had a lovely week and are enjoying the sun you might have had… 🙂

As said before, if anyone does have any tips for setting down new lawn or on what to plant at this time of year I would be very grateful x

 

Spring has sprung!

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So what a beautiful few days it’s been…  it really does feel like spring has reared it’s beautiful little head and each day is getting a tad bit warmer.  The magnolia trees seem to be in their glory at the moment and each street I turn down there is another beauty awaiting for me to get a bit too snap happy.

On Friday I had my leaving do at work.  Usually I’m the sort of girl to cry at an Andrex advert, not to mention every single episode of Gogglebox to air (our favourite programme by the way!)  However on this occasion I didn’t shed a single tear, nor did I feel close.  I’ve been there for 6 years and made some incredible friends.  The work I’ve done has been exhausting, stimulating, inspiring and at times incredibly anxiety provoking!  However I just felt a bit numb which I’m wondering is down to sheer exhaustion.  Also perhaps a sign that I am ready for a new chapter, whatever that might be.

New chapters… life is pretty structured and regimented I find.  There is a level of guilt if one chooses to back out of a career they’ve spent years carving even if it makes them miserable and is detrimental to their health.  There is that sense of ‘I must persevere because what might people think if I quit?’  I’ve been that person and I know countless others who also feel the same.  There’s the natural fear of what will I do next?  How will I stay accustomed to the way of life I’ve become so used to?  Yet sometimes the stress and unhappiness that accompanies a person is just not worth sticking with something just for the sake of sticking with it.  Perhaps Friday marked that day for me and I felt nothing but open hope walking away from a job that has provided me with good humour and friendship but overriding anxiety and the sort of stress that makes me unable to switch off on weekends.

Saturday I simply sat in my PJs and ordered pizza whilst catching up on Netflix…bliss!  Oh and I was also in need of a serious detox so drank lots of this…

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Mothering Sunday was another beautiful day.  Hubby spent hours sorting out the clutter in the house and I went out to get flowers for my mum from our local florist.

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We had a lovely meal with my parents in Belsize Park in the evening.  I started to talk to her about all of the things I want to do on my time off and we both agreed to do some of them together so that we could spent some quality mother daughter time!  One of the ideas was to go to an antiques fair and I personally want to go to every museum I can.  This is something I never would have felt like doing when I was highly strung and stressed with work so I’m going to make the most of my newfound freedom and broaden my cultural horizons!

Monday definitely felt strange, just not having that structure and routine I’ve been so used to for over a decade.  I had lots of tasks I needed to do which I did before midday…!  Leading such a hectic work life meant that I have become accustomed to doing things like Speedy Gonzales… however time to slow down!  I have realised I will need to actively work at walking slower, taking more time to notice beautiful things around me… and I can’t wait!

Yesterday afternoon the sun was shining on my garden so I took my new recipe book outside (I definitely have a recipe book addiction!) and started reading through it.  I cannot wait to start cooking some of the beautiful dal dishes it speaks about from all regions of India.  Such a beautiful book and I would encourage anyone who enjoys dal to buy it.

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Today if I’m being honest I feel a little lacklustre.  I don’t have any urgent tasks and I’m a little under the weather so I’ve been resting up and ordering in the weekly food shop.  However…around me the house is a bit hectic.  The new sash windows and front door arrived today and I cannot wait to see them when the are installed!   The house is definitely coming along.  The bathroom is being tiled in the small hexagonal white we spent ages choosing.  The bedroom walls are being painted (we went for Valspar Quiet Interlude for the back wall) and our walk in wardrobe is now plastered and painted ready for rails and shelves to be installed!

Everything still looks so dusty and in disrepair that it’s hard to imagine all of it actually getting done and looking how we want!  It’s getting there though and I just cannot wait to be able to walk through the house without saturating my feet in dust!

Does anyone have any recommendations for where to buy a nice sofa from?  We need to prioritise this but are struggling to find something that will fit perfectly in the space….

Happy week to you all!! xoxo

Time to make dreams a reality…

Ever since I was a wee girl I have longed for a dog.  I remember asking repetitively every day, for months on end as I was growing up for a dog.  Every single time my dad’s response was simply ‘no’.  No explanation as to why, just ‘no’.  I didn’t really understand what the problem was when I was a child because so many of our friends had them, why couldn’t we?  As I’ve grown up though I realise that my dad is absolutely petrified of them but he just won’t admit this.

It’s funny because every time he said no I would automatically think to myself, ‘as soon I grow up I’m getting one!’  However at 33 years old, here I am still without a pup.  My longing for a dog has not lessened throughout the years and I still want one just as much, if not more than I did when I was growing up.  However owning a dog is such a big responsibility and this is why I haven’t let myself get one.  We lived in a flat, we both working long hours,  I worked in a highly stressful and unpredictable job so it just wouldn’t have been fair on the poor thing.

However my last day at work is on Friday (2 days!) and I am planning on taking a significant amount of time off to pursue other passions.  So in line with my ‘let’s make 2017 a year of being happy and doing things I’ve previously been too nervous to do’….

I’m getting a dog 🙂

I will be home full time with it to ensure it settles, is looked after and is trained well.  If we do need to go out for more than a couple of hours I have researched local dog walkers and local doggie home boarders and we have a few nearby who have had excellent reviews from dog owners who have used them.  I would definitely pay for someone to spend time him/her if we needed to because they’re such sociable beings and I would imagine that being left alone for hours on end would be pretty difficult for them.

I have put a lot of thought into what breed we should get.  Hubby desperately wants a collie but they’re such energetic dogs that we have agreed that we will get a collie later on in life when we inevitably move to Scotland and there’s much more space for the frantic thing to run around in!  So we have decided that now the right sort of dog for us would be a labradoodle.  They are such beautiful and friendly dogs and are great with children which is important as we’re hoping to start a family at some point in the near future… (that’s a whole other topic of conversation!)

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Do you own or know anyone who owns a labradoodle?

Fifty shades of grey….

Happy Monday everyone…  having spent a beautiful weekend up in Scotland with the family we’re now back and it’s crunch time.  We now have to decide which colour to paint the walls in the living room, hallway and bedroom.  It just seems like such a big decision and call me naive (I know I am!) but I just had no idea there were quite so many different shades of white and grey.  Standing in B&Q looking at the beautiful Valspar colours I realised that this would be much more difficult than I had anticipated!

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For the living room, hubby and I have spoken about having a darker shade either side of the fireplace and then a very light grey/warm white on the other walls.  We seem to have collected about 20 different shades of grey and white not to mention the huge pile of colour cards and I love them all!

We went a bit made in Farrow and Ball the other day and spent a fortune on tester pots but these are only for the feature walls in the living room, we didn’t even think about all of the other walls in the rest of the house…oops.

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Choosing the right colour is so vital to creating the right look and feel of the room and for me one of the most important parts of a living room and bedroom is comfort.  I want it to be fresh but warm, cosy (sense of hygge) but airy at the same time…!  Making a mistake is costly not to mention incredibly time consuming so it’s vital that we put a lot of thought and consideration into it.  However we are also being somewhat rushed by the painters who “need to know asap” apparently…  It also doesn’t help that none of the flooring is down (we haven’t even chosen the bedroom flooring yet) so it is hard to imagine what the different shades in a room will look like collectively at this stage.

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Have you used a white or grey that you particularly like?  Suggestions more than welcome…. !

Enjoy your week everyone 🙂

 

 

 

And the renovation begins…

The long awaited renovations have commenced… in the space of one week walls have been knocked down, walls have been built, fireplaces are being dug out and ceilings are being straightened out.  Our lovely new home which we moved into two weeks ago was not in the best state bless it.  It was clear it hadn’t had a lot of love in a very long time.  But there’s something quite comforting and nice about the idea of injecting lots of love and TLC into a beautiful house that is somewhat derelict…albeit expensive!

Some photos of the house so far…

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Believe it or not the stairs look better like this than they did with the rancid carpet that was covering them when we moved in!

 

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Plasterboards ready to be fixed to the wonky ceiling in the living room!

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Bathroom wall (sort of) knocked down!  This will be the walk in wardrobe we can enter into through the bedroom.  The bathroom is being re-plumbed into one of the other bedrooms which is bigger than the little nook it currently occupies…

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Possibly one of the most satisfying bits so far… these hideous wardrobes are now gone!!

I have been an avid Pinterest user for many years.  Whenever I had a stressful day I would lie back and start putting together my idea of our future dream home.  It always made me feel comforted and excited about what was yet to come.  However now that the time has come to ACTUALLY put ideas into action I’m a bit of a rambly, incoherent, indecisive mess!  My husband finds it bizarre how much of a struggle I am finding it to make all of these decisions.  And boy, there are a lot of decisions to make.. I don’t think I have ever in the entirety of my life had to make so many, even when we were planning our wedding!  It’s like I have been building towards this exciting time for so long that I don’t quite know what to do with myself now it’s here!  Every decision is so important and I like to put a lot of thought into each and every one.  However we have suddenly found ourselves having to make all of these big decisions quite quickly.  Literally every night this week hubby and I have been sat on our laptops from the moment we get home from work (absolutely knackered) until midnight trying to choose flooring, sinks, bath taps, sink taps, showers, cabinets, doors…. dear lord the list goes on!

Having said all of this, I could not have anticipated how happy and comfortable I would feel so soon in our new house.  I don’t even mind the fact I’m living on a demolition site!  I thought I would miss my old home, like a piece of me was missing (attachment issues?!) but I don’t.  Every time I come home from work and step inside our house I feel so proud and happy and I start to envision hopefully filling some of the rooms with children one day and…what I have always always yearned for…a pup!  In the next couple of months I am going make this happen.  Why not?  I’ve always wanted one and now is a good time having handed in my notice and taking a bit of a break.

So today I have the day off as I have to use up my annual leave before my last day.  Well I don’t have to but I would be a bit of a fool not to!  I’m going to head into Islington to pop into the Farrow and Ball shop to choose a paint colour for the bath.  Then onto the Cast Iron Bath Company to choose my long awaited roll top bath!!!  I will then pop into town to get an outfit for a wedding in a couple of weeks in bonny Scotland…brrrr.

Here goes nothing…

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

Hi…I’m not sure who I’m talking to seeing as part of me cannot really believe I am doing this!  My name is Rachel and I am an early 30 something girl born and bred in London.  I guess it would be fair to say that I have a good life; I have lovely friends, family and a wonderful husband.  I have a job that I work hard at and I know we’re fortunate in so many respects.  However despite all of this I’m a girl who has always suffered from a high level of anxiety and some of the things that would seemingly flitter over other people’s heads appear to knock me over a wee bit harder and stay with me for that bit longer…

Last year I came to the stark realisation that since I was a little girl I have felt on an almost daily basis “butterflies” in my stomach.  I didn’t understand this feeling when I was growing up, I just assumed it was normal and a part of me.  However as I grow older and I gain more understanding I realise that this is not OK and actually, it’s only me that can, well, help me.

I started to research the idea of slow living and I stumbled across some really lovely blogs and Instagram accounts held by people who appear to have the knack of living a serene and calm life down to a tee.   I found it so inspirational but I also felt quite jealous of these people.  But then I thought to myself, if that is so appealing to you then why don’t you really try and work towards that?  Stop envying those around you and just bloody do it!

So this year I decided to make some changes!  Big changes.  Changes that I knew would make me happy but ones that I was (naturally) anxious about making.  I’m not very good at making decisions that put me outside my comfort zone so I’m trying to act a bit more on my first instincts.  Now it’s not like I made snap decisions on the big ticket items but I realised that I really just need to stop analysing and carefully weighing up every single minute decision I make, it’s frigging exhausting!  So the big ticket item I decided to change (which I obviously did carefully consider) was to quit my job.  My job is something that has increased my anxiety levels so significantly that it has had a physical affect on my health and emotional wellbeing.  So I decided that I am not putting up with that anymore and regardless of what anyone might have thought about it I handed my notice in a couple of weeks ago.  Slight rollercoaster of emotions since then but I’m going to go with it and take a chance!

So, no job.   Not a forever situation obviously… but I’ve earned, I’ve saved, I’m going to take a little time off!  But what will I do with all of this time?  I’m going to do all of the things that I always wished I could have done when I was working my backside off.  I’m not going to feel guilty about it and I’m not going to waste my breath worrying about what other people might think about me and my decision (and there is so much breath I have wasted in my life on this!!)

So number two on the “I wish I had the guts to…’ (but never did because I didn’t want to take a chance) is this blog.  I’ve thought in the past about writing something but in the end I backed away automatically condemning the idea because ‘who would want to read that?’  I’m also not a girl who likes to put herself out there.  Well, this may be a flop and it may be boring or self indulgent and I may get horrible comments but at least I’ve tried it, and that is what this year is going to look like.  Taking chances and making changes because you only get one life and you never know what’s around the corner…