Sunday, 29 September 2013

A Sunday stroll.....

This afternoon we had a lovely walk along the seafront from West St. Leonards towards Bexhill.   Some hardy souls were canoeing along the coastline and we stopped to watch them land, then carry the two-seater canoe up the beach, up the steps and load it onto a tiny car.  
PP seems to think that a canoe is a Good Idea but Small Dog and I are unconvinced.

We then walked along past the beach huts, where a group of local artists were exhibiting coastal prints, ceramics and fused glass.  I do quite fancy the idea of a beach hut, which could double as a seaside studio. The council owns and rents out a lot of wooden beach huts and several concrete beach chalets (which have electricity and running water), but the waiting lists for both is usually years long (in fact at the moment they're all closed) and you have to wait for people to move away, or die, before they become available.  

The relatively few freehold beach huts sell for silly money, considering they're just a glorified wooden shed, with no amenities at all, apart from a communal water tap.

I do love pottering along the beach though, being nosey and looking to see what people have done to personalise their huts and the imaginative use of space.  Mostly they're really multifunctional, with small kitchenettes, dining space and a seating area, all with an outlook right onto the beach and the sea on your doorstep.  Today there were families cooking on BBQs on their little verandas, taking advantage of the late September lull, lots of dog-walkers on the beach, people fishing, or just sitting on the shingle, enjoying the view out to sea.

In the hurly burly of daily life and work, it's easy to forget how lucky we are to live in such an interesting area, so close to the coast.............


Saturday, 28 September 2013

Nesting instinct......

Now that all the hard manual labour on the house has been completed, I can allow my nesting instinct to move into high gear.

For instance, today I made cushion covers for the sitting room.  I found some lovely coastal-themed fabrics a while back and have been chomping at the bit to transform them into comfy cushions.

But to give you the background to this incredibly interesting (honestly it's not in the least bit boring unless you don't like soft furnishings) tale, I have to fill you in on an incredible piece of information.

In a rare (nay, unprecedented) episode this week, I actually managed to clear my  commission order book, which allowed me the unfamiliar sensation of actually getting ahead of the posse, workwise, for the first time in the history of ever.

I know.  I can't believe it either.

So to celebrate I decided to make cushion covers.  Some people would break open the champagne (I wish!) and celebrate with a wild party. I make cushion covers.  This gives you more insight into my psyche than just about anything else..... 

But I digress.

The nesting instinct also extends to our new, little woodburner, who has settled in very nicely and stopped smelling every time we light her.  (Yes, she's a she.  I imagine her as a fiery redhead in the style of the 40's film starlets.... a Ginger, or a Rita). 

She's quite pernickety about what she likes to burn.  Not too long, not at all damp.  She likes well-seasoned, dry wood, no more than a foot long.  She can be tricky to get going, but that's probably because we're not used to her ways yet.  PP favours elaborately folded paper 'spills' while I just go for a good quality broadsheet, scrunched up into a ball.

But I digress.

With autumn here, and winter just around the corner, in order to feed her appetite, we need to buy in some wood.  We've had dire warnings about burning the 'wrong sort of wood' so initially at least, we're going to try some kiln-dried logs off the internet.  

Inevitably the problem of storage then presents itself.  We can't just buy dry logs then leave them outside in all weathers.  So we have to have a log store (you can see here how one thing inevitably leads to 20 more). Having looked at them online we thought " Pshaw....we could do that!" and PP was tasked with designing, sourcing materials, and building a log store.

Who knew wood was soooo expensive!  

Plan B.... PP found a log store kit which comes complete with a full load of kiln-dried logs, plus kindling, plus firelighters, and free delivery.  Result!

So, today, while I've been making cushion covers, PP has been clearing an area in the garden for the log store, followed by re-felting our leaking shed roof.

Superior nesting skills or what?

Here's the results of my labour today, minus Small Dog who was summarily ejected from the sofa for the purposes of the photo.  She was not amused.

(And yes, I know the framed print behind isn't centred.  It's temporarily balanced on top of a radiator while we decide where to put it.  Rome wasn't built in a day..... sheesh!)




Thursday, 26 September 2013

Facebook follies......


Before I start, I should declare my standpoint on FB right up front.

I don't like it.

There are many, many things I don't like, way too many to list, but just to give a flavour of the things I don't like it.....

  • It's all pervasive
  • It's mostly inane (thought pot and kettle come to mind here, especially since Small Dog has her own FB page, so who am I to judge?)
  • It knows way too much about all of its users by possibly nefarious means
  • It's way too rigid in the way it operates
I could go on.  And on.  And on. But that would be boring.

So, here's the thing.

When I first set up my FB page I set it up with Tower House Dolls as my username, fully intending to use it purely for business purposes.  Those of you who know me on FB will be thinking..... "Hang on a minute, the name on your page is Sandra Morris, not Tower House Dolls.  You have a separate business PAGE called Tower House Dolls."

And you'd be right.  But I have learned that there is a subtle distinction between your username and your FB timeline page name.   Initially I knew nothing about 'pages' and naively thought that I'd stick to purely business stuff.  Much as I do here *cough*.

Of course that didn't happen.  Over time, people I actually KNOW became FB friends.  Long lost cousins and ex-boyfriends tracked me down.  People I know but didn't even like sent friend requests.  And of course, over time, the minutiae of daily life crept in, like a miasma.

So, I created a separate Tower House Dolls business page with the intention of separating out my not-so-private life from my business life.  Brilliant idea or what?!

Apparently not.  

I now effectively have two THD pages, due to my username and business page name being the same.  Confusing isn't it?  I'm confused as hell and I KNOW what I'm trying to do.

"But why don't you just change your username" I hear the more FB savvy readers say.
Excellent idea, which had occurred to me, but when I tried to do it I found I couldn't.  Apparently you can only ever change your FB username ONCE.  Then it's game over.
I honestly can't remember changing it before, but I must have done.  Probably from Sandra Morris to Tower House Dolls back in the mists of time.  How clever was that?

So now I'm stuck on the horns of a dilemma, between a rock and hard place, in a quandary.
Do I simply delete my FB page and start again from scratch (quelle horreur!) losing all that sparkling, witty repartee, and photos of Small Dog looking gorjus, or do I soldier on with things as they are.

One solution is to individually contact all of my miniatures 'friends' (over 700 of them!) and direct them to my business page, before 'unfriending' them from my Sandra Morris page.
Another is to corral all the people with whom I want to have silly conversations, into a group and select certain posts to be available only to them.  

Both of these solutions are time consuming and fraught with problems.  Plus I don't know if people who aren't FB 'friends' would be able to see my business page.  Trying to get answers from FB is impossible.  You can't contact them direct and their FAQ/Help pages don't address the specific issue I have, apart from stating categorically that usernames can only be changed ONCE.

Seriously, if anyone knows how to change a FB username more than once I will be forever in your debt. 

Monday, 23 September 2013

Hunter, gatherer.....

Q:  What is brown and sticky?

A:  A stick

When I was a child I thought this was the funniest joke EVER, which may explain why I was giggling quietly to myself during this afternoon's outing to collect kindling for our little woodburner.

We live slap-bang in the centre of two areas of ancient woodland, so on our way back from the Post Office earlier, we decided to combine Small Dog's walk with a bit of wood gathering.  The paths through the woods are always littered with bits of stick and fallen tree branches which are generally left to just rot away so in a public-spirited  joint path-clearing and stick recycling initiative we donned wellies, took a bag each and set off in full hunter-gatherer mode.

As we scrambled around in the undergrowth, simultaneously scratched by thorns, brambles and covered in spider's webs, I caught a glimpse of Small Dog nearby, merrily sniffing and rooting around, picking up her wee-mails and generally having A Good Time.

Which we patently were not.

This is the way of things.  Small Dog is not, unless it involves food, a team player.  It occurred to me that she might feel more of a sense of purpose, and a resulting warm glow of satisfaction, if she helped out a bit more.  Then, I had a sudden epiphany.... I would design and make a dual purpose Small Dog Pannier.  When wearing it, she could carry her own accoutrements.... poo bags, treats, Pack-A-Mac etc.  Alternatively, when out on stick finding expeditions, if she came across a small, dry piece of wood suitable for kindling purposes, she could deposit in her basket, returning to us to have it emptied from time to time.

Sounds like a damn fine plan to me.

Since our return I have done some internet research and it would appear that there are already a bewildering array of pannier contraptions suitable for Small Dogs mostly along these lines.....

 Initially, when I broached the subject with Small Dog, after she'd woken from her post-walk nap, she seemed uncharacteristically enthusiastic about the whole thing.  However it rapidly became apparent that the only type of Small Dog Pannier she would have any truck with, would be one like this.....

Negotiations are currently stalled...........

Light at the end of the tunnel......

Almost another two weeks since my last post.  This is getting to be a habit.

In my defence, I can truthfully plead mitigating circumstances, what with the ongoing house works plus a few days away for PP's birthday. Encouragingly, there is just the faintest glimmer of a potential possibility that things might get back to what passes for normal later this week.

I'm not holding my breath though.

Despite the chaos pervading the house, I have managed (just) to keep on top of orders, and have even made some inroads into clearing the outstanding commissions on order, so it's not all bad.  However by this point in September I should be well into preparations for the Christmas sale period, and this year I'm well behind.

And by 'well behind' I mean 'haven't even started'.


So with just a week of September remaining, and trying hard to keep a rising note of panic out of my voice, I've called a THD management team meeting for lunchtime today.

Small Dog has been on extended sick leave since mid August, and has already sent her apologies for absence.  Apparently she has a poorly leg and 'Pee Aitch'.  Personally I think she's just swinging the Pb.

Predictably, she has invoked worker's rights and is insisting on full pay despite not having lifted a paw since August.  When I countered that entitlement to worker's rights was dependent on said worker carrying out some semblance of 'work' she just gave me one of her hard stares and muttered something about seeking 'yewnyon repreesentashun'.  This is rich coming from someone who thinks the TUC is a form of savoury biscuit, but I let it pass.

Her period of sick leave expires at the end of this month and she assures me she'll be fighting fit by then.  There's a definite glint in her eye which I suspect has something to do with her ongoing quest for Employee of the Month award......

In other news, today we will yet again be emptying the sitting room in preparation for the new carpet which is due to be fitted tomorrow.  We're hoping it won't rain, as our 'new' sofa and armchairs will have to go out on the patio while it's being done.  

The fitting of the carpet will mark a turning point in our renovations, as once it's down we can relocate all the stuff currently stored in the dining room.  Which in turn will mean that we can relocate all the dining room stuff currently stored in the small bedroom. There are still a number of small jobs to be completed, but it will be lovely to have downstairs returned to some semblance of normality after months of disruption.

Let's hope that the light at the end of this particular tunnel doesn't turn out to be an oncoming train......!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The blind leading the blind......

I can't believe it's almost two weeks since my last post.  Fortunately nobody seems to have missed me and I've had no emails enquiring if I'm still alive, which I patently am, though only just.

We have almost succumbed to Death by DIY, which is an occupational hazard for those too miserly to pay for people to do it for them.   Although in our defence, if you've read my last post you will know why we're reluctant to have any more so-called experts traipsing through the house, making a mess and demanding money with menaces.

The focus of our recent DIY excesses has been redecorating our sitting room.  Yes, I know I said we didn't fancy it, but having had a few quotes for slapping on a coat of paint on three walls and putting two rolls of wallpaper onto one wall (HOW MUCH?!?) we decided to do it ourselves.  Needless to say it took us twice as long but we're pleased with the result and saved ourself a small fortune in the process.

Since then we've turned our attention to fitting blinds at the front of the house in the office, workroom and dining room, and at the back of the house in the kitchen.  Here again we got a quote to have them supplied and fitted (HOW MUCH?!?) and promptly decided to do it ourselves, our only concession to cost being to have them made to measure.

Apart, that is, from a basic roller blind in the kitchen, which came in a standard 'one size fits nowhere' and therefore required cutting.  According to the salesperson in the store, this was "very easy" to do.

Easy to do my a#se!

PP isn't called Perfectionist Partner for nothing.  She's a very competent DIY-er with decades of flatpack experience behind her.  Nothing much fazes her, so she set about installing our kitchen roller blind with the expectation of it taking an hour or so at most.


In the end it took an entire afternoon, with much cussing and swearing and threatening to throw the whole thing out the window.  I can't say I blame her.... I'd have thrown it out the window after the first hour.  Whoever designed the damn thing needs his (and it will undoubtedly be a 'he') brains drawn out through his nostrils and re-inserted through whichever orifice presents itself first.  

I'm not usually driven to such heights of sadistic cruelty, but having been subjected to them by virtue of the blind I feel it's only fair.  What goes around comes around.

Fortunately, PP is nothing if not persistent and eventually, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, it was fitted in place.  
We will not, EVER AGAIN be fitting a blind which requires cutting to size.

Thankfully, the fitting of the made-to-measure blinds today went much more smoothly and they look very posh and professionalSo, to celebrate our hard-won triumph over adversity we intend to crack open a bottle of something chilled, light up our little woodburner, and snuggle up in front of the fire for the evening.