Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Out and About

We're having a mixed old bag weatherwise here in the West Country but it hasn't stopped us from getting out and about and on the whole, the sun Gods have shone on us.  Although there are aspects of shopping in London that I miss down here, it's also fabulous to be able to visit all those places and events we've wanted but not been able to, if for example they've taken place mid-week.  There really is a lot of wonderful treasure down here and with a new home to kit out, we couldn't be in a better place!

Last week, we headed to the antiques fair at Shepton Mallet, where we usually go to the flea market.  It was a bit pricey to get in at £10 each but we thought we should give it a try and it was a surprisingly nice day to be outside.

There are four indoor halls at this fair which make it a good option even if the weather is not good but my favourite stalls were those outdoors.  You can't take the moochy instinct out of me!

There was a wide range of goods on offer from gorgeous old glass shades in pretty colours...

...to textiles of the pretty and vintage and rather French variety...

...to more French goods in the form of enamelware, textiles and tableware.

The inside halls tend to be dominated by sellers of pricier dark wood furniture, fine china and jewellery.  It was good to find loveliness late in the day in the form of a friend's stall, Sue Meager of Vintage to Victorian, which was groaning with goodies.

We hadn't realised this fair didn't open until midday as the flea starts at 9.30am.  It shut at five pm but it was really annoying to see many dealers leaving from as early as 3pm onwards.  I appreciate it is a long day as they have to arrive to set up but £10 is a lot to pay for entry and I don't think it is acceptable when after only three hours of opening, you can't look at many of the stalls because they're all covered with cloths and the owners have disappeared.  As we had arrived an hour or so early , we popped over to Frome to the reclamation yard as we are in search of a fireplace.  There were some nice ones but a bit more measuring is required first and they weren't half pricey!

Living full-time in the West Country also meant I could go along to the Wednesday Talent for Textiles Fair in Ilminster.  This is a small event in the arts centre but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality.  There's also a wonderful cafe and free entry.  The setting really enhances the whole event.  Favourites such as Donna Flower, Lizzie the Washerwoman, Sarah of Blue Zinnia  and Sue Meager were also there so it's also nice to have a natter.

Sue had some completely fabulous Victorian patchwork, both blocks of a quilt in progress, individual pieces and even bits of fabric the maker was obviously intending to use to finish it.  Sue says it was found in an old suitcase and the condition of the items was superb, you would never have thought the colours of the fabrics were so rich and vibrant.  The hand pieced hexagons still had their original papers in which from the back, you could see had entrancing hand writing on, probably being old letters re-used as templates.

On the way home, how could we resist the temptations of the cider farm?

It is like a step back in time to visit this place and as it is apple harvesting season, the yard was in full swing and the air scented deliciously with apples.

Last Saturday, we headed for Bridport.  It was a lovely day so the crowds were out but if you ever visit, the key is to go early.  You get a better chance to look and chat, the first pick of the goodies and most importantly, somewhere to park!  The vintage area around St Michaels has really come on in recent years and I rarely leave empty handed but without having spent a fortune, fortunately.  Some of the traders have a really good eye and I thought this was a lovely, simple window display.  I fell for the large white jug but was dismayed to find it was for display only, not for sale.  

It is sad that there are plans to redevelop this area (and others) for housing.  Someone in the council needs to get a grip and not ruin the magic that is Bridport and all its history (did you know the town was once renowned for rope making).  A group has formed to try to save the trading area and I do hope they succeed.

Eek!  I fell in love with these too, as did everyone who saw them!

Well, I've managed to re-home some lovely goodies over the past few weeks.  Textiles have figured large, as you might have guessed, and I've been collecting thrifty old china plates, too.

I've had the idea to put some up above the kitchen mantel as you can see.  I can now keep my eye out for more on my travels.

A certain furry someone is not immune to the considerable charms of the wood burner now the cold weather is setting in.

There's been lots of hand washing of rescued textiles going on and now I need a bit of making time.  Dare I say, a rather large event is round the corner in December and so I had better get my (snowy) clogs on!

So much fabric, so little time!


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Wonderful Weekend

Last Friday was a bit of a special day. I turned yet another year older.  The years certainly fly by and as it has been such a busy one for us, it has been even more true this year.  My mum had rooted out some old photos of me which she enclosed with my card.  These were taken quite some time ago!

The sneaky Mr HenHouse had kept it a surprise that we were going away for the weekend.  So we hopped in Delia Disco and off we set, navigating Devon's tiny windy country lanes to our secret destination, deep in the countryside.  After a hair raising journey, we arrived at our destination.  It had certainly been worth it.  Tucked away was the stunning and exclusive Gidleigh Park country house hotel.  Oh my!

There is a babbling brook running through the gardens in front of the hotel so there is a constant sound of running water which was pretty soothing.

The hotel had thought of everything and had coats and posh wellies for guests to borrow in order that they could explore the grounds.

Inside did not disappoint either.  Our suite was very sumptuous and had everything we could ask for...and more.

I was a very spoiled lady and some special treats awaited me in our suite.

We headed downstairs to the lounge in the afternoon which had a stunning view over the gardens and way beyond.  Afternoon tea was pretty fabulous, complete with a special birthday cake for me!

Gidleigh Park is renowned as a foodie destination, with head chef Michael Caines holding two coveted Michelin stars.  On Saturday night, we had the eight course tasting menu which was pretty sublime and culminated in this spectacular dessert. Yum!

A super duper treat awaited me on Saturday when Mr HenHouse informed me that we were going on a little trip.  Off we set on the windy lanes again and found ourselves in Barnstaple in Devon.

In this town, a special lady and friend of mine has recently opened her dream shop, an emporium of vintage clothing and textiles.  You will likely recognise the name Donna Flower whom I have mentioned many times on my blog.  She has helped me build my stash of vintage fabrics and I couldn't have been happier to be visiting her wonderful new shop.

Donna, along with her daughter Jasmine, has done a spectacular job of creating a fabulous interior to her shop.  At the front, rails of gorgeous vintage clothes await along with all the accessories you could need to create the perfect outfit.  Donna has sourced some beautiful shop fittings, too, which really enhance the clothes.  The shop offers clothes for both men and women.

Jasmine is the perfect model for the shop's beautiful clothes.

The big draw for me however, was the area at the back of the shop, a stunning shrine to vintage textiles.  Donna has created a dream setting for the fabrics and haberdashery with the most beautiful antique shop fittings setting off the incredible stock she has curated.  Heaven!

At the back of the shop, was a fab vintage Stockman mannequin.  The naughty Mr HenHouse had bought this for me as a birthday surprise, an item I had long coveted.  Donna had kindly wrapped her with birthday ribbon and a vintage sparkly brooch.  Lucky lucky me!

I was like a child in a sweetie shop and set about selecting some vintage fabrics on which to spend my birthday money.

I cannot recommend enough that you visit this wonderful shop, I can't imagine it really has an equal anywhere else.  Donna still runs her online shops too, Donna Flower for fabrics and Donna Flower Vintage for clothes, so if a visit is really beyond you, you needn't miss out on her impeccable sourcing skills.

We had a really wonderful weekend but luckily, coming home was not too much of a come down as my birthday present was waiting for me to play with it: a vintage Singer featherweight sewing machine.  She just needs oiling then I can't wait to try her out with some of those special vintage fabrics.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Out with the Old, In with the New

Hello readers, how nice to be back at my desk, joining you again in the land of Blog on this rather gloomy November morning.  How are you all?  Jolly good, I hope.  So when we last got together, it was all go, go, go on the house move front.  I've never seen so many boxes, I think we had over three hundred in the end.  It was an horrifically busy, tiring and emotional time, not to be contemplated again in a hurry!

In the nine years we'd lived in the HenHouse in London, we'd put down roots and made friends.  The final Wednesday, the lovely folks I'd met with each week at Stag & Bow put on a little party.  I do miss them though I've not had much time for sitting and eating cake to be honest!

My parents were brilliant as ever and helped us out the final week.  As we packed and took down fittings and got rid of things we no longer needed, our living space shrank and we found ourselves eating at the picnic table in a sea of boxes.  Hard going as these times are, they make lasting memories.  Not quite looking my best there!

Too soon, the final day dawned.  The lorries began to arrive and it was crazy hectic.  I'd thought we were really organised but there is always such a lot which cannot be done until the last minute.  It's striking, when I look at this picture now, I see the flats over the road, the cars and just how built up everything is.  It's funny how quickly our new surroundings have become the norm.

After two full days loading five removal lorries, we threw all those last bits into any available bag or box, packed up the car and most importantly, that lovely furry friend.  Come on Charlie Boy, the West Country awaits you!

I was worried I wouldn't have the energy to drive the 135 miles to our new home but it was actually quite a relief.  It was the longest I'd sat still in quite some time.  Breathe and relax...

We drove through the gate and over the gravel just before it turned dark.  Yay!  An hour or so later, the first removal lorry rolled into the drive.  Hurrah!  So exciting!  It was really happening.  We'd spent so long waiting for this moment, it was hard to believe it had finally arrived.

I think we ate pizza and of course, drank champagne, at about midnight and we fell into bed some time after 2am.  Zzzzzzzz.  That bed never felt so good, I can tell you.

Next day when we woke up, the view from the bedroom window in the light of day took our breath away.  We'd finally made it.  Hello Smiling Somerset.

Charlie soon found the eidy and was non-plussed by the whole event.  It was an opportunity to milk the sympathy and demand lots of cuddles and tuna fish, as was his right of course.

So here we are, in a little hamlet in the West.  We can walk to the village shops, the Munchkin can catch a bus to school and there's nobody too close: nobody parking over the drive, nobody noising about outside in the wee hours, no incessant sirens blaring past, just oodles of lovely green space and fabulous views.

Inside, it's fair to say there is a big task ahead of us.  The house still resembles cardboard city in most areas.  Five lorries to unpack and their contents to find new homes for is quite a lot really.

Charlie Boy seemed to be having second thoughts!

We've managed to get some areas sorted though, so we can get on and enjoy ourselves here while the rest gets sorted eventually.  The view whilst taking breakfast is pretty fine.

The sitting room is one place you need to get sorted so you have somewhere comfy to flop at the end of each day, I think.  At least, Charlie Boy thinks so.  He's not at all keen on going outside and generally has a little triangular comfort zone between bed, sofa and food!

Of course, life cannot be about all work and no play.  I might have popped into some of my favourite charity shops whilst out and about getting essentials.  Couldn't resist this little lot...

Once I'd got the main rooms on their way, I could no longer stand life without some form of craftiness. It was time to commence unpacking the Den and getting sorted.  It's a tiring business, this unpacking lark, I now realise that packing up was easier!  My new Den is pretty much done now, I'll share that with you soon.  

We've been busy attending to all those jobs you need to do when you first move in.  We've quite a few chimneys here and so the sweep came to sort us out, with alarming results in the study!

Of course, we've popped out to our beloved Bridders more than a few times.  As ever, it's a rich hunting ground and with a new home to kit out, I'm pretty much in my element.  Couldn't resist this gorgeous thrifty mirror.

More shopping of the virtual variety has been taking place.  Nothing is too far away now in this modern world of the internet, is it?  Time to order bare root roses for the new garden.  Got to have some roses to cut next Summer.

I cannot lie, there has been some craftiness going on already.  I think I must have had almost a two month break from sewing so I am now raring to go again.

Ahhhh, West Country, we love you, you are all we hoped for and more.  We may be tired and have aches in our bones we didn't know existed, but it's all getting better from here on in.