The Neverending (House) Story

Friday, 17 October 2014

I last updated on the house a month or so ago. At that point (seems like a long, long time ago) I had had the plastering done and was deep in the middle of painting. I should be approaching the final stages now, right? Well, hmmmm, ish. Everything is taking such a very long time to do.

Post plastering everything was disgusting. So much cleaning to be done. All the cleaning.

We boshed on with the wallpapering.Can't wait to actually be there in the daylight to take some proper photos. It's so pretty!

After a prolonged discussion with the electrical engineers (I kept my temper. Barely) the electricity got fixed so the lights now work! That's been a huge help. We had one inspection lamp running off an extension lead and let me tell you, trying to wallpaper at 9pm with just that to help you see is not ideal.

I feel like I now know every single inch of the house rather intimately.  If it's wooden, I've probably painted it. Skirting boards, door frames, doors... lashings of lovely white paint have transformed them from grotty to gorgeous.

In my last post I mentioned how shit Frogtape was. This is what it does to the ceilings. Hours I spent up the top of a ladder, two tiny paintbrushes in hand. I think this Painty Barefaced Tramp look may be even better than Decorating Smurf.

Floors have been scrubbed and mopped and had bitumen chipped off them, revealing lovely (but impractical) quarry tiles underneath. We won't talk about what's happening upstairs though.

Lovely new blinds have been put in.

I met the cat from next door. I've christened him Bandit.

Having finally finished the walls and woodwork, this week I've been merrily occupied with wardrobes and cupboards. They're amazing spaces and I can't wait to stash all my stuff in them but they look horrid. With the aid of much expensive primer and paint, I'm gonna make them look lovely.

The place still looks like a total building site, even after many, many runs to the tip but I have a faint (probably misguided) hope that it'll all come magically together this week.

Want to know the funny thing?  I kinda need to move in next weekend (25/26 October). *hollow laugh*

What's still to do?

  • The neverending painting should hopefully be concluded this weekend. Those wardrobe and cupboard doors need painting now they've been primed.
  • Kitchen and bathroom need sprucing up but someone is coming to do that because I've lost the will to live when it comes to decorating.
  • The electric works needs finishing off and the shower hooking up. That's being done on Monday. Woop!
  • Parquet floor needs doing but that's booked for 27th October. Would have preferred it before I moved in but he's a busy man so I've taken what I can get.
  • Carpets/flooring. Still haven't picked what I want. Argh. I'm hopefully doing it tomorrow but will they be able to come and fit them within a week? Who knows!
  • The real stumbling block is that the plumbers who fitted the boiler etc have gone totally AWOL. Can't get in touch with them at all. The radiators need to go back on the walls and I have a fitted but not-working boiler which needs firing up. And I can't get the flooring fitted until the radiators are back up. Helpful eh?

Brand New Bag

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

I don't have very much to talk about at the moment.

Haven't got any new clothes to show off, haven't been making or baking anything, haven't had time for any interesting thoughts on life. Haven't really been doing anything except painting a lot and giving myself inadvertent ombre locks by dipping the ends of my ponytail in the paint tin.

I bought a new bag though.

 *makes whooping new-bag sort of noises*

It's massive.  All bags should be massive.  I have so much crap to cart around with me that I simply can't cope with anything smaller. Minimalism ain't my bag. Muahaha, d'you see what I did there?

(sorry, paint fumes are clearly getting to me)

It was a proper bargain too. £15! It's been drawing admiring glances from all the gang at work.  They may also have been admiring my matchy-matchyness as it turns out to be exactly the same colour as my gloriously tomato coloured flats. What a happy coincidence.

Dress - Primark
Cardi - Hawkshead
Flats - Mel
Bag - Matalan sale (but it's sold out now so you can't have one. Soz!)

Yay, Coats!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

I've been buying more coats. Can't help myself.

Check this one out though! Cute, no?

I'm assuming it's last year's Florence & Fred as I bagged it from a charity shop last month and it doesn't really look as if it's ever been worn. One person's cast-off is another person's treasure though and I'm super pleased with it.  It's like a longer version of the H&M jacket I've got (which you can spot in this post, along with my many many other coats) and I've always wished that was a bit longer.  I may even complete the charity circle and donate that one now I've got this one.

Tis a size too big but I always prefer my winter coats that way. It means I can chuck massive chunky cardigans on underneath.

Also sequinned skirts.  Yep, I wear it to work.  It's not like I've ever got a more suitable occasion for it and it might as well get some wear!

Coat - Florence & Fred via charity shop
Cardigan - New Look
Skirt - H&M sale
Top - Ruby Rocks
Boots - Irregular Choice
Necklace - Tatty Devine, present

A Blogging Good Read - October

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Hello booklovers. It's Blogging Good Read time and joining me this month are Char from T*rexes and Tiaras and Claire from Jazzpad. Woop! I love chatting books with these two.  We seem to have gone in for a bit of a film/tv adaptation theme this month but which books did we pick?

Char chose Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn:

I picked this up on a whim in a charity shop earlier in the year and have been waiting for an opportunity to read it, so when it came to picking my book, this seemed like the obvious choice. I don't suppose there's anyone out there who has missed the hype; both surrounding the book when it was released, and the upcoming film.

I hated both characters. I know that the reader is supposed to pick a side here. And based on the fact that the wife has gone missing and the police are considering the husband their main suspect, you'd have to be pretty dumb not to know that you're supposed to side with the wife, right?

Wrong. In fact, I think I spent most of the book feeling sorry for Nick because Amy is such a bitch. I actually found myself wanting something awful to happen to her. Which, come to think of it, maybe makes it quite a good book, if it can provoke such rage. I'm so confused. Frankly, all I can say with any definite certainly is that I'm glad the 50p I paid for the book went to charity.

What did Claire think?

Wow what a page turner! I got through this in about a day and a half, and the half way shocker genuinely threw me. Having your loyalties flipped and finding yourself questioning who to trust is especially difficult when you're not used to characters lying to you! Saying all of this... I haven't decided how I felt about the ending. It culminates in such a way that on one hand it made sense to finish as it did (trying not to illicit spoilers here!) but on the other hand after so much drama and build up... There was a part of me that wanted a "We Need to Talk About Kevin" kind of climax. I'll be reading it again for sure.

As for me, I loathed this book.  I know everyone adores it (apart from Char as I've just discovered, ha!) but good lord, all of the characters are awful, vile, despicable, irritating people. I can't remember the last time I read something and wanted everyone to die horribly, preferably by killing each other, but this book had that effect on me. It's not easy to enjoy something when you feel this strongly about it.

Weirdly, it's still a good book. I don't know how the author has quite managed to pull off that balance of making me hate the very depths of everyone in the book and yet managing to keep me reading till the end of it.  The writing is fantastic and you can't help but admire the skill that's gone into the plotting.  As a thriller, it's really taut and captivating. There's a part of me that wants to go and see the film because I think it would translate to cinema really well but I'm sorry, I just can't bear the prospect of spending any more time with the characters.

My pick was Atonement by Ian McEwan:

You might be more familiar with the film version of this and there's probably a good reason for that (hello McAvoy & Knightley!). The book is in McEwan's usual style and he's quite the descriptive writer. That means Atonement is very much on the slowish paced, dense side of things.  I love it - you can sink right into his prose and get utterly caught up in the complex inner workings of his character's minds - but I must admit you do have to be in the right frame of mind otherwise it could probably feel quite heavy going.

The book is split into three sections. The first is set in a country house in the 1930s where our young protagonist Briony oversees something she doesn't understand, with almost inevitable tragic consequences, the second is set during wartime France on the retreat to Dunkirk and the third takes us back to wartime London.  Everything is sumptuously, vividly described throughout and McEwan doesn't pull his punches. This book makes me sob so hard.  It's all about misunderstandings and deception and truth. The complex web of narratives unfold throughout the book and I mustn't spoil it but it's no surprise that the ending doesn't turn out to be quite what you think it is.

Did Char like it?

Ugh, what a beast of a book. I shouldn't have left myself so little time to read this because oh my, doesn't McEwan go to town on his descriptions. He's very much of the "why write four words when I could write 46" school of thought, isn't he?

I chugged through the first section of the book and whilst meaty, I rather enjoyed it. Seeing the world through naive little Briony's eyes made me think about how others can misinterpret the smallest of actions and how huge those potential consequences can be. Without wanting to spoil the plot, Briony's beliefs lead her to make a mistake which she then has to spend the rest of the book atoning for.

Frankly I found the wartime sections tiresome. The descriptions were overly lengthy in my opinion, but the way all of the loose ends seemed to tie up in the end was pretty neat, yet at the same time almost a little disappointing. Like, we've spent so long building up such tension, smouldering it's way through the book, and all of a sudden *poof* and it's gone.

I'm still not sold on this one.

How about Claire?

The first time I read this book I was incredibly underwhelmed (sorry). I found it heavy going and slow, and the ending wasn't a surprise to me because I'd seen the film - whoops. A few years on I appreciate it MUCH more, and feel a little daft for writing it off so quickly before! I still find the flowery passages quite hard to get through, particularly whole chapters devoted characters unnecessary to the plot such as Cecilia's ill mother, and the difficulties of war, but on the whole I enjoyed it a lot.

Claire's choice was Any Human Heart by William Boyd:

This book warms my heart so much. Though it makes me sob uncontrollably (oh Freya!) I feel like it encompasses every element of human life. I loved the famous cameos and you can clock the change in attitudes as Logan grows up. It has its highs and lows, its horrors and loves, but it's just so rich. Everyone should read this!

I enjoyed this book a lot.  Hurrah for epilostary novels! I know Char draws a very similar comparison in her review but this book reminds me a lot of The Hundred Year Old Man in terms of chucking the main character through as many significant events/meetings in history as possible and spinning a tale around them. Where it differs from THYOM (which I hated) is that this never felt clunky or obvious. It seems perfectly plausible that someone like Logan Mountstuart could have existed.  I've read enough diaries and biographies from the mid twentieth century to realise that someone living such a rich and varied life is quite possible.

The main flaw for me is that there is a real undercurrent of shallowness in this tale, largely due to Logan's character.  It didn't bother me when it's focusing on his life specifically but it meant there was little to no impact when things happened to Freya or some of the other characters.  The format of this book means you're very much living in Logan's head but I don't think it would have been impossible to make this element stronger. Perhaps it seems weaker because I read it so close to Atonement and the bad things that happen in that particular book absolutely destroy me.  Anyway, Any Human Heart definitely gets a recommendation from me.

What did Char think?

I took this to my spa break and can't say that I was particularly looking forward to reading it. And yet, it's the book of the three which I enjoyed the most, by far. By the time I'd got to the second chapter I was hooked and Thursday afternoon saw me sitting in the hydrotherapy pool reading away until I resembled a prune.

Logan Mountstuart intrigued me in a way I didn't expect him to. Despite getting frustrated with him during his adolescent years, his entrance into the literary world and his life story, told in diary form, had me gripped. Logan associated with so many well-known names (Fleming, Hemingway, etc) that the book ran the risk of becoming a little name-droppy. But somehow, it managed not to go the way of The Hundred Year Old Man and stayed entertaining.

I liked Logan regardless of his philandering ways, in spite of his family dramas. I felt sorry for him when he lost his way and was genuinely dreading the last few chapters as I knew what was coming.

Thanks ever so much to Char and Claire for joining in again this month!

I'll be back next week with two different readers and we'll be looking at Vivian Versus the Apocalypse by Katie Coyle, 4.50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. See you then!

A Day In The Life

Thursday, 2 October 2014

I really loved Char's #photoanhour blog post last week - it's always fun to see what people get up to, isn't it? Blogging and all forms of social media give you brief glimpses into things but I do enjoy a whole day of "this is what I did".  Mainly I'm very impressed by a) how early other people get up and b) how busy they are!

Inspired by Char, I decided to have a crack at it. I know most people choose a weekend day for this but well, recording my weekends at the moment would result in a stream of photos where I'm painting and scrubbing skirting boards and mopping. NOT FUN. Work day it had to be:


Rudely awoken by the cat. I am so far from being a morning person it's untrue. Thank god I live close to work.


Brekkie at work (I can't eat first thing in the morning or I just want to vom). Very strong coffee and an utterly delicious Udi's choc chip bagel. I can't get enough of their stuff. Honestly, I'm like a crazy evangelical person preaching the merits of gluten-free food that tastes NORMAL AND DELICIOUS.


Photo editing stuff for the website. Endless, endless photo editing.


Escaped work to nip to the new house and let in the engineers from the electricity company. They were late. I chipped more bitumen off the quarry tiles in the hall and practiced my rage face. It came in very useful when they arrived and immediately said "Oh no love, we can't help. Who told you we needed to do it? Impossible." Err, that would be another engineer from your company. FIX IT.

They did. I now having working plug sockets. Hurrah!


Back at work. Thank goodness I racked up about a bajillion lieu hours earlier in the year. They're coming in super useful.


Lunch! We're all mildly obsessed by tomatoes and this is my current fave way to eat them. Take some nice bread, slice a beef tomato, drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and rock salt, then scoff.


Spreadsheety fun.


A pig with a broken ear made a visit to the office. Cue many porcine jokes.


Still at it with the website. Captions are the bane of my life. Almost as bad as blog titles: I can never think!


A very hasty dash from work to the train station and then, by the skin of my teeth, I was on the train into town, finishing off an upcoming Blogging Good Read book.


Dinner at Luche Libre, a fab Mexican restaurant in town. Wine, spicy fries and tacos of the Al Pastor (pork belly marinated in cola) and Scouse varieties. Don't worry, that's not all I ate. I just wanted a tidy photo. Ha!

7.15 & 8.15pm

At my second home, FACT, to watch a live screening of Stephen Fry's talk/book promo/general awesomeness.


Wandering back to the car. Liverpool is brilliant.


Back at home I had a burst of energy and decided to pack away some summer clothes prior to the move. Won't be needing them for a while! The current spare bedroom is complete chaos: books and ironing and boxes everywhere.


My usual late night staples: Radio 5 Live, a book and my diary. I am far too prone to being distracted at this time of night. I'm sure it shouldn't take me as long to write my diary as it actually does. Need more focus.


Sorted out clothes for the next day and fell straight asleep. That's quite an early bedtime by my usual standards but I'm exhausted at the moment.

So there you have it: a day in the life of me.