Thursday, December 01, 2011

Home sweet home

Twelve years ago today, we moved house. This anniversary always makes me reminisce about what I left behind.
(apologies for the picture quality here. These were taken on an old fangled camera, meaning one with film, and mostly at night so I had to use scans. I've sharpened them a bit but I don't think it's helped much)

This house was our first house. Not our first home together as we had previously rented but our first home, the first that was properly ours and we got a mortgage on it and everything! I don't think we'd actually bought it when these were taken but as soon as I saw it, I had to have it. I knew the house well as I grew up in an identical one on the next avenue.
Of course, when you're young (as I was *sigh*) nothing fazes you. And your heart rules your head. Or at least it did mine when it came to houses. Still does!
This is the sort of conversation you have with yourself in your head...."So it's virtually untouched since the day it was built? That's good - full of original features! So it has no central heating?  We'll put it in and in  the meantime we have lovely open fires! So the windows are rotten or falling out? We'll get new ones! So the kitchen consists of one small cupboard, a belfast sink and an ancient and potentially dangerous stove? It's quaint and we can save up for a proper one! So the garden is 100ft of untamed jungle and you can't keep a pot plant alive? I'll learn. That's why God made Geoff Hamilton."
No real thought as to where the thousands of pounds needed to do all this is going to materialise from.

Pah! Mere details!
All I saw were picture rails, floorboards, belfast sink, cast iron bath, original fireplaces, built-in dresser, quarry tiles...the list was long.

This is the dining room that eventually became our kitchen. Sadly, to do that, we had to remove the fireplace and the chimney breast.
But oh! My dresser. How I loved it! Mr TVL spent many 'happy' hours scraping off the paint with a heat gun. If I could have brought it away with me I would have but it was sort of part of the wall as it had gone in when the house was built and removing it would've left a big hole! Can you imagine anything like that being built into a house today?
This is the kitchen. What you see is what you get. There is no more. Oh, I lie. On the right hand wall next to the sink is a small built-in cupboard. See the brown stains on the wall top left? Nicotine. Nice! The old chap who lived in the house spent all his time in the dining room and kitchen and was obviously a heavy smoker. The rest of the house was strangely clean. He probably even slept down there. When I was cooking and the room got steamed up, 'brown water' droplets would plop off the ceiling onto our heads. Ah, happy days!
Another of my most favourite things in the world (I'm not messing) is The Pantry. These should make a comeback but I suspect the fashion for tiny shoebox houses prevents this. When we eventually had a fitted kitchen erm...fitted, I struggled to make use of the cupboards as I could easily fit everything in my pantry and dresser. It still had a concrete cold slab at the back (under't stairs) as of course back in the 30's when the house was built nobody had a fridge. It worked a treat. The room kept everything beautifully cool.
This is the only shot I took of the living room which is a shame as it had an original fireplace, dark wood with lavender coloured tiled hearth. You're also unable to see the delightful 'wedding album' wallpaper clearly. You know the sort I mean. Stripey, shiny, silvery, that type of thing.
Halfway there! Upstairs to the bedrooms (all two of them) and this is the master,  ha ha!
I painted the fireplace blue. Why on earth did I do that?

Why are there two pairs of curtains at the window, I wondered? We  found out the first night we slept in there. The room had it's original Crittal window. For anyone that doesn't know, they're metal. They warp, they mist up, they rust. And warping means they don't close. I think you can just about see the piece of string going from the centre opener off down to the right. This was put there by somebody trying to keep the window shut. It didn't work. We used to get frost on the inside of the windows. Really! I'm not making this stuff up!
That's yours truly on the left there. The most interesting thing about this picture is that I remember I was wearing leggings! It was the first time round for them.

This is what we always called the 'back bedroom'. Keeps things simple when you've only got two. They liked gloss paint didn't they? I do think it's a bit silly though to make a small room even smaller by putting an airing cupboard in there too. Still, at least I had one. No such luxury here.

On to the humungous landing. Room for three doors and that was it. See the door handle? Bakelite. The trouble with bakelite is that it can get brittle. As soon as we moved in and starting using all the rooms regularly, they all broke in half. We were gutted!
Another great design feature here. Do you like the way they just laid one piece of carpet across the other? Our (first) cat Tilly (see sidebar for pet mugshots) was a bit of a thief and used to particularly enjoy stealing pens, pencils and emery boards. She used to chase these around the house until they got wedged under this ridiculous floor covering. When we ripped it up there were dozens of said items we just thought we'd mislaid!

Now I have a terrible confession to make regarding the bathroom. (nothing like that, keep it clean!) You may be able to tell that the curtains are 1950's ones. They had pictures of little bathroom suites on them. I took them down and not wanting to waste them (!) I used them as a floor cloth at a car boot sale. Wait, it gets worse. Afterwards, they were understandably grubby so I...threw them away!!!!!!!! Apologies, my vintage loving friends. I don't really have anything to say in my defence except I was young and foolish.
Let's move quickly on....

The bathroom had original tiles and original bath with globe taps (eeek!) Sink and loo were probably replaced in the 60's.
This heated towel rail and an electric heater high up on the wall gave us the luxury of two heat sources in the bathroom.  A novelty! Actually, the towel rail didn't work and the electric heater was dangerous so we used to wheel in the calor gas fire when bathing. Thinking about it now, that was probably dangerous too, y'know fumes and the like. The trouble with that was you only had a short window of opportunity to get in, get washed and get out before the fire went out due to the humidity. You knew it was about to go as it would start to make a 'blub blub blub' sound! Mr TVL would then spend several minutes trying to re-light it but sadly, it was almost always in vain and I would have to jump out and run downstairs to the gas fire shivering all the way.

We did have the built-in soap dish and over the bath (not seen) a built-in medicine cupboard flush with the wall. They seem to have been keen on built-in things back in the 30's don't they? I painted these tiles too as well as the kitchen ones. What was wrong with me?! It was the era of the makeover programme though and I worshipped at the altar of Linda Barker! There wasn't much in the house that wasn't rag-rolled/stencilled or colourwashed!

And finally, my garden. I wanted a huge garden and I got it. Apart from the garden part. It was more of a jungle. Particularly the bottom half. Foxgloves, lupins and violas had taken over. All the foxgloves and lupins in my current garden are descendants of these. There was also some beautiful old roses as well as bulbs that we didn't know about until months later as we moved in October.
 Another of my peculiar likes when it comes to houses is concrete line posts. I had two as I do now. It probably makes me a wee bit sad/odd but I don't care! We like what we like.

We could see there were a few old garden ornaments around but it wasn't until the winter when a lot of stuff died back that we realised just how many there were. Dozens! I kept my favourites and sold the rest at a car boot sale. People were fighting over them! I still have the bird baths (the one on the left sadly broke) the
water mill and the alsatian. For some reason I let the old man on the bench go for £3 at a garage sale we held. I so wish I hadn't!
Thank you for accompanying me as I wandered down memory lane. Sadly, our time there was not as happy as it could have been as we had awful neighbours. The ones on the left. Yes, you know who you are!! Still, I did love that house. Every single brick. This was just the beginning of course. It took us the whole six years we lived there to get it straight but that's for another time. Maybe I'll dig out some pictures of what we did but remember, I mentioned stencilling.....