The Cupboard has packed its bags, had a last look around and is bidding a fond farewell to Tumblr today as it’s moving to a new home at www.the-cupboard.co.uk.
Thanks to everyone who has stopped by these pages over the last year; your support is HUGELY appreciated and I hope you’ll join me over at the new site soon…
Paperwork (Part II)
Just over a month ago I wrote about my hunt for a new storage solution for our files so as to get them out of sight in our study/hallway. Inspired by this picture, I decided a bench with baskets underneath would suit the room perfectly.
Finding a bench with enough clearance beneath the seat and baskets of the right dimensions proved a slight challenge, but, as you can see in the photo above, my perseverance paid off in the end and I’m thrilled with the results. It’s a lovely piece of furniture that I’m sure will prove very versatile over the years, and the baskets beneath have more than enough room for all our paperwork.
As the legendary Hannibal Smith once said:
"I love it when a plan comes together."
Planting an Orchard
One of my abiding memories from the day we moved to our house was exploring the garden properly for the first time. It was a gloriously warm spring day and the apple and pear trees that cluster together half way down the garden were in blossom. Whilst there was much work to be done on clearing the areas that were overrun with brambles and nettles, and dealing with the insanely tall Leylandii that left much of the lawn in shadow each morning, there was no question that the fruit trees would be staying.
Fast-forward nearly two years and we’ve cleared the overgrowth, felled the conifers, and have tentatively divided the long rectangular space into three sections: a vegetable garden at the far end, an orchard in the middle, and a formal garden by the house. The vegetable garden was completed just over a year ago, and we plan to wait to create the formal garden until any works on the house are complete. However the orchard is something we’ve been keen to make a start on for a while, not least because trees obviously take forever to get established.
We finally bit the bullet a couple of weeks ago and ordered eight bare root trees from the hugely helpful people at Pomona Fruits, which I have planted today. We decided to go for a mixed bag to keep things interesting, as I am keen to avoid a glut of any one thing after last year’s courgette-fest.
Above: The new pear tree with the existing Bramley apple in the background
The existing trees appear to have been planted in two rows of four (although gaps suggest half did not make it) so we’ve continued this layout across the whole space. Once established, the idea is that the trees will break up the sight line from the house and therefore add a little intrigue as to what might lie beyond. We are clearly going to have to be incredibly patient as, the quince for example, won’t reach full size for another ten years. Thankfully we should have fruit in a couple, in which case I had better start stockpiling jam jars.
In case you’re interested, here is a list of what we’ve planted (in addition to the two apple trees and two pear trees that we already had):
- Pear ‘Invincible’
- Apple ‘Christmas Pippin’
- Plum ‘Victoria’
- Greengage ‘Cambridge Gage’
- Damson ‘Prune Damson’
- Cherry ‘Sunburst’
- Quince ‘Meeches Prolific’
- Sweet Almond ‘Robijn’
Images: Pomona Fruits
A colder or drearier* day would have been hard to imagine last Saturday, but given we’d been relatively home-based for the previous few days, and had my parents staying, we felt that a little outing was in order.
We settled on Leith Hill on account of it being both close and free (as we’re National Trust members). Forming part of the estate belonging to Leith Hill Place, the tower atop the hill is the highest point in South-east England at 305m; it’s always good to have a selling-point when venturing out on inclement days, don’t you think?
It turns out Leith Hill Place was quite the celebrity hotspot in it’s day, having been owned by Josiah Wedgwood and his wife Caroline, and visited by Caroline’s brother, Charles Darwin, on numerous occasions. However, the house is most famous for being the childhood home of composer Ralph Vaughan Williams whose mother, Margaret, was the youngest daughter of Josiah and Caroline. After inheriting the estate from his brother, Ralph Vaughan Williams bequeathed it to the National Trust in 1944.
The are many well-signposted trails to follow, but our 2.5 mile ‘Woodland’ walk took us through the Rhododendron Wood, across the fields towards the somewhat bleak and austere house, and then up Leith Hill itself to the 18th century Gothic tower which affords, even through the mist, amazing views of landscape below. Apparently on clear days you can see 13 counties; worth a return visit on a fine day to witness that I think.
Like all good walks, it ended in the pub where we warmed up and ate a well-deserved lunch.
* Apologies for the low-grade images, it was not a forgiving light to take photos in.
Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair
Firstly apologies for the lack of posts over the last week; the kids’ half term holiday and the decorating of our study distracted me somewhat, but happily normal service has now resumed.
A highlight of the week was a visit to the Antiques & Collectors Fair at Ardingly, West Sussex with two friends. I’ve wanted to go for ages and was not disappointed as there is an amazing range of wares on display and some definite bargains to be had. The buyers from Petersham Nurseries and Retrouvius clearly agree as I spotted vans from both. I also spotted Katie Price doing some filming, although I’m not sure what can be inferred from that.
Showing uncharacteristic restraint, I didn’t actually buy anything as I wanted to get a feel for what was there on my first visit so that I could do my homework prior to going back. Although if truth be told I do slightly regret not further investigating a little glazed bookcase that needed some TLC. Ho hum.
You name it, you can buy it there; from taxidermy to suits of armour, and rugby balls to vintage handbags. Highlights for me though were the Hungarian benches, vintage baskets of all shapes and sizes, French linens and galvanised containers that would look fantastic in the garden or as storage.
Having not been to this kind of event before it was useful to see how the regulars approach their bargain-hunting. Here are some tips that I gleaned:
- Get there early - entry badges are sold while you’re queueing which means you can get browsing as soon as it opens at 9am.
- The stalls are roughly grouped by type so grab a map and make a beeline for the kind of thing you’re most interested in as otherwise the best items will be sold by the time you get there.
- Be decisive if you want to buy something, or face disappointment.
- If you’re looking for something specific, make a note of any relevant measurements before you go and take a tape measure with you.
- Take some large carrier bags with you. Many stallholders will mind your purchases for you while you browse but you still need to lug them back to your car. If you want to look like a pro, then take a wheeled suitcase/shopping trolley.
- Take cash and a cheque book to pay for any purchases; some stalls will also accept Euros. There is a mobile cashpoint there but they charge for withdrawals.
- Wear comfortable shoes; the site is huge, and a bit muddy.
- Take a backpack or cross-body bag to keep your hands free.
Alice Holt Forest
Yesterday’s gorgeous sunshine put us in the mood for an outing and we settled on Alice Holt Forest, near Farnham. The combination of lovely walking trails, adventure playgrounds and, what can only be described as beautiful wooden play-sculptures hidden away amongst the trees, makes for a pretty good day out. You only pay for parking too which is even better.
If you’re curious as to where the name ‘Alice Holt’ comes from, then (according to Wikipedia) it would seem as though it’s a corruption of the name Ælfsige, who was Bishop of Winchester in AD 984 and whose Diocese had rights over the forest, combined with the Old English word ‘holt’ meaning wood or thicket.
History lesson over.
Embroidered Stamp Pictures
I bought these two embroidered stamp pictures by Eleri Stacpoole from Yellowstone Art Boutique last summer and have been pondering where best to display them ever since as the detailing on them is incredibly intricate and needs to be seen close up to be appreciated.
A poor track record means I’m always nervous about hanging pictures as I’m convinced I’m going to pick the wrong spot or get my measurements muddled, resulting in freshly decorated walls that are peppered with holes. Mulling things over ad infinitum tends to be more my style these days.
Anyway, I had my epiphany when bathing the kids last night (for reasons I cannot fathom) and knew that they would look just perfect above our new armchair in the kitchen/dining room. I’ll show you more of the room when the makeover is complete (curtains are being chosen so progress is definitely being made!) but couldn’t resist sharing these little details with you in the mean time.
Toast’s SS13 House & Home collection was a welcome sight this morning thanks to its strong Moroccan and Mediterranean influences, which transport you to another land and another season.
From vividly coloured kantha quilts to pastel ceramics, the range is evocative of whitewashed villas, exotic markets and hot, hot sun.
Here are some of my favourite pieces…
This is such a sweet idea for Valentine’s Day if low-key romantic gestures are more your thing than truck loads of red roses and dinner à deux in a restaurant. It’s easy too, as all you need to make your loved one’s glass of milk (or cup of coffee) extra special is:
- Your favourite biscuit recipe
- Mini heart shaped cutter (to cut when still warm from oven)
For more information see here.
Image: Celebrating Everyday Life
I really love the fact we get fairly defined seasons in this country; seamlessly blended together with copious amounts of rain for the sake of continuity.
They all have their highlights for me, however as each draws to a close I relish the anticipation of what the next one will bring.
Daffodils might be a few weeks off appearing in most gardens, but in the shops they were on sale before we’d even celebrated New Year. That was a little early for my liking, but I’m so ready for them now as I start to look forward to the warmer months just around the corner.