Reflections and Repairs

It’s all done with mirrors

I love all sorts of mirrors. There is the enormous (sadly, recently smashed) Mafia Mirror with its smugglers cavity, which Gill kindly picked up for me from the ‘Russians’ last summer, but at the other end of the size scale I have a few damaged 99p jobbies, one of which is splayed on a towel on my living room floor awaiting further surgery this evening

Before and after bending with pliers, then applying elbow grease with rottenstone and good old WD40. It still has a patina but is no longer filthy

I tend to think of mirrors as things to look at, rather than to look into. And ironically for someone so mirror-happy I spend way less time in front of one than many people, and probably less time than I should, taking the ‘casual’ approach to clothing and make up to the extreme. This despite the fact that I have hung good mirrors either side of the front door, in an attempt to remind me to check myself before leaving. (At least C and Baz use them)

Recent examples include:

Leaving yoga class last week I looked down at the logo on my vest top, wondering if it was Adidas, Sweaty Betty, New Balance etc, and realised that it was just a blob of grey undercoat. When I pointed this out to C she just said she assumed I already knew

Recently, Baz has pointed out blobs of face cream as I get into the car to work in the morning

One morning, C turned to me in the hallway and asked me, without a trace of irony: ‘Aren’t you going to work today then?’

To be fair, the skanky chicken-flavoured flip-flops didn’t help the look

I genuinely admire people who take the trouble to look good but I fully believe that one day it will be discovered that there’s an actual gene which compels some women to match handbags and shoes to outfits and to iron their clothes. Sadly, it’s a gene I do not possess, but thanks to Baz’s side of the family, C has inherited it (in part. Not the ironing!)

Isn’t nature wonderful

I’m not hideous, but I rarely get compliments on my appearance, even when I have made a real effort. At one excruciating Boxing Day family get-together where I was wearing a nice top with good jeans, someone remarked cattily that ‘I see you’re wearing your best socks’ and everyone roared with laughter. I wasn’t wearing my best socks, of course, but Baz’s socks as always. I just hadn’t dressed to impress

So why all the mirrors for someone so unglamorous? I love the light they bring in to a room, and the way a bevel (I do LOVE a bevel) sends light and reflections shooting off. Of course I buy mirrors with a past, so damage is acceptable and foxing is actually desirable because it just adds to the mystery

And it means I don’t have to look too closely at my reflection

But I digress. Back to the patient: its dear little asymmetrical bevelled mirror has had a hard life and the silvering comes away from the back in large thick flakes, so I’ll clean it up and put acrylic mirror (90p) behind to cover the silver losses. It’s very effective

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And after all, it won’t often get called into active duty!

 

 

 

 

 

In Br-imbo

Has anyone got a plan?

I have been keeping quiet, in the hope that it was all a bad dream, and that a recount would be called. Or that someone would just make sense of this awful mess. But they haven’t

The EU has flaws and they are many, but as a concept and as our future security it is what I firmly believe in

Of course, this is now purely academic, because the nation has spoken and I am apparently in the minority, though only just

But as huge as this decision itself is, the broader consequences are that we have no-one to reassure us in the wake of this shocking event, no-one to tell us where this is all really going. Everyone – whichever way they cast their vote – has been thrust into limbo awaiting news, and the effect of this on the economy will be equally catastrophic. We are completely uninvestable, and just as the latest recession dissipates we are now forced to steer our businesses through another, or simply to collapse. The whole situation is damaging in the extreme, and the prospect of yet a worsening economic downturn is depressing

And it’s all due to the utterly indefensible hate-mongering politicians who sold the referendum to the gullible in order to further their own agendas/careers. And to all those people who thought they were ‘making a protest vote’, ‘saving the NHS, or whatever. In reality the country has been completely divided, as close to 50/50 as is possible, and no-one knows how to deal with the Brexit monster that has been created

The future for our young people is anything but bright, it is murky and uncertain, and it seems they are destined to spend the early years of adulthood in an isolated country without prospects and without any feeling of unity

 

 

Beautiful and Brutally Honest

An Unexpected Truth in Lincoln

It’s never good to be behind someone who has stayed at the hotel before and wants to check that her room is ‘not by the refrigerator units because they’re quite loud’. The guy’s response that she’ll probably be fine doesn’t do much to reassure me because I know the hotel is full all week, so if my room is awful, I’m stuck with it

When I reach the desk, the manager advises me that I have received an internal upgrade. I  pay little attention because I am (a) soaking wet head to sandals from the tempest, (b) wrestling a heavy two and a half foot wide and three foot tall brass light fitting picked up at a train station sort-of-en-route and (c) almost in touching distance of the bar

Things get better very quickly. After squeezing into the tiny lift with all my crap I discover that my room is in fact a four-poster suite on the fourth floor, with cracking far-reaching views over the rooftops and access to a large roof terrace facing the stunning Cathedral

Just me and my random metal objects snuggling up for two nights until Baz arrivesIMG_9959.JPG

Lincoln really could be the fudge-lovers world capital, and there are plenty of places to stop and get a cuppa or, indeed, an ice cream. I had a strange craving for rose petals that day so I had Turkish delight, Stem ginger and Liquorice flavours all together and loved it!

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The spirit of creativity runs high in the Bailgate area. Galleries and small independent shops are plentiful, and Baz and I LOVED the photographic exhibition at the Harding House Gallery by Jane Wright inspired by the beauty in the dereliction of industrial sites in Sheffield

The Bailgate streets are full of character and there are frequent glimpses of the Cathedral and castle between the houses

So what hadn’t I expected?

Inside the fantastical Cathedral building, alongside the historic tombs, very contemporary works of art reside, such as the incredibly beautiful and moving ‘Forest Stations’ by William Fairbank. I found no online links that do them justice and my camera battery ran out so I have no pictures, so my advice is simply to go and see them

And more surprising to me was ‘Little Hugh’s Tomb’, where a warning against racial hatred and bigotry, illustrated by a terrifying true piece of local history, ends with the wonderful greeting of ‘Shalom’. For me as an atheist this was really refreshing and honest in such a grand Cathedral, and I welled up as I read it:

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Times are strange right now. There are many people feeling resentment and fear in the world and many more suffering terribly, but no good ever comes of bigotry or cruelty. History has provided enough evidence that people are capable of terrible acts, but also of wonderful kindness and creativity. Let’s remind ourselves that it is our responsibility to find the goodness and nurture it

Drenched and Delicious

Strength and beauty in the wake of the storm

I just had to share these poppies I snapped on my phone this morning. Despite their delicacy they have survived last night’s torrential rainIMG_2728

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IMG_2749Some had folded over their silken petals IMG_2745 in an attempt to protect themselvesIMG_2736

IMG_2751The bees fed wellIMG_2756Next year’s legacy is assured

Raising an Eyebrow

A wooden front door is a thing of beauty. Take care of it

‘Are you going to do it red again? Red is the most common colour of front door, you know’

‘I’m not telling you. You’ll see soon enough’

‘I bet it’s going to be one of those bluey-greens. Or orange. Is that orange?’

My neighbour interrogated me. Over the course of the week I had sanded down the paintwork of the front door and we had added a rain deflector to the bottom of the front door. Understandably, it was looking a lot worse than before I started

Various paint testers with their numbers scribbled alongside had remained for over a year because I just couldn’t decide. Eventually I found inspiration from a house we pass on the way home from work each day. It was quite a departure for meIMG_9544

That Sunday was hot. Really hot. By nine that morning the door was off and placed on the workbench in the garage for priming. I hadn’t accounted for the cotton candy seed which was floating thickly in the air that day, so Baz had to close the garage door on me while I worked, to try and keep it from sticking to the paint. This created almost perfect paint oven conditions, but made me feel hot and claustrophobic. Nonetheless, I soon achieved the zen-like state that can only be reached when you like your choice of finish – in this case, Mylands ‘Bond Street’ in a dead flat finish. It looks restrained, contemporary and very poshIMG_9589

1930s houses with original features are sadly in decline, with people taking practical decisions which involve PVCU doors and windows. Never one to follow the herd, when C was small I bought an ‘eyebrow’ door for the house. It was too big and the orientation was wrong for the house, so Baz thought I’d really screwed up, but a carpenter trimmed and hung it for me. Unfortunately the wood was not in great condition, so I filled and sanded as best I could in situ and painted it (badly) in bright red

I didn’t care what Baz thought. It made me smile

So, a decade or so later it deserved a re-visit. Front doors have to withstand constant to-ing and fro-ing, and are the first line of defence against the extremes of weather. This door has spent the best part of a century in service, and it still does so with style and substance. It has earned all its imperfections and it carries them well

I am no expert, but the matt finish has helped to disguise some of its dings and imperfections and it makes the fielding look crisp, way better than the red gloss before

And my neighbour’s verdict?

‘The undercoat looks very nice. What colour is it going to be?’

Revealing Beauty

So this is what it’s supposed to look like!

I know I’m a bad partner/ mother at times, but we all need a bit of me-time. This week I snuck off to practise the dark art of French polishingIMG_9794.JPG

Some people are naturally good teachers. Roy is one such person. He is also a real craftsman – an expert French polisher – so he and I worked on my beautiful but abused late Regency Ebay table, which had seen better days. Lots of better days, in fact

Before starting on such a huge project we talked about the materials, the techniques, the approach. We discussed how the table functions as a piece – there are two separate consoles, one with a simple drop-leaf to easily combine the two into a dining table. Roy really wanted me to make the right choices for the piece.

It has patina in bucket loads so we discussed how much we should retain. Pretty much all of it was the consensus. If I’d wanted an immaculate table I could have bought repro

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It’s clear that this table stood as two separate side tables for almost all its life. Roy gave me an insight into the forgotten reality of making such a piece of furniture entirely by hand, showing me the plane marks visible underneath the table top

He had me working on practice boards, fine-tuning the sanding, sealing and de-nibbing etc. Then we hit the table, so to speak

First the prep: there were nearly 200 years worth of grime and old polish to remove. As we stripped it back the beauty of the Cuban mahogany revealed itself and the beautifully-crafted details started to jump out, such as the double row of inlay, probably ebony, on the lower edgeIMG_9795

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Before and after stripping: I had barely noticed the inlay when we startedIMG_9797

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Top, before and after strippingIMG_9810

The colour and depth increased as we worked. It was reassuring to know that if I did anything REALLY stupid Roy would show me how to fix it. Bringing something so beautifully handcrafted back to life after years of abuse is exciting and rewarding, though there is much left to do

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(I still need to do the rest of it!)IMG_9924