Archive for December, 2011

December 30, 2011

On ballet and other things…

On Wednesday I had the great pleasure of spending the evening with my husband and daughter watching a new production from the Northern Ballet – Beauty and the Beast. It’s not the first time I’ve been to see a Northern Ballet performance. A quick look through the programmes I’ve collected over the years reveals that I’ve seen The Nutcracker (at least twice), Peter Pan, Dracula, Swan Lake and Cleopatra, amongst others. I suppose I’ve become something of a devotee. However as this was a completely new production, I’m still counting it as one of my 35:35 challenges, and you can’t stop me!

We had a wonderful time and Eve was enthralled by the dancing. As usual, the performance was stunning. I love to watch the dancers, recognisable from having seen them so many times, dance in new performances. With every production, it feels as though I know them better, and they are always remarkable. I am proud to live in a city with such a dance company. I highly recommend you visit their website (via the link above) and try to see a performance during the Spring Tour for 2012. I am already planning my visit to see Madame Butterfly. Beauty and the Beast will also form part of this Tour.

As the artistic director David Nixon said in the programme, some of the costume design was inspired by Thierry Mugler and Issey Miyake and this could be seen in the dramatic folded shapes of some  and the colours used throughout. One of my claims to fame is that Julie Anderson, who now creates these amazing costumes, made my wedding dress. It was the only time I’ve ever had anything made to measure; a wonderful experience.

It’s not the first time I’ve taken Eve to the ballet. She went to see the Nutcracker when she was just three and even then, was really well behaved, simply because she loves to watch the dancing so much. From the age of two, she’s has gone to a dance class. She did Baby Ballet and now does a weekly class at Yorkshire Dance. Recently, she’s also started horse riding, and I’ve also taught her a few phrases in French and Italian. Now, before you start thinking that I’m one of those pushy mothers, I want to reassure you that I’m not. Eve will carry on doing these things only as long as she’s enjoying herself. She did have swimming lessons for about half an hour, before turning blue from the cold (she’s very slim) and crying. So, no more swimming lessons.

Horse riding is something I’ve always done ( I have a degree in Equine Science) and wanted to share with her, and as far as the language learning goes, she loves to learn a few words. As small children are still learning their primary language anyway, it’s a great time to learn a little of another, and she was very thrilled to be able to say ‘ciao‘ to everyone we met in Italy on holiday – and was usually rewarded with a smile, pat on the head, gentle pinch of the cheek or in a restaurant, a little treat. So, needless to say, language learning has gone down very well with her! I think it’s important to at least try to learn a little of the language of any country I visit, even if it’s just to confront the image of the British tourist who merely shouts slowly in English, and so I am learning Italian myself – as those of you who have visited here before will know.

The reason for these classes is that my basic attitude to parenting is to share as many things with both of my children as possible and let them choose what to keep doing and what to drop. My son is now two and a half and just starting to show that he’s interested in something other than ‘Little Red Tractor’, so I need to think about what he might like to try soon. I plan to let them experience as many different sports, arts, science, travel, language and literature opportunities as possible, just to show them the world. Then, if they choose to continue spending time on any of those things, I will do what I can to support them, and if they choose to drop all of them in favour of something they have discovered for themselves, I will support that too…

December 28, 2011

2011: A Personal Review

At the end of every year, I always get an unsettled, ‘must-do-something-but-not-quite-sure-what’ feeling. How much of this is caused by the sheer amount of food I usually consume at Christmas I don’t know, but my usual remedy is to review the year and then think ahead to the next.  I’ve already written my plan for 2012, which is here on the blog, so that part is settled. I have a good feeling about 2012. Not sure why, but I do.

I didn’t write a plan for 2011. Which is why I ended up with 35:35 because I like to have a (flexible) plan for my time. When it came to reviewing the year, I just couldn’t think why I’d not written a plan and what on earth I spent the first quarter of the year doing. Then my lovely friend reminded me that I’d actually spent the whole time fighting for my job. Ah…

How quickly the mind forgets. My husband and I both had to go through months of fighting for our jobs. Months. It was a horrible time, filled with sleepless nights, tears and too much coping alcohol, all whilst trying to keep our stress and fears away from our children. Thankfully, we were the lucky ones, who got to keep the jobs we are both so passionate about, even though I did end up needing counselling at the end of the year to help me cope with everything that’s happened. It’s not finished though, there will be more changes and challenges ahead. Life is change. But we will survive.

Once the dust had settled in April, albeit with a different team, management structure etc etc, I started to focus on my personal life again, starting this blog and my 35:35 Challenge, to do thirty five things I’d never done before in my thirty-fifth year of life. I didn’t want it to be a huge challenge, but something to shake me up a bit out of life’s routine, do something positive after a difficult period, learn something new and have a few happy experiences. I read a study once that said new experiences are the way to slow time down. Following nothing but a routine means that weeks become months, which become years, without you even realising that so much time has passed. Puncturing that routine means that the brain remembers time better, which in turn makes it feel as though it’s not passing so fast.

So, from April, it’s a bit easier for me to remember what I’ve been up to this year. Highlights include my daughter starting school and thriving there (even though I was shocked to realise that girls can be mean from a very early age), taking her horse-riding for the first time, the completion of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks, and getting on a bike for the first time since childhood and completing Cycletta. Cycletta, a women-only bike ride, was a particular highlight because initially I was supposed to do it with someone else, who ended up having a family responsibility on the same day and so couldn’t make it. I nearly pulled out, but in the end I went and completed the ride on my own. It was such a brilliant, positive experience and I was thrilled to complete and chat to so many wonderful women the whole way round. After finishing the ride, I realised that I shouldn’t wait for someone else to want the same things as me before doing something. I have a habit of doing that, but sometimes it means that I never end up doing things I want to do. If I want to experience something, I need to just pluck up the courage and go for it.  I also realised that riding bikes is brilliant and that my body is far better suited to cycling than it is to running.

Other highlights have been a drumming lesson, various massages, and my annual visit to Paris, including a visit to Chanel.  Oh, and I was thrilled to be part of the annual Radio 4 Woman’s Hour phone-in too. I have completed 15 of my 35 Challenges. The first half of 2012 is going to be filled with trying to get to 35!

So, it’s been an interesting year and I have my plan for 2012. I’m feeling more settled, and ready for whatever comes next.

Happy New Year everyone!

What was your highlight of 2011? What are you hoping to do in 2012?

December 23, 2011

Illamasqua, Leeds

The Victoria Quarter in Leeds has its fair share of beautiful shops and recently another one joined the ranks with the opening of the Illamasqua store. What it lacks in size it makes up for in sheer drama, with black walls and beautiful fittings. On the first floor is space that is used for pre-bookable make-overs; the cost of which is redeemable against purchases. On my first visit there last week, I felt distinctly under-dressed in my fleece and jeans (it was cold!) but the staff couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful.

What I previously knew about Illamasqua (a company with history dating back to the Kryolan products from the hedonistic and avant-garde days of 1920’s Berlin) was what I had read about – rave reviews from make-up artists about the quality, colours and high levels of pigmentation which gives them a truly long-lasting finish. The products have genuinely been developed by professional make-up artists, which has lead to brilliant formulations, innovative products and unique colours being made available to everyone. Having spent a bit of time with a member of staff trying out some of the stunning new pure pigments and metallic eye colours, I think they’re amazing too! The tag line ‘make-up for your alter-ego‘ pretty much sums up what the products are about. Bold, dramatic colours, false eye lashes and high impact, long lasting results. This is make-up at its finest, and perfect for Christmas!

What I wasn’t really aware of is the wonderful ethos of the company. Illamasqua calls it ‘ human fundamentalism’ – at the heart of the company is a wonderful feeling of inclusiveness, a celebration of individuality and of self-expression. This belief in the importance of humanity, tolerance and acceptance leads them to support the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, set up in 2007 after the death of a young girl, who was attacked for nothing more than looking different. Every purchase of a Sophie medium eye pencil makes a contribution to the charity.

So, a company with a heart and with amazing products.  Sadly,(or so I thought) it’s make up for parties, evenings out and lots of glamour. Not much like my life then… Not quite so – as we left the store, we spied the most stunning collection of nail polishes and my lovely friend treated both of us to a bottle. I chose ‘Untold’, the reddest, most glitter-filled polish I’ve ever seen. A few coats of this on my nails and they are the shiniest thing since Dorothy’s shoes in ‘The Wizard of Oz’, and I cannot stop looking at them. So, there is room for a little Illamasqua (both the products and the understanding) in all of our lives, and I will be back for more.

‘Untold’ nail polish.

December 21, 2011

Spiced biscuits for Christmas.

Although I haven’t made any home-made gifts this year, I do try to make time for baking at Christmas. Spiced biscuits are exactly the kind of thing I enjoy making with the kids. Although it has to be said, it’s fairly unlikely that I will be sharing these with anyone, given the probable addition of a good dose of my children’s snot! (What a lovely thought…) As long as I realise that creating something edible is less important than having fun, then its a great way to spend time with them over the holidays. Having said that, these biscuits are yummy.

Ingredients:

350g plain flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

4 teaspoons of mixed spice (or you can add ginger and cinnamon instead, 2-3 teaspoons of each)

175g muscovado sugar (using light gives you a lighter biscuit, dark will make it more treacly in taste)

100g of unsalted butter, cut into pieces

4 tablespoons of runny honey

1 beaten egg

Method:

Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the bicarbonate of soda and spices. Be warned, this is when it starts to get messy, two year olds do not understand ‘sifting’!

Rub in the butter using your fingers as you would with pastry. Lovely and sticky…

Stir in the sugar. The add the egg and golden syrup before mixing to form the dough.

Lightly flour a work-surface,  then turn the dough out, kneading it some more to make sure that the mixture is all brought together properly, before rolling with a rolling pin until flat (roughly half a centimetre thick) and cutting into shapes. Thicker biscuits will stay slightly soft inside, like gingerbread, which is just as nice. Thinner ones will go crispy.

Cook in 190 degree oven for about 10 minutes – but do check them, as they can burn around the outsides quite quickly.

If you like, you can decorate these biscuits with white icing, although they never last long enough in my house for that!

 

December 19, 2011

All I Want for Christmas (That Money Can’t Buy)

I’ve been tagged by the lovely folk at More Than a Mum to write a list of things that I would like for Christmas that money cannot buy.

It’s a very timely request because I’ve been thinking about this for a while already. To be honest, by the time Christmas actually gets here what I might need is a lie down in a darkened room, such is the stress of school, pre-school, work and home stuff all leading up to the big day. From outfit requests for Nativity to Secret Santa at work, it’s one long ‘to-do’ list and I’m exhausted. And that’s before I’ve even thought about paying for everything on a pretty strict budget. I’d make more things myself if I could, but at number one on the wish list of every working mother is the gift of TIME, so in truth, although I have lovely images of self-created gifts, it would probably have caused me more stress than it solved!

Anyway, that’s my whining over with. Here are the ‘money cannot buy’ gifts I would wish for this Christmas:

1: Happiness for my friends. So many of us are struggling with problems, whether they are physical, emotional, financial or something else. My friends, scattered around the world as they are, mean so much to me. They have seen me through highs, lows, bad dancing, near-death experiences, quick drinks-after-work that lead to being thrown out at closing time (after putting the world to rights, obviously) , long distance travel, parenting and everything else. I love them dearly and would like nothing more than to be reassured of their happiness this Christmas.

2: I would love to be able to slow my children down a bit on Christmas Day. A pause button would be handy. They’re so excited at the moment, they cannot sit still for a second and I know that in the flurry of excitement on Christmas morning, they will be tearing the paper off carefully chosen and wrapped gifts with utter abandon. I’d like to get them to slow down. To appreciate each gift (even if it’s clothes!) before turning to the next. They are so fortunate and blessed to be loved by so many people. I know that they’re only little, so this really doesn’t cross their minds at all. I just want the feeling of joy and appreciation to last as long as it can.

3: In the same vein, I’d love for peace. On a global scale, if I can have it, but if not, then just between my children would be perfect. They do fight quite a bit – when they’re tired, over-excited, or when they’ve just been stuck indoors too long. Like racehorses, they need daily exercising! Last year, Father Christmas was a bit silly and put quite a large packet of sweets into each stocking. Which ended up being secretly eaten for breakfast. Which then led to a huge burst of sugar-fuelled excitement following by fighting and then keeling over. Anyway, I’ve had a word with him and this year, he’s only going to put a tiny chocolate into each stocking, so the kids are hungry for normal breakfast, which will hopefully mean they’re less likely to go crazy. We’ll see, I suppose. I may end up making them run around outside for a bit. Even if it’s snowing. Actually, while I’m here, I’d quite like the gift of snow on Christmas Day too – enough to make it worth sledging in (due to pink birthday sledge which, as yet, is unused) but then for it to magically disappear after Boxing Day without turning into that horrible grey sludge stuff. That’d be ace.

4: I would love the gift of optimism. They say, where there is life, there is hope. But it’s been a difficult year for us; for the world. I’d like to be optimistic for myself, for my plans for 2012, and for my children’s future. Otherwise, I’ll be spending Christmas under the duvet. Come and get me after the next General Election (but only if it’s good news…)

5: And finally, I have two dear friends who are in the late stages of pregnancy, and so I wish for a safe and healthy birth for them.

Now, I have to tag someone else to do their list and so I’m going to tag my lovely Twitter buddy, The Last Slayer . It may be a bit late though (and I know she’s really busy) so this tag may end here.

I hope that you all get what you wish for this Christmas.

December 16, 2011

Beautiful New Scarves!

As I shared with you in my last ‘Margot Friday’ post, I am a scarf addict. I thought I’d show you some scarves from some different designers who are making some beautiful pieces. As much as I adore my scarves by the legendary houses of Hermès and Missoni, it’s exciting to see some different designers and these are simply works of art:

A design from the remarkable collection from Richard Weston: Designs from Nature. The digital image of the mineral fluorite has been enlarged and printed onto silk-habotai. The rest of the collection is equally beautiful and would be something you would treasure forever…

Very cool We Are Owls print – the guy in the middle reminds me a little of Vince Noir (Noel Fielding) from The Mighty Boosh!

A pretty bow print in a bold colour from the British Fashion Award winner Mary Katrantzou

A beautiful print from the master in eternally fashionable florals: Erdem.

All of these beautiful scarves are available from Net A Porter and thank you to them for the images.

December 14, 2011

Useful or Beautiful.

Operation: Bedroom Sanctuary is still on-going, and taking rather longer than I’d anticipated. In order to decide what to keep and what to throw away, I usually turn to the well known William Morris quote: ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’.

The problem with this, is that I think that everything is potentially useful and I hate waste so I find it very difficult to throw anything away. It’s part of being a scanner to find many things interesting, which means that I have things lying around as part of various projects and LOTS of half finished or still to be read books and  magazines. Which leads to this:

Beside my bed.

Oh dear. On the upside, despite the stack of stuff lying on the floor, inside the bedside cabinet has been completely sorted out and I’ve found lots of things that I’d forgotten about.

Rediscovered treasures

So, what do we have here? The tiny ID bands that my daughter wore in hospital. Some vintage earrings and a knitted corsage. A badge of the moon from The Mighty Boosh live tour, and a ticket from the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. The wristbands are now in a safe place and the earrings are in my jewellery box ready to wear. I still have to decide what to do with the other things.

More discoveries.

Here we have a ticket for the Natural History Museum in Paris, the key pass for my New York hotel, and a little poem card from the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, where we stayed as part of our honeymoon, together with a champagne cork from goodness knows when, and my VTCT membership from my massage qualification.

So, now I have lots of little clutter-causing things that I’m not sure what to do with. Back to William Morris then. Are these things useful? Apart from my VTCT card, no they are not. Beautiful? No, not on the whole. However, I think I need to add a third point to his quote: what does it mean to me emotionally?

I have decided that the perfect solution for some of these small things is to to invest in a couple of shadow boxes such as this one from Cox and Cox, which I am planning to buy and add to the bedroom. So, I’m not going to get rid of the emotional clutter but it will be displayed beautifully rather than left lost and forgotten in a drawer.

To see where the inspiration for Operation: Bedroom Sanctuary came from, you need to visit A Hell of A Woman, who began her 12 Days of Buffy challenge, along with Chapters of Claire, Minibreak Mummy and Made By Tamsin. Although they’re all streets ahead of me with this organising lark, and have now finished the challenge…

December 12, 2011

A Scanner’s Resolutions

I’ve written in the past about my Scanner Daybook, although I recently realised how little I’d been using it since starting this blog. It seems that recording life here is enough for me!

For as long as I can remember, I have written a plan for each year. During December, I spend some time planning the next year and reviewing the past one. I am loathe to call my plans ‘resolutions’, as they rarely fall into the ‘lose weight, stop smoking’ type of plan – although I am going to make more time for the gym next year, if only so I am fit enough for everything else! So, I suppose they are, really. A scanner never really stops making plans, but writing them in time for the New Year is a convenient way for me to organise them.

Generally, I write enough plans to keep me occupied full time and I am pretty bad at being rational about how much time I have to spend on them – but given how many new things I have already managed to do this year (see my 35:35 Challenge page) I am pretty confident that I might manage at least some of them. My usual method of managing everything is to have a monthly check on progress and to be flexible. They always say that life is what happens when you are busy making plans, and so I always allow for that, which basically means being kind to myself and not beating myself up if something doesn’t happen. After all, anyone with small children knows just how much time we spend each week on the routine of school, laundry, homework, cooking, tidying-up, etc. and that is the most important part of my life. Wanting to still be ‘me’ as well as ‘Mummy’ means fitting all of my plans around the family as well as my full-time job, and generally, I do quite well.

So, here are my (flexible) plans for 2012:

Physical:

  • Make time for the gym each week
  • Return to horse-riding, starting with a lunge lesson to work on my seat.
  • Undertake a physical challenge (akin to previous ones: Lyke Wake Walk, Three Peaks, Cycletta) The exact challenge is still to be decided, but I can rely on my dear family to come up with something that will at some point make me cry but ultimately be a brilliant experience. (35:35)
  • Have a go at some off road mountain biking
  • Have a beginner’s canoe session with my lovely friend Hillary (35:35)
  • Complete Cycletta again, and beat my 2011 finish time.

Travel

  • A week in Rome in the Spring (35:35)
  • A family holiday with the kids, hopefully on the Isle of Wight, where my Mum is from and where we have spent many a happy summer.
  • Paris in the winter, for a couple of days before Christmas ( this is pretty ambitious, given our budget, but I might as well add it in!)

Clothing

  • Keep a record of my monthly expenditure on clothing, accessories, beauty, skincare, magazines etc, so I can see exactly what I am spending on what (inspired by my lovely  friend’s plan to do this) I’m quite interested to see if my behaviour changes because of the act of recording it, as it is assumed  – and to a certain extent, I hope it will anyway because of the next plan.
  • Buy (or save up for) a piece of clothing each month. This seems like an indulgence but really, most of my clothes are falling apart. I seem to have drifted to a place where ‘fashion’ is something that exists in another world, not linked to my real life. Which means I barely own a pair of socks, and at the age of 35 I feel like I should be able to go to work in something that makes me look like a grown up, even if I rarely feel like one! I’m not talking about spending lots of money, but if there are pieces of clothing that I really like, I will save each monthly (still to be decided) budget to buy something really worth having. I always prefer quality over quantity when it comes to clothes, but this seems to have resulted in me genuinely struggling to find anything in my wardrobe to wear!

Allotment

  • Aim for four productive raised beds. These are all built, manured, and were in production last year, so it shouldn’t be too hard. I need to spend some time planning what to grow and working out the crop rotation in January.
  • Build the children their own small raised bed each for planting their choice of flowers, fruit and vegetables, or just for driving toy tractors on!
  • Dig over the area where we plan to put the poly-tunnel and mark it all out.
  • Sort out the supports for the cordoned apple trees

Learning

  • A one to one sewing session with Sew You in January (35:35)
  • Some time learning the basics of silver-smithing with my lovely sister in law (35:35)
  • Return to learning Italian in preparation for Rome, and try to find some structured time for this each week. (35:35)

Happiness

  • Make sure there is lots of time for just being in the moment, playing with the kids. As you can probably tell from this, and previous posts, I am not very good at slowing down and being present, instead of planning for the future or dwelling on the past, so I need to be careful of this.
  • Try to have a regular massage and try Lomi Lomi massage (35:35)
  • Eat at Create, Leeds, which, judging by the reviews I’ve seen may well be the best restaurant in the city! (35:35)
  • Hot Air Balloon trip (as per the survey I did here earlier, 35:35)
  • Have a falconry session.(35:35)
  • Continue with Operation: Bedroom Sanctuary and then when I am happy with that, move onto the other rooms.
  • Put together some photograph albums and get some more photos framed and put up on the walls.
  • Try to buy a second hand DSLR to take better photos for this blog, and learn more about IT so I can continue to improve it.

Now I’ve shared my plans with you all, I feel as though I am more likely to complete them, so I’ve added a new page to the blog to record my progress.

So next year is all organised. Now I can relax and enjoy Christmas…

December 9, 2011

Rediscovered Scarves

So, I’ve made a start on Operation Bedroom Sanctuary (which was inspired by  A Hell of A Woman’s 12 Days of Buffy Challenge), which means that I’ve started discovering loads of things that have just been put away and forgotten about.

At the bottom of my wardrobe, I uncovered a box of scarves. I LOVE scarves, and nine days out of ten I will be wearing one. They are a really easy way of adding colour to the most basic of outfits, they keep out the cold and I use mine like a comfort blanket… I tend to have particular favourites that get worn on a daily basis, but I’d forgotten about this little collection at the back of the photo, with some others to share with you:

From left to right: Red square (Hermès), floral and graphic patterned (Paul Smith), lurex zig-zag (Missoni), green (Jigsaw), black and brown horse pattern (Next).

All the ones at the front have some kind of story attached to them:

Hermès: I bought this in a vain attempt to be more chic. I have worn it quite a lot, it looks great as a pop of colour against a simple black outfit. I have long since decided that I will never be truly chic. Firstly, I think that true chic is perhaps innate and that I’m trying too hard, and secondly, I think my hair is against the whole idea and it seems impossible to be chic with hair that often resembles a poorly constructed bird’s nest.

Paul Smith: Bought from the Pompidou Centre when I was pregnant with my first-born. I had discovered I was pregnant in the early hours of the morning, which was a shock, as at that point I was still taking Prozac (lucky me) and really never thought that I would get pregnant straight away. I realise that this is really dumb, but I’d heard so many stories about people who had tried for years before getting pregnant, it never really crossed my mind that it could happen within the first month of trying. As a result of that, I hadn’t started to come off the medication. Which meant that, by the time I caught my flight to Paris, the combination of finding out I was pregnant and coming off my anti-depressants straight away instead of the planned gradual withdrawal, meant I was on another planet. So, I went shopping. Obviously…

Incidentally, I was pregnant straight away the second time around too – but that time I was ready for it!

Missoni: This is a party scarf- one that I used to take to work back in my pre-mothering days when I went out for a drink straight afterwards. It’s sparkly, and bright and lifts a dull work outfit really easily. Lots of memorable evenings have been had whilst wearing this.

Jigsaw: This is one of my true ‘comfort blanket’ scarves. I wear this a lot, and throughout my last pregnancy, when I had a mind like a sieve, I must have lost it a dozen times. I left it on the bus once, and was completely inconsolable about it. So much so that I ended up in the lost property section of the bus depot in the early hours of the morning to get it back.

Next: This is a recent purchase and I’ve worn it almost every day since I bought it for the princely sum of £10. A true Fashion Maths bargain.

So, I will wear all of these more often, and give the boxful of ones I don’t wear to the children who love nothing more than a spot of dressing up.

December 7, 2011

Operation: Bedroom Sanctuary

In the past few weeks, I’ve invited quite a few people who I don’t know very well into my home. Like many people, I start apologising for the state of the place before they’ve even set foot through the door, even when I’ve spent the whole day tidying up in anticipation.

To be honest, I’m a bit slatternly by nature. I prefer to read a book than to wash up, to play with the kids than to iron, and to basically do anything than the cleaning. I quite like vacuuming though, but only because I have a fancy-pants Miehle vacuum cleaner, bought in a fit of domestic extravagance to keep the cat hair under control.

When I look at the house through the eyes of a stranger, then I see the faults. The things that I’ve lived with for years and got so used to, that my blinkered eyes barely see them any more. Although I hate housework, I do love my little house. It is my family’s sanctuary against the world and it deserves a bit better from me.

So (and feeling a bit inspired by the 12 Days of Buffy Challenge being undertaken by @The_Last_Slayer) I am going to do something about it.

It’s not easy cleaning and tidying in our house. We battle against a raging torrent of plastic toys, children’s clothing, books and endless priceless works of art created by them on a daily basis, but there is one place that I might make some headway.

Our bedroom.

It’s not the first time I’ve planned for this one room to remain a sanctuary against the mess. I painted it in Farrow and Ball‘s French Grey, for heaven’s sake. There is no more tranquil, grown-up paint colour. The problem now is that the walls are disappearing under a pile of odd socks, which I appear to be collecting, photographs and prints that have never made it onto the walls,  giant mail order cardboard boxes (most of which will disappear after Christmas) and stacks of un-read books next to my bed.

So, I am planning to turn the tide. I will remove everything that is preventing the room from being the luxurious and tranquil haven it was supposed to be, and turn it into something a little more like an advert for The White Company.

Once I’ve spent a bit of time improving that room, I’ll move onto the rest of the house, fingers crossed. I’ll post a little about my progress on this next week. I’ll even take some photos. To be honest, it’s the only way I might get myself started!