Saturday, 31 March 2012

Easter and a new start

Things are looking a little different around here!
Remember this is how the west wing of the house looked? The window on the right was our office
and the window on the far left was a tiny anti-room of the office which was used to house lots of our stuff we hadn't quite managed to unpack from the move 4 years ago!
When we first moved we had to set up an office quickly, so we literally set up chairs and tables and started to work. No thought went into decor or practicalities, no time for that! This is how it looked as we were packing up.
Then Winter came, and so did the builders.
We started to knock through to make a door opening
Lucky there were no guests in as it was a bit chilly for a while.
After the door hole was made we concentrated on our lovely 60's conservatory.
It was built when Pickwell Manor was a hotel and they wanted to expand their dining space. We have always used it as a games room for guests.
It took a big digger and lots of mess to get this baby down. Now it feels like it was never there!
We are absolutely loving our new look west wing!
Our Baker lounge and spare room and Jubilee lounge above, now has wonderful light pouring in the windows!
Our new office (which was our original entrance hall with a terracota quarry tile floor) has such luscious white walls I am sure it helps us to think a lot more clearly?
My only real sadness is that our stationary supplier doesn't do folders in grey...
We have all new paths, new stone edging, a lavender-lined walk way and a gorgeous bespoke oak front door.
I just love the fishing lights (here and in the entrance hall) and the post box (both from 'Grace and Glory' in Barnstaple).
Millie-Grace (aged nearly 6!) wrote a beautiful sign for me to welcome our Easter guests,
and Liza (6), Molly (8) and Millie-Grace helped decorate these pebbles to sit by the front door too. Zac (9) appears to be completely uninterested in ANYTHING the girls are doing at the moment, thus no contribution from him!
The 'office anti-room' is now this lovely boots/coats/practical space.
Is this how you spell welly's?! A few people have laughed at me for this. Anyway, this area is basically for guest use - leaving dirty boots and shoes, and storing beach equipment, if they don't want to take it all up to the apartment. We also have things people can borrow and these too will be left in the cupboards.
The anti-room then leads into the entrance lounge.
and here you have it! Inspired by the beach and all the colours you find there, from the neutral grey tones of the rocks, to the frothy white water through to the odd bit of bold green coloured string.
We are blessed with the natural features our house has given us, from the stone mullion windows and here in this case,
the gorgeous inglenook fire-place.
A gift for any designer.
I love these little bird door knobs. They are fair trade (v important) and sold through Grace and Glory again. The old sideboard was found in a shed in the garden with chain saws in it. A crime.
These lamp-posts continue the beach theme down the new paths and into our extended car-park. (The games room has been laid to rest under the car-park extension). We tested the lights last night and they light the area perfectly - phew!
The eggs hanging on our Easter tree are from our friends at Sandleigh. I heard their chicken was laying gorgeous sage coloured eggs and Sarah v kindly let me have some!
It is really important to us that our house brings rest to all those who come.
I bought this lovely piece of art in Georgeham village. There was an auction to raise money for Paul's Place, a local B&B which can also provide respite for young people with a terminal condition and their carers.
It was a friend of Paul's who painted this picture and i think it perfectly encapsulates holidays and rest and rolling hills and sea. oh, that reminds me of somewhere...

I need to thank the wonderful team that made this happen. Our builders - Steve (my magic fairy), Joel and Simon. Our plumber - Mike, the painters - Adam and Dave. Our plasterer 'gift of the gab' Dubsy and our electrician Andy. Thank you for working really hard and against the clock as've done an amazing job x

Thursday, 15 March 2012

My New Favourite Walk

A few weeks ago Susie and I had a girls weekend at Pickwell. As a treat we went for the most wonderful coastal walk which Susie found on the internet. This walk was heralded in the Guardian as one of the UK's top 10 walks . I know I live here and so therefore am a bit biased but it really is the most beautiful, spectacular, dramatic, magical walk. So much so, I have now done it 3 times in the last month with any set of friends who I can persuade to go with me.
The walk starts from the heritage centre car park in Mortehoe. You can either join the coastal path next to the picturesque old church or head through the village towards the lighthouse. This particular weekend we set out on the latter with 2 local families and I took some pictures to share with you.
Following the signs to Bennett's Mouth you wind alongside the river in a magical wood.
I can't wait for it to be warm enough to take a picnic and sit in the sunny glade whilst the kids play in the stream and climb trees. Further along the stream tumbles out onto the little beach of Bennett's Mouth where you will find rock pools and spectacular crashing waves. We didn't pause for long (although as usual long enough for Millie- grace to slip in a Rock pool, rendering her pair of socks very soggy).
The next accessible cove is Rockham. You will love this beach.
I am terrible with heights so have to brace myself for the steep steps down to the beach (despite appearance it is quite safe for little ones!) but it's well worth the journey down.
Even if it is March and the water a little bit cold, the children still love playing 'dare' with the waves. This always ends with the waves winning and the inevitable demise of yet another pair of socks......
Not to mention trousers and jumper too!!! We then had to warm up the participants with hot apple juice and cookies.
The beach is covered in flat round stones of all different sizes. The children spent ages playing 'make believe cafes' with stone plates and little stone pancakes (too lovely!!) whilst we sat and chatted in the sunshine.
The dad's got out the rugby ball, not quite Trev's thing (on the left).......can you tell?
Everyone had such a lovely time playing and relaxing before the climb back up the steps to the next breathtaking view.
Millie-grace pretended to be a dog going through the mini gates on each style (I think they are for dogs anyway?!?)
So many beautiful views as you walk past Ball Point lighthouse, then on to Morte Point.
Morte Point has an amazing Stegosaurus like Rock formation stretching its tail down into the sea. You have to stand at the end and look back to really see it. I had taken a film from the end of Morte Point but somehow managed to film the whole thing upside down.... so you have got a photo instead.
This is the view back across to Putsborough, Baggy Point and Pickwell as you turn in land and back to Mortehoe for a cheeky pint with some salt and vinegar crisps at the pub. This walk is a true feast for the eyes and delight for the soul.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Snug

At the end of our Ballroom there is a beautiful room which is about a third of the size of our Ballroom. It has the same oak floor, distinctive wood panelling and stone mullion windows. We call it The Snug.
We use this room for so many different things throughout the year (this is when we used it for our annual bonfire night).
In the Spring and Autumn it is used for a chill-out bar space for weddings, in the Winter we light the fire and use it for our wedding planning meetings and the not-for-profit conferences,
and the Summer sees it transformed into a gorgeous and romantic studio apartment for 2! It is very popular because it is very private, the fire can be lit in the evenings, it has its own private access to the drive outside
and has a lovely view out to the Italian garden and Terrace.
It has even been used for a couple of photo-shoots - this one was just this week - to help a friend start her business.
We have already done an awful lot to this room. We knocked down a dark corridor that led into the space, we removed the incense drenched swirly carpet, repainted the walls in lovely neutral colours (elephants breath F&B for those who are interested!)
and put a kitchen in. We have used it in that form successfully for 4 years now, but we decided to make it even more snug-like for 2012!
We have built in some wonderful book cases to house all our old books. Some were already here and lots we have picked up along the way.
Charity shops don't appear to be wanting old books clogging up their shelves as apparently they don't sell...all the better for us then!
We have also put some wood panelling on the walls and filled them with gorgeous wallpaper from Louise Body.
This is just before the new plugs went in!
The Snug is south facing so gets lots of sunlight flooding through the window.
I think you'll agree that our Snug is definitely very cosy now. Come and stay in the Summer and find out for yourself! x