Author Archives: Angela Elliott

The Club Chair

My parents are retired and have recently started a new hobby. That is looking out for interesting pieces for me to work on!

Shortly after I began trading, they turned up one morning with a trailer full of chairs! When I say trailer full, they were packed into the car pulling it as well and I think we counted about 15 of them!

I love their new hobby and I can’t put into words my excitement when they present me with goods – especially that massive haul!

Amongst it was an antique club chair. My Dad unloaded it and his first words were “don’t worry if you don’t want this one”, probably expecting me to turn my nose up at it. I was presented with a damp, broken an unloved arm chair and I immediately fell in love with it…

I stripped the chair of it’s un-fetching coverings and undid some previous strange repair jobs (tongue & groove bottom instead of webbing?). Surprisingly, the original horse hair was in really good condition, so I managed to retain it. Between us, Hubbie and I tackled the repairs together and as usual, I ummmed and ahhhhed about painting it or French polishing, but due to the faded appearance of the wood, I ached to give it a shabbied paint appearance. Those that know my work, know that I don’t generally do a lot of shabby finishes, but I felt it would work with this piece.

Next, I gave it 3 coats of paint, sanded it back hard on the raised profiles and finished with a heavy clear Wax. The result is butter smooth paintwork, reminiscent of years of wear and I love it!

Finally, I replaced the sewn hessian lining and installed webbing and a new foam seat. I had some fire retardant upholstery fabric in natural colours that I thought would work well and finished with a hessian gimp braid.

Needless to say, this, now gorgeous little chair has not yet made it to the showroom…..

The folk art corner cabinet

I last posted shortly after I started my long dreamed of vintage business in December 2015.

Promising to blog more in the new year, I instead turned my attention to the new stock that I had acquired over the winter period and in particular, an old folk art corner unit. The unit was in a pitiful condition and its back was rotten. It had a charm that drew me to it and I knew I could make it lovely again.

I took off it’s broken glazed upper doors to reveal lovely shaped shelves that shouted to be revealed. We then ( or rather, Hubbie) took off the back panels and replaced them with fresh tongue & groove panelling.

The frame had layers of thick brown varnish and the shelves gloss paint. Using Home Strip paint stripper, I carefully scraped off every layer and sanded. The lower doors revealed original stencilling, which I was unable to save, so I traced a copy of it.

The cornice was broken and had come away, so I repaired and modified it, before stripping and re-attaching.

I toyed with the idea of keeping it natural and waxed, but I yearned to give it a fresh new paint job and so that is what I did. I painted the outside in Frenchic Wedgwood Green with a co-ordinated lighter colour on the shelves. I then had a stencil lazer cut and painted it back on the lower doors in the lighter colour.

The lower doors didn’t have any knobs, so I found a pair of wooden ones in my stash and painted those in the lighter colour also.

A light distressed finish and a thorough wax finished the project.

This large corner unit is now a beauty waiting to grace your home!

image

Vintage Home Live!

As mentioned in a previous post, I left my full time job back in May to pursue my vintage dream…. and in December 2015 Vintage Home Living went live!

So what’s been happening in-between?

Workshops are scarce here in Penzance, so when one became available in the summer, we jumped at the chance to lease it. It is situated in a little lane that runs parallel to the promenade.

IMG_2631My Husband has been great at helping me get the space ready, so that it properly suits my needs and it’s taken a few months to do that and get my stock ready.

All of the furniture that I’ve been collecting for years, was now being sorted and it was rather a marathon effort to have enough finished to fill a showroom in time for the Christmas period, but I did it!

I also made a range of soy wax candles in glass jelly moulds and other vintage containers.

I brought in a range of vintage homewares that I thought would make nice presents and laid them out on the furniture.

We had a private launch party on the 4th December and opened for business on Small Business Saturday 5th December 2015.

The candles were so popular that I nearly sold out in the first weekend!

It’s early days, but the response so far has been positive, so fingers crossed for the future!

IMG_3030

An exciting new project!

Taking on an old property is both exciting and daunting. Most buyers already know the extent of the work required to bring the property to the buyers accepting standard.

Some are lucky enough to have a budget that allows them to employ builders and interior designers to carry out the works for them, but many do not and have to direct limited funds only towards statutory professional help, such as electricians & gas fitters – don’t even think of cutting corners here – it can only end in tears – or more appropriately, flames. You do not want to see your money & time literally go up in smoke!

Doing it yourself on a limited budget however, does have the added advantages of giving you time to figure out what it is exactly you want your property to be and a feel for how you want it to look.

I often read articles where homeowners have had to endure builders for 6 whole months etc before be able to put their stamp on the place – I don’t say that with forked tongue – good luck to them. The reality for many however, is living in a hell hole for years on end while they juggle family and jobs at the same time and having been through that, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

We undertook most of the work ourselves, apart from the re-wiring, new first fix plumbing, central heating and gypsum plastering. It did indeed take years, but during that time, we gained a greater appreciation for the house, it’s history and how we use the building as a family.

Just because the current trend is knocking it all through, doesn’t mean you have to follow suit, unless that works better for you and the building can withstand it over time. I truly believe we are only participants in the history of the building and should be mindful of what suits it.

That shouldn’t detract from the fact that it is an exciting new project and whether you are a first timer or an old timer, you will always learn something new from the challenges that you will face. Enjoy!

In the Hands of the Gods

The raised beds are all nearly fully planted. 
 

The first early potatoes, Aran Pilot were actually planted before the raised beds went down as they chitted a bit quick, so they ended up growing in the pathway as well! I dug those up first. This was the first produce I reaped and it felt great. The satisfaction you feel as you gently fork over the soil to reveal creamy yellow pebbles is fab!

The second bed, or first fully planted one was onions & root vegetables. At the beginning of May, we had a sudden burst of very hot dry weather that reduced my previously easy to manage soil to that resembling concrete. I had to dig each bed in, to sink the posts, dig the bed floor over and then fill with soil dug from a funny raised corner of the allotment, finishing with digging in a bag of ready to use manure & a heavy sprinkling of bonemeal. It was hard work, but I couldn’t plant up until each one was dug – thank heavens I don’t have to do all of that next year!

This bed ready, I planted red onions, garlic, beet root, carrots & spring onions. The onions went crazy and after a fashion, so did the beet root and carrots, but they had a bald spot between them, so I’m guessing a birdy had fun one morning pulling those out. Not to worry, as when I thinned them, I immediately planted the thinnings in the bald spots and touch wood – they’ve taken….

Bed 3 is sporting a lovely selection of young Cauliflower, green & purple Broccoli, sprouts, perpetual spinach and some huge late summer cabbages. Other allotment owners have complimented me on the size of my cabbages. I’m not entirely convinced size matters – the proof will be in the eating!

Bed 4 has a lovely display of runner beans! In between sweet corn and surrounded by courgettes in two varieties, with the corners rounded with rocket.

Bed 5 is shooting with peas, sweet peas and French beans. There are also beds each containing strawberries, raspberries, King Edward potatoes and a salad bed with lettuces, radishes, celery and fennel.

Meanwhile, in the greenhouse, there are 4 varieties of tomato, cucumbers, peppers, chillies & aubergines.

My only plant failures, were my 5th variety of tomatoes – tiny toms for hanging baskets, that were doing so well until a humid couple of weeks and they keeled over with blight.

If the rest of the planting is at all successful though, It’ll be a good first year! But I guess it’s all in the hands of the Gods…

 

Sowing the seeds…

The greenhouse now erected, a shopping haul of potting compost and seed trays accomplished and the acquisition of a lovely selection of seeds in crisp paper packets emblazoned with colourful pictures of fully matured produce. It was time to try and make those pictures a reality!
As a newbie allotmenteer, first time planting is both exciting and daunting. The small selection of allotment and produce growing books with which I have equipped myself are a great help and as an accountant by profession, it is in my nature to be fairly organised and I realised I needed a plan of action. I listed all of the seeds by sowing month and planting group on a drawn plan of the allotment beds. Next I sowed in trays, those that needed bringing on in the greenhouse first.

I don’t have means to grow seeds at home and it’s been so long since I’ve last grown any, I was actually quite nervous! Some of the seeds were so small, that I had to hold my breath for fear of setting them into the greenhouse floor!

After a few days, when tiny little shoots appeared, I thought ‘hey, this is easy!’ – a few months further down the line, I must confess to having been a little naive. Slugs, snails, ants, woodlouse, cold early summer weather and sneaky birdy visitors to my greenhouse all kept me on my toes to make sure that I didn’t lose all of my seedlings. The only variety I completely lost, was the runner beans, which I overwatered & they rotted. I had already been offered some by another allotmenteer and turned them down. luckily, he still had them, when I had to ask with tail between my legs, if they were kindly still available. 

Then, when second or third set of leaves appear and you’ve hardened off your precious baby plants, or the ground and general temperature are warm enough for them to be transplanted outside, you’ve still to run the gauntlet with the birds (a neighbour told me that when he visits his allotment at 7.30am, my shed roof is covered in a flock of crows..), rats and weather. In my case it was the weather. Being atop a hill on the coast, the plot is subject to strong winds rendering my young plants to yellow and brown specimens. I erected some wind break netting where needed and spread poultry manure at the base of the plants. And prayed. You can do so well and then the whole lot wiped out overnight. My mother found this out when a rabbit visited her allotment and almost totally cleared the whole patch – heartbreaking!

 

A busy Easter break!

March and April remained cold and unfortunately, too wet to dig on my days off. Easter arrived and a few days holiday allowed us to erect the gorgeous little ‘summer house’ shed that Hubbies parents kindly bought us for Christmas.

The allotment is situated on top of a hill and I felt it important that my greenhouse was strong enough to withstand the strong coastal winds. I spoke to other allotment owners for their views and decided on a ‘wind-proof’ plastic framed version with polycarbonate panels. It wasn’t the cheapest, but hopefully, if it lasts as well as it should, then I will save money in the long run….

By the end of the Easter holiday, we had the shed and greenhouse in place and the raised beds made!

IMG_2177

A sudden rush!

Winter wasn’t too cold, as winters go. Snow was thin on the ground but it was cold enough if you’re planning on gardening. I wanted to put fruit trees on the allotment, but as it wasn’t readily dug in the area that I wanted to put them in, I was resigned to leaving it for next year. However, I had a few days off from work and Hubbie agreed to help me.

This bit should probably not be read if you’re a horticulturalist – I purchased a load of bare root trees from a well know supermarket! Two each of Bramleys and Coxes apples, two Williams pears and two Victoria plums, along with gooseberry bushes and raspberries. It was a bitterly cold day and I admit to layering the thermals! We dug as quickly as we possibly could and in an afternoon, managed to plant all of the ‘sticks’. Time would tell if they will grow.

As I write this mid May, the final tree, a pear, has just come into bud – odd as the other pear was the first of all eight to grow leaves! I have one raspberry that remains defiant – I will leave it go and see what happens over the next year! I’ve also purchased additional raspberries, gooseberries and a blackcurrant bush from various shops that sell goods all at the same price – being all or a penny less than that gold coloured coin – you get the gist! They have all grown, but the proof is in the eating, so I guess we won’t know if they’re any good until the fruit has matured.

photo

It was worth the wait!

During the summer of 2014 a letter arrived. It was a long awaited letter – 6 years to be precise, and we had almost given up hope. It was a letter from the Town Council informing us that there was an allotment available, should we want it?

We went to look at it…

IMG_2181

 

Yes, it is entirely covered in Couch grass. However, it has a view over Mounts Bay and nestles on a little site that has it’s own little micro climate. In other words Hell meets Heaven!

We borrowed a petrol strimmer from my Dad and my Husband spent a couple of days cutting the grass. I then set to work and started to dig. The ground was a carpet of Couch quorns, under which a mat of thick roots lay almost a foot deep. I would go for a day once week and clear about a four foot square patch. It could have been incredibly daunting had I let it, but rather than focus on the enormity of the task of clearing this 13 by 7 metre patch, I told myself to be proud of what I had achieved that day and that after each visit the dug patch was bigger.

It is important to mention here that I have a degenerative hip condition, which could possibly have put paid to clearing the site at all. Indeed at the start, I was in a lot of pain. However, I was in a lot of pain everywhere! and I found over time that as my body got used to it and I strengthened my muscles, my hips became less of a problem at that time.

It is very daunting being a newbie on an allotment surrounded by others, who probably have years of experience. I needn’t have been though. The other allotment owners have been absolutely amazing in their encouragement and I am very grateful to them for making me feel so welcome :).

I finally had to give in to bad weather at the start of November. I had cleared about two thirds, which was far more than I had anticipated.

IMG_1663

 

next….I next went back up there at the end of February when it was time to start planting fruit trees and bushes….

How it all started…

I’ve always been interested in DIY, but that was taken to a whole new level when we bought Pendower nearly 9 years ago!

The property was in dire need of complete renovation and we were naively completely undaunted!

We’ve carried out most of the work ourselves, taking several years and lots of blood, sweat and tears. As we’ve put rooms together, I’ve up-cycled some of our current furniture and added vintage pieces on a budget. This made me realise what really interests me and instilled a desire to one day have my own vintage business.

IMG_0394