A Gentle New Year

Happy New Year!

I hope you are having/have had a good break? I’m popping online to share with you a post I wrote for the Laura Ashley blog all about starting 2018 in a more gentle way.

cosy living room new year gentle start

What I mean is, not to rush in with extreme New Years resolutions. Instead, be kind to yourself.

Self-improvements usually are high up on the list for New Year thinking, and I’m fully behind the idea of self-improvement. But make it achievable.

For example, rather than saying you’ll run ten miles three times a week, just say you’ll do thirty minutes of exercise three times a week. That way, when the weather is bad, you are ill or life gets hectic, you can still achieve your goal.

You could do a gentle yoga session via YouTube at home for half an hour, or take the dog for a longer walk. Building up to the hypothetical long-term goal of more running will come in time (probably Spring/Summer when it’s nicer outdoors).

As you probably know I’m a bit of a home bird, I love staying in. We’ve worked on our home so much this year that it is truly a joy to be indoors, more so than ever before.

I’m starting January 2018 by enjoying really slow days with my family. We’ve had multiple pyjama days, watched lots of films snuggled on the sofa, and built loads of Lego (I predict Lego will be 2018’s version of last years adult mindful colouring book).

gentle new year

Being completely upfront with you (as I always am) it did take a while for me to switch off this year. Releasing the grip can be difficult for me and I think I need some practice!

Once I managed to relax and let go it was brilliant.

Pile the logs on the fire, the blankets on me; and pass the party food.

I do enjoy getting organised for the new year though, and have been writing down things I’d love to achieve. Some gentle goal setting. I love having this time to read and write and research ideas. Do you find ideas are more forthcoming when your mind is less busy? I think it’s because our minds are freer to do their own thing.

gentle new year list of books

I’ve made a list of books I’d like to read and local places I’d like to visit. Neither list is far-fetched and I love being able to tick things off when I’ve achieved it. Small achievements can be the path to something bigger. I’ve got some beautiful notebooks and home office accessories via Laura Ashley’s Watercolour range, which are crying out for some great list making!

from above a boho cosy living room with blankets and books

Perhaps try this idea; what would you do if money were no object?

Go and study a long-loved passion? Take singing lessons? Buy a boat? Visit that far-flung relative?

Write down some ideas and then figure out how you could do it. Is there a way? A five-year plan of saving for that trip/boat? A payment plan for that course/lessons? Can you cut something out of your spending in order to facilitate your dream?

It’s worth thinking about, it really it is. If you struggle to do this alone then sit down with a trusted friend and do it. Getting a different perspective might just give you a way forward.

In my next post, I’ll be sharing with you some of my intentions, goals and plans for 2018. Some of them may surprise you.

The products featured here and in my article (which is slightly different to this one- so completely worth a read!) are all currently in the Laura Ashley sale. There’s never been a better time to treat yourself to the stapler of dreams.

A Year of DIY & Home Renovations

DIY has been a bit of a theme this year for us. This post is just as much for me, as it is for you as I didn’t realise how much we’d done until I started writing. Oh, and it’s a long one so make yourself a cup of tea!

Looking back on achievements is so important, so often we just plough on to the next goal. So, I’ve taken the time here to list all the things we’ve done on our house this year. Some of it is DIY, stuff we’ve done ourselves, and for other things we’ve called in the experts in.

It is all too easy to let accomplishments go by uncelebrated, to just be always moving on to the next thing.

I really wanted to take the time to pause and look back now, near the end of the year. We have done so much, but the house needed so much. We’ve spent a small fortune, but for us, our home is high up on the priority list. Being able to truly enjoy and love where we live is a long-term goal, which as you’ll see we’ve gathered a lot of momentum on this year.

Some of the things here I’ve shared already, and some I haven’t but intend too at some point in the future.

In no particular order, our DIY and home improvements for 2017;

Hallway Floor

Ah, our gorgeous hallway floor. This turned out to be even more incredible than we imagined. I teamed up with Harvey Maria. We called in a flooring expert to fit this for us, details in the post.

Radiators

We had three radiators replaced and another one replaced and moved to a different wall. The radiators were really old and past their best. The one we had moved has really transformed how the room is used now too (my youngest daughters bedroom). We outsourced for this job, don’t want to mess around with gas and plumbing, right?!

Small bedroom

Moving the radiator in the bedroom enabled us to make much better use of the space. We repainted this room and sanded and filled the floorboards. We added some new decor too; a lampshade, curtains and a rug. I’ve yet to share this room here on the blog as it’s still not quite finished. But, soon hopefully! We did all the work ourselves (apart from the radiator as mentioned above).

Green Velvet Sofa

Getting this sofa, was a personal highlight for me. It really makes the room and is so comfortable I often have difficulty leaving it. More on our sofa here and more about our Living Room here.

bohemian living room essentials must haves

Bay windows and shutters

The beautiful bay windows at the front of our home were original so only single glazed. The wooden frames were rotten and we desperately needed them replaced for insulation and security reasons. We paid a bit more in order to keep the panes of stained glass, and used a local firm. After getting the window done we were then able to collaborate with SantaFe shutters and really give this room the wow factor. More about or shutters here and here.

shutters in edwardian bay window vintage home

Porch

Our old porch wasn’t an original feature of the house and had probably been added in the 1970s. Again single glazed with rotting wooden frames, it wasn’t a great way to welcome visitors into the house. Peeling paintwork and so draughty, it was a real eyesore. I took ages to decide how I wanted the new porch to look, and it is a real improvement.

Stairs

Oh, the stairs. This job has been the longest and most tedious of DIY jobs we’ve ever done. Hours and hours of work, making trivial headway at times. Credit to my husband though, he is relentless and wouldn’t be defeated by them. We’ve literally just finished these and I will share the details in the new year. Here’s a quick shot I shared over on Instagram Stories recently. Proper photos in 2018.

painted charcoal stairs @oldfashionedsus

Garden/shed/fence/pergola

The garden needed a huge makeover, mainly to remove the bramble bushes running between us and our neighbour. We also needed a new shed as the previous one was literally being held up by all the vines that had crept through and grown inside. As we are south facing I really wanted to create somewhere shady to sit out as previously to the work we had done there was no shade! We have a lot of glass at the back of the house, so it was important to create shade inside the house too. It’s no fun being blinded by brightness whilst to make dinner, or whilst the girls are playing. We used a local gardening team for this work.

Bedroom windows

We had the windows replaced in the three bedrooms. Although these were newer than the already mentioned Bay window, they were still draughty and the seal on the double glazing had gone. We used the same local company as for our porch and bay.

Guttering, fascia and soffits

Again, these were so, so old and way past their best. Rotting wood with peeling paint added to the scruffy look of the exterior of our home. The chap we used for this was someone we found online, and never again will I do that. It was the first and last time. We always go on recommendations from friends and family but had come up short with this trade. He was seemingly okay when giving us the quote, but as the work began I grew increasingly wary of what he was doing. It was slapdash in places and we had to get him to come back and fix parts.

Plastering living room

As we were taking off radiators in here, it seemed perfect timing to sort out an awful wall we had. We had a wall and bit plastered by a guy we’ve used before.

Kitchen changes

  1. We took down the Ivar cupboards and replaced them with an open bookcase taken from our Dining room. This makes the kitchen feel more spacious and also helped with clearing out some stuff we didn’t use anymore.
  2. We switched out the steel open shelves for scaffolding boards. I love them! You can read about it here.

plant babies cactic dolls head planters kitchen shelf

Dining room bookcase

Related to the above bookcase move. We have an alcove in the dining room that had a bookcase in. I always thought it looked daft as the bookcase was much narrower than the alcove. So, I was always on the lookout for something that would fit the space better. I eventually found that Ikea had bought out a new width that would fit perfectly. We bought that one and moved the other, narrower one into the kitchen.

Rugs

We added new rugs to the Dining room and to my eldest’s room.

Electrical fittings

We replaced all our plug sockets and light switches to a Victorian Brushed Brass style.

softest heather santex paint for render

House painting

We had the outside render of the house painted. Along with the shutters, new windows and porch this has really added kerb appeal to our home. Especially when you know how it looked before! We teamed up with Santex for this job and hired some outdoor painters to do the job for us. Take a look and read about it here

As you can see this year has been full on in terms of home renovations. It takes so much more time than the actual job itself too.

Sourcing materials, tradespeople and quotes, logistics of when the work will happen any other jobs that need to happen beforehand. It’s like having another job; project manager of your own home.

If you are wondering what we’ve got planned next, well I’d like a bit of a break from DIY for a few months. We have got some things which we’ll get to if our budgets allow but in the meantime, we are going to enjoy all the hard work we’ve done!

Have you done any DIY this year?

Shutters in Darker Months

Hey there readers!

As part of my collaboration with Santa Fe shutters this year, I wanted to share with you this final post about how we’ve been getting on with the shutters in our home.

As the days are getting shorter, it often feels like we barely see any sunshine at this time of year. I try to make the most of the longer nights and dropping temperatures by having cosy days indoors. Winter is definitely upon us. Although it can feel like a drag, I think that because it forces us to slow down and rest, it can actually be really good for us and just what we need.

See the shutters after installation here

santafe shutters in darker months

As the darker months arrive, I make more of an effort to go and open the slats of the shutters in the morning. Just to let that little bit more light in during the day.

As I’ve mentioned before, the shutters are in our Dining room, which is North facing. When we first moved in, Winters felt very gloomy in here. Now, they really don’t! The white of the shutters reflects light around the room.

winter dining room shutters

This room has a real feeling of calm about it which I think is enhanced with the sleek design of the shutters and the minimal space that they take up.

I often come into this room to work (away from the distraction of the TV) and I find that even though this room is on the front of the house, it is really peaceful. It has a feel of a library as this is where we keep most of our books. I love the studious, hushed atmosphere of a library so I’m pleased to have unintentionally recreated it in my home.

shutters in winter vintage interiors style

We’ve been using this a room a lot more since Autumn began.

It is now one of the warmest rooms in the house. The combination of having the windows replaced and the shutters fitted shortly after has made a huge difference in the temperature.

Decamping to the Dining room has been a natural choice, away from the kitchen, and the kids always feel like its an extra special meal when they eat in here. Old houses like ours can be notoriously draughty and our kitchen can get very chilly.

shutters in bay window

The shutters also ensure the room is private. As our Dining room faces the road I definitely wouldn’t be sat in there eating all my meals if people passing could see right in. We get the benefit of window coverage without the bulk of curtains, making the room feel bigger than it is.

For more photos (in daylight!) click here.

Another point worth mentioning is that the shutters make me feel more secure. With it getting dark so early in Winter there are more opportunities for burglaries and break-ins. The shutters stop people from looking in and form another barrier to make it more difficult if they tried.

I think the shutters have helped us create a sanctuary in this room. A sense of distance without it feeling like remoteness. Is’nt that what we all want when being at home? Being able to pull up that metaphorical drawbridge and just be.

vintage drink cabinet

 

Cold Feet Filming Locations

Are you missing Cold Feet yet?

I know I am! I wish they’d make longer series’. If ever there was an advert for visiting Manchester, then Cold Feet is it.

If, like me, you are pining for a Cold Feet hit, then how about visiting some of the filming locations? Plan a pilgrimage to see for yourself where some of the scenes took place with my tips below.

I’m focussing on the most recent series in this post, Season Seven. Many of the locations also appear in previous seasons, like the homes where the characters live.

If you’ve not seen S7 yet then please stop reading! Come back when you’ve watched it as this article contains spoilers!

Cold Feet Homes

The homes of the characters in Cold Feet are such a big part of the show and its history. Most of the characters homes are in Didsbury. The exterior shots are filmed at properties on Kingston Road in East Didsbury.

Meanwhile, the interior shots of the characters homes are despite appearances, really convincing sets. At least, they are sets in S7, filmed at Space Studios in Gorton. I’m unsure of the early days of Cold Feet, let me know if you have info on this.

cold feet filming locations

I parked along this road when I was studying for my PGCE at the old Didsbury campus of MMU. Recently, on my way to yoga, I spotted the actual homes of the characters on an early morning wander down here. Unfortunately, there were so many cars parked around that I couldn’t get a good shot.

This home (pictured above) is a little further up the road, and possibly even prettier. There are a wide variety of styles of homes along Kingston Road and it’s very close to another filming location, yes you guessed it, my yoga venue!

Outdoor Locations

Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens has been used throughout the Cold Feet years. In S7 it features the gardens of The Parsonage (my yoga venue) for the very last scene of the series. Normally you are not allowed on the grass, but they obviously made an exception for filming.

didsbury manchester cold feet filming locations

The sunken square in front of Great Northern building is home to the vow renewal towards the end of the series.

The Whitworth Park & Gallery Cafe featured in the episode where Karens daughter, Olivia opts to have an abortion. This was one of many episodes that brought on the waterworks for me.

Adam gets drenched outside Oi Polloi on Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter. And his office is a real, it’s digital media agency Social Chain.

Cold Feet Coffee’s, Cocktails and Pints.

Adam, Pete and David’s characters local pub is The Woodstock in Didsbury. It is somewhere I’ve never been but might visit now (for research purposes, obvs!).

Cocktail bars and coffee shops featured in this series, perhaps more so than ever before. Cottonopolis and Grand Pacific, are both locations for the Karen & co’s cocktail evenings. I can vouch for Cottonopolis, the cocktails are gorgeous and the food is unexpectedly outstanding!

Minimalist style, cafe Foundation Coffee House is where Karen has it out with her new diva’ish author.

A favourite spot of mine in the Northern Quarter is Chapter One Books, which features heavily in the season. Scenes filmed here include Karen meeting her new love interest (let’s call him Mr Beard), and the unicorn moment between Adam and Tina. The book signing is also in Chapter One and it’s a place we come to associate with Karen’s character.

Karen has a date with the beardy guy at Australasia.

cold feet victoria baths

Victoria Baths plays host to the book launch. Victoria Baths is everywhere at the moment, the Asda Christmas advert and of course Peaky Blinders too.

Jenny’s hotel is the Midland, although this doesn’t feature as much as in previous seasons.

So, now you know! Will you be investigating the Cold Feet filming locations I’ve mentioned?

I love spotting places that I know in the show. It makes me more emotionally invested!

where in manchester is cold feet filmed

 

In Support of Independents

Seeking out independent shops is something I love to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I do shop online too, but there is something very special (even old-fashioned) in visiting an actual shop, owned and run by actual humans. The personal service, for one thing, owners will get to know you by name.

I find the individual tastes of the shop owners are so vividly executed too. Through stock and merchandising, the independent owner creates their vision. So much so, that when going back into a regular high street chain, it can feel dull, dreary and despite their best efforts, and bigger budgets, boring.

Today I’m sharing three independents in the North West that are carving out their own places on the high street.

In a world where there are so many Goliath’s, I’m all for supporting the David’s. The Underdogs, the dreamers. The black sheep.

These shops that have been created with the hope and vision that we all don’t have to (or want to) buy from the same place, wear the same things or follow the same crowd.

Championing the maker, supporting the local economy and keeping the high street alive. There are so many high streets littered with betting shops and charity shops now. Indie’s will, if we let them, save us.

Featured indie shops

  • 49 Hilton Street/Beaumont Organic

Situated in the thriving Northern Quarter in Manchester (on 49 Hilton Street no less!) is the new home of Beaumont Organic. Before opening at number 49 this ethical womenswear brand was based online. Now they continue to sell their products internationally via the website and have a beautiful 3-storey shop too. Beaumont Organic create “contemporary conscious clothing”, the shop also stocks smaller products such as ceramics, candles and some gorgeous leather handbags. Because the shop is spread across three floors it is the ideal spot for workshops and events too, jewellery making and macrame are just a couple of the recent workshops they’ve facilitated with local makers.

49 Hilton Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M1 2EF and at https://www.beaumontorganic.com/

organic and ethical leather goods in MAnchester

  • Lomas & Lomas

Further afield but well worth a day trip is Lomas and Lomas in the beautiful village of Hayfield, Derbyshire. This is the brainchild of husband and wife team Sharon and Garry Lomas. Previously working in an office Sharon developed different side hustles to enable her to be more creative. Gary is a photographer and eventually, they came up with this idea that they could combine their creative talents in a photography gallery and homeware shop. All the homeware is developed from ideas, imagery and themes from Garry’s photography. They also sell ranges from local makers too.

The Old Butchers Shop, Market Street, Hayfield, Derbyshire SK22 2EW and at https://www.lomasandlomas.co.uk/

independent shop hayfield

  • Form Lifestyle Store

Back in the Northern Quarter again, and into Form which is housed in the sweetest building that feels so unexpected from where it is situated. It actually has a special heritage plaque outside on this row. It is the last surviving building of the one up one down type, built in 1787.  Again, this is the creation of a visionary couple. I love the holistic and artisan feel of this shop. There are loads of plants around the place and the most beautiful wrought iron spiral staircase leading to a workshop area upstairs. It feels like a real treat visiting Form, like a special secret place, but one that I actually think you should all visit!

6 Bradley Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M1 1EH and at https://form-shop.com/

form lifestyle plant shelf pretty planters exposed brick

What are the local independent shops where you live like?

Do you share my views on the future of our high streets? Let me know in the comments!

in support of indie's