Sunday, 12 April 2015

weekend projects :: upclying an old chest of drawers...

We lived with this old chest of drawers in the kitchen for a  while before deciding what to do with it. It was a bit of an impulse buy. We panicked a little when the builders were ripping out the old kitchen cupboards and they wanted to know what would replace them. The units were 90's plasticky ones, not at all pretty and in really bad condition. We couldn't do anything to restore them. I wished they'd been old wooden ones that I could paint. It wouldn't have mattered what style. 

We spotted this one when rooting around a barn at the back of a vintage shop. It was the right shape, solid, would make a good work surface, looked as though we could store a myriad things in it and was very cheap. We checked the top drawers and they opened smoothly, so we bought it. Perfect...we thought...

Then when it arrived I noticed that there were big pieces broken from the bottom two drawers. Filled with heavy pots and pans it was a struggle to open them. They got more and more decrepit each time I used them. 

Eventually I decided that I'd have to forgo the bottom drawer. The empty space makes a useful shelf and the drawer will probably end up being used for a raised fruit or vegetable bed in the garden. 

Then the debate...stain or paint? We lived with it for a while before deciding. It may be because I keep drooling over this kitchen here that I finally decided on paint. 

Here's how:
  • First a spot of hole filling with wood filler, followed by a gentle sanding with fine sandpaper.
  • A good wash down with soapy water.
  • Two coats of white undercoat of both the interior and exterior and all the drawers...I have finally succumbed to using sponge forms for this. Despite years of insisting that they waste too much paint. They give the smoothest finish and don't use as much paint as I suspected. I apologise were right. 
  • A further two coats of eggshell paint. I used Dulux Diamond eggshell in shade chalky downs 4. This gives an amazing matt finish and is very easy to use. 
  • Finally I lined the drawers using a bargain charity shop £1 roll of wallpaper. I find that wallpaper is much stronger than wrapping or brown paper and easier to use. 
The resulting chest is perfect again. Much more useful now and brightens up my spring kitchen...and vaguely echoes a current favourite one...well maybe the colour's a bit similar...

A Perfect Weekend :: whoops...accidentally re-published...

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art--
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death

John Keats

Lovely time with Hannah at the weekend we watched Bright Star again and loved it just as much as the first time. Had a fleeting visit to the Lucien Pissarro in England: Eragny Press 1895-1914 exhibition at the Ashmolean including a beautiful tiny copy of Keats, La Belle Dame Sans Merci and planned to visit Keats House in Hampstead as soon as we all have time to catch up again...

She brought me Lime and Basil bath and shower gel by Grand Tour because she knew I'd love the colours. It smells amazing, lovely and fresh and it has no parabens,no mineral oils, no harsh preservative and no artificial colours which is even better. A friend sent chocolates. They didn't last very long...John Keats biography by Andrew Motions now to be added on my never ending list of books to order...apparently it's complusive reading...

all the stills are from Jane Campion's Bright Star

Monday, 30 March 2015

March catch up - Solar eclipse, vernal equinox, pinhole camera's and Persian New Year...


Friday 20th was the vernal equinox, the first day of spring, and there was a solar eclipse. It was bound to be the start of a magical weekend. 

We made a makeshift Heath Robinsonesque pinhole camera  from a colander and spied a myriad of tiny crescents reflected on the path. The moon's shadow passed in front of that fiery globe shading it's light, birds hushed and an eerie darkness crept in. It was as if a light bulb had suddenly been switched off. Neighbours emerged with their own homemade contraptions and we compared inventions and attempted to photograph the spectacle. 

Saturday we drove to Bristol to stay with Hannah. She invited us to stay for late Mother's Day and Persian New Year celebrations. Another bright sunny day with a sweet unexpected gift...I'll show you later. We walked down to the river and pottered around the St Nicholas Markets. Had lunch by the harbour here. Amazingly crisp pastry pie crust filled with pumpkin and all sorts of other tasty things served with big chunky potatoes and crunchy salad, or thin goats cheese and spinach pizza, and a spicy meaty one for Ahmad. We even shared the cider plank, tasting five local varieties. Watched (and badly recorded) a boat race, spotted Brunel's SS Great Britain and at last two Banksy's...

We climbed the hill back to H and B's cosy flat and ordered Persian take-away from here. Very good joujeh, tender chicken marinated in saffron and lemon, or koubideh, minced lamb kebab with steamed saffron rice, sumac and mast-o-moussir, yoghurt with wild shallots. Enjoying late supper to celebrate the new year drinking to a happy one. 

Sunday a lazy morning then an afternoon exploration of Clifton hill. A beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon. It seemed as though everyone was out on the hill. We climbed up the downs to clifton the observatory to visit the camera obscura that was made in 1828 and shows a 360 degree panoramic view of the area. It was surreal to watch the image play out in front of us on the massive white concave screen. People playing, running, crossing the bridge outside, lovers canoodling on the grass...all unaware that we were spying on them...

We had a last minute coffee and cake and then waved our goodbyes then home again home again, jiggety-jig... 

...Have you ever spied a solar eclipse?