On line learning

*WARNING - potentially quite boring blog below, the vast girth of my tummy inhibits much in the way of upholstery or adventure*

About a year ago in a fever of industriousness I signed up for an online diploma in interior design at the London based interiors school, KLC. It's a brilliant school which gets brilliant results but it is a really intensive course. The problem with online learning is that all the impetus and motivation needs to come from you; I have a massive folder of lecture notes, I have an online account with lots of useful information and I have a timetable which prescribed that the first piece of work was meant to be handed in last September! Needless to say I fell a little behind and said first piece of course work has just been completed.

The project brief was to define your personal style through a series of images and objects which should then be collated and annotated in a scrap book and eventually be reduced down to a manageable size and mounted on a board with the intention of encapsulating one's "personal style"! 

Anyone who is familiar with online learning will no doubt sympathise. Basically you have no lectures and no human interaction: it's all done via the wonders of the internet. The plus side to this is, of course, that the prohibitively expensive course becomes very affordable and I have always wanted to know more about the professional side of interior design.

I have to say that when I had the time to devote the required attention to the project, I really enjoyed it (yes, the supposedly early baby is still to make an appearance!)And have been happily doodling and getting colour schemes together and thinking about my favourite products and what inspires me. It's especially good to do it at the moment as I've been thinking so much about the house recently.

Choosing the images which best summarised my personal style was hard and once I had chosen them, I had to analyse my choices, hence all the waffle below..

.. and this is only one page of about twenty! 

If you read my blog regularly you probably know that I teach in a primary school three days a week and upholster chairs the rest of the time which works very well indeed and keeps me ticking along financially, creatively and intellectually (teaching English to precociously intelligent eleven year olds is no walk in the park, I can tell you!)That said, I increasingly would like to branch out into interior design and thought this course would be an excellent way of getting a bit more of a professional grounding. My idea is to use our new house as a bit of a show piece and if people like my style then maybe they will want to employ me to help them do up their own abode. I have in mind that maternity leave will be the perfect opportunity to launch this new aspect to my career but in my heart of hearts know that once the little one does decide to show up for the party, I will most likely spend the first few months drowning in dirty nappies and breast pads.. and the house will most certainly not be a show home! Anyway, watch this space and I'll hopefully be able to show you another piece of completed coursework in the not too distant future.

Happy Easter everyone xx


The purest of human pleasures

"Gardening is the purest of human pleasures." - Francis Bacon (and that's coming from rather a complicated man!)
It is fair to say that I am born and bred gardener, not of any particular talent, skill or knowledge but I do love to potter in my garden. It makes me very happy and, after all, I do believe that is all you really need to create a lovely garden! Along with a lot of enthusiasm and a love for all the plants and wildlife you can nurture. Here are some of my favourite pictures of our garden in my old flat. It took a while to get it looking like this, but by the time we left it was gorgeous (if I do say so myself).

So I feel as if I've got a hard act to follow, especially because our new garden currently looks like this!

This is both exciting and daunting! The complete bareness of it means that we can plan from scratch, but it also means that everything will be new and therefore lacking the depth of a mature garden. Throw into the mix the fact that the garden faces north east and you have a bit of a tricky space.

I've devised a plan for it that consists of four distinct areas; a patio, a lawn and flower bed area, the summerhouse and the back of the garden where there will be a bike shed and a potting area.

Area 1: The Patio

This is going to have (fake) flag stone paving with a step down from the French doors leading from the kitchen. The patio is the area which will be most shady but it will also be enclosed by lovely brick walls on both sides, whereas the rest of the garden will be fenced. I would like to try and grow some climbing roses and other climbers up the back of the house and then put lots of shade loving ferns in pots around the side of the patio. I'm undecided as to whether to paint the walls white to lighten the space up?

I'm going to put the cold frame for growing all my seedlings in the corner and cross my fingers that it gets enough sunlight for seedlings to grow!

There will also be room for our lovely 1950's garden and chairs, although again, there won't be as much sun to bask in as in our last garden. We can always move it to the lawn.

Area 2: Lawn and flower beds

We were both really keen to make this area as interesting as possible with the limited space available. The lawn will be at a slightly higher level with a step up and the area contained by a low brick wall. The lawn itself is going to have curved beds with flower beds full of shrubs, trees and perennials which will hopefully provide colour and structure all year round. As well as climbers to cover the ugly wooden fences. I also really want a little pond as in our last flat as they attract so much wildlife (although my Mum keeps reminding me a child can drown in an inch of water - apparently fox gloves and various other lovelies are out too, due to them being poisonous!)

There is going to be a little brick path leading from the patio to the summerhouse at the end of the garden made out of reclaimed red bricks in a chevron pattern. I have been dying to get the chevron look in somewhere in the house and so far have been thwarted!

I also want a little bench at the top end of the garden so I can sit in the sunshine and eat my breakfast. My dream scenario would be a beech hedge behind it, separating the lawn from the bike shed area.

Area 3: The summerhouse

I would like my summerhouse to look like the one on the left, but I have a horrid feeling it is going to look a lot more like the one on the right, it being a pre built flat pack design, rather than a whimsical hotch-potch of reclaimed pieces. Ah well, I am sure it will still be gorgeous and along with a desk and my drawing and painting things, I was thinking a little tool bench for Nick to tinker at, a comfy arm chair to read in and possibly a camp bed to snooze in or a spare bed when guests come to stay. I must remember it is only 2.5 metre square!

 This how I would like it to look on the inside.
.. and this is a picture of a shed from one of my all time favourite blogs, Junkaholique.

Area 4: Potting table and bike shed

We had to have somewhere to store our bikes as both of us mainly get around town on two wheels. Plus, I wanted somewhere to hide the lawn mower etc and not in my lovely summerhouse! The area is going to be at the end of the garden, adjacent to the summerhouse and be gravelled. The bike shed is a wooden structure and we will grow a climber over it. There will also be a table for me to do my potting at and somewhere to store all the garden tools. Perfect. There is a lovely old brick wall at the end of the garden so I want that to be visible too.

My old potting table.

So there you are, my grand garden plan. A bit of a pipe dream as funds are running rather low at the end of such a big project. If we can just get the bare bones down, then we can buy all the plants and bits and bobs in due course. I am also aware that my time will be limited once I have a brand new babe to look after and gardening might drop down my list of priorities. Ah well, I'm playing a long game and dreaming of growing old in this garden.