Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Back to the Drawing Board

As I write this, little Lily is patiently drying her sob-sodden fur and I'm wiping away the tears: today we received the news that our landlady is selling up. "Fuuuuucccccccccckkkkkkkkkkkkk!!!!" was my initial response at 10am this morning, "What a fucking bitchhhhhhh!!!!". But as the day has gone on, my anger has subsided and I just feel defeated. What is it with this post-recession delusional obsession with the pursuit of property? I'm sick of it. Even my commute this morning wasn't immune thanks to Stylist magazine's bullshit lead feature on how we can all get a step on the property ladder if we just dream big enough - yeah, thanks a bunch Stylist, your "cut-out-and-keep-guide to buying a house" is just what I need to magically conjure up a £60,000 deposit! I have spent ten years living in daily fear of the break clause on my lease being exercised. Ten years of ludicrous letting agent fees. Ten years of improving someone else's property while paying their mortgage. Well, ten years has really taught me something: it doesn't matter how much you earn, if you don't have a rich mummy and daddy holding a safety net under you then you'll always be screwed over (at least in London, anyway). Maybe I'll feel differently eventually. But right now I feel like I'm living in a world full of people who are "looking to buy" as if it's just some casual affair, no big deal, I'm not in a rush, when the reality is they're not looking to buy at all, mummy and daddy are fronting the money. I recently had lunch with a couple of (really very nice) girls from work, and the conversation moved on to how they were both "looking to buy right now" - phrases such as "I'm looking at properties around 440 [N.B. thousand]" and "now's the time to buy because the market is going to become stagnant next year" left me feeling dirty inside. Where do people get this advice from - Kirstie Allsopp?! A close friend of mine, who has a very similar background to me (working class (I hate that term), absent-ish father, self-funded through uni etc), has moved into her boyfriend's parents' house in an attempt to save some hysterical amount of money for a deposit, and nine months later they've barely scratched the surface. The reality is that his parents will eventually get fed up and front the money (sorry KP if you're reading this, but you and I both know it's true). Even now, as I flick through the channels on TV, I'm bombarded with "Escape to the Country", "Under Offer: Estate Agents on the Job" and "Location Location Location", tempting me with a life I'll never have. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Well, I'm really stuck. I guess it's back to the drawing board.      

Friday, 18 April 2014

Ashdown Park

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the Texan and I have become travel bloggers with the amount of time we've spent out of London of late. More and more I find myself longing for weekends away from the hustle and bustle of city life, the tourists and sirens and smog - perhaps it's because I spend most of my time now amongst Canary Wharf's grey, concrete skyscrapers. As a child I didn't really see much of England - neither of my parents could drive - and it's only now that I've been able to appreciate how beautiful it can be. Sussex is becoming a new favourite with its mix of countryside, coastline and little villages, each of which seem to have an obligatory antiques shop (perfect pickings for me, since I'm currently stocking up my shop which will be coming to Take Courage soon!).

Surrounded by Ashdown Forest (which is, supposedly, the inspiration behind Winnie the Pooh!) and with its trees in full bloom, Ashdown Park served as the perfect retreat last weekend. To a Londoner, the sound of silence is an unfamiliar frequency, but to read the paper in the sunshine, with a cup of coffee and no distractions really is one of life's small pleasures. We took a dip in the pool, and I even had a back massage at the spa (which left me feeling like jelly), and we spent hours wandering the grounds, talking to the fish, watching the bumble bees and peering into rooms that were out-of-bounds on account of the two weddings being held there. Thank you to Ashdown Park for a lovely weekend of simple pleasures - we very much intend to come back again soon!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Charleston Farmhouse

At the start of the year I wrote down my goals for 2014 - one of them was to book the Zipcar at least once a month and escape the city. Well, as you probably can tell from my posts of late, the Texan and I are doing a pretty good job at keeping to that resolution! Today we headed to Charleston Farmhouse, which I'd seen featured on the telly just a couple of weeks ago and squealed with delight when I realised it actually isn't too far from London.

Conscientious objectors to the First World War could avoid imprisonment by working on the land, and so Charleston became a home and meeting place for the writers, painters and intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury Group. The occupants and visitors to Charleston worked intensely during this period and produced hoards of incredible, highly contemporary work - ceramics, paintings, embroidery, furniture, literature - some of which is on display in the house. Unfortunately (and sadly typically of these places) we were not allowed to take photos inside the house, although we snuck a couple from outside, through the windows! You'll have to take my word for it, it's definitely worth the visit.

What I'm wearing  |  Breton top: Labour and Wait  |  Skirt: Made by me! I used Tilly's Miette pattern and it was so easy, I'm going to make a few more!  |  Basket: Vintage, Colombia Road  |  Sandals: Swedish Hasbeens  |  Feather necklace: Rust