Shop sale! Make me a sensible offer on anything you've been hankering after, and I will give it serious consideration.
Just send the final draft (I hope) of volume 2 off to the book designer. Hopefully I will stop talking about it and finally get it done before the end of this year.
After a really inspirational and moving funeral, we all adjourned to Joan's old stamping ground, the Hydro Hotel, where we were given a lovely lunch and reminisced about our friend. Her oldest acquaintance present had shared a tutor with Joan and her sister, before they went off to school at St Swithun's, Winchester about 86 years ago. But there were also many of her old pupils from her time as a P.E. teacher at Bedford High School. Though she retired more than 40 years ago, she had kept in touch with many of them, and was obviously held in the deepest affection.
One of her more eccentric creations was a pub/hotel, with a crowded bar and an extraordinary group of customers (including at least one Dr Who), and an upstairs bedroom with somewhat questionable goings on. She also had a real old-school antique shop, stuffed with all kinds of bits and pieces. This may need to find a new home, so if anyone is interested, please contact me.
Went to a wonderful exhibition last night at the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester, a retrospective of my friend, the artist, sculptor, designer and gardener, David West. He made a fantastic dolls' house many years ago, and a film about its creation is viewable online, clicking on a link on their website dorsetcountymuseum.org. It is well worth a look, as indeed is the exhibition, if you are down that way.
Another small house is telling me to sell it, but I'm not sure. Have had to pay for a new boiler, so there may be a no choice. Email me if you are interested and I will send some pics.
My very dear friend Joan Gibson died last week. She was an inspiration and friend to so many people, collectors, her old pupils and their children and grandchildren. I will miss her immensely, and I know many others will too, not excluding my granddaughter to whom she gave one of the first things she ever made, a dolls' house waste paper basket. We loved you, Joan.
St Patrick's Day (apparently).
It's a bit of a disaster selling a house, because you want to use the things you've kept, and they supplant other things and somehow you end up refurnishing two or three places at once. Quite fun though, and a complete waste of time. Still, I did manage to squeeze in a tiny bit of gardening, before it got too cold again.
New things coming to the shop soon, I hope. Sorry it's been so long, but I have decided to sell a house or two. Can't find anything to buy, though.
January 14th 2017.
Sitting in a chilly room attempting to finish the seemingly never ending book. But it will be done. I am quite determined. I am sorry I have nothing new to put in the 'shop', but have bought nothing for ages, and weeded out most of the things I could bear to part with. However, if there is something you really need, do email me, and I'll see if I can help.
May I take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year? We can but hope!
Had a great day at Olympia on Sunday and met lots of people I only know via this website, and elsewhere on line.
If the lady who asked me about spares for her Limoges cabaret set reads this, please will she email me, as I may be able to help? There were so many people I talked to, I have completely forgotten who it was. Apologies!
Only down-side was someone walked off with my thermos flasks and other bits and pieces. It doubt if it was a mistake, as I can't imagine anyone wanting to walk around advertising my physiotherapist (it was her bag).
Still battling with the BPT about the damage to my Evans & Cartwright furniture which got damp while on loan there, with obvious consequences. They refuse to accept liability although the stuff was all supposed to have been fully insured whilst in their care, and they have conveniently mislaid the relative humidity recorders for the case that Fry House (where it was displayed) was in for the last three months of the exhibition. I am really upset about this, and will never lend anything again.
Well, at least it takes ones mind off the US election result. Who would ever have thought that it could get even worse than us wrecking the EU, and our own economy?
Recovered from the shingles, but now laid low by a flare up of arthritis. It's just one d..n thing after another. Can't walk and also can't drive, as it's that foot. Today is the first time in a week I've managed to get downstairs, so I've missed the Shepton Mallet antiques fair, which I always enjoy (though seldom find anything at), and may also miss Cobham if it's not greatly improved.
At least being confined to barracks means that I have actually knuckled down and got on with the book. Being a self publisher is great for the sense of freedom you have, but it also means that all the pressure to get it finished has to be self imposed, and I am not too good at that. So much nicer to play with the dog, wander round the garden, pick flowers and veg, do a little restoration.... anything really, rather than write. But I have been.
Government petition over 4,000,000 now.
Reeling after the dreadful referendum results, consigning our children and grand-children to the irrelevant outpost of a Europe we've rejected, for all the wrong reasons based on lies already being laughed off by the 'victors' in a spirit of "more fools you for believing any of it". I despair for this country and for my family. Luckily I don't think the trolls look at my website, as I expect I would be vilified for my opinion, but I had to get it off my chest.
I don't suppose the now nearly 2,000,000 signatures on the Government website will persuade them to have a rethink, as they have broken EU referendum rules. We can but hope....
Nothing much to report. Have shingles so had to miss the June Cobham, which was very disappointing. Must really try and get on with the book, which has been sadly neglected, due to the age old (or old age) fall-back of displacement activity. Everywhere is getting very tidy!
Hoping to make it to Cobham and see my old and new friends there.
Just had the most amazing weekend milestone birthday treat. Ping Coombes, Masterchef 2014, came and cooked a banquet for us. I think it was one of the best meals I have ever had! And what a lovely family they are, even though little Alexa was torn away from my grand-daughters and taken off to Lyme Regis for the day, with a certain amout of tears. Ping and her friend cooked up a storm, and I was allowed a little birthday tasting along the way. What a star. Can't wait for her cookery book to be published.
Apologies to everyone that I haven't managed to put anything new in the shop since I packed up the exhibition. It all got a bit much, but I hope to be finding some new (old) things in the new year. So may I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas.
Everything is back where it should be, sadly with some damage to the Evans & Cartwright furniture, which must have got damp at some point. Otherwise things are mostly unscathed, although I have had to live up to my nickname from Elsa of "Granny-will-mend-it". Drowning under a mountain of packaging, but I hope to pass on some to friends, and the rest will have to go to the recycling (with some kept, of course, for future need).
Spent an exhausting few days packing up the exhibition, with the help of my dear old friend Fergus and new one, Laura, which made it all, if not fun, at least quick and reasonably straight forward. A bit of a hiccup when the packing was returned to Number one, with much of it damp and some of it mouldy; but Laura held her nerve and our hands, and sorted it out. The hospitality of the friends who so generously put us up through the course of the exhibition, fed and watered (or whiskied) us, and kept us entertained, was just amazing, and I will be for ever grateful.
The countdown to packing up has started (in my head, at least). Absolutely dreading it, as I only have a brief window to get it all done. Then a leisurely unpack which can go on for as long as I like. So if anyone out there hasn't been to the Bath exhibition yet, you have just over two weeks left to catch it.
They appear to have made some fridge magnets to go with the postcards, and I have a few of those if anyone wants them. Just click on the Contact in the side bar.
I will be at Cobham Sunday week, the 4th October (so I hope I haven't got the date wrong again).
By the way, I still have several postcard packs from the exhibition if anyone wants any.
I have just been sent a copy of an article about Bath and the exhibition, which will be published in the October issue of Dolls' House World, out at the end of August. Very nice piece.
I was just thinking, if there is anything in the shop you are desparate for and think is too expensive, you can always email me with an offer. I don't guarantee it will be accepted, but I will consider it.
Now I'm off to Summer prune the espalier pears.
At last I've managed to update the shop, although I suspect most of my lovely customers are probably on holiday. I have taken the postcards off, but I still have a couple of packs left. If anyone wants them, contact me.
Can't believe I have just been sent the schedule for packing up the exhibition. It seems like yesterday we were panicking to get it all there, and actually it still has 3 months to run.
Apologies for having put nothing on the shop page for ages, but got distracted by the talk at No. 1 and then haven't been very well. Will try and update it in the next few days.
Back to weeding after a week of photography round East Anglia for volume 2. Everything seems to have shot up, the peas are nearly ready but the broad beans are lagging, for some reason. Now got to try and sort out some stuff to take to Cobham.
Trying at last to catch up with some real gardening. Spent the afternoon sowing climbing beans, beetroots, peas and other veg, after much weeding. The weeds seem to grow well enough whatever the weather, but the veg is more picky. Bought some Sweet 100 tomato seeds on ebay (6 seeds in a packet) and not a single one germinated, whereas my saved seeds have come up like cress. Just couldn't find those cherry tomatoes on any of my usual seed suppliers' lists, and the grandchildren do like them. Well, sadly, they won't be getting any this year.
3rd May '15
Spent most of the week working flat out, grabbing some welcome breaks for lunch in the wonderful Circus restaurant just down the road from No 1. It's all looking pretty good, and now I'm back home trying to "plant up" some seedlings in flower beds to fill the garden of Stamford Cottage. Only a few small breakages to sort out, thank goodness.
We open on Saturday, with an odd talk scheduled through the Summer.
18th April '15
8 houses and sundry shops, pedlars and other delights are trussed up like chickens waiting to be transported to Bath some time next week. I hope I survive the setting up without totally collapsing, and that not too much gets broken in transit.
28th November '14
Just celebrated the two grand daughters' birthdays, two days apart. I can't believe Kitty is one year old, and she's almost walking, already standing a lot.
15th September '14
New Antiques Roadshow introduction has a tantalising glimpse of The Yellow Peril, featured in my book. Unfortunately it is usually obscured behind their logo!
2nd September '14
Attempting to update the website to make it more accessible and add a sales table. I hope eventually to be able to offer lots of enticing objects from my collection, updated weekly. Watch this space.
The "easy job" is nearly finished. Just awaiting some wallpapers to be copied from the originals in it. It may well appear here for sale.
13th May '14.
Said grand daughter is now almost 6 months old and beginning to enjoy a little fruit and broccoli. She is big and bonny. Elsa is at play school 3 days a week, and is the apple of granny's eye.
Things are decidedly slow on the dolls' house front, just a couple of odd buildings in the form of a stable and a warehouse. I still haven't made any progress on the easy job. Too much dust and the lungs aren't up to it.
What a hopeless blog. Months have gone past and I've done nothing on it. But then I haven't done much off it either, just got a new hip which hasn't gone very well, and newly acquired a granddaughter, which has. No dolls' house news, sadly, except for the lucky find of some flower pots in a local sale we'd gone to to look for a basket grate.
Stamford Cottage is finished. The conservatory now has a fully glazed roof (although the local glass cutting firm got a little upset with me over all the little very thin fiddly shaped bits of glass I kept asking them to do.... a couple of the bits didn't quite fit the first time and the glass kept shattering). An old kitchen table with a formica top was just the right size for a stand. I have stripped it and painted the top so it now has a nice small garden out the back, and a wonderful wisteria and clematis which I bought at the Kensington Dolls' House Festival when I did the book signing there before Christmas have just finished it off to perfection.
Haven't quite managed to psyche myself up to going back to work on scraping the German house. It is all a bit daunting, but I expect I will soon.
Still not gone back to work on the "easy" job. I've been working on a town house which looks like a model of a real place. It is called Stamford Cottage and dated 1853, on a plaque over the front door, and has the number 32 on the door itself. So far I have had no success in tracing the original, but I will keep trying. It would be fascinating to compare the two, if the original still exists. This one has a conservatory on the back, with a kitchen and scullery, and the main house has drawing and dining rooms with double panelled doors linking them, and glazed ones onto the conservatory, a good staircase, two bedrooms and a small larder under the stairs. Lots of nice detail, with mahogany panelled shutters in the dining room, good fireplaces, escutcheons as well as the knobs on all the doors, fitted cupboards in the bedrooms, and a lovely little range and dresser in the kitchen. A good house, but difficult to furnish, as it really isn't a toy and a lot of the furniture looks quite wrong in it. It will be a challenge!
Nowhere near finishing the "easy" job. I have made good headway, but have had to stop for a while as the cough got too bad. There seem to be no houses or good furnishings to be found anywhere.
I am looking after Elsa for a few days while Mum works for an exhibition in May. She never stops talking, a lot of which is saying she doesn't want to be left with Grandma, Rose or Granny (me). But she seems quite happy when she is!
19th January 2013.
Well, that resolution went well! I came across a late German red roof in a local flea market, all overpainted and papered but so unbelievably cheap that I couldn't resist it. Underneath all the crap it is faded but mostly in good condition, with original wallpapers beneath the later ones and only the downstairs floor paper missing (it had been Fablonned). Not too hard to do, but more nasty dust. I never learn.
The house I bought at the fair in London is now a small Museum of the Grand Tour, something I have always wanted to do but never had the right house for. This one was perfect, as it had no interior decoration and just three long, bare rooms. It is still a work in pleasurable progress.
Finished restoring another house. I have only been working on this one for two and a half years, so quite a quick result for me. It looks pretty good, I think, though I say it myself. A third contender for volume two ( the first being a 6 year job), but I am determined not to take on any more projects which involve huge amounts of scraping. Ever!
May I take this opportunity to wish everyone who has been so encouraging and supportive this year a very Happy Christmas. Good hunting to you all. Liza.
Elsa's second birthday and floods everywhere, though luckily not up here. She has been having a wonderful day and just got up from a post prandial nap. So grown up.
Did a book signing at the London Dolls' House Festival on Saturday which went well. It was nice to meet so many lovely people who had already bought the book, and luckily quite a lot who hadn't yet (but now have, or have put it on their Christmas present list). I even succumbed to a few buys..... notably a wisteria and a clematis for the conservatory (and the conservator), and another dolls' house. More of that in volume 2!
I'll be at Miniatura at the NEC in Birmingham this weekend, along with some of my books and some beautiful wallpapers. Hope to see some of you there...
So much has happened in the last few months, some exciting and some boring. Best was the wedding party, unfortunately on the wettest day of the century, with the tent under water and hours spent trying to pump it out. But it all looked great, in spite of the elements. Everyone danced in wellies, and they won't forget camping in such a deluge for a long time.
Boring was cracking my foot while tidying the garden for the village open gardens Sunday, when it also rained so hard that no one could see anything, so it was a complete waste of time. Have been hobbling ever since.
The Olympics are in full swing, and the newly-weds have gone to see the athletics, while I grab a brief moment to catch up with my website while Elsa has a nap. Today and tomorrow are Summer, then back to rain!
The book has been selling steadily, although it has got a bit quiet now the holidays are here. I am hoping that things will pick up before Christmas, and I have bitten the bullet and put it on Amazon. It is also available at Daunt's bookshop in Marylebone High Street and John Sandoe's off the King's Road.
The interview aired a couple of weeks ago. Nice piece but sadly they cut out any reference to the book, so no help with sales from it.
Staying up at my daughter's, in loco parentis as they are off on a very short honeymoon. Apart from an ear infection resulting in her first course of anti- biotics, all is well with Elsa, who surprisingly seems quite happy with me looking after her. First time both parents have been absent for more than a day.
Have been asked to do something at the Bridport Literary Festival, which might prove a little more productive than the radio, but things are still jogging along quite well, if not overwhelmingly.
Good review in the Spectator, but more about Vivien Greene and Bevis Hillier in his Oxford days than about the book. It annoyed several people so much that they actually contacted me to ask where they could see a review that actually told them about the book, so the end result was all right.
Interviewed by a lady from Woman's Hour last week, and that should air in the next 2 to 3 weeks. Hope it is OK, so listen out for that.
A review in The Spectator this week, which is exciting (and I hope good). I haven't seen it yet...... although it's available in London it hasn't reached the wilds of Somerset yet.
Chilly, foggy morning but definite signs of Spring at last. Primroses everywhere although the buds are not breaking yet, at least hereabouts. I can't believe it is Cobham again this Sunday. So much has happened since the last fair, though happily no awful dramas like last year.
The book continues to go well. We had a small launch party in London last month, and next week I have a review in the Spectator. There have been other reviews in various specialist society magazines, such as the one in the Journal of Decorative Arts and features in several dolls' house magazines. It all helps spread the word and I am really grateful to everyone for all their help and support.
Elsa is walking at last, though still appreciates a finger to give extra balance, rather in the manner of a tight-rope walker with an umbrella (I'm the umbrella). It's hard on the back, but not as hard as carrying her around now.
No new dolls' house discoveries. There seems to be nothing around to find, and the odd nice thing goes for a fortune. It's very dispiriting. I hope there will be treasures galore at Cobham. Looking forward to seeing lots of you there.
January 5th 2012.
After a happy, and, thank goodness, uneventful, Christmas with the family from Boxing Day and several Christmas dinners (it's funny how much less stressful it is doing the turkey and all the trimmings when it's not the actual day), I am back with Rachel trying to help out after Elsa's MMR. But there are times when only mum will do.
The book has sold well over Christmas, with much encouraging feedback which is almost the best part. Lots of photos from other people's collections, and new nuggets of precious information. There has been a small review in "The Dolls' House Magazine"(they are doing a feature in their next edition) and a big one on line in "Dolls' Houses Past and Present", plus a mention in Plangon. Hopefully more to come when it is officially published in February.
Things are jogging merrily along. Although still not officially published, word of mouth seems to be working well, and people are asking for advance copies. They seem to be enjoying them. I am going to put some of their wonderful comments on the book page, so you can see that although it is expensive, the general feeling is that it is worth the money.
There will be features to come in various magazines here and in America, though sadly not until early next year. It would have been nice to have caught the Christmas market, but the delays mean we have missed that boat.
The books finally arrived just in time for the Cobham Fair, scraping in on the Saturday. The fair was great, with lots of sales and wondeful feedback from people who bought it, even though the beautiful weather meant the fair was generally quite quiet. Thank you all for your kind words. It isn't officially published yet, but I have some copies available for those who can't wait.
Elsa has returned from a holiday in Spain with Mum and Dad and crawling like a mad thing. Amazing the change after just two weeks! And it is already quince jelly making time again. I can't believe that I have been doing this blog for over a year (and I am ashamed to say I haven't finished last year's jellies yet).
At long last the books are on their way. They should be on board ship, and pirates permitting, should be here in at the end of September. Many apologies to all those patient people who I have kept telling "They should be here in a couple of month's time". That's what I was told, but there seem to have been many little hold-ups along the way, and it has been very frustrating for me too. Official publication date will probably be in February, but books will be available before then. If you would like to order one, please click on "contact me". Postage and packing within the UK will be £6. The cost of postage to America is horrendous, so I will contact my friends over there and see what they would like to do.
Our house restoration is finished, with just a few books to come back from the binder and a table top still to finish in London. So now it is back to work restoring an early 19th century English dolls' house which has spent many years in America, and is liberally covered in layers of overpaint. And helping with the baby, of course, though she is hardly that any more. Whizzing backwards round the room and bouncing merrily on her bottom. Not quite crawling in the accepted way yet.
Hope to see lots of you at Cobham in October.
Still frustratingly without a fixed date for publication, this time because the German translation has thrown up a lot of little mistakes which hadn't been spotted. Probably won't take too long to put right.
The house is still not finished, but the garden is looking so wonderful that somehow it doesn't seem to matter too much. The broad beans are almost ready to start picking and the first rows of radishes are already eaten. Shame, because they go so well together! There seems to be a terrible lack of pea sticks in Somerset, so my peas are rapidly sprawling all over the veg garden. Will have to rig up some kind of support. We grow a heritage variety called Ne Plus Ultra, which grows to over 6 feet, so needs lot of support. The peas are deliciously sweet, even when quite big, but I'm afraid they seldom make it to the house, as I find them irresistable straight off the plant.
Back looking after baby for a day or two. Wonderful three weeks in Ireland, with the most beautiful weather ever known there at Easter. So hot that the primroses were dying of drought by the time we left. But all the same, it was a lovely "holiday", even if hard work. Great excitement when I received the final proofs, only to discover that I had been sent the German set that should have gone to Swantje Köhler, and she had got mine, even though they were correctly addressed. Somehow, the shippers had managed to switch their bar coded labels! Hopefully, it won't set us back too far, and the printers say we should have the books by the middle of July. I'll believe it when I see them.
April Fool's Day.
Hope it's not significant! The photos are all retaken (some up to four times) but at least I think they are now alright. We now await the second lot of proofs. Hopefully, this time they will be OK and it will finally be full steam ahead.
The house is still in chaos, with painters and carpenters falling over each other (when they turn up), and sawdust sticking to the new paintwork. Still, the end definitely is in sight, although we did have a new leak last night. Just a disintegrated valve this time, and as the electrician had kindly left two light fittings off, the water just came straight through onto the stone floor and didn't damage the new paintwork too much.
Hurrah! Web-site is on line at last and photographer is at work as I type. Hopefully will be able to announce launch date very soon. Watch this space.
Well, not an unmitigated success. More photos are OK, but still several that are not up to scratch, so........ yet another session on Monday to try and finally sort them. If this doesn't work, I shall have to find someone else to do the last few. More expense and a further waste of time, and very frustrating. I hope the delays don't put everyone off buying it when it does eventually appear.
The house is still covered in dust, but the painters are now in, so hopefully in another couple of weeks things may begin to go back to normal. And then the new family may be able to come and stay here without choking. How does one get rid of dust, instead of just moving it around?
8th Feb, 2011
Such a lot of dramas since the last blog. Bad health scare over Christmas with Elsa, but thank goodness she is OK. Terrible waiting for blood test results when all the labs were closed over the holidays. Then Rache and Ray's chimney caught fire on Christmas Eve, and we had firemen (and 2 ladies) running up and downstairs trying to put it out at midnight in the bitter cold. The remains were still smoldering in the snow the next morning. Boxing day we had a burst pipe at home, in spite of leaving the heating on constantly while we were away with the new family. Although we had someone looking in every day while we were away, it made the most appalling mess. The plasterers are working now, six weeks later, putting back walls and ceilings. It has wrecked half the house, not to mention the furniture and many bits and pieces. Lesson 1. Always turn the water off at the mains when the weather is cold and you are away. It would have made such a difference if I had.
I have escaped the dust and mess for a couple of days and am baby-sitting for Rache while Elsa sleeps next to me.
The proofs came back, and everything was fine except for the photos of the interiors (rather crucial) which I had commissioned and were dreadful. As they had only previously been printed in low res, we hadn't realised that they were no good, so panic has set in. Mine, I may add, were fine! The photographer has retaken one house, and I'm hoping it will be usable this time, but it means reshooting the lot, so it has put us back weeks. I was hoping that we would have the book ready by the end of this month, but goodness knows when it will be now. I will keep you posted, if we can get this blog onto my website at last.
5th December 2010
Baby Elsa has arrived at last. She made an appearance a week ago at 3 minutes to midnight on 26th November, a good 6lbs 14oz. She is asleep next to me at the moment, looking very snug on a sheepskin fleece, while Mum and Dad are grabbing a few minutes shut eye. A rather rare occurance, I think.
The book has gone off to China and I await the proofs. Not as painful as childbirth, but almost as scary.
6th November 2010
After a lot of problems finding any good quinces at all, eventually ended up with a mountain of them, thanks to the tree in David and Barbara's garden in Lyme Regis, so now have enough delicious jelly to last till next Summer. With mirabelle jam from the trees in the copse at the bottom of the field (yellow, orange, red and purple cherry plums), we're well stocked.
Still no grandchild, though only 10 days to go. Mum seems much calmer at the prospect than Gran! Amazingly wet fireworks at her local pub, with a fine galleon and guy up in the crow's nest. It took for ever to catch in the deluge, but the hog roast was good!
The book is almost on its way to China for proofing, which is exciting and terrifying all at the same time. It seems to have been in the pipeline for so long, that the prospect of actually seeing it in the flesh is almost unbelievable.
6th October 2010
At the moment occupied with designing the website, finishing the book, waiting for grandchild, putting my garden to bed for the winter, and searching for tasty quinces to make jelly (size really isn't everything where quinces are concerned).