February update

Sunday 28 February 2021 – St Leonards-on-Sea.

It has been a few weeks since I last scribbled typed some notes on how things are going and what Eleanor and I have, or in this case, haven’t been up to. February continued to be cold, and Covid continued to keep us in the UK in some form of lockdown; however, the forecast for both is improving. The Covid news continues to get better and better; vaccinations have been moving along at a great pace in the UK, Eleanor has had her first, and mine is in a couple of weeks, and the lockdown is having the desired effect with the number of infections and critically ill trending down. Daffodils and crocuses are appearing in the park, a sure sign spring is not too far off.

I have been trying to think back on the things that have happened in the last few weeks, and can really only think; not a lot. There is news of a sort, not BREAKING news, but news nonetheless.

I have changed my mind on selling the flat and am now going to rent it out instead.

  • I had a rental agency visit to view the flat and can expect to get quite a lot more per than I thought. The market here is very good at the moment, or bad I guess if you want to rent. The price of gentrification being paid for by those who can least afford it. I justify to myself by knowing that I only have one flat and the rent I will get still won’t cover my mortgage; though it will be closer.
  • We have been taking time to have a good and honest look at the possible costs of relocating to NZ; it was not something we properly did before Eleanor got her visa and it is a LOT more expensive to live there than we thought. Auckland is less affordable than London, I knew it was going to be expensive, just not by how much.
  • Booking a room in managed isolation is very difficult, and you cannot fly to New Zealand unless you have a room booked first. The managed isolation folk only release rooms up to three months in the future and they are booked out immediately, we have yet to work out the timing of when to get on the site to book. In saying that there are only taking bookings to the end of May which is too early for us.
  • What this does mean is my plan to try and find some work before we left has been completely thwarted. We are going to have to travel to NZ first and then look for a job once we are there. I am starting to see jobs asking for applications for NZ residents only now. A change from a few weeks ago.
  • The cost of living plus not having a job, means we can realistic commit to six months in Auckland before having to think about coming back, where we can at least live rent free.

With the possibility of having to come back to the UK between three and six months meant it made no sense to sell the flat. If we get work in NZ then we can think about selling the flat at a later stage, but at least I have the choice then. With this in mind I am going to ask if I can take a career break before I resign, which means the potential of a job when we return.

We walked to Bexhill one afternoon and then caught the train back to St Leonards. It was my first time in a train since November, when we last did the six minute journey from Bexhill. I am planning on taking the train to London for my vaccination. I can then take photos out of train windows again.

There was an amazing snow moon one night, I have never heard of these before. The moon was huge and sitting low on the horizon so Eleanor and I took a quick walk down to the seafront. It was the first time we have been outside in the evening for ages. With nothing open there were few people out, it was cold but nice to be outside for a change.  Though I have walked a little over the past few weeks I have struggled with motivation and am rarely getting out for a pre-work walk anymore. We always do a short walk at the weekend, but I really need to extend the range else I am just going to spread and it will all become so much harder.

I will chuck in a couple of sunset photos to fill the rest of the page. The two orange images were taken on different nights out of the bedroom window and the other was taken from beach.

Hopefully March will be more interesting.

Some fairly pathetic snow, but snow nonetheless

Tuesday February 09 2021 – St Leonards-on-Sea.

An email brought unexpected good news late on Wednesday night. Eleanor has been granted an indefinite partner visa for New Zealand, Yay, Yay and Yay again! While we (mainly me) expected this to be the case we were taken aback by how quick the application was processed. We didn’t expect to hear anything until at least May or June. This means we can now start to plan a move to Auckland, where most of my family are, for at least the short term.

This is very exciting, but also a little terrifying at the same. There is a lot of thinking and planning to do and I definitely need to get through the emotion of it and start thinking practically else nothing much will happen. I will do a separate post on this at some point. I think.

I took Friday off work as it was forecasted to be the only nice day of the weekend, it is also a non-working day for Eleanor so we could hang out and talk free from the constraints of work. We walked along the seafront under a weak winter sun to Hastings and started to formulate a plan and think about some of the things we need to do, which seems to be an awful lot. The big question for me is whether I keep the flat and rent it while we are gone, or sell it now as the market appears to be good and I will make some money. I have a real estate agent coming to value it on Wednesday, much as I should be led on this by my heart; I am going to be led by the pound.

[edit] I am writing this on Saturday and the estate agent has advised me my flat is worth a little more than I expected, so at this point in time I am going to sell, more on that decision soon, once it is made. [/edit]

Sunday

I have been following the weather forecast all week as there has been a promise of snow for some time, and today is the day, with falls expected to start around 3 or 4 AM. I was excitedly up and out of bed at 7, pulling up the blinds to check outside; then making coffee and going back to bed. Rain. Bloody St Leonards.

However, the snow did come soon after we got up, then continuing to snow lightly all day, though not enough for it to stick around. Still, we wanted to get out for a walk and feel the snow so we didn’t linger in bed too long and were outside by 9. Not bad for me on a Saturday.

When we left home the snow was barely falling and it wasn’t too cold, though it got colder and the snow fall got slightly heavier while we were out. There were hints the snow would start to settle later in he day by the time we got home 90 minutes later. We walked down to the seafront via the lovely St Leonards Gardens, which are just along the road from my flat. The snow was falling a little heavier now, but the ground is so wet and warm that none of it is settling.

I am about to send a letter to mum with some photos of the grandkids and one of El and I. As we don’t have any recent photos of us I decided to try and take some using the self timer on the camera. It took a couple of goes to get it right.

Rather than walk the seemingly traditional way towards Hastings we chose to walk in the opposite direction towards West St Leonards. As is often the case I was surprised at the number of people out, we even saw two people taking their daily dip; one of them wasn’t even wearing a wetsuit. Hardy folk on the coast.

The wind started to pick up and the snow was coming down a lot more heavily and it started to get cold so we looped back up the hill to home and watched the snow falling, but barely settling for the rest of the day. This was as good as it got, and the first time I have not hated these view blocking trees in my neighbours garden.

Monday

A small amount of snow fell overnight and with yesterdays colder afternoon followed by a much colder night a small amount had settled on the ground on Monday morning. I took a photo out of the bedroom window, over my neighbours and down the coast towards Bexhill and Eastbourne.

I was out the door soon after, and back to the park, yet again disappointed at the lack of snow on the ground. I took a couple of photos as this really was going to be as much snow as we will get this winter.

There was a little more snow on the seafront promenade and I was surprised to find about a dozen people on the beach and in the sea.

Tuesday

To my surprise there was a little bit more snow overnight, and a little bit more on the ground inthe morning. Today I avoided the park and went straight to Milk and Hustle, our friendly neighbourhood coffee shop for a takeaway flat white. Since we have been living here a number of places have opened selling coffee, but Milk and Hustle are by far the best, and they are really nice people too. Like all good coffee shops, a flat white is the same price here as it is in central London.

On non-rainy days my routine is to get a coffee and walk along the sea front a short way while drinking the coffee, then back up the hill for breakfast and (sadly) work. On rainy days my routine is to stay in bed longer. I often take a photo on my phone and post it to twitter, but this morning I brought the camera for the last of the snow photos for the winter.

The new way, Week eight.

Saturday 09 May 2020 – Walthamstow and St Leonards-on-Sea

Ho hum, another week done. It was a good week, it started and ended well, though the middle bit was frustrated by work; not the act of working, working is far better than the alternative. This week would have been as frustrating if life was normal and I was in the office, with the commute as a sort of additional negative bonus.

New Zealand continues to relax its rules and next week they will be taken down another level, I am a little (lot) envious. Here in the UK we continue to receive a stream of mixed messages as talk of relaxing some of the restrictions is being socialised in the media. A large portion of the population is against relaxing anything while the infection rate and number of deaths are so high. A poll this week showed 81% were against relaxing rules, I have never seen such strong opinion on anything in this country. Obviously things will be relaxed a bit, hopefully not by too much.

This started Eleanor and I thinking about maybe moving to the flat if her teacher son comes back to London to work and to live with us. This, in turn made me want to go down for a couple of days. So I did and it was welcome. Spending some time on my own, and allowing Eleanor the same, was something I needed; sun, sea air and records by artists beginning with an ‘S’ also helped.

Some positives from the lock down;

  • Cleaner air, though this is slowly receding as more vehicles are on the road.
  • More cyclists, everywhere, this is very heartening and now there is talk of improving infrastructure to encourage people to continue to cycle and walk once some form of normality returns.
  • I am listening to loads more music, even occasionally moving out of my music bubble.
  • Working from home is much more of a thing. I have done a day a week for quite a while now, but working from home all the time is the new normal and I hope to be able to do more days each week if returning to regular office hours ever happens. 
  • Eleanor and I are alone together, there are no foils in the house, and we are  constantly together every single day, we even share work day tea breaks and lunch. This has yet to be troubling and is a very good sign that our relationship works extremely well and I am extremely grateful and happy about this, as is Eleanor.
  • The best thing has been family group video calls, something we have never done before and something I very much look forward to.

Sunday
Best sleep in ages, which was slightly unfortunate as I was late for a family video call, which was lovely, warm and funny and really appreciated. We sang happy birthday to my eldest son who is 30 tomorrow and my nephew who celebrated his 18th last week. My mum and sisters, who can sing, must have cringed at the awfulness of it all. It was joyous in its terribleness. I should never sing where people can hear me.

I finished last week’s post in the morning and then walked to Walthamstow Wetlands in the afternoon while El worked. It was a great walk and I wrote about it here.

I made proper meat burgers with sweet potato fries for dinner, I miss burgers and may have to order a delivery burger sometime soon. The burgers at Half Man Half Burger in St Leonards are just the business and now I am drooling thinking about them. Next time I am down they are on the menu.

In the evening we co-watched more episodes of ‘Fear the walking dead’ with friends over Skype.

It was the best day in ages.

Monday
We were up early and I took a morning walk over to Walthamstow village for fruit and vege, stopping to take some photos in St Mary’s Church on the way.

As I type this on Friday I have no recollection of what happened at work, though I know Monday and Tuesday were just full of meetings, so perhaps I have blanked them both from my memory. It is a four day week and I am having a day off, so something to look forward to.

Dave Greenfield the keyboard player from original UK punk/new wave band The Stranglers was taken by the virus yesterday. He is just one in a vast number of unnecessary deaths, but the first that has impacted me in any way. I created a Stranglers playlist not that long ago, and will listen to it tomorrow.

In the evening we had a Zoom chat with Eleanor’s sons both of whom are in different towns to us. Eleanor’s youngest is a teacher and may have to come back to stay later this month if the schools re-open. This means we may go and stay at the flat to reduce any risk of infections coming home from school. It was a good catch up.

Tuesday
I took a walk around the park and then visited the local Tescos for bread and crisps, before another day of meetings, seven in total today.

I made these spinach and feta pastry things for dinner and they were good.

Wednesday
It was a funny old day. I started work really early, before 7:30 as I could not be bothered going for a walk. I had stuff to do as I have taken tomorrow off ahead of the long weekend. It was a really busy day, at times frustrating, at times liberating. There is a lot going on in my area at the moment and I do not know what to make of it all, anyway the work day ended satisfactorily enough.

El and I went for a short walk around the park before slumping in front of the TV, watching another couple of episodes of Devs which I love and am dragging out to make it last as long as possible. We started a movie that was truly awful and got turned off, finishing the evening with a really good documentary on the ground breaking photographer Lee Miller. Though I am not sure photographer sums up Lee Miller, she was that and so much more, an extraordinary, complex women.

Thursday
Last weekend I decided to take a leave day from work. I have a bunch of flat related admin to complete and don’t get the chance to do this during the week. I could make the chance, but I try not to sit on the laptop too much in the evening. Friday is a bank holiday, one I won’t be celebrating, other than by not going to work.

It made sense to use a normal work day for this flat work, take a day of annual leave I will otherwise not get to use and go to the flat. I know, some people will say I am breaking the rules; but, the flat is my home, the only home I own, I am not going to be staying with other people, and to be frank those people can go f*ck themselves. I need some time on my own, and anyway the big headlines this morning said the rules will be changed on Monday; though the government is now denying this, possibly due to the negative public reaction.

The drive down was uneventful and reasonably quick, the motorway was quiet for rush hour, but the road into Hastings was as it normally is. Soon after arriving I was out the door for a walk along the sea front.

It was lovely. Fresh sea air, warm but not hot, not too many people, the promenade was really clean there were people swimming in a way too cool sea. To counter this there was the normal number of cars on the road, the usual speeding on the side roads and of course the ubiquitous St Leonards double yellow line parking. No one does double yellow parking like Hastings and St Leonards.

It was a short walk to Hastings old town and back, but it was so nice to not be walking in Walthamstow, variety, spice of life, etc.

After taking this photo on my phone and walking on I noticed a woman glaring at me from behind the dark of the closed window…

Apart from one work conference call, important enough to dial in on my day off, I played records all afternoon and did little else.

The highlight was the sunset, it was glorious. I miss St Leonards sunsets and the mostly uninterrupted view I get of them.

It was a good day.

Friday
VE Day, Victory in Europe, celebrating victory in Europe, a victory over fascism, or at least the Nazis. Fascism never really went away; Franco’s Spain and Tito’s Yugoslavia for example, it is now making an unwelcome return in too many places. I do not celebrate the day, especially now it has been taken over by the flag waving, braying brexity mob. I had a lie in, then did all the flat admin stuff that was my main excuse for coming to the flat. I didn’t do much else with the day; chilled, read, listened to records.

I went for a walk late in the afternoon, it was warm out, much warmer than the flat suggested it would be; like yesterday, I wished I had worn shorts, not jeans.

There were fewer people out than I expected for a warm bank holiday. Hastings has not been badly impacted by covid19, which is remarkable given how high it places on the chart of relative deprivation, and the link between deprived areas and high covid mortality. The lack of folk out maybe shows that they take the messages of distancing seriously.

Saturday
I was wide awake by 5, had coffee and read the news and the socials by 6 so I got up, tidied, packed and drove back to Walthamstow, arriving there before Eleanor started work at 9. Best drive time ever, and I stuck pretty much to the speed limit. I loved my small break away, and would like to spend more time in my own home. This is not practical yet, and I would rather be with Eleanor than on my own for a few weeks.

After a couple of weeks of procrastination I finally made it out the front and trimmed the privet. I had to wear my covid mask as the pollen was killing me, one of the reasons for pruning it back, the other was to provide another foot of footpath width. Contributing to making social distant walking just a tiny tiny bit safer. I acknowledge that the hedge is not exactly straight…

We got this through the letter box, a zine from one of the local coffee shops, with a Phlegm picture on the front. This one is going into a frame, I love a bit of Phlegm!

In the evening we had another Fear the walking dead TV watching session with Skype friends, this time we both ordered takeaway from one of the local Turkish places. We finally managed to finish series three, which I actually enjoyed.  We will start the next series next week hopefully.  It was a fun evening, though I was exhausted from being up at 5;30 and by 11:30 I was ready for sleep.

As i said at the beginning, it was (mostly) a pretty good week.

This coming week will be interesting, new official guidelines come out this afternoon (Sunday). What changes will they bring ? and how will the nation react? 

Christmas in St Leonards

20 December 2019 – St Leonards.

In a departure from the norm El and I decided to have Christmas Day at the flat, on our own. We both had the week off work and wanted to get away for some, if not all of that time. We gave plenty of notice to El’s sons and they arranged to have Christmas Day with their partners family, so we had ‘family’ Christmas the Saturday before and on Sunday morning I packed the car and drove down to the flat. El followed me down on the train later that day. She is a season ticket holder at Tottenham Hotspur, and wasn’t going to miss a home game. I got the flat in order, while she had fun at the football.

This was going to be a week of doing not a lot; reading books, watching TV, cooking, eating too much and drinking almost too much, all balanced with the occasional walk. I drove down as we had a car load of stuff;  Christmas presents for each other (we broke all the buying each other presents rules),  a load of records to listen to and a lot of food and drink to be consumed over the week. I wanted to do as little supermarket shopping while we there as possible.

The first thing we did on Monday morning was walk over to Hastings. I wanted to get the supermarket shopping done as early as possible, while the head was in the right space for hitting a supermarket on the busiest day of the year. It was busy, very busy, but we survived and it was not as awful as it could have been. The good thing was all the food shopping for the week was done.

I took photos on the way.

Christmas day was a stunner, from memory the best weather I have seen on a Christmas day since I have been in London. An almost cloudless sky and very little wind, it was too good to be sat inside all day.

After breakfast we went for a walk along the sea front, along with pretty much everyone else who was in St Leonards and Hastings. The rest of the day was spent either preparing or eating food. I have never prepared Christmas lunch before, though very much enjoyed it. It was the most complex meal I have made with a vegetable wellington, and two different types of vegetable; followed by a form of Eton Mess. The Wellington was great, though I was a little disappointed that the brussell sprout dish ended up being a bit cold by the time I had finished serving. I like working in my small kitchen. Lots of TV, wine and brandy followed. It was a good day.

I was really surprised to see surfers on out on our Boxing Day walk. There are always paddle boarders out, but I am pretty sure this is the first time I have seen surfers. It is probably the first time I have seen a decent even, though small, break. We ate a lot again…

The following day we walked the opposite way, towards Bexhill, but only going as far as Bulverhythe beach before turning back. I took the Polaroid along. I am enjoying playing with this camera, I am never quite sure what is going to come out, which makes it quite interesting. Not sure why I started writing names on the Polaroids, I won’t be doing it again.

As we were walking on the beach I was telling El about hagstones and the hagstone curse.  A hagstone is a stone with a natural hole in it, they are of course, fairly uncommon. Aleister Crowley, the (in)famous occultist who died in Hastings in 1947 once cursed the town saying, and I massively paraphrase, ‘No-one can fully leave Hastings unless they have found a hagstone on the beach, and if they do leave they will end up coming back’. I guess I will be able to leave Hastings, as unbelievably, minutes after talking about this I found one.

I am starting to collect photographs of the ever changing beach and the way the sea changes the pebbles. I really like how the beach is slowly burying the beach furniture. The irony of the sign is beyond humorous.

Having driven down from London for a change it was good to have the use of the car to drive over to Pevensey Bay for a walk, and a visit to the castle; which was closed. I will have to go back one day when it is open, and will then write a bit about it then. Working on the assumption that I will keep maintaining this blog. The castle was pretty cool, mostly Norman in origin; it was built soon after William invaded England in 1066.

I liked the church as well.

There were a few cracking sunsets during the week and I am glad I took the big camera with the big lens, as well as the small camera and the Polaroid. So many cameras!

It was a really good week, and it was a real shame to go back to London to go back to work after the week was over.

It was good to have Christmas at the flat!

A stormy sea front walk.

31 October 2019 – St Leonards.

I had arranged to meet the electrician at the flat on Friday. After trying to secure a date for him to do quite a list of small tasks, I reduced the list just one urgent thing, install a Hive central heating controller. The Hive allows me to turn on the heating remotely using my phone. I need this, the flat is cold now that autumn has sent in. We want to spend some winter time here, planning to do Christmas, and the last thing we want is to turn up of an evening and have a freezing cold flat. It works well, I love technology. Sometimes!

I came down on the train after work on Thursday, it was a nice night so I walked the 30 minutes to Hastings old town. There was a day of the dead thing happening, but it didn’t happen too much in front of me; and I was not engaged enough to get any decent photos. At least there was something happening though, good signs for a healthy nightlife in a fairly deprived coastal town.

I did take a few photos in Bottle Alley as I walked there and back home again.

I worked from the flat on Friday, I get a lot done when I am working here, no distractions, and importantly I am close to coffee and the stereo. It was a very productive day. I will do more of them. I walked down to the supermarket at lunch time, via St Leonards Park, which is round the corner from the flat and is a scenic and largely car free way to get to the seafront.

I have started working on a photo project to document the ever shifting beach along this stretch between St Leonards and Hastings. Every time I walk along here it is somehow different. I love how the beach furniture is slowly disappearing into the stones. It was not the best of days, a good one to be working inside.

On Saturday I was returning to London, the weather was really bad, with high winds and at times horizontal rain. High tide was as at 14:30 and looked to be a big one soI decided to stay until then and get down to the sea front and try and get some photos of the sea crashing on the wall. I also wanted to finally get to see what the sea is like is when it strong enough to push stones over the lower boardwalk. My original plan was to walk to the station via the sea front, but as high tide approached the rain was very heavy and I did not fancy 90 minutes on the train soaking wet. I just went for a walk instead. I got soaked.

The sea was pretty wild, the wind was howling, probably one of the strongest I have experienced. I walked down to the beach straight down the hill from the flat, near the Azure bar. There are often stones on the path here, so it was a place to see some of the waves coming right up the beach.

Almost immediately I was experiencing the waves, luckily they were quite slow and I did not get sea wet, though I did have to make a few sudden runs to jump onto a seat or step. I did get very rain wet though. Less fun, but just as cold.

I see how the stones get there now…

I walked along to Goat Ledge Cafe, which was open and had a few visitors. I took a warming coffee, though I was tempted to sit with a glass of red and watch the sea through the window, but I was pretty wet and didn’t want to sit down for long. There were a surprising number of people out considering the conditions. Though I guess they were so bad that they were almost good.

Leaving Goat Ledge I walked to the nearby shelter of Bottle Alley, the wind was blasting through but at least I was free of the rain.

I stopped to take photos in one of the bays, and BOOM, a massive wave burst against the side, I was leaping back and snapping the shutter at the same time, expecting to get a complete drenching. Not the best quality photo but the timing was good!

What actually came through was a mere trickle of the wall of water that hit sea wall. Luckily.

Thankfully I stayed completely untouched, though it was a good reminder of how strong and unpredictable the sea can be. I waited for a few minutes to see if another boomer came though, before walking along to the pier end of Bottle Alley. I wanted to get a bit closer as waves were breaking over the end of the pier.

Annoyingly I only had a 20mm lens on the GX800, the effective equivalent of the 50mm on the big camera. Not the best for close up photography when it comes to wild seas, but good enough for the closer images.

I was hoping to get some shots of the sea breaking onto the sea wall at the end of the pier. The beach is really close to the wall at this point, so I was expecting some decent wave action, and I was not disappointed at all.

There were a few others taking photos, or just watching this magnificent wind blown sea crashing on to the land, none of us get wet when this wave came to say hello, much closer than the last one!

I was wiser after that one, so the next was less of a surprise for me.

I have taken a number of photos using the pillars of Bottle Alley as a frame, today was such a good day to use them to show off that lovely wild sea.

It was getting to be time to go home, it had stopped raining, so worth taking the walk back to the flat, get changed and get back to the station before the next wave of heavy, cold and horizontal rain arrived.

I walked back along the front, the path was reasonably dry in most places, but past the slight bend in the beach just before Azure it was really wet, ankle deep in parts and I was lucky to avoid wet feet, finally giving up and taking some steps to the upper boardwalk.

Now knowing what the sea looks like when the beach stones are pushed up on the path, and seeing another wall of rain coming, I turned up the hill and walked home. Missing the downpour by seconds.

It was fabulous out there today!

I have since bought a replacement big camera. Finally acknowledging to myself the Canon 5d was an absolute gem. After two years of thinking about upgrading the mk1, and 6 months since I dropped it, I have now picked up a second hand Mk2. No way could I afford the £2400 Mk5!

I am looking forward to using it.

The Polaroid.

24 September 2019 – London and St Leonards.

In May I attended a photography workshop in the North Yorkshire Dales where we primarily used Polaroid and Instax cameras to make images. I had a lot of fun that day and have wanted an instant camera ever since. It was my birthday last week and that want became a reality as El picked me one up from ebay. A Polaroid Impulse AF. My first ever instant camera.  A plastic  work  of art.

First made in 1988, this is a proper vintage Polaroid camera, and it certainly looks it. I am not sure when this one was made, but you can buy them new from Polaroid Originals, a company started in 2017 by the Impossible Project. I don’t think this one is terribly new. The Impossible Project is Dutch company founded in 2008 when Polaroid announced they were no longer going to make the film they were so famous for. Impossible Project bought one of the manufacturing plants and continued to make the film, before restarting the brand and releasing new cameras.

I was surprised to find the camera had a film in it with some shots left. I had to test it out immediately, so snapped a photo of El sitting on the couch. She was a bit quizzical about the whole thing.

Coinciding with the arrival of the new camera and my birthday, and not directly related, was the separate arrivals of my sister and my daughter. My sister is over from New Zealand for work and has a week with us before returning home; my daughter is here after working in Croatia and is on the way to a three month Yoga teaching job in Sri Lanka. It was lovely to have two family members visit at the same time, though my daughter did have to sleep on the floor in the back room!

Saturday afternoon the three of us went for a three hour loop walk including a section along the River Lea from Tottenham Hale to Walthamstow Marshes. A loop El and I have done on a few occasions. I wanted to show my sister a little bit more of Walthamstow. I took the Polaroid with me.

I love this section of the Lea; Tottenham to Stratford is a lovely walk with a nice variety of things to see. River boats, water birds, families walking, cyclists and fisherman, old cranes, trees and the river. I was pleased to see that this, the second photo I took with the Polaroid, and the first in daylight, came out OK. There was some artifacting which was fine, I like that in a Polaroid.

I was carrying the camera, among other things, in a cotton tote bag slung over my shoulder. Putting the camera away I completely missed the opening of the bag and the bag flew past the opening of the bag, crashing on to the path on the edge of the river bank. My first reaction was ‘crap, it’s going to fall in the river’, but luckily it didn’t. My second thought was hoping it was all OK. When I picked it up two images came out at the same time, not a good sign. The both looked like this abstract image, which I actually quite like. Having a weird abstract image as the last from a broken camera was not going to be any sort of comfort, and I was not looking forward to telling El I broke the gift she had just bought me. This is the first she will know about this….

Not much further along the river are these lovely old crane booms. This was a good opportunity to test if the camera was OK after its fall. Clicking the shutter release, another two frames came out. One looking pretty good, there was some striping, which is not too bad. I actually really like this to be honest.

The second frame was just the striping. I was hoping this was not going to be it for the camera. Gupl!

20 minutes further on, at the bridge crossing the Lea to the Walthamstow side, I took a photo of my sister and daughter and thankfully it came out very nicely and there was no wasted, damaged frame with it. Phew. It all seems to be OK. This was the final image from the film that was left in the camera. I have no idea how old the film  was,nor  how  long  it  had  been  in  the  camera.

The camera has three exposure settings, I am guessing a -1 stop, neutral and +1 stop. The first film I shot on neutral and it was a bit under exposed in my mind.

The next day, Sunday, El, my sister and I visited relatives on both sides of my family. An aunt and uncle on my father’s side and the same on my mother, with added extra uncle, a cousin and their children. After a very large lunch we headed off down to St Leonards. I wanted to show my sister my flat, and a little bit of the area I (occasionally) live in. We arrived late afternoon, still full from lunch, once settled we went for a short walk along the sea front.

There was a very typical, colourful, cloud strewn sunset. I set the camera at what I thought was +1 stop to let a bit more light in for the sunset, however after playing with the -1 setting the following day, I must have had this around the wrong way. I took these two images one after the other, it was a little cool so there was a not enough time for them to process fully before I realised that they were going to be so dark. I do really like them though. These are the first two shots from a new film, so I am A) very happy that a camera bought from ebay is very good, and B) the fall yesterday did not damage it!

I had also brought the digital camera with me, just in case.

The following morning El and I too Sarah on a longer walk around St Leonards and Hastings, taking a walk up Hastings Pier. Walking to the end of the pier is not something I have done before.

I also took a photo on the digital camera, back over the St Leonards sea front, fast becoming one of my favourite views.

I love the walk from St Leonards to Hastings, under a mile, but the sea air, the sound of the waves on the stony beach, the fact it is not deserted but also not crowded. It is just a nice walk in any weather.

At The Stade I took a quick detour down amongst the old tractors and bulldozers used to haul fishing boats up and down the beach. They were a nice subject to experiment with the Polaroid, though mostly came out over exposed. The sun was quite bright and I was pretty much shooting directly into it. I am happy the way these turned out, and experimentation is always fun.

I was quite surprised at how busy the old town was on a Monday, and most of the shops were open, given this was the end of September, verging into autumn, this is a good sign for the state of Hastings at the moment. My sister liked it as well, thankfully. Picking up a bottle of wine we went back to the flat for a pre-dinner drink before heading down to Farmyard in St Leonards for a very nice meal. There are a number of really nice eating and drinking establishments around, Farmyard, possibly being my pick of the bunch at the moment. London prices though!

I am still learning the art of scanning, the second film were scanned better than the first. The images have all been through Lightroom, but I have not done much too them, bit of sharpening and tone adjustments, so they are very close the original. I am happy enough with the camera that I have bought another three 8-packs and hope to get out with it next weekend.

A most excellent birthday present. xx

I am now experimenting with some leaf photos, a bit of still life for the winter.

Checking out my new(ish) neighbourhood.

September 05 2019 – St Leonards-on-Sea.

One of the unexpected joys in this inter-departmental civil service transfer that I am doing has been getting an extra week holiday, albeit in this case an unpaid week. Things are never simple in the civil service and one of the things that is more complex than it needs to be is moving to another department. This is especially so with all the Brexit changes going on, with staff being seconded and loaned all over the place. Nailing down a start date has not been easy in this transfer from the Cabinet Office to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. However, it is happening and I am starting my new role on Monday 9th, not the 2nd. The extra week off has been good.

I spent last week back in Walthamstow, getting a few things organised; buying some clothes for the office, attacking the mega ironing pile, all the little tasks that need to be done before starting a new job. I also went back to the office for the final time and handed in my laptop and security passes, it wasn’t time for a final farewell; that is happening over drinks next week.

I did go out and buy a new camera. I own three other cameras, none of them work properly;

  • The Panasonic GX1 I took travelling all those years ago, which no longer works, but does have three lenses.
  • The Canon 5d Mk1 that I dropped and broke the battery cover and is so old I cannot get a new one. It is also starting to be unreliable and I have been thinking of replacing it for ages.
  • The Canon G16 compact. Three scratches on the lens, one right in the middle which does effect image quality.

I have been thinking about new cameras for ages, the 5d is 12 years old, but I have lenses and other things that I could transfer to a newer version, a Mk4 or 5, but those camera bodies are over £2000. It is a magnificent camera, but it is really heavy and impractical for travelling or hiking. I looked at the Fuji and Sony systems, smaller and great quality, but I would end up spending similar amounts by the time I got lenses to go with the cheaper body from a different brand.

In the end I decided on going for another Panasonic Lumix – probably two of them in fact, one small and ‘pocket’ sized and a second, more professional version; though I can share lenses between them both, and having some already helps.

I bought a Lumix GX800 to start with, the cheaper ‘pocket’ sized camera. I like it because I can change the lens, which is unusual for a compact.

This week was going to be test week. My post from the gig on Tuesday night showed that its low light capabilities were excellent, way better than any of my previous cameras, which is a good sign. 

Which takes me back to the rest of the week. With another week off and El working I chose to come back down to the flat, with no tasks to do it was just going to be a relaxing time. Walking, reading, typing, photography was all I had planned, and pretty much all I achieved.

My first activity was to head back to Bexhill, and then walk to St Leonards. I wanted to see how long it would take. The answer is only 90 minutes, so it was closer than I thought. It is a great walk, mostly dead flat, but there are loads of small things to look at along the way. I may have to do a series of photos of the shelters along the Hastings, St Leonards and Bexhill sea fronts. I like them.

The following day I wanted to do a longer walk and get a few hills into the legs. When I was looking at the map of East Hill the other week I saw Ecclesbourne Glen Cave, and given my surface interest in caves and in the weird history of Hastings I decide that I would endeavour to find that on this walk. The cave can be found in Hastings Country Park, which I discovered today is bigger than it looks on the map.

It was pointed out during last summer’s drought that when flying over fields of drying and dying grass you could the outlines of things that had been buried or marked in the grass. Sites of ancient interest, some previously unknown became clear through the way the grass grew on top. While this is no ancient site, I have never seen football pitch markings on East Hill before, but this Google Maps image clearly shows ghost football pitches coming out of the grass. Love it.

I walked along the seafront, it was a busy day, I had thought the kids were back at school, but discovered it was a ‘teacher only’ day so there were a lot more families out than I expected. I took the steps next to the funicular up East Hill.

I particularly liked this shadow on the wall as the steps made a turn to run perpendicular to the very bright sun.

Back on East Hill I had a quick look for any sign of the Black Arches from above and was not disappointed to not find them, I had no luck when I was properly looking. The park is narrowish, so I headed off in the general direction of the cave. I was sort of hoping to find a sign, but if not I would use a map on my phone. The first sign I came across was not helpful.

As I was wondering what to do two teenagers walking a dog came down and just crossed the fence, they told me there had been landslides but it was safe and passable. I too crossed the fence; they went down a path heading towards the beach and I went along a path traversing the hillside. Looking at the map again with more knowledge and I could clearly see the landslip, it happened two or three years ago and the path was fine. Though vague in parts it was obviously well used.

I ploughed along for a while, finding different paths to follow, vaguely heading in the right direction, before finding a sign pointing to Ecclesbourne Glen, immediately followed by another saying the path was closed. Ignoring it the same as I did the last I started down the hill, seaward, eventually stumbling across the cave by good fortune rather than by good luck.

I do not know when the cave was first dug out of the small sandstone bank but I do know that in the late 19th century there were cottages nearby and gardens up near the cave. In 1893 John Hancox came to Hastings after his business had been bankrupted in London. He was given permission by one of the landowners to live in the cave, which a door was added to.

John lived in the cave until his death in 1918. He was found in the cave, which contained almost nothing. He slept on the ground and had a small fire for cooking. Though no one officially, or otherwise lives in the cave now, it is well used, and there have been numerous small fires lit in and out the front, along with the sad but not unexpected piles of empty drink bottles and food containers.

Leaving the cave I climbed back up to the main path and carried on walking through the Country Park, it is very nice up here, cool under the trees and fairly quiet, only dog walkers seem to come this way.

I walked as far as Ecclesbourne Reservoir before deciding to turn back towards Hastings. I was hungry and had no food on me. My normal careful planning, :), though I did have water, I am not completely stupid 🙂

I didn’t do a lot else with the week, took a few photos, learning how the new camera works so I don’t have to keep stopping, digging through a bag or pocket for glasses so I work out what button I pressed. I am very much liking the new camera.

A view of Hastings, St Leonards and Bexhill

August 25 2019 – St Leonards-on-Sea.

I have a couple of weeks off between jobs and for this first week I am down at the flat. I wrote a little about the flat and the progress made since I bought it in March in this blog post and touched on the job I am starting. There will be more on the job at a later date.

I did not do a huge amount while I was at the flat; I did read, I did play records, I cooked and ate, drank wine, visited a couple of pubs and made a few walks. I was pretty exhausted from work and life and didn’t really feel up to much. I don’t think I spoke to anyone more than pleasantries when ordering food or drink. It was great having some space to just be in my head. It was great to have an opportunity to catch up on a backlog of posts as well 🙂 I enjoyed my time.

Yesterday I posted about a walk I took exploring some of the weirder bits of the area I live in. This post will wrap up the rest of the week, though as I said I did not do much.

The beach here is quite steep, and very stony, there is sand at the low tide mark as all the pebbles are pushed up the beach with each tide. The beach environment changes what feels like daily, particularly recently as there have been some very high tides and the wind has been blowing, what feels like all summer.

I wanted to get some photos of the sea crashing on the pillars under the pier, so walked along there just before high tide. It was not worth the effort as not a lot was happening, maybe the conditions were not quite right. I walked on up to town for a bit, and on the way back home I spotted this chap on the groyne below Goat Ledge Cafe so stopped to take a couple of pictures. He didn’t get wet which really surprised me.

The following day was a lot calmer and for my next photographic mission I wanted to see how far under the pier I could get, so went out walking at low tide. It was significantly more successful than the high tide walk. I took a number of photos of St Leonards reflected in the puddles left by the outgoing tide. It was really nice, St Leonards looks magnificent from down here.

Under the pier at low tide I was as disappointed as I was at the high. I am not sure what I was hoping to visualise down here, but it was not what I saw. Perhaps, like yesterday the light was not quite right, it was the middle of the morning, so not the best timing, though I was aiming for low tide, not the right light.

I was amazed, though not sure why I was amazed, at the amount of old fishing net and line that was caught in the struts and beams of the pier. There was a lot of it. Everywhere. Disgraceful.

Next weekend (31 August) sees the start of the Coastal Currents art festival, centred in Hastings and with exhibitions at various locations up and down the coast, it is similar to the e17 Art Trail I was involved in back in June; one day I may join in! There are some interesting exhibitions happening including one in the basement tunnels under the closed Observer building in Hastings. I have seen some intriguing images coming from the curators and am keen to have a look.

The entrance to the Observer basement is in Gotham Alley so it was there I headed next, hoping for a sneak preview through an open door. I don’t believe Gotham Alley is the official name of the alley, but I can see why it is called it!

It is also the host of a lot of the old graffiti and street art in Hastings. I recognise this artist but for the life of me I cannot remember who it is.

Though this is clearly a Sweet Toof, a very old Sweet Toof.

Like so much of Hastings, there are buildings on cliff edges, banks and sand stone mounds. Gotham Alley is backed at one end by a sand stone wall and like all sand stone walls this has been hollowed out. A small shelter has been carved out of the rock, how long ago I have no idea, it looks old. Was it an animal shelter or the home to a hermit? I am not sure what it us used for now, lunch time smoko for those who work in the buildings nearby? street drinkers? It does not look the most comfortable.

El joined me for the bank holiday weekend. On the Sunday we caught the train to Bexhill, the next town down the coast. We have driven through it, but not really stopped for a decent look. This was our first day trip away from the Hastings and St Leonards-on-Sea area since I took the flat. It was nice to get out and see of the surroundings.

I liked Bexhill more than El, it is an OK town, nothing special. It has two record shops and numerous second hand and book shops, which is a great thing, and loads of pubs and cafes, also a good thing. We did find a great pub for lunch, nice food, good beer and all for an excellent price.

The main reason I wanted to come to Bexhill was to visit the de la Warr Pavilion. This lovely building was opened in 1935 and is mentioned on numerous occasions in the wonderful war memoirs by one of the UK’s funniest men, the late Spike Milligan, who played concerts here while on training for the Second World War. It is a fabulous building with some lovely art deco features, I am a sucker for any building with curved walls.

On the bank holiday Monday we drive back to London quite early, avoiding the worst of the traffic and the potential for being stuck in my poorly air-conditioned car in traffic on one of the hottest day of the year. It was the longest I had stayed in the flat so far, and i very much enjoyed it!

Exploring the mysteries of Hastings.

August 25 2019 – St Leonards-on-Sea.

The line where the bigger town of Hastings ends and St Leonards-on-Sea starts must be a very thin one and have I no idea what is St Leonards and what is Hastings. They form one larger entity, though I suspect that those who live in each of the towns identify wholly with that place. Though who wants to live in a weird place like Hastings!

Hastings is an old place, much much older than the new St Leonards. It has history, and a well documented history at that; at least as far as the events of 1066 are concerned. Think about that year for a moment, 1066. That was 953 years ago, a seriously long time, yet we all know the events of that year; invasion by the Norman French under William the Conqueror , the Battle of Hastings, and the death of King Harold. Things we all learned about in school. Hastings existed before the battle, it likely had a Roman port (now long gone due to the shifting coast line), and pre-roman bronze and iron age artifacts have been found on both east and west hills. It is an old place.

Old places, ancient places, come with history; and with history come tales of good and evil, of weirdness and the unexplained and unexplainable. Strange things have happened, sometimes those things are bad and ghosts or memories of those events remain behind. I am not saying Hastings is haunted, though over the years it has attracted a number of interesting characters who chose to make Hastings their home. Charles Dawson, the infamous Piltdown Man hoaxer was from Hastings and the ‘evilest man in Britain’ Aleister Crowley lived the last of his years, eventually dying here. Crowley supposedly cursed the town from his death bed, and this curse apparently can still be felt today, 80 plus years later.

During my home hunting I read ‘The Stone Tide’ by Gareth E. Rees who had recently moved to Hastings from London. His previous work based around Walthamstow Marshes had been a favourite read and this one was no different. The book is part fiction/part factual and contains numerous references to the weird and wonderful bits of Hastings.

With a week off between jobs and time to spare now the bulk of the spring and summer house work has been completed I decided it was time to try and find some of the odd references noted in The Stone Tide, explore some of the lesser know highlights of Hastings. My first mission was to find the Black Arches and the Minnis Rock.

The Black Arches are three arches carved into the cliff face near the top of East Hill, from West Hill apparently they look like they could be the doors of a church . The Minnis Rock is also on East Hill, so it seemed logical to try and find the both at the same time.

St Leonards is to the west of Hastings, so it made sense to start by walking to the top of West Hill. The hill separates Hastings Old Town and the new town. Hastings Castle sits on the top of West Hill, and there are great views over the sea and up and down the coast.

Just along from the castle , and over a low fence is a sand stone cliff edge, cracked and gullied; slowly collapsing and being worn away by the elements. I stopped to take some photos of the names that have been carved into the sand stone over decades and worn down by the feet and bums of thousands of visitors ever since. Letters carved on top of old letters. Nothing was very obvious, it was hard to read any of the messages. Note of undying love, going the way of most youthful undying love.

I had read that the Black Aches were visible from West Hill, though only in winter. Summer foliage made it impossible to see them from both afar and up close. They were right, I could not see them from the hill, but there was a good view over the old town that sits in the valley between. Below my feet are a series of caves, that make up part of a paid for attraction, one that I will wait to visit with El.

There are two paths to the top of East Hill from the western side, one is steep and stepped and near the funicular on the sea front, the other runs up behind All Saints Church, I headed to All Saints, I don’t like steep. Entering the churchyard from The Bourne I passed what appears to be the most recent grave stone, it is at least the most looked after one. It had an Illuminati eye symbol on it, coincidence as to its condition? Maybe an early sign that some mysterious and secretive forces have been at play in Hastings.

The churchyard was in a sad state of repair, it is obviously old, most of the grave stones are so worn by the weather that nothing, or virtually nothing can be read on most of them. Some had fallen down, thankfully not many, and a lot had vines and bramble growing over, across and around. I quite liked it. It was peaceful and shady in the quite relenting sun.

Only two of the stones, had anything recognisable, one a broken angel and the other a Masonic symbol.

I walked up the path behind the churchyard, a gentle gradient towards the top of East Hill. I was trying to see any sign of the Black Arches or Minnis Rock, though the advice that summer was not a good time was very good. Everything was covered in brambles and ferns, ivy and a variety of trees and shrubs I am not going to even attempt to name. Hopeless.

Rather than look for caves or sign of caves I was looking for paths off the main track, thinking that whatever was there would have been accessed from this main path. Spotting a well worn side path I ducked under a branch and headed up towards the cliff face, and found something. I am not sure what it was, it definitely was neither of the things I was looking for, but it was a something. A very shallow cave carved into the sandstone, hidden behind trees.

I got up close to have a look at some of the things carved into the face. Like the sand stone cliff edge of West Hill this rock face has been visited and defaced for centuries. The clearest I could read was 1882.

The newest, and freshest, it looked as if it were carved yesterday, which it could well have been was from this year.

Needless to say I am going to go back when the winter has come and the trees are free of leaves and the brambles have died back a bit. I spent a bit of time walking around the cliff top and the paths below, trying to find any sign of the Black Arches or Minnis Rock, but nothing was visible through the dense undergrowth and trees. There were numerous paths and I tried all of them without successfully finding either of my objectives.

I finally gave up and took the lower path back towards the road, cutting up a set of steps to High Wickham, a short road with houses on one side that was very popular with artists in Victorian times. I crossed back over East Hill and down the steps to the sea front. Totally unsuccessful in my mission. Though the lovely old, saggy, Tudor houses on All Saints are always worth walking past.

On the way back home I stopped to take a photo of the Burton Tomb on West Hill Rd in St Leonards-on-Sea and just down the hill from my flat. This is not to be confused with the West Hill in Hastings by the way. So many hills! James Burton and his son Decimus and other members of the family are interred here in this very Masonic looking structure.

James Burton was the founder of what is now known as Burton St Leonards, the area of the town I live in, he was responsible for the design of the streets and building some of the wonderful houses, his son Decimus carried on the building after his death. There will be more on Burton St Leonards in a future post.

That night I spent a little more time researching the location of Minnis Rock and the Black Arches and returned the following day. Realising that 20 ft past the steps I cut up to High Wickham was the location of Minnis Rock. I am not sure why this is call a rock, it is three small and shall caves, linked internally.

There is confusion as to their history. One claim is they were cut in the 18th century, though a painting from 1663 shows something similar. Some say they were built for hermits, some as a place of worship and others as a place to shelter livestock before entering the town itself. I have also seen reference to Three Bears Caves, but for life of me cannot find that reference. Confusion and mystery abounds !

Let me introduce my flat.

May 2019 – St Leonards-on-Sea.

I may have mentioned this in a prior post but I cannot quite remember. I know I have talked about looking for a flat to buy, and I know I talked about the, often fruitless, search. I also know I have mentioned that I offered on a flat, but I am not sure if I mentioned that after seven long, slow months of faff I actually got the keys and as of 14 March I now own a two bedroom flat in St Leonards-on-Sea on the lovely East Sussex coast.

The flat is on the third and fourth floor of a Victorian block that was built for the navy in 1884 to house retired admirals. It was built as six four story houses but was sold and subsequently divided into flats in 1928. In the section I am in there are 4 dwellings. I am in the roof and the floor below in the middle of the building. My kitchen window is under………..↓

The property is a ten minute walk to the beach and is most of the way up a hill, but I can see the sea from the sitting room and the master bedroom and that is what I wanted the most in a flat. The building looks amazing, it needs some tidying up, but I love it and I love this view even more.

The flat didn’t NEED much work, though it wanted some. When I first put the offer in I was planning on getting a few things done before I moved in, tidying up more than anything else; painting a couple of rooms, moving some of the power points, changing some of the plumbing. Little things. However, not completing the sale until so close to spring meant I have now changed plans somewhat. With so little time before summer I have elected to just get the bathroom and bedroom painted, then worry about the rest come the autumn and winter. Maybe doing the painting myself.

We have stayed a few nights in the flat. I have started buying furniture, so there is a bed and a couple of chairs, and most importantly a TV. I am aiming for a 60s/70s look, so the great choice of vintage and antique shops in the area are a boon. I must admit I never expected to be visiting antique shops. Ever.

I have broadband so can work if I want to, however not having chairs to go with the table means I cannot quite work there yet, soon. The intent will be to work every second Friday and then spend the weekend there. We are very much looking forward to that.

Here is a quick walk through…

The third floor comprises a small entrance hall, a kitchen and a large sitting room. The sitting room was one of the two things that attracted me to the flat. It is really big. It was also the cause of the  long delay in the purchase process. The room used to be two rooms, and this is how it is shown on the floor plan I was given. I wanted the floor plan to show the single room as it is now, which has now been resolved. The fireplace and surround are unusual I know, but they definitely appealed. I still like them but I am not quite sure what to do with them. Things won’t necessarily stay this way.

The furniture in this image is from when I was looking at the flat.

I have bought a couple of pieces of furniture for the room, some chairs and a dining table. At the time of writing I do not have the chairs to go with the table, though I have bought this awesome 1960s sideboard from a local antique shop, and the pair of speakers from one of the charity shops. I am going for a mid-1900s vibe, so will be looking for furniture and fittings from the 60s and 70s. Oh yeah, I also bought a TV, believe it or not this is the first flat screen TV I have ever owned.

This is all my stuff 🙂

The kitchen is small, El and I struggle working in it together, but I am sure we will get used to it. I haven’t done anything to this space yet apart from buying my own fridge and washing machine. I may paint it one day, but it will the last room I do. I owned a few bits and pieces, the pot on the stove top is from a wedding present from 30 years ago. Everything else in sight is new.

The sticker has now been fully removed from the fridge 🙂

The hall is OK, not desperately in need of a paint, but I will probably do it in the autumn, it is just a little scruffy.

Upstairs, on what is the fourth floor of the building and into the roof space are two bedrooms and the bathroom.

Like the kitchen the bathroom is quite small, unlike the kitchen the bathroom was painted dark blue and was really dim. It also had the only bit of double glazing in the flat, which was a bit grubby and added to the gloom in the room. This was the first room I changed.

As mentioned earlier the intention was to pay people to do a load of the work I wanted done to the flat before I fitted it out with furniture and settled in. Being so close to summer, and not really thinking that I would not be able to just ring a painter and have them start immediately, I have resolved to just getting this and the master bedroom painted now and doing the rest myself later.

The painter has only been working on Saturdays so this has taken quite a few weeks, but the bathroom is done and the bedroom is well under way. I have had the bathroom painted white, just to make it more useable and give it a bit more space, being in the roof and having a sloped ceiling does close it in.

To increase the amount of light coming into the room I removed the double glazing from the window, the good thing was there was no howling gale coming though the sides of the remaining window. Phew. I also removed a cabinet off a wall and painted the side of the bath a dark grey, a theme I will have throughout the flat.

The master bedroom is really big, almost too big. It also has two sloped ceilings, but is large enough for it to cope. I have bought a bed but have not assembled it yet. We are sleeping on the mattress on the floor, which has now been moved to the spare bedroom while the master bedroom is being painted.

The spare bedroom is smaller, but as you can see below, will easily take a king size bed. It is currently full of stuff while the painter is in. It has the single sloped ceiling which means a little bit more storage space, though apart from the kitchen, storage is not really an issue.

I have a desk for the room, and it will be a second work space for when El and I are both wanting to work there.

I am loving the flat, really enjoying buying things for it and fitting it out how I want it. For the first time I can buy furniture without having to think of things the kids cannot damage. I can buy adult things, and things that reflect my taste and personality. Yay!

I will post an update in a few weeks, once the bedroom has been completed and we have moved in, and when a few more furnishings have been found.