Tag Archives: Kit Domino

The Grand Reveal

Drum roll, please. For today is the day I can finally unveil the new lounge and dining room. Yes, we’ve finished! Well, almost. We’re waiting on new patio doors to the rear and then we can buy new blinds but until then, it is with great relief we are back to normal and sitting comfortably.

Although it doesn’t show in the photos, the chimney breast has sparkles in the paint; not a great deal but enough for our liking, as has the wallpaper. The rest of the walls are plain pale grey. I admit I was dubious of the colour at first, as it is such a marked changed from our usual taste and I thought it would look cold. It doesn’t. Dave was worried in case the wooden floor would be cold too as opposed to carpet on our concrete floors, but again, it feels warm to walk on, and I quite often find him walking around in bare feet.

He’s worked incredibly hard. He’s done everything with the exception of the plastering and hanging the wallpaper either side of the chimney breast – that was my job as he’s never hung a strip of paper in his life. And I have to say for what are two small walls with no sockets or fiddly bits to cut around, it was the most expensive paper I’ve hung and the most difficult. An absolute nightmare. And never again am I ever hanging another strip. Dave knocked down the tired and space-filling stone fireplace, allowing me to take the first swipe with the sledgehammer, he’s done all the painting, laid the flooring throughout and fitted new skirting boards as well as humping and retrieving our furniture from storage, with the help of a man with a van. It’s such a joy to be able to sit in our own chairs once more. We’d really had enough of sitting on stiff, unforgiving garden chairs.

The photos don’t really do the rooms justice, particularly today when it’s cold and wet outside so the lighting inside isn’t very good. I did turn on our new overhead lights to take them, but they were too bright so I hope you get the idea.

So now to relax and enjoy Christmas. And taking this opportunity to wish you all a safe, happy and fun-filled time.

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Talking of Friends…

A long, long time ago (1965) in a city far, far away (London, England) two little girls (well…11-year-olds) met for the first time. It was the first day at senior school for both and, as you’ve probably guessed, one of those girls was me. I didn’t want to be at this prestigious grammar school. I knew no-one in my form, although three other friends from junior school had, like me, won their place there, they were in different houses and our paths rarely crossed.

Me 1965

Me, September 1965 (don’t laugh!)

If my memory serves me right, I was sitting at the double desk by the window three rows from the back of the class, when Anne approached, looking equally as lost as I felt, to ask if she could sit next to me. We became good friends and for four years always spent our lesson breaks and lunchtimes together. I went to her home maybe once or twice, but she lived too far away for us to spend any time out of school together. We were alike in many ways, shared the same interests, shared almost the same birthday (hers is the day after mine!) and both felt out of place and unhappy at school.

Four years later, a mix up occurred with another pupil who had the same initial and surname as me, which made me lose complete and total interest in school. I hated it and left soon as I was 15, much to the consternation of my parents and headmistress. No one from my class tried to contact me and I never heard from anyone again. Not that I had a lot of friends there, only Anne.

Many years later Friends Reunited was conceived. In 2000 I registered out of curiosity, found a few names I recognised, made contact and exchanged a few messages with some, even toyed with going to a school reunion but, deciding no one would remember me, didn’t go. Then I received a message that made me cry. It was from Anne, saying that she’d always wondered what happened to me, why I left school suddenly, and that since that day, she’d hated the school even more because I was the only friend she ever had there, and after I went it was awful for her. I was gobsmacked. I never realised.

From then on we chatted online regularly, shared many heart-to-hearts. We’d planned to meet, but we both worked full-time and she lived some distance away. Life, work and tragedy seemed always to conspire against us meeting again. When I retired from work, I intended to drive down and see her, I had no excuse, but a few weeks after finishing, I found myself without a car to use. Then Anne moved even further away. Regardless, we made a pact that this year, 2015, would be the year we would meet. Nothing would stop us.

And nothing did. At the beginning of November I drove across the country to see her. The whole experience was surreal. It was as if the last time we’d actually spoken was yesterday… the years just fell away. I’d vowed to myself I wouldn’t cry when she opened the door, but I did, I blubbered like a baby. She hadn’t changed – I would have known her anywhere. Her and her husband made me so welcome, insisting they put me up for the night even though I had booked a small B&B nearby, took me for a drive around the area where they live on the coast, even treated me to dinner. We shared many stories about school, family, life, photos, and laughed a great deal. All too soon it was time to drive home.

Anne and me Nov 2015

Anne and me.

How I wished we’d gotten together sooner. We’ve agreed we must meet up again, only this time I won’t leave it so long, and intend visiting next summer. Anne’s is a friendship I truly value, one that has stood the test of time and one I shall never let go.

A Splash of Paint

Whilst the weather in the UK this winter has been more than a little wet, it has enabled me to indulge in one of my more recent hobbies; that of painting. Recent, because I only found my muse some 6 years ago whilst at a writing “holiday” where, finding my tutor was a stand-in and a person I wasn’t fond of, I opted to do the painting class put on for accompanying partners. I had dabbled in watercolours (dabbled being the operative word here) since school but was never any good. On this course the tutor allowed me to try all mediums until I found the one that was meant for me: acrylics. That first stroke of the brush and I was away! So I do hope you’ll forgive me this little indulgence.

Lavender Dawn

Lavender Dawn

The first real success came when a lady in Germany saw one of my bluebell paintings (my first serious work) on my website and persuaded me to sell it to her. I was reluctant to let it go, it being my first baby, but I did, turning me into, as someone pointed out, an “international selling artist”. Wow, what accolade! She went on to purchase two more bluebell paintings and is now considering buying another. Since then, my work has sold in Spain, America and Canada, as well as in the UK, with several donated as prizes in various raffles and fund-raising events. And, of course, most of my family now own a painting or two, which is rather nice. And, surprisingly, I have sold two paintings already this year – a fabulous bonus!

Sunset on Snow

It’s a most relaxing hobby although at times can be exceedingly frustrating when something doesn’t work out how I intended or I can’t get something quite right. My husband is very much my top critic although he does have a habit of pointing out where something is not right long before I’ve even finished it! And not all I do is good; there have been many failures, ones I wouldn’t dream of showing to anyone, but one of the joy of acrylics is that you can paint over a canvas time and time again.

Painswick Hill

Painswick Hill

Since taking up this hobby, I find I see the world differently. I notice the seasons more, observing shade and light, even the sky and clouds with increased intensity, as well as appreciating colours and the effect of shadows and the movement of water and the reflections it creates. Most of my work is of landscapes, real and imagined, often from photographs, or photos giving the inspiration, the starting point. This is needed as, like writing, one can be faced with a blank canvas and not have a clue where to begin, let alone know what to actually paint.

Hampshire Ford

One great help in this score is belonging to an online art group whose leaders set a challenge each month for us to tackle, often being out of my comfort zone, ie portraits or people or animals – none of which I am good at because I cannot draw; all my work is freehand. This month’s topic is “what Spring means to you” so this has given me a wonderful opportunity to try my hand at a vase of spring flowers. For the first time, I’ve painted a “draft” on paper so I have something to follow although the final painting, I hope, will be far better.

Wish me luck!

First draft

Spring Challenge: the first draft

Gallery

White Rabbits

This gallery contains 7 photos.

A bit late for the first of the month but the nearest I could come to saying “White Rabbits” and “A pinch and a punch, the first of the month, and no returns.” Why? Well, in the UK these two … Continue reading

The Wonder of Woolies

As 2013 rapidly edges to a close I’m reminded that in the Spring of 2014 I shall reach a milestone birthday and able to have a bus pass. Whilst I will also no longer have to pay for my medications I need to take that have enabled me to reach this grand old age, I am not able to collect my state pension yet, thanks to our wonderful government changing the goalposts on retirement, and I must wait another 5 years before I receive any payments. I am normally a calm and forgiving person but this has really angered me for the simple reason I have been paying into the system since I first started full-time work at the age of 15, and have been working in one job or another ever since. Even more annoying is the fact that had I been born just one day earlier, I would have been okay, but no, it seems I am to be “robbed” of 5 years entitlement thanks to the cut-off date the government has imposed. One flaming day! Okay, rant over, that’s not what this post is about.  Let’s get on to the real thing.

No, what I really was reminded of was my very first proper “paid” job all those years ago. When I was 14, I started a Saturday job as a Woolie’s girl, working in our local Woolworth’s store in Hounslow (for our overseas readers Hounslow is where Heathrow Airport is located). I was still at school so by law could only be employed for a few hours a week but those hours on a Saturday afternoon suited well. It meant I could still go to my dancing classes in the morning and after, walk the 2 miles to the High Street and then be on my feet serving all afternoon before walking home.

Hounslow Woolworth just before it closed down

Hounslow Woolworth just before it closed down in 2008

The store was huge, at the time boasted the largest glass frontage shop in the country (whether this meant the largest Woolie’s or not, I’m not sure) but there were many entrances at the front, and two from the rear for its customers. It was also one of the few in the country at the time to have a customer cafe. The facade had been modernized several times since.

As a teenage in the 1960s, you can imagine the counter I wanted to work on was the most popular: make-up, with its stock of Minors, Rimmel, Max Factor, Coty (which was manufactured locally) etc,  beautiful powder compacts and everything a teenager in London during the Swinging Sixties would want to wear. Other popular counters were the records, and the sweet stand. This was the time of the good old days when each counter (actually a stand of four in a square) had at least one assistant and a till (cash register) – no hunting around and queuing at the Pay Here point as we have today in most big stores. 

Typical store layout at the time

Typical store layout at the time

But no, I was given the hardware counter at the back of the store, along with the furniture stand and the lampshade counter. Big sigh of disappointment as there I was, selling rubber things that fitted over taps to stop them splashing, potato peelers and bean cutters and other kitchen implements, cutlery, washers, plugs, chains – you get the idea. The furniture stand had chairs and stools, rugs, bookshelves and small tables; and the lampshades, well, lampshades and lightbulbs. Most of my time with these latter stands I was running up and down the stairs and occasionally using the lift (hate lifts since once becoming stuck in one) fetching stock as the display items and furniture couldn’t be sold and there was no space to store anything on the shop floor. I enjoyed the work, the staff friendly, and I was never bored.

One day, to my utter delight, I was asked if I minded manning the record counter. Did I mind? I didn’t need asking twice but it was nearly my undoing. You can imagine the joy of this young, vibrant teenager being allowed to play records all afternoon, have plenty of fellow teens gathered around me, chatting, especially the boys. At the time, my favourite record was Goin’ Up the Country by Canned Heat, and I am afraid I played it over and over and over again. I can’t remember how long it was before the manager came over and told me that if he heard that record one more time that afternoon, I would be sacked! I didn’t and I wasn’t. I still love that song and still play it often.

Catch the song  here:

I left Woolworth’s when I left school the following year and took up my first full time job working at Heathrow Airport, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Woolie’s girl in my green nylon overall. It helped me get over my nerves of talking to people, it helped with my maths as I was never good at it at school and back then, tills didn’t work out the change for you or do the adding up – you had to work it all out for yourself. It was also good training for going out into the “real” world of work and becoming a responsible adult.  

What was your first proper job? Do tell.

Feeling Flushed

100_6184It’s been a chaotic month in the Domino household thanks to a new bathroom being fitted. It had been almost 20 years since the bathroom was last modernised. The shower unit needed replacing, walls half paint/half panel needed a complete make-over and the corner bath unit a complete waste of space. Dave had never used it. I had twice, both times putting my back out as I got out of it. It had to go. As for the carpet… well, we won’t talk about the carpet.

Eight m100_6196onths in planning. We knew what kind of shower cubicle we wanted but it took me a long time to convince Dave what we really needed was cupboards, lots of them. The old bathroom didn’t even have a medicine cabinet, everything kept either on the floor or in wicker baskets on the windowsill. I hated it. So began a constant round of searching the internet for images, countless showrooms visited, catalogues and magazines scanned, endless discussions until he was finally persuaded. Yay! I’d also managed to talk him into having it all installed professionally rather than he do it. It would be too expensive, he kept saying. He’d done the last bathroom, but he still works fulltime despite being past retirement age – we would still be living in a muddle 12 months down the line.

The hardest decision of all was what sort of tiles. There were so many to choose from, so many patterns, colour combinations – our heads were spinning. As we wanted the room tiled floor to ceiling and as this was hopefully the last time we would be doing up this room, we took our time: weeks and weeks of looking, more showroom trawling, changing minds, umming and arrring; we needed to be sure we picked the right ones.

Decisions made, bathroom on order, fitter contacted. That’s when another problem arose – the fitter advised us not to tile the floor as all pipework for the house (water, gas, central heating) runs under the bathroom and if ever there were any problem,  it would mean ripping up the tiles. Far better to have  linoleum. Oh dear, more shopping, more decisions, more choices. Eeek – we just couldn’t decide.

100_6197But finally we did, and the great day arrived when the complete bathroom was delivered. The delivery chaps wouldn’t take any of it upstairs, saying they couldn’t under Health & Safety rules, so it was stacked up in my hallway and dining room for well over a week. Oh joy! We found one item was missing so 100_6198rang the shop who arranged immediate delivery of awol part. When I mentioned about it all left in the hall, the helpful lady on the phone explained the fitter would take each item upstairs as and when he needed it because of space constrictions when working in bathrooms, which are normally small and space tight. It made sense.

100_6207 The day came when it was all to start so I beat a hasty retreat and made myself scarce whilst it was going on. I mean, what is a lady to do when the bathroom is out of action for a week and there is only one loo in the house? (Note black bucket for use of!)

Now finished, what an excellent job the fitter has done. Perfect!  He’s done all the finishing off, bits my husband wouldn’t have thought of. The best bit for me is the shower. Instead of tiles on th100_6219e wall in the cubicle, we came across shower boards – similar to Formica worktops. These single laminate sheets fit the whole wall: no grout to get grubby, easy to keep clean – no scouring or scrubbing. It looks fabulous. And as a surprise, Dave even arranged to have a lovely chrome towel warmer installed after telling me it would be too expensive to run.

We’re 100_6233well pleased. It took a little over 7 days to install, and yes, it was expensive but worth every single penny. We still have to put the finishing touches to it, buy the homely bits, but as we have 5 boxes of tiles left over which we can return to the store and get a refund, that pays for the fripperies needed.

Next we attack our bedroom, but first I’m nipping upstairs to look at the bathroom again. I can’t believe it’s really mine.