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Bee awareness.

I love our honeybees, I could go so far as to say I absolutely adore our bees, but they are not the only pollinators so we shouldn’t just concentrate on saving them.

These little ladies with the remarkable ability to cut so precisely may be in your garden.

Have you ever noticed little semicircles or circles cut out of your leaves? Then you possibly have Leafcutter bees.

Until we moved into Hesketh House, which is a wildlife magnet, I had never even heard of them – but apparently they are 10 times better pollinators than honeybees which is why they’re so important.

They are one of dozens of species of solitary bees meaning they live on their own and make little individual nests. As their name suggests, they cut out leaves and roll them up into tubes inside a tiny tunnel burrowed into wood – and in our case, an old beer barrel hoist on the front of the house with an extremely well used timber beam (seen above to the left of the front door).

They’ve come back for the last three years which is a huge thrill for us.

This is my new wisteria planted very recently to grow up the front of the house and is providing them with an easy source of nesting material – they obviously like it even more than the roses.

The sacrifice of a few holes in the leaves is well worth it for these industrious little pollinators, and I hope they continue to use our house for many years to come.

In fact, our roofer completed his restoration and had the scaffolding removed just as the Leafcutter’s returned for their new season…..a good thing too, because one of those posts was right against the wooden section they use!


#heskethhouseapiary #heskethhouse #BackyardBeekeeping #saveourpollinators #savetheleafcutterbee #leafcutterbees #solitarybees

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We had a dilemma – how to fix or disguise a number of unsightly problems in the corner of the Assembly rooms….  1. A missing piece of wooden panelling.  2.  An electrical socket in the lower wall.  3. Heating and water pipes coming from upstairs to the downstairs bathroom. 4. Another electrical socket near the ceiling (once used in the pub for a television mounted in the corner) and 5. The network cable box that had been dangling from the wall since it was installed a few years ago.

All of the above made for a bit of an eye-sore in an otherwise nearly fully refurbished room.  If we had addressed each of the problems individually, it would have taken a lot of time and expense, and rather than doing that I had an idea to cover all of them up in once fell swoop using a corner unit.  I would have loved a nice big, old oak corner unit, but that wasn’t happening on our non existent budget; instead we ‘bought’ this ugly 1980s horror….

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Apparently these are as common as muck – as I found on my trawl through an online auction site – people can’t ‘give’ them away because the last time I was in the charity furniture store there were at least 6 of these looking for a new home – unsuccessfully!

I landed up with this one for the princely sum of  £3.75 – the seller declined the 99 pence I had won it for!  I didn’t want them to go totally unrewarded so the £3.75 was the cost of 1 easter egg and a small bunch of flowers for them instead.

Getting it home, it seemed even uglier than I remembered and in a house full of lovely oak antiques it stood out like a boil in the middle of your forehead!  I did wonder at this point whether the finished repurpose/upclycle would in any way match the ideal in my head.

Armed with the plans (I.e. My imagination), a sheet of MDF and a couple of strips of recycled moulding, we set to work cutting, screwing and generally changing the corner unit to fit its new location.  Most of the mouldings on the unit were removed and replaced to wrap around the extended side sections; these ensured the unit was big enough to cover all of the problems we were trying to hide – like these pipes and sockets near the ceiling…..

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After day one we had the shell completed and all the screw holes and corners were filled and caulked to give nice clean lines when it was painted.

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Day two started off with sanding all the filler and getting the inside of the cupboard painted.  I chose to use because it can be painted directly onto most furniture and surfaces without needing any sanding or stripping.

The inside was painted the very bold Emperor’s Red…..

I didn’t waste time masking off the windows because it is so much easier just scraping off the paint on the glass once it is dry.  Here I used a utility knife blade…it would have been quicker and easier with my glass scraper, but as usual when you need a tool you hardly every use, it was missing!

Before scraping…..

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and after…..IMG_5869IMG_5868

Next we tackled the exterior in Old White; a good match to the rest of the whites in the room and gives the appearance of a little age…..

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It did take a few coats to cover up that horrid mahogany veneer on the front of the original unit, but once that was done all the hardware was reinstalled and we were done…..

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In the top (this was extended from the top of the original cabinet to the ceiling) is a little hatch which is clipped into place.  Inside is a set of speakers linked to the hifi unit in the base.  The holes allow enough sound through and is nicely hidden away so no technology is visible in the room.  I am now on the hunt for a matching colour fabric to cover the hatch and also create a frame on the lower door in the same moulding and fabric – for continuity.

It is a hot topic of debate about whether the natural wood moulding at the ceiling should be left as it is, or painted white like the rest.  I felt it tied the unit into the beams rather nicely, but so far I am in the minority so who knows if it will stay or go.

I think this was a rather successful project and definitely fulfilled its brief of disguising or hiding all the horrid problems in the corner of the room.

You’d never know that it had started out as such an ugly unit.  A great upcyle and repurpose of a piece of furniture that would definitely have found its way to the rubbish dump if we hadn’t rescued it.

 

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I had a lovely man come in and install a beautiful upcycled oak floorboard shelf in the kitchen today. 

   
  
 Two very old oak floorboards joined and sanded….not too much because we want to pay homage to its previous life as well….and then a light coat of wax to seal it. 

The brackets are so lovely and are just what I wanted. 

The only change to be made is to replace the modern cup hooks with the hand forged ones arriving next week. 

I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. 

 Thank you hubby. 😘

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It has been very quiet on the blogging front – not just here, but on my other blogs as well.

The reason? The Treehouse Project.

This years ambitious pre-Christmas project was meant to be the panelling in the Assembly room, but when I realised that the 5 grand-kiddies were all going to be here for the Christmas holidays, I wanted to make sure they had a cosy space to sleep and play.  Up to now they have basically been in a makeshift room with a half partition wall and no internal windows – a shell really.

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Inspiration to start (and finish) the project was largely as a result of a set of windows.  No, really!  I was trying to find a set of stained glass windows in the correct size and budget for the three tall, narrow windows in the room.  My hunt lead me down a rabbit warren in which I got lost, dazed and confused….and found nothing in the correct size, and definitely not in the practically non-existent budget.

However, my search led me to the most amazingly talented glass artist – Debs Godsall or twitter.  I immediately fell in love with her designs and not wanting to get my hopes up, I fired off an email enquiry asking how much three 80cm x 25cm glass windows would cost.  I was over the moon when she responded with a price that I could justify, and I jumped in feet first and sent off a list of things that we love, colour preferences, location and what we would like to see incorporated into the design – for the rest, we let this amazingly talented lady create whatever inspired her – we had seen plenty of pictures of her work and loved it all – and we were not disappointed!  More details on this in a later post.

I wanted to fit as many sleeping spaces as possible into the one room – not brilliant for long sleeps and late lie-ins, but ideal to save space and have a proper bed for everyone when they visit.  My idea had always been to create a room with a forest theme and lovely wall murals, so this is what got the ball rolling.

I made a few very crude sketches on a scrap of paper and hubby headed off to buy the lumber for the project….

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With nothing but the scraps of paper and the “plans” in my head, we got cracking.  By the way, hubby loves everything planned and drawn to within an inch of its life, so this fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of project of mine really is totally out of his comfort zone.  Firstly the hardest bit – the steps.  We opted for space-saver steps rather than a ladder so that smaller children could also use it but it wouldn’t protrude too much into the room.  We couldn’t afford to buy and so this was another thing sucked out of my brain and – well, just made on the fly…

 

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Next was the bed base.  A simple frame construction to hang from three walls and high up with access via the new steps.

Phew, they fit…..

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We used a french cleat to attach the stairs and allow them to be removed when necessary.  Hubby did a great job routing out the sides and the ends of the treehouse to give a board effect.  A bit of paint inside the treehouse before the sides are installed because otherwise we may not be able to reach later on.  Two tree pods in the treehouse – pumpkin pod and plum pod.  Below is the meadow on the left and the forest on the right…..

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Here we have a couple of rather impatient tree dwellers who can’t wait for it to be completed….

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With the lights installed we are ready for the front panels…the trees, so I got cracking doing some drawing and trying to keep it simple enough to cut out with a jigsaw….

After a back breaking few hours hubby has finished off the cutting out and I have sanded the edges round.  Here he is fitting them to our rather bowed ceiling!  Crazy house were nothing is straight….

Daughter2 and I spent the next few days painting the trees ready for the installation.  While they dried, we got onto the job of installing the windows. This was by FAR the most stressful part of the entire process.  I was terrified that a nail would clip the edge of the glass and crack it or when the nails were being countersunk a hammer would smash them.

Hubby had previously ripped down some very old oak floorboards to make some frames for the windows;  I had then waxed and polished them a few times.  These were nailed into place on one side for the glass to rest against….

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I was SO relieved when it all went without a hitch and they were finally safe in their new location. I am over the moon with how gorgeous they look – thank you Debs…

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The panels are dry and can be installed.  First though, we had to attach the curtain rod and curtains because of the tight space it was best carried out before installation.

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Ta Da!  We are done…..

Some fairy light across the bottom of the treehouse….

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I made a matching Roman blind and pelmet out of the same fabric as the treehouse….IMG_5089

The oak door I built out of the same reclaimed oak floorboards is re-hung and is now home to a cute frog….IMG_5090

A set of steps to match the overall decor with stencil designs for a bit of extra fun; (excuse the unfinished wall – there was no time to install the skirting boards!)….IMG_5056

Underneath the treehouse is space for a full size bed and a cot for the littlest ones.  Each end of the treehouse has an oak beam which we bought as part of a job lot from a 500-year-old barn that was demolished – more decorative than supportive, but the idea will be that a crook is built up from them towards the stem of the cut-out tree to look like the main tree trunk…..IMG_5098

The desk and chair are ready for use.  I painted the chalk board frame to match – we inherited it when we bought the old pub; it was used as the specials board and has sentimental value…..IMG_5092

The reading corner is beautifully set off with a hand painted African animal alphabet wallhanging from the wonderful people over at Hidarl.co.uk.  Their home products are truly special and all ethically sourced from Africa – so worth having a look…..IMG_5105

And of course, what treehouse would be complete without a swing/hanging seat….IMG_5104

A few stencils on the steps laying down some of the ground rules….Feet Here; No Shoes; No Running; Hold Tight; No Pet Dragons – after all, we wouldn’t want to set the treehouse alight if they sneeze……

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Speaking of dragons – here is the one that guards the forest the treehouse is in.  He is a friendly dragon….as long as you’re nice – and good!IMG_5069

A few things need to be finished off in the New Year, but for the most part we are done.

What a week, but it was worth every minute when we saw the looks of sheer delight on their faces when they arrived for the unveiling.

Now, where do you suppose we could find a few monkeys to come live in the treehouse?  Oh, I know….we have 5 already.

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Step 1

To clean off all this….

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…you need all this…

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Collect all the tools you will need.  I have industrial strength paint stripper, methylated spirits, an assortment of brushes and scrapers, gloves, cloths, newspaper and a chair to sit at the right height because my wheelchair is too high.  Now the work can begin.

My challenge is to try to get the wood panelling stripped back to bare wood – one section each sitting. I think this is going to be a bit of a stretch, but nothing was ever gained by the feint-hearted and half-hearted efforts!

Step 2…

Paint on the stripper and wait…it will bubble and then you can begin working on it….

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Step 3…

Using your multitude of tools, scrape off the first layers of paint and varnish to reveal more layers…

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Step 4…

Repeat….

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And what we have now appears to be the 1970s!  The era when it was perfectly acceptable to take real wood panelling and paint it to look like fake wood panelling!

Step 5…

Repeat the stripper and scraper process followed by steel wool dipped into methylated spirits and rubbed vigorously over the surface. This removes the reside of soft paint and stripper that remains on the surface leaving you with a nearly naked wood panel – like this…

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Once you’ve stripped, scraped and then steel-woolled the entire section it is easy to see where more work is required…

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From a distance it looks pretty good, but close up you will notice lots of paint still in the beaded sections…

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These are now easier to concentrate on with more stripper and finer tools. Repeat the steel wood treatment.

Step 6…

Clean the panelling with warm soapy water and this is gives you and idea of what the Edwardian panelling should look like after it is all waxed…

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One beautiful panel in-between a LOT of thorns…

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I have calculated that if I do just 1 panel per week this will take me 17 weeks to complete! Gulp!  On the bright side, I only have half the room to do because we did the other half of the room more than a year ago – before my injury took me out of the restoration game.

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My newest and favourite tool for restoring antique panelling? A discarded swab holder from an operating theatre – to hold the steel wool and really scrub between those grooves…

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Every little bit of help counts when there is this much work involved.

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I was just heading downstairs and as I came round the corner there was an obstruction in my path – this is what I was faced with…..

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….mmmm; not the usual thing having a sword protruding from your wall!

I think perhaps it is a good indication that we need to do some restoration in this part of the house; so thank you to our youngest granddaughter – Baby Boudica – for pointing this out to us 🙂

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This was not the sort of love that hits you like a ton of bricks, all at once; but rather one that grew with time and knowledge.

I must confess – after all I am a VERY happily married woman of 35 years! – I have many loves, but today I need to tell you about my love for ACV….that’s Apple Cider Vinegar to anyone not versed in the language of all things vinegar.

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It started off slowly many years ago when I heard someone speaking about this wonder cure-all on a radio programme.  I had to try it of course – and that is how it all began.

It started off small – a little bit here, a little bit there – what harm could there be?  The problem is that before I knew it I was deeply, madly in love with all the benefits!

Now I can’t do without it….I am addicted!  But hey ho!  I’m okay with that; it may annoy the rest of the family a little because slowly one shop bought product after another is being replaced with ACV.  Live with it!!!!

Like any truly great love affair, it isn’t always a bed of roses.  Take my gorgeous, wonderful, amazing, hubby….he does a couple of things that annoy me – not always, but usually when I am already annoyed about something else – sound familiar?

Today, I must confess, I had words….with ACV;  I had just finished washing my really long hair and proceeded with my usual ritual of homemade shampoo and ended it all with a spritz of ACV for detangling.  This isn’t usually a sticking point for us, but today, I wasn’t giving ACV my full attention and it retaliated…by spraying me in the eye…how rude!  Like most of us, I was a little too quick with the accusations, but then I realised, hey, it was my fault, get over yourself, remember all the good things, they out-weigh one little mishap surely?

Okay, I’ve had time to reflect and reconsider….now my hair is tangle free, smooth and shiny….all is forgiven; after all, like all real loves, we choose to overlook the minor imperfections and rather concentrate on all the huge perfections!

If you don’t believe me, here are just a few places with information for you to research for yourself….

Here

Here

Here

and Here

Come on, begin you own love affair with ACV 🙂

 

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