Monday, May 24, 2010

Books ... a few of my favourite things.

I am still tied up working, but as it is so cosy to sit beside a warm computer with a cat curled up next me, between shifts I have been enjoying blogs and admiring internet friends' work on the DHE forum.

One of my favourite things in life is books. I have always been a mad collector of them and like so many bibliophiles have had libraries in the past numbering 1000s. Now I try to keep the collection under a thousand of my favourites with Enid Blyton probably taking up about 1/3 of my bookshelf space and Agatha Christie, Dr Seuss and Mary Burchell closely behind. I am currently re reading Dora Joan Potter's 'Winterton' series of Australian boarding school stories set in the 40s. Actually, with the exception of Dr Seuss, most of my favourite authors were writing in the 40s or 50s, Neville Shute and John Wyndham and childhood favourites  Rumer Godden and Anthony Buckeridge (I still chuckle over the scrapes Jennings finds himself in and always regret that I didn't email and tell Mr Buckeridge how much I loved his books while he was still alive).

Another favourite thing which I would never have believed possible is computer technology. I can remember telling my computer loving husband 20 years ago that there is no way that a computer would ever replace a book, yet now if I want to know something I google and the information is there! Miraculous . . . except this week when it was easy to be sidetracked playing  'google pacman'. The first things I bought online were books and the last things have been books. When I'm not finding books I am reading people's stories through blogs and sites. I even like the computer when it isn't online. I love programmes like Word and Paint, I haven't the patience to learn anything more complicated, and I really enjoy combining all 3 of my loves - books, computer and dollhouse miniatures to make miniature books.In fact my miniature house had books before anything else.

Because I am guessing that people are here because they like Enid Blyton or they like dolls houses, I have made a PDF file of one of my mini books to share with you. You will need Adobe reader which is easily googled and free to download .

Edit 16.12.10 Oops - I just printed this up and realised I had saved the faulty file to PDF! It will be replaced after Christmas. and I apologise to anyone who has attempted to make it.

Five go to Smuggers Top

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I will have a second post!

I have peeked in a couple of times and been rather shy of the followers I don't know. It is a responsibility to have followers. Like house guests, are they comfortable? Are they enjoying themselves? Have they had enough to eat. . .  well, maybe not that. However I realised that I have fallen down as a hostess and would like to welcome you all!
My son also told me this morning that 80% of bloggers only make one post. I think he said 80% anyway and if he corrects me, I'll know that he is reading.

I haven't been able to work much on my cottage as real life and work keeps calling. Of course that will make it easier to catch these pages up to where I am now.
Choosing a house was the hard part. I couldn't design my own, having never seen a thatched cottage I knew I would make fundamental errors. I knew I wanted timbering as well and at the beginning of thinking about it had a very Victorian picture in mind with lots of black timber against sparkling white walls. Then I saw the one I wanted! It was being advertised as a ready made cottage in a dolls house magazine and was love at first sight but alas, I couldn't afford a designer house, not to mention the shipping expenses from the UK. A bit more dreaming and a bit of idle internet browsing led me to plans of a cottage almost identical to that of my heart's desire. Excitedly I bought the plans and the recommended windows.
The plans arrived and were almost all I dreamed of . . . with just one major problem. I really wanted my house to open from the front rather than be open backed. Studying the plans I realised that the structural strength of the dormers relied on the roof and wall being one fixed unit. Working them as they were and modifying them with cuts and hinges would have been possible but would have made the front wall vulnerable. I noticed a couple of people selling this house on ebay and obviously they had felt the same as I for they had made adaptations to make it front opening. Both people were generous enough to share what they had done, the pros and cons and even send extra photos to help me which was really appreciated although I will be trying a different method. The dolls house world is like that. Everyone is eager to share from their experience.

After a lot of thinking and staring at the plans I started to see ways to get what I wanted without compromising strength too much.  Of course once you make one change you think of others and it has turned what is probably a fiddly but straight forward build into something far more complicated.
Because my 'family' has 4 children I really needed more than 2 bedrooms . . . then there was the Chrysnbon bath set I fell in love with. For months I fought it, deciding my 'family' could make do with a tub in front of the fire. A bathroom was out of the question! The bath set won, so I then had to find space for a bathroom as well.  Reading and researching the 1940s showed me that many older homes still had a 'back kitchen' or scullery where the washing up was done separately from the main kitchen where cooking and eating took place, therefore a scullery would be essential.  I had to start building before I found more to add!

Building commenced at the end of February this year. A side extension would hold the 3rd bedroom, the bathroom and a scullery and a small larder off the kitchen. The front would open and to add strength to the dormers, the wall either side of each window was angled rather than cut off square at the middle of the window. There would be a kitchen and sitting room downstairs and 2 bedrooms upstairs with the 3rd bedroom in the extension accessable from the second bedroom with  the scullery and bathroom below.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

a little background

It was a box of old books, probably passed down by our Aunties, that I discovered one day in the spare room wardrobe. Most were of the old fashioned moral variety not seen often now but among them were several Famous Five books and I was immediately transported to a world away from the one I knew. In fact the setting was literally half a world away from the Australian 1960s triple fronted red brick veneer  I grew up in. Here was a place where houses had been built before Australia had even been discovered by white explorers. A place where old didn't mean 30 years, but 300 or more. A place that snowed (!) and a place of thatched cottages and secret passages and beamed ceilings and roses around the windows and smugglers, far far away from my well regulated, safe suburban life.

At the same time I developed a fascination with the minute. Maybe because I was the oldest and therefore always the biggest, small worlds always entranced. Tiny cottages made from cardboard and fruit crates using the rudimentary woodwork skills taught to me by my father. Tiny dolls, some commercial, but many homemade, lived in these creations all over the house (which must have driven my very tidy mother crazy) and were carried around in pockets. The smallest sea shells and flowers, feathers and pebbles. I envied like mad the girl across the road, of German/Dutch parentage, who had dolls house items never seen in this country ...and she a tomboy!

Sadly time passed and I grew up and as in Corinthians "When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things" which included my desire to have my own dolls house.

Life went on and I had my own home and family, but the longing to experience Enid Blyton's England didn't pass and along with that was an unfulfilled desire for an adult dollshouse. So . . . now as I approach 50 the time has come. I may not get to Britain in real time, but the internet has brought it to me and I am combining my two dreams into a half timbered thatched dolls house set in the late 40s.