Wednesday 28 December 2011

Seasons Greetings!!

I hope you have all had a peaceful Christmas and we wish everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year to come.

We are making the most of this holiday, (it's our only real chance to take a break all year) and I'm sorry for disappointing anyone, but we won't be back in the office until next Tuesday. So if you can, please leave us messages on the answerphone or e-mail and I promise we will get back to you as soon as we are back in harness!

Our family has a history of Christmas birthdays and I'm no exception. My grandfather was born on Christmas Day, Father in Law on the 27th, an Aunt on Boxing Day etc..... It's not the best time for a birthday, but it could have been worse, I was supposed to arrive around New Year's Day. My father tells me that it was the one and only time I've ever arrived early in my life! (not true of course....)

With my birthday being so close to Christmas, our sons have found a unique way of making it special for me. Every year all of their friends try to outdo each other by arriving en masse and presenting me with the worst birthday card or present they can find. This year, I must say that they excelled themselves. Look at this photo, this is what they bought me.

1. Tealights, because as they informed me, "you can never have enough".
2. A pink notepad, for those "senior, forgetful moments" and in pink because I hate the colour so much and they always aim to please.
3. An economy lightbulb, to increase my eco friendly profile, (allegedly).
4. A book of raffle tickets (?!!)
5. Some out of date paracetamol to treat the headache that I would no doubt have when they all left!!!!

I did tell them that the first thing I was likely to use was the book of raffle tickets, if anyone is interested they are 10p each and the prize is 6 rude young men! (only joking)

To be fair they did also get me some flowers, chocolates and a selection of hilarious cards. It was a lovely day. Hope you have a great time too.....

Thursday 15 December 2011

Vico Magistretti and the countdown to Christmas

Not long to go now before the holidays. As usual we are trying to clear the decks so that we can bring the dining room back into commission for Christmas Day. Because it hardly gets used during the rest of the year it tends to be the dumping ground for surplus stuff, so it's generally at this time that we have to do a clear out. This year we have a bit more than normal stored in there, mainly due to having to clear Mother-in-law's house. But now that the house has been sold, the bits that are left can't multiply, (I hope) so once we find new homes for these last few bits and pieces - that's that!

On the work front we have a few rush seats to weave and return to their owners before next week, all other restoration will start again in the New Year. We're just about to finish the last drop-in pad of a set of three for some Vico Magistretti Carimate chairs, this time using "reel rush", a pre-twisted natural material. We see a lot of these, most of the earlier dining sets dating from the 60's seem to have been woven traditionally using hand twisted rush, perhaps these were the first chairs made by Cassini. Later versions from the late 70's onwards have more varied seat materials. The set that we are restoring at the moment are from this sort of period and were originally woven using pre-twisted natural material, so we are replacing them "like for like". The original seats had only just worn out, so I guess it proves that the pre-twisted material does have a good long lifespan and also that it has been around a lot longer than people imagine. Here's a picture of the old "reel rush" on the underside of the final seat pad we're working on. You can see around the edge where the frame protects it that the material was very green to begin with.

For comparison, here's a picture of the two newly woven pads alongside the old one. It'll be a few years before the new seating fades to the muted golden colour of the old one.

I like them when they're green.

Monday 12 December 2011

Goodbye to the Cotswolds

Last week turned out to be busier than we'd expected. The people buying Mother-in-law's house decided that they wanted to move in on the 9th, but we only got to know about these plans on the 5th!

So we visited the Cotswolds for the last time.

This is Bourton on the Hill. The main street is lined with houses built from mellow stone, most of them look out onto fabulous views across the surrounding countryside. Along with other beautiful villages and towns along the route to Mother-in-law's house, they're "old friends" now. But my favourite view of all was always this one.

Just outside Chipping Campden there is a fantastic 360 degree view across the undulating hills. There are endless dry stone walls marking ancient boundaries, fields and forests, it's simply magical.

Well that's it now, no more frantic car journeys in all weathers. Perhaps Christmas might be a little bit more peaceful this year after all.....

Tuesday 6 December 2011

A smile for Tuesday - George the cat!

Christmas is coming, look at this lovely photo sent by our son of his friend's cat George.

Daft or what! (by the way, he wasn't harmed by the hat, he is probably the most loved and pampered cat in the world)

Saturday 3 December 2011

It's December already

And here is how December started for us in Dorset.


There had been a sharp frost overnight, so as the sun rose through the trees, the mist swirled. It was really beautiful.

I'm looking forward to the 22nd when the days start to get longer again. The short, dark, colder days make all sorts of jobs more difficult. I've spent days recently almost literally "watching paint dry!" All of the hard wax finishes, oils and shellac take longer to cure, even in our newly tidied and warm workshop, processes can take twice as long as they would in the spring or summertime. One of the most frustrating jobs at this time of year is tinting new cane to match old - when? First thing in the morning if it's bright, but if you miss that opportunity, you'll have to wait until tomorrow, it's already too dark by lunchtime. A bit of patience is called for I think.

It has been a relatively unexciting week on the work front, lots more of the same really. Cane panels by the dozen, the odd woodworking repair and lots of final finishing which is always satisfying. Another bit of good news is that finally our stock of "reel rush" in one kilo reels was delivered, (note to self - update the website!) We hauled best part of a ton into the store, so guess what? All of that space we made last weekend has disappeared already.

Another bit of good news is that we have a completion date for the sale of Mother-in-law's house. It will be such a relief to not have to worry about it any more. All the long journeys, cleaning, decorating and furniture removals - at last the future looks a little bit less demanding.