…that’s my home!

A few months ago, I blogged about how content I was to be a tenant. Today, I am writing this blog post from a house which my husband and I, at least in part, now own.

I suppose it’s a bit of a turn around – from happy tenant to delighted homeowner – but we did not go looking for this house; we think it came looking for us.

The first we knew of this house came in 2010 in an email from my mother-in-law when we were looking to rent a property in Gloucester; a tentative suggestion that it might be worth a viewing, although she swears that it was a bit of a joke (it’s a short walk down the same road she and my father-in-law live on).

We viewed it early on in our house hunt and it wasn’t the worst we’d seen. I remember all the doors were open because the heating was being fixed and there were workmen in and out and it felt cold. We didn’t hate it but we had much more promising prospects so we didn’t rush back and we weren’t too upset when we heard it had been let.

A long, demoralising month of house viewings passed. Some days, I drove to Gloucester twice – once on my lunch break and once straight from work – picking up my husband in Tewkesbury on the way, only to be shown round a dismal, poorly maintained, grubby rental property. It was November. It was cold and dark and I was miserable.

One morning, doing my usual trawl of letting agents, I noticed a house we’d viewed early on but had missed out on was back on the rental market so I called the agent. He apologised but there was a glitch with the website and the house was definitely let but he’d keep us in mind now he knew we were still looking.

Two hours later, he called to say the property my mother-in-law had spotted had come back on the market and we could have first refusal if we were interested. We weren’t really (there was a swanky new build in Longford we’d booked to view later) but we said we’d take another look.

It seemed like a different house to the one we’d seen several weeks before. Perhaps we’d just seen the worst Gloucester had to offer and it didn’t seem so bad but actually… we liked it even more than the swanky new build. We took it.

Chatting in the kitchen recently, my husband remarked that he didn’t really understand what people meant by a house with character until we moved in here. It isn’t just the period features (the house is a lovely 1930s semi with large rooms and huge windows). This house has a personality: it has failings and triumphs.

This house has quirks.

It has a projector screen installed in the bay window of the lounge, perfect for that impromptu presentation; an original parquet floor in the hallway, which is so uneven, it clatters like a dropped glockenspiel when you walk across it; a kitchen hob standing inexplicably at mid-thigh height; a cold tap that runs hot water and a hot tap that runs cold water; and my very favourite quirk of all: a pack of huskies next door but one that howl at regular intervals.

In May, after eighteen months of declaring it the best house we’d ever rented and receiving compliments from friends and family, our landlord asked, out of the blue, if we’d like to buy it. This house just won’t let us go. Of course we wanted to buy it!

So now we’re a few pounds lighter of pocket and a few strands greyer of hair and we’re sitting in our very own lounge, with a bottle of prosecco and a general feeling that it’s all a bit of an anti-climax what with not having even moved and we’re wondering what we should change first to make it feel like its really ours…


Adventures in coptic binding

Whilst we were in London for my birthday, I took the opportunity to pick up a few bookbinding tools from Shepherds on Southampton Row. I’ve been itching to follow up on last year’s workshops and to try my hand at some new techniques but I needed some basic bits and bobs. Whilst these basics (a bone folder, an awl, some needles and some linen thread) were affordable, I’d used leather binding at the workshops and leather, quite frankly, is a bit of a pricey material to practice on so I wanted something a little more accessible.

During my internet trawls for inspiration for handmade books, I’ve been drawn to coptic binding. The stitches are visible along the spine and, if left uncovered, you can open the book out flat. There are countless blogs, Etsy stores, videos and Pinterest boards dedicated to it but on YouTube, I stumbled across SeaLemon’s fantastic idea for turning this…


…into a coptic stitch bound note or sketch book. If you want to see the process, her video tutorial is really accessible. Take a look:

Because I wanted to make it in to a gift, I used some beautiful Chiyogami paper from Shepherds for the covers instead of leaving them plain. The papers are screen printed with intricate, colourful designs and I struggled to choose (so I, er, bought a few different sheets…).

I’m fairly happy with the result!




Next time, I think I’ll use fewer signatures (i.e. fewer pages) as the bound edge was much thicker than the outer edge and the structure of the book was too loose but it wasn’t bad for a first attempt.

If you’d like to see how it should look, check out SeaLemon’s lovely Etsy store