Last Sunday we discovered the new flat has fleas, and that we’ve infected the current flat we rent. Rubbish! After a lot of frantic phone calls, an epic amount of hoovering and a short bout of tears we decided to take our minds off the hideousness and head to IKEA to try and choose a sofa.

Our current sofa in the rented flat is HIDEOUS. Not only is it ugly, it’s also the most uncomfortable sofa in the world, with that weird velvety material that means even if you slouch your clothes stay stuck to it in a very upright position. We regularly choose to sit on the floor as opposed to torturing ourselves on the sofa. In short, we can’t WAIT to get a new one, and we have one criteria – comfort.

I’ve had my eye on the Karlstad sofa at Ikea for a while. After sitting on it at various friends houses and even sleeping on it a few times, i can vouch for its comfort. I also don’t mind the way it looks. There’s just one this I hate about it – the legs. It comes with these awful beech square legs that are just so….IKEA. But, I had already found a website called Pretty Pegs that sells replacement legs for IKEA sofas and could get some to match our mid-century teak dining table. Sofa conundrum solved! Or so I thought.

KARLSTAD Three-seat sofa IKEA A range of coordinated covers makes it easy for you to give your furniture a new look.When we walked into the store on Sunday, Mr Harriet sat on the Karlstad and immeadiately declared it the most uncomfortable sofa he’d ever sat on. Cue panic.

Until we sat on the Kivik. The wider arms, lack of legs, and squatter shape mean I like the style of it a lot less. The 20cm extra width (mostly from its excessively wide arms) will mean it dominates our tiny living room. But boy is it comfy. I mean, we could lie on that sofa through our Game of Thrones box set and not have to get up once to twist our clothes back or find a comfier position. But damn, I just wish it was prettier…

KIVIK Three-seat sofa IKEA KIVIK is a generous seating series with a soft, deep seat and comfortable support for your back.

This has led to all out war in out flat. Boys vs Girls, Kivik vs Karlstad. I’ve even set up a Pinterest board to try and help me decide. What do you think?

UPDATE: WE HAVE A WINNER (And it’s neither of the one’s above!)


As of July we decided that compromise is the only way this war will end. Enter the John Lewis Bailey – with it’s square shape like the Karlstad and the higher back like the Kivik it’s the comfiest of the three and best looking by far. Unfortunately for us we could have bought both Ikea sofa’s for the same price. But I held out and found one we like in the sale! YAY. It’ll take a few weeks to be delivered but I can’t wait to start watching Orange is the New Black on it!


Oh buying a leasehold! The pros and cons of leasehold flats

We’ve been buying a house since January 2nd, and one of the reasons it’s been taking so long is because it’s a leasehold property.

Leasehold is different to freehold as you only ‘rent’ the ground the property sits on, you don’t own it and you will only own the property for a certain length of time- determined by how many years are left on the lease.

Most flats, like the one we’re buying, are a leasehold. And normally buying a leasehold property isn’t a problem as the flat has lots of time left on the lease. But if the lease has less than 70 years left before it expires then a bank may not be willing to give you a mortgage – and then it becomes a BIG problem.

As we found out when we were looking at ours. Everyone makes it sound like it’s a very easy process too but no one really explains what happens so when we agreed to buy our property with a short lease, we were doing so blind.  This post is about the process we went through, and hopefully gives some advice on what to expect if you’re going to buy a leasehold property or planning on extending a lease. If you’re not doing either of those things then you’ll probably find the rest of this post very boring. So i’d switch off now if I were you.

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Oh Matchbox Pinhole Photography!


The iconic cooling towers of Didcot A power station are due to be demolished this month or next. Now, I know they aren’t the prettiest of things but there’s something really comforting about seeing the red lights in the distance on a long journey and knowing you’re nearly home.

Since we’re buying our first home in Didcot, and I’ve grown slightly partial to their looming presence outside my window, I wanted to memorialise them somehow as a piece of art. I knew I didn’t want just a standard photo of them. I decided I wanted to try and take a pinhole photograph of the towers.

I tried a few pinhole photographs at school, and one of my pictures (of a coke bottle on the school roof – not quite revolutionary!) is up in my bedroom now so I know I like how they look and remembered it being quite fun and easy. The only problem is I don’t have a dark room…

After searching the internet i found this tutorial which talks you through the stages of making a pinhole camera out of two rolls of film (one empty) and a matchbox. This technique allows you to roll the film, once it’s finished, back into the cannister and take it to a place that develops photos. PROBLEM SOLVED! The camera also seems to take quite nice pictures – you can see some examples on the matchbox pinhole group on Flikr — if you use it properly so I thought I could probably get something worthy of my walls out of it.

So I went to Boots, who kindly offered me lots of empty rolls of film, then gathered everything else together and started to make the camera…

photo 1

The process is really simple and the instructions were really clear so when I sat down at 10pm to make the camera I thought i would be an easy project. Here’s the first few steps:

Everything was going swimmingly until I had taped the camera entirely shut and went to wind the film on for the first time… Nothing happened. I had taped the whole thing so tightly shut that not a single piece of the camera could move.

This was quite lucky though as in undoing the tape I found the clicker had ripped my film and so I replaced that (using a ring binder this time that we dug out from somewhere) and then carefully taped the camera back up, checking with each bit of tape that I could still wind it on and hear the ‘click’.

photo 10


These were a couple of other problems I came up against:

  1. Even with a sharp knife the hollow nature of the matchbox made it really hard to get clean edges on the square which frames the photo, which means I will have a rough edge to my photos.
  2. It is actually really hard to jab a pin into metal repeatedly. I gave up on the ‘twist and drill’ technique as it wasn’t achieving anything and instead chose to put a cushioned nail file (which I used to file the aluminium so it was quite thin) on top of the needle and gently hammer it through the metal until I saw light.
  3.  I have no idea if the hole i made was big enough. I could see light through it, but i just didn’t trust it when it was eventually taped to the camera
  4. The say you can use any piece of thin circular plastic for a clicker. It’s a trap. Don’t use anything that isn’t a plastic binder. I originally cut the plastic ring off the top of a water bottle (the bit that the lid is attached to so you know it’s secure when you open it) and this tore my film. Loads of the film (ok, about one frames worth).
  5. By the time i’d made the camera I’d exposed loads of the film, so I think my first few shots are going to be white outs…
  6. It’s really hard trying to get the shutter up and down without shaking the whole thing, so my photos will probably be quite blurry.

Anyway, I took my finished camera out on Sunday when we did a 10 mile hike through the countryside to Little Wittenham and The Clumps. I’ve been playing around with my exposure times and making notes of what I’ve done each time so when l get the film developed I’ll know what worked best. I’ve only taken about 15 shots so far, so there’s still lots of film left to use up before I get any of the shots developed but hopefully they’ll look good – I’ll put them up when I get them back!

matchbox camera


Ohh vintage dresses!

This weekend my mum and aunt held a party in my parent’s garden to celebrate my Grandad’s 80th. It was a brilliant day but last week I was having a panic about what to wear.

Having searched Asos/Topshop/ my own wardrobe I was desperate. Everything was pastel coloured or looked like something a 3 year-old would wear.

Does anyone else have the problem that they only really suit black clothes so summer dressing is a huge problem?

Anyway, as I was walking through the antique market next to the Picturehouse cinema in Greenwich (an area of the market that got a bit rubbish for a while but seems to be picking up again) a blue/green piece of fabric caught my eye.

Now, I’m normally rubbish at vintage shopping — my mum, brother and sister are great at sifting through piles of things and pulling out the one gem in the shop, while I’m much more of a fan of places where there’s space between the hangers and you can see the clothes — but I was obviously on form this day as I found this:


The dress was from the 1960’s or thereabouts (although the woman on the stall tried to convince me it was 50’s — I know nylon when i see it!) and was the perfect colours. It even fitted – a rarity for vintage clothes when you’re 5’1 and a size 6.

Although the woman on the market stall hadn’t ironed the dress (seriously – if you’re selling clothes then surely you should make every effort to make them look nice!) and refused to bargain, I eventually gave in as i knew I’d regret it.

I’ll post some more pictures of the party and me wearing the dress soon.

Love, H xx

GRRRR Homebuying!

Sooo… it turns out the last post was a bit premature… The exchange on our house didn’t go through as planned and we’re now left waiting for it to be re-arranged.

People say buying a house is the second most stressful thing you’ll ever do in your life. In fact it ranks only after a bereavment. So it’s safe to say it’s pretty stressful. But even with all the pitfalls we’ve faced, the frantic phonecalls and the wrong information we’ve received this hasn’t been all that stressful. Annoying, yes, but stressful, not really.

I think this probably shows an ambivalence towards our future home, that I couldn’t care less at this point if it all fell through, but hopefully that’s not the case and by choosing not to be annoyed by everything it’s meant we’re not entirely put off buying property ever again (although others have said they would be put off, if they’d gone through what we have!)

This has all added up to mean that we put an offer in on January 2nd and still haven’t exchanged. But this delay has meant we’ve been able to save more, and will mean we can actually do more to the house than we’d anticipated.

In honour of all the things we’ve come up against I thought I’d list them, for posterity, and it’s made me realise that on paper they really do look like tiny issues, no matter how insurmountable they felt at the time.

So here’s to all the the things that should have put us off but didn’t, the money we didn’t think we’d find, the AWOL people we cajouled back to sort things out, and all the barriers to buying this flat that we’ve punched, kicked and physically thrown out of our way. By the end of next week we’ll be in. I swear.

Here’s a list of the things that should have put us off the flat but didnt:

  1. The flat has a grey bathroom. GREY.
  2. The tenants have a cat (I am highly allergic)
  3. The windows of the flat are smaller than the windows in our current flat which is in the same complex (WHY?!)
  4. The lease needs to be extended.
  5. The flat is, as the surveyor said, ‘very small, just very small, i mean it’s just SO TINY’ (I wish I’d just told him that i’m only 5’1 so I think that’s sizest!)

[SPOILER: All of these things should have put us off, but didn’t.]

Here’s a list of the things that have gone wrong so far:

  1. The seller took a month to actually acknowledge our offer.
  2. The freeholder went AWOL and couldn’t be contacted about the lease extension.
  3. The lease extension would cost £10,000!
  4. Once acknowledging our offer the seller backed out of extending the lease (which she’d originally said she’d do).
  5. We had our offer accepted but then had to renogotiate as we realised we didn’t have £10k for the lease.
  6. None of the forms we sent the mortgage company were good enough (despite being what they asked for).
  7. The flat was valued lower than what we’re paying for it (due to it being ‘just. so. small.’)
  8. The flat’s electrics hadn’t been checked since before I was born…
  9. The people who need to agree the lease extension take whole epochs to reply to emails.
  10. Our solicitor likes to go AWOL on the days we’re meant to exchange.
  11. The share of freehold we were promised with the lease extension doesn’t exist.
  12. The amount of money we’ll have spent on extra legal costs and making up the difference between the value of the property and what it’s valued at will mean we could have bought a whole house worth nearly 70k more, for the same money we’re spending.
  13. We didn’t exchange on time, or the day after, or the day after that. For no reason.