Friday, December 3, 2010

Royston. 1st of the Christmas Tour homes..

OK.. so on to more cheerful things..
Last week I mentioned that I was hoping to get photos from a charity Christmas house Tour to share with you guys, and I'm happy to say that of the 5 houses on the tour I have photos of 4.

The organisation that puts together the event is a local charity called the Anderton Theraputic Gardens Society.

Every year they put 5 local designers together with 5 home owners, and the partnerships work together to put on a creative and original display of Christmas decorations for ticket holders to enjoy.

This was the 5th annual event, and it has quickly become a firm favourite in the local pre Christmas events calender.

So let's start with the largest of the homes on display this year in a small community just south of Courtenay called Royston.
This beautiful newly built West Coast home sits on a small acreage of mature trees, providing the perfect sanctuary from life's stresses.

Photograph courtesy of the ATGS.
The home owners searched for more than a year to find the perfect spot and then waited another 18 months before the stone and timber home was ready to move into. Now looking forward to just their second Christmas in their new home, it's clear that they feel the wait was worth it.

This is the sight that greeted us at the entryway.. The soaring timber ceilings warming a space that might otherwise feel intimidating... but which in fact feels homely and welcoming.  
Turn left and you discover a comfortable seating area with a gorgeous roaring fireplace, and three feature Christmas trees. One gold, one silver and one red.

By the way, I know it has nothing to do with the decorations per se, but the coffee table is indeed a genuine Noguchi. The home owner proudly pointed out the signature etched into the glass... found only on original pieces. It is a thing of beauty to be sure.

The dining table was set for guests. I particularly liked the decorations created for the backs of the chairs. Essentially a very simple concept but very effective, and something any of us could achieve in some form or another.  The deep wine colour and gold accents on the table were pulled from the rug below. Elegantly festive.

The light fixture was impressive and imaginatively handled... and I dare say could have seemed a little OTT but for the huge scale of the room. As it was though I think it was my favourite piece of all. The long chains of real crystal came from the decorators own collection, and added a lush  sparkle..   providing a nice counter point to the natural elements in the design. 

Here's a particularly pretty view across the table to the living room beyond. You can really get an impression of the sheer scale or the space.
I should mention at this point that the decorator responsible for all this is local design maven Judith Moore, who together with collegue Alice East used a combination of the home owners own decorations, and others contributed from local stores including Judith Moore Interior Design. Plus of course as I've already said, pieces from Judith's own personal collection.

To the right of the dining area is the kitchen, complete with granite counters, gleaming stainless steel appliances and an enormous central island. There is plenty of room for guests and enough space, in the home owners own words... 'so that two people can work together without bumping into each other'...   Since the units are in white.. my own personal favourite colour for kitchens..  it was always going to be a hit with me. I also loved the simplicity of the design, with plain subway tiles as a backsplash and wonderful granite floors that stretch throughout the open plan kitchen and dining area. But way beyond that, it again captures the relaxed feel that is so prevelant throughout the whole house. Quite an accomplishment in such a grand home.
What Christmas decor there was in the kitchen was simple and low key.. which is exactly as it should be.

So there you have it.. the first home on our grand tour..  I'll just include one more photograph, again not really of the decorations, though there are some on top and inside.
But of a simply fabulous pine display cabinet that the home owners had custom built for them in Italy.
During the construction porcess, the home owner discovered that the alcove you see above, designed specifically for this piece, was being built only about half the required width. Luckily he spotted the error before too much work had been completed, but he jokily points out the the downstairs loo [which is behind this wall] is now tiny and L shaped, because about 4 feet was pinched from it to create an alcove big enough for this monster.

So thank you to the event organisers, designers and home owners for all their help and co operation.. which enabled me to create this post.
House number 2 early next week..
Night all..

Jo xx

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Nikki the Wonder Dog....

Not really in keeping with the usual subject matter of this blog but I can't help that just for today..
This post is in loving memory of our puppy Nikki who we had to put to sleep yesterday.
I'm not going to bother you all with the details.. suffice to say that she was 15 and a half and she'd had a very good and happy life... and I want this to be a celebration of her, and NOT at all maudlin.

'Go away.. he's mine'... 'oh and btw I look good from this angle don't I !' 

When I first came to live in Canada about 8 years ago, Nikki had already been with Bill for almost 7 years.. and she was very put out at the arrival of a new woman in HER house.
When I first arrived I got a lot of looks like the one above [and the one below for that matter] from her ladyship.. unlike her older brother Norman, who adored me from the off.

Norman did not care for photos.. Nikki in the background is sulking, as you can see.
But then Norman liked to nip noses and Bill wouldn't let him do it to him.. so I guess I was an easy target.
Then Bill went away for 6 months, posted to the middle east and Nikki and Norman and I were pretty much on our own.. and over the course of those long long months we fell into a happy state where we all just sat sprawled on the sofa eating chocolate.
I also taught her to walk off the lead and obey commands, like sit, which she really got quite good at, and stay.. which she did when SHE felt like it.

One of our favourite indulgences was always for her to crawl in next to me after Bill went to work at 6 in the morning. Especially after Norman died in 2005.. then it was just us girls for most of the day.
Of course it wasn't always necessary for me to be there at all...
Mummy is quite surplus to requirements actually.
Those are Bill's pillows she's asleep on.. I guess she could smell him, so it was always a favourite place.

So over the years Nikki and I came to an understanding... I was the head bitch in the house, and I made the rules.. and I had HER permission to say so ;o) .
That having been said she was always a daddy's girl.. as evidenced here by her ability to jump and sit on this precariously soft foot stool so she could watch out of the window for his return from work one day. I found her like this, having come in from the garden to find out what she was doing..
Just waiting Mummy.

Bless her.. Nikki awaits the return of the chief.
And although over time I came to be a very close second, Bill was always her favourite.. quite naturally, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

She liked to sleep when he slept..

 And work when he worked.. or played for that matter.

'Manchester United will win that one daddy, better put Berbatov in your team'..
Now that I come to think of it she liked to sleep a lot... and even though we had had her 'fixed' so to speak.. she wasn't always alone..

Please forgive the faux fur.. it was hiding a REALLY ugly Laz-y-boy.
She was an absolute tart when it came to having her picture taken, and unlike Norman who's backside I have dozens of shots of.. since at the first sight of a camera he would turn tail and flee.. she was ALWAYS front and centre when it came to photo time.

Flower girl at my sister's wedding in 2008, in our garden at home. 
She LOVED to sun herself.. and was always able to find a sunny spot, usually at the top of the stairs where the sun streams in through the sky light.
Or in the garden....
Just last August on the now much greener grass out the back.
Or on the brand new carpet that we had just had laid in the living room, before any of the furniture had gone back in..

Dreaming of digestive biscuits, or chasing the ducks at the pond, no doubt.
And she never looked cuter than in this is the last photo I took of her, last Thursday.
She had just had a rather severe hair cut and was feeling a little chilly round the nether regions what with all the snow.. but that didn't stop her posing for a series of shots from all angles..

So there you have it... Nikki the wonder dog.
Almost everything was entirely on her terms.. she loved you when she wanted you, she was aloof when she didn't. But she was our dearest companion and we loved her more than it's possible to say with just stupid words.
I'm going to end with my very favourite photograph of Nikki and Norman with Bill on Airforce beach from the summer of 2005..

Rest In Peace darling girl.. we will always love you.

Mummy xx

Of course Bill has his own perspective which is beautifully heartfelt..
He's such an old softie, and he adored that puppy.