Happy Birthday Me

It’s been an interesting birthday, we moved out of our flat yesterday and our builders started properly today (they had been around earlier to remove the patio and rant about planning laws just before Christmas). The new flat is ‘interesting’, this is where I have to be careful not to insult anyone living in anything post 1980s but ummm, character is a bit lacking isn’t it? Actually, I think there is some really cool modern architecture, take Bauhaus for example or the redevelopment around Tate Modern (anyone got a spare million or two so I can get a flat round there?) but a lot of stuff, hmmmm. Oh god I’m turning in Prince Charles or maybe I’ve just lived in a period part of London for too long, after all prior to moving to our little patch of South West London we used to live in the Docklands, which is a prime example of 1980s architecture and we loved it and the flat we lived in (1980s ex housing association) did not demand the constant feeding of money just to maintain it. We also, back when we were still renting and living in the Docklands, lived for a year in the most beautiful 1980s apartment building by the river, this 1 bed flat was miles bigger than our current tiny two bed flat (as in the flat currently playing host to a veritable party of builders, not the flat we’ve just moved to) and me and Mr. Lacer still get dreamy eyed every time we reminisce about that flat. Ok, now that I’ve proved that I do like some 1980s architecture, the flat we’ve just moved into, not so, don’t get me wrong, it’s a very nice flat, in a way, it’s at least twice as big as our actual money draining flat, possibly bordering to three times as big, it’s so big it’s a drag walking to the front door to answer the intercom and if the kids are up one end and we’re up the other end you can’t hear what they’re doing (which is really odd). But ugh it’s so 80s! Living in this estate, as opposed to the 1930s estate we normally live in, feels like we’re living in a completely different part of London (actually it feels like we’re living back in the Docklands), even though we’re still in the same area. The flat has the most ridiculous uplighters (sorry uplighter fans) leaving the entire flat in shadow, it has a surfeit of windows (three in the living room, three in the hallway, two in our bedroom and a standard amount in the kitchen and kids room, this place must cost a fortune to curtain) and then there’s the most stupidly ornate door frames, moans she who’s refurbishing her 1930s flat with a very distinct nod to the ummm 1930s. Oh and the kitchen, oh the kitchen, I never thought I’d meet a kitchen that made my tiny, crappy galley kitchen (that is now no more, it was ripped out today) look good but I’ve just met it, this kitchen is bigger but the storage is awful. What doesn’t help with the storage is that (and this is so odd), the flat is full of the landlord’s belongings! Now I’ve rented plenty of times before and never had this before, I think it’s because it’s a short term let, the landlord normally lives here and just moves out when he’s got a letting, so there’s like his shampoo in the bathroom and drawers full of plastic shopping bags in the kitchen.

Anyway so we moved and today’s my birthday and I had to wake up ridiculously early to go and meet the junk removal guys at the money drain flat as they were coming today to rescue Mr. Lacer from about ten gazillion trips down the tip (we threw out a lot), we have been throwing out so much stuff that I’m getting on first name very friendly terms with these junk removal guys, it’s getting a habit. And also I needed to go and leave some paperwork for the builders and plaster the flat with post-it-notes. I did have a chance, before I ran to the flat like a knackered she-devil, as the junk removal guys rang whilst I was still in 1980s-land flat, to open my minimal birthday presents, basically a pair of gloves, some money from the mother-in-law and a really cool cookbook from my sister. Now my sister was living dangerously buying me a cookbook, now you’d think buying me a cookbook would actually be a really safe bet but you’d be surprised how many cookbooks I get given which are just so not me (said cookbooks now residing down the charity shop where they should have gone a long time ago). I’m always a bit perplexed by this as I can go into the cookbook section of Waterstones and pretty much want to buy everything (see I said I’m easy), yet my relatives seem to find the few known examples of cookbooks I actually don’t like. But my sister must have been hit by the good cookbook fairy’s happy stick because she bought me Polpo, a Venetian cookery book that unlike another Venetian cookery book I used to own until it went to the great charity shop in the sky, is actually full of useful recipes. The pizzettas in particular look gorgeous.

Anyway, by the time I got back home to 80s land it was time for Mr. Lacer and Girl Lacer to go out because they *ahem* forgot something, when they came back I got some additional birthday presents, a lovely bath smelly from Girl Lacer and Kitchen Diaries 1 & 2 from Mr. Lacer (this was after I’d told Mr. Lacer that a certain favourite TV chef of mine had been releasing his diaries about his kitchen and I didn’t have them, Mr. Lacer googled the rest to find the title). Kitchen Diaries 1 & 2 are also gorgeous, I have been a very lucky girl with cookbooks today, sigh I just love the way Nigel Slater writes and of course his recipes . . . Mr. Lacer will be paid back for his generous birthday present with good food.

So I spent the rest of the morning devouring Nigel Slater (like you do) and then we went out to Jamie’s Italian for lunch (this has been such a foodie day). I had my favourite proscuitto, rocket and pear salad (again) and raspberry and amaretto brownie with ice cream.


What in a way was the real treat though was how close it was, money pit flat is about half an hour’s walk into the town centre, which is fair enough, 80s land is 5 minutes, it’s bliss! Now that is what I’ll miss when we move back, not the space, just how close it is to the shops. And after Jamie’s I did go shopping, with the mother-in-law’s money and you know what? There is nothing like having just packed up your worldly belongings and having chucked out so much stuff you need a junk removal service (again) to make you not actually want to buy anything in the shops. I checked out all my favourite clothes shop and although there was stuff I liked, nothing called to me, saying can I come home with you? Because every time I got even a slightly bit tempted, I just remembered the whole packing process and put the dress or whatever back down again. Now I am really hoping that this flat refurbishment is, in a way, a new start, I think the timing, right at the start of the new year is quite fortuitous, we’ve just gone through the purging process with the packing, we’re currently living somewhere with just enough stuff to get us through the month, the stuff that’s really important to us (for me that’s my sewing machine, embroidery floss, a bag of fabric and just an armful of cookery and craft books). This place will be a lot easier to keep tidy and I hope with the changes in the flat when we get back (and the great big throw out), it will be easier to keep tidy there to. I want to keep remembering that I have enough. In 2012 I deliberately went from two part time jobs to one part time job and I have been beginning to think that maybe I need to go back to working two jobs again (or maybe just find a more conventionally and longer houred part time job) but maybe if I just remember a bit more about the enough, I can keep my working hours as they are. This hasn’t been a sudden transformation (if it were I’d be worried about its permanence), living on pretty much one salary tends to make you reasonably careful with money anyway, it was a tricky transition to jump when I started working again and my wardrobe did have some catching up to do but for about the last year, at least with clothes shopping, I always go clothes shopping with holes in my wardrobe specifically in mind and have more fun trying to find ‘the perfect white shirt’ or ‘the perfect blazer’. At the moment I’m looking for ‘the perfect casual tops’, as my wardrobe has too many T-shirts and I’m beginning to think late 30s, maybe cut back a little on the T-shirts. I’m also looking for ‘the perfect cord mini’ but I have a sneaky suspicion ‘the perfect cord mini’ is in my head and I’m going to have to sew it, I think ‘the perfect casual tops’ may also be in my head to and will also need to be sewn because I did look today and I couldn’t find anything ‘just right’.

Anyway, after the abortive shopping (actually it wasn’t that abortive, I bought some craft supplies), I unfortunately couldn’t walk the 5 minutes back ‘home’ as I needed to go and see if we had any post back at ‘proper home’ aka see if I had any birthday cards, there was one, don’t laugh. But I had an even better birthday treat, to discover that our builders had already taken out our kitchen and bathroom, I have yet to see our builders actually build anything but the speed at which they’ve removed the patio, kitchen and bathroom makes me think they must be really good demolishers.

When I got back to 80s land I had an email from the builders with a not so birthday treat, our joists need reinforcing and whoever laid our bathroom floor (as in the actual floor and not the tiles) obviously didn’t know how to lay a floor, like I say, our flat swallows money.


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