Friday, 21 March 2014

I Blame The National Health Service......

Oh dear! This jobbing builder has been in hospital for several days and things are getting out of hand. I have absolutely no idea what Grandpa Roland is up to and hope that, what ever it is, Grandma Jean is not talking to her solicitor about a divorce. Grandpa can be quite a handful sometimes......

But then, so can I. Yesterday, I was allowed a day out of my ward. Off I trotted to the local charity shops, pretending to look for the vintage jug my mother has asked me to track down for her Mothering Sunday present for next week. No jug to suit was found....but a Sylvanian Family barge for £3.00 proved too much of a  temptation. The little grey mouse who is looking for lodging chez Les Crawshaws has brought the joy of Sylvania back to my mind. (Sylvanian Families animals were such a big part of family life when my children were small.) Added to that, I have let the Crawshaw couple and their several lodgers down rather a lot, my health issues having got in the way of their various renovation plans, so the prospect of a leisure craft for holidays for them all was just too tempting.

Try as I might, I couldn't hide the Rose of Sylvania. NHS hospital beds are high with no over-hanging blankets allowed, so stuffing it under the bed was not an option. The bedside lockers are way too small for clothing and snacks, never mind a 60cm long boat. So, my only way of handling the situation was to brazen it out.
 Yes I am still mentally 6 years old. 
Yes, I did buy a toy. 
Yes, I am going to keep it.
 No, I don't have children at home. 
YES Dr. A. you can just take the top of and see what's inside. 
Scale, Dr. A? I'm not sure it is to any scale in particular. 
Well designed, Dr. A? Yes, it is very like the real one my brother moors on the Leeds/Liverpool canal.

Dr. A. is coming back sometime this weekend to measure up the Rose of Sylvania with the view to making his own wooden version, using her dimensions as a guide.

Now, if the NHS wheels didn't grind very slowly when it comes to assessing test results, I'd be out of here by now and wouldn't even have seen the barge. Dr. A. wouldn't have seen it either. So, I blame the National Health Service for all of this and, if Dr. A. happens to give up medicine in favour of boat building, I am not prepared to take the blame! Am I beginning to sound like Grandpa?

As I am in a shared room, it has proved impossible to take photos without compromising the privacy of others, so there are none to show on this post. Pictures will follow when I finally arrive home.
Thank you to Dr. A. for lending me his laptop to type up this post.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

A Visit From Another Potential Tenant.

Recently, Grandma and I have been sending Grandpa off to the pub every lunch time. We think it is time he found a few friends who might be a steadying influence on him and we need an hour or two to look at wall paper, order furniture and discuss plans which we will then persuade him were his own ideas in the first place. Grandma Jean and I agree that this is the best approach to getting our own way whilst allowing our men folk to believe they are in charge.

It seems Grandpa has met a tall fellow called Arthur who is a retired gardener and now needs a new home. We haven't met him yet but are glad to know there will be another chap taking over a room or two on Dolly Mixture Lane. However, if we hadn't sen her with our very own eyes, we would not have believed Grandpa Roland's claim over another potential tenant that came knocking at the door just after he got home today. We would have been suspecting that his daily pint had grown to rather more substantial quantities.

This little lady is a seamstress and hand launderer, so she and Grandma should have much to chat about, should they be able to find a suitable place for her to call her own. Grandpa, being a generous soul, is going to talk to the bank about another mortgage but Grandma is hoping it will be declined and Sian's House could be turned into two flats instead.

What ever the outcome, she looks as though she would be a clean, respectable little tenant and I'm sure she deserves a new start as she has been living in a box since the early 1990s. What do you think?

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Grandpa Becomes A Property Baron!

Well, Grandpa Roland has decided that it is time I stopped making excuses. He wants to continue telling the world about Dolly Mixture Lane and will happily sack the jobbing builder/secretary and work alone if things don't improve! So, not wanting to lose contact with the residents of Dolly Mixture Lane, I thought I should post our latest news.

Feeling sorry for the Not-Quite-Hitty girls in their homeless state gave Grandpa just the reason he needed to persuade Grandma Jean to agree to taking out shared ownership of the largest, oldest and most beautiful house on D.M. Lane. It was built in 1910 and, with me as broker, he took out a mortgage for half the cost of the house with Celia at KT Miniatures, who was selling it,  whilst my mother became owner of the other half. The Not-Quite-Hitty girls do not yet know that they are closer to having a home of their own than they think. The house is, over all, 1:12 but has quite high ceilings so some of that beautiful old German furniture that is a little larger will not look out of place and the girls might just about squeeze in without looking ridiculous.

Mary did enjoy looking round when invited to do so, but she still doesn't know Grandpa and Grandma have bought a share in it with the view to her becoming co-tenant with her sister. After climbing over assorted building supplies, she discovered that there is a comfortable built in seat to rest on in the bay window.

Next, two incredibly cheap houses came up for sale. This rare and wonderful opportunity could not be passed over. Neither cost as much as the 1940s three-piece suit he'd been looking at longingly, so they were duly bought, almost sight unseen. Grandma Jean and I worried and fretted. What was Grandpa taking on? Or rather, what was he buying for me to take on? Well the old boy clearly has an eye for a bargain, because they are both lovely in their own ways.

First, and easiest to introduce is this one.

Marked 'Triang' on the  back gable wall, there was no mistaking the original builders. Very quickly, we sought superior knowledge from Celia, asking her to be our surveyor. The outcome was that it was a Triang 62, probably from the 40s and in near original condition. Hurrah! No structural stuff for the jobbing builder to learn how to do, on this house at least!

Grandpa, Grandpa and the lodgers are even now discussing who should live in which house.

 In point of fact, none of them mind, just as long as they can all live close by each other. Bonds have been formed and Grandma Jean is now extremely fond of them all. She was even more pleased when, to make up for the lack of the leather suit that was sacrificed to pay for the houses, Grandpa presented her with a very special gift.

A beautiful old ebony and gold piano, made by that high quality traditional furnishing company Pit-a-Pat, arrived for her and after a great deal of huffing and puffing from the men-folk it was ready to be played.

Several days later, a piano stool arrived and Grandma was in her element. Which is a lot better than being out in the elements as the Big People house has been flooded, 100 mph gales have blown and it hasn't stopped raining since before Christmas. Now though, Grandma is keeping us cheerful with rousing renditions of songs such as ' Roll Out the Barrel,'  'Rule Britannia' and the Welsh National Anthem.

The second house that was bought with the Triang is home made. Now, round here, many houses were built by their residents with no formal training. The one we live in is 500 years old and was almost certainly built by the family and friends of the people who were to live in it. It is very small and clearly for peasant stock, such as ourselves. There's not a straight wall anywhere to be found, and no foundations worthy of mentioning, but it has stood up to wind, snow, hail and torrential rain, with the occasional glimpse of the sun, for five centuries.

The Big People's House is 500 years old or more.
So, we were not too worried about the hand built thing, until we looked underneath and read an inscription saying that it was made by a 13 year old boy for his little sister in 1951.... but it seemed sturdy and it IS sturdy and also extremely heavy. 

 It was based on a plan in The Woodworker Magazine ( Thank you Rebecca at Doll's Houses Past and Present, for researching that for us!) but errors in measurements were made. Nothing too drastic, just that the upstairs rooms have ceilings over 25% higher than those below, so that finding a tenant tall enough to change a light bulb upstairs but short enough to stand upright downstairs might prove challenging. But, as Grandma noticed, there's no electricity supply there anyway, so why worry about light bulbs?

The little girl this house was built for was called Sian. So it is now known as Ty Sian (Sian's House). The 1910 house is now called Lilly Irene's House because Lilly Irene's father, Mr Hoare, built it for her dolls to live in. After several days of hearing Grandpa and my husband constantly joking about it being the Best Little Hoare House in Wales they got on Grandma's and my nerves, so we decided to call it after the little girl herself.

So, there you have it! Grandpa now feels his property portfolio is complete, at least for the time being. He is strutting around seeing himself as a property baron, though he intends to be a kindly one, making sure all the tenants are comfortable and his houses are well maintained. He seems totally oblivious of the work that must be undertaken to make the houses suitable for renting out. Of course, only one house is truly a Dolly Mixture, but Grandpa is increasingly proud that the whole street is named after his first purchase.

Friday, 15 November 2013

The Missing Builder!

Alas for Grandma, Grandpa and the lodgers, the jobbing builder and decorator  (i.e. me) has had to take compasionate leave due an emergency in a friend's life.
We will be back very soon but, meanwhile, the residents of Dolly Mixture Lane have taken rooms back in Shoe Box Street. In all honesty, I rather hope they will stay there for a few days longer so that I can get on with the structural work and present our elderly friends with a blank canvas to decorate. We will see ....

Saturday, 9 November 2013

A Room To Let.

Grandma put an advert into the local paper. She hopes that the two young ladies who responded might be suitable and not mind that the house is not fully habitable just yet. Perhaps they will see the potential?

But when the two Not-Quite-Hitty girls arrive, there is an obvious problem.

'Errr...,' mumbles Grandma, not quite sure what to say.
The girls are clearly sweet natured, clean, presentable and very friendly, but not at all suitable as lodgers for No. 2, Dolly Mixture Lane.

Grandpa, who was working on the stairs, comes to see who is there. Though never one to be unkind, he just begins to giggle, then laugh and, after a couple of seconds, all four of them are laughing so hard that they almost fall over backwards.

"I'm so sorry," splutters Grandma Jean, " I don't mean to be rude. But we did advertise for a dolls' house person or persons, you know. Do tell me, dear, just how tall are you?"

"We are dolls' house persons." replies Roberta. "I think humans call us 1:10's and we are six and one quarter inches tall. It is quite a problem for us, as humans are a little indecisive. They keep changing their minds as to what size of houses to build for we dolls' house people and, it seems, larger dolls houses are not much in fashion now, so Mary and I have had such a time trying to find accommodation."

"Oh, something will come up, I'm sure. I think the best 1:10 houses might be of German construction and the German humans are famous for sound engineering and house building, you know. You'll be happily housed soon, I'm sure. Do keep in touch and let us know how you get along." Grandpa says, cheerfully. "By the way, humans call us 1:16s, perhaps we should put that in our next advert."

Some time later, Grandma is sure she hears a scuffling noise on the stairs. She goes to investigate.

As Grandpa begins stripping the ceiling paper off in the smaller bedroom, he becomes aware of noises coming from the attic. MICE? RATS? What will Jean say about that! Women are all afraid of rodents aren't they? If those are rats, they must be giant ones, though, it sounds more like somebody doll-sized moving around up there.

He meets Grandma coming up the stairs as he is coming down.

"Roland, I  think I just heard a ...."
"Oh no! Did you hear a ..."
"Sweet little mouse." finishes Grandma.
"Pesky rat?" groans Grandpa.

"Poor little thing, if it is a mouse it will be hungry with nobody here to feed it. The previous owners must have left it behind. That's so cruel!" Grandma says. "Quick, Roland! Go up to the attic and see if you can find it, or at least leave some cake crumbs for it to eat."
It seems Grandma is quite fond of rodents, after all.

Mounting the stairs once more, with Grandma close behind him, Grandpa becomes aware of, not a mouse or rat, but a very small person standing ahead of him. Before he can focus properly, just like a mouse, the small person has vanished.

There is a knock at the front door. Grandma rushes back down to open it. There stand a little old gentleman. He takes her hand, kisses it and smartly clicks his heels together.

"Professor Von Grecon, at your service." he says. "I have come down from our apartment to pay the rent and to ask whether my grandchild has been naughty enough as to invade your part of the house? She is not in our room."

Grandma tries to concentrate. She doesn't want to appear rude, but she wonders where he came from, who the child is, whether they are established tenants, exactly where the apartment is and, most of all, WHY IS HE SO SMALL??? Aren't 1:16 people the smallest dolls' house folk there are?

Professor Von Grecon looks anxious.
 "You wish, perhaps, to have the whole house back for yourselves? You prefer not to have tenants in your attic room? Certainly, little Clara and I must move on again if we are an inconvenience." he says.

"Oh, the attic! I see... but isn't it full of wires ....  and rather cramped? We can't charge rent for that!" Grandma exclaims. "Come in and we'll talk. Does your grand-daughter have a mouse as a pet, by any chance?"

She ushers the tiny old man in, worried about what he will think of the dusty, unfurnished rooms. Grandma is quite house-proud under normal circumstances. But the Professor is just as worried about what Grandma Jean will make of his dusty jacket and frayed trouser hems.

They sit in what Grandma hopes will soon be a bright, warm and inviting sitting room, whilst Grandpa leans against the wall to rest his back, and they come to an agreement. Professor Von Grecon and little Clara will live, rent free, until the attic is renovated. Grandma insists it must be done very quickly as they have been sleeping and sitting on heaps of wound up electric wiring. It isn't as dangerous as it sounds as it has all been disconnected but is not a suitable way for a very elderly man and a small, delicate child to live. Grandma also makes a mental note that she must cook more than she and Grandpa can eat so that they can invite the Professor and Clara to eat with them regularly .... if she EVER has a stove to cook on.

Just as Professor V G is leaving, Grandpa hears a cheerful young voice calling, "Hello!" Could it be  Jonathan, their grandchild who disappeared whilst they were out house hunting, months ago?
He leaps to the window, as the step ladder crashes to the floor. Outside he sees a young lady, a little girl and a boy of about 9 years old. It's not Jonathan but, remembering his manners, Grandpa smiles. After all, like all dolls' house people, he is used to the coming and going of relations and Jonathan will quite possibly reappear one day.

"We came for an interview,"  says the lady. "The Coombe Crafts Housing Agency lady said you had a room to let and we might be suitable tenants.'

The boy steps forward to the window and shakes Grandpa's hand.

"I'm Robert Grey,' he says. "I'm the man of the family, now Daddy is gone and this is my mother, Grace, and my little sister, Janet."

"Robert!" says Grace. Then, looking at Grandpa and hiding a wink, she adds " You really are not in charge of this family, you know!" 

"Jean! Jean! I think dear Ms. Britton at Coombe Crafts has sent us the ideal family to be the tenants in the larger room upstairs!' calls Grandpa. 
"No need for an interview, my dear." he adds, turning back to Grace. "If the Coombe Crafts Agency sent you, then we just know that you will be a perfect tenant. Come in and I'll show you round, though we are little behind with the renovations and I think......"

So, from a two person abode, No. 2, Dolly Mixture Lane has become a potential home for seven small people and, just possibly, a mouse.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Renovation Begins.

Once again, Grandpa's enthusiastic approach to life has come to the fore. Grandma Jean sits on the stairs, happily dreaming about colour schemes and where various items of furniture should go.

 Meanwhile, Grandpa Roland has been tearing around peeling some of the wallpaper off in each room, just to see what's underneath,

  turning back old carpets to look at the floor boards

 and playing with the wiring and light bulbs.

His greatest desire is to make a comfortable home for  his wonderful wife and he really likes this little house but....what is it that is lurking at the back of his mind and won't quite surface? Perhaps when he sorts out what this little niggling thought is, he'll be able to settle down to renovating the house fully.
He goes off to talk it over with Grandma Jean.

'Something is bothering me, dear.' he says.

 'Are you worried about the work load?' asks Grandma. ' I think we should get one of those large people to help - you know - a human.'

'It isn't that, though perhaps I could do with some support and humans can be quite useful, as long as they don't take over!' muses Grandpa. 'I think what is worrying me is that the world is so unfair. Here we are, able to buy a house and do it up, whilst others have nowhere to go at all.'

'We have more rooms than we really need here. This house is four times bigger than our bedsit in Shoe Box Road and though it is nice to have plenty of space, perhaps we could take in lodgers,' said Grandma. ' It would be nice to have company and, if we charge a little rent, it will help pay for the renovations here.'

Whilst Grandma ponders the best way to find lodgers, Grandpa sets off to find me - it seems I am to be the building, decorating and furniture moving human to lighten his work load. Now, he feels he can go to work on the house with a sense of purpose.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Grandma and Grandpa Take Possession of Another Renovation Project.

Grandpa is not often downcast for long. His positive attitude to life seems to draw good things to him. An evening of bemoaning the loss of No. 1 Dolly Mixture Lane behind him and he was visiting the multipurpose site KT Miniatures. Here the owner, Celia, offers homes, furnishing and household goods to discerning dolls' house dolls. Being a pensioner is not holding him back in any way, he is well able to negotiate his way around the internet and was very soon searching through listings.

The first house he came across on the KT Miniatures website was slightly smaller than No. 1 Dolly Mixture Lane had been, but full of potential.

In next to no time, he and Grandma were standing outside the door of No. 2 Dolly Mixture Lane, key in hand and full of anticipation. Within a few minutes Grandpa and Grandma had decided, 'We can do this!'  

A few minutes later, Grandma Jean realized that it wasn't just the work required to renovate the little house that she needed to worry about......there was Grandpa Roland's 
tendency to allow his enthusiasm to take over to consider too.


While Grandpa explored upstairs, Grandma sat on the edge of a dresser, examining the curtains that the previous occupants had left behind, wondering whether the wiring was as dangerous as it looked and trying to decide on a colour scheme for the kitchen. A moment later, she heard him call her. His voice seemed to be coming from outside, so she hurried out to see what he wanted.

 'I'm up here!' he yelled.  
She looked up and waved to him as he stood at the landing window.
 'Come down now, dear. It's time we went for lunch!' She called.
'Coming!' he replied.....

'Did you realize that there is no guttering up here? Perhaps we should......' puffed Grandpa.

'For goodness sake, Roland! Do be careful.It would only have taken 30 seconds to come down the stairs.' Grandma shouted, anxiously.

Showing  no understanding of the word fear at all - how like him - Grandpa replied, 'Just grab my legs and guide me down and I'll hang from the window sill. Then I can lower myself and drop he last foot or so to the ground.'

'When I'm down we'll find a cafe and....AGH!'

Grandma decided that it was time to lock up the house and go in search of lunch, or perhaps a hospital accident and injury department.
'Sometimes,' she thought. 'That man is the giddy limit! Where on earth has he got to now?'

Perhaps it's just as well she didn't know!