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!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Grandpa and Grandma Crayshaw Come to Dolly Mixture Lane.

I had a dolls' house as a child. It was one of my most treasured possessions and I was so very sad when my parents gave it away. Only my Aunt Jean and Uncle Roland sympathized with my feeling of loss and, over forty-five years later, I inherited Aunt Jean's own little house, another 1:16 house of the type that has become known as a Dolly Mixture.

Not realizing how special they would become, I asked Robin Britton, of Coombe Crafts, to make two little residents and Grandpa Roland Crayshaw and Grandma Jean Crayshaw came to live in the house. Though the first house, having been stored for decades in a damp garage, turned out to be so riddled with woodworm and affected by damp that it could not be saved, these two little people have taken on lives of their own and this blog is to tell the story of the renovation of another home for them and perhaps the growth of the little community of dolls in their respective homes down Dolly Mixture Lane. Number 1 Dolly Mixture Lane is gone, but a new house to be refurbished hs just arrived and the old couple are keen to begin work on their new property.

 We hope you will join us as we try to work our way up from blunderers to reasonably accomplished builders, renovators and interior designers of  1:16  and 1:12 houses. We know it will be a long, slow process but, with Grandpa's boundless enthusiasm, Grandma's sensible approach to life and me just following along and doing as they tell me, we think there might be very few dull moments!

 As Grandpa says, the joy of being a doll is that, unless one falls into the hands of a less than gentle human child, one stays the same age forever and time is not a problem. Though I may be less fortunate, in terms of  aging, I hope to have many years to work as their jobbing builder/decorator. We would be honoured if you would keep us company.