Wisteria Hysteria

Until two weeks ago, I had absolutely no interest in gardening. Now, I’m concerned that this whole blog might turn into an extension of Gardeners’ World – where I just wax lyrical about my petunias, peonies and pagodas.

After the departure of the old gardener, and a small interlude where I attempted to manage the garden myself but realised that the water supply to the house had been cut off and I had no idea what I was doing (details in last blog here), a saviour appeared in the form of a lovely lady called Margaret.

Margaret was recommended to me by a friend and she offered to come down to the house to explain exactly what was in the garden and what I needed to do.

When I arrived to meet Margaret at the house, she was already deep in conversation with Zak the baby-faced foreman.

‘Is that boy actually in charge?’ said Margaret. ‘He looks about 10-years-old!’

‘I know!’ I whispered conspiratorially. ‘He probably should be at school!’

Margaret and I pottered round the garden, while she pointed out various plants, such as this shy clementis lurking in the shadow of an over-bearing conifer.

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And this yellow peony tree which with a little bit of TLC, could produce more of its buttercup-coloured flowers.

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But how lovely does this wisteria look?

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The saddest thing, according to Margaret, is the wisteria up the front of the property (which was destined for the skip anyway). Because it had been stuck in a pot for years, it hadn’t been able to grow properly. Same goes for the sickly-looking clematis armandii, draped listlessly over the side fence.

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Knowing how lovely the wisteria looked on the pegoda, I immediately started a Save The Wisteria campaign and decided to replant it on a different part of the pegoda.

Cue The Husband (aka. the muscles behind this futile operation). First, on Margaret’s instructions, he smashed both the wilting wisteria and sickly clementis out of their pots (the husband enjoyed this bit the most).

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Then he had to dig a big hole.

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Next, plonk wisteria in hole.

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According to Margaret, water like mad.

(With the water turned off, I daren’t go back to beg at the nearby restaurant like last week – so have taken to watering the plants with large bottle of Co-Op’s finest spring water – oh yes, only the best for our precious perennials!)

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On Sunday, I told the husband that he had to dig two more holes that day. This did not go down well. The husband is fed-up of digging holes. There’s a book called Holes, which I read with my class at school. The protagonist, Stanley Yelnats, is sent to a juvenile delinquent camp out in the desert and forced to dig several holes a day.

In short, the husband said he felt like Stanley Yelnats. It probably doesn’t help that while the husband is digging his holes, I stand around issuing instructions in my role as Chief Delegator.

‘This is an entirely fruitless operation,’ grumbled the husband, as he stabbed resentfully at the clay-like earth.

‘But if I does work, think how nice the wisteria will look,’ I said.

‘Think of The Sense Of Achievement!’

‘You’ve gone wysterical,’ said the husband. ‘And you’ve got hydrangea mania to boot!’

He begrudgingly continued with his digging.

I, meanwhile (in my new alter ego of Margo Leadbetter) was already plotting my next gardening adventure… namely, what can I grow in these boxes?!

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To Fetch A Pail Of Water

This time last week, after being unceremoniously sacked by the gardener (Yep, the gardener we’ve foolishly been paying £16 an hour to – to mainly to sit in the sun, read his newspaper and eat sandwiches for the last year and a half. Details here), I was contemplating a future where our back garden turned into an unruly forest and there was… (first world problem alert!) no-one to mow stripes in my lawn.

There was only one thing for it: become a gardener myself. Despite years of horticultural indifference, I’ve started piously pruning plants with my own bare hands, watering them obsessively, and religiously tuning into Gardeners’ Question Time. I might even get really serious and invest in my own pair of secateurs.

That’s not all. After 18 months of inaction, the builders have descended on the house like a plague of locusts and started stripping it down to the bare bones. I’m trying to not be alarmed by this. Not least because when I peered through the gates, I noticed all the Yorkshire stones had disappeared. Apparently, they’re being stored somewhere for ‘safe-keeping’.

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The good news is, they’ve left us a grand piano. But, as we can’t get it out of the room without disassembling it, it’s only a matter of time before that becomes firewood too.

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It’s probably time for a quick reminder of who’s who in the line-up of characters involved in our ill-fated house renovation.

Prickly planning officers aside, there’s sweet-smelling Jonny from the floor store (details here), who nearly took an injunction out on me after I visited him five times in one week, and affable Gary from Porcelanosa, who has spent many hours with me pouring over every tile in the showroom until a bout of angina nearly finished him off. Luckily for them, we’re a long way off tiles and floors right now – but fear not, I’ll be back!

Last week, I was introduced to our lovely foreman Zak and, after I had recovered from the shock that a teenager appeared to be in charge of building our future home, baby-faced Zak was incredibly obliging and yes, he said he would do everything in his power to retain the cornice in the ground floor rooms and yes, he would take care with the Yorkshire stone and store them somewhere safe etc etc.

‘You know I’m not supposed to just turn up like this,’ I told my new pal Zak.

‘You can come down anytime you like,’ said the baby-faced foreman, with a wink. ‘I won’t tell anyone, if you don’t!’

Anyway, back to the garden. Despite his sudden retirement, I did manage to strong-arm the old gardener into meeting me back down at the house to do a hand-over. This went quite well. It appears we have (amongst other things) a damson tree, blackcurrant bushes and another big old pile of Yorkshire stone hidden away somewhere. Ex-gardener even offered to dig up an Acer bush (below) and re-plant it. It’s the least I can do, he said. Tell me about it!

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To cut along story short, the garden has now become a slight obsession of mine. I’ve taken it upon myself to try and save as many plants as possible from the middle section, which is facing an imminent bull-doze.

Guess what the reluctant and not-so-green-fingered husband spent last Saturday doing with his borrowed spade?!

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(The husband would like to add a disclaimer that this is not his usual gardening get-up. He was about to go for a run before he was ambushed by his botanically-barmy wife and put to task.)

According to those in the gardening know-how, re-planting at this time of year isn’t ideal and the up-rooted plants need watering every day if they are to have any chance of survival.

So, every evening after work (when baby-faced Zak and co. have clocked off), I’ve been sneaking down to the house to water said plants.

There’s just one problem: I can’t actually gain access. This is because the builders have completed barricaded the site (to stop would-be Yorkshire stone thieves and nosy owners, no doubt).

But as it turns out, breaking into your own home is a lot of fun.

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On Thursday evening, I parked up as usual, looked around me to check no-one was watching, and then clambered inelegantly over the fence next door (clutching trusty watering can) and crawled, pretty much on my hands and knees, through the undergrowth to pop out eventually in the garden. Feeling like a criminal, I furtively crept towards the outside tap, only to find they had switched off the water. Drat!

I scrambled back through the rhododendrons and scaled the fence to re-emerge on the road. I scanned the park. Surely there was a source of water nearby? It was the hottest day of the year – the plants needed it!

I pitched up at the door of the The Mansion restaurant nearby, just as the chief waiter was about to lock up.

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‘Excuse me. Would you mind just filling up my watering can? There’s a plant I need to water…’ I faltered.

‘It’s going to take a lot of water for all the plants in the park,’ he said, a glint of amusement in his eyes.

‘It’s only a few plants,’ I pleaded, thinking, ‘he thinks I’m a Mad Plant Lady but I’m just going to have to roll with it’.

Watering can filled, I scuttled back to the house, leapfrogged the fence, crawled back through the undergrowth and… Slosh! … I tripped over a stray plank, sending the sacred water spilling everywhere.

I think it’s time to get a new gardener.

Lawnmower Man

It’s Tuesday morning and I am sat on the wall in the sun opposite our empty house (yep, the house that we bought but still haven’t moved in to. Details here). I’m waiting for a gas engineer to disconnect the gas supply, ready for the building work to finally begin.

I’ve been here for two hours now and naturally there’s no sign of the gas man. A few dog walkers have eyed me suspiciously. A little bunny rabbit just hopped by.

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This time last week I was in the same spot but with sunglasses on, hiding discreetly behind the wheel of my parked car. This is because I was spying on the gardener.

It’s probably time to come clean about what’s been going on here. Since November 2013, I have foolishly been paying a substantial sum of money to the gardener we inherited with the house. Parting with this cash is particularly galling, given that we don’t actually live there. We visit once a month, largely just to check the house is still standing and squatters haven’t taken it hostage.

The gardener has been maintaining the garden for 30 years so it seemed mean to sack him. I’m not sure exactly what he does for his eight hours a week. To my untrained eye, there seems to be quite a lot of weeds around. However, he mows stripes in the lawn. And I’m a sucker for a striped lawn.

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I have never actually met the gardener; I just obligingly transfer large sums of money into his bank account each month. He must think we’re his dream clients and it’s probably no coincidence that he takes three months off over winter to go abroad. I can visualise him in Barbados, surrounded by my bank notes as he chuckles into his cocktail.

Anyway, after 18 months of this madness, I’ve decided to get to the bottom of what he’s actually up to. Quite by coincidence, I drove past the house early one morning and spotted his van there.

‘Aha!’ I thought. ‘Time to find out just what £16 an hour is getting me.’

Resisting the urge to get the binoculars out of the glove compartment, I pulled over and peered through the gates. He was sat reading a newspaper!

‘Fair enough,’ I thought. ‘Everyone deserves a break.’

I decided to return at midday. Pulling up outside the house, I could see him eating sandwiches in his van. It seemed like one long lunch break for this horticultural joker!

At 2pm, I returned for a third time. He was gone! According to his invoices, he’s supposed to work an eight hour day. If he had departed by 2pm, that means he would have had to start work at 6am. This seemed unlikely, lunch break or no lunch break. I smelled a rat.

The next day, I phoned old greenfingers and left an answerphone message asking him call me.

I didn’t hear anything for a week. In the meantime, a large bill came through my letter box.

‘He’s probably back sunning himself in Barbados,’ I thought grimly.

I toyed with the idea of installing CCTV or perhaps a clocking-in system to monitor his hours. I was all prepared to stake out the house for a whole day, if necessary.

But then the gardener finally rang and left an answerphone message.

‘Hello Katy,’ he said. ‘I’m just ringing to let you know that I’m semi-retiring. I haven’t minded keeping things ticking over for you but it’s a long way for me to drive from Otley and it’s probably time for me to step down.’

What?! I’d been sacked by my own gardener. And worse still, despite the thousands of pounds I’d paid him, he made it sound like he’d been doing me a favour!

So there we have it. I now require a new gardener. It’s a coveted role: flexible working hours, extensive lunch breaks, three-months off over winter, dealing with clients who wouldn’t know a dandelion from a rhododendron (but must have the skill to mow stripes in lawn). Apply within.

(Oh and yes, the owner of the house may secretly stalk you.)

Floored By Indecision

I realised this week that there’s been no update on The House-that-we-bought-but-then-couldn’t-get-planning-permission-for for some time.

That’s probably because I became so fed up with the house, I have been largely pretending it doesn’t exist and going about normal life in our apartment quite contentedly. 

I occasionally drive past our woebegotten domicile, just to check it hasn’t accidentally burnt to the ground (which, thinking about it, might not be such a bad thing, as I’m sure building a house from scratch would be easier than the complex to-ing and fro-ing with the planning department over building a rear extension that NOBODY CAN EVEN SEE).
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To cut a long and convoluted story short, I didn’t end up having an affair with planning officer Peter Grant in order to get our plans passed (as I was contemplating in previous blogs). This wouldn’t have been possible anyway, given that after a while he stopped taking my phone calls.

What actually happened in the end was that we had to re-apply to the council for a large single-storey extension under Permitted Development rights: another arduous process which basically involves submitting the plans to the same planning department who rejected our plans in the first place – just for them to confirm that these new plans do not, in fact, actually need any planning permission. Confused? Me too!

The final perverse twist to this planning saga is that we’ve ended up pretty much the same rear extension we wanted to begin with, yet now the council have absolutely no control over it. Take that, Laura Hogg!

In the midst of all this red tape wrangling, I was supposed to be putting together some sort of design scheme for the house. I went through all the usual motions of buying home magazines, creating boards on Pinterest, and re-igniting my old Farrow and Ball obsession.

But then I realised I was completely and utterly paralysed by my old affliction CHRONIC INDECISION.

When you suffer from chronic indecision like me, choosing just one bath tap might take two to three weeks of extensive research, followed by another week confirming the decision, followed by another two weeks worrying about whether you made the right decision or not, followed by the dawning realisation that you might have made the wrong decision and would have to live with it for the REST OF YOUR LIFE.

So the thought of committing to several bathrooms, a kitchen, floorings, carpets, decking, windows, doors, fire places, door handles – basically every fixture and fitting in a whole house – was completely overwhelming.

First, I decided to tackle the flooring. I spent days visiting flooring shops, scouring the internet and perusing Pinterest. Eventually, I decided I wanted a dark wood floor in the hallway. I then couldn’t decide exactly which type of dark brown: a reddy dark brown, a browny dark brown or a dark dark brown.

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It was a first world problem on a whole new scale.

For about a week, I was gripped by flooring indecision. Jonny at the flooring shop down the road became my new best friend. I’m not sure how to describe Jonny: he was like a young Tom Cruise, with slicked down hair and a baby face. He was infinitely patient and never seemed to tire of my deliberations.

But what really stood out was his smell: he smelled really, really nice – like freshly washed laundry. Together, we poured over every dark wood flooring he had in the whole store, while I umm-ed and ahh-ed and took photos and looked at each piece in every possible light.

The following day, we went through the same process again, while I inhaled baby-faced Jonny’s summery meadowy scent.

I didn’t manage to get a shot of Jonny but you can just see his polished shoe peeking into the corner of this picture. And how nice are these carpets?!

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Later that week, I was just down at the bathroom place choosing tiles (with a man called Gary who became so exasperated with me he actually broke out into a sweat and kept clutching his chest like he was in the grip of a bad bout of angina), when I decided to pop in and see my NBF Jonny.

It might have been my imagination but when I walked in, I’m sure the guy who sits opposite Jonny muttered, ‘Oh look, she’s here again!’

‘Hi Jonny,’ I chirped. ‘Don’t worry, I’m not stalking you!’

No sooner than the words had left my mouth, I realised that perhaps I WAS stalking fragrant Jonny.

‘I just thought I’d pop back and have another look at the difference between Autumn Dawn and Cherry Oak,’ I added, trying to adopt a bright smile and an air of This Is Perfectly Normal Behaviour.

Jonny looked scared.

That weekend, I took the husband to see Jonny. This was now my fifth visit in one week.

‘I apologise for my wife being such a pest,’ said the husband. ‘She is very indecisive. I’m sorry that you have to put up with this.’

Jonny smiled at me in a way one might placate a psychiatric patient and dutifully went off to fetch two samples of the dark brown wood I was currently deliberating over.

‘Have you smelt him yet?’ I whispered to the husband.

‘Huh?!’ said the husband.

‘YOU NEED TO SMELL HIM,’ I said.

Banned Designs Revisited

This time last month, I was contemplating a Sharon Stone-style seduction attempt on our local planning officer Peter Grant.

Peter Grant was the only thing standing in the way of our plans to create an extra bedroom and kitchen diner on our recently-purchased house.

I’d already met Peter Grant down at the planning offices and we seemed to hit it off. It was a glorious sunny Friday; jokes were flying, big words were being banded… basically, it was smiles all round.

Peter’s predecessor Laura Hogg – a peevish planning autocrat, hell bent on enforcing her silly green belt law that we couldn’t extend the property by more than 30 per cent – had already given our plans the heave-ho – and nothing in the way of a solution.

But Peter Grant had yet to cotton on to this; in fact, he thought our rear extension to replace the garish blue conservatory would be an enhancement. Could it be possible that he would pass the plans without getting wind of the green belt rules?

Of course not.

The following week I received an email that started, ‘I’ve just had a very interesting conversation with Laura Hogg….’

We were back to square one. And it was left to muggins here to find a solution.

Much Googling later revealed that we could build a 4-metre deep single storey extension across the whole rear of the property under something called Permitted Development – a government initiative that gives home owners the right to extend without seeking planning permission.

I had a light bulb moment. Why not split the project into two parts? We could put all of the volume from the existing conservatory into a smaller two-storey extension, and then create the remaining single-storey kitchen diner under permitted development rights.

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I excitedly rang the architects. They agreed this was a good idea and dutifully drew up the new scaled-down plans to send them off to Mr Grant.

So buoyed by my own ingenuity, I told the husband that I was seriously considering a career change to Planning Troubleshooter.

But things went from bad to worse.

Peter Grant said that even though the conservatory was technically existing volume, we couldn’t use it in the replacement extension because it had already gone over the 30 per cent rule when it was built in 1995 (when no such rule existed!). No way! Now he was trying to take volume back off us. I began to imagine Peter Grant like a giant rodent taking bites out of our house.

I tried to call him. But like a jilted lover, he refused to take my calls. He then sent an email saying that he would accept the reduced plans but would be instantly refusing them. Grant by name but not by nature!

 

I decided to leave the plans for Peter Grant to refuse rather than withdraw them. A refusal meant that we would be able to appeal.

In my new role as Planning Troubleshooter, I was actually quite looking forward to going to war with the council. It might even involve an appearance in the Supreme Court. Naturally, I would be representing myself. In my mind, I imagined travelling down to London on the train, leather briefcase in hand, glasses donned whilst studying a sheaf of papers earnestly.

But then just as was preparing for battle, there was some astonishing news – in  the form of an email.

‘Peter Grant has decided to grant planning permission to the reduced extension,’ it stated.

It was the ultimate U-turn – at the eleventh hour!

Basically, in 9 months of planning hell, we have managed to secure a reduced 4 metre by 4 metre extension, which will give us (drum roll)… an extra bathroom. Oh, and a porch (which I drew myself).

I’ll never know why Peter Grant changed his mind on the decision day itself.

What I do know is that we definitely won’t be fulfilling our original dreams of a double side extension, a double garage, a basement ‘media’ room or a master bedroom over-looking the garden.

Still, it’s a small victory. And right now, it tastes quite sweet.

The Half-Job Husband

The husband arrived home from work the other night. He walked through the front door and left it half open; he kicked off his shoes and left them in the middle of the hallway; he flung his damp gym towel over the nearest door to dry it but left it still folded up.

Welcome to the world of Half-Job Harry.

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Half-Job Harry is the moniker I gave to the husband for never doing a full job on anything. I’m not sure whether other people have this problem with their partners but it drives me bananas.

Half-Job Harry does do jobs but he doesn’t do them thoroughly. He might, for instance, reluctantly change a lightbulb (a weekly occurrence in our apartment – what is it with these spotlights?!)

But once done, he will leave the old lightbulb on the side, the chair he used to climb in the middle of the room, and the plastic packaging from the new bulb strewn somewhere on the floor – while happily reclining back on the sofa, satisfied that he’s achieved a spot of entry-level DIY and his work is done.

Last month, after more persistent hen-pecking, the husband reluctantly sloped off to put some oil and screen wash in the car. He was gone for some time and he returned empty-handed.

It was only when I opened the car boot this week, that I found a big plastic box swimming with greasy oil and screen wash from where he hadn’t secured the bottles properly.

Half-Job Harry is usurped only by Put-Off Pete. Put-Off Pete likes to leave smelly bin bags by the front door because he will ‘take it in the morning’; he leaves paperwork to pile up on the kitchen worktop – because he will ‘deal with it next week’; and he leaves ironing on the side because he will ‘put it away tomorrow’.

Put-Off Pete came into play the other night when I asked the husband if he could nip down to the basement to quickly read the electricity meter.

‘I’ll do it at some point over the weekend,’ said Put-Off Pete.

‘At some point over the weekend?’ I cried. ‘It’s only Wednesday night. It will only take two minutes!’

‘If it only takes two minutes, you can go,’ said the husband.

‘You know I don’t like to go down there for fear of What Lies Beneath,’ I said.

What Lies Beneath is the name we gave to the eerie void underneath our apartments, which also houses the electricity meters – and probably several hundred super-rats.

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For three years, we were oblivious to What Lies Beneath until we went on a mini adventure to sabotage SuDick’s carpet tiles (SuDick are our bothersome neighbours (details here) who insisted on laying carpet throughout the communal corridors. As part of our anti-carpet campaign, the husband and I decided to start stealing the stash of carpet tiles from the basement at the rate of one by one. We then frisby them off our balcony and into the valley below. This little game has become a lot of fun).

I think it’s fair to say that the husband does not like doing DIY. We were having a picnic in the garden of The House We Might Never Actually Live In the other weekend (we occasionally eat a Sainsbury’s £3 meal deal there – it’s the only picnic we can afford, given that the garden is costing a third of my monthly salary to upkeep), when the husband spotted a tree that had blown down in the wind.

If you look closely, you can see it perpendicular to the green conifer. I’m not quite sure what one does in the event of a felled tree – dial a tree surgeon?

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The husband went for a closer inspection of said tree and started rambling about climbing up the wobbly-looking conifer next to it and CHAIN-SAWING it down.

For someone renowned for his inability to use a radiator bleeding key and who once had a particularly close shave with a circular drill that nearly took his eyebrows off, the idea of the husband willingly going anywhere near a chainsaw is a very frightening prospect indeed.

Luckily, Put-Off Pete soon jerked back into action.

The fallen tree’s been there for a couple of months now and thankfully the husband hasn’t mentioned it since.

His damp towel is still festering in his gym bag; there’s a pile of unread letters on the kitchen side; and the car’s been demanding more screen wash for at least a month now.

Basically, it’s business as usual.

The Farrow and Ball Obsession

Mention the words Farrow and Ball to any decorator and they will shake their head with a derisive snort, claiming it’s average-quality paint with a hefty price tag, marketed for foolish, middle-class women, with too much time on their hands.

So naturally, being a foolish woman and having too much time on my hands, I developed a craze with Farrow and Ball that very rapidly spiralled out of control.

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It began with a simple task to paint the bathroom of my rental flat; the last tenants had moved out after three years and it needed a lick of paint to smarten things up. I pottered down to Homebase, naively thinking I’d just grab a pot of any old paint and slap it on. But when I headed down the paint aisle, my eyes were inexplicably drawn to the enticing brown sample pots of… Farrow and Ball.

I’d already had a taste of F&B in the past, having painted the chimney breast of my beloved flat in the strangely-named Dead Salmon, a kind of pinky brown colour – which now I come to think of it, actually does resemble the colour of out-of-date fish.

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For the bathroom, I wanted a shade of blue. But what was it to be? Parma Grey, Lulworth Blue, Blue Grey? The choice was boggling.

After much deliberation, I plumped for Borrowed Light – a  beautiful pale blue. I loved it.

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It was at that moment that I crazily decided to paint my whole flat in Farrow and Ball – a decision that would go on to cost me several hundred pounds, many hours of labour, and untold exasperation to the long-suffering husband.

F&B connoisseurs will tell you that there’s a depth to the paint that Dulux and Crown just can’t compete with. I’m not sure this is strictly true but this is what I kept telling myself, in order to justify the paint pot splurge.

I began carrying around a colour chart of F&B and would sit studying it several times a day, with all the intensity of a Truly Crazy Person. Friends, long since tired of my painting patter, attempted to stage an intervention. But when they snatched the paint chart off me, I began rocking in the corner, muttering ‘Elephant’s Breath, Elephant’s Breath’ repeatedly, until they reluctantly placed it back in my palm.

Remember that 90s game show called You Bet! hosted by Matthew Kelly, in which contestants had to complete unlikely challenges such as memorising all of the road signs in the UK? Well, I could easily recall all 132 Farrow and Ball colours, in order, and come away with the star prize.

Some evenings, I would roar off on a whim to the Harrogate F&B shop, to stare dreamily at the paints on display. The shop assistant there became my new best friend and I started phoning her at all hours of the day just to chat about paint: ‘Do you really think Rectory Red would go with Oval Room Blue? Really? I was thinking that too! Ha ha haaaa!’

I was clearly unstable.

The spare bedroom was painted in probably my favourite colour: Light Blue (a kind a blue-grey that changes with the light of the day), complemented by Slipper Satin on the woodwork.

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Manor House Grey framed the landing, while the main bedroom had a palette of purply Brassica and Calluna – the colour of ‘Scottish heather’.

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Finishing the walls, I was in too deep to end things there – so I began feverishly painting the furniture. Any wooden item that wasn’t nailed down was at risk of being ‘Farrowed’ in my upcycling mania.

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The worn church chairs were painted Oval Room Blue and Chappell Green respectively, and a tired, old dresser enjoyed a new lease of life with a hearty lick of Dove’s Tail.

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Even the front door didn’t escape – acquiring several coats of Blue Green and a shiny new number 5.

My irritating neighbour Greenclaws came sniffing around and was so taken with my efforts that he gaily skipped off to Homebase himself and returned clutching a tin of Middleton Pink (probably to match the garish plastic lobster that adorns his kitchen wall).

And then it was over.

The paint pots were stacked in the attic, a colour scheme was thrust in the hands of my new tenants, should they feel the need to so some touching up, and I reluctantly trundled home with my paint brush.

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For about a week, I had to go cold turkey, tossing in my sleep and chanting, ‘Mizzle… Mizzle – it’s reminiscent of a West Country evening mist…’

Two months on, I think I’ve just about recovered.

I passed a F&B shop in Marylebone last week. And even though every bone in my body wanted to rush in, ambush the woman and yell, ‘Do you really think Arsenic goes with Brassica?!’, I managed to keep on walking.