Holidays, gardens, some houses we've owned ... and a few more subjects are in here – this is where you'll find photos and videos to look at and download. I look forward to reading your comments in the guestbook!
Holiday Pictures - Home and Away
Carnivores - and a garden glimpse
One of the Carnivorous plants (fly-eaters!) that we bought from a man who has a specialist nursery near Eastleigh, Hampshire. He regularly wins top prizes at the Annual Chelsea Flower Show and rarely allows visitors into his greenhouses where humidity is very high. The temperature is sub-tropical in several of them.
This plant is seen on the Dining Room window sill and beyond it is the rear part of our back garden with the late slightly-lamented Eucalyptus tree in the top right corner, behind our little Summer-house.
The Old Chapel, Easton
In 1982 we were living in a Victorian terraced house in central WINCHESTER. After a holiday on a farm / camping site we began to feel as though we should live somewhere more interesting - and quite unexpectedly a casual visit to an Estate Agent in ALTON introduced us to a semi-derelict Primitive Methodist Chapel with Planning Permission for conversion to a dwelling.
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and we went straight to Easton and found the keyholder, Mr Fisher, in his lovely little cottage four doors away. The description 'semi-derelict redundant Chapel' was understandable even as we walked towards the wrought-iron gates.
The building had stood unused for some time and the front Porch doors face due South into the everyday sun.
We let ourselves in through the big, creaky double doors with much of their paint flaking off. In through the huge inner door and we were suddenly unaware of the world outside, in a peaceful space ... an oasis of calm.
As we sat on the platform, on the old Minister's Bench, we were suddenly aware of the near-silence outside, the only sound being birdsong. In a few moments we were under the spell of the pale green and pink light that was filtering in through the simple coloured Lead-light windows; it seemed to transport us to another world ... and to an age gone by. The chapel had no burial ground - in fact it had hardly any ground outside the walls of the building - but enough room to walk right round it and take in the view across the meadow that stretched down to the tranquil River Itchen, that famous chalk stream so special to fly-fishers from near and far.
The neighbour on one side, a well-known doctor, came quietly into the chapel as we sat there, and introduced himself. He asked, without any pre-amble, "Are you chaps going to buy this place then ?" Joy recalls that I took only time to draw breath before replying, " ....... Do you know, ..... I think we are" !
Within minutes we were in Winchester at Pearsons' office and had made the offer that was shortly to be accepted by The Methodist Church HQ in Manchester.
We then remembered we already had a house - and that evening we advertised it in the Winchester newspaper. Within a week it was sold at our asking price to a local Builder and his family and we were in the Chapel Conversion business - long before it became a popular and lucrative pastime!
The chapel was (is) a Grade II Listed Building and is in the Easton Conservation Area. We were daunted by the possible difficulties that might arise but Winchester City Council were so helpful that we need not have worried.
Some may call what happened next a coincidence ... but I know it wasn't. It concerned a piano that we didn't need - but it led us to meet and engage the man who was possibly the best qualified in Hampshire to take us by the hand and lead us, gently but firmly, through every stage and every detail of the conversion, from DRAFT IDEAS to DRAWINGS to DEALING with CONTRACTORS ... to ... DONE !
Alan Upson, for such he was, had owned a very successful family firm of Builders in Hampshire and had sold it to allow him more time for his family and time for the other things that mattered most to him. He was, when we met, in charge of the Construction Management Team at Portsmouth Poly (now Portsmouth University). To stay in close touch with practical Construction Management he would take on one project at a time, manage it and move on. Alan was available for our project exactly when we needed him and without him we could still be struggling today to get it finished!
These days things are so much easier; there are DIY and Self-Build internet sites, self-help groups, online directories of Tradesmen, Rated People, Check-a-Trade, books, videos, courses, magazines and so much more to guide you through such a project. Without Alan we would have been on our own in 1982/83.
MONTPELIER HOUSE, North Devon
Home from December 1999 to December 2005.
See other pictures for our sea view and a view from the back garden.