time for tea…

time for tea…

We do love our tea in this house, but we like tea which is very uncomplicated. I have bought leaves and strainers – and even went so far as to bring back rose petal tea from Morocco – but it all usually just ends up sitting in a pretty containers and the various strainers just take up room in drawers. A glass teapot, with an internal strainer, sits unused in a cupboard because it’s all a bit of a faff. As much as we like a good cup of tea, we’re not afficionados and so usually just hang a teabag (Earl Grey – always) in a cup and do it that way. When we want to do it properly, sometimes the beautiful grey Le Creuset teapot comes out. An absolute bargain from TK Maxx many moons ago, but again, a bit of a faff as it’s big and usually sits on the worktop, half full of cold, stewed tea until we admit defeat with it. The photo above is what I’d like to do every afternoon, but blimey – those leaves and lemons would do my head in.

First world problems, I know, but with our new garden, thoughts have been turning to lovely accessories which don’t cost the earth. And that includes a faff-free teapot for breakfast, which can be enjoyed under the new sun umbrellas on the recently pea-gravelled patio, on the new table. This kind, below, but probably a lot less expensive. And, maybe not black.

A trip to my current, favourite store – Jysk – once again delivered the goods. Exactly what I was looking for, in the right colour and at very much the right price. Duck egg blue and just €10 for the teapot – with a tight fitting lid and a spout that doesn’t leak. It’s also perfect for two earl Grey tea bags, so no fuss with loose leaves, either. The two little matching, but no quite, cups that I spotted, were just €4 each, making a perfect breakfast set for two. And, completely dishwasher safe, too – the teapot handle isn’t wooden. It’s hard coated plastic but looks wooden, which is a nice design detail. The table cloth is also from Jysk – a beautiful marl grey, slightly creased, linen – perfect for those of us who hate ironing.

The front garden is finally becoming a space we are really growing to love. Hopefully, this summer, we’ll really get to use it as an additional living space and take advantage of the seating/relaxing areas we’ve created. As well as the hidden away new area for our tub pool – a completely private little corner, that absolutely no-one can see. Perfect for a bit of skinny-dipping, too…




getting *for sale* ready

getting *for sale* ready

Previously, we thought our house and garden were the best they could be, and we were definitely ready to sell. But, we weren’t. We weren’t looking at our house through the eyes of a buyer. We were looking at it through our eyes, and of course, we thought it was the most beautiful house on the market, because it’s ours. We live in it full time and we invest an awful lot into it. But, now starting to look at properties ourselves, we’re seeing things differently. When we look at properties, initially online, rightly or wrongly, we tend to reject any immediately, which are so stamped with the current owners’ taste, that to change to our style, would take too long and would incur costs we wouldn’t really want to incur.

The ones we save and go back to, time and time again, are the ones we really see ourselves in, immediately. The ones which are immediately beautiful, but also are more neutral. Less cluttered. Easier to imagine what we could do to put our mark on them. And so both inside and out, this is what we’ve been doing with our house. Without stripping it of our identity completely, we’ve pared it back, especially inside. Hopefully, taken the overwhelming “us” out of it, and providing a background which potential new owners can really start to visualise themselves in. So, what have we done to prepare our home to be listed?

  • The Hague Blue Farrow & Ball kitchen walls are now a soft pale grey, complementing the concrete style kitchen units;
  • The dark feature wall in the living room is now a very soft pale blue;
  • Lots of our accessories have been put away into storage, creating a feeling of space. A de-clutter is very cathartic;
  • Cushions on the two sofas have been reduced in number and the same pale grey linen cushions now cover them all – no different shades/patterns/textures;
  • Rugs in the living room have been laid now downstairs in The Snug – much better as this floor is concrete (albeit painted) – and the rugs soften it. In the living room we now have all jute rugs – neutral and calming.
  • In the Well Room, the concrete table, with its resin finish, has been sanded back and painted in a white satin finish;
  • The dark Hague Blue floor has gone, and it’s now white. The dark blue rugs have joined the living room rugs in The Snug, and more jute rugs have been laid in this room;
  • The exposed well chamber, covered in safety glass, which we loved but felt could perhaps be an initial shock for others, has now been covered in a lovely round creamy/vanilla faux sheepskin, with tall, structural plants in hessian baskets, sitting on top;
  • All internal woodwork – window frames, doors, door frames – are being painted white. The soft blue, which we have loved, was beginning to look like it needed a refresh, and wasn’t really working for us anymore. It’s proving to be a long job, changing the colour of the woodwork, but the results are speaking for themselves;
  • Both sets of stairs were painted dark blue – these are now both white, as is the floor of the upstairs landing;
  • The bedroom floor of the main bedroom and the bathroom floor are white now – we’ve got rid of the blue;
  • In the main bedroom, we had beautiful faux vines wrapped around the beams. Again, we’ve loved these, BUT we realised that they were actually distracting from the height of the room – it has a huge, soaring apex ceiling – and also covering up the beautiful beams, which have been painted in a very soft, pale grey;
  • All bedrooms have been de-cluttered – nothing feels impersonal, we still feel that these rooms are ours, they just feel more breathable;
  • The Snug has been reconfigured and a utility area now housed much more effectively behind dark velvet curtains – the perfect place for these, as they had become too dark to be hung elsewhere. Neutral linen, oatmeal coloured curtains now hang upstairs, in the living room and well room;

It seems like an awful lot that we’ve done – and, it is! – but we think it’s work that is absolutely necessary. Not only do we have a “new” house emerging, to live in and enjoy whilst we’re still here, but we think it definitely is going to be more appealing to people who are in the market for a holiday home. (Some of the photos below were taken before the work had finished – further paint coats have been applied where necessary etc…)

We certainly feel that our home now has more of a light and airy feel, and we’re delighted with the way the rooms are being transformed. As we work inside, the work continues to the rear of the house, as our new garden wall is constructed. Today is quite a monumental day, as the render is being applied – and we are crossing everything that another builder comes this week, with his digger, so that the different levels can be formed for our zoned garden.

So, we may seem a bit mad, doing all of this work when the house is ultimately going to go on the market and a new owner may change everything, anyway. But selling this house, is not like selling houses we’ve sold before. This house will sell to a particular kind of person at a particular time of year – and we have to do everything we can to achieve the outcome we want. Crossing our fingers, we get there…




garden makeover : white stones

garden makeover : white stones

Way back in 2016, we viewed our house for the first time, and this was the garden. Although “garden” is a bit of a stretch, looking back. A mucky, concrete patio and a patch of scrubby land, full of rubble and stones – proper ankle-breakers – and vines attached to an old house, which had been half cut back. And we still fell in love with it!

Fast forward a couple of years, and we decided that we had to tackle this outside place. Now, there’s a bit of a curious tale attached to this piece of land. Although it abuts our garden, and sits underneath our living room window, it’s not actually ours. It actually belongs to the abandoned house – which currently has in excess of twenty owners, some on the other side of the world. So, we figured it wasn’t going to sell anytime soon, and as the only way to actually access it, without crossing our land, would be to crawl through those small windows, it seemed pretty certain that if we up-kept the land, no-one would object. And, so far, that’s what’s happened. We’ve tidied it up, looked after it and everyone seems OK with that.

The first attempt at our diy garden, involved moving all of the ankle-breakers away, and putting the smaller stones around the perimeter. We’d have needed a digger to get them all out and we just needed it to be tidied up, as we’d never really actually be using it. The vines were cut back, the soil turned over and levelled and geotex matting secured to stop weeds penetrating. The whole are was then filled with red bark chippings, which now, over time, have faded in the sun and turned a bit mulchy after winter weather and rain.

The concrete patio, to the right of the red bark, has always been pretty horrible. It’s not the prettiest and was definitely not done by someone with an eye on aesthetics, so we had the bright idea to paint it. With pale blue exterior concrete paint, which we were assured was durable. It cost an absolute fortune and to be fair, did look beautiful. For a few months…

The paint on the steps up into the house has survived, but the patio is now back to concrete. A summer of very hot sun, saw to the “durable” exterior paint and the following year we had to pressure wash it all off, as it was too flaky. So, we’ve had a major rethink and we’re now doing what we should have done right at the beginning – white stones. Taking inspiration from the beautiful hotels scattered across Puglia, in particular, we’re going for white and Mediterranean.

Masseria Moroseta, Pulglia : Image - Andrew Trotter

Masseria Moroseta, Pulglia : Image – Andrew Trotter

The option of white stones is also massively less expensive than the eye-watering concrete paint. At €40 for three cubic metres (plus delivery), we’ll be able to do the whole garden, and finish off the access road along the side of the house, for considerably less than the paint job! We’ve just laid the first delivery of stones in the area where we had the red bark chippings. Against the green wall, they look lovely and really enhance this very unusual feature in our garden.

The next delivery of stones, for the patio, has just arrived but we’ve been slightly diverted by another improvement, which is being put into action. And which has led onto another idea. We’re having some of our shutters replaced and the old ones have been propped up in the garden. We think we can definitely make use of them at the far end of this stoned area and cover the old wooden door, with pale blue shutters. They’re not good enough to hang at the windows, but they are perfectly fine, in their weathered state, to cover something even more weathered. And, when that’s done, we’ll be implementing the new idea, then levelling the next load of white stones on the patio.

It’s great to be finally seeing huge progress in the garden – by the end of today, things will look considerably improved. And, by the end of the week, we’re very hopeful that the construction of the wall to the rear of the house, will be almost there, ready for rendering next week…











garden wall construction begins…

garden wall construction begins…

Having lived for six years now with the view out of our living room window being the small stone house we purchased from a neighbour, things are going to be looking very different, very soon. The vine covered, tumble down house has been demolished, the boundaries of the land clarified, the foundations in and the wall, constructed of concrete blocks standing at well over a metre now, with more height still to be added. The “garden”, inside the wall, is currently an absolute mess – a mix of rocks and stones and the thick red, clay like soil, we have around here. It’s also on an incline. Looking out from the house, the wall to the left is lower in height than the wall to the right. So, we’ve had to address this and we’ve had to consider :

  • do we want it to be levelled and lose height on the right hand side of the garden? This would need to be built up, rather than digging out on the left hand side, as we’d then be digging lower than the foundations. We probably should have addressed this before the work started, but it was difficult to see the incline, and so it needs to be addressed now.
  • or, do we create a garden on two levels, higher on the left and lower on the right connected by concrete steps?

We’ve decided that the second option will give us a more unusual garden and so we’re going with that. It will inevitably add to the overall cost, as we hadn’t factored in this kind of design, but we’re in it now, and so we want to do a proper job, rather than making do to save a few euros. We think that the ground level of the garden will be concrete to give us a solid base, and the steps will also be concrete – wide and shallow treads so that they are more of a feature than just functional steps. The higher level, which will get the most sun, will then be covered in sanded and treated scaffold planks – of which there are more than a few being used for the construction, so we’ll repurpose them – and the lower level will be covered in white stones, with the steps being painted white. Overall, we’re thinking rendered walls, painted white, with white stones, timber, natural style furnishings, structural plants in pots, and perhaps a climbing honeysuckle or bougainvillea. However, we’re still a few weeks away from plumping up the cushions on the new sofas and chairs – currently housed in our bedroom, as we spotted them at a bargain price and with only one set left, had to buy there and then. But, it’s definitely coming on…

Scaffold planks which be sanded and treated to create a decked area for sunbathing and general catching of rays…

Day to day, because we’re living on top of it all, we feel we don’t see much progress. But, looking back on photos, it’s clear that real progress is being made and we’re getting closer to the Secret Garden. And, perhaps a new owner..,

the start of the garden wall…

the start of the garden wall…

So, with the demolition of the small stone house of the way, and our boundaries having been established way back in 2020, and the securing of a local builder, we felt that finally we were on a bit of a roll. The guys who had demolished the house, agreed to also dig out the trenches for the concrete foundations. They were provided with all of the documentation relating to the boundaries – which had explicit measurements for each section of the proposed wall – and most of the original metal stakes were still embedded in the rich, red clay soil, therefore giving even more guidance for the area to be dug out. Knowing the obsession with boundaries in these parts, we advised that we wanted the trench to be dug WITHIN our boundary. Only by a matter of centimetres, but sufficiently enough that it could be seen that we were not edging onto anyone else’s land. Although no-one else here would give away even a millimetre of land, we figured that a small loss in this way, would ultimately prevent any future disputes over miniscule pieces of land. And, we then left the guys to it. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, quite a lot, as it turned out…

In a *helpful* turn of events, one of our neighbours decided to assist the guys digging the trench, and use a can of red spray paint to demarcate the boundary lines. Now, spray paint is used here, by surveyors to pinpoint where stakes will be hammered in, or where there is a corner point point, for example. Not however, to mark out the actual boundary – what with spray paint not being very accurate a measure and all. And of course, another neighbour spotted the rather fat, wobbly red lines and declared that work must stop and a surveyor return to mark out the boundaries.

Now, we realise that anyone reading this from anywhere other than our current particular part of the world, might just be thinking, why didn’t they just tell the neighbour to sod off and continue with the work? The answer – it would have come back to bite us, because – and we cannot stress this enough – boundaries are more important than, seemingly, life itself. We also hadn’t spotted the Playschool red lines ourselves, because with all of the demolition and digger work, and open trenches, it was pretty difficult to actually access the site. And, so, we really felt we had no option other than to get the surveyors back out. Thankfully, we now know these guys quite well, and despite being busy, they got the urgency of the situation – builder on standby – and came out the very next day.

There is actually a very happy ending to this particular saga, for us. Maybe not so much for the red spray painter. Whether by accident or design, his spraying of the line between his and our land, was found to be very, very erroneous. His red line was about half metre inside our land – meaning he would have gained a sizeable chunk of land, if the other neighbour hadn’t insisted on the boundaries being re-confirmed. And, we’d probably never have known that we’d lost a sizeable chunk. But, all’s well that ends well, and he probably didn’t even know he was so far out with his measurements…

So, with a second set of identical boundaries now in place, and the trenches re-dug, the concrete was finally poured in for the foundations.

It’s taken what feels like forever, to get here, but if there’s one thing we have learned, it’s that in Istria we need to have patience and resilience and not be too affected by setbacks. A couple of weeks on from the foundations going in, we now also have what is beginning to look like a wall, which will afford us privacy and enable us to create the secret garden we’ve always wanted. And, of course, it has meant that other ideas have been added to the mix, including the knocking out of our living room window and having vintage style (if we can source them!) French doors installed, with steps down into the garden. Working on this plan right now, so we shall see what emerges over the next couple of weeks.

What we'd like - sadly without the sea view...

What we’d like – sadly without the sea view






welcome, wooden benches

welcome, wooden benches

Our blue IKEA Tobias dining chairs have served us well over the past few years, and are still in good condition. They’ve stood the test of time, often sitting in a room which has resembled more of a builders yard, than a room we’d choose to eat in. The Well Room – as we call the room above because we inherited it with a working internal well, slap bang in the middle of the room, but now drained and relocated outdoors – has developed over the years, and has had quite a strong look, when it’s not being used as a building site. The stone floor above was painted a deep navy, to match one of the feature walls and the concrete table had a resin coat applied. Rather than a pure concrete look, it took on a very different appearance – kind of marbled, but not quite. But, it did dominate the room, both in its style and finish. And recently, we decided we didn’t really like it, after all.

We also decided that in order to sell our house, we had to present it more neutrally. The decor has been quite bold in places – and although we’re sure that most viewers will see beyond a painted wall if it’s not to their taste, we weren’t doing ourselves any favours in showcasing what could be a fabulous holiday home for someone. So, this spring, our focus has been on stripping back the decor and colours and gradually beginning to introduce lighter, calmer tones, with a neutral palette and more natural accessories. The bold navy blue has been whited-out in most rooms, the Well Room being one of the initial ones we tackled. The floor is now white, and the blue rugs are now down in The Snug, replaced by big natural coloured, jute rugs. The wall (opposite the windows) which was Hague Blue (like the kitchen), is now the same soft grey that we repainted the kitchen in, bringing consistency between the two areas. New furniture has been introduced – gone are the bog standard IKEA cubes, replaced by a couple of very funky white cupboards. Still IKEA, but with a bit more design and style to them.

And, the concrete table has been painted white – giving it a whole new lease of life. It was at this point, that the Tobias chairs just looked too out of place, and we felt that wooden benches would suit the look we were attempting to create, so much better. Wanting to support local tradespeople whenever we can, we did get a quote for two handmade benches. Unfortunately, the price came in just a whole lot more than we were budgeting for, and so I had to turn online. I had found a small company, just outside Newcastle, who specialise in bespoke wooden furniture – and although the prices for benches weren’t too bad, once we factored in courier delivery and post-Brexit fees to receive goods from outside the EU, inside the EU, the price became too steep again. But perseverance pays off, especially when you know exactly what you want, and I found a company in Germany, which in terms of their products and ethos on the website, ticked our boxes. An order was placed for two acacia wooden benches, and less than a week later, they were assembled in The Well Room.

The room now feels much lighter and brighter, with a definite nod to those dreamy Mediterranean homes, much posted on Instagram. I think now that we have got used to our surroundings, being fairly close to the Adriatic, it feels a bit more authentic to live in a space filled with natural tones and colours. So, we’re taking it a bit further. The pale blue woodwork (and the grey beams above the window) are all going white, too. The first window in this room has been done, and the difference is quite incredible, as everything now seems to blend, rather than stand out. The front door, which I have always disliked, is much less offensive to me, now that it painted in a soft white satinwood. The handle, which is also not to our taste, but too difficult to replace because of its shape and size, is now also white, so a lot less in-your-face. As with every room you start to make-over, the finish line always gets further away, as one change inevitably leads to another, but it’s something we feel we need to do. Especially as it will mean that, as we get back on the roller coaster of selling a house, we’ll have a real Mediterranean hideaway, in the Istrian hills.





the demolition of our small stone house

the demolition of our small stone house

the story of the little stone house

When we bought our house in Istria six years ago, this little tumble down cottage sat to the rear of it.There are lots of properties like this scattered across Istria and Croatia. There are many reasons for the properties being abandoned – wars and conflicts which displaced people, emigration, people dying and properties passing to multiple descendants, often scattered across the world, complicated boundary issues which can make buying such a property very, very problematic. In our village alone, there are more than a handful of these properties, overgrown with vines and greenery, the stone underneath crumbling and often falling. Thankfully, a lot of these properties are being salvaged and renovated and in the vicinity we have some amazing hotels which have grown out of an abandoned house. One hotel – San Canzian, in nearby Buje – is actually a renovated village, which we think is just wonderful.

So, back to our little house. We were totally naive in hindsight, as apart from knowing it belonged to a neighbour – who we were yet to get to know – we didn’t even consider where the boundaries between the two properties might be or what would happen if someone else became interested in it and purchased it, and the land around it. Luckily, we avoided a tricky situation when the neighbour agreed to sell it to us, once we had considered the implications of another property being so close to ours. It wasn’t a swift process and all told, took nearly two years to complete on – considering we bought the main house in about three months, this seems such a long time, but looking back, once we’d signed the pre-contract, there was no massive urgency as we’d secured it and it wasn’t our main dwelling. And, our solicitor had to navigate the new waters of Brexit, as half way through the process, we found ourselves as “third country nationals” (although luckily, with Croatian residency) and this muddied the situation for a while.

Over the past couple of years we’ve tinkered around the edges of this house, our main focus being on the renovation of the big house. We did ensure that we had a surveyor to establish the exact boundaries of the property and the land, and we did set about clearing it as much as we could ourselves and tidying it up. We seriously considered having it renovated – inside, a mezzanine level could definitely have been created as there is the height and it could have become a very beautiful self contained annexe. But, all of that comes at a cost and even though family and friends would definitely have got use out of it, for much of the year it would probably have stood empty, so we shelved renovation plans, opting instead to create a makeshift garden.

So, for the past year, we’ve had quite a nice outlook to the rear of the house – a natural boundary of conifer trees, in terracotta pots, white stones, a big new olive tree and a little table and chairs. But, it still hasn’t solved what to do with the house, which as the months have passed, has become more and more unstable. It also hasn’t resolved the issue that the rear of the house feels disconnected from the rest of the house. A bit of an add on. So the decision was made – demolition

arranging the demolition

Not as easy as you’d think. Back in the UK, we’d have had contacts or been able to google easily enough, to find builders who could do it. Here, we do have contacts, but they all have the same contacts and builders here are currently in very short supply. Post pandemic, there’s a lot of construction/renovation work going on in Istria, which is great, but it does mean that reliable workers are very, very thin on the ground. We were really struggling to find anyone, but finally had a stroke of luck. Work has been going on the village recently and our neighbour introduced us to two guys who were doing some other demolition work, and after a site visit, they agreed to take on our work. Another stroke of luck was that a contractor who was working with the local water company, who are also currently digging up the village to lay new pipes, knew our neighbour and so helped with the discussions re the work and was able to translate a lot for us. A price was agreed and a schedule of works discussed. Our understanding was that we needed to clear out the house and work would begin the following week, and would take approximately a week, followed by the site clearance.

Not everything happens as you expect though, and the day after we agreed everything, the two guys arrived – on a Saturday morning – and set about clearing out the house, with wheelbarrows full of rubbish being trundled away. This was a bit of an unexpected result, as we’d assumed we had to do the clearance. A bay tree has been growing outside the house – we think it was a tree we brought over from Manchester and which wasn’t faring too well, so it was left to its own devices, and having taken root in the thick, rich, red Istrian soil, has flourished. So, we asked that this be dug out so we could relocate it, prior to any demolition work beginning. Within half an hour, it was sitting in its new home. There’s still lots of planting and landscaping to be done, but we think our bay tree will thrive much more in its new position.

Almost as soon as the tree had been removed, the digger was swinging into action – quite literally – as the stones started to be removed from the house. We had initially had wild thoughts that we could actually take the house down ourselves. Surely all we needed to do was hire a cherry picker and swing a lump hammer and it would come down. And then the fairies would take away the stones and clear and level the site. We are now quite thankful that we didn’t actually pursue this ridiculous idea, because whatever we are paying these guys, they are professionals and worth every cent.

We’re now a week on, and the house has all but been taken down, stone by stone, and they are currently being taken away. We could have used these stones to construct the new wall, but to be honest, we’re a bit over Istrian stone, as the main house is constructed of it, we still have exposed stone (albeit painted white) internally, and we are surrounded by it outside. The stone is also of differing sizes and quality so it would have taken a long time to sift through and sort and store, so we’re just letting the guys get rid and if they make a few euros out of it, good for them. We’re a few weeks away we think, from us being able to even begin thinking about the new wall, but we are just very delighted that, finally, the little house is no longer standing and our vision for our secret garden, is a little nearer. Meanwhile, chaos reigns…

The guys are back on it currently, and the digger is hoisting huge slabs of stone onto the back of a lorry to be taken away. Although the view from our rear living window is horrendous at the moment, we have to go through this, to achieve what we want to achieve. The stones will be cleared. The ground will be levelled. A beautiful white, rendered wall will be constructed, with big chunky wooden struts to hold climbers which will form a natural sunshade. And our hideaway will be an oasis of calm and peace and solitude. Just maybe not yet…






spicy salmon curry

spicy salmon curry

I had to share this recipe as it’s the easiest – and easily most delicious – curry, we’ve made in a long time. And, we are trying to extend our curry repertoire as we currently don’t have Indian or Nepalese or Thai restaurants on our doorstep. so this has been a find of a recipe.


  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion : finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves : crushed
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 can (400g/14oz) coconut milk
  • 100/150 ml stock
  • 500 g (1lb) salmon fillets
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/430°F. Slice the salmon fillets into chunks and pat dry with paper towel. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Drizzle over the oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place in the hot oven and roast for 5-7 minutes until the salmon is firm but not fully cooked. Remove from the oven and set aside.
2. In a large, deep pan melt the coconut oil & add the onion, cooking until soft, then add the garlic and ginger and cook for a couple of minutes.
3. Add all the spices and cook until the pan looks dry and smells aromatic, then stir the tomato paste, cooking for a couple of minutes, before pouring in the coconut milk and stock.
4. Season the sauce with salt and pepper then reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce is slightly reduced.
5. Once the sauce has reduced, add the salmon to the sauce and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked but still juicy.
6. Adjust seasoning and add lemon or lime juice then garnish with fresh coriander. We served with coconut rice and naan breads – thank you British Corner Shop for my M&S order!
Pour a lovely glass of wine and enjoy! It’s delicious!

the well room : a makeover

the well room : a makeover

With Spring knocking on the door and a house to get back on the market, we’ve been beavering away at the interior of our home since New Year. Now that we are also seriously looking at other properties to buy, we’re seeing things slightly differently and have realised that if we are to sell, we need to present a house which looks like something new owners could see themselves in. Not our home. So, we’ve been de-cluttering, stripping back, changing colours so that we have a much more neutral palette. We haven’t stripped away our personality, because we obviously still live here and I certainly don’t want to live in a sterile space. We’ve just focused on making it a little less us. And in The Well Room, this is where we’ve started making the biggest changes.

Our concrete table – which was a beautiful grey colour – had a resin coat applied a few years back, and this changed it completely. Close up, it still looked lovely. The resin highlighted the different tones and it had a beautiful finish – but the colour overall had changed too, and it’s taken us until now to admit that we’ve never really liked it. We also thought that it might be difficult to paint over resin, but we just decided to go for it, by sanding it down and then applying a very good quality soft sheen gloss in white. What a transformation.

The navy floor has had its first undercoat in white. The floor is original stone and therefore a bit uneven in places – as stone flags tend to be – so our original thinking (when we realised that having a wooden floor laid was more problematic than we were prepared to deal with at the time) was to paint it in a dark navy, and cover it with rugs. This has been fine for the last four years, but as soon as the table was painted, it was just too dark and uncompromising. So, like with the table, we just went for it and went white. The plan is to top coat it in a very pale grey, the same colour that we have in the living room, so that the two rooms flow, but at the moment we’re just basking in the whiteness. The blue rugs have gone too, now having found a new home in The Snug, and replaced with new jute rugs. Again, a huge difference – and with very little effort and expense.

The Well Room should always have been a lovely dining/living room but in reality, when we’ve been doing renovations and DIY, it’s become a glorified storage room for all of the decorating paraphenalia. And so it was never really used, Or loved. Well, that’s all changed. We’ve purchased two children’s wardrobes from IKEA – I know! – but they were just the right size and colour, and a very funky design, so pretty perfect for hiding away coats and bags and trainers and boots. In the other, we’ve stored away all of the excess kitchen “stuff” – blenders, food mixers, casserole dishes, carafes etc – that sat on top of cupboards and shelves just adding to the feeling of clutter. Meaning that in addition to a much better looking Well Room, we also have a much less busy kitchen. Lots of our bits and pieces have also been boxed away – again, a good exercise in de-cluttering but also, subliminally, a start to the packing up – and so what we have in the Well Room now is much more considered and contributes to an overall feeling of calmness.

We’re very used to the glass well cover, but we do realise that some people might be a bit spooked by looking down into – or standing over – a 10 metre drop. So a white furry rug has been bought, to sit on top of the glass, leaving enough around the edges, so that the uplighting can still be seen. And, so that the rug does not get stood on, a coconut palm tree in a basket sits on top, creating a green focal point for the room.

We still have work to do in this room. The floor needs to be finished and the walls repainted, but then it’s over to the professionals, as we are finally tackling the bathroom door and the front door. A sliding wooden door will replace the cheap, not very pretty door, into our renovated bathroom, and in even more exciting developments, we’ve decided that a new front door is an absolute necessity. These, along with two wooden dining benches in the same wood, will be hopefully made to our specifications, rather than off-the-peg. Spring is definitely shaping up to be a very exciting time and we hope it will springboard us into a very different kind of life…











homemade hummus : a recipe

homemade hummus : a recipe

I’ve dabbled in the past with making homemade hummus, but it’s never become a habit. Hummus is so widely available that it just seemed a bit of a faff, and I could ever get a consistent recipe that I was happy with. When we lived in West Didsbury this was fine, as we had loads of lovely independent delis nearby, as well as plenty of supermarkets which stocked tasty hummus. However, out here in Istria – and I know it’s a bit of a first world problem in the grand scheme of things currently – good hummus just isn’t as easy too come by. We can get it, but it’s either too whipped up and creamy (no texture at all), too bland or strangely, too vinegary. Even we shop in Trieste, we’ve not found the one. So, at the weekend, the food processor was brought out of storage and a very simple recipe from the BBC Good Food website, was adapted to suit our tastes. Absolutely simple as anything to knock together, and the base recipe has now been found. Which is great, because we are big fans of this Middle Eastern dip – and as long as we keep stocked up on the ingredients, we can have it whenever we want it now.


  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • Approx 60ml cold water, plus a 30ml for a looser consistency
  • 1 small garlic clove peeled and crushed
  • 1 lemon, juiced then ½ zested or a a big splash of lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, to garnish (optional)


  • Thoroughly rinse the chickpeas in a colander under cold running water.
  • Tip into the large bowl of a food processor along with 60ml of water and blitz until almost smooth.
  • Add the garlic, lemon and tahini, and blitz again. If the consistency is too thick, gradually pour in up to 30ml more water.
  • Blitz again for about 5 mins, or until the hummus is smooth and silky. Or less, if you prefer more texture.
  • Season with a good pinch of sea salt and transfer to a bowl.
  • Swirl the top of the hummus with the back of a dessert spoon and drizzle over a little (chilli flavoured for a kick) olive oil and sprinkle with chilli flakes.

This was made in about 10 minutes – the longest part of the process was the initial blitzing of the chickpeas. I think because it was made with fresh ingredients (apart from the chickpeas) it was super tasty and could easily be elevated with additional flavours – olives, pumpkin, red pepper, avocado, beetroot, jalapenos. The list is seemingly endless. The recipe above makes enough for four good sized portions for two people, so you can adjust the quantities accordingly so none goes to waste or if you need more. And apart from the chick pea tin, there’s little packaging – no plastic lids, cartons, outer wrappers etc. A result all round.