tales from the gripped featured image

tales from the gripped

Happy Spooktober guys!

Look, I get it, this is merrie old England and I should leave Halloween for those pesky Yankees, but hear me out:

It’s also 2020

The world is in the toilet and everything is super scary.  And not that funny Halloween-scary: scary-scary.

My generation has muddled through recession after recession before we were old enough to buy our own fags, worried sick over climate change and/or World War III, not to mention cyberbullying, the rise of insufferable baby/dog names as well as how to afford our daily avocado on sourdough toast – if we want to carve a bloody pumpkin we should bloody well be allowed to do so without snickering from the boys in the back. 

There’s a bit of a global pandemic going on, maybe we should do more of the things that make us happy, eh?

So in case you wondered, I just finished carving my very first pumpkin and it was bloody lovely.  James got it from Tesco’s, along with some suitably autumnal flowers.  It’s great to have a bit of colour in the house.  Unfortunately, with the recent storms we have had, the summer seems to have skipped straight to winter and the autumn leaves we could have otherwise enjoyed here were largely swept away by the winds when they were still green.  I have bought some wee skeletons too, from a local shop called the Curious Mr. Fogg – most of their stock comes from Mexico, making them technically Día de Muertos-decorations, but maybe as an actual European peasant I’m allowed to mix my holidays.

Here’s the deal:  I’ve struggled with anxiety most of my adult life, but it has never stopped me from living life to the fullest.  Before the Covid-19 crisis, that is.  I am one of the lucky ones, with a job that I love and wonderful family and friends who support me, but it’s still pretty rough sometimes.  These little silly things, like carving pumpkins and decorating for Halloween, in all their simplicity, make me forget how bloody scary it all is just now.  It’s a distraction, for sure, but can you blame me from wanting to be distracted right now?

So yeah, let’s (zoom) party like it’s 2020, baby.  Buy that big-ass pumpkin.  Eat Weetos chocolate hoops for lunch – that’s basically self-care anyway.  If you’re lucky you may end up making someone else’s day by accident.  We live on a pretty busy road just off the High Street and get a fair few people passing our house each day.  Honestly, the faces of little kids when they spot my Jack-O-Lantern are just something else.  Happiness collateral.

Also, pumpkin soup. I made the innards of my pumpkin into soup. #adulting, much.

Until next time,

Tiina x

P.S. When you do carve that silly pumpkin as instructed by your favourite influencer… or me, post it on Instagram and tag me on it @cheznous21 – let’s spread a bit of silly joy this spooky season.

A Question of Taste

Cou Cou !

Greetings from my work – I’m trying to keep this blog more regular by typing in my thoughts during our lunch breaks.  And you know what, I am in love with being back at work – having spent half a year on furlough I am chuffed to bits to have this routine back in my life.

I’ve been writing a lot about furniture lately: what to consider when looking for second-hand pieces and the affordability of certain types of antiques and vintage finds.  As you know, I love a bargain, and sustainability also plays a huge part when it comes to choosing what to buy for our home.  However, nothing weighs in quite as heavily as the look and feel of things.  Within this frame, I am actually really picky when it comes to most things, especially décor.

And it’s not just me either: I share my life with someone with a distinct taste and values of their own… no, I don’t mean the dog.  I refer to my husband James.  Whereas I used to be daft about dainty retro furniture, quirky patterns and curiosities, he was into classic Victoriana, warm wood and solid craftsmanship worn by the passage of time.  As we have grown tighter as a couple, our tastes in things have not so much merged, but evolved under the influence of each other’s likes and dislikes. 

When I first met James, you could say I fell in love with his antique chest before I fell in love with him.  A keen appreciation of carved wood, soft leather and cricket memorabilia shortly followed.  It was Stockholm syndrome via décor, really.  As mine was all sold or donated before I moved to Edinburgh, there was no choice but to live with James’ furniture when we moved in together.  Combined with my collection of Finnish glassware, textiles and knickknacks, however, our first house actually felt ours, not just his or mine.

cricket memorabilia

Since buying our Maison de Ville by the foot of the Montagne Noire and especially when crafting a base for ourselves in the UK, from the houseboat in Staffordshire to our dinky little cottage here in Ilfracombe, we have both only wanted to buy things that we really like.  It took us a year to get a bookcase because we couldn’t find one that looked like nice and was transportable, or wasn’t silly expensive or made of laminate.  Yeah – and here’s a pro tip if you move a lot:  having chipped enough flat pack furniture in the past, I go for solid wood now.  Sure it weighs a ton, always, but unlike laminated particle board pieces, you can refinish and repair wood when needed.

One of my favourite things about James is that he favours the unexpected.  Within a framework of solid, well-crafted things, he’s open to risks and blind to trends.  You either like something or you don’t’.  A great example of this would be our buffet in France – a massive carved Art Deco thing complete with a mirror and a bright yellow sunburst detail.  Most people assume I chose it as I got this thing about the early 1900’s, but it was James who picked it out at our local Dépôt-vente.  Sure, I love it, but I never thought how amazing it would look in our kitchen. 

On the flipside, I didn’t think my influence on James has been all that great but I do bring in a certain je ne sais quoi in the form of colours, materials and Scandi-influences.  He didn’t actually like our current sofa when I picked it out but got really into it when it arrived from Made.com.  Ironically, I’d be ready to swap it for a comfortable old leather Chesterfield as it’s really pretty but incredibly uncomfortable to sit on! 

So was it really Stockholm syndrome or can I admit my taste has become more British perhaps over the years?  My relationship with cricket is still complicated, but I can’t resist a bit of English eccentricity.  I’ve been wanting a pair of Staffordshire fire dogs for a long time and James finally agreed.  It’s not quite a matching pair, but I rather like it that way. 

What do you think – they make a nice pair, don’t they?

‘til next week,