My living room is the one room of my house that I’m pretty content with the way it is.  There’s not much I’d change right now. I love the colour of the walls: duck egg blue. You really can’t go wrong with duck egg blue. There’s something so calming about it.

I love that there’s a real mix of the old and the new. Each item that catches my eye takes me back to where and when I bought it or who gave it to me as a gift.

As I was giving my living room some much-needed love and attention this morning ie. cleaning, I pondered over each item and decided there and then to share with you some of my vintage treasures.

A decorative plate

I have no idea what drew me to this little plate, but as soon as I set eyes on it in a charity shop in Whitley Bay, I knew that I had to have it. It was remarkably out of character for me to be attracted to an item like this, and the friend I was with just laughed at my choice. To me, it speaks of innocence and childhood. It’s a tender scene. I like to imagine the story of this fine bone china plate: I like that it has been pre-loved. And it still makes me smile.

The photo of my dad

This is my dad as a young boy, taken over 80 years ago and still in its original frame. He used to tell this story how one day, he and his parents were up in London and a photographer approached them on the train and asked if he could take some photos of this lovely young boy back at his studio. And they went! I can’t believe that of my grandparents! He was proud of this photo, I think, and rightly so. He used to tease me for having it up in my living room but I think he was secretly pleased. I hope so.

Vintage toys

These are some of my husband’s toys from when he was a little lad. Little Ted was bought by one of his aunties. He had Big Ted too back then. He wrote 4427 on the wooden train when he was about 8, because that was the number of the Flying Scotsman. The egg cup was bought by one of his mum’s friends on a trip to Denmark. The figure carried a little spoon in one hand and a little bucket of salt in the other hand.

Hummel figures

Again, these came from my husband. His grandma moved into a bungalow with a huge lounge in 1972 and he remembers about twenty of these Hummel figures on the mantelpiece. One of his tasks as a kid was dusting all these little characters. He broke one once when he was running around and got into big trouble!

Set of Heidi books

As a child, I used to read and read and read. I could have kept all sorts of favourite books from my childhood, but these Heidi books meant so much to me. They were my sisters before me, so are at least 50 years old. I was happiest when I was reading and Heidi was such a positive, kind child. I think I wanted to be her.


Vintage tea cup

Remember the pretty vintage weekend we had last year for Helen H’s birthday? Well, she gave a candle in a vintage tea cup to each of us as we left. It’s such pretty cup and reminds me of a wonderful weekend away with friends. I don’t really use tea cups any more. Mugs seem more practical and sturdy, I guess. But tea cups are so pretty and dainty, aren’t they? And sometimes pretty really ought to take precedence over practical.

I used to worry that my home would look like an old person’s house if I had these sorts of items on display. But by hiding them away in the loft, I was depriving myself of the memories they spark in me. I think there’s a balance to be had between the old and the new, and I like my balance. I feel at home in this space, surrounded by family and friends, even when I’m alone.

I have lots of random ideas about my home, lots of things that I’d love to do.  But never enough money to do them.  We did the same as most I imagine, moved into our family home about 10 years ago and did lots of work, knocking a few walls down, new bathroom, new kitchen…….over time making this our home.  Now 10 years on and things are looking a bit worn, everything is well used and in need of an upgrade.  For a few years, I’ve fancied a new kitchen, my style has changed and it’s definitely pasts its best.  There were random doors that would sporadically fall off lol.dsc_0305

Now luckily, I have a very handy man in my world.  Most of the time I get a raised eyebrow to my hair-brained ideas but not this time…..this time he was in there removing doors almost as soon as I showed him the picture of what I liked.  I wasn’t going for a “normal” or “conventional” upgrade.  Main reason? well we simply don’t have thousands to spend on a kitchen.  This was going to be a very unique  and individual take on new!dsc_0366

First we set about re-jigging the layout, not massively but enough to give us more cupboard space and get rid of the random wonky oven I had so wanted many moons ago!  We replaced the broken bits and trawled the internet for the best deal on the bits we needed to buy like worktops and sink and cooker hood.  All the cupboard doors were hand-made by my handy man then painted, aged and waxed by me.  I wanted something completely different from any other kitchen I’d seen and I so think we smashed it.  Now we have a beautiful, bright and cheerful kitchen that is completely us and aside from the fridge freezer, the whole thing cost less than £600!!

Three years ago, there was an article in the Telegraph entitled ‘Is eating at the traditional dining table becoming obsolete?‘ A similar article in the Daily Mail was called ‘Death of the Dining Table’. Because dining tables are going out of fashion. Less and less families are eating together, let alone around a table. With no TV. Making conversation.

‘Extremely fast-paced society’ is being blamed for this trend.

According to the online poll of 500 people, fewer than one in five said they ate at the dining or kitchen table “one or two meals a week” compared to 13 per cent who did once a day.
Almost one in three people admitted eating at the dining table only a “few times a year”, four per cent never did while three per cent of respondents do not even own a table.

And that was three years ago!

Two weeks ago, we got rid of our dining table. It was a sad day, but that table had taken a battering. Thirteen or so years of daily family meals. I remember when the kids were young and a drink was spilt at every mealtime to the cry ‘Every bloody day!’. I remember all the craft activities when I was a childminder – all the glue and paint and playdough…  I remember Luke and Becca spreading out all their artwork night after night for their Art GCSE. I remember all the Christmases – it was a BIG table and we always filled every space. I remember all the great parties – the themed food and decorations. I remember the creative groups and women’s groups that gathered to discuss around that table. And then there’s all the cumulative years of having at least seven of us at the table for every evening meal. That table has seen a lot and heard a lot and experienced a lot.

We found it hard to let it go, but it was time. There’s only four of us here most days now. Things have changed. We’re chopping up that table and burning it on our roaring fire (another centrepiece for family life in this house).



And we now have a new table! A new white table. That seats six. But extends to seat 12 so the family will always be welcome so that was reassuring for them to hear!


And on Saturday night, we christened the table with our first gathering – with a Gothic feel. It was good to keep up the family traditions. Life may be changing but the dining room table will remain the centre of our family life in this house. We will continue to eat our meals at the table.

So a few weeks ago, we posted a piece about matching underwear which caused quite a heated debate. Little did we know that the next animated discussion would be about pegs!

I know where and when the subject came up, but not how. I was at an indoor garden party (you know, the type we hold all summer long in this country) on Saturday afternoon. In a room full of women of a certain age. And the conversation turned to pegs. Now the majority of women in that room all agreed vociferously that pegs have to match. And some went further. That there is an order of colour in which items must be hung out on the line apparently. And an order of size – largest towel to smallest, for example.

I couldn’t help myself. It may have been the mojito.

You are all a bunch of nutters!

Reflecting in the car on the way home, I started to wonder if it was indeed me that was the nutter. If they all agreed, then didn’t that make their behaviour normal and mine abnormal? If I was the odd one out, then was it me that was weird?

We make judgements based on our own behaviour all the time. We naturally do things our own way, the best way for us. Maybe simply the best way. So then anyone who chooses to do it differently is less than normal. When I admitted that I do not always wash my whites separately from my coloureds, there was an audible sigh in the room. The looks on some faces were unforgettable.

My mum used to call anyone who did that a dirty washer!

That was one comment that passed one friend’s lips.

People started to admit to other such tendencies. They seemed relieved that they were not alone. That they no longer need to battle with feelings of shame and embarrassment. That there were other people out there like them.

And there seem to be an awful lot of people out there like them.

pegsAnd some others, like me, who just do not get it at all. Matching pegs – what’s that all about? Why on earth would anyone feel the need to do that? And how do they feel on edge until they have put it right?

I love that the next day, one of the women taking part in that discussion, Susan, deliberately used random pegs. And posted a picture on Facebook to prove it.

I put a call out on Facebook for other examples of what I described as OCD tendencies (for want of a better description).

Linda was the first to reply –

I like to line the the light switches up so on each landing the all face up or down. I do it because it looks neat and symmetrical. I also peg out with the same number of coloured pegs on washing eg two blue and two white pegs. I enjoy it looking pretty and symmetrical. I change both if not ordered how I like it. Lol sounds awful in print xxxxxx

Ditch the apology, Linda. We’re all friends here. But you see, I’ve know Linda for coming up to 20 years and I never knew this about her. Because people feel they have to keep these little idiosyncrasies hidden. But it appears they are far more common than you might imagine.

Susan also worries about what other people may think of her –

I like to have books, CDs & DVDs in alphabetical order.
Labels on tins (in cupboard) have to face to the front.
Plus clothes in my wardrobe are colour ordered from dark to light.
Think I’ll stop now before you think I’m weird…

So what constitutes weird exactly? Different to me? Then pretty much everyone out there is weird – like Sandra and Barbara and all the others with ‘strange little foibles’.

She goes on to say –

Have thought of another – volume on tv, stereo etc needs to be an even number.
Ok I need help!

You probably don’t, you know Susan. It’s not like these things have a negative effect on your life. You say that once things are ordered, it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to maintain order. No one is harmed by your preferences. You carry on a normal life (whatever that is). Don’t worry about it. Just be yourself.

Sometimes you may feel that your little habit has become too big of a deal and then you can decide to do something about it. Like Lorna –

I used to line up the chocolate biscuits in the tin but once I let that go I felt so happy as this was a daily task!

It appears that this little Facebook exercise has been helpful to those who feel they have secrets such as these.

Lorna: I’m so reassured to read all the above comments..

Linda: Feeling happier to read this so can now own up to lining toilet rolls so that the flap is all the same way lol.

However, those of us who do not do these things seem to be left feeling a little unnerved. Like Marj –

My, I must be a right messy woman after reading these comments as everything is just squeezed in in cupboards in any way possible…

And Julie –

Oh dear don’t know where that leaves me – I can’t think of anything that I do!!! X

Us non-matchers have some pretty strong opinions too!

Amanda: never even occurred to me but living in Scotland I am a big fan of the tumble dryer x

Sheila: I don’t hang out washing…toooo busy living my life.

Ruth: I have trouble matching socks never mind pegs!

Joanne: Gerra grip!!!! Matching pegs!!!!!

Kirsty:  I think I’m amazing if I’ve got enough pegs to hang our washing out!!

Rachel: Life is too short!

Well, where does that leave us? Pretty divided down the middle, I would say. Of course, as Karen points out, this has not been a discussion about actual OCD –

I don’t do it either – not that matching clothes pegs on its own is actually comparable to full OCD, being a potentially debilitating mental illness which shouldn’t be taken lightly IMO.

Describing these obsessive tendencies as OCD is pretty much the same as describing having an off day as clinical depression, I get that.

OCD, the little I know of it, can be a truly horrific condition to live with. And there’s that whole other side of the condition, where thoughts of disaster creep in and cannot be dislodged –

there’s a kind of OCD called ‘pure’ OCD (or pure O) which is less physically obvious, about disturbing thought patterns or not being able to control our thoughts – more obsessive, less compulsive! I often find when I get stressed or anxious that the little intrusive thoughts which everyone gets (maybe I left the oven on and the house will burn down / maybe my family are in a car accident / maybe I’ll get attacked / maybe I have some horrible disease) get much more exaggerated and much harder to ignore, sometimes to the extent where then I can’t focus on something else.

Thank you, Elaine.

One final thought: it seems to me that much of this is about control. We live in a world where much of what goes on is outside of our control and sometimes, little actions like this help to make us feel more in control. That everything is in order. Even I turn to sorting out a drawer when I am feeling particularly stressed.

We do what we can to make life more manageable. We do what we need to do to survive.

So let’s not judge the coping mechanisms of others. Let’s celebrate diversity. Let’s realise that there is no such thing as normal.

So Susan, if you want to go back to using matching pegs, I will not judge you. You do what’s right for you.