Tuesday 28 August 2012

The Essex Dolls House Haul - the Best comes Last!

I am very excited about this house!   Leaving aside all the others, this one would have been worth the trip to the far side of Essex all by itself.

Not long ago I was idly chatting with my daughter about the possibilities of creating a theatre set in Shakespeare's time -  one located in the courtyard of an inn of that period.   And then this house came along - serendipity strikes again.  Of course, so far there is no courtyard for the stage to go in but time and some hard work can soon alter that!

This is a really big house, and beautifully detailed, although needing quite a bit of finishing still, especially inside.   You should be able to get an idea of the size from this photo of my son manoeuvring it into the garage.  If you click on the photo you can zoom in to a close-up of the roof which looks as if it has been applied in much the same way as the brickwork on the first house I described when I began this blog - the Dutch House.

I haven't yet fully explored in how many places it opens.   The front comes off the top floor in two pieces and the next floor down is hinged in at least one place, possibly more, as is the ground floor.

It's possible to open up the whole house in various ways.
One thing it needs badly is aging.   So how very useful that my daughter is about to do the Timeworn Techniques course run on-line by Andy Skinner.   

It has nicely detailed windows, a small balcony, and a supply of panelled doors, most of them lying inside the house at the moment.   Even the back of the house is "timber-framed" but there it is painted on rather than proper wood.  

Below the balcony there is a veranda which could later form the link to a courtyard....... I expect one day to see William Shakespeare himself looking on from the shelter of the overhanging roof whilst one of his plays - Henry IV Part 1 perhaps - is staged for the very first time.....

And finally, in a tiny whisper, I have to confess that I bought another dolls house on ebay last week.....£8.55 this time.   More will be revealed when we have hauled it out of the car and made a space for it to be photographed.

Thank you so much for joining me in a further stage of my journey to a museum of my very own.   It's getting closer.   Phone calls to van hire companies are on the list for this week so that I can sort out a way of getting the houses from the garage at the bottom of my English garden to the room in the Czech Republic.   Though before they set off I had better check that the room has been decorated and is ready and waiting to receive them......   

Monday 20 August 2012

The Essex Dolls House Haul - Part Four

After the last post's digression into the melodramatic backstory of the house that is clearly now fated to become a ballet school, normal service is being resumed.

It is therefore time to expand on the tiny glimpse you previously got of house number 5 - and here it is:

Above is the view from the front and on the right is one from the side, taken while the house was safely tucked into the back of the car, alongside its peers. 

Again, it is quite large. definitely twelfth scale.

It opens in three places, which is always better than just a front opening because it gives much greater flexibility in use.   The roof lifts up, revealing two big, half-timbered rooms, with a door between them.   It's annoying when dolls house makers not only assume that a house's inhabitants can not only fly from floor to floor but also walk through walls!   So it is satisfying to find both doors and stairs in this house.   And, indeed, rather nice specimens of both.

Downstairs there are once again two rooms, with an "oak" door between them.   Just one of the rooms can be seen here;  the second room is slightly smaller and of course has no staircase running up out of it. 

The house is very solidly built, it has a nice feel to it and when opened up it looks like this:   

As soon as we unloaded it from the car, daughter and I both thought "farmhouse" and foreign farmhouse at that.   I think maybe Danish or North German, she is thinking Czech.   I need to do some research before deciding exactly which country to base it in but the research is always a fun part of this hobby.   I learned a great deal about how the Japanese live when making my Japanese bungalow.....and one day there will also be a Colonial bungalow based in some part of either Africa or India.   At the moment that particular house is painted bright orange and looks repulsive.  But its day will also come!

And now for that tantalising glimpse of the final house in the Essex Haul.   This is the one I am probably most excited about......

Yes, it's another timber-framed one, but just wait till you see it!

Thank you for visiting Cestina's Dolls Houses today and I hope you will stay with me for more of the journey towards a dolls house museum of my very own.

Thursday 16 August 2012

Cue digression - a Dolls House Drabble sneaks in...

Apologies to those of you coming to the site expecting another dolls house reveal.   Next post, I promise.....

I know that many following this journey to a dolls house museum of my very own will be more than familiar with drabbles - yes, I mean you, Chalet School Bulletin Board members!  And for those who have no clue what or where the Chalet School is, wiki for once provides a coherent and accurate answer. 

One definition of a drabble is "a short piece of writing (usually fanfiction but sometimes original), usually no more than 100 words (although length is debatable) and often not bearing any real direction or plot. Drabbles are more often used to make a point about the characters or events involved, or to provide an introspection or specific point of view."

Chalet School drabbles (and those for other Girls Own authors) are many and various) and if anyone is interested, Chalet School ones can be found in abundance here and here

So why am I rabbiting on about drabbles and other apparently unconnected subjects?

Well, those of you who read the previous post will know that I invited suggestions on how to decorate and furnish this not terribly inspiring house.   I floated the idea of some sort of school and one blog follower, my friend Andrea Small, singing leader extraordinaire, has got rather carried away.

She is struggling with the posting of comments - blogger seems to have taken against her browser - and so having suggested a dance school - that comment posted okay - she has sent me her further developing thoughts by email.

Reading them, they resemble nothing so much as the plot lines for an excellent crossover drabble!   Since I know how many Girls Own fans are following this blog, I cannot resist posting it on here in its present entirety, though knowing Andrea I suspect there may be more to come.   

It started with Andrea 
commenting on the 15th August: Ooh ooh ooh as soon as I saw ground floor I thought "dance school". 

And the attics would house trunks full of long-forgotten but immensely valuable costumes, which would be discovered by The Naughtiest Girl in the School (such a trial to Madame) when she was hiding up there, and save the school from bankruptcy.

I responded by objecting to having to create a)people and b)valuable costumes.   (I reduced my own sewing teachers at school to tears on more than one occasion.)

Andrea came back with:  

The fabulous costumes could be suggested by glimpses of gorgeous material, rather than actual garments. Madame would need a study, of course, lined with photographs of herself as a young prima ballerina. And a drinks cabinet - perhaps that's why the school gets into financial trouble (er - perhaps not - she just needs a medicinal brandy when particularly vexed by The Naughtiest Girl). And the place could be deserted - a whole school performance at the Alhambra - with just a pair of discarded point shoes lying in the corner (more trouble for TNG on her return). Any more objections I can brush aside?

And the flow continued this morning:

The reason the school falls into financial problems is that Madame has a weakness - not The Drink, as I first thought, but her ne'er do well nephew. Haven't got his name yet. He is a cad and a bounder, not to mention a rake, but he is all she has left to remind her of her dear dead sister, tragically taken at a young age by TB.

Nephew appears once the story has been established (excited gossip amongst the girls - and most of the boys- who is that dashing stranger?) he sets his cap at a rich girl, hoping to get his hands on her fortune ( ooh Matron) and she, of course, falls heavily for him. Rich but dim. 

TNG, obviously, sees right through him, but no-one will believe her (she has a penchant for Tall Tales) and disaster nearly strikes. Perhaps he has managed to con some money out of Rich Girl and Madame is honour bound to repay once it all comes out (device as yet unknown) and then she is faced with Ruin...

Then there is the accompanist, who I feel sure has a backstory...perhaps she is The Drinker (tragic life, etc). So we need another character who is secretly a brilliant pianist who can step in when she falls down - a nice young man, I fancy, who also has a head for business and who ends up as Madame's right-hand person...

And yet more:

Oh oh oh - the Rakish Nephew arrives, of course, when the school is deserted - so you could have him standing in the middle of the studio, coolly assessing his chances. His mother, by the way, was a far more brilliant dancer than Madame, but she fell for a chap who whisked her away with promises of All Sorts (not the sweets, you understand), only to be revealed as firmly married.

By that time, she is heavily pregnant and just manages to get to Madame in time to deliver the boy, and then promptly dies ( so not TB, after all). Madame is all set to give up her dancing career to raise the child, but the dreadful father tracks the baby down and takes him away, to be raised as a servant on his estate. When the boy is older, he finds out about his father and is immediately embittered and turns to the bad. So we could summon up a bit of sympathy for him later, if necessary. Perhaps he has an epiphany. Perhaps he is the brilliant pianist....so many possibilities...

So there we have it - the story so far!  

All suggestions are more than welcome as to how on earth I am supposed to produce all these subtle plot twists and turns in miniature?   Preferably without using any people since they are not my strong point!

Anyone who would like to add to this melodramatic version of Ballet Shoes could email me their contributions to czechdollshouses@gmail.com and I will in due course produce a further digressive (is this a word I wonder?) blog post.....

Tuesday 14 August 2012

The Essex Dolls House Haul - Part Three

Recovery from the excitement of son's wedding on Sunday is slow but steady - if you are interested you can share the set-up and transformation process of a plebeian scout hut into a magical venue by my daughter here.

Our full-size house (which we have this morning accepted an offer on, a huge wrench, selling after nearly forty years) is full of wedding chaos, everything piled into boxes and bags after stripping down the scout hut on Sunday night to return it to its normal state.   

And I am supposed to be organising a singing workshop on Saturday though thankfully I am not the one who leads it.  (If you live near Hoddesdon, Herts, and love to sing, even if you fear you can't, do check out the link and sign up to join us.)

My brain is still not back in gear, and when that happens the best place to turn is to the totally controllable world of dolls houses, so it's time to take a look at the fourth house of the six from Essex.   You caught a glimpse of it at the end of my last post.

And here it is, with apologies for the foreshortened picture. Those of you who have been following this adventure from the start will recognise the shingled effect!

It is bigger than it appears in the photo, scale of one to twelve, with an opening front and a lift-up roof.   Not sure if the front door opens.   This is a style of house that many collectors start on but I don't yet have one like it in twelfth scale though I have a very similar one, in a smaller scale, tucked away in the garage.

It's not a shape that greatly inspires me so I would be very happy to receive suggestions for what could go into it.   Once again, I don't really want a conventionally furnished house....I have plenty of those.

I have just realised I only took three photos before we added this one to the garage but enough for people to come up with some ideas perhaps. 

Unusually for a dolls house I see there is a staircase up to the loft. Even when a house has a staircase on the lower floors it seems the inhabitants are expected to fly into the loft from outside. Not in this one though so maybe I can capitalise on that...

And the inside is very basic, again foreshortened so the true size is not easy to see.   There is a room divider for the first floor so it could be two rooms though I am inclined to repaper it and make it just one room.   

I had thought about a restaurant downstairs but I do already have a French-style cafe/patisserie so it would have to be another sort of eating place.   Hmm, maybe in contrast to the house itself it should turn into a chippy?

Ah, I have just had a thought - looking at it again has reminded me of the old house in Richmond where the Misses Lee, a pair of elderly sisters,  ran the small school which I attended when I was four.   Something about the dark green leaves behind it brought it to mind - I can remember the huge (well they seemed huge to me) laurel bushes through which we had to pass to reach the front door.

And now I can see the classrooms........

What do people think?   All other ideas still gratefully received as well.   Thank you for staying with me and see you again soon.

Oops - I almost forgot the tantalising glimpse of the next one:

Friday 10 August 2012

The Essex Dolls House Haul - Part Two

Just a short blog today as we run into the final preparations for son's wedding celebrations on Sunday.   You can read all about the crafting going on around this event on my daughter's blog Words and Pictures.  (Not you Laura!)   Well, not quite all the details yet but watch out for them after Sunday.

This is the first of the houses for which I would particularly welcome some suggestions as to what to create   It is a half-timbered house, quite large, with a roof that lifts off, and no floor in the upper storey.   And as you can see, the roof is unfinished.  I have not yet had time to investigate whether the house also opens from one of the sides but I think it may not.  If that's the case I may have to do some carpentry......

Looking down into the house it looks at first as if there was some thought being given to a first floor; it's hard to tell if those are supposed to be supporting ledges or just some fancy woodwork.

I did think of an Elizabethan-style Great Hall but it doesn't quite ring true to me - something about the roof I think.

Here's a final view of it showing the side windows. 

I shall cogitate on possible interiors and roof finishes but all ideas are welcome......

And here's a glimpse of the house to be revealed in the next (post-wedding!) blog post.....

Thank you for staying the course - I hope to see you early next week and in the meantime I look forward to any ideas and comments you have time to leave.

Tuesday 7 August 2012

The Essex Dolls House Haul - Part One

I am so excited!   Those of you who have been following this journey will know that right at the end of our stay in the Czech Republic I succumbed to an ebay offer of six dolls houses somewhere in Essex.   I had intended to just bid up to £25 - the start price was £10 - but I was watching the auction into the last seconds and decided to push up my bid to £35.55.  Which was enough!

We got back to Hoddesdon in the early hours of Friday morning and on Sunday I set off for Manningtree in Essex to collect my purchases.   Manningtree is almost as far from "our" Essex border as it is possible to get but I have an old friend in nearby Clacton so I was happy to kill two birds with one stone and pay her a visit at the same time.

I was greeted by the seller's father, who had been deputed to stand in for his son, with the words "You'll never get them in the car".   Anyone who knows me will realise that I regard that as a challenge - I have rarely had to leave anything behind in the many car-laden journeys I make to the Czech Republic and back.   Granted there is usually no chink of light to be seen in the rear of the car.   There was increased border security as we arrived in the UK on Friday and the very polite young border control officer expressed surprise at not being able to shine her torch from one side of the car to the other.   Rather like the German customs officer who pulled me over one November when I was travelling back to England with many Christmas presents. He too peered in, let out a loud "Im Gotteswillen!" and waved me through.

I wasn't worried by the remark that I would not be able to get them in but I could only stare in amazement at my haul, all stacked ready in the garage.   It was far, far better than I could have hoped.   The next few blog posts will be mainly photos so that you can see what I have acquired, with one or two thoughts about what they might turn into.   If anyone wants to throw in some suggestions for each house then please feel free to do so - it will be quite a while before we can get round to renovating them.

Here they are neatly tucked in the car, very kindly and successfully loaded by the somewhat surprised father.   One roof had to come off but I actually had a lot of rear vision which is just as well as I also had to collect a large number of items on the way home, ready for my son's wedding on this coming Saturday. 

There was indeed a Triang house amongst the six.   Sadly it is the one that has suffered most from getting damp.  I have two or three other Triangs and although I am not particularly interested in collecting them it will be quite satisfying to put my new acquisition next to this much older, slightly smaller version which I already possess.

The least interesting house of the six is this little one but it might do as one of those for sale in the Czech Republic.   I have a feeling there is another very similar one buried in my garage somewhere.

And to tantalise you a little, here is just a glimpse of the subject of the next post.......

I hope to see you all again soon - thank you for staying with me on this journey.

Thursday 2 August 2012

Testing, testing......

As many of you know I am currently driving across Europe to return to the UK for the month of August and a bit of September.   So no blog was intended for a few days.   However daughter, who also has a blog, called Words and Pictures and I have discovered that people signed up for email notifications of new posts from both of us have not been receiving any emails.

Searching on blogger has revealed that there has been a bug that should now have been fixed so I am just testing to see whether this is true.....if you are signed up for emails and either get one telling you about this post or see the post by chance because you didn't get one and should have, would you be kind enough to leave a comment below so that we can chase it up further?   Many thanks......

Normal blogging to be resumed as soon as possible!