Tag Archives: London

How to move house without losing your mind

17 Jul

In the last 10 years I’ve moved house 9 times. It feels to me like that’s rather a lot and I’ve managed to pick up a few handy tips and tricks in the course of my travels so thought it might be useful to share. I think you can apply these ideas to almost any relocation to help you feel – if not less stressed – a little more in control.

7 tips for moving house Decorator's Notebook blog{Decorator’s Notebook}


In the mid 1950s a chap called Cyril Northcote Parkinson published an essay in The Economist about efficiency… or more specifically, inefficiency. He based his argument on the old adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” and the theory became known as Parkinson’s Law. Anyone who’s ever done anything to a deadline will know this is almost always turns out to be true… give yourself 24 hours to pack up your home and you’ll probably manage, but that’s not to say you’ll be able to find anything at the other end. Give yourself a good few days to pack and a couple more to clean before you move.


Until my most recent move I’ve always begged old Doritos boxes from Sainsbury’s for my packing. If you’re moving into your new place straight away that can be fine, but I knew the majority of my stuff was going into storage and irregular shaped boxes that don’t stack are much less cost effective in the long run. So, I bought boxes from a local removal firm (even if you’re not using them to move they’ll usually sell boxes) – a greater number of smaller boxes is best because you’ll resist the temptation to make them too heavy and they’re an easier shape to carry. I spent about £25 on boxes but if I’d got my act together I’m sure I could’ve sourced secondhand ones on local forums or Freecycle. Alternatively, most removal firms sell ‘once used’ boxes at a discounted price. Start hoarding newspapers and bubble wrap as soon as you know you’re moving… for some reason bubble wrap is very pricey to buy.


My top moving tip is to get down to your local pound shop and pick up some of those big tartan laundry bags. If you don’t know what I mean, check out your local launderette (or tune into Eastenders). These are perfect for packing duvets, pillows and even clothes because they hold their shape, you can cram loads into them and they zip closed. Plus, if they’re packed full you can stack them up and there’s a bit of give in them to cram them into awkward corners of your van.


Spending a few quid on decent labelling kit will save you time in the long run. I buy coloured index cards which are large enough to list all the items packed in each box and can be used as colour coding for the room destination at the other end. For bags I punch a hole in the top and turn them into luggage tags that can be tied onto the handles. Don’t skimp on cheap parcel tape (you really do get what you pay for) and buy a sellotape dispenser which will allow you to bubble wrap with one hand and tape with the other. Lastly, arm yourself with a biro and a big fat marker pen.


Try and get the house you’re leaving cleaned to the point where you only need to do a last vacuum once the boxes and furniture have gone. Deep cleaning (especially the fridge and oven) always takes longer than you think so leave plenty of time. I recommend these extra products* on top of your usual ones for a moving-out clean:

Kilrock Thick Descaler Gel: the only thing I’ve found that completely removes that awful London limescale around the base of taps / plugholes

Dettol Mould and Mildew Remover: gets rid of stains on bathroom grout / sealant without scrubbing. This stuff will burn through your clothes if you spill it and skin won’t stand a chance so always wear gloves

Lakeland Magic Oven Liner: a preventative measure to make the horrible job of cleaning the oven less painful. When you do, I’ve found Mr Muscle Foam up to the task

* moving home is no place for eco-friendly cleaning fluids or elbow grease in my view and these chemicals don’t mess about – be warned and open the window!


You’ve probably been planning how you’ll use each room in your new home for months, but remember that when they’re empty, which one you intend to use as your guest bedroom / playroom / home office won’t be obvious to your removal guys / helpers. When you arrive at your new place, blu-tack signs to the door of each room corresponding with the labels on your boxes. This way everyone can work out where boxes go themselves and you don’t need to orchestrate everything. Consider labelling your furniture in the same way too.


It’s easy to forget those final essentials when you’re tired and desperate to get on the road. Make a list of your last-minute tasks and stick it on the front door so you don’t forget. Reading your meters, dropping keys to the estate agent, turning off the fridge/ boiler and leaving your forwarding address for the new owner should all be on this list.

If you’re moving… good luck!

If you found my post useful, please share it with a friend! Buttons below…

Ten days of hellos and goodbyes

10 Jul

A lot has happened while I’ve been away from here…

east london line

… farewell Gingerline commute

camera strap

… farewell day job colleagues

labour and wait

… farewell favourite shop

liberty london

… farewell other favourite shop

london skyline from millenium bridge

… farewell Southbank skyline

Crystal Palace Park

… farewell Crystal Palace Park

my first home

… farewell first home sweet home

packing labels

… farewell lovely belongings

packing boxes

… hello ice cold beer

cleaning products

… hello four day cleanathon

tea revives you

… hello well-deserved tea break

view from my bedroom window

… hello waking up to this

the cleave pub dartmoor

… hello Granny, happy 80th birthday


… hello Wimbledon final day (woop!)

to do list

… hello new life!

Missed all this? Follow us on Instagram @DecoratorsNotes

#Blognic the movie?!

6 Jun

Ahhh, what a day! The sun shone, the bloggers came, the garden was beautiful and the food was plentiful. I had such a lovely time chatting to friends old and new… thanks to everyone who came and especially my co-organisers Ellie and Lynne.

Here’s a few of the beautiful photos taken on the day…

blognic 2013 london

blognic bloggers picnic 2013

st johns lodge gardens regents park{above Decorator’s Notebook}

cakes at blognic 2013

blognic design bloggers picnic 2013{above Soumya from Made By Molu}

blognic design bloggers picnic 2013

sea salt cookies blogger picnic 2013

design blogger picnic blognic london

papermash striped straws blognic {above by Clare from The Digital Iris}

blognic bloggers picnic{above Michelle from MYCreative}

bloggers at blognic 2013{above Decorator’s Notebook}

Michelle even made this sweet little Blognic video. Let’s hope the sunshine is kind to us next year for the sequel!

See you at #blognic!

31 May

Blognic 2011 by Wellies and Vogue

The sun is set to shine on Sunday so the location for this year’s Blognic is confirmed as St John’s Lodge Gardens, Inner Circle, Regent’s Park.

Map (and last chance to rsvp) here http://blognic2013.eventbrite.co.uk/#. Look for the small iron gate leading to a pergola to the right of St John’s Lodge.

Ellie, Lynne and I will be there from 1pm… keep in touch on Twitter using #BLOGNIC. Looking forward to meeting you!

Bethan xxx

blognic_wellies_01{Photos from Blognic 2011 by the fabulous Tori from Wellies & Vogue}

Blognic is back…and you’re invited!

17 May

blognic invitation 2013

I’m so excited to invite you to this year’s design blogger’s picnic organised by Lynne, Ellie and me. If you didn’t come two years ago, Blognic is an informal afternoon of eating, drinking and socialising with like-minded creatives in Regent’s Park.

It’s free and everyone with a blog is welcome – just hop over to the BLOGNIC 2013 Eventbrite page to RSVP and keep in touch via Twitter using #BLOGNIC

The more the merrier so please spread the word!

Blognic 2011{Lovely photos of Blognic 2011 by Carole from Mademoiselle Poirot}

See you there!

Bethan xxx

Petal power at Hampton Court Palace

9 May

Hampton Court Palace and garden in spring

I’ve been mentally compiling a bit of a London bucket list and the glorious bank holiday weekend seemed the perfect chance to tick off one of the most beautiful places – Hampton Court Palace. I booked a ticket that included both the Palace and the gardens but as it was such a lovely day I spent most of my time outside. I’m determined to get to grips with my camera and post more original content this summer so here are a few of my snaps.

formal spring planting at Hampton Court Palace

tulips at Hampton Court Palace gardens

pink magnolia flowers

These photos are a bit misleading to be honest because with such nice light and stunning colours it would be hard to take a really terrible photos. Let’s just say there’s a reason I’m posting these and not the pictures I attempted to take of the equally stunning but badly lit interior!

Hampton Court Palace formal gardens

Fountain court at Hampton Court Palace

Tudor chimneys at Hampton Court

The really interesting thing about Hampton Court is that it’s been added to by various rulers over hundreds of years, so everywhere you turn there’s a different period of spectacular architecture to admire. I particularly loved the towering Tudor chimney stacks, each with its own design to show off just how warm and cosy Henry VIII could afford to keep his visitors.

Even though it was a busy bank holiday I still managed to find a quiet spot to sit and read (ok, nap) in this pretty walled orchard.

orchard Hampton Court Palace Gardens

espalier apple trees Hampton Court Palace

apple blossom closeup

Hampton Court Palace Gardens roller{all Decorator’s Notebook}

If you’re in London and haven’t visited Hampton Court Palace yet I completely recommend you go the next time the sun is shining. The interior is absolutely incredible as well. I’m tempted to do a whole separate post just with photos of the ceilings!

Decorator’s Notebook and the Mystery of the Marshmallow Tree

7 May
So, there I am walking to the station the other day and admiring the blossom outside the church as per usual, when I notice something funny about this one particular tree…
London cherry blossom

Can you see it?

Now, this tree is white, but halfway up there’s one branch covered in pink blossom. And not only that, the flowers are a completely different shape too.

A marshmallow tree! Or more like a flump really, when you think about it.

close up cherry blossom
{all Decorator’s Notebook}

Weird no? Is this a common horticultural thingamy I just don’t know about, or is there some severe plastic tree surgery going on here?

Answers on a postcard… or Tweet @DecoratorsNotes #marshmallowtrees

Ne’er cast a clout ’til may be out

22 Apr

seeded bagel with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs

This was my first Saturday since I finished my mentoring that I’ve actually been able to relax and have some time to myself. I was determined to be as lazy as possible, so I got up decadently late then cooked a scrummy brunch in my pjs.

hawthorn may blossom

I went for a walk in Crystal Palace Park (which is right opposite my flat so took no effort whatsoever) to enjoy the lovely sunshine. The may has finally blossomed so I cast my jacket and socks. It felt good!

feet on grass with green shoes{all Decorator’s Notebook}

After a couple of hours exposing my ghostly skin to the sun, I headed homeward to search for a new WordPress theme for my blog – I can’t believe how hard it is to find one I like! I am looking for a clean, simple design with a traditional one column layout, a proper sidebar and room for a header image at the top. Not hard you’d think, but lots of the ones available now seem to look more like website than blogs with a static front page of thumbnails which click to open individual posts rather than a scrolling format.

Should I be considering them? Do you mind blogs with a fixed front page like that or do you still prefer more traditional blog designs?

I’d love to know what you’ve done if you use WordPress.com too…

Do whatever it takes…

16 Apr

David Bowie as Ziggy Startdust Masayoshi Sukita

{Masayoshi Sukita}

Beg. Borrow. Steal. Join.

Whatever it takes, you have to get yourself a ticket to David Bowie Is at the V&A.

Obviously, I was always going to love it, but I loved it even more than that!

Reflections: one year, one boy, 1,004 ft above London

3 Apr

Reflection The Shard

See the girl waving on the left… that’s me. And next to me… that’s ‘K’.

I’ve not introduced you before, but for the last year this funny, complex 10 year old has been my most familiar weekend companion. Two summers ago I applied to be a mentor through Chance UK, a charity that matches volunteers with primary school children who have behavioural difficulties and are at risk of developing anti-social or criminal behaviour in the future. After training, screening and a long wait, I was finally matched with K. I’d like to say we hit it off immediately, but life is complicated for him and it took a while to build up trust. When we first met he hid under the table. Laughter didn’t come easily to him – he frowned a lot, he was sometimes angry with me when I picked him up for our weekly sessions and sometimes angry when I left too.

But over the months that followed things gradually changed and more often than not, we’d both laugh until our sides ached. We’ve fallen flat on our faces together at the ice rink. I’ve got us horribly lost and K has stepped in with his phenomenal knowledge of London’s buses to save the day. I’ve taught him how to get himself going on the swings without being pushed. Gentle encouragement, small achievements but I hardly recognise the child I took to The Shard on Saturday from the one I met last April.

lift The View from The Shard

Flying up in the lift at a rate of six floors a second felt a little like a scene from K’s beloved Dr Who. Believe me, it’s a very strange feeling to be in a lift moving so fast your ears pop and your stomach feels like it’s been left at least three floors below. We swapped lifts at floor 33 for the final ascent, emerged blinking at the top and there it was. The view..

Tower Bridge from The Shard

millenium bridge from The Shard

HMS Belfast from The Shard

There’s nothing like seeing something enormous through a child’s eyes. “How come the river’s straight on the tube map and from here it looks like Eastenders?” he asks. While I was scrabbling around in the back of my brain for a child-friendly way to connect erosion and Harry Beck, K had already moved on and was happily starting a rendition of the theme tune. “Boom, boom, boom-boom, boom boom… Can we go to the top now?”

the shard london architecture

top of the shard london

From the end of the lift on floor 68 you’re able to take the stairs further up, right to the level of the jagged glass shards at the top of the building. Amazingly, the sides are partially open up there and you’re exposed to the elements (in our case wind and rain) which somehow makes the incredible height you’re at seem suddenly very real. People have mixed views on whether super skyscrapers like The Shard have a place on the London Skyline, but there’s no denying the architecture is mindblowing. I commuted in and out of London Bridge every day while it was being built and K has seen it rise up from the windows of his council flat in Lambeth. Whether K felt the significance of being there – with London laid out below us –  or not, I can’t say. In truth, probably not. But having seen the transformation in this kind, inquisitive child through a year of exploring the capital together and knowing that we’ll never be in contact again, the poignancy of the moment was certainly not lost on me.

The View from The Shard London{all Decorator’s Notebook}</p

Isn’t perspective an amazing thing? Chance UK and The View from the Shard… check them out. They might just change how you see London forever.

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