Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Another few busy days with us. The upstairs sash windows have been re-fitted with new weights, cords & draft proofing. It was pretty expensive, as we have paid for a system that allows us to easily remove the window for painting. Worth it though – they no longer rattle in the wind and the draughts have finished. Added to all the painting and frantic tidying before the familial visit we have had a manic few days.

The house is finally coming together – nearly 18 months in and we have done enough work (electrics, plumbing, building, plastering etc) to start decorating and thinking what we want the house to look like.

Normally, our interior design wouldn’t stretch much past IKEA as it is about the best we can afford at the moment. However, early this year the Marks and Spencer Lifestore opened. This was chock full of beautiful furniture and accessories in the kind of style we had in mind. Some quite contemporary furniture, traditional ceramics and glass and a few unique show pieces that we hadn’t seen anywhere else. Needless to say it would all have cost way too much.

Until, that is, Peter Green launched an unsuccessful takeover bid of the Lifestore earlier this year. The M&S board responded by announcing a radical shake-up including closing their Simply Food stores and the first Lifestore at Gateshead. This has meant that a lot of the items we wanted are being sold off at bargain prices, some at 75% or more reductions. We have bought the sideboard for the dining room we wanted (in lovely high gloss white) for £99, rather that the original £799. Needless to say, we have a huge van of deliveries arriving soon – so at least a couple of rooms will be finished before family and friends descend over Christmas and New Year.

While this is great for our bank balance it is a real shame as well. We now know a lot of the staff on first name terms, they even ring us at home to let us know when the stock we want has arrived and hide it away for us. Most of them will be redeployed in other M&S stores but they all felt like they were joining a new era for M&S and have seen the beautiful store, complete with a full size Pawson House, reduced to a clearance warehouse with stock piled high and vultures descending.