Thanks for visting Simply The Nest. I'm an English girl married to an Portuguese boy, and when I'm not working or taking care of our three adorable daughters, I blog about our house renovation, DIY projects, and family life in a Victorian Manchester nest.

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I'm not a Facebook person, so instead here's a link to some kittens singing Beyonce in Northern accents.

Everything You Need To Know About Me (And Then Some)

Should I have taken the false teeth? All good novels have a great opening line, so for the official First Sentence to be posted on this blog, I'm shamelessly borrowing the first line from a novel I read on holiday in Tuscany a few years ago, where my friend brought a suitcase full of books about mad Italian 18th century monks and Catholic intrigue, and I brought a suitcase full of Jilly Coopers (don't hate me - after four years of speed-reading my way though Anna Karenina and Ulysses at university, I figure I'm entitled to some light holiday literature).

Naturally, having speed-read my way through the complete adventures of Rupert Campbell-Black in the first few days of the holiday, I swiftly moved onto the Catholic intrigue, and discovered a novel that began with the the Best Opening Line ever (no offence, Charles and Daphne). I mean seriously, how many novels in the history of the planet make reference to false teeth in the first sentence? Two? Three? Props to the authors who do, is all I can say.

Well, maybe it was the grappa, but I thought it was hysterical, and vowed that if I ever wrote a blog one day I would use that as the opening sentence.... well, of course I didn't really think that, the word blog had barely entered my lexicon at that stage, in fact, were blogs even invented back in days of yore (2004)? but heck, what's the point in writing a blog if you can't indulge in some artistic licence here and there.

Oh, and here's a promise that my sentence will be shorter and my paragraphs less complex from this point onwards. Or possibly longer and more complex, depending on how the mood takes me.

So let's get down to business. I'm Alice, and I'm English. My husband is Andre, and he's Portuguese/South African. Our four year old daughter is Eva, our two year old daughter is Natalia, our baby daughter is Elodie and our dogs are Penny and Enrique, and they're all confused about their nationality. Fortunately the baby wail and Jack Russell terrier yap is the same in every language.

We all live in a huge Victorian semi in the popular leafy M20 suburb of South Manchester, England. (No, we don't support Manchester United. Or Manchester City. Well, actually the dogs might do - I've never asked them.) Our house was built in 1875, and judging by the current decor hasn't been updated since. Before we moved to our current Victorian home in January 2012, we lived in an adorable two-bed 1950s semi around the corner. But much as we loved our little casa from the fabulous fifties - era of Dior's New Look, rock and roll, Teddy Boys, Some Like It Hot, scarlet lipstick and seamed stockings - and swore that if we ever needed more space we'd put up a teepee in the back garden, when our first daughter arrived with a shed-load of multi-coloured plastic accoutrements, we bit the bullet and moved round the corner to acquire nearly 3000 square feet of original cornices/mouldings/bay windows/high ceilings/turquoise bathroom/red master bedroom.

When I'm not glued to my laptop writing this blog, I'm glued to my laptop writing for work. I spend eight hours a day tapping away on my laptop/gesticulating at a whiteboard with a perplexed/ confused/ manic expression that varies depending on time of day/ number of espressos consumed/ distance from deadline and so on. More importantly of course, the work keeps me in viognier, Clarins, chandeliers, fancy shoes, and the occasional long weekend in Paris.

So I feel that if we're going to be spending time together, there are some things that you need to know about me. We've established the accent, the basic living situation, the job, and the fondness for bad puns and music/film/literature references. Here's some other important information about the things that tickle my fancy:

  • Watching re-runs of That Seventies Show ("Mrs Foreman told me to get this out of her sight. I like to think she meant hey, have a free canoe").
  • Laughing like a drain at Neil Armstrong's historic first words as reported by the Onion (seriously, if you're not familiar with what Neil really said, you have to check this link out immediately if not sooner).
  • Busting out some Tom Cruise Tropic Thunder-style dance moves in the kitchen when I think no one is watching.
  • Eggs Benedict on a Sunday morning at the local deli - the absurdly high fat content knocks me out for the day, but is totally worth it.
  • The knowledge that I have a year's supply of my favourite wine in the cupboard under the stairs which I bought half price cos the local supermarket had a random surplus.

So what is this blog about? Well, mostly it's about the pain my husband and I are putting ourselves through to DIY renovate our 130 year old Victorian house to her former glory. When I first started blogging in 2009 I shared recipes, inspirational interiors, tours of our local neighbourhood and area, and travel posts, along with general DIY projects and stories about the renovation of our first house. You can find all these posts by looking through the relevant category.

More recently I've decided to focus purely on blogging about our DIY adventures because there's not actually that much detailed, real-life information on the internet about UK Victorian house renovation, so in addition to chronicling our progress so we can have the satisfaction of looking back on all our hard work, I like to think that by sharing what we've learned we may benefit others undertaking the same tasks.

If you're renovating a Victorian house and have any questions or want to share some advice, please get in touch! And thank you for reading :-)