Simply The Nest
Simply The Nest

Welcome to Simply The Nest

I'm Alice, and I like tutus and power tools. 

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 about a million years ago before I even got married (what!?), 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 eldest girl is Eva, the jam in our sandwich is Natalia, our menacing toddler is Elodie, and our dogs are Enrique, Penny and Cookie, 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, updating my Instagram, knocking plaster and horsehair off the walls, running with my dogs, wrangling my kids or knocking back margaritas, I'm busy with my full-time job. I work in IT-enabled business transformation, which is one of those professions where if you know what those words mean then I don't have to explain any further, and if you don't know what they mean then I won't explain as you'd probably fall asleep part-way through. In my spare time, I'm also on the board of a community group that runs a local Edwardian swimming pool. Yes, I'm quite tired and I don't sit down much.

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 basic living situation, the job, and the fondness for power tools. 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.
  • Running. No one can feel sorry for themselves when they're running, it's scientifically proven.

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 145 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 :-)