Saturday, 16 November 2013

Our New House–Topping Out

Last night we had our “topping out” party as a thank you to the wonderful team of builders that we had. Unfortunately not everyone involved was able to attend, but the core members were there with their families. I was so pleased that we were able to do this, as I really didn’t want the adventure simply to fizzle out as they went off to do other jobs.

Officially, a topping out involves putting a leafy bough on the apex of the roof to celebrate the final piece of the roof being completed. The origins of this practice are obscure, but it goes back to Europe’s pagan past. These days it’s as much an excuse for a boozy knees-up as anything else!!! We didn’t do this when our roof was completed, nor when the roof was finally on the garage, and I really wanted to mark the end of our building project. Our “leafy bough” is the little wooden tree that Paul made – he originally made it for Andy and for the duration of the project, it lived on our kitchen windowsill – if you look back at some of the earlier photos you can see it there. The other day I was in the garden and found it by the garden steps, in a sorry state, having been left out in the rain. I brought it in and scrubbed it to clean it off but there is some discolouration which I can’t remove. I put it out on the hall table for Andy to take, and he has given it to me! I am delighted to have it and shall treasure it as a memento of our adventure.

11 Paul's Little Wooden Tree

Getting ready for the party – I bought a lot of savouries – crisps and dips, and canapés and other hot finger food. I wanted to keep it fairly simple so I could spare my energy for making the puddings! In this first photo, the table is new – it folds into a half-circle table that we put up against the radiator – there isn’t much room in the kitchen for a table but it’s nice to have somewhere to sit, and it extends to a reasonable size.

01 Party Food

Many years ago, I painted my grandmother’s old Singer sewing machine table white, and got a smoked glass top for it. It is now in the hall of our new house, and is proving very useful for putting things ready to go upstairs, or in to Mum’s annexe. The dish on the right is on a lazy Susan base and is lovely for parties. My hubby’s sister gave it to us shortly after we were married and I’ve used it such a lot.

02 Party Food

I laid out the puddings on the table in Mum’s annexe. Sticky toffee pavlova, chocolate mousse, trifle and fruit salad.

03 Puddings

The sticky toffee pavlova.

04 Sticky Toffee Pavlova

This my absolute favourite pudding of all time! The meringue is made with golden caster sugar so it is slightly brown-coloured rather than pure white. You make a toffee sauce with soft brown sugar, butter and syrup and fold it into whipped cream for the filling, reserving a little to drizzle on the top. Yum yum. Now, what do I do with all those egg yolks?

The trifle.

05 Trifle

I only put a dash of sherry in this time because there were children at the party, but I usually put in enough to notice! Trifle sponges soaked with a tin of raspberries and half a raspberry jelly made up at half strength (I hate trifles with solid jelly in them. For my US readers – jelly = jello.). Sliced banana on top, then custard, then whipped cream, and decorated with toasted flaked almonds. Yum yum again! You can see the chocolate mousse and fruit salad behind. The latter consisted of oranges, apple, banana, melon, grapes, fresh pineapple and passion fruit – this last makes it taste gorgeous and exotic! The juice came from the fruit itself, with some mixed tropical fruit juice that I bought.

The party in full swing. Tim (electrician), Andy, Chris’s wife and daughter, Paul with his youngest, my hubby, Paul’s wife.

06 The Party

Chris, Tim, Andy and Chris’s daughter.

07 The Party

Wonderwoman – until we moved she was my home help. Unfortunately we live a bit too far for her to travel to us. She is Andy’s partner. This whole project would never have come about without her because we would never have met Andy, had she not introduced us!

08 Wonderwoman

Paul with his wife and youngest of three children – she is utterly adorable! They have another girl and a boy – all three children were great, and so well behaved – they are a lovely family.

10 Paul, Louise and Phoebe

We had a great evening and it was nice for them to see each other’s handiwork finished – Tim told me that he rarely sees the finished job because he’s usually in at first fix, laying cables. None of them had seen the place at night, or with all our stuff in and looking so organised and tidy! My hubby told me this evening that the house had never looked nicer! It makes all the difference having the pictures up, rugs on the floor and some ornaments out. It feels really nice and homey now.

The other day I took some final pictures of the bathroom, with ornaments on the counter. I still have to do some painting in there to finish off (the arch, touching up here and there) and this will get done eventually. Meantime, I am working on filling the damaged areas of the architrave around the doorway from the bedroom, and once I’m satisfied with it, I shall paint the door frame. Here’s how the bathroom looks now.

01 Bathroom Counter and Arch

These pictures were all taken in daylight, which gives a better result colour-wise – it’s been very hard photographing the bathroom as it’s such a subtle colour and I usually have to manipulate the photos to try and get as close as possible to how it actually is – in these photos I haven’t done this and most of them are more or less OK.

02 Bath and Mirror

I love my big round mirror and what is reflected in it from different angles.

03 Towel Rail Radiator

04 Shower

I unpacked some more boxes the other day and found all my shells. I decided to add an accent colour in the bathroom, which is blue – I have quite a few pieces of dark blue glass which I think look good against the natural background of the tiles.

05 Counter with Ornaments

I put all my smaller shells in this big glass jar.

06 Basin

Blue glass, pottery, shells and pebbles.

07 Counter Ornaments

My new artificial bamboo plant in the corner, with more pebbles and my big shells.

08 Bamboo Plant

I am loving how the bathroom looks now, and love even more how fabulous it is to use, and how utterly self-indulgent I feel when I am in there! Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.


  1. Looks like a great time, Shoshi! How fun to have a party in your beautiful new home!

  2. Now it's time to party and then relax into your new home. Well done and enjoy. It all looks fabulous ;D

  3. First chance I have had to take a sneek peek - was thinking of you yesterday, and wondering how you are after all the chaos. Sounds like a great party. Well done - and well done to the guys!!! A great job, guys! Trust this finds you both well, and enjoying your lovely new home now all the work is done.
    Love to you both,


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