More of this Please!

Today’s Peak Time Tale took me no further than the end of my road. Now I’ve written about Acts of Random Kindness before (A.R.K) > here< and I consider them one of the simplest ways to experience a feel-good boost. Whether you’re the recipient, giver or happen to witness an A.R.K, there’s little else that will give you that instant heart-warming, happy buzz – and who would ever complain about an endorphin overload?

As I left the flat this morning, I noticed what appeared to be a rather fancy looking basket outside the front door or the property at the end of the road. The property in question is marketed for short-term-lease, so it’s not unusual to see boxes and furniture toing and froing every six months’ or so. Upon closer inspection, (by which I mean squinting my eyes and showing neighbourly* interest) I could make out a jar of coffee, some washing up liquid, a candle and an envelope with the word ‘welcome’ written on the front. All finished off with a red bow! A bow people! The previous tenants had obviously left a ‘welcome’ basket filled with a few house-warming essentials to greet the new residents. What a thoughtful gesture to make someone feel welcome on what is likely to be a stressful and hectic day.

I’ve created a few house-warming hampers in my time for friends and family, but never have I considered doing this for the new resident of a property I may be selling. I will definitely take this on board as and when my husband and I decide to sell up and move to our next home (and with our beautiful baby daughter growing up far too quickly, that’s likely to be sooner rather than later!).

A.R.K needn’t be grand gestures done publically with an audience in tow, and this small token proved exactly that. More of this please!

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*Read: nosey

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The Wedding Watcher

I consider myself quite the wedding connoisseur. There’s something about the romance of a wedding that captures my full attention.

Like having a sixth sense, I reckon I can spot a weeding a mile off. I’m not talking the obvious; a blushing bride or a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud floating by on a Saturday afternoon, I’m talking about those surreptitious little moments that could go unnoticed to the untrained eye.

On Friday, I saw what could only be described as a ‘plethora of palm trees’. Being delivered en masse, to a local island venue (yep, island!) members of staff could be seen scuttling around with all the energy of an Oompa Loompa, transporting palm after palm. Naturally my mind began to conjure up endless uses for these exotic plants:

  • A tree-lined aisle
  • A unique (if rather impractical to carry home) favour
  • A foliage-themed ceremony backdrop. Well, if it’s good enough for Kanye and Kim…

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During a mid-week stroll I spotted a tray of dainty buttonholes being delivered via the side entrance to a rather beautiful local property. What things they’ll see while in prime position, delicately pinned to someone’s lapel.

And how could I miss a Vera Wang dress bag as it elegantly hung from a car passenger window as I sat in rush hour traffic. If only I could’ve caught a glimpse of the dress.

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But my favourite wedding spot has to be one from last year. The 17.28 to London Waterloo was always relatively empty, making Peak Time Tales far easier to witness. As the train left Richmond station I noticed a man furiously making notes. Perhaps I was being Peak Time Taled? Thankfully, I wasn’t. I caught a glimpse of Mr Frantic’s reading material, ‘The Best Man Speaker’. These words alone are enough to send the most confident of public speakers into a state a panic. Was this a last-ditched attempt to write that showstopper of a speech? Had Google’s ‘Best Man Jokes’ search failed him? Had his other half heard a preview of said speech and demanded a rewrite or perhaps he was the groom, had heard a preview of the speech and was rewriting it for himself? Now wouldn’t that be something? Whatever his role, I hope the speech was a success and managed to get a few belly laughs. Or at the very least, make the bride blush!

Door to Door

As a nod to one of my favourite bloggers, Alex Stedman, (a.k.a The Frugality) I’ve decided to take today’s PeakTimeTales on a slightly different journey.

To feed our increasing obsession with doors (front doors, to be precise) I’ve taken to the streets to capture my choice in local door-eye-candy. Yes, I’m serious. Alex, enjoy!

It comes as no surprise that much like a statement necklace or pair of earrings, the style or colour of a front door can dramatically alter the overall look of a property. I’m not too proud to admit that I often take an alternative route home simply to ogle at a particular front door that holds my current no. 1 spot.

Let’s start by paying homage to the classic black and blue Victorian beauties. Understated in colour but packing a punch in curb appeal, these majestic designs demand attention. Bold. Elegant. Timeless.

Grey is one of my go-to shades when it comes to styling my home and myself. So what better choice when it comes to accessorising the front of your home? Not happy with a simple cool, calm and collected approach? Then create interest by varying the tone of grey and adding some patchwork glass detailing. A thoroughly modern take on another classic design.

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Keeping it cool with pastels, these stunning baby blue options are a welcomed alternative in a suburban setting and add a well-placed pop of colour. I love the way the pale blue frames the glass panes of this Edwardian-style door, moving away from the traditional green and red of the period.

Natural wooden doors instantly add a more modern edge to any property, but in order for this look to work, the house must toe-the-line. These beautiful examples of natural wood-effect doors definitely provide a refreshing alternative and subtly lift the façade of the properties without being too showy. I especially like the carefully placed glass detailing, adding character and in the case of the second image, extra sass! (And in case you’re wondering, the wreaths are changed seasonally – surely an accessory every door demands!).

If it’s unrivalled glamour and flair you’re after then look no further than the roaring twenties. Bursting at the seams with elegance and confidence, the decade is unmatched on the style front. So it’s quite a surprise that doors of the period were fairly low-key, being mainly dark painted wooden designs with decorative glass features. This modern take on a twenties-style door is understated but still gorgeous thanks to the dainty diamond shaped glass element.

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And now, readers, the door of dreams. The ‘I know I made you look’ door that stands pride of place down a street of bloomin’ lovely doors, but this one just has that little extra something. Painted in Lilac, an unusual choice for a non-beach-front setting, it shouldn’t work, but it does. It adds interest, makes me smile and completely elevates the property (which, by all accounts, is stunning lilac or no lilac). Bravo that owner who dared to break the mould and give my walk home, albeit now slightly longer, a very welcomed dash of colour.

 

(For those of your with a thing for windows, here’s something to tame that craving!)

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“Those bagpipes sound lovely.” Did I just say that out loud?

I live opposite a saxophonist. I consider this an absolute pleasure as I often leave the flat to what feels like my own personal theme tune. This may not be the opinion of his actual neighbour’s in situ, but my goodness, a sax solo creeping its way above rush hour traffic is enough to make me go weak at the knees.

So as a lifelong muso and champion of the art form, it pains me to say this, but the mind-boggling instrument they call bagpipes, have never really been my (ahem) bag. As much as I’ve tried, my ears simply cannot compute the torturous sound that, in my opinion, is up there with foxes crying and the universally annoying moped engine. Shudder.

I fully appreciate the skill involved in mastering the tartan beast, but the effects…not so much. So why did I find myself drawn to their non-dulcet tones on a recent trip to Hampton Court? Perhaps it was the setting or the glorious sunshine, but something strange happened and I found myself enjoying bagpipe music. I may’ve even done a little jig the sound thrilled me so.

It turns out that a gentleman had placed himself in a park opposite the palace and was filling the air with a fantastic array of Scottish folk music. The outdoor acoustics were staggeringly appropriate and carried his melodies far and beyond. As young and old stopped to enjoy his performance, it really made me smile. Something as simple as taking a practise session al fresco, sent myself and many others on our way, with a very Scottish spring in our step.

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Mr Bagpipe – music to my surprised ears

Hoop Hoop Hooray

I’ve never quite mastered the art of hula hooping – much to my utter frustration. I was really sporty as a child and couldn’t (and frankly still can’t) fathom how a piece of circular, fluorescent plastic had me stumped. Well, my hips won’t lie, thus the hoop won’t hula.

While out recently, I was delighted* to see a man honing his skills in the local communal gardens. That he had chosen to put on a public display pre-9.00am, was not only refreshing to all those commuters and early risers, but also rather encouraging. Monday mornings aren’t for the faint hearted and something as innocent and fun as a hula hooping adult, could be just the caffeine alternative we all need to get the week started. As I carefully observed his technique, so did many a passer-by, some of whom stopped to watch his rather impressive physical display (please note: I’m not going to buy a hoop and realise said dream any time soon, I’m a new-ish mum, hula hooping can wait!). My imagination began to conjure up endless reasons as to who, what, why? Perhaps he was a circus escapee, a BGT hopeful or a performance artist carrying out a smile-inducing one-man protest?

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Well readers, I clearly wasn’t the only person intrigued by his act. A far more outgoing, and dare I say it, ‘egged on by his friend’ observer decided to yell across the street. “What’s that all about mate?” while chuckling into his smartphone. To which the hula hooping man replied: “I don’t like yoga.”

Ha! I couldn’t have wished for a better response.

*read: furious and regressed straight back to childhood

The Urban Beachcomber

Waking up at the crack of dawn, grabbing my bucket and spade and heading to the beach with my nan, for a beachcombing session, is one of my fondest childhood memories.

Beachcombing – for those of you who’ve never tried it – is the simple process of scouring the beach (preferably after high tide, in the early hours) for all the treasures both visitors and the ocean may’ve left behind. The promise of discovering something mystical and magical was a massive selling point for my younger self.

Just like an early morning run can make you feel at one with whatever path, road or track you choose to tread, beachcombing made me feel very much part of my surroundings; the distant ocean with all the promise of an afternoon paddle and endless sandy beaches, as untouched as freshly fallen snow. Irresistible!

My beachcombing adventures never produced any magnificent finds, but collecting, what at the time, felt like the most glorious pick ‘n’ mix of shells and pebbles you’d ever seen (baby pinks, peaches, mother-of-pearl and jet blacks) were all the treasures I needed. Pieces of worn-down glass always fascinated me; what were once sharp, shiny shards, now muted and in soft focus. I’d relish the post-beachcomb feeling of going back home to create something unique with my finds. Often a simple shell-encrusted frame or delicate handmade card. Again, nothing too adventurous, but my eight-year-old self was pretty satisfied.

Nicola White, creator of, Tideline Art (http://www.tidelineart.com), has taken the ‘art’ of foraging along the coastline, to a whole new level. Using objects found along the Thames or the stunning Cornish coastline, she creates some fantastic pieces that make use of the oceans forgotten treasures. Take a look at Nicola’s, beautiful ceramic vase, complete with ceramic flowers and her brilliant blue fish (one of a skool!), created from glass found along the Thames   – pretty impressive, huh?

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It’s been year’s – dare I say decade’s – since I last took to the pebbled shores, and as I am not blessed with a seaside location, I’ve taken it upon myself to turn this childhood hobby, into a commuting past-time. Plus, no need for a bucket and spade (and quite frankly, you’d probably rather leave things were you find them, if you’re doing this in the inner city) but if you look beyond the obvious what…treasures lurk on your commuter trail?

Last week alone, I discovered the following:

  • A discarded umbrella: so lovingly shoved behind a phone box and of course, mandatory for this time of year
  • A set of nail polish toes dividers: once used to make someone’s digits decidedly pretty

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  • A giant paperclip: the picture does not do it justice – it was huge

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  • A half-smoked cigar: disgusting habit, but rather glamorously unfamiliar in a London suburb
  • An unused paper label: crying out for that perfect gift to adorn

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  • A babies dummy: the bright blue caught my eye from quite some distance away, I was hoping for better things

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  • Finally, a hubcap, surely the urban beachcombers dream?

I can’t promise you’ll find objects of any worth, but it might just give your daily commute a slightly different perspective.