a way of life...

Month: August 2020

A Little Light Reading

Whether it is artificial or natural, light is at the heart of any interior scheme, and should be one of the first things to consider.

On a practical note wiring, sockets, switches, and light fittings will need to be accommodated in walls, floors, and ceilings. If starting from scratch a separate 5-amp circuit for occasional lamps is a must in my book.

On an aesthetic note light will determine how a colour appears a particular environment. A shade that looks good in daylight might not be so appealing in artificial light.

It is always advisable when choosing colours to source samples and look at them at different times of the day and in the parts of the room where they are to be applied. Ideally, these samples should be at least an A3 size to get an accurate reading.  Cutting up a roll of lining wallpaper is ideal for this purpose.

Paint a large enough sample to determine whether the colour works or not

The purpose of the environment should also be given thought so that appropriate lighting can be selected. Whilst ambient lighting might be preferable in some rooms, task lighting might also be required for reading or for other close work. Bedroom lighting is a good example as it has to be truly multi-purpose.

A well designed bedroom will have various lighting options

Kitchen lighting can be especially challenging if the room doubles up for dining. In this situation a successful lighting scheme could consist of a series of LED down-lighters, recessed under-cabinet lighting, strategically placed table lamps, and a dimmable pendant(s).

Clever lighting can convert a kitchen to dining room at the flick of a switch

Size also matters! Scale is really important when selecting a table lamp or ceiling pendant. Too small and it will look ridiculous; too big and it will swamp the room.

The materials of which a lamp is constructed will also have an impact on the finished scheme. Recycled glass for a chandelier or for a lamp base could look both elegant and stylish without being overbearing. Choosing the correct size shade will also play an important role in the success of the scheme.

Scale is oh so important

Lighting really can make or break a scheme. Designed well it will be both functional and decorative. A poor design will lead to endless frustrations.

Here are some of my favourite suppliers of extraordinary light fittings:

Most images in this post have been sourced from Pinterest

Storage Baskets

Study basket
Study basket

Storage baskets come in a variety of shapes and sizes, textures and colours. Use them to store kindling, toys, games, clothes, toiletries, magazines, remote controls, DVD’s, etc. etc.

Giraffe shaped toy basket
Nursery Basket

With their neutral colour and relaxed vibe they can provide the ideal storage solution for any room in the house.

Utility room basket
Utility room basket

In the utility room storage baskets provide the perfect vessel for dirty laundry or ironing.

Bedroom basket side table
Bedside table

In the bedroom use a wicker storage trunk as a bedside table or as a trunk at the end of the bed. Use them to store spare bedding, clothes, toys, books, or a whole host of miscellaneous bits and pieces.

Stair basket
Stair basket

A stair basket is a fantastic invention. Not only is it pretty and decorative, it is practical as well.

Bathroom basket
Bathroom baskets

In the bathroom these can store everything from toiletries to to towels, hairdryers to spare loo rolls. Keep them on display or tidy away in cupboards.

Pantry basket
Pantry basket

Buying a selection of sizes to fit on shelves is a great way of organising a pantry or larder. Group similar items together in appropriately sized baskets.

Hall basket
Hall basket

Use storage baskets can in an entrance hall to store shoes, hats, gloves, handbags and umbrellas. Tuck square ones beneath a console table out of the way to keep the area tidy and welcoming.

The choice is endless. From the most exotic to the most simple. Find them on-line, on the High Street or from the makers themselves. The possibilities are endless and only limited by one’s own imagination.

To start your search for the perfect basket try any of these links below:


To see how I’ve used baskets in my home go to https://langdonhyde.com/canny-storage-ideas/

All images from Pinterest

Chocolate & Beetroot Cake

Our allotment has been full to bursting this year and for the first time I grew beetroot.

I’ve used some in salads, and have also roasted some, Jamie Oliver style. Yum!

Today, however, I decided to make a Chocolate and Beetroot cake.

I searched the internet for a recipe and found this easy to follow one on the Tesco website.

I don’t have a food processor at the present time so used an electric food chopper to blend the beetroot and to finely chop the chocolate.

I used an electric mixer to add the eggs and a wooden spoon to mix the wet and dry ingredients together.

To sprinkle the icing sugar I used a tea strainer.

For a first attempt I was really happy with the outcome as were my neighbours who dropped by for tea!


  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 250g cooked beetroot
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 200ml sunflower oil
  • 100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • Icing sugar


  • Preheat oven to gas 4, 180 ° C, fan 160 ° C
  • Grease and line the bottom of a 23cm spring form cake tin
  • Sieve the cocoa, flour, baking powder and sugar into a large mixing bowl
Dry ingredients
  • Drain and halve the beetroot
  • Blend in a food processor
Chopped beetroot
  • With the machine running, add the eggs one at a time
  • Pour in the oil
  • Blend the mixture until smooth
Wet ingredients
  • Stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients
  • Mix in the chocolate
Cake mix
  • Pour into the tin and cook for 45 minutes or until a skewer or cocktail stick comes out clean
Cake in oven
  • Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes
  • Turn out and leave to cool
  • Dust the cake with icing sugar before serving


Air-Conditioning Blowing Hot & Cold

A/C unit and bookshelves in hut

I have it in my she shed

Wall mounted a/c unit in workshop

My partner has it in his workshop…

Wall mounted a/c unit in games room
Games room

We have it in our games room

Wall mounted bedroom a/c unit

My son has it throughout his whole house…

Wall mounted a/c unit in conservatory

My mum has it in her conservatory…

Many offices have it too…

What is it?

Air-con, or climate control, as it is sometimes called.


Prior to installing air-conditioning at home my only real experience of it was whilst holidaying abroad.

A trip to San Francisco in 1991 was the first time I really became aware of its existence. I recall dressing to go out for dinner clothes that were appropriate for the heat generated by the Californian sunshine.

What I hadn’t taken into account was that most of the Downtown restaurants were air conditioned. I spent the entire evening absolutely freezing!

My experience of Mediterranean systems has been equally unsatisfactory. As they are usually required at night I found that they tended to be both noisy and inefficient.


Nowadays I am a changed person; almost a complete convert.

The reason behind my change of heart is that I have learnt how beneficial an air-conditioning installation can be in lots of ways.

The fact that modern day air-conditioning installations can efficiently provide a means of both heating and cooling is a real benefit. It means that rooms can be used all year round rather than just seasonally.


Going back to my list my mum can now use her conservatory during hot and cold spells.

My partner can use his workshop all year round. He is neither too hot nor too cold.

My beautifully constructed garden cabin can also be heated or cooled depending upon the season.

My son’s home has a system which runs in conjunction with his underfloor heating system. Again it provides year round comfort.

An office with a controlled temperature aids productivity and energy efficiency.

Intelligent Controls

In all of these applications the installed systems have intelligent controls:

  • A Weekly Timer which can be programmed to meet home or office schedules.
  • An Intelligent Eye sensor which detects human movement.
  • Inbuilt Comfort Airflow direction ensures the air output is not directed at occupants.
  • The Outdoor Unit Quiet operation does exactly that.

Ceiling mounted units

On the whole the most practical solution for me has been the installation of a split system, which comprises an indoor and outdoor unit.

I have always opted for wall mounted units due to the design of the rooms in which they’ve been installed.

Flush mounted indoor ducted ceiling units are also available so long as there is sufficient space for the unit and ducting in the ceiling or loft void.

Year round comfort

As we experience hotter summers in the UK air-con is becoming much more common place in private residential properties.

It undoubtedly adds a level of comfort as our mini heatwaves seem to become more frequent.

All of our systems were installed by my son’s company, Cool Electrics Ltd. He covers the South West London area and Cobham in Surrey. For an unbiased opinion, or to find an installer in your area, visit www.Checkatrade.com

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