Tag Archives: House

How Much Can Grow on a Thatched Roof?

Plenty of the houses in Longparish are thatched.  One of them has a roof line that drops very low to the ground on one side of the house with the door and windows on the other side.  That must be the side that gets more light.  The back side of the house seems to be very shaded with the result that there is a lot of growth on the roof.  It was covered in various lichens/mosses.  I wonder whether they degrade the thatch or actually provide an additional layer of insulation.

Anacortes Castle

Driving through the back roads in Anacortes, I came across Anacortes Castle.  I think it is actually just a house but it is certainly one that has been styled to look like a castle.  You probably couldn’t defend it from marauders very easily and the turret seemed to have a lot of open space inside but it is still an interesting looking building.  It sits on a normal residential street so is quite out of keeping with the rest of the houses.  Still, it is a talking point, I am sure!

Collagewall Installation

Nancy and I had been discussing what pictures to add to the walls in the house.  We were trying to find something that was a nice layout and also could include images from a variety of places.  We settled on the Collagewall from MPix.  I have used MPix for a lot of photo printing requirements over the years so was happy to give this product a go.

They have a variety of configurations that you can choose from.  They have varying dimensions and layouts and you can  pick your images to fit different aspect ratios.  The one we went with was 4.5’ across to fit a large wall space and it included some large and small square format images with a couple of panoramic shots and one vertical thin image.  I did all of the selections and formatting in Lightroom and then just dragged and dropped them in to the configuration tool.  It was very straightforward.

The whole things was printed and shipped quickly and would have been with us shortly thereafter had it not been for a winter storm that meant the package got to spend a week in Salt Lake City.  However, it finally arrived and we could install it.  There is a paper template provided to assist in putting it on the wall.  You tape that in place checking for location and level before getting to work.  A series of pins need to be inserted into the surface of the wall.  Using the template, you can make an initial pin hole with one of the pins without pushing it all the way in.  Then, when all locations have an initial mark, the template can be removed and saved for any future installation.

Then add the full set of pins by pushing them all the way in to the initial holes previously made.  This results in a grid of pins covering the full area of the finished work.  Slots on the back of the prints will then slide over the heads of the pins.  For some of the small prints and the panos, adhesive foam pads are added to provide some stability.  The larger prints are stabilized sufficiently by the pins.  Then you slot everything in to place.

From start to finish, it was probably little more than half an hour to put it up.  A significant portion of that was making sure the template was exactly where we wanted and properly leveled.  Nancy pushed out each print while I was inserting the pins.  Finishing it off was very simple.  The nature of the installation means changing a print out for a replacement would be very easy and then include a folding element that can be inserted in the back to make each print stand on its own if required.  I’m really happy with the way it has come out and might do a smaller installation for another location in the house.  In truth, the longest part of this is choosing the right shots to include.

Geometry in Housing or is it Monopoly

A quick trip to Dallas for work was necessary and I took the little camera along for the trip.  As we came in towards Love Field, we flew over ares that are in the process of being built up or have recently been so.  Seeing plots of land with the street layout showing but the plots not yet built up showed what had been there before in the areas that were now populated.  A closer look showed that the houses did have a variety of styles but, from above, the roofs all seemed to be very similar and they were close together.  It was almost like someone had grabbed a bunch of houses from a Monopoly set and lined them up next to each other.  On the ground it probably looks nice but from above it was very uniform.

Bloedel Reserve

I’m always on the lookout for the place I might move to when I decide to lay off the whole sordid business of working for a living.  We took a trip to Bainbridge Island which, if you asked Nancy, was a chance to check out some of our new area or, if you asked me, was a house hunting trip.  The place I was looking at was called Bloedel Reserve.  They may tell you that it is an estate that is now open to visitors but clearly they are keeping it ready for me.  A nice little house with some delightful gardens.

The house is not necessarily my style but I’m sure I could find a way to make it work.  The grounds do look like they might need a reasonable amount of effort.  I suppose I could buy a little mower to ride around on but that does sound a bit like hard work.  I suppose I could get some help.  I wonder whether Nancy would like a little John Deere?

Filoli Mansion

B11I8690-HDR.jpgGrowing up in the UK, there is no shortage of big houses and gardens to visit.  Over the years, countless old families have had to give up their estates, often as a result of death duties, with the result that they end up in the hands of the National Trust or English Heritage.    I was surprised to see that there was a similar organization in the US.  Filoli is one of their properties.  It is on the peninsula south of San Francisco.

B11I8707.jpgThe estate was in the hands of two families prior to its current status.  It is a classic old house with plenty of rooms, a ballroom, large kitchens and servant facilities, a library and enough space to deal with any number of social situations.  Normally when we visit places, checking out the house is not a priority.  We tend to prefer the gardens.  However, this time we did take a look around.

B11I8718.jpgThe house was really quite pleasant inside.  Because it was a 20th century creation, it is a product of that time.  No big efforts at replicating older times although it does pick from a variety of styles.  The furnishings all seem suitable for the era and apparently that makes it a popular filming location.  The exterior is not so great in my opinion.  The brick finish is rather uninspired and I think it has a bit of the look of a government building.  It is well taken care of though.

B11I8741.jpgThe strangest thing about it is the relationship between the house and the gardens.  The gardens will get a post of their own.  However, they are mainly offset from the house itself.  When in the house, you are not looking out across the gardens.  I thought the whole point was to be able to look out and observe the beauty of the gardens.  Oh well, it’s not like I am living there so I guess I don’t have to worry about it too much.

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Officer Commanding’s House

C59F7805.jpgEx-military installations that I have visited have a feature in common and that is the quarters for the senior officers.  Some grand looking houses are the home for the higher levels of staff and, the older the installation is, the grander the accommodations appear to be.  Putting together this post has reminded me of another place I visited a few years ago and I shall have to write about that too at some point.  However, the location today is Mare Island.  As a naval facility, the officer commanding required a sizeable house.  We got to take a look around the place.

C59F7783.jpgIn actuality, it isn’t the largest home you will see on a military base.  Take a trip to the Presidio in San Francisco and you will see plenty of big houses.  Even so, this one is quite an impressive place.  There is plenty of space for a family to live in this house and it looks very nice from the outside.  It is also a short walk to the main administration block.  Not the worst commute anyone would have.  The staff areas are naturally a little more spartan and there is a buzzer system to allow the occupants to summon those staff when required.  It isn’t hard to imagine officers with cigars around the table after dinner.

Hardwick Hall

C59F3147.jpgWhile Donald Trump might be well known now for putting his name all over his buildings, he certainly isn’t the first to do so. Head back to the Elizabethan period and you can find another example of someone who wanted you to know who they were. Bess of Hardwick had an interesting life that led her to be one of the more powerful people in England. Indeed her daughter could conceivably have been queen. That wasn’t to be but Bess acquired a substantial estate and built an impressive house on it.

C59F3226.jpgHardwick Hall is just outside Chesterfield (home to a church with a twisted spire that is worthy of a post of its own if I had only got close enough to get a shot of it). There is a new Hall and an old Hall. The new hall is only new in relative terms but it is a grand affair. For fans of the Harry Potter movies, it is Malfoy Manor although a certain amount of CGI added elements to the actual structure. You approach along a road that loops around the back of the house and gives you plenty of time to appreciate its grandeur. Once you are closer, you walk through a small enclosure of estate buildings and past the ruins of the old hall. They were both used at the same time but the old hall fell out of use and has deteriorated accordingly.

C59F3174.jpgWe only briefly looked inside but there was a great introductory talk about the history of Bess and the hall which was well worthwhile. We also got to look around the grounds and also appreciate the view over the valley below. Until the M1 was built, I imagine the view was pretty unspoiled! The building itself has an inordinate amount of window space for its time. This was a statement of how important Bess thought herself to be and if you look to the roofline, her initials are all along the tops of the walls. I guess she wasn’t a shy person.


Disused Water Mill

C59F3137.jpgAs we left the house at Chatsworth, we walked along the river that led back to where we had started our walk from. It is a pretty large river and has a strong flow including a cool weir. Shortly before we got back to the car, we came across an old mill house. I am not sure whether the river has realigned over time or whether there was a strong flow down from above that is no longer in place but there was once a working mill in this location.

C59F3141.jpgThe stone walls of the building are still in good shape. The roof and any other wooden elements have pretty much gone at this point. Inside the building you can still see some of the iron work and the remnants of the axle of the waterwheel. There are gaps in the walls that show where other parts of the building were once located. The entrances are closed off so it isn’t possible to get in to the building. The wildlife obviously finds a way in. A sheep was quietly using the walls as shelter while we were there.


Lane End

C59F0945.jpgWhen we first started planning the trip to the UK, I decided to try and schedule a shoot with the lifeboat crew in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. The boat house is at Lane End in Bembridge. I had shot a launch there from the shore a few years ago and wanted to plan something a little more involved. I talked with the RNLI team there about getting something together and it looked like it might work out. Unfortunately, a number of issues cropped up shortly before the visit and the whole thing was scrubbed.

C59F0926.jpgWhile this was disappointing, it did free up some time during the visit to do other things. Even so, I did take a walk from our hotel down to Lane End one early evening. The lifeboat is kept in a boathouse at the end of a pier. This allows it to launch clear of the rocky ledges in the area. The boat house is a relatively new building. The old pier and house were demolished and replaced when they upgraded the lifeboat.

C59F0923.jpgThe new pier is a cool structure and the whole thing fits well with what was there already. I got there after the house had closed to visitors for the day but I did walk out on the pier and look through the windows at the boat. It was a lovely evening to be out at the water and certainly made me feel pretty relaxed on my vacation. A couple of days later, I was able to get some aerial shots of the boathouse when we flew by too which was pretty cool.