Patio Living

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’
Amazon and Kindle

Thank you China. And thank you to all our hard working Chinese cousins who work long hours, in poor conditions, on megre wages, away from home in factories to produce goods for us that we hardly even value.

We meantime,  in Europe, are exporting knowledge gleaned over centuries, fought for in blood, against medieval religious doctrines forbidding research, two world wars and fierce competition, to advance medicine, science, infrastructure, physics, construction and mathematics.

I just got the garden chairs, from Argos, in a smart aluminium trim and black canvas seats. Cheap as chips as I will be moving country again soon.

I know black holds the heat, but its very trendy. White shows the dirt, and they only had a purple or turquoise, which were horrible.

If I need to leave them I won’t complain as the folding loungers were £19.99 each, and the arm chairs were £7.99, so no great investment there. The point is I need to get into the outdoors, and sample all weathers, in day in our ever changing psychotic climate. We have a small patio now and I intend to be all over it.

In the 1990’s Florida had the best patio furniture, with solid strong metal frames and lightweight woven wipe down seats, in very slick contemporary designs. Made ‘to order’ and a glass topped table, four chairs, a couple of loungers was several thousand dollars.

The only other alternative were the white stackable moulded plastic ‘petrol stain’ chairs for the working class, again, another Chinese gift.

The western world then turned to wooden outside furniture, preferably Teak, just when we realised the Rainforest was disappearing never to regrow. Brilliant Idea to reintroduce natural woods into home decor when a strong viable alternative was being made-all be it more expensive.

The Rainforest was now being chopped down to supply the western world with wooden garden sets and no one says a word.

Habitat Furniture Store brought back the humble ‘deck chair,’ using less wood and bright coloured canvas sling back seats.

They were comfortable, light, drip dry and naff but had shabby chic status but at £29.99 each, a set of four becomes a middles class luxury.

B&Q gave us metal ‘Bistro Sets’ appearing on every tiny balcony, leading us towards a more European new cappuccino culture.

Using an outdoor metal ‘Bistro Set’ in a kitchen brings the garden inside and saves a fortune. Its summery, cute, folds away

and costs a fraction of dinning furniture. Put cushion pads under the feet, not to scratch the floor, and stick a plant on the table. Viola!

‘Decking’ came along about the same time as the new wooden furniture. ‘Decking’ is the new ‘turf’ and very nice it looks too.

Boring, badly grassed small back gardens suddenly become designer decked spaces, spot lit, easy to clean, and with a few carefully chosen grasses.

By intensifying the space it takes on intimacy and feeling, Candles, chairs, music, Bistro Sets, lanterns, water features, extra high fencing, stains, levels and gravels.

Its a couple of days work and a few hundred quid but a zen space for the year.

Start all this as you move in. Once your settled it will become a project for the next summer, and the next, and the next..

Go into the garden centres and ‘get the bug’. Some tree, ornament, trellis, pot plant, lantern will catch your imagination and you will have to drag it home. Thats the ‘seed’ of desire for your new patio. Plant it and let it grow.

Use herbs as small plants, coat decking in a pale ‘celadon’ paint, as when it wears away, it will look shabby chic.

Wire brush and clean old brick walls, replace the mortar, put down rat traps under decking, wire up holes so nothing can ‘move in under there, including people.

Get a good hose and outdoor broom.

Put a spare small fridge outside and cover with a bright thick French plastic table cloth.

The odd silk daffodil, crocus, grasses, fleshy leaves can save the day by adding colour. They do droop after it rains so wash once a season in soapy liquid.

Sheets of bamboo trellis do well as terrace roofing material. Pin down well with electric cable hooks.

Mix yellow sand with white outdoor mat paint to get a stone like texture to cover bad walls. It won’t come off so remember that.

Block small holes and open pipes with clear plastic bags so animals don’t nest e.g wasps.

Use outdoor boat lights with grill facings if you need quick economic light fixtures.

Sprinkle corse table salt mixed with white washing powder over surfaces to keep away the cats/rats as they don’t like to lick paws full of OMO. When it blows all over the place (it doesn’t seem to move) it will be cleaning and deodorizing anyway.

Yes, that is a snake you see on the white tiles in the photo. I bought a few toy wooden ones to scare away the cats and birds. Not sure it worked, but it sure thrilled the man in the Medina who sold me an item no body wants in this world:)

Use disposable ashtrays e.g plastic cups half filled with water.

Never leave food, or utensils with fat on them outside to attract animals.

Keep cheaper sun creams, mosquito repellent, and old old towels in a big portable basket

Treat the outside like an extension of your home and have warm boots, sallopets, hats, gloves at the ready and go outside.

It is one.

Advertisements

One day left before the Tunisian election

Saturday 25TH October 2014

I was out the door and in the Medina by 8.30 am this morning, in case there were any food shortages. I have moved into a Medina, that everyone living here, is trying to get out of.

The was indeed a shortage. A shortage of people. It felt like New Year’s Day, with that laid back, empty, relaxed feeling. It’s a four day holiday over this weekend, fri-mon for some schools, offices, and the election is tomorrow sunday 26th October.

Not having seen the motorway, I doubt if there was the thursday night mad dash into the country side, that we expect in the USA or Europe. I don’t see anyone, or anything moving that fast. Its as if every one is half asleep.

Instead of going to the food market, I went to the beach to do a good walk in 23 degrees, clear blue skies with a light breeze. Perfect.

A few scattered folks passed me by. One jogger. About 18 europeans laid out early on the only loungers still available. A few fisherman. Two or three mating couples, and one dog who had just had puppies. Not enough people to even hassle you.

I walked, sat, took a video and wondered back via the vegetable market, happy to see at least, some activity. I bought the flame red carrots straight out of the ground for juicing,(1 kilo 44p) a piece of pumpkin, for a Mauritian curry recipe I found in the Guardian last night, cucumbers for salads and juicing (1 kilo 40 p) and a pretty pink T shirt for a gift.

A collection of a few Medina locals, a few date coloured tourists, ambled about, but there no sign of any election fever. It’s not apathy, as that comes from over exposure, and they Its haven’t had that.

I walked the empty, neglected, elegant, solid looking mid rise side street buildings built by the french in the 1930s. The white walls are flaking and weather beaten, trimmed with the wrought iron lattice work of the pale blue window forget, with is obligatory.

Its all very reminiscent of Nice, after a short, light, urban, guerrilla war.

Its great real estate. Its Centre Ville. The masonry and roofs, for the most part are intact and on solid foundations. If the entire Medina, and its huge walls hasn’t already slipped into the sea, and crumbled away, this place was built on bed rock. The ancients weren’t stupid a 1000 years ago, and didn’t build on shifting sand, marshes or the Thames Estuary.

I want to join some local architectural preservation society and help save some of the building facades, before the architects and developers, run amok. There is enough re plumbing and re wiring here to keep the whole of Poland busy for 10 years, but there is no danger of that, as they aren’t going to let the Poles in to work.

The local tradesman have the market to themselves, and can continue creating havoc, mess and misery for every one who needs them.

If you have heard the horror stories about workers in the home, don’t believe them. The truth is much worse. Its beyond belief and you couldn’t put it into a third rate play. No one would believe you. I know.

A few huge hotels remain deserted along the beach front with no glass windows, a smattering of security and surprising little vandalism. If you left 300 empty hotel rooms in Europe they would not be empty for long. One owner took the precaution of setting fire to the place just to ensure no one moved in, and I suppose a decent insurance claim covered the loss in earnings.

Buying here as a foreigner is discouraged unless you buy new, in the tourist zone, at inflated prices. If you have heard the horror stories about purchasing here, don’t believe them. Its much worse. I know.

I asked a local man today “Do any of the parties want to encourage overseas private investment in real estate here?”

“No” he said and smiled. “There is not enough for the people and they don’t want the prices going up” (they don’t care about the tourist zone as no local would dream of living there)

I play a mental Monopoly in my mind as I walk, and buy up entire streets, gentrify entire neighbourhoods, list every building older than me, plus a few major palm trees, planted by the french.

I also mentally clean all the beaches, replant the Medina gardens, endorse a program to inoculate and neuter the cats, and get company sponsorship for a fleet of tasteful rubbish bins. They don’t need people like me interfering.

I know english people that fled from here, after hearing gunfire, during the revolution so I am aware anything can ignite at any time but at the moment there is nothing to report.

I shall go and battle with the pumpkin…