(james benedict brown) on the road

Snapshot: caution

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 25 November, 2008

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This just in from the Department of the Bleeding Obvious, Ikea Glasgow…

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The allotment in an apartment

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 29 September, 2008

Earlier today I mentioned my frustrated attempts at being original in this grand old apartment. I’ve accepted that there is no way of managing it, so I’ve filled the blatantly obvious herb shelf behind the kitchen sink with herbs.

Most supermarkets sell fresh herbs planted in little plastic pots and wrapped in a protective sheath of plastic like small potted plants. They are the most idealistic products in the fresh aisles of the supermarket: not only are they fresh, alive and healthy, they entice you to attempt greening your fingers by taking them home and attempting to keep them alive, reproducing for weeks and months to come.

I’ve never managed this successfully. I’ve bought them and taken them home, but then it all goes to pot (arf arf).

So we’re taking a risk here by skipping the arduous labour and knowledge intensive process of planting and nurturing seedlings by buying a stack of Lidl potted herbs (reduced to £0.69 at your local Lidl) and carefully breaking them up into more generously sized ceramic plant pots (£0.99 at your local Ikea… aren’t blue-and-yellow themed discount stores appealing?). A healthy dose of fresh compost has been added into the mix, but with the sudden release from their tightly packed plastic pots and bags, every single plant has collapsed under its own weight. Weeks of chilled storage and transportation in their packaging has made each plant pretty weak, although basically in sound condition. So all I have to worry about now is ensuring they get enough light on a combination of east, south-east and west facing windows. That’s not an ideal combination, I know, but neither is the fact that we’re in Glasgow and the number of daylight hours these little plants is getting is being reduced every day.

Praise be to optimistic but largely doomed homely ideas…

The Glaswegian Billy

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 29 September, 2008

A friend came round to see the new apartment shortly after I moved in and, after seeing a few rooms, suddenly recalled having been here before. She hadn’t known the last tenants, but the ones before them, and recalled the dancing at a particularly raucous fancy dress party which apparently gave the floor of the living room it’s distinctive stilleto-attacked texture.

My attempts at being original with décor, such as suggesting the alcove off the kitchen as a kind of pantry or the deep kitchen window sill as an indoor herb garden, were all matched with the confirmation that that was, in fact, how the previous tenants had done it.

“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” – Winston Churchill.

Most of the furniture in the apartment (which, it must be said, is obscenely large) is second-hand, sourced through friends, family and Glasgow Freecycle. This weekend saw another visit to the blue and yellow big box of credit card crunching for some smaller items and two larger purchases from the Expedit range of bookcases. Having first experienced this Swedish furniture store while growing up as a child in Cambridge I think I can now hazard a guess that Expedit is to Glasgow what Billy is to Cambridge. While I acknowledge that my upbringing and context is decidedly middle class, I can’t recall visiting a house in Cambridge that didn’t have at least one Billy bookcase. Since arriving in Glasgow, I can’t recall being welcomed in a single home (or even architects’ office) that hasn’t had at least one Expedit bookcase, usually in white. They’re everywhere, and the arrival of two such units in my apartment symbolises to me that – as far as Glaswegian interior design goes – I have no hope of being original. But they are very attractive units, with deliberate shadow depths between the thick and thin components to ensure that even the most ham-fisted of home assemblers can produce a consistent and smart finish. They can be stood vertically or horizontally without any problem and come with the attachments to secure them to the wall if necessary. Attaching feet (£7 for four) to the “thin” unit above has turned it into a simple sideboard that both holds my pretty tatty collection of coffee table books (from comic books on the left via architecture to fine art on the right) and works as focus to the room.

I know I keep saying this, but I think the apartment is finally beginning to feel like home.

Home sweet home

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 27 August, 2008

I have moved to a new home. Here’s the first view of the living room after an immense day collecting free furniture from friends of family and Glasgow Freecycle members. The white sofa is normally blue; its covers are being washed. The floor lamp is the only thing in the room I’ve actually purchased; it was £15 from Ikea.

More sickly sweet tales from my new apartment soon.