Tuesday 14 August 2018

Over the Apple Tree: A New Beginning

Yesterday I went from Edinburgh Airport to the Historical Stable Block to greet my husband, aka Benedict Ambrose (his nom-de-blog of long ago), and get the keys to our new home. I didn't know I was going to rush there at once; I thought I would go to the Historical House and attempt to sleep off jet lag before embarking on our mini-move.

But once the keys were in my hand, I shouldered my trusty Osprey travelling bag and headed down the stairs, down the street and around the corner to Saint Benedict over the Apple Tree.

That's what we've named our new apartment, in case you were confused.

Saint Benedict over the Apple Tree is an "upper villa", a fancy phrase meaning a flat that has its own front door on the top floor of a two-storey structure. Our building, dating from 1930, contains four "lower villas" and four "upper villas". The lower villas have front doors facing the street, and the upper villas have front doors facing the back gardens and staircases leading down into them. The lower villas have small front gardens, too. We have never had a garden of our own, so a back garden is enough to be getting on with--especially as ours has a wonderful apple tree at the end.

The first thing I did when I got to SBotAT was find a rain-washed windfall apple that wasn't bug-munched or bruised and eat it. It was a little underripe, but it would have made a great cooking apple and boded well for the future.  Munching, I went up the concrete staircase and unlocked the door.

The first thing I saw was that B.A. had pinned up a crucifix and the ceramic holy water stoup we bought in Barcelona. He had stuck palm crosses artistically behind the stoup, too. I noticed also that the narrow hallway has several vanished pine doors and door frames, most dramatically at the end, where the double-cupboard sits.

Although I have reviewed photos of the property several times since we first saw it, I had forgotten all about the hallway, which the realtor hadn't considered photo-worthy. I wondered if all that pine wasn't a bit naff, for there is nothing like it featured on one of my current favourite blogs, Mad about the House.  But fortunately for the family finances, another of my current favourite blogs is Mr Money Moustache, not because I want to retire at 50 but because, when I do retire, I don't want to depend solely on a state pension.

Ourselves at the Historical Stable Block in more glam days
After sitting in the empty living-room and contemplating a large square of green shag carpet (also missing from Mad about the House), I made a cup of coffee and enjoyed the feeling of being a homeowner. Then I went back to the Historical House for a truly alarming session of carting furniture essentials (including a King-sized mattress) down the stairs with a hired man-with-van and my tumour-survivor husband.

But to make an unpleasant story short, here we are with a very minimalist interior---although, not boding well for minimalism, B.A. considered the aspidistra stand and an ornamental cane-backed chair essentials. Today he brought home his favourite X-frame coffee table--on which no-one is allowed to put coffee.  Well, I did say that we can bring only those things that we really love, and B.A. really loves the cane-backed chair (in which no-one can sit), the coffee table (on which no-one can put a coffee), and the aspidistra stand (on which stands no aspidistra).

Besides those beloved objects, we have a blue formica topped table (my love), two matching spindle-backed armchairs (B.A.'s loves), two squashy square green velvet Parker Knoll armchairs (our mutual loves) and our year-old King-sized oak bed (ditto).

Beloved table, doomed green shag rug
Apart from clothes, two more crucifixes, two pots, a pan, some utensils, a few glasses and two pasta bowls, that's about it. We love the feeling of space so much that the old IKEA sofa back in the Historical Attic is doomed. However, we have opted to make the smaller bedroom our own bedroom and the "master bedroom" into a guest bedroom/dining room/office/library, so any furniture we like so much we are willing to wrestle it down three flights of sandstone and up one flight of concrete, will go in there.

The blog is called "Apples and Roses" because we not only have an apple street, we have a row of wild rose bushes, white, pink and red, all along one of the fences. It's also a nod to my patron saint, whose bones--despite the post-conciliar doubts--repose under an altar in Trastevere.

Because I write about the political--especially the Church political--all day, this blog will be as apolitical and as domestic as possible while striving to remain deeply rooted in reality. I will probably occasionally lapse into deep thoughts about the Single Life, and I will definitely opine on the Care and Feeding of Husbands, now that I feel I have been married long enough to say something about that. But I hope to write mostly about minimalism, thrift, zero-wasting, gardening, literature and language learning. Oh, and I will add more photos because I really must learn to take good photographs now that I am a full-time reporter.


  1. God is good. This blog somehow suits you in a way that the other one didn't. I can't put my finger on why for I didn't cop it until just now but there it is. Delighted you are all moved in, a garden and your own front door is such a treat for a city flat. Your own front step to scrub and front door brass to polish, well done you. May Our Lord bless you with decades of happiness together there. Sinéad.

  2. Thank you! No brass yet--but there will be for the doorbell doesn't work.

  3. Congratulations on your new home. I look forward to reading more from you. May God grant you many years!

  4. Congratulations to you both on your move! Moving day was yesterday for me as well and I made sure to get the crucifix up and the holy water sprinkled around. All the best in your new home and with the new blog! Kathleen