Vintage Housekeeping. Again.

If you are eagle-eyed, I do believe that you may have spotted that the BrocanteHome logo has gone back to “Vintage Housekeeping” instead of the “Vintage Well-Being” tagline I had here in the first six months of this year. You see, I, Alison Joanne May, am a woman in the habit of constantly re-inventing my own perfectly good wheel. And I am also a woman perfectly willing to admit when the shoes don’t fit my proverbial feet.


Heck yes, People: I get things wrong. In fact sometimes I get things so spectacularly, shockingly wrong, it is all I can do not do inflict a little corporal punishment upon myself. While changing the tagline on your website might not be up there with selling your babies’ kidneys, in the whole scheme of my world, it is pretty high up on the list because it meant I lost both purpose and focus and a person needs focus and purpose if a person is to keep on turning up at her desk everyday with some understanding of what she is supposed to be doing!

When I first made the change it seemed like the most excellent of all excellent ideas. I described Vintage Well-Being thus…

What is Vintage Wellbeing? – It is not diets and botox, it is eating three wholesome meals a day and seeking out the best foodstuffs you can afford. It is not chemical peels, Paleo or aerobics, it is gentle stretches while you wait for kettle to boil and face-masks conjured up from store-cupboard basics.

It is a walk in the woods with a pram or a dog. Holding hands on the beach. Creating a bedroom that feels like a sanctuary. Spending entire evenings in the bathroom. It is routine and ritual. Journalling instead of gossiping. Asking for help when you need it (and accepting it even when you don’t).

It is organic housekeeping, candlelight and self-help books. It is sea-salt baths and early bedtimes. It is holidays at home. Blogging, seasonal scrubs and board games at the kitchen table. It is fresh bed-linen, fresh flowers and fresh ideas.

It is about visualising a healthy future, creating a home that reflects the very essence of who you are, and living a sustainable lifestyle that ensures the future of both our bodies and our creative minds.

It is all this and it is so much more.

This then is the Brocante way of life…   

And it is Housekeepers. It really is. But BrocanteHome was always about creating a home that feeds our spirit. About having a home that acts as a springboard for self-improvement and creativity. About creating a sanctuary inspired by the routines and rituals of yesteryear. And while “well-being” encompasses all that and more, I suspect it rather fails to capture the essence of what Brocantehome has always been about in the eleven years it has been on-line.

And so my lovelies, Vintage Housekeeping it is. Welcome home…x

Today. January

The wind is battering at the windows. The heating is on high and the dog curled up in a ball in front of the pretend fire. Today the house is a twinkly Christmas card. Curling at the corners and ready for the recycling bin.


I am worrying about snow. People who know about my ludicrous phobia keep texting me and taunting me. It’s on it’s way they say! As if Father Christmas was on his way back and I am not suitably excited! This outrages me. It puts a stop to my gallop and as I am getting so very good at galloping again, the very last thing I need is six inches of the white stuff to stand between me and my ventures in to the wild! Or Southport. Or Manchester. Or even round the corner to the Post Office for a pint of milk!

This then is January. If you know me, you will know that I often wander about telling whoever will listen, that January is the best month because it is so very clean. A crisp, white, blank slate of a month. Dancing with possibility but so very still and contemplative at the same time. But my January this year feels a little muddy. As if I am whizzing around a hamster wheel with a duster in my hand. Too fast to swipe it through the dirt long enough to make an impression. Too giddy to much care.

There is so much yesterday here in this house. I muddle about packing it in boxes that may never be collected and shoving so much stuff in to the loft it is quite possible the ceilings will fall down on me while I sleep. What is left behind seems grubby. As if it is crying out for love again. For a lick of paint.  The kiss of a paintbrush. And instead I am in the kitchen baking biscuits. In bed, in a fluster of holey, cosy, snubby blankets, laughing into my phone in the early hours. Standing shivering in the middle of a field as Alfie does laps around me. Living. Eating. Talking. So much talking! Alive again.

This then will have to be the year of the paintbrush. There is no avoiding it. Fresh paint and new carpet.  An armchair for the gap. Everything I own placed high enough to avoid the clutches of this mad dog. A mirror hung back where it used to hang. The putting back of what once was. The re-establishment of my own certainty.

And in the meantime this lovely chaos. This muddy re-invention of everything I used to be. My very own dusty January…

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying

There are two types of housewives: those who prioritise cleaning over tidying, and those that prioritise tidying over cleaning. I fall heavily in to the tidying category, mostly because the house is small enough to be almost unmanageable when you are a woman in possession of a boy, a cat, a dog and far too many books and thus I spend many a merry hour chasing my tail in a demented fashion because people and animals seem really rather determined to live in my house: a fact I consider to be tantamount to outrageous rudeness, when frankly I would prefer it if they sat and looked pretty and did not go about needing to eat, and sleep and moult and play and generally add a layer of lovely chaos to my life that I could well do without.

the life-changing magic of tidying up

So yes. Pop me firmly in to the tidying category because it is turning out to be my life’s work, though not, I must confess, to the same degree that one Marie Kondo has made it her business.

Kondo is you see the author of the Japanese best-seller, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying. A tour de force in the world of literary housework and the latest spark to ignite my urge to stuff everything I own in to bin bags.

Truth be told though: I struggled with the very premise of the book, perhaps because it is culturally different to my way of life and Marie Kondo writes with all the cheerful enthusiasm for tidying up, I can’t imagine clutter-busting could ever inspire in me. I like her. A lot. But this is a woman who started tidying and organising her entire families house when she was about six, and this strikes me as neither normal, nor even really human in a child!

So yes. She had no qualms about nipping in to her sisters room and throwing her things away when she was out, nor about losing most of her childhood to organising everything her family owned, while doing her best to reduce those belongings to almost nothing. It makes for quite bizarre reading altogether. And obsessional doesn’t begin to describe a trait that eventually became her stock in trade.

Kondo’s main focus is on discarding that which does not bring you joy and I have spent an age since finishing the book, struggling whole-heartedly with this concept. You see I think there is a world of difference between joy and necessity, and Marie Kondo really doesn’t seem to hold much truck with the essential, making frequent reference to the question of  joy when one is deciding whether an object should be given house room, when there are things in this life I am quite indifferent to but very much need in order to function domestically.

Furthermore her method for going about discarding everything she owns focus on what she calls “the correct order of categories”: namely clothes, books, paper and then “Komono” which pretty much amounts to almost everything else in the house. While I can get on board with this to a degree, it is in fact the Komono which causes me the most problems. Somedays I feel a bit up to my eyeballs in blooming Komono and then what’s a girl to do? She can’t very well stand everything she owns upright in a drawer the way Kondo consistently advocates now can she? No she certainly can’t. And furthermore, nor does she particularly want to  utilise many a cardboard box in the way Ms Kondo so frequently recommends either: for there it is in a nutshell – Kondo cares more for organisation than she does for any degree of aesthetic pleasure and I can’t quite buy into her vision of old cereal boxes organising everything I own.

So despite my reservations, do I still recommend reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up?  Abso-bloody-lutely. If only because it will inspire in you, as it has in me, a need to clear the decks of all the flotsam and jetsam we stuff so precariously into every corner of our homes. It will have you wandering the house with a bin bag in hand calling for volunteers for the skip and it will remind you that much of what you own inspires no joy at all.

And joy my darlings, should be our raison d’etre….

I Bought A Bucket

Tell me this, and tell me no more: what is it with men and buckets?


It is you see a truth universally acknowledged, that if you buy a bucket, a passing human of the masculine kind will do one of two things:


a) Fill it with something obnoxious


b) Make it disappear never to be seen again. 

Hell yes. I do believe that somewhere out yonder there is a place men go to show off all the buckets they have snaffled off women who want to do no more than fill their lovingly chosen pail with hot soapy water and a squirt of something pine-scented. Men love buckets: a fact not often discussed in polite society.

And so my lovelies in an unprecedented act of independence I have bought another bucket (and a very tasteful bucket it is too) and I intend to guard it with all the screechy lunacy I usually reserve for those who help themselves to MY violet cremes.

Be warned men in the vicinity: I take no prisoners.