Kirstie's Handmade Christmas: FLW's Big Day Out!About 6 weeks ago we were thrilled to have the opportunity to take part in the Best Handmade Toy competition as part of Kirstie's Handmade Christmas series.
(If you any of you are reading from outside the UK and are not familiar we are of course referring to the champion of the handmade, craft and property boss lady that is Kirstie Allsopp.)
Her Christmas shows are a firm favourite in the FLW household and so the excitement at being involved outweighed the the sheer terror of having to appear on camera, just.
To start, we had a lovely director visit at the house to film some behind the scenes.
Dad was in his workshop sawing and sanding things, (the house itself was still a skeleton at this stage!) while I pottered about in the attic, dip-dyeing tiny Xmas trees and covering an armchair.
(Spoiler alert: The glue I was using was horribly gone off which I hadn't realised until we started filming so absolutely stank whilst also looking horrendous! Thankfully we can't smell through the TV screen yet!)
With the first scary bit over, Dad (Simon to those that are not his offspring) and I got to work, planning, drawing, sawing, painting, sanding,painting, sanding, and so on, and on, and on, in order to create our biggest Bespoke Doll's House yet.
I wanted something that was timeless, festive and a little bit magic and, though I do say so myself, I think we pretty much pulled it off.
I named the house Noele, festive and fitting for the show, but also named after my lovely Aunty, who is one of FLW's biggest cheerleaders, a huge Kirstie Allsopp fan and has no idea that the house was named after her! (Hopefully she's watched the show and knows now! )
For 4 weeks Dad and I both worked solidly on the house around our day jobs.
I was commuting back to Kent from London on Friday nights to paint walls, upholster chairs and apply gold leaf to tiny furniture, oh and apply the snow, because we HAD to have snow!
Dad surpassed himself, spending 20 hours building the central staircase alone.
The roof pictured was not the original, that's right, a second roof because the first just wasn't quite working, and then of course there was the ultimate sacrifice of the stamp collection, used to create the feature wall in the bathroom. (I'm sure Granddad wouldn't have minded!)
Dad even had a spin on the sewing machine up at the workshop, hemming the stair carpet made from an off-cut of red velvet. Honestly, he's pretty good my Dad.
After a frantic sprint to the finish we promptly loaded the house into the car like it was a giant, awkward baby and hit the road to Buckinghamshire.
(Actually we sat in traffic for a good hour but we made it to the hotel in time for Dad to seek out a pint before closing.)
With an early wake up call the next day we drove down the road to the magnificent Waddesdon Manor.
This place does Christmas very, very well.
There's a Christmas market outdoors, many beautifully decorated trees, each one with a different theme and outdoor cafes made snugly with fire pits, blankets and sheepskin throws.
While we waited to set up we got to meet and get to know our fellow contestants, there were 4 entrants in total, all utterly gorgeous and then all of a sudden, boom, camera's on, Kirstie glides in, we chat about doll's houses (I mumbled and did weird things with my face) and then on to the next contestant!
While Kirstie and the judge made their decision we all sat downstairs having another chat before going back up to film the announcing of the winner where I did more weird things with my face and mumbled some more.
Spoiler alert: The ever-so handsome Winston the bear was crowned King of the Christmas toys thanks to the incredible talents and skill of Natalie, aka Fossil Moss Bears.
I stole a little cuddle with Winston after we'd finished and can confirm that he is one special, gorgeously huggable bear.
After a speedy packing up we all popped down to the Stable building as we'd heard about the rather special Gingerbread version of Waddeson Manor, made by the Biscuiteers, so essentially a gingerbread doll's house, you can imagine my delight.
Snaps, chats and some well deserved coffee's later and just like that, we were all done and driving back to Kent.
Oh, and then the hardest part, just had to casually keep this a secret until the show aired!!
It was such an exciting, scary, bloody lovely experience and I'm feeling very, very lucky to have such great friends, family (and a very understanding boss!) that encouraged Dad and I to go ahead and do this!
I'll do another post on the finished house, Noele, as there's a lot to say about her but for now please do give lots of love to the fellow Handmade Toy entries, Natalie: Fossil Moss Bears and Alex: Rota skateboards .
(We don't have a link for Derek the rocking horse maker unfortunately but we're sending lots of festive wishes his way too!)