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I am 40+ and married with 2 grown up daughters and 2 fabulous grandchildren. I began to get into the dollshouse and miniatures craze after I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2004. Having worked for most of my adult life, I found it hard to be at home for great lengths of time on my own. I became very interested in dolls houses because of a shop nearby which sells all sorts of dolls houses and miniatures. I got my first house Springwood cottage for Xmas that year and the rest is history, and so too is the cancer fingers crossed.

Friday, October 10, 2008

How it all began!

In March 2005 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and having worked for most of my adult life, found it hard to be at home for great lengths of time on my own. I became very interested in dolls houses because of a shop nearby which sells all sorts of dolls houses and miniatures. I got my first house Springwood cottage for Xmas that year, along with the garage wing. I had been buying the furniture for months and couldn’t wait to get started. On Boxing Day my Husband reluctantly helped me to build it (as my arms were weak from the surgery and treatments I had undergone). I could not wait any longer, my Mum had also bought me some furniture for Christmas and I just wanted everything in. I then set about decorating the seven rooms. The garage was made into another room by adding French windows, as I felt the house needed to have a dinning room. However I had changed the outside of the house within one month.
Then in March 2006 I got Springwoods basement for my 40th birthday but we had to make a box to stand the wing on and keep the levels right. The basement was a studio flat with en-suite, bed -sit and kitchen. The box became a garage. I changed the railings and painted the stonework a different colour.
During that year I was also fortunate enough to be given a Sid Cook house, which I first made into a pub, The Red Lion. Not very original I know. Then a few months later it became a bakery with an outside coalhouse and ‘netty’
Then I came across a second hand basement in a shop. After adding a sloping roof this then became the pub, complete with snooker hall, a bar and an upstairs function room. The Red Lion was then made into a bakery.
Because of my illness we were forced to downsize our own home, so I had to part with the bakery and pub because we expected to get a much smaller house. It was terrible having to let them go, but after posting them on the Internet a lovely lady from Yorkshire bought them both.
Also in 2006 I was given some money from an Aunt and I bought Fairbanks, which began life as a 1940’s set up. I had always been fascinated by the 1940’s, however by 2007 I began to want to recreate things from my childhood and changed it to a 1970’s theme. This was to include a replica of my mum’s blue and white kitchen and her avocado bathroom suite. The toys in the bedroom are the ones I remember having, Donny Osmond records, a toy sweet shop, silver cross pram, dolls, ballet bags, etc.
Meanwhile back at Springwood. I wanted a change again and the basement became a newsagents, which was run by Mr. Wilson.
After our own house move in 2007 I underwent a lot of reconstructive surgery. I had problems with arm movements so very little was done on my houses. We found we had quite a lot of room in the new house, and my collecting was sparked again with a gift from my husband’s Cousin. He had bought me another house; it was pink, and very girly so this one was made into a bridal shop. It wasn’t long before I started to change this one; it was given a new roof, a new door and new windows.
Recently I decided that the shop in Springwood’s basement did not get enough attention where it was, so I dismantled the set-up to leave Springwood on it’s own and a separate shop was created for Mr Wilson, from the basement. I have made several items myself, though I am not very clever with my hands;
The magazine rack and magazines, sweet display box, cards and display rack, sweet packets, cigarette boxes, crisps and labels for jars.
My Triang was bought on the Internet. It is the same model house I had as a child. My Mum brought it all the way back from London while on a girls trip, only to find the exact one in a local shop. I was only about 4 years old then, but I have some old ‘cine’ film of me playing with the original one. Within a few days I had it painted, decorated and furnished, and yet again I had the furniture waiting.

I then bought a small house and two room box sized dwellings from another collector and made these into the log cabin and a new shop for Mr Wilson. The old shop then became a cafe, ran by Stephanie and her Grandad Ernie.
I 2008 I was given another house for my birthday this was made into The Miners Arms Pub which is full of people having a good time. The football supporters club is on the first floor with a function room in the attic. This still needs to be decorated.
Having these houses to occupy me during the day has become a nightmare for my Husband; he thinks I am totally crazy, as do some of my friends. . In fact it is the opposite, I feel I would have really gone to pieces if I had not had them to take my mind of things. They have been tremendous therapy. My 2 daughters (19 and 14) both fight over the houses, as neither of them wants them after I have gone, though my youngest does quite like the shop. My goddaughters however, love them, and like to rearrange the furniture each time they visit. As my health is improving I can spend more time on my houses, I see more of my houses than I do people. I think I am becoming a bit of a recluse. Maybe I do have a problem after all.
Since I began I have managed to persuade a few people to join my obsession. My friend Alison has bought a 13-roomed mansion and had a wing with a bar and swimming pool built to her specifications. But she has not had the time to decorate it yet.
My Mum has completed a 1/24th scale house and is onto her first 1/12th, and Alison’s Mum has just bought a large Mansion,
Alison and I along with our Mum’s visit the Leeds and York Dolls House Fairs twice year, we look forward to them for months. We always arrive with a very large shopping list, and leave with an empty purse. Actually I don’t think the Bank Manager would approve of us going to the fairs at York Racecourse as the venue has its own cash machine, which has been visited several times, in fact I think my Mum emptied it.

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