The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Dr Q wrapped in my favourite painting jumper“Finona, do you know that you’ve got paint on your jumper?”
Hector, aged two, was keen to save my embarrassment. Growing up in a world where a splatter of paint beyond a painting smock would cause a shriek of horror, he was intrigued.

Later in the day he came into the room where I was working and carefully closed the door. He stood beside me and his head followed the journey of the massive roller is it transformed the walls from yellow to a paler shade of yellow. After a while he tapped my leg and whispered, loud and complicit,
“I get paint on my clothes too.”
He gazed up and added, “But only when I’m painting pictures. I’m going to paint walls when I’m bigger.”

If I’m decorating I always have paint on my jumper unless it’s one that has recently been demoted. My decorating clothes are armour plated with more paint than fabric as they lurch towards the end of their lives. I like wearing them. They are companions. Warm, svelte sailing sweaters pulled on over sailing T shirts in winter and just the T shirts in summer. Teamed with trousers that have seen so many washes that the legs have shrunk. With Caterpillar boots it’s an outfit to guarantee comfort whatever the weather. But the sort of combination that has yet to step onto a Paris catwalk.

I don’t sail but I like the clothes. They are rugged and designed for people who haven’t time to iron. They also are streamlined and don’t catch on things. The French brand Armor-lux are a great investment – they last for years and never need to be nurtured.

Many children that I meet on my decorating travels announce that they want to be decorators when they grow up. The response from the parents is guarded. If I’m beavering away in the background, they have to be polite.

Perhaps I am the first person that the children have seen make a quick dramatic change to a room. Deep purple in the morning to cream by dusk. They like the equipment. From extendible poles to the teeny, tiny brushes for cutting in over bobbly surfaces. And I talk to them. You can learn a lot from a child.

When I’m bigger, Hector, I’m going to paint pictures. Like now, I won’t care if I get paint on my clothes.

  Leave a reply


  1. Hector sounds like a lot of fun! I think I told you about the old footage of my husband as a child absolutely destraught at having got paint on his hands. I made a vow the first time I saw it that our children would be encouraged to get messy on a regular basis. As a grown up he can’t bear it if he gets home and there’s paint on the floor. In my mind if it’s not carpet it can always be cleaned up after the fun has finished.

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pat

    Hector was adorable! Dr Quito enjoyed posing in my jumper…

    Hello Organic Viking

    The Armor-Lux clothes are expensive initially but never need to be ironed (not the lightweight ones) and go an and on for years. T shirts fron 15 years ago have just been given a new lease of life as rags. Sob.

    The jumpers are great too. Mine is 15 years old and will be with me at work for a decent innings – hopefully until I retire.

    So they are a great investment.

    Love the idea of the East Anglian midget decorators.

    Hi Casalba

    Highly recommend the clothes. Just about to order two new T shirts and ogle the jumpers.

    Hello Sharon J

    The jumpers are a great investment.

    Hi Pamela

    I think that the men in white overalls came to paint our house but I do remember that my mum wallpapered the loo (when I was grown up) and never forgot the horror. As you must know, kitchens, loos and bathrooms are a fiddle and can cause real heartache with the combination of pipes, compressed space and cutting in. The bigger rooms are a doddle.

    I’d loved to have met your father. He sounds a real treasure.

    Haven’t tried servicing my car yet!

  3. Decorating was always a family affair for us, a joint project that everyone was expected to join in and therefore learn how to do it. Consequently I was in my early 20s when I discovered this wasn’t the case in all homes and that some people actually paid others to decorate for them. Seriously, it came as a big shock. Almost as big a shock as discovering that you are “allowed” to service your own car. I obviously had a very sheltered upbringing. My dad had decorating clothes which could probably have done the job on their own as apparently they could not be washed. He wore old trousers possible part of a suit, a shirt and a grey cabled hand knitted waistcoat which was starting to self-destruct round the arm holes. He taught me all I know about decorating.

  4. Sharon J

    Yepp… the last line was a good ‘un, that’s for sure.

    And I also thank you for the clothing tip. I could do with a really sturdy, warm jumper for winter.

  5. casalba

    I’m pleased about the clothing tip too.

    I have to tell you that I loved your last line!

    Now, I’m off to look up Amor-Lux

  6. The Organic Viking

    Good tip re: sailing clothes. I will bear it in mind in my eternal (and usually fruitless) search for comfortable and practical clothes (especially the ever-evasive plain, warm sweather). Thanks!

    I also have a charming mental image of you leaving a trail of mini-decorators throughout East Anglia. Perhaps some parents will wake up to find the botton foot of their walls has changed colour overnight?

  7. Lovely photo Fiona and a lovely picture you painted in my mind. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,245,807 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

Copyright © 2006-2023 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder

Skip to toolbar