Under the skin

It’s often pointed out to us by our customers and visiting reps that we seem to have “very interesting chats” in our shops, among ourselves and with our customers and suppliers. The subjects range from work, to football, to life in general and can get quite philosophical!

Well, one of these recent chats in our Buckhurst Hill shop, centred on train sets! 

I’ve long been a fan of these, as well as Airfix models and a very early memory was a birthday gift to my brother of Hornby’s “The Mallard” train set. 

I still think it’s the most beautiful man made object I’ve ever seen and the colour has long been a favourite of mine too. I’ve often wondered where my interest in colour came from…I think it’s probably that! 

Well, during our discussion, I was made aware of the massive cost of train sets, the bits that go with them and the maintenance of them too! The one thing I remember more than most was painting models…a tiny brush, a steady hand (while holding my breath) and a massive sense of achievement when it came out well. 

Is this where my interest in painting and decorating came from too? 

Probably, now I come to think of it! 

So, as usual, after my chat, I went home and started researching train sets! In particular, The Mallard. 

I won’t be buying one in the near future, to build a good one costs what you’d pay for a small car! 

But, I did, being me, start looking at the little paint pots. And I worked out that they’d cost £1067.43 for 5 litres!!! So, one thing led to another and the subject of MEKO, the anti skinning agent arose. 

It’s a major ingredient in these little paint pots. It’s been banned all over Europe, it should have been here too but as Brexit is now in full swing the March 2022 deadline was postponed.

Our company made a concerted effort to remove all MEKO paints from sale in the past 2 or 3 years and we were ready long before the postponed deadline arrived.  

If you have any in your shed that may contain it (mostly oil based paints from 4 years ago or more) please consider recycling it as opposed to using it. 

Now we know that it’s not good for you, it’s better safe than sorry! 

And now, back to train sets. 

Christmas is coming and if any of you fancy treating an old shopkeeper to a little gift…😂

Be well everyone!


I thought you was called Dave, Dave.

Triggers broom. Surely the greatest story ever told?

Now, not many of us will have have had just the one brush for 20 years? Even if we could fit 17 new heads and 14 new handles, would the brush we used then be of any use to us with today’s paints?

Pure black bristle was still the order of the day but the nylon bristle revolution alongside the demise of oil based paints was getting a grip.

20 years ago I was still regularly selling badger softeners, squirrel mops, camel cutters and sable liners. I’m not sure that many people these days even know what they are!

When was the last time you bought a purely totally black pure bristle brush? Did you ask or did you simply take a Purdy, a Premier or another good quality brush and get on with it?

When I first joined the company in 1987, Mr Johnson had a room simply called The Brush Room. It was where Ryan and Mat’s office is now, in the Buckhurst Hill shop basement. It was kept under lock and key as it was the most valuable place in the building! 

(Ryan and Mat would argue that it still is!😂)

And I can still remember the smell of the bristles from the Hamilton, Acorn, Moseley Stone, Britton Chadwick, Sax Omega and HT Corby brushes we kept there. Most now lost in the mists of time! Twin knots, copper bound wall brushes, box stipplers, Namel Var…names and descriptions that now seem totally alien!

These days half the doors we paint are rolled and laid off with nylon brushes as the paint dries so fast you no longer have a proper wet edge! Unless you use Floetrol, of course!

Still, progress is progress and as I celebrate my 35th anniversary in the business on 7th July I’m happy to say that the paint brush, even in the age of spray machines, is still king!

And as for the title of my piece, I remember a few of the names I’ve been called by over the last 35 years.

I’ve had: Paul, Pete, Perry, Steve, Michael and perhaps most inexplicably: Tim.

Plus a few Industrial language based terms of endearment.

And I thought my name was Pat.

Be well folks!

Looking for inspiration?

From a freshen up to a starting from scratch, it can sometimes be tricky knowing where to begin with your project.

Figuring out what styles you like isn’t always as easy as it sounds, so maybe start with what styles you don’t like & work from there. Instagram, pinterest & even magazines are great tools for you to see what’s out there & what draws your attention.

It may also help to decide on a theme or a concept for the space you are designing. Whilst the two might sound similar, a theme & a concept are two different things. A theme is more detailed than a concept, there are clear links between each element in the room. A concept however is a broader idea of style. With a concept, elements chosen will work together to create a specific feel.


Taking these design projects on by yourself can be overwhelming, however help is always available. Our team of designers are always on hand to give advice and guide you in the right direction, whether this is in our showroom or through a home consultation.