Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess

I'm a gin'n'Jag girl, and I won't get on my bike
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The Independent Online

But my grandmother has been out of hospital for ages now and my bike languishes outside my front door. Everyday as I rush into the street to hail a cab it gazes at me mournfully from the railings. I considered removing the feeble lock in the hope some ne'er-do-well would nick it. This would save me the hassle of trying to re-sell it, or passing it on via the free exchange site www.freecycle.org.

In an attempt to boost my confidence Donnachadh, my eco-coach, decided to take me on a cycle ride. He is an expert cyclist - what Shumaker is to cars he is to bikes. The plan was he would meet me at my flat and we would cycle to Lasscos, the upmarket salvage merchant, in Vauxhall. I'm planning a loft conversion and he wanted to show me the vast range of household fittings culled from renovations that would save me buying them from scratch. A huge amount of waste is created from the endless refurbishments of our homes so it makes sense economically and environmentally to re-use what's already available.

The day dawned, sleeting and hailing. I could just about manage a cycle ride to the nearest hospital but not to Vauxhall. Peering out of the window I experienced a great surge of joy. My bike had been pinched! And I hadn't even needed to undo the lock! '"Yes it's awful, I'm gutted,'" I wept to Donnachadh, explaining I would have to take the Tube instead.

Luckily withinin an hour the rain had cleared and I was able to get a cab to Lasscos with no problems. "Sorry I'm late, terrible delays on the Tube," I panted as Donnachadh was padlocking his bike. '"So sorry about the bike", he consoled. I soon cheered up. Lasscos is a stunning Georgian house surviving incongruously in the middle of a roundabout in hideous Vauxhall, cowed by ghastly skyscrapers.

It is crammed to the rafters with objets modern and ancient. I was much taken with the range of wooden flooring, from recently stripped bamboo from a house in Chelsea to 17th-century oak flooring from the Tower of London.

Several bars that looked like they had been culled from Tom Jones's Weybridge mansion brought with them childhood memories of Pimms sharpeners and kidney-shaped swimming pools.

Amongst other treasures was a 19th-century chemist's shop which had just been sold to Liberty's, plus lights, chimneys, mirrors and hundreds of baths from elegant sinks hewn from Italian marble to serviceable basins.

The place is staffed by handsome Byronic men who stalk the premises offering helpful advice and who, like dishy `"Dave" Cameron, are fluent in estuary Etonian.

As the sun set in the late afternoon the house took on a ghostly other-worldly air. Eighteenth-century army uniforms lined the walls and I tried not to swoon as knee-tremblingly handsome Piers revealed tales of spooky sightings in the basement.

Next weekend the paranormal society are planning a sit-in with infra-red cameras to record the ghostly goings on and I'm going to join them.

I'm very tempted by Tom Jones's bar. Yes it's 40ft long but if I demolish my bedrooms, kitchen and office surely I can find room for it somewhere? I'm afraid you can take the girl out of the gin'n'jag belt but you can't the gin'n'jag out of the girl.

Sharpener, anyone?

www.lassco.co.uk 020 7394 2100