Monday, 30 May 2016

Simple bank holiday fun

How did you spend your bank holiday?

I thought as the weather was so unsurprisingly pleasant for a bank holiday, that we should make the most of it and go for a walk. Where to - along a canal, to a national trust property, up the hills? In the end I was so overwhelmed with decisions I opted for the easy choice of a walk around the fields just down the road. OH hadn't been there before, so we dragged him along to explore with us. 

Little Boy got to test run his new Spider-Man wellies, and they both galloped off ahead, pretending to be horses. Then a paddle in the stream was called for, to test their water tightness, and I'm pleased to say they passed with flying colours. 

So nothing fancy for us this bank holiday, but there were no queues, no crowds, and best of all it didn't cost a penny!


Thursday, 26 May 2016

Ivy out, bedding plants in

When we moved in our new home, there was a large ivy growing in the back garden. Initially I decided to keep it, as it is good for wildlife and also I often use ivy in flower arranging. But when I'm cooking inside it makes it hard to keep an eye on my little man. So down it had to come..

Much better don't you think? Makes the garden look bigger and seem more open. 

However many pots I seem to plant up I still seem to have a never ending supply of plants! So I decided I could use a load to fill the space left by the ivy. 

Little Boy got out his trowel and helped dig the bed over. For some reason this garden is full of stones, we got two pots full just out of this small area. 

Looks nice and tidy now doesn't it, but I can't wait for it to be full of colour! I've planted calendulas, dahlias, gazanias and lobelia. 
Out the front of the house should look good too. Little Boy got his tool kit out and helped Daddy put up the flower troughs under the window (well he banged in the plugs but the thought was there!). I've added some water retaining gel as these troughs don't actually hold a lot of compost and they dry out quickly. Apparently they should only need watering once a week, which sounds hard to believe, but that would save a lot of time watering. 

They are jam packed full of plants, and should look gorgeous when they are established. 

Big Girl's contribution to the weekend was to sit on the bench and do some drawing. Not at all useful on the home improvement front, but at least she was outside getting some fresh air. 

Bank Holiday this weekend - hope it's sunny weather and you have a great time whatever you are doing. 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Two trips to the tip and my freebies

I promised you last time that I'd show you my goodies I rescued from the tip. I was dropping off some plasterboard from when we knocked down the kitchen ceiling. I saw a man carrying a large bag of old plates and presumed they must be broken or chipped. When he'd gone I peeped over the edge and saw that there wasn't actually anything wrong with them. Lots weren't salvageable as they had been broken when he dropped them in, but I managed to save some. 
The tea cup is Staffordshire bone china, and I so wish I could have got a saucer with it. I also got a Royal Osborne milk jug, an English Delft plate and a Royal Doulton platter. I looked online and found a similar platter for sale (in 'good', not 'excellent' condition) for £54!! 

I also got a bird feeder. I chucked it in the car without paying much attention to it, and didn't notice until I got home that it's a lovely solid metal one. I thought it was a cheap plastic one. 
Little Boy and I visited mum again this week. She had some recycling to take to the tip, so we just had to visit her tip too! If you have the cheek to ask people if you can rehome their things, you can save some unbelievable stuff. I can't see how people can throw away perfectly good things, when there are so many people out there in need. 
All the tools below came from one man. He was moving house and didn't want to take them with him. The shears are surprisingly sharp (I used them in the garden today) and I used the saw thingy to cut back a shrub. I've got a lovely new one I won in a competition, but I didn't want to use that one today as I had to cut right down near the ground and didn't want it getting all covered in soil. So out came my salvaged saw! The hammer and screwdriver have gone in my bits and pieces cupboard. It's so annoying I'm married to a carpenter, but never have any tools when I need them as he has taken them all to work with him. OH had some of the files and the bolster to put in his tool box, and the rest have gone as spares in the shed. The only poor tool that didn't make it was the pliers as they were too rusty. 

This one was an exciting rummage when we got home - a big bag full of gift bags! All in excellent condition, still with unwritten on labels attached. I've shown a few on the floor, but there are loads more in the spotty bag, and mum had quite a few too. 

Next, a plant stand. I know, it's a bit dated but I'm going to paint it and put plants on it in the new sun room. Watch this space. Don't hold your breath though, as it will be a looooong time before I have a sun room to put my plant stand in. This wasnt actually a freebie though. The refuse centre at Cirencester have a couple of shipping containers where they put things they rescue from going in the skip. You can get some great bargains there, as they sell things for only £1, £2 or £3. This plant stand was £3. 

I love my new spotty teapot. It's a John Lewis one (saw a similar one online for £24) and is in perfect condition. I put it in the dishwasher and it came out sparkling. Trying to work out why it was thrown away, I did wonder whether it was a dribbler, but I tried it out and it pours perfectly. Cost - 50p
Last but not least is the metal container. I'll give it a wash and use it for house plants I think. That was another rescued freebie. 

So there you go, that's all my new stuff I have to find a home for. But how could I say no when you can get all that for only £3.50 - and I didn't even have to pay as mum treated me. Win win!!


Monday, 16 May 2016

Sunbathing? Not likely!

Sunday morning dawned, and looking out of the bedroom window it looked like the weather was going to be a repeat of Saturday. Saturday consisted of a glorious sunny day, with a stroll around the car boot in the morning and relaxing in the garden eating ice cream in the afternoon. 

We have a lovely view of the Malvern hills from our house. I can't get over how lush and green the garden has got over the last few weeks. They say to buy a house in the depths of winter don't they, as if you like it when it's gloomy and nothing is growing, it can only get better. Several unknown shrubs which I was thinking of getting rid of have started flowering, and next door's lilac has come out, and we have an apple tree near the bench which is in blossom. I'd like to keep it but it hasn't been maintained at all, and has several mature branches crossing over and rubbing against each other. Should I get rid of it and start again, or try and save it?

However my notions of lazing in the sun were dashed when OH suggested we knock down the kitchen  ceiling. Do you think he's getting me back for the dropped pie incident the other day?! How could I resist such a tempting offer? Well I guess it needs doing, so no point putting it off.
So here's the before...

The old larder where the fridge is had to come out, so when the old stairs come out, they can get the new ones in

Oh dear, the dust, the mess. Renovating properties is a bit like childbirth - when you actually experience it you say 'never again'. But the outcome outweighs the current discomfort (okay, childbirth is a bit more than discomfort, but you get what I'm trying to say). We have done up quite a few properties now, and it has meant we have been able to move up the property ladder considerably from our first house. Obviously having a very handy husband means we have saved a lot of money by doing things ourselves. 

As soon as it was all down it was shovelled up and took down to the tip (I've got more goodies to show you that I got at the tip again!). It doesn't look too bad now it's clean and tidy again, as long as you don't look up - I said don't look up!

What happened to the 'months rain in a day' that was due yesterday? The sky was black, but we only had a spot of rain. 

Next time I'll show you my freebies

Friday, 13 May 2016

Friday 13th - unlucky or just clumsy?

Well it's Friday the 13th today. I guess I'm fairly superstitious - I don't walk under ladders, open umbrellas indoors, and would dread breaking a mirror. So I do breathe a sigh of relief when a Friday the 13th goes by without a hitch. Today was nearly one of those days, until I got tea out of the oven. This is what OH's tea supposed to look like...

Nothing special, just a chicken pie. But it needed up looking like this...

As I took it out of the oven it slipped out of my hand, and I watched it crumble into pieces and the gravy contents drip down the front of the cooker and onto the floor. To make matters worse, there is a tray space at the side of the cooker, and several of the lap trays were covered in bits of soggy chicken and peas. 
So his tea ended up being the bits of pastry that stayed on the worktop rather than the floor. The egg didn't escape either - I was that busy scraping up pie I forgot it so it got a bit well done. 
Oh well, all over now. My tea was nice anyway, homemade soup in my new slow cooker!

Saturday, 7 May 2016

A sunny day out in the Cotswolds

The recent gorgeous weather called for a trip to the Cotswolds to see my mum. Big Girl was at school, but Little Boy had a day off from nursery, so the three of us hopped in the car and went out for lunch. I just had to stop to take this photo - Cotswold stone wall, field of sunny yellow rape, and a brilliant blue sky with a splash of fluffy white clouds. It's good to be back amongst the English countryside. 

We stopped in Moreton-in-Marsh at the Cotswold Food Store. Set in three acres with beautiful views, you can eat in the cafe or outside on the deck, and dogs are welcome too if they behave themselves. 

They support local producers wherever possible both in the shop and the cafe, and serve homemade cakes and soup and Cotswold coffee. All the food in the shop is seasonal, and they sell fresh fruit, veg, and bread as well as cheeses, pates and award winning pies and pastries. It's not cheap there, but then what is in the Cotswolds?

The cafe was very pleasant, with Cotswold stone walls and a log burner for the colder months. I could have taken several of the animal prints on the wall home with me, but they were a bit beyond my budget. For lunch we had a bacon bap and a Brie and cranberry baguette. Both came with a mixed salad with a blackberry dressing. Problem is, it was that yummy I was half way through it before I remembered I hadn't taken a photo! 😊

The day however didn't have a happy ending. I got home and realised I hadn't opened the door and window in the conservatory, where I am growing on my seedlings. It was absolutely baking in there. Some may be salvageable, but others were burnt to a crisp. I'm so cross, as I spent ages pricking out and potting them all on. 

There was only one thing to do, bring them all into the shade of the kitchen and give them a thoroughly good soaking. And whilst I was there I thought I ought to have a drink too. Well, with strawberries and cucumber in the fridge, and fresh mint in the garden, it just screamed 'Pimms time!!'. You can tell I don't drink anymore though, as after only half a glass I was feeling a bit squiffy 😊

Guess I need a bit more practise. And I need to use the lemonade up or it will go flat won't it? Maybe I should have another small one tomorrow...

Thursday, 5 May 2016

More car boot finds & lots of mess

I can't believe how time has flown by. It's been nearly two weeks now since I last posted, as I'm telling you about last weekend, and it's Friday now. OH keeps stealing my iPad in the evening to watch football on BT Sport, so I don't get to do my blog as often as I like at the minute. 
It was another successful car boot rummage on Saturday, and this wall hanging just had to come home with me...

I also spotted a packet of buttons, and asked the lady how much she wanted. She said it was 50p for the basket full of stuff which included the buttons. I was quite happy with that, as I would have paid 50p just for the buttons. When I got home I opened it up and had a rummage. There were two pairs of scissors (which are surprisingly sharp), a stitch holder, some pins and needles, bobbins, thread, snap fasteners, hooks and eyes, and some more vintage buttons. So I was quite pleased with my bargain!

Seeing as it was a Bank Holiday, OH had the Monday off and we got on with some house demolition. Having done this sort of thing in several of our houses, I certainly wasn't looking forward to the dust and mess. The place needs re-wiring, and it was a choice of either taking up floorboards upstairs or taking down ceilings downstairs. We opted for the latter; more mess but makes it easier for the electrician. Before...

And after...

Surprising what a difference a dark ceiling makes, seems quite oppressive. There was also a wall to knock down in my study, so we took that down at the same time. That's OH playing silly beggars in the photo below, with a dust mask on his head. 

This is taken in my study, which now has a view down the staircase! We've had to put a board across there for now, as it wasn't very safe with a little one in the house. 

Outside I have been planting potatoes in compost bags. Just leave some compost in the bottom of the sack, add three chitted potatoes and top up with compost to cover them. When they start sprouting, just keep covering them with more compost, unrolling the sides of the bag as you go. I've got mine lined up against the house wall. In New Zealand we had a 900 sq m veg garden, and grew lots of different veg ( including enormous pumpkins, melons, lemons, mandarins, butternut squash, and heaps more). However, we were in the far north, which has a humid climate, and wasn't the best place for potatoes and most years both the potatoes and tomatoes succumbed to blight. Let's hope we are more successful over here!