Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Handbags and Gladrags

Have added a couple of hand-felted creations to my - Folksy shop this week - more coming soon!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Looking After the Birds and the Hedgehogs

This week-end was the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch - the world's largest wildlife survey that gets people giving feedback on the birds they see in their gardens so that trends can be monitored and it shows which birds are doing well and which are struggling.

German made bird box 
We try and do our bit to support wildlife in the garden but with the Catapultoes around, are very careful about encouraging birds on the ground.  However, the smaller birds who feed in the trees are fast and careful  and so we focus our attentions on supporting them.  Ade managed to spot this extremely well made German nest box tucked away in the "Garden Retro" section of a vintage market and managed to negotiate a good deal on the price as it had been sitting around unsold for ages.  Every Spring the blue tits move in to raise their young and we wouldn't be surprised if they used it for roosting in the winter when the weather gets really severe.

Coconut suet feeder
Food is scarce in the winter so we offer dining facilities with suet and seed feeds

When we first moved into our home the garden was completely bare and we needed some cheap plants to give it a bit of life.  Also, as our garden is long and narrow, it works best for us to plant tall,skinny plants rather than short fat ones!  I found a baby pampas grass plant about 18 inches tall for about £2.50 and it grew up really quickly.  I didn't realise at the time how popular it would become with the wildlife.  The blue tits in particular find insects in the fluffy seed heads, and when its time to build their nests, they provide the perfect lining material for a comfy and cosy nest.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the plant, the dense network of fibres provides a dry and warm environment for our resident hedgehog (actually, there may be more than one!).  They seem to use it as a base all year round but also choose it as a top hibernation spot in the winter, which is great as hedgehogs are now considered to be an endangered species so anything we can do to help them is really important.  

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Warm and Fluffy

In the middle of winter, one of the warmest and fluffiest materials to work with is merino wool.  I find the texture and colours of the wool a real pleasure to work with.  I'm currently working on some hand-felted items for my online shop - more details later!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Snow Fitness

I'm a firm believer that exercise should be fun and that's why I cycle, garden and dance.  Yesterday, while walking in the snowy park (which is also fun exercise) I came across the new outdoor gym, which is like a kids' playground for grown ups!  This particular machine is a sort of "swing your pants" thing, which I particularly liked.  Brilliant fun and I'll be going back for more!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Wellies and Pyjamas

Oh I do love it when it snows!  Whatever the weather, the chickens need their breakfast every morning but when its cold I make them porridge to warm them up - their usual chicken pellets mixed with a little hot water (which is cooled down to "warm" temperature by the time I get to the run) and a few extra tasty titbits such as chopped spring onion, chopped apple, shredded cabbage, a few raisins, garlic granules and a sprinkling of chicken spice - they seem to adore it!  

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Goodbye Bramble xx

Sadly, yesterday evening, Bramble went to the great chicken run in the sky (where chickens can wander freely without worry of foxes, the sun is always warm on the feathers and chickens can eat as much corn as they like without getting fat).  She had a good life but her kidney disease eventually caught up with her and she drifted off in her sleep, snuggled up in a cosy, improvised nest next to the radiator.  
RIP Bramble xx

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Brrrr its cold!

The temperature outside is now at freezing point and due to drop lower through the night.  I normally settle for a quick shower but tonight I think a long soak in a hot bath is justified

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Staying Indoors

Its a little bit cold and damp out there today so I'm enjoying staying indoors and making jewellery to sell in my online shop

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A Nice Cup of Green Tea

I've always quite liked green tea but now that I've read up on its many health benefits, I like it even more

My Top 10 Reasons for Drinking Green Tea on a Regular Basis

  1. It is a source of antioxidants, which are said to help fight against the ageing process and also said to help inhibit the growth of cancer cells
  2. Is supposed to help burn calories and thus help with weight loss
  3. Has been recognised for its medicinal benefits for over 4,000 years in China to treat a variety of ailments such as headaches and depression
  4. Some research studies have shown that it can help lower cholesterol levels
  5. Is said to have bacteria destroying abilities and may help protect teeth by fighting the bacteria which cause dental plaque
  6. No need to drink it with milk -  a good reason if you are lactose intolerant or just trying to find ways of cutting extra calories from your daily intake
  7. Refreshing and thirst quenching and yet
  8. Still comforting to drink on a cold day
  9. Contains caffeine for that extra boost (although decaffeinated versions are available)
  10. Now stocked by the majority of good cafes and restaurants when even as recently as 5 years ago it was normal to be told "sorry, we don't sell it"

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Bottoms Up

Bottoms in the air and beaks down as my 3 chickens do their work tending to the vegetable patch, turning over the soil and clearing away any unwanted slugs.

It was sunny this morning and warm enough for just jeans and T-shirt - very unusual for early January but very welcome.  It was a good opportunity to give the chicken house and run a good old clean out and the girls were more than happy to be transferred to the veg patch.

Afterwards they returned to their nice clean home (lightly fragranced with rosemary and tea tree) where they feasted upon a bowl of chopped up and boiled veggie peelings, watercress and garlic - they were in chicken heaven!

Bramble & Juni tucking in

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Homegrown Revolution

It was my birthday a few days ago and I was very happy to receive a copy of this book by James Wong.

James says that "the whole concept of 'growing your own' has has somehow got itself stuck in a weird 1940's time warp" - how true!  He even says that the 20 or so standard crops we have been growing in our gardens and allotments since the Second World War represent less than 1% of what we can actually grow - how exciting is that!!  No longer will I struggle to grow potatoes which are not at all cost and time effective or onions which take months to grow and are pretty cheap in the supermarket anyway.  No, from now on, everything I grow in the garden must earn its keep and save me money.

Many of the plants that James suggests growing are considered "exotic" and shops exploit this by charging high prices and in the meantime, we haven't grown them ourselves because we thought we couldn't grow them in our unpredictable climate because they are too exotic.  But that is all about to change - hooray!!  

Many of the plants suggested in the book have a double purpose in that they look good in the garden and we can eat them.  Most of them pretty easy to grow and not particularly troubled by pests.

So now I'm about to start planning - the hardest bit will be choosing what to grow out of all the wonderful possibilities.....

Tuesday, 1 January 2013


Happy New Year and Happy New Blog!

Lots of ideas being scribbled down in my lovely new notebook - come back soon!