Thursday, 27 October 2016

What to do in the garden in late autumn

As a gardener, late autumn is a time that I picture myself putting the garden (and allotment) to bed. Anticipating the first frost I firstly protect any tender plants by bringing them inside of our play house which during the winter acts as a greenhouse or I could wrap up in horticultural fleece - dahlias the former and my new passion flower the latter as I'm not sure if it is hardy enough to survive winter. It's worth checking online with the RHS to see if any of your plants need a bit of protection during the winter rather than lose them. Rosemary for instance doesn't like to get cold and wet roots so I'll be making sure mine is in a pot with some horticultural grit mixed in with the compost and some on top to help with drainage.

With regards perennial plants such as most of mine as I love cottage garden style like Lady's Mantle, I leave them to die down and then eventually tidy away the dead foliage as it only acts as places for snails to over-winter, which I don't want. Some I leave, thistles for example as I like the architectural look of them tinged with frost. Leave some wood piles for invertebrates to hide the winter away in and some dried leaves in areas for the hedgehogs. We  have a hogitat and leaving dried leaves around it means that any hogs have cosy bedding for hibernation. 

Hedgehog in the autumn
Time to give the lawn its last mow as once below 6 degrees it won't grow and also prune any bushes - I need to prune a red currant bush that is taking over. Also any trees which need reigning in, think about  tree surgery service to thin out big trees and keep the neighbours happy and not in too much shade in the summer. 

Divide any herbaceous perennials that have become thuggish, I have a few that have swamped borders like persicaria so I'll be splitting them and giving to friends - share your garden plants to save money. Another task for late autumn is to save any seeds thus being very frugal. In envelopes I store seeds such as verbena and hollyhocks ready to sow in the spring and I've saved money in the process.
winter garden colour

Make some planters up for splashes of winter colour - heathers, pansies, ornamental cabbage, crysanthemums, skimmia and cyclamen. Purple seems to predominate at this time of year and I love how they look in galvanised metal tubs, very Scandinavian, All the aforementioned plants can be bought fairly inexpensively in bedding packs and make such a difference to a patio or at the front of your home for curb appeal.

The end of the year is also a good time to think about any hard landscaping. Whilst the garden is at its bare bones focus on putting paths in or laying patio areas, then it's all wonderful for spring. 
winter plant pots for the garden

Now all that is left is to make a cup of tea and its time to sit by the fire with next years seed catalogues and decide what you're going to grow or get some inspiration from Pinterest for garden projects.

*Collaborative post

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Five places to go ghost hunting

As a child I was spooky, I'd tell the other kids about haunted woods and an old shed by the school field with a skull in it and at Halloween I was in my element. I love to read of scary tales and ghosts in local pubs or white ladies breezing across a road near midnight. Do you? 

Well if you like getting in the seasonal spooky mood, here are my five places to go ghost hunting.

The graveyard

Where better than a eerie walk that through a churchyard or cemetery before dusk, not on your own of course but such atmospheric places to take photos and get in the ghostly mood. You never know what pictures may reveal as one man found out in Weedon Bec cemetery in Daventry when it showed what looks like a spectral man on horseback.

Crunch, crunch through the autumn leaves and a wind creates a swirl of them scattering, was that a trick of the light or was somebody stood there? Through rusty gates and past grand memorials, just what will you see near Halloween.......?

The London cemeteries even have organised walks such as at Highgate or Brompton. I did a history walk of a local cemetery where the guide told us all about the occupants such as a huge 19th century man that worked with a travelling circus. Finding out about the people buried there made it all the more intriguing and perfect for an autumn walk to get the hairs on your arms bristling.
An old theatre

old bingo hall
Last October I went on an organised ghost hunt at a local building that has been a theatre and a bingo hall over the years, as well as a few other activities taking place in the building - bare knuckle fighting and a room for the ladies of the night....I shall blog about it all in a few days. 

As you walk around by old red upholstered theatre chairs and imagine who has sat there in bygone times it's easy to feel a presence of the large personalities of thespians and the chatter of the audience. The Lyceum Theatre in Crewe has five ghosts - a ballerina, a child, the ubiquitous 'lady in white', a monk and of course an actor.  The theatre was built on the site of a Roman Catholic church and there is a tale that the ghostly actor and ballerina appeared to the cast of a play one night.

A woodland

woodland sunshine through trees
The snap of  a twig, rustle of leaves and the smell of damp leaves. Past tree hollows and dips where the shadows lurk. Trees of autumn, the colours and forming skeletal branches and wondering what else can be found here. Well..... in a woodland in Macclesfield is the grave of England's last court jester Maggoty Johnson. Unusual in that of course it is unconsecrated ground. The tales passed on is that at Halloween time, if you run around his grave 13 times Maggoty will appear and perform for you. 


Ambion Hill at sunrise
With so many lives lost, these repositories of souls have given an eerie sight of soldiers on a moonlit night or the sound of drums beating. Bosworth battlefield in Leicestershire is a place I'm well acquainted with, the end of the Plantagenant dynasty and where King Richard III was killed. There are tales of hooded figures and wounded soldiers, the feelings of being watched or pushed. You can go on an organised supernatural walk at Bosworth and see for yourself.

The Battle of Shrewsbury has a walk you can do around the battlefield and past a church. Nearby is a visitor's centre with a cafe so before or after reward your ghost hunting bravery with some cake.

The coast

Bexhill on sea at twilight
The coast is a mysterious place as the sun my head I imagine smugglers in caves, lives lost in shipwrecks and ghostly galleons out at sea. As the sun dips behind the horizon and dark descends, the sound of the waves crashing on shore gives the murmur of voices - who can you hear walking on the sand.....?  

Sea mists add to the ambiance and phantom ships have been reported, annual sightings of these ships such as ones spotted from cliffs near Brighton and the longships of Solway Firth. 

Would love to hear if you have seen a ghost or if you plan to do a ghost walk. If anything they are great way to learn about history and a fun evening, especially at this time of year. 

Snug but open plan autumn living

I absolutely love autumn and when the clocks go back it is even better for I love the long, dark evenings where I can light candles, settle down by the woodburner and relax a little. Give me blankets and warm socks, a stack of books and the family at home together playing board games, watching a film or pottering about doing our own stuff. However, it can get a little cramped over the autumn and winter months and I long to open up the downstairs layout so whilst it will still feel cosy it's also spacious and airy.
open plan living
Image Source: housetohome

An open space that is separated into different areas by clever styling so a kitchen combined with a family area where we are all together and can cosy up on the sofa or do homeschool work on the table. Open plan spaces encourage interaction and I'd love that whilst I'm cooking dinner I can keep an eye on my son or just all be able to chat without it feeling as if everyone migrates to different rooms.

For flexibility of open plan but being able to section an area off, how about folding doors that can easily open up a room to instantly create a larger space. Maybe in the evening closing the doors between sections for a smaller snug area and opening them in the daytime for busy family life. This woukd be the best of both worlds and a practical solution to combining open plan living and wanting to feel a bit like hibernating at times!
Folding doors
Image source: Elmeuble
The open space would be perfect for us with a boisterous 6 year old boy at home and there would be the room to charge around in. He whizzes through the house on scooters and throws a squishy ball or hurtles around burning off energy - goes with the territory of home educating and sensory needs so I don't mind. Open plan living would suit us so much better as a family.  I'd love a large wooden floor that is warm but practical and the walls painted white to bring the maximum light into the room. 

But on the autumn afternoons when it's approaching dusk at 4pm, I could part fold the doors across and settle down with my son into a squishy sofa, curl up under a throw and watch a film. Also in the evening when having some me time to relax or study, I'd have a smaller area to sit, light my scented candles and get my course reading done. 
Cosy autumn sofa
Image source: Tommy Hayden
My top 5 autumn additions to a room to create some autumn restful living:

1. New cushions with an autumn feel with stags or owls and different textures. 
2. A bundle of throws in autumnal colours to cuddle up in, checked ones, herringbone, greens, oranges and rich browns.
3. Yankee Candles, my favourite candles and there are some wonderful seasonal scents to try such as Autumn Nights and its earthy, woodland tones.
4. A fluffy rug to keep toes warm and for the dog to snooze on!
5. Fairy lights. There are so many to choose from to create a lovely glow on a dark night. I love copper wire ones that you can place into a lantern or a terrarium. 
Autumn home items
Asda badger cushion £8,  NOTHS wool throws £39, copper lights £4.50, Yankee Candle Autumn Night £18.99

*Collaborative post

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Autumn garden dancing

My boy loves the garden, loves being around the trees and the flowers, the fresh air and investigating under stones and pieces of bark. So we did the Frubes Moves challenge on the patio with some Halloween music on......the best CD ever with Monster Mash and some lovely tunes about witches and pumpkins....

As soon as the music comes on, my little boy loves to jump about and spin around to the music. He's always loved music and it really helps his sensory needs as he has autism. Music and movement is very calming for him.

Dancing autumn boy
Autumn garden dancing in the garden All the dancing meant it was time for me and my toothy grinned son to have something to eat so great timing to try the new Frubes yoghurt tubes. Available in strawberry, red berry, peach and banana flavours, they are a great source of vitamin D and calcium that help build strong bones. Also great as a snack on the move for our days out.

Frubes have partnered with The Angry Birds Movie for an on-pack promotional competition to win a family holiday in the Bahamas with weekly draws to win movie merchandise. There's a dance-off between the Angry Birds and the mischievous pigs here which is fun to have a go at. I think the ultimate dancer is my son though who loves to practice his moves. Do you have any dancers in your family?

toothy grin

This post is an entry for BritMums’ #FrubesMoves Linky Challenge, sponsored by Frubes 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Brighton wandering

Brighton Pier lights First time in this bright and interesting city of Brighton with pebbly beach and quirky lanes to explore. The iconic lights of the pier were amazing to see, Victorian magnificence and a truly British seaside. Brighton Beach Brighton walking We walked along the seafront by the Fishing Quarter where archways housed gift shops and places to eat alongside fishing boats and smoke houses - smoked with oak and applewood, hot mackerel or crab sandwiches. Not being too adventurous we opted for good old chips by the sea, could have had saveloy too - oi oi......Brighton Fishing Quarter Brighton smoke house skylark sm5 fishing boat Brighton On the Lanes, a warren of lanes known as twittens in this area of the UK, we found the masters of chocolate - Choccywoccydoodah who sculpt choc into stunning cakes and opposite was a curious shop selling armour. This area is noted for its jewellery shops and antique emporiums. Old town buildings that were once fishing cottages. Halloween window Choccywoccydoodah Brighton armour shop Brighton The Victory Pub Brighton Back to the sea front and Victorian grand buildings, views out to sea and sweet treats of ice creams or doughnuts. In the distance in the bottom picture you can see the remains of the West Pier that is fondly loved even if it now it's just some skeletal metal remains off the shore. That night it was to be illuminated as a celebration of its 150th anniversary. Looking on is the i360 viewing tower, modern meets vintage and I know which I prefer. ice creams in Brighton Brighton building Brighton Pier Brighton dusk fall