Monday, 30 March 2015

Contemporary Floral Design with Paula Pryke course review

 I had the chance to join one of the My Garden School courses, Contemporary Floral Design with Paula Pryke and was hugely excited as I had started a floristry course when my son was young but had to give it up. So this online course gave me the opportunity to pick up my florists scissors, tape and foam and have another go.
yellow tulips and purple iris

Paula Pryke is very highly regarded as a floral designer and has written many books (I have a few) on the subject, so to be able to join a course taught by Paula was fantastic. The course is run over 4 weeks and presented as video lectures that you can watch in your own time which was great for me as sometime life is a bit chaotic and time to do my own thing can be rather sporadic.

Easter crafting #BostikBloggers

How exciting to receive a box of wonderful Easter materials ready for some springtime crafting, Probably my favourite time of year for being creative with visions of eggs, chicks and bunnies in our heads and inspiration from flowers appearing every day in the garden.

Here is our Bostik Bloggers box for this month, pinks, yellows and greens, so fresh looking and plenty for us to do.
Bostik bloggers Easter box

We thought we would decorate the bag, a little trinket box and make a card for Daddy. Little Bird has been poorly so some sticking was a quiet craft we could leisurely do.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Garden centre goodies

primroses-in-baskets So every March is brimming with presents for me, Mother's Day and then my birthday so I get to go and choose some plants for the garden as part of my gift.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

This week they are the King's swans

swan colony River Soar Leicester A colony of swans in the River Soar / Grand Union Canal in Leicester. As we walked around the city for the Richard III reburial events we spent some time in Castle Park overlooking the river.

March celebrations #BalloonTime

cheery balloons Balloons make a party. Beautiful, colourful cheery balloons. My son loves them and so do I. The perfect decoration whether it be in corners of rooms, above doors, as table centres or fancy balloon arches. However, it has to be said than helium balloons are the best, they float, there's life in them and rather than just hanging there limp, they are bobbing around and are a lot more fun.

Monday, 23 March 2015

My solar eclipse memories

Here in Cheshire we were lucky to see the solar eclipse and here it is like the Cheshire cat's smile.

Such a strange sensation, the sky become dusky, everything felt silent. Like a dull cloudy morning but the atmosphere felt still.

A pair of wood pigeons landed in the tree opposite my house started roosting in their tree.

After the solar eclipse I did notice that the birds were singing again, was this the false dawn chorus? Had it really caused such a behavioural response?

Some facts:

If you missed it, there will be another total eclipse of the same size in 2026.

How marvellous that an eclipse happens - the sun is 400 times larger in diameter than the moon and 400 times further away.

In the UK, for the most, we were able to see a 96% eclipse. For a total eclipse Svalbard, in the Norwegian archipelago or the Faroe Islands, between Norway and Iceland were the best places to be.

Bailey's Beads  are the bright uneven edges at totality (when the moon obscures the sun), like beads due to the sun shining through the  rocky surface of the lunar landscape. The last bead that brightly shines is referred to as the diamond ring effect.

Solar prominences are plasma flares that can be seen under totality.

In places like Svalbard, the chroma, red gassy atmosphere can be seen.

The moon moves 3cm away from the earth every year. One day, 500 millions of years away, there will be no solar eclipse.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Getting a good night's sleep at last

In our home it is such fun and games as the bedtime routine starts. Little Bird has autism and sleep is very difficult for him. In fact I am off to a sleep workshop this week to try and find out ways to improve the bedtime situation. One thing that was problematic was my mattress, as the springs were broken on one side, nearly bursting through the fabric and digging into my back. There is no room to manoeuvre around them when a 5 year old who will not sleep in his own bed also shares. Frequently, once he actually has drifted off, he is then positioned horizontally across the bed. Meanwhile I am crunched up on the edge, on the broken bit. Hence, my back was hurting from the springs and being in such an uncomfortable position.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Dad's garden before the hard work starts

I had a little nosy around the garden at my parent's home and my dad has told me just how behind he is this year with tidying, getting the greenhouse prepared and planting seeds. I couldn't even get in the greenhouse for all the junk! But here it is, as hopefully in a few weeks I can show you all his marvellous vegetable seedlings and flowers growing on heated beds like they were last year.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

A spring week

squirrel-eating-nuts Life is buzzing in the garden and the places we visit. Squirrels are out and about looking for their food caches or taking advantage of peanuts left out for the birds. I'm a big squirrel fan, I love their acrobatic antics and their cheeky demeanour. They are such an easily spottable animal too for young children to see.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

A bygone era of table jellies and servants

Erddig-Hall Back on Saint David's Day we headed over into north east Wales for a visit to the National Trust property Erddig near Wrexham. A grand 18th Century estate with beautiful gardens that I was keen to see but the weather changed its mind whilst we were on our way and turned into one of of heavy rain showers. After arriving we ran past the workshop area and into the main hall for shelter and took a look around the servants area which is downstairs - at the time, the rest of the house wasn't open.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

A secret garden

Green-doorway We found a little secret garden in February, they still had their Christmas tree up, it was obviously that secret that they too had forgotten.

An Italian courtyard in an old roofless building from long ago. Past woodpiles and old garden equipment were bay trees and ferns beside garden urns. Simple yet beautiful and lots of symmetry.
stacked logs

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

3 little blue eggs

blue blackbird eggs female blackbird sat in a nestWhat a special discovery this week in our garden. After seeing a nest being careful crafted, twig by twig and dried grass with leaf and old plant material. A perfect nest, how clever and how snug.

A beautiful female blackbird, brown of course and speckled is she in comparison to her glossy black male mate.

Eyes catching ours from a distance, blinking, checking.

And then she left, just for a little while and we took a peek.

A clutch of 3. Blue and precious. Our hearts filled with joy and we felt such care towards these birds and their eggs.

We put some extra food out. A fat ball filled with meal worms, some chopped apple, dog food and cheese. Then made sure that clean water was available.

The female only sits on the nest for the 14 days incubation period and then the male will come back to feed the hungry fledglings.

All under a jasmine, so quiet and protected. But my oh my are we nervous and we keep checking from the other end of the garden so as not to disturb her. Hoping that they will all be ok and the weather will keep warming up.

Our lovely blackbirds.


Monday, 9 March 2015

A little bit of spring colour in the home

Spring cheer in the home little spring home items

Spring is the time I want more colour in the house, more pastels, more jolliness and patterns. Here are my favourites I've found:

Geo Stacking Cups from Next  - just love the patterns and the yellow, grey and blue combination. Perfect for a spring cup of coffee. £12

Bright honeycomb towels from BHS. These will inject some colour into our white and grey bathroom and I really need new towels since I was looking at some of my current ones and realised just how old they are! £10 for a bath towel.

Sunshine Cushion, George at Asda. Love this for our sofa. Bright colours, happy words, simply brilliant. £15

Black and white geometric vase, oh I covet you! £28 from Next and I just absolutely love this for a posy of sweet peas or other pretties.

Unicorn cushion, George at Asda £7  I am lost for words!! Too cool and who doesn't love unicorns?

Vintage style cluster lights. BHS £120  Remind me of my childhood so my mum must have had some with these tassles on. Great, colourful and retro.

Chevron melamine plates for alfresco eating, Tesco £5.63 I would actually display these on a a shelf against a white wall in our kitchen for a fun pop of colour.

Blue Retro Teapot what a fine specimen you are! A bargain too at £10 from Tesco. Has a sort of utility ware china from church coffee mornings. Another contender for the kitchen shelf.

Do you like any of my choices?

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Tattybogles, palm trees and a funfair

merry go round Yes, more scarecrows for you following on from our tour of the kitchen garden at Tatton where we found ghosts and pixies frolicking among the rows of winter lettuce and guarding fig houses. These are the rest of the bird scaring brigade and a look around the other garden areas at one of our favourite locations for some outside fun. pretty or scary scarecrow It is of course the law that you must share your crisps with scarecrows.Scarecrow sat on a bench Tatton-Gardens Some of the 70 scarecrows that were dotted around the Tatton estate.Tatton Scarecrow Festival 2015 Interesting topiary and a walk around both the peaceful Japanese Garden and the Italian Garden with its stunning views across Cheshire. Japanese garden topiary Tatton Park scarecrow tatton festival 2015 Tatton-Japanese-garden Italian-garden-tatton Then into the Palm Show House with a waterfall and more scarecrows to find. Can you see the tiger? palms in the show house at Tatton Tatton-Show-House scarecrow festival tiger scarecrow palm show house Tatton Tatton palm house A little remembrance to one of the Tatton gardeners from WWIremembrance cross at Tatton Park for William George Williams gardener Back through the resident fair and the end of yet another lovely Tatton trip. Of course we will be back to see the garden soon for their Spring beauty. Certainly a great place to have just up the road.Fairground Tatton Park fun-fair-truck
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

The enchanted kitchen garden

Tatton-kitchen-garden-gatesSo many things that I am rather partial to in one little place today....

1920's style in the home

My Sunday nights currently consist of the wonderful world of Mr Selfridge and I love watching the fashion and lifestyles as the series verges on the 1920's, an era that has long fascinated me.

The Art Deco movement is of course what you associate with the 20's /30's and you
can instantly spot the style - very glamorous and symmetrical geometric patterns, shiny lacquered wood and chrome. After World War I was over, the 20's was full of hope and development.Think of jazz music and Flapper girls, women who could now vote and after working during the war, many continued with their jobs afterwards - a recent Mr Selfridge storyline!

Life was on the up and become more modernised and this was also reflected in interior design.

Interiors changed from Art Noveau to Art Deco in the roaring 20's. I instantly think of the sunburst motif and the Chrysler building. Luxurious cocktail style, colourful stained glass and chandeliers. A style that you can recreate today with interior items such as Art Deco sofas and the wonderful Art Deco travel prints. The addition of an Art Deco mirror, geometric rug or shell wall lights would complete the look; to me it is a very posh hotel feel, simple and classy.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Puzzles are good for you

We regularly buy jigsaw puzzles for Little Bird, he started with wooden peg puzzles, then 2 piece ones featuring animals and dinosaurs or cars and trains. Gradually we are up to 6-10 piece ones which is super as his fine motor skill delays meant that for a long time he struggled to even pick the card pieces up and place them together. We are moving forwards but there are some puzzles with too much detail that are hard for him to visually scan and build up to a big picture. However, we try and encourage him to do jigsaw puzzles every day for they are good for his concentration skills and his visual perception.

There is also another keen jigsaw puzzle fan in the house and that is Daddy Bird. He always has a puzzle to do and if he has some spare time in the evening will he'll drag the puzzle board out from under the sofa and complete a bit. Little Bird and I have also bought him puzzles for Christmas - keeps him out of trouble :)

So we recently had the opportunity to have a look at one of the Wasgij jigsaw puzzles that are new to us but very intriguing. Wasgij puzzles add a whole extra concept into the fun of a jigsaw and originated as a puzzle where the picture on the box is not the puzzle you have to complete. Instead there are clues and the puzzler has to put themselves in the position of the character shown on the box and work out what the picture may be.

Well over the years, the range expanded and there are other puzzle concepts now. The puzzle we received was the Wasgij Mystery Only Fools and Horses 1000 piece puzzle. You complete one scene and then the next is the same scene but a few minutes later. DB set upon the puzzles finding all the edge pieces and then grouping together similar coloured pieces - all very methodical.

DB especially enjoyed this puzzle as it was humorous and made a change from the puzzles we usually get which are scenery, boats and animals. The caricatures are really well drawn and we love the quirky detail in the scene.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Goodbye February

See ya later February, you made me smile and you made me cry. You got us out and about exploring gardens and we enjoyed our first coffee at the local cafe in a long, long time.

You brought me old pictures from my Nana, photos of her parents and holidays long ago to Capri.

And a house brimming with flowers.

There were farmer's markets and snowdrop walks and I read the Miniaturist for my book group.

Here's to March. You can follow what we do everyday on my Instagram feed - my favourite social media pastime......