Monday, 31 August 2015

Goodbye August

August snapshots Things we did in August
An absolute full month of day trips and exciting adventures, many of them still to share. 

August started with a day in London, showing little man all the usual tourist sights. His socks were well and truly walked off. For a 5 year old boy he certainly can walk miles and miles. There was a huge bike event on in the city which made it a bit tricky at times and we were hemmed in Green Park, I thought I was going to explode with rage as most of the cyclists in their fancy gear and expensive bikes were pretty full of it. I may have had a few words at one point but managed to be polite and keep my fire contained.

The allotment has been a regular fixture with courgettes and summer fruits aplenty, muddy faces and some sunshine. We also had a great time looking around the urban garden festival in Manchester despite the relentless rain. 

I have been poking around churches and found myself a new opportunity connected with it. Nothing can explain the swooping joy I feel when I see a parish church on our travels and skip under the lychgate to firstly find the creaking church door open and then a stunning interior of treasures and a funerary monument. Not every ones cup of tea I know and I think that makes me like it all the more.

The lady that gave me the church bug a few years back has been exploring this month with me too. We visited the Yorkshire Dales looking at castles, abbeys, churches and secret ruins. A magical time with plenty of tea and cake.

We then went to the Battle of Bosworth anniversary and I had the best time ever, making new friends, having sunrise walks, attending services for Richard III and a fair few laughs along the way. Oh and more tea and cake.

There's been cathedrals, Roman cities, Kenilworth Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon, Iron Bridge and a tour of a Victorian cemetery. I'm on my own with the latter too aren't I? Oh the things I have to show you when I catch up......

Favourite activity of the month - blackberry picking. I love late summer and then autumn and the blackberries are the first sign that harvest is on its way, pumpkins, falling leaves and the best evening of the year is getting closer......Boo!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Hay baling

round hay bales
I couldn't help but stop the car to look at the familiar late summer sight of round hay bales in a field in Shropshire. The tractor was busy on the other side of the field, chugging up and down the golden undulations. It feels like a significant sign for the shifting of the seasons in the countryside. Harvest festival will be on its way....

Sunday Snap

Friday, 28 August 2015

10 reasons why I am attracted to London living

I've had a few trips to the capital this year and I'm smitten. Getting back to leafy Cheshire seems a little bit of a let down and I am longing to go back (soon, yippee). But could I live there? Would I want to? Here are my 10 reasons why I am attracted to London living.....

1. Everything seems to happen there. Blogging events, absolutely always in London. All those great invites to interesting events, London. It would be great to not have to say no or spend a fortune on train tickets to go there at short notice.

2. Huge parks. I was in Hyde Park earlier in August and was just amazed at how immense the place is and the mixture of people doing all kinds of activities. I love roller blading but if I hit the parks in Cheshire I would get the strangest of looks. Not in London. I could skate along dressed as a clown and basically get ignored. Brilliant. After that I can get on the big wheel or go for a row on the Serpentine. Childhood magic.
Hyde Park

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


little black terrier asleep
I opened the garden door to let my terrier out for his usual business duty yesterday and he shot off into his shrubby area. I heard a funny scuffling noise, craned my neck from the doorstep and saw the bushes moving frantically. Then nothing. Silence. 

My other dog was more interested in the piece of cheese I was still holding for their snack and seemed unaware that we were about to embark on a mini adventure of the stressful variety.

Quickly I grabbed my boots and darted out into the back garden. To my horror, the fence was bowed out at the bottom creating a convenient terrier sized gap. He had gone.

Of course, my son wondered what was happening and was now crying. I was rushing around wondering what to do. Shouting Billy! Billy! , looking through the window. The pair of us were not even dressed properly so I'm trying to get my son to cooperate and get ready to start searching the streets. Pure panic set in. Couldn't find the door key etc..... trying to put shoes on my son and my hands are shaking. 

Other dog was now wildly running around the rooms, realising that her best bud had absconded. I looked at my phone, a missed call from a number I didn't know. Seconds of realisation, his collar disc, my phone numbers are on it. Please let it be......

Hello. Hello. 'Do you have a dog called Billy?' The relief surged through me replacing a million fears that had been racing through my head in just a few minutes. Minutes of what if I never see my scruffy, wiry chap again. My little smelly friend that licks your hand and snuggles your cheek.

'He's here, don't worry, I've got him'

Leash in hand we tromped up the road, same side of the street just many doors down. There he was being carried in a ladies arms with two smiley girls by her side.

The lady has four dogs and was also looking after her neighbours. She was opening the door to take them all out for a walk and Billy had shot in. He's friendly isn't he, she said. The girl giggled that they were amused to have had six dogs in the house. 

I was so grateful, to lose your dog even for moments is horrendous. As I tried to take him home, he dug his paws into the pavement like a stubborn mule. He wanted to go back to the party it seemed.

So there we go. The day the dog decided he wanted to go see some friends for a doggy get together. 

Monday, 24 August 2015

A rustic harvest dinner party

Late summer is such a rewarding time, every other day baskets of fruit and vegetables are coming home with me from the plot and blackberries are also appearing in the hedgerows. The harvest is bountiful and it's really satisfying to cook everything that has been grown or foraged for. It's a great time to gather together the family and prepare a plot to plate feast, to sit and talk over rich berry crumbles or toast a glass of home brew over a fresh pasta dish with French beans, tomatoes and summer squash.

The ideal kitchen for such a gathering would be a country style with a wooden bench table and enough space for everyone to sit around. Reclaimed doors and floorboards make a rustic table option, stripped back and sanded, then painted with a distressed look for a homespun feel or add a delicate floral table cloth.
wooden rustic country kitchen table
Image source

Friday, 21 August 2015

July's Degustabox

Another month of trying the amazing Degustabox. Another surprise of new foods available on the market and a joy to open and find out what is inside.
Degustabox July

Straight away I spotted a pretty pink bottle and whooped with joy.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Blackberry lanes

Brambles in late summer Different colour blackberries Bumblebee on blackberry flowers A sign that summer is nearly finished,
Of ripening fruit and light diminished.
On country walks, along hedgerow lanes
By canals and allotments, I see the same.
Brambles rambling, natures gallery
a bounty treasure, here is the BLACKBERRY!
A slow succession of mellowing jewels
Starting off chartreuse until tinctured with jules.
With flowers, paper candied open petals
A landing pad, summer candles
For bees and hoverflies still so busy
Drunk on nectar, getting dizzy
Gather your berries, watch those prickles
Apron pockets, stained and trickles
of blackberry juice on childrens faces
Might not make the pie crust spaces
or layered with a crumbled top
Bubbling jam, pot after pot.
I managed to get some back to home
So bring out the cream for some fresh baked scones.
Bumblebee and blackberry
Jewelled blackberries Honeybee on blackberry flowers Blackberries on the lane


Tuesday, 18 August 2015


boats at Mevagissey Down steep winding streets to the fishing port of Mevagissey. Saint Meva and Saint Issey combine with the word 'hag' which is 'and' in Cornish.....Meva hag Issey.....

Monday, 17 August 2015

Lunch at the castle

Peckforton Castle Deep in Cheshire along winding lanes and with views across the plains stands a castle that was built for a wealthy landowner John Tollemache in a medieval style in the 1840's. He had 24 children by two wives so no wonder he needed a castle!

Graham and Brown: Eureka Trend

This month the Graham and Brown trend is Eureka. This is all about vibrant colour blocking, creating looks that really stand out and give an instant impact. Think geometric shapes, bold lively prints and a sense of fun.

Follow Happy Homebird's board Colour Block on Pinterest.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Late summer home style

On sunny days, it's nice to have a little shade and relaxation in the house. For a bit of summer peace, here are some ideas for a blissful living area:
neutral living area
Image source: House to Home

Sunday Snap: Printworks Manchester

The Prinworks in Manchester

Now a bustling centre of entertainment - bars, restaurants and big bright lights. Once the Daily Mirror newspaper, where they printed and distributed from. My Dad used to work there when I was young. It seemed such a prominent part of my life; stacks of newspapers at home all through my childhood and the many a weekend at home as my Dad was working. He mostly worked nights and I remember having to be fairly quiet so as not to wake him in the daytime.

A huge building built in 1875 of Portland stone in an area of Manchester once called Withy Grove. Through the eras the building had several names but the ones that I remember being mentioned are Thomson House and then Maxwell House. My Dad started as an engineer, working on the printing machines before becoming a manager. Business operations moved to Oldham around 1985 and the building was left for a long time until snapped up to be an entertainment complex. 

Dad told me of seeing ghosts there and I could well believe him. Some men were afraid at the night time after there was an account of a young man who thought he was the only one around on the noisy printing floor,  talking to an older man. Thought nothing of it.  Later on when chatting in the 'brew room', the exchange was mentioned and the man fit no description amongst the then very few night staff.....except for one said he sounded just like a man who had been killed there several years back...............

Sunday Snap

Saturday, 15 August 2015

A one true love?

Kenilworth castle ruins
Summertime. The Queen arrives, hair aglow. Will she be charmed by the garden or the tower? A grand expression of love to the Virgin Queen. Days of festivities all for her. Love captured but unable to be pursued, just a letter kept by a bedside. 

Shelter in the garden even when the rain falls

So the summer has been a little unpredictable hasn't it? We have had so many rainy days that many of our garden activities just haven't happened at all. Normally my son will be outside playing with his hula hoop and sand pit and my two old dogs will be basking in the sun. Not to be of late and we are starting to feel a little stir crazy. We go on lots of days out of course but sometimes it's nice just to stay home and get some chores done or just relax. 

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Bring some Royal luxury into the home

Royal Style Mood Board

After a recent trip to London and seeing Buckingham Palace, I feel like a little royal luxury is required in one's home. Glamorous fabrics, regal purple and some queenly treasures to create royal style. 

Perhaps a crystal chandelier for the royal parlour, £175

The key to the castle with some wall art, £17.50

Stunning glassware, a Lismore Castle bowl of course, £235

One needs to dance with a prince in this posh frock, gold lace dress £135

The palace keys need a blingy key chain, Michael Kors £30

For pictures of my own royal family some shabby chic frames, from £15

Princess Charlotte bear, £108

Pretty set for afternoon tea, pinkies held out, from £10

The queen deserves a morning cuppa in a Union Jack inspired mug, £8

For the royal cupcakes, a regal KitchenAid,  £404

A little tipple from one's decanter, £60

Comforts just like Buckingham Palace, Pearl cushion £30, Diamond cushion £44, throne chair £729 and a cosy bedspread £45

Crown paper weight for when one is sorting out the bills £8.45

All items House of Fraser

*Collaborative post*

To runner bean from you is all that I can do

growing sweetpeas on the allotment An explosion of vegetable and flower heaven at the allotment. Stop in between weeding and sowing another succession of salad leaves and you can hear the courgettes fattening in their quest for marrow status. Bunches of sweet peas are taken home to fill the rooms with sweet scent and upon return to the plot there are yet more again. A constant summer supply. 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

A little London photowalk

London telephone box London in the summer, looking around - symmetry, detail, colours and patterns. After developing the hide of a rhino, I now love nothing more than street photography, snapping away as we walk along. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

5 creative ways with ladders in the garden

The humble set of ladders, an ancient invention - shown in cave paintings, mentioned in the Bible and then the step ladder was invented in 1862.  We have a set at home, gifted by family many years ago and they are absolutely invaluable for our DIY projects from painting to hanging curtains. But how about in the garden? Aside from using for outside maintenance, how can you use a set of ladders creatively?

1. Showing off flower pots
Vintage ladders showcasing your pots of seasonal flowers are really pretty. Look out for old step ladders at junk shops and car boot sales, paint up in a nice shade and use each step as a shelf for quaint terracotta pots. Have you have ever seen an auricula theatre; shelves that exhibit the glamorous relative of the primula, equally a step ladder also makes an interesting tiered display of them.
Auricula theatre on step ladders
Auricula theatre, image source The Magic Garden

Sunday, 9 August 2015

A walk around Padstow

Padstow harbour Typically Cornwall, harbours full of boats: fishing vessels, visiting beam trawlers, crabbers, scallopers and pleasure craft. We had a very short walk around Padstow as Little Bird was ailing for something and wanted carrying - not possible for too long.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Summer crafting #BostikBloggers

We are late! Too many trips out so we finally got to crafting last week. Our Bostik Bloggers box had an outdoors theme and was filled with flowers and greenery. As soon as we saw the twisty wire, a summer door wreath sprang to mind and my son helped pick out all the flowers and got sticking with the glue. 
crafting a summer door wreath

How to create curb appeal for your home

Whether trying to sell your house or just improving the charisma of your property, consider the curb appeal and those important first impressions. On all budgets there are steps that you can take to spruce up the exterior of your home and create a welcoming appeal.
country cottage curb appeal
Image credit: A1 Lofts and Extensions/homify

Thursday, 6 August 2015

A rainy Dig the City - urban garden festival

Grow Wild It was a very rainy day but I don't like to miss Manchester's Dig the City and have very much enjoyed the festival in previous years. Gardens amongst the city architecture and some great community gardens, perhaps a little scaled down this year but I still saw some fabulous creative ideas to share with you. 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Join in the Pass Around the World

My little boy is still quite unsure of team sports but his two older brothers, my step sons are very keen on all sports. And I mean sports mad! Watching it, talking about it and joining in. Over the years I have know them to be keen football players and also try rugby and cricket through both school and outside clubs where they have made many friends. Team sports in my opinion have made them mature into to great young men who are able to socialise and communicate with people and has given them a level headed attitude.

That's why it is always good to hear of initiatives for young people and in honour of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Allianz and Saracens RFC are partnering to bring people from all walks of life together to join in and create a Pass Around the World. 

Get together with family and friends and upload a rugby pass to to link together all over the world and create one very long rugby pass. That's got to be something to do over the summer holidays hasn't it? 

You can win super prizes from a £150 Ticketmaster voucher to exclusive Saracen prizes, such as tickets to see them play, signed rugby balls and our top prize; lunch with the team after getting attending a training session!

It’s so easy to participate following these steps:

Get mobile Ready: Remember to turn your phone side ways to film your pass.

Film Your Pass: The ball must come in from the left and out through the right. What you do in-between is up to you.

Upload: Make sure your video is no more than 10 seconds long and is under 30MBs. Upload it on the Pass Around the World website and share it with your friends!

All entries will be submitted into a prize draw (terms and conditions apply, please visit for more information.)

We will certainly be doing this when the boys are staying over the summer, it will be a fun activity for a laugh on the local field and we will enjoy seeing other people's passes online too! Have a look, it's very addictive and funny watching the passes! 

**Collaborative post with Allianz**

Monday, 3 August 2015

How to keep your bathroom tidy

In a family bathroom it can be hard to keep everything in its place. You want the focal point to be the lovely suite and not a row of toiletry bottles on the side of the bath, the children's bath toys or cosmetics. Clever storage will keep your bathroom more a place of relaxed sanctuary than of cluttered chaos.
Image source: bathroom Shutterstock

Here are some ideas to keep the bathroom looking tidy: 

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Happy Yorkshire Day and why I love Yorkshire

WhitbyBrimming with charm and history, spectacular coastline and dramatic landscapes there is something to interest everyone in this fabulous county. I have barely scratched the surface of the area despite being a northerner and not living really that far away at all. In little over an hour I am in Leeds and I've really only been there a handful of times.