Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Crumble trees

russet apples Surrounded by crumble trees and pie trees, red deepening fruit in the Indian Summer sun. Ready to fill baskets and taste that first sharp fizzing bite.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Blood moon

country fields at dusk We had a ladies day exploring the countryside, looking at art, laughing at silly jokes, had lunch outside a castle in Wales and then coffee in another castle. In between that we tried on helmets, chatted with ladies camped in car parks, photographed gardens and then chased the Hunter's moon.....

As we drove along, suddenly the moon peeped over some houses and we all whooped at the wonderful sight in the dusky sky. Down winding country lanes we travelled until we got our camera shot. Then we simply admired the beauty of the blood moon rising, huge and imposing on the night sky. It was an enchanting evening that I'll always remember.
white gates at Chirk mere in Shropshire twilight Ellesmere Shropshire Ellesmere Shropshire Blood moon Harvest super moon

Saturday, 26 September 2015

History at National Trust Dinefwr

autumn landscape In sweeping landscape fashioned by Capability Brown, the estate of Dinefwr in Carmarthenshire is a huge place to explore. A romantic ruined castle stands on a hill across grassland where red deer graze, a mill pond buzzes with dragonflies and pathways wind their way around for nature explorers and ramblers. 

Friday, 25 September 2015

Cosy up for an autumn picnic

So the time has arrived, it is officially autumn and the landscape is slowly turning into a riotous display of yellows, reds and browns. It's a time to escape into the countryside at the weekend and enjoy these fruitful months, pack an autumn picnic and embrace the season.
Autumn pathway

Head off to to the local country park for a stroll, to kick the leaves and search for conkers and acorns to take home for some autumn home styling. I love to make leaf garlands and put shiny conkers into bowls or jars entwined with fairy lights. 

There is something so exciting when there is a cold chill to the air in the morning and you can see your breath as you walk along in a slight mist. The scenery everywhere is spectacular and there are so many great places to visit in the UK from castles and abbeys to our glorious coastline. It may be cold at times but with a some cosy clothing, like a parka from M and M Direct, thick cosy socks and layers will keep you toasty for your day trip. 

Couple rich autumn days with a sumptuous feast, a picnic for by the river or atop a ruined castle mound. A flask of tea or a flask of spicy tomato soup with a chunk of bread. Cheese, home-made chutneys and jams, all the good of the land.
Image source: Autumn picnic Shutterstock

Take a blanket and a basket for foraging for blackberries, apples and sloes. If you know what you are doing there are plenty of mushrooms at this time of year but do be careful and  book on a fungal foray if you are not sure. 

Favourite places for autumn walks:

Marbury Park, Cheshire - a wonderful arboretum of the most wonderful russets and golds around the ruins of an old hall.

Tatton Park - acres of parkland and a chance to see the seasonal red deer rut.

Bakewell - a stunning town in the Peak District with spellbinding scenery and a tart of two to add to that picnic. 

*Collaborative post*

Thursday, 24 September 2015

A little autumn gothic garden

early autumn garden National Trust Colby Woodland Garden Through a gate and into the walled garden filled with lush leaves and gothic elements that poked their faces around water spouts and sat brazen amongst fuschia filled beds. The surrounding woodlands formed the most amazing backdrop of a descending autumn curtain; pops of yellow and russet, beautiful but if only I could see in another months time.

Pests in your home

I love all creatures, every little insect, mammal or bird but when it turns into a pest situation I imagine it isn't a pleasant experience. Recently I was visiting a church to record the ecology within the churchyard and up above could see a swarm of wasps around a papery nest on the corner of the roof. How angry they looked, this buzzing black ball and I'm sure the congregation would not be happy about them as potentially wasps can cause very bad allergic reactions to their stings. It is bad enough when the wasps are out in force at this time of year looking for sugary food but to have a nest full is a nightmare and removal has to be done very carefully by people that are protected and know what they are doing.

I can vaguely remember  having a wasp's nest in my childhood home and with children and pets in the house this needed removing quickly. Not to be attempted by yourself of course, best to leave to the experts as wasps are pretty aggressive. Professionals like Axatax will sort the problem quickly for you and offer a range of pest removal services from rodents to bird proofing buildings - the mess that pigeons make on buildings can be a real eyesore. When I am working around amazing architecture and the bird poo is piled up, it is not very nice at all and is a health hazard.

Here are some horrible facts about pests to impress people with your knowledge of:

*Collaborative post*

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Caernarfon charm

 River Seiont Caernarfon Castle An ancient town in North Wales, on the mouth of the River Seiont where the imposing stone castle was built for King Edward I in 1283, this is Caernarfon. A pretty walled town brimming with history and superb buildings to see around every corner. 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Brocante bedroom styling

A decent night’s sleep to refresh and rejuvenate is a mere dream for most of us, myself included. It helps to have a peaceful environment and a bedroom that invites you to relax, unwind and drift away.

I love vintage and shabby chic is one of my favourite decors for a bedroom, soft and feminine using delicate fabrics and pastel colours that remind me of French glamour and sophistication. Brocante is a word to describe this interior design, it literally means flea market in French and it conjures up these marvellous treasure troves in Paris or Normandy. Creating the look is easy to do using existing elements, a bit of upcycling and some classic furniture pieces.

Use chalky painted, distressed effect pieces of furniture for a rustic feel – whites, greys and pastels from pink to mint green. Combining pastels adds interest and gives a room a fresh and romantic statement. Scour junk shops for country inspired furniture and antiques with interesting curves and potential to change with a lick of paint. Pretty printed wallpaper can be used the paper the front of drawers or wardrobes making a unique item for your room.
pastel blue cupboard
Image source: The Cottage Market 
The bed of course is the most important element to consider and when choosing one for a vintage style Brocante bedroom, look for Roccoco curves such as the range of Rose upholstered beds from Button & Sprung. These beautifully crafted handmade beds would be a magnificent central piece to dress the room around. With a huge choice of fabrics from soft greys like Dove to Duck Egg blue or even a rich Cranberry or the provocative Lipstick would all work for a French feminine feel filled with grandeur and chic.
Button & Sprung Rose upholstered bed

Add floral bedding, throws and blankets, layering with delicate patterns  - store them in a glass doored linen cupboard or armoire for full on French, an excuse to head over to France and explore their fabulous markets for antique fabrics and linens. Shabby chic is one where you can really mix and match those pretty items. For French flea markets there are many to visit all over the country but here are some of the best.
Brocante style bedroom
Image source
 French ladies are renowned for their classic beauty and ageing well so for a great night’s sleep consider one of the Button & Sprung pocket sprung mattresses that will help you dream away and let the overnight repair do its work - skin looks so much better after a good night’s sleep. The mattresses at Button & Sprung are hand-made and filled with breathable, natural materials and have a patented IQ spring for super comfort levels. With a 100 night return policy you can be assured that Button & Sprung have your comfort at the heart of their ethos.

Brocante can be as glamorous as you like with opulent accessories; gilt antique French mirrors, crystal chandeliers, lace edged cushions and pressed glass tea light holders. Or you could go for simple and pared back French country décor – enamel jugs of hydrangeas or roses, rustic hooks on the wall, a weathered lantern for a delicate fragranced candle and shades or white throughout. Think ditsy flower print, butterflies, French signs, ruffles and wicker storage boxes.
crochet bedroom
Image source: Carla Aston
The great thing about French shabby chic is that the style lends itself to an eclectic feel that you can do on any budget with a bit of upcycling and using accessories you may already have with some key furniture pieces. Whether you prefer a rustic simplicity or 
Oh là là, it is a scheme that is easy to recreate within your own home. 
French bedroom
Image source

*Featured post, words are my own*

Saturday, 19 September 2015

The Horizon trend from Graham & Brown: Nature in the home

The Graham & Brown Horizon Trend is all about the inspiration around us in the natural world and bringing it into the home, whether that be a holiday, a favourite day trip or your own local landscape. Maybe a found item such as a feather can be the trigger for a new room scheme or a paint colour for a wall or piece of furniture.

There is no question that my love is for the British Isles, the rolling bucolic landscapes of our countyside and the rugged coastlines and sandy shores from Cornwall to Pembrokeshire and to my home county of Cheshire with its lush green fields.

Even more so I adore the changing seasons with their different textures and tones, and non-better to me than autumn – purple heathers on the heath, golden shades of a harvest hay field, the paint brush dipped oranges and yellows on the tips of big oak trees that slowly week by autumnal week take over the final tree to copper and brown leaf fall. In the hedges are the knots of green, purple, black and wine, blackberries bursting with colour, ready for picking. In the orchards are russet apples and golden crab apple fruits – a crimson display in misty mornings.
yellow crab apples

I bring nature into the home all year round, holly in winter, bulb flowers in spring, sweet peas in summer and in autumn a display of umber leaves, acorns and shiny brown conkers in prickly shells – you can see my recent autumn display here.
vintage nature book

With autumn resplendence afoot, nature very much influences my current interior design. I love to inject the rich, earthy colours into the home for a cosy feel. For me it has always been the British Isles that I cherish, far more than any exotic place; it is the woodlands and countryside of my own country that inspire me and make me happy. 

I can remember doing a nature diary at primary school and spending a lot of time in the local park that backed onto farmland, collecting beech nuts and sycamore helicopters, gluing them into a scrapbook or sketching them. This love probably led to me studying ecology and thus areas of my home do show this love of flora and fauna – stacks of vintage nature books, old drawings of wildlife picked up at charity shops, hedgehogs, badgers, foxes aplenty on decorations and pine cones filling vases.

My next project is to upcycle my dark wood storage unit, an item passed on by a family member that needs sprucing up and then I can display my British landscape and nature books on its shelves. I have decided to paint the piece in a rich purple colour reminiscent of the bramble hedges at this time of year and wallpaper the sides in the elegant Oriental Blue paper from Graham & Brown. I will be starting this in the next week and will be sure to show you how I did it and the end result.
Oriental blue wallpaper

I think team with a nature inspired picture such as the feather wall art from Graham and Brown it will be a lovely little book nook for the autumn and winter.
feather wall art

*Featured post, words are my own honest opinion*

Friday, 18 September 2015

Degustabox August review

It’s the monthly knock on the front door where I open and quickly grab the box off the deliveryman with glee – the August Degustabox. Great as we were off on day trips and holidays and would use the items as snacks on the way. Upon first glance the box seemed a great mixture of sweet and savoury so let me show you what I found……
Degustabox August

First off some treats!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Shugborough walled garden

bumblebee and butterfly dining together
Frothing dusky purple flower heads of Joe Pye Weed provide nectar rich afternoon tea for the bumblebees and the butterflies.Two insect friends against a brooding, gathering late summer's afternoon sky. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Freshwater East

vintage seaside poster Freshwater East Pembrokeshire After the torrential rain stopped we headed out along the Pembrokeshire Coastline, returning to the areas we love. First stop, Freshwater East where a stream flows across the sands and into the roaring waves of the bay.
goose Stream running across Freshwater East beach The rain yesterday was pretty much non-stop, so the stream flowing into Freshwater East was raging and bubbling over the tumbling, rounded pebbles and had forged itself a gully through the sand creating a steep edged bank. It seemed to be attracting the attention of regular walkers to the area who were looking with interest at this new state of affairs. 
water carved a gully
Water cold that filled my boots but a happy boy with salt whipped legs and a collection of seashells was well worth the squelchy feet. The rest of the beach was relatively calm and perfect for blowing away the cobwebs, as a goose thought so too. a happy beach boy sand ripples

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Cute snow leopard cubs and win a holiday to Great Yarmouth


Rare Snow Leopard Cubs Make Debut at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens Norfolk

Two rare snow leopard cubs, the first to be born at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Garden near Great Yarmouth, have made their debut.

The cubs born to mother Nima and father Mohan in June have been given a clean bill of health and pronounced to be both male.
adult snow leopard

Mother Nima was born in Belgium in 2012 and father Mohan was born in Zurich in 2013. The two snow leopards came to Thrigby Hall as part of an international breeding programme, co-ordinated by the studbook keeper, Leif Blomquist of Helsinki Zoo.
Ken Sims and Scott Bird Directors at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens said: “We are privileged to host these beautiful cats and to make a contribution to the conservation work of progressive zoos.”
Snow leopard cubs

The boys have been named Jamal and Jamir by members of the public.
Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens is at Filby near Great Yarmouth, t. 01493 369477.

The Wildlife Gardens open every day at 10am.
Thrigby Hall logo

If you would like to visit these stunning creatures and many more, why not enter the competition being run by Greater Yarmouth Tourism to win a 7 night holiday for up to 8 people in 2016 with no restrictions on dates, with a number of attraction passes included, it really is an amazing prize.

*collaborative post*

Monday, 14 September 2015

PartyLite candles

unwind and light a candle PartyLite candles
As we gently slip into autumn I am starting to think about making the house cosy with plaid blankets, logs by the wood-burner and the atmospheric flickering of candles on the mantelpiece. I adore scented candles and appreciate a good quality one where the scent is one that fills the room and the burning time is lengthy. 

I was delighted to be able to try some of the new PartyLite range and their exciting autumn and winter set of products. Specialising in candles from tealights, votives and fragrance sticks and lots of charming accessories Partylite are the go to company if you are a candle lover like me.
Candles for autumn My lovely treats are a Forbidden Fruits GloLite Fig Fatale Scented Jar Candle, a pack of 12 Iced Snowberries Tealights and a shimmery Warm Hearts Tealight holder. 

All were packaged so well and the individual boxes are sturdy and high quality - perfect for sending as gifts.

The jar candle has a pretty black damask design and is a two wick candle. The smell was beautiful as soon as I took it out of the packaging and once lit it was casting the sweet fragrance of Fig Fatale throughout the front room with a dreamy and intimate glow. The candle is 440g and has  burn time of 50-60 hrs and costs £22.50. I adore the smell, it is not overpowering but enough to create a gorgeous fig and vanilla aroma that gently fills the home,
warming glow of a candle My Iced Snowberries tealights are such a delicate fruity scent, perfect for popping in my heart tealight holder and freshening up a room. Through the speckled antique finish of the holder the light is a gentle twinkle for on a shelf or mantlepiece. Each tealight lasts 4-6 hours and a pack of 12 costs £7.95. 

I have brought a lot of candles in the past especially fragranced ones and have quite often been disappointed in the aroma disappearing off into the ether and not being able to pick the scent up as I walk into a room. The PartyLite candles were wonderful though, the ambiance and perfume was divine, tones of fruityness and feminine gorgeousness. Perfect for an evening of pampering bliss and reading a book. 
heart votive Classy elegance in a cute heart shaped container to keep my tealight safe on the shelf of the dresser or it will look super pretty on the Victorian cast iron fireplace in my bedroom. At £13.95 it would make a thoughtful gift with a pack of tealights. 
glass jar candle
The PartyLite autumn and winter range had me really swooning, the candy coloured Just Desserts Nutcracker Layered Candle which looks and sounds good enough to eat - Marshmallow Peppermint, Nutcracker Sweet and Sugarplum Fairies. Seriously the prettiest candles ever! I daren't even get started on the Halloween range but their colourful sugar skull inspired range with a Hocus Pocus scented jar had me oohing and aahing out loud. 

Do you love candles too? What scents do you like to use for a relaxing evening?

* I received the products for the purposes of the review but all words are my own honest opinion*

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Cathedral flags

military flags south transept Chester Cathedral
Still feeling patriotic after the Queen passed the milestone of being the longest reigning British Monarch, I snapped these military flags in the south transept of Chester Cathedral after seeing the giant Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria meet by the city gates.

It's always hard without a tripod to take a photograph in dim cathedral conditions so they are not as clear as I like. But I love it when flags are grouped like this in churches and cathedrals, beautiful rich colours and of course the Union Jack is the basis of them. These are possibly flags of the Cheshire Regiment. 

Sunday Snap

Roald Dahl Day

glass bottlesToday is Roald Dahl day, celebrating his wonderful wacky world of marvellous medicines, chocolate factories, strange creatures, lots of revolting words and snozzcumbers. 

I grew up on Dahl, his books inspired me and led me into a world of bizarre adventure. Nights of reading in my room until past bedtime.....James and the Giant Peach, the BFG and The Witches. 

I still find myself making up words in the Dahl way - gobblefunk.

Can you guess which Roald Dahl books my pictures represent?
fox embroidery coconut face witches door

Saturday, 12 September 2015

How Grey Can be Great

The colour grey has earned a bad rap over the years. We associate this colour with everything negative, scary or dismal in our lives: gloomy weather, sharks, mould, freezing temperatures, pollution and bad moods. However, grey can be a beautiful and versatile colour to work with, especially in your home. Here are a few ways that grey can be grey-t (forgive the pun, it was just too easy…). 

Neutral does not equal boring
grey sofa

Unfortunately, ‘neutral’ is often code for ‘boring.’ Many of us get intimidated at the thought of making a statement with our interior décor because we don’t want the costly chore of redecorating something that didn’t work out. That’s where grey comes in: the beauty of this colour is that it’s subtle enough to put anywhere – the walls, the floor, even your furniture (like the above piece from Fishpools sofa collection) – but still makes a definite statement. Play with gradients, blending varying shades of light and dark grey for a refined effect.