Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Old Post Office garden at Tintagel

National-Trust-Old-Postoffice-TintagelThe best gardens are those that you weren't expecting, those suddenly seen through secret doorways and in hidden parts of cities or quiet corners of villages. Pleasant snippets of lush green that catch your eye and lead you to push the gate open or sneak a peak over a wall.  We had been to Tintagel Castle and been half petrified by the sheer steps that you scale, which with two dogs and a child was pretty hair raising. Needless to say, back in the village of Tintagel we were looking for something less stressful. There stood the  Old Post Office which as a building was a gem. But then the doorway gave a glimpse of  a luscious garden on the other side. Under a wonky wavy slate roof I stepped and through a quaint passageway to a pretty cottage garden.Tintagel-post-office-garden

Celebrating Beltane

The end of winter and the start of summer, Beltane. A celebration from ancient Celtic times to welcome the warmer days, cleanse the cattle after the winter, light fires, promote fertility and rejoice with friends. If you are looking for some events over the holiday weekend, here are a few Beltane events to rekindle your inner Pagan.

The Green Man and the May Queen Maisna / Shutterstock.com

Clun Green Man Festival Shropshire  3rd to 4th May
A wonderful array of characters from the Frost Queen, the Green Man, Mummers, Jack the Jester and Morris Dancers. Singing, dancing and food and drink aplenty. The Frost Queen and Green Man will have a battle to see if summer can start in Shropshire and then the party starts at Clun Castle with the knights and revellers.

Butser Ancient Farm, Hampshire Saturday 2nd May 2015. 4.30pm until 10pm
Live music and the ceremony of burning the wicker man at dusk, no sacrifices! Sounds wonderfully atmospheric and a true Beltane celebration.

Beltane at Thornborough Sunday May 3rd starting at 12 noon
Tin whistles, green men playing the bagpipes and a whole load of extravagant dressing up. Held at prehistoric Thornborough Henge in Yorkshire, a site of mysterious importance.

Edinburgh Beltane Fire Festival 30th April
Spectacular show of fire dancers and half naked people painted up, looks like complete madness but with crowds of up to 12,000 this is the Beltane party to beat them all.

Celtic Harmony Beltane Festival, Hertfordshire  Bank Holiday Monday 4 May from 10 till 5 pm
A lovely Beltane family event incorporating story telling, making May crowns, owl displays, a fire procession and much more. 

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Cornwall travels

Marazzion-Cornwall-harbour Just back from an adventure around Cornwall and have so many places and photos to write about and share. Our base was at Perranporth but we literally travelled out to different places both around the coast and inland every day. Possibly need a good rest after it all now.smuggler-toy Plenty of pretty harbours brimming with colourful boats, collecting shells and eating huge pasties whilst for the most part of the week the sun shone. A couple of rainy days had us in wellies still exploring castles and churches, driving from place to place and stopping at anything interesting looking. crab-buckets No end of souvenir shopping and a haul of nautical items for the house and garden, a good dose of Medieval castle love and a new heap of books to read. Tintagel Smuggler's coves fired our imaginations as did climbing coastal paths and exploring garden with waterfalls and hidden beaches. Whilst I read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, I also found myself drifting around churchyards reading inscriptions of lives lost in tragic sea wrecks and talking to friendly church goers who enjoyed in sharing their wonderful houses of worship with me. St-Edellion-Church-Cornwall The cottages and gardens were also a highlight, especially in Port Isaac. Narrow cobbled streets lined with pretty buildings with cheery front doors and flowers in pots lined up and the sound of the sea gulls crying above. It was all so wonderful, now to go through the hundreds of photos.....!umbellifer Kittiwake-Cottage

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Wooden flooring in the home


Eventually I would love to replace the laminate flooring that I  recently painted white, with solid wooden floors. The existing downstairs laminate was there when I moved in and instantly caught my eye as it gives a seamless look to the downstairs rooms. 7 years later, it is a little bit tired although much improved by its recent coating of floor paint. Hopefully in the next couple of years I will look to invest in a real oak floor.  I think wooden floors are a really attractive option and with being so hard wearing are a great option for any home.

Beautiful briny shimmery shiny #BostikBloggers

Time for another craft session for #BostikBloggers and this month the theme is the ocean. A box full of deep blue surprises with plenty of shells and fish, sprinkles of green glitter and some super amazing blue glue.

Bostik-Bloggers-Ocean-Box

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Stepping into Narnia

sandstone crag Hawkstone Park We entered Narnia at Hawkstone Park and Follies in Shropshire. A steep walk around sandstone crags and through gullies. And it truly is Narnia as this is where they filmed part of the 80's TV version of The Chronicles of Narnia. I was just a little bit spellbound with the magical feeling here.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Home educating is better with cake

It is no surprise that I have a son who loves cake.
From the first ever piece......
cake face

 ...to the parties from age 1-5.
And for all those occasions in between.
Or just because it makes us happy.

Just because it is a rainy day and we can't go out to play
Or the day has started badly.
I quickly grab some cake and Toby and I have a little party.
Cake CollageDuring the holidays, well it's all the same to us as we home educate so our holidays are whenever we choose but we do love a slice (or two) of cake whilst we learn and play at home.

In fact, cake motivates my son when he's struggling. It cheers him up and puts a smile on his face. I love the process, it is pure magic - eggs from my father's chickens, flour, sugar, butter and a dash of vanilla. Warm cake shortly after with crunchy edges and a soft, crumb texture. I have the art perfected, rustic of course but delicious.

Cake baking is also part of our home education and the boy will be a great baker one day :)

We bake cupcakes and then take them on our day trips for we venture out a lot, so a tin full of treats is always there ready. Over Easter we had chocolate egg cakes and ate them in castles and parks. Through tantrums and tears and our tired cross moments, cake made it all better.
summer cake
This post is an entry for #betterwithcake Linky Challenge , sponsored by Mr Kipling. Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/mrkiplingcakes

Thursday, 16 April 2015

April Allotment

allotment archway Recent sunny days and a willingness to get outside have led to some action of the potato planting kind at the plot. With pink gloves and a smile I've been tending to the soil,  digging it over, raking and planting rows of potatoes and broad beans.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Love Padlocks

On a recent outing I came across love padlocks on a bridge and I wondered how this trend started......

Porthill Bridge, Shrewsbury

Bridges all over the world from the Rialto Bridge in Venice to Pont des Arts in Paris and local bridges such as the one I encountered in Shrewsbury are becoming decorated in this new trend.  I have seen the padlocks for sale as special items all over the web. A cute idea, one which is quirky and appealed to me....at first....but now I am not so sure.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Shiny black fishers

bridge Along the river sat a curious bird, not one I've seen too much of before, especially at such close proximity. The Cormorant. Large and bluish black with iridescent sheen, sat on its nest situated out on a limb in the the river. A fish eating, member of the Pelican family with a hooked beak that allows it to grasp the fish.  It didn't seem to mind passers by at all, it sure had some confidence even when a dog waded into the river. I watched it for a while and studied its movements, self assured and catching my eye from time to time. cormorant

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Dragon pool

wonderland gates Through grand decorative gates was another land, a wonderland you could say. Where clouds scudded across both sky and water whilst dragons kept guard. Over what, who knows? They would not relinquish any secrets here.

Holiday preparations

So with Easter been and gone but chocolate still lingering I am now into holiday planning mode. Off to Cornwall very soon which is very exciting and I can't wait to explore a whole new area of the country to me.

I'll have a huge ticklist no doubt. Not being one to ever still still and I mean EVER, I'll have us rockpooling, exploring, scrambling down rocks, finding old churches and looking for quirky places like waterfalls and duck ponds with resident saxophone players

I also will have a list of items I have to collect, I'm such a magpie. Have to find a nice pebble or two, interesting shells, maybe a fossil or a pressed flower found on a coastal walk. Food goods too, local speciality treats (cake!) and bags of tat like flags and pirate/seaside related junk. Love it! I use the latter to create corners of the garden that T will like to play in. The secret passage in the garden is a bit of a pirates cove but it always needs adding to every year. I am absolutely going to be on the lookout for a St Piran's flag and a local folklore book, I have to immerse myself in places and soak every last drop up. The more knowledge the better.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

My favourite places to take photographs

Rarely is there a time that I leave the house without a camera in my bag. I feel lost without one. The one time I headed out camera less I went to my allotment and a hot air balloon flew over really low! It would have made the most amazing picture with all its rainbow colours against the late afternoon sky. I raced home to grab my camera and went on a wild goose chase around my town trying to follow it. In the end I got the most distant photo but still, better than nothing. 
 photo IMG_3321_zpsa46e48f8.jpg
I most definitely take my camera on day trips and find using a camera like a Panasonic bridge camera is the best option as they are less cumbersome than a DSLR and still have great functionality such as a super zoom and the ability to alter settings more than a point and shoot can. Having a bit of extra creative control over the settings pushes me that little bit farther to get that perfect picture.

I love learning more about the art of photography and have favourite places that I like to practice my skills. Also certain locations are extremely pleasing to the eye anyway so increasing the chances of that amazing capture. My absolute favourite places to spend some time with the camera are:


The Seaside

Lyme-Regis-Bay Rows of boats and the contrast between sea and sand. From golden sands to harbours I love the range of photographs that a trip to the coast can generate. I love the architecture of Victorian piers and the pretty pastel coloured buildings. This jumble of boasts was at Lyme Regis in Dorset, a beautiful place for plenty of shots. Plus everybody has a camera at the coast so when I'm crouched in front of a crab pot or cheekily sizing up a shot of a bucket and spade shop, nobody bats an eyelid. 

The Fairground
fairgroundGarish clashing colours, flashing lights, decorative signs and people laughing on rides. My love of the kitsch and garish is an overriding factor here, I can't resist a hook a duck sign or badly painted fair ride art. They evoke such fun memories too of the days when I could sit on the waltzers time after time. Gorgeous cluttered but exciting photographs and these days I'm far too busy with my camera to go on the rides. Also great places to practice light techniques and capturing motion so every time the fair is in town, off I go.

The Aquarium
aquarium
Lit aquariums with neon fish and bubbles, interesting captures of creatures from the deep and some creative tanks like the ones at my local sea life centre. I find it fascinating looking at the fish and patience testing waiting for a clown fish to appear from an anemone and snap it just at the right time. A good place to play around with the settings on my camera and have a bit of fun. After my attempts at Scuba diving came to an end (intense claustrophobia!),  my marine love can be explored at the aquarium instead. 

The Allotment

 photo P1020585_zpsf24133d1.jpg
And of course, based on my hot air balloon chase, the camera now always comes to the plot with me alongside my trowel and seeds. Essential kit! I think my fellow allotmenteers have given up asking why I'm lay in the soil with camera angled up across some leafy vegetables growing. The best time is early evening in the summer with the beautiful golden light and a quiet plot, I have a good look around and capture all the delights of allotment life from rusty watering cans to scarecrows.

Do you have favourite places to take your camera? Have you ever missed out on the most amazing photograph too?

Published in conjunction with Panasonic

Friday, 3 April 2015

Easter salt dough bunny decorations

I love, love, love Easter. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling of spring happiness and as colour starts appearing in the garden I also want to bring nature into the home. Every year we make an Easter tree so when I put together an Easter craft project for Harvey's Furniture I decided to focus on some decorations for our tree.

With some lovely fellow bloggers the Easter crafts are all on the Harvey's website and they are very inspiring from a pretty Spring mobile to a woven Easter basket.

I made salt dough bunnies that Little Bird and I decorated. You can see the full 'how to' in the above article but basically I made a batch of salt dough and used bunny cookers cutters to make the shape and a straw to make a hole in the ear for ribbon or twine to go through to hang them up.


Painted in pink and yellow, decorated with embellishments from our crafting box.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Castle Gardens Leicester

Castle-Park-Leicester Well due to the hideous weather of dull days, chilling to the bone coldness with gusts of wind sending half the garden pots in different directions like skittles, I am looking back to the warm day we had in Leicester doing King type things and immersing ourselves in Medieval history.

In between waiting for His Royal Richardness we visited Castle Gardens. Sunshine. Proper Spring. Now departed almost as soon as the tombstone was placed but no matter, this was our day and one that will always stay with me. And I nearly didn't go! Had one of those weird wake up at 3am moments and thought got so much work to do, best stay home but the sun through the curtains said, 'Ah forget the work, get to the Midlands'

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Kitchen/Dining Room Makeover for Spring #MyWay

Springtime is my time to start thinking about sprucing the home up. Towards Easter with the sun starting to poke its head through the clouds, I feel like I want the house looking cleaner and brighter. I'm frequently pencilling down ideas - colour schemes, new styles, inspiration from magazines and of course using Pinterest. So when I had the opportunity to take part in the Homebase #MyWay challenge I was very excited to be able to bring some of those ideas to reality.

Homebase have a super resource, the Project Centre where you can find plenty of home ideas and helpful advice for completing those home improvements. Recent research shows that most of us these days use 'friendspiration' to guide us in our projects, so friends offline and online - which is where I usually head to. I spend time poring over pretty lifestyle blogs and pinning like mad. In fact here is my Pinterest board with my ideas for this project:

Follow Happy Homebird's board Homebase #MyWay on Pinterest.
With £243 worth of vouchers as this is the average for updating their home d├ęcor, I headed off with all my ideas and went on a spring room makeover spending spree. Hoorah! Homebase's research also discovered that the average length of time to research a project is 29 days, not me, due to spending an incredible amount of time online (ahem) it is probably a few days.

I decided to makeover my kitchen and adjacent dining area as they were looking very tired, half  finished and the dining area was looking too gloomy. The rear of the house where these rooms are situated doesn't get too much light and them both being rooms we use most of the time, I felt they were the prime candidates for a makeover. Plus the dining area doubles as our homeschool area so brightness was definitely required.

Here are the before pictures. Note half finished after plastering the ceiling look, walls that hadn't been painted since I've lived there, grubby cupboards with chipped paint and tired looking laminate floor. Also needed a declutter and improving with new on-trend accessories.
Dining-room-before kitchen-before So......., what I love are white floors and walls with pastel painted furniture inspired by the Yvestown blog, her home is a look I adore. A blank canvas and then accented with colours that cheer me. paint
I bought so much paint - Ronseal Diamond Hard Floor Paint in cotton for a perfect white floor, Quick Dry Satin in candy floss and sky for the chairs, Laura Ashley Duck Egg White for the kitchen cupboards and finally a white emulsion for the kitchen walls from Home of Colour Duracoat in Contemporary which I thought was an excellent value range.
kitchen-after After preparation the wall - wiping clean and sanding we painted a couple of coats of white emulsion and in the cupboards in my favourite white duck egg. It was lovely to see the room looking so crisp and then I set about putting all my new accessories together for a country kitchen/shabby chic look. The clock is new and looks wonderfully classy against the white walls.
kitchen-door A pretty spring green tray for my tea and cakes and a cream bread bin to fit in better with my kitchen appliances.

The most beautiful glass storage jar set that I was so pleased to find- an absolute bargain at £9.99 In fact I was pleasantly surprised by the home interior range at Homebase and how on-trend it all was. Folk style is one of my favourites and fits in well with my house.

I also found some RHS greeting cards in store and I thought they were so vintage looking and of course, I love to garden so they were a find that I was very excited about. I do get quite giddy when doing the home up! Makes my heart skip when it all comes together.
jars kitchen-cupboards A cheeky owl vase to fuel my obsession, an antique green picture frame, yet more bird treasure with the wire birdy ornament.

And for the cake which is always available in this house, a vintage style pressed glass cake stand.
spring house products window A new spotty doormat to tidy the doorway up with colour and it's all looking tidy now. spotty-door-mat Moving into the dining room, the white continues and I used the other vintage cards as wall art.post-cards Look how amazing the floor looks painted white. I am beyond happy as a lark about this. I feel I have the look I truly wanted. The chairs had a few coats of the candy floss pink and sky blue and remind me of summer days against the floor.

The storage box was a great way to tie in the pink and blue, it should have a lid but I seem to have come home without one which I didn't realise at the time. Ho hum! Looks great though to store my magazines in.
white-floor storage-box
 I still have paint left so I am going to carry on over Easter and paint my bookshelf sky blue and maybe some picture frames in the pink. Looks so much better and the room is filled with light now reflecting off the floor rather than being absorbed. It is better for our mood now, feeling cheery and the kitchen has a new lease of life.

Fantastic what a few days spent on  a makeover can do and now I have two fantastic spaces in my home ready for spring.
pastel-chairs_ Disclosure: I was sent Homebase vouchers for the purposes of the room makeover, all words are my own honest opinion.