Saturday, 23 December 2017

December light snowfall

light snow on rooftops
Curtains open. Snow overnight whilst we all dreamt of sledging, skidding and snowballing, big fat flurries falling on roofs, turning the parks, playing fields, gardens and verges into snowman playgrounds. Not to be. Mid Cheshire snow, so brief and so light, as if the salty earth in these parts stops the flakes from settling and instead allows a brief dusting to excite the townsfolk before quickly melting away.

Boots on, crunch of crystalline paths to the town church with smatterings of snow on gate pillars and gathering in mini drifts along the original churchyard wall, God's Acre now belonging to Boreas. Pockets of snow in grassy tufts by gravestones, collecting in the words of the forgotten, 1845. A solitary flake eddies and lands on shouldered stone, I remember you, the cold remembers you well.
St Helen Witton church in the snow

Snow dusted graveyard

Along the path by the great east window, walked already by hardy shoppers in buttoned up coats and hopped by hardy birds in buttoned up feather jackets, carrying their bags and their worms. Wheels from pushchairs and brave slippy cyclists with chilled hands gripping handlebars, knuckled red and puffs of breath chugging along. Here the churchyard is littered with the decay of fallen headstones like the aftermath of a battle. Crosses lay wounded in icy snow and weary angels pray for no thaw.
We all want more snow.
Snowy path through the churchyard

Cross in the snow

East window Witton church NorthwichBack by the south porch, about to shrug shoulders, glance optimistically at the quilted sky one last time when the feather burst happened. Downy snowflakes large as goose quills falling heavily, the furious emptying of huge pillows. Eyelashes sparkling and obscured by Arctic drifts with every blink as I pretend I might be later snowshoeing it across the ledger stones, past the old wall and under the icicle hanging wrought iron gate back home whilst dodging snowballs hurled by excited children. 

Reality is such that the squall and dance of the flakes did obscure the church tower for a couple of minutes, a Gothic blur as gargoyles and grotesque heads caught flakes in grimacing toothy smiles and gurns accumulated white powder, lolling tongues tasted globs of snow and a poof of  last night's frost shot out of the spouts like winter cannons. The sun just a faint low hanging light as if it had suddenly been ambushed and bundled into a sack, gauzy, muffled......the snow falling onto the old sundial, covering that too for good measure, stating the day simply and clearly as winter time.
South porch Witton Northwich

Snow covered grave

Church path by the sundial

Church in a blizzard

Monday, 18 December 2017

Church and chapel conversions

I'm now in the second year of a post graduate diploma in parish church studies and I'm enjoying it so much, learning about the history of churches and their care and conservation. One topic which frequently comes up in the press is what to do about churches that lie redundant, no congregation entering to sing hymns, long gone church fetes and no candles flickering in the stained glass windows. I love the buildings and their architecture and I'm all for them being reused for different purposes and one that appeals to me is turning them into glorious places to live, I've seen a few on the market  and if a graveyard as a back garden doesn't faze you too much then what incredible spaces to live.

Second stories and galleries can be created for upstairs living, contemporary and functional with perhaps a metal spiral staircase, look for staircases online UK, which will add the living space required and breathe new life into the forgotten church. I would love nothing more than sleeping by walls where so many have passed, wondering what lives have experienced, so much history in your home.
church conversion
Image from Rightmove
With the height that affords a church, why not have an amazingly sophisticated outdoor space too, a terrace if planning will allow, outdoor metal staircases flanked by bay trees to an entertaining area. Many churches were built during the Victorian area in cities and large towns when most people attended church, modern times and these churches are being sold off. Renovations changing use of these magnificent buildings. Many churches in London have been converted and there are some excellent examples to draw on, blending 19th century architecture with contemporary living. Given the large space, often they are converted to unique apartments - vaulted ceiling bedrooms with light streaming in through rose and huge leaded windows.
Church renovation
Image Rightmove

Many non-conformist chapels, such as Methodist chapels are also perfect renovation opportunities and they are to be found on the market with bespoke interiors. Smaller than Anglican churches, often these chapels are a better option as a single house. Rectangular shaped for the manner of preaching that was done within them and now a large space for open plan living. Unique exteriors and grand entrances creating the wow factor, sympathetically fitted with fixtures and fittings making the most of the building's heritage.
Methodist chapel
Image from Rightmove

I once had a look around a converted chapel with Sunday school attached which was on the market, a Grade II listed building retaining many of the original features. Such a clever conversion that whilst being a modern home on the inside, you could still clearly feel that you were in a historic building. Back then I wasn't into churches and I admit that I thought it might be a little creepy - oh how things change!

Living in a church would certainly be different and a commitment to take on board, consider the dimensions for heating and lighting, also to what degree you may make alterations. Friends often send me the details of churches they've seen for sale so you never know, it would be quite fitting for my studies.
Converted church bedroom
Image source Rightmove

*Collaborative Post

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Bowled over: a Christmas gift for my pup

With a very special pup in the house, she deserves very special things and so I was really excited to take a look at some gorgeous personalised pet products and receive this absolutely beautiful bowl from Pets Made Personal, part of the House Nameplate Company. It has pup's name on it BOO and a stylised drawing of her - the ears are just so Boo, her signature puppy look, all floppy and slightly jaunty to the side lugs. Perfect.
Personalised dog bowl

The bowl is really substantial, made of ceramic and heavy so that when Boo over enthusiastically eats her dinner, the bowl doesn't skid about the tiled kitchen floor like her plastic one did. It looks lovely too, a classy bowl for a classy pup and keeps with the country style of the kitchen.

You can choose the text that you want in a range of fonts, personalising it with your pet's name - this was the large bowl and there is a small one too for a cat or a toy breed doggy. You add the text with the nifty ordering system on the website, position the text as you like and it will display a preview of how your bowl will look.
Christmas gifts for dogs

Boo and her dog bowl

Then you choose the pet motif - there are cat images, lots of dogs (like below), also silhouettes, paw prints and a few other animals, even a birdy so perhaps budgie could have a small one as a bath. They'd be perfect for bunny bowls too. All text is black on a white bowl. The large dog bowls are £25 and the small £20. They are delivered within 5-7 days. I'm really pleased with it and it's ideal for growing pup's big dinners of kibble and meat - Boo is such a greedy-gobble dog at the moment, eating so quickly that she gives herself hiccups!

There are painted steel bowls too which are equally as lovely. I'm totally in love with the cute dog drawings that you can choose from, they would make such a great present for a friend or relative with a precious pet.
Dog images
Puppy bowl

Pets Made Personal sell a lovely range of items, I love their personalised glass jars to store doggy treats in and the slate lead holders. Some really great ideas for the pet lover for Christmas. My dogs are my life so gifts for them would really make me smile. They also sell fab Christmas pressie sacks for your pet, also personalised - how great would that be for your beloved cat or dog (or horse or hamster.....) to have their own santa sack stuffed full of toys and treats.

The company are best in Wrexham, North Wales (hoorah, one of my favourite places), not far from me really, in Cheshire. Part of the House Nameplate Company, a family run business for 25 years.

More from Boo again soon, I think she will be a regular on the blog with her antics.

Saturday, 9 December 2017


So......October was sad for we lost Billy, our beloved terrier after a long illness and I want to write about that another time for it's still that awful pain where it makes your heart sink. Losing dogs in October seems to be a thing for Milly also ran over the rainbow bridge a few years ago in the same month and I'm only just getting over that. However, maybe because it's the colder end of the year and the sight of the woodburner with a space in front of it on an empty cushion makes me think......there's a dog out there needing a home. For I am a dog person through and through, I have paw prints pattering across my heart.

So.........a random find, a dash out one evening to a house and there she was with her sister. I was drawn to the sister pup at first but then my pup-to-be quietly approached Little Bird and licked his hand. A sign, a sign and so it was.....scooped up in arms, back over the Runcorn Bridge with a bundle of toffee coloured fluff. Her name was decided before I'd even seen her....nearly favourite time of year and so she was named Boo.
pup and me

Into the house with a sprinkle of wee and a scurry, this way that way. Our older dog Tara who is 16 wondering what on earth was happening.
Puppy and old dog

You know how most people plan for a pup, prepare for a while. No, not me. Impulsive and driven by my heart. On the way home we had to stop at Pets at Home for all the essentials, pup under arm I grabbed puppy food, pads, some toys, puppy milk and gathered a few oooh and snuggles as we went through the of the perks of a pup.

The first few days were a whirl of mopping up puddles, playing with toys and cuddling on the sofa. A pudgy squashy orangey coloured pup and a new pal.
sleeping pup
A new friend for Tara too, even if she did get a bit fed up of Boo jumping up at the loose bit of her collar. No collar for Boo at first, no mum it's too itchy. This was obviously a few weeks ago and I'm catching up, so seeing how little she looks here is very sweet.
Pup and old friend
Puppy looking up
I have forgotten to say, Boo is apparently a Cavajack or also known as a Jackalier, so a Jack Russell crossed with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. When we got her she was 9 weeks old.
Puppy and me

The first days we spent getting to know each other, with her tucked in beside me on the sofa, whilst I read and had Disney films on in the background. Her barking (well more of a yap) at the dogs on 101 Dalmatians. Some play with tug toys and bouncy balls and then more sleeping. She was pretty quick to sleep all the way through the night without needing the toilet but poor Boo had a bit of an icky time with round worm - the most disgusting things in the world so a couple of trips to the vet happened and she was soon rid of them. Urghhhh!!!
Sleeping puppy

The vet gave us a puppy pack which covered her vaccinations, microchip, flea and worm treatments and a health check a few weeks later. It was around £50 which also included a months free insurance and some treats, a lead and a frisbee :)  I think she may have had an antibiotic shot as a precaution and a tube of Pro-Kolin which is a paste you put into your pets food to help settle tummy issues and chronic diarrhoea. The joys! Things to be aware of though.

And so that was back in October and I  have much to catch up on and tell you about.

I'll leave you with the cutest picture of her asleep.
Sleeping puppy

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Autumn allotment

Yellow dahlias on the allotment

Down the allotment with a bag and a spade for the last not slug munched spuds and an armful of corn that escaped the trampling snuffling humbug of Brock's paws. Still traffic murmured autumn air that lulls you into winding down for the season and yet there is much to be done amongst the dahlias and the compost heap. In the corner of the site, a man all grey trousered and narly jumpered prods a leaf pile with a fork like he expects a viper to slither out and a cough of a mutter escapes. 

Mould-green bog stenching leaf litter slides off the side. 'ya bugger'

Out comes the toffees from rat's nest stuffed pockets and on goes the shed kettle.
Pink dahlias
Black grapes in a greenhouse

Greenhouse hiding plot holders tend to unripe tomatoes or cascading grapes on autumn coloured turning vines, twisting and tendrilling suspiciously across to the box of Growmore and the chicken manure. Next year it's world domination.

A snip and a gather, green tomatoes will ripen in a brown bag and perhaps taste nice fried or in a chutney. And back outside in a huge clump, some kale, the bitter green leviathan of the plot, with sprawling tentacles to last the winter through. Some to take home for Dad's chickenosauruses, ferocious things that peck your wellied feet and pluck each others feathers. 
Standing, summing up, pondering. Bonfire heaps and forgotten watering cans. The last chance to harvest any squashes before the frost hits them. A time for making plans for the next gardening year.....there is always next year. New veggies to grow or fruit trees to buy and seed catalogues to order for afternoons by the fire dreaming of next year's cutting garden and bountiful beans of all varieties, striped and spotted pods, popping into soups for months and months.
Allotment plot

Before the late autumn set in, the plot was swarming with scarecrows, the young and the old crafting sock-faced granny dressed hat wearing guardians that can not even frighten a sparrow let alone a corvid. I have seen crows mocking with a chucking caw as they sit aloft an old straw hatted wurzel 'Come see, come see oh raven and rook, a mermaid to keep us away and over there, caw-caw, a stuffed French man. And my doesn't this sweetcorn taste good'.
Mermaid scarecrow

Creamy dahlias

French scarecrow

Sweetcorn on the allotment
Whilst I wandered, amused and inspired, amongst the rows of brown sugar dipped dahlias and the burnt out sunflower heads, I heard a cheery 'hello' to my Dad. Another plot holder has arrived, on her bicycle, helmet off and camera quickly out from her rucksack. Here to photograph the haunting abundance yet decay of late autumn, just as I am. Completely normal to me, bemusing to my Dad who carries on digging for spuds and then shuffling along the path for some apples whilst propping netting back up and flapping at a crow.

A few more snaps by the patch of gone midnight-pumpkins that sprawl in drunken disorder, mildew setting in on bristly leaves, powdered end of year dust. No glass slippers just the season algae tainted glasshouses, ready for cleaning for spring. And their occupants, still pottering away, hiding out with mugs of tea and having a break from compost snake charming.
orange dahlias

Pumpkin patch
sunflower head
yellow daisy flowers
And now home down the grassy path, waving goodbye, bags full of those earthy potatoes for mashing with salted butter, a few late borlotti beans, add some herbs, maybe roast some pumpkin and a glug of gravy. Place some vegetable into the store shed to last over the cold months when there is little to harvest aside from winter greens and especially that perfect Christmas Brussels sprout.
sweetcorn tassels
Autumn allotment

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

November living space layering

So here we go, full on cosy comfort month although it actually still feels quite warm outside and I'm not as yet getting the hats and scarves out or really lighting a fire in the woodburner. There was a light frost the other morning, enough to have me excited about photographing crystallised flowers and crisp tufts of grass but I blinked and the sun appeared and it was gone. I want cold.

In preparation though, as I know it will soon descend as soon as Little Bird is back in school, I will be embarking on a full on home redecorate and restyle for it's all gone a bit bland, I've tamed down my arty urges and shudder at this, gone a bit woody and beige. So expect to see some new room styling on here and lots of decluttering only to be replaced by new clutter and lots of fresh paint.

The front room need a total start over project, it's the room that greets guests and has a lot of playing going on from my son, everything is starting to look shabby and in need of some love. I've been considering a new sofa and have had a look at the range from Fishpools, particularly a corner sofa to make the best use of the space and divide the room into walk through and place of cosy retreat, especially through the winter.
corner sofa

Around they key item of a sofa, it's the dressing and layering that I love. New cushions and throws, rugs for keeping toes warm, mirrors to add light and new dimension and different types of warm glow from table and floor lamps. I love deep colours such as the blue rug and throw and the stag mirror adds that autumn and winter feel. The snow globe cushion adds some whimsy, it's just too cute to resist. The overall colour scheme are probably darker and deeper than my normal choice but I'm just really fancying change, a new space to fulfil all the November days. I'll be reusing my wonderful circus star lamp, one of my favourite items in my house for it adds just the right amount of light for a relaxing evening.

November home style

Blue rug, iRugs
Snow globe cushion, Asda
Blue blanket, H&M
Table lamp, Ikea
Blackberry window box, Next
Antler Mirror, M&S
Blue hanging heart, Dunelm
Jar Candle, Matalan
Star light, my own

*Collaborative post

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

No tricks just treats

hanging up Halloween lights
Black grungy jumper

Preparing for Halloween, getting the pumpkin lights out and trying to string them up whilst enthusiastic Boo pup tries to paw and chew them. (More about Boo to come in her own post) Two boxes of Halloween decorations to scatter and drape around the house like an explosion of pumpkins, spiders and glitter. This is my favourite time of year for so many reasons, the setting in of evening by the time it's the end of a school day, the scent of damp leaves and smoke, a squeal of a firework and the cosy clothes to snuggle into. I was recently very lucky to look and choose from the amazing range of clothes at LOTD and have invested in some items to get me through the colder months. Gorgeous long black jumper (£12) with side splits for wearing with skinny jeans and boots, grungy look perfection yes!
More decorations and oranges and purples, cats and pumpkins, masks and brooms. All my Halloweens over the past 15 years stored and accumulated. I have the first ever trinket I bought for my new house at the time, as I moved in on Halloween. A memorable day.  To celebrate, some Halloween drinks and a black fitted blazer (£12), love it! I'm going to wear this so often with a little top and jeans with some heels.  A Darke Daiquiri please or a Black Magic with orange and vodka.
Black blazer

Boo pup and I will be adventuring soon for the rest of autumn, she's had her final vaccination, now a 2-week wait and we can go off out anywhere we like, she has a cute little grey jumper and I have this padded gilet  (£20) so we will both be warm. I teamed it with a grey sweatshirt with cut out shoulders. Finally, more cosiness with a long grey cardigan (£18)  that I'll wear with jeans (of course) and a skirt with tights, so I have a few key autumn and winter wardrobe items now.

I will be visiting LOTD again,  it has so much to choose from and I mean loads! Everything is an absolute bargain and delivery is super quick. I have already got my eye on more clothes for some Christmas nights out and casual clothes for those winter walks and pub visits. My friend has a little dog too so it will be nice to go for doggy meet ups at the park and find all the dog friendly pubs.
witch and her pup