Tuesday, 18 December 2018

House Plans - a new bedroom and en suite

Having moved in with the love of my life and starting a new home together, it's has been a whole new dynamic to consider. There is Sweep and his son, me and my son and our three dogs. We all need our own space and needs, so there is some re-planning happening next year`. Rooms are being moved and me and Sweep, and my son are moving bedrooms. In fact we are moving to another area of the house.

The house is an unusual one, the front is normal but the back is the old church hall and there is an upstairs room that was used by scouts and brownies. The hall also has a gallery/balcony that is a good size space that will become a library for the 1000's of books that I've brought with me. I'm not even joking and there are still heaps at my old house. It's a vast space in the hall, currently used for storage, as a workshop, for playing badminton and keeping things that I suppose you would keep in an attic and a garage - ladders, tools, Christmas decorations and everything you hoard as a family.

The upstairs brownie scout room is currently a living room with a kitchen, bathroom and a room that was going to be my study workroom. All change now! Little Bird will have the study as his bedroom and the living room will be boxed in to create a bedroom with an ensuite and the kitchen will go. Sweep used to be a builder so he can do lots himself and we will just need a plumber and electrician.
 I desperately want the ensuite to be to my liking as I hate sharing bathrooms with sweeps and teenagers :) Currently there is a roll top bath in the ensuite to be but I feel it is not practical as I like a lovely hot shower and give Little Bird a shower each evening too. I'm not a bath person and so having never been used, this bath will be sold to a home that will use it.


I would really like a walk-in shower as I think it would help Little Bird and his autism, although he doesn't have major issues with mobility, I feel like this would be a safer option for him as he can be a little uncoordinated at times and a walk in shower with a seat such as these from Mobility Plus would be a great solution. The seat would give him a structured place to sit and wash, the rails would provide safety so he can hold onto them when having a bad day with his autism when his vestibular senses are heightened and he needs assistance.

The larger space of  a walk-in shower would make it easier for me to help him and get to him quicker if he became distressed. He loves water and it is a great sensory activity for him, he's always splashing around. As he gets older, having a walk-in shower would make me much more at ease for him as he learns to look after himself and manage his self care. With the Mobility Plus showers you can choose the separate elements, the shower tray, or level access tray or wet room floor and then the screen or door and finally the extras like the seat  and fittings. Classy and also great for giving people with mobility issues independence. Walk-in bath and wet room solutions are available too.

Of course I'll love the walk-in shower too, a bit of luxury and I plan on accessorising the ensuite simple but smartly with new fluffy brightly coloured towels and pretty products, plus my son's fruity soaps and shower gels and some water play toys.  On days when he's overwhelmed a shower will help him feel a lot better.

So in the New Year it will be a busy time, getting the kitchen dismantled, putting in stud walls and creating new doorways and of course changing the bathroom. I'm hoping we can get a plumber and electrician in soonish after the holidays but I know how hard it can be to find one available. Also, we'll probably have to sell the kitchen components on eBay and I'm hoping it doesn't linger around too long. I'll report on the project as we go along so look out for lots of posts about it. Until then I'll be sifting through home magazines over Christmas to get some ideas for the bedroom decor.

*Collaborative post


Monday, 17 December 2018

How to use your mid-century sideboard

If your living space looks like an advert for a dream 1950s home, you might be wondering, is a mid-century sideboard the right look for me? If everything else screams mid-century, then you’re missing a trick if you haven’t completed the look with a sideboard from the era. Sideboards can be the perfect way to add a touch of sophistication to any room, regardless of size. Here are a few tips on how to maximise storage potential and style your interior space appropriately.
Vintage sideboard

1. Firstly, choose a size of sideboard that is right for you and your home. Yes, those 7ft long numbers might look amazing, but if your space is on the smaller side, you may want to tone it down and go for something that fits with what you’ve got. It’s the style that makes a sideboard, and big isn’t necessarily better. Decide where the sideboard is going to go: do you need additional storage in the hallway, or is it going to line up along a wall in your dining area? Make your mind up and you’ll be able to measure up the area you’re looking at and pick out a model that fits perfectly.

2. Now that you’ve chosen a size of sideboard that will fit snugly into its allocated space, it’s time to decide what manufacturer you’re going to go for. G Plan is an obvious choice – their British made sideboards are the last word in mid-century cool and they have retained their appeal for decades because they are such quality, robust pieces of furniture. That being said, there are plenty of other craftsmen who have made beautiful mid-century style sideboards over the years, too, so don’t get too hung up on finding a G Plan model – do a bit of online research and you may find an unbranded piece that is absolutely perfect. Create a Pinterest board of options you find online and see if you can imagine them working well alongside the rest of the furniture in your living space.
Retro sideboard

3. Deciding how to use your sideboard is lots of fun because there are so many options to choose from. Maybe you’ll opt to turn it into a liquor cabinet, storing alcohol and your best glasses inside, and perhaps a decanter of whisky on the top – they make fantastic little home bars! Or maybe you’ll pop your TV on top of it and store the DVD player and X Box inside, creating a modern-day multimedia cabinet from a piece of design history. If you go for this option, you may need to pop your DIY hat on and drill a hole in the back to feed the wires through, but that’s easily done and brings your sideboard right into the 21st century. Sideboards can also be used to look after Christmas decorations until the winter rolls around. If you find one with a set of drawers, use it to store table linen and your finest cutlery and porcelain, or, if you’re at a loss for what to do with a ton of children’s toys, why not allocate a couple of the sideboard’s cupboards to those?

4. Styling your sideboard is perhaps the best bit! Give your sideboard pride of place and top it with some carefully chosen family photographs and a jug of freshly cut flowers. If you’re worried about damaging the wood by resting drinks on the sideboard, make a runner to go the length of its surface, using a beautiful strip of vintage fabric that compliments your colour scheme.
Styling a sideboard *Collaborative post

Monday, 10 December 2018

Upcycling vintage furniture

In my new home I have gained a love of antique and vintage furniture from my OH (Sweep) who used to be an antiques dealer. His knowledge and enthusiasm for older furniture has inspired me and I've starting looking at these items with new potential. In the past I had delved into junk shops and found old pine that I've painted in eggshell white, such as my beloved dresser and my church pew that think came from a chapel in North Wales. I love the history that these items carry and the stories that they could tell. My church pew has a number on the side of it, I wonder who sat there and where they lives, what kind of life did they leave....
chalky white upcycled dresser

So....lately we have been going to local auctions and picking up all kinds of goodies, some unusual items for the home, things to sell on and furniture items to complete the home. It's an evening out with home cooked food and some funny characters, this is rural Shropshire and it's a whole new world to me. Whilst we have been going there, we have picked up cabinets and desks, some to give makeovers to. We both love Halloween, so we had the idea of making a Halloween cabinet for all our spooky treasures that we have been collecting. I love this upcycling  and so I was super pleased when Door Furniture Direct got in touch with regards their campaign around upcycling using their great range of crystal and marble door knobs. 

We have had the idea to paint the cabinets in a crackled black look with green underneath for a  Gothic feel and for door knobs I thought the quintessential Halloween colours would look amazing. I found these fantastic coloured cut glass cupboard knobs in amber, green, black and purple and I thought they would make for the perfect Halloween cabinet to display some of our delicate vintage spook finds so they are able to be seen but protected. I picked up two different sizes for a contrast on the drawers and cabinet doors. 
Coloured crystal door knobs
There are a choice of metal rose too, to compliment your piece of furniture - polished brass, polished chrome or satin chrome. I chose the satin and I particularly love the purple cut glass cupboard knobs, the light shines lovely through them and I think they'd be great on a bedroom wardrobe or dresser too. 
Antique Cabinet

We are going to look for some paint that the vintage shop in my old town sells and Sweep might try some arty effects on another cupboard we have purchased, he really wants to paint a vintage style jack o'lantern. I know it's nearly Christmas but Halloween is such a collectable love of ours so it will carry on all year. We may even try to sell some for other enthusiasts. Back to the auctions over the winter to gather more interesting pieces of furniture and I hope to have a finished piece to show you soon. Upcycling is so satisfying and I'm glad to be having a go again, creating unique items for your home with your own stamp on them. Plus going to auctions is a lot of fun, quality pieces, well made and often purchased for so little so an inexpensive way to do the home up with furniture that will last. Adding different cupboard knobs instantly adds a new look and only takes minutes, it's a good way to match to any other colour accents in a room. 

Doing our home up is going to take a while what with work and children but upcycling gives me a buzz as it is a quick win, a lovely addition in not much time for instant room updates.

*Collaborative post

Thursday, 29 November 2018

The very start of Christmas

Over the weekend we headed over to the first significant event of the Christmas period, the Ludlow Medieval Fayre. However, there was so much festivity on the way that they we actually arrived there later in the afternoon. The first little distraction was Stokesay Castle and the adjacent church, looking like a little fairytale escape and a medieval taste of things to come later that day. We stumbled by some broken boughs of fir and cones that we bundled into the car to take home and decorate with, now adorning the kitchen. The church was framed with holly trees absolutely bursting with berries, has it been an especially good year? The birds must be very happy about that.
Stokesay Castle

Back into the car, we then stopped off at a frost fayre in Church Stretton with stalls of crafts such as knitted teddy bears and Christmas cards, all the usual crafty things, glass and jewellery and mince pies and raffle tickets. Nothing grabbed our interest but it did get me thinking about making a start on some Christmas shopping and what I need to buy. Little Bird is especially tricky to buy for as he has autism and doesn’t understand the concept of toys so much, often clothing is a better option for him. Places like the Condor UK Online shop with a large range of knitwear would be good for some snuggly items for him, he loves to be cosy at home more than anything. I’m also looking for a dressing gown and some pyjamas for him for over the Christmas period, perfect for watching The Snowman in, as is our tradition. Clothing is such a great present option, from children’s cotton socks to boots and jumpers, it’s probably what I’ll ask the family to get him too. Off out into the cold, we then had a little look around the pretty town itself with steam engines chuffing around and shop windows full of seasonal cheer.
painted Father Christmas

I’ve been to Church Stretton before, significantly here when I wrote about it, little did I know that I’d be living not so far away! Funny how life pans out. We had a browse around charity shops and I bought a couple of Christmas carol cd’s for the car, had coffee and cake, then did a little homeware shopping. There is a wonderful store that sells ironware for the house – brackets, signs, door furniture etc and they do garden stakes according to the season. Near Halloween, Sweep picked up a pumpkin, witch and bat one, today I found a Rudolph one, promise to show soon with all the rest of my Christmas goodies. The florists here had a selection of wintry feel plants, skimmia, cyclamen and small firs, I made a mental note to look out for some back in Shrewsbury to tidy up the brick planter at the front of the house. I drive myself silly with checklists that I have to complete before Christmas, not only gifting but smartening the house up and making sure it looks just right. This year being a little tricky as I only moved across to Shropshire in the summer.
Christmas plants

The houses here are very pretty and we played a little game of ‘where would we live….’ Obviously out of our price league but fun anyway, walking down the roads by the church, looking in estate agent windows and discussing where we could live when we retire (long way in the future!) Perfectly symmetrical houses with cute windows and some already with Christmas trees and lights put us in such a good mood. Father Christmas drove past driving a tractor and waved, so all in all a very good start before we had got to the Medieval Fayre…..and that will be another post….
Holly by a church

*Collaborative post

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

6 living room design tips

By following a few simple guidelines, you can create a living room that is both functional and beautiful

The living room is home to many things. A sofa for you and your family to lounge on, a television, a coffee table for drinks and snacks, and shelving for all your books and knick knacks. If you have an open plan living room, you may even need to create a space for dining.

It may feel as though simply finding a spot for all these items is enough hassle, without the added worries of decoration and styling, but by bearing a few simple design rules in mind, you can give yourself a living room that is more than the sum of its parts. Here are a handful of tips for you to consider when decorating your living room.

Image source Vinterior 

Create different 'departments'

This is an especially useful tip if you're decorating a more open plan space. Creating different 'departments' of your living room for different purposes - for example, an area for the sofa, coffee table and television, and another for a dining table, or desk and bookcases - prevents the space from becoming too jumbled, while keeping a nice sense of cohesion. Separate them with rugs, to create little zones.

Vintage chairs

Chairs are primarily functional items, but they are also the main focal point of any living room. Investing in some vintage chairs is an excellent way to introduce some character to the room. Antique furniture has history, guaranteed uniqueness, and makes for an interesting conversation piece. 'Vintage' is a term that encapsulates a myriad of styles, from Victorian parlour settees to whimsical art deco chairs. Companies like Vinterior specialise in traditional furniture, and have hundreds of different chairs in their collection, to suit every aesthetic
Colourful vintage armchair
Image source Vinterior

Keep it clean

You don't want your living room to appear too cluttered, so try and select a few key items of decoration, like a plant, flowers or a handful of tasteful ornaments, and be sure to give them room to breathe. However, if you're a natural hoarder and have a lot of treasured items you'd like to have on display, give them their own special area in a glass fronted cabinet. This will keep them safe, dust free and give them the attention they deserve.

Size matters

There may be a large corner sofa that's piqued your interest, but unless you have a large living room with plenty of space to spare, then it would be best to choose something smaller. Take measurements of the space you have available, and select pieces that fit those dimensions. Furniture that is too small will get lost in the space, while items that are overly large will get in the way and appear ridiculous.
Large Green Cupboard
Image source Vinterior

Keep windows clear

One of the most common mistakes people make when rearranging their living room is to put a sofa or other large furniture underneath a window. Not only does this make cleaning the window sill and watering any plants more difficult, it also limits the amount of natural light the room has access to. Arrange your furniture around the window to allow as much light as possible to flood into the space.

Play with it!

Don't let yourself get stuck in a rut. All too often, when we buy new furniture to replace the old, we end up putting it in the same place. Redecorating a room is an opportunity to let your creative side loose. Move furniture about and take pictures of it from different angles. Something as simple as moving an armchair could drastically change the way you feel about the space.

*Collaborative Post

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Email Marketing Advice, 8 newsletter subject lines that aren't just "October newsletter" :Guest Post

One aspect of blogging is sending out a newsletter to your followers, which admittedly I haven't done as yet, perhaps something to think about. However, I receive plenty of newsletters in my inbox each day both from blogs and companies, some do entice me to open and read about the latest happenings. But what makes me open them and which ones do I ignore? Certainly ones where I feel I am going to learn something or gain some benefit to my knowledge will encourage me to open and read, or if I feel the article will be an interesting read over a coffee as an escape. The email marketing platform provider Emma have a wealth of information to help with your campaigns, providing software with the tools to provided effective results no matter the size of the business or organisation. Here they provide some information which I found useful around my thoughts on newsletter campaigns and what encourages people to click and open.....
Desk and laptop

Email newsletters are having their day in the sun.
In fact, the Neilson Norman Group did some compelling research that showed that people preferred getting company-oriented information in email newsletter form versus hearing from them on Facebook. Sorry, Facebook.
And companies are riding the email newsletter wave, as further research shows that 83% marketers for B2B companies use them.
But newsletters are just one type of email marketing—how can you increase your newsletter’s open rate by differentiating it from other types of marketing email?
The answer: subject lines.

Crafting compelling email newsletter subject lines

While email newsletters can be used to sell a product or service, they are more focused on the following:
  • Informing readers of industry or company news
  • Reinforcing your company’s reputation
  • Building a relationship with your audience
  • Highlighting the usefulness of products and services
An intriguing subject line is even more critical for these emails, which is why you should never use the word “newsletter” in the subject line.
You want your audience to know there’s a treasure trove of good information, just a click away. You don’t want them to think, “Oh, another newsletter.”
Let’s examine what makes an outstanding subject line.

The hallmark of a great subject line

Great subject lines have certain attributes that help pique a recipient’s interest enough to get them to open the email — and that’s the goal.
Let’s look at some of the characteristics of phenomenal subject lines.

1. They’re personal.

Personalization in emails is key. In fact, personalization is shown to increase conversions by 10% and click-through rates by a whopping 14%.
Using personalization in the subject line is one of the easiest ways to get your recipient to take notice, and it’s simple as doing this:
  • Jersey Mike’s Subs: Lisa, earn double points today only.
  • Pizza Hut: Bob, try our new treat.
  • Guess: Lindsey, check out these hand-picked looks.
Simply write a good subject line and insert the recipient’s name where it makes sense.

2. They’re urgent.

Urgency is powerful, but you have to exercise restraint so your subject lines don’t come across like a ShamWOW infomercial (“Act now, before they’re gone!).
That being said, urgency can encourage those opening clicks, as long as you’ve taken the time to tone down your language and phrase things creatively—like these do:
  • Jaybird: Last chance to save big this holiday.
  • Pizza Hut: Tonight only. Save $5 on your order.
  • Sephora: Last day: Pick your 5 faves.
  • Converse: Ending in 24 hours: 25% off sitewide.
  • HP: Time is running out…Save up to $300.
  • Rapha: Your savings code expires today.
All of these subject lines manage to convey the “Act now!” message in a way that’s palatable. Also, don’t overuse these or you’ll risk toning down the excitement.

3. They’re mysterious.

Subject lines that are mysterious can pique curiosity, and that’s a good thing — as long as what you’re delivering is in line with your brand.
Check out this one from Digital Marketer:
“Good news for people who love bad news . . .”
Who wouldn’t be intrigued by that one? Don’t overdo these, though. Using these kinds of subject lines in every email will wear down subscribers.
Also, beware of using obscure topics that don’t really dovetail with your industry or image, which could be seen as spam.

4. They’re relevant.

Normally, if you’ve subscribed to a list, you’re interested in timely, relevant news pertaining to that company or industry. Here are a few sample subject lines for some niche markets:
For a hiking enthusiast8 Travel Tips for Hiking Pike’s Peak
For a digital marketerHow Slack Generates 100,000,000 Website Visitors Per Month
Using topics that are trending or headline news from a niche industry in your subject lines cannot only encourage recipients to click and read on—they’ll also establish you or your brand as a content authority.

5. They contain an offer.

Who doesn’t love an offer? You can craft email subject lines that include this tempting morsel but be careful to deliver what you promise.
Also, don’t use the words, “free” or “rich” in your subject lines—those may land you in the spam folder.
How about these?
  • SephoraYou’re invited: 10% off for Beauty Insiders.
  • IKEASave with this week’s flyer.
  • TopShopShop now. Save big.
  • RaphaComplimentary gift wrap on all purchases.
Notice how Rapha conveys their gift wrap is free without using the “F” word? This proves that you can get your point across without resorting to typical marketing-speak.

6. They’re short.

Return Path researched over 2 million emails to uncover the perfect subject line length. The results?
Most subject lines came in at around 41 to 50 characters and 61- to 70-character lines had the best read rates.
The rate dropped significantly for those over 100 characters, though, so pay attention to every word you use.

7. They use “power words.”

“Power words” are words that can be used to persuade or trigger the response or emotion you desire. These words can touch upon a reader’s emotional, intellectual, spiritual, or analytical sides.
Here are some examples of powerful words to use in your next subject lines.
  • Astonishing
  • Banned
  • Priceless
  • Confidential
  • Unexplained
  • Certified
  • Dependable
  • Lifetime
  • Worldwide
  • According to
  • No risk
  • Easy
  • Cheat-sheet
  • Downloadable
  • Formula
  • On-demand
  • No problem
There are, of course, words to elicit the right emotion in your audience, whether it’s appealing to their curiosity, their hopes, or needs.
If you’ve properly segmented your audience, finding the right power word should be a breeze.

8. They allude to scarcity.

Nothing makes people get moving like good old Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).
What would you think if you read:
“Only 10 spots left before the Millionaire Moneymaker course closes.”
If you were interested in making lots of money, you might just have to click.
Crafting a subject line, which alludes that not acting quickly might just cause your recipient to miss out on something really amazing, is a great way to improve your open rate.

Wrap up

Subject lines are critical for getting your email newsletter seen, opened, and read. While there are many ways to craft effective subject lines, using the word “newsletter” within the subject is never advised.
You’re offering not just a newsletter, but a well-defined goldmine of relevant content your subscriber needs to access.
Calling it a “newsletter” up front takes away from the effectiveness of whichever of the techniques we’ve listed you’ve decided to employ.
So, gather up your power words and choose the technique that makes the most sense for your audience, then watch the open rates skyrocket!

Content from Emma

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

5 great days out for your next school trip

Learning outside of the classroom is vital for children as they can get hands-on with real world challenges, lessons and ideas. I love it when the children come back from a school trip, as you can guarantee they’re enthusiastic, motivated and ready to learn more about the subject. Hopefully these ideas will inspire your next trip, so come back and tell us how it went, if you choose any!
The Making of Harry Potter
Inspire your class with the secrets behind the films, with Warner Brothers Studio Tours of the Making of Harry Potter. Not only will your children receive a one-hour lesson taught and planned by teachers in the onsite classroom, but they’ll also have the chance to fly their own broomstick! Unlock their creativity with this unforgettable experience and bring the magic to life. The day is part of a cross-curriculum education programme, meeting learning objectives across the Key Stages. You’ll receive resources to use before and after the trip, documenting everything from the arts and props used in the films, to the special effects and technology.
Harry Potter Diagon Alley

Home to history's greatest playwright, this quaint town is guaranteed to spark interest in William Shakespeare’s work. Take a trip up the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Tower and see for miles around, before exploring the town and all its hidden alleys and charming attractions. Then, enjoy an atmospheric backstage tour of the theatre, where the stories and legends are bound to captivate the entire class. Finally, settle down for a production and show your class the mastery of the Bard. His plays were written to be performed, not read and seeing them on-stage truly brings the stories to life.

Science Museum
Give your class a hands-on approach to science and all the wondrous things it contains. From deepest, darkest space to practical everyday experiments, the Science Museum inspires learning at any age. With specific itineraries depending on your Key Stage, you and your entire class will love the interactivity and immersion. Plus, there are plenty of shows and demos throughout.

Local farms
Do some investigating and see whether your local farms – or maybe ones further afield – offer school trips. Getting out into nature and learning where food comes from is a vital part of a child’s education. Farmers have a huge wealth of knowledge to share and whether they’re helping your class identify birds and butterflies or showing them new-born lambs, every child is guaranteed to have a wonderful day. Places like Odds Farm and Countryfile’s Cotswold Farm Park are specifically designed for visiting schools. They’re the perfect place to introduce your class to everything from soil and erosion to caring for animals.
Autumn farm pumpkins

Imperial War Museum
Let your class relive history at the incredible Imperial War Museum. From evaluating sources on the spot to meeting veterans and evacuees, you can take your textbook learnings and transform them into reality. Depending on the tour you book, your class can speak to people who were alive during the periods of history you’re studying, giving them real insight to what they’re learning about.
*Collaborative post

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Simple interior tips for your home

Interior tips

Sometimes a space is just in need of a little refreshment. There’s nothing like the start of a new school year to inspire you to wipe the slate clean and inject some fashionable freshness into your interiors scheme - I always feel more like it’s a new year at this time in September than I do on December 31st!

In the spirit of newness (but keeping things to a tight budget), I’ve compiled some super simple ways to add a touch of luxury and transform every room in your house this season.


There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to leave you feeling fresh, revived and ready for anything. And as the days get shorter and the nights darker, we’re going to need all the help we can get to feel energetic and in high spirits! I always find that I sleep better if my bedroom is neat, tidy, and just a bit zen. On my peruse for ways to improve my boudoir, I came across this stunning velvet headboard and must admit, it’s shot straight to the top of my wish list. Grand, glamorous and undeniably gorgeous (plus in this season’s on-trend emerald green shade), it is a simple way to instantly change the look of a plain bedroom and adds instant luxury to getting a good night’s kip.

Living Room

If investing in a piece of statement furniture is looking like too much hard work (not to mention money!) then adding some chic living room accessories to your space is the answer. Beautifully soft blankets and throws add comfort and texture to your sofa or armchair and are ideal as the weather starts to turn - there’s nothing nicer than getting snuggly under a woolly throw with a cup of tea and a good book.
Sofa with throw


If your kitchen or dining room is looking a little lacklustre, why not do as the Portuguese do and invest in some colourful tiles to brighten up your space? I am obsessed with the Lisbon way of interior decorating - when in doubt, add tiles! These beautiful Casablanca Mix tiles show off various eye-catching designs inspired by Morocco and are sure to cheer up a quiet corner in your kitchen immediately.

Moroccan tiles


You can’t have failed to notice the trend for round rose-gold or copper mirrors exploding on the interior design front recently. I love the Art Deco feel of rounded mirrors, and they also have something pleasingly nautical about them too, making them absolutely perfect for the bathroom. Adding one of these to your washroom will instantly transform it into somewhere far more luxurious. Paired with vintage-esque tiles, there’s no better bathroom combination and this one from H&M is an absolute bargain.
Large round bathroom mirror
*Collaborative post

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Blog room update - bees and birds

I have mentioned last month about my new blogging room and how it is coming together. I want it to be full of curiosities and vintage items, old prints, interesting things that I come across in charity shops, auctions or junk shops and stalls. It's coming together slowly I feel, I'm so imapatient and want it full of shelves like a museum right now. I want the room to have some new too since I can't take away my love for plastic unicorn lights and fluffy pens.

 The latest addition is just what I needed, a mirror for sorting out my hair or putting some lip gloss on and also throwing some extra light into the room, I love candles flickering seen in a mirror too on a autumn day. And so I found this super bee printed mirror from Red Candy which ticks my vintage nature inspired items box too. It's a good size for the room, the mirror is approximately 42x30cm and the design is perfect for the Victoriana / museum look that will eventually knit together as I collect more items. You can see the lovely new lamp shade too, the swallow design and the mustard colour goes really well with the bee. The design of the mirror is simple, classy and vintage and would look equally as good in the hallway but for the moment I'm keeping it here.
Vintage bee mirror

This wall mounted shelf was from a local vintage shop and was found lurking outside by the main shop, my eyes spotted it straight away and I knew it would be perfect to showcase all kinds of things. As you can see below, it's ideal for my random trinkets accumulated over the years, Fisher Price vintage radio toy, a glass Christmas decoration or two, spiky pot plant, kitsch religious items and funky pink pineapple light and not forgetting a voodoo doll.
Blogging room display

Red Candy are such a cool company to source eclectic and exciting homeware items from so I had a further scout about the website to find items for the blogging room. Sweep wants an old school telephone and I love this grey and orange one. The candle, I've seen before, Pyropets, they burn down to leave the metal skeleton inside so that fits in with the spooky home vibe. Also anything school or sciencey related so the apothecary jar and conical flask to pop a succulent into would look great. Finally a bird skull jewellery holder which I would just use for display as I'm not a blingy person but it would go with the actual seagull skulls we picked up on the beach recently and I can't resist a fox in clothes and this autumnal one could have my blogging cake on it or actually it would look gorgeous on display too.

Currently I am adding to the room with Halloween items, it's the best time of year to sort out the decor for an all year round spooky home....more of this to come soon.....
Red Candy items

*Collaborative post

Friday, 7 September 2018

Happy Boo Day

Happy 1st birthday Boo
Or Boo Pumpkin as your full name is.
Or the other names you get called like Bookin, schnabbing thing, Booky-boo, Boosaphine, ginger shedder.

August saw one year of our Boo bear, feisty orangeyness, shoe thief, toy snatching jealous paws, bouncy as a tigger, bed burrowing duvet cave sleeping dog, a cosy hot waterbootle.

So we had a little doggy party.
boo dog's 1st birthday

From little pumpkin cupcake of gorgeousness to lion pawed sausage dog impersonator. Furrowed brow and ears that make her head look square when she is alert.
Boo as a puppy

Such fun you bring Boo and you are adored. Some mishaps over the year like your tendency to break out into hives, the slicing of your leg requiring stitches and getting out onto the road. Oh and burning your ear on a candle (not the cake candle) or so we think that's what you did. Your energy gets you into trouble, jumping onto the worktop and stealing food, bouncing around the house, tearing aound with your doggy sister and new brother. We've had training together where you started as the unruly pupil but you learnt to work well with me and won the trainers' hearts. You may have slipped into bad habits again but we love you so much.

Happy 1st birthday wonderful Boo!
Boo 1 year

Cone head dog Puppy sleeping pup in a bow

Monday, 3 September 2018

Family garden adventuring

After moving this year I have a new garden to work with and turn into a family space, for both adults and children, namely my 8 year old who loves the outdoors. I don't want to lose his interest in nature, mucky hands and bugs so next year me and the OH (Sweep) are going to put some plans together to create a new garden from scratch. Up until now the front area of the house was just paving stones with a few planters but over the summer I created a container garden full of herbaceous perennials to attract the bees and the hoverflies, my son loves nature as we do too. But how to add areas for children to burn off energy yet keep the garden looking lovely and keeping it safe too. I have a few ideas for the elements we are considering that will offer solutions to keep all of us happy. 

Choose non poisonous plants
Do a little homework around safe plants as many are surprisingly poisonous. Foxgloves can prove fatal if ingested, delphiniums are also toxic and other plants may cause skin irritations such as euphorbia. Check out safe plants with the RHS. Many seed companies have a children's growing range, fun to grow, educational and safe options such as calendula, sunflowers and snapdragons. We have dogs too so it is important that no accidents happen with leaves or flowers being munched. I'm going to remove the foxgloves to the flower bed outside and make sure that the flowers within the garden are nothing too nasty. Look out for anything too thorny and prickly too for small hands and paws. 
happy garden dog

Play equipment
My boy needs some interesting outdoor play equipment to exercise and engage his imagination. I've been looking at the inspiring range from Wickey, a family run business who make wonderful wooden climbing frames, play houses, sandpits and more. The range is immense, different types of climbing frames, castles, seaside huts, space rockets that you can choose the colour of the slide and the tarpaulin to suit your garden which I think is a great way to choose equipment that compliments the home and garden. The website allows you to change colours to see what it will look like. Then there are tons of accessories from ship's wheels to climbing holds for little feet. I really love the playhouses with their cute chimneys (my Sweep will love that feature), they look like something from a fairytale and will delight the imagination of any child (and parents too) and will complete the look of a garden. I'd add swathes of wild flowers around them or tubs of pretty annual flowers. It's great for children to be encouraged to get outside and play, stimulating the senses and helping with motor and coordination skills but also great to have a pretty garden so these wooden climbing frames give an organic look amongst your flowers, shrubs and trees. There are different sizes, designs, all full of activities to climb, slide and swing from. I think even our dogs would love to whizz down the slide.
Wickey climbing frames

We are also looking to add some creative areas of the garden. Even though it is relatively small, we are going to section the garden into different rooms so one area will have a seaside element where we add plants such as pink sea thrift and keep little displays of the shells, pebbles and even seagull skulls that we have found whilst beach combing on holiday. We have been around a lot of village open garden this year for inspiration and found some interesting use of found objects on our travels, dolls set into walls, vintage garden tools, skulls and other peculiar items set amongst the flowers. I like creating pockets of areas with different themes, as we like collecting things and I hope they add to my son's sensory and imaginative play. He is very tactile and enjoys discovering so shells and bones add to exploration.
skulls in a garden

Wild areas
We love wildlife too and have greatly enjoyed attracting lots of different species of hoverfly, bees and some butterflies. From just a few planters, we added more and more to create borders of containers, swapping them around and adding new ones all the time for extra colour. Next year Sweep is making a bird table to encourage them into the garden. We were lucky to have swifts nesting in the eaves this year, then soaring each evening, squealing as the sun started to set. Blackbirds made a nest in an old rake propped up in a recess and the wood pigeon was our cherry blossom tree resident although sadly with no success. A wild flower patch and log pile would be great too for other insects and perhaps the village hedgehog that we have called Chippy because we always see him/her by the chip shop. It's a rural area so I'm hoping that we get lots of wildlife venturing into the garden. 

With the limited space it will be tricky at times to accommodate all our needs but with some clever planning and using all the nooks and crannies, I'm confident that I can show you my ideal garden next year that is also a super play space for a young boy.
courtyard garden

*Collaborative post

Thursday, 30 August 2018

My love of churchyards

Over the last two years I have been mostly preoccupied with studying for a post graduate diploma in parish church studies with the University of York. As to why I came to take this path is a mixture of interest in the history of England of which the church played such an important factor and my involvement in a medieval group that took me on trails of stories in stone and gargoyles, of relics in cases and architecture that tells of the relationship between the people and their beliefs.

 My main focus has been on churchyards, drifting through swathes of grass to read lichen encrusted gravestones, poring over lettering cut centuries ago and learning of the tales that accompany them. As a child I  was perhaps a little spooky and enjoyed walking through the local graveyard and did not find it weird or strange, although I did buy myself a book called the Fireside Book of Death which I’m sure my mother raised her eyebrows at. However, it’s been a long standing relationship, the departed and I, so applying academic study to it has been exciting.

When I talk to people about my interest both in real life and online, I receive a mixed response- some people are fascinated, some consider me ghoulish and gothic…..perhaps a little part of me is. But really churchyards are places of such beauty and art that tells the story of our ancestors. Dark tourism is increasingly popular with tours of cemeteries such as the local one I did that I wrote about the intriguing showman character I had learnt about and of course the  immense London cemeteries offer tours as well as holding small classical concerts and other cultural events in these highly atmospheric spaces. Also the death positive movement is gathering momentum, lets not view death as taboo, sweep it under the carpet, lets enable the discussion to be more positive, think of the celebrations of the Mexican Day of the Dead and how that link to the dead remains.

Autumn graveyard

 As I walk around churchyards and see the new graves and the fresh wreaths, read the notes and see the modern tokens left, small cherubs and trinkets, I do feel sad. It must be hard to know what to do and who to ask about many of the practicalities around the loss of a family member of friend. This useful guide by SunLife provides help around what to do when somebody dies, answering key questions to assist in what to do. I always pause as I’m wandering about the graveyard but more often than not I’m looking amongst the older part of the area seeking the stones set into the ground hundreds of years ago.
autumn church

My main interest are 18th century graves with their memento mori messages and symbolism of death with almost comical looking skulls and angels such as the ones in the Nottinghamshire area, known as the Belvoir angels with their swirly eyes and curly locks. The simplicity of rustic graves intrigue me the most with sometimes crudely cut lettering and mistakes or oddly spaced letters. It becomes a moment of anticipation as I walk through churchyard gates, what will I find. Sometimes the graveyard has been reordered over time and the stones are moved to the edges or stacked by the church. Regardless, each ones tells of so many things. It may tell of the occupation of the deceased, of their social standing in a time gone by and the tragedy of families lives lost so young is there to see. Many times I have used this information to find out more in the local history archives, it’s a satisfying exercise to learn of the life from the stone.
sunset in the churchyard

Churchyards are also places where I like to take many photographs. There is something very beautiful about rows and rows of tombstones and memorials, angels reaching up high and cherubs scattering flowers, the grand Victorian grave flamboyancy that reflects their views around death at the time. Then to the uniformity and sombreness of  war graves, peaceful white and silently stood. Wherever I go, I pop into the churchyard and gain something; sometimes a chat with a churchwarden or a brush with nature as some are managed for conservation…..a great place to spot butterflies. Sometimes a place for a quiet moment and a flask of tea on a sunny day or a winter’s walk through the frost. If you’ve never considered a graveyard as a place to go on this side of the mortal plain, well do give it a go and let me know what you find, whether it’s a beautiful place of sanctuary buzzing with wildlife or an austere setting of catacombs and Victorian eccentricities. 
bluebell churchyard