Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Sometimes you can see the wood for the trees........

Over the weekend we managed to clear our little 'wood' of all its nasty prickly brambles that had grown wild and turned into a tangle of prickliness designed to snag at your clothes and skin, and imprison the dog whenever she ventured in.
After much snipping, chopping, pulling and raking we turned this -

into this

and SO much better it is too, the birds can see their feeders, we can see the birds and best of all the soil can see the sunlight so we are going to scatter poppy seeds and plant some little woodland plants and turn what was a mini jungle into a haven of prettiness and food for the wild birds.
Some jobs are just SO worth doing, and make your heart sing when they are done.
Sue xx

Monday, 30 March 2009

Glorious Sunny Sunday

The sun shone down on us all day this Sunday spurring us on the get SO much done.
My new farmhouse table with its four chairs and bench looked lovely in the kitchen (just ignore the mess under the stairs and the unpainted and untiled walls). We've eaten virtually every meal around it since it arrived on Friday afternoon. So civilised!! Haha.
The three veggie beds just waiting for their wooden sides. We finally finished the third vegetable bed, no easy task, Jason must have had 4 wheelbarrows full of stones by the time he had finished. The beds are all just about three metres long by just over two metres wide and although we have got most of the big stones out the soil is really heavy and full of clay. Up to now we have added some manure and compost but we are hoping that once we have got a couple of crops of potatoes out of each bed the soil should have eased a bit and be slightly easier to work. Lovely Hubby painted the door furniture (knockers, locks etc) with black Hammerite. That's what he's doing in this picture below, the only way to do the knocker was to hang it on a tree! Putting the finishing touches to the door knocker. Another six fruit trees were liberated from their orange plastic buckets and put into the space in front of Tumbledown Wall. Two Golden Delicious Apple, two Conference Pear and two Cherry trees. I doubt we'll get any fruit this year (or even next) but they will start to grow and look very pretty.

My main job this weekend was staining all the wood for the raised sides for the veggie beds and for the fence around the tyres, we have to fence everything we can to protect things from the deer. We have Roe deer and Muntjac both roaming wild in the area, and we've been warned by people in the village that they eat EVERYTHING!

And then by the end of the day it all came together, the fence went up, all the raw edges were touched up with woodstain and it now looks like this.

So all in all another good weekends work, progress is being made all round. We ended Sunday with a small bonfire (as is now traditional) and a couple of glasses of Cinzano in front of Monty Halls Great Escape ( a brilliant tv programme).

Sue xx

Sunday, 29 March 2009

It's curtains for me.........

Yes....I did it....made my first ever pair of curtains.
I searched and searched for a pair of curtains for our spare room and I just couldn't find anything I really loved. So I had a rummage through my fabric stash and found a piece of green and cream checked material that would match the duvet cover, hat was just about big enough to cover the window (why didn't I look there first?). So I bit the bullet and had a go at making my own. And guess what they don't look half bad.
So now the spareroom is finished, or maybe we should call it the Guest Room, according to the man that does 'Selling Houses' and Ann Maurice of 'House Doctor' fame you should have a purpose for every room and never just a spareroom!! Anyway whatever it is, it is finished and looks lovely, so thats six down and five to go.
Who hoo...........over half way through the house at last!!
We've had another busy weekend, the weather was bitterly cold on Friday and Saturday but today was gorgeous, I'll post some pictures of todays activities tomorrow, now it's time for roast chicken in front of the fire and an hours television before retiring to bed.
Hope you all had a lovely weekend.
Sue xx

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Shoe Corner

I always wondered when I lived in my nice neat town house why farmhouse entrances had messy coat/shoe corners.........now I know! There's always a reason to need a different pair of shoes, dog walking, muck shovelling, going somewhere posh (i.e. to civilisation) or just dashing across the stoney yard to rescue your washing from the branches of a tree. And it's the same for coats, do you just need to be warm for five minutes or warm for 5 hours, dry from the lashing rain or protected from force 10 winds blowing the bushes across the front of the house. As you can see my nice neat corner (that used to hold one jacket each and 3 pairs of shoes) has developed into what it needs to be. And this is only one of them............... the other 'grab one quick coats' are hung by the other back door in the utility room!! (And no......I have no idea why the little bin from the utility room is there on the bench in the kitchen!!) Farm life.....................developing nicely!! Have a brilliant weekend. Sue xx

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Stock sorting

Getting prepared. Well that's it.....the sunshine's gone. Surprising how quickly you get used to, and look forward to waking up to glorious sunshine, and how it inspires you to plant and dig and venture into the great outdoors on doggy walks and wanders. Well yesterday was dismal, there's really no other word for it. Tiny glimpses of blue sky swiftly hidden by big bad grey clouds that let the rain fall suddenly and heavily. It was a day for holing up and wielding a paintbrush. Starting to look a bit better. I decided to move the stored stock from my shop and do some of the finishing little jobs to the spare bedroom. There's hope of some of the family coming to visit soon and it would be nice to have completely finished rooms upstairs at least. We've done brilliantly well with the decorating actually, we've lived here for just under three months and have managed to do all four bedrooms (apart from the fireplace in Jasons room and the windoow frame and door in the spareroom), the en-suite bathroom and the biggest job of all was the living room (it's huge and needed some damp treatment, so that slowed us considerably). So thinking about it I shouldn't complain, we are cracking on at a good speed. So yesterday I moved the stock, some into the workroom and some just stacked for now, so I could reach the window frame. It looks lovely now, although it was a cold job, trust me to decide to paint on the side of the house where the wind was whistling and having to keep the window open!!
Ooooh.....my shop window....happy memories. Moving the stock brought back such lovely happy thoughts of my little shop and how I miss it. Still I have now got myself two Farmers Markets to attend on a regular basis, so I can play at setting out my stall instead of dressing my window (one of my favourite jobs in the shop).
A variation (it was so tiny I changed it every week).

Today doesn't look much better outside, so I am going to get stuck in and finish the spareroom. Then it will be time for the best bit........playing at adding all the finishing touches and titivating and twiddling until I am happy with the look. I will turn a blind eye to the stack of boxes in the corner and stand back and enjoy the fruits of my labours. Having the stock helps........I can pick and choose just what I need to finish the room, after all I only bought what I wanted myself in the first place!!

Have a good day. (If you want to see a few more pics of the shop, click onto the link at the top of this page for Lavender's Blue)

Sue xx

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Signs of life.......

Mixed salad leaves.
Signs of new life are popping up all over the place now. Bulbs are appearing in places that we least expect to see them, the little chirrups of baby birds can be heard from all the trees and parent birds are in a feeding frenzy. Two birds are attempting to build a nest in our working chimney and I have to light a mini fire each morning to discourage them.
Our farmhouse kitchen is not the idyllic tidy place it could be at the moment, we will have to do something about this as my much longed for kitchen table has now been made and is being delivered on Friday along with four chairs and a bench........ooo.....the anticipation!!
Half the kitchen window sill.
My seeds are starting to germinate on the kitchen windowsill at an alarming speed. We have planted most of the veggie seeds into halved toilet roll inners so that we don't disturb the roots when we plant them outside. The cardboard tubes rot down very quickly leaving the baby plant in its own little ball of compost and nutrients, not quite such a shock to the system for the plant.
Peeping into one tray.
We have lots of people saving these rolls for us, some of them think we're very strange, but I'm sure a few will latch onto the idea for themselves when they taste the yummy vegetables at the end!
The other half of the same window sill.
But in the meantime all available windowsill are being pressed into action for germination of seeds and chitting of potatoes. Decorating is on hold as we are preparing raised beds for the potatoes and onions (also sprouting merrily away on the utility room windowsill).
Tomato plants will most likely remain in the house on the upstairs landing windowsill as we will not have a greenhouse until later in the year. Thank goodness for such a light filled house and large deep windowsills!!

Archie posing on the hearth, just begging to be photographed!

Have a good day.

Sue xx

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Chickens and Horses

Tyres with plant labels (but no crops yet...haha).

Oops I missed Mondays Blog Post!! We had SUCH a busy weekend, with lots learnt and lots achieved. We started on Friday with a big shopping trip to restock the larders and get Lovely Hubby all his nails, wires, woodstain and all the bits and pieces ready for his next big task ... ditch digging and fencing. Hubby bought me a little present of some terracotta plant labels for the tyres and I simultaneously was buying him a bunch of flowers (just because he's lovely).


Then it was a case of getting all the little bitty jobs out of the way ready for our big day on our Henkeeping Course on Saturday. We set off on Friday night and had a lovely drive, mostly unfortunately on the M25 but loads of lovely Suffolk countryside could be made out as darkness fell. Then after a good nights sleep (and the most revolting breakfast in a Little Chef) it was off to Troston, and the lovely home of Francine Raymond.


The lady herself - Francine Raymond.

Of course I forgot the camera, so I have borrowed some images from my current favourite book  'All my Eggs in one Basket'. The house is exactly the same as in the pictures in the book, lovely - but lived in, pretty - but practical, a delightful home


After a brief wander around the garden and an introduction to the hens, all enormous Buff Orpingtons (five hens and a cockerel), it was time for a slide show and a discussion on the merits of which birds we were all considering. 


Lovely Hubby was in his element, he was the only male with ten lovely ladies to keep him company. After lots of talk and slides and pictures, it was time for a tour of Chicken HQ and the merits of different types of henhouse and the basic day to day requirements of chickens. Then it was a few more slides in the house and then lunch round the long farmhouse table.



And what a lunch..........all homemade by Francine herself, gorgeous homemade leek soup with homemade bread, followed by eggs, her own and supermarket free-range as a comparison, served with a lovely salad and dressing. For dessert we had the most divine syllabub made with homemade lemon curd and heart shaped shortbread biscuits. 

A lovely light lunch all washed down with wine and elderflower cordial.


Then it was back to business and a talk by the lovely Hugh on the health and well being of your birds. After a question and answer session it was time for more slides and an informal chat on chickens. Then we were given a guided tour of The Kitchen Garden, lots of good ideas about how to have a garden and let your chickens free-range as much as possible. While all this was going on we were being filmed for a Korean television programme and our day finished with us all being interviewed by the camera crew, what they will make of us on Korean television I dread to think!!


The final part of the day was spent having a browse around the little shop that Francine has and picking a few lovely little bits and pieces to purchase (in my case a new book, some plant labels, a china egg (to show the birds where to lay) and a lovely card). Then it was time to go, Francine signed my new book and we had a brief chat with her about our specific plans and she was very helpful with some wonderful suggestions. 

 If this post has come across as a bit of an advert for Francine's course I'm glad, it was a useful, helpful and very informative day and one which we, as complete beginners, really needed. If you get the chance to go on one of these days, (she does three a year) then take it. Then we drove the 140 miles home buzzing with ideas and revised plans. Happy to have spent such a lovely day together.


Hubbys' Horse. 

 Sunday was spent with me tackling a mountain of washing and hoovering up half the dog (or so it seemed) and Hubby making his fence posts and his very own horse. Sorry to disappoint all you horse lovers out there who thought the horse in todays' blog title was me acquiring a show jumper or a huge carthorse, it's Hubby making his own wooden horse for chopping and sawing all his fence posts on!!


The results of a hard days chopping and sawing.

Plum Tree. I spent the afternoon planting our plum tree and some of the already flowering bulbs around the edge of the pond, Hubby has used the JCB to lower our little 'stonehenge' stones into position around the pond side (might stop me reversing the car straight into the pond now the edges are clear of the weed jungle we used to have!)

  It's starting to look really good and we have 5 wild ducks now using the pond. On Francines instruction I am going to feed them at the same time each evening with just a little bit of brown bread, to keep them eager to use the pond. Although I have heard that they always come back to the same place each year to breed, so maybe they've been here a lot longer than us!!
  There are two ducks in this picture.....honest!!

Sue xx

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day to all you Mums out there. If you have your Mum tell her you love her, if you no longer do, remember her with pride, love and joy for the time you did. We all only have one Mum.....and she's SO special!
Happy Mothers Day to my lovely Mum. Glad you like the flowers and have lots of fun with the balloon. Have a good day on the allotment and DON'T WORK TOO HARD. Haha.......like you'll really listen to THAT one!! I'm off out myself to do MORE pond clearing.
Love you Mum.
Sue xx

Friday, 20 March 2009

Sorry I've been AWOL........

Sorry for vanishing of the face of the earth..................internet problems. Lovely BT quickly despatched all new filters, hub and wires within 48 hours of the fault being reported and here I am after what seems like SO many phone calls and line tests............back in action.
I've really missed reading all the lovely blogs that I dip into each day with my morning coffee in one hand and my toast in the other. It's lovely being part of this blogging world, I'm SO glad to be back in action. You don't realise how much you've come to rely on the internet until it goes away.
Tonight we are off for our Henkeeping Course in lovely sunny Suffolk, we can't wait. I've wanted to keep chickens for years, while my boys were little I had a little veggie patch in our council house back garden in the lovely village of Askam in Furness and we were almost self-sufficient in salad crops, veggies and strawberries, but the council would not allow chickens!! So I put my dreams on hold and now twenty odd years later I'm finally on the last leg towards getting my little feathered egg-producing ladies.
Hubby likes to do everything properly, so first it's the course, then it's the masterminding and building of 'Chicken World', this will be no small shed with run, it will be state of the art palatial chicken quarters, fox-proof, easy clean and designed to withstand all disasters. Then we will be vanishing on our (well-deserved) holiday, and then, finally, it will be time to get the chickens ....whoo hoo, at last my dream come true......... (oh, and then Lovely Hubby has booked us on another Chicken Course for all things medical etc!!).
Have a lovely weekend.
Sue xx

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Books, books and more books.....

In the kitchen.
We have SO many books here on the farm, they take over and cause lovely messy heaps of loveliness.

One side of the sofa.

I have books that I have read that I will read again, books that are waiting to be read and books that just HAVE to be read (so I know what to do with the veggies, chickens etc). I have books that I have read, that I will never read again but look too lovely to part with. I have cookery books that give me inspiration to cook and craft books that inspire me to try new things at my sewing machine.

Bookcase number one.

I love it when interior magazines or books show pictures of bookcases, and I scour the spines for familiar friends. I love to see books by other peoples sofas waiting to be read. And I always make a beeline for someone elses bookcase to see what they have. I hate to lend out my books and always feel honoured if someone let me borrow a book, but I usually prefer to buy my own copy of any recommended book.
If I am strict with myself and have a sort out, I donate them to the charity shops, but more often than not I end up buying them back, either my own or a newer version of one that I have parted with.

The other side of the sofa....in my mind magazines are books too!!

I love Amazon and my order is rarely less than £100 at a time. I love the feel of new books, but I also love the feel and the smell of older more friendly books. I cannot pass a charity shop without looking in to what fresh books have arrived since my last visit.

Bookcase number two, not full yet!!

My children grew up being read to every night at bedtime and have fond memories of that special time together, cuddled up close and warm and enjoying an old favourite. Enid Blyton was loved by both boys and inspired many of Simons escapades around the village. Simon loved Danny, Champion of the World or Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl and Jason was enchanted by the Thomas the Tank Engine books so much he knew them off by heart by the age of 3, and would point out if I missed out a word or paragraph.
Now they are all grown up, and Simon reads car maintenance manuals and Jason is into crime and murder, and all things gruesome that are related to his forensics studies and he hungrily devours New Scientist each week as soon as it arrives in the post box.

Books and magazines living happily side by side!

Now I have to go, to read a book........All my Eggs in one Basket by Francine Raymond. We are doing her Henkeeping Course on Saturday in Suffolk, so it's revision....honest!!

My name is SUE I am a BOOKAHOLIC...........
Sue xx

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Snippets of my life.......

Just a few pictures today to show you some of my favourite things...........
Gorgeous Archie out on the prowl (brought home a baby rabbit last night which has been re-located back to the field!).
The flowers Lovely Hubby bought for me 2 weeks ago, still looking lovely and bringing much pleasure. He's always bought me lots of flowers even though I sell silk ones through the business we both love fresh flowers in the house. (I buy him the occasional bunch too, when he's least expecting it!)
Lovely Hubby himself in his 'Heyday'. (Haha...he'll shoot me for that one!)
Plants at the back door. They bring a smile to my face everytime I arrive home.
Aggy Aga....I'm loving cooking again, it's a whole new experience with an Aga.
My new mirror, handpainted and gorgeous, and only £3 from a lovely little charity shop I found on Saturday. I can't keep away from charity shops at the moment, I managed them for years so you'd think I'd want a break!!
The first line of washing at this house blowing in the breeze yesterday. I had to put up a temporary washing line from a tree to the old climbing frame, I just couldn't leave things to dry indoors anymore with all this glorious sunshine outside.
The remnants from the lovely surprise Fortnum and Mason hamper we got at Christmas. With Pepper (the salt cellar), bought because of it's resemblance to Pepper our cat the matching pepper pot was dropped....why do you always break the things you love. And the little CK knitted dolly that I just could not resist!!
My latest Gecko. Ever since my divorce, which I celebrated by getting a gecko tattooed on my left arm, I've had a 'thing' for geckos. I've got them in wood, in metal and on pictures, there used to be shop in Bowness on Windermere that was called 'Gecko' but unfortunately they sold clothes not geckos!! It made me smile everytime I drove past.
Not the ususal sort of post, but one to make me smile, and I hope to brighten your day. Thanks for reading.
Flowers for you.................
Sue xx