Thursday, 31 December 2009


I have written before on this blog about my Dad, about his influence on me and my sister and whether he knew it or not on most of the people he met. I could go on for pages about the sort of guy he was but for the moment I will re frame or I will end up crying all over my Mums laptop!

Our wonderfully Dad died on the 27th of December 2009 aged just 60.

To say we are all heartbroken is an understatement, he will leave a huge hole in our little family that will never be filled.

Bye Dad, we will miss you forever.... I just hope they have Wi-Fi in Heaven.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Are We Feeling Christmasy Yet?!


Yep, I love Christmas, any excuses to eat to much chocolate and sit around watching cheesy films...oh wait I do that the rest of the year as well! Ok so I get to do it with a Christmas tree in the corner of the living room, which is nice.
We have quite a collection of vintage and glass baubles that I've picked up over the last few years (mostly at car boots and ebay) so I really love decoration the tree.

We also use ivy and holly collected from our lane to decorate the rest of the house...

I just love our tiny little cottage at Christmas, it suddenly feels cozy and warm (thanks to the stove) and very twinkly!

See, whats more Christmasy than a kitten snoozing by her Christmas tree!

Monday, 7 December 2009


I seem to have taken a little unscheduled blog break there! A combination of doing jobs on the house we put off till after the wedding, trying to finish my first children's book for the publishers deadline and the fact that our camera seems to have packed up, has meant I either don't have anything to tell you about or cant take pics!

So here's a few bits and pieces we been up to over the last month that I managed to get pictures of before the camera gave up the ghost...

Most of whats in the garden has gone over now, we still got some leeks and cabbages in but that's about it, which is ok by me as it seems to have been raining here none stop for nearly 2 months, and I hate getting soaked while weeding!

I have to say one of the major success of this year for me has been the Sweetcorn, I've never grown if before and once we got over the mice problem, they where wonderful. I was never a huge fan of Sweetcorn but I that has changed now I've eaten home grown, I just wish we'd planted more (on the list again for next year!)
Here it is having just about gone over, I was in the process of pulling the dead stalks up for compost...

I also used up the very last of the tomatoes in October, I was amazed at the size of them (I shouldn't really, there called Giant Delicious, does what it says on the tin!)

I made about a ton of tomato and basil soup (about half of which is still in the freezer!)

We did have one tiny bit of planting to do before the end of the year, back in the summer I ordered 2 hedging plants for the orchard, Cherry Plums. It was the first time I'd heard of them, but apparently they make good shelter hedging for orchards, and produce red or yellow fruit the size of cherries but the shape of plums. At the moment they don't look like much...

...but I'm looking forward to the spring when they come to life!

Another thing we've been trying to do this month is keep warm! As money is tight (as always!) we have been trying not to have the central heating on (thank you British Gas, I do like my fingers blue and my pockets empty!) so we have been relying more and more on our trusty little Stovax wood burner (which is AMAZING! I have probably said it before but nothing get a room cosy and toasty like a wood stove) we've eaten rather quickly through our store of logs so we're having to scrounge up gash wood where we can, luckily our local garden center is happy for us to take old broken pallets off their hands...

see, I knew that Landy would be good for something!

The husbands not bad either!

The Landy has been brilliant this Autumn, she's even managed a couple of trips up to Shropshire to see our parents. Rich's Mum & Dad moved house last month, so we went up to see their lovely new cottage...

Cute isn't it, I'm not jealous in the slightest!

...and here's me stroking the horses who live next door.

So a bit of a hotch potch post, I'll try to do better from now on (and possibly nick Richards phone, which has a descent camera on it!)

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The Evolution of Our Kitchen

Again I feel this may be a slightly boring post for people who aren't me, what can I say, its raining a lot here in Bath!

As I may have mentioned before Rich and I live in a very tiny cottage, its nearly 200 years old (meaning there isn't a straight line in the place!) and for the last 4 years we have been slowly redecorating it. When we moved in the decor was VERY dated, I think it was last done in the early 80's, don't get me wrong the place was scrupulously clean and the lovely old lady we brought it off had obviously loved it (she'd lived here for the last 40 years!) but it just wasn't us.

My favourite room in the house is the kitchen and this was the room that needed the most work, I should explain a bit about the kitchen its is TINY, and I do mean tiny, it used to be the old back yard but in the 80's the previous owners roofed it over to extend the house. Our cottage is built into the side of a hill, meaning it quite literally sits with its bum buried, this means the only natural light coming into the kitchen come from a big velux window in the roof because the ceiling is at ground level.

Here is the kitchen a few months after we moved in...

Look at the tiles...beige with tea pots on...nice!

Here it is after I finally snapped one weekend and we ripped all the tiles off...

The units in the above pics where dreadful chipboard and formica things, these pictures still give me the shivers. After we'd been in the house about 18 months we scrapped up enough to get 2 new hand-built units, we had them made by a great local craftsman in Bristol. We had looked at what we could buy off the shelf at all the usual kitchen places but to be honest it was the same price to have hand-built units that where made to measure (and Richard design) with Oak work tops.

In this pic we have the new units but a few of the crappy old cupboards where holding on, we had quite a time getting them off the wall (when I say we I mean the royal in Rich!) also as storage space was at a premium we couldn't get rid of them until we replaced them with something. Also can I just point out the lino floor here, this stuff actually does give me nightmares (I bet it gives Rich and his Dad nightmares too as they had to chip it off the floor)

Note to self: next time, lay new floor tiles BEFORE getting hand made units built and fitted.

So are we ready for the grand unveiling....

Looook at the floor tiles!!! Sorry I realize I'm very sad but I've waited years for this! Ok it has taken us nearly 4 years but we have been hampered slightly but lack of cash and time (and 2 redundancies!) but we have learned a hell of a lot, for instance ebay is brilliant, don't buy from reclamation yards, they will totally rip you off, we brought all the tiles from ebay and salvo web. We worked out after that if we had bought the tiles from the local reclamation yard we would have paid about £2000, we got nearly 1000 tiles for £500, including the hire of a van to collect them and the petrol to drive them back to Bath.
Another little trick I discovered was when it came to buying cement, we got ours from B&Q where a standard bag of cement for the floor is about £13-£15 a bag, but if you keep an eye out for split bags you can get them at about quarter the price. I don't know if every store does this but B&Q Chippenham does, we got 4 split bags for £16 and we had more then enough to do the whole ground floor of the cottage.

So my undieing gratitude goes to Rich and Rick for spending another horrible weekend once again ruining their knees and losing their sanity trying to get it all finished.

So to everyone who has to suffer living with rubbish kitchens, have faith you will get there in then end and when you do it will be totally worth it!

P.S. Please ignore the dirty dishes I have just spotted in the last few pics, just because I have a lovely kitchen doesn't meaning I've stopped being a domestic slut!

Saturday, 17 October 2009


Ok I realize not everyone will be interested in further tales of mine and Richards wedding but at the moment I haven't had much chance to get in the garden and as I type Rich and his Dad are laying tiles in our kitchen floor so I'm trying to keep out of their way!

So I thought I'd share some of our Honeymoon pics, we ended up going to the lake district for a week, mostly because I've never been and always wanted to and also because our passports have expired and we couldn't afford new ones AND a holiday! 

We stayed here, Sheperd's Nook cottage in the Kentmere Valley not far from Remove formatting from selectionWindermere, and its one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.

Inside it was wonderfully furnished, you know when you walk in some where and think ' that's how I would have decorated it too!' this was totally like that.

I must admit one of the reason I picked this cottage out of the dozen I was looking at was because of the Aga, I totally love Aga's and if our kitchen wasn't to small I would run out and buy one tomorrow! And if the inside wasn't good enough, this is what we had to look at out the window...

and this...

oh and this too...

and that was before we'd even left the front door!

When we did eventually tear ourselves way from the cottage one of the first things I made poor Rich do was go and see Beatrix Potters farm Hill Top. It is now owned by the National Trust (meaning it was packed with tourists) but it was fascinating to look round.
Here's me out side the really Hill Top...

and here's me outside the fake Hill Top they used in the film 'Miss Potter'...

Poor Richard!!

Anyway we had an amazing time, Rich put up with me dragging him round National Trust properties and was happy to drive down all the twisty turny lanes to get to our little cottage. I could go on ( I have A LOT more pics!) but I think I'll leave you with the best ones.

If anyone is interested in renting Shepherd's Nook you can find all the details (and some better photos) here, I highly recommend it! 

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

We're Back!!

Yep, we're finally back to something resembling normality! Now the wedding is over with I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all my time now...oh that's right I have a garden that's reverted to jungle in the 2 weeks we where away!

Anyway the wedding was perfect, exactly the sort of day Rich and I wanted. Not to mention that by some amazing peace of blind lucky it was actually sunny and hot!

So without any further ado I shall now bore you with pics!!

Mmmmm, who has a yummy Husband... that's right Me!

Do you like the dress! not bad for a second hand dress and skirt cobbled together into a wedding dress by my amazingly talented Mum! and the whole thing cost about £100! (Mum says's I should stop telling people this but I'm extraordinarily proud of my dress and her handy work!)

Our lovely bridesmaids, my sister Sally on the left and Rich's sister Gemma on the right.

Our fantastic cake, cupcakes was a great idea, no messy cake cutting which would probably have ended up with me getting it all down my dress!

And our reception venue, which was a local village hall, decorated by us, our family's and friends (soo much fun!!)

I could go on and bore you senseless for hours but I shall refrain, just to say a huge thank you to all our family and friends who came (some from quite far away, in a couple of cases from the other side of the world!) Thanks you for making it the most memorable day ever, Richard and I couldn't have asked for anything better!

And finally to sum up, I'd like to share the poem my crazily talented sister Sal wrote and read at the reception:

He sat next to her, they met on a train,
that hustled and bustled through hammering rain,
They travelled together, through turbulent weather,
to big school in Wales,
to draw and drink ales.

The quaint little house on a terrible street,
was home to the two, for a year and a week.
We painted the artex and covered the cracks,
and transformed the terrace to palace, from shack.
He brought her a hamster, he was two tones of grey,
was kept in a sock draw until her birthday.

A holiday was planned in a damp caravan,
"To Barmouth we'll run for a few nights of fun"
with 'Richard the Sand Elf' and 'Sally the Brave'
decided to rebel and pierce her navel.
Mummy was shocked and Daddy just laughed,
Kate took photos and out Sally passed.

After bumbling home in the old CV6,
that struggled up hills and tripped over sticks.
With the grace and finesse of a fine ballerina,
Richard ran back to his yellow Cortina.
He patched up 'old yeller' with the finest wall filler,
that crumbled away as the metal got thinner.

Kate moved down south to live in a Bath,
that ran hot and cold as the weeks slowly passed.
Without her boy, her friend and her lover,
the water grew cold, she needed her plumber.
He couldn't resist her and from London he flew,
to be with his girly who came form the Shrew.

They brought a small house in Bailbrook Lane,
with a hairpin corner to challenge the brave.
They ripped out the 3 bar and tiled the floor,
restored it to greatness but still there came more...
The garden on a shoestring, that soon became fave,
the best blog around from the money they saved.

I can't see them leaving their beautiful home,
with squirrels abundant and black dial up phone.
With Stella the cat on the window sill perched,
to gaze down the road to the rusted tin church.

After 10 years together, 10 years since that train,
that hustled and bustled through hammering rain,
we all come together to cheer and elate,
the wonderful wedding of Richard and Kate.


Wednesday, 26 August 2009


Yes, madness is what seems to have descended on our life's at the mo, the wedding is now less than 3 weeks away (panic!!!) so posts will probably be non-exsistant till after we come back from the Honeymoon.

So for the time being a very quick (and I do mean quick, I've got a seating plan to sort out here!) update on whats been happening here in between me tearing my hair out.

Has anyone else noticed how early everything is this year? We have picked and eaten the few cooking apples our tree managed to squeeze out, not to mention the Blackberries! aren't they about a month ahead of themselves? The locals don't seemed to have cottoned on to this yet, but lucky I noticed the berries on the way home from work, so managed to nip home and get a pot to collect them in.

I had more than this but a generous helping went into the Blackberry and Apple crumble I made, the rest will go in the freezer as I don't have time for much else right now!

Down on the veg patch, the onions are out and we got some cabbage plugs from the boot sale at the weekend to keep the beds full and productive (always something I struggle with going into winter)

Fingers crossed the slugs leave us a few! The rest of garden so looking good despite the fact its been left to it's own devices of late.

And lastly, I would like to say a huge thank you to Stephen and Serena at Victoriana Nursery, who have given us our first wedding present (and very kindly supplied us with Cottage Garden seeds as wedding favors!)

Now I have no excuse not to give jam making a try! Lets hope theres enough fruit stored in the freezer to make some!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Work While Its Dry

Sunday was surprisingly dry (for a change) so we rushed outside to do all the little jobs we've been putting off!

I brought some Leeks from the local garden center, it was supposed to be 6 Leeks for £1.50 but when you looked closely at the trays most of them had at least 2 plants per plug, so we got 24 Leeks for £3 which was brilliant!

I put them in where I lifted the potatoes as they like nitrogen rich soil, fingers crossed they do ok, I haven't grown Leeks before (Rich is already anticipating Leek and Potato pie)

A lot of the other stuff in the veg patch I'm just leaving alone, it seems to be coping fine without me fussing over it...

I'm really pleased with the Beetroot, again I just bunged it in and left it to its own devises...

Another pressing job that I have been trying to do was net the Blueberries, we had to make the cage bigger this year as the bushes have grown quite a lot, Rich built the wooden bed frame back in February, I just needed to get the netting on it.

I had to take the netting off the Strawberries as we didn't have enough without that to over the new huge frame!

While all this was going on, Rich spent the day giving the Landy a bit of TLC, in other words filling some of the gaping holes so the rain doesn't keep coming in...

Bless him, he loved every minuet!!

Another Sunday well spent!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Things To Do On A Wet Wednesday

Yet again time seems to have run away from me, a combination of my latest illustration project and the wedding now only being 6 weeks away mean finding time for my little blog is a bit hard. However today I have somehow ended up with a day where I'm not at work, I'm waiting for my editor to get back to me and the wedding stuff can wait, this would usually mean a nice day in the garden but this being an English summer, its tipping it down...typical!

So I'm afraid this is rather an indoors post today, that being the case I thought I'd show off a couple of my latest car boot finds...

2 cute little plates, I try not to buy anything to flowery as Rich will only put up with so much chintz (poor love!) but these where pretty simple (and only £1 each!).

Which brings me on to my next bargain of the century...

a hardly used breadmaker for £7!

This was brought last Sunday and I have been waiting to try it out, so this afternoon I sorted out my ingredients and road tested it. I'm always a bit sceptical buy electrical stuff secondhand but the girl who sold me it seemed pretty genuine and assured me it was working fine. I have been wanting to be able to make my own bread for a while, I had tried it in the oven but it never seemed to go well so I'm hoping this will make it easier, its also finding the time to make bread that I struggle with (I don't usually have whole afternoons to fiddle about with it!). I love the smell as it cooks, really yeasty, it reminds me of when my Dad uses to make his own beer when I was younger, their kitchen always smelled the same.

So from now on the neighbours wont have to listen to me shouting "We're out of s*dding bread again!!" at 10.30 at night the day before I have to be in work..., now they'll hear me shout "we're out of s*dding yeast again!!!" instead.

Anyway, the breadmaker took a couple of hours (and makes more noise than my washing machine, not to mention nearly bouncing off the counter top!) so while all this was going on I make one of Richards favourites, Anzac biscuits.

After a long hard day at work and getting drenched cycling home, its amazing what a cup of tea and a few biscuits home made will do!

A day well spent I think!