Wednesday Wants: More for the garden

Whilst I was looking for garden tools for last week’s Wednesday Wants post, I came across so many other lovely gardeny things that I just had to write another post about some of the things I’ve found! As I mentioned, we’ll soon be moving to a new home, and as we’re finally buying (yippee!) we can really make it our own and invest some real effort into the garden. There’ll be lots of planting and re-arranging I’m sure, but I’d also love some pretty furniture and other things to go out there….hence this list!…..

I just adore festoon lights, and I’d love to drape them all across the garden for evenings outside.

I can’t wait to get back into composting again….and this composter has to be the cutest out there. I’d love to have bees too, so I’d have to be careful not to confuse the two!

I am *always* losing track of time in the garden, so I very much need a big clock out there to remind me!

I love to watch the birds and plan to have lots of places for them to nest and feed. I love the copper roof on this feeder, which is nice and open so I can see what they’re doing, but they also feel safe out of sight of bigger birds above!

I’ve always wanted a cast iron garden furniture set and I think it will work perfectly in our new garden (and look stunning sitting on the Yorkstone terrace!). This set features a lovely long table, perfect for barbecues and garden parties, as well as a parasol for those of us who burn easily! The chairs come complete with super comfy pads, and are even stackable!

I’m just imagining sitting there, gin in hand, with the smell of the wisteria in the air…..I cant WAIT!

Ems x

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Wednesday Wants: tools for my new garden

Well I think most of us enjoyed a rather nice show of sun last week. And whilst it’s not quite as exquisite as it was, the rumours of a coming heatwave and the recent memory of blue skies and warmth have me thinking of being outdoors.

There’s the added factor that with our impending house move, I’m starting to think about our lovely new garden. I got really into my gardening when we had a rather large outdoor space to tend to in Hitchin, but knowing we wouldn’t be in this house for long I’ve not really invested any time in the garden here. I can’t wait to get my hands on my very own, ‘forever’ garden though, and that’s got me thinking (as I do) about shopping for exciting things to help me make it beautiful…..

OK, so I already have a little Haws watering can (in a pretty powder blue), but I think this copper one is rather special. It is said that you can improve the quality of water by bringing it into contact with copper, so this can is sure to help my plants along. Plus it’s really shiny and pretty. Just because it’s for the garden, it doesn’t mean I have to be *completely* practical!

And because I’m aiming for some pretty impressive boarders as well as smaller pots, I’m going to need something a little heftier to help me water in bulk. This nine litre galvanised can with copper trim has a top and a back handle, to help feeble little me pick it up and dispense the water more easily.

And keeping with the copper theme….The PKS bronze (aka copper and tin) tools are made to last a lifetime. The Castor trowel has a smooth beech handle and pointed, heart-shaped blade. The sharp edge and scoop shape make it a most practical trowel for general weeding and planting. And yes, again, isn’t it pretty?!

I’ve never really gone in for more specialised tools before, but I have to say that something to help me with those tricky bits of stray grass and weeds would be a God-send. The PKS Tabit weeding tool is specifically designed for lifting perennial weeds such as creeping buttercup and small clumps of grass without disturbing the surrounding plants. The pronged point gets underneath the roots, then using the rounded underside you can lever the interloper out!

Er, yeah, so I’m really into copper right now. Anyway, I love to label pretty much anything that stands still long enough. I’m the proud owner of not one, but four label makers, and so it only seems fitting that I get to label the garden too. These copper ‘Tee’ labels by Burgon and Ball are easy to engrave using a ball point pen, plus the copper helps to repel pests such as slugs. Bonus!

I’ve always bought cheap secateurs in the past, which is a total false economy as they don’t last long at all. There’s also the issue of my feeble little hands, which really struggle with pruning, but I’ve found that a pair of ratchet pruners could help me immensely. These ones by Darlac have a slim profile, perfect for my small hands, and the squeeze/release action reduces effort by up to a third. And they’re gold. Gold.

Not all pruning requires such hard-core toolage though, and for the more delicate plants, dead-heading and flower arranging, these mini snips look great. They work like embroidery snips and come in a handy pocket size, perfect for well, keeping in your pocket!

I bought a kneeler to use in our last garden, and used it precisely once.  The problem is that you have to move it around with you, and I’m so forgetful I just ended up leaving it behind each time I moved. Plus I usually have my hands full whilst gardening, so something that’s actually attached to me sounds like a much better idea! These leather knee pads are made in Shropshire from carefully selected British leather, and feature a soft lining to cushion your knees as you work. They are attached to an elasticated velcro band to make them easy to get on and off, as well as fit anyone (even me with my chubby knees), and are built to last a lifetime.

And on the subject of forgetfulness, if I got a penny for every time I lost my tools in the garden, I’d be able to afford to pay Monty Don to come and work for me full time. Enter this tool pouch, which you wear as a belt around the waist so you always have your most-used tools with you. I’d keep my nice bronze trowel in the main back pocket and my secatuers in that handy pointed pocket at the front.

 

Whilst shopping I also came across lots of wonderful non-tool things for the garden too….so perhaps I’ll share those next week!

 

Do you have a garden? Do you have any tips or recommendations?

 

Ems x

 

 

Something from the weekend: Visitors, treats and yums…

Beautiful mauve roses brought in from our little garden

Beautiful mauve roses brought in from our little garden

I do love it when the weekend starts early! And this one did as we recieved surprise (ish) visitors in the shape of the lovely Claire and Matthew. On their way to a wedding in the North, they joined us for our ritual Friday PieDay supper (Shepherd’s Pie this week!) as well as great chats, and much reviewing of Rightmove (at least we’re not the only ones who are addicted!).

Cooper the lurcher giving us our Saturday morning wake up call

Cooper the lurcher giving us our Saturday morning wake up call

Saturday began as usual with a wake up call from Cooper, followed by a dog walk. Then after a quick coffee we decided to walk into town for Brunch. We opted to do a little shopping and browsing first and as we’d not popped into our favourite Otley gallery in a while, went to see what treasures were to be found in the stunning Old Grammar School Gallery. As usual, there were lots of gorgeous things to spy and we had a very nice long chat with the proprietor who actually used to go to school in the building our house is now in!

We’d been eying up the incredible paintings on show there by Sheryl Ashton….the very large one in particular is a big favourite of ours but unfortunately beyond our budget (though still a steal for such amazing work!). So, when it was pointed out to us that there were a few of her original works to be purchased un-framed, we eagerly leafed through the browsers and found a stunning painting by her that we both adored….and at uncommonly decisive speed, Adam snapped it up to bring home! We’re very excited about framing and hanging it, and adding to our home!

Our Sheryl Ashton painting all wrapped up, from The Old Grammar School Gallery in Otley

‘Sold’, our Sheryl Ashton painting all wrapped up, from The Old Grammar School Gallery in Otley

For our brunch we headed to the pretty little Victoria Plum Tea Rooms. We’re hoping to try all of the tea rooms in Otley (there are a great many!) but this one had caught my eye with its quaint frontage and yummy sounding menu. Feeling pretty hungry I chose a double fried free range egg bap, with a double choc mocha alongside. Adam went for the toasted tea cake followed by a home made scone….all of which was seriously delish!

Double free range fried egg bap at Victoria Plum Tea Room, Otley

Double free range fried egg bap at Victoria Plum Tea Room, Otley

Double Choc Mocha at Victoria Plum Tea Room, Otley

Double Choc Mocha at Victoria Plum Tea Room, Otley

The afternoon saw more errands, shopping and dog walking, along with a light supper and some slobbing in front of the TV!

Having enjoyed our extra hour’s sleep, Sunday brought more adventures as we received more visitors! Friends Sam and Ellie live not too far away from our new home, so they came over to see the new place and explore Otley. After a cup of tea and a catch up, we headed to the Craft Market at the Courthouse, then the monthly Farmers’ Market in the square. Sam and Ellie are foodies too, so we all enjoyed snooping around the stalls and buying up lots of treats and yums. They kindly treated Cooper and Digby to their favourite hand made treats, and we all shared some tiny Dutch pancakes called Poffertjes which were seriously yummy!

I found a new favourite stall though….the Convivial Yorkshire Crisp Company were there with lots of different flavours to try! Most notable were the Henderson’s sauce flavour which is SO good, and the Chardonnay Wine Vinegar flavour which are most unusual and very tasty. As a crisp connoisseur I can certainly recommend them, and will be munching through a great many I dare say!

Lastly, we all got a huge bap filled with hog roast and stuffing to bring home with us, and yummed those up along with some of the sweet treats.

Convivial Yorkshire Crisps from Otley Farmers' Market

Convivial Yorkshire Crisps from Otley Farmers’ Market

After that we took a dog walk together to work off some of the eating; Sam and Ellie loving to see Cooper and Digby playing and running at the park. Then after one more cuppa for the road, they set off home and we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening getting some more slobbing in…and eating a whole tub of the crisps in my case!

Ems x

Spring in the air

Well ok, it’s raining right now as I type, but wasn’t yesterday just blissfully sunny?! I just adore this time of year….the post Christmas blues and cold weather seem to ebb away as soon as the snow drops appear and little splashes of colour brighten up the garden. I love the thought that warmer and sunnier times are not far away, long dog walks beckon, and for this year of course spring time means our wedding too!

I had a little wander down the garden yesterday, and was delighted to find the lawn is filled with pretty pastel prims, glowing purple crocuses and dainty little snow drops already. The flower beds and pots are also coming to life with darling little tete-tete daffodils starting to bloom and even the tulips are starting to out on a show.

And so to brighten up a rainy grey day, I thought I’d share a few snaps from my wanderings……hope they bring you some Spring time love……

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Ems x

Catching up: July

I can’t believe it’s August already….it seems the summer is going by in a flash! July was just as much fun as June though, and it finally felt as though the real summer weather had arrived….

It all started with a most amazing wedding weekend up in Yorkshire. Two of our friends were getting hitched and rather than settle for just one day of frivolities, had planned an epic Wild West Weekend! We drove up on the Friday and dressed up Western style for the pre-wedding party, ate fish and chips for dinner and then went to bed in our very own Tipi!!!

Breakfast next morning was a lush barbecue, then we set about some sun bathing and a few jobs to set things up before we donned wedding attire and the lovely humanist ceremony took place. The whole thing was outside, which was made even more splendid by the astonishingly good weather. It was another barbecue for supper, as well as a bouncy castle, sumo wrestling, gladiator jousting and a live band to dance to. It has to have been one of the most thoughtful, personal and unique weddings I’ve ever been to (which is A LOT) and I just loved every minute of it.

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July was the month for DIY and gardening…..I wanted everywhere to be as pretty as I could manage in time for our Engagement Party, and built two picnic tables (which also got painted white and had chintzy covers and cushions made specially for them) as well as getting the garden as colourful as possible! The party went wonderfully and it was gorgeous to have so many friends visit us to celebrate….even if it was a whole six months on from the actual engagement!

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With the warmer weather came lots of lovely long dog walks, with lots of lovely wildlife to be found along the way too…..

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The Hitchin Duck race took place in town and we went down to see them off…..it was a slow race though so we listened to the ending from the garden some twenty minutes later!

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Above all else, July was for spending time outdoors and enjoying the lush weather……

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Hope you’ve enjoyed the summer so far too!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….our first overnight guests!

I’m still feeling pretty pantsy all told (hence the late posting of this), but we just *had* to have lots of fun this weekend because we received our first overnight guests! Dear friends Matthew and Siobhan made the journey up from London to spend the weekend with us, straight from work on Friday. It was so lovely to catch up with them, and host them in our new home.

I had spent much of Friday cooking, so that I didn’t need to do too much whilst our guests were here. But we scoffed some lovely cake that Siobhan had made first of all (apple, pear and almond…yum!) along with a pot of tea, then it was a tour of the house before a supper of cottage pie. We had some of Adam’s wonderful dark chocolate and banana loaf for pudding, and then he made us Mint Juleps and Espresso Martinis whilst we chatted the evening away!

On Saturday morning, I served up a big kedgeree breakfast to set us up for the day, and then we took the short walk to the amazing Eric T Moore bookshop. Matthew especially loved the place, and at more than one point we lost him and thought he may just spend the entire weekend there! I picked up some yummy rosemary bread and brownies for lunch from our favourite local bakery, Quotidian, then we toured our guests around town. I had surprisingly managed to remember quite a lot of the things we’d learned on our recent Hitchin History walk and the Ghost walk, so I shared lots of random bits of information as we browsed a few shops.

After that, we took them into St Mary’s church, which is right in the centre of town and the largest church in the county. It’s pretty opulent and really rather impressive! Then we stopped in on the market on the way home, clean forgetting that we had bought brownies already and picking up some obscenely huge cream cakes for later.

I had made Sweet Potato soup with ginger, chilli, lime and coconut for our lunch, which we yummed up alongside the delicious Quotidian bread. Then it was off out again, and over the road to the British Schools Museum where there was an exhibition for the local art club. We saw some wonderful pieces, all at very reasonable prices too!

From there we took the little walk around to Adam’s parents’ place to pick up the dogs, and then from there we walked over to the old Priory grounds for a little stroll. Newton was rather nervous, as he always is this time of year, due to the gun shots of nearby pheasant shooters, but we managed to pay a visit to the Charlton Pig Table and say hello to our piggy friends!

It was a lazy supper on Saturday, as we headed over to our brilliant local pub, The Half Moon, for some lovely beer and pub grub. The pub dog ‘Moon’ was unusually friendly and spent lots of time sniffing around our table for any bits of food (which we weren’t allowed to give to her) and a little affection. Then back at home we gorged on the cream cakes we’d bought and sat around drinking liqueurs and playing board games.

On Sunday morning we continued the gluttony with a breakfast of Belgian waffles with bananas and maple syrup, then attempted to walk it off a little with a pootle around the market and the car boot sale. It was great to get there at a reasonable hour again as the traders really don’t all hang around! I picked up some very lovely miniature playing cards, a wonderful old book of pianforte music and a stunning children’s tea set from the 1940s!

Once home again, we just about had time to conclude the complete tour of the house by showing our guests the cellar and the garden. It was a beautiful day out, so lovely to see the garden all autumnal and sunny. We picked a big handful of fresh bay leaves for Matthew and Siobhan to take home, then made our way to the station as they needed to get back into town for lunch.

Adam and I spent the rest of the afternoon on another walk with the dogs, before heading to Adam’s parents’ for a supper of fajitas. Then it was home for more X Files and an early night. Rather blissful weekend!

Something from the weekend….in Instagram

We’ve had a lovely relaxing weekend up in Hitchin with Adam’s parents. We did all the usual things….. Slobbing about with the dogs, browsing the market and a couple of car boot sales, spending time in the garden, and eating lots! There was also plenty of wine, catching up with friends, and getting to watch the lovely James Christie perform at Corks wine bar (he is amazing!).

It’s been a photo-heavy weekend, at least for my iPhone…. we took our cameras with us but hardly used them because it was so rainy. Anyway, I thought I’d share my weekend using the many snaps I took……

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For my 30th Birthday present, Adam’s Mum gave me a flower press…..she has held onto it for now though so that she can fill it with flowers from her garden…..

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……so when we arrived on Friday evening I spent a good while carefully taking out the ones that she had already pressed, and collecting new ones to press…..

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…..there are lots!…..

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….I’m planning to use them to create little pretty scenes and to decorate cards and things

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Newton was up for a relaxing weekend too…..he likes to rest his head on things…. including my foot!

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It was super rainy on Saturday, so we didn’t go to the car boot sales we’d planned to……. instead we headed into Letchworth for a browse of the little antique and craft shops along The Wynd.

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I loved this pretty sensory garden in Letchworth….. the planting is beautiful and there is a big tree mural made from bits and bobs!

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On Saturday evening we met up with some friends at Corks wine bar in town, to see James Christie play…… he’d already performed at Rhythms of The World that day, but performed wonderfully despite probably being shattered…. his own songs are really quite catchy, and we loved his version of Bon Iver’s Re: Stacks

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The town was full of traffic cones as we wandered home, to help control things during the Rhythms of the World music festival……

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…..the bunting is still up from the Queen’s visit last month and still looks super festive

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It was very wet out after the day’s pounding rain…..it made everything really shiny in the night time street light

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I seemed to have gotten a bit snap happy on the way home….perhaps a bit tipsy!

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One good thing about the rain…..everywhere looks so lush and healthy….. this was the garden from the sun room first thing on Sunday morning

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Hedges however, does not see a bright side to the rain at all!

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After Sunday breakfast, we took a walk through the town….. the weather was such a stark contrast to Saturday!

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It was almost as though we were in the middle of Summer!

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Heading over to the football ground for the weekly car boot sale there, we wandered over the common and past the open air swimming baths….. I’ve never seen it from this side before and Adam hasn’t for years…. he was flooded with memories of his childhood!

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This was me taking a snap of the sun and blue sky, to prove that we did get some this summer!

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It was even sunny enough to play around with our shadows on the grass!

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The first car boot sale of the day….. out next to the football club

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We walked through town back via Waitrose to get supplies…. this cobweb and graffiti was in the car park

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The second car boot of the day was in an even prettier location….. every Sunday there is a car boot sale at the market….. it extends round the corner too, in front of the pretty St Mary’s Church. I got lots of treasure…. stamps….. an old wooden box to use for my stall….. a mug with my initials / the Queen’s on….. and lots of cakes!

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We spotted these curious objects on one stall….. on the left is a shoe carrier, and on the right a campaign camp bed, both originally used by an officer in the first World War. Amazing!

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For lunch, we treated ourselves to a selection of cakes from Daisy Cakes….. this one was the delicious Parma Violet cupcake, but also yummy were the Viennese whirl and the rocky road!

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After lunch, I spent a little time in the garden, which just looks amazing after all the rain!

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I adore Forget Me Nots…. I have pressed some and hope to use them in some resin jewellery

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Fuchsias are one of my all time favourite flowers…. when I was little I used to think they were little ballerina costumes for fairies! Well, they could be!

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Adam’s Mum has loads of different fuchsias which all look amazing at the moment

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I’ve tried pressing some, although they may be too big to come out well…..we’ll see!

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The big frilly poppies are just amazing!

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I don’t know what these are but they are just lovely! They are sort of spiky and sort of fluffy all at the same time!

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The lobelia are everywhere, and are so delicate and colourful

The afternoon was mainly spent packing away the treasures to bring home, and watching Summer Holiday… I’ve not seen it for years and it really is a perfect Sunday afternoon flick!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and managed to avoid too much rain!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….. Wildlife, chess, port and other pursuits

Well, despite plans to have a quiet weekend at home, we appear to have jammed it with plenty of pursuits……

The Natural History Museum

We started with a trip to the Natural History Museum on Friday to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. I’ve been going for a few years now, and we thought we were being terribly clever in booking to go during one of their Friday Lates…..however, it seems everyone else did too so the exhibition space was fit to burst when we arrived and we struggled to make our way around. Still, it’s always a wonderful exhibition, and this year was no different.

Heading home too late to be bothered to cook, we decided on a pub supper before retiring home nicely sleepy. First thing on Saturday and we were out on a jeans hunt for Adam….which turned into a rather full on shopping trip (can’t complain though). We made our way back from the shops at Bank though via our lovely secret garden, coffees in hand. St Dunstan’s is our little City oasis….we love to sit there in the gardens inside the remains of the old ruined church. And so we sat, and took a few snaps, and drank our coffees.

St Dunstan's

We couldn’t sit about all day though, and our tummies certainly wouldn’t let us……so it was off home for lunch next. Knowing we wouldn’t have time for much supper later, we cooked up a bowl of our super easy and super yummy pasta….. wholemeal penne, long stem broccoli, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. Then it was off to Waitrose for the week’s shop where I picked up their weekend magazine…..I’ve taken up doing the crossword and after Adam gave me a quick tutorial I decided I’d start to do the Sudoku too.

It was off to the cinema for the evening to catch Hugo. We’d missed it first time round so I was pleased to be able to see it on its BAFTA tour. I’m so glad we did too….. it has to be one of the most enchanting, magical and touching of films I’ve ever seen and in fact I think it might make my top ten even. I’ve rather gone off 3D films, especially the ones that seem to revolve around the effect and offer little else….. but this film is so impressive and visually stunning. I adored the story too, perhaps because it revolves around so many things that I love…. imagination, adventure, design, books, theatre, cinema…. and the period in which it’s set is so magical too.

Sunday Roast

Sunday was largely spent cooking a big roast lunch….roast potatoes with onion, garlic and rosemary….roast parsnips with maple syrup….roasted carrots with fennel seeds….sausage meat stuffing with sage and onion….buttered leaks….roast chicken for me and gammon for Adam. We had a rather early bottle of red alongside and afterwards settled down to watch Brief Encounter. Neither of us had seen it before but it was a perfect lazy Sunday watch….the soundtrack did have me hankering after listening to Rachmaninov though, so we spent the afternoon listening to piano music whilst Adam began to teach me to play Chess.

He let me win of course, before we spent a lovely evening eating cheese and biscuits, and drinking port. And for entertainment I finally gave in to watching Akira…. I have to say I had high hopes for it, having heard how great it’s supposed to be. But I’m afraid it was all I could do not to fall asleep for the second half, and I didn’t enjoy it at all as much as I thought I would. Still, it was a pleasant sleepiness which saw me off to bed early with a hot chocolate.

Hurrah for lazy(ish) weekends!

May……

Clockwise from top left: Channelling the 70’s vibe and Margot of The Good Life in floral jump suit and wedges….. Carry On prints in the snug at Wild and Woods….. prize May purchase: Deco silver pineapple candelabra….. home made pot … Continue reading

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