Monday, 12 September 2016

Winter List 2016

It's kind of ridiculous how excited I get about putting together these lists. I tend to start thinking about them in late summer and they really help ease me in to the new season.

(stopping draughts, deterring spiders and generally just getting cosy)
Wash windows
Collect conkers to deter the spiders who want to make this house their winter home
Make door curtains for the front door and living room archway
Draught excluder for the living room door
Fix conservatory roof seals to stop the leaks when it rains
Check attic roof for leaks while we're at it
Dig out the fairy lights and candles
Get blankets down from attic 
Draught proof living room floor
Rug for living room

(the big autumn tidy up and preparing the chickens and garden wildlife)
Collect conkers for shed to keep the spiders at bay
Weather proof the chicken coop and add things to keep them entertained
Check fences and fix where necessary
Paint new fence panel
Mulch flower bed and pots
Prune trees
Pull up weeds from the front of the house and tidy. It currently looks a right state
Rake up leaves and add to flower bed
Put the bird feeders back up
Make an insect hotel with Alessi
Harvest sunflower seeds and store for spring
Move tender plants undercover

(getting an old car ready for the elements)
Put together a winter box for the car (torch, blanket, deicer, ice scraper etc)
Check lights, tyres, windscreen wipers, screen washers and heaters. Important as my car is old.

(keeping us warm during the colder, wetter months ahead)
Pack away summer clothes (which I barely used) and get winter clothes down from attic
Stock up on winter socks and jumpers
Buy a good pair of slippers

(crafting and other cold month pleasures)
Fix granny square blanket
Make a hot water bottle cover
Finish Alessi's blanket
Dare I attempt to make that winter coat this year??
Dig out the autumn decorations
Help Alessi make up her autumn nature table


Previous Winter Lists

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Our camping trip. Or proof that lists are a force for good

We're back from our latest trip to Wales which was both exhausting and relaxing in equal measure. Choosing the busiest weekend of the summer holidays was probably our first mistake. Camping always catches me out in that it seems like such a laid back and easy way to holiday. In reality, it takes a fair amount of organising to do it well and forgetting this was definitely our second mistake.
We left everything to the last minute. The morning before we left, Dan dropped Alessi off at nursery before heading off to work, leaving me at home to get everything together. If we had put together a list first, this point of the process would have been very straight forward. Instead it was basically me running around the house, remembering things as I went along and hoping I didn't forget anything. Which of course I did.
I have no idea why we were so rubbish this time around. I can only think it's because we've been juggling other things at home too. DIY and an attic clear out have left the house (and our thoughts) in a bit of a muddle. I guess trying to organise anything when our minds were so jumbled was always going to be a struggle.

All that said, we were back home surrounded by trees, hills and sea so in between the odd pocket of stress, we both had moments where we were able to breathe it all in.

And looking on the bright side, as I said to Dan, each time you go camping, you learn something new which will make future trips easier. This time our lesson has been to plan well in advance! Actually, you can add avoiding bank holidays, meal planning and if you value your sanity at all, remembering to bring along toys to keep kids entertained, to the list of things we learnt from this trip.

But oh, Wales. 

I wouldn't have thought it possible to feel so connected to a place if I didn't feel it myself. It’s home and I miss it. Unfortunately though I can't see us moving back any time soon.  Dan and I are very different people in terms of what we need. I like the quiet life and countryside. He likes people, stuff to do and reliable internet access. To be fair, I'm with him on that last one. And of course there's Alessi and what is ultimately best for her. 

Who knows, maybe one day we'll return to the motherland, but for now at least there will be more trips like this one (well, not too much like this one I hope), and more posts with pictures like these..

The tent is now lying in the garden drying. And so endeth the camping spam. 

Monday, 22 August 2016

Time flies

Well hello there.
It never ceases to amaze me how much I miss writing this blog when life gets too busy to update it. I can't believe the last post I wrote was about the chicken swap. That feels like a long time ago now.
So I guess this will be another update post, with the hope that I can get back in to updating more regularly again.

Obviously one of the things that's new here is that we now have Titch back with two new chickens. Although they no longer feel new. Meet Tufty Sue and Snowball. I don't think I need to point out which one is which.

Since getting these hens the change in Titch (the original chicken) has been amazing. She had been at the bottom of the pecking order and bullied by the other two. Now though, she is the leader of the gang and a proper cheeky little boot she is too. Snowball is a little fluffy dream. She's so friendly and will often creep in to the conservatory while I'm working and fall asleep on my lap (or feet if I push her off). She's even jumped up on my shoulder and settled down happily. Not so happily for me though as each time I'd start to relax she would peck my ear. Not that it hurt, but it would give me a start if I was concentrating on something! And then there's dear Tufty Sue. She's at the bottom of the pecking order, but not bullied. She's just cautious and follows the example of the other two. If they are relaxed so is she. If they aren't however, then even if she doesn't know why she's not ok, she'll carry on not being ok along with them. Divvy thing.

They've all settled in brilliantly and it's amazing to see the difference bantams make to a small garden as opposed to regular sized chickens. For a start, they're not big enough to scratch up the grass or dig holes. Sometimes I move their coop to give them fresh grass to peck at, but mostly just leave it where it is and let them roam the garden when we're home. They like to hang out by the house which means the patio gets covered in poop if I don't clean it every day. Sometimes it feels like a faff, but then if I had a dog or a cat I'd be cleaning up after them too, so really not so much. Especially as I can just hose it off or throw the droppings on to the vegetable patch. I say vegetable patch, the slugs ate everything a long time ago so really, it's just a patch.
And that's them.

In other news we finally got around to sanding the living room floor after pulling up the fugly old carpet. I had thought that the wood had previously been treated as it was so dark. Nope. Just years and years of grime. It also had that horrible tar-like paint that old floors have around the walls. Luckily though, it wasn't too much of a nightmare to sand down. Here's a before pic.

And this was it after Dan and my brother had spent the a whole day sanding.

I've wanted wooden floorboards in my house for as long as I can remember so I am head over heels in love with it as you can imagine. Of course it will get cold in the winter. This is the problem with old houses. The space underneath the floorboards and ventilation bricks in the walls means that we're going to have some wicked drafts in the winter if we don't draft proof it. That will happen though, but we have to wax them first. We're getting there. Slowly.

What else? I've put myself on the waiting list for an allotment. The garden is really Alessi's domain now and other than flowers, there's not really room to grown veggies without taking away some of her space so I thought, why not? Not to mention that any veggies wouldn't last long with the chickens around. The waiting lists are over a year long and I may not get one at all, but I figured it couldn't hurt to at least try. And in the meantime I can keep growing the odd thing in pots. I'll figure out the chicken proofing next year!

Work wise, things continue to grow which fills me with pride, but this summer I really struggled to stick to my 'keep things simple' resolution. Although unlike previous years I quickly recognised the signs that lead up to burn out and took my foot of the gas a bit. As a result, I got back on track. I finished the autumn stock last week and I'm now enjoying a well earned holiday. I say "holiday" although the shop is still open, but not having to worry about the sewing part feels like such a luxury right now. And I really wanted to clear the decks so that I could focus on Alessi before she starts school next month.

Oddly, I'm not feeling the way I thought I would be over Alessi starting school. I was expecting to feel sad, but I'm actually really looking forward to it.
I'm nervous for her. I want her to enjoy school so I do worry about that a fair bit, but otherwise, I'm not sad that my baby has grown up or that she will soon be at school instead of here with me. That's not to say I didn't have a wobble though.
It was in the lead up to finding out which school she would get in to. Most people I know were excited or nervous to find out, but I just ignored it and didn't even bother to look on the day. It was Dan who looked during his lunch break and let me know. And then came the tears! So I did have a wobble. Maybe I've just had it early? Since then I've come to feeling that it's the next natural step for her and if weren't time that led me to feeling that way, then it was Alessi herself.
She is so done with nursery now. My bouncy little girl who used look forward to going and would run off without giving us a second look, now no longer wants to go. It's boring and babyish she told me one morning. And it's not just nursery either. I'm finding it harder to keep her entertained at home at the moment too. She's outgrowing her old games, toys and the things she used to like to do. She's ready for new challenges and realising that has made me a lot more laid back about the whole thing. If anything, I'm looking forward to seeing what the latest version of my daughter will look like. What things will catch her imagination and interest. Where her spark will lie this time. Watching her grow up is by far one of the most fun things about being her mum and yes, sometimes it's also heartbreaking. Thankfully though, right now it's mostly just the former.

So that's pretty much where we're at at the moment.
A mixture of enjoying the last of the summer and preparing for the next season and all that it will bring.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Chicken update

It's been a while since I've updated about the chickens and a lot has gone on since I last introduced them.

The chicken coop is currently empty as all three of my girls have gone back to the breeder so I am henless. The reason being, the two silkie hybrids that were supposed to be bantams, turned out not to be. They got pretty big, pretty fast and it became clear to us last month that they were too big for the current coop we have. Also, they both kept rounded up on Titch a fair bit so something had to be done.

I don't have the space for a coop large enough to accommodate all three chickens and I chose bantams as I wanted to avoid the destruction the previous ones made to the garden. It's not just the grass you lose. They dig! The wonderful thing about Titch is that she's small enough to scratch away at the grass to her heart's content, but she's not big enough to scratch it all up to the dirt and then keep going. And she's certainly not big enough to hold her own against two larger chickens who don't have enough space.

So. They're back with the breeder who happily offered to rehome them. We're going to get two more chickens to replace the silkies, actual bantams this time! And that's why Titch has gone back too. The breeder is going to introduce her to two new friends and watch them for the next week to make sure they settle in well together. If they're happy we'll be pick them up again this weekend.

I'm sad that we had to say goodbye to Elvis and ChickyMcChickface, (Alessi renamed Gertie almost immediately after my last post) but I know they'll be better off for going back. And Titch will be home soon with two new friends who won't keep pecking her everyday.
I'll introduce you to the new chickens again next week once they've settled in.

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