At the Weekend...

Ate a vegetarian curry feast including Jamie's cauliflower rice. Messy but yummy.
♥ Spent a day helping out at Holiday at Home in my local church hall for the elderly and housebound in the community. We 'went' to Ireland and sang Irish songs, made soda bread, had our nails done, enjoyed fish and chips for lunch, drank Guinness, watched Irish dancing, did chair aerobics and us helpers wore these lovely brooches. The holidaymakers all took home a goody bag.
♥ Made a mad dash to take our eldest back to uni and pick our youngest up from a Duke of Edinburgh expedition - offspring relay.
♥ Almost finished the Easter chocs.
♥ Enjoyed the apple blossom starting to flower in neighbouring gardens.
♥ Watched The Artist. Perfect.
♥ Ate ginger and lemon cake. 

Hope you had a good weekend too xo



Calke Abbey Gardens

Hello. A lot of flower photos I know but the gardens at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire were stunning when we visited them this week. National Trust calls Calke Abbey the 'unstately stately home' because it has been left in its original state without restoration. The vast collections of stuffed animals were not too my taste and it wasn't a house I wanted to linger in! Discovering a walled garden complete with auricular theatre and an orangery in the 600 acres was a lovely surprise after this. I hope you enjoy my photos. I had fun editing them in PicMonkey following Gillian's advice. No more wonky horizons. Thank you for sharing Gillian. 

Thank you all for reading, following and commenting this week. I'm so pleased and warmed by the reaction to Stephen's Story , the positivity of social media this week and his continued fight for life. Be happy xo



Stephen's Story

Hello, lovely readers. A slightly rushed but urgent post tonight. Last Wednesday evening I was privileged to witness a life changing inspirational speech by a lovely local lad, Stephen Sutton (young man in hoodie with crutches behind) who has incurable cancer. I chatted to him at the end of the evening and asked his permission to blog about his positivity and fund raising. He was keen for me to do this and to use social media to publicise my post. Little did we know... I should have written this post a week ago because Stephen is now living his last few days after unfortunately suffering lung complications over the weekend. 

Stephen is a normal 19 year old teenager with incurable cancer just trying to life as much as 
possible, whilst trying to raise funds for Teenage Cancer Trust. Last year he posted his bucket list online and started blogging his journey on https://www.facebook.com/StephensStory.

His initial target was to raise £10,000 for fellow sufferers but so far (tonight) he has raised £641,108. 01 and 64% of his £1,000, 000 target.

If you feel able please visit his fundraising page https://www.justgiving.com/Stephen-Sutton-TCT to donate whatever you can afford and help smash his target. If you have a twitter account please retweet #stephenstory as much as you can. Jason Manford and Clare Balding have already tweeted his cause so please join in the party. 

I leave you with this, his motivational speech delivered to the O2 Arena in front of 4,000 people in January earlier this year. Such wise words....  introduced by Clare Balding, no less. What a lovely, mature and giving guy. 

Thank you Stephen for your inspiration. 



Ten Little Ducks at Easter...

Today we made the most of a warm, dry and sunny Bank Holiday and headed off to a local nature reserve, The Wolsey Centre, near Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire. The weather and sights were a delight. The only cost was a voluntary parking contribution. This is a wonderful place for any age, and those with disabilities, to enjoy as you can observe nature so closely from the hideouts and a pond platform. My highlights included seeing these ducklings, a swan's nest, a cute pair of Canadian geese, gigantic gunnera, musical sculptures and many, many pretty spring blooms.

Yesterday was a very different day and it rained for most of the afternoon just as we headed out to Packwood House, a National Trust property in Warwickshire. However, despite getting soaked and my camera lens getting steamy we were enchanted by the gardens and house. Packwood is famous for its tapestries, sculptured yews and kitchen garden. We explored the nearby woodland to see bluebells before heading off to the gardens and house. The newly opened cafĂ© was roomy and contemporary with winged armchairs and succulents in abundance. It is well worth a visit in its own right. Sadly by this time my camera lens was a little misty otherwise I would have certainly tried to get a photo to show you. I had a most welcome and warming cappuccino.

In between these outings we have been seeing family and enjoying our usual Easter ritual of church, hot cross buns, chocolate and a last minute Easter tree and cake.

I like the joy and relative simplicity of this festival.

I hope you had a good time this Easter too, however you chose to spend it. 




Hello there! Today the lawn has finally gone. Our plans for a minimalist garden are under way! It has taken five days and has been a massive learning curve. I tackled it one square at a time, separating the lawn from the soil (we were told we couldn't put the lawn into the skip as it is living matter). Gradually I developed a system and found my flow. I enjoyed it then. Thankfully, as hubs was working, my boys helped me take the heavy bags of lawn to the local council tip. Next we have to remove more soil and deposit it in our hired skip. Then we can start choosing our materials and plants to transform this small garden. I can't wait! I can't wait for Easter either, can you? Down time, family time and... chocolate. Oh yes, chocolate I await you. Pretty pictures of Easter to follow xo



Creating a Cosy Corner

Our living room is a place to entertain, laze, gather as a family, sometimes eat, work (hubs works from home at a desk in this room) and where I'm happiest blogging from my laptop on the sofa. It's my room first thing in the morning when the rest of the household slumbers but during office hours I retreat to other parts of the house. Come the evening and weekends it's such a treat to kick back and relax again in this room. 

Hubs has a desk in the corner where there are two windows but the opposite corner (with a third window) has been a little bare since we moved in nearly two years ago. This is where we put the tree at Christmas but we have often talked of making more of this space. Inspired by Atlantic Shopping's Best of British campaign I decided to join in and create my own British themed corner for this room. A tub chair seemed the perfect solution for this small area and I chose a red chair from Atlantic Shopping for its neat shape and cheery colour.

I then set to styling the corner around this little tub chair and Atlantic Shopping's Best of British theme. Oh what fun! Out came a sweet Union Jack cushion cover made by our youngest at school last year (not perfectly made but that's why I love it), a favourite throw and a neat side table from Habitat (no longer available but can be found on Ebay).

To make the space more personal we created two prints based on our favourite holiday destinations in the Far West of Cornwall, Penzance and St. Ives. They hang on the side facing wall by the chair and make the corner more intimate. I quite like the fact that they can't be seen from all angles of the room. Apart from the Ikea frames and chair this little corner has cost very little to put together. 

The front of our house is south facing and when the sun shines the living room gets really warm. Even without the sun this corner is the perfect spot to gaze out of the window and now on this new comfy chair I can read, enjoy a nice cup of tea and dream of sunnier days!

I'm really pleased with our new cosy corner complete with comfy chair. Below is a guide to where the items came from in case you're interested. I hope you like it as much as I do.