A mini-break at Rowthorne Lodge, Derbyshire

Just a week ago we headed off on a mini-break to celebrate our wedding anniversary, the end of term, retiring from teaching and the fact that it's summer and with the easing of lockdown we're now allowed to go on holiday. I was as excited as Bridget Jones and the fact that we were the property's first occupants since March felt quite special. We chose to venture just an hour away to Derbyshire to a beautiful one bedroomed lodge in the grounds of Hardwick Hall which is owned by the National trust. It was a beautiful property. Let me show you around...
The clutter free and spotless interior was perfect for unwinding and the 2,500 acre estate gave us plenty of scope for exercise and exploring. For anyone who's not visited before, Hardwick Hall is an Elizabethan country house and was first built by Bess of Hardwick (see a statue of her below), a noblewoman and ambitious builder. The hall was eminently impressive  and it was such a shame that due to Covid we couldn't go inside and get to look out at the estate from the magnificent windows for which it's famous.
However, the gardens near the house were a source of pure joy for me. Such great planting involving gorgeous and unusual plants and artistically thought out colour schemes. These are just a few of the vistas that caught my eye. Boy, have I got so many planting ideas to try in my tiny garden and in our community garden. 
I've had trouble putting this post together as it's been so long since I blogged at length but really these photos are wasted sitting on my phone. Just a few more to go, I promise. 
Can you tell, we had a truly relaxing break. It wasn't perfect as we had quite mixed weather and a power failure on our last day which was time consuming to remedy but we had lots of time to enjoy reading, walking, eating simple but delicious food and a blessing... no wi fi to distract us. Just a few more photos and I think I'll have recorded enough memories of a wonderful four night break.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Take care, my friends xo


Life Changes

So this is where I'm at. I've retired early from teaching. On Friday I left my full-time teaching post after six happy years at a wonderful primary school. I've had various roles there including three years as a full-time class teacher. And, like a lot of other teachers I haven't seen or taught my Year 3 class since March 20th. However, I've been in school every week since then and have seen about a third of my class during lockdown. I've had communication with the rest of my class via email and phone calls but this wasn't how I anticipated ending my teaching career. My decision to leave was made before coronavirus and I handed my notice in during February so I felt under no pressure to change my mind. Teaching nowadays is full-on and exhausting and was not working for me or my family.

It's been a very strange end to my teaching career but a decision I know I won't regret. A simpler life beckons...



Tiny garden tour 2020

Hello there. I hope you're well and configuring your way around coronavirus. To be honest, I think my coping mechanisms are all over the place and my ability to cope changes hourly with my moods. Today I offer you an antidote, an escape, a little peep into another life - it's not a makeover perfect project just a space, a moment in history to be shared, a time when the hum of bees and the twitter of birds were more inspiring than social media, daily government briefings and the dos and don'ts of lockdown. At times lockdown has been exhausting, overwhelming and frustrating but just occasionally don't you think you're being gifted a wonderful opportunity to take stock, be authentic, still and slow down. Isn't this the way to live? Just add in your extras (mines's a takeaway soya caramel latte).

We did a 'makeover' of our tiny garden in 2014 - see it here. It's now a much more 'lived-in' space but it's giving us so much pleasure and purpose in these turbulent times. It provides us with invaluable outside space and a chance to be still, creative, nurturing and productive.

We all need escapism right now and probably will do for the foreseeable future. Whatever it takes: quiz nights, family zooming or the voyeurism of Marianne and Connell from 'Normal People' - a BBC Three series which I'm eeking out as long as I can.

I hope you enjoy my tiny garden tour and it gives you that feeling of being somewhere else.

Sending you my best wishes and love xo



Easter 2020

There's been no shortage of chocolate, sunshine and beautiful spring flowers this Easter break. Also, there's been no shortage of time since March 19th when schools in the UK closed and I've been at home apart from one day a week when I'm on duty at school to look after key workers children and vulnerable children. There has been home learning to organise plus other teaching tasks to complete but it's been a very light workload compared to my normal teaching duties. And so a chance to update my blog of which I'm still very fond of despite its hiatus.

Scrolling through photos on my phone there's so much I could write about and lots of lovely images I could share with you from the last year but that world seems like a hazy sepia dream from decades ago and not just last year. My archive of photos are an eerie reminder of why we need to stay safe and stay at home. I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting those carefree days back but also realise that life will never be exactly the same again and it will take time to adjust when restrictions on lockdown begin to be lifted. Also, I hope that we learn lessons from this worldwide emergency and that in the future we don't take for granted the fragility of our health or economy. We may need to reassess our priorities in life.

I do hope you're well and are finding time to enjoy some simple pleasures in this topsy-turvy world we find ourselves in this year. Whether it's a walk around the neighbourhood, a phone call or zoom meeting with family or friends, home-cooked meals, gardening or generally enjoying a slower pace of life these all have the power to lift our spirits and ease away anxiety. The future seems even more uncertain than ever so I'll leave you with this thought.