Autumn Is All Around

Sunset over the Surrey Hills
The area around the Holly needs to pull you towards it

After a very wet day gardening , I thought I would post some autumn sunshine photos.  The garden is very soggy at the moment, and an investment of a good pair of wellies is due. We have started clearing some of the borders of fallen leaves and  spent herbaceous flowers, this is a job I really enjoy and the garden looks so much better for it. In the compost heap ‘Max’ our huge pumpkin is being given daily care and encouragement to get bigger, by all the gardening team. He will take pride of place  on the doorstep on Halloween, though I think we will need a chainsaw to cut any face in him.

The Dahlias are looking amazing , I am a true Dahlia convert ( is this a sign of age?) I never used to like  them when I first started gardening but now I love growing them.  They are great for cut flowers and for  a dash of lasting colour in the borders. I have recently been to  Wisley Gardens  where their Trial Grounds are full of different varieties of Dahlia. This is a great way to choose colours and plants for future planting , though at this rate the garden might end up being slightly Dahlia-tastic next year.

The new rich colour scheme to replace the existing bed

At the beginning of this year we redesigned some of the herbaceous borders. We designed an avenue border that led to the main herbaceous area ( see pic), the first section of this avenue I was so pleased with, but the second section has been a problem all year. The planting combination hasn’t quite sat and the colours didn’t invite you towards the bed. So while I have had a chance, I have been collecting different  flowers from the garden to create a new  scheme. The colours have to still blend with the bed  at the front but also pull you  forwards  towards the standard Holly to investigate the area there and beyond.

Our pumpkin ‘Max’
There were ten in the bed and the little one said…..

Pigs have moved into the neighbouring orchard and are a complete distraction. They are crossed Gloster Old Spot and Tamworth and are incredibly friendly, especially if it involves and apple or a few acorns!

Black cactus Dahlia -Chat Noir

Tulip planting will soon begin, this year we have just over a thousand to plant. This is a large reduction on the previous years three thousand. They are treated as annuals because, despite trials of digging the bulbs up, storing and re-planting or even keeping them in the ground, we never get a good second year display. It’s not a favourite task, but the rewards come March and April are well worth it, especially on a sunny spring day.

Today was another grey day, but still beautiful
Adding colour to the outside table with a leaf place mat!

And finally…

At home we had a spur of the moment Conker tournament last Sunday afternoon. Such a simple thing but it was so much fun, three generation of our family played and we all really enjoyed ourselves. Followed of course by tea and cake!

September’s Here -Time To Make Sloe Gin Or Perhaps Sloe Vodka?

Our Sloe Gin from 2010, ready to be sipped in front of the fire on a cold winters night.
Blackthorn bush with very few Sloes
Poppy goes collecting

In September 2010, I bumped into a lady collecting Sloe berries.  After asking her what she was doing, she then spent the next ten minutes describing the process of making Sloe Gin and how truly amazing it tasted, especially sitting in front of the fire on a cold winters night!  Needless to say the next day my ‘dear man’, brother-in-law and I set off in search of  these treasured berries. It turned out the Blackthorn bush (home of the Sloe) tends  to grow everywhere. We found  Sloes in the  hedgerows, road side verges but best of all along my favourite canal path.

Once again September has arrived so two nights ago I took Poppy Pashley and a pair of gloves (there are big thorns on the Blackthorn bush) out hunting and gathering for Sloes. Unlike the bumper Sloe year of 2010, the bushes this year have hardly any fruits and despite a very enjoyable cycle, we are having to make do with a rather sparse crop.

The process of making sloe gin is incredibly easy, but once made, the waiting game begins and great patience is required.

Here is a brief description of how to make Sloe Gin or Vodka, but for more information and help, I have found this page written by Hugh-Fearnley Whittingstall to be the most useful.

* Please check the order of the photos, they keep showing up muddled! *

1. Place your sloes in a bowl and pick out all the leaves and remove all the stalks, place in a colander and place under a tap and wash
2. Weigh your crop, making  a note of the weight and place them  in a bag and into the freezer. This process takes away the need to prick the berries, as once de-frosted the berries will be soft.
3. Once defrosted, work out the quantity of Gin or Vodka required and sugar and find jar suitable
4. Add the Gin or Vodka
5. Add the sugar
6. Label and date, now the waiting game begins!

















Once you have finished the making process, the jar of Sloe Gin will need to be turned or shaken every couple of days. After two to three months or longer if you can, strain out the berries and bottle the Gin.

Come Christmas, I shall be sitting by the fire, reading a book and savouring a tipple of Sloe Gin-perfect!

A Vintage Paradise- Stable Antiques

Blankets, curtains,old tablecloths,lampshades……
Plenty of painted furniture
Vintage kitchenalia

I love ‘ Stable Antiques’  in Storrington ,West Sussex.  I have been visiting the shop for fifteen years now and im sure a good percentage of ‘stuff’ in our house comes from there. The shop building itself is now over two hundred years old and was formerly as the name suggests, an old stable and yard. Once you have managed to get through all the old garden pots and troughs, the odd fireplace surround or table out the front , then inside you will find  a maze of little stable alcoves and rooms  crammed to the ceiling  with vintage paraphernalia, antiques and the odd new thing. The list of stock is endless  and I personally can rummage and reminisce through the stock for hours.

Vintage delight

I love these books
The garden courtyard with its covered well that used to supply the stables with water
I really, really love this picnic set, I havent seen one with this design before

Then when you have finished inside, you can pop outside to the tiny courtyard at the back that has been transformed into a garden area with plants for sale in amongst a few pieces of garden salvage .

The shop has a website but it needs updating, this is what the owner ‘Ian’ said not me!

But for contact and opening times here it is

Small from the outside but a maze of stables of vintage inside .

Do cover up Dear!


Velo Vintage Cycle Ride – 9th September 2012

Excitement, excitement, Poppy, myself and’ my dear man’ are off to Devon soon for the ‘Velo Vintage ‘cycle ,

Alistair Cope ( who we first met at the Pashley ride)  and his son Sebastian both of  ‘Velo Vintage’ are working in-conjunction with Cycle West

cycleways to create this great day out.

A great day out !

We will be starting out at the coastal resort of Exmouth,with a pause for  photographs then onwards along the scenic east bank of the Exe Estuary, after a good stretch of our legs we shall be having a little rest stop for an essential locally made pie and maybe a refreshing drink, then back on our bicyles and onwards with a relaxing return to Exmouth for afternoon  Devonshire cream tea.

Essential Cream Tea
Finest moutache competition!

Vintage attire is the suggested clothing of the day, this slightly panics me but scares the life out of ‘my dear man’ ! I’m thinking of maybe going as a land army girl, this will suit hot and cold weather, ever the practical me! Plus I also thought I could make a nest with chickens for my wicker  bicycle basket ??!! There shall be competitions including best dressed bike (something for Poppy)  and just for the men ( I hope) the best, finest moustache and sideburns, which  I think, is another excuse not to shave! The last cycle we went on was ‘The Pashley Jubilee’ ride and if that was anything to go by then this cycle  will a relaxing ride with beautiful scenery, lots of laughs and a whole lot of fun. The small fee for the day out is 10 Guineas or £10.50 in present terms. If you fancy the ride or just to look at Alistairs great vintage  ‘Velo Vintage’ website  then click on the link above.

The Eternal Maker And A Little Bear On Wheels

I had heard a lot about ‘The Eternal Maker’ fabric shop in Chichester and when the name was mention strange reactions from female friends would happen, such as oohs and aahs, in fact when I went into a shop today and mentioned where I was going, cries of “can we come too could be heard”. I was finally introduced to The Eternal Maker last week by the ever so talented Gill from  

Endless boxes of half metres
Soooooo many fabrics

She promised this place would be amazing and have fabrics to die for, well Gill certainly kept her promise. There is almost an air of guilt hanging around the shop as woman pick up their secret purchases probably to be quickly stashed in the fabric cupboard when they get home! Or is that just me?

My purchase ready to make a cushion
Purchase for another day- wonderful typewriter fabric

The rest of our fab day including a Peter Blake exhibition  can be read on Gills fab blog .
The other item I totally fell in love with that day was in Pretty Scruffy ( You can out all about Pretty Scruffy in an earlier post) . The item was this wonderful Bear On Wheels (Humphrey) made the very clever Sarah at

My already much-loved bear on wheels

Northfield Primitives, using techniques to create a worn antique effect which include staining Osnaburg fabric with coffee, then cooking it in the oven and gently rubbing it down with sandpaper, Sarah makes gorgeous characters of elephants, dogs ,bears and rabbits. Not only that Sarah sews on vintage Meccano wheels and bells to make a ‘pull-along ‘ Lovely!

Time For A Garden Update

There is still a lot of Heleniums to come out

Its been a month since I wrote about the garden that i work in, and with the rain finally ceasing last week and the sunshine coming out in force, I managed  to take a few photos in-between weeding and having a sneaky choc-ice! One of my favourite flower beds at the moment is created using mix of plants that i feel shouldnt work together, but do, there are six types of plants in this bed:-Heleniums, (the rusty red flower) Roses, Panicum Heavy Metal (grass), Ligustrum standards, Buxus balls and Achillea Cassis, though the grass is yet to properly come through, the bed still looks effective and there is still at least a months worth of colour to come.

Bright dazzling red Crocosmia Lucifer
The seed head of Scabious Paper Moon, this is so easy to grow and readily set seeds , resulting in masses of extra plants next year
A mini basket of vegetables
A mouse maybe?

The newly planted herbaceous area is a mass of colour. We have been trying to create different walk ways of colour but the area is still in its first year of being re-designed so even though it is  dazzling  and interesting, i still feel there is  work needed to get it right. Our small vegetable area has been doing well and I dug up a small basket worth of vegetables last week, but it seems something else is also enjoying the veg, I think it maybe a mouse.

A trailer of sheep fleece

The sheep have recently been shorn, but the big question these days, is what to you do with the wool? Well ours has gone to The Southdown Duvet Company, which make duvets from Southdown Sheep fleece -

This one had a really bad start and had to be bottle fed, he is the smallest and the loudest of the flock and very cute!

Of course I cant finish without a picture of the ever-growing, oh so cute lambs.

Kayaking Down The River Arun

A warm and sunny Sunday, housework done, Pollies drying, garden tidied, let’s get the kayaks out! I had been reading  Scarlett s post at  

The map of Pulborough and parts of the river route

about kayaking  at picturesque  Bosham harbour, but my  nerves and fear of bigger boats got the better of me and we went down to our usual route on the river Arun at Pulborough West Sussex. After unloading our kayaks we managed to acquire  an audience,( it doesn’t help that there is a tea shop next to the slipway)   this made me very self conscious so I decided to continue getting myself ready at the bottom of the steep slipway into the water, on doing this the audience decided to stand up so they could still see me, so nerves getting to me I hopped into my kayak forgot about securing my spraydeck ( I could put that on whilst on the water) and fast paddled off down the Arun.

The slipway into the river, car parking is easy here and we highly recommend launching from Pulborough
A  stunning lunch break stop
My Dagger Blackwater kayak
Approaching Houghton Bridge

The  weather was perfect, sunny and breezy but because the Arun is tidal ( and we hadn’t planned our tides)  the paddling started off being  hard work as we were going against the flow of the river but we were soon paddling at a respectable speed meeting people as we went, who obviously had the same idea and were mucking about on the water or lying on the banks having a picnic. The route of the Arun is simply stunning, it takes you pass the RSPB wildbrooks,through farmland and open countryside with the glorious South Downs as a backdrop.

Just short of Amberley we found a great spot on a bend of the river and moored up for a late lunch and relax.  We started to head back at 5pm with the hope to be back at Pulborough for 6.30ish, I have to say the return route was hard going , though still very pleasurable paddling with swans on the river and cows on the banks.  It was a throughly fab way to spend a day and make the most of the weather and countryside. Next time I hope to get my nerves together and try Scarlet s route on the sea at Bosham and hope everyone else stays at home with their boats!


How To Make A Mini Sewing Book Gift Tag- Tutorial

Or safety pins, cotton ! etc
Closed tag book, with transfer letter writing, it makes a little extra special gift. The tape measure ribbon is from
The book contains needles,pins buttons or whatever you wish

I have been a little obsessed with making mini-books lately, it started with making books for my Polly Book readers and has now escalated to mini books for dinner place settings, mini menus but I like this  gift tag sewing book best. It’s a great little extra gift for that like-minded seamstress. Other ideas at the bottom of the page.

If you find any of the instructions a bit confusing please ask and I will explain them better.

CLICK HERE FOR THE INSTRUCTIONS   – How To Make Your Sewing Book Tag

Pic 1  folded in half then flaps folded in
Pic 2 write your message on the plain piece
Pic 3 transfer you book title letters
Pic 3 again- book title finished
Pic 4 start layering up the pages
Pic 5 horizontal stitch to hold the flaps down
Pic 6 Sewing complete
Pic 7 Fill up with pins, buttons extra
Pic 8 punch a hole through the back cover to thread your tape measure ribbon
Other ideas tea time menu
My writing is terrible, you could print the menu
More Books!