National trust series – Speke Hall

As National Trust members, we often go for days out to visit some of the beautiful houses and gardens that are being looked after by them. I thought I’d do a little blog series on the ones we visit. It’ll be just as and when we go.

I’ll start with our closest one which is just 30 minutes drive away, Speke Hall.  We came here in the summer holidays on a lovely warm day. The building itself is a Tudor timber framed house. It’s lovely but when you’ve seen inside once, there’s really not much to look at again. 

The thing I love the most about the national trust places are the grounds and the gardens.

They have a kitchen garden there and it just so happened that they were celebrating what would have been Beatrix Potters 150th birthday. They’d yarn bombed the kitchen garden with the most adorable little fruit, veg and creatures. I just had to share it with you.

And there’s Mr. McGregor himself, keeping a watchful eye over his veg patch. They had a lady dressed up in Victorian clothing telling children the much loved stories from Miss Potter and her little friends. Jude’s too much of a wriggler to sit still for more than 5 seconds unfortunately.

The grounds are quite extensive, I’m pretty sure we’ve never managed to see everything. They go all the way down to the River Mersey and if you’re a keen plane spotter, it’s right next door to Liverpool John Lennon airport. There’s a pretty woodland which I’ve written about before at bluebell time. They have a nice play area for the kids and also a maze, although I’ve not managed to venture in there just yet. The bonus is its just 30 minutes drive for us so we can go back anytime we feel like it.

Southport flower show

This post is a little bit late as I’ve been really busy these last couple of weeks but better late than never hey?

We were very lucky indeed to be invited to this years Southport flower show as VIP guests. My husband works in the Garden Centre industry and was kindly invited by a supplier called Lavania. It just so happened that their garden entry won the best in show. It was very well deserved, it was certainly my favourite.

We got to step inside the roped barrier and have a private tour. 

The attention to detail was incredible, everywhere you looked they’d created something unique and unusual. They’d made the very most of every little nook and cranny. Very clever design.

Here are a couple of the other gardens that caught my eye..

Aren’t they beautiful? I just love the bloomers hanging on the line in this one!

I’d come dressed for the occasion.

I love my Joules wellies, and they were quite appropriate really. The weather had been awful that morning and we feared we’d end up in a mud bath, but we actually brought the sunshine along with us. It wouldn’t have been much fun getting soaked.

These were just a few of the things that whispered ‘photograph me’ as we walked around. I have been very restrained believe it or not as I’m increasingly aware that my little allowance of cyberspace is getting filled up so I need to try and be good.

There was lots to do for all ages. We got to see Mr. Bloom from CBeebies with his veggies, there was live music and talks from tv garden experts. After we’d explored all around, we were treated to afternoon tea in the VIP tent. We felt very special indeed.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable afternoon. Lots of inspiration to do a few new things in our garden next year.

Back soon with a little write up on our holiday xx

Outdoorsy things

This week has been full of outdoorsy stuff with the warm weather. The weather has kind of annoyed me actually. Not because it’s been nice, but because it said it was going to be rubbish, then wasn’t, so I didn’t plan accordingly. So frustrating when you miss out on a few precious laundry drying hours. Anyway, we’ve been pottering in the garden quite a bit. I had a good weed and sweep underneath our table, it always gets forgotten about.

I also tended to this area.

The bamboos are stunning but they do make a mess, shedding all year round it feels like. It is quite a therapeutic task though.  Lovely when the sun is shining especially. I tend to find the little tucked away spaces in the garden my favourite, like my hidden bench.

We’ve done lots of dining outdoors, morning and night.

There’s lots of lovely colour and growth still going on, even though many have finished now. It’s amazing how quickly the garden evolves in just a few weeks.

I love the different stages of growth here in the hydrangea, those creamy green shades with the pinky tips, full of promise to bloom into the most beautiful, vibrant pink flowers.

One of my favourite stages of a flower blooming is when they’re still practically a bud with a teensy bit of colour showing. Just popping their pretty heads out to say hello.

This little corner here always looks like autumn no matter what season it is.

The muted colours are gorgeous, very calming and gentle. It’s like a teeny tiny woodland corner. There used to be a little fairy door at the bottom of the tree but it’s magically vanished. The hubster was never a big fan, hmmm. There is evidence of fairies at the bottom of the garden though, look, fairy wings! Well, according to my step daughter they are anyway.

Yesterday we took a little trip out for our annual strawberry picking, something I’m keen to keep up every summer. Make it one our family traditions that Jude will remember about his childhood. It’s such a wholesome, feel good activity.

We got to ride on the tractor which made Jude’s day.

The sky looked very dark indeed but it was so warm still.

My little helper was good carrying the punnet. He only dropped the lot once. And he only ate one strawberry on the way round.

And our little bounty. The smell is so sweet and the taste even sweeter. Our very own blueberries in our garden will be ready for picking soon too.

In the afternoon we went across the border into the lush, green land of Wales. We’re members of the National Trust so took the opportunity, while the weather was good to visit Chirk castle.

I kind of feel it deserves its own post though so will leave that for another day. 
I did say I was going to bring you a crafty post but with all this outdoorsy stuff happening I haven’t had much chance. Next one, I promise xx

Rose garden 

We don’t have roses in our garden and I’ve just this year begun to take a liking to them. It’s okay though, as just a short walk from our house is The Arno. 

It has, as you can see from the sign, been around for quite some time. Here’s a really old picture of it.

But this is it today..

It’s really pretty, especially in the warm sunshine that surprised us today. I’ve probably come a little late as some of the flowers are just finishing. But I did manage to get a few photos of some rosy loveliness.

The smell is just beautiful, so delicate. 

These aren’t roses but they take me back to my childhood. I always remember seeing these and I seem to recall they were Victoria Plums favourite flower. Maybe I’m making that bit up, but that’s what they remind me of anyway!

The Arno has a Green Flag Award too. Although it’s a council maintained area, it still needs a lot of looking after and regularly needs volunteers to come along and help out. They formed a group called The Friends of The Arno who do a fantastic job. We’re very lucky to have people who care about where we live.

So, what else has been happening this week? Not much really. Quite a few trips with the little man to the park.

We spent a lovely hour by the sea the other morning. 

And as for crafting, well I’ve been working on a new project, completely unplanned. Sometimes I think those work out the best.

And it’s almost finished too so I’ll show you properly very soon.

Have a crafty weekend all xx

My week in pictures 

My first harvest of delicious sweet peas. They smell divine. I’m looking forward to having a constant supply of these beauties for a good while.

A tired toddler after lots of jumping in muddy puddles.

A spot of baking….. Oreo cake. Find the recipe here.

I got my colouring books out for the first time in yonks, anything’s better than watching the boxing.

Trying to vacuum with this lazy pooch. She was budging for nothing or no-one.

Birthday celebrations for our littlest of the bigger kids. Lovely teppanyaki restaurant near China town in Liverpool.

The youngest is becoming a teenager way before his time. He’s pinched my spot in the dining room with my cushions and my phone. So many videos of Thomas the tank engine on YouTube to watch!

I’ve re-covered the chair in the bathroom. No more wet towels on here kids, please??

Now this coaster was made about a month ago. I fully intended to make a whole set of them in different colours. They were to be gifted to a very lovely lady. Unfortunately, I ran out of time so instead she received just the one coaster, along with a couple of eggs from our girls wearing my Egg Cosies and one of my Lavender bags too. I hope she likes them 😊

The weather has been awful here. Rain, rain go away….

There’s been more pretty bunting being made. Not for me this time, for an order. Yes you heard that right, a paying customer 😊 !!

Some more baking, it’s hungry work sewing you know. Although these are quite healthy cookies, full of oats, seeds and fruit. The idea is that when I’m peckish I can grab one of these instead of chocolate.

And finally this…

I couldn’t resist lighting a fire last night while sewing. It was so cold, it felt like winter. Where’s our summer gone?

Vicki xx

Secret gardens 2016

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll probably remember me talking about opening our garden up to the public. We do it most years, here is last years post. I won’t go on too much about it as it’ll probably sound very similar.  My husband is very much the gardener in our home, he’s put so much time and effort into it, I’m very proud of him because it looks amazing. We received some lovely compliments from lots of visitors to our garden which makes all that hard work worthwhile. This years event was on June 19th, Fathers Day.

This is our pretty hanging basket at the front of the house. The flowers are actually a bit more peachy in real life.

And these are the dahlias sitting either side of the front door. I think they look quite tropical.

These beauties sit in the border on the right as you enter the garden, our pink themed border. Alongside this little stunner..

And these poppies. They have such delicate petals, one gust of wind in the wrong direction and it’s ruined.

Just around from these we have our big tree fern.

I love watching nature do its thing and seeing these unfurl into the big, lush leaves it produces.

Next to this is our chicken corner. I’ve told you all about them here. I decided this year to print off a photo of each of the girls with their name on and display them so visitors can see for themselves. They are a huge talking point on the day and we do find that we end up repeating ourselves quite a bit!

One lady even asked if we had any of the pictures of Rolo left for sale! Maybe next year!

The border on the left of the garden is a beautiful one indeed. This is the one that had to be started again from scratch last year after our wall collapsed in high winds. Well it’s just gorgeous this year. It’s colours are white and purple.

I think the alliums are possibly my favourite. I dedicated a whole post to them last year. These sweet peas smell absolutely divine.

Just across and round by our bay window, we have these… They smell like vanilla, mmm.

And next to this is our little bistro set. This is the hubby and I on the morning of the secret gardens. Unfortunately they caught me before I’d had chance to put any make up on.

And moving up the garden we have my most favourite flower, the peony.

So pretty.

Next up is Jude’s area. We created this last year, you can read about it here.

I’m so pleased we managed to set aside an area just for Jude because he loves nothing better than coming out into the garden first thing in the morning, wellies and pj’s on. He’s going to be the outdoors type, I can tell.

I’ve found a new favourite place to sit in the garden too. Just here…

I have no idea why I never used it before now, or anybody for that matter. It’s tucked right away and if I’m quiet, nobody knows I’m here. It’s so peaceful. This is the outlook from the bench..

I love the fringe of the Salix just dangling above me.

At nightime it’s just as enchanting with fairy lights illuminating it just enough.

And I couldn’t leave the chickens out could I?

I have quite a thing for fairy lights as you can probably tell. They’re just so pretty and far too nice to only come out at Christmas.

I’m digressing, back to the garden! The top end of the garden has our main seating area, water feature and a whole host of lovely potted plants. There’s our herb ladder which got so many people going home to hunt in their garages for an old ladder to paint up.

The salad leaves at the very bottom are super tasty, we had some a couple of nights ago with our burritos.

Then we have these common geraniums that probably feature in half the gardens in the country. They have to be one of my favourites though, especially against the brick wall.

Here’s our new baby tree fern surrounded by some lavender and grasses. That fern on the right just sprouts itself out of our steps every year.

So this is what our garden looked like full of people.

We had our resident musician playing for us again this year, he was great and even carried on in the rain. We popped a few bin bags over his equipment and he was good to go. The rain did win in the end though, it was torrential, really not conducive to viewing people’s gardens. It didn’t stop some people though, the hardcore among us, of which I’m not one of. I spent most of the day indoors actually keeping Jude out of the way and preparing many cups of tea for our stewards who helped out and preparing food for our BBQ in the evening. It became in indoor affair as the rain kept on coming but we still had a good time.

Let’s hope we get a nice, long, hot summer now so we can really make the most of our beautiful outdoor space.

Back soon with some more crafty goings on…..

Vicki xx

A West Kirby walk

The weather was unexpectedly bootiful this morning, so quick on my feet, I decided a visit to the coast was in order. Just me and my little man. I got sorted, did the school run, and headed towards the sea. The drive was enjoyable too, through some lush countryside, with the sun shining, birds singing, windows down and a nice breeze keeping us cool. It seemed like everyone was out and about walking their dogs or going for a jog.

I got to West Kirby and parked up right by the marina. As soon as I stepped out of the car and looked across the lake, I was just amazed. The water looked like a pane of glass. It was so still.

The pictures don’t really do it justice, it was very sunny and warm.

West Kirby marine lake is the perfect length for a walk. It takes around 40 minutes to get round it at a slowish pace. Just enough exercise before you get too tired!

There’s a really nice atmosphere here, whenever you go. Everyone smiles and says hello.

Can you see the hills in the background in the picture above? That’s Wales. It looks close enough to walk to but I bet it’s a lot further than you think.

Last time me and my hubby came here together, I sneaked through the chains to get a close up photo of this…

I’m a sucker for anything that says the word ‘love’. Such a bizarre place to see it though, I’d love to know the story behind it.

I get such a feel-good feeling from being by the sea. I think it’s all that fresh, sea air. I love it in any weather but summertime is the best.

We saw this lonely seagull paddling along all by himself.

Almost round to the beginning.

These jetties look so inviting. It’d be heaven on a hot day like today to sit on the very end and dangle your feet in the cool water.

We finished our little jolly with a sit down in the park just opposite the lake. We had a drink and a snack with the whole park to ourselves, and Jude picked me these pretty daisies. Bless him.

I should start the day this way more often, it puts a real spring in my step.

Half way

Morning lovelies, are you having a good weekend? It’s half way through and the weather has been strange. We were expecting a heatwave, hotter than Ibiza, apparently. Well that never happened but  let’s see what today brings. Yesterday morning, Jude was so keen to get into the garden, it was wellies and pj’s and straight out there. With his furry friends too.

We managed our first breakfast in the garden the other day too, it was just lovely. 

It always feels a bit like being on holiday when we eat outdoors. I’m looking forward to doing it lots this summer. And lots of garden hooky is in order too.

I’m about halfway through my two blankets for the kids. I’m alternating between the two to stop the boredom setting in. Here’s the c2c (corner to corner) for my step daughter. I had it with me the other day when I was in the bluebell woods incase I got the opportunity to do a spot of hooky. Sadly I didn’t but I did decide to give it a little photo shoot while I was there. I felt a bit silly, kept looking around to make sure no one was coming! It’s not as easy as you’d think actually. I was looking for the perfectly placed branch to drape it over but could I find any? Nope. So this was the best I could do.

It’s a perfect triangle at the moment, and I’ve now finished the purple side so will start on the pink and it will decrease down the other side.

This is the other blanket, the cosy Kermit stripe for my son.

It’s just over half way done. It’s very nice to come back to working on this one after the purple. You can really tell the difference in the yarn. The purple has a glitter running through it which makes it a bit rougher but this one is made with stylecraft special dk which is so much nicer. Super soft in comparison.

While we’re talking crochet, I did a couple more of the egg cosies I started a few months ago. It’s one of those where I need complete concentration so I can count out loud. Hopefully this week I’ll finish them off and show you the finished product.

Our very own cherry blossom has finally come into its own this week. It’s never been so beautiful, it must be very happy. I wanted to enjoy it indoors too so cut a few sprigs to pop in a vase. It’s looking so pretty in our pantry.

Well, that’s it from me for now. Have a great Sunday, see you all soon xxx

The beauty of bluebells 

The humble bluebell.  A beautiful and delicate plant in its own right. But when you find them en masse in the bluebell woods, they’re truly breathtaking. I’ve been longing to visit them for ages now but I wanted to wait till they were properly out and for the wet weather to come to an end. I had a couple of hours to kill yesterday and the sun was shining so I took my chance and went to our closest national trust place, Speke Hall.

Now as usual, I did get a bit carried away with photo taking. I just couldn’t help myself though. When you’re there, in amongst them all, you just want to capture every moment because it’s all so beautiful. The photos really don’t do them justice but it’s the next best thing to actually being there in person. Pictures certainly can’t convey the aroma in the air and the sound of birdsong. Anyway, I honestly did restrain myself when selecting which photos to use here. You may not think so but I promise I did! If you’re not a lover of bluebells then look away now…

There, all done. If you’ve got this far then I thank you for sticking with it! Aren’t they beautiful? It’s just like a violet haze covering the ground. The woods are a very special place to be at this time of year.

Blossom time

Hello! Happy May Day to you. I’d love to be able to say that it’s a beautiful sunny day here but unfortunately it’s cold, wet and dreary. So I have the heating on, a mug of hot tea and am curled up on the sofa writing this post and filling it with pretty Spring pictures.

I have a real love of blossoms of all types. There so incredibly pretty, from a distance they almost look like twigs topped with candy floss or marshmallows. 

Here’s some beautiful blossom I pictured the other day when the sun was shining in our very own Oxton Village.

Yesterday we popped to Chester zoo for a couple of hours. We were very lucky with the weather and I snapped these..

Stunning against that blue sky aren’t they?

A couple of weeks ago I took our eldest and our youngest over to Sefton Park to see the blossoms and to fulfill a dream of the eldest. 

She too loves blossoms, and would love to live in Japan where they are famous. At this time of year they celebrate the beauty of spring flowers by picnicking under the blossom trees. So that’s what we did, we had our own little Haname under the blossoms, by the lake in the middle of Sefton park. It was really lovely. We sat opposite this pretty bandstand.

And this was above our blanket..

Gorgeous hey? It’s a shame they don’t last longer. After our picnic, we explored the rest of the park.

There was still an abundance of daffs on display. I love how the cloud is kind of heart shaped and just resting on the top of the hill.

Further round, we came to the fairy glen where there’s these stepping stones across the water. It felt like we were in a faraway place, somewhere completely magical. We made a little friend, he took a monkey nut right from my hand.

He was so tame and let us get really close.

The magnolias were in full bloom, so beautiful.

On our way back to the car, we stopped off in the palm house. It’s amazing in there, so tropical. You can even get married in here.

The colours were so vibrant. This one looks like a bottle brush. Right in the centre of the house is this spiral staircase. I just wanted to climb it, of course I couldn’t.

Well that’s all for today from me, I’m off to do a bit of housework, a little bit of hooky and prepare a fabulous roast for my lot. Happy bank holiday weekend xx