The interior of a coot’s home is made of plastic?

Now this is just a short post, you could say combining my love of interiors with my love of nature.  While taking a stroll in the local park it was delightful to see a coot had built its nest extremely close to the path where all the passers-by, me included, could peer over and try and spot the cute little baby coots sitting neatly under the parent.  I spotted two but I think later there were three.  If you look very very closely you can just about make them out.

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Well a few days later there I was back on my early morning lap of the park hoping to get a peek of the chicks, but it was not to be as the nest had been abandoned. The chicks had all grown up enough to swim away and find a home a little more secluded – we all get to that stage in our life.  However on taking a closer look at the nest interior I could see although the outside of the nest was the traditional stick build construction, for the interior the coot had gone for a more modern look and lined the nest with plastic sweet wrappers.

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I guess this modern material provides better insulation and waterproof qualities you just can’t get with twig, however it comes with hazards especially if the chicks are prone to pecking and ingesting the plastic. I much prefer the traditional materials myself, this is not my sort of upcycling.

Just goes to show how our litter is inadvertently infiltrating into nature.  I wouldn’t consider my local park to be especially littered so I’m thinking there are a lot more nest interiors looking like this 😦






My big garden makeover (Part 2)

This is the second installment of my garden makeover and I’ve got some exciting new to share.  I now have a delivery date for my extravagant greenhouse purchase which has blown most of my garden budget…. end of May , a couple of weeks earlier than expected.  I just could not resist this greenhouse it as it ticked all my greenhouse requirements.  Firstly, it’s half-timbered so it will hide all my greenhouse mess, bags of compost, pots etc and secondly it has space for me to sit so it kinda doubles up as a summer house and gives me protection from the ever blowing Buxton breeze. This is a snap-shot from the brochure, but you get the idea. If you want more details just leave me a comment.


Anyway enough of the greenhouse for now.  I’ll let you know how the assembly goes, it can’t be that hard can it??

So if you’ve read Part 1 of the garden makeover you might be asking how the garden has been coming along.  Well in this post I would like to share a few pictures of the two new planting boarders I’ve created on either side of theFrench doors leading from the living room into the garden.


We’ve dug up the paving, which is to be recycled to another part of the garden and re-used our existing plants.



The plants and the boarder rocks are all from the rockery part of the garden, which as you know is being totally re-vamped.  When planted altogether the plants look so much better than when they were dispersed across the rockery.  Our soil is clay, clay, clay and what soil there was had been under the paving for many a year so before planting we added a lot of soil conditioner and drainage especially next to the wall of the house.

Even though the boarders are not finished, as I need to add pebbles to the gaps in the paving we are already getting the pleasure of seeing the plants from inside the living room. Especially the bamboo which blows across the door in the breeze.


Next I will share with you the progress we are making with the rockery especially the creation of a new seating area with the recycled paving and artificial grass brought all the way from Amman by my daughter, which has been living in our garden shed. I’m currently on the hunt for a couple of outdoor sofas!

What do you think so far? Keep following as more to come. This is definitely work in progress.

My big garden makeover (Part 1)


This is going to be a series of short posts for you can track the progress of my garden makeover as it happens or thereabouts.  I hope you enjoy them.

I’ve decided that after 4 years in the flat it is time to take control and give the garden a major re-vamp now we kinda understand where the sun shines and the wind blows. Over these few years I’ve managed to collect a few plants but even those that have grown fail to get the garden working for us. The garden is currently divided fairly equally between a large rockery with lots of huge rocks but with only a shallow soil covering between, and a paved area.  This means, there is what seems like a vast area of grey paving right outside the French doors.

I have a plan in mind and a budget (not a big one) and most of the budget has already been blown ……… on a greenhouse!  Needless to say we will be recycling materials all the way including plants (of course) and paving.  I do plan to spend some money on some gravel/pebbles and more plants and if there is anything left a bit of garden furniture.

You can see a few pictures of what my garden looked like around this time last year  if you visit this previous blog post , although the weather had been very much kinder. In the summer the garden looks OK as I can add flowers and colour with annuals and pots but in the winter, which here in Buxton last at least 6 months the garden looks baron and grey.  My intention is to use more evergreen planting with contrasting foliage and colours to add the interest all year round, and to bring the plants closer to the living room.

This is a picture of the rockery part of the garden from last May May garden

And this is the view from our living room through the French doors.

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So you can get your bearings, below is an aerial view of the garden taken by our ever obliging neighbour on the 3rd floor

garden makerover

The monster rockery is to the left, and as you can see at this time of year it doesn’t look as good as when everything has started to bloom. The bottom edge of the photo is where the French doors from the living room are and on the right-hand-side we have already taken up a few paving slabs and stated to create a new planting boarder closer to the house.  The wooden frame at the end of the garden maps out the shape of the new greenhouse and roughly where it is going to sit (we have already changed our minds).

Always good to have a plan – mine is mostly in my head. I have a made a rough sketch but  I am no artist.  There has already been a lot of boulder moving, soil shifting and digging by Mr Husband and his faithful helper – that’s me. As we are doing all the work ourselves in the evenings and on weekends it’s going to take a bit of time. However we have a deadline of the 4th June when the greenhouse arrives.  I will reveal which greenhouse I’ve bought soon, I think you will like it.

Next time I’ll show you how the boarders are coming along.

My recent trip to North Wales

Just after Easter I organised a small family get together with the grown-up children and their partners to celebrate Mr Husband’s sixtieth birthday. Yes the big 6O and he is still able to dig holes! (something yet to come on the blog, so stay tuned). I picked Conwy in North Wales, UK as I’d been to Conwy before so knew there would be more than enough to keep everyone occupied for a weekend regardless of the quality of the weather over-which I have no control. If you’ve never been to North Wales then I recommend you give it an explore as the combined scenery of the coastline against backdrop of the mountains of Snowdonia National Park is stunning.

So what did we do to keep us occupied? That’s apart from eating and drinking, which I won’t go into.

Bodnant Gardens

On the way to Conwy we took a short detour and called into Bodnant Garden, managed by the National Trust. It was a damp and foggy day, so the pictures aren’t great, but the gardens at Bodnant still looked spectacular with its impressive collection of trees lining the valley with the water running through from the lake down to the old mill. The daffodils where just finishing but there were plenty of other plants budding and sprouting.

In addition to the garden there is an excellent adjoining craft and garden centre so you can have a bit of retail therapy. Both the plants selection and local Welsh crafts are very extremely tempting, jewellery, pottery, paintings, textiles… I could go on. Did I buy anything, well yes I did.

Conwy Harbour

Conwy harbour is small and gently paced estuary harbour where you can just sit and watch the world go by, which is exactly what I did. Conwy River estuary tidal so when the tide is out the river bed is exposed, making the view ever changing throughout the day. There’s a tour boat running trips up and down the Conwy estuary and a few fishing boats bring their catch to the harbour-side fish stall.

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Conwy Castle

Now as I’d mentioned I had been to Conwy before, in fact for a whole week. But I’ve never been to the Castle, so decided it was time to pay it a visit. The Castle wall surrounds the town and you can walk, for no cost at all, almost all the way around the town giving you a birds-eye I view of Conwy. But it’s also worth while handing over your money to go in the Conwy Castle ruin itself and climbing up even more towers to get that extra view. Conwy Castle is managed by Cadw and we got the joint ticket which for a little extra gave entrance to the Elizabethan Plas Mawr.

conwy harbour

Plas Mawr

For me this was the surprise of the trip as I on my previous visit must have walked past Plas Mawr many a time as it stands proudly next the butchers on the high street, however I’d never noticed it. Too busy gazing into the butcher’s shop I think. Plas Mawr is a little gem and with the audio tour to our ears we were able to wander freely around the many rooms and into the tranquil court yard.

I hope that gives you a snap-shot of what you might see in Conwy and I haven’t mentioned the other building you can visit in the small town including Aberconwy House the medieval merchant’s house and the Thomas Telford suspension and bridge and toll house. Oh and there’s the walking opportunities around the surrounding area. Why not give it a try. I certainly intend to explore North Wales a little more over the summer.

Coming up next (I think) my garden makeover – the digging has begun!

The bedroom makeover reveal

It’s been a while I know since I told you I was going to give my bedroom a bit of a makeover. To be honest I got straight on with it but it’s taken me an absolute age to get the pictures together.  I much prefer to decorate than take pictures. To make matters worse the wallpaper I’ve chosen, which I still love, is quite reflective and very difficult to photograph without getting a shine.  Of course a professional could make an excellent job however that is not me. But enough of my excuses here are the pictures and the details.

Now if you remember the aim of the exercise was to bring the space together in a cohesive way to give an overall feel of sumptuous luxury…. and as ever on a budget.  As you may know if you’ve read my other blogs I also love to recycle old bits of furniture so have tried to capture a bit of that too.  The points you need to remember are 1) the bedroom is dark, it’s partially underground with very little natural light from the north facing windows 2) it’s a rather large room in part of a larger Victorian villa however as it is in the basement flat (servant’s quarters only) so has no Victorian features, but I’ve gone with the Victorian(ish) theme. I’ll put all the details of my purchases along the way.

The wallpaper

As  I can’t do much about the lack of natural light I went with the dark and picked a richly coloured wallpaper  Caselio Power Maya Damask Wallpaper Teal from  I love Wallpaper reduced to £7 per roll.  This turned out to be a complete bargain as some of the other papers considered were in the region of £20 per roll (at least). The teal colour complements my dark wood furniture and I think brings the sumptuous luxury feel I was going for. Of course the wallpaper went all the way around the room, every wall.  Here are the pics.


As you can see the old wallpaper was bright and bold, in my attempts to brighten up the room, with a little bit of a feature wall going on.  It didn’t work.

It's time to decorate the bedroom. Read all about how it started. Follow the blog to join me on the journey to see how the wallpaper, shutters and all the rest end up



bedroom 1


The shutters

I don’t know about you but I’m not great choosing curtains. I only like curtains if the go all the way to the floor, which would be a bit of a waste of curtain in this room they are small windows.  This made me think of shutters but made to measure shutters are a little bit out of my price range so Mr Husband was employed to put together something a little less expensive.  He had great fun (not) trying to hinge and fold in the correct direction.  Eventually he got it right and I now have shutters for the cost of  a bit of MDF, a pot of paint and some inexpensive brass hinges for my local discount store.  I’ll be writing a blog about how the shutters were created but for now you can see the shutters in the above pic when then are open, and below how the light shines through in the morning.  The handles where a £1 each from a local flea market stall.  They were very dirty and corroded when I bought them but cleaned up rather well.


The lights

I struggled picking the lights.  I wanted something simple but didn’t want anything overly fussy or too modern, you know bare light bulbs.  I found these simple antique brass lights and shades from John Lewis for £30 each. I needed three.

The fire place

We had a hole the wall as you can see, so it seemed a shame not to make it look more like a traditional fire place even though it was never going to function. So I had a hunt around the local antique shops but eventually found this fire surround on ebay for no money at all, £22. It may not be an antique but it looks the part. It needs a bit of a clean and touch up but that was all.  I think it does a very good job.  I want to get a bit lantern to sit in the hole but not found anything I like yet, but I will keep looking as its all part of the fun.


It's time to decorate the bedroom. Read all about how it started. Follow the blog to join me on the journey to see how the wallpaper, shutters and all the rest end up


Read all about my bedroom makeover and how I went all Victorian and sumptuous. I've got the before and after pictures of the walls and the fireplace, and if you're thinking of other options rather than curtains then check-out my DIY shutters


So that’s my new bedroom and after a few months of sleeping in it I’m still loving it.  It may not be to everyone’s taste but it’s in-keeping with the building and my budget. What do you think?




Winter ramblings around Buxton

It’s been a long winter.  The weather has not been that harsh, just a constant wave of wet, windy and snowy weather.  It’s certainly not been inviting enough to get me outdoors.  For some reason I seem to have hibernated this year, and I must say I really don’t like it.  It makes me feel old and I’m not!  So, this weekend it was all change and even though the weather forecast was not great I was determined to get out on a little local walk.

The forecast was for heavy snow showers and for once the forecast was correct, we set out in a blizzard with cold snow splattering the face – why is it whichever direction you walk, you are always walking into the wind?

As this was a local walk for me it was in Buxton, Derbyshire.  Setting out from home took me first through the Victorian Pavilion Gardens, and then up through the woods of the Buxton Country Park to Solomon’s Temple.  From Solomon’s Temple you get magnificent views of the surrounding hills in every direction.   I was hoping once we got to the top the low clouds would have cleared, and luckily they had. Here are my snaps along the way.

Mr Husband walking ahead as usual

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

Nearly at the top

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

Low clouds over the tops

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

Through the woods on the way back down

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

You’ll notice there’s no picture of Solomon’s Temple, sorry about that.  I’ve seen it so many times I forgot to take a picture, so here’s one I took today from the window of my home, it sits high on a distant hill.

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

You can find out more about Solomon’s Temple if you follow the link.  The 20ft (6 metre) tower was restored by the Victorians in the 1890s.  Spookily, over the years there has been a number of reports of dogs leaping from the top of the tower, which takes a bit of effort as there is a high surrounding wall.  In fact, a dog I know recently did this for no apparent reason, luckily she was not hurt.  Very strange – don’t you think?

During the night Buxton had another fall of snow, which was accompanied this morning by bright blues sky.  So on went my boots and here are a few more snaps I thought you might like to see.

Blue sky over Buxton Opera House

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

The River Wye meandering through the park

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

Buxton Pavilion

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

Icicles hanging from the tunnel

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

I think the ducks like the snow

Join me on a walk in the snow up through Buxton to Solomon's Temple. See if you prefer the snow in the clouds or in the sunshine

Hope you are awakening from your hibernation, outside is much better than inside in don’t you think?

The bedroom makeover has begun

I’ve finally poked my head out from under the duvet after the Christmas holidays and started to think about what’s going to be happening in the home this year. Yes, I have at last turned my attention to the dreaded spare bedroom.

You may remember I posted about how I needed to make better use of the biggest bedroom of my two bedroom home, which is currently being used as a guest room, home office and general dumping ground, catch-up here.  Well on a wet weekend a few weeks ago I had a go at rearranging the furniture to try and make it a more cohesive space, but no luck.  In the end I decided the best solution was to switch bedrooms. So now the spare room has become my bedroom and the guest bedroom / office etc has been put in the small room.  And for now, it’s all working. As the space is smaller things seem to fit together a bit better……so small can be good.

So now the new challenge is to redecorate my ‘new’ bedroom to make it a sumptuous sanctuary.  I was inspired in the Summer during a visit to Chatsworth House by a chinoiserie  design and used it as my starting point for looking for some new wallpaper.  These were my top picks.

It's time to decorate the bedroom. Read all about how it started. Follow the blog to join me on the journey to see how the wallpaper, shutters and all the rest end up

…….but I went a little astray and picked this little number, which is currently on order. It has a bit of a sheen which will pick up the little light this room gets.  I’m hoping the rich colour will bring a warm and a touch of luxury.


I’ve also tasked Mr Husband to make shutters to replace the existing roller blinds, and he is also going to be creating a fire surround to make more of a feature of the hole in the wall we use as a bit of a storage space for general rubbish.

You can see I have a crazy feature wall at the moment; there will be no feature wall, the wallpaper will be going all the way around. Also need to replace the wall lights, there is no central light in this room so I’m going to hunt for suitable wall lights – I’m not a fan of wall lights so I think this will be tricky for me.

bedroom makeover

And yes in case you’re wondering this is all going to be done on a budget.  It’s far too easy when money is no object, where’s the challenge!


However, this is going to take a few weeks to complete so keep following if you want to see the finished result and the bits along the way.