A friend once told me that you must never enter a charity shop with an idea of what you want to find, or you’ll jinx it. Therefore I have spent many months trying very hard, to not look for the Holy Grail of charity shop finds, a cashmere jumper.
I’ve recently returned to sewing clothes after quite a long hiatus. Except for one pattern (which you’ll see in a minute) I’ve never felt entirely satisfied with the clothes I’ve made and so I’ve tended to avoid clothes and concentrate on other things. However when I buy handmade, the items are always beautifully finished, so I know it is achievable and that some perseverance is required.
The one pattern I have suceeded with many times is Made By Rae’s Parlsey Pants Shorts. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made these shorts for Theo and on each occasion the result is slightly better. I now sew the elastic directly on to the waist rather than threading it through which gives a great finish.
Theo was recently invited to a 6th birthday party with a pirate theme and when some pirate themed fabric popped up on facebook in the Eternal Maker’s sale, I decided to buy a metre of it and make a pair of shorts for the birthday boy (left) and a slightly different pair for Theo. For Theo’s rather than turning the hem on the legs, I made some yellow bias tape and finished the legs with that. The resulting shorts are therefore also slightly longer than his friends.
Last month I shared some photos of our front door makeover, which was part one of a three step project to finish the front of our house properly. Part two involved building a small decking area under our veranda and for part three we will be building a new path to the front door.
The veranda was added two years ago as part of the makeover/renovation of our house and until now we’ve just had the ground underneath covered with gravel. It was a cheap and quick temporary solution, but both children liked digging around in it and the gravel got everywhere, so it wasn’t great. The newly painted door looked so good that it inspired us to bump the veranda up the list of DIY jobs and get it sorted over half-term while Jim was off work.
In an ideal world we would have chosen to build out of composite decking which has a 25 year guarantee, but wood was so much cheaper we decided to use that. This area is protected from the worst of the weather by being under cover, so we hope it should last a decent length of time.
Here’s what the area looked like before…
Our wood for the project came on the back of a lorry from our local timber merchants. They also supplied a lot of the materials for the house renovation and all the turf when we did our garden, so we seem to spend a lot of time with one of their lorries outside our house!
The first part of building the deck involved laying out a timber grid to lay the deck on.
When it was all built we stained it. We chose black because we are hoping to build a much larger deck round the corner from this which we will build from composite. We’d like the two to match and black (rather than a shade of brown) is therefore our best bet for a close colour match. The staining required three coats with 24 hours between each. Jim did the first and I did the last two. When I did the final coat I heaped on everything I had left in the tin and it took about a week to dry, during which time Jim sat on it (ahhh!) and the children walked across it!
As part of the project we also bought a wood store, which we had initially planned to put on the deck, but it took up way too much room, so we moved the bulk of the logs with the store round to the side of our house. We kept a few as a token display at the front and added some of our garden furniture.
And here’s the finished result. I’d been hoping for some nice weather to take some slightly more “styled” photos, but I don’t think it’s going to happen this week!
The wall mounted stag head was part of my Christmas haul from HomeSense, but I think it’ll be a permanent feature.
In the spring I plan to plant out the area directly in front of the deck and find a more attractive dog bed for our Canadian pooch to sit in!
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A few months ago we started considering that next inevitable stage of parenthood… buying a trampoline. Before children I always wondered why literally every family I knew had one in their garden (even when there was room for nothing but the trampoline) and then I realised that they are practically the only toy you can buy a two year-old that they’ll still be playing with when they are twelve… and beyond.
Earlier this year we were offered the chance to be Merlin pass ambassadors and over the Easter holidays we had a chance to take our first trip to a Merlin site, Legoland Windsor Resort.
At this point I should probably hold my hand up and admit that I’m a bit of a theme park novice and I can probably count of one hand the number of trips I’ve made to them, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Legoland. After all it wasn’t that long ago that I thought the entire place just consisted of models built from Lego bricks… and err… It doesn’t!
As a visitor casting fresh eyes on the place I thought I’d share with you five unexpected things I learned…
(1) There’s a great view!
The spot where Legoland was built is one of the highest sites for miles and as a result one of the first views you see when you enter the gates is an incredible panorama of London. It’s a little bit breezy on a cold day, but it’s a great added attraction to stand at the top of the park and spot famous landmarks in the capital. We found it easy to pick out the Wembley Stadium arch and the Shard even though they are both about twenty miles away.
Surprisingly Legoland provides quite a lot of inspiration if you are looking to plant a low maintenance architectural style garden (and we are at the moment!) Jim thinks I’m the only person in the world who walked round looking at the shrubs, but what does he know? There were lots of Flaxes and Bamboo and a lone Monkey Puzzle tree beautifully set in its own lawn. Since we returned I’ve done a bit of Googling and it turns out I’m not alone in admiring the landscaping and there are quite a few blog posts about it and Legoland in Windsor was the first theme park to host an RHS show 6 years ago.
(3) The shops aren’t badly priced
Sadly I have come to expect a captive audience to equal overpriced goods, so I was pleasantly surprised to find things weren’t that expensive. Our Merlin Pass did give us 10% off in the shops, but even so things weren’t badly priced to begin with. On the day we visited it was particularly cold and after getting a drenching on a couple of rides I would have paid through the nose for a pair of gloves to warm me up, but I got some for £3.59. Money which I was very happy to spend!
(4) They sell Starbucks coffee
We caught on to this a little late, in fact we were leaving the park when we spotted it, BUT there’s a nice cafe at the top which sells Starbucks coffee and stuff which is not your normal fast food fodder. We bought some nice muffins and hot drinks to have in the car on the way home.
(5) You can take your dog… sort of!
Fellow dog owners will know that one of the things that restricts a day out is how long you can leave your dog alone and if you (like us) live a couple of hours away it can be doubly difficult. Legoland do actually have kennels on site which you can either reserve in advance or pay for on the day. I didn’t get a chance to look at them and they are unmanned so don’t expect anything lavish, but if it means you can stay a little longer in the park, it’s an option that’s well worth knowing about.