Welcome to our blog.

….. We make
….. We explore
….. We nuture

Three children *** One big, grey dog *** Two parents *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010, about everyday happenings that bring us joy.

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Just a thought….

“A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe.”


Thank you….

  • Jayne @ Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs Oh Cheryl, I am so sorry to hear about Blue. Being a family that has always had a dog, I totally understand how upsetting it... 17 Mar
  • Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love) Oh no, poor Blue! So sorry to hear this. I do hope that she has been recovering over the past week and is now back... 15 Mar
  • Susan Mann Aww what a sweet photo. That is lovely and such a fun capture xx 12 Mar
  • Kim Carberry Ohh! The new tumble dryer does sound good... Aww! Your poor dog. I hope she makes a full recovery soon. Sending love and hugs x... 12 Mar
  • Louisa I love his outfit, especially the beard and pipe, they are so clever. Do you know that as much as I love sewing, I hate... 12 Mar
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What a week. To be honest, I am glad I’m using the word mend, at the end of the week, rather than devastating. It could so easily have been the latter, but fingers crossed, touch wood and chase a rabbit around the garden in order to stroke its foot, I think we are in the safe zone of “Mend” now.

I’ll start with the lesser, and far more mundane, mend to begin. We had to change our tumble dryer this week.  We think we bought our old dryer about 20 years ago. Give or take a year. We only use the dryer as a last resort, when the outside is too damp or we’re snowed under with washing. Over recent years it has failed, but each and every time, my husband has fixed it. Often with a computer in one hand and a soldering iron in the other. He is my hero.

This week, the dryer moaned and whimpered, and puffed the merest luke warm breeze. Washing would not dry. I think it was trying to tell me something. Let me go. My husband tried to fix it, but sometimes it’s not meant to be. We had to let it go.

Now we have a new dryer, which is more energy efficient. No bells and whistles. Less to go wrong with it, that way. Easier to fix, if we need to. It dries the washing brilliantly. The company tried to sell me an extended warranty. Phoning twice. Ha! Not likely. I don’t care if it is only 75p a week. We’ll be fixing it ourselves.

Now on to the bigger mend, that googling and a soldering iron cannot fix. This one involves Blue the hound and is far worse. She was out on her morning walk on Tuesday. Something caught her attention and she ran out of sight. Not unusual. She always comes back. There are no close roads. This time there was a yowl.  Followed by nothing.

My husband couldn’t find her. He came back for me and we both searched. I cannot tell you how relieved I was when we found her.

Unfortunately, she was injured. Badly. One of her back legs was not moving and she was in pain. She couldn’t stand up. She must have tumbled down a steep slope, fallen badly and, as we found out later, damaged her spine.

I don’t know if you have ever tried to carried a 35-40kg struggling, scared hound out of the depths of a muddy wood, but your muscles ache for days afterwards. Half a mile is a very long way, then it was in the car and off to the vets.

Her recovery has been touch and go. She is starting to show signs of recovery, but it is early days. If she keeps on improving, she will probably need support and treatment for many months to come. She needs time to mend. We hope to bring her home in the next few days. Life is very quiet without her.

If you have a dog, please give it an extra special scruffles from me and if you could send positive mending vibes over to Blue that would be greatly appreciated too.

Machines are so much easier to mend.

My word of the week is mend. Bit later than usual, but I’m joining in with #wotw.

The Reading Residence

“You shall not pass” – Gandalf costume

I know, I know, I’ve already shared the photos on this one, but I just can’t resist a few more. It needs its very own post, with the added bonus of how I made it too. So forgive me. Here is the Gandalf costume again. For just one more time.

It will be of no surprise to regular readers that I love making costumes. Given the choice, I’d far rather throw together a dressing up day outfit, for one of the children, than anything else. I think it’s the props that do it for me. Not much call for a papier mache smoking pipe when sewing an ordinary, everyday blouse. Well, not for me at least.

I am the parent that happily dances around the kitchen when presented with a note from school about their upcoming dressing up day.  Then spends the rest of the day googling images of characters, diving head first into my craft supplies and ignoring all household chores. Bliss.

World Book Day was last Thursday. Youngest was decisive and instantly declared he wanted to be The Hobbit’s Gandalf. He liked the idea of Bilbo Baggins, but his friend had already called that one, so he’d ruled it out before even getting home. I did suggest Smaug the Dragon. Alas, it fell on deaf ears. I slid my design for impressive flapping wings under my pile of notes. They will have to wait for another day.

Instead, without further ado, this is how we made a Gandalf costume:

The Cloak

The cloak and hat are made out of grey, fleece fabric, after I discovered the blanket I was going to use, just fell to pieces as I cut it. Into tiny, little particles, which, with hindsight, I should have spotted as a possibility. There was a good chance of a health risk, so the blanket was abandoned. I couldn’t find a suitable grey curtain in any of the second hand shops and ended up buying 2 metres of fabric.

I left the cloak as a rectangle, to be held together with a clip. The hat is made up of a cone and a ring doughnut cut out of the rest of the fabric. I lined it with stiff woven fabric and a second layer of fleece. This allowed it to be shaped and wrinkled, as I liked, rather than just flopping down as fleece has a tendancy to do. It was a bit of a rush job and has since been reshaped.

The Beard

The foundation of the beard is a loop of medium thick elastic that goes under his bottom lip and up to the top of his head. We cut lengths of grey, non-itchy chunky wool, about 70-80cm long. I lost count of how many, but probably equivalent to a 75g-100g ball. Each strand was knotted on to the elastic, using the knot below.

The pipe

No costume would be complete without a prop or two. It is often the defining feature. The way to rule out other possible characters and identify the intended one. Gandalf’s pipe seemed a good one to add. This would make it clear that you were encountering Gandalf and not Dumbledore. I hoped. There is, of course, always one person….

The pipe is made out of malleable aluminium floristry wire, covered in papier mache and painted brown. As a finishing touch, I added a bit of sheep’s fleece from my spinning wool, to look like smoke. Cotton wool would be just as good.

The floristry wire is easy to shape, providing a good frame to work with. Once the papier mache is added, the pipe keeps its shape, which is perfect for its day at school.

The staff

To seal the identity deal, we went for a second prop too. Gandalf’s staff.  The one he uses to mark magical symbols on Bilbo’s door, so the dwarves know which Hobbit hole door to knock on.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t keen to send a long, wooden stick, to school, as a staff. Images of it being used as a martial art weapon came to mind. Phone calls home. Difficult conversations. Months of avoiding irate parents in the playground. It would only have taken one other child, dressed as the goblin king or an orc, and battle would commence.

So instead, I found two long cardboard tubes. The sort that’s found in the middle of a tube of wrapping paper. One fitted inside the other, and the overall length could be altered. We lengthened the tubes to the young Gandalf’s height and sellotaped them in place.

Next the tube was pasted in glue and roughly covered with white tissue paper. Wrinkling it up to give texture to the staff. Once covered, it was painted brown. Long slits were cut in the top and a crumpled ball of blue tissue added.

Staff complete and chances of anyone being knocked out by it, reduced. Mission accomplished.

I ummed and ahhed about the gown underneath. Seeing as the cloak would cover it most of the time. In the end, we opted for grey tracksuit bottoms and a top, due to the weather. Also settled for welly boots, for the same reason. March is usually rainy. Except, this time, it turned out to be snowy.

We added a brown belt, and a drawstring pouch to hang from it.

The outfit

At this point you might be wondering how his day went. The twist to this particular tale is that it didn’t. School was cancelled due to a snow day. Not something that would have stopped the real Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf, I’m sure. The good news is that they have rescheduled the dressing up day for another time. Gandalf will have his day.

This is our last World Book Day. (sob, sob) Next year, he’ll move up to the next school where they don’t dress up. He’s our youngest. There are no more children waiting in the wings to be dressed up. So, this is it. I’m not sure what I will do next year. Maybe find fabric themed around a favourite book, and make a top for myself. What do you reckon? It might work.


and maybe a papier mache prop

to go with it……)

Costumes from previous years:




Snow Hound #MySundayPhoto

The hound has loved the snow and having everyone out, playing in the white stuff with her. The chill gets under her fur, sending her mad. Leaving her no choice but to race around.

Sometimes she burrows her nose deep down into the snow. Only she knows what draws her to that precise spot. Although at breakfast yesterday, I spotted  a head peep up through a pristine patch of snow in the garden. A mouse. It checked twice before disappearing down again, out of sight. Maybe the hound knows where the snow tunnels go. Reminds me of the Brambly Hedge stories.

Photo credit to my eldest teen, who grabbed my camera as she went outside. It’s always a delight to find photos on my memory card that are a complete surprise to me. Taking photos of a dog, with such a long snout, can be challenging. I think she’s done well.

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