Welcome to our blog.

..... We craft
..... We garden
..... We explore
..... Nature inspired

Three children *** Two dogs *** Two parents *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That's us!

We've been blogging since January 2010.


Eldest: 14 yo daughter

Middle: 11 yo daughter

Youngest: 9 yo son

You can find me here too…

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Just a thought….

"A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe."


Love reading your comments

  • Keitha Sounds like your kiddos have enjoyed their summer. We love to play badminton but we don't have a net. I hope your kiddos have a... 28 Aug
  • Pinkoddy Your children sound so lovely - all that playing outdoors and getting along. And as for looking after chickens I am very impressed. mine struggle... 27 Aug
  • Coombe Mill It's wonderful to see them spending their summer holidays together, they look like -for the most part- they've been the best of friends. Sometimes it's... 27 Aug
  • Merlinda Little (Glimmer of Hope) Awww looks amazing. Badminton is a good game! Something that anyone can do. And its so nice that you have space for it! This is... 27 Aug
  • Kim Carberry It looks like you have been having a lovely time....It did make me chuckle about the ping pong and you trying to lay the table.... 27 Aug
  • Older »

Time to smile

"God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles."

- J B S Haldane


There have been cases when people lifted my photos and words, and used them without credit to me or asking permission first. Using them for their own commercial gain. I have now added a level of security to deter people from doing this. Apologies to people who do play nicely. If you would like to use any of my photos, please contact me.

Copyright notice:

All my words and photos are copyrighted to me. They cannot be used for commercial benefit by anyone else. If you would like to use any of them, then please ask me first and don't just take. Written permission only. Don't pass my words, photos or ideas off as your own. It's not nice.

Messing around on the river

on the riverWe make a summer bucket list each year. Not everything is ticked off before we find ourselves clambering around for sports bags and school shoes which I swore I had stowed in a sensible place this time. Some items on the list are old favourites. Flying kites and crazy golf are always there. Without fail.

This year, I think we have found another favourite. Messing around on the river.

on the boatIn all fairness, we did hire a rowing boat last year, up in the Lake District, so maybe the tradition started last year.

This year, we hired a boat to go along the Kennet and Avon canal.

on the river canal boatsA very relaxing way to explore the canal. We took a picnic and headed along the canal from Limpey Stoke over to Bradford-upon-Avon. There are canal boats moored along the way.


The children didn’t grow bored of looking at each one and enjoying the names of the boats. They were intrigued at the idea that some people lived full time on the boats. Even spotted cats curled up in the sun on the boats. Some boats had the most amazing container gardens, providing them with fresh food.

boating on the Avon and KennetEach of the children had a go at steering the boat. Eldest became quite proficient at it. This is not a speed boat. We were advised to stick to walking speed which suited me. It was perfect for wildlife spotting.

heron on side of canalThere were several herons along the banks. They obviously had the measure of the crazy humans in boats and realised that they were pretty safe, as they chose not to fly away, but to watch us. We spotted a lady shoo one out of her canal side garden, and it was most reluctant to leave. On our return trip, I noticed it was in another part of the same garden. A determined bird, who knew an easy meal, I think.

We also caught a glimpse of a kingfisher. There were a few little holes in the muddy banks, but no sign of their residents.

duck flyingThere were plenty of ducks that flocked as soon as they saw boats, in the hope of being fed.

The captain and his fatherOur route took us over an aquaduct which goes over the river Avon. It is quite a sight. Not easy to appreciate when you are on a boat, as the walls block the view. We have walked over it before.

aquaductWe passed plenty of other people, enjoying the canal. There were canoes, paddle boards and narrow boats, of course. Lots of people obviously holidaying in narrow boats. Must be lovely to wake up in the morning, when it is quiet, and see the wildlife.

kennet and avon canal boat rideIt was a fabulous afternoon. We really loved messing around on the river. We are hoping to get some canoes sometime soon. So maybe this family tradition will carry on.


*I really should add that it wasn’t until we were half way to Bradford, that we realised that the children didn’t have life jackets on. Oops! The canal is quite shallow and the children are all confident swimmers. Next time, I’ll make sure they are properly attired from the start. Despite the title of this blog post, they were very sensible and there was no messing around.

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The Ordinary Moments

playing badminton in the gardenWe have another full week before the school term starts and I intend to enjoy it. All the back-to-school shopping has been ticked off. The last school shoes and trousers were sourced yesterday. I still have name tapes to sew into new clothes, but that’s no hardship as I like sewing.

playing badminton in the garden 2It will be so quiet when my noisy crew go back to school. We are the only house with school aged children, so I’m sure our neighbours can tell when term starts again, with no difficulty. They usually are kind and reassure me that they like to hear the children in the garden, as it means that they are outside and not cooped up watching a screen. I really hope they mean it.

I know I will miss the three of them. I’ll miss the ordinary moments probably more than the days out. The moments when I find them reading or drawing. Plotting and making. When I discover that once again my study chair has been raised up to an improbable height, which is always accompanied by the sound of giggles from around the corner. Even that I will miss.

playing badminton in the garden 3A huge hit with the children is badminton. It always is a favourite. Eldest used to play it at a couple of after school clubs, so she’s coached the other two.

It’s something all three of them can play, on a fairly equal basis. As soon as one of them spots that the wind has dropped, they stop everything, grab their rackets and shuttlecocks, and head for the garden.

In an effort to play when its windy, I sometimes find them playing rallies, sheltering by a wall. Only to lose the shuttlecock into a tree or over the fence to our long-suffering, aforementioned neighbours.

T playing badminton in the garden 2I have noticed that the Boy has to do a lot more work than his sisters. He will whizz around, determined not to lose a single point. His sisters  have the advantage that they can stretch out more often, and easily tap the shuttlecock over the net with great ease. He is getting a lot more exercise.

T playing badminton in the gardenHe really does throw himself into it.

table tennis bats Table tennis is a new favourite, this year. I’m not sure if they were inspired by watching the Olympics, but the house seems to be filled by the steady sound of per-tonk, per-tonk. They call it their indoor badminton.

playing table tennis on the kitchen table

The best table is the kitchen table. Adds that little extra fun when I’m trying to lay the table for supper. I’ve taken to putting things on the table, and they carry on playing. Gaining points if they miss the salad bowl or jug of juice.

I will  miss it.

cleaning out chickens

Before you get the impression that it has been all play and no work, I’ll share another ordinary moment. Eldest is in charge of cleaning out the hens. We only have two, at the moment. It would be nice to have more eggs, but I think the two hens are getting on so well, that I’m not keen to change it. Any more chickens and factions are established. Leading to hens being ganged up on. We had nine at one stage, and that was a good number too. Every hen seemed to have at least one buddy to peck around with.

cleaning out chickens 2Eldest does love her hens. Cleaning them out is not the most pleasant job, but she likes to look after them.

Blue and cleaning out the chickensWhile she cleans, the Pup keeps her company. Just in case one of those pesky hens should escape.

I’m not going to claim that they have played harmoniously all the time, nor that they didn’t spend longer on screens than I would have liked, this summer, but they have spent lots of time outside. They have played together. It is a balance.

My problem now is that I’m not sure how I’m going to get my wild children back into school shoes and uniforms, in a week’s time. Hmm. That will be fun.

Linking up with the inspirational Fiona’s #CountryKids linky.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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A shirt with dogs. Plus flying bikes

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt back

Seeing as it’s the summer, I offered to make the Boy a shirt. It’s the one time of the year that I can sew something for him, that isn’t going to spend most of its time hidden under layers of warm clothes. I love sewing for him. He always choses such fun prints for his fabric and has just as much fun wearing them.

I’m a big believer that boy’s clothes don’t have to the boring. When his older sisters were little, I used to feel sorry for the boys’ clothes sections in shops. They always seemed to be full of muddy, green coloured clothes, as if they already anticipated the colour the garments would turn after a day outside on the back of an adventurous boy. What did they think washing machines were for? Also, why the girls weren’t supposed to join in, I really don’t know. Judging by the colours in their clothes sections, their world was brighter and cleaner.

Then the Boy arrived in our lives and I found myself searching out brighter colours. He wore a lot of red and brighter blues. He has his share of darker clothes, but he has a sense of fun, so why shouldn’t his clothes reflect it? Least when I sew, I can add that in.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt with skeletonBack to this summer’s shirt.

He suggested a long sleeve shirt this time round.

Gulp. That means a pattern with both a collar and two cuffs. At the same time. OK. Time to get the big scissors out.

He chose a dog print. We have big dogs so of course he adores small dogs. His ultimate favourite are dachshunds. It’s the paws and the way they walk. Everything, really.

We couldn’t find a dacksy print in cotton, but we did find one with Boston Terriers, Beagles, Basset Hounds and Pugs on it. Close enough.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt

I love that blue.

Turns out the cuffs weren’t as hard as I thought. The instructions walked me through it without a problem. Only two niggly points. I thought the cuff would be bigger. More like a grown-up shirt covering more of the wrist. Next time, I’ll cut them out twice as big. The other problem is that somehow the sleeves are a bit too short. I thought I’d measured. I think this is my error and not to do with the pattern.

He loves the sleeve length. I can see how it stops them draping in paint and food, which is a good thing, but I am really tempted to cut out bigger cuffs and swap them for the smaller attached version. It wouldn’t take too long and it would mean he could wear this shirt next year.

We’ll see.

I added buttons to the cuffs that look like cufflinks and he is as pleased as punch that they look like his father’s, without being as fiddly.

dog fabric and shirt instructionsThe collar wasn’t too different from the usual shirt pattern I make for him. I still paused. Misunderstood. Understood. Added notes to the pattern for next time and moved on. Am I the only one that adds notes? I do it in recipe books too. Amazing how I manage to forget in between and then am glad of my scribblings.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt matching frontAs always I like a matching front. It would have looked weird to have dogs cut in half in the centre of the shirt. I really think it is worth taking time at the cutting out stage to get this right. I took the advice of the fabric shop on how much extra to order, to allow for the repeat of the pattern, so it would match. I wasn’t keen to repeat the same mistake as last time.

I did manage to sew all the buttons on in the wrong place, as I did it late at night. Out came the unpicker and they were sewn on again. When will I learn!

The buttons are simple, half inch shirt buttons. I have my Grandmother’s collection of buttons. Bringing up four sons, she was a resourceful lady. I have a tube of these buttons which show signs of being cut off other garments. Presumably once the shirts were worn out, they were turned into dusters or rags, while the buttons were saved for another shirt. Nothing was wasted.

Simplicity 4760 boys shirt Pultney Bridge weirSo the shirt is made and being worn. The Boy could not be happier. I took the children into Bath for a bit of back to school shopping and a hair cut for the Boy. It’s the height of tourist season, although that is pretty much all year round for Bath.

I don’t usually take my camera on shopping trips, but this time it was too good an opportunity to take some photos of the Boy in his new shirt. Bath is a fabulous setting.

I thought I’d fit right in with my camera, while we did our shopping. Its true. You cannot walk anywhere without dodging a good number of people holding a phone or camera. One person even walked straight into me as she filmed her whole trip around Bath. She will have captured the moment when she startled an English woman. Weighed down with shopping bags and a camera.

flying bikes in BathMy daughter was less than pleased when I stood in the middle of the shopping area and snapped the flying bikes. Why not? There was a bunch of tourists doing it. Why not a local too? I could hardly resist flying bikes now could I?

Anyway, the sewing details….


Pattern: Simplicity 4760
Fabric: Dog Print cotton Poplin in Teal

Notes and alterations to the pattern

I made view A in size M. I added a bit of length to the shirt as the Boy is tall, but slender. He is age 9.

I liked the folded pleats where the sleeve meets the cuff. It adds interest and also a bit of room in the sleeve. There is also a little loop and button at the top of the front, which closes the top of the shirt. Presumably useful when wearing a tie, although I don’t think the Boy will use it.

I would add length to the sleeves next time.

The repeat is big. To match the pattern, I was adviced to add an extra 30cm. This turned out to be plenty.

I used french seams, instead of the suggested ones, as I think they give a better finish.

Would I make it again? Yes.

Disclosure: Minerva Crafts supplied me with the fabric and pattern, in return for a review. All opinions and words are my own, and honest.

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