February Escapism, Homemade Style!

Hi guys. A very belated Happy New Year!

I can’t believe it’s been over 6 months since I’ve written a blog. With a mixture of home schooling and an increase in sales to my Etsy shop (one good thing to come out this situation!, I don’t seem to have any spare time whatsoever.

At least it’s now February and spring in around the corner, the afternoons are getting longer and it’s not quite so dark early. Think, next month should see the start of Gardener’s World too!

Just some of the seeds I bought from Wilko’s!

This year, apart from the usual suspects of tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots etc, I have bought some dwarf climbing French beans and also some borlotti beans for the first time. I usually grow runner beans but fancied a change this year. On the flower front I’ve bought a new type of container cosmos from Sarah Raven as well as a Tithonia. Also, I don’t have much luck with sunflowers, but couldn’t resist the Helianthus “Magic Roundabout”, I think it was the lovely name which attracted me. I also went for “Ms Mars”, a cute pink sunflower.

My favourite Sarah Raven seeds

I’ve always loved gardening, but, along with so many other people last year, I found it so beneficial during lockdown. It was lovely to get out after home schooling and spend some time gently weeding or seed sowing and dead-heading in the garden. It’s been difficult to get much gardening in lately, due to snow and generally wet weather. However, i’m really looking forward to getting out there again and getting stuck in. Plans for half term include mulching and sorting out the greenhouse!

Hopefully. I can get started on my seed sowing campaign shortly. First to begin with will be the chilli plants. I always look forward to January in the garden centres; most of the Christmas stuff has gone and the new seed varieties are beginning to appear on the shelves. I recently made a trip to Wilko’s and splurged on some vegetable and flower seeds. I always buy the basic varieties from Wilkos as year after year, they are always reliable and of course a great bargain! Any seeds that are a bit trickier to get hold of, I now generally buy online at Sarah Raven. My obsession with Sarah Raven started last year, when I ordered a packet of the “Turquoise lagoon” sweet peas, a beautiful and eye catching colour in my garden. Since then, I’ve never looked back. Sarah Ravens dahlia bulbs were magnificent last year. Twice the size of other competitors.

Some fun books to read!

Other things during the past couple of months that have kept me sane are books. I seem to have an obsession with book buying at present. Sainsburys is good for cheap and cheerful reads, but I’ve recently discovered the Bookshop site, which helps struggling independent bookshops. I’ve ordered a few books from there. My recent reads include “Small Pleasures” by Claire Chambers, set in the 1950’s about a single woman and her life. Also I read “Father” by Elizabeth Von Arnim, she of “Enchanted April” fame. Although I did enjoy this book, it was quite a slow read. One other recommendation is “The girl who reads on the Metro”, by Christine Feret-Fleury. As a book lover and a francophile, I really loved this book. Its gentle and nothing much happens but if you like books and France, then I think you will love it.

Just some of the magazines that have kept me going!


With regards to TV, I’ve enjoyed watching “Dash & Lily” on Netflix. My 50 plus friend recommended this to me and although its about teenagers, it’s a lovely watch and is set in the famous Strand bookshop in New York. I was lucky enough to visit the Strand a few years ago (pre kids!) and would absolutely love to go back. In fact, I enjoyed the series so much, that I ended up buying the book. Also, along with 63 million people, I have enjoyed watching Bridgerton on Netflix too. I didn’t realise that the series was based on the books by Julia Quinn – I may be buying some of her novels! I used to love costume dramas and the classic works of fiction they were based on. I think it’s the romantic side of me. Bridgerton and Dash & Lily are pure escapism from daily life. Nothing wrong with that. ..


Our Favourite Recipes

Spaghetti with Tomato, Spinach, and Shaved Parmesan

Creamy Tomato Soup with Cheese Toasties

Grilled Asparagus & Poached Egg on Toast

La Seigneurie Gardens, Sark

On our family holiday this year we were lucky enough to visit Jersey for a third time I love this little island, where time stands still and everyone is polite and the traffic filters in turn at roundabouts.

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As we were there for a couple of weeks, we decided the visit Sark, which actually falls under the jurisdiction of Guernsey. I’ve seen holiday programmes on Sark and have always wanted to visit.  The main attraction being the total ban on cars etc.  If you want to get around on Sark you walk, hire a bike or take a horse and wagon tour.

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We caught the boat early one morning and after a horrendous sea crossing where most people were seasick we finally arrived!  After I had a drink of water (a cafe owner suggested I pick some mint from her garden to flavour the water!), we walked around.

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We had planned beforehand to visit La Seigneurie gardens which were absolutely amazing.  Honestly if I lived in Sark I would visit these gardens daily.  These beautiful walled gardens were small but perfectly formed.  Lots of seasonal interest and eye catching plants and beautiful flowers, an obvious micro climate. I loved it and could have stayed all day.

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It was a very peaceful and tranquil. Also the gardens were immaculate and so well maintained. Not a weed in sight! Plus there was a little cafe for a cup of tea after your visit.

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All in all, despite the sea sickness I absolute loved Sark and La Seigneurie was the main highlight of the day

If you are lucky enough to visit the beautiful Channel Islands, then please visit!


Samares Manor, Jersey

This was my second visit to the lovely Samares Manor botanical gardens in Jersey.  Last year we visited on the last day of our holiday and I found out that you can have a free return visit within 2 weeks so I didn’t make that mistake again and we went early in our holiday!

Samares Manor is small but so tranquil and lovely.  There’s lots of different garden areas for interest, including a Japanese garden, a herb garden and a particular favourite of my son’s: a shade and damp area with lots of stepping stones and ducks!

My favourite area of these gardens however is the walled garden. I have always wanted a walled garden. This one at Samares Manor doesn’t disappoint with lots of cottage style planting which I love. Beautiful rudbeckias, verbena and dahlias come to mind.   There are also lovely espaliers of pear trees that greet you as you meander through the garden.

Whilst visiting Samares Manor, don’t forget to visit their cafe. The Herb Garden cafe is a fabulous outdoor tearoom serving the most delicious and largest piece of lemon drizzle cake I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat! I would be sampling my way through the menu if I lived there. When we visited they were advertising a special lunch menu which was a delicious sounding fig and feta cheese pizza. All cooked on their outdoor pizza oven.  Unfortunately I was too full of cake to take advantage!

You could spend an hour plus here, it’s not that large, but it is so pleasant and definitely visit the cafe. It’s well worth it, especially if like us you are on holiday and get a free return visit! It’s just so nice to have a stroll around in pleasant conditions.

Overall even though it’s not that big, there is quite a lot of interesting areas to explore. The shop sells a nice array of local crafts and although I couldn’t bring back any plants on my flight, the garden centre plants looked in great condition and were reasonably priced.

I’m already looking forward to visiting the gardens again soon


RHS Malvern Spring festival

69a4c9fc-71f2-42fc-bc36-7ce9cfaf3465I’ve always wanted to visit the RHS Malvern Spring show and this year I actually remembered to book tickets and off we went a couple of weeks ago on a sunny Saturday!

I watched Gardeners World the Friday beforehand as I thought they would be filming there and I was not disappointed.  I loved the look of the show gardens and the floral marquee and couldn’t wait to visit the Three Counties Showground in Malvern the next day. I was crossing my fingers that the weather would improve too after a deluge of rain a few days before.

The big day arrived and the sun came out. We arrived mid morning, along with thousands of other people too!  First stop coffee and a 10 minute wait for the ladies’ loo’s!  (Generally speaking there are more women at shows like this so why not provide extra toilets?!).

cf338afb-9e7f-41bb-94b4-2a116f37bb59Second stop was the show gardens. Unfortunately due to the previous days rain, these were in a muddy field! From watching GW I was really looking forward to seeing the show gardens and they didn’t disappoint.  On the down side, it was so busy you had to queue In order to get a look in. It’s always disappointing at these things as there are so many people like me wanting to get a look. On TV they obviously film when no ones around. A false sense of reality!

c9f6a9f9-1c74-41d4-8593-19ad2ec5df39Anyway after I managed a quick peak, I really liked this garden. It was so bright and colourful. Lots of fun in the garden.  It really appealed to me as my garden is also full of bright, fun colours and eye catching planting.

The schools gardens were excellent too.  Lots of hard work went into them and I loved the bright happy colours and the planting.

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My absolute favourite garden was “the bra garden” though!  I saw Carol Klein talking about the bras and couldn’t find a record of it anywhere in the programme. My husband came up with the idea of re running the GW episode to find out what the garden was called  I was getting obsessed with finding this garden at one point.  We managed to locate the garden due to the placement of some giant tepees in the end! It was great fun and unbeknown to me it was made by a local school in Birmingham.

49ff6d4d-c3d0-4e43-93eb-7ef55ace8165All in all, a good day out was had by everyone. My husband and son enjoyed their burger and pizza respectively and I enjoyed looking around the gardens, actually in the sunshine!

Im thinking about a return visit to BBC Gardeners World Live next month, but I may be going on a solo trip, unless there is some street food there to tempt the family!


Flower pot madness!

We had planned a warm Easter school holiday trip to Estepona, south of Malaga, Spain. In reality we were rained in, cold and were grateful of the heated seats in the hire car!  It took us 3 days to finally visit the lovely town of Estepona in all it’s sunny glory. It was worth it.

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From what I had read, I pictured an idyllic Spanish local town, generally off the tourist trail where Spanish friends and family met on Saturday mornings in their favourite cafe over a Cortado. I wasn’t disappointed. We were the only foreigners there!  Lots of locals doing their Saturday morning shopping.  And the shoe shops were to die for!!! 3 pairs of lovely sandals made it back into my case!

Anyway, to bring me to the point of this blog. What I hadn’t realised was that Estepona is famous for its flower pot trail!  The guidebook said, go into the tourist office and ask for a trail map. We duly did and began to walk street after street of beautiful, colourful flower pots full of red geraniums which were attached to the street walls. Apparently each street has a themed flower pot colour too!  I have to say my favourites were the pink spotty ones and was quite disappointed that I couldn’t bring one back in my suitcase!

The trail went on for lovely street after street until my 9 year old had decided enough was enough and he wanted an ice cream! I took so many photos, that here is only a small selection.

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So if you are a fan of flowers, gardening and spotty plant pots, you will love it here!

Lovely Estepona, I can’t wait to go back.