Chit chat: Sunshine, riding bikes and building Wendy houses

sloe gin

Who had the most fantastic weekend this last one? We did and I really hope you had a lot of fun too. I just love the Sloe gin that Gordon’s has made, have you tried it yet?

First things first, the British weather played ball and husband got his BBQ out TWICE! He was over the moon, a barbie and a beer and my man is the happiest soul on earth.

wendy house completed


Secondly, we got round to building the girls wendy house I mentioned in my Asda Direct post a short while ago and they LOVE it, we hadn’t got the roof on and they were already moving in.

mari and grandmother

Thirdly, we invited the Golden Oldies round to share our BBQ and we had a wonderful meal outside.

But our fun weekend doesn’t stop there, the girls finally at very long last have picked up how to ride a bike, at school they’ve been practising on balance bikes and gaining confidence. We have been asking if they’d like new bikes for their birthday in July and been met with tears and angry frustration, ‘But I can’t ride without my stabilisers!’ no manner of ‘We’ll help you-s’ went to aiding the situation and we had even started thinking of other presents and then school jumped in and did the ground work for us, it’s amazing how they’ll dig their heels in with us but go ahead quite happily with their teachers.

Anyway, very content with themselves, we had a practise run before turning the camera on and it went perfectly and then we went for a second take…oops!

I should have foreseen it shouldn’t I? Typical!

Anyway here’s my third attempt with Alice showing off her new skills – you can hear me saying ‘Watch where your going!’ this time too :)

I weeded my veggie plot and it’s now looking respectable again, I need to get my hands on some sawdust or make a quiche quick, crush the egg shells and use them to deter the slugs and snails from eating my baby vegetables!

vegetable plot 17 may 2014

So a quick run through of our building Wendy house task, we started on Saturday and had to dig up the uneven garden, lay a base – we used patio slabs on sand and here we put the base down to work on.

wendy house base

Second part was to start constructing the front panel, adding the door and windows and that took us to about 4pm on Saturday when we called it a day as we had family coming for a BBQ.

Sunday morning we were up and out by 9am, we wanted to get as much done as possible quickly so we could sit back and enjoy the gorgeous day, the next part is to put the back and sides on followed by the front, once this part was done the girls were LOVING it and already moving bits in whilst we carried on with the work

wendy house construction

The roof was next and by this time it was getting hot, I’d like to point out that no money was added to the swear box and the instructions were easy to follow too.

wendy house construction

The roof went on, the felt cladding went on, which is a dirty sticky job and then the last fascias and what nots to finish off the job. You’ll notice I haven’t added the panes to the windows yet, this is because I want to paint it first and don’t want to fiddle about with masking tape

wendy house twins

The girls are in their element, I do worry they may grow out of it quite quickly, so to make it more personal I’m going to put some pictures up on the wall they’ve brought home from school, add some books and toys in there and to start them off well, we all went in on Sunday evening and had a game of Uno, they thrashed us! I taught them far too well it would seem.

playing Uno

I’m taking part in Point and Shoot this week

Garden plans for 2012

I was pleased with our garden progress last year, we made a real dent in it and the Bosch Garden Makeover competition certainly provided us with some beautiful plants to look out for this year, I can’t wait to see them grow and fingers crossed flower too. On the whole I think we did pretty well and that’s why this year I’m hoping to make a vegetable garden.

Last year I grew tomatoes, I had too many in all honesty but they were delicious and I will be growing some more this year. I had a go at runner beans but they died on me and I had a few courgette plants that overtook the garden. I also planted a pumpkin for us to use at Halloween and on my return from our summer holiday I mistook it for an overgrown courgette and ate it! Yes it was tough but tasty. Hey I’m learning here!

So this year I have plans…

I intend to get my Other Half to knock me up a box like the one below I found on Boy’s Life and I will have a Raised Bed in which to plant my veg year after year, doesn’t that sound organised and doesn’t it look neat and tidy?

Or on the other hand we could nip down to B&Q as they are now selling Rustic Raised beds for £17.98

Last autumn I entered a competition on Domestic Goddesque’s blog and won! My prize was this fabulous Sylvester Bird Box, I made sure we put it up ages ago way before any birds were hunting for nests and now I have to wait and see. I sent Other Half up a ladder as high as he could go to avoid cat problems and we’ve put it in a sunny spot, fingers crossed.

Sylvester BIrd box

In fact it won’t be long before I start planting seeds and turning the kitchen window sill into the Eden Project again, I was out yesterday whilst we enjoyed a fluke 16C and planted a few more bulbs for summer colour and I filled my tin bucket once again with primroses to add a splash of colour to the drab patio

There’s not really much to do in the garden in the winter is there? Well there probably is if you’re a fully fledged gardener but if like me, you’re not, well we haven’t even cut the grass! It’s looking long and in need but until either the expert next door neighbours get their mowers out then I’m waiting.

I also intend extending my herb garden this year which currently consists of a rosemary bush and some parsley. I’d like some chives and some basil, some oregano (pizza anyone?) some mint (Pimms) and some sage.

I am also pretty tempted to get one of those ‘Spud bags’ from the national newspapers. Grow your own potatoes in a sack on the patio. Am I taking on too much here? Running away with what seems on paper – a brilliant idea? Possibly, you’ll be told of progress or lack of as the year unfolds. I have however started composting. I treated us to a kitchen composter in January and now I need to set up part two of my recycling and get the compost ‘bin’ in the garden so I can empty this one into that one

Anyway, I have spotted shoots coming out of the earth meaning a short while from now we’ll have flowers again – can’t wait!

The not so Secret Garden

Garden shot form the top

A garden in need of TLC

It is time for a gardening update as the last you saw it was looking very good, partly because I chose not to photograph the bad bits and just focus on the pretty bits but now it’s time to fess up!

Although the size is excellent for playing it does mean it’s quite a handful to look after and three weeks away certainly allowed ample time for the weeds to take root and overtake my pretty flower patches. It took me three days to dig them all up and with the heavy rainfall we’ve been having they are coming back with a vengeance. I have a whole herd of snails all over the place, who knew they could travel so fast? They’ve attacked my courgettes leaving me to cut them really small so at least I can say I have eaten some of my own produce and my tomatoes…well no one told me you had to pinch them whilst they grew and so mine are looking quite stragley to say the least. However there are some beautiful tomatoes growing and all I need now is some sunshine to ripen them up. I followed Peter Seabrook’s advice and cut back some foliage to allow the rays to reach the fruit and it has poured down ever since.

Garden jobs that need doing

Each photo represents a job to be done

So, here’s the big news…I have been contacted by a PR company who have thrown Mari’s World a new challenge, a battle of mummy gardeners up and down the country. Now I can’t go into it too much right now as we are all still waiting for the final details to come through BUT I do know I have two months to turn my patch around and I DO know I need help in order to win – in it to win it and all that!

Are you a landscape gardener who can help me plan my garden and how to grow it over the next few years? Are you a professional veggie plotter who can advise how to place and grow my veg which I seem to have failed at this year? Please contact me with some useful tips and ideas.

playdough in the gardenI’d love to turn my garden into ‘rooms’ one for the girls toys, one for veg and fruit trees and one for sunbathing (Becaue the sun WILL shine again!) and relaxing or course the patio will remain the patio but could do with a facelift too.

While we’re on the subject of gardening have a look at my grow bag frame that was sent backl a while ago, I think you will agree it is doing very well. Here are my mistakes,

  1. I put four tomatoes in the bag as I had so many of them and they are too many, three is definitely better
  2. I have been slack on watering them (hence the yellow leaves, I have noticed though a good drowning can turn the leaves around ::
  3. I should have ‘pinched’ them as they grew and that would ahve made them sturdier plants with larger fruit

So next year I’ll have a better go at them, in the meantime send me sunshine to ripen my tommys up please :)

Vegetable Plot