Our new home in the country!!

We looked high, we looked low, we looked everywhere we went, but finally we found our home in the heart of the country! I know it’s been a while since we spoke last, but lots has been happening for us as a family and not much of that has been gardening related. You may remember me telling you we were moving, well it FINALLY happened!! We sold our property really quickly and also found our new home fairly quickly as well (all in November 2016). It was all going smoothly and wasn’t as stressful as many people had made it out to be. Then once all the survey’s started then all sorts of things came up. The main problem was, we didn’t know, that where we were living, apparently we didn’t own the bottom half of that garden?! Yes it was all a shock to us as well. We kept joking that our chickens were trespassing on council land. Once we discovered this (in February 2017) we were told that it was very simple to sort, and wouldn’t take long. What isn’t long to us, and what the council think of as not long are two different things. 5 months!! Yes you heard me correctly!! But finally it was sorted. We were very close to moving many times, but then something else came up. We wanted to move in the school Easter holidays, but that didn’t happen, June wasn’t good because of exams, so once they were out the way then we could set a date. We only had about 7 days to pack up the house, once the boxes had arrived. That’s really hard to do, especially when you have nowhere to put anything. It felt like our house was a cardboard box factory for that week. I just had to keep reminding myself that this was only going to be for a little while and soon they would all go. I don’t like clutter, lack of space and mess, it makes me stressed and cross. Mark took most of the week, running up to the move, off. So between us we packed up everything. When we moved in to that house in April 2001, Emily was 17 months old and George didn’t even exist. We hardly had anything. After 16 years and 2 and a half months, you accumulate lots of stuff. Our official moving day was Tuesday 11th July, but because we were moving such a distance the removals guys came on the Monday and packed up most of the boxes in their lorry, and just left us with the TV, the fridge and our mattresses. They were amazing and worked unbelievably hard. If you’re moving I would recommend them, Robinson’s Relocation. When they’d gone at the end of Monday, we went out to our local Superfish restaurant to have dinner. I wasn’t going to cook, well I couldn’t as they’d packed away my pots and pans! We then went to sleep in a very empty and echoey house. We woke in the morning and the guys arrived again to pack the rest of our belongings in their lorry. It was a huge lorry and we filled it right to the back. They had to stack some of my plant pots on top of each other so they could fit everything in. Just before we left we had an emotional last walk around the house. All of us got emotional in our own little way. George was born in the lounge (it was planned), so it’s the only home he’s every known. Emily has lived most of her life in that house, and it’s the home that Mark and I have also lived in for the longest. We said farewell to our neighbours, all who are brilliant and we love to pieces. The square were we lived was like a little community, everyone looked out for each other. The lorry left to travel the 75 miles to our new home. We handed our keys into the estate agents, got a sandwich and then started the drive down. As we were driving down, it occurred to us that we were actually homeless, which is a very weird feeling, and that all our possessions were in the back of a lorry. The lorry was limited to a certain speed, and we could go faster, so we didn’t have to hurry. The drive down was very uneventful, and the motorways were clear, all of them, even the M25? We did get stuck in a little bit of traffic, because there had been a small shunt between 3 cars, but it didn’t slow us down by much. Finally we arrived at the estate agents and picked up the keys, and then drove to our new home. We beat the removal company by just a couple of minutes. Then it was time to off load. It was getting quite late so they offloaded the essentials, like the mattresses and the TV and a box of food, and then left us to relax. Again we went out for dinner that evening to our local pub. Very tasty. After a slightly bizarre nights sleep in a new house with lots of strange sounds and no light pollution (when it’s dark, it’s dark), the removals men arrived the following day to off load everything else and put the boxes in the correct rooms. We’d numbered the boxes and the rooms, so they knew where everything needed to go. I made sure I had plenty of tea, coffee, cake, biscuits and fruit and anything else I could think of to keep them going. Once everything was off loaded we were again surrounded by boxes, but because our new home is bigger it didn’t seem as bad. Now we’ve been in for a little over a week, we’ve now unpacked most boxes, just about 6 left to unpack, so it now feels like home. We’re all settled in, and are getting used to our new surroundings. The garden is the next thing to conquer. I have a plan, and loads I want to do with it. But before I can get the chicken in their final place, and the greenhouses up and then my raised beds in and start to create my little paradise there are 10 cypress trees at the end of the garden that need to come out. They’re 10 foot deep and 8 meters tall!! The farmer opposite can do them, but he’s busy at the moment harvesting, so I may have to wait until he’s done. As soon as I start the garden, I’ll make a video, so you can join me. But here is the garden as it looks at the moment.

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How does your garden grow?

Are there silver bells and cockle shells in your garden? No, there are tomatoes and climbing beans all in a row.  Summer is now in full swing, and even though the sun doesn’t always shine, it is still wonderful and warm. Today is the 1st of July, so all your tender crops should be well established in your garden now. Make sure you water and feed your plants regularly, and watch out for any pests and diseases that they may get. The earlier you spot any potential problems, then the easier it is to cure your plants. So be vigilant and check your plants every few days. If you’ve not started to harvest your first crops yet, then soon you will. All that hard work will be worth all the effort your put in to caring for your seedlings. You’re dinners will taste amazing with your freshly harvested produce.

If you need any more information, don’t forget my ebooks, they have everything you need to know. And if you have time, please leave a review. Click on the words below and they’ll take you straight to each individual book. CONTAINER GARDENING, CARROTS, POTATOES, ONIONS, and FRENCH BEANS.

There are more books to follow, the next one is tomatoes which will be ready in August. But I can only write one at a time, I’m going as fast as I can.

Happy Gardening!

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Do you want to know about container gardening?

My latest ebook CONTAINER GARDENING is out now, and ready for you to purchase at the wonderfully low price of just 99p! This book has all the information you will need to know about growing fruits and vegetables in containers, be it pots or raised beds. Whatever space you have available there is something for everyone. If all you have is a window sill, you’ll be surprised at what you will be able to grow. I have also given suggestions about how you can grow 17 different types of fruits and vegetables together in just a 1 meter square raised bed. So take a look, and please leave a comment. Click HERE to go directly to it.

Don’t forget, I also have ebooks on growing CARROTS,  POTATOES, ONIONS and FRENCH BEANS.

Happy gardening to you all!!

Claire x

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Frensham Little Pond – Friday 2nd June 2017

It’s the last day of the school half term for my two, they’re back to school on Monday. So what better way to spend their last day of freedom for a while, why not go on a massive walk! It was supposed to be a relaxing day strolling round Frensham Little pond, but it turned into an epic adventure. The drive down was fine and very uneventful, until we reached the final part. As we were driving along the narrow country lane I saw a road sign saying “Ford”. Now this word was in a red triangle, you know the sort of triangle I mean. In the 25 years since I passed my test I have never come across this sign. There in front of the car was some flowing water. How deep this water was, I had no idea. Do I get out the car to check it first, or just drive through it and hope for the best? I didn’t have much time to think what to do, as there was another car waiting patiently for me to cross the “Ford” first! I went very hesitantly, and I’m glad to say we made it through without any problems. The reason I was being so apprehensive was because a friend of mine once drove through a ford, and her car started to float away down stream, with her still in it!! We found the car park, but it was quite small. It was a national trust car park, so we were in the right place. We later found out that it wasn’t the main car park, just a sub car park.IMG_3945.JPG

Once we had parked we gathered up our packed lunch and made our way up the rustic path hopefully towards the pond. Very soon we arrived, and the sight that met us was amazing. It was so tranquil and peaceful. You could hear birds singing, dogs barking and children playing. It was perfect. There was several bird hides that you could look through, and get a wonderful view out onto the lake. They also had pictures of birds that you would most likely see. We saw a heron, a couple of swans and some moorhens with 3 little babies!!

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We wanted to find the perfect place to sit and have our picnic, so we started to follow the path. There are a couple of main paths that you could take, and then off each of those are lots of little paths. The vegetation varied as to where you were. Where the streams trickled through, it was like a wood with oak trees and bogs. Then you came out of that area and were into sand, and gorse bushes. This area look positively prehistoric, and we expected to see dinosaurs roaming in the distance. Then came a question from George, “If you were a dinosaur which one would you be?” How he gets through a day at school I will never know.IMG_3947-1

We finally found the perfect spot to sit and have our lunch, but before we sat down to enjoy our picnic we all had to use the ladies or gents. When you’ve got to go….. Round by some of the pond is a wonderful sandy patch. Emily called it “the middle class beach”. It was lovely. Just like being down at the beach, but you don’t have to pay for the car park, and no wind blowing away your umbrella. No horrible tasting sea water, and a lovely clean toilet very close.IMG_3951.JPG

The pond was very calm, and little kids and dogs were having a wonderful time splashing about in it. It seems that you can go in for quite a long way and it stays very shallow. There are no signs warning you of deep water either, so I guess it’s very child friendly. Once we’d had our picnic lunch George just couldn’t wait any longer, and stripped down to his pants (fortunately he was wearing some) and in he went. IMG_3954.JPG

Once he’d played enough in the water he then had to get out of his wet pants and back into his dry clothes. If you do visit her, make sure that you take a towel with you, you’ll need it. George had to drip dry, with the help of a few tissues that I had. He then hid behind a tree to change. The tree wasn’t quite big enough, and didn’t hid him completely, but he was very discrete and quick. Once he was dressed again we continued on our adventure. We climbed a rather high hill, which exhausted us all. We all had to rest at the top for a while before we continued. At least once you’ve climbed up a hill it’s easy going down.IMG_3959.JPG

When we’d explored enough, we went to the cafe to treat ourselves to an ice cream. Oh they were really lovely. George had a blackberry one, Emily had a rose water one and I had a caramel and walnut. They were all glorious!! As we were walking to the cafe, we saw a fire engine parked in the main car park with it’s lights flashing. We couldn’t see any smoke, so through they had just come to educate people about fire safety. We then saw a ladder leaning up against a tree, and a fireman helping a your lad down out of it. He’d clearly got stuck, but he wasn’t a young boy of about 5, no, he looked about 8 so should have known better. We’ve always had a rule in our house regarding climbing trees, “You get up there yourself, you get down yourself”. Some of you may think that’s a little harsh, but kids have got to learn!!

When we’d finished our ice creams we used the facilities again, and then decided that we would make our way back to the car. To say we went straight back to the car would be a very big fib. Now we have a family motto, “We’re not lost, we’re exploring”. Actually I can quite categorically say we were lost!! There’s no getting around it. We missed the path we should have taken, to be honest you could only see it from one direction. Emily was convinced we were going in the right direction, but George and I disagreed. After walking and walking and walking, Emily finally agreed that we’d taken the wrong route, and so back we went, and finally found the right path. Then to all our great joy there was our car!! We hugged it and told it that we hadn’t forgotten it. “What have we learnt today?” I asked the children. They looked at me, “Emily has a worse sense of direction that I do.” Next time we go we’ll remember where we parked. Hopefully!

 

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Tuesday 30th May 2017 – Day trip out with the kids

It’s the May half term for my two this week, so instead of staying inside and twiddling our thumbs all day, I decided that the best thing to do would be to go out and have some fun. The weather was supposed to be overcast, but hopefully dry, so I thought we’d take a risk and go to an outdoor National Trust place. Now I know we’ve been to Winkworth Arboretum before, but it’s always such a fun place to go, and we explored some other areas that we’d not ventured into before. We were well prepared with a packed lunch and plenty of drink (nothing alcoholic) as the kids are under age and I was driving. Winkworth is about a 50 minute drive from our house, but a very pleasant drive, especially when you don’t hit any traffic which we didn’t. When we arrived we changed into our proper walking shoes and off we went. We took a map, just incase we got lost. We have a saying in our family, “We’re not lost, we’re exploring”. Although sometimes we are lost, but shush don’t tell anyone. We decided that we were going to follow the red route, which was the longest path, and the most challenging path, and was about 3.6 k.

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At this time of year Winkworth is wonderful because all the trees are in full bloom and the azaleas are so colourful. There are wild flowers growing all over the place, and it’s just so quiet and tranquil. With the major building works going on right next to where we live and the noise that is coming from their machinery, it’s great to get away to the peace and quiet and listen to the wildlife for a change. Some of the wooded areas of the arboretum look like something straight out of the Cretaceous era. The kids and I were expecting dinosaurs to pop out from the undergrowth at any moment.

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We found some wonderful places to sit. Some very basic, a tree trunk cut in half longways. This is where we sat when we had our lunch. We chatted about all sorts of things, from camping (Emily and I are not fans), to adventures my sister and I got up to when we were little, to our new home (when we finally move in, when that will be is anyones guess), to other strange things that I can’t share with you and should only be discussed between my children and myself. We followed the red route all the way round, and when we sat down we played “eye spy with my little eye, something beginning with T!” I wonder what that could be? We found some wonderful swathes of lupins growing. Their colours were so beautiful.

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We took lots of photos and to finish off the day, before we got back in the car to come home, the kids had an ice cream and I had a black decaf coffee. I did ask for a black decaf coffee and the lady asked if I wanted milk? I guess they only hear the coffee part.

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A wonderful day, and a shame that Mark had to be at work and couldn’t join us. They don’t have a shop at Winkworth, so we were unable to buy him a little present. Still we’ll visit another place on Thursday or Friday and get him something then. Emily is not a very outdoorsy type of person. She loves going for walks, but dogs, cats, birds (even the chickens) she’s not keen on. Don’t get her started on bugs and insects, and definitely not spiders. So when we were sitting down having a snack and a teeny tiny beetle landed on the ruck sack, well, let’s just say Emily wasn’t amused. It was a tiny little thing and wouldn’t have hurt her at all, but I’ll let you decide whether it looks evil or not.

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Looking back At The Bestseller Experiment Episode 1 – Who Buys Bestsellers?

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Originally posted on Mark Stay Writes:
At the time of writing, we’re up to episode 35 of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and, as we get close to finishing the first draft of our book, I thought it would be interesting…

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How to grow French beans.

Have you ever wanted to know how to grow your very own French beans? If the answer is yes, then I have some wonderful news for you. My latest ebook is all about French beans. Click HERE and it’ll take you straight to it.

I’ll tell you how to prepare your soil, what structures to use, my favourite varieties, when to sow them, when to plant them out, how to look after them, how to harvest them, and a scrumptious recipe for you as well.

Now is the perfect time to start sowing your French bean seeds, so take a look at my latest book and it’ll give you everything  you need to know.

Happy growing!!

Claire x

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