Category Archives: Uncategorized

Don’t Panic


This last couple of weeks I’ve been watching the weather as we all do at this time of year, and worrying myself silly. I need to grow fabulous dahlias for a friend’s garden. Her daughter is getting married in August and she wants a garden full of big showy colourful flowers. Dahlias are the answer but the tubers need to be started off anytime now. Of course in the cold greenhouse nothing will happen anytime soon so I’ve been getting a bit twitchy.

Anyhow I was looking back over the last couple of years and there was a post about the late spring. Just 2 years ago. Exactly the same thing, cold and wintry,but lo and behold it was the 9th of March and I was potting up my dahlia tubers indoors. So I guess I’m starting my own tradition. Tomorrow I’m off to pot up the dahlias and put them somewhere warm like the spare roo m till spring finally turns up.

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March 8, 2013 · 9:13 pm

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 15 years to get that many views.

I must say I’m amazed, I’m not he best blogger but this has given me a bit of a jolt and I reckon I’d better try harder in 2013.  However, don’t hold your breath!

Click here to see the complete report.

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Fairburn’s Fabulous Flower Festival

I am horizontal after an exhausting but wonderfully flowery weekend.   It’s been all hands on deck at St James’s church in Fairburn since Friday to fill our pretty little church with this……!!!

Our flower festival has been going on all weekend.   There was a lot of work and a lot of fun and at the end of it all a fantastic result….then the cakes came (loads of them …..) and the kettle went on and the visitors came and no matter what the weather threw at us or our bunting we carried on and had a great weekend.

Here’s the cake and the first two catering volunteers:

One of the highlights was the miniature garden competition.   You can see some of them bottom right of the main photo.   The children at Fairburn School had really put their hearts and souls into designing and creating lovely little gardens and our Judge had trouble coming up with winners, but rosettes were awarded and one of the little boys was first into the church on Saturday morning to see if he’d won.   His garden was 3rd so he took photos and was obviously delighted –  so much so he was back again today with his Dad and brother to show them too.

I’m always amazed to see some of the creations and fascinated by the ideas for designs.   This one, Farming Memories of our Parents comes from a farmer’ wife and  daughter.   All the elements were there, the wheat and the corn, wool  from the sheep, willow hurdles and sunflowers with photos of both their fathers reminding us of another time.  A beautiful composition and evocative of a golden age.

I couldn’t choose a favourite amongst the designs they were all so lovely, but I really liked the picnic created on a windowsill.   It really did remind me of an idyll

ic lazy summer’s afternoon in the sun, chatting and eating and drinking and laughing….if only we could truly have a few days like that this summer….

We had a lot of fun as well.   We worked pretty hard to make the church look this great and to get everything in place, but we chatted, we laughed and we enjoyed making it a success.   It was the first flower festival in a while at St James’s but hopefully it won’t be the last.

Thanks everyone who worked so hard to make it a success, and thanks everyone who came and supported us – see you again next year? I hope so.

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What’s the Alternative?

Fantasy WeddingWhat’s the Alternative?

Wedding Fairs are wonderful fantasy places where brides go to dream of fabulous weddings, beautiful gowns, dreamy honeymoons and extravagant receptions…..and all too often they remain a dream.   In these days budgets are tight and some couples find it a stretch to even arrange a wedding at all.

It seems such a shame not to have a wonderful day and so I thought there must be a way, by looking at things differently, to still have a fabulous day but not to break the bank.   The Alternative Wedding Fair is the result.  The aim?   Simple to offer good value, beautiful things away from the mainstream, from small suppliers who offer good value  or an alternative to conventional and pricey wedding services.

What do we mean?  Well I met a man the other day who’s sound company offers a DIY disco.  He sends along all the equipment, the bride and group put together a playlist in advance, with a little help from the best man on it goes and hey presto an instant disco… cheesy DJ and a big saving.

Or maybe you’d like to save on the flowers but you need some help.   One of my services is wedding flowers and I’m more than happy to do the bouquet, the buttonholes and bridesmaids’ posies and to offer advice to the bride and her family about  flowers and to help them do the reception flowers themselves.

Some brides might turn to look at vintage wedding dresses.   Often high quality gowns made from pure silks and natural fabrics that aren’t so easy to find in modern dresses but at a fraction of the cost.

Rivers Meet Craft Café ( is in Leeds Road, Methley  LS26 9EP not far from Leeds and the café embodies the alternative ethos offering a series of 6 monthly Home Made Wedding Workshops  begining this month with cards and invitations, moving on to iced biscuit favours in March.So are you an exhibitor who can offer something to a modern bride on a budget?  The fair will be on Sunday 24th June from 10am – 4pm.  Spaces are limited because this is a small venue so please get in touch soon.  The cost is £30 for a 6ft space (Please let me know whether you need a table) and in keeping with the theme there’ll be no charge for visitors.

For more details about the fair contact and I’ll hope to see you there.

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I’m in charge!

Relaxing in front of the fire (which is possibly the only thing I am in charge of) after a day with the animals.

This is my first day as the garden designing housesitter in deepest Shropshire.   And how gorgeous this lovely old farm house is.  But very little has happened in the way of garden design today!  But it is day 1.

My charges are 2 lovely donkeys, 3 terribly easy sheep, 5 completely chilled hens, two dogs with lovely natures….. and 13 cats….all with their own personalities.   Before you gasp not all the cats live in the house.   In fact just at the moment I’ve only got Willow and Dilly for company.  Although Mincey did follow me up to the shower…realised it was a bit wet and promptly took off again.

What a funny day though.  Just as the lady of the house was on her way out of the door to Australia for a lovely long holiday there at the door was a father and son who had come to see the house from Australia!  The father’s mum had lived here when she was a child about 40 years ago, so in they came and we showed them round.  They were just tickled pink by this lovely old house with its nooks and crannies, beams and low ceilings….and so am I to be honest.

Feeding time down here on the farm is going to have to be a much stricter affair than it was this afternoon though.   Everybody is after everybody else’s dinner.  I’ve never seen anything like it!   The dogs like the cat food….the hens like that too, the donkeys quite like the sheep food and the dogs like the hens’ afternoon tea.   So lesson learnt, doors will be closed and animals will be segregated!


My best pal for today has been faithful Dixter.  What a goodhearted dog he is.  Cheerful and happy but sticking with me as if to make sure I was OK.   And so biddable.  Possibly the most easy going animal I’ve ever come across.   And his constant companion Harry – who is an incredible 15 years old, but still dashing round following a trail in the woods amazingly. It’s a bit tricky to call him though – he’s quite deaf.  He’s fast asleep now though very sensibly, still chasing something in his dreams.  I might just join him.

So, tomorrow is another day, I might just look at that garden…….now where was that wine?

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Christmas Flowers at Fairburn

Today was the day….the ladies of the flower team rolled up their  and did Christmas.  It’s the carol service tomorrow and the church will be be beautifully decked out.  A mountain of greenery had been clipped from gardens, hedgerows and in my case a pub (with permission of course) and the lovely holly in the churchyard gave us load of berries to play with.    The only things we bought were the red carnations, some eucalyptus and a bunch of anastasia.  Not bad to fill a church.

Enid set about the window by the door.  She’d decided on a parallel arrangement before we started having won some gorgeous white amarylis at the flower club on Monday – very handy….and a very beautiful result.  Even my son approved and believe me it isn’t easy to get the seal of

approval from him.  In fact it isn’t easy to even get him to look.

Annette and Barbara’s windows were lovely too and with their allocation from the carnations they’d added their own little bits of gold and sparkle  so that tomorrow evening when all the candles are lit for the carol service the whole church will twinkle in the glow.

And we have a new addition to the team – another Margaret.  Which makes life really complicated.   I’m a Margaret, we already had a Margaret and now we have a new Margaret…. in a room where there are only 7 women and 3 of them answer to Margaret I can tell you it gets tricky.

Here’s our latest Margaret’s window:

Our 1st Margaret did the altar today but she came along after we’d been there this morning – so pictures tomorrow, and with the candles lit.  Should look wonderful.

I had the top of a disused fireplace above a window but way up – apparently I’m young (well that makes a change!) so able to scale the heights.   It’s a fairly traditional arrangement and I used lots of sprakly glitter spray which hopefully will show up tomorrow night.

Here’s where we are at Fairburn near Castleford in West Yorkshire :  If you know how to find the RSPB reserve at Fairburng Ings we are just up the road, and we’d love to see you – our churchwarden has been working like mad and the statues are ready to go into the nativity scene.   The candles are ready to light and mince pies are being made in a dozen kitchens round about to go with the mulled wine.  We start at 7.30 tomorrow evening (Thursday 15th December) and I know from only having been at this church for a little over a year that you’ll get a warm welcome.

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If it’s Friday……

it must be – um…..?  The festive fair season is in full swing just now and honestly I hardly know where I am.   I love them when I get there and everything’s in place.  Usually there are lots of Christmassy things going on – Santa, Carols and brass bands – and everyone gets into the christmas spirit.  It’s just the getting there that’s a bit of an issue.   I’m on the merry go round and so maybe it’s a senior moment thing, but unless I keep referring to my diary I have no idea where I’m supposed to be or what time I’m supposed to be there!  If I’ve tweeted about where I’m going would you mind giving me a quick dig in the ribs to remind me nearer to the date!

Last weekend was St Gemma’s Hospice Christmas market and that’s one of the highlights for me.   They work so hard and the hospice gets great support for its work, and this year a rock choir sang on Saturday and my pal Lucy played in the brass band on Friday.

I’m going somewhere new on Thursday this week which presents its own problems!  On my way to one fair last week my sat nav decided to take me on a tour of a housing estate until it brought me to a halt at a row of bollards which it clearly hadn’t bargained for.   Oh how I regretted not having a road map in the car any more.

There’s nothing worse than arriving late.  I end up dashing in and out like a mad thing as the visitors start to arrive.   Then of course they might like to buy something, but I’m bound to have forgotten how much the hyacinths are or where I’ve hidden the cash box.

Last weekend I sent the cashbox flying – not the best when you’re chasing 20ps across the floor as a confused customer is waiting for her change.

So this week it’s South Leeds Hub on Thursday afternoon/evening, and one of my favourites on Friday – Leeds Univeristy Union Christmas Day.  It’s not just for the students everyone’s welcome.  The money we all pay for our space goes to the Salvation Army and the army are there playing …lovely.  And Santa’s coming.  I need to ask him for a road atlas I think.

To see where I’m going to be next see my events page

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Cakes and candles

Yesterday was stir up Monday here.  OK I know it should have been stir up Sunday but there was not a spare moment on Sunday.  The house smelled fab and it felt as though the countdown to Christmas had officially begun.   I’ve used Margaret Costa’s recipe for Christmas cake for more years than I care to remember and it gets compliments every time. Its from her Four Season’s Cookery Book which was dropping to bits till I was bought a replacement.   Thank goodness someone decided to do a reprint.  This is the recipe for the 9″ cake but if you get hold of the book there are quantities for all sizes from 7″ to 12″.

Here it is on its way out of the oven….tempting but no, it’s wrapped in foil and in a cake tin now. 

It’s so good that last night when I told a friend what I’d been up to she looked appealingly and so yes, I’ll be making another one!  It’s a rich traditional cake with more fruit than mixture.  And here it gets well fed with brandy at least once a week till the week before Christmas when it gets a tick coating of maripan and a topping of royal icing.  Very traditional but I love Christmas cake…especially with a chunk of Wensleydale cheese in good Yorkshire tradition.

The cakey smell isn’t the only thing that’s making me feel Christmassy.   The Christmas craft fair season is in full swing and I’m taking my goodies here there and everywhere at the moment.  Goole last week, Barnsley this morning and Apperley Bridge on Saturday.  I really know how to live the high life!  Take a look at the events page to see where I’ll be next.

And fairs mean glitter and gold paint.   So much of it I had to explain why I had gold fingers the other day – couldn’t get the stuff off – but have now bought more terps.

Come along to one and say hello if you have a minute – I love to see a friendly face……

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Christmas is coming….

I’m planning to take a space at Fabrication Shop, Kirkgate, Leeds City Centre in the run up to Christmas where I’ll have wreaths, planters and gifts.  Since it’s a new venture I’m after your help.  If you’ve got a minute tell me what kind of thing you buy at Christmas that’d be great, and feel free to add any other comments!


Hope to see you in the shop!

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Sabotaged photos

I thought I’d take a pic or two of the winter planters I’d done….but then Gloria thought she’d take a swipe at the berries on the gaultheria…..see swiftly moving hen aiming for red berries.

OK so I shooed her off and tried again.  No hens to be seen, great, point the camera at the planter and ……peck!   Straight at the phone..Gloria and her friend this time.   “Is it edible, no, well let’s have another peck anyhow”…… I gave up till they were in bed…but of course then it was dark.  You can’t win sometimes.

Hopefully you can see what we have here though.   A full sized old fashioned zinc pail filled with a 2ft conifer, gaultheria which has lovely red berries flowing over the front, with trailing ivy and pansies or violas  All should do beautifully well on your doorstep all winter.

Put a string of battery operated lights round the little tree and you’ll have a lovely Christmassy welcome on your doorstep later in the winter as well.

And if you want to you can plant everything in the garden when it gets too big for the bucket.  Don’t panic though the thuja (confier) is slow growing so you’re not looking at a hugenormous monster like leylandii!

So here it is in the dark.  Difficult to see I know but I hope you get the idea!

The buckets cost £30 delivered to Leeds postcodes and the Pontefract/Castleford areas.  Please get in touch via the contact form on the site if you’d like one.

I deliver little planters as well but it’s way too dark to take any pictures now.  Will have a go tomorrow.

You’ve seen the autumn wreath before but I’ve had requests to deliver them as well.   Here it is again if you fancy one too:

The base is a wicker frame decorated with seed heads and berries from the garden and the hedgerow.  The frame itself will last for several years so you can decorate it again every season if you want to, and the berries and greenery will last outside for many weeks….the colder it gets the longer they’ll last!  There are some advantages to the cold weather.

Delivered to the same areas as the planter the wreath will cost £28.00.

I have no idea when I’ll be able to take orders on line (I’m sorry)…. technology and I fight daily.  So if you’d like either the planter or the wreath drop me a note – just click on contact in the menu bar and drop me a line.

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Filed under Chickens, Flowers, Garden, Leeds, planter, Uncategorized, wreath