Stop watching me do the dishes please.

Not all that long ago, it was easy peasy for passers by to see into our kitchen. I say kitchen very loosely of course. Nonetheless, with our driveway built and cleared of the jungle that previously resided there, it was time to get some privacy.

You can see from this picture of Joe and his dad laying the concrete driveway, that anyone from the main road could see straight down to the end of the garden, and if they really wanted, could see me doing the dishes at the kitchen window.
But now, we have a lovely new fence…..and about a trillion leaves. Cheers Autumn!

We were tempted to paint it bright blue just like the front fence but weren’t brave enough.
For anyone interested in the actual colour, here is Joe modelling the paint: Cuprinol in Forest Oak.

Looks good no?
Karen x

Stealth shed spying

Two weeks ago (yes, I’m slow at blogging stuff these days) Joe and I had a lovely weekend with family. I don’t get to see my mum and step-dad that often since they moved away, but we wanted to get together and discuss wedding stuff so it was a great excuse to see each other.

However, it was also pretty handy because the shed that Joe and his dad were prepping the garden for the weekend before, needed 3 men to put it up because it’s so large and heavy.

With my step-dad up for the job, he, Joe and Joe’s dad, Peter, cracked on with putting it together. Me, my mum and my sister talked weddings indoors. Doing wonders for the gender stereotype…

According to Joe (because I know nothing of sheds) wood panels outside need a special coat to avoid rotting, and then we can fill it up with outdoorsy stuff. I think Joe wants to show off his wonderful job to his friends, so here are the pictures I sneakily took while they were working away.

BUM!A very proud Joe. Although from his expression, you’d think he was in a huff! I think he was just tired. Good job Joey. 🙂

Karen x

A sunny sheddy Saturday

Joe is adament that one day we will have the most spectular garden of all time. Unfortunately, a British summer usually means rain and more rain, so he’s hardly had chance to do garden work since we moved in. However, he’s now accumulated enough tools to require a shed. We went shopping for sheds at the beginning of the ‘summer’ but, we’re easily distracted and Joe ended up locking me in a children’s tree house before we went home for ice cream.

Needless to say, the shed plan failed.

But, Joe’s parents have come to our rescue once more. Carol, Joe’s mum, works at a college and they were getting rid of a really massive shed. So, we’re taking it off their hands.

I came home from work on Friday to see it at the side of our house. Just look at that glorious summer weather…
We were really lucky that on Saturday it didn’t rain, considering it was supposed to be a month’s worth in one day. So, Joe and his dad, Peter, cracked on preparing the back of the garden, which is a big job. As Joe said:
“It’s like Jumanji back here!”
They found a fence we didn’t even know was there and it looks like our garden is actually a bit longer than we thought! Good news considering now it won’t take any space from our garden.
After the bushes were cleared and trees were trimmed, Joe and his dad used some of the turf from the back to try and repair some patches we’ve got on the lawn. Most of this is self-inflicted through numerous bonfires. Oops.

The rest went into a big pile that we’ll have to take to the skip at some point.
They’ve done a smashing job and now we have a space ready for the shed!
And, the only thing we liked in the garden was in that corner. A lovely huge bush that blooms with bright blue and purple flowers. Don’t ask me what it is, I’ve no idea!
So, Peter kindly trimmed it and moved it to the front garden instead. It’s looking a little sorry for itself lately since we’ve had no sun, but I’m sure by next year, it’ll look top banana.

I wish I could say I had more input to the project but I’m just pants at garden things. I spent most of the day doing laundry and wedding stuff. But, I did catch a frog. Does that count?
The next job for the boys is putting down some sort of base for the shed and then waiting for another dry day to get it put together again.

Karen x

The hedgehog household

I mentioned in a post back in April that we appear to have hedgehogs in the back garden! I never got around to uploading the pictures but have just backed up my iPhone so I imagine plenty of image-heavy posts coming up…

These were taken on 2 separate occasions, and sorry the pictures are bad. We were using our phones as a light to look at them, and just happened to get some shots in the process.I haven’t seen them in a while. Does anyone know if they will return? I don’t know anything about them but I think they’re so cute!

Also, we got this figure from Joe’s Aunty and Uncle as an engagement pressie, and it just so happens to have hedgehogs on it! Thanks so much Debbie and Alan 🙂

I’m going to find a lovely little place in the garden for it…as soon as the rain stops.
Karen x

Venturing outside

The sun may keep disappearing behind cloudy skies (the buggar) but that hasn’t stopped Joe taking an interest in our jungle garden.

For a long time now, Joe has been itching to get his hands on some garden tools and get stuck in. It’s a big job but it’s something that he really missed when he left his parent’s house and moved into a flat with little old me. Well, he’s got his wish. We finally have a garden and slowly but surely he’s gathered some tools.

Last weekend, we added to this and bought a lawn mower. With a 50-ish foot garden, it was about time really. As the garden was untouched for almost a year before we moved in, it’s pretty wild out there with weeds, mushrooms, moss, and all that wonderful stuff that you just don’t want in a lawn. But it gives Joe a project for when I want to watch terrible embarrassing TV, so I’m all for it.

(For some reason, he loves to strut his stuff in a really camp way when he does the lawn. I have no answer for why this is)

We’ve got a few plans for the garden so far in our heads. We know we want a lovely wooden shed at the back right corner, and we know where we want a table area that catches the most sun, but for now, it’s really a case of killing what we don’t want, and trying to even out and grow some nice grass. We’re hosting a big family BBQ this summer for my sister’s birthday so Joe is hoping to get it in a reasonable state before then.

We are going to try and get a design idea sketched out soon so we can get a better idea of what to buy and when – so far we have discussed that we want a pool, water feature, shed, trampoline, tree house and zoo. I fear these may be unrealistic…

Amongst the weeds and general ugly shrubbery, we have had some nice surprises so far. One is the flowers. They pop up in all the wrong places (where we want to park the car – typical!) but they’re really pretty so I may move them as soon as I learn anything about gardening.

 We’ve also, got HEDGEHOGS! I haven’t seen them yet but Joe snagged a picture this week when I was out (I’ll post this at a later date). I know they’re in decline in the UK so I wonder if there’s anything we can leave out for them? I need to do some research. Send me some info if you know much about it! I hope we see them again.

I also hope the sun returns soon so we can do what we really want in the garden – drink beer and relax 🙂

Karen x

Any excuse to have a house party

One thing I have learned about modernising a house is that there is a lot to get rid of before you can bring in the new shiny goodies. Luckily, when we moved in, the house was empty of furniture so at least we were saved from chucking mouldy couches or curtains. However, we have found that we’ve ended up with a large pile of wood. And with bonfire night arriving just in time, it would be just plain rude not to make a party out of the occasion. And now that we have a large garden, there was no excuse.

So, Joe and I collected all of our wood, and remains from trimming the garden, ready for burning. We bought a special bin for this purpose (and I’ve previously mentioned our family tradition of having a bin-fire) which came with a free mini-BBQ. Double win.

We set up the mini-BBQ, alongside our current mini-BBQ, bought some fireworks, and invited some family.

Joe posing with our spiffing new bonfire chimney bin

Fireworks. Pardon our dated kitchen floor

But first things first, we had to get rid of the Halloween stuff (and yes, if anyone was interested, we had a huge number of kids come to the door. Turns out our neighbourhood is big on Halloween).

But not until the rats had a bloody good play with the pumpkin first…

SO very ladylike

Watching TV with her new favourite toy

As the night got darker, my sister Amy arrived, as well as my mum, Angela, my dad Nick, my cousins, Lee & Tom, and Joe’s parents, Peter & Carol – a lovely little family get together. What was even lovelier as well, is that mine & Joe’s parents haven’t spent much time together before, so it was awesome to have everyone round. Especially since we didn’t bother with an ‘official’ house-warming party due to emergency decorating.

BBQs and fire on the go!

Joe pretending to whizz on the fire

Pebbles popped in before heading back to her owner. Never met a cat who didn't mind fireworks before

One of our many fireworks

Joe's parents brought around a MASSIVE 'firework' but it was a trick that fooled us all - it was just a sparkler haha

Joe likes to play with fire

Everyone! (except Joe who is taking the picture)

Me & Joe trying for the Charlies Angels look with the fire in the background. Successful yes?

Can’t wait for there to be many more in the future. Might even do it all again on New Years? Who’s in? 🙂

Karen x

Firing up the weekend with a BBQ and sink-fire

If you were paying attention to the news this weekend (or the outside world in general) you probably would have noticed that the weather was a tad hotter than normal for the first weekend of October.

(October is my birthday month, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a birthday where it wasn’t chucking it down, so this really is new to me.)

That will do nicely!

After spending the last two summers living in a flat, Joe & I have really missed not having a garden. Simply because, when Joe lived at home with his parents, we would often play host to having BBQs with friends.

At the flat, me and my sister (who also lives in that building) would often go and sit outside in our designated car parking space with a nice cold cider, just to feel like we had a garden. (It sounds a bit sad but trust me, it was a common thing. We often saw neighbours sunbathing in their car space.)

What used to be our "garden"

So, needless to say, me & Joe had a lot of catching up to do in terms of garden adventures, and we weren’t going to let the fact that it was October ruin that.

Firstly, out came the sink.
When I was younger, it was a family tradition that every bonfire night we would have a bin-fire. This was mostly because my Uncle Steve and Aunty Helen (who hosted the bin–fire) had a small yard and this was the only conceivable way to have any form of fire.

Carrying on this tradition (with slight alterations) me & Joe had our first sink-fire on the Friday night. (Well, if you can think of a better way to get rid of unwanted wood and an unwanted sink, I’d love to hear it!)

Mind you don't singe your beard Joe!

Why does Pebbles always have to put her bum in my face?

Time to stick our feet up and just enjoy.

Poking the fire for fun...

Extreme close-up!

The aftermath. We 'may' have cracked the sink with heat....

And on the Saturday, we had our first BBQ at the house.
It was just lovely.
With our £3 BBQ (that I laughed at the first time I saw it because it was so teeny tiny, but now I think it’s genius!)

Look at the size difference!

Friends 🙂

Lily, oops, I mean Pebbles, visited too!

...and she stayed until after dark.

There's no food left Pebbles. You ate it all!

Luckily we now have a bit of practice for when bonfire night comes around next month. (Again, last year in the flat we just got some sparklers and headed out to the car park!)

Perhaps we won’t have another BBQ for a while since it is due to snow from next week onwards…

Until next summer then!

– Karen x