Monday, 29 August 2011

faux country

It's no secret on this blog (or anywhere in my life, as a matter of fact!), that I absolutely, desperately, long to live in the country - a lovely little cottage, a couple of cats, some vegetable beds.... the works. But unfortunately, real life insists on persisting, and for now I have to put up with visits to rural villages, and making the most of spotting little hints of the countryside in every day life. We live on a main road, and I took these photographs on the way to the shops a couple of weeks ago - it's amazing how you can find such beauty in an otherwise concrete jungle.
(The bunting was actually outside Fabric Land, and the cake was from Costa - but they were both grand!)


Thursday, 25 August 2011

fabric framing

A while ago I made this carrier bag holder, to hang in the hall in an attempt to remind us to take our own bags with us when we go shopping (it sort of worked - it reminds us to take the ones out of the hall cupboard instead!). I loved the fabric, but only had a limited amount as it came from a car boot sale, so wasn't really sure what to do with the tiny leftover bit. Not big enough for a cushion cover, not enough to cut into patchwork, I was at a loss until I spied a lone doily sitting on my fabric shelf. 'Hold on,' I thought, 'I might be onto something here....'


Saturday, 20 August 2011

hartley park farm

The lack of posts lately has been shameful - sorry readers, I've been rather under the weather, and am still finding it hard to muster the energy for anything in the evenings apart from Eastenders and a little snooze on the sofa. But today is a lovely Saturday, I've had my nap, and the Boy is entertained with Peppa Pig, so I thought I'd take advantage of the quiet and do a bit of catching up. Enjoy!

A few weeks ago, my Mum found a little advertisement in one of the local freepages booklets that comes through the door, advertising open days for a local farm. Immediately, I was interested - it's no secret that in my future somewhere, there lies a farmhouse or cottage, a rural community, four apple-cheeked children (who never have tantrums and always eat their vegetables, obviously....), a couple of cats and a cottage close by for my parents. I like to think that one day, I'd be able to earn money writing and illustrating from home, and the husband will eventually earn the sort of money I think he's entitled to. Either that, or on the kitchen table of my dreams lies a winning lottery ticket....! The place in question was Hartley Park Farm, and what really clinched the deal was that it was the home of Lavender Fields - a giant lavender farming operation, where four different types of lavender are grown and sold at the shop and local farmers markets. Lavender has been my absolute favourite essential oil and herb for as long as I can remember - I've used it in my bath to relax, on my pillow to aid sleep, and in a tissue to help me keep calm in stressful situations. The farm was just down the road from us, and we thought it would only take twenty minutes or so to get there - however, the sat. nav. decided to pack up half way through, and my GPS signal on my phone wasn't much better. Cue extensive arguing from the Husband and I (while my Mum sat in the back, looking uncomfortable and trying to play peacemaker), much driving in circles, and then stumbling across the right road quite by accident.

As soon as we parked, and got out of the car, I fell in love with the whole place. We had to walk across a field, and around the farm to reach the lavender, which meant much tumbling over from the Boy and shouting, "wait! I just want to take a quick picture!" from me. The landscape was beautiful, and there were many old buildings and different types of machinery to satisfy my photography cravings.

The lavender fields themselves were spectacular - different colours and scents all jostled for attention, and I took so many photographs that it was hard to choose the best ones for this post. The fields were full of bees and hover-flies, which pleased the Boy no end - he is fascinated with insects and creatures at the moment, and spent a lot of time shouting, "bee! Bee! Come back bee!" and cackling with joy when they buzzed around him.

After we'd wandered up and down the lanes between the lavender, we walked towards the end, and down the edge of the field. I stumbled across another field next door, which I'm not sure was actually meant for public nosiness, but in the name of good photography, I crept across the boundary anyway. Rebel!

We walked down the side of the field, in an attempt to make it back towards the shop and car park, and it was then that I made the second wonderful discovery of the day - endless wild flowers and a marvelous collection of vintage vehicles, just sitting there. I clambered over some shrubbery, and danced excitedly towards a 1950's bus - what a find!

Shortly after my excitement over the bus and flowers, it started to rain - little spots at first, but then harder and harder until it was running in rivers down the paths. We managed to make it to the shop, where I pored over lavender cookies, bunches of the dried herb, and everything related to lavender that you could possibly ever need. My lovely Mum bought me a bag of dried lavender, which means I now have absolutely no excuse not to start making the little scented bags I've been planning. I suspect there will be a few appearing in peoples stockings this Christmas....

Hartley Park Farm and Lavender Fields are open to the public when the lavender is in full bloom, usually two weekends a year. For more information, visit their website.

Monday, 8 August 2011


In the same week as our anniversary trip to Brighton, we finally managed to make our way to the wonderful Hepwrights in Southampton - considering it's mere minutes down the motorway, we never seemed to be able to find the time to get there; in-law lunches, bad weather and working overtime all conspired against us, and I'd pretty much given up, when we finally managed to find a day to go and get our vintage fill.

I'd spent time chatting to Catherine, the owner, on Twitter, so I already felt like I knew her - when we wandered in, complete with shouty toddler, she enveloped me in a bear hug and cried, "you MADE it!" If every shop welcomed their customers that way, I guarantee they'd do a roaring trade.

Catherine couldn't have made us feel more welcome if she'd rolled out a red carpet - there were offers of tea and coffee, lengthy chats, toys to keep the Boy entertained.... and even the donation of a changing room to hide the Boy's modesty when he required a quick nappy change. 

While we were there, several other customers came and went, and while Catherine chatted to them, I wandered around, trying on hats and running my hands over the dresses and blouses.

I knew there was no way I'd be able to leave without buying at least one thing, and while I umm-ed and ahh-ed over several dresses, I finally chose the most delightful cardigan. Hand knitted, multi-coloured, and with a gorgeous little fifties style neck tie. A winner!

The whole shop is simply marvelous - the displays, retro shop-fittings.... Hepwright's is a veritable treasure trove, and I highly recommend a visit, whether you live in Southampton or not. 

Vintage shopping is hungry work, and Catherine suggested we wander down the road to one of the numerous cafes that sit on Bedford Place - the first one that caught my eye was The Lounge, a newly opened cafe which had the best decor (totally stealing the table covering ideas!), and some pretty fantastic food. Simple but tasty, even the Boy wolfed down his cheese and ham wrap, and had a good portion of the homemade chocolate cake as well (which was gluten free, and made with ground almonds rather than flour - which made it utterly, irresistibly moist and lovely). The Lounge also hosts sewing and craft evenings, and for more information visit their website.

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