Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sneak peek at my parents bathroom remodel

The remodel work may be finished at our house, but there's always some sort of home improvement going on in our family!

This month it's the turn of my parents who have ripped out their two en-suites and our restyling them to bring them a little more up-to-date. Work is still in progress, but I thought I'd show you a sneak peek.

Both my parents have their own en suite (something my mum says is the key to a happy marriage!) and they are quite compact at just 2 metres square. Among the changes both bathrooms are having their corner shower cubicles replaced with contemporary shower enclosures that you are walk-in rather than having a door.

They've also opted for dual head showers so you can choose between a rainfall shower (hair washing day) or conventional shower head (non hair-washing day!) My mum has scrapped the bathroom cabinet and chosen a vanity unit with a large drawer for storage. There's also a tiled recess in the shower for storing bottles, something I wish we had done in our en-suite.

Tile choices can be a little restrictive when you don't want to pay megabucks, but I really love the strip of glimmering mosaics which make a feature out of the shower wall. Work will be beginning on my dad's bathroom next, he has chosen more masculine colours with a touch of sparkle (!) I'll show you some more pictures of both when they are complete.

Linking up with #pocolo

This post contains a collaborative link, but content is my own.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

In our neighbourhood : Beautiful Bosham

I'm sure I'm not the only one who despaired at the weather forecast this weekend. We normally try and get out somewhere on at least one of the days, but this week the relentless rain defeated us. There was light at the end of the tunnel though (literally!) with sunshine forecast for today, so Theo and I decided to make the most of it by heading out to a little village near us, I also needed to get some photos for a university project I am working on at the moment which is centered around this spot.

Bosham was my home for 5 years and it's somewhere I love to go back to. It's full of history and character. It's famous (among other things) for being the place where King Canute tried to hold back the tide and these days it's daytrippers that get caught when the road around the creek floods twice a day.

One quirky little spot in the village are these two tiny cottages. There's a great story about a nervous young man on a train from London in the 1950s confiding in a passenger that he was going to meet his future in-laws and he didn't know what to wear for dinner "because they live in Bosham Castle" - I wish I'd seen his face when he arrived!

There are all sorts of lovely house names as you walk round including this one which is the house next door to the famous Anchor Bleu pub.

And the proportions of this front door always baffles people. It's a normal size opening, but with a raised step in front to protect the house from high tides. As you step in the door you step down to the house floor which is lower.

As I walked round taking photos, Theo had a great time burning off all the energy he bottled up over the weekend. There's a raised footpath round the creek called the Trippet which is particularly fun to scoot along at speed. His balance bike really has been the best thing we have ever bought him. He'll go for miles on it without moaning.

This wooden building which stands on stilts in the creek is the old oyster shed. Bosham used to be a big centre for oyster farming until (legend has it) the Bishop of Chichester got food-poisoning from one and the already dwindling industry was killed off by bad publicity! These days the sailing club use it to store kit and run races.

Bosham is also famous for its swans. The birds here defy most logic. Swans don't live in salt water and they are fiercely territorial. In Bosham however there are at least 50 swans living in a tidal creek. Apparently the sea has enough fresh water mixed in it at this point to keep them happy and they also cease to be territorial when there are too many rival birds to fight off!

After the weekend cooped up in the house it was great to get out in the fresh air for a couple of hours, although I do find the sun starts dipping in the sky all too soon at this time of year... Only another month till the shortest day!

Linking up with Country Kids and...
living arrowssnowingindoors

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

A week of autumn colour (the #capturingcolour project)

The #capturingcolour project over on Instagram has really been gathering pace over the last few weeks, largely due to the energetic support of the lovely Lucy at Capture By Lucy who has been roping people in from far and wide! For the last week our theme has been "leaves" and despite the lousy weather we've had some great photos tagged and Theo and I have found colour everywhere on our morning walks.

What's great about the #capturingcolour project is the community that has sprung up around it. I love finding new people to follow and having a small window into people's lives as well as the inspiration the images provide to see and photograph things in entirely new ways.

Here are some of my favourites from the last 6 days...

(1) mrsdarlingx (2) podcastdove (3) scrpbk1 (4) kelstars_7 (5) boysbehaviour (6) sunnymatilda (7) caroline_south (8) ilses_world (9) thiswaytothecircus

We've got some really great themes planned out for the next few weeks and Lucy, Kirsty and I will be announcing them at the start of each week. Of course you still have the rest of today and tomorrow to take part in leaves week and to give you a bit of a head start I thought I'd reveal what's happening next week too.... See you over on Instagram, don't forget to follow me too!

 Linking up with #PoCoLo...

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

In search of the perfect winter wellies...

Over the past few weeks I have learned more than most people will in a lifetime about wellington boots. I have ordered pairs and sent them back, I have researched manufacturing practices and read countless online reviews and finally I have made a purchase. After all the false starts, dead ends and another-sodding-dog-walk-with-wet-feet, I decided I should share what I learned with you...

Urban dwellers or occasional wellie wearers are probably wondering what all the fuss is about, but my wellington boots are the most worn items of footwear in my wardrobe. I walk about 20 miles a week in them. That's 500 miles just over the winter months, so I need decent boots.

Hunter - My welly tale begins with a pair of Hunters which I bought in 2001 and which lasted me through the extreme heat of Cyprus and the extreme cold of Canada. Unfortunately I learned the hard way that old Hunters are not the same as new ones. The firm into administration in 2006 and the newer wellies (I bought a second pair in 2012) do not have the same durability. If you start reading around online you'll see similar reports from other Hunter owners. My second pair (ironically more expensive than the first) lasted as many months as the first pair had lasted years. It is with a very heavy heart that I had to turn my back on the wonderful selection of colours they sell in favour of something longer-lasting.

Muck Boots - Muck have been around since 1999. The boots are part rubber and part neoprene. They sell for £80 and upwards and were a close contender for my final selection, but I wasn't convinced by how easy the neoprene part of the boot would be to keep clean.

Dunlop - Costing somewhere between £15 and £20 a pair, Dunlops are very popular, however I found the pair I ordered had extremely wide calves (more suited to men) and quite hard unyielding rubber. Definitely not boots I could imagine walking any distance in. I returned them to the place I bought them from (by post) which wasn't a cheap exercise!

Lowther - Made by Hunter with a very similar look and fit (though not as much colour choice) and vastly cheaper price tag (£35) if you can't bear to be parted from the style of Hunters these are a great bet without the fashionable price tag. Just don't blame me if they leak after 18 months.

Aigle - Aigle are a French brand (est. 1853) and seem to have filled the void left by Hunter for high quality wellies. They were recommended by a dog walker friend and after reading countless positive reviews online I settled for a pair of Parcours 2 ISO. They fit true to size and are neoprene lined, but are pricey. Mine came from Amazon and cost £135. I also reluctantly have to admit that they are not as attractive as Hunters, but they feel wonderful to wear and are more comfortable than my slippers!

Le Chameau - Another French wellington boot (did you guess) with a price very similar to Aigles. They come up a little big, but are also fantastically comfortable to wear. The Duchess of Cornwall has a pair, so does Prince Harry apparently.

Also worth considering are Barbour and Mallard, Le Chameau neither of which I have any experience of.

Further Reading...

Guardian Newspaper Which Wellies Should I Buy (read the comments)
Telegraph Will Kate Kick Off A War Of The Wellies

Please leave a comment if you have anything to add on the welly debate it will help others looking for info!

PS - I wouldn't have been able to purchase my amazing new wellies at all were it not for some fabulous good luck winning £500 of Amazon vouchers in a competition hosted by Jen at Mum In The Mad House with Two Little Fleas. So a HUGE thank you to them for allowing me to splash out on my Aigles! I know it's not a very rock and roll thing to spend the money on, but I do love them...

Linking up with Family Fever for Tried & Tested Tuesday

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Starting golf at 3....

First time on the golf course...

Last week I mentioned our plan to get Theo involved with our local sailing club and this week I'm posting about his first trip to the local golf course, which I realise makes us both sound like sport obsessed helicopter parents.

But we're not! Both Jim and I were never particularly good at sport at school (or err... after!) but at a time when children are spending increasing amounts of their leisure time indoors we wanted to expose Theo from a young age to a couple of things that he may (or may not) want to pursue as he grows up. The key for both these sports is that you have to go out in the fresh air to enjoy them and that you can do them (at a certain point) on your own.

Apparently the sport of golf is going through a tough time at the moment because it has a image problem, but we are lucky having an excellent, very unstuffy club near us which has quite accessible pricing. So yesterday we decided to take Theo down for his first session and I'm pleased to say it was a success.

The driving range was deserted and the sun was shining. We each had a bay to ourselves and Theo happily hacked away with his minature irons. Wrong stance, wrong swing, wrong everything, but he was having fun! Then all three of us had a mini competition on the putting green and finally we asked about kids lessons.

Luckily for us on Saturday mornings they run a children's academy for 3-6 year-olds so we're going to give it a try. It's too soon to say if he'll enjoy it, but it would be lovely if one day I get to spend time being thrashed on the course by my precocious eight year-old son and if in the meantime we get to spend some time as a family hacking balls around then that'll be great too...

Linking up with Living Arrows & Country Kids
living arrows

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Love The Little Things, week 46

This week hasn't been a terribly productive one. I've had a horrible cold, which has really slowed me down and then the tickly cough has kept me awake half the night. The worst bit about colds is that they are only colds and we are supposed to just get on with things! So without any further ado this is how my week has shaped up...


There's a feature on our house remodel in Self Build & Design magazine this month. The best part is that all the photos they used were taken by me (whoop!) and amazingly the huge picture of our sitting room (on the third and fourth page of the spread) was actually taken on an iPhone. It looks great in print!

Bosham on a winter's afternoon

I don't get a lot of time to watch TV during the week, but I did make time this week to watch the third part of The Missing on BBC1. It's really quite harrowing viewing for anyone with children, but I've been sucked in so I have to watch it to the end. Also it was last week rather than this one, but I had to share with you my other "watch" which was the sun going down over the beautiful village of Bosham. This picture was also taken on my iPhone!


I had a very indulgent evening in my She-Shed the other night sorting out fabric and listening to Radio 4. I have been a Radio 4 listener for years, partly because you never want to listen to what you work with. I particularly love switching it on and finding something that you'd never choose to listen to, but which actually turns out to be fascinating. I'll let you into a little secret too, my only unfulfilled radio ambition is to present Woman's Hour... Maybe one day...


I've done a lot of plotting this week working out what quilt I'm going to make next (I chose this one) but Theo, his cousin Millie and I also had a chance to tye-die a t-shirt as we were sent the dye and some of the supplies by Dunelm. Millie is a bit of a tie-dye expert, but I think it's been about 20 years since I last dyed something! Theo absolutely loves his "Millie t-shirt" which we made.


First time doing a full body selfie in the mirror (eek!) but I just had to show off my Boden cardigan which I am absolutely besotted with. It was actually sold out on the website so I stalked it like a demented woman until one came back in stock in my size, now I have to hold myself back from wearing it every day. My top is from Espirit, skirt is Dorothy Perkins, tights are Accessorise and I got the boots at a clothes swap a couple of years ago!

And Lastly

I attended (virtually of course) my first session at the YouTube Academy last night. I'm still blown away at how amazing it is to be able to access this kind of stuff for free in your own house. Loads learned already in the first session and there's three more to go. I think I may be buying a few bits of equipment to help my vlogging progress...

I'm linking with Morgana and PoCoLo....


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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

8 creative ideas to inspire your winter photography

I won't lie, I find the winter months quite tricky when it comes to taking photos. The days are shorter, the skies are greyer and lets be honest, none of us really look our best! I've drawn up this list as much as a reminder to myself, as it is a prompt to others. In the past I have shot some great pictures over these colder months and digging them out to review, helps me remember the ideas behind them...

light painting at duffus castle

Try light painting

The short days mean this time of year is perfect for light painting. All you need is a tripod, a camera where you can control shutter speed and a source of light. That source of light can be anything from a sparkler, to a torch, LED lights or in the photo above burning wire wool! This picture was taken last year when I spent a great evening with half a dozen friends trying out various light painting techniques in the grounds of a Scottish castle. We set our cameras up for a 30 second exposure and infinite focus and then ran around drawing shapes or lighting up parts of the building. Light painting doesn't need to be complicated though, you can also try it at home by writing your name with a torch in a dark room.

Photographing children in the snow

Switch to manual to achieve great snow photos

Snow photos are notoriously hard to get right in auto as the camera will often under-expose in reaction to the large quantity of white it sees. So when the white stuff starts to fall, switch to manual and join your kids in the garden to see if you can get your best photos yet. Children tend to be both happy and occupied when snow is around (err unless they are Theo in the photo above!) so they are less likely to get bored of you fiddling with your camera settings

a collection of beach hut photos

Begin a photographic collection

If you are bored with photo projects like 365 or 52, how about a photo collection instead? Decide on something you are going to photograph for the next 6 to 12 months and start snapping. Whether it's shoes, cars, road signs or things with stripes on! At the end you can put them all together in a collage style poster and make some unique artwork for your wall. It will also help sharpen your powers of observation.

reflection of a tree in a puddle

Play with reflections

Winter means rain and puddles, so use them to your advantage and try out some creative ideas with reflections. Get down as low as you can to shoot and then try reversing the image (like I did with the beach huts in this post) or cut off object fully or partly to just focus on the reflected part. You don't need an SLR either. I took the photo above on my iPhone this morning.

photographing towards the sun

Shoot into the sun

The sun is lower in the sky during the winter months and not as strong as at other times of year, so it's a good time to play around with shooting into it. This effect often works best if you have the sun obscured or partly-obscured by an object, but shooting at it directly can also produce a pleasing hazy look in a photo as above.

photographing Christmas lights

Snap festive lights

In the run up to Christmas there are lights everywhere. On shops and houses and draped around the tree in our homes. These lights can produce a lovely effect known as bokeh, an aesthetically pleasing way that the lens renders out of focus points of light. The photo above was taken of the fairy lights on the Christmas tree in our sitting room, but this effect also makes a great backdrop for portraits like in this image.

black and white photo of center parcs longleat

Try shooting for black and white

Winter is a good time to shoot black and white. Stormy skies and bare tree branches make good subjects for monochrome images and crucially they hide the lack of blue skies and green plants. It may sound like a funny thing to say, but the best black and white photographs always contain both black and white and not just a muddle of grey. To achieve this increase contrast in an image before converting to black and white.

Use shutter speed creatively

Sometimes being trapped indoors when you'd rather be outside taking pictures can inspire creative solutions. I took this picture using a one second exposure spinning around on an office chair in my radio studio (so that's what we do when the record is playing!) The bands of lights you see are the blurred lights on the broadcast console.  You can also achieve other great effects by using a long exposure to photograph cars on a road or (if you dare) by throwing your camera up in the air!

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Winter walks at West Wittering

One of the nice things about this time of year around our neck of the woods, is that we regain the use of West Wittering. During the summer months the crowds, the expense (£8 to park a car) and the summer dog ban keep us away from this stretch of the coast, but in low season it becomes a place for wonderful wintery walks.

The dog ban is actually lifted at the beginning of October (the same time the parking charges drop to £2) but as always it's taken us a few weeks to get round to visiting.

West Wittering Estate is connected by a sand spit to East Head, a wonderful place I have written about on this blog before. From the shore we can look back across the harbour and see our house nestled amongst the trees nearly five miles away. Last time we stood here squinting at it, it was a stark square shape wrapped in plastic. Now its slopping roof blends into its surroundings more subtlety.

Next summer we hope to spend a lot more time here. We are planning on joining a nearby sailing club and are looking forward to landing here with a picnic in tow (dodging the parking charge, the crowds and the West Wittering dog ban!) Theo has yet to spend much time on a boat, but it's something we are keen to get him into as soon as possible. In theory he could start helming his own boat from the age of five, if he shows an inclination.

There was another reason why I was keen to visit East Head today. We came here last November and took a photo of Theo at the sign and I wanted to make it an annual tradition to record him here as he grows.

The last twelve months have seen him change from a baby faced toddler to a young boy. His blonde hair is darkening and his face is slimming too!

I'm linking up today with Living Arrows, Point & Shoot and Country Kids!
living arrowssnowingindoors

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