Phone pouch for bike

Here’s a random thing I made whilst I was on my holiday.  I had originally intended for this knitted thing to be a scarf, but I didn’t like it.  Then I was on my exercise bike getting annoyed about the fact that there was no where to put my phone, and I decided I should make a pouch.  And suddenly I had a use for the knitting I didn’t like!

Phone pouch for bike

This is definitely one of my more random craft projects, but it works!

Wildflower planting

I’ve mentioned on here before that I have a bit of scrubby land between the garden and the railway line.  Originally, the wooden fence at the bottom of the garden marked the boundary between the railway line and our garden.  However, as part of Network Rail’s work to stop trespassers on the train tracks, they installed new metal spiked fencing along this stretch of the railway line one metre in from the original boundary, meaning we’ve gained a metre of land.  It was a daft thing to do, as the railway line isn’t accessible from this section of track anyway – the hedging and scrub on their embankment is really thick!  Still, I’m sure it made them feel better!

On the Network Rail side of the land there are a few trees, so our patch of scrub is quite shaded, and I’ve been pottering with it for over a year now.  I’ve planted two trees – a rowan and a crab apple.  A third, an elder, is planted but growing weirdly so I don’t think it will take.  I’ve installed a mini pond, a composter, a little bit of paving and a rhubarb plant.  However, a lot of the patch of land ended up as just soil, as the weeds are veracious and you have to keep on top of them if you want access to the land.

I’ve tried seeding wildflowers there before, but the cheeky birds ate all the seed.  Then, when I was browsing the Wiggly Wigglers website last week I noticed that they sell wildflowers in pots (and mats and turf if you’re wondering).  Since germinating is the problem for me, this seemed like the solution.  I was on the site to order birdseed, but I got six wildflower plants for £10 too.

Wigglywigglers order 1

When the parcel arrived, Archie helped me unpack it in the garden!

Wigglywigglers order 2

The plants came in packs of three in cardboard bag-style containers.  They shipped well – I’m impressed!  The bags in the background are the birdseed I ordered.

Wigglywigglers order 3

Each plant is a different species.  Some prefer full sun and I’ve planted them in pots, one was a yellow cowslip that my Mum wants so I’ve not planted it, and the final three are the shade lovers going on the scrub patch.

Wigglywigglers order 4

If the plants take, they will spread by themselves and help colonise the bare soil.  I’ve left labels in for now until I become familiar with the plants, but I will remove them once I recognise the flowers.

Wigglywigglers order 5

This is the section of land, looking north from the composter (which is behind me).  The green wire at the far end marks the boundary to next door’s section (not all my neighbours have moved into this additional bit of land yet – and it gives you an idea of how bad the weeds get!).  The sticks you can see on the far left are around the mini pond, to protect it from the evil black cat that prowls (Archie’s nemesis).  I am intending to put the slabs in the ground properly sometime, I just haven’t got round to it yet (well, I’ve done a couple, but you can’t tell from this photo!).

If the wildflowers take, I will buy more next year to fill in the rest of the bare soil, so that you are walking on slabs surrounded by wildflowers and rhubarb.  I’m being cautious for now because the soil here is poor quality and has a lot of rubble and building waste in it, and I don’t know if the plants will survive.

What I really want, though, is a hedgehog house.  I know there is a hedgehog about as I’ve found his poo in the garden, but even the cheap homes are at least £25.

I always wonder about clearing the “natural” habitat to create an artificial native environment, as I’m doing here, but the weeds that dominate along this stretch of railway line number maybe two or three.  If my wildflowers take, I’ll have increased the biodiversity along this stretch of railway line, and added additional pollen sources for the local insects.  I figure that the local wildlife is happy to have a little disturbance in exchange for more bugs to eat!

(This post isn’t sponsored.)

I’m back, with photos!

Hi all, I hope you all had a lovely week whilst I was offline.  I had a week off at home and it was lovely.  The sun shone (shocking!), and I got lots of little projects done.  Time at home without work is the best, as you get to catch up on all those things that you ignore when you have a full schedule.  I finished my crochet blanket (coming up in another blog post), fed the birds, did lots of reading and gardening, saw a few new films and watched some rubbish TV!

You might think that because I was home all week I didn’t spend much, but you’d be wrong.  I ate and did some online shopping!  hehe.  It was a good week, and you’ll see some of the things I did in later posts.  For now, here are a few photos.

Garden flower

Pigeon and dove

Cup of tea and a magazine

Dew drops

Archie asleep B&W

Pine cone found on my walk

Archie paws B&W

Clematis flower

Cow parsley

Forget-me-nots

Small tortoiseshell butterfly

Lincolnshire in spring

Hawthorn blossom

Lego Moleskine week 17 & 18

2014 Moleskine week 17

Week 17

Gosh, Easter weekend feels like a long time ago now.  I started using Clinique’s 3-step system this week.  It actually seems to work – I sound surprised because these things rarely do!

2014 Moleskine week 18

Week 18

The beginning of May!  I wrote up my May goals, started focussing on finishing my crochet blanket again and my sister came home for the weekend.  The veg in the garden got planted and there was much rejoicing!

A reading list to start your week

Fields in April

I’ve not written a post of interesting links for you in quite a while, so I thought it was about time I got on with it!

This is a beautiful collection of fox photos. I’ve never really thought about their relationship with dogs before, but this post really made me think about how elegant foxes are and how dog-like they are!

This guy goes surfing in Alaska, because clearly he is a crazy person.  The photos are beautiful.

I love this collection of old library posters. I think many of them would be useable nowadays, and librabies certainly need all the support they can get!

26 tips for being a cheapskate.  Save money and be cool!

I know I missed Star Wars day, but these illustrations of Star Wars characters made out of typography symbols are most excellent.

Here is a strategy guide to living your life.  I love the illustrations for life as a computer game.

This chap wanted a swimming pool in his back garden, and so he made one.  A most awesome one.  He made it all by himself with a few friends, and it took ages, but I think you’ll agree it was worth it.

There is a cruise ship for people to live on.  You travel around the world permanently and you get to vote on where to go next.  Brilliant!

Seattle are creating a forest of food for their citizens to walk in and enjoy.  I think this is a brilliant idea, and I hope more cities adopt it.  Edible forests provide free food, absorb carbon and provide a calming green space for people to walk in.  It’s win win win!

Here’s an infographic on organising your wardrobe.  I think my wardrobe should be like this (it isn’t, but maybe one day).

This craft project to make a crochet wedding bouquet is amazing.  If I received this as a gift I would be in love with the creator for ever!

For Brits, I found this handy list of UK independent bookshops on The Guardian website.

Also on the Guardian website, here are some handy tips on looking after your soil.  Soil is hugely important for the wellbeing of humans, so don’t neglect yours!

A third link from the Guardian website (I love their science and environment sections!), as they’ve been discussing the role that fashion plays in deforestation.  It’s interesting to see that there are some big name brands committing to protecting forests.

Happy Monday!

April reads (2014)

I read six books this month, as was my goal. Yey!  I’m back on track with reading!  It’s taken long enough.  I’m still behind with my reading goal for the year, but I will now try and catch up.  Here are the books I read this month.

A garden of Eden in Hell – Melissa Muller & Reinhard Piechocki

This book is a biography of Alice Herz-Sommer, a famous concert pianist who spent WWII in a Nazi concentration camp because she was Jewish.  I hate the title of the book, but the book itself is good. It covers the whole of Alice’s life, and is a fascinating read.  It gives you an insight into the skill and passion of concert musicians – Alice practiced for hours every day, and pretty much lived and breathed music.  A very inspiring read.

The P45 Diaries – Ben Hatch

This was a fiction read that I bought on a whim because it was a Radio 4 Book of the Year.  It’s very Adrian Mole/Catcher in the Rye, and is a diary of a fictional 17 year old who is trying to decide what to do with his life.  He wants to be a famous writer, and his Father wants him to just get a job that he doesn’t get sacked from.  It was a quick read, and was amusing in places, but it was also tinged with sadness.

When all hell breaks loose – Cody Lundin

Cody Lundin is a survival expert who presents Dual Survival, which is a Discovery Channel show on surviving in the wild without modern utensils.  It’s a good show.  I thought it would therefore be interesting to read one of Lundin’s books.  I suppose it was, but he seems to be of the belief that the apocalypse is a ‘when’, not an ‘if’.  It gets a bit wearing reading a book that is specifically designed to protect you against the breakdown of society.  I think life will get crap because of climate change and all the trouble it will cause, but I don’t believe the society will breakdown entirely – I think we’ll go back to a more feudal system like in the olden days.  Lundin seems very much to be in a ‘dog eat dog’ frame of mind, which in the long-term isn’t sustainable anyway – mankind has a history of living in communities for a reason.  If you can look past the driving force behind the book, there is lots of useful help in the book.

A supposedly fun thing I’ll never do again – David Foster Wallace

I really don’t get the fuss about David Foster Wallace.  Sorry, world.  The only essay I liked in this book was the one about a Caribbean cruise ship holiday, and that’s because the topic was interesting.

Fifi and Slug – Margaret Joy

This is a book from my childhood!  It is about a posh French Yorkshire Terrier called Fifi, and an English car called Slug.  Slug and his human family go on holiday to France and stay with a French family.  The French family own a dog called Fifi and they all go on adventures together.  Slug and Fifi get into trouble, and make friends.  It’s a great little book and it was a fun re-read!

A room of one’s own – Virginia Woolf

I didn’t realise before I read it that this book is basically a treatise on feminism.  I only read it because it’s one of those books we’re supposed to have read, but I actually found it very thought-provoking.  It is perhaps something that all women should read.

Did you read any good books in April?

The perfect green ink

For years I have been on the hunt for the perfect green ink. I’ve found my perfect blue and my perfect red, but the green has until now eluded me.  I couldn’t describe the perfect green ink, but I called it Albus Dumbledore green. I would know it was the one when I tried it.

I have tested lots of greens over the years. Some were completely wrong, whilst others were just not quite right. Anyone who has ever been on the hunt for something specific will understand this feeling.

I had largely given up on my hunt because I was satisfied with the inks I already owned, but on a whim I recently ordered four J.Herbin ink samples, and I included two greens to see if they were any good. It was an excellent decision, as I found my green! Here is the J. Herbin Vert Empire.

J Herbin Vert Empire sample 1

It’s exactly what I was looking for.

J Herbin Vert Empire sample 2

This now means I have my perfect red, blue and green. Life is pretty much complete for me I think :P

If you’re interested, Bureau Direct do a pick and mix J. Herbin option for £13.95, where you can choose four ink samples to test.  A very economical way to try new ink colours.

May goals

Eyes sparkling

I completed all my April goals. Yey!  I’ve been so unproductive with my goals over the last few months that it’s good to get back in the swing of things again!

For May, my goals are as follows:

  • Read seven books
  • Finish crochet blanket
  • Walk 15km

There might be a fourth goal, but I’ve not decided yet!

This month, I’ve got a week off work, and I intend to do a lot of sitting in the sun reading and eating (hence why I’m not dieting in May!).

I’ve decided to do a single crochet stitch edge around my ripple blanket, and have ordered a dark purple yarn for this.  My next blog post on the ripple blanket will be when it’s finished!  Yey!