Monday, 23 March 2015

Fairy Doors in Somerset

I simply love anything where imagination begins to control peoples' actions, and the story reported earlier this month about the Fairy Doors which have been appearing all over Wayford Woods over the last few years, is no exception. 

It has also caused a hue and cry all over the UK, since the Trustee, Steve Acreman was reported as wanting these doors removed from the woods. I must say that subsequent reports seemed to indicate that he was appealing for no more doors to be installed. 

 This image was found on the itv news channel and you can read what they wrote here. 

Apparently the first door arrived a few years ago, and now it is an Internet phenomenon. Some doors are not as pretty as the one above, but the essence of all the doors seems, to me, to be about adults and children wanting to have a little fun, and wanting at some level to believe in fairies. I think it is cute and lovely too. Perhaps some doors are not in keeping with the environment - but hey - I think fairies must like bright and sparkly things too. 

For those readers who do not know about this, the doors are installed with hinges, often over openings in the tree, where you can leave messages to the fairies. You only have to do an image search on the web to see the huge number of doors all over the place. 

However Wayford Woods (nicknamed Fairy Woods) seem to not understand that many people come to the woods especially to look at the doors. What impact on their numbers if the doors were to disappear?

It must be ultimately fascinating to children to search out these little pieces of creative imagination. I know I would have loved it as a child. In fact if I am down that way I will want to go and have a look. 

We live in such a serious world and I think it is delightful. Of course we must protect nature and not damage it, but I really can't see how these little doors would provoke more damage. Instead we have got lots of people out in the open air - surely that is a healthy thing. 

Why not have some fun and play with your imagination, and I would say that if you live near a wood then perhaps the fairies there also need doors. Of course they must be installed in not too obvious locations, else the fairies won't use them. And of course in secret .... you can't tell anyone. 


Monday, 16 March 2015

Last Year in the Garden

Last year in my garden

I moved to my present home 2 years ago, and last spring started work in the front garden. The house has great presence on the street but the front garden was somewhat dismal and had nothing of note by way of planting. Just grass. 

I love formality in gardens, but I also have an affinity for perennials and roses above all else. So the front garden, I felt, needed both. The main area is a rough rectangle with grass, bordered by the driveway. So I wanted to keep the strict formality and follow the straight lines already there. The beds would, in my mind anyway, be abundant with a profusion of perennials and roses. 

Firstly I came up with a rough plan. I also went for long walks around the village to see what others had planted – a good starting point when planning a garden, is to plant what you know works in the area.

Finding the right plants is not always easy. I have not got great bontanical knowledge of plants, and I am also very frugal when paying for plants. If you are not careful the costs can run away with you.

I like to buy from little stalls in people’s front gardens, so I always have a ready supply of change available and stop wherever I see plants on offer. Spring is a perfect time of year for hunting these stalls down. Normally plants on sale like this are the excess plants from local people’s own gardens, so you can be sure that it has a good chance of being a successful grower in your garden. The only word of caution I would add is that you need to check that no perennial weeds are being transported along with your new plant. Before planting I examine the roots and pick out any nasty things like nettle.

Last year was just about digging out the beds and planting. I did not create a huge master plan other than position the roses strategically, a place for sweet peas and a hydrangea.

It took me weeks to dig the beds. Luckily the soil did not need much improving. I live in the Fens – an area of North Cambridgeshire which was marshlands originally until they were drained a couple of hundred years ago. The soil is rich and a lovely texture. It had also not been planted for years. The land is very flat, some parts below sea level, and we have the most amazing open skies.

This photo shows what the garden looked like early last summer - tiny little plants.

I added compost to the soil and had to borrow soil from other parts of the garden to fill up the beds. The grass that I lifted I turned upside and piled in an unused corner of the garden – hopefully this year it will be usable soil.

I dug and dug and dug. The flower bed on the left is only 90 cm deep but I may increase the width a bit this year. The front flower bed is much wider ad angles slightly as the front wall is at an angle to the garden and I reduced this effect by cutting the bed at a lower angle so that the rectangle of grass is not so obviously skew. If I had not done this then one end of the bed would be very deep at one end.

I know I have over-planted the beds, and now that spring 2015 is well under way I cannot wait to see what comes up – what has thrived and what a difference a year will make to the size of the plants. You can see from the photo that the plants did not get to be huge last year.

As the year progresses I will be tackling the main back garden, so any overfull plantings will be moved to the back.

Fingers crossed that it will be a good year.


Sunday, 15 March 2015

Bo-ho Style Kitchen Splash-back

Decorating Ideas Found this week

I simply love these Boho style tiles I found while trawling around on It has become very trendy to use unusual items for splash-backs in kitchens. 

These tiles come from South Africa and are hand-painted and handmade. They are available on Etsy  see the shop of Terethsheba here

It is possible to purchase individual tiles or buy the 24 tiles pictured above which would give you a kitchen splash-back of 40 x 60 cm. That would truly bring a bit of Bo-ho glam to any kitchen - and the fact that they are handmade gives them a different depth to commercially made Moroccan style tiles.

The individual tiles are 10 x 10 cm and there are loads of different designs - some more bold than others. Loads of choice means that their use is great for other things like topping a coffee table, lining a tray, or serving as coasters. 

Personally I would love an outside coffee table topped with these. Great design. 

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Saturday, 14 March 2015

Starting Again

I am starting again with Calico Living blog today. I started this blog more than 2 years and feel it is time to redevelop it to more accurately reflect how I live or at least want to live. 

Calico Living is about lifestyle – about real living. Life can be too serious sometimes, and I believe it is important that we each design a lifestyle that works for the way we want to live. There is no right or wrong way – just a good way.

And.... its Spring - what better time to start. 

A balanced lifestyle needs to take into account our working lives, children and family, friends and also ourselves. I have spent many years working in the homes of clients and I have never seen two lifestyles exactly the same. There are many factors in creating an achievable and enjoyable way of living that suits all members of the family.

For me, using my limited time to the best advantage to make sure that I have more time to spend of relaxing and enjoying life means that I need to get my home into the right order. I loathe housework, and really wish it would do itself. Don’t even get me started on ironing. Yet, housework is a necessary chore. Keeping the house organised reduces stress on everyone at home, keeps the home looking nice and means that you will not want to fear the occasional friend who pops over unexpectedly.

Saying that though, everything needs to be done in balance. If you become a slave to absolute neatness and Spartan cleanliness in the home then I think you are missing out on so much more. I am very keen on balance and staying true to the principle of moderation.

I want to play a bit more at home. My home is my cocoon – my safety net. It is also the place where I can really express myself. I spend so much time redesigning other’s homes that I feel I have not quite got things right for me at home. So for me Calico Living is means for me to focus on exploring and discovering new things. Experimenting at home, trying my hand at a few different handicrafts while at the same time sharing my knowledge and experience with my readers.

I love cooking – I cannot see why so many of us do not learn to do better in the kitchen. After all we spend many hours of our lives eating. The quality of what we put into our bodies is important, but the pure act of eating should be enjoyed and savoured. So I will be sharing some of my recipes as well as trying out some recipes where I feel I could do a bit better. (I am not the most confident baker!) 

Life is all about learning. I study all the time. An interior designer has to be very aware of trends as well as changes to new products. I hope in this blog to not only share my knowledge of interior design, but also share my views of changes in trends at home.

Of course I am a keen crocheter – please don’t think it is a granny kind of thing. My book Hip Crochet released in March 2013 shows that crochet is not dull and for old biddies. It is current and very much on trend and this draught excluder sits at the door to my living room – not because I have any draughts, but simply because it is bright and full of fun. I am also releasing a number of new patterns through and will introduce them here too.

It isn’t all serious – this living malarkey. There should be time to explore and go places. Outside interests are important. Finding fun things to do. Having lazy days out at the beach, packing that perfect picnic lunch and collecting pieces of driftwood to turn into a piece of art.

There is the “Good Life” principle too – foraging, making jam, using honey and building the odd bug hotel. I just love what my friend made... I can't wait to make my own version. 

Apart from that I hope to keep the blog up to date with my progress in the garden, my work and my home as time goes on.

Spring is the perfect time I think to start again with Calico Living and I hope that you will enjoy the journey with me. 

Calico Living: March 2015

Calico Living