This blog is a place for showing what the garden gets up to, the chickens who live in it, and random thoughts, usually triggered by chickens or plants.

If you put your email in the subscribe box next to this post you will get updates now and again. But if you are looking at this on a phone or a tablet, you will need to scroll down to find the box.

Simple Tips for a Cheap Christmas

There is a Christmas Market on Cathedral green. The grass is flattened by rustic buildings and baby Jesus has his own, fresh from B&Q, right at the front. This is all a call to spend money, but first I have to take a closer look at that baby.

Continue reading “Simple Tips for a Cheap Christmas”

How to Convert a Barn. Getting the Guests in.

Everything was nearly ready, the barn was full of stuff that people might need, like forks and washing up liquid. Backstage we made a store room for tea towels, pillows and other things that are hard to sort into tidy piles, and attractive to sleepy cats. Time now for more hurdles and hard lessons.

Continue reading “How to Convert a Barn. Getting the Guests in.”

How to Convert a Barn Part 99.  It is all about Marketing.

The chickens watch from the gate. They like the busyness as we rush in an out of that barn to polish taps, angle lights, and wrestle with curtains. It is fun, except when you get tripped up by a chicken, or until you go to IKEA to seek out fine, soft, crisp, bedding with tasteful cushions. IKEA is just a place for getting lost, feeling inadequate and making argumentative decisions about cheese graters.

Continue reading “How to Convert a Barn Part 99.  It is all about Marketing.”

Do I Need a New King?

There are flags all over the village but this is the biggest one. When it flaps backwards, the letters spell NOITANOROC. A confusing word for a strange day. Watch it on TV? Go eat soggy cakes in the rain outside the village hall? Swear allegiance? Announce that he is ‘Not Mine’ or something else? What to do?

Continue reading “Do I Need a New King?”

How to Use Airbnb

If you have friends who buy lottery tickets, you can suggest that they share any big win with you. I have and they seemed to agree, and even smiled when I told them what I will do with my half. Until that happens, the barn has a mortgage, so we are entering the murky waters of Airbnb. There is a lot to do.

Continue reading “How to Use Airbnb”

How NOT to Convert a Barn

We got to the best part. Sunshine pouring in through new windows, flooring going down, shelves going up, fresh paint licking corners and the excitement of ‘carpet day’ on the horizon. Even the sliding door, that kept getting stuck, started working. I was gloating over that door, thinking how silly I was to worry about it, all winter, when Building Control turned up. Then things went wrong.

Continue reading “How NOT to Convert a Barn”

How to Quickly Convert a Barn. Parts 5 to 10. Finding a Team

When a list of things to do gets complicated, brains come up with startling thoughts. Especially in the middle of the night when you are not looking. ‘Who is going to do all this stuff? Forget character and history, we should have knocked it down, put up a kit house instead. What is a kit house?’

Continue reading “How to Quickly Convert a Barn. Parts 5 to 10. Finding a Team”

How to Quickly Convert a Barn. Part Four. Is it Solid Underneath?

The barn was empty.  All we had to do was pop in a few facilities and add a lick of paint. The advisor said, ‘you can turn this around in three months.’  It took three months to knock down 2 walls, dig 6 holes, and learn 9 lessons.

Continue reading “How to Quickly Convert a Barn. Part Four. Is it Solid Underneath?”

How to Quickly Convert a Barn.  Part Three. Clearing out

The golden rule of converting a barn is ‘Start with an empty space,’ and the rule of shared living is ‘Anybody can leave stuff anywhere, and nobody knows who did it.’  For decades people squirreled things in there, before going off to new homes and travels, or back to their room to enjoy the extra space they made.  It was like a department store, full of things that nobody wants.

Continue reading “How to Quickly Convert a Barn.  Part Three. Clearing out”

How to Quickly Convert a Barn. Part Two. Confusing Consultants

So there was the barn, new roof, dry walls, and occasional people living in the temporary camp/flat upstairs. This was so illegal you could either stay awake worrying about insurance, and planning regulations, or do mindfulness.

Continue reading “How to Quickly Convert a Barn. Part Two. Confusing Consultants”

How to Quickly Convert a Barn.  Part One.  Why Bother?

Autumn beauty here, but winter is coming and the house is full. Seven people, cats, chickens, visitors, the occasional rat, and a roof full of birds.  Crows guard chimneys, swallows nest under gutters, and starlings sneak around inside the roof. Everybody needs a space to live, the humans and chickens pay to keep it all going. It was kind of working, until last winter, when we got a leak.

Continue readingHow to Quickly Convert a Barn.  Part One.  Why Bother?

One Wedding, and a Funeral

We had a family wedding. Not too large, because we all know the old saying ‘The bigger the wedding, the shorter the marriage.’ It was just the right size, with all the ingredients to set the couple up for life. This is their recipe for a good wedding and, next time I get married I will probably follow it.

Continue reading “One Wedding, and a Funeral”

What Happened this Summer? Only the Phone Knows

The blackberries and sloes are early this year. You can almost hear them chanting: ‘Here we are. That’s it. No more summer, any more.’ How did it go so fast? What even happened?  Tip. If you can’t remember how you spent your time, look at your phone, and piece it together with whatever photos are there.

Continue reading “What Happened this Summer? Only the Phone Knows”

What Happened when a Bike was Stolen

Sunny days, sweet peas, borage, and nothing to complain about. Except, this week one of us lost a bike. Stolen from a city centre bike rack in broad daylight. It was only a bike, nobody died, and maybe the thief really needed it, but it is unsettling when a stranger takes a much loved thing. It makes you review security.  

Continue reading “What Happened when a Bike was Stolen”

Strange Things on the Shelf

Twas the night before Glastonbury, and all through the house… people are gone.  The cat lies mournfully with an entire bedroom to herself and my phone is alive with stressed messages from family, friends and colleagues. They are all preparing to dance in the fields of excess, with crowds, heatstroke, mud fever, cocktails, and far too much fun. It’s quiet and sensible here. What to do with all that ‘not going to Glastonbury’ free time?  Step out and admire the flowers? No, better than that. Let’s clean the cupboard under the sink.

Continue reading “Strange Things on the Shelf”

How Chickens Kill Time

Sitting out in the sun and ‘Doing Nothing’ is a bit like yoga, filing a tax return, or defrosting a freezer, because you have to commit time, and stick at it. Don’t bring your list of things to do, because you might forget you are forcing yourself to do nothing and start doing the things. Slow down, maybe read a bit, watch clouds and notice whatever is around. Here it might be swallows skimming the sky for flies, the cat stalking a moth, or the chickens chasing a butterfly. Those chickens. What do they actually do all day?

Continue reading “How Chickens Kill Time”