Our garden. Then and now

We have now lived in our house for 3 years. Time flies when you are having fun (and when you’re renovating). It feels like we have neglected the garden in favour of all the structural work we have undertaken on the house (some of which you can read about here and here). I certainly don’t have the wildflower garden of my dreams. However, when looking through some old photos I realised that we have actually achieved a fair bit in the garden. This ties in nicely with my decision to do a monthly update on how out garden is progressing. Since snow and poor weather dominated March I am writing a ‘then and now’ post to show what we have accomplished so far and to give a reference point for future posts.

Then and now

When we first moved in our priority was replacing the crumbling fencing. Only the lawn area was fenced but we still had 28 panels to replace. For such a big job we enlisted the children and their friends to help and paid them in fish and chip suppers!

Replacing the fence panels

We soon realised that getting the children to help benefited us all. Not only did the work get completed faster but it helped them to appreciate their surroundings. Moreover it got them out of the house. I don’t know about you but if we have nothing specific planned my children will happily stay inside playing computer games all day.

The bottom of the garden was a challenge. There was hard standing and a large shed that had seen better days. With paint brush in hand my little helpers soon got to work.

Repainting the garden shed

The next step was to break up all of the concrete. The plan was to create a vegetable patch in this area but progress was slow. Thankfully with a little bribery and a lot of help we dug up the area.

Repainting the garden shed

The thought of growing our own fruit certainly helped to spur everyone on. Although the bottom of the garden still isn’t complete the then and now comparison is pretty strong.

Before view. Our garden then and nowThen

After view. Our garden then and nowNow


So far we have grown our own strawberries, blackberries and tomatoes. It hasn’t been the most productive of starts. However last year, next door removed the enormous tree that was at the bottom of their garden and it has made an enormous difference to our available light. We have now added an apple tree sapling and tayberries. This week the children have been digging it over and preparations are afoot to sew some root vegetables. I think it’s important to grow things that they will enjoy eating. They are more eager to get involved with produce they want to see on their plate!

Where we are now

The garden as it stands now

The immediate project we have in mind is to varnish the fences. It’s a job that the children will relish but they will have to be closely supervised or they will paint each other! I have purchased some bricks to make a border down the right hand side of the lawn. Now that next door’s trees are removed we have enough light for this. As an aside I really believe that there should be height restrictions on what you can grow in your garden. There has to be a balance between privacy and shrouding your surroundings in sade.

Let’s be honest, the garden isn’t looking at it’s glorious best at the moment. If I had thought ahead I would of published a then and now post while the garden was in full bloom to show a more dramatic difference but that seems a little dishonest. This is it as it stands. There is a lot of work to do this summer and sometimes it does feel like a thankless task. Looking back at what we started with though, I can see progress and it helps to spur me on with the project.

It really is a marathon not a sprint!

I do hope you will join us for updates on our progress


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My glorious gardens

Country kids


 Country Kids




Home and garden plans for 2018

We have almost been in our house for almost 3 years now. We knew it would be a long term renovation project when we moved in. However, to be honest, we totally underestimated just how long it would take. At first glance it doesn’t look like we have done much. In fact we have spent this time replacing windows, removing unsafe chimneys and other essential structural work. Now that the important donkey work is finally complete we can continue renovating, safe in the knowledge that the building isn’t going to crash around our heads. So what are our home and garden plans for 2018? They fall broadly into 2 categories. Fantasy and reality!

Home and garden plans for 2018

Home and garden plans for 2018


Loft conversion plans

In an idea world we would do a loft conversion. We had the plans drawn up with a view to doing the work last year. Then disaster struck and although the resulting bathroom is my pride and joy the work was budget busting and I don’t know when we will be able to start the project.

Now that the children are older we always seem to have a house full of their friends. It seems like I blink and an extra child has appeared out of the woodwork. We need extra space so they can spread out (and get from under my feet). The plan is to add 2 rooms in the front loft. 1 will be an extra bedroom and the other will be a study/den for the children. With gcses looming a study space is going to be vital so we need to find a creative alternative in the meantime.


In the absence of a lottery win we have to be realistic. We have a couple of projects on the go that I want to get completely finished before we move on. Does anyone find that they have a house full of 80% done projects and none are complete? Just before Christmas we split our lounge into 2 rooms. The lounge is almost finished. However, the hallway is like something out of a horror film.

The entrance where a new doorway has been cutEek! The doorway for the new lounge

Hallway hallway through renovation

Since this photo was taken we have fitted a door and architrave but not a lot else. On the bright side we have found the original tiling under the laminate so we hope to excavate them. The plan is to add panelling to the walls. This means we only have to plaster half of the walls. As an added bonus it will also stop the blasted cat from scratching the wallpaper off!

A much easier project will be our bedroom. Since we renovated it the wood for the architrave and picture rails has moved slightly and needs a little bit of attention. We expected this as new wood will naturally shrink and swell with changes in room temperature and can take a few years to settle. While we are recaulking etc I’m going to give the room a lick of paint.

Previous bedroom makeoverThe bedroom needs a little bit of tlc now

In the garden I need to finally get to grips with our vegetable patch. Vegetable patch is overstating it at the moment. It is really a fenced off area with a few blackberries and strawberries amongst the weeds. Late last year we saw the addition of an apple tree and tayberries (my absolute favourite). I was also recently given a poly tunnel so I now have no excuse to get going on my little plot. I hope to get the children involved and will probably pay them to do the digging until my hip problems ease.

Other plans (if we should ever find the time)

This is of course only half of what we plan. We have 2 of the children’s bedrooms ‘almost’ finished and another waiting to be started. Our giraffe bathroom (don’t ask) needs a complete overhaul and we still haven’t painted the new plaster from last year in the kitchen/diner.

For those of you planning a renovation project take heed from this post. It never finishes! But if that’s the sort of thing that floats your boat you will have the time of your life doing it!!

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Home Etc


Summer days in the garden

Finally the summer has arrived and it is glorious! On the whole I am not a sun worshiper. My skin tone does not tolerate the heat and I burn really easily. Today though, with a good dose of factor 50 and the shade of our magnolia tree I spent a wonderful day in the garden with the children.

It seemed like the perfect opportunity to dust off my camera and really practice capturing motion. However it is so much easier to take a picture of a flower than an excitable child! Not only were the children excited, the arrival of the sprinkler sent the dogs into a frenzy too. There is a reason, I think, why they say never work with children or dogs!

There were so many wonderful photo opportunities but would they stand still for a second? Would they heck! Still, it was a fantastic chance to crank up the shutter speed! Here are a few of the things I captured on this wonderful summers day in the garden…

Fun in the sun

Hopscotch with the sprinkler on a wonderful sunny day https://insideoutblog.co.ukSpeeding through the hopscotch game, connected to the hose pipe

Splashing in the sunshine https://insideoutblog.co.ukSplash!

Joyful games in the garden on a sunny summers day https://insideoutblog.co.ukThe look of joy on her face is what childhood is all about

Garden fun on a sunny day. Trying to get a mouthful of water from the sprinkler! https://insideoutblog.co.ukShe just couldn’t help herself!

Cooling down on a hot day https://insideoutblog.co.uk

Not wanting to be left out,Ted joined in. I cannot imagine how hot dogs must get on days like these. Still, I imagine the sprays of water came as a welcome relief. I was actually hoping to get him entirely in focus but I like how the shot has turned out nonetheless.

A big shake, like only a dog can do https://insideoutblog.co.ukAnd what’s the point of getting wet if you can’t have a good shake?

Our first homegrown strawberry of the year https://insideoutblog.co.ukTo top off the fun we found our first ripe strawberry of the year! Result! Hopefully this year the dogs won’t eat them all and we will get a look in.

The day has been a resounding success although our plans for a roast dinner, to round off the day, were cancelled in favour of pizza. A much more sensible alternative when it is so hot, I think. I am happy to report that we are all sunburn free and I hope that the exertions mean that the children will sleep well tonight. I certainly know that I will.