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Hello all. Well you may have noticed that it has been a little quiet on the AHC front. To be honest it has been a hectic year for me and I've been struggling to commit to all the things I have balanced in the air, which is why crafting and blogging have taken a back seat lately. So please don't think I've lost heart in this little blog of mine - blogging and interacting with you is something I really enjoy doing. I just have to accept I can't do everything. So while I may not post as often as I'd like too, I will keep it ticking over as best I can ... starting with this armchair makeover!




You may remember me sharing a piccie of this chair a couple of years ago. Suffice to say it is no ordinary armchair. It once belonged to hubby's lovely grandparents, who are no longer with us sadly. When they passed away we were asked if we'd like something of theirs to remember them by - and straight away we thought of this chair. Granny often sat in this chair and everything about it reminds us of them and their cosy, welcoming home. 




However, once we got the chair home it was clear that it was in need of some TLC. Granny and Grandpa had this chair for years so understandably it was now getting a little worn and threadbare. 




After scouring shops and the internet I eventually found this lovely fabric called Finch Toile in Willow at Just Fabrics - who have an excellent selection of fabric, I really can't recommend them highly enough. It's such a pretty pattern & fresh shade of green ... I'm sure granny would have loved it. 




I'd love to say I re-upholstered the chair myself but this was a project for the professionals! Lucky for me one of the ladies from my craft group has an upholsterer for a husband and an excellent one he is too! I was completely blown away by his work (and he only took a couple of days to do this - can you imagine??!!) his attention to detail, the buttons, the stitching, the piping ... was all to an incredibly high standard.




Unfortunately I can't recommend him to you as he is now retired and only does one off pieces for friends and family. However if you are thinking about getting a precious chair re-covered, it really is worth doing. Upholstery is a dying art and giving old, much-loved, well-made pieces of furniture a new lease of life is far more rewarding than buying something cheap and new. I love sitting here in this chair now - it means so much to have something of granny and grandpa's, especially since it can eventually be passed down to the next generation.


JM x






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With autumn well and truly here I thought I'd pop all my favourite autumn crafts I've made from the past into one post for you! These crafts range from super quick and easy to those that are slightly more time consuming. These craft projects are ideal for kids so I've also rated each craft for you from easy to difficult. Happy Autumn all! 

Rustic twig candle holder
Difficulty rating: Easy peasy
Note: Suitable for children but supervision advised. Lots of fun to be had foraging in the outdoors for the twigs. Glue gun is ideal for this project though not a deal breaker. 



Pressed wild flowers in frames
Difficulty rating: Very easy  
Note: Suitable for children. A lovely simple craft for any time of year. Would make lovely cards / gifts too. 



Autumn leaf candle lanterns
Difficulty rating: Very easy  
Note: Suitable for children but supervision advised. Again, much fun to be had foraging for the leaves!



Difficulty rating: Very easy  
Note: Suitable for children. This project is so simple and affective, and makes a lovely autumnal decoration.



Sparkly pastel autumn pumpkins
Difficulty rating: Easy to moderate  
Note: Suitable for children but supervision advised. This is a lovely fun project but it can get messy as paint is involved - hence adult supervision!



Fairy light tree decoration
Difficulty rating: Easy to moderate
Note: Suitable for children but supervision advised. This makes a beautiful centrepiece that can be adapted for easter, Christmas, autumn & weddings!



Dried autumn flowers heart wreath
Difficulty rating: Easy 
Note: Suitable for children but supervision advised as glue gun necessary!



Pressed leaves and flower lamp tutorial
Difficulty rating: Moderate 
Note: Slightly more technical, certain stages are suitable for children. This is a slightly more complex project but it is so worth it. A great one for getting the kids involved in the leaf / petal picking stage!



JM x


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What a treat. I recently received this gorgeous tea basket hamper from Fortnum and Mason - who are the quintessential British company, founded in 1707 and still located in London's famous Piccadilly. Specialising in fine teas, jams and hampers (amongst many other fine things) F&M sent me this delightful hamper and asked me what I might use it for once I'd devoured all the delicious goodies inside ... 





Well before I get into that have a peak at what you might find inside. They make a variety of baskets for different tastes - some are wine-based, some are food-based and they vary in size and price. This is the F&M tea basket ...  which as you can see comes with a selection of 3 fine teas, a selection of jams, a F&M breakfast mug and (my favourite thing) a tea strainer! To be honest I've never been gifted a hamper before and I felt like a kid at a birthday party, delving my hand in and pulling out various bits and bobs! (what was that game called?) anyway, I can see the appeal of hampers now. 



Photo by Fortnum and Mason


So once I'd emptied my hamper I gave it some thought .... it was too small to be a bed for Ralphy :-) so I was torn between making it my foraging basket (which it would be SO ideal for) or it would be my favourite wool stash basket! So it now sits, in pride of place by my sofa housing my favourite yarns. My winter knits thank you kindly Fortnum & Mason! What would you use your for??





JM x


This blog was in collaboration with Fortnum and Mason.
All thoughts and options are my own.







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I've been thinking a lot about autumn lately (or 'fall' for my overseas friends) and I've been trying to put my finger on what it is about autumn that warms our cockles so. Many of us have our favourite season but autumn seems to be such a firm favourite for so many. While we know it is a rich and beautiful season visually, it also fills many of our other senses - it brings warmth to our bellies, our homes and even to the clothes we wear. Essentially, Autumn is one big giant hug! I don't know about you but when the trees start to change to hues of amber, red and gold and the fires are lit I crave slow-cooked stews, as well as pumpkin soups, apple crumbles, chai lattes and hot cocoa. (FYI I never said I was good at making any of the above, but I am very good at eating them!)




Then there's the cosy clothing! Opaque tights are very much like marmite, we either love them or hate them but I personally take great pleasure knowing my legs are as furry as Ralphy's underneath my tights, and yet nobody knows...well except poor hubby when he comes a-snuggling and thinks I just have long furry socks on. In fact I enjoy dressing for Autumn more than any other month. I love mimicking the colours from the season in my clothes - the warm berry and rust tones, the hats, gloves and all thing soft and fluffy. Have you noticed that when you mimic the colours in nature you seldom get a clash? well OK it doesn't work every time but it often does!




One thing I've wanted for oh-so-long is a duffle coat, but I've always found them to be too expensive so I was over the moon with my new camel duffle coat from Laura Ashley. It's cosy, affordable and the neutral colour means it goes with everything - including my vast collection of scarves and hats! I love the hood and rope fastenings. Hubby thinks I look like a cute female Paddington bear in it :-) 




This weekend hubby and I (and Ralphy of course) went foraging in Pishiobury Park in Sawbridgeworth, because aside from clothes, food and scenery the other thing that also feels the change at this time of year is our homes. Winter duvets go on, the blankets come out, the fire kicks into action and the hot-water bottles earn their keep. So one of my favourite things to do is to forage for seasonal bits and pieces to decorate the house with! and you don't have to go far to find hidden gems ... 




Take the kids / dog / hot-flask / basket and head into the garden, the local park or venture out on a countryside walk and you'll find plenty of pine cones, autumn leaves, fallen dried oak branches, berries, rose hips, dried thistles and dried cow parsley - all of which are all perfect for creating a beautiful seasonal display.




Now depending on your style, you can make quite a stylised display OR you can just do as nature intended and go for the natural looks-like-it-just-fell-from-the-tree approach, which as you can see I much prefer. It's fuss free and just suits my little home. I also picked up a few mini pumpkins from the local supermarket! I can't tell you how happy I was when I sat down in front of the fire afterwards ... It just looks so cute and lovely.




I'm always drawn to little wooden nature ornaments so my toadstools and mushrooms blended in perfectly too! and don't forget some little tealights and candles too (but be careful they're not near anything flammable!)




Most of what you pick will already be dried out, or it will dry nicely. And if you use greenery to give it a splash of colour you can always replace it with more when it withers.




Just be careful what berries you use and make sure they are our of reach from children and your furry friends. Happy foraging friends!

JM x






Camel duffle coat £150 Laura Ashley Rust Beret Fatface
Log basket (on sale!) £36.40 Laura Ashley
Pumpkins from Waitrose





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Hello readers. Well it's a chilly Monday afternoon here in Hertfordshire, and Ralphy and I are snuggled under a blanket in front of the fire surrounded by tissues because I have a cold! Boo :-( Autumn is here, and how lovely it is too (colds aside.)  I know I've been quieter than usual on the blog front recently - life & work has been pretty full on recently. However I still have some lovely things in the pipeline for you in the next month. In the meantime here's a look back over our adventures the last couple of months ...




Our little Ralphy turned 8 in August. Sometimes I think he's slowing down a little, but then again, as soon as his football makes any appearance in the park you've never seen a puppy with so much energy - he dribbles and headers it around the field like Beckham! That's one of his birthday cards top right :-) and he insisted on wearing glasses bottom right as he was feeling his age a little ...




It was also my birthday this month, I turned 21 again :-) My friend Yidan made me this beautiful personalised bangle, isn't it lovely? She runs a website called Silver Cave Designs and makes lovely pieces of jewellery and sells them via Etsy. She makes beautiful things,  it's well worth having a lookie with Christmas round the corner.




Last month I received this beautiful handmade red leather Journal by Central Crafts. I can't find the time to write on a daily basis now,  so I have found a really nice way of keeping a journal is to document throughout special experiences and on holidays - not just to document our time away, but I find it's also a great way to wind down and take stock of where we are in life at that moment in time. This diary also had me reminiscing on my childhood and teenage diaries ... The joy of journaling.




August brought some lovely sunny happenings to our neck of the woods. We had some fun days out frolicking with friends at BBQs, and I also had some lovely lunches and mooches around gorgeous trinkets shops with my girly friends. It was on one of these outings that I was introduced to the fabulous Debden Barns shop(s) and cafe, situated just outside Saffron Walden - the food is all homemade and delicious, and there are some beautiful antique and home ware shops. Last week we returned from a long weekend in Amsterdam, as hubby was performing out there. I've always had a soft spot for Amsterdam - it has such a lovely feel to it I think, and if you ever find yourself wandering the cobbled streets, Ivy and Bros cafe make the BEST banana cake ever ... like, ever! 




Ah hubby and I (and Ralphy of course) have been loving our walkies of late. At this time of year there is always something new to see emerging from the hedgerows ... 




... I was hot on the trail when the blackberries and elderberries emerged, which I was pleased about as I'm often too late, and devils spit has got to them! ie they look a bit manky! FYI, the term 'devils spit' comes from old english folklore, which says the devil landed in a bramble bush when he fell from heaven. He then spat and stamped on the bramble's blackberries, cursing and scorching them with his fiery breath. This rendered the fruit inedible, so tradition says blackberries shouldn't be eaten after Michaelmas Day. But Ralphy and I picked a lovely fresh batch of berries to freeze for our apple and blackberry crumbles this winter - Ralphy loves a blackberry too, though he always looks like he's wearing lippy afterwards.




I also picked some Rose hips to make my anti-agin face oil for the coming months! They're still going strong if you fancy it.


How to make Rose Hip Oil (+anti-ageing facial oil) - YouTube


A new addition to our garden is our new log store! We've needed one for a while but they're usually very expensive. However I found this one on Ebay - it is handmade by craftsman Steve, who makes  lots of lovely wooden bits and bobs. Because this was on auction I managed to get it for a great price for it too!




Finally this month I shared our adventures in Bee's Bower: part-cabin, part-tree house, this incredible glamping getaway is like no place we had visited before. Perched at the top of corpse it stands alone, completely private overlooking the beautiful valley which surrounds it. Here is a glimpse into our getaway at Bee's Bower.  




Well I hope you all had a lovely summer and are looking forward to all the joys of autumn that lay ahead of us. Keep cosy friends and stay safe.
JM & Ralphy xx
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So remember I recently shared our glamping getaway in Mimi's tree yurt in Herefordshire? well after Mimi's Yurt we spent the second half of our glamping adventure in another incredible dwelling on the same site, which we also booked through The Cottage Co. But this place was like no other I'd ever experienced before - part tree-house, part-cabin, part canvas tent, Bee's Bower is an extraordinary place in every way. Perched at the top of corpse it stands alone, completely private overlooking the beautiful valley which surrounds it. The tranquil location and the incredible craftsmanship which has gone into this building really does make this a special place. Here is a glimpse into our getaway at Bee's Bower.  

Sleeps: 2
Where is it: Herefordshire
How much: From £289 for 2 nights
Pets: Up to 2 well behaved dogs welcome
Note: Suitable for babes-in-arms but not suitable for toddlers.
I also wouldn't recommend to those who have difficulty walking.




The arrival
After parking our car in the small car park at the top of the site, we filled our wheelbarrow and followed the sign down to Bee's Bower. The great thing about this site is that all the accommodations are completely separate from each other.




 This means it is a good 5 minute walk from the car to Bee's Bower, and the walk takes you through a beautiful meadow with spectacular views. It's downhill on the way there so it can be tiring on the way back up depending on your fitness levels - which is why I wouldn't recommend this place to those who have difficulty walking.





As you approach Bee's Bower through the meadow path you start to see the canvas roof emerge through the flowers. To the left of the house there is a lovely fire pit and BBQ area.




On arrival Ralphy took it upon himself to inspect the property and check everything was ship shape  before we entered :-)







Inside Bee's Bower
The inside of Bee's Bower is simply a work of art. Just like Mimi's yurt, owners Tim and Bryony were keen to create indoor / outdoor living that exists in harmony with nature, and craftsman Zane Dutton-Thompson saw the creation of Bee's Bower through from start to finish. At the centre of the house is a huge tree stump that supports the hand-carved spiral staircase that leads up to a beautiful bedroom (and if I'm ever lucky enough to build my own house, I'm going to shamelessly steal the tree-in-the-middle-of-the-house idea because it's just so lovely!) Two hand-stitched woven armchairs sit facing a cosy wood burner and the open-plan kitchen, and dining table for two is tucked away in the far left. 




My next favourite installation was the gorgeous beaten copper bath that sits in the corner. After a long day of walking it was the perfect spot for a soak whilst reading & sipping hot-choccy whilst looking out into the surrounding countryside.





Almost everything in Bee's Bower is handmade, including the bath taps which are fashioned from pipes and fixed to an incredible piece of driftwood which looks remarkable like Emu from 'The Pink Windmill' don't ya think? (for those that don't know that's a much lovely kids TV programme from the 80's.)




The large canvas door keeps the house snug and warm when it's chilly, but when when the sun is out you can roll it up and let the summer scent and breeze in. I absolutely loved sitting on this balcony with my morning coffee ... it's just a lovely spot where time seems to stand still. It's also a great spot for star gazing and scrabble re-matches too! And if that doesn't sound perfect enough the balcony also has a hammock ... which Ralphy and I took to napping in after our walkies.






A bedroom with a view
Up the spiral staircase you'll find the bedroom, and an impressive bedroom it is too. The bed is super comfy, with it's super soft bamboo linen. And just above the bed is a window that opens with a winch, and looks out onto the fire pit area. 




There are some lovely touches in the bedroom, like a basket of hot water bottles and the lovely handmade wardrobe and shelf. The balcony that looks over the lounge below is another beautifully designed piece of work, with beaten copper leaves dotted along the wood branches. It was deliberately designed to allow you to see the view of the valley opposite. This however is why this incredible house is not suitable for toddlers due to the lack of safety railings ... I also wouldn't recommend you allow your dogs upstairs. 





Kitchen & bathroom
The kitchen sits in the corner of the house, and with it's roll up canvas window, and stained glass window there is plenty of light. It is well equipped with everything you'll need. Like the rest of the house, every single piece of wood, piece of shelving, and every handle has been hand-carved. Many of the large beams are kept secure with thick ropes and wooden pegs, and many of the lights and lamps in the house are also handmade ....





The bathroom has a large shower cubicle with hot water, a lovely sink unit (with handcrafted taps) and a compost toilet. Compost toilets can take some getting used too, but these ones are absolutely fine. You do get the occasional fly hanging around but if you're a nature lover and you love the outdoors you'll take these things with a pinch of salt. Plus the owners are always on hand if you have any problems. However I will say, if you're looking for a super chic 5 star hotel experience this place is not for you. This is a rustic getaway adventure, and the price you pay for being so close to nature means you will come across creepy crawlies from time to time - as hubby discovered when he left the window open when settling down to read his book by the nightlight ... he's not too keen on moths either :-)




Out and about
There are plenty of walks on the doorstep and Offa's Dyke Path and the Brecon Beacons are just 2 miles away. There are also some lovely towns and villages nearby so you won't be stuck for things to do, and there are plenty of leaflets and recommendations in the house. I highly recommend a meal in The Carpenters Arms which is also in walking distance. The food is delicious the pub is incredible quirky and the locals are warm and friendly. We had such an incredible time at Bee's Bower and I was so sad to leave. Tim and Bryony are such a lovely couple and the haven they have created here is well worth a visit.




To visit the official website for Bee's Bower click here

JM x



This blog was in collaboration with The Cottage Company. All views and opinions are my own. 


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I really enjoy writing in my journal, but I find it almost impossible to keep a daily diary now - the days fly by far too quickly and there is no pleasure in writing just because you feel you should. I used to write a diary daily when I was a little girl, until the very worst thing happened ... my big brother discovered it and threatened to tell my mummy that I'd written a rude word in it! Well of course I was mortified, and what I had written was something like ... "In the playground today Dennis Gilbert said I was bloody rubbish at throwing!" Now the truth is my mummy probably would have just laughed to herself had she read it but my serious 8 year-old-self was taking no chances so I destroyed it - and all diaries from that day forward had padlocks! I continued to keep a diary into my late teens, which also makes for a very funny / tortured read ... "no one understands me and I'm DEFINITELY running away tomorrow" and the next day it read "didn't run away, went to cinema with Tara instead, went McDonald's after, was nice" :-) Those were the days when I wore motorbike books and dressed like Madonna in 'Desperately Seeking Susan' ... and no I'm not showing you any pictures!






But after that I got out of the habit, and I didn't rediscover the joy of keeping a diary again until my adult life. I find it too difficult to write on a daily basis now,  so I have found a really nice way of keeping a journal is to document throughout special experiences and on holidays - not just to document our time away, but I find it's also a great way to wind down and take stock of where we are in life at that moment in time - and because we are away relaxing it's not only a pleasure to write, but I'm able to look back over the previous months with clarity - and as a result, perhaps even make changes in my life for the better.  I also kept a diary in the 6 months lead up to my wedding day, and another diary covered the wedding day and the honeymoon, which I love re-reading on our anniversary.





In the past I'd use notebooks as diaries so it was a real treat to receive this beautifully made, personalised journal from a company called Central Crafts - a family business based in Hertfordshire, run by a husband and wife team who are passionate about finding and making quality, ethically sourced handmade products.  I love the vibrant red leather and the paper is thick and luxurious too. The journal is called the Firenze Classico Handmade Leather Wrap Large Journal and it is handmade by a family run business at a small workshop in the centre of Florence. The family have been working in the leather industry for generations, employing not only classic tanning techniques but also new ethical methods such as vegetable and organic tanning.





While this is one of the larger more expensive journals, Central Crafts have a huge collections of beautiful made journals (and wedding albums!) in all shapes and sizes to suit any budget. It comes it's is own protective case and the initials make for a lovely personalised touch too.





About Central Crafts;
"Situated in the sprawling Hertfordshire countryside, we are in an idyllic setting, which allows us to harness the creativity, intimacy and beauty that sets our products apart. We found our passion for handmade pieces whilst travelling across South East Asia back in the 1990’s, and once settled back in the UK we started out sourcing and designing bespoke pieces with small independent producers in Thailand. Central Crafts was established in 1999. Over the years we have evolved to working with various small independent producers elsewhere in Asia and Europe, and we now ship all over the world. Our leather is responsibly sourced and we are especially proud of our recycled leather range which is created using an ingenious tanning method which is far kinder to our environment and ensures that our impact on the planet is kept to a minimum."

Firenze Classico Handmade Leather Wrap Large Journal
Central Crafts
£42




JM x


This piece is in collaboration with Central Crafts & all thought and opinions are my own.

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Hey folks. Well it's August today and the summer feels like it is whooshing by doesn't it? We have had a lovely summer so far ... we have been busy working but we have still found time to enjoy ourselves, the surrounding countryside, seeing friends and bopping around at festivals and whatnot. We also had a fabulous glamping getaway in Herefordshire this month, and I became smitten with lampshade making! We have had some scorching weather here in the UK but we've also had some huge torrential storms too, which Ralphy was not very impressed with, we had to sit up all night with him :-( bless his little paws. He's never really been bothered by storms before but these storms were on a whole other level - in fact the lightening was so frequent we could of cranked the music up and called it a disco. Here was our month(s) in pictures!




 When it has been hot this summer (and it really has felt like stepping off a plane into a hot country sometimes - which is quite a novelty for ole blighty!) Ralphy and I have headed out early and gone in search of watery walks - as long as there is a stream to paddle in nearby, we are both happy. I made heaps of Elderflower cordial this year, which was absolutely delicious, and we spent some lovely evenings in the garden with friends, enjoy the heady scent of jasmine in between the bangers and G&T's.  




My craft group and I had a lovely day out together in June at Blake House Craft Centre - is one of the best craft suppliers I've come across in Essex / Hertfordshire. It houses a variety of craft, antique and trinket shops in original farmyard buildings - and there is also a lovely restaurant on site and a Maze. Here's a peek into what you can expect to find there ... Blake House Craft Centre.




This month I also made my own lampshades! I love making them ... it's so simple and easy to do. All you need is a piece of fabric and a lampshade making kit. I promise that once you've tried this you'll never buy a ready made lamp shade again! How to make your own lampshade.




I don't know about you but I've started to notice the blackberries are well on their way now (baskets at the ready, get set and go!) and the rose hips and sloes are all in their early stages too ... all signs that Autumn is on her merry way.  When the seasons start shuffling into change I always find myself looking around the house at all the jobs that need doing - I wish I didn't because now I have list of jobs that need doing yet I can't seem to find the time to do any of them. I've got quite a few soft furnishing projects in mind too - I bought these pretty dovecote napkins from M&S in the sale, I'm not quite sure what to do with them yet. Any ideas?




Oh and finally our lovely glamping getaway. Mimi's Tree Yurt is a beautifully made Eco yurt and Botswana-style kitchen set in the Herefordshire wilderness. Complete with log fire and copper roll top bath, this really was a lovely little corner of paradise. Click here for a peek at what we three got up too. 




Well I hope you've all had, and are still having a lovely summer. I'm trying not to wish it away but in truth I'm really looking forward to getting the logs ordered, the fire on and the woolies down from the loft! I know, I know I'm naughty for saying it, but hey, at least I'm not pointing out that there's only 20 weeks until Christmas!! :-) 

JM x

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Last week we returned from a wonderful glamping getaway in Herefordshire. We booked Mimi's Tree Yurt through The Cottage Company who have an excellent selection of quirky cottages based in Wales and the surrounding areas. However, Mimi's Tree Yurt, which is not far from the Wales border is not your average glamping experience - this beautifully handmade Eco yurt and Botswana-style kitchen have been lovingly handcrafted by a small team of talented craftsman, and the results are very impressive. Now this may not be to everyones taste, so if you're looking for a bug free existence and prefer pristine hotel-like conditions Mimi's Yurt is not for you. But if you are looking to escape into nature ... if you fancy some rustic slow living, roasting marshmellows under the stars, and soaking in a copper bath after a long day of walking, or perhaps taking a hot shower in the outdoors while the sun streams through the leaves overhead .... then you will love Mimi's Yurt. Here's a glimpse into what you can expect from this little corner of paradise.

Where is it: Herefordshire
How much: From £207 for 2 nights
Pets: Yep. They love them.
Sleeps: 2



The arrival 
You enter the camp via a long dirt road (not ideal for low slung cars mind) and there are valleys & meadows all around. After parking we hopped out the car only to be greeted by three gorgeous doggies. They were very friendly and would often greet us this way when we parked up. Ralphy can be very selective when it comes to his canine pals but he took to these pups instantly. There are a few other quirky accommodations on the site but none of them are nearby. All are hidden away in their own secluded spots and are a good distance from each other. In fact it's possible you won't see another human while your here unless you pass in the small car park. Tim and Bryony are lovely people and are a real pleasure to talk too. They are on hand to help should you need it, but unless you go looking for them, rest assured you will be left well alone from start to finish.




We loaded up our wheelbarrow and headed down to the yurt. I spent the next 10 minutes running around exploring-while-squealing, then while I unpacked, Hubby got the BBQ going! The yurt is surrounded by a wild-flower meadow, with one beautiful giant oat tree that acts as a canopy in the yurt garden - it's a lovely place to sit and relax, and on chilly nights there's plenty of wood available (and blankets!)



View & wildflower meadow next to the yurt


Concept & Creation - The Yurt 
Before I show you around I must tell you a bit about how these incredible buildings were made.
Inspired by their life in Botswana, Tim and Bryony (the owners) were keen to create indoor / outdoor living that exists in harmony with nature, and one that also has a 'feather-light' touch on the environment. Mimi's Tree Yurt is just one of their creations, and I'll be sharing another at a later date. Using locally sourced coppiced wood and solar generated electricity they created this Turkomen Yurt with the help of yurt maker Tobias Fairlove. As you can imagine an awful lot of work goes into the process - from sourcing the saplings, stripping the bark, shaping, steam bending, sanding and finally stringing and knotting each one - all of which is done by hand using traditional techniques. The whole family got involved in the process, and their daughter Pia Designed the central roof wheel. 





The Chestnut Cabin (Kitchen & bathroom)
The inspiration for the kitchen and bathroom building were the glorious camps Bryony and Tim experienced in the Makgadikgadi salt pans game reserve in Botswana - camps where creative inventiveness saw showers hanging from trees, and soap dishes made from branches. They loved the blurring of inside / outside living and with the help of craftsman Zane Dutton-Thomspon and Dane Horton they set about adapting some of these ideas to suit the UK climate. 




One of the things I throughly enjoyed about Mimi's yurt was the outdoor shower. On the chilly days I admit I chickened out (though hubby swears it was lovely) but when the sun came out I happily dived in and what a beautiful experience it was ... to be under a hot shower in the outdoors, with the sun shining through the leaves, surrounded by birdsong and the chatter of sheep. In fact I even made a mental note that if we're not overlooked too much I'd love to have an outdoor shower in our future house! 



Eco living & getting back to nature.
Another thing that made a big impression whilst staying here, was how much it made me aware of my own carbon footprint. There were plenty of lamps, fairy lights at the yurt which were all powered by one single solar panel. It never ran low but it still made you think about reserving energy - something I rarely do at home. Even the bed linen (which was so lovely and soft) was made from bamboo! I thought the compost loo might take some getting used too - I've used them at festivals before and that has never been a nice experience. However, these ones are absolutely fine. They are just like a regular loo to sit on, except once you have thrown your loo roll in, instead of flushing you simply throw in a couple of handfuls of sawdust to cover up your loo roll - there's no smell and it's a 'long drop' loo so it's not a ghastly sight either :-) you do get the occasional fly hanging around but it's a price I'd happily pay to be so close to nature.




My other favourite thing was being able to roll up the kitchen window, and look out into the garden and over the valley. I love bringing the outside in and Mimi's yurt does exactly that in abundance. The price you pay for that is of course being visited by the odd bug / spider / moth. In fact one tip is make sure you're windows are closed before you pop your lights on in the evening ... otherwise just as you settle down to read you'll get a moth hurtling himself towards your nightlight. 




But all those things are part and parcel of getting back to nature, and like I said before, If you don't like camping, or don't like experiencing the great outdoors up close and personal then this may not be the holiday for you - personally I loved it. We all left feeling relaxed and rejuvenated ... Ralphy Included.





Surrounding areas
We had a mix of rain and shine during our week which was quite nice ... on the warm days we'd head off and explore the region, then return with some local produce and cook it on the fire pit. There are so many beautiful walks and places to explore nearby, and since it's located right on the Herefordshire / Wales border you are just a stones-throw from the Black Mountains, Ross-on-Wye and Brecon Beacons. Should you fancy a bit of retail therapy there are some lovely quaint towns and villages nearby too.





Yurt entertainment
On rainy days we still love to go walking (no such thing as bad weather, just poor choice of clothing!) and then it's such a pleasure to get back to the yurt, run a hot bath and curl up in front of the fire with a book or a game of scrabble. There are plenty of great books at the yurt, as well as some cards / games. We took our own scrabble as we're slightly obsessed with it at the moment. Though I'm ashamed to say that I didn't win one game of scrabble while away. Not one! In fact, there did come a point where I declared I would never play scrabble again. Ever. But I did ... and I didn't win :-(





Mimi's Tree Yurt is only open for business in the spring / summer / autumn months so if you're looking for a last minute escape into the wilderness head over to Mimi's page on The Cottage Company for more information and booking. 

Thanks so much for having us Tim & Bryony. 

JM x



This blog was in collaboration with The Cottage Company & The Goytree.
All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Today I’m going to show you how to make a lampshade using a piece of fabric and a lampshade kit. This project is so easy and works out so much cheaper than buying shop bought lampshades ... and it also means you can choose your own fabric! You might remember earlier this year I was gifted a bag in this fabric which is called 'Enchanted Forest' by a designer called Voyage - I thought it was so pretty so I found a supplier called Just fabrics who sold it by the metre and it's currently on sale! The lamp making kit is from a craft company called Dannells - I've made two different types below, the larger one is a drum shade in 40cm and the 'coolie' shade is 30cm. Dannells sell a huge array of lampshade kits in various shapes and sizes, most of which can be adapted for lamps or ceiling lights. Once you've tried your hand at this you will get hooked so be warned! 



You will need:
Lampshade kit
In this kit you’ll find: The lampshade frame, Self adhesive lampshade panel, 
double-sided tape and a pokey thing. 
Fabric 
Scissors
Pins (optional)



Choosing Fabric
When it comes to choosing fabric for this project don't opt for anything too thick, as this will be hard to work with. Also bear in mind what it will look like with light shining through ... perhaps hold it up to a light when choosing. Also, when it comes to choosing fabric a plain colour or repetitive pattern is probably easier as it doesn’t matter where you lay your panel, but because my fabric has a 'scene' I have to make sure the pattern is centralised. If you don't need to centralise your pattern you can hop to step 3.



Step 1 & 2
Iron your fabric so it has no creases. Lay out your fabric - pattern side up. Without peeling the backing from your PVC panel lay it on top covering the area you want to use (use something to weigh it down either end to keep in place if you need too.) When you're happy with your placement put some pins around the panel an inch from edge, just to use as markers.

Step 3 & 4
Flip the fabric so it's pattern side down (though not upside down!) Then remove approx 5 inches from the sticky adhesive and stick it down to one end of the fabric within your markers and press down firmly using your fist.



Step 5 & 6
Once the end is stuck down slowly remove more of the backing bit by bit with one hand while smoothing it down with the other.

Step 7 & 8
Now you're going to cut the panel out, keeping as close to each edge as possible. 
However …. to avoid a frayed edge like the one in the photo below we’re going to leave an extra half a centimetre at one end, which we’ll fold over at a later stage. 




Step 9
However, rather than do as I've done in step 8, leave a little extra at each side (see the example below left) ... otherwise when you fold over at the end you might come up a little short as I did (see below right.) This is a handy tip I picked up from sewhelpful.com



Step 10 & 11
Now we’re going to remove these bendy edges. Bend them back until you hear them crack ... do this all the way along. Then peel them away carefully so they don’t fray, then when you’ve finished simply snip off any frays. 

Step 12 & 13
Take your double sided sticky tape and lay a strip across the end where you left the extra bit of fabric. Peel, then fold the fabric back over and stick down firmly. 



Step 14 & 15
Take another line of tape and lay it over the top - don’t peel this off yet.
Our next job is to make our rings sticky! Take one ring at a time, and using the double-sided sticky tape just go all the way around each ring, wrapping it round the edge as you go. Be careful not too overlap the ends, leave a tiny gap.

Step 16 & 17
Now peel the tape cover from each ring, and starting at the opposite end from the sticky tape end stand your rings onto the edge of the plastic (make sure it's on the plastic - not on the fabric). Get one in place first, then the other then slowly start rolling them forward … keeping an eye on the edges as you go.



Step 18 & 19
Keep going - then when you get to the join, peel off the double sided sticky tape ... don't push down yet.

Step 20 & 21
Make sure the join is on a firm surface and press down firmly. 
If you're shade has bars on one of the cylinders as mine does, make a little snip above each one. 



Step 22 & 23
Using your hand just fold over the edges on each side like so. Then using the pokey tool, push the fabric into the edge and tuck in any frays … you need to push quite hard until you hear a click, but once you start you’ll soon get the hang of it. If the pokey thing bends simply cut to refresh it.



Top Tips:
If you're buying a 'coolie' shade for a lamp (bottom right) you'll also need to purchase a shade carrier

When making a ceiling shade - make sure the ring with the light fitting (bars) is at the top!

You can also purchase a lovely diffuser that you pop in the bottom of the ceiling shade, they sell them with various cut out patterns. (pic below)







JM x

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