Posted in Gardens, lifestyle, self-sufficiency, environmental issues, adventure

Fulwood Open Gardens


A few years ago, I became aware of the National Open Garden Scheme, a proposal where gardeners invite others to look around their pride and joy for a donation to charity. It’s a great idea for other gardeners to get inspiration and advice and the money goes to a good cause. I was going to do this last year but, as so often, the year went too quickly and in September I realised I missed my chance.


I noticed a poster for Fulwood Open Gardens on a walk with a friend. It was displayed on a tree in a particularly eye-catching front garden. It wasn’t part of the national scheme, but was a local event, designed to raise money for the Baby Beat Appeal at the nearby Sharoe Green Hospital.

(The appeal aims to raise £100,000 each year to fund the state – of-the-art technology needed by the Maternity Unit, not covered by the budget. There is also a current funding campaign – Little Ted’s Appeal – to soundproof two rooms at the Delivery Suite).

There were 10 gardens altogether, from 10.30am to 4pm, but we only visited six because of prior commitments in the afternoon.


All had their merits and were varied.

One was very quirky and a real mix of everything in a fairly small space. Buddhas, tick. Fairy garden, tick. Veg patch (including onions), tick. An abundance of flowers, tick…



One gardener proudly showed us around his raised beds and containers of vegetables – carrots, cabbages, parsnips and more – and handing out tips while he did so.

A delightful slice of chocolate cake and a refreshing cup of tea was had in next door’s conservatory. I loved the summer house at the bottom of their garden.

A small garden demonstrated what could be done in such limited space and there was even a sheltered housing complex offering a display of flower borders and hanging baskets.


My personal favourite was the wildlife garden. As we strolled along the path, we saw crowds of bees feasting on the lamb’s tail among other culinary (for them) delights amidst the flower borders. I also came across a small white butterfly. But what I saw was only a mere glimpse of what creatures comes to visit…




Scenes of the wildlife garden

The garden owner told me that a hedgehog came round at 9.45pm every night for his supper. Today his neighbour came to look around his garden and told him a hedgehog visited him nightly at 10pm!

I came away from the gardens feeling inspired and invigorated. What next? Raised beds for veg? Bee balm to attract bees? Sink garden of succulents? A fairy garden?

Have you taken part or visited a Open Gardens Scheme, whether local or national?

For more information on the National Garden Scheme, visit

Facts of the Day

1. The National Garden Scheme was founded in 1927.

2. At that time, before the creation of the NHS, admission fees raised money for district nurses.

3. According to its website, the National Garden Scheme is the ‘largest single funder of nursing and caring charities in the UK’. Since 1927, £55m has been raised for charity.





Posted in Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures

Trek Diary – May 2018: Lincolnshire Wolds


Lincolnshire WoldsWoods and Mills walk (9 miles) 


Simon picked up a leaflet in a pub for this Lincolnshire Wolds walk a while ago and one weekend in May we decided to try it. Much flatter and easier than our last endeavour, Scafell Pike, it is an interesting walk with two choices of routes, three and nine miles. It also takes in some of the Viking Way. We embarked on the nine-mile ramble.

It starts off from Market Rasen, a small quiet market town, and from there we walked to Tealby. Tealby is a pretty little village with, among its sites of interest, All Saints Church, The Vintage Cafe (gorgeous cakes as I can testify!) and the oldest pub in Lincolnshire, The King’s Head, circa 1367 and boasting a thatched roof.



This walk took us through the Forestry Commission owned Willingham Woods and onto farmland.

We saw Hamilton Hill (yes, the Wolds is the hilly point of Lincolnshire!) Hundreds of years ago, it was the meeting point for protesters gathering for the Lincolnshire rebellion against Henry VIII who was busy dissolving monasteries at that time.

Later on, walking along a path through fields, we looked towards a hill on the left and saw a crowd of domesticated deer grazing – and gazing toward us. Had I a proper camera, it would have made a great picture. Believe it or not, the photo below us – showing some brown spots on a hill – is supposed to capture the scene of the curious deer.


One moment of confusion occured when, later on, a path was diverted (hopefully this will no longer be the case or will be better signposted if you go). Amid the seemingly deserted farm buildings, we pondered what to do, go through the field with cows and calves – and, oh dear, was that a bull? Yet it looked like the correct and most direct route. We opted for the longer way through the field with placid sheep. Thankfully, this turned out to be the right one!


Notes of interest:

Market Rasen, situated on the edge of the Wolds, is known for its racecourse. Also, did you know a 5.2 Richer Scale earthquake occurred in 2008? The town has 19th century redbrick Georgian and Victorian buildings and a medieval church. 

Tealby All Saints Church dates from the 12th century and was built with local stone. Tennyson has a link to Tealby – his grandparents came from there and Tennyson himself used to walk from Somersby (his birthplace) to Tealby. 

The walk takes the hiker into the Lincolnshire Wolds – the highest ground in Eastern England (between York and Kent) and an Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB). Why the mention of Mills in the title of the walk? Well, there were 15 Mills along the River Rase, used for grinding corn and, later on, paper making. On our way back, we came across this (not strictly on the walk). It was believed to be the site of a 1300s hermitage.  


 The walk can be found at:

Click on Publications, Gateway Walks and then Following Woods and Mills. 












Posted in Gardens, lifestyle, self-sufficiency, environmental issues, adventure

Ode to a mouse…


A few months ago, my dad and I tidied the small 6×4 plastic shed at Cosy Cottage. It had got so crammed with random tools, D. I. Y miscellanea and various bags of chicken grain and corn that no one could actually enter the building. It was while doing this that, out of the corner of my eye, I glimpse some thing that was tiny and dark flash past me. It was so quick, I pretended to myself I hadn’t seen it.

Fast forward another month and I am letting the hens out. Dottie is, as always, herself. Florence and Jemima are going through a prolonged broody phase which means I have to physically carry them out of the coop into their run. I bend down to lift Jemima when I, once again, spot something speeding by.

Not knowing what this is gives me the creeps. But my hens’ health and safety is important so I need to check just what is lurking in the coop.

I gingerly lift the tray where the grit bowl sits on. A nervous moment. Something scurries away, under the next tray, where the water bowl resides on top.


Gritting my teeth, I lift this tray and see two beady black eyes look at me, in a furry brown face unmistakably mouse.

Now, I am nervous of many things but I don’t fear mice. So now I know what and who this rapid motion belongs to, I feel calm.


The mouse then runs away from me towards the wire mesh.

My colleague with the allotment plot, James, had a rat who got stuck in the mesh in his coop. A horrible scenario and one which the rat did not survive.

Thankfully, the mouse avoids entrapment on the mesh.

Through a mercifully quick game of ‘Escape the Scary Big Human’, the mouse finds his way out of the open coop door to adventures elsewhere (I hope).

The rat/mouse issue is one which can puzzle a hen keeper. I actually wouldn’t mind too much if it was just the one mouse but how many mice are going to remain celibate and not invite their extended family to rich pickings in Dottie’s house?

And then their numbers can get too numerous and the neighbours might complain and a multitude of diseases spring up… All because of mice or rats.

So what to do? Some people would opt for poison or trapping. I wouldn’t judge anyone who does but hope I am never in that ‘last resort’ situation. I am screamish about killing, even small rodents. Also there is the horrid possibility of killing another animal inadvertently.

Molly and Teddy, the Jack Russells, would gladly help out but I would prefer not to inflict the Two Terrible Terrors onto an innocent creature! 🐶🐶

Under the trays and in the coop itself, I realised old grain and corn had accumulated and, obviously, this had been irresistible for our friend. You see, mice and rats are not attracted to chickens. But they do find grain delicious. Not just chicken food though, they also like what they see on bird feeders and compost heaps too.

So following one major spring clean of the coop and a more thorough regular cleaning routine and I have my fingers crossed that I will not encounter Mr Mouse again. 🐁🐀🐁

I forgot to mention there was a tiny gap at the bottom of the coop door, now blocked by a small piece of wood.

So my advice, gathered from books, magazines and the Internet is – keep on top of your cleaning regime so there is nothing to attract mice and rats. And block any mouse or rat-sized gaps in the coop. And fingers crossed! But if you have any more ideas, please leave me a comment. Advice always welcomed! ☺️

Facts of the Day

1. Mice generally have pointed faces, big eyes, prominent ears and a long thin tail. Rats are larger, with coarse fur and scaly tails.

2. Types of mice include house, wood, yellow-necked, harvest and dormice.

3. Voles and shrew could be mistaken for mice. Voles are chubby and have short noses and small eyes. Shrews are tiny and have pointed noses.

(Information from Readers’ Digest, The Best of Wild Britain)

I’ll leave the final words to Robert Burns (Rabbie to the Scots!) 🐀