Spring updates and podcast enlightenment

With the weather finally warming up and the rain holding off for a few days here and there we have been steadily completing our ‘to do’ list of bits and pieces at The Manor.

The first and most important task to tackle has been the refurb of the tennis court. Lots of pressure washing, sweeping later we are finally nearing the final stages and it is looking fab. Trees have been removed that hung over the court meaning that we now have less of an issue with the dreaded moss.

All the exterior paint work has been re done giving the house a nice fresh facelift and as I type all the fencing surrounding the garden is being taken away and replaced. All in all it is looking great.

We gave the games barn a good old clean up the other day, it’s still a barn, but a tidy barn!

I have to mention the magnolia tree at the Manor ( I fear I am becoming a magnolia bore, but hey, it’s only ever for a brief time in the year!)
Last year during a storm the guests using the house called to say a branch had fallen in the driveway, it wasn’t obstructing the drive but they wanted to let us know. After check out I went to assess and at the time it didn’t look great, a large branch has splintered and was on the ground, barely attached to the tree. I asked Harry to get round with his chainsaw pronto to get it removed and sawn up for logs. It got added to the never ending list of ‘to do’s’ I have but over a few days it didn’t look quite so bad so it fell to the wayside. After a week or so I noticed that the branch was still very much alive so I decided to leave it be in the hope that I would be rewarded with floor height sweeping magnolia to enjoy. We haven’t been disappointed, it looks amazing.

Whilst on the subject of flora I discovered a very lovely farmers market held on the fourth Saturday of each month on the high street in Dorchester (15 mins away from the Manor) – I tend to avoid ‘town’ on a Saturday as it’s always busy and we are usually ferrying kids to football or walking the pooch. On this occasion I was underprepared for Mothering Sunday so needed to do a quick trip in to get bits and bobs before collecting my nephews for a sleepover. We ended up in town at about 9.30 and it was nice and quiet, easy to park. We discovered the farmers market which I would highly recommend. There were loads of lovely stalls selling delicious produce and we took advantage of trying lots of stuff. My absolute favourite stall had to be this flower stall where I managed to find some beautiful Parrot Tulips and Ranunculus for Mothers day (myself & my mummy!!) I will be going again!

We had a lovely Mothering Sunday in the garden enjoying the sunshine. I was given lots of lovely cuddles from the kidlets and Harry cooked us all his speciality lasagne which was delicious.

As well as getting things spruced up at The Manor I have been working hard at home to get the decoration finished. Having been here for a year now I felt it was time to crack on now that I understand the light and how the spaces work. I am still stuck in a very white place as it’s so easy to touch up and add to or take away from. I am branching out in to other variations of white though and am using Farrow & Ball Strong White in most of the rooms other than hallways. It is a lovely subtle colour and very calming. I am so sick of painting now but am persevering as my goal is to be finished by the end of May and that is well within our sights.

I was trying to focus on the ground floor only when we inherited a lovely new bed from some friends. After a massive Ebay trawl I managed to purchase a brand new barely used mattress for it (for a tenner!!!) and so commenced the great British bed swap where Harry had to take down and move not one, but three beds and travel about for a whole day to satisfy my whims. Whilst we had an empty room for a few hours I finished painting the floor which has been a ambition for a while. I lOVE it. It’s totally impractical and a nightmare to keep clean but it’s my dream bedroom and I just like looking at it, which in my book makes it worth it.

In the midst of all the tennis court work / decorating etc we have been doing, I needed to find a decent distraction from the drone of the pressure washer or relentless and depressing news updates on the radio. I can’t remember who suggested podcasts, I think I may have seen one talked about on Insta but I am now fully obsessed and finding more and more brilliant ones to subscribe to and enjoy. They are engaging, topical, current and FREE! easier than reading as you can carry on about your daily work and still enjoy them. I am yet to listen in the car as I am mostly in the car with the children and we are in an unbroken cycle of Ed Sheehan and Musical Times Table (yawn). Here is a list of my current favourites, in no particular order.

* The High Low – Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton
* Desert Island discs – Radio 4
* Any of The New Statesman ones
* Letters to my fanny – Cherry Healey

I love them all and they are a treat to listen to. I am looking forward to discovering more.

We are also planning more stuff for the garden, I want to grow more of our own produce this year and learn more about it. My dear friend Abi has the most amazing poly tunnel that her and her husband Scott spend most of their summer in which is very inspiring. We are not at tunnel standard yet but on the hunt for a unused green house to adopt on free cycle. Knowledge is coming in book form from the very clever and talented Hollie Newton who recently published “How to Grow” – it is a stunning book and we are really enjoying it. You may also notice her name from the many Newspaper clippings and articles that are being published about her at the moment.

Happiness planning

Keeping top of New Years resolutions, or resolutions at any time of the year is a toughie! I promised myself after the Christmas break to finish the interior decoration at our home and make a few tweaks at The Manor House too. I really wanted to hone my weekly organisation and time we spend together as a family.

At the Manor we are now preparing the garden for summer and touching up bit and bobs in the house. Harry and I have plenty scheduled at The Manor and work starts this week, more of this over here for updates https://www.instagram.com/manorhousemoreton/

But other than work based bits I really want to finish the rooms at home, do more varied exercise, complete some units of my interior design diploma, and also eat supper with the children on a more regular basis and have family home evenings where neither myself or Harry are distracted by work emails!

Being self employed means I have to really try and schedule my days clearly else I can get super distracted and end up completing only half my to do list. So any methods to aid daily organisation are always welcome to see if they stick and work with us as a family.

I find that eating our evening meal together aids free and easy conversation with the children and they open up a lot more than when I am rushing in and out not paying full attention. I tend to do a meal plan on Monday morning, using up what I have from the weekend and grocery shopping for the rest of the week from there, it’s not a ridged plan and sometimes we see family or mix things up.

The benefits are great, I am spending less on shopping and have far less veggie waste than before, both the children are helping me prepare the meal, laying the table and eating more varied meals – no more beige freezer rubbish and more colourful vegetables. A friend has recommended a Riverford Organic box that she gets delivered, I really like the idea of this and am going to be doing some investigation on that front. I think would prefer to get one from a local supplier if possible?

On the ‘planning’ theme I also received a really sweet Happiness Planner from Harry for Christmas, this is so cute and came in pretty hues of pale blue and light pink. I have never been a dedicated diarist and tend to do all my work & personal organisation on my iPhone calendar and to do lists on the note’s feature. The Happiness planner has a positivity based premise and has daily sections for schedule (helpful as a diary) to do lists and areas to focus on gratitude, positive elements of the day and things that make you happy. It does make me focus on the little things that get overlooked and to be more positive about them, I am (almost!) writing it every morning and it gets you off to a smiley start. ♡

Dates & Paints

Movie date night was highly anticipated – (I know its only the flicks but January hibernation is long) I had booked us in to see The Revenant after watching the trailer and thinking it looked like a good ‘cinema’ film. Hell NO. It was the most traumatic 2.5 hours of 2016 so far.. Don’t get me wrong, it is beautifully shot, cast and set but it was so grim! Leo spent most of the film dragging himself across frozen ground unable to talk. The poor guy.
It was the kind of movie that made me want to get in to bed with each of my children for a long cuddle as soon as you get home – which is exactly what I did. It made me so tense I must have checked my phone at least 20 times in case the babysitter had called (weird Mamma anxieties going round in my head, fitting, high uncontrollable temperatures, house fires, cat suffocation, fingers in plug sockets to name a few).

A beautiful morning at The Manor

A beautiful morning at The Manor

Our morning at the cottage

Our morning at the cottage

We have had unbelievably beautiful frosty mornings this week, unlike any before -6oc this morning. I have so many photos of Moreton looking like something out of a painting – I really need to learn how to use my big camera properly soon, iPhone’s are great but I think I could get better shots!
Plum and I have been on lots of long walks across the ford and up through the forest making the most of the gorgeous weather.

We have been wanting to do some redecoration at The Manor for a while but have had to plan it quite closely to find a long enough gap between guests to get the work complete, we are starting in early Feb with one of the beautiful front facing bedrooms and a bit of work in the drawing room. With a house the age of The Manor a lot of TLC is needed so we have to take our time!

New Farrow & Ball colours released in a few weeks

New Farrow & Ball colours released in a few weeks

One of the bedrooms is getting a makeover

One of the bedrooms is getting a makeover

I am a huge fan of Farrow & Ball and their colour palette, the cottage is head to toe greys, minks and elephants huff. So I was thrilled to hear they are launching new colours in a few weeks. I popped in to our F&B shop in Dorchester today and the manager gave me a little sneak peek of the new colours ahead of their launch and they are beautiful! There is a fab little catalogue coming out with inspiration on how to match the new colours with others they have and I will definitely be taking tips from that. I will keep updating with developments but I am really looking forward to starting the project.

Meanwhile back at the cottage I have been having a great declutter and spruce up – it’s sometimes a little strange going from working at The Manor and the huge rooms to our little cottage nest, but it is home and I love where we live. I would need to have all my friends move in with me to fill The Manor on a daily basis, or have more babies… nudge nudge Harry!

The boy one had his first school disco this evening, bittersweet! My baby boy got himself all dressed up in his new shirt and was so excited to be taken back to school in the eveing (almost alone, big sis was on standby for emergencies) it was beyond sweet. He has grown up so much since starting school in September and is catching up with the girl one in so many ways. I am proud & blessed!

Sibling love x

Sibling love x

T xx