Thursday, 2 July 2015


Well, June finally came through for us in the end.  After a gloomy start, it has been pretty glorious here in the West Country.  We are surrounded by farming land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and we are lucky to have views to-die-for.  I love watching the view change with the seasons.

June is probably my favourite month of the year.  The English garden is at its peak, the days are long and there is no place better to be.

I have planted some new roses since we moved to The Old Vicarage but I was pleased to find a very pretty pink one flowering away in one of the borders.  I think it is probably a David Austin variety, it is of the type; I cannot find a tag but there are a couple of others nearby which do have David Austin tags on.  I love picking little posies of flowers for the bedside from the garden of a morning.

Recently, I have also been able to pick the first sweet peas.  Their scent is heavenly.  Like roses, no point growing sweet peas unless they are a scented variety.

We've fitted in quite a few trips here and there, too.  The good folks over on Instagram have been enjoying my snaps of all the cute old cottages which are plentiful in the villages around us. 

We went to visit a friend for the first time who lives over the border in Dorset, near Bridport.  She lives in this sweet thatched cottage in a very tucked away spot.  The peace was a joy and the views vying for poll position with our own!  She has worked such magic on her garden and has some gorgeous classic cottage garden borders.  She also has a wonderful chubby ginger cat called Marmalade!

A neighbouring village is getting ready for its annual fete and the bunting is out.  Like our own home (and our cottage), the houses there are built from local ham stone which is mined at nearby Ham Hill.

Talking of cottages, you haven't forgotten good old Lilac Cottage, have you?  Gertie the rose is blooming again on the front wall and looking pretty spectacular.  This rose, Gertrude Jekyll, also has a wonderful quintessential rose fragrance.  More news on Lilac Cottage soon.  Exciting!

Also in June, our thoughts turned to a new project here at home.  We've been enjoying letting the grass in the two acre meadow grow but we also started to think of other ways we might use this space.

Finally, we are going to be able to realise a long-held dream.  

It might have something to do with these ladies...

Something like this maybe?

Perhaps a bit less exotic!

Yes, we are really going to give meaning to the words hen and house as never before and have one of our very own.  

First off, we needed to learn about hens, then.  We are lucky in that there is a breeder in a local village so off we set to meet her hybrid hens (that's the photo of them up there).  Decisions, decisions.  Cuckoo Maran, Bluebell, Colombian Blacktail, Light Sussex. Yes, yes, yes!  We need to know how to look after our girls (although Mr HenHouse also wants a boy) so I turned to some sage advice from chicken expert Suzie Baldwin and her most excellent book.

As it so happened, the weekend of Mr HenHouse's birthday, we found ourselves in Hampshire and what do you know, Suzie happens to live in the very same county.  She runs chicken keeping courses from her home on a Sunday morning.  Yes please!

Hollywater Hens is situated in a pretty and peaceful little backwater.  Susie has a field behind her house with various chicken, duck and goose enclosures.  All her flocks looked so happy, especially the adorable fluffy Buff Orpington and her chicks, and we got lots of great and practical ideas for setting up our own henhouse, looking after the chickens and keeping them happy, healthy and amused.

We also went over to her adjacent paddock to see lots more chickens, right through from little chicks to pullets.  It seems we had some company for our trip; I got the shock of my life when I turned round to find this trio behind us.  They followed us all round the field until we left some time later!

I was very taken with the two beautiful lambs Suzie also had.  Oh my!  They were just the sweetest, I did not realise they could be so friendly.  They came running up to as we entered the paddock and followed us round, happy to be stroked and petted for as long as we liked.  They felt so lovely, too.  Oh, I'm in love!

We weren't there just to ogle all Suzie's feathered and furry friends but to get hands on with the chickens too, and learn how to handle them and care for them.  As I knew he would, the Mr proved a dab hand with the ladies!

Feeling thoroughly inspired and a lot more confident, last week we ventured back into Dorset to collect a very special item (I am not referring to Mr HenHouse's much longed-for trailer, very handy though it is!)  I do, of course, mean the precious cargo.  

Yes, the henhouse is finally home.

It seems I am obsessed with all things chicken, it has even spilled over into my making.

I'm loving Lori Holt's new book Farmgirl Vintage.  I don't seem to have much sewing time at the moment but I'm enjoying fitting the odd block in here and there.  The first just had to be Mama Hen, of course!  So, that is where we are up to with our chickeny story so far.  July will see us finally realise this little dream and of course, I'll be back to introduce you to the flock.

I'll leave you with a few shots of the fabulous sunsets we've been enjoying of late.

Ain't life great. Xxx