Thursday, 16 April 2015

Is this the best National Trust secondhand book shop in the UK?

I love an opportunity to browse the bookshelves of a secondhand bookshop. Discovering  that longed for out of print book from your  reading list.  I think it is fair to say that a large number of National Trust properties these days have their own secondhand book areas. They tend to range from a large well organised shop, or outhouse to a small cupboard or in some cases just a shelf or two. For me finding a book in one of these historical locations add that extra element of mystery to the history of a secondhand book. 

best secondhand bookshop England
Is this the best National Trust
secondhand bookshop
in England?
One of my local Shropshire National Trust Properties has what must be one of the most welcoming, well organised secondhand book shops and is of almost tardis like proportions. Where can you find this this jem of a Secondhand bookshop - Attingham Park, Atcham in Shropshire. It is located in the corner area of the stable block, which you pass through upon arrival at Attingham Park. 

You enter through the doorway into a small room where you may be greeted with a welcoming roaring fire, perfect on a chilly day. A small table in the centre of the room displays a clear price guide and honesty box. The book shelves wrap around this small room and are well organised with clear subject separators. 

Secondhand bookshop at Attingham Park, Shropshire

As you turn to leave this small room you will find a small staircase that leads you into another room filled with yet more bookshelf lined walls and another welcoming fire, there are a further two rooms. the third room has a wonderful selection of children's books and in the final room you will even find a whole shelf of books dedicated to royalty! The quality and condition of the books for sale were very good, I did not find any scruffy or tatty looking books.

One of the National Trusts best Secondhand bookshops
There was a small squeal of delight from me when I discovered a copy of Edith Wharton 'The Buccaneers', a particular book I was on the look out for and have plans to take with me on holiday this year. My sister hit the jackpot when following a conversation with one of the very helpful volunteers  they returned from the storeroom to have found her a further four of the Winston Graham 'Poldark' series of books.
Attingham Park National Trust books
Attingham Park Stable Block
Could this be the best National Trust Secondhand bookshop in England? I think so, but if I ever do find better I am sure to let you know.

Do you have a favorite secondhand book shop? Is there a better National Trust secondhand book shop I have yet to discover, please do share with me your favourite. 

Other National Trust Properties visited:
Benthall Hall

Monday, 13 April 2015

Grand Designs Live London - Tickets Giveaway

Grand Designs Live are offering not one but two of my blog readers the chance to win two tickets to the Grand Designs Live London Show at the Excel centre during 2 - 10 May 2015. The show, presented by Channel 4 design guru Kevin McCloud, is the UK's number one, award-winning home show packed with design and inspiration for your home. So whether you are planning to re-style a room or add an home extension, you will find lots of inspiration and advice at the show. Who know's you may even bump into Kevin.

How to enter
To be in with a chance of winning this prize you must enter using the Rafflecopter widget below, you can gain extra entries by complete the additional tasks. 

If you can not see the Rafflecopter widget below, you may need to refresh your page using F5. For more information on how to enter you can watch this Rafflecopter video or visit fellow blogger Super Lucky for a simple guide on using Rafflecopter. 

Remember if you enter the competition by tweeting be sure to include the link to your tweet. If any of the links are not working on the widget leave me a comment at the bottom of this blog post or tweet me.

Closes 25 April 2015. Winner must supply their details to enter the competition for their prize to be posted in time for the show. UK entrants only. For Terms and Conditions click the link on the Rafflecopter widget.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Can you identify this plant - is this Lily of the Valley?

I have some plants that I am unable to identify. They have been growing in the garden for a few years now, and for the life of me I can not remember if they were already here when I first moved house, or more frighteningly I planted them. Either way I do not know their identity. 

Is this plant Lily of the Valley
What am I?
I was hoping they were Lily of the Valley but looking at the leaves closer I think they are too large and glossy.  They have never flowered, and are in a location that at this time of the year gets little sun and is rather shady due to a holly hedge. You can judge their size as they are next to a Hellebore, Rose and an Erysimum.  I think it likely that they do not like the location, if I can establish their identity I can move them to a more suitable spot. Hopefully they may then flower. 

What is this plant?
A plant with no name

Helping identifying a plant
My friend is a Hellebore

I am quite sure someone is reading this and immediately knows its identity, and is wondering if I know anything about gardening at all! I welcome any ideas you may have to help solve my gardening mystery. 

Friday, 10 April 2015

Keep Calm and Have a Cup of Tea - My Wall Stickers Review

There have been many changes to my kitchen and dinning area over the last eight months. From replacing the kitchen wall tiles to changing all of the furniture. The end is in sight and now I just need to add one or two items to pull everything together. As of last week it was a type of wall art and creating a photo wall. 

Wall Art Sticker for kitchen
Wall Art - Keep Calm and Have a Cup of Tea!

I can now tick off the wall art - hurrah! As I have just fitted a fabulous wall sticker which declares to all visitors 'Keep Calm and have a Cup of Tea'. Which sums me up perfectly, I am 'mostly' calm and will mostly be found drinking a cup of tea! What do think? I absolutely love it, at first I thought it maybe too bright in colour but it actually works really well with its surroundings.

Keep Calm and Have a Cup of Tea Wall Sticker
Keep Calm and Have a Cup of Tea Wall Sticker

I love… 
how easy it is to add impact to a room with such a simple and easy to fit piece of wall artWith plenty of red accessories in the room this wall art really does help to complete the modern yet vintage look I was wanting to achieve.

Could do better…
normally when I review an item I usually have a useful suggestion or where there maybe some slight improvement following its use. Everything about this product was as promised, in fact I have been so pleased with it I have been showing my photo of it to all my friends!

Perfect for…
almost any room in the house, there is a wall sticker suitable for any taste, decor or look. From a fun and funky design for a children's room, to something more relaxed and tasteful for a bedroom or lounge. 

The important stuff…
The Keep Calm and Have a Cup of Tea sticker from My Wall Stickers costs £16.99 and comes is a wide choice of colours, it measures 60cms tall x 30cms wide. Perfect dimensions to be placed to the side of my kitchen dresser and the door to the lounge. 

Equipment to install a wall sticker
The instructions were very easy to follow and fixing it to the wall was very straight forward, with no hiccups. With your wall sticker you receive an instruction leaflet and a squeegee. You will also need some masking tape and scissors, I also used a spirit level as I wanted to be sure it was level. Once it is fixed to the wall there is no re-positioning it, so I did not want a wonky sticker. Guaranteed by the manufacturer for 5 years although likely to last longer.

Installing a wall sticker
Easy to install wall sticker

I received this wall sticker free of charge from My Wall Stickers for the purposes of this review, all options expressed are my own. 

Friday, 20 March 2015

Creating a Lawn Border for my Strawberry Bed - Review of EcoBorder

We are now well into March and with the improved weather sees the start of tackling jobs in the garden. Having had a lot of success two years ago from creating new strawberry plants from all the runners off my existing plants, an additional bed was created. It was rather a rushed job and was not particularly tidy. Now normally I would get someone else to complete any hard landscaping, neither mine or my sister's skills are up to erecting a greenhouse, setting up raised beds etc. We know our limits! 

EcoBorder Review
The Strawberry bed before and after its make over

When I was offered a new product for bordering a lawn or garden bed I knew of just the area in the garden that would benefit - my strawberry bed. EcoBorder by The Plasticspeople is made from recycled tyres, and come in 4ft lengths and can bend up to 70 degrees. The details of the product appeared straight forward, aimed so that even a novice gardener/DIY'er can install them. They come in a choice of 4 colours - brown, grey, black and red. I selected brown as I thought it most suited the location.

Recycleable Lawn Edging ideas
EcoBorder - Recyclable Lawn Edging
Equipment needed: a mallet or household hammer and some gloves. The EcoBorder comes with connector rods to join each piece together and stakes to secure them into the ground, along with easy to follow instructions.

Preparation: prepare the ground and border area first. Ensure the area it will sit is flat and clear of stones.

fitting lawn edging
Simple installation of lawn edging
Fitting: The connecting rods easily push in by hand, place each piece together along the border. Then using your hammer, tap the stakes into place starting at those nearest the joints. 

There was a corner to my border, now this is where  a little help was needed. I did have to call on my father to lend his mitre block, to create the correct angle to join the corner pieces together. If you do end up needing to cut the border, the job of sawing was pretty easy given the state of the saw my sister was using.

creating a lawn border corner
Use a mitre block for the perfect corner 
So what do you think? I think the border looks tidier and more presentable. The edging on the border will allow for the lawnmower to get right to the edge of the lawn when mowing.

Vegetable Raised Beds for bad backs
Improving the look of my vegetable and fruit planting area
I love… 
that you can quickly transform a border and tidy an area up with minimum effort. The mower edge design means no more lawn edging for this border. I have also prevented some tyres going to landfill by reusing them as a recycled product.

Perfect for…
landscaping a walkway, flower border or vegetable border. I bet the red colour border would look great for a child's play area.

Any concerns

The pack of 6 borders were quite heavy, but once opened the individual pieces were easy to carry, manage and fit. I have only had the EcoBorder fitted for a few weeks, so I can not comment on the prolonged installation of them. Though I am expecting them to wear well being made from recycled tyres. I will keep you posted should they fade, though I understand this should not be an problem.  

The important stuff…
a 6 pack of 4ft lengths cost £59.98 plus postage and can be ordered from the PlasticPeople website. 

Disclosure: I was sent a 6 pack of EcoBorder for the purposes of this review, all opinions expressed are my own.