c July 2015 | Garden, Tea, Cakes, (Books) and Me

A Day out to Croome Park National Trust Property in Worcestershire

Unplanned visits usually turn out to be some of the best days out, and a visit to the National Trust Croome Park property was just that. An ideal stop off between Bristol and Shropshire, and a short journey from the M5 junction 7. There were some real surprises too.

Croome Parkland Bird Trail
Croome Parkland Bird Trail

When you arrive, the visitor centre, restaurant and bookshop are located in what remains of a 1940's airbase, used during the second world war. The decor, tables and chairs, blackout blinds and union jack bunting all add to creating a war time feeling. 

Croome Parkland
Croome Parkland

There is a large Parkland at Croome. From the church of St Mary Magdalene you are presented with magnificent views around the Worcestershire countryside, down to Croome mansion

Ceiling detail at Croome mansion
Ceiling detail at Croome mansion

The building itself was originally built in the mid 18th century and designed by Lancelot Capability Brown.  Over the years, particularly in the 20th century the property has had mixed use. There is virtually no furnishings to the property, some original furniture is currently in storage whilst the property undergoes some serious restoration and repairs. But this does not mean there is nothing to see. On the contrary, it was refreshing to walk around a large mansion and appreciate the size of the rooms, see the plasterwork without any distractions. There were some very clever display interpretations, encouraging visitor to interact with the display items. 

This property will be worth regular visits over the next few years, to keep up with the repairs and discoveries.

Croome Park Mansion
Croome Park Mansion

You can not miss the huge scaffolding that masks the mansion. But rather than see this as an obstacle the National Trust have used this as an opportunity for visitors to become involved. You can climb the staircase within the scaffolding to visit the top, and I imagine enjoy some spectacular views. Obviously with my mobility problems, this was something I would pass on. But there were plenty of visitors up for the challenge, there was even a cafe there too.

Basement Tea Room at Croome Park
Basement Tea Room at Croome Park

They also had another smaller tea room in the basement. But don't think dark and dank, think light and cool with fresh flowers and bunting. They served some of the best cheese scones I have tasted in long while. 

Getting around...

For those of you like myself that are not so mobile when it comes to walking, it is approximately half a mile from the visitor centre to the mansion. It is downhill all the way to the mansion, but significantly uphill coming back. You will be pleased to hear that they have a mobility cart to transport you between the two locations.

They also have a special stair climber for those in wheelchairs, which I incidentally saw in use during my visit. There are also toilet facilities for all situated down at the mansion too. However if you are in a wheelchair you will not be able to visit the basement.

Once down at the mansion, it is reasonably flat. There you can follow a footpath along the side of the river for a short distance. There was also a bench or two to rest and admire the views. 

River walk by the Mansion at Croome Park
River walk by the Mansion at Croome Park


  • The Basement Tea room
  • They have a well stocked and well cared for plant area. 
  • The volunteers I encountered at Croome Park were some of the nicest I have met when visiting a National Trust property. They all were polite, helpful and clear with guidance and instructions. 12 out of 10 as my Aunt Betty is fond of saying.
  • The Bird in the tree trail was fabulous, even though I only managed two.
  • Location - just 10 minutes of junction 7 of the M5, great way to break up a long journey up the motorway.

The next time I visit.. 
  • I would like to tour the privately owned wall garden, which is open on selected dates.
  • Explore how to get to the Temple Greenhouse.
Entry to Croome Park is free for those with a National Trust Membership, or a National Trust volunteers card.

Interested in other National Trust or English Heritage properties I have visited:-
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I would love to have chickens in my garden. Scratching around the ground, living in a funky modern style chicken coop. Or maybe I just like the idea of keeping chickens. Skipping out into the garden with my lovely wicker basket, collecting freshly laid free range eggs for my breakfast or to bake a cake. 

But if you do keep chickens or are considering keeping chickens you may find some of the information in this fabulous guide helpful. Who knew Rhubarb was poisonous to chickens. Remember you can use crushed up egg shells and used coffee grounds to add to pot plants for extra nutrition. 

14 Ways Keeping Backyard Chickens Saves Your Garden and the Environment
Courtesy of: thehappychickencoop.com
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Needle Case Wrap Great British Sewing Bee Sewing Kit

Time for sewing again, using a sewing kit from the Great British Sewing Bee collection of kits. This particular sewing kit to make a Needle Case Wrap was a birthday gift from my aunt. A most apt choice of kits it was too. 

needle case wrap sewing kit
Keeping my Nan's precious knitting needles safe

I have a collection of knitting needles that belonged to my Nan, including my very first pair of knitting needles I used when I was a girl.  These needles deserve to be stored somewhere neat and tidy and protected from bending and damage. Find out if I did them justice?

Great British Sewing Bee Sewing Kit
Needle Case Wrap Sewing Kit

The sewing kit contained some great fabric in both colour and design. In general the instruction booklet was very comprehensive, although the instructions for the binding could of been clearer. I chose to replace the tape/ribbon supplied in the kit that was intended to bind the edge of the Needle Case. I used bias binding, it has the correct give in it to sew correctly around the corners of the wrap. The tape supplied with the kit, did not allow for this.

Creating a Needle Case Wrap
Sewing in progress

Storing your knitting needles
My first pair of knitting needles have a new home
I am very pleased with the finished piece. Once you have made one using the kit, it would be easy enough to follow the instructions to create another, using your own choice of fabric. What a wonderful gift for a fellow knitter. 
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Giant Cupcake Birthday Cake with Rainbow Butter Cream

The birthday cake of choice for my niece this year was to create a giant cupcake cake with a piped topping sitting in a giant cupcake case made from chocolate. Gulp!  I had seen a rather magnificent cake on My Cupcake Addiction, an Australian site with some fabulous cakes and tutorials. I was inspired by their brightly coloured rainbow frosting.

Giant Cupcake Cake with Rainbow Frosting
Rainbow Butter Cream or is that Frosting?

I had used my red silicone giant cupcake mould once before, to make a chocolate cake and it was a disaster.  This time I wanted to bake a vanilla sponge cake, I used the recipe from The Pink Whisk.  I wished I had baked my cake at least another 5 -10 minutes, as I struggled to get the cakes out of the silicone moulds. As such it looked rather untidy, but I knew there was a lot of decorating to be done which would tidy it up.
I trimmed the base and sides of the cake. By applying a thin layer of butter cream on the top of the cake it gave it an even and level surface for the pipping. It is worth chilling the cake in the fridge, before putting it into the chocolate mould and starting the piping.

Giant Cupcake Chocolate Cake Case
Giant Cupcake Chocolate Cake Case

The instructions and video to create the Chocolate Cupcake Case were very easy to follow, I used yellow chocolate melts. Using a red silicone giant cupcake mould, you coat the inside with melted chocolate and chill. I was so impressed with this, everyone was amazed when I told them it was made from chocolate.

I added butterscotch flavouring to my coloured butter cream. It did take me a little longer to complete the piping as I only had the one round piping nozzle. Which needed rinsing at each change in colour.

Rainbow Piping using a round nozzle
Easy Rainbow Piping using a round nozzle

Giant Cupcake and homemade chocolate buttons
Giant Cupcake and homemade chocolate buttons
I also created my own chocolate buttons onto a patterned chocolate transfer sheet. Which I then piped in chocolate my nieces name and age. My niece completed the cake by adding these as the final decoration along with a candle. Happy Birthday!

Allow plenty of time and a little patience to make this cake. You will certainly be very pleased with the end result. A fabulous looking cake that tastes wonderful too.

I am entering this cake into the July Cake Club at Kerry Cooks.

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Painting Clay Terracotta Pots

The flowers are putting on a wonderful display in the garden this Summer. But some of my terracotta pots are looking a little less than presentable. So you guessed it, I have had the paint pots and paint brush out again. Ready to paint my clay terracotta garden pots. No need for primer this time, just two coats of paint. If your terracotta pots are destined for the garden and subject to the weather, they are likely to need a refresher coat the following year.

I love the colours, along with how fabulous they look. For those interested in the plants, they are both herbs - a Strawberry Mint and a Pineapple Sage. If you could only smell their delicious scent when you touch or crush the leaves. 

These two herb plants in their posh new pots are destined for another garden. A birthday gift for a friend and her wonderful new garden.
Painting your plant pot
Pimping up your plant pot

Painted Plant Pot
Plant Pot Perfection
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Upcycled Wooden Plant Trays for the Garden

My sewing room is not the only place that has been furnished with upcycled items of late. My garden has also received the same treatment. Well a few wooden plant trays, not the whole garden. It gave my sister, niece and I the chance to get crafty together. To create our own personalised wooded garden trays.

Personalised Garden Trays
Personalised Garden Trays
So with a left over tin of paint, a few brightly colour match pots, paint brushes and my nieces stencils we set to work - indoors. That British weather strikes again! Just as well there is plenty of room on the kitchen table. 

No need to paint a coat of primer on these boxes, rustic is good. So straight on with a coat of paint which was then left it dry. Then using a pencil and stencil we all mark on our chosen words. We all also added our favourite extra stencil of an insect or fruit. I could not resist a gardening hashtag. Using a thin paint brush we all, with a steady hand, carefully painted over our writing. I think my niece did a fantastic job painting her strawberries and snail.

Personalised Garden Trays

Creating Personalised Garden Trays
Personalised Garden Trays
Painting Your Own Garden Tray
What great fun, and don't they look great! Why not paint a little fun into your garden. 
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Plants Through the Post - Suttons Seeds Review

If like me you have ever wondered how delicate annual flowering plants can survive a journey from the grower to your front door, then read on. 

Suttons Seeds offer a wide choice of Flowers, Fruit and Vegetable plants, along with seeds and additional gardening equipment. 

Antirrhium also known as Snapdragon
Stock - Sugar and Spice
Stock - Sugar and Spice
I ordered some large plug plants, Antirrhium F1 Kim mix (Snapdragon), along with Stock - Sugar and Spice a dwarf variety. These were the large plug plants, which need no growing on, they can be planted directly in the garden or plant pot. Perfect if you do not have a greenhouse or cold frame available.

I was impressed with the condition of the plants when they were delivered. They were packaged carefully in a cardboard box and were well protected for the journey to my garden. The plants themselves were in small plastic trays.  

Plants arrived in good condition
Once removed from the packaging you will need to water the plant. Within a few hours of being unpacked, the plants had already started to stretch out from the restriction of the packaging.  The day the Snapdragons arrived it was teaming down with rain, not a day for gardening. But it did mean they got their watering.

There were flower buds are both the Snapdragons and the Stock when they arrived. Some of the cells in the plastic trays even had more than one plant in them - bonus! Each order includes a small piece of wooden to help push the plants from their growing cell in the trays. You will find guidance and instructions on the Sutton Seeds website for how best to plant and tend your plants.

Planting out Stock - Sugar and Spice
It is now a few weeks and already there have been lots of flowers, although the Stock Sugar and Spice currently have the edge over the Snapdragons. They still have some growing to do.

I have also do a little planning ahead. I ordered some Broad Bean The Sutton variety of seeds to sow over Winter ready for next years crop. I also chose some Kale Black Magic seeds, which will be planted in a few weeks time, ready for Autumn/Winter cropping. The seed packets were accompanied by a helpful leaflet to guide you with seed sowing.

Sutton Seeds Broad Beans and Kale
Seeds for the seasons ahead
I love… 

  • the clever design of the internal packaging which allowed the plant trays to be stacked on top of each other, without damaging the delicate plants. 
Could do better…

  • get your orders in early to reserve your plants. Once the plants have gown on they will be dispatched. Wait too long and they will be out of stock.

Perfect for…

  • planning for the season ahead in the garden. This is a great way if you do not wish to grow plants from seeds, or just have limited gardening time. Let Sutton Seeds do the hard work for you.

The important stuff…
Antirrhium (Snapdragon) F1 Kim mix plug plants qty 30 £11.99 
Stock Sugar and Spice plug plants qty 15  £7.99
Broad Beans The Sutton £2.99
Kale Seeds Black Magic £2.99

Disclosure: I received products for the purpose of this review. 
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How to Upcycle a Wooden Sewing Box

I have a wooden sewing box that was bought for me as a gift for my 40th birthday a few years ago. It is a sturdy and practical sewing box, it fits in many of my essential sewing accessories perfectly.  Since completing the Makeover of my Sewing Room the wooden sewing box looked out of place, as though it did not belong.

Solution? Upcycle the wooden sewing box to match the Sewing Room. 
Upcycled wooden sewing box perfect craft room recycle Pink pop of color

I am so pleased with the result. It has turned out perfect, and was so easy to do. A task I had started outside in the sunshine, but with typical British weather and rain clouds forming it was completed inside. A small match pot of paint is sufficient to complete two coats.

Why not follow my easy steps to update your own sewing box.

Craft Project idea Upcycle old sewing wooden box recycle

Equipment Required to Upcycle a Sewing Box
  • Sand Paper 
  • Paint Brush 
  • Tin of Primer 
  • Tin of Paint or Paint Sample Pot
  • Sewing Box

Are you on Pinterest? Why not follow my craft board?

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