Hi there! I’m Claire and I live near the North Cornwall coast. I’ve been married to Ashley for 12 years now. I enjoy all sorts of crafts, gardening and walking the dog. Ashley and I both dream about living a simple life – having a small holding, maybe build our own home, grow vegetables and keep a couple of animals. We have had our allotment for quite a few years now but are still getting the hang of things!
Phoebe came into our lives at the end of July 2018 as an 8 week old Collie puppy and nothing’s been quite the same since! She is our world now really, and we wouldn’t be without her! We love getting out and walking with Phoebe on local beaches, and Phoebe loves nothing more than chasing a ball on a beach and coming home with a sandy nose! She’s also very helpful if there is a cabbage leaf that needs shredding or some newly planted seedlings that need sitting on at the allotment…
Allotments are like gold dust around our way! Thanks to some wonderfully generous friends, we are lucky enough to have the use of a piece of land just a short drive away to grow some veggies. It is about a quarter of an acre that we share with a couple of other people. We have space for as many veggie beds as we can manage right now and a sheltered area where we have put up a small greenhouse.
The area that we are growing on hasn’t been used for anything before, it was just a plain old field. It is riddled with brambles, dock and other weeds so this (and previous experience digging up a new allotment plot) convinced us to try a ‘no dig’ gardening method. With a little research, we came across a book by a chap called Charles Dowding that detailed this method. It is basically working with nature to mulch the ground and encourage the plant roots and insects to turn the hard ground into usable veggie beds. Over time, the mulching results in less weeds, less water loss, less work… I could go on! So far, it’s working great for us, except we failed to use enough cardboard to completely block the path of those pesky weeds so have to keep hoeing them out. Lesson learned! We decided to mulch the paths too, covering those in a deep layer of woodchip. We are gradually expanding the number of beds and types of vegetables we’re growing – I’ll keep you updated on how that’s going via the blog pages.
We have previously grown vegetables in the tiny front garden of our mid terraced house. I loved having a garden packed full of vegetables growing higgledy-piggledy and adored going out just to potter or pick the odd ripe pea pod or tomato. But 2 raised beds isn’t very practical when you want to provide food for yourselves for more than 2 or 3 months of the year! We also had no space for a greenhouse so I had to wait for the weather to get really warmed up to get sowing those seeds – there’s only so many seeds you can get started on the kitchen windowsill! So when the chance of having some allotment space arose, it’s safe to say we jumped at it!
I enjoy lots of crafts, however I have a terrible habit of starting new projects before finishing old ones. I started making cards for friends and family several years ago – I can spend a couple of hours making just one card! It’s great being able to create a completely personalised card for someone, particularly for a memorable event such as a wedding or christening, or a milestone birthday.
I have also given crochet a go – I could never quite get on with knitting. I made a MASSIVE blanket for the living room which sits on the back of the sofa and is probably my favourite crochet make so far. Its just really simple design but is made with 3 strands of chunky wool so is the warmest blanket ever! My skills haven’t really developed past blankets and scarves but those make great gifts for people!
Christmas 2013, Ashley bought me my first sewing machine and I have made a few bags, key chains and turned up a fair few pairs of trousers (I’m not exactly what you’d call tall!). I’d love to be able to make some clothing items, simple t-shirts and PJ bottoms are on my list of sewing projects to try next. This is the one craft hobby of mine that fits with our ‘providing for ourselves’ ethos, so I need to keep practising!