A sunny day, at last!

It’s been such a long a dreary start to the year, we’ve been in desperate need of some sunshine. After yesterdays rain, I wasn’t holding out much hope for today. But today really has felt like spring!

Today felt really productive and it was wonderful to spend the whole day at the land. We consolidated brush/branch piles, created a covered shelter for some timber and supplies for upcoming projects and finally got a bench set up in the polytunnel for trays of seedlings.

The area pictured above had been piled with tree trimmings and starting-to-rot wood from raised beds that had been in the previous owners polytunnel (which they dismantled and took with them). We put aside any usable planks of wood and moved the brush to another pile – hopefully the robin and wren that we have seen around here will find the new pile. I plan to create some vegetable beds in this area.

In trying to reclaim the polytunnel space for its intended use, today I insisted on organising a bench to grow seeds. This bench was in the old owners polytunnel and has been sat outside for 2 winters now; the top had rotted through but the main structure seems only slightly worse for wear so we decided to reuse it for now. It may only last a year or two, but it’s free and available so we will make use of it! Some additional wood to strengthen the structure and the sides old veg beds cut up to create a usable surface and voila! This made me happier than some pieces of slightly rotten wood screwed together should! Now I don’t have to balance seed trays on a wheelbarrow, I might be able to get some more seeds sown! Thank you, Ashley!

Ashley took down a small sycamore tree that had been partially squashed by another fallen tree and so I made some make-shift deer protection for the fruit trees! We realised that the wire ‘cages’ that we put round the trees when we planted them probably wouldn’t be sufficient if the deer decided that the fresh new growth would make a tasty snack. Until we get the chance to rectify this, I’m hoping that some other branches poking out will deter or distract the deer.

Common Brimstone

Another highlight of the day for me was seeing this butterfly! I disturbed it as I walked through the grass and as it flew away, I was stunned by how vivid, almost neon green/yellow it was. I followed it to take a picture and was even more stunned by the markings that make it look just like a leaf. I’ve identified it as a ‘Common Brimstone’ – although common, I can’t say I’ve ever seen one before! Maybe I wasn’t paying attention until now… My wildlife book suggests that sightings of this butterfly means that winter really is over – about time too!


A wet start to the weekend here in Cornwall (don’t know what else I expected, really!) but we managed a few hours on the land before the rain really set in and Ashley retreated to his ‘workshop’ and I back home to de-mud the dog and get some studying done.

But what we DID manage to get done felt quite exciting! A local tree surgeon (who we have very helpfully become friendly with) donated around 20 tiny oak saplings to us, that had been left over from a project of his, and today we started planting them! We got 8 in before the heavy rain set in, and aim to get the rest in tomorrow.

Squint and you’ll see the sapling! Ashley is very pleased!!

We have a couple of majestic oaks bordering the land, and hopefully by the time they start to die back, these will be almost as magnificent.

Although wet and miserable, the wildlife is started to get in to the swing of spring. Today we saw and heard a greater spotted woodpecker and our resident kingfisher (who was very busy!). We can’t wait for the day that we are in the right place at the right time to sneak a photo of him to share, but just seeing him darting up and down the river is such a treat. Certain plants are brightening up, promising excitement of spring growth.

Opposite-leaved golden-saxifrage in the woodland.

This afternoon, Ashley started a woodland experiment. He had seen a video of someone propagating hazel with cuttings (although they did admit to limit success rates) and wanting more hazel in our woodland and hedges, decided that it would do no harm to give it a try ourselves.

Hazel experiment

He has taken all sorts of different sizes of cuttings, from chunky stems to wispy branch tips. If none take, we will have to try the layering method – although that will be tricky with the locations of our only hazel trees. We have tried planting the hazelnuts that fall in autumn, but the squirrels always seem to find them! Once the tractor is out of the polytunnel, I might actually be able to use that for protection!

A thorny issue

Our woodland is absolutely jam packed full of bramble. We would love to one day own some goats to help keep the bramble at bay, but we currently have neither the time or funds to house, maintain and retain them. So for now, we must manage the brambles ourselves. Although using a strimmer would quickly clear areas, this would of course cut back every other plant and potentially harm animals – overall it just feels quite destructive. We may need to do this to get ahead in some areas, but where possible, we will pull the bramble by hand…..

Last Sunday we got cracking with an area at the back of the woods. There is an established patch of wild garlic (Ramsons) and a lot of Bluebells in the area which is gradually becoming more and more overgrown, so we decided to start there.

How it started – the picture doesn’t really show just how brambly this area was!

This seemed like an achievable goal, aided by the beautiful, uncompacted, loamy soil. We donned our welding gloves (superior thorn protection!) and got started! A mere 5 hours later…..


We actually did so well with this that we moved onto the area to the right of the picture, which borders the river. We can’t wait for the Bluebells to put on a show!

Ramsons and Bluebells in this area near the river, April 2023.


So what to do with our land??? We have all sorts of ideas for chickens, goats, growing veg, and Ashley wants his dream workshop. With limited funds and time, we needed to prioritise if we were going to achieve our goals….. So we bought a 10ft pool….

I mean, it was only £30!!! The land is very secluded and, being at the bottom of a valley, is fairly well sheltered from the wind. A warm summers day, sat in the pool, really does feel like a holiday! Which is great because we won’t be having one of those for a while!

A shed/workshop was next on the list. Secure, dry storage would help us to achieve other projects – but I didn’t realise that it would cost more than our wedding! To be fair, it is a big shed….

Ash has installed a small woodburner, however the flue isn’t really big enough and the draw isn’t good enough so it’s hard to get a decent fire going. The winter has allowed some damp to get in and mould to grow, so we have a small diesel heater installed which Ash has used a Raspeberry Pi to send remote signals so that he can control it from his phone, even when we are at home, 8 miles away! Next winter, we aim to have a larger woodburner in so that we don’t have to keep using diesel to heat it, although we’ve found that the little heater is so economical we may have to reconsider!

(The photo’s all show Ash digging and doing, but we both worked very hard on it in the baking sun! Our reward each time was to go and jump in the pool to cool off afterwards!)

Claire’s polytunnel…?

I was VERY keen to get the polytunnel, that Mum had so kindly bought for us, in place before winter. After finishing the main parts of the shed, we made a start on clearing the space (I’ve forgotten how many wheelbarrows full of soil I shifted), then marking out where the tunnel would go. A spell of good weather was forecast and we had a plan of action, so of course I rolled my ankle very badly and broke my foot… But thanks to some amazing friends, neighbours, Dads and an incredible effort from Ashley, we (they) got the polytunnel finished over the next couple of weeks.

Isn’t she a beauty?! 14’ x 30’ – loads of space for growing veggies! I can’t wait to get some year round growing started, however I do have to wait a little longer as Ashley had an urgent need for for it….

The tractor needed a home for the winter! Having bought it in the summer, we knew that it had been stored outside for many years and was in need of some TLC. Ashley plans to build a lean-to shelter on one side of the shed as cover for the tractor next winter. We’ve replaced some hoses on it, removed the old, rotten seat and had it serviced. We now need a new seat and some welding to repair/replace what should be a foot rest (but is just a rusty hole) and we are good to go!

It’s starting to look and feel more like ‘ours’ now

Next on the list is some improvements to the drainage at the entrance to the land and a trackway/hardstanding to be able to drive our car and the tractor on during the winter months.

It happened!

Sometimes things just work out…

Buying land in Cornwall was never going to be very easy. Especially as ideally we wanted some woodland and a water source along with space for growing. Many places were looked at, dreamed about and a few even viewed and registered interest with the estate agent. But none had everything we wanted, in the right location and for the right price. 4 acres came up for sale in a rural part of Bodmin…. It was lovely apart from the 30%+ gradient. It was useful for nothing other than grazing (ideally mountain goats).

A friends family member had bought some land on the outskirts of Newquay many years ago, and we have been fortunate enough to have been able to use some of it for recreation for many years now. Ashley has spent many nights camping in the woods there with friends and we’ve enjoyed BBQ’s, birthday parties and wonderful summer evenings there. So when the family talked of selling some of it, we had to act. They were so happy that we wanted to buy it!

Savings raided, house remortgaged and Auntie relieved of some of her savings (to be paid back!), and the rest is history! We are now the very proud owners of a field and beautiful piece of woodland, bordered by a stunning piece of the river that flows to Porth beach.

A new start

So I haven’t posted anything for over 2 years!!! A lot has happened in that time, some good and some not so good but the allotment is still there (albeit rather neglected). I don’t do very much in the way of crafts or card making these days and we have gained a dog!

I’m not sure if the nature of this blog will shift slightly; I’m using it really to try and record what I’m doing and maybe encourage me to achieve things at home and on the allotment to have something to write about here.

Christmas has come and gone and the prospect of the new year feels like as good a time as any to re start efforts on my blog, allotment and home life. I must step up my ‘housewife game’ as I’m now home more. And I’d love to get back to the allotment – nothing gives me the same satisfaction as coming home with baskets full of homegrown produce and it’s wonderful watching things change and grow. Let’s get back to it!

Autumn harvest

Despite completely neglecting our allotment for most of this year, we have managed a small but pleasurable harvest. I have never grown squash before but will definitely be doing so again! The cooking squashvariety that I grew didn’t spread too much – I thought I was growing a summer squash variety but nothing appeared until later in the year. There was only one plant but that produced 5 or 6 good sized squash. When we harvested the squash, we pulled them off from the plant but I have now learnt that you should cut them off, leaving a ‘stub’ of the stalk. This apparently prevents rotting of the squash. I tried a couple of recipes from my ‘Riverford Farm’ cook book (a soup and risotto) – both were a hit!

We dug up a decent amount of Jerusalem Artichoke – something I’ve never even tried, let alone grown before. We were given some plants last year from the land owner and thought we may as well give them a go! We tried not to leave any tubers in the ground as they spread and grow easily apparently. I have now learned that the tubers are best stored in the ground until needed, however we wanted the bed cleared anyway. The Riverford Jerusalem artichokecook book has an interesting recipe for Jerusalem artichoke which I’d love to try soon. However, I am a little hesitant as apparently this humble little vegetable has “legendary flatulence-inducing properties”! The Riverford Farm cook book describes it as a vegetable that “threatens marriages” but reassures us that  “the effect is more thunderous than malodorous”! (Quotes all from the Riverford Farm cook book).

Our onions, although neglected after harvesting, are looking good. I’m not sure they will store for very long as I didn’t dry them well enough but we will keep an eye on them and hope for the best. I use a lot of onions anyway so hopefully will get through them before too many rot!

I’m desperately trying to make more vegetable based meals as our diet has been very meat heavy recently. I’m finding the Riverford cook book very handy in this respect and have added their other recipe books to my Christmas list!


It’s been a while…

Back in July…

It’s been so long since I’ve posted and the allotment has changed a bit since my last post! All seemed to be going well, with the exception of the usual war against the weeds. Then Ashley and I spent a week travelling through Devon and up to Hereford in a friends camper van and, of course, upon our return we were met with overgrown weeds, a tangled mess of rogue tomato plants/lettuce/anything else that happened to be in that bed, salad and radishes that had bolted, our fruit cage and sunflowers that had been totally destroyed by the wind! To be honest, the state of the allotment got us down a bit and we felt it was a bit past saving/getting anything useful from it this year. However, 2 trips that were solely focused on getting the paths and weeds cleared have made it all seem a bit brighter. Our main problem seemed to be that the weeds would grow up the fencing that we had put in and we struggled to keep seeds from that spreading across the allotment. Also, as it was an unused field before we started using it, the dock and nettles were very persistent across the entire plot. So using some blue carpet that we had obtained, we spent a good number of hours cutting it to fit and covering all pathways and surrounding areas bordering our plot. We had to dig up the fencing (as we’d buried it to stop the rabbits getting in) and laid the carpet underneath that too. Now we’ve done that, everything else seems more manageable and even though we’re behind with planting it feels like we might get some produce this year.

We had planted a small bed of potatoes, but they have all been hit by blight so had to be dug up a bit early. The potatoes we did get look great, there’s just not very many and I had hoped to keep them in the ground until I needed them.

On the good side, our peas are coming on well and we’ve had a few picking from them with more to come, the rhubarb is ENORMOUS, the onions look like they’re coming on well and the runner and dwarf french beans have plenty of flowers on. I’ve had an endless supply of sweet pea flowers to pick for the house and there have been plenty of fruits on the raspberries – although of course the birds are getting them all since the fruit cage was destroyed by bad weather! I don’t mind sharing with the birds…this year!


Well, I haven’t done a very good job of updating this blog and an even worse job of looking after the allotment this year!

I was talked into going to go back to work full time at the beginning of August (I’ve worked part time for several years now) and that unfortunately left very little time for the allotment (or anything else really!). Full time soon turned into 60-80 hours a week at work and any time off left me completely unmotivated to do much. So by mid September I had made the decision to go back to my part time hours and at the beginning of October, I breathed a huge sigh of relief!

allotment harvestDuring July and the beginning of August, we were harvesting fairly reasonable amounts of peas and runner beans, rhubarb and were hopeful for many other crops. Unfortunately, disaster struck and on one of our sporadic visits to the allotment we were met with our runner bean supports all toppled over, squash plants (that we hadn’t planted – must have not rotten down properly in the compost!) smothering seedlings and other plants, garlic destroyed by rust and everything generally in a very sorry state. We decided there and then to harvest everything we could at that point (a reasonable amount of runner beans, a few small carrots, some beetroot and one lonely little fennel bulb that had survived the smothering by squash plant!) and mulch most of the beds with fresh horse manure then cover with some black plastic we had. We left the onions growing a little longer and a couple of kale plants that were doing well, plus a squash plant and what I thought was a courgette plant that hadn’t produced anything so far.

In September, we harvested the onions which were wonderful specimens! We intended to head back again soon to clear and mulch the remainder of the beds but, of course, that ended up being several weeks later! The weeds certainly took advantage of this and when we returned in October were faced with what seemed like a monumental task! Just 2 visits of a couple of hours each put the weeds in their place! We were able to harvest several squash that had done well left completely on their own and 3 superb pumpkins that had grown on what I thought was a courgette plant! We dug up all of the Jerusalem artichoke (later finding out that they are best stored in the ground – still, we wanted every bed as clear as possible) and cut back the raspberries and blackcurrants. We have left one bed ‘open’ with the kale growing and will hopefully plant some broad beans in it soon.

manure on bedsallotment mulch and clear up for winter


I’m hopeful that we will be more committed to the allotment over winter and next year – It’s totally our fault that things haven’t gone so well this year, allotments take a lot of time and work and we just haven’t been going regularly enough.



Hello sunshine!

The last few days here in Cornwall have been fab! The sun has shone, I feel like I’ve got plenty done and the rate of seedling demise seems to have slowed. The alliums in the garden have started flowering, I’m definitely planting some on the allotment next year – the bees can’t get enough!

I have plans for making more rhubarb jam this week (hopefully I won’t burn it this time!) and have seen a recipe for a rhubarb cordial that I’d like to try.

On the allotment, the peas we put in at the weekend have so far avoided any significant damage from birds and we found a birds nest above our potting bench – the chicks are now big enough to peek out of the nest:

Yesterday, Ashley and I collected some carpeting from a local marquee company that was to be dumped or burned – we are going to use it to mulch our paths and other areas for the next year in the hope of really getting on top of the weeds. I’m hoping for another good weekend so we can get some more work done – although it’s a bank holiday in Cornwall which practically guarantees rain!

I’ve spent loads of time this week sat out in the garden potting on seedlings, sorting and clearing pots that have been emptied by the slugs and re-jigging plants to hopefully have some colourful flowers in the garden in a few weeks time.

Hope you’re all enjoying some sunshine too!

Another wet weekend…

After some lovely weather this week, this weekend is predictably dreary! So today was an ideal day for some baking and jam making.

As you can see, the cake isn’t lasting long! My excuse is that it’ll be much better fresh!

During the week, I pulled some fairly sizeable stalks of rhubarb and have been wanting to try some rhubarb and ginger jam from a preserves book I got for my birthday last year. It seems to have set, but I think I may have burnt it a little. We haven’t tried it yet, so I’m just hoping it doesn’t taste too bad!


I’m so pleased that I managed to get to the allotment during the week when the sun was shining. I managed to weed most of the beds – the ‘crop’ of fat hen that self seeds all across our plot have sprung up in the warmer weather.
As you can see, there was a fair covering of weeds before I started.  I planted some runner beans and sweet peas, cleared the kale and cabbage that hadn’t done very well and had gone to seed, and removed the netting that was protecting the kale etc from the pigeons and used it to cover the frame over the raspberries. I also sowed some carrot, beetroot, pak choi and fennel seeds. Ashley and I tried bulb fennel for the first time last year and really liked it so I’m pretty keen to try and grow it myself. I was enormously happy to see the potatoes, onions and garlic finally showing.

There’s still plenty of weeding, clearing, planting and covering to do. At home, the cauliflower seedlings are doing well and some of the sunflowers are really coming on. Unfortunately, most of my tomato seedlings have died off (I have no idea why!) and a lot of other things seem to really be struggling. It’s quite depressing seeing all my seedlings suffer and die when I’ve spent so many weeks tending to them daily. I’m really hoping to start seeing some good progress soon! And I mustn’t give up – I’m terrible for giving up when I’m not seeing the results that I want.

Thanks for reading, see you soon!