Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A garden full of Bees!

Hello Dear Readers,

No, don't worry it's not a swarm!   Well not on this blog anyway!

I was visiting Deanna's absorbing crafting blog Eclectic-Meanderings recently when I viewed a comment Peggy had made which prompted me to look at Peggy's blog - woman with wings and, blow me down with a feather, her current posting is headed "bees in a box". I was already planning this post on bees and found Peggy's article and blog most fascinating. 


At a glance my photos of our bug hotel look very similar, but the little Mason bee is very busy and has been back and forth filling in this bamboo tube and hence I took quite a few pictures of her!  Please enlarge the pictures to see the bee and her work.  (Since writing this there are now 5 bamboo tubes all sealed!)

Bug Hotel

A few years ago after hearing about the decline in the numbers of bees our wonderful neighbours started keeping bees. We were quite excited to see our neighbours working in their white beekeeper outfits.We have always planted with the wildlife in mind and when we knew the beehives were coming we made sure we planted even more pollen rich plants, especially early flowering plants. 

Sadly, after a few years, our neighbour had to stop keeping bees as too many stings caused a reaction which could eventually become deadly in his case, as unknown to him he had a particular allergy to bees.

Bug Hotel with Mason bee

In order to help the bees survive we bought a couple of bug hotels. One was a Bumble bee house, which we buried in the soil with a short section of hollow bamboo just protruding above ground level to act as an entrance, and the other you see here in my photos. 
Bug Hotel

Apparently 90% of all bees are solitary or non-social. Meaning each nest is the work of a single female working alone - there is no queen and the bees do not convert nectar into honey as a stored food reserve. 

Bug hotel

We have at least two types of solitary bees now.  I'm pretty sure the bee in my pictures is a Mason bee and it is sealing its chosen bamboo tube with mud and a mastic of chewed leaves or resin after laying it's eggs singly on previously collected food stores of pollen and nectar. Leaf-cutter bees and Carder bees also nest this way. 

Mining bees are another species we have seen disappearing into small holes (nests) they have mined or burrowed in the earth within the lawn. 

Sealed brood cell

There are 271 bee species to be found in the British Isles and 25% of these are on the Red Data Book List of endangered species!  Good old domestic gardens now add up to the largest bee-friendly nature reserve, exceeding national and local nature reserves in area. 

We gardeners can do much to help the bees, from choosing and growing plants which are particularly attractive to bees, to making or buying artificial nests and siting them in our gardens!

I hope you are all having a brilliant week and making the most of the reasonably long bursts of sunshine we have been having here in England).

Barbara xx

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Pen Pocket Tutorial

I found this tutorial for a  Pen pocket on Pinterest!  It's from Katie's brilliant blog - Made to be a Momma.  When I discovered this Pen Pocket I knew just the person I would make it for, and set about it, tout suite ! 

Pocket flap closed

And so, here is my version of Katie's pen pocket which fits a small diary, it has painted lace, co-ordinating with a pink check fabric, a patchwork square, a lid with popper and an elastic hem at the top of the pocket.

The measurements are as follows (with seam allowance included):


You will also need:
  • two pieces of 3mm elastic, one piece 4" (10cm) and the second of 2" (5cm)
  • one popper, and
  • lace

 Here's how to make it:
  1. Stitch square (f) onto the bottom of (c), the pocket front, cutting the lace the same width.  Tack lace in place on both long sides of pocket.  Turn the top hem over twice, top stitch and thread elastic through top hem. Remeasure the pocket front and cut it to size.
  2. Fold the seam allowance on the short edges of pieces (a), (b), top and bottom and top edge of (d) and (e) towards the Wrong Side and press them with a hot iron.
  3. Place (a) RS up, then place (c), RS up on top and stitch to hold the elastic top in place, stretching the elastic as you stitch the second side. 
  4. Cover (a) and (c) with (b) and stitch each long side, back stitching over start and finish of sides, turn RS out, push the elastic in either end and stitch the ends closed, stitching the elastic firmly in place. 
  5. Place (d) and (e) RS together, stitch around 3 sides, leaving the folded and pressed seam allowance on the open side.  Turn the RS out, push the seam allowance inside and stitch the open end closed. 
  6. Stitch:  the flap in place on the end of the pocket; and a popper on the inside of the flap and the second part of the popper onto the elastic hem.
And that's it, one pen pocket completed!

Side view
If you make one do let me know, I'd love to see!

Open diary view

Isn't Pinterest a great place to find wonderful blogs?  Have you made anything you've found on Pinterest?


If you'd like to pay me a visit on Pinterest you will find me there as "Barbara". 

I do hope you've had a lovely weekend. 

Barbara xx

Monday, May 11, 2015

Bluebells and Cowslips

Hello, we've been enjoying some lovely sunshine here in S.E. England today!  I hope you've had fun this weekend no matter what weather you have had.

Yet again we have been out walking and saw lots of bluebells.



Some time ago I mentioned an amazing field of cowslips quite nearby.  It wasn't quite as outstanding this year as we had seen it in the past but it was still a field full.



Over the hills


Did you walk anywhere nice this weekend?

Barbara xx

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Spring Purse - Part 3 (A Finish)

I'm happy to say "It's a Finish"!  If you are new to my blog you will be able to see parts 1 & 2 earlier on the blog. 

I've spent the last couple of evenings hand stitching the base into place and finally the zip.



Pockets and zip
A purse wouldn't be complete without a pocket or two!

The base was stab-stitched to the body of the bag.

I was really pleased with the finish of this base as it wasn't from a pattern and I had to plan the shape and size and was a little worried whether it would fit neatly but it did!

So I'm off out on a walk to enjoy carrying my new purse about!

Hope you have a super weekend.

See you soon!

Barbara xx

Thursday, May 07, 2015

A peek into the Queen's back garden

Hello, Dear Readers,

A couple of weeks ago we had day out in London, and I am so glad it wasn't the day the power failed on the railway and many trains were stuck for hours!

We arrived in London at Victoria Station and walked the short distance to Westminster Cathedral.

Westminster Cathedral

Our aim was to see the views from the tower, but it did cost a little more than we anticipated (£6 per adult whereas their website quoted £5).   My photograph is a little lacking as I have missed the top of the tower and there is far too much foreground!  Believe it or not it was sunny and I was dazzled and unable to see the picture in the viewfinder to check what I had taken.

St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral in the distance, sadly now being obscured by the higgledy piggldy mess of modern construction.   Poor old Wren could never have imagined it!

Our little peek into the Queens garden!

Buckingham Palace gates
Buckingham Palace gates
The plans of the Cathedral are on display in the tower and this one made me think of patchwork or embroidery.

Cathedral plans
Cathedral plans
Mosaics in Westminster Cathedral
Mosaics within Westminster Cathedral 
You'd never guess!  More mosaics

Well a trip to London would not be complete without a visit to our favourite Organic Vegetarian Italian restaurant, Amico Bio.

Amico Bio

My starter
Vegan Ice Cream at Amico Bio
Vegan ice cream - yummy!

I didn't eat alone, but I was too slow to take pictures of the other's meals' before they started them. 

Amico Bio

It was nice to be able to sit at a window table and enjoy our meals whilst watching the world go by.

Amico Bio

After our very tasty and filling meal we decided to walk it off.  That was when we found a row of Ferrari's parked by the roadside, like you do!  There were many passers-by taking pictures, and, why not, I joined in too! Again, I have more pictures but I'm sure you wouldn't want to see them all.

Ferraris in a line

Our last viewpoint of the day, for photos, was Staple Inn.

Staple Inn

Staple Inn

A pretty escape from the hustle and bustle of town!  But then we had to face the tubes and trains again to get home.  I was pretty tired by the end of the day and glad when I was able to get a nice cup of tea and have a sit down.

If you've made it to the end, I thank you for popping by, and hope to see you again soon.

Barbara xx

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Hedgehogs Awareness Week

Hello again, Dear Readers,

This week is Hedgehog Awareness Week! 3rd - 9th May

Following on from the comment by the amazing Josie on my post "Tulips and more" where Josie commented on how she hoped we might get a family of hedgehogs making a home here, she gave a link to an article in The Telegraph which explains the sad reasons why hedgehogs will be extinct within the next 15 years.

Here is a list of ideas of things gardeners can do to help hedgehogs, taken from the website of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society:
  • Ensure there is access into the garden (5" gaps are all that is needed)
  • Check areas before strimming and mowing
  • Moving piles of rubbish to a new site before burning it
  • Ensuring netting is kept at a safe height
  • Checking compost heaps before digging the fork in
  • Stopping or reducing the amount of pesticides and poisons used
  • Covering drains or deep holes
  • Ensuring there is an easy route out of ponds and pools
The society are asking everyone to pledge to do something positive to help during the week. 

I've recently noticed our wonderful neighbours have installed what appears to be a hedgehog house in a wild corner at the bottom of their garden.  We've not had a chance to speak to them as they work long hours, let's hope they have seen a hedgehog, and hence that was the reason for the hedgehog house.

With further regard to the wildlife department, my husband recently dug up and carefully reseeded a bald patch of lawn under our apple tree and kept the area well watered, waiting for the grass to grow, but just lately we've been going out every morning and finding its all been very thoroughly dug up again, to a depth of about 4-6 inches, including big chunks of chalk which were below the topsoil, we can only imagine this is the work of Billy Badger and his family looking for earthworms which we understand is part of their diet.   We used to see the badgers regularly in the garden and have even seen them with their young, but have not seen them now for a year or two.  I now understand badgers and hedgehogs don't mix as the badgers are the predator, but we are happy to see the badgers even though it means we probably won't see hedgehogs!


Join me again soon when my next post will have pictures of my latest finish.

Barbara xx