Relaxed Summer Living: How to Make Your Garden More Private

All going well, we’re going to see some pretty fine weather in the UK this summer. While there are never any guarantees (especially in England), the buzz around the weather stations is that it’s going to be one to remember, with long sunny days and clear blue skies the order of the day. This means a lot of us are going to be spending many an hour in our gardens, enjoying the weather with our friends and family.

Sign saying we are in the garden. Watering can to edge of picture.

But this isn’t always as relaxing as it should be if your garden isn’t private. It may be that you are surrounded by other properties and your garden is very overlooked. Some people don’t mind this of course; I know many neighbours enjoy spending time together, often popping in and out of each others’ homes. But this is not always the case; others enjoy peace and quiet, and value having their own secluded spot to relax. Or it might be that your garden back onto a public space and is therefore exposed to passers- by. For whatever reason it might be, lack of privacy can make your garden less appealing. If this is the case with your property, then take a read below…

Relaxed Summer Living: How to Make Your Garden More Private title with faded background image of a secluded garden bench amongst bushes for privacy

Fill it Out

If you’re just got a bare garden, one with only a large patch of grass and a chair, blanket or lounger in the middle, then it’ll be no wonder that you feel on display when you’re out there sunbathing. Even if no-one is looking, it’s hard not to feel a little self-conscious if you’re the only thing that anybody can see. If this is the case, then look at “filling out” your garden. If you have a shed, plants, water feature, and so on, then your garden – and thus you – will feel much less exposed.

Build Up

If you’re concerned that you are overlooked when you’re in the garden, especially if your kids are playing out and there are strangers looking in as they walk by for example, then why not just neutralise this problem by blocking their view? By installing solid fence panels around your property, or building up the wall at the back or side of your garden if there’s one already there, you’ll be limiting the view that others have of your backyard space. The taller the fence, the less that they’ll be able to see. This is a quick process, so you’ve got more than enough time to get it installed before summer arrives.

Find a Cosy Corner

You’re unlikely to be using all of your garden when it comes to simply unwinding. So instead of working to make the whole garden private, pick a cosy corner in which you’ll relax, and focus on making that space covered. If you have a corner with a few trees already there, then you can attach a hammock, and you’ll feel like you’re in your own private oasis, even if you know there are dozens of people living around you.

A large patio area with porch. Seating and table. Two ladies with snacks and drinks chatting, one playing guitar.

A Porch Area

Of course, a hammock isn’t going to be much good when you’re hosting friends and family for an afternoon outdoors! To make a more private social space, consider building a covered area at the back of your house. This doesn’t have to be anything complicated; it can be as simple as installing a wooden structure with plants that grow up the side. It won’t bring total coverage, but will be enough to feel more comfortable. A gazebo would also do the trick.

What tips do you have for a more secluded garden? Tell me in comments!

*This is a collaborative post.

How To Get Your Garden Ready For Summer

The sun is starting to finally make an appearance and Spring is now well underway! But is your garden ready for the summer yet? If not, don’t worry! There is still time yet to get it into shape for those lovely long summer days ahead! Read my guide and your garden will be ready to enjoy in no time…

How To Get Your Garden Ready For Summer title with faded background image of garden

Tidy Up

Get the lawn mower out, or at least use a trimmer around the edges. Weed the nettles and cut back any overgrown sections. There is no need to overdo it, especially if, like me, you prefer a more natural feel to your outdoor space. Just a quick neaten up is all it really needs. Also, put down some grass seeds if it is looking bare in places too.

Close up image of a lawn mower

Get Planting

Now is the time to make sure you get planting, if you haven’t already done so. Growing your own food is a brilliant way to enjoy your garden, be healthy and help the environment too! Choose companion plants to protect your crops and encourage pollinators to your garden.

Consider your senses when selecting your choices of plants and flowers too; for example, lambs ears are wonderfully tactile, and herbs will give your garden some lovely scents, while flowers will provide vibrant colours. Also consider growing some climbers for shade and privacy too.

A flatlay picture of gardening gloves, hat and pruning shears

Furniture

A well chosen piece of garden furniture really helps to maximise enjoyment. Table and chairs are a popular choice of course, particularly for dining al fresco, or perhaps you might like a garden bench. This teak garden furniture guide is a useful read before you invest. Don’t forget some cushions and blankets for your outdoor comfort too!

Also, it is handy to include a parasol in your garden set- up for shade. Or perhaps even consider a gazebo, especially if you are likely to have guests outside.

An image of a garden patio with various items of furniture, including sun lounger, table and chairs, and a bench. Plus parasol for shade.

Lighting

Get some solar outdoor lighting so that you can continue to enjoy your garden long into the warm summer evenings, even as the sun sets. Fairy lights, around the edge of a gazebo for example, also look really pretty.

Remember the Wildlife

Whilst getting your garden ready for summer, remember the wildlife too! Take care when mowing that there are no creatures hiding anywhere, and also spare a thought for their habitats when gardening. I personally like to leave a section of garden growing freely to encourage wildlife into our garden as well.

Bird baths and feeders, bat boxes, hedgehog hideaways and insect hotels are an asset to your garden all year round. Being around nature is relaxing and therapuetic; you will likely find you enjoy your garden even more when you share it!

Bird house hanging from a branch of a tree

What are your top tips for the perfect summer garden? Share in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

How To Give Your Home A Summer Makeover #InteriorInspirations 

The weather may still be unpredictable but summer is officially here, so it is the perfect time to give your home a fresh new look! This summer, why not go for some of the following ideas:

#InteriorInspirations, interior design, home decor, home and garden, home inspiration, summer look, room makeover, Living Life Our Way
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Bright and Bold Colours

Whether you opt for one or two select colours, or grab yourself a whole rainbow of items, choosing bold colours will really make the room pop and give you that summer feel. On my pinterest board below, you can see how this works particularly well on plain, neutral backgrounds. Contrasting colours also go beautifully together too if you are working with brightly coloured walls.

Flower Designs

Pretty flower patterns, give any room an outdoorsy summer vibe. From upholstered furniture to simply throwing a few cushions onto a sofa, and rugs to huge wall hangings, anything on this theme really creates that summer feel you are looking for.

Bring Nature Indoors

Moving on only very slightly from the flower theme, bringing nature into your home is another great way to get that summer look. I have written before about nature print wallpaper to bring the outdoors inside. This works well all year round and summer is certainly no exception. Real or artificial plants and flowers finish off the summer look perfectly in any part of your home. See my pinterest board below for some creative ways of doing this.

Strong Geometric Patterns

Duvet covers, throws, cushions and other home decor items in strong geometric patterns using bold colours on a light background are not only eye catching but undoubtedly summery too. This even works on an entire wall if you want to turn the striking meter up to the max!

Set the Scene

Another tip is to use world maps, beach or ocean prints that instantly draw your thoughts to travel and vacations; you’ll feel like you are on your summer holidays without even leaving your room!

Don’t Forget Your Other Senses!

Last but by no means least, remember it is not all about looks! Fragrance your room with a smell that reminds you distinctively of summer, play some relaxing ocean waves sounds and choose some cool summer textures to fully complete your makeover.

Chill insurance are encouraging people to share their summer interior tips using the hashtag #InteriorInspirations on social media. They have also produced a fabulous ebook too, full of great ideas! 

Do you have a favourite summery item of home decor? Or perhaps a top tip for keeping interiors cool in the summer? Get involved in the discussion on social media and/ or leave me a comment!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post. 

Fun Party Venues Ideas

As signs of Spring start to appear all around and the sun begins to make an appearance, there is no doubt that many of us are now looking ahead to summer; busy booking holidays, festival line-ups announced and summer events organised. Whilst I don’t personally have a do to arrange myself this year (although my 40th appears to be coming round rather quickly – only a couple of years before I will be organising that! Eek!) a few of my friends are already in the throes of summer party planning around London. 

River Thames, London, Big Ben, party venues, summer parties, stock image, venueseeker, Living Life Our Way
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If you are one of the many people looking to get your party on this summer, Venueseekers is a handy site for finding places to hold an event in and around the capital. See their website for more info: Party Venues London. And here are just a few of their fun venue ideas in central London to inspire you and get you started…

River Thames, London, St Pauls Cathedral, party venues, summer parties, stock image, venueseeker, Living Life Our Way
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Madison: This award-winning New York style restaurant and bar overlooks St Paul’s Cathedral. It holds 120 people (seated) up to 900 (standing).

Oxo Tower: Floor two of the famous OXO tower is a brilliant place to hold events in the summer, with riverside balconies and stunning panaromic views of the Thames from inside too. It can hold functions for anywhere between 50- 400 people, with the adjacent gallery offering additional space for larger parties.

The Artillery Gardens: If you are looking for somewhere to host a larger function, this venue holds up to 2000 people and is very cool, it even has a funfair! Well worth checking out. 

If you are looking for somewhere near London but a little more suburban, here are a few other ideas…

St Michaels Manor, St Albans, Hertfordshire, party venues, summer parties, stock image, venueseeker, Living Life Our Way
St Michaels Manor (Credit: Jenny Murray)

St Michaels Manor: Set in the heart of historic St Albans, surrounded by pretty parkland and next to a lake view, this lovely manor hotel is popular for weddings and other functions. It is a short, direct non-stop train route into London and is situated not too far from the St Albans City station so is ideal for those travelling from further afield. 

Four Seasons Hampshire: Set in the countryside with amazing views over Dogmersfield Park but yet highly accessible from London, this lovely venue has ample natural daylight flooding the indoor spaces and an outdoor terrace that can be used for functions too.

Do you have a summer party venue recommendation? Leave in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

#Blogtober 2016 – Day 23: Favourite Time of Year and Why

When I first read this theme, my mind automatically jumped to seasons and I spent ages trying (unsuccessfully!) to pick my favourite. Then I re-read the title and realised it could be any time of year, for any reason, not specifically seasons. But then I figured my mind actually translated it into that for good reason; we spend alot of time outdoors in nature, absorbing our natural environment, observing the seasons and appreciating the ever-changing beauty of our natural world throughout the year. So for me personally, my favourite time of year would be based on that, rather than a special occasion or anything else. 

But which is my favourite season then? I genuinely love them all for different reasons. When (and if!) it snows in winter it is so much fun, plus I enjoy the peaceful silence on winter walks. Spring is beautiful, so filled with new life, and brings with it hope for our future. Summer fun, splashing around in water in warm sunshine, it so therapeutic; and the nature all around is so easy to spot too. And then there is autumn, with its beautiful colours and refreshing sense of change. Each is so important to me in its own unique way.

If I really had to pick one? I guess I would go for autumn. I love the changing of the season from summer to autumn, when some days it is warm and others there is a distinct chill in the air. I love the stunning autumn colours and the sound of crisp leaves underfoot. I love hunting for conkers, acorns and sweet chesnuts. And I love how nature teaches us about the beauty of change, to accept so easily when it is time to let go and get ready to embrace the new! 

Nature, outdoors, scenic, photography, get outside, seasons, blogger, blogtober, Living Life Our Way
Autumn colours at the park

Aside from the seasonal aspect, I admit I do also love it when the schools go back and our favourite spots become peaceful again! But also, last but not least, I choose autumn because I try to live in the moment, and that is where we are at right now. Ask me at a different time of year and you may well get a different answer!

#Blogtober16

Three Shells Lagoon, Southend-on-Sea, Essex

Three Shells Lagoon at Southend-on-Sea in Essex is a newly built man made lagoon that opened this summer. The lagoon is the size of a football pitch and is 1.1 metres at its deepest points. 

Swimming at Three Shells Lagoon, Southend on Sea, Essex
Squiggle was laughing at how I reacted to the cold water initially- but she wore a proper wetsuit, I didn’t!

Despite visiting in the last week of September, it was still warm enough to wriggle into our swimsuits and go for a swim. It was cold, but we soon got used to it! Squiggle enjoyed practising her swimming skills in the sea water, as well as paddling and splashing around in general. I think it’s wonderful to be able to enjoy swimming in a natural environment, whilst not being entirely in the open water with an inexperienced young swimmer. I imagine it would also be great for learning water sports.

Swimming at Three Shells Lagoon, Southend on sea, Essex
Three Shells Lagoon

One thing I did wonder about was how the lagoon water is kept fresh and hygenic. So I did some research and found the design quite interesting. “Sheets of welded metal inside the rock walls retain the seawater when the tide comes in, whilst rubberised material at the base of the wall will prevent silt and mud from entering and exiting the lagoon. Valves have been installed into the wall so that the lagoon can be emptied and refilled, ensuring a high quality of regularly-replenished bathing water.” (Southend government website) For further information about the lagoon www.southend.gov.uk

Places To Go: Summer at Ruislip Lido

Ruislip Lido is a great place to visit during the summer, with lots of (FREE!) outdoor fun to be had; including a splash park, sandy beach, large play area on the sand, woodlands and a train ride (charge applies for this).

If you are visiting with young children, or those with SEND, please keep in mind that the play area is next to open water and not enclosed. Also, no paddling or swimming is allowed in the lido itself.

Here are my photos from our latest trip…

Days out, places to go
Ruislip Lido- Squiggle took this photo herself from the play area on the beach.
Places to go, things to do, summer, water play
Splash park
Places to go, days out
Squiggle found some shells on the beach!
Places to go, things to do, nature, wildlife
Beautiful blue damselfly in the woodland

For more photos, including the beach play area, please see my previous blog post here: Ruislip Lido autumn 15

We think Ruislip Lido is a lovely place anytime of year (although please note it is practically entirely outside, but we don’t mind- that’s what waterproofs and layers are for!) For further information, visit their website here.

Paddling Pools and Splash Parks (Herts and surrounding area)

Summer Fun: Parks and Paddling is one of my most popular blog posts and, rather unsurprisingly, has had alot of hits this past weekend! So here is the latest info for this season…

 

● Cassiobury Park paddling pool: closed for refurbishment

 

● Verulamium Splash Park: Now open 10-6pm daily until Sunday 11th September 2016  www.stalbans.gov.uk/community-and-living/communityleisure/play_areas/splashpark.aspx

 

● London colney (Morris Way) paddling pool: opens 28th May. No further info.

 

● Paradise Wildlife Park lagoon: Now open daily. This is part of the wildlife park (no separate entry)- admission costs apply www.pwpark.com

 

● Leighton Buzzard splash park and beach: Now open 10am-6pm daily www.leightonlinslade-tc.gov.uk

 

● Ruislip Lido: Now open daily until end of September www.hillingdon.gov.uk/ruisliplido

 

Of course there are many others in and around Hertfordshire, this is not a comprehensive list! Others I have heard of but never visited are Harpenden outdoor pool, Letchworth splash park/ paddling pool and Hitchin outdoor pool. Plus, of course, there is natural water play such as the stream at Wheathampstead, Stanborough or Cassiobury and plenty of beaches within an hour or two (driving or train) too!

Leighton Buzzard Splash Park

Leighton Buzzard Splash Park

 

Happy splashing!

Paddling Pools and Splash Parks

During the summer months Squiggle spends alot of time playing in water. This fulfills her sensory needs and is also part of her therapy in other ways too. We have visited various splash parks and paddling pools…

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Our Week in Pictures: Water Play

Water play is therapeutic and relaxing for Squiggle but it is so much more fun when it’s outdoors and on a large scale, so there is nothing like sunshine to brighten her mood, just for that reason alone!

 

 

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