A slight obsession with books

Crafts, cats and books


Adventure playground

The cat enclosure is pretty much finished. We’ve got a couple of ornaments, the water feature & some solar lights to go out there but we’ll wait for spring for those now. Other than that, it’s all done, apart from a couple of places where the paint on the woodwork needs touching up.

I’ve taken a couple of photos…

There are planting areas around the roof supports. The supports are on bricks, which are cemented in. I’ve planted with lots of different grasses. They look a bit weedy at the moment but will be all different heights, textures and colours once they get going next year. I’ve left spaces between them for the cats to stalk through. I’ve added an extra layer of weed-proof membrane as I planted, so hopefully no weeds and the cats won’t be able to go digging. I’ve used river cobbles on top of the membrane as I love the look it gives and also I was hoping that the cats wouldn’t move them. I was wrong on that one. Rosie has been playing football with them. Still, they’re easier to put back than smaller pebbles so all’s good. The new step looks good and the cats love the border of slabs that goes around the edge. They like to lie on it, especially if the grass is damp.Frodo is enjoying being outside more as we can now let them out after it’s been raining. Before it would turn into a mud bath out there. He has some lightweight balls outside which he loves to bat around the grassy area. Sammie is a bit of a gymnast and balances on the roof supports. She loves all the higher sections, including the new shelf we’ve added between two of the supports. The big of garden immediately around the enclosure is looking good but the rest of it is still a mess. We’ll be working on that next year as well as sorting out the conservatory.



Cat flaps

The cats are loving their new enclosure but it was getting a bit chilly having the back doors open for them to go in and out. Because of where we’re situated, and because Rosie tends to panic if she can’t get in and hide if she needs to, we couldn’t just close the doors and leave them out there.

We’d been talking about having a cat flap for a while but couldn’t decide where to have it. The options were to go through the wall in my craft room, which would be a big job but would only need one flap. I was worried about getting a draught in there though as it’s a cold room to start with.

The other option was to go though the kitchen door. Then to either go through the conservatory wall, or though the door, which is double-glazed. If the latter, we’d have needed to have a new glass bit made with the cat flap already in it.

We’d been going back and forth on it for ages so eventually we found a company online that looked reputable, (Facebook reviews/good website etc) and gave them a ring. They turned out to be a godsend as not only did they give excellent advice, but fitted two flaps the next day (last Friday).

We had one in the kitchen door and one in the conservatory door. We had the glass panel replaced by a solid one as the door wasn’t wide enough to take the cat flap and still be strong enough. It looks a bit odd having the glass on one side and a solid panel on the other but I can live with it. If it does bother me, I can always get the other panel replaced to match.

The company we used is All Glass & Glazing, and we’ll definitely use them again if we need any glass work done. They were fast, efficient and friendly and left absolutely no mess at all. They supplied the flaps, which we chose from their website and they’re plenty big enough for the cats.

Frodo got the hang of using them straight away. I’ve been trying to get a pic of him but he’s so confident that he goes through them at about 90mph. He’s loving it.

Stephen made a little step for them outside as we thought the drop might put them off using it.

Sammie took a little longer to use the flaps and would still prefer for us to open the door instead, but she has been using them and has been in and out a few times today.Rosie is the most reluctant. She has used them but isn’t keen on trying to push them open. There are magnets holding the flaps steady, so they don’t blow in the wind. The cats do have to push a bit harder than if there weren’t any and that is what Rosie is struggling with. She’ll soon get the hang of it though.I’m noticing that the back door needs cleaning. Everything got a bit grubby out there while the landscaping in the enclosure was being worked on. Now it’s pretty much finished, I’ll have to get my scrubbing brush out!

I’ve been taking photos of the enclosure and I’ll post them soon. We’re really happy with it, and so are the cats.

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Adventure playground – landscaping day three

Late shifts and rain have prevented me from posting the daily progress on this, plus the guys couldn’t work on one day due to unforeseen problems.

We do have lots of progress though. The gravel has been put down around the three sides, outside the enclosure, and it looks great. It’s still to be tamped down and levelled but we’re really pleased with how it looks.

The hardcore has been put down inside, leaving gaps where the planting will be. A finer layer was added after it was tamped down.

The slabs have been laid round the inside edge. They look great!

The step has been re-laid, with bricks beneath it and an extra step, partly because it looks nice, but mostly because otherwise we’d have had a patched bit of artificial turf as the roll isn’t quite long enough.

They’ve also weeded the patio and jetwashed the soil from between the slabs. They’re going to put some stuff down there to deter further weed growth as it’s a pain trying to get the weeds out of those fine gaps.

Looking good so far but lots more to do.


Adventure playground – landscaping day one

I got home from work to find that lots had been done through the day. Just look at it now.

Stephen took a couple of photos during the day to send to me at work. At this point they’d put down the weedproof membrane.

They did a great job, tucking it under the enclosure so no weeds could come through and it’s tucked under the sleepers outside the enclosure too.

Talking of sleepers, don’t these look so much better than those old bricks that were on the verge of falling down.

And there are more sleepers supporting the slabs on the other side.

They’ve made a start on putting the hardcore down inside the enclosure, ready for the slabs and turf.

So far we’re really pleased with their work. I can’t wait to see what it looks like tomorrow night!



Adventure playground – lots of progress

We’ve been trying to find the time, and the energy to get this bit of the garden landscaped for a while now. It hasn’t been easy, so we’ve given up on the idea of trying to do it ourselves and have found some nice chaps to do it for us.

It desperately needs doing and at the rate we’re working, it’ll still be a work in progress in two years time. Every time it rains it turns into a mud bath, which is why we have lots of cardboard down at the moment. My kitchen floor is permanently covered in muddy paw prints, or so it seems. Rosie loves the cardboard and burrows underneath it to dig in the soil. Not a great look on a cat with a white front and face.

I thought I’d take photos before, during and after as it’ll be fun to see the faster progress made by professionals.

This is how it looks this morning before the chaps start work.

The inside –  The safety porch –The left side – The right side – The back – The outside edges were knee-high in weeds but I had a good couple of days out there and got rid of them. Hopefully, once the chaps have finished, we won’t get that problem again.

Weather permitting, there’ll be more photos tomorrow.


Adventure playground – progress

We’re still landscaping the new cat enclosure and it’s taking a long time. We’ve had to remove the top layer of soil to make room for the hardcore that needs to go underneath the artificial grass. That’s pretty much done now but it still needs a bit of levelling.

We’ve had plenty of help from the cats though. They love it if one of us is outside with them especially if there’s a wheelbarrow involved.

Rosie has definitely got over being nervous about going outside. She runs up and down the ladders as much as the other two. Frodo loves to lounge on the shelves and keep an eye on what’s going on.

Sammie loves it up high too.

The shelves make a great spot to watch the birds and squirrels from as we’ve got bird feeders outside the pen.

We have had a bit of a problem with dirty cats as both Rosie and Frodo think it’s great fun to roll on the ground and Rosie has been digging for worms which she then plays with.

We’ve started to get a few grasses, ready to plant once the artificial grass is down. I’ve got them on the patio for ease of watering and the cats love to get in between them. I can’t wait until we’ve got them growing all over the garden so they can hide in them.

The enclosure was definitely worth getting. The cats love being outside and we’re happy knowing they’re safe.

Hopefully it’ll be landscaped soon it looks a bit nicer than it does at the moment.


A very bare garden

A few years ago we cleared the jungle that was lurking outside our back door and turned it into a vegetable garden. We’ve grown tomatoes, beans, courgettes and lots of other lovely veggies.

Last year, Stephen had to do most of the work himself as my legs and back were getting worse and I was so tired from the full-time rota at work. We decided that this year we’d drop the gardening as it was too much for us to cope with, and we’d use the space for an extended cat enclosure instead.

Stephen has been very hard at work outside over the last couple of months and has cleared away the old enclosure, a shed, and lots of junk that had piled up.

garden04 garden05That small shed has now gone too, as have some more of the slabs. Just in time too as they’re coming to install the new enclosure in a few days.

I can’t wait to see the cats when they can just stroll out the door and play outside. We’ll be landscaping inside the enclosure with hard and soft areas, plus some non-toxic plants for them to hide under to bird-watch. I’m planning a solar-powered water feature for Rosie and some tunnels for Frodo. Sammie will love all the climbing areas.

More photos to come soon.


2016 roundup

Working full-time has definitely stopped me from doing as much crafting and reading as I wanted. That and tending an ever-expanding vegetable garden. I did find some spare time though – this is what I achieved.

Cross stitch:

I had four finishes, Douceur de vivre, African sampler, Rose boudoir and Garden cat. I still have several in progress but as crochet seems to have taken over at the moment, they haven’t seen the light of day for a few months. Maybe soon.


I have no finishes this year,  but I did make some progress on the Ripple blanket before putting that away to work on two Last dance on the beach blankets. Progress on those got stalled when I fell in love with a new CAL – Carousel. The good news is that both of the Last dance blankets, plus Carousel, are very close to being finished. Once they’re done I can hopefully carry on with Ripple and think about starting Log cabin, which I bought the kit for. Then I need to use some of the huge stash of yarn that I’ve bought at Aldi whenever they had some in. I have about a dozen 400g balls of Aran plus some DK. I really mustn’t start any more CALs with kits until I’ve got my stash down a bit.


No finishes this year but I did make good progress on a small quilt for Rosie. I’ve started quilting it so there’s a good chance that I’ll get it finished this year. I’ve got several sewing projects to do so I’m hoping to find the energy to make a start on some of them soon.

Rosie's quilt - 06


My Goodreads challenge for 2016 was to read 100 books and I just beat that with 106. Mostly they were on the Kindle plus 12 audiobooks and apart from two library books, the rest were from my TBR pile. I averaged 339 pages per book so even though there were quite a few shorts in there, the chunkier books balanced that out.

Some of my best finds were on Audible. I listened to the Silo trilogy by Hugh Howey and loved them. I also listened to Ready player one by Ernest Kline. It was narrated by Will Weaton, who did a brilliant job, and I really enjoyed the book. I shall definitely be looking out for more by both authors.

Apart from those and maybe a couple more, I stuck to familiar ground and comfort reading. I’m hoping to challenge myself a little more this year and read some contemporary fiction and maybe a couple more classics.


This year there will be very little in the way of gardening, which will hopefully make time for some more crafting. Although I enjoyed having a vegetable garden, my health isn’t up to the work involved at the moment. As well as needing a knee replacement, possibly two, my back isn’t great and I’ve just been diagnosed with sciatica. People keep telling me how painful that is. Oddly enough, I do know 🙂

I have plans to make the garden a lot less time-consuming and we’re starting by clearing most of it in order to have a new cat enclosure built. (when I say we, I do mean Stephen of course). The new enclosure is being custom-made, will be attached to the house and will be like an adventure playground for the cats. I cannot wait to see their reaction to being able to stroll out the back door and play.

I’m very grateful to the SAL which is run by Avis and Claire as it gave me a nudge to get some crafting done on several occasions lest I have nothing to post. We have lots more SAL members now too, so every three weeks there are lots of lovely projects to look at. It’s a great idea and super fun.

So, the plan for this year is to finish some of my existing projects and hopefully start some new and exciting ones. Yes, cat quilts, I’m looking at you!


Productive garden

There’s not much going on in the veg garden at the moment, other than picking the rewards of all our hard work. We’re having to go out most days with the colander and are returning with it full of yummy veggies.

harvest140816The summer squash have exceeded all expectations. We’ve mostly harvested the pale green ones but the yellow and dark green varieties have produced a fair few as well. They’re lovely roasted!

The French beans are still going strong and we’re getting quite a few runner beans now too, with loads more to come.

We haven’t needed to buy tomatoes for a few weeks but haven’t had so many that I’ve needed to make sauce. There are still a lot of green ones though so I’m guessing the glut is waiting until after this week, as I’m on annual leave now.

We’ve worked hard on clearing out all the rubbish around the outskirts of the garden. There’s still a lot to do but we’ve made excellent progress. It’s been accumulating for decades in the various sheds and as we have Grand Plans for next year, we need it gone. Stephen has done most of the heavy lifting while I supervise, of course. (there are spiders in all that junk) I can see we’ll be needing a skip shortly to get rid of it all as there’s so much stuff that we no longer need plus one of the sheds has to go as it’s falling apart.

Right, I’d better go and pick some veggies for dinner tonight 🙂


Garden update

I realised a few days ago that I hadn’t posted any garden pics for a while, mostly because I’ve just not had time to take any. The garden has been doing quite well though so I made time to take some photos to show off some of my successes.

The courgettes are doing great again so far, but they seem to have suffered from the damp weather we had until recently and have some mildew. I had the same problem last year but much later in the season so I don’t think the courgettes will be producing for much longer.

I’ve had plenty of the Black Forest courgettes so far though and the new varieties have done fairly well too. This one is Romanesco. The flavour isn’t as good as Black Forest when raw, but it’s lovely cooked.

200716Courgette-02The other new one is a round one and the flavour raw is superb. I haven’t had many from the plants yet but there are quite a few almost ready to pick now.

200716Courgette-01I got a bit carried away with the tomatoes again and have a total of 25 plants. I’m getting a bit of blossom end rot in the greenhouse, on the Rainbow Blend but I’m hoping that the rest will be ok. Outside, the Tigerella are looking good and have plenty of fruits coming on.

200716Tomatoes-01The Maskotka is doing very well. I’ve got about six of those and all are covered in tomatoes. I’m guessing they’re all going to ripen at once resulting in a freezer full of nice saucy bolognaise.

200716Tomatoes-02 200716Tomatoes-03The sweetcorn is growing fast and is getting quite tall. It looks as if we should get plenty of corn from it as there are lots of flowers. I’ve been quite fascinated by it as I’ve never seen corn developing before.

The beans are mostly growing well and we’ve already picked a good handful of French beans, which were very nice with dinner last week. I’ve just picked more for lunch today.

200716Garden-01The aubergines are looking quite good. One or two of the plants have flowers forming. I haven’t grown them before so I’m looking forward to seeing how they develop.

200716Garden-02I’ve got one bed with summer squash in, and they’re growing fast now. I’m hoping they do better than last year’s winter squash.

I am struggling to keep on top of maintenance with so much to look after, while working a full-time job. Stephen has doing quite a bit of the watering but I do need to try to do some weeding and tidying soon.

Next year I definitely need to cut back.