Ode to my hair

Sorry if this post is looking a little bit 'Rosie's face overload' at the moment, but do not be fooled; this post is not about my face - it is about my hair.  A little story to begin with - as any girl who grew up in the 90s and for whom Gwen Stefani was an early fashion icon will understand, I longed for platinum blonde hair for a long time before actually taking the plunge.  Hairdresser upon hairdresser for many years told me not to do it; telling me my hair would fall out, break off, catch fire etc (okay not the last one, but the other two).  This led to years of highlights - always hoping to for that perfect blonde colour but sometimes looking more like a badger or a beige zebra crossing.  Then, one day, about a year ago, I just thought 'stuff it, you only live once' and did it, and guess what, my hair was fine! But I must admit, it does need a lot more care than it ever did before, and conditioning treatments and shampoos for coloured hair are a must.  But I digress - the reason for this post is that I am a long time Aussie advocate, and when I saw last week that they were looking for some more Aussie angels to join their group of lovely bloggers I knew it was something I wanted to have a go at.  All you have to do is write a blog post about why you deserve to be an Aussie angel, and this is mine.

But as the brief said you can be as creative as you like, I thought it would be fun to something a little bit different, and so I decided I would write a little poem about my hair. When looking for inspiration, I had to look no further than Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 - with his glossy, dark mane I reckon he was a man who knew a thing or two about haircare, and so it was easy to take his words and, um, completely butcher them. Here it is:

Ode to my hair
Shall I compare thee to a nest of hay?
Thou art as yellow and as dry.
Rough winds do shake you into disarray,
Not helped by years of straightening and dye.
Somewhat too hot the plates of GHDs,
Which means my blonde hair’s colour’s dimmed.
Their heating to such high degrees,
Means often split ends must be trimmed.
But luckily my platinum colour does not fade.
With help of Aussie Colour Mate.
Which nourishes and keeps it shade,
And ‘Feel the Heat’ means I wear it straight.
Thank God for Aussie’s what I say,
To help repair my head of hay.

Well, that was a first - can't say I've ever written a poem about my hair before, whatever next! I guess you can tell from this post that I'm a massive Aussie fan - I couldn't live without Three Minute Miracle or the Soft Feel Serum (which just smells a-mazing) - are you an Aussie lover? Which of their products are your favourites?


All I have to do is pull the anchor up and float away

skirt: ASOS £21.00 | t-shirt: honour over glory | cardigan: h&m | boots: boohoo.com  
necklace: ladybird likes - more on this awesome shop in a later post!
Just a little snap of what I wore to lunch today.  After the first photo was taken we decided we would walk the dog straight from going to lunch, hence the change from shoe boots to my (much more practical) deck shoes!  Tom has been in Edinburgh all week so we've planned quite a chilled out weekend - we went for lunch at the Tattoo Parlour Cafe in Pokesdown (Boscombe) this afternoon - it's like an American diner with vintage tattoo memorabilia and it serves amazing burgers and ice cream sundaes so it's right up my street! We then went on to Highcliffe to walk the dog along the beach and then to Sainsbury's for supplies to have a cosy night in.  I want to try my hand at making Whoopie Pies but I've heard they're really difficult to make so I've bought a Betty Crocker mix for my first go - don't judge me! After the little bake-athon I expect we'll settle down to The Voice and a movie; we also started watching a BBC drama called The Bridge today - has anyone else watched it? It seems very gripping so far! What are all your plans for the weekend?


Foodie penpals and other mail

Last month I took part in a fun little parcel exchange called Foodie Penpals.  Foodie Penpals was started by Carol Anne at This is Rock Salt, the premise being that, on a monthly basis you send a thoughtful, food related parcel with a spending limit of £10. You are matched with a partner and you get to know their interests and likes and dislikes before sending them a parcel of goodies.  I was partnered with Rhian, who blogs here and here - she is a part time cake decorator so I felt pretty nervous about sending her any of my own baked goodies!

Here is the package I sent Rhian...

Jubilee party muffin cases, strawberry and cream tea, dark chocolate drops, cranberry and white chocolate cookies and cookie recipe book.

I love trying local foods and visiting farmers' markets and farm shops so when the lovely Sophie (who was partnered to send to me) asked me what I wanted in my parcel I asked her to send me some things from where she lived - she kindly sent me some Sussex tea, chocolates and biscuits, along with some more yummy chocolates and homemade goodies.  Thanks Sophie!

Last year I sent out a lot of letters and parcels and was really enjoying having penpals again and receiving lovely things in the post.  Some months ago however, all the pressures of work, the house, being a puppy owner and my endless to do list rather got on top of me and I had a break from it all because I realised I wasn't able to give it the time it deserved.  I'm pleased to say I'm now getting back into it in a big way and have been excitedly buying up some new bits and bobs to make mail art and investing in some new paper (and, on Sally's advice, stocking up on stamps!) I love sending postcards to people via sendsomething.net and I've also been replying to all the lovely people who wrote to me before I had my break.  If any of you are running parcel swaps or fancy exchanging some postcards just let me know :)


A little book Q&A

Last night was World Book Night, which spreads the joy and love of reading.  To spread that joy a little further, the lovely Sally has created a little Q&A about books and reading which she tagged me into.  I am enjoying a quiet Tuesday night in with a mug of tea and my Kindle so I thought this would be the perfect thing to do whilst I enjoy a bit of 'me time'.

The Rules: 
1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover
3. Answer the questions below
4. Tag a few people to answer them too
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you've tagged them
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you've taken part!

Front cover of 'Pirates Mixed Up Voyage' - always makes me smile as I remember how much I loved how silly (and utterly brilliant) it was as a child.

I tag
my Mum, The Pampered Sparrow, Kate and anyone else who likes reading - but tweet me and let me know you've done it, I love getting recommendations for new things to read!

What are you reading right now?

The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins.  I saw that Kate was reading it last month and thought I'd give it a go - it is such a gripping read, I wasn't expecting a classic novel to have so many twists and turns, it is a genuinely thrilling, brilliant detective story.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
I downloaded The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt onto my Kindle a few days ago after seeing it reviewed on the TV book club, I'm really looking forward to reading it.

What 5 books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?

Oh Comely and Olive magazine

What’s the worst book you've ever read?

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. Everyone raves on about it but I thought it was badly written and boring. 

What book seems really popular but you actually hated?

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.  Again, everyone raves on about it (and it won a lot of awards) but I couldn't get past the first 50 pages (actually, I see a lot of copies at charity shops so maybe neither could anyone else).

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?

The Secret History by Donna Tartt.  Undoubtedly my favourite book so I believe everyone else should love it too; it's just so full of mystery, intrigue and darkness, it just swallows you up.  I adore it.

What are your 3 favourite poems?

Scheherazade by Richard Siken
The Hon Sec by John Betjeman
Remember by Christina Rossetti

Where do you usually get your books?

I bought a Kindle a couple of months ago and I've downloaded a lot of the classics as they're free on the Kindle store which is a great way to motivate me to read the ones I've had on my list for ages (ever thrifty!). If I really enjoy books I've borrowed or read on the Kindle I always buy a paper copy for the library I intend on having one day (I've already racked up three large bookshelves so I'm getting there!)

Where do you usually read your books?

I always read before bed, in the bath if I'm not reading on my Kindle or when I get the train to work.

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?
My Mum used to always read to me before bedtime as my Dad was away at sea a lot when I was very young.  When he came home he used to read with me too, usually a book by Robin Jarvis - I used to cherish those moments as I loved spending that quality time with my Daddy.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
Sister by Rosamund Lupton.  It's one of those books where you have to keep reading to find out what happens.

Have you ever “faked” reading a book?

A few in college where I had to write assignments and I couldn't get into the book.  I remember using Spark Notes to help with an assignment on The Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen (granted, a play, not technically a book) because I hated it so much.

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?

No, I am far too thrifty for that! Though I must admit I am very tempted to buy some of the Penguin Classics that have had covers redesigned by tattoo artists.  Valerie Vargas is my favourite tattoo artist ever (cliché I know) and I love her Notes on a Scandal cover, though I already own the book.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?
As I already mentioned (and Sally did too), I loved the Robin Jarvis books, Roald Dahl (of course) and before I could read myself I am reliably informed that I loved the Janet and Allan Ahlberg books - The Jolly Postman being a firm favourite (and probably bred my love of receiving post!)

What book changed your life?
I read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand whilst away in Thailand and it just blew my mind, I don't think I've ever felt so excited by a book before.  I read it at a time when I was realising a lot of things about myself and the direction I wanted to take my life in and it just made me feel so determined and inspired.

What is your favourite passage from a book?
This was a tough one.  I love all the scenes with May in it in The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami though so I'll go with this one;

“Here's what I think, Mr. Wind-Up Bird," said May Kasahara. "Everybody's born with some different thing at the core of their existence. And that thing, whatever it is, becomes like a heat source that runs each person from the inside. I have one too, of course. Like everybody else. But sometimes it gets out of hand. It swells or shrinks inside me, and it shakes me up. What I'd really like to do is find a way to communicate that feeling to another person. But I can't seem to do it. They just don't get it. Of course, the problem could be that I'm not explaining it very well, but I think it's because they're not listening very well. They pretend to be listening, but they're not, really. So I get worked up sometimes, and I do some crazy things.” 

What are your top five favourite authors?

Haruki Murakami
Kurt Vonnegut
Douglas Coupland
Chuck Palahniuk
Jonathan Coe

What book has no one heard about but should read?
Once In a House on Fire by Angela Ashworth

What 3 books are you an “evangelist” for?

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

What are your favourite books by a first-time author?

After You'd Gone by Maggie O' Farrell
To Kill a Mockingbird
 by Harper Lee
The Wilderness
by Samantha Harvey

What is your favourite classic book?
I would have to say Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, I used to love reading that as a child.

5 other notable mentions?

Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
The Magus by John Fowles
The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller 

.... and, on Joseph Heller, the story goes that he was once being interviewed, and the interviewer said - “Since Catch 22 you haven’t written anything nearly as good.” and he replied "No, but then neither has anyone else.” I love that.


Four days in Jersey

On Wednesday we set sail for Jersey on the ferry from Poole for a four day break we bought through Groupon Getaways.  We were originally supposed to be going on the Tuesday but the crossing was cancelled due to the bad weather, so we were lucky to be able to push it back a day and come back yesterday instead.  However, the crossings were so rough in both directions, you couldn't even get up from your seat at most points or you would have ended up on the other side of the ferry! I did not enjoy that! I was really worried as the weather forecast for the four days was absolutely terrible but we were actually really lucky and apart from a few scattered showers there were blue skies every day.

We stayed in a hotel in St Helier (you can see the view from our hotel room in the first photo); the hotel was great and had three restaurants, two bars and a swimming pool. We did a lot of swimming and relaxing in the sauna and the steam room! We also had a hire car as part of the package and spent the rest of our time exploring the island, stopping for lunch and a glass of wine and taking photos.  It's only 46 square miles in size so we managed to drive round the whole coastline of the island, which is so beautiful - all rocky beaches, secluded bays and quaint harbours.  There's a much slower pace of life over there - no big supermarkets or supermarket chains, with a produce and fish market in St Helier instead, all the shops close on Sundays and there's lots of little tea rooms for whiling away an afternoon with a cream tea.

We had such a lovely time and I'd definitely go again - there wasn't enough time to eat in all the beachfront cafes and restaurants I wanted to and I'd love to go in the summer to be able to spend more time on the beach, as even though it was lovely and sunny it was also pretty cold! Have you ever been to Jersey or the Channel Islands?

View from our hotel room

shirt: new look | cardigan: primark | scarf: here | duck boots: asos


Stole me a dog-eared map

cardigan: vero moda | dress: very.co.uk | belt: primark | shoes: new look

Just a few photos from last Sunday; I know it was Sunday because the sun is shining in the photographs and the sun definitely has not had his hat on for the last few days.  On Sunday we were up bright and early to go to Lymington car boot sale, though we came home empty handed.  I was dreaming of vintage crates and shabby chic furniture (not the kind they made on The Apprentice) but alas it was a lot newer things - toys and tut mainly.  At lunchtime we went to Milford on Sea food festival, which was less of a festival and more a row of marquees but we still indulged in a hog roast, bought some local cheese and had a cider in one of the pubs. There were lots of other dogs being walked around the food festival so, as you can see from the first photo, Bodhi had a whale of a time (probably also contributed to by the wafting smell of frying sausages).  In fact, I overheard a lady at the car boot sale saying "That is the most excited dog I have ever seen!" Bless him, he doesn't spend much time around that volume of other people (and dogs) regularly! On Monday evening we took the little pup to his first dog training class, which was a stressful experience to say the least.  Bodhi was the naughtiest and barked at all the other dogs to such an extent that he was not allowed to partake in doggy line dancing.  They do 'clicker training' and they showed me how to 'waft a sausage' in front of his nose and then teach him to heel by making him follow the sausage but unfortunately by the time I'd walked to the end of the hall nearly all the sausage was gone.  Naughty Bodhi.

As I mentioned, the sun took his hat off on Monday and then the mean wind blew my mini greenhouse over on Monday night.  By a stroke of luck [?] Tom had actually forgotten to put all the pots back inside when he watered them so instead of being smashed all over the gravel they were just very soggy and very windswept.  The sunflower didn't make it though, which has made me sad as I was growing it to plant where we buried Pancake hamster when she died in February.  I will grow another.  All was not lost however as yesterday I came home to a gorgeous little package of seeds sent to me by the very kind Sally, so I am looking forward to getting those planted.  Along with blowing over the greenhouse, the wind and rain have been so bad that our ferry for our little mini-break to Jersey today was cancelled so we went for a little mooch around the shops in Bournemouth instead.  I ended up having a bit of a splurge in Primark as it was so well laid out and tidy (and empty!) so it was very easy to find lots of nice things to buy! I'm sure I will blog about them soon.  Hopefully we will still be able to go to Jersey this week, though with rain forecast every day I'd better pack my umbrella!

Hope you're all having lovely weeks so far....


Lush and Clipper Tea face mask workshop

On Saturday my good friend Nicole and I went to Lush in Southampton for a face mask workshop that was part of a promotion being run by Clipper Green Tea.  The instructions on the website said to go along without make-up so they could do a skin consultation and show you a cleansing routine but as I am convinced I look like the beast of Bodmin Moor sans slap I chickened out! When we arrived we discovered that there were supposed to be two others coming to the workshop but they had dropped out so it was just me and Nicole.  Their loss was our gain as they had already measured out the ingredients to make the face mask so we got twice as much to take home with us, as you'll see at the end!

The workshop was run by a lovely lady and chap who work at Southampton Lush.  They started by explaining what all of the ingredients are that go into the one we were making - Catastrophe Cosmetic.  It has fresh blueberries in it, along with almond oil, essential oils, calamine, and talc, meaning it softens the skin, is full of antioxidants and is great for reducing irritation, deeply cleansing and soothing the skin.  We dutifully mixed up all of our ingredients in our big bowl - it was like making a cake (you can't eat it though, despite how yummy it looks!)

Here is me being excited at doing the mixing - and the fact that I got to drink a mug of green tea whilst I was doing it - thanks Clipper! (By the way, I did not notice that the button was undone on my shirt until after the photo was taken so sorry for flashing!)

Here are all the ingredients, plus some Dream Steam steamer tabs.

After we'd made our face masks, they were planning on showing us a cleansing routine using Lush products.  Unfortunately as I'd worn make up and Nicole has uber-sensitive skin, the guy helping with the workshop had to be a model whilst the lady showed us a routine using Ultrabland cleanser, Full of Grace facial serum bar and the face mask that we made (Catastrophe Cosmetic). She wasn't able to show us the steam tabs so we were given some of those to take away and try.  They also talked us through a lot of the other products in the shop and answered any questions we had about the products or any recommendations for things that would work for us.  I was so impressed by how knowledgeable they both were about all of the products, the ingredients and how they were made.

I came away with some Big Sea Salt shampoo to give my hair more volume, and a pot of the cleanser that was used in the demonstration.  I've already used the shampoo and it's absolutely great; definitely made my hair feel fuller and more uplifted and, of course, it smelt amazing.  Check out the huge tub of face mask too - I've given some to my Mum and I know Tom will be trying some out as he's quite into face washes at the moment! You have to keep it in the fridge because of all the fresh ingredients.  I've used the face mask twice since Saturday and I am so impressed; my skin felt baby soft and so soothed afterwards, I'll definitely be stocking up when my supply runs out!

All in all it was an absolutely brilliant time and we owe a huge thanks to the people at Lush Southampton.  If you want to go to a workshop, just pick up one of the promotional packs of teas (with the pink labels on) but hurry as it ends on the 28th April.

In my boohoo shopping basket

With a few little holidays coming up (a few days in Jersey next week and a week in Cornwall in June) I am feeling an urgent need to fill my wardrobe with cute new things for me to float around in the sunshine in (wishful thinking for a British holiday I know).  I always find myself gravitating towards boohoo.com in these situations - you may remember all the amazing bits I picked up in their sale a couple of months ago and I am already in love with lots of things in their Summer range.  They always have the perfect shaped dresses for my figure, nipped in at the waist with floaty skirts (if there's a Peter Pan collar or a nautical stripe too I'm sold).

Here are the things currently sitting in my basket; I just can't decide which ones to buy! The lace/denim chambray tunic [1] is definitely in, and I adore the lace collared dress with the pleated skirt [3] in particular.  Which are your favourites? Are you a fan of boohoo?

Lace Chambray Tunic | Peter Pan stripe dress
Crochet collar pleated skirt dress | Bow front skater dress
Dip hem dress | Monochrome leggings
Tie dye bodycon dress | Butterfly playsuit


Jenny Craig: Day 60

You may remember a little over a month ago I told you about my progress on the Jenny Craig diet.  In my last post I told you that Jenny Craig's PR department very kindly offered to keep me on the programme until I reached my goal weight of losing a stone.  And the exciting news is, I'm nearly there! Having been on it for two months now (I had a gap in the middle where I came off it and then started again) you might think that I could have lost more weight than I have, but the key to Jenny Craig is that it's not just about helping you lose weight whilst on the programme, it's about re-educating you about all sorts of things like portion sizes and the make-up of food on your plate, so that when you come off the diet you maintain the weight rather than piling it all back on again.  Whilst being on Jenny Craig I've lost an average of around 1-2 lbs a week, which is a good, maintainable amount, and I'm so pleased with what I've done.

So far on Jenny Craig I have lost... 10 lbs! Meaning I'm only 4 lbs now from my goal weight.  I have decided to have two weeks left on the programme before I go onto 'maintenance' where they help you maintain your weight whilst eating your own food. So I really have to get my bum in gear to shift those last few pounds over the next 14 days.

The statistics I'm most pleased with are the inches I've lost since doing the programme.  I have lost:

3.5" from my chest
3" from my waist
4" from my abdomen
3" from my hips

... that's almost 14" of Rosie that have slipped away!

One of the things I've found with this diet is how easily it is to naturally go to reward yourself with food when you reach a goal.  When I saw a number on the scales I hadn't seen for a long, long time, it was so tempted to give myself a pat on the back with one hand, and with the other reach for a bar of Galaxy! Counterproductive, I think you'd agree! So I've decided not to buy myself the bits of makeup I have sat in my Boots basket (yes there are Revlon Lip Butters, yes I am a sucker for hype) and wait until I can tick off the next two pounds to treat myself.  Obviously I'll have to think of something a bit better than that for the final two! Any suggestions? :)


Do stuff you like doing

I like wearing my penguin Kigu

I may have mentioned before that a few years ago I spent six weeks in Thailand with two friends; exploring, sunbathing, trekking and generally soaking up as much of the country as we could in the time we were there.  As you can imagine, it was a life-changing experience - not only because of all of the amazing things we saw, and did, but because it really gave me an opportunity to get to know myself.  I am a great believer in giving yourself space, and closure when making difficult decisions, and, the other side of the world... well, that's about as much space as you can get from anything that might be on your mind back home.

One of the things I realised about myself, around the third or fourth week of being away, is that as much as I love travelling and experiencing new things - the thrill of an amazing view, being amongst the hustle and bustle of a different culture, the freedom of living out of a backpack - I also really love home.  As silly as it sounds, this was kind of a scary realisation for me, and one that I felt afraid to admit.  When you're a certain age, travelling is 'the' thing to do isn't it? Your circles of friends fluctuate and change shape as people disappear off to faraway places, then return, months later, with a dark tan and woven bracelets around their wrists and ankles.  They go off to teach English in other countries, to live in huts in the jungle, to do charity work in the third world or tour countries in Asia.  So, I felt pretty stupid returning from Thailand having been struck with an epiphany than I am not a 'sling a load of clothes in your backpack and slum it for six weeks' kind of traveller, but more of a 'visit somewhere you really want to go and spend two weeks exploring' kind of traveller.  But it gets worse.  You see, whilst I was away in Thailand, I started making a mental list of all the things I missed from back home.  On this list were things like; long phone calls with my Mum, bubble baths, fleece-y pajamas, fish and chips, strawberries and cream, duvet days, 90's film marathons and curling up with a good book.  Not things like crazy drunken nights out, big parties, adrenaline fuelled weekends or going out every night of the week.  No-siree Bob.  For a long time I tried to shy away from this.  When we got back I'd still go out at the weekends, curse the hangovers (that seemed to get worse and worse) and the money I'd poured down the drain on cider and chips in pitta with cheese.

And then one day, about a year ago, I was invited to a house party where I knew almost no-one going.  It was about an hour's drive away and would mean finding a small area of carpet where I could lay my head and driving back in the morning.  Whilst frustratedly considering what to wear and typing postcodes into Google Maps it suddenly hit me.  "I'm 25. I don't have to do stuff I don't want to anymore."  So I didn't go.  And it was great.  Since then, I've fully embraced this new philosophy on life that is very complicated, hard to grasp and difficult to get your head around... [not really!] ... DO STUFF BECAUSE YOU ENJOY IT, OR DON'T DO IT.  Don't like busy nightclubs full of people spilling their drinks over you and trying to pull each other? Don't go. Spend house parties sitting on the stairs pretending to text people and wondering when it's acceptable to leave? Don't bother going at all! Of course, there are times when you have to sacrifice what you want to do and put other people first; to be there for friends or family, or to make someone else happy.  But don't do things just because you feel you have to; there are not enough hours in the day for that approach to life.

These days, I make lots of time for things I know make me happy.  Nothing is more important than doing that.  Here are some things topping my list at the moment.

+ cuddles on the sofa with the dog
+ long bubble baths with Lush goodies
+ seeing my Mum and Dad
+ getting home in time to walk the dog and watch the sun go down
+ having friends round for yummy dinners
+ going to bed an hour early and getting cosy under the bedspread with my Kindle
+ packing my camera and going for an adventure in the forest with the boyfriend
+ going for weekends away in the camper van
+ growing seeds and pottering in the garden
+ big mugs of peppermint tea
+ dedicating an hour to sitting and reading all my favourite blogs
+ my favourite fleece-y Primark pajamas
+ sending and receiving post
+ writing lists
+ watching TV box sets [currently watching: dexter, cougar town, the wire]

Whenever I'm having a stressful week at work or all of the things on my to do list are getting on top of me, I take a deep breath, clear the schedule and make time to do these things.  It makes everything better.  What's on your list of things that make you happy?


The great garden project - unveiled!

Anyone who follows me on Twitter or has visited here recently will have witnessed me wittering on about 'The Great Garden Project' - a.k.a the project to turn the garden from a place full of weeds and old paving slabs to a place where we can sit and enjoy the sunshine and grow lots of flowers and veggies (not such a snappy title).  I wish we'd taken some 'Before' photos when we moved in really, because what you're seeing in the photos below is nothing like when we first moved in.  When we moved in the weeds were about waist high across the whole garden and the borders either side were full of bushes and trees and so overgrown we didn't even know how big the garden really was.  So it took a lot of work to even get it looking like this, which is what it looked like until a week ago when we started on it.

Last Saturday we started yanking up the paving slabs, pulling up weeds and laying gravel.  After a week of working on it every evening, several trips to the dump, one big fire and a trip to B&Q, it now looks like this... (Cyber drum roll please!)

What do you think? I am absolutely in love with it; its going to be such an awesome place to sit outside and entertain friends when it warms up a bit! There is still a lot to do (we need to paint the shed and the fences and get rid of all the paving slabs) but it was ready for its first entertaining yesterday when my family visited for a barbecue! Of course we toasted the garden with some bubbles and rolled out the bunting!

I can't wait till the beds and the borders are full of flowers, it's going to look so lovely! What do you think? I love it so much I keep going out and looking at it - do you do that when you've done something new in your house?