Tiddler and Fox News


  • Goodbye Summer And Hello Autumn

    I've just seen a post by a friend on Facebook saying goodbye to the last bank holiday of the year and hello Christmas. Well, I've already been guilty of talking about Christmas this year and it's very much on my mind as I'm in the planning stages now, but this week definitely does herald a change. Not only in the fact that kids go back to school but that autumn is just around the corner and a whole new season is about to start.

    GoodBye Summer and Hello Autumn by Tiddler & Fox

    Retailers are already advertising and stocking their autumn winter ranges and although its about 24 degrees here I'm looking forward to getting the boots and jumpers out again and lighting the fire. Good excuse to stay in and drink wine too....!

    So I thought I would have a little look back over the summer (what we've had so far, you never know, it might have some mileage in it yet!) and all the things I've been up to. It's easy to forget the good stuff when you are looking forward all the time, which I tend to do, in a very positive way; I'm always moving forward. And I thought I would share a few photos taken today in the garden, I wanted to make the most of the flowers that are still going strong and the sedum which is now in coming into flower and being appreciated by the bees. 

    So, I've met some amazing customers and fellow traders after 11 craft fairs, markets and family events attended since the start of June (plenty more to go, see this page for a full list) and I always come away having learnt so much from those around me, what products to stock, how much better I could be at selling, how we should be erecting the gazebo....and the list goes on.

    There has been auctions and networking meetings, coffee with friends, family and friends to dinner and lunch, friends to stay and children running round the garden. A fab spa day with a friend (so good!), dinners out, a lot of early morning walks in the all the lovely sunshine we've had. A trip to Cornwall, a beer festival and a trip to Fleet Air Arm Museum. Phew!  

    When you look back you realise just how much you have done, when it is easy to think that actually you've done nothing and been nowhere...simply not true!

    And looking forward? Well, we have a few days away with family to Devon in September, so a dry spell then would be great as it means my nephews will be happy pottering on the beach. More fairs and markets, with a break in October so I can be fully prepared for Christmas (there's that word again!), more networking and auctions to go to, furniture to paint and I'm moving into a new Emporium too - details to follow!

    But the best thing about the change from summer to autumn is being able to get cosy at home. Appreciating the comforts of home and family, having a comfortable space full of people and things we love, a roaring log fire to warm up by and hot drinks and lovely comforting dishes to eat. I love getting out my wintery recipes and having stews and casseroles made in the slow cooker, yummy roasts, lots of winter veg, hot chocolate, Baileys coffee, I'm already feeling hungry but now I'm starving!

    I hope its not just me that loves the simple things in life and gets a great deal of joy and satisfaction from being able to provide lovely meals for family and providing a safe and cosy home too. 

    Autumn also brings with it harvest festival, Halloween and Bonfire Night, all great celebrations and time for family to come together to share food and drink. Really looking forward to making a 'Bonfire Cake' this year for my nephews and I always have a go at carving a pumpkin for them too. Thanks to Pinterest there are always great ideas for that. I will share my creations with you, just don't laugh! 

    So what are you looking forward to most this autumn, let me know in the comments.

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  • I realise it's been a while since I talked about my gardening journey, specifically the veg I've been growing, so I thought a little update wouldn't go amiss. So, the broad bean plants are no more. They got annihilated by the slugs on one rainy day so had to be pulled. To be fair, we had all the beans we were likely to get off them anyway, which actually was a lot so I wasn't too bothered!

    My Journey of Discovery Otherwise Known as Gardening Part 3 by Tiddler & Fox

    The peas continue to produce plenty and it's such a treat to be able to go into the garden, pull a pod and scoff the contents there and then, they are so sweet and it's been lovely to have been able to show my two nephews, aged 5 and 6 where peas and beans come from and they love eating peas from the pod too. They are both very happy boys when given a task to do, so not long ago I had them diligently shelling beans and peas and we had silence for at least 15 minutes!

    The next crop that is a bit exciting and is probably my favourite are the tomatoes. They have finally ripened! After last weeks heat and sunshine here in Somerset, they are coming on nicely. We had the first of the crop last night, roasted with salmon and they tasted amazing. So much more flavour than shop bought toms and so fresh when you can walk into the garden and just pick them straight from the vine. There is a lot of fruit on the plants so we should be picking toms right into October at this rate. 

    The peppers are coming on really well too. This year has been the best crop I've had. Not sure if that's to do with me or just good quality plants!! I'm really looking forward to eating those. The ones I grew last year tasted out of this world, they weren't very big but what they lacked for in size they more than made up for in taste. And I've tried a new variety this year which are the miniature peppers. If they both go well, I will be growing those again as believe me, it's easy!!

    The rest of the garden needs a little bit of attention. Its a funny time of year July as the best of the flowers, roses etc go over and you are left with a garden looking a bit 'blousy' so I should get and tidy.

    I did notice these beautiful blooms as I was outside earlier, no idea what this plant is but it does well every year and produces these gorgeous flowers so I just let it get on with it!

    I do sometimes have help from my expert gardener mother but she's been on holiday so has her own garden to tidy (all one acre of it!) so I'm waiting patiently (not that patiently...!) for her to come and help me with the front garden.

    I'll have to bribe her with lunch or something...I have to admit my parents are brilliantly supportive and great at 'doing' stuff for me. This weekend saw me selling at the Glastonbury Brocante and Vintage Fair and they came along to help me set up and take down, which is asking a lot of my mum to be out of bed before 8am on a Sunday I can tell you!

    Back to the veg...do you have any good recipes for tomatoes? I tend to be very simple about it, just roasted with some olive oil or a simple salad with balsamic and basil does it, nothing to take away the taste of home grown toms. Let me know if I should be trying any new recipes, speaking of which I ought to start on this evenings meal! 

    Until next time x


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  • Back in mid April I talked about my renewed love of gardening having moved into a rental house a couple of years ago with a fabulous garden but one that had been left to its own devices for years and needed a lot of tlc.

    After months of weeding, sowing grass etc it looked ok and we have been adding to it ever since. One thing that I was very happy about though was the little greenhouse that sat happily in the garden. After a good clean, it's been a great place to grow peppers and tomatoes these past two summers. I love home grown toms and I don't know about you but the smell of the vine really is the smell of summer.

    My Journey of Discovery Otherwise Known as Gardening Part 2

    So this year I decided that the garden needed a veg patch which we dug in April and in went broad bean plants, followed by peas and beetroot. Well, actually the beetroot went into the new grasses border as there wasn't room in the veg patch! They are growing so they must be happy there.

    Today, on a dryish day for the first time in about 10 days, I've been tending to the veg, weeding and renewing the marigolds (planted to deter greenfly...thanks dad!), putting down more slug pellets and staking the beans a bit better. All this rain has been brilliant for growth but bashes the plants completely and they needed a bit of support. I have to admit that it's not the prettiest staking ever but should do the job and amazingly, as you can see in the photos, there are beans aplenty! Can't wait to scoff them!

    Broad Beans in the Tiddler & Fox Garden

    The greenhouse has also had some attention today, again taking off leaves on the tomato plants in order to let in light and also stops the plant putting too much energy into unproductive leaves rather than the fruit and they also needed to be supported a bit better too. You also need to pluck out the suckers that grow between branches as they too take energy away from the main plant.

    Tomatoes in the Tiddler & Fox Greenhouse

    The pepper plants are looking pretty good this year, better than last year. I have two varieties in there, one bell pepper, the type we buy in the supermarket and also a miniature pepper just for something different, which should be much sweeter and are also orange in colour.

    The cats love it when we are outdoors with them, but being the curious kittens they are, can sometimes get in the way and get a bit too close to the slug pellets so I have placed them under plant pots resting on stones....so the slugs can get them but the cats can't.

    Bailey got so excited this afternoon, she shot up a tree, only to then get stuck and took a good half hour to make her way down, the final seven feet or so only managed because I got her down...I know...ridiculous animal! How many cats do you know that are not good with heights!? I only know one...

    Anyway, I've also spent some time looking for some lovely recipes for broad beans, peas and beetroot and found some great salad recipes on our trusted friend Pinterest. If you would like some inspiration for summer recipes and not just ones that contain broad beans, then hop over to my Pinterest board 'Summer Recipes', find it here: http://bit.ly/263zTN3

    Hopefully, I can show you the bean, pea, tomato, pepper and beetroot harvest in a few weeks time and the yummy recipes I've used it all in.

    Peas in the Tiddler & Fox Garden

    I'm loving this journey and the promise of home grown veg to come, with the satisfaction that I grew them and they are totally organic too. Last year we had a good crop of toms and peppers but I have a feeling this year will be better. With each year I'm learning more and know how to look after the plants a little bit better. The best things in life really are the simplest aren't they?

    Until next time...

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  • So Spring has arrived in Somerset, with a few momentous April showers thrown in for good measure, it's definitely feeling warmer and more inviting outside. We have finally got round to digging our new veg patch, it's just been too cold and wet up until now and the broad bean plants are ready to go in the ground. I had planned to get them in today (as the sun is actually shining) but after yesterdays rain; just too wet to play!

    Broad Bean Plants in the Tiddler and Fox Garden     New veg patch in the Tiddler and Fox garden

    So they are patiently waiting to be planted into their new home. And before you ask, yes there are quite a few plants here, thanks to my expert gardener Dad. As the other half pointed out 'I don't like broad beans that much!' Likely to be giving some away I think - that is if they grow at all!

    It's an exciting time of year and this being my first attempt at a veg patch, it will be an interesting journey of discovery too. I've always been keen to have a nice garden having grown up with uber keen gardeners for parents but found my own love of gardening about 15 years ago. But life gets in the way and you find other things take priority over planting and tending to your patch.

    But then when we moved into our house a couple of years ago I had the chance to revive that love. The garden had been neglected for years (it's a rental property, so hardly surprising the garden was left to it's own devices) and I spent many many hours clearing it, planting, sowing grass, tidying and trying to make it a nice place to be. If I had a pile of cash and a lot more time on my hands it would look a lot different. Well, I like to think it would look like something out of Chelsea Flower Show but I'm not that good - or dedicated!

    But ours is still a nice garden. Constantly being added to, but we enjoy being out there and the cats love it too. Spot the kittens in our garden enjoying today's sun:

    The Tiddler and Fox Garden

    There is something very satisfying about gardening don't you think? That process of planting and watching something grow, be transformed and knowing that it was your hard work that produced that lovely veg or beautiful flower.

    And that is also how I feel about my business. The hard work, the 24/7 thinking about the business, tweeting, taking photos, trying to be creative all the time (almost impossible) but I know that as it grows and flourishes, the fruits of my labours will be plain to see and I'll have the same sense of satisfaction of having grown a successful enterprise.

    So I continue on my journey of discovery and make sure that there is always plenty of coffee to keep me going!

    And kittens to keep me company in the office as well as rushing about the garden.

    Teasel enjoying the sunshine in the Tiddler and Fox garden

    I did a bit of reading about gardening having been thinking about how positive it makes me feel and came across a few interesting facts. According to the Horticultural Trades Association, in the UK we spend about £5 billion on products and plants for our 22 million domestic gardens, with the over 40's spending twice as much as younger people. (yep thats me!) 

    If you placed all those gardens together, they would be roughly the same size as Somerset. And if that wasn't enough random facts, all the compost bought each year in the UK would fill the Olympic stadium!

    In terms of the health benefits of gardening there have been many studies worldwide and a general consensus seems to be that not only is it a good overall workout but it can improve mental health and well being with gardeners less likely to develop dementia and they experience a higher sense of self esteem. Bonus! Right better get those gloves on...or maybe a cup of coffee first...?!

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