Often while I am away for my summer holidays, I hatch a plan for my annual autumn project. Somehow sitting on a sun-lounger, reading and relaxing takes my mind off to a place where I seek to improve things on my return home. They tend to be house or garden related and have included over the past few years the following, with a rating system out of 10:
1. Create a little sitting room area in the playroom where I can relax with my gardening books and a cuppa on cold winter afternoons: √√√√√√√√√
This turned out to be a winner – it looks pretty, is tidy and, when the kids aren’t in the room watching TV, it is a haven for me.
2. Make 3 raised vegetable beds at the very top of the garden: √√√√
Although beautifully built by my friend’s husband, Bradley, they have been rather useless due to their position (under a massive tree, so shaded and very dry – but it was the only place they could have gone). However, all is not necessarily lost as I subsequently learnt that raspberries might well thrive there with a bit of tender loving care. So far, so promising.
3. Tidy up and re-organise the study (where I am writing this): √√√√√√√√√
I bought cheap and cheerful stationery holders/organisers from Ikea, all in one colour, got rid of mountains of old paperwork that was not needed anymore ( e.g. bank statements from the last century ~ all shredded and added to my many compost heaps). This is now a lovely space in the house – quiet, well lit (thanks to a beautiful Anglepoise lamp bought by Granny Bee for my birthday) and perfect for getting on with writing and admin.
4. Completely refurbish one of the Baby Bee’s bedrooms: √√√√√√√√√√
For this project I had a lengthy deadline of 4 months, so had a huge amount of fun buying junk/charity shop items, chalk paints and doing much of the work myself. It is now the nicest room in the house. When it is tidy………
5. Get a greenhouse. √√√√√√√√√√
This meant coercing various members of the family over a period of months to come on board to make it a very special 50th birthday present for me. We built the concrete base ourselves (thanks to 2 of the Baby Bees who seemed to know what to do, despite the land being on a slight slope) and the ever-generous Mr Bee who persuaded me to get a bigger greenhouse than I originally thought I would need. Many a plant has been raised from seed since I got it, and it too is a retreat of peace and industriousness with the added benefit of divine, fresh tomatoes.
6. Buy an Eglu and have a few chickens. √√√√√√√√√√
One of the best autumn projects without a doubt. While the Eglu (https://www.omlet.co.uk/) was quite pricey, it is a very solid piece of engineering, is easy to clean and I think, healthier for the chooks than a wooden alternative. My chickens (~ over the years: Molly, Bidge, Gertrude, Emily, Florence, Edie, and my current pair, Alabama and Georgia) have come and gone. Illnesses, pecking and a fox have all been problems so we have had our ups and downs, but when they are producing fresh eggs and entertaining me, there is no better pet. Characterful, sweet, cheeky and great fun. The chooks are also an example of an autumn project idea (get a micro-pig) which was vetoed after some proper research.
This year I took my summer holiday early, so my autumn project has already begun, despite it only still being mid-July. Of course, this might leave time for another one later in the year – I am looking at you, laundry room.
On my recent travels I visited some very good friends in NZ. They have an amazing eye for design, have built an award-winning house in one of the most beautiful spots of this earth and are the best hosts I have ever encountered. I had a sneaky look in their purpose-built pantry/utility room and realised my kitchen storage, such as it is, was due for some serious work and a very big tidy up. We have lived in this house for 15 years, and the kitchen cupboards were full to brimming with equipment, bakeware, utensils, not to mention food. Every item is in the process of being taken out, examined for its worthiness to stay (not been used in the past 18 months? ~ fare thee well) cleaned and audited.
Before and after photos of the main food cupboard below:
Kilner jars (http://www.kilnerjar.co.uk/) are my new best friend, as is clear labelling and good cupboard storage solutions (Lakeland have some good products if you can avoid buying even more equipment to fill said cupboards while you are looking at their site http://www.lakeland.co.uk/). Shoe boxes and old biscuit tins are also very useful.
Spring-cleaning has never been big with me, but autumn, with its feeling (in the UK at least where the new academic year commences) of new beginnings, is my time to find a worthwhile project and enjoy making small but significant improvements to my home and garden.
Let me know if you have similar projects, whether in spring or autumn, or just when you can make time.
There are some good pics and ideas here if you are looking for some kitchen inspiration:
Annie Bee x