January Diary

Spent last week of 2018 in slothful idleness eating Christmas Day leftovers and chocolates, reading books and enjoying the sunrise while taking Morris Leader of the Fox Terriers for short walks. Almost missed marking the start of 2019 as preoccupied having fun with good friends, though general agreement was that exact timing is desirable but not essential.

Spent much of first week of 2019 clearing Christmas Barn of remaining stock and shop fittings. All now boxed, labelled and stored away. Found decapitated fairy head behind shelving, another victim of unforgiving concrete floor. Tried to reduce amount of glitter on 2018 Christmas ornaments but still much glitter to sweep up. This year will try even harder. Will also challenge suppliers on packaging as there is too much that cannot be recycled.

Have abandoned knitted blanket for time being as only dingy colours of waste wool left. Will pick up again later when brighter coloured wool to hand. Been patching trousers as alternative “something to do with my hands in the evening” project. Revelling in joy of visible mending and making most of time while grandchildren are too young to be embarrassed by it. Overjoyed to discover that easiest way to turn over edges and keep patch in place while sewing is to use glue stick. Much easier than pins. Fewer bloodstains left too. Probably better way to temporarily fix hem than previous method of using office stapler.

Have compiled photograph book for 2018. Fairly eventful year for the family, especially with all the house moves, though much seems to have gone unphotographed. Those photographs taken now uploaded and book awaited. Content that if all technology fails will always have proper book of photos for every year. [Note to self: Spend more time lazing in a hammock in 2019.]

A good start to the year.

December Diary

As usual, December has passed in a blur and find myself surprised that Christmas Day is just over a week away. How did that happen?

 Have been trying to find balance between keeping Decorations Barn look reasonably full against not having to carry over too much stock to next year. Shelves looking a little bare but not as empty as Christmas Tree Barn, which has very few trees left (hurrah!).

Very glad to see back of dancing, singing moose from Decorations Barn. Fun to see reaction of customers who walked close enough to trigger moose to wiggle his hips and sing Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells Rock but a little wearing when children worked out how to activate him. Again and again. Suspect family who bought him may have already unplugged him several times. Perversely, rather miss his singing now he’s gone. A little.



 Called the bluff of all the witty customers who saw the sign outside


 and asked for gin wreath. Not a wreath to hang on the front door if it is to stay intact.


Reached sparkle and glitter saturation and cut foliage for making natural wreaths. Cut back thyme that had grown leggy and tied woody growth into loose knot to make tiny wreaths. Added extra herbs to make wreath bouquet garni to hang in kitchen and save traipsing outside in cold and wet.


Decided to entertain two-year old with printing. Made great mess with rubber stamps and ink. Used excess ink on hands to make thumbprint robin prints. Took longer to clear up than do the printing and rather regretted not using washable ink.


Buoyed with success of autumnal stationery printing, decided to make and decorate Fold & Send Mail letters for Christmas. Subsequently, enjoyed time sitting quietly in the evenings writing letters. Even received letter in reply. Forgot how good it is to get handwritten letters instead of email and texts. Got carried away and masqueraded as Father Christmas. Thankfully, received no reply to that letter so won’t have to attempt sleigh ride and slide down chimney.

Realised that last gift ordering dates imminent and house has no Christmas decorations up. Searched out checklist for Christmas dinner. Wondered if time has come (after twenty years) to change slightly.  Continue to wonder.

Plenty of time to decide.

Life in Mud Spattered Boots

Hello! You’re still out there. Come in, take a seat. We must catch up. It’s been so long since I was last here*.

Last year, I deserted Life in Mud Spattered Boots to write at Slamseys Journal. The idea was to continue to write about the same things but also to include printmaking tips and provide some inspirational resources, which we hoped would be particularly useful for people who were coming to Slamseys printing workshops.

Over the past year, two things have become apparent.

ONE  I know very little about printing, which has resulted in a dearth of useful printmaking tips and inspirational resources.

TWO I should have heeded Rowena’s advice. Rowena left the final comment on the blog last year: “I also see the need for your own space. A place you can call home and express yourself as you wish without having to conform to the company line.

Luckily, both are easily remedied. Firstly, Ruth is going to join me at Slamseys Journal, so that she can write about printmaking and I can write about the farm. Secondly, I’m resurrecting Life in Mud Spattered Boots where I can write about whatever takes my fancy, like a sort of online Commonplace Book, so that even if nobody else reads it, at least I can flick back to find the recipe I need or see when we started harvest in previous years.

I know it’s very old fashioned to write a personal blog (instead of a content driven monetised blog with sponsored posts, adverts and pop up forms) for the pleasure of doing something creative and being part of a community of like-minded people, but lately, a few other previously neglected personal blogs have been revived and I’m happy to join in.

Shall we just rewind to Commonplace Book? I’ve been keeping these for years, though until recently, I didn’t know that’s what they were called. They were just my Black Book, or whatever colour it happened to be at the time, in which I  jot down recipes, ideas, lists, measurements, planting plans for the garden, times and distances for walks, daily routine for a one year old, lesson plan for a jelly printing class … a hotchpotch of ‘Useful Information’. Occasionally, I even write useful quotes, like

Write down things that matter and free your brain for other things.

though I’d forgotten about that until I came upon it when trying to find a recipe last week.

Commonplace books aren’t logical records of events like diaries but more a record of useful information. Take notes in them, copy  recipes or write down ideas before you forget them. Fill your commonplace book with illustrations, photographs and cuttings.  If you’re of a logical disposition, divide your commonplace book into sections, number each page and make a list of contents. Use a beautifully bound book or a cheap notebook or index cards or Evernote. The commonplace book is a repository for information and one that lasts a lot longer than the back of an envelope.

This blog (I hate that word and wish I could find a better one) will be rather more organised and less random than my written commonplace book. A seasonal celebration, with a bit of cooking and some gardening. A walk or two. A few crafts. Maybe the odd random post.

But generally, it will be about life spent in mud spattered boots.

*I’ve slipped in a couple of posts that were previously published in Slamseys Journal just to fill in the yawning gap between last July and this post.

Keep What You Love


Farm track in March

Spring has arrived. The violets and primroses are in flower, tiny buds are forming on the hedgerows and the fields are drying out. Best of all, today the sun is shining. (Heavy rain and overnight frosts are forecast for the rest of the week but I’m ignoring that.)

With the advent of spring there was a need to clear the decks and set about a little spring cleaning.

Every room in the house was cleared. No room escaped. No cupboard left untouched.

My aim was “Keep What You Love”. Not in a Marie Kondo type purge that I may later regret (though I do like her clothes folding technique) but more of a Jane Goldney @LempobeeI’ve done a big ol’ purge of china dishes and nicknack-y things and it feels good.