Saturday, 23 July 2016

Summer fun

We are enjoying the sunshine here in Warwickshire and having just returned from 12 days away in France I cannot believe the change in the garden!! It's as though the plants have been on steroids!!

Canoeing on the Dordogne ...

The Motley Crew En Francais...

After a lovely break away its always nice to get back and look at things afresh - I'm also very inspired by some things I've seen both home and garden...

The next thing on our list - getting some decorating done.

It's surprising how already some rooms are looking tatty!  In fact there are lengths of skirting board and architrave that didn't get painted in the first instance?..
And so I finally finished the hall last week!

Next job the lounge: 

We have decided after painting everywhere white to add some colour in the open plan lounge, dining, kitchen -well if you can call it colour? It's really just a neutral by Farrow & Ball.
I am also going to put up some curtains at the back of the house; you can see from the photo that whilst it's nice having a real open and light aspect at the back, when it's dark and the lights are on we do feel a bit exposed. 
I'm amazed though at the cost of curtains.  Having always made my own I thought I'd 'treat myself' and have some made or buy some from John Lewis..... Ok that was a shock!!..

* this is not our kitchen! Image taken from Pinterest - it shows the colour we have chosen!

The one room in the house that has not proven to work is the utility room.  It's turned out to be a very dark room, with poor natural light as the verandah over shadows it. The worktop I chose is dark wood & although we bought the same high gloss units as the main kitchen we opted for dark grey; as we had 2 dogs at the time, we thought that it would be their 'domain' - it turned out with the thermal store it is much too warm in there (and in the house generally - no complaints!!)
So we have decided to rethink it all and replace the grey with white high gloss doors.
IKEA kitchen units do not work with standard (bought elsewhere) worktop so we will have to replace it with an ikea worktop. This will mean getting a new one cut out for the sink!! 
..... it's really our only rookie mistake!! 

I think Richard and I seem to like a deadline and as we have guests at the end of September we'll hopefully get all these jobs completed by then?! 😳😊😎

The garden evolves as time passes and at the moment I'm just nurturing the plants and trees that are in. 
We have many future plans & ideas like a large wisteria covered pergola and a Japanese influenced Koi pond and deck area in front of my studio -  perhaps we'll have this done in time for the NGS Open Gardens next May......😂😂😂😵

We are finally ready to do the drive - oh how we have longed for this bit!!
It makes the house look very unfinished and as I'm sure I've mentioned before; it's the one question we are asked over and over - "what are you doing with the drive"!!

We are meeting with Paul our builder this week to discuss as we do need to get it done before the winter - this is the sort of thing we're going to do:

And finally I've decided after returning from France to have a much needed month off during September (I'll be recuperating after an op so a great excuse!!). I'm planning to spend some time developing my textile workshops for the Autumn and completing some of the sewing projects I've started! 

I'll be back very soon with updates, thanks for reading my blog 

Wendi x


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Spring into Summer

May arrived with its typical weather - lots of rain and sunshine! We had such a cold start and I'd noticed this particularly with the plants, they just didn't want to grow! 
With open gardens fast approaching I'd been walking around my borders and beds willing the plants to grow, but then we had a bit of a tropical spell so I walked round again willing them to hold off!
As it turned out they looked great for the weekend of open gardens. 


We had such a wonderful event - raising over £7000 and welcoming up to 1000 visitors. Never in. Y wildest dreams did I imagine we have had 100's of people in the garden...

We've had obviously been slogging away on the external landscaping in the weeks leading up to May 29/30th and although there was a fair amount of pressure, it was good to have a deadline. 
We were quite realistic about it all though and knew that we wouldn't have a finished garden (if there is such a thing?) but felt confident that as part of 11 gardens opening we would be an interesting contribution as a new garden. 

We still have a fair bit to do in the garden and of course not forgetting the front driveway - our most asked question is "when will the driveway be completed?" - it simply has to be the last thing as once the gravel is down we don't want diggers and lorries driving up it, but I do feel it's time - we do look rather unkept and as I'm very involved in 'Pebworth In Bloom' feel a tad embarrassed!

Things have slowed in the house as now there are only a few snagging items to be done and we have a new deadline! Our good friends from Germany are coming to stay again at the end of September - they were our first guests in the house and helped to finish the kitchen. This time we have a garden project for them and a textile workshop planned...

Maple Barn Studio is getting busier and I have 5 workshops booked so far. I'm full of inspiration and am looking forward to a well earned rest in August when I hope to get more creative time.

I went on a wonderful print workshop myself last week at Rapture and Wright. We designed a 'block' (in this instance a linocut) and worked out a repeat pattern. Cut a stencil and added this to a screen.
I printed my design onto a really thick linen fabric and plan to make two cushions 

Have a look at if you are interested.


Contact me at if you are interested in y workshops.

Will be back here soon with more news... In the meantime thank you for reading our blog and share it with your friends and family.

Wendi x

Thursday, 7 April 2016

March Madness & April Showers

Another 2 months have passed and we have been beavering away- taking advantage of the good weather, lighter nights and really getting on with the exterior landscaping.
First of all We had a digger and powered wheelbarrow and took out a skip full of the horrid clay replacing it with 6 tonnes of lovely dark top soil. Once that went in I could start with the planting - I'd been planning this for a while and had drawn up exact plans. It's hard to resist just filling every space as even a single perennial can go from a tiny plug plant to a foot across in one growing season so I'm restraining myself - I am totally obsessed with buying plants though!!!
We have also added a small box (buxus sempervivum) along the top edge of the lawn and sleepers. Fingers crossed we aren't attacked by the newest pest in the UK the box tree caterpillar and/or box blight  that would be an expensive problem! 

Our Indian flagstones were delivered from Cowley Stone just before Good Friday and we invited a few friends round to help or supervise! It was likely that we'd have too many bodies as its a slow process laying flagstones but we kept them happy with cups of tea and beer! 
The weather did hold off that day but we weren't so lucky for the next few days so progressed slowed again.. 
But the terrace is looking fabulous, it's far larger than I anticipated and we will have to have a huge table and lots of chairs for outdoor entertaining.  There are a few positions around where the sun is at different points during the day so we'll need quite a few seats!

Richard and Raffe preparing to lay the first flagstones

Tea break & lots of discussion...

Richard and Alex working in the rain!

Also this month I've planted trees that I've always wanted. It's hard enough to resist plants but trees.... - I do have to consider the mature tree size but I think I've room for a few more?! So far I've planted a Eucalyptus paciflora niphophila, a Ginko Biloba, and Prunus Amanagowa. 

We plan on finishing the veranda area - when it rains we take cover and work here! All the joists are now in place and this weekend we'll use the scaffold boards that were once surrounding the house as a decked area - got to love a bit of upcycling especially when there's a story! 

I'm really looking forward to this as it'll be a really valuable space to watch the sunset and drink a glass of fizz or 2!

I'm looking for some quirky seating and have lots of styling ideas..I do already have these lights though!

One of our chickens died this week leaving behind Gladys Emanuelle a buff Orpington so we went to the fabulous Newland Poultry near Malverm & bought 2 new chickens - an Amber Star called Marilyn and a Copper Star called Ruby.

Here's Marilyn enjoying the garden - she's super friendly!

Also this week I ran my first print and stitch workshop, I was apprehensive as the entry up to the studio is still a bit muddy and I felt the studio wasn't "finished" enough etc etc but decided to bite the bullet and it was fantastic. I had three ladies who enjoyed printing and stitching and a nice lunch to boot! 
I'm now getting the next one if interested?

 I'll sign off now - loads to be getting on with, I love being busy!

See you in May!

Wendi x

Friday, 29 January 2016

January - a new year, a new resolve...

... A tad ambitious perhaps?!! No I shall remain positive and certainly have good intentions to plan and achieve this year....

We have in fact achieved a great deal on our snagging list (it's 2 X A4 sheets both sides!!) - they are tedious little jobs that give little satisfaction but nevertheless need to be done.

Grouting the main open plan floor was on my list, I've nearly fiished it - it's black grout, so extremely messy and quite limiting if too large an area is done at once. Most people are really quite surprised that it's a tiled floor as it does look convincingly wooden! We chose a tile as it retains the heat from the under floor heating really well.

We have also started our ensuite shower room - having chosen our tiles (much debate between me who is always right and OH) we opted for 'Indas Copper' from Topps tiles. It's such a huge expense that getting it right can be a minefield. 
Choosing something bang on trend can often be more costly in the long run as fashions change so quickly. We decided that choosing a more classic tile was best and we could update the bathroom in the future with less upheaval & expense. Also tile technology is so far advanced nowadays, allowing you to chose 'look a likey' slate etc making a real cost saving.

I just saw this photo online and had to post it here....

We have also made the decision to put in underfloor heating - OH went to a networking event this week (I digress slightly!) and he was asked that question - " what would you do differently if you did it again "
Not an easy one to answer as money is constantly the reason for doing or not doing stuff and money can't change. BUT .. I would definitely put in heating upstairs if we did it again; we currently have heated towel rails in bathrooms but no other form of heat.
We were told that the SIPS panels are so good that the house wouldn't need any heating at all due to insulating properties.
This is the case in the main part and it retains heat beautifully but it does feel chilly in the bedrooms, healthy I know but we did build for comfort!

Anyway, back to the ensuite - we have decided to install underfloor heating in the actual shower and along the walk through, area in front of loo and sinks. Here's a photo of the initial installation, more progress photos to follow...

We have to now decide on lighting - so so important and we need to get it right. There is very little info available for this. We think (initially) that we will do a false canopy of lights above the sinks and mirror. A main central feature light & lights in the shower. We also like runway lighting - we'll probably add this on a PIR for nocturnal visits to the loo! 

We continue to look out on the garden, patio and driveway project through the windows - weather has prevented any work and it's simply soggy!!! These are my shoes on a daily basis: 

Cleaning wet clay off suede shoes - I need to google that I think!!!

On the studio front - 
I've been trying to do some work in this last month:  I managed to make a nice wool tunic and some cushions for our sofa!

 I'm planning a few workshops from May/June onwards and printing and embroidering a cushion will be one of them. Here's a sneak peak of one in progress...

I'm looking forward to some Spring days but at least the nights are drawing out a little. Slightly fed up with the wind though? Hurricane whoever next?..

I'll sign off now and hope to be back in February with an update, thanks for dropping in!

Wendi x

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Merry Christmas from Maple Barn!

Here at Maple barn we are continuing on with the long list of snagging items - this keeps us busy most weekends along with all the activities we are involved with in Pebworth!

One of the events I took part in this year was a Christmas wreath making workshop - it was hosted by Sarah Malleson from Hidcote gardens and I must say I was very pleased with my result!

This Christmas period we plan to start our master ensuite bathroom. We have chosen the tiles (picture below) and already have had the bathroom suite for over two years now! 
Updates on our progress to follow...

Not much happening in the garden (for obvious reasons!) the weather here is very mild but extremely windy.
We do have so much planned for the new year - keep watching!!

We had to have an air tightness test recently (another requirement for sign off)   We scored really well and it's nice to know that we are achieving our eco-status albeit slowly

All the festivities and decorations are adorning Maple Barn: The tree is up & the banister is decorated!
We even have lights on the outside of our house now, quite difficult to take a photograph of this but it actually looks like a gingerbread house!

And so, we both wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year - the blog will continue on as we have progress.
Thank you for reading the blog and supporting us during our journey 

Wendi x

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Autumn update

Another busy few months has whizzed past! We've had a huge village fete, a significant birthday, a mini holiday and not much work done!!

Progress as a result resumes this weekend: The remaining sleepers have been delivered and as I type are being installed - photos will be added later!

The steps are nearly finished, it's been a case of dodging the weather and fitting it in between other commitments but as you can see we are nearly at the top!

 David Austin roses are another passion - Here's Jude the Obscure still flowering profusely in November?!! It's fabulous!

For my significant birthday in October my lovely kids bought me a Lutyens bench - something I'd always wanted! ( Lutyens bench in the lounge! )

My parents bought me a gorgeous marble topped table and cast iron chairs. 
All steam ahead then with the garden design plans, lots and lots of plants and bulbs gone in and the odd tree.

I now need to paint the base and the chairs. Can't decide play safe and keeping with the Scandinavian theme - grey? Keep it locally themed and go with Cotswold green or stamp my personality and go with a wacky bright colour!??... 

I also had a surprise birthday party at home and was presented with this fabulous cake! 

Last week I had a knock on the door and a chap selling aerial photos tried to make me part with a considerable amount of money - now I'm not famed for my negotiating skills but I did get him to reduce the price significantly as how could I possibly resist? I know it shows the property unfinished but when would we ever get an aerial shot at this stage of the build again!? 
Fingers crossed we'll get a finished one in the future!

The front fence is now complete and it all feels much more private. We still haven't got any gravel down as this is the very last thing - allowing delivery vehicles is still a priority and they simply refuse to drive up a gravel drive? Sounds stupid but sadly another fact with self build. 
It wil be very satisfying when it happens - technically we'll have finished!

And now as usual I have to add my inspirational photos - although this one is a bit of a pipe dream! We have given up on our plans for a pond as our last large Koi carp died (we came here with 14!) the heron finally got him through the net. We still had 20 or so goldfish who have been rehomed in my Dads pond. 
This is the kind of thing we dream of having - imagine...from my studio onto a decked area, looking over a pond? We'll see....

In the meantime much more of a reality is the patio area and raised terraced beds! I feel this is so close now and with Open Gardens in May we are both working hard to make this 'look' happen.

I love these shallow planters with 'hairy' grasses

The house itself has multiple snagging lists of jobs and of course jobs that we haven't ever managed to get  around to; floors to grout, lots of painting, shelving, doors, skirting all sorts! 

I have been trying to make some time to get my studio straightened out. I'm currently working on a couple of projects and do have some workshops lined up - I just need the 'walk to' the studio to be a bit safer! 
Have a look on my Facebook page Maple Barn Studio for more information.

And finally Village news: Pebworth won a gold award in the Heart of England RHS Britain in Bloom small village category! Here I am (3rd from left) with my fellow committee members: Jenny, Jean & Yvonne - huge amounts of hard work is done around the village by a small group of people, keeping it looking lovely all the time. It only enhances what a great place we live! 

Back soon

Wendi x