A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

Meet the Blogger – Britmums Live 2015

MAx and Penny


Apologies to non blogging readers, but this weekend I am off to a blogging conference to learn even more about blogging. It is customary to share a little introduction to yourself – non blogging readers will find this behind the scenes update either bewildering or mildly intriguing!

Penny Alexander

A Residence (that’s this one!), Parentshaped, Space in Your Case

Twitter ID:


Long and brown


Is this your first blogging conference?
It is my fourth Britmums. In the last few years I have spoken, won awards, delivered a blog post at the blogger’s keynote, been a butterfly and helped brands on stalls. I am really looking forward to just chilling at this one, saying that I have a list of sessions I want to go to and people I want to catch up with. I really love meeting new people too.

Are you attending both days?
Absolutely, I love the buzz of Friday, the glamour of the awards and the relaxed, community atmosphere on Saturday.

What are you most looking forward to at BritMums Live 2015?
It is lovely to see people in the flesh you chat to online and meet new people too, I always leave happy and inspired.

Regardless of whether we win or not, I am thrilled Space in Your Case, the travel site I co-edit with Katie, Alison and Helen is a finalist in travel. So I just want to mark the journey so far with these girls, over something cold and fizzy.

I’ve lost a stone since this picture too, through eating well and running, hence I feel I can nominate myself as Sporty Space.


Scary Space (only because a collaborative travel site was her idea), Sporty Space, Baby Space and Posh Space aka Alison, Penny, Katie and Helen

What are you wearing?
No idea, just something comfortable. I’m still straggling a Summer and Winter wardrobe at the moment – weird weather!

What do you hope to gain from BritMums Live 2015?

Of course first and foremost, it is the people I want to see! Blogging is all about being part of a community of bloggers and social media users, sharing ideas and debating things.

I will be honest, I have felt a little disconnected from the community and I am starting to feel reconnected as I plan for this event. Blogging in lots of niches – across homes, interiors, gardens, food, family, parenting and travel can make me a little dizzy sometimes. But I wouldn’t have it any other way, I’m too easily bored to stick with one niche and love learning about new ideas, tips and trends that start in different niches.

Social media has become more challenging and all encompassing since I started with a simple blog and facebook all those years ago. So Social Media Organisation is on my list as a session. I am also going to the Pinterest session, when I called this blog A Residence I didn’t realise I would end up with so many offers to write about homes, and eventually moving in to a home store, here at Wayfair UK, Pinterest has been a great tool for inspiration, and sharing blog posts.

I’m also keen to learn more about You Tube and Great Graphics. I can tinker with Picmonkey or Picassa for hours – I would love an expert to give me some tips on making them look just right!
I am really looking forward to meeting up with Mark Warner and Costa Brava, and finding out about the other brands exhibiting. Some of the most amazing relationships with travel brands started at Britmums for me.

Do you have any tips to pass on to others who may not have been before?

I wrote these tips 2 years ago, when I was in the welcoming group, the ‘butterflies’. Always introduce yourself, it makes it so much easier! Take breaks, networking is tiring and take some snacks to get you through on Friday!

Hope to see some of you there on Friday!

Bringing sexy back to the garden and a giveaway



Mr A tells me I look hot wielding an electric hedge trimmer, and I mean hot in a sexy, not an overheated way. Perhaps Mr A is just flattering me because he doesn’t want to do it himself, but in my book, there is nothing more satisfying than meaty garden jobs, power tools rock. I secretly love mowing the lawn too, I complain a lot as I do it, woe betide anyone who sets foot on the grass while I am mowing, but between you and me, there’s a lot of pleasure to be had from gardening’s tougher jobs.




Since I invested in the right tools for the job, gardening has got so much easier. I also relish getting rid of brambles and taming the Laurel tree offshoots with the long armed pruning shears, or a lopper – as I believe is the technical name – great stress relief.

So I think today’s garden giveaway in partnership with Dickies workwear is pretty damn hot! Dickies have donated the women’s work boots and trousers you see below. Wayfair have added the gardener’s apron (tools in pocket not included) and the pruning set.


Garden Gear


So now you, or the woman in your life who loves to get dirty in the garden, can be all kitted out for some more serious garden activity.

The synthetic fur lined Rigger boots will keep you snug in Autumn, in sizes 3-12, or you can find the unlined version in sizes 6-12. They have metal toe caps to protect your feet, perfect if you get distracted while digging, as I often do.

The Eisenhower Ladies Trouser, comes with multiple pockets and padded knees, and is specially fitted to the female form. Look good, keep track of your stuff and protect your knees.

This Am-tech 3 piece pruning set is the right colour not to get lost in the garden. This set includes pruner, garden shears and lopper.

I really like this Fallen Fruits Lady Apron, (yes, that’s what it is really called), because let’s face it, although most the time no-one is watching me garden, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to look good. Plus on a practical level, I am always losing stuff.

To enter, just complete the rafflecopter below, I look forward to hearing all about the garden jobs you find most satisfying, may that question not open up a can of worms!


Image credits – woman with watering can and woman mowing lawn via Shutterstock.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

There is one prize of a Dickies Boots, Trousers, Pruning set and Lady Apron. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of Wayfair and A Residence and Dickies.
Closing date for entries is 30/6/2015
One entry per person
Entrants must log into rafflecopter and comment on the blog.
Optional entry methods are to follow on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and tweet on Twitter.
The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries
The winner will be informed within 1 week of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 14 days or a new winner will be chosen
The winner’s name will be available on request
This is a joint promotion between Wayfair and A Residence and Dickies.
Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

More competitions at ThePrizeFinder – See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/gardening-tools-apron-trousers-and-boots#sthash.rOQK71U1.dpuf

Travel: Getting Foxy At Fox Barn, Lake District with Sykes Cottages

Staying with Sykes Cottage at Fox Barn, Staveley, Lake District


Over the half term break we stayed in a gorgeous, cosy, river-side cottage called Fox Barn in the Lake District, courtesy of Sykes Cottages.


Fox Barn


There were some very special fox decor touches, and it really made me think about the idea of exploring a cheeky little theme throughout your house, particularly if your house has a name you can expand on. If your house doesn’t have a name, it could be something you love, a plant that is a big feature in the garden, a local feature, your street name, an in joke you have as a family, a favourite holiday spot.


Staying with Sykes Cottage at Fox Barn, Staveley, Lake District


Fox Barn had two lovely themes, foxes and the Lake District. There were some stunning local photos by a local photographer. Local views, or views of places you love to spend time in, are another good way to make you feel at home or rooted to a place I think.


Staying with Sykes Cottage at Fox Barn, Staveley, Lake District


Fox Barn is a cosy two bed ground floor cottage that worked really well for us, the perfect base to crash after a long day adventuring.  It is really comfortable, very well equipped and dog-friendly.

The handbooks the owners have prepared are chock full of tips for things to do, detailed maps for walks, places to eat and there is even a whole folder for dog friendly places and walks – there are very few places you can’t take your dog in the Lakes. The owners were fab, and even left us some local produce and dog treats as a welcome, they also called to check we had everything we needed and to offer some more bespoke ideas for things to do – lovely touches.


fox barn


There was a cupboard full of games, which my kids loved exploring, and the chalk board was a big hit and became a daily space for doodles about our adventures. Having a small but fairly open plan space made it really easy to relax when in the cottage, yet we could spread out into bedrooms if we wanted some peace.


Sykes Cottage Fox Barn, Staveley, Lake District - 1


It was hard to leave the beds, they were really comfortable, which is vital if you are walking or adventuring all day.




One of the most exciting things about arriving at Fox Barn was discovering it is located on a lovely lane by the river, just a quarter of a mile from some great eateries in Staveley village, via a pretty stroll along the river. There is a small unenclosed area patio area with a BBQ overlooking the lane – however, we were too busy exploring the Lakes to need a garden!


Staying with Sykes Cottage at Fox Barn, Staveley, Lake District


The quiet road soon becomes a path, Staveley makes a really peaceful, un-touristy base, yet is only 15 minutes from Windermere where most of our activities took place.


Staying with Sykes Cottage at Fox Barn, Staveley, Lake District


Of course we had to stop for some playing in the river…the cottage came with fishing nets, a very exciting discovery!


Staying with Sykes Cottage at Fox Barn, Staveley, Lake District


The only downsides are Fox Barn is a flat, so you may get some noise from above, and if you are really, really fussy about interiors, the artex wallpaper might grate a little.

Fox Barn is immaculately presented however, very clean and comfortable, has a newly installed modern kitchen and bathroom, stylish furniture, with lovely quirky decor touches. It’s hard to do justice to a place in photos on a cottage booking site, and it wasn’t Mr A’s first choice initially (he wanted the cottage on a hill with a 4 acre garden, but it was too far out of the Lake District and he hadn’t quite grasped the enormity of my plans for getting out in the countryside – we just didn’t need a garden), but having experienced it, we would absolutely return and recommend this as a fabulous base.

The kids liked the park and we did a couple of stunning local walks, both from the cottage door.


Overlooking Staveley


The best bit was being able to go out the door, walk 10 minutes and be able to get this kind of perspective on the world.


Overlooking Staveley


For more ideas on things to do while staying in the Lakes, check out my Awesome Family Adventures on Space in Your Case or get feel for the Lake District as a whole, and see the moments I will never forget on Parentshaped.

For handpicked holiday cottages like this across the UK, visit Sykes Cottages. Fox Barn is here.


Things to do in Staveley

We loved Staveley it is a lovely peaceful village with some great places to eat if you are a bit of a foodie, you will love it. Our top things to do locally, all within 10 minutes walk:

We loved popping into Staveley for local produce – bread from artisan bakery More? and award winning beer from the Hawkshead Brewery.

Eat at Wilf’s Cafe – it’s an institution in the area for good reason. Great veggie options, food for hungry walkers and cyclists, brekkies and cakes in a really gorgeous riverside setting.

Have a Starly’s Curry – only open on Thurs, Fri, Sat this tiny curry house makes some big flavours. We had a take away and games night at the cottage – yum!

The Eagle and Child does excellent food and is a stunning pub which people travel to eat at. Great veggie and kids meals too.

Don’t be fooled, the Post Office/Newsagents is actually a Tardis, with everything from gifts, to dog bones, to boiled sweets in jars to freshly made sandwiches. The Spar also has most things you need. We also stopped at the Booths on the way out of Windermere to stock up.


Get Foxy at Wayfair

I found myself looking for Foxes, so much so that when I spoke to the cottage owner on the phone, I mentioned I had seen the perfect cushion in a gift shop locally. When I got home I was still hunting foxes, in an absolutely humane way of course – here are my favourites from Wayfair…

Foxy Decor


2 Fox Trot Art Print 3 Balbosar Cushion 4 Big Fox Art Print  5 Fantastic Mr Fox Mug 6&8 Belgian Tapestries Cushions 7 Geometric Fox

A Nation of Gardeners – but what are they thinking?



Sometimes, when people leave comments on the blog, I think to myself that they would make a lovely blog post. For my last garden competition, I asked the question ‘What’s happening in your garden?’ I loved reading all the comments, so many different snippets of stories of gardening life across the UK. Which got me thinking, what if I put some of them together in a post, with some pictures?

You can almost hear it, see it, smell it and imagine it, gardens up and down the UK buzzing with activity…


I always love getting out there and getting my hands dirty. I always feel better after! Claudia

We’ve just bought a house with a garden (we don’t have one at the moment) – very excited! Sarah

Waiting for the bluebells to die away so that I can get the Asters in that I grew from seed. My Livingstone daisies are looking a treat – such beautiful colours. Maggie




I’m clearing a large area of moss infested lawn and sowing lots of wildflower seeds. Plus nearly filled my vegetable patch – just the cucumbers and cucamelons to plant out when the nights are warmer. Sue

I am busy painting my fence in Heritage Blue. Looks great! Once complete, I will attach my hanging baskets. Bring on the Summer! Tracey

A bit of gentle pruning with the power saw… David

Battling bravely against the endless hordes of the dandelion army … Rich




We love mud kitchens, they just have to be rotated yearly in our garden. One year, they nearly dug under the neighbour’s fence. Katie

We made it wildlife friendly, Charlie dug a hole and buried an old washing up bowl covered the sides with rocks and now has a mini pond. He’s hoping for frogs! But so far only millipedes! We also painted shells, stones and golf balls with acrylic paints to hide in the flower beds. I love wild flowers and can’t wait for ours to take. Joanne




Veg are out, flowers planted but weeds are back. I am also doing a daily slug/snail hunt! Anna

Loosing the war against slugs and snails! Helen




I’m ridiculously excited as my garden is no bigger than a modest patio but I’m digging over a small area for which I have big plans. It may well qualify for a record for the most plants planted in the smallest area. But I know what I want and I’m going to fit everything in – somehow – and make sure that all the plants thrive so both the family and wildlife can enjoy it. Susan

I’ve just picked some fresh spinach from my veggie garden for our dinner. Beats shop bought any day. Celia




Potted up the cucumbers I sowed. Hope these ones survive, this is the third attempt…previously the cats and the dogs ate them!  Hayley

It’s our first year with a veggie patch..so far we have planted carrots, potatoes, beetroot, bean and courgettes. Toni

My daughter is 2 so we are just planting dwarf beans, tomatoes, spinach and strawberries on our veg ladder (container garden) Angela




I have planted up my herbs, green beans and tomatoes, the sunflowers are well on their way and at the weekend I did all my baskets, tubs and troughs. Karen

Here in Scotland you really can’t plant anything until the very end of May as night frosts and cold days are still common. It annoys me that garden centres sell bedding plants from April, a good marketing ploy as the plants are likely to die and then you have to buy more ! Karen

In our community garden, in Bethnal green, we are busy planting hedging, seeds for vegetables and planning our big lunch event. Ben




Watching the wisteria bloom. Ruth

I was helping my mum to dead-head the flowers… Very satisfying. Emily

Hopefully relaxing with a drink. Tracey


I’m with you Tracey, I raise my glass in a toast to the Gardener’s of the UK!

I hope some of these mini stories resonated with you? If you haven’t already told me, do: What’s happening in your garden?


If you are in need of anything to furnish your outdoor living space, a gentle reminder that Wayfair.co.uk have a Garden department and daily sales.

Style challenge: Gorgeous Printable Planning Tools

menu planning prinatable in frame with dry wipe marker - 1

Make your favourite printable organisation tools reusable with a frame and dry wipe marker.


The Post Office Shop challenged me and three other home and interiors bloggers – Becky from Thrifty Home, Amanda from The Ana Mum Diary and Jen from Love Chic Living –  to come up with clever ways to use your home printer. Knowing the others would come up with some amazingly creative, stylish and heartfelt ideas – do check them out via their links above – I have attempted to wrack my brains for a slightly different tack. I want to share some stylish organisation ideas.


Stylish Time Mangement printables you need in your life


I’ve been trying to get myself and our home more organised, those who now me know that that perfectionism/procrastination combination can be a killer.  One thing I have really been focussing on, and reading up on, is time management. I was getting  tired of seeing the same of things still on my to do list, and of feeling like my goals, dreams and plans to really move me where I want to be, kept getting put on a back burner. If you recognise any of those feelings, you might like some of these tools, plus they look stylish too.


To do lists

Making a really huge to do list is cathartic, getting it down on paper helps. But…you need to break that list down somehow, or it overwhelms you. A distant, but gorgeous relative of mine happens to be a designer with a whole collection of gorgeous printable planning tools, finding her printable shop has really helped me organise different areas of my life.


I use Alexia Claire’s printables to plan the content for my blogs and my daily to do list. I do a monthly plan for the blog and then look at it each Monday to work out what posts need writing and when. The family planner set is great for anyone who has more than one project or person to juggle! having a planner with multiple columns for each day is great for me  when I am planning content over more than one blog or over social media.


Start the day with 20 minutes planning

The time you spend planning your day at the beginning of each day, or at the end of the previous day is well worth it. If your brain knows what it is doing when, it doesn’t waste energy panicking, worrying and stays more focussed. Although, I am trying to allow some less scheduled time too, as I also know I am a rebel who gets bored of a  schedule!


Take the day holistically, think positives!

When I need to be really on task I like a daily planner, with lots of room to focus. Alexia’s Daily Planner takes the day holistically  – including exercise, food, three positive things (at the bottom so cut out of the pic below) as well as a to do list. It’s also great for reminding you that health is important. Plus it looks great!



Analyse your to do list

If I don’t look at the tasks on my long to do list objectively, then I just end up leaping from one to the next and worrying about things which actually aren’t important, while spending ages on things that really don’t help me get where I need to be at the end of the day. To do this I am trying to use the Urgent Important Matrix…


Urgent or Important?

Look at the tasks you have to do objectively using the matrix below.



If something is urgent and important, we get it done, but It is very easy to get bogged down in urgent not important tasks i.e. people interrupting you to do stuff for them, and even non urgent,  not important tasks i.e. procrastination, checking facebook, leaving the tasks that are important, but not urgent for another day. Sadly often these are important but not urgent tasks are the ones that involve meeting our dreams and goals, or truly moving us forward.

Sometimes I divide my tasks up like this, but what I find quickest, is to have this printed out and near my desk as a reminder. Then when I am ordering my to do list into daily chunks, I can allocate set amounts of time to things.

I am hoping the number of urgent things will fall as I get more organised, leaving me more time to crack on with the more important things in life. Reading a book in the sunshine over my lunch break?

Take a break

Even though my working days are short, because I pick up the kids at 3.30, I am trying to take a break at lunch. Your brain needs that time. I do  some of my exercise during this time too or walk the dog – some of my best ideas come to me while running, having a shower or walking the dog. It helps to prompt your brain though, so I try to do my to do list first thing, so my brain can solve problems while I am doing other things.


Meal Planning

Alexia does weekly meal plans (for when I am really on fire) and I like the addition of the shopping list so you can keep track of things as they run out through the week, ready for next week’s plan. For the minimalists, OllieBird also has a very simple but lovely kitchen themed meal planner here, which you could frame and then use with a dry wipe marker.

menu planning prinatable in frame with dry wipe marker - 2


Health and Fitness Planning

My exercise always goes in my diary too as a plan. If I miss a slot then I try not to beat myself up, but instead I replan the slot I missed somewhere else in the week. Exercise makes me work faster and better, so I remind myself of that when I feel guilty for not being sat at my desk.

I’m currently embarking on my training for a half marathon, so I have also been looking at Alexia’s Health and Fitness planner.

Food diaries can be really useful tools when you are trying a new way of eating or trying to control what you eat. I like this food diary and often print out several copies to stick on the fridge.


Making your favourite printables reusable

Once you find a printable you like, you start to worry about wasting paper, which is why I like the idea of framing some of my favourite tried and tested printables to use with a dry wipe marker. It doesn’t work for everything, sometimes you need the paper to hand. But it worked well for the Olliebird meal planner, and now I just need to find a friend with a laminator, to laminate Alexia’s daily planner.

Do check out what the other’s came up with, and head to the Post Office Shop to stock up on stationary, printers and printer ink!

Travel: Home from Home – The Crown Hotel, Wells-Next-The-Sea, North Norfolk

The Crown Hotel Wells next the sea iphone - 1


I love finding a home from home. The Crown Hotel Wells Next the Sea, North Norfolk has to be one of the best hotels we have stayed in, in terms of its dog and family friendliness, as well as all the boxes it ticks for grown ups too. The decor is gorgeous, it feels like staying in a country home, it is a real luxury treat, yet kids and dogs are warmly welcomed. Visitors without dogs or children are also very welcome and if you dropped in for a romantic weekend as a couple, you would feel equally at ease; it is a great space for accommodating different guest needs, with lots of peaceful nooks and crannies.

The recent refurbishment of this old coaching inn is very clever, our family room was a home from home, rather than a sofa bed for the kids, or paying for a second, and often very expensive adjoining room, there was a little kids’ room behind our bedroom. I say little, it had a single bed and bunk beds, so could accommodate a family of five, six with a camp bed or travel cot. So while the kids do what kids do in hotel rooms (jump, leap and generally get over excited) you can do the same, but in the peace of your own super luxury quarters.


The Crown Hotel Wells - 2


The decor is gorgeous here, and there’s plenty of it to take inspiration from – plump cushions, tapestry on the walls, antique and vintage style furniture. Max the dog photobombed this shot, but it was the gorgeous chair and silver mirror I was trying to show you.


The Crown Hotel Wells next the sea iphone - 4


And I wanted to give you a sense of the wallpaper, lots of layers and textures make the rooms feel really grand and sumptuous. Sage and purple is a really calming colour scheme, but it is kept from feeling too sleepy by pops of red antique leather chair, the ornate silver mirror and light fittings.

There is an enticing view over out to Wells, over stunningly coloured lichen on the rocks, suggestive of the sea, which is only a 10 minute stroll away. We absolutely loved North Norfolk, I will leave you with some links to ‘what to do’ posts later, but there are stunning swathes of unspoilt beach, great food, beautiful villages and chances to get close to nature calling you. It’s an absolutely wonderful part of the world to retreat to. The Crown Hotel really tops all that natural majesty.


The Crown Hotel Wells next the sea iphone - 5


The bathroom was lovely and spacious, I liked the way the window had been turned into a mirror and the gorgeous roll top bath was the perfect way to finish a day of walking and exploring North Norfolk – one day my house will have one too! There’s a shower unit too, tucked out of sight.


The Crown Hotel Wells next the sea - 7


Lucky Max got his own bed, next to the radiator, some doggy biscuits and his own towel, which after a few muddy walks, he needed.


The Crown Hotel Wells next the sea - 2


There were lovely treats for us too, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and flapjacks!


The Crown Hotel Wells next the sea iphone - 2


There is even a thermos in case you want to take a warming drink on a brisk sea walk with you!


The Crown Hotel Wells - 1


We loved that the dining room was full of books. Kids’ books as well as grown ups’ books. I think books really make you feel at home. There was even a wicker basket of baby and toddler toys at breakfast time.


The Crown Hotel Wells - 5


The children were the only ones in the restaurant when we dined, but were treated really brilliantly by the staff, like mini adults. It was fascinating to see how well they responded to that, they even tried some new foods. The food was as incredible as it sounds on the locally sourced and seasonal menu.

Dogs are welcome in the less formal, but just as enticing bar area, which also has larger tables for dining. I love that shabby chic chest, there’s a lovely nautical feel to this room, you could imagine the characters who might have travelled through when it was a coaching inn.


The Crown Hotel Wells - 6


I will leave you with the willow pattern breakfast tea cups, which again, with the lovely pine tables, made me feel very at home, admittedly they are nothing like my home, but they reminded me of my Grandmother’s home, which is a very good home feeling indeed.

I think that hits the nail on the head of what I liked most about The Crown: it feels lived in, like staying with a really grown up relative, who has invested in great antiques, classic and comfortable furniture, plus has the time and life experience to layer together lots of lovely home inspiration with pieces that tell a story. Oh, and did I mention they happen to live by the most stunning stretch of British coastline too?


The Crown Hotel Wells next the sea iphone - 6

Get the look!

Inspiration for the home is everywhere, here are some of my favourite picks from Wayfair.co.uk, inspired by our stay at the Crown Hotel, Wells-next-the-sea.

Crown Hotel Wells

Clockwise from top left: D and J Simmons Berkley MirrorAncient Marnier Vintage Studded Leather Chair, Urban Designs table lampOceans Apart Recycled Trunk Chest.


Need to know

The Crown Hotel, Wells-next-the-sea, North Norfolk

This was part of a review weekend organised on behalf of Visit North Norfolk. You can see what we got up to in North Norfolk, when we weren’t being spoilt rotten at The Crown here, here and here.

Find of the Week: Join the Big Butterfly Count



This week these Komar butterfly stickers are making my heart flutter. The sun in shining, the plants in my garden – including the butterfly’s favourite, the buddleias – are reaching new heights, and I can’t wait to welcome more butterflies into the garden.

While I am waiting, I think the colour and vintage designs on these butterflies make them great for grown up and children’s spaces. I love the way they are combined with a plant display above, to bring the outdoors inside.

I have a little bit of a butterfly obsession, it was a theme at our wedding, and since I’ve enjoyed letting a few sneak into our house. This reminds me, for any of you wedding planners, or those romantics among you, Wayfair have a fabulous post on bringing your wedding style home, which is exactly what I realise I have been doing over the last ten years. Yep, I can’t believe it is really ten years this summer!

I am really flitting today sorry,  back to butterflies, Butterfly Conservation also asked me to mention their Big Butterfly Count next month. You can get organised now,  just go to Big Butterfly Count to download an ID chart ready and Butterfly Conservation also have an app you can download.

Then all you have to do is go outside and count butterflies for 15 minutes, as many times as you like over a 3 week period.  It’s really simple to do, and it’s a great way to get outside and to appreciate butterflies. The results are really helpful for Butterfly Conservation, so they can see how species are doing across the UK.

Hope you will join me, I am hoping to also catch some butterflies on camera to report back. Have you seen many in your garden yet?

Gift Guide: Presents for Father’s Day

Gifts for Dads

What do Dads really want for Father’s Day? Aside from a home made card, some time to chill and plentiful demonstrations of appreciation? I asked the Dads in my life for help, my Dad, and my husband Mr A suggested some presents for Father’s Day they would like to receive. I also added in a few ideas we’ve either tested already or that work well for kids to give Dads.


One – Mr A has had his eye on this stunning Endon Lighting Table Top Copper Globe for a while, copper is very now and makes it more long lasting too.


Two – Mr A has one of these and relishes opening letters with it.


Three – These Endon Lighting copper globe bookends would complement the globe (and are half the price), I love a theme you can continue at the next gift giving occasion.


Four and Six – Willow Tree figurines represent family groupings in a way that is designed to appeal to all.  I think we can underestimate how much men like artistic representations of family life.


Five – My Dad picked this Rondeau Leisure Kent Wood Tray Side Table out, perfect for taking a lazy break in the garden.


Seven – A Woodquail iPad tablet stand, with space to keep pens, post its and other bits and bobs – its always good to have a place for you tablet and the angle makes it easier to use at a desk, or for cooking.


Eight – Another pick from my Dad, a great value tool rack from Poppy Forge, which looks good too.


Nine – I chose this,  Deknudt Frame and Pencil Holder – a good gift for desks, unlike picture frames it doesn’t take up extra space. You could add photos or get kids to design something to put in the frame.


Ten – There are so many gifts for the BBQ fiend, but this 3 piece stuff a burger kit brings a whole new foodie challenge to barbecuing.


Eleven  – Another one for the BBQ, Mustard products always come with a sense of humour. Kids and their Dads will love administering ketchup with this Mustard Gun shaped Condiment Dispenser.


Twelve – We’ve tested this pancake pan and it really is awesome, Sunday morning kids and Dad pancake making – an amazing ritual to introduce. The Best Direct Stonewall Hinged Pancake Pan could be the start of something wonderful.


Father’s Day is Sunday June 21st 2015.

Be green, save money, plant a tree with a Brabantia rotary dryer – Giveaway



Well the sun is finally shining here and the washing pile from last week’s trip to the Lake District is decreasing. I’ve been reflecting that the blog has become rather domestic lately, which regular readers will know isn’t me. I loathe cleaning and household chores. But I do get some satisfaction from pegging out washing on a sunny or windy day. It gets me closer to nature at least.

I often think of my grandmothers and how they would have had to spend a whole day on washing, whereas for me ‘pegging out’ is a semi pleasurable distraction from a day’s working from home. I do most the washing, my husband picked the dishwasher as his chore. I think I got the best deal, on days like today anyway.

I’m realising, as I get older and wiser, that enjoying household chores is all about having the right kit. Today I have a fabulous giveaway of a rotary dryer with 40 meters of fabulous drying space, in celebration of Brabantia’s pledge to plant a tree for every rotary drier sold. Laundry trees = real trees! I love their laundry tree look, such a clever campaign idea.


Love-Nature-Brabantia Rotary Dryer


Brabantia also want to spread the message that there is nothing better than pegging washing out in the open air. I agree, we don’t have a tumble drier, but no tumble dryer does mean you need to think about where washing can hang to dry without taking up space – rotary dryers are great for maximising space.

You could of course just use shrubs…a few posts back I shared this garden at Chelsea Flower Show, from Provence, where people hang their clothes on Lavender bushes to dry – wherever you choose to hang your washing, nature really is the best place for drying clothes – they smell great. Drying outside is also free, kinder to your clothes, and to the environment.

Right now I am drying our Valbonne duvet, a purchase from Wayfair. It’s hard running the Wayfair UK blog sometimes, and not getting tempted. A few people have asked me recently if I get everything for free, I do review the odd thing, but I get a discount, and always have my beady eye on the daily sales, so often make purchases myself too.

I love this duvet, so soft and the delicate flower and swallow pattern is gorgeous, but the grey colour and the striped reverse of the duvet mean it isn’t too girly. Our duvets always brush against the giant rosemary bush in our garden as they dry – I love the way they smell.


Wayfair Duvet

Valbonne Duvet Set – Belledorm at Wayfair UK


Our old washing line threatens to fall down daily, and is on my list to things to replace. If your washing line is as old as ours, you might also be interested in today’s giveaway. Brabantia are offering this Top Spinner, 4 arm rotary dryer, worth £72.99. It has 40 metres of drying space, which is pretty impressive.

For each rotary dryer or ‘laundry tree’ that is sold, Brabantia will fund WeForest to plant a real tree in their Burkina Faso project.

WeForest is an international non-profit association, creating an unstoppable movement around biodiverse tree planting. In the Northeast of Burkina Faso, WeForest contributes to replanting a native forest and reversing desertification whilst promoting a sustainable local economy.

To find out how much you can save with a rotary dryer versus a tumble dryer, and how the project works, check out this little laundry tree video, it is very sweet when it grows into a tree!


The Giveaway

To be in with a chance of winning a Brabantia 40m TopSpinner 4 Arm Rotary Dryer:

1. Pop to the Wayfair UK Utility Room department and tell me the one thing you would pick to go with the Brabantia Dryer. Leave the name of the product in the comments.

2. Complete the rafflecopter to register your entry and to gain extra entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There is one prize of a Brabantia 40m TopSpinner 4 Arm Rotary Dryer. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
Open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding employees and relatives of Wayfair and A Residence and Brabantia.
Closing date for entries is 30/6/2015
One entry per person
Entrants must log into rafflecopter and comment on the blog.
Optional entry methods are to follow on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and tweet on Twitter.
The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries
The winner will be informed within 1 week of the closing date and will need to respond with a postal address within 14 days or a new winner will be chosen
The winner’s name will be available on request
This is a joint promotion between Wayfair and A Residence and Brabantia
Entry to this confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.

More competitions at www.theprizefinder.com – See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/brabantia-rotary-dryer#sthash.YwwfW0bY.dpuf

The Sun Edison Hunt for Britain’s Brightest Street




What kind of street do you live on? Do you know your neighbours?

Although I live in suburbia, I live on a main road, not a leafy cul-de-sac, so apart from my immediate neighbours, I don’t really know the people on my street. But recently we decided to stay put in this house after all, it was time to stop flirting with the rightmove app. We had all sorts of plans to run for the hills and build a new eco home, but it gradually dawned on us that lots of things had rooted us in our current home.

So I was really interested to hear about SunEdison’s hunt for Britain’s Brightest Street. It sounds like a great way to save money, meet your neighbours and become a much greener community. You can also help your local community project or school too.




To find out if you could be Britain’s Brightest Street, the questions you need to ask yourself are:

Do you and your neighbours want free solar energy for 10 years?

Do you want to make immediate savings of 45% on your energy bills?

Do you know of a local school or community project which could benefit from a free solar panel?


What is involved?

Britain’s most solar savvy street – the street that wants to save money whilst benefitting from the earth’s greatest source of energy: the sun. You can be absolutely anywhere in England, Wales and Scotland – it doesn’t matter. All you need to do is get together with between 5 – 20 of your neighbours, check you meet the criteria, and apply, I will share the link below.




Participating homeowners in the street awarded with the title #BritainsBrightestStreet will get 10 years’1 worth of SunEdison’s Energy Saver Plan for free. These neighbours will be able to enjoy free solar energy and save approximately 45% on their electricity bill2 during the free 10 year period.

The winning street will be able to nominate a local school or community project which will receive a free solar panel.

Solar panels improve the EPC rating of a home, which may increase its value.

Sun Edison are the first company in the UK to offer this type of solar product to the home market, that requires £0 upfront payment and £0 installation cost.


How do I find out more?

Visit SunEdison’s website for more information about #BritainsBrightestStreet search. Keep me posted, I would love to hear if an A Residence reader becomes the brightest street. I’m off to strike up a conversation with my neighbours!


1 SunEdison will pay the first 10 years of fees. After the 10 year point the homeowner will be liable for the usual quarterly fees for the remaining 10 years of the ESP contract. 

2 Approximate savings are based on an average 3.99 kW home installation as well as the average UK resident consumption profile according to the information found here.

I’m working with BritMums and SunEdison talking about the #BritainsBrightestStreet search campaign. I have been compensated for my time. All editorial and opinions are my own. Visit http://bit.ly/1ID0enl for more information about #BritainsBrightestStreet search.

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