21 May 2017

How to re-vamp your garden furniture

Why is it that Bank Holidays always seem like the perfect time to take on those DIY jobs around the house & garden? Maybe it’s an inbuilt British mentality or just clever marketing from savvy brands.

On a bit of a whim last August Bank Holiday, because, I had that one extra days holiday, I decided to be one of those DIY geeks, set myself a mini project & make-over my garden furniture. As you do.

My ageing garden bench was looking decidedly lacklustre & in need of some colour to cheer up the corner of the garden.

I had recently acquired a plant potter from a work event painted in Cuprinol Garden Shades forget-me-not which is a lovely cheerful bluey-lilac shade.

I decided this was my happy colour & I wanted to paint my bench. Basically, all I needed was another plant potter to position either side of the bench. It’s all about symmetry, right? Obviously, there are a few other bits & bobs you need before cracking on with a DIY paint job, so, here are my top pieces of kit for painting wooden garden furniture:

Tools for the Job:

1.    Cuprinol Gaden Shades - Forget-Me-Not
Currently priced at £22 each for 2.5 litres or x2 for £30 from B&Q.
2.       Paint Brushes
You can’t go wrong with the No Nonsense set of 5 synthetic paint brushes from Screwfix. They come in 5 sizes, which make them perfect for getting into those nook & crannies.

3.       Garden cane
Set aside a clean garden cane or stick for stirring your paint.

4.       Wooden Planters
The ones I bought from B&Q are currently £20 for the 33 x 33 cm size.
5.       Sandpaper & blocks
Thankfully my Dad always has sandpaper & blocks readily available as a true ‘Weekend Warrior’ DIYer. However, you can buy a roll of sandpaper for £9.99 from Screwfix.

6.       Newspaper & Cardboard
Save old newspapers or cardboard boxes to cover & protect your paving. If you’re anything like me, the paint will get everywhere – especially when you’re trying extra hard to be neat & tidy.

Onto the fun bit… the colouring in!

Painting Wooden  Garden Furniture:

1.       Check the weather
Sounds simple, but before you take on an outdoor painting job, make sure you check the weather & have a few dry days ahead of you so you can give your paint job the chance to dry.

2.       Clean Furniture
Depending on how dirty or dusty your furniture is, it’s best to wash down the wooden furniture with some soapy water or get a brush to remove those pesky cobwebs.

3.       Prep Area
Find yourself a good flat piece of the ground whether its pavement, the lawn or in the garage.  I chose my paving slabs outside the kitchen & covered them with cardboard & horse feed sacks which I’d cut open to get max space coverage. & make sure you wear an old t-shirt & trousers so you don’t get splattered with paint.

4.       Preparing Wood
Depending on the state of the wood, you’ll need to give your wooden furniture a quick sand down. According to my dad, this is so there is a ‘key’ for the paint to take to. Sandpapering is also a good workout for the bingo wings – bonus!

5.       Painting & Patience
Now’s the fun part! Firstly, make yourself a good brew to have while you work.

Before applying your paint, use a stick or clean garden cane to stir your paint, which will make sure you have a lovely consistent colour.

Choose a suitable sized brush & start applying your chosen paint. Don’t be too hasty & load the brush up otherwise it gets globby & paint will go everywhere. For the first coat you’ll need about an hour whilst applying your paint to every nook & cranny of the bench. Painting the plant potter didn’t take as long – more like 10-15 minutes as I was only painting the outside.

Once you’ve applied the first coat of paint, leave your garden furniture to dry for about an hour, enough time for your knees to recover & make another cuppa!

I found the garden bench needed 3 coats of paint as it’s an older wood, whereas the plant potter only needed 2 coats to reach my ideal shade of blue. This is where the patience is needed & a few more cups of tea!

6.       Voila!
I love my re-vamped garden furniture, it really brightens up the corner of my garden. All I need to do now is buy some plants for the planters this Bank Holiday!

What do you think? Do you have any projects coming up over the Bank Holiday? Or if you have any questions about re-vamping your garden furniture – get in touch!

10 May 2017

Shappi Khorsandi - Oh My Country

I know as a female I really shouldn’t say what I’m about to say… but sometimes female comedians are just not that funny. Sorry. They can be a bit hit or miss, mainly because they’re trying too hard. Excluding the genius that was Victoria Wood! I saw Jenny Eclair a few years ago, who based her entire show around the menopause & made crude jokes throughout that a 57 year old just shouldn’t be making. Maybe I just wasn’t her target audience.

When I spotted Shappi Khorsandi  advertised in the Dorchester Arts Centre booklet I let my friend decide between Shappi & Russell Kane who was performing at the Electric Palace in Bridport. We’d seen Russell who was hilarious last year at the Octagon in Yeovil & so the decision was made to pay Shappi a visit at the Corn Exchange in Dorchester & best of all it was only 5 minutes from where we lived.

And Shappi didn’t disappoint. To start with, she was her very own warm up act, with a raw & laid back approach, as if you were in a sitting room having a cup of tea & a good old chin wag. Which instantly made you warm to her ditsy charm. Thankfully, we didn’t sit in the front row, as pretty much everyone got picked on! Surely, that’s the number one rule of attending a comedy show, especially when you can choose where to sit?!

After the interval, ‘professional Shappi’ came back with her show ‘Oh My Country’-  a celebration of living in England for 40 years after moving from Iran as a refuge. It’s pretty disturbing to hear some of the torment she’s been through over the years & even more recently on Twitter. Mainly because she’s a POC – person of colour & wasn't born in England. & cringeworthy to hear some of the stories & things people are still saying in this day & age. The highlight had to be when her 9 year old son Cassius made an appearance on stage. Without giving too much away, he’s definitely a comedian in the making & Shappi's show will most definitely make you feel happy!!

Shappi is currently on tour across the UK – with lots more dates coming up in June & the autumn.

07 May 2017

All Change....

It’s been a good month since I last blogged at the end of March about my sunny surf holiday in Fuerteventura. And it makes me sad to think I started the beginning of the year full of gusto & good intentions to get my blog back up & running & already I've hit a brick wall so early in the year.

April was a strange month & one of change which sent me into tilt. I know through my blog & social media channels anyone looking in would think I’m this happy go lucky girl with an amazing life - horse riding, dog walking, surfing & running. But sometimes I hit that brick wall & think what the f**k am I doing with my life?!

There were a number of emotional changes I was juggling. My secondment in PR & Social ended at the end of March, it was one of the best years in my working life & left me feeling on a high. Obviously there were some lows, but the amazing highs outweighed those & I’m grateful for that opportunity. I then started a new job looking after Change Comms where there was no job description, no clear path on what to do. Which on the one hand is amazing, as it meant I’m ‘the master of my own destiny’, but on the other hand also scared me stepping into the unknown.

I ended a relationship which after 2 years was going nowhere - our goals & beliefs weren’t aligned & there’s no point in just plodding along in opposite directions.

& thirdly we made some changes with Jonty’s education. I took advice from our physio to try out an instructor who would be more suitable & help get us back on track. & so far, just after 2 lessons – she’s been spot on.

I could go into a lot more depth about my work & personal life but that would be a pretty boring post & my blog would turn into a big therapy session. I guess, what I’m getting at, is that it's okay not to be okay, & as long as you recognise your emotions & use that energy in a positive way.

So, I’ve signed up to Tough Mudder with my work colleagues in August & started running again. & not just a little jog, I want to get that competitive edge back &I’m gradually getting my running mojo back through the help of Weymouth parkrun. Both horses are in work, after nine months off Barley is back on the road. At the moment he’s just in walk & trot, but it’s a start & gives me hope of normality again.

Like most bloggers when going through an emotional phase, we turn to Pinterest for inspiration. Here are some of my favourite ‘change’ inspired quotes saved in my Quote's board [for credit] which I take comfort in & hopefully will resonate with some of you. Thanks for reading... & apologies for the downbeat blog post, I feel normal upbeat Country Bumpkin Service will resume shortly. 

26 March 2017

Fuerteventura - Beaches

There’s something quite mesmerising about the sea, I find that it’s not until that beauty is taken away & I’m land locked again that I fully appreciate my time spent by the sea. & that feeling is no different to the hypnotic turquoise sea & white sandy beaches in Fuerteventura.

Fuerteventura is blessed with over 150 beaches & there’s probably even more that don’t make it to the official map as they might be a little harder to get reach.

Here’s some of my favourites captured on my Olympus Pen & trusty Samsung Galaxy S7 edge.

Glass Beach
A 10 minute drive out of Corralejo along the dunes & you're greeted by the most turquoise of seas I've seen for a long time. & there are even little waves which are perfect for beginners like me or Sup'ers.

Flag Beach
A 5 minute drive or 20-30 minute walk from Corralejo & across the dunes you'll discover Flag Beach, a long white sandy beach. & because of its location is usually perfect for kite / wind surfers.

Caleta (Creek) de Maria Diaz
About 20-30 minutes along the north track, half way between Majanicho & El Cotillo you'll discover Caleta de Maria Diaz which is actually a creek & not a beach (playa). A reef based break made for a sunny afternoon catching a few waves on my foam board. 

Isla de Lobos
No trip to Fuerteventura is complete without visiting Lobos, which I bigged up on my blog last year here. I'm not sure if it was the time of year, but the sea just looked so much more turquoise, it almost felt like we were in the Caribbean. 

The line up...
Ripping it up

Playa Jarugo
On our first day exploring Fuerteventura we headed to Tindaya Mountain & followed the rough track down to the sea, & after a bit of exploring discovered Playa Jarugo. There was one lone surfer trying his upmost to catch a wave with not much success. A quiet beach with a few camper vans rocking up for lunch, is definitely worth a visit if you fancy going off the beaten track. 

Playa de Ajuy
A black sandy beach located near Ajuy a remote little fishing village to the west of the island. Its a bit of a trek to get there, but definitely worth visiting for the views & to see the Ajuy sea caves.

Trying to get arty with the Olympus Pen
Inside the Ajuy Caves
Ajuy Caves

19 March 2017

Fuerteventura Travel Tips - Where to stay & eat!

Just over a week ago we were sunning ourselves in 25C + heat on the roof top terrace of our Airbnb apartment without a care in the world, soaking up the last of the Canarian sunshine before heading back to grey old Blighty….Now I’m trying to get cosy in my kitchen sipping mint tea, burning fragrant candles & trying to evoke my inner hygge!!

It was our second trip back to the windy island to make the most of the winter sun & consistent swell. Last time I shared a photo blogpost, but thought this time it would be helpful to share some top tips from our 10 day stay for those about to jet off to Fuerteventura or for those torn between which Canary Island to visit. Below are some top tips on where to stay & eat…

Where to Stay…


If you’re looking to avoid the standard package holiday with a tour operator or the thought of dinning en-masse with a bunch of strangers sends a shiver down your spine – then check out some of the properties in Fuerteventura on Airbnb & you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

We stayed in a £50 a night 2 bed apartment about 3km just outside Corralejo in a friendly neighbourhood called Geofond. Our highlight was the private roof top terrace with panoramic views of Corralejo, Lobos Island & the extinct volcanoes; all day sunshine which was perfect for sunbathing & a Weber BBQ. It was our first time booking with Airbnb & we've been converted, I’m not sure why we’ve never done it before?!

Where to Eat...

During the 10 days in Fuerteventura we split our evening meals in half with 5 eating at our apartment with 3 of them being BBQs on the terrace & 5 trying out the local hot spots, below are my fave 3.

If you like tapas, red wine & that shabby chic look & feel - then check out Pincha Cabra in Corralejo! Tucked out the way from the main street and a favourite with the locals. Make sure you give this quaint restaurant a visit either for lunch or dinner. It gets busy in the evening, but if you head there for 7pm you’ll be able to grab a table. The staff are really friendly & great with helping you with the menu & wine! Portions are pretty big, 4-5 dishes between 2 people is ample.

Make sure you choose Paella & spicy chorizo!
Maybe avoid the Canarian potatoes - although the sauce is rather yummy!

The village of Lajares is about 11km from Corralejo, & worth a visit in itself. It has a real hippie / surfy vibe with lots of funky shops & cool bars. Rojo Tomate is an Italian restaurant with a-mazing pizzas. If you’re going in the evening, make sure you have a light lunch & if you can’t manage to eat everything, the staff will offer to make up a doggy bag.

Cheese glorious cheese!

** Larejes has a market every Saturday with stalls & live music. Think mini Glastonbury with the smell of joss sticks & people in harem pants!

Hands down Casa Marcos in the nearby village of Villaverde was the best restaurant we visited during our 10 days in Fuerteventura. It has a traditional rustic Spanish vibe. The staff are super friendly & knowledgeable. They love taking the time to talk you through the menu on the blackborad – even if you don’t quite understand what they’re saying in Spanish! From the tapas style menu we chose 3 dishes – calamari with bacon, an omelette which looked like aliens & hake for main, plus panna cotta in caramel for desert washed down with red wine – of course & all for about 30 Euros each. Top tip - make sure you book in advance, this place gets really busy.

Calamari & bacon
Alien omelette! 
Caramel panna cotta

Coming soon... beaches & places to visit in Fuerteventura.