Vibernum at Bridge Cottage

Tales From The Woolly Garret: The January Blues

So, the tree’s down and the kids have left to go back to their respective homes. The house is quiet and cold. The van is still full of stock from Christmas shows, and the workshop is in a right old state. There is Christmas cake and chocolate to finish, even though the scales have reached a new high. The post Christmas lurgy has also struck and Lemsip has replaced gin as my drink of choice.

This time of year that can be tough for some. Just yesterday over on Twitter, someone I follow was asking if it was ok to say that she was ‘down’. Yes it is, it’s January, it’s cold and dark, and some of us are worn out from the run up to Christmas and the frenzy of Christmas markets. The January Blues can bite hard.

I must admit to feeling briefly low. I get so used to having the two elder ‘kids’ around, and it feels like a part of me is missing when they go. Go they must, however, as they have exiting your lives to lead, and we’d annoy the pants of each other if they stayed around for too long.

I also made the mistake of stepping on the scales – bad move! That should wait until at least two weeks after Christmas, if at all. To combat all the cheese we had a lovely run out to Caldbeck where we visited The Wool Clip and went for a long walk. For those who aren’t familiar with The Wool Clip, it’s a beaut of a shop full of all things woolly and run by the same co-operative who organise and run Woolfest. The countryside and villages around Caldbeck, which is on the north eastern edge of the Lake District, are stunning. It’s amazing how a good walk, a bit of woolly retail therapy and looking at horizons lifts the January Blues. I resisted cake at the cafe too and went for the carrot and parsnip soup.

I loved visiting The Wool Clip and met Emma from Hole House Bags who was running the shop that day. The blues were starting to lift!

I also got quickly back up in the woolly garret and began sorting my jumpers into piles. This is always exciting, as new possibilities of colourways and potential projects get planned. I can’t wait to get sewing again! I have an exciting new collection panned based on a photo I took whilst Cycling Around Orkney. I’ll keep that under wraps though, until I’m ready to unveil the collection. Needless to say, I have an awesome pile of jumpers, with colours to beat any blues into submission.


Today I got out in the garden, and used the trug my husband bought me for Christmas. My one New Year’s Resolution is to get out in the garden more and to grow more veggies this year. Those of you who used to follow my blog The Bridge Cottage Way will know how important this is to me, but woolly pedlaring took over last year, and the garden was sadly neglected. I find getting outdoors to be one of the best ways of beating the blues, January or not! I got into the greenhouse and weeded in between the winter veg. It was great to be back connecting with the soil.

We have a rather unruly Vibernum near the greenhouse which has burst into flower. It is a wonderful sight, with a heady scent. The perfect antidote to the January Blues.

 If you’re feeling blue, I hope it doesn’t last, the days are getting lighter, and Spring is on its way!





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Upcycling in the Garden

Sometimes I miss the old Bridge Cottage Way. This was the blog that I started writing several years ago about living sustainably, and which eventually led to the birth of The Woolly Pedlar – a long story which I won’t go into now, but can be read in the first post I wrote on this website called ‘Let Me Introduce Myself’. This month we’ve been really busy in the garden and I thought it would be nice to share with you some of the upcycling projects that have taken place. After all, recycling and upcycling doesn’t stop with jumpers here. Mr Tim and I are forever trying to find ways of reusing things and buying less.
The big project for us this year and indeed the past couple of years, has been the building of a straw bale build sauna in the garden using largely reclaimed materials. We’ve used wood from the garden, old tractor tyres, woolly clippings for insulation and even gin bottles for the window. I was very good at helping with that bit! 😉

gin-bottle-window  There is so much I could write about building the sauna, and so much we have learnt. The frame has a reciprocal roof, and that in itself is worthy of a whole chapter, then there are the straw bales, lime plaster and earth roof. We’ve even made little oil lamps from jam jars, with a rolled up t shirt as a wick and using cooking oil. Again, I feel this could warrant it’s own blogpost on another occasion.

Let’s turn back to the garden itself. One of my pet hates in this world is the amount of packaging and plastic that gets used and thrown away. Every weekend there are queues of folk heading for the garden centre to buy plastic pots and trays. With that in mind, I wrote a post about saving plastic cartons to reuse as plant pots, and to date ‘Reduce Plastic Consumption by Reusing Plastic Containers as Plant Pots’ has been one of my most successful posts, with thousands of hits! I won’t repeat it here, but will leave you to follow the link yourselves.
strawberry planter


We’ve been having a bit of a clearout in the garage, and I came across this old redundant veg rack, which I’ve turned into a strawberry planter – the idea being that the strawberries should hang down over the side. Mind you, if this apocalyptic weather we are having this Spring/Summer doesn’t sort itself out I don’t think they’ll be many strawberries at all! I’ve lined the baskets with some of the wool jackets I find for my making my bedspreads to keep the moisture in and prevent the compost falling through the holes. The compost too is homemade!

This old Vax cleaner has also be put to good use rather than going to the tip, and is used for growing chives.




10361444_10204212808469967_7880140687656242864_n   I’m told these wooden cable reels sell for a lot of money on Ebay, and I was lucky enough to get hold of one for a tenner! They make great tables for outdoor eating – and for drinking as you can see! Oh dear, that’s two references to drinking in one blogpost now, you’ll be thinking we’re plonkies!



We love eating outdoors, and have had our friend Harry make us a pizza oven from stone found lying around and taken from the bed of the little stream that runs through the garden. We used clay dust that was going spare from a local pottery mixed with soil for the clay to build it with, and it is absolutely fantastic! I guess this too could warrant another post all by itself another time!



We got the idea for using a wheel rim as a fire pit from Solfest – the festival we’ve gone to as a family for the last ten years. There, you are allowed to have fires by your camp as long as the fire is contained in a wheel rim. Jolly good idea! I also like to take the old washing machine drum along which serves as an excellent barbeque.  I use saucepans and kettles put on the top to cook the family proper dinner on it, and again wrote a post over on the Bridge Cottage Way about making a Washing Machine Drum Barbeque if you fancy a read.


I’m sure there are lots more fun ways to use what would otherwise be going to the tip around the garden. I’m sure if I went for a wander around ours, I’d find more to share with you. However, it’s lashing down with rain, so I think I’ll stay put and leave it there for this week. Do post a comment and share any other good upcycling tips you have for around the garden.

Thanks for reading this week, and let’s hope the weather improves as we move into June and can get out and enjoy the garden!

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