Build A Luxury Garden Bench #DIY

Posted on 30th October 2015 in family/ garden/ garden centre

DSC_0823Here is how we built a luxury garden bench for a fraction of the cost of buying one. The end result is bespoke and sturdy, everyone comments on it and asks where they can get one!

The beauty of designing and building the bench yourself is that you can get it exactly how you want it to be. My ideal was for a large bench that someone could relax on with a good book and a cup of tea – with a roof in case of rain showers and plenty of places for wildlife.

The end result far surpassed the simple seat I had in mind and we now have a weather proof seat that is comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. It is just as good for whiling away a few hours on your own or for four or five people to snuggle up on during a BBQ.

Seat quadrant

Start with a rough plan and then build it up into the structural posts needed to support the bench and roof if you are having one. This will enable you to plan out and see how many wooden posts you will need.


Once you’ve got your rough plan it is time to start construction from the base upwards.










As you build upwards, once you’ve got the seat in pace, you can start focusing on the roof supports.

This simple ‘p shape’ (below) works well to start off a sloped roof but the option of having no roof or a flat roof would be easier!


We then chose to dig out a section around the bench to fill with gravel and create an alternate patio style part of our garden. With a future plan to insert a fire pit at a later date along with some simple, sleeper, seats.


The eagle eyed among you will notice that we’ve also added electricity and some solar lights.


Russian Roulette #100WCGU #week172

Posted on 29th October 2015 in #writingworkshop/ 100WCGU/ Crime Fiction

Simon felt the familiar thrill of anticipation as the man the by door caught his eye. Skilfully keeping up the pretence of flirtatious banter he finished off the cocktails with a flourish and handed them over. ‘There you go, girls.’ He said with a well practised wink that generated a ripple of giggles.

Little did they know that their chosen drinks, the Howling Dog, the Moon and the Creaking Boards made for quite the game of Russian Roulette as one of them contained Rohypnol.

Shortly after, the girls waved their goodbyes and headed out into the night; the man by the door followed close behind. The chase had begun.

~ ~ ~

The above is my entry into this week’s one hundred word challenge for grown ups hosted by the lovely Julia Skinner @JfB57 – the prompt for this week was …the howling dog, the moon and the creaking boards… To see other entries or to find out more and have a go for yourself, click here.

#100WCGU #week171

Posted on 19th October 2015 in #writingworkshop/ 100WCGU

‘What about if I rock my chair back, like this” Barry demonstrated with an over zealous action nearly causing him to flip backwards “and then slam my coffee down and fix him with a steely glare?”

Trying desperately not to sigh out loud, Karen walked behind him and nudged the chair back to an upright position. “Or,” she said failing to keep the exasperation from her tone “or we could just be reasonable and ask him the questions we agreed earlier?”

“Love it, love it, I get ya” Barry winked “I’ll be bad cop and then switch to good cop but I can’t decide when to change.”

~ ~ ~

Have you tried the #100WCGU (one hundred word challenge for grown ups!) over at Julia’s place? This is my entry for it, adding 100 words to the phrase …I can’t decide when to change… If you would like to read other entries or have a go yourself, please click here.

Where Is The Help? #WMHD2015 #MentalHealth

Posted on 10th October 2015 in child/ child abuse/ childline/ children/ depression/ family/ swearing

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 14.08.55It’s impressive to see so much focus on mental health today as part of #WMHD2015, how we can help others and how we can help ourselves.

I have seen several posts online from famous people in support of this day and the message behind it, which is an important step towards ending the stigma and shame that so often goes hand in hand with the words ‘depression’ and ‘mental health issue’.

But where do you go for help if you currently feel like even getting up out of bed or out of a chair is like wading through porridge. How do you ‘go out and make new friends’ if you don’t find anything likeable about yourself and therefore can’t imagine for one second why anyone else would enjoy your company. How do you put yourself out there if the previous end result was that you stood in a room wrapped in a cocoon of fog while everyone around you was vibrant and engaged and fully embracing that elusive casual happiness that seems as unattainable as a lottery jackpot?

This post is focussing on children and teens as if we don’t start reaching out to change their attitudes and improve their self-confidence and self-worth then this situation is only going to keep on growing and self-perpetuating.

So for children and teens in the UK, where can they go for help? If the generation above them is full of people with no tolerance and no understanding then they will be met with a wall of ‘don’t be so pathetic’ and ‘oh for god’s sake, just get on with it’ not forgetting ‘man up’.

I personally think there needs to be a new programme throughout schools put in place to deliver grass roots help and support to children and teens, building their confidence and self-esteem in such a way that the earliest niggles of self-doubt may well never develop into anything further.

I’ve seen that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are championing #WMHD2015 and I hope that with their backing and support there might finally become a time for our children and our children’s children when mental health can reach a parity with physical health. A time when children will grow up with a sensitivity to others so that they are an inbuilt peer support system for each other.

You don't have to hit to hurt

However angry you are with a child, shouting and using abusive language is never the answer.

I have found it fascinating on #EducatingCardiff to see how the teens change their behaviour once the adults change theirs; the commitment and patience shown by several of the staff at Willows High is a joy to observe and surely should serve as an example to others in the profession. This ties in with the quote ‘You don’t have to hit to hurt.’

It can’t be coincidence that shouting, punishing and belittling students makes their attitude and behaviour deteriorate (along with their self belief and sense of safety and wellbeing), whereas praise, encouragement, trust, friendship and support makes them flourish and re-engage with their work, friends and the world around them.

If children were built up and nurtured at home and at school then they would stand more chance of growing up to be strong, confident, caring adults who would in turn build up and nurture their own friends, family and children; there is a great quote by Frederick Douglass ‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.’

So what is there in terms of support for this age group? The local mental health services are all suffering cut backs and only the more severe cases are getting through to access care. (Needless to reiterate if children were loved and nurtured appropriately in the first place this would vastly cut the numbers who would need to be referred.)

For adults there are many services available, like

For children and teens there is of course Childline, our local YMCA runs a free counselling service for this age group and there are several Facebook support groups out there but it is important to check that it is a supportive one as there are also several very scary pro suicide groups too.

There is also Big White Wall which offers an interesting take on support and is well worth looking into, I believe they have an app too. Speaking of apps, here is a list of apps that may help with wellbeing.

With support it is a case of finding what works for you. Joining a club or an evening class may be the solution for some people, but having secret online peer support is what works for others. Don’t give up if the first thing you try doesn’t work.

If anyone can suggest other support options in the comments that would be really helpful.

With love – and remember – you are worth it, you are a good person and you are doing fine x

Misplaced 100WCGU #week169

Posted on 8th October 2015 in 100WCGU/ writing workshop

Formby WoodsThe sense of relief was palpable, Gina felt an almost euphoric uplift and had to suppress a giggle as she sat down behind the tree.

She thought about texting Michael but decided against it; worrying him unnecessarily seemed pointless, especially now she was convinced she’d imagined it – too many scary movies had obviously left their mark on her mind.

Instead she took a quick selfie, ‘scaring myself witless in the woods’ was the caption that sprang to mind. Suddenly her phone rang disturbing the silence… then, in the middle of the noise she heard a twig snapping behind her and knew her feeling of relief had been misplaced.


This is my entry into the 100 word challenge for grown ups using this weeks prompt …then, in the middle of the noise… to see more entries or to have a go for yourself, please click here.

A Macabre Bake Sale #100wcgu #week168

Posted on 29th September 2015 in 100WCGU/ comedy/ fire/ writing workshop

100wcgu week168The bake sale had gone well and had shifted the bulk of it in a variety of tasty pies, soups and a red hot chilli. It had been a little hard to just give it away so eventually he had to accept payments; just enough to allay suspicion. There would be a certain irony to be enjoyed from donating the proceeds to charity.

The final parts had resisted quick lime, bleach and a rigorous slicing from the electric kitchen knife but were now finally burning gloriously in the Inglenook fireplace. No one will ever know, he thought with a smug smile.


This was my entry into week 168 of the #100WCGU – to see other (lets face it, more pleasant,) entries or to enter for yourself please click here.

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