Winter Feeding for Garden Birds

During Autumn and Winter, food and water should be put out on a regular basis in order to give our garden birds the best chance of survival. If possible, feed birds twice daily in very severe weather and make sure to break any ice the water.

Throughout autumn, feeding sunflower hearts means that the birds have to use less effort to remove the husks like they would with whole seeds. See what wildlife is doing this Autumn with AutumnWatch

During the winter weather that is due this weekend following Storm Caroline , especially when birds rely on their fat reserves to cope with frosty nights and snowy days, we should be feeding high energy food.

Over winter, the following foods are ideal for birds as they are high in energy:

  • Peanuts
  • Nyjer seed
  • Sunflower hearts/black sunflower seeds
  • Fat balls
  • Suet logs/blocks/balls
  • Mealworms

Tiggi x


‘X’ marks the spot

Well I have been back riding officially for a few months now, and what an eventful few months it has been!


Me after working hard

The ‘walking sofa’ Mickey, was a perfect gent for me the first couple of lessons.  Then we started to have some “fun”, for want of a better word.  Mickey was getting fitter, at a faster rate than me. With his greater fitness he seemed to become more “alive” and was looking for a reason to spook, as they do. Well this post sums it up:

“Another lesson on Mickey this aft, which included a stylish dismount! Yes I fell off. I got asked what did I land on – er the floor! I did get back on and ride him, it had been my fault after all. It hurt a bit, but not as bad as I feared. Aching now tho. ffs.”

From that moment on Mickey and I became at odds.  I felt not ready for a horse as strong as that, and Mikey needed someone confident on him as we were starting to spook at electric gates, bikes, motorbikes accelerating (that was a fun one cos we accelerated too – but I stayed on that time), horse boxes blah blah blah.  Thankfully, all while in the outdoor school, he hacks out brilliantly though.


Mickey & me

We tried numerous tactics to address my faults and his cheekiness. However, after a particular lesson where we started to make some progress, but then developed a tendency to buck I finally said to Lisa my instructor, enough was enough.  Mickey and I were just winding each other up and it was becoming ever decreasing circles.  As Lisa said “If it isn’t fun, it isn’t right”.  We were supposed to be building my confidence back up and rehabilitation after injury.  A new plan was hatched.

Meet my ginger knight in shining armour – Jack.  An ex race horse who I have found I can give my trust too, and is very forgiving.


A couple of aids like toe stops ( I had one fall where I slipped forward and struggled to get my foot out of the stirrups) to lend me confidence and we are up and running.

Between Lisa and this gentle, very patient horse I am now back cantering lots, and jumping.  Only small jumps but hey it’s a start and my smile is back.

Tiggi x












To the Hedgehog rescue!

A few years ago, I rescued a hedgehog who got stuck in our fencing.  Fast forward to now and “Pog the hog” is a regular visitor to our garden, plus he’s brilliant for our veg patch as he allows us to organically garden thanks to his love for pests.  I did, however, trip over him taking the recycling out of the garden to which he snuffled his disgust rather loudly!

So, what do you do if you’ve found a poorly hedgehog?


  • Leave them a small shallow bowl of fresh water
  • Put some meaty food out for them, such as wet cat food or hedgehog food
  • Pick a poorly hedgehog up with gardening gloves
  • Place the hedgehog in a box with very high sides and air holes so they can breathe
  • Put an old towel or fleece in the bottom so the hedgehog can hide if it desires
  • Fill a hot water bottle, wrap it in an old towel and place it in the box
  • Ensure the water bottle stays warm

Do not:

  • Give them milk- hedgehogs are lactose intolerant!
  • Put them in a small box e.g. shoe box, as they are strong and could push the lid off
  • Leave a cold hot water bottle in the box as it can do more harm
  • Fail to call an expert. Always get advice on your rescued hedgehog

It is important to call an expert as soon as possible to ask for their advice.
We recommend calling the British Hedgehog Preservation Society as they can find you the most local place to find help for your rescued hedgehog.

Tiggi x

Summer Holiday Activities with a Family Business

Summer is here and school is out!  I have to admit to looking forward to having my “baby” back, and getting off the treadmill that is the school run.  God it just felt relentless towards the end of term.  Admittedly the first two days were testing as Leon adjusted and wound down, poor little man was sooooo tired and overwhelmed, so we just had a couple of days at home pottering and cycling round the village. (Plus ate some yummy comfort food)

Summer holiday activities with a family business

French Toast for breakfast

Delivery Time ending at the park

As usual, we have to juggle the needs of our business with the needs of our family and Friday was delivery day. Being summer holidays, Leon is with either his Dad or me.  We packed up the truck with essentials for the park and loaded the feed deliveries into the back.  A bit of planning resulted in our last delivery of the day happening right next to one of Leon’s favourite park – Rushcliffe Country Park.  We had some happy Leon & Mummy time until the rain came in.  Then it was home for a brew and treats.

Muddy night at Leicester Speedway

We have managed some family time with a great (and dramatic) evening out to Leicester Speedway.  I didn’t expect to enjoy the event as much as I did, but we all loved it.  Such a great family atmosphere, competitive riding, dramatic finish and friendly fans willing to explain and show you the ropes.  It was muddy though.  The husband said we may get “a little dirty”, not splattered from head to toe!  Leon and I laughed our socks off, and I was very impressed with my skilled reaction to keep the flying mud out of my beer, and no spillage!

Trraditional Skegness Pub Trip!

To finish our first week off together, (Daddy has now taken over), we had a little two night stay in Skegness.  This has become a bit of a tradition since we first joined the local pub day trip to the seaside 3 years ago.  Now Nanna has a caravan there we grab a couple nights away and spend the days on the beach – no matter what the weather.  This year we had two complete opposite days – one glorious sunshine and warm, the next grey, wet & cold.  It didn’t stop us, nor did my oddly patched sun burn.  Sometimes it can only happen to me.

Balancing Act

Leon is now having adventures with Daddy for a week, then it will be swapsies again.  This is how we manage our childcare and business throughout the holidays.  Maybe not ideal, and sometimes combining the business with family is very difficult, but this way Leon always has one of us around at least.  Plus we are getting better at eking out time for family adventures.  How do you balance family and work life when running your own business? Hope you all have a great summer.


Tiggi x




Happy Father’s Day Stick Float

Yesterday saw the Husband (aka Stick Float) very busy in the shop as the river season had started.  Meanwhile, I took Leon to a lovely birthday party and did the usual Saturday jobs.  The result of which meant that we hadn’t seen each other all day, on top of what had already been a busy week.  As Stick Float was going off to finish marking the pegs for today’s match on the River Soar, Little Man and I decided to join him for the evening along the bank.

It soon turned out that I had made a rookies error in wearing inappropriate footwear.


Oops not great for rambling along the river bank in

However, lagging behind father & son allowed me to watch and capture them together.


Like Father, like son spotting the fish jumping

It was worth the scrambling, slipping and grass stuck in feet as the River Soar was beautiful last night.


Stick Float and Little man are fishing today in a competition, a bit of Daddy & son time. I made the mistake again of wrong footwear to drop off Little Man’s forgotten boots.


Will I never learn?!


I hope they have a great day together, love this pair so much.  Grabbing moments like this are what it is all about.

Tiggi x

Back in the saddle

It has been over 12 months since I last rode a horse and that day Rupert was an absolute gentleman.  However, since little man arrived over 5 years ago my time on horse back has been very sporadic indeed, sadly.

There are two problems that I have to over come, one is childcare while I ride, the other has been to finally admit that due to the two back problems I have which were aggravated by carrying a child (my physio described what pregnancy does to the body as barbaric??!!), that I needed to find a quiet, walking sofa basically.  I just did not have the core strength to be able to support my back enough.


And that’s what worries me!

Gone are the days of working a highland pony through his tendency to buck, or riding a 17h thoroughbred who was rather strong on the reins and getting down hurt so much.  It was time to admit that I needed a horse that could help me, not potentially hurt me more.  I had this conversation with Linda, a horse woman I have the up most respect for, and she said “I have the perfect match for you – meet Mikey”.  It was love at first sight!

Mikey has a calm and cuddly kind of personality.  Our first meeting involved 30 mins of me scratching where he asked me to, and me being snuffled and groomed in return.  The answer to the question “So Mikey do you do kisses?” was a resounding yes as he stuffed his nose in my face for a kiss lol.  Needless to say deliveries took a little longer that day as I had plenty of cuddles.

Now I maybe daft, but I am not stupid (although according to some this is still up for debate!).  I didn’t decide to just get straight back on a horse, a little work was required first.  Just some gentle stretching of the lower back everyday and some very basic fitness work, e.g cycling everywhere with my son.  However, patience is often a virtue I lack and within a few weeks it was Mother’s Day and part of my “me time” was going to be my first ride on Mikey.

The day arrived and I faced my first problem – could I still fit into my freshly washed jodhpurs? I wouldn’t say they slipped on, but I didn’t have to fold and tuck myself into them either, or do the funny jumping wriggle dance to squeeze in – come on we’ve all been there.  It was a pleasant surprise to find that I could wear my pre pregnancy jods.  Although I didn’t dare breath too much hahahahaha.

I found myself getting quite nervous on the short drive to the stables.  I was feeling excited, nervous, stiff and in a little pain.  There was no way I was taking any tablets before riding, couldn’t risk not being able to assess how I was physically coping.  When I saw him, it was love at first sight all over again – although I could swear he had grown since I last saw him.  Bless that horse, he stood so patiently while I groomed him and fumbled about getting him ready. It was good for me though as it started to settle my nerves.


Quick brush and a scratch

Then the time came to walk him up to the little indoor school and the nerves began to build again.  I was about to ride, who to me, was a unknown horse not knowing how my back would react.  Mikey plodded up and stood perfectly still at the mounting block, while I unceremoniously climbed up the steps (ok crawled).  Before I knew it I was on the back of a very patient walking sofa, trying to remember how to ride.  There’s a short video here.  It wasn’t pretty, or perfect but I was back!! Yes, yes, yes – the smile on my face said it all.

I’m back and I’m riding twice a week. Never too old.

Tiggi x


Mother’s Day Treat

17553838_1499829613412580_6635011570557394199_nNot sure that the hubby has quite got this Mothering Sunday thing down to a tee yet.  He suggested that we close the shop for the day, the first time ever since the shop opened.  How lovely I thought, I might get a lie in.  No such luck.  At an ungodly hour the alarm went off and Scott was up and out of the house to go fishing. I told him “I Love you, but you are mad to get up at this time – have fun”.


16387287_1177014752418703_4806954421200112916_nThe plan had been to go back to sleep for a few more hours.  It was Leon who had other plans this time.  He had heard the Landy leave and as there was light in the sky, according to little man it was time to get up.  I was going to need a lot of coffee, so thought I would treat myself to an ‘Uncle Pat’s’ coffee, or two (Ok so I overdosed on coffee).  No breakfast in bed for me, there were jobs to do.

We had my mum, my mother in law and grandmother in law coming for lunch, so there was tidying, cleaning and table setting to be done.  Thankfully I had planned ahead.  The menu for the day was Cheese stuffed pasta shells from The Pioneer Woman, homemade tear and share garlic bread, and a green salad, followed by Brownie Cheesecake (a recipe I had spied in Tesco magazine) and raspberries.  All of it, bar the bread, was already prepped as I had started on Friday evening.  Therefore, I spent the morning of Mother’s Day making bread (which I love to do), entertaining the child, preparing the house and drinking lots of coffee.

The husband returned from his morning out just in time for guests arriving and to get the drinks poured.  Have to admit the meal was delish, even if I do say so myself.  Though everybody else did agree as they tucked in, there was clean plates all round, always a good sign.  I forgot to photo the cheesecake – oops.  The meal and conversation was in full flow, just didn’t think to pick my phone up.  We have been eating the cheesecake up for last two nights, it is sooooooooooo good he he he he.

The hubby did redeem himself later.  There were no flowers or chocolates for me, but a new book to read.  Not one I had hinted at, but a carefully chosen one by my boys, all about food and set in Scotland. 10/10 for this one for this one Scott, I am really enjoying it.  The best was yet to come as the following morning had been set aside for me to go riding for the first time in about 12 months. Happy Days


Thank you Scott & Leon, love you both lots.


Tiggi x



Days off

What they don’t tell you when you start planning your own small business, is that days off become a rarity.  At certain times of the year they are even like rocking horse poo!  You will plan your business hours, and create an ideal schedule of when you will get all the jobs done that are required to create a successful business, and then reality hits.  Some days you will be so busy, but you will feel like you have achieved the square root of f**k all.  Which leaves your “spare” time dealing with all the jobs you couldn’t get done during business hours.

Mondays (our day off), are frequently spent visiting suppliers, business meetings, seeing the accountant, doing the books, working on the website and social media or at trade shows, fully utilizing the hours our son is at school.   All the while we try to eek out some time as a couple, even if it is just a brew together somewhere, if we are lucky we might even find time for lunch out.  Rushing back in time for end of school from whatever errand we have been on, to grab some family time.  Then the following morning the merry go round starts all over again.

Don’t get me wrong, we love our shop, but we are dictated to by the ebb and flow of retail life. Which means time off and holidays are a rarity rather than the norm, and everything has to be planned around your busy times of the year.   There is always that worry that you are just one bad day/month away from losing it all, and that the one time you do shut will be the time that your customer wants you to be open.  As we all know, you rarely get a second bite of the apple, if you aren’t there when the customer expects you to be they don’t come back again.  Be warned though, as logical as this is to other business owners, there will be friends and family who just don’t “get it”.

Anyway, my body decided that this Monday was going to be a true day off as I was poorly.  The last time we relaxed on a Monday was during half time when we had a “ahhh eff it” moment and decided to go visit some friends after the shop shut on Sunday.  As it was half term, there was no rush to get back for school, so we packed our overnight bags and headed off to sunny Hertfordshire.  After a warm welcome from the two horses, a rather large dog wearing a door (he still thinks that he is a puppy and can fit through a cat flap!), a beautiful timid greyhound, two free ranging hens that are afraid of the dark, numerous cats and of course Andy & Trish, we settled in to the old farmhouse.

Andy had recorded the Six Nations Rugby that day for catch up after dinner, so we were free to explore.  I naturally headed to the stables to have cuddles with J-Lo and Colonel, followed by a nosy round Trish’s craft shop.  The boys disappeared into the numerous garages – surprise.  Before we knew it the light was fading and it was time to retire to an evening of hearty home cooked food, good real ale, a roaring log stove, rugby and easy conversation.

The following morning was a slower start to the day than we are used to.  A lazy morning which included a late cooked brunch, with our son performing the role of commis chef, numerous brews and a break down of the match from the night before. With full belly’s it was time to head out and play football in the horse’s field, with two dogs in tow.  Don’t worry, we utilized Andy & Trish’s pasture management tactics of fencing off large areas and played inside them. While two dogs ran around, and around, and around! Colonel and J Lo happily grazed near by wondering what we were doing with their football.  The view across the valley was stunning.

Spring fever started to show in the horses, Colonel most definitely had the wind up his tail.  We decided to leave them to the football and go for a walk around the local lanes.

As we turned off the main track, a field was being ploughed and we counted 16 Red Kites ! All flying above making the most of the turned earth giving up it’s worms, and completely ignoring us.  It was an amazing sight watching their airborne ballet as they swooped and dived.

We found lots of signs of Spring around us, places to explore and mud!

Before long it was time to head back to the farmhouse for a final brew and a slice of Parsnip and Pecan cake (made by me as a thank you).SAMSUNG

Then it was time to trundle back up the motorway, with a sleepy but happy Leon and both of us feeling a lot more relaxed and centered.  The power of a short break with good friends to revive and refresh never ceases to amaze.  Thank you again to Andy & Trish for understanding and generosity of time.

Tiggi x

P.S. Sorry Trish we got your dogs so very muddy – lol


(P>S Trish –



Why Log Burners must be female!

Well, the weather has changed again in this ‘can’t make it’s mind up’ month we are having.  We go from grey and damp, to sunny and crisp. It is up,down, shake it all around.  Anyway, Spring isn’t far off now, the signs are all there as the snowdrops bashfully bow their heads and the daffodils begin to creep above the ground.

Yet winter isn’t quite finished with us as temperatures are due to fall to around freezing in rural areas over the next few nights.  It’s already blooming cold out there and very wet.  However, fear not, as we have coal, logs, kindling and matches, as well as the very popular olive briquettes readily available to help keep you toasty warm.

Which led to a conversation with a regular customer, who was picking up his coal and logs, about how we use our log stoves.  Judging by his reaction (think eyebrows disappearing into hairline surprise) I obviously maximize the use of ours to the extreme.


We all know that a log stove with a roaring fire not only warms the home, but the soul as well.  There is something hypnotically beautiful and cheering about a real flame. The light it gives off on a dark evening is most definitely conducive to a little romance and relaxation, sharing a bottle of your favorite tipple, with a few candles burning from Black Acres Soap Pantry easily makes for a little bit of #hygge.  Even the fat cat Silly Lillie gets belly up in front of the fire purring like a little motor boat. (P.S. The fireguard is not there to protect the child but the cat!  If she gets any closer to the fire we will end up with roast cat one day!! She’s singed her whiskers already – love that daft cat).


On a more practical level, once our stove is lit I use it to do more than just warm the home.  To start with the kettle is filled and placed in position to keep hubby in brews, make hot toddy’s in the “man flu” & cold season, and top up hot water bottles when the child is poorly too.  The clothes are set out to dry around it, saving money not using the tumble dryer, and muddy wet boots and gloves are set nearby to dry again for the following day.

SAMSUNGI also cook on our stove.  Bread is left to prove and rise on the fire guard, tagines gently slow cook throughout the day filling the house with delicious spicy aromas, anything that needs to be boiled (pasta, veg,rice) goes in a pan on the top, stews and soups are left to simmer to perfection, and milk warmed for hot chocolate ready for when we come in from the cold.

Then we burn as much practical waste (veg peelings, tea bags, paper, cardboard etc), which helps to heats us and reduces how much we put out in the bins.  Finally, did you know that the ashes from your fire has uses too?  We tip ours onto the dormant veg patch to enrich the soil (let the worms dig it in) and save some to go around the new sprung veg to help deter slugs and snails.  You can even save your fire ash and use it to create dust baths for you chickens during the summer months.

Therefore, the obvious conclusion is that the log stove must be a female! Quite simply because of the ability to seriously multitask! Hahahahahahaha.

Tiggi x