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


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


We were invited down to a Think Tank session with Spillers on Tuesday at their factory in Milton Keynes so, in theory, it should have taken us around an hour or so to get there. No. Hearing that Junction 22 of the M1 was a nightmare, we decided to get on at a different junction. Turns out, with traffic all the way through Loughborough and Shepshed, that was much easier said than done. We finally got onto the motorway to find that the news was giving traffic alerts for pretty much every road and junction we wanted. Long story short, the 1 hour journey took us 3 hours thanks to countryside detours.


Countryside pit stop

Things definitely looked up when we arrived at Spillers. They offered me coffee (yes please and thank you!! Much needed after the journey up) and saw lots of food on the table in the conference room (yes please again!!). We learned lots from nutritional information to future plans to offering feedback. But the most exciting thing we learned was…

Spillers are bringing out a new product soon!

We can’t reveal any information yet (all top secret you see haha) but we shall definitely be keeping you all up to date. What we can tell you is that we’re incredibly excited about it, and all of the other retailers who were invited were equally as impressed with it.

spillers memo.jpg

Ready to take notes

Knowing that the M1 was still closed at the end of the day (later than planned, as everyone had so much to say!), we stocked up on left over food (thank you yet again Spillers!) to keep us going on the way home.


Sunset on our journey home

With Charlotte and I both having our brains mashed from all of the information, both being tired and hungry and Charlotte navigating despite having the ability to get lost in her own home, the journey back was rather interesting. We learned that I cannot drive at all as I drove over many roundabouts (why is there lots of blobs of paint all in the road in Milton Keynes?!), screeched to a stop multiple times as the give way signs were invisible and also stalled on many occasions. If my driving that evening wasn’t already poor enough, we almost ended up crashing as I couldn’t stop laughing- really do need to go to Specsavers! At one point, communication got mixed and the message I received from Charlotte sounded like “pirates with ducks on their heads”.  All I wanted was a simple left or right!

Tiggi x

Sorry, the C word has to be said!

After Sutton Bonington Show on Sunday 3rd Sept, we were up and ready for the Autumn Fair 2017 at the NEC on Monday.  Knowing it was going to be a long day, I appropriately fuelled myself with lots of coffee, and then got even more coffee when we arrived.


One of my many coffees

With 5 halls full of stands, we started by looking at the trends and fashions this year, especially keeping an eye out for Christmas ideas (yes, I know, Christmas in September! The dreaded C word. But it has to be done, sorry!!) Whilst flamingos were still about, thankfully we weren’t seeing them everywhere we turned! Instead, there were peacocks, chickens and ducks. Talk about a bird obsession.


My best dinosaur impression

There were also 2 very clear themes, either a rustic look or a mega glitzy, diamante filled appearance. We decided to leave the TOWIE type glamour to the professionals and stick with our beloved country, rural look. We did rather like the fruity dinosaur and shiny sparkly unicorn, although Scott wasn’t too keen on Charlotte and mine plan to sneak them back to the shop as a display!! (Apparently he didn’t think we could stuff them up our jumpers!??)


Sparkly unicorn!

Despite Spring Fair 2017 being a major success, Autumn Fair just didn’t do it for us. Unfortunately, we only found a couple of great little finds, instead of the hundreds we hoped for, so  didn’t leave with the buzz we wanted, but you win some and you lose some.   On the plus side, we got some free cider samples in the last hall!

Tiggi x

Summer Show Shenanigans

So we’ve had a very, very busy summer with Rempstone Show to start with, then Long Lane Equestrian Show followed by Sutton Bonington Show the weekend after.

Long Lane Show, in aid of the Willberry Wonder Pony charity, was a success plus we got to watch pretty ponies all day.  With our stand right outside the show jumping arena, we had a brilliant view of all the action, but we ended up with a bad case of i-want-to-jump-itis!!  We met some very cute ponies, especially the ones with glitter everywhere (Charlotte still refuses to let me cover Rupert in glitter boooo).


Little chestnut pony

We also had the best neighbouring stand ever- Hoots Owls!!  I absolutely fell in love with Khan (aka Mr Grumpy!!!) and his eyes, all the owls are rescues.  They’re only based in East Leake at Manor Farm is a great place to visit, we’ll definitely be going with Leon again soon.


The weekend after, we packed our stock up, put the tent up and unloaded the stock all over again for Sutton Bonington Show.  Although, it wasn’t as busy as last year (the show’s 30th year), we were rushed off our feet and didn’t get a chance to breathe!  Very successful show for us and cleared plenty of stock to make way for new stock and gifts for autumn and winter (yay!).

We went to Sutton Bonington Show with Spillers again, running a competition (guess how many meadowherb treats in a jar) offering a Spillers hoodie and 3 months of Spillers horse feed for free from us at the shop.  Steph, representing Spillers, offered plenty of advice for horse’s diets throughout the day, as well as entertaining Leon (who seemed scarily obsessed with her!).  Grace Moore, aged 10, won our competition with the closest guess, so we can’t wait to see photos in her hoodie and her very happy pony!

sb show

Just after opening

We had a prime spot for watching the Quack Pack (thank God, Charlotte didn’t stop talking about it for the whole week running up to the show!) but we were too busy to have a proper look around the rest of the show.  Apart from the food stands.  We made sure we were regular customers!!

This Kanyon Fisher coat is gorgeous and it just so happens to be in my size, so I might have to take it home with me haha

kath kanyon.jpg

Giving our model Mabel a hug

After we packed everything away from the show on Sunday, we had a nice relaxing Monday got up early on Monday to head to the NEC for Autumn Fair 2017.  No rest for the wicked and all…

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




Rempstone Show 2017 Report

Well that’s Rempstone Steam and Country Show done for another year!

Much better weather than the torrential rain we had last year that left us with rivers running through the marquee and mud seeping from underneath the carpet. Although, the heat often meant you’d find us sitting on the floor right in front of the fan!

We had a brilliant year with a record number of visitors on the Saturday, especially with some beautiful canine visitors (and the odd parrot). The child dragged me over to watch the motorbike display and then Charlotte over to watch the Punjab Lancers. The child then dragged the (much appreciated, last-minute) baby-sitter, Jack, around the show, pulling his arm to go on the fairground rides and coming back with an arm-full of toys, clearly having had multiple attempts on the Hook-a-duck.

Punjab Lancers.jpg

Charlotte managed to excel in stupid comments and moments over the show, with my favourites being “de-warm” instead of ‘cool down’ and asking “will the sunglasses be okay in the sun?” and very VERY promptly realising what she’d just said. Despite this, she swears she’s actually intelligent and got AAAB at AS Levels! On the first day of the show, I thought I was going to die in a portaloo as the rumbles of a bloody big Arctic lorry got closer and closer, but that’s another story.

Punjab Lancers 3

Stupid moments aside, we had a very successful Rempstone Show this year, and thank you to all of you who visited us there. Roll on Long Lane Equestrian Show and Sutton Bonington Show!

Punjab Lancers 2


Is your hat up to scratch?

Recently, we’ve had a scary amount of people come into the shop that have been sold a riding hat or body protector elsewhere, to be told by their riding instructor that is has failed the safety test, either due to ill-fitting or the hat/body protector isn’t up to current standards.

Whether you’re a member of a local Pony Club or eventing at Burghley, your hat must meet the new standard.  This means that (BS)EN1384 alone is not permitted by the The Pony Club, Riding Clubs,  British Horse Society (BHS), British Eventing, British Show Jumping or British Dressage in 2017.  However, hats would be acceptable if they carry EN1384 or BSEN1384 and another standard such as those listed:

  • PAS 015 (1998 or 2011)
  • VG1 01.040 (2014-12)
  • ASTM F1163 (2004a or 04a onwards)
  • SNELL E2001
  • AS/NZS 3838 (2006 onwards)

So if your hat is still meeting current safety standards, fab.  But does it fit correctly? Scott and I are both trained to fit safety equipment correctly, so please call us on 01509 670436 to book an appointment as the shop gets busy.  Even if your hat was fitted when you first bought it, it is a good idea to have it regularly checked in case any straps need adjusting or in the case of young riders a reminder of how to correctly wear their hat! A fitting or check is free here, so it’s definitely worth the peace of mind.

For 2017, the Pony Club requires that body protectors must meet the Beta Level 3 2009 standard for cross country and pony racing, but they are not compulsory for other activities. In 2018, British Eventing will only allow body protectors with the Beta Level 3 2009 (purple) label to be worn, as the 2000 version will no longer be permitted.  We can also check that your body protector fits correctly.

If you bring your hat and body protector along to your appointment we will check them.  That way you know they will do their job properly in the event of a fall (it happens to the best of us, just seems to be me hitting the deck every other week at the moment!)

*Always check with your riding organisation for current rules.

Riding hat blog

A variety of hats at our stables for interest only

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

What Mary Portas said

So the question is – What did Mary Portas advise small retail owners at The Spring Fair?

I am going to try and relate to you the core of what Mary said, and some examples of how we have tried to implement ideas into our own shop since then.  Please don’t take this as a “how to”, or that we are preaching “follow this and your business will be a success” – I mean how many times a day do you get spammed on twitter, email or fb with people claiming to have the answers? – you don’t need another.  This is just the notes I took whilst listening to an influential and respected champion of the small retailer,  and our take on things.  We are not perfect, but we are willing to learn and to change, just like you.  We have to do, to survive in this current retail atmosphere.

The first thing spoken about was how much retail has changed ( no s**t Sherlock), that the reasons our customers seek out the small retailer are because they expect us to be knowledgeable in our field, unique, offer a full experience and be judicious.  I think most of us begin this way, otherwise we would not have started our own shops.  However, when times are tough, maybe it gets a little lost, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded.

Going forward, Mary was predicting that people would be looking to spend their hard earned cash on their homes, well being and connectivity – it’s that Hygge thing again, but it appears to be around for the long haul this one.  So we need to apply this to our shops, but what does this mean?

Engage the senses of your customer as they walk by/into your shop.

  1. Vision –  great window displays, make regular small changes to catch the eye to internal displays.
  2. Hearing – we now play music that relates to us not just a generic radio station in the background (yes we have our PRS licence).
  3. Smell – maggots are not a great smell, but we need them for the fishing side of shop. To counteract it I burn a small scented candle and let the lovely scents waft out the front door. Cleanliness of the shop is important too. (PS these are candles we sell in the shop and have noticed a real increase in sales since doing this.)
  4. Taste – free chocolate anyone?  Yes we now have samples of the local made chocolate to share with our customers. On the pet side we have samples of dog treats too for our four legged friends.
  5. Touch – encouraging this customer to feel the products, hold the fishing pole, squidge the cushions, try the boots on. Plus we now have lots of wood shelving which is very tactile.
  6. Connect – just a simply hello will do. Don’t ask closed questions!! As soon as you ask “Do you need any help?” – the automatic reply is “No” – end of conversation.  Introduce yourself, explain a little (key word) about your empire, then ask questions about them, get the conversation flowing, make them welcome and feel important.

Mary was also asked to predict trends for 2017, here are her top 5:

  1. Vintage – replica or genuine.
  2. Mid Century design.
  3. Succulent plants.
  4. Status Stories (goodbye status symbols).
  5. Cultural trend awareness.

Thankfully no Flamingos this year!

Finally, key words to remember you are small, local, niche and get your story out there!