Monthly Archives: September 2019

How to Use Recycled Materials and Litter in the Garden

Green gardening is becoming popular. More and more families are beginning to recycle materials in imaginative ways. After the Great British Spring Clean we had fun converting old buoys and I found washed up on Solent shores into swings for the children. I’ve been sent a few more ideas on how to re-purpose materials for your garden:

Bird feeder – Garden birds eat harmful insects and help pollinate plants. It’s well worth keeping a bird table to encourage them to visit regularly. Rather than spend money on buying a commercial bird feeder, try using different materials to make your own. I collect plastic bottles the whole time when picking up litter and always have a selection in my recycling bin.  The BBC recommend converting a round plastic bottle with a cap, using two willow sticks, a drawing pin, and some string. The sticks serve as perches. When collecting marine plastic, I often find pieces of strong PVC string ideal for hanging up something like this. Once you’ve finished the construction, fill the bottle with bird seed or sunflower seeds and hang it from a tree where song birds can enjoy a bit of cover. It’s a much better option than throwing the plastic bottle in the bin. For info on how to create a recycled bird feeder, please click here.

Cloches – Plastic bottles cut in half make ideal cloches or mini greenhouses to protect and bring on seedlings. Use the top half, without the cap, to bring on plants when you need to allow hot air to escape as conditions warm up.

Use cooking pots as planters – Most households will have several forgotten cooking pots lying around. Try transforming them into decorative planters. You can use string, small rocks, or shells to give them more personality and create a feature in a small space.

Walls, fences and hedges define the boundaries of any garden and contribute hugely to the atmosphere within.  Country Living suggest using reclaimed timber such as drift wood if you are thinking of putting up a new fence. I was amazed to find an inexpensive  selection of natural garden dividers at Screwfix made from bamboo or reeds. These sustainable plants can create an effective screen that provides added interest as well as privacy. It’s possible to create your own if you can gather enough materials.

Sustainable garden furniture – It can be expensive to buy garden furniture, which is often made out of plastic. Country and Townhouse explain how sustainable furniture is being made from materials otherwise intended for the landfill. EnviroBuild’s all-weather Rattan garden furniture is a good example of modern design that makes a useful addition to your garden. It’s made using recycled polyethylene.

Turn tin cans into patio lanterns – I find we have a number of tin cans in our weekly recyling, which can be used for a multitude of purposes. Clean them up, give them a good coat of luminescent or glow-in-the-dark paint, then make a few holes in them, or cut holes in the shape of moons and stars, to turn them into outdoor lanterns. You can use battery-operated tea lights or small solar lights so it’s safe to leave them outdoors.

House numbers made out of recycled coffee cups – Many companies are now helping gardeners use recycled materials. We found some very handsome ECO House Numbers, made using recycled coffee cups, that come with a 300-year guarantee. You can find them, along with other ideas here.

You’ll be surprised at how many things you can create from unused materials from your house or litter found while out walking. All it takes is a little imagination and a little time. Do let me know of any ideas or things you have made in the comments below.

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Daphne Neville, star of all my books, appeared in ‘Come Dine With Me’ on Channel 4 last week

Come Dine With Me opening titles

My mother, Daphne, who has appears as a vibrant character in all my books, took part in series 5 of ‘Come Dine With Me’, broadcast on Chanel 4 this last week. The series was first screened in August 2018. The full five programmes should be available on catch-up.

Whilst, we her family, find Mum’s appearance daunting, if not traumatic, she has made quite a splash with viewers. By the end of the first episode #comedinewithme was trending on Twitter:

Daphne is what is great about Britain..cute polite nice classy positive welcoming….’

‘Daphne is lovely

‘I’m watching how cute is that old lady Daphne!! Ahhh’

‘Yes and we love Daphne too!!

I could not love Daphne anymore than if she was my own Nan!’❤️

‘Aww I do love Daphne!!

‘We are only tuning in to watch daphne

‘Aww isn’t Daphne just the best!!

‘I love Daphne on #comedinewithme

‘Daphne the perfect dinner guest

I totally want to adopt Daphne!!

Oh I LOVE Daphne, I’d score her night a 10 even if the food was crap!

Daphne opened Episode 5, being ‘first off’, with a can of tomatoes.

Come Dine With Me in the kitchen

She was interviewed in her kitchen and we met the guests as they came downstairs. The fact that she lives in a converted mill wasn’t made clear to the other contestants.

‘Keep to the left, its a spiral staircase’, one viewer cried.

Come Dine With Me Group Standing

However, every detail of the meal had been carefully planned. The wine was chilled, the table looked lovely and there was almost constant laughter. Viewers seemed to be engaged: ‘Go daphne!!

Come Dine With Me with Daphne Neville

Mum prepared tomato and mushroom soup for her four guests, followed by wild salmon, only to find out that two of the guests disliked fish, which was a bit of a pity.

Viewers on Twitter were appalled: ‘Seriously…. Who don’t eat fish?’ & ‘So James wouldn’t eat Daphne’s main cause he doesn’t like fish but his starter is lobster?

Come Dine With Me at Daphne Neville's house

One of the guests, who was a stickler for good manners, became irritated by another member of the party and walked out before pudding, which was quite dramatic.

‘Anne’s bottled it…. We have a reserve.’ #comedinewithme

Come Dine With Me - lady leaving

Anne rather blew her own words out of the water, although Daphne said she later wrote to apologise. There was a roar from viewers on Twitter:

 ‘OMG how rude is Anne?! Lecturing the others on manners and then walking out on Daphne?! Bitch!’

Come Dine With Me - Daphne Neville

Suddenly there was one less. Mum’s fans on Twitter were in uproar:

Poor Daphne, completely bemused!!

She ploughed on and the evening became increasingly enjoyable, especially when Rudi the Otter was brought down to meet everyone.

Come Dine With Me featturing Rudi the Otter

In the end, Daphne was awarded 28 points by her four dinner guests. We were amazed.

The Twitter-atary added their opinion:

‘Everyone needs to protect and look after Daphne, that woman is a legend!!

‘If Daphne doesn’t win I’m going to kill someone

‘Anyone see the water sossig on #comedinewithme ? (an ottter)

‘Daphne is our winner

Can we have Daphne on every week please!

Come Dine With Me score.jpg

You can watch the last episode on Channel 4 today at 5.00pm and find out who wins.

Come Dine With Me week 2

‘Absolutely love on . . . What a legend! I want to meet her and her otter 🙏🏻

You can!

Daphne and Rudi the Otter will be appearing at the Frampton Country Fair in South Gloucestershire on Saturday 8th September 2019. All welcome! She will also be speaking at The Arthur Ransome Society Literary Weekend at Cirencester University on Friday 11th October, when I will also be giving a talk.

You can read about the antics of Daphne and her tame otters in ‘Funnily Enough’ by Sophie Neville available online  or to order at your local library. She is also portrayed in ‘The Making of Swallows and Amazons’ as she worked behind-the-scenes on the 1974 movie. If you prefer reading ebooks, the same story is available under the title ‘The Secrets of Filming Swallows and Amazons’ for £2.99

Daphne and Rudi on TV

 

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