As much as I love my little house, living in an energy efficient property with greenhouse-like front windows occasionally has its downsides. Case in point: the uncharacteristically glorious weather we’ve had over this past week. Our bedroom feels like a sauna and the cats have never been so cranky, even with every window open in the house!
I guess what I’m saying is: it’s time to get out into the garden.
I think that, last summer, we were too shell-shocked at actually being homeowners to think about doing anything with the garden. Plus, we didn’t exactly have the best of summers and it doesn’t help that it’s quite small: a little lawn at the front, and mostly driveway at the back, with a small patch of grass that’s mostly shaded by Jay’s bike shed. But last weekend, after I went outside to take pictures of my new shoes for the blog (none of which actually turned out because of the glare, but never mind) it was so gorgeous out that it was a good hour before I could finally drag myself back indoors.
This summer, I think we’re ready to make the most of it. After a six-week-long standoff over who would be the last to cave and cut their grass on our street, we ordered a proper lawnmower from Tesco Direct to replace the wee strimmer that did us fine when we were living in the flat. That’s some proper adulting, right there. In fact, it’s the kind of adulting which means I can now lie on the front lawn with an ice cream without feeling like I’m lost in the Serengeti, which is the best kind of adulting.
The challenge, of course, is how to make the best use of our small space. There’s no road at the front, and we get on really well with our neighbours, so if we put any fences or railings up I reckon it would make the place look even smaller and cast too much of a shade. I love the idea of outdoor cooking, and I do actually own the massive gas-fuelled barbecue that we got for the birthday party I had at my mum’s exactly 10 years ago, but again it would dwarf our little space. There’s a decent selection of portable barbecues in the supermarket over the road though, so that might be one way of dealing with it – particularly if the forecasts are true and we’re genuinely about to have the hottest summer in 40 years!
The small space also rules out any particularly fancy patio furniture, which is probably a good thing since it would have to be portable enough to store inside or in the loft during the winter months anyway. I’d at least like a little table and chairs, comfortable enough to relax in with a book – and a gin-based cocktail – on balmy weekend evenings. Somebody shared these five alternatives to a traditional gin and tonic on Facebook a few days ago, and I’m keen to try them all!
I’m also really keen, now that I have my own space, to get a little bit of urban homesteading on the go: a few flowers, some basic vegetables and a bit of a herb garden. I love using fresh herbs in my cooking, but with all my various work and freelance commitments I can’t always guarantee when I’ll have time to cook. I buy those pouches of ready-cut fresh herbs, use a little and then leave the rest to wither away in the fridge. It’s such a waste, which I do feel guilty about; so growing my own would be as good for the environment as it would be for my budget. Plus, a summer of mojitos with home-grown fresh mint? Sign me up.
Do you have your own garden, and do you grow any of your own herbs or vegetables? I’d love any tips!
This post is a collaboration with Tesco, but all opinions are my own and unbiased.