Saturday, 23 August 2014

Do we move house or extend?

I love my house.

I remember the first time I saw it and I fell in love. Despite it being far from perfect.

I always knew it needed some work. And it would need more than just a lick of paint to make it a family home. The one thing that will need doing at some point is an extension. The house currently has three bedrooms, but one is downstairs, as it’s a dormer bungalow. I’d like to extend the other half of the upstairs so we have dormers on both sides of the house. It’s hard to explain, but you can see from the photograph above that our house only has one half of the upstairs fully extended. We do have rooms on the other side – our bathroom and toilet, which are separate - but they have slanted ceilings, and are much smaller.

If we extended the dormers, we’d be able to convert the toilet into a big bathroom. And the bathroom into a fourth bedroom, which means, when the time comes, William’s future sibling will have a room upstairs too. With a guest room downstairs.

It all sounds very complicated, but part of me would rather do this than move. I’m really attached to my home and I want to make it into a real family home with Mark. But I appreciate that there are many factors that may mean that we decide to move.

But, a home renovation is a great alternative to buying a new house. You can breathe new life into an old house by creating new spaces and adding new features and it can save money too.

Here are some of the things you need to consider when renovating your home.


Home renovation involves the upkeep of the fa├žade and interior of the house; however, redoing your home is also the perfect time to maintain all areas of the construction.

In addition to the visible parts of the house it is important to invest in those less visible areas, such as the foundations and the ground around the building. If your land has ever been subjected to flooding or you live in a very wet area you may need dewatering pumps to clear your land of liquid – I had to look into this as we have a brook at the bottom of our garden, but luckily it won’t be a problem for us. This will help to ensure that your home is situated on secure land.


Renovating a home can be a very good way to avoid having to pay the high prices associated with moving house. However, to make sure that you can take full advantage of this potential benefit you need to come up with a budget.

If you fail to come up with a clear financial framework for the work you plan to do it can be very difficult to control spending once renovation has begun. Consider all the costs that you might encounter, such as new carpets, electrical rewiring and new furniture. This will give you a grand total, allowing you to assess which areas of the remodeling you can afford. Once you’ve got your budget make sure that you stick to it.


If we go ahead with renovation, we’ll have to secure our finances first. Once we’ve realized our budget, we can either choose to take money out of our mortgage to reinvest back into the house, or we can apply for a bank loan. I’m not sure which will be the most financially viable, but I’m going to check out my options.


I know that, before I let my mind run away with itself, we’d have to seek planning permission. Several houses on my road have done what were planning on doing, so I don’t foresee a big problem, but I still don’t want to get carried away.

I also think that extensions should be in-keeping with the road and style of the house. My grandparents have a next-door neighbour who completely remodeled the front of their house. In a different setting, it would look great, but in a cul de sac, of similar houses, it really clashes and might prove to be harder to sell.

We won’t make a decision for a year or so yet, but have any of you ever extended your house? Have you any advice? Would you recommend it? Or is moving the right answer?

*PR Collaboration.

Friday, 22 August 2014

The One About Our Garden

When we first moved into our house, the garden was starting to flag a little. The previous owner was a retired old gent, who had green fingers, but in the run-up to the move, he’d started to focus on packing, as you do. With six month-old, gardening wasn’t on my agenda. But, this year, I’ve really tried to transform my garden into a family paradise. So William can run free and have fun, and Mark and I can have a few beers in the sunshine.

My garden is divided into three sections, which sounds strange but bear with me! I have two parts to my garden, naturally. One part is the traditional lawn and patio area, and the other part is an overgrown wilderness, with steps down to a little brook and patio area. There’s a picket fence and gate, dividing the two, so William stays safe.

And then, in the lawn area, I decided I wanted to make the garden more exiting for William. It started out with tackling the weeds and neatening it up for him. And now, we have a full-on play area.

We received this lovely climbing frame from Asda to review, which sparked this off. Initially, I thought we’d just put it behind our garage where there is plenty of space, but then I thought that maybe that area could be William’s domain.

My parents and grandparents did so much to make this happen. My Gramps used decking planks to cordon off the area, to make it separate and keep it need. And then we filled the space with bark, so William would never fall and hurt himself badly. My parents, as a birthday gift for William’s second birthday in June, bought him a wendy house, and I also added his paddling pool, and his sandpit, to offer him lots of things to play with.

As for the garden, I mow it every other weekend, depending on the weather (I do the front garden too) and I try and weed it well and keep it neat and tidy. The garden beyond the gate? Well I quite like the wilderness and the paradise it offers for bees. Which I love to watch buzzing around, while I sip on a glass of wine. I also have lots of solar lighting dotted about so that, when night-time arrives, the garden is peacefully lit and looks magical. I love looking out of my conservatory at night and just thinking, while I look out.

I found inspiration for my garden online. Pinterest was definitely a winner for me! Garage kits, cosmopolitan furniture and patio doors are just some of the things that can drastically enhance your garden.  I’d love to have an outdoor chalkboard along my garage wall (our garage is a stand-alone building) so William can scribble outside, and I’ve seen several tutorials on how to make one.

One day, I’d like to get decking to cover up the flag stones, so I can have a BBQ area, but in reality, I love it just as it is. I’m very lucky to have such a lovely outdoor space to share with my family. And when the sun is out, and the only noise I can hear is William laughing, it’s pretty perfect.

I took that photo. Can you believe it?!

*PR Collaboration.

The Powley - A Mango & Gin Cocktail

If there's something that gets me excited for the weekend, it's a cocktail. These days I associate it with a rare night out with Mark and my colleague from work. Or making one at home to celebrate two days with my son.

I love the treat. I love the flamboyancy of it all. And i love the flavours too.

It makes a glass of wine look like a glass of squash.

And when Aldi asked me to put its award-winning gin* to the test. I was quite happy to have a muddle (get it?) over some ingredients and think of something special that I could share with you.

Now we all love a G&T. It's a classic. But it was this drink that made me realise that this is the only way I'd had gin before.

So I thought of gin's perfumed flavours. And I thought of summer. And this is what you get.

The Powley.


A measure of gin.
A measure of mango puree - just blitz your mango flesh in a food processor until smooth.
A teaspoon of honey.
A squeeze of lemon.
A splash of soda water.


Add all your ingredients, bar the soda water, into a shaker and give a generous shake. Fill your glass with ice and pour. Top up with soda water.

Serve with a garnish of mango skin and lemon. And a bloody big smile.

It's sweet, summery, fresh and probably a bit too easy to drink.

And the name?

Well, every time I think of gin, I think of a friend of mine. And I could't think of anything better.

So this is for you Powley. And for you too - it's Friday, go and make it!

*Thanks to Aldi for supplying me with this lovely gin and a voucher to get the rest of the ingredients with.
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