A Look Inside The Laura Ashley Manor Hotel, Estree

I was invited in October to take a look inside the Laura Ashley Manor Hotel in Elstree, the journey through London from Kent to Hertfordshire made more enjoyable in the bus provided for our 9 mile journey from Kings Cross- a vintage ride that had everyone stopping in the street and staring. Very much my way of travelling.

The Manor Hotel

The Manor Hotel

Continue reading A Look Inside The Laura Ashley Manor Hotel, Estree

Circus Pillow from The Little White Company #Giveaway Ends 26/11/14

Circus Pillow from The Little White Company #Giveaway  Ends 26/11/14

The Little White Company has some lovely bed-ware for Little Ones this winter, from the dear little Safari collection in muted grey and neutral tones, to the vibrant Knights of the Round Table motif. There’s sure to be something that suits the Little Ones in your home.

I got to see some of the fabulous products when The Girls and I went to watch Frozen at the sumptuous Electric Cinema on Portobello Road a few weeks ago. I have never watched a movie in such splendour, and the already-comfortable leather armchairs were made yet more homely when strewn with quilts, blankets and soft, soft teddies from the Little White Company Collections.

And now for the Circus Pillow Giveaway! I am offering you the chance to win a gorgeous Bear Cushion Cover from the Circus Collection- a fun unisex bedroom theme- worth £25.00.

circus cushion Little White Company

To win just comment below telling me how many cushions there are in your home.

Ends: 26/11/2014 at 23.59pm UK time.


*Disclosure: we were invited to enjoy the event and given a gift bag to take home, from which I am giving away the aforementioned cushion cover.*

Competition Terms & Conditions:

  1. This competition is open to residents of the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland aged 18 years or over. One entry per household.
  2. All information detailing how to enter this competition forms part of these terms and conditions.
  3. All entries must be received by the advertised closing time date.
  4. One  entrant- selected at random from all entries received before the deadline- will receive the pictured cushion cover mand will be contacted as soon as possible after the close.
  5. The winner may be required to take part in publicity.
  6. The prize is non-transferable and there are no cash alternatives.
  7. Domestic Goddesque is promoting this giveaway, and is responsible for sending out the cushion cover, which was gifted to her by The White Company.
  8. English law applies and the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts shall prevail.
  9. Winners are required to make contact within 7 days, if a winner fails to respond a new winner will be selected.

Wax Crayon Poppies: a Remembrance Day Craft

Wax Crayon Poppies: a Remembrance Day Craft

A couple of years ago I made some Pumpkin/Jack-o-Lanterns from wax discs of paper and wax crayons. I found the post recently and it occurred to me that you could use precisely the same technique to make poppies- an easy and effective Remembrance Day Craft.

It’s quite simple: you grate the wax crayons- I used red and black- then arrange the colours on a disc of waxed paper. Mine are from the sets you get with jam jar covers, so are pre-cut. I arranged them on a baking tray, waxed side up, sprinkled with small amounts of wax (it spreads as it melts) and put another disc on top.

Then I popped into the Aga until they melted, which took less than a minute as the Aga was fiendishly hot. If you follow the link to the Pumpkins I made, it will tell you how to cook in an oven.

Once melted, remove from the oven and cool, which takes a similarly short time.

Then all I did was attach to lollipop sticks that I had covered in green washi tape, using yet more washi tape. And I added a tape leaf for embellishment.

Wax Crayon Poppies Remembrance Day Craft


For more Remembrance Day Poppy Crafts, check out these posts:

17 Poppy Crafts for Remembrance Day

15 Poppy Craft Ideas

or take a look at my Remembrance Day Crafts board on Pinterest.




What I would miss #WillAid

November is Will Aid month, so it somehow seemed appropriate when the news on 1st November referenced Mark Shand, brother of the Duchess of Cornwall, who died without a Will. As a result his girlfriend of five years, and the person at his bedside at his death, will inherit nothing.*

I have two friends who lost their husbands at young ages, leaving them with babies to care for alone. One of these men did not have a Will as he died unexpectedly. The other fought a brave battle against Cancer in the days after his youngest child’s arrival. In many ways this makes me very lucky. I would give anything for these dear friends not to be in this position, clearly, but I am reminded every time I log onto Facebook, which has made me (possibly) a little obsessed with planning for a similar scenario to hit our household.

Why you should make a Will #WillAid

No-one wants to think about their death, least of all a Mother: who could imagine leaving their children behind?

But here’s what you have to think. You have to think about how much worse everything would be for your other half, for your family, for your children- all of whom would be grieving for you-  if they had to deal with extra complications that come from dying without a Will. A friend writes a great blog called Corporate Grief which demonstrates the difficulties in dealing with companies after losing your partner, which shows how tricky it can be to negotiate with companies even when a Will is in place.

Will Aid  is a special partnership between the legal profession and nine UK charities.  Every November, participating solicitors waive their fee for writing a basic Will, instead encouraging their clients to make a donation to Will Aid.


I know that if something happens to DH I do not want to be spending time on unnecessary bureaucracy, worrying about how to pay bills when I have no access to our accounts. I want to be holding my children close and missing the things he does that irritate me immensely on such a regular basis: the things that make him him.

I would miss the way that he never quite manages to shut the drawers on the vintage chest in our bedroom, even after seven years.

I would miss re-stacking the dishwasher to get more stuff in.

I would miss going to do laundry and realising that there is a load in the tumble dryer than has probably been there for two days.

I would miss getting cross when, not finding him anywhere at the weekend, I discover he has snuck off to bed with the dog for a nap, or left the house and gone off into the woods without taking a walkie-talkie.

I would miss his fire-making skills, and the burns in the carpet.

I would miss sitting in the passenger seat, on my hands.

I would miss constantly putting his shoes in the hallway, where everyone else in the house removes theirs as soon as they come in.

I would miss his face when I announce a “healthy” meal for supper.

I would miss the million small things that make the man: the man I love.

I also wrote: Why  You Should Make A Will


*His Estate will go to his teenage daughter.

How to encourage a love of reading in children

I was recently privileged to attend a talk by Marilyn Brocklehurst on Creating Readers. And I do mean privileged. To be honest she didn’t look much, sitting at the front of the school hall, bobbed hair and glasses on a chain round her neck looking for all the world like a Librarian, which she is by training. But when she started talking? Golly I was captivated. She spoke with such unending enthusiasm about reading and children’s books, of which she reads about 12000 a year- a copy of every children’s book published annually. The best of these make their way to the shelves of her Norfolk Children’s Book Centre and beyond: they have a truly global customer database.

In addition to reading books, offering feedback to publishers and writers, and supplying countries such as Ethiopia with Children’s Books, Marilyn tours the country- and the World- giving talks on creating readers, and encouraging a lifelong love of reading in children. If you get the chance to hear her speak, do go, and do ask her advice: I am sure that there is nothing she doesn’t know about Children’s Books. But if you are unable, here are some of the pointers on how to encourage a love of reading in children, picked up from Marilyn’s captivating talk.

Essentially it boils down to this: children should be given the opportunity to read for pleasure, from a wide variety of books, as often as they can.

encouraging a love of reading in children

To Create Readers you need to:

Model enthusiasm for reading. Your children learn from you primarily, and from their environment, and so much of the things we learn comes from habitual behaviour. Providing them with a variety of interesting books. Let them see you read. Don’t say things like “Oh I’m terrible when I’m reading a good book!” which associates negative language with the concept of reading.

Offer unfettered choice. This is where libraries are so essential, since most families are not able to buy every book ever printed, and nor should they. Choosing their own books, without parents ‘managing’ their choice, is paramount. Broad choice, variety in type of reading material for example, are important, but so is the comfort of the style of a familiar author.

Support Reading for pleasure: it is not up to us as parents to ‘teach’ our children how to read. A teacher’s job is to teach children to decode the words. But reading at home is essential to “teach” for pure pleasure. If they don’t want to read, read their school book to them. We have no idea why a particular book comes home from school- it may be to build confidence, encourage their skills, a topic that they love.  Why spoil it with correcting words if gist is right. Focus on pleasure of finding details of stories. Don’t make it difficult or embarrassing. Encourage. Give your child time to practice, and support. Always read another book after a Biff book- whilst they are good for consolidation of skills learned, they are very very dull.

Parents have the biggest influence in children’s reading. Children crave our undivided attention, and reading with us offers that. Reading aloud to children is not cheating either: they are still learning. Your child needs to hear how the words come off the page, pronunciation, inflection: they get a rich experience from reading aloud. It helps develop their concentration skills. It gives access to Formal Language- complex structures, clauses, vocabulary. It can often be the case that reading aloud the first few chapters of a book makes the child interested in a book they would otherwise have dismissed. And by the same token, if it is clear that your child is not enjoying a book, let them stop reading. And just because children can read by themselves, it doesn’t mean that you should stop reading with them: read with them for as long as they let you. You will mourn the time when it passes.

Never put picture books away. They are essential for decoding words. Children read from pictures. Chapter books are not complex writing, but a picture book is words and images, which offer a richer reading experience. A book is never “too easy for you”. Never let go of picture books until they do.


And if they ask “can we read again?” Do.


Not so spooky glittery spiders

If you know me, you will know what a fan I am of Aunt Peaches. Last year I was inspired by her amazing Confetti Cake Toppers to make cute glittered snowflakes to hang on the Christmas Tree.

So when I was thinking about the #GetYourCraftOn Spooky craft challenge, that is running all this month on Instagram, I was struck with inspiration to use the same technique to make spiders: Not so Spooky Glittery Glue Gun Spiders.

They really are so simple too: black pipecleaners and black glitter, a few googly eyes and your trusty glue gun is all you need. Oh, and a cocktail stick. My craft supplies came from Zing Zing Tree- crafter, blogger and doyenne of the glitter world- who recommended two sizes of glitter to really catch the light. And she’s right: fine glitter is great for detail but the larger size glitter really sparkles.

Cute Glittery Glue Gun Spiders

To make these spiders, I recommend using greaseproof paper. Cut your pipecleaners- mine are 30cm long- in half and lay four closely together on top of the paper. Then add several squeezes of glue to the middle of your clutch of pipecleaners, and use the cocktail stick to encourage the glue into a circle shape.

Whilst the glue is still molten, sprinkle with a mix of your glitters until it is completely covered. Leave to cool.

Once cold, flip your spider over, and repeat the process on the other side**: more glue, a bit of cocktail stick action, then add a pair of googly eyes and smother with glitter. Leave for a minute to firm up enough for you to hold then try and run the outer edges around the glitter too to be sure it is completely covered.

And there you are. Not-so-spooky Cute Glittery Gluegun Spiders.


**If you want to hang up your spiders, you want to add a loop of ribbon, string or wire at this point. Rest on top of your half-finished spider then add the second batch of glue on top.



Kicking at the leaves: Autumn Kids Clothes from House of Fraser

Autumn conjours up pictures of cold, bright days, kicking up leaves in every hue of Umber and Orange and snaffling blackberries still hiding under leaves and getting the juice all over your fingerless gloves. It’s a time of scarves and gilets rather than coats and hats.

Yet for us at DG Cottage, it’s like a switch has been flicked from Indian Summer to Wet British Winter with very little Autumn between the two. The leaves fall from the trees, the colour of bright-burning evening fires, but lay limp and wet underfoot, slippery and without thrill.

Autumn Kids Fashion

So when it came to take photographs of LBG in her fabulous Autumn Kids Clothes from House of Fraser, most of them were taken in the our beautifully made-over Summerhouse than out in the woods owing to the rain. It’s a great spot for relaxing and reading so it’s a good thing that the clothes were comfy: kids need their clothes to keep up with them.

The trousers, though age 6, were a little long in the leg, though they moulded them well, and very large in the waist. I would have preferred an adjustable waist in this age bracket. That said, they are a fabulous colour and the added sparkle makes her very first pair of jeans a winner!

House of Fraser Kids Clothes

The denim shirt works with everything, whether under a cardigan, over a vest or as a jacket: ideal for a little girl who wants to put her own outfits together. She likes the versatility. I like the tailoring, and the simplicity of denim not emblazoned with unnecessary logos and mottos.

And the striped top, by my favourite brand Joules, is comfortable and fun and looks very cute indeed. The fact that you can buy from a variety of brands in one place at House of Fraser is a big draw. Another big draw is the fact that this whole outfit was less than £50, so even DH is happy.

Girls Autumn Fashion Clothes review

 Products featured:

Girls Sparkle Jeans,

Mango Denim Shirt,

Joules striped top

We were invited to try out some clothes from the House of Fraser children’s range for the purposes of writing this review. All opinions and photographs are our own.