Life in the Countryside

Chalk table how to guide

So as I mentioned the other week I’m trying to reuse some of the ‘waste’ materials we have at the cottage as a result of the outside works we’ve been having done. The first project is complete and so here is a guide to recreate it.

Chalkboard how to guide:


  • Old cable reel
  • Sandpaper
  • Chalkboard paint – I used this one
  • Paint for base – I used the same stuff we used for painting the cabin but any outside paint will do. 


  1. Sand down your cable reel. You want to smooth any rough edges and any splintered wood and give yourself a nice clean surface to work on. I also found it useful to have the reel I was working on raised above ground level as it meant less bending down.

2. With the end you want as the base facing up then paint the base and the core and what will be the underside of the top.           Make sure you stir the paint well before use to avoid any differences in consistency. 

3. Leave for a couple of hours (or preferably overnight) and repeat. You are aiming to make sure any markings from the wood are covered as best as possible.

4. Turn it over and ensure the top is also sanded to be as smooth as possible.

5. Paint the top with the blackboard paint. Try to avoid any drips onto your nice clean base! I also did two coats on here with a few hours gap to dry in between. 

6. And you’re done. I just used a plastic cup in the middle tohold the chalks and put a cloth to wipe it clean in the other gap on top. 

C absolutely loves it as do J and I. It’s somewhere she can be creative outside and I love the no mess factor. And when it’s starting to look a bit worn out I can just add another coat of paint. We haven’t found a permanent place for it outside yet but I’m thinking somewhere near the craft cabin so we can be creative together. 

Life in the Countryside

Waste not want not

So when we’ve been doing some of the works outside at the cottage we’ve ended up with some pallets and some wooden cable reels. Now J wanted to just cut them up for firewood but I’ve got bigger plans. I’m hoping to turn the three cable reels (which are three different sizes) into two different things. Firstly the largest is going to be painted in blackboard paint and become a chalk table for C. Then I have plans to turn the other two into a mushroom table and some stools. I’m hoping to turn the pallets into a play cafe. Given that I have never done any kind of woodwork at all in my life it is quite an ambitious plan but I’m really liking the idea of creating something from waste materials. J thinks I’m mad to attempt it given my lack of skills but fingers crossed it doesn’t look totally rubbish when I’m done. I’m starting with the cable reels as they are less ambitious and only really need a bit of sanding and painting apart from the stools. Keep checking back in for updates!

The orchard

Leaf mould

In an issue of my gardening magazine which, along with Pintrest, is where I get much of my inspiration, I saw an article about leaf mould. It was being used in place of fertiliser or compost. Now when it got to Autumn at the cottage all the beautiful green trees which are in abundance here dropped their browned leaves to the ground. Which left us with naked trees and very mushy rotting leaves underfoot. Not exactly the best look. J had purchased a leaf blower so had planned to suck the leaves up and add them to the green waste recycling bin. So when I put forward the idea that he build something to store them in until they rotten down he was less than enthusiastic. However, give him his due he obliged and duly constructed two leaf pens by the compost bins at the back of the orchard. The construction of them was remarkably simple (that may be why he obliged) as they are simply four wooden posts with chicken wire wrapped around them. They don’t need a base and they don’t need a top, they are best left open to the elements as much as possible. It will take about two years for the leaf mound to be ready to use, hence having two pens to fill up in consecutive years. They aren’t what I would call pretty but they serve a purpose and enable us to reuse our garden waste to give nutrients back to the garden.