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Garden plants for winter colour – November

Here at Sheepskin Towers we plan our garden plants for winter colour.

These November garden photos show some of the staple plants we use to create cheer through the darker months. See below for a couple of colourful special offers and free samples.

Heather
Winter Jasmine
Variegated Miscanthus (grass)
Chrysanthemums
Female Holly with Berries
Pansy

Verbena

Special offers for Novemeber

Click here for a free sample of colour changing Butterfly Pea Tea, sign up for our newsletter for discount codes and special offers (we won’t spam you with rubbish).

 


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Trawlermen’s Lives [audio] find out why men do the most dangerous job in the world

Every year 1 in 213 fishermen dies or is seriously injured in British waters. Find out why they fish, what they fish, and what happens when things go wrong.

A radio documentary about Trawlermen’s Lives. Trawling is the most dangerous industrial occupation in the UK. Only being a soldier at war is more dangerous. So why would a man (and it is predominantly men) do it?

The sea is a dangerous place. The way fishing vessels operate is the exact opposite to the way most ships work. Most ships; load their cargoes in port, secure their hatches, people go down below deck and they go out to sea. Fishing vessels do the opposite. They come out of port and go to the middle of the ocean and the fishermen open the hatches and come out on deck. It’s like working in a heavy industrial factory with chains and cranes but you’ve got a moving floor so the chance of being struck by moving gear is much higher – Nigel Blazeby – Vessel Safety Inspector

Trawlermen’s Lives explores the highs, lows, what goes wrong and how the family on-shore cope with waiting.

 

I wouldn’t want Roy to do something different because it wouldn’t be Roy. They have a wicked sense of humour. I wouldn’t want to be on a bigger boat, which Roy’s done, ten on a boat. Put it this way you sleep with one eye open! Shaving the eyebrows is nothing! Permanent marker all over the face, permanent marker all over... fishwives can’t be easily offended! A friend of mine told me a decky learner walked into the galley and all the crew were there butt bold naked! Just to wind him up! – Fishwife

Trawling is 115 times more dangerous than the average industrial occupation.

They’d taken a twelve year old boy out with them, he was growing up through the ranks. The boat turned over whilst he was asleep. They managed to get out and were sitting on the upturned hull. They could hear him banging from inside and they shouted for him to hold his breath and get out through the galley door. To think upside down. You’d only have a couple of minutes but it would have been enough. But he just couldn’t do it – Ex Fisherman

Click play to find out about trawlermen’s lives.

If the player above doesn’t work, try here.

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Found One! Devon Rocks and Stones – a fantastic game for all the family

We stumbled across a brilliant game quite by accident on a walk at the beach, if you haven’t heard of it check out Devon Rocks and Stones on Facebook!

The group is dedicated to decorating, hiding and finding stones all around Devon.

It’s the perfect way to motivate little ones to go for a walk and a real delight when you find a decorated stone!

Just as much fun is had painting up your own stones and giving subtle hints in the group as to where you have hidden them. A delightful real-life treasure hunt.

Members are sharing painting tips and a real community is growing out of the phenomenon.

On the back of the stones you put a reference to the group.

There’s many very skilled members in the community making the stones very desirable. These beautiful stones were hidden at Oldway Manor.

Here’s the one we found at Brixham Breakwater beach with its friends!

Favourite characters make an appearance.

To join in send a request to join Devon Rocks and Stones it’s very active and very good fun.

See you out and about around Devon – Happy hunting!

 

 

 

 

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Tree stump planter with year-round appeal

This sycamore was cut down when it grew too big, so we turned its stump into a planter with evergreen grasses and variegated ivy.

Drill out the centres.

Use a variety of drill bits.

Chisel between the holes you have made.

Drill a couple of holes in the side of each stump for drainage – enough deep holes will remain where you can’t reach, these will form a ‘sump’ to reduce risk of drying out on hot summer days.

I used a breadknife on the root ball so the grass would fit into the cavity.

The stump is in a shady damp location – we picked evergreen plants to cheer up the corner of the garden.

The final result.

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Be hard, be a pansy – and enjoy a 12% discount with this seasonal discount code!

Honour the pansy with this seasonal discount code.

Pansies flower throughout winter and recover within a hours after a heavy frost. Then they produce more flowers, again and again, until well into spring. Pansies are your hardcore winter colour. Helpful when the skies are grey. Showing that life goes on even in adversity.

With our new seasonal discount code you can enjoy any of our products for less money; Natural dyes (including MimosaAcaciaGall Nut), Colour changing clitoria tea, and of course the best sheepskins on planet earth.

Here comes winter, be as ready as the pansy.

Use the seasonal discount code ‘pansy’ and earn a 12% discount on any of our colourful products!

 

Look at their ickle faces!

The pansy’s current form was developed from heartsease (viola) by two centuries of intentional crossbreeding of wild plant hybrids.

Because its name means “thought” the pansy was chosen as a symbol of Freethought. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) also uses the pansy symbol extensively in its lapel pins and literature.

The flower has long been associated with human manner, as one man cleverly stated: “Nature sports as much with the colours of this little flower as she does with the features of the human countenance. – Wikipedia

Be hard, be beautiful this winter. Think pansy – Save money!

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10 Life Hacks For Happiness

Hack 1 – Spread The Road Love.

You’ve heard of road rage, well here is the antidote. Today is Be Kind To A Pedestrian Day. If you are already on foot, a little eye contact and gentle smile will work wonders.

If you are in a car, you are in a particularly powerful position, try slowing down early for someone crossing, smiling as you do so. They can enjoy crossing without fear.

Hack 2 – Do No Harm.

You can’t change the past, but you can resolve never, ever, to hurt anyone. If you ever get to register the pain you caused, it will hurt you too. If you don’t get to register the pain you caused, it will have hardened you. A hardening to pain can lead to loneliness. Oh, and regarding those hurtful things you may already regret? Remember, there are no mistakes, only lessons. The only thing you can do is go forward.

Hack 3 – Reach Out.

When you reach the end of your tether, sometimes someone can help you find the beginning of it again. Call the Samaritans, phone a friend.

Hack 4 – Don’t Fall For The Marketing.

Adverts are designed to make you dissatisfied with your lot in order that you buy the product to fill the void they’ve created.

There are some great solutions, including subvertising where you alter the adverts or billboards to convey a happier, or more accurate message.

This image was altered on Photoshop to include lyrics from the cartoon Daria, by dope-sic-grrrl (Bethany Eowyn) – click image to see more of her work

For those less willing to get deep down and dirty with imagery: training yourself to spot the absurdity of the claims made in adverts can help keep a smile on your face.

I recently saw an advert for Pepsi showing a pint glass full of cola with loads of ice. There was so much ice that the drink looked watered down at the top of the glass, the slogan read ‘Tastes as good as it looks’ – it looked watery, I guess it must have tasted the same.

Another advert encourages you to buy your wife diamonds, threatening ‘Why don’t you flirt with your wife, other men do’. The moral position of the diamond industry is often questionable. The logic of encouraging men to spend more time working (away from their loved ones) to encourage loving relationships is deeply flawed. Don’t fall for the hype. Spot the absurdity.

On a different (spirit) level, a Jewsons lorry just drove past me carrying the slogan ‘You are never far from your local Jewsons’. By definition, you are never far from your local anything.

The advertiser’s job is to extract money from you, they often extract happiness too. They also turn public spaces into corporate ones. Read their messages and laugh at their efforts. They’re bright, but not that bright.

Hack 5 – Communicate With Love.

Communicate something with love. If this is outside your comfort zone, give some flowers, a potted plant, make a cup of tea, take some premium fruit along, offer to help carry something, tell someone you like their idea.

Women and girls get told when they look pretty, try telling them instead when you like their ideas. Listen to them and tell them you like they way they think.

Remember, no can be said as nicely as yes.

Hack 6 – Dance.

When on hold, pop your mobile onto speaker phone and dance like nobody’s watching, this works particularly well in a group. The frequent reminders will be an interuption and when the operator finally speaks you can all groan (and laugh out loud).

Alternately, or in addition, finish the call with ‘Have a good shift’, almost always the person you are speaking to will respond with ‘You too’ and you can imagine them cringing a little as they realise you are probably not at work like they are. Be nice to call center staff you’ll often achieve more.

Hack 7 – Live From Now.

Live from now, you cannot change the past and most of the future is beyond your control. Keep waking up. If you have a violent history stop from today. Put in place health and safety measures such as ten minute cooling off periods when you get heated. Go for a walk.

If you’ve not been true to yourself in the past, perhaps been too compliant, keep a diary. Mark out days off, days with friends and family. Mark when you’ll be unavailable because something nice is happening. When asked to commit to something look in your diary and feel more comfortable saying “I can’t, I have something on that day”.

You don’t have to give a reason. In fact, it’s better not to give a reason because if you do, then the person asking can attempt to ‘solve’ the ‘problem’ that is stopping you from saying yes! You can say no even if nothing is marked at the allotted time, it’s perfectly reasonable to want the day off before or after a big event.

You don’t have to do anything

You don’t have to do anything

You don’t have to do anything

The universe will happen on its own

Eddie Chilvers

Hack 8 – Edit Content. 

Become your own news editor or take a break from the news. You probably can’t change the news and the news probably won’t make you happy.

It’s good to be well informed, but the news will still be there tomorrow.

The organisations that publish news often have an agenda, such as newspapers which come from an ideological perspective, or supposedly ‘neutral’ organisations, such as the BBC, which will edit according to internal and external forces (such as pressure from newspapers, who would otherwise criticise them). 

Newspapers are nearly totally controlled by millionaires who want you to focus your discontent upon your fellow humans, rather than the root causes of injustice. Knock them on the head for a bit and save money at the same time.

Contemplate the oddness of regular news bulletins on BBC 6 Music, for example. Why does an explicitly music channel have to have news? Why should we all need to know what the ‘official’ position is on world affairs when implicitly what we want is to hear music?

Taking news from different sources, particularly foreign sources, will give you a different perspective on what’s important. You’ll hear who is saying what which will make you feel more in control, but again, probably won’t make you feel happy.

If you are a news junky (like me) try taking a break, look the other way once in awhile, don’t read the headlines, turn the radio off, pick up a novel, play music from your hard drive.

Limit your news consumption to times of day when you tend to feel more mentally tough. If I’m still awake in the early hours I can find news upsetting.

Hack 9 – Eat Well.

Pack something good for lunch. A ripe avocado, cherries, a good sandwich. When you are packing your lunch box, you are packing a little parcel of love.

If overeating is a coping strategy you use, pack lots of good stuff that you are allowed without guilt, a crunchy salad, oatcakes, a little smoked fish, whatever is on your list that turns you on, rather than turns you off.

Open your lunch and thank yourself for the love you have prepared for yourself. You might find pleasure in packing a lunch for someone else, the two of you could take turns (opening a packed lunch someone has made for you is a real delight).

Hack 10 – The Best Things In Life Are Free.

Stuck for present ideas? Short of cash?

This year my son is getting a similar present to one I gave my daughter some years ago. It costs zero money and she absolutely loved it.

I call it a ‘Daddy Cheque Book’, but it will work with any friend or relative.

Here are some real life examples (please don’t tell my son).

  1. I promise to cycle with you to a destination of your choice. (Please Note: destination must be reachable by bike). (x2)
  2. I promise to read you a book of your choice (Please Note: may need to be cashed in installments). (x2)
  3. I promise to stop moaning, RIGHT NOW. (x3)
  4. I promise a piggy back (Please Note: may not be cashed if risk of injury). (x2)
  5. I promise a meal of your choice (Please Note: may require up to six days planning ahead). (x2)
  6. I promise to drive you to and from a friends house to play.
  7. I promise to draw you a picture of a dinosaur
  8. You get the idea.

This present can be made in half an hour and gives the recipient real power – when they cash the cheque you can remember the promise, and smile.

At that moment you have a planned an opportunity to come away from day-to-day distractions back to what really matters. A moment to hand over the reigns and to reconnect with your loved ones.

Make the cheques free (or cheap) to fulfill, so money is never an issue, only love and a little time.

Make the cheque book by hand, in my daughter’s words ‘it meant a lot to me that you sewed it together yourself’ – this was a book literally made with ripped pieces of A4 paper, for free, on Christmas Eve.

It brought happiness to both of us.

 

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The simple joy of gazing out to sea

Obviously we love Dartmoor for its vast open expanses, for its violent beauty, but an afternoon spent gazing at a tranquil sea is an afternoon well spent.

You don’t need me to tell you how we all seem to live ‘connected’ lives, staring at screens for hours, writing replies as we rush to the next deadline… take twenty minutes to do nothing – it’s worth its weight in gold, especially when you feel you don’t have time.

There’s plenty of studies showing the benefits of just going outside; from improved memory and better eyesight through to stress relief and more energy.

Studies have also found that natural beauty can elicit feelings of awe, which is one of the surest ways to experience a mental boost. – Business Insider

The sea is a reminder that life is bigger than you. You are not responsible for it. You cannot carry the weight of the world and you cannot control anything outside of you. The good news is that you don’t have to.

We live on a tiny planet within a tiny solar system, itself just a speck of light in the ever-expanding immensity of the known universe. If we can put our problems into this perspective, even for a moment, it’s a very healthy thing to do.

Give yourself permission not to worry.

Do your thinking about your problems and then stop – they will have had your attention, you will have done, or committed to do, the best you can do. After this no further thought is necessary.

Learn from people who’ve gone further than you.

Whenever I gaze up at the moon, I feel like I’m on a time machine. I am back to that precious pinpoint of time, standing on the foreboding – yet beautiful – Sea of Tranquility. I could see our shining blue planet Earth poised in the darkness of space.” – Buzz Aldrin

 

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When your website is your shop – you NEED it open!

I want to say thanks to the guy who runs the servers that power our website. He powers lots of other websites, but obviously mine is the one I care about most.

Which is why when I screwed my website up, his help meant the world to me.

He got dartmoorsheepskins.co.uk back online within minutes and pointed me towards a free WordPress plugin that made images smaller, the whole problem was me uploading very large images. So problem solved.

I want to commend to you the services of webs.limited, Justin does a fantastic job and his help means we stay open for business. I have found other web hosts who offered lower headline prices but our web designer,  recommended Justin at webs.limited and I do too.

In fact, we have saved money (a saving we are passing on to you) by using webs, and when it really mattered he was right there with us.

Thank you Justin.

 

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Still life art my dog has made

Maybe Nelly sees the beauty in ordinary things…. she has been loving this stick for days now, carrying it tenderly from spot to spot, offering it apples, potatoes and a courgette. It all started when we found a perfectly intact potato on the window sill, unmarked by teeth or anything else, and we wondered… just how did that get there?

We removed the spud, assuming it was the action of a child playing some game or other, and within hours another food-grade potato had been placed in the same spot, with a great view of the garden.

It was only the donation of a friend’s veg box that revealed the ‘artist’, and exposed Nelly, the family Banksy. Naturally we have left the exhibits in place in case they appreciate in value to the point where we can sell them and retire. Or make a stew, whichever comes first.

“Stick, apple and potato” by Nelly
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Cider Gum seedling and successful germination of other tree seeds

With considerable skepticism I announce the germination of a Eucalyptus genii and that we have a cider gum seedling!

If I’m right, and I am Never Wrong, we have successfully germinated a Cider Gum (Eucalyptus genii) seed and raised a Cider Gum seedling.

The trick to germinating them is in making the seeds experience their own private little winter, and when winter’s finished, they germinate for spring. You trick them into breaking dormancy by putting them in the fridge for a few weeks.

Some difficult types need two such ‘fridge winters’ before they will break dormancy and germinate.

I had not even the tiniest bit of confidence that any of the seeds would actually fall for me simply chilling them down. In a moment of weakness I put them in the freezer for a ‘few hours’ at minus 30.

Maybe three weeks later someone else found them – and they are germinating now.

More complete instruction on the stratification of tree seeds here it’s not complicated, if the instructions are followed it’s reliable – your biggest enemy is rot; mold and fungus. No particular solution, just keep your hands clean and use compost from a retailer.

I’m using these conifer seeds and these hardy trees and shrubs, and was fascinated to learn that Sequoia, some of the largest trees on earth, have tiny seeds the size of poppy seeds – such a massive tree from such a small seed!

The seeds I’m germinating might just include a massive species, there’s no way to tell from the seed. Incidentally, some of the seeds were as large as an almond. In fact they looked exactly like an almond. It could have been an almond. *mindblown

My son’s brought some conkers home and put them in the fridge! We’ll warm them up as soon as this batch has been transplanted to bigger pots.

One seedling I’m a little suspicious of is this one. I planted a Eucalyptus gunnii (Cider Gum) and this came up. Is it a Cider gum seedling?

Are you a real Eucalyptus seedling, or am I nursing a weed?

 

Time will tell if it’s a cider gum seedling, I can find images that look similar – fingers crossed!