Keeping cool under our parasol from Rattan Direct

One of the saving graces for our party last weekend was our new garden parasol. At three metres across it's larger than our previous one and that's a good thing, as it means it's easier to stay in the shade. In this weather, I think that's the most important, and sensible, thing to do. Although I like the sun, and have mostly been enjoying the weather (except for when I've been melting) more and more I've found myself opting for shade.

When I was speaking to Rattan Direct about this parasol, I wasn't sure whether to opt for it in black or cream. As it turns out I think I choose well, as I think cream would show dirt and dust more than the black.
sunlight through the parasol

Sitting under a back parasol still concerned me though. Would it attract - or absorb - the heat? It seems not, we've not noticed any difference because of the darker colour. And even our party balloons were keen to take shelter.

the parasol from rattan direct is large enough to easily cover a table for four

It has a couple of features I want to tell you about. First up there's the tilt function. Something I thought would come in handy, and I'm sure it will as the sun changes position as the year goes on - assuming we'll still see the sun, that is. When the sun's lower I think this feature will come into its own, but one word of warning: make sure the base is secure before you tilt the umbrella, otherwise physics will take over.

testing out the tilt feature on the rattan direct umbrella

The outstanding feature for me is the crank system, to give it its official name. Between you and me, I'm more likely to refer it to the wind-y handle, which is descriptive if nothing else. Being able to wind the parasol up and down easily is great, although it's meant that if we're not sure if we need it up, it'll be down before we know it rather than us moving our chairs.  And even with the three metre span of the umbrella, it's easy to manoeuvre. 

The winder ensures raising and lowering the parasol is easy work

I'm a fan of the base too. When full it's heavy, but the carrying handle comes into play, as it's easy to use to move the parasol into the optimum position. And we've been doing a lot of testing for that. I think I've cracked it now though and handily there's a small square paving slab to help us find it again. Of course you can't see it in this photo as, well, because the parasol base is covering it.

A sturdy - and free standing - base

Taking delivery of the parasol and its base is probably one of the best deliveries I've every experienced. Despite not getting my delivery slot until the night before, when I got my slot the communication was fantastic. Not only did it arrive in its timed slot, the driver also phoned and texted me his location and that worked well. So too did the tracking device provided, it was regularly updated and I was able to leave work when it was close by and arrive home almost at the same time as the parcel. It's rare for that to happen, so it's worthy of a mention.

party balloons trying to get under the garden parasol

So the umbrella has been a bonus, although I wasn't so sure when it arrived as its arrival was immediately followed by a spell of heavy rainfall. I thought I'd tempted fate, but it seems it was just the weather - phew.

How are you keeping cool during the much warmer than usual weather?


* This is a collaborative post, but all views and opinions are my own.


All partied out, but we had an amazing time!

You'll have noticed it's been a bit quiet here the last few days. That's because we had our 110th party on Saturday and in the run up to that there was plenty to do, and of course afterwards there's the party hangover. Not proper hangovers just the returning to normal after an intensely busy period, oh and dealing with this heat too. The weather has been lovely, but I am officially melting now!

But back to the party preparations, with a couple of days off to give us time to prepare, the list of jobs seemed never ending. MOH was intent on cleaning everything in sight, and in fairness, the house looked fantastic. He regularly asked me if I was ill when I joined in and helped out - for the record I wasn't ill.  The lists though, while long, were often reviewed and rewritten, taking into consideration just how much time we had left. I'm still not sure though that cleaning the inside of the bathroom cabinet should have been on the 'must-do' list. I told you he was through didn't I?

The gazebo we'd bought from Wayfair finally made its way out of its box in front of the TV and into the garden. MOH had discovered during the week that it had over a hundred screws and neither of us were looking forward to putting it together. When we received the instructions, that didn't help too much either.  Picture instructions. They're my worst nightmare, and while I think I have a logical brain these pictures don't help me at all. After starting with the easy bits I wandered off and left MOH to it, only to return a while later to find him still perplexed.

Realising I'd have to get involved I tried my hardest with those picture instructions. We got there, but realised part-way through that it would be much easier to assemble with space around the entirety of the structure, something we didn't have. We struggled with the roof arrangement, some of that was down to height and some of it those picture instructions again. Once we worked out the ridge piece didn't lie flat we made more progress. 

The cover - or roof - was abandoned until there were more people about to lend a hand, and for when I really could be busy with other things. On Saturday morning four of them got it on relatively easily and I'm mesmerised by it. it's still up - and has been so useful this week with temperatures of thirty degrees - but it won't be long until MOH is itching to take it down "for the sake of the grass" and then we'll have the age old problem of where to store it. 

The gazebo - or giant jigsaw puzzle bought from Wayfair

I've a plan to colour coordinate the pieces with pretty washi tape, so reassembling it becomes a case of matching patterns together. And so it's staying up for as long as it takes me to do that, at least. We might compromise and remove the white roof, leaving the steel structure up a while longer.

Shopping was done, eventually.

I say eventually as we had a difference of opinions on what the food would be. We agreed on pizzas and barbecue fare, but on everything else MOH was coming from a completely different place to me, this was oh so evident when he asked if we needed to buy "more crisps"!!  We did but there was also salads, rolls for burgers and sausages, ice - and plenty of it, cakes and desserts and much more besides. For the first time in a very long time we went shopping together, and he didn't ram me with the trolley through boredom on the way round - result! We left with two trolleys as somehow the last few aisles contained the bulky things - like ice and beer - and he knows how much I dislike my rolls squished (not a euphemism!)

There was obviously not enough room in the fridge for everything we'd bought. Or two fridges in fact.

While we want to get rid of the conservatory fridge, the week before the party with the weather forecast as it was, well, that wasn't the weekend to do it. So the fridge enjoyed a reprieve and it's reward? It was loaded up, and up. And it was oh so useful, I think the seven or so bags of ice were one of the most popular items we had.

The garden was primped even more than before. A last minute dash to the garden centre to fill some empty pots left MOH rolling his eyes. But I was pleased with the gazanias and pelargoniums I left with, and being big plants, one plant per pot meant they were easy and effective ways to add some colour and fill some empty pots I had.

One plant per pot - impact planting with this sun loving gazania

Handy really as the miniature bedding plants I'd bought back in April/May were still just that. Although the giant fuchsias had put on loads and were timing their flowering just right. They're still not beanstalk-like, but the flowers really are giant for the size of the plant. I'll settle for that.

Tables and chairs were dotted around the garden, picnic blankets and seat cushions were also on hand. Bunting, banners and garden lights were hung, and the hastily sewn bunting did its job, and looked great alongside both mum's patriotic bunting and my ship-shape shop-bought bunting. It's quite addictive to make though, and I ended up with two long strings with about twenty flags on each. I'll share a post on making it soon.

shop-bought bunting hanging ship-shape in the garden
mum's patriotic bunting hung above our conservatory doors
solar light bulb shaped lights above the barbeque
homemade bunting from scraps hanging in the gazebo

Above the table hung a banner of lexicon cards saying "Happy Birthday Anniversary" which sort of summed it all up, and it wasn't until I hung it up that it reminded me of those name badges mum used to sew into our school uniform. She only ever ordered ones that would do us both, which makes sense as why spend more than you need to on these, and the unwanted initial would be tucked underneath so each of us had our own name in our clothes.  

Looking at the lexicon banner when it was up my first thought was how I could reuse this for future birthdays and anniversaries by flipping over the cards not needed. Not what I planned from the outset, but clever hey?  And doesn't it look great?

happy birthday anniversary -  a lexicon card banner hung above our grazing table

I'd ordered some balloons because, well it's not a party without balloons is it? I'd be tempted to buy a glitter pen and do the writing myself next time though, because it shouldn't be that hard should it?  And now you can see why my list kept growing can't you...

The 110 balloons were great - and huge - and I'm taking bets on how long the balloons last...

you can't have a party without balloons, can you?

Did I mention it was hot?

I planned my outfit, orange linen three-quarter trousers and one of those batwing-style tops with open shoulders, but on the day that was changed for a simple white vest top, as staying cool seemed more of a priority. I failed by the way, but I don't think I was the only one.  MOH went for the shorts and short sleeved shirt, came downstairs, decided he was too blue and matchy and headed off to change his shorts.

The plan was to cook pizzas in our new pizza oven and there was plenty of dough ready in the fridge. We'd tested the oven the night before and were pleased with the results, but still hadn't worked out how we were going to cook pizzas for fifty people. Turned out we didn't need to, as it became clear that it was just too warm. I was glad when MOH said he was going to put the BBQ on earlier, and while that's still pretty warm, it's gas and more controllable than a wood-fired oven.

And that goes to show how we've grown up over the years. Ten years ago on our mini-honeymoon to Marrakech MOH quite literally conked out in forty degrees heat. As you would when you'd been marched around the sights, got lost and walked for far too long and despite drinking water, not quite managing to replenish his system. So for him to stand in front of a four hundred degrees oven for the time it'd take to cook pizzas didn't really sound do-able. 

We were disappointed and I'm sure our guests were too, but there'll be plenty more times to try out the oven, hopefully when the weather is a little more normal looking. A fireworks party with pizzas has already been mooted, but I'm hoping there'll be pizza with friends before that.

Keep calm and carry on - I knew it'd get hot by the pizza oven.

I'd been expecting it to get hot and frantic by the pizza oven so had hung this picture there to quell that somewhat. Turns out it wasn't needed after all.

It's strange how a party starts isn't it? We'd said from midday and for people to pop in when they wanted to and to stay for as long as they could. That meant there were people arriving and leaving throughout the afternoon and evening and it was lovely to see so many friends to help us celebrate. I'm sure neither of us spoke to everyone as much as we wanted too, and I think everyone will understand.  

The family arrived first, all within around thirty minutes or so and then the best man from our wedding a decade ago. A decade, now that sounds like a long time. We even had an Amazon delivery mid-party and I can't help but wonder what he thought!  Our guests were generous, naughtily so, with flowers, fizz and chocolates and more and as is so often the case I think we've ended up with more booze than before.  

And lots of pretty flowers.

sweet peas and haribos
bouquets of flowers

As the light started to fade in the garden, the solar lights started springing into life and a few of those bitey bugs started to make their appearance. Somehow though time merged into a blur and then it was just after midnight and it was just him and me. After such a busy, and fun afternoon we took some time to recap and recall the stories, the moments and more, before doing a quick tidy up and heading off to bed.

sweet peas and a string of soft glow lights
ice lolly lights on the gazebo

And so, we're a 110. The party we've planned for so long is done. Looking back there's nothing like a deadline to focus the mind but deep down we know our guests were there to help us celebrate, not to inspect our house (although if they checked in the bathroom cabinet, it was gleaming!!)

Dad's already looking forward to our 115th or 120th whichever we decide, who knows which it'll be, but I know we'll have fun and I know we won't ever get to the bottom of the to do list either!



Post Comment Love & Blogger Showcase: 16-19 June 2017

Hello there and welcome to Post Comment Love - or #PoCoLo - it's great to see you and if you were here last week, thank you - I've some catching up to do after a busy couple of weeks, but hope to get over to you after this weekend. If you're new here, then welcome, it's great to have you along, Morgan and I are both pleased you've joined us.

I've already hinted that it's been busy this week, and it has as we've been gearing up for our 110th party this weekend. There's still way too many jobs on my to do list, and it's being revised regularly, so that it's not unrealistic and aren't so exhausted that we can't enjoy our own party. With the deadline looming, things have been quieter, both here and on social media, but I've some crackers of some posts coming up.

Oh, and 110?  At the end of May I turned fifty, then last week we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary - thank you for all your kind wishes for both, and then at the start of next month MOH is also fifty. So 110, and well, it's not like me to do anything normal...

We made it harder for ourselves of course by wanting to get the garden finished, or as close to a we could; that meant finishing those circles, installing some sleepers and the small matter of the gabion basket installation to sit the pizza oven on.  There's still a bit more finishing to do - but after the party - the majority of it is done, and it's done enough, if you know what I mean.

The garden is coming together and while the peonies have gone over, other flowers are timing it just about right, including the yucca which is in full bloom. It's reverted to a more horizontal state than I'd like, but I'm not interrupting it right now when it's delivering these beauties.

My yucca in full bloom

Of an evening the garden smells of jasmine, and we're starting to see the tiny white flowers appear. The mock orange is likely to join in by the weekend, along with the white scabiosa, the pink roses and the clematis which are all holding on. If we're very lucky the sweet peas might flower too, but the plug plants bedding I bought a while back is still very tiny so I'm trying to work in a garden centre visit if I can!

And if I don't get to everything on my list, even if it's the revised list, that's ok because really Saturday isn't about being super-perfect and finished to the nth degree, it's about spending time with friends and family and remembering that ten years and a week ago we were doing something similar too!  

Many will have been at our wedding - we had the reception in our back garden - and many things have changed too, so it'll be interesting to see if our friends notice the changes we've made to the place!

Blogger Showcase: Justine from GirlGoneDreamer

1. Who are you? 

Hi my name is Justine. I'm (amongst other things) a writer, dreamer and notorious drama queen! I talk way too much and consider myself a friend to anyone and everyone. 

My day job is at a dental practice, please don't all show me your teeth! (Happens everywhere I go!)  Every minute I'm not at work I am girlgonedreamer personified. 

2. How did you discover blogs/blogging?

Honestly? It was because of an article I read in Cosmo magazine about two years ago now. Zoe Sugg had done an interview and I guess you could say it piqued my interest.  I thought hey if this girl can do this then I can too. 

3. Why did you start blogging?

Originally it was because I wanted a platform from which to launch my writing career. (I've been working on a novel for a while now.) These days? I genuinely love blogging in itself. It's become so much more than I could ever have anticipated.

4. What do you find most challenging?

The blog/tech jargon as I like to call it. Anything to do with coding, uploading new templates, adding plug ins, etc etc etc! You get my drift. I hate all that. I literally just want to write, create and to inspire. Thankfully most of the time I've had help with the stuff mentioned so I don't need to stress about it.  There's plenty of fellow bloggers ready and willing to give a helping hand for a reasonable fee. 

5. What is your favourite topic to write about?

Hmmm tricky question. I have several. I do love opening up with my more personal posts and letting the words just flow. But then I've loved coming up with my latest blogging tips posts too. Can I say both of those?

6. Are you blogging for fun or do you have goals?

Originally I started with a goal. GirlGoneDreamer was created as my writing platform so I was determined to have success on some level. But that was a big mistake. I ended up hating almost every minute of it. Once I stopped trying to make it something, stopped comparing myself to other bloggers, and started to write just for myself, I began to really love it and I caught the blogging bug. Now I always blog for myself first and foremost and it's a huge amount of fun. I have recently also added healthy goals to work towards too. 

7. What is your favourite thing about blogging? 

The coming up with ideas and writing content. I've loved writing ever since I was a child. 

8. Have you ever attended a blogging conference? 

No but I'd love to. My anxiety disorder has kind of stopped me going to any... so far.  I like the feeling of being safely hidden behind my computer. I tend to hide behind GGD somewhat. 

9. What are your three best posts?

As in my own personal choice or statistically speaking?  We'll go with three of my favourites. Too many to chose from but I'll plump for these:

1. In Which I Get A Bit Personal... Hopes. Fears. Dreams.

2. Someday I Will...

3. How To Fall Back In Love With Blogging 

10. Describe yourself in three words

Crazy. Loving. Kind.

That's how my nephews would answer at any rate! I think I'd have to agree with them. 

11. Are you a tea and biscuits or coffee and cake person?

I'm a tea and cake kind of girl. 

12. What's your idea of a perfect night out?

I prefer nights in as I'm a bit of a recluse. PJs, duvet and glass of wine for me. But if I had to go out, it'd be to the movies or theatre. 

13. Your perfect night in?

As above! 

14. What would your best friend/OH/mum or kids say is your best quality? 

Hmmm. I'm not sure but I often get told that I'm just a really nice person. Is niceness even a quality, I dunno?? 😂


Thanks Justine, there's some great answers there glad you had fun answering our questions, please do grab your "I was featured on PoCoLo" badge.  If you're reading this wondering how you can be featured, please get in touch.

Connect with Justine here:

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