a book, a wedding, CAD and a whole lot of exciting!

Here we are, Easter upon us once again.  It’s unreal, last year I was desperate for a break, I was knackered.  This year is the same, but different.

Life and business intertwine more and more now.  The business is busier than ever, we are booked up into June, that’s awesome.

We will be lookIMG_2736ing to employ another operative in June too, that is awesome.

Personally, by June I will be married and returned from honeymoon, I marry Gillian in May and that is awesome.

You may have heard rumours that there is a book coming. I may have mentioned it, it has been read and checked by five different people, some of whom professed they were going to do their best to tear it tom pieces; well if the feedback is tearing it to pieces then it might actually be good because all of the comments are highly favourable.  That is awesome!

The forward is written by Gordon Corrigan, client and published author himself, as well as speaker and historian.  That is awesome.

Kaye Sedgewick-Jones of Ohh Kaye has designed the cover and she has done an absolutely fabulous job!!  That is awesome, I can’t wait for you all to see it.  I enclose the picture of me, yep, that’s me, as I will appear on the back of the book.  Well I said the cover was awesome, HA!

The book is currently being typeset at the publishers. That is awesome.

We are currently planning all the activities around the launch, radio stations and press and the like.  That is awesome.

And starting to set up speaking activities to keep up the momentum, we already have one booked at Archers Low Nursery in Sandwich, that is awesome too.  Content and more details will follow pretty soon…

And do you know we still have time for your design briefs, that are essentially what we do.  I’m going on a Computer aided design course in September too.

Life is exciting and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Come and share in our excitement.

And the title of the book?  ‘the three year pond and other absurdities, or how to be happy according to Simon.’

A book, and a lot of spring thinking!

Once again I start a blog in the same way, apologizing for the long gap in between this one and the last one.  But as usual I have a reason, not an excuse, after all that explains is that I’m lazy; well I’d love to have time for that.  And what’s the mouse for, well he nicked some food a while ago and stopped long enough for a photo


What have I been doing? Mostly writing my book, and I’vIMG-20140427-00523e mostly finished it. ‘WOW’, I hear you say. Mostly indeed, it’s currently out with my enthusiastic bunch of proof readers, and do you know the first one, after a ream of ‘helpful’ comments, stated, “Great work and well done, massive achievement”.  I’ll take that.


So what’s it about, well basically it’s my version of how to be happy.  I’ve used my experiences over the last three years or so to demonstrate what I believe you need to do to be happy, and I’m coming more and more to believe that if you scratch the surface, there are a lot more unhappy people out there, than we might at first think. And how to change that, well it’s actually pretty simple really, but I’m not going to tell you here.  You know what you’ll have to do to find that out!


The title, if I haven’t already mentioned it, ‘the three year pond and other absurdities, or Simons guide on how to be happy’.


And, and there’s a lot of those, the launch will be on Wednesday, July the 19th, so put it in the diary.


I’ve also been working on a collaboration, more about that later.  It’s a bit far out though.


Other more usual thoughts, time to start clearing your garden for the spring, bulbs are up, daffodils are starting to flower, and I can’t wait to see bluebells again.  So as we can see the bulbs and birds and animals are beginning to find food a little more abundant let’s start cutting back all the dead heads and stalks and the like from last year ready for new growth to come through.  We’re even seeing lawns beginning to show signs of needing a cut, and the smell of mown grass is intoxicating at this time of year.


Apples and pears need to to be pruned now before they start really gearing up for spring it’s almost to late, so we need to get out there.


It might even be the time to think about you might want to redesign your garden.


It’s also the best time to get up early and hear the dawn chorus, it’s fantastic right now, there are robins, wrens, dunnocks, blackbirds and thrushes amongst others it’s awesome, you might even hear a tawny owl and they are just so cool.


So, get out there, one life, live it.




P.s. we’d love it if you could head over to you tube and like our page.  Type in simple life and gardens and you’ll see my face there!

Snippets, Three actually and a bit of real news!

Simon Presenting 1Wow, that’s it, that’s all I have to say. Well not really because here’s a blog to talk more about, well, stuff.

So, those that read my last blog will know that I was talking about big plans, well here are a few teasers.  Well it’s good to give away snippets isn’t it!

So, snippet number one.  I (well it’s all about me isn’t it!), will be having a book published later this year, on 21st July to be precise.  It will almost certainly be called ‘the three year pond and other absurdities’.  Now if that hasn’t got you interested I don’t know what will.  But what I will tell you right now is that there will be two parts that will run in parallel before converging at the end!  More details to come in later blogs.  Ultimately I am most commonly found laptop in hand, typing feverishly away because I need to have the first draft ready by the end of February so that I can check it and get it proof read by the end of March when we pass it to the nice people at Herkimer for publication ready for the launch events at the end of July.

Snippet number two.  simple life will become part of a much bigger organisation.  The first stages are in preparation right now.  We had meetings planned for today, but illness required postponement, there will be discussions and courses coming. I am beginning preparations for a new presentation as we speak. The second taster started this morning to great praise for all in attendance. What was it? Well let’s just say the business name is going to become even more relevant. More soon.

Snippet number three. We are in the final stages of discussion with a major conservation organisation before we begin construction of a special design we have done for a beasty garden.  Because we are being funded by trustees our designs are having to be redone by a computer. As a result we are investigating getting some training for this!  This is all a bit exciting, it has been in the pipeline for some time now and is showing how the relationship we have forged with the Kent Wildlife Trust is beginning to ‘bear fruit’ oh, get that link!

Actual news.  The spotlight article about us will be in the next Kent Wildlife Magazine ‘Wild Kent’.  I wrote the article about myself, a little surreal, but as you may gather, me and the surreal are becoming rather familiar.

That’s it, gotta go off and immerse myself in the book writing process for a while!

‘till the next time


Happy New Year and go on, let’s do some groundwork or plant a hedge. Well I don’t do subtle…

Hello one and all.

And a crackin’ if slightly delayed new year to you all.  Yesterday I helped the local Chamber of Commerce (of which I am on the committee, blah, blah etc.) take down the Christmas decorations from Deal High Street. It doesn’t seem like five minutes since we were putting them up! I hope your festive period was everything you wished it to be, personally I can’t remember such an enjoyable Christmas, we seemed to get all the visiting and traveling donTrees-and-plantingsimg_2750e at just the right pace and keep the whole thing relaxed which was so cool.

Although, I wasn’t work focused in the slightest, I obviously was unconsciously, I have some big plans to aim for now, that’s so cool.

And we are busy, busier than we have ever been at this time of year, so that’s cool too. We still have some dates available, but it’s nice to be popular!


First, this is the best time of year for ground work, it’s soft. The ground is easier to work than in July or August.  As long as it’s above 5o we can work water, (it changes density below that) so don’t be shy, plans can go ahead!  We do though know when to stop.

Second, this is the BEST time of year to plant hedges. Bare rooted plants don’t like getting planted in the summer.  Classic example, at a great client of ours they got someone else to plant a hedge two and a half years ago, i.e. in summer. It’s not doing very well. We planted over a hundred plants last week, mainly black thorn and hawthorn, with a couple of pyracantha and a couple of berberis to help out. They will probably be bigger than the existing planting at the end of summer.

And of course they are a fantastic home for our wildlife, many live in and feed upon our hedgerows, you know it makes sense, so again, go on take the plunge….

See you soon.

Wood shed and wood and seasons too

So, wood, wood shed, shed wood, well you wouldn’t would you? That is shed wood, you can’t, but you could put wood in a shed. Well what else would you put in a wood shed.

Confused, I know I’m rambling, I could go on about walking, but that would really confuse things and you might be confused already thinking he’s rambling. So, I’ll cut to the chase. Chase, hmm, but that’s another story.

So, serious then. It’s got cold lately, rather a lot. Temperatures are down to zero and below, depending upon where you are. We’ve seen white, not snow, but frosts. There also seems lately to be a move back towards open fires, or log burners. There are more and more property’s with piles of wood that having been delivered is stacked up outside.


We’ve also just been asked to build a img_2440woodshed by one our clients. After a discussion, over a cup of tea, of course, about location, size etc., we employed some common sense. Often the wood you get could use some seasoning, that is leaving over winter to allow it to dry out, thus reducing the spitting new wood gives.

If you have enough space, it makes sense to have two sections to your wood store; one for wood to season and one for the wood that you are using to burn in your fire.  I say space because it is quite phenomenal the amount of wood a fire can get through, my own supplies are not going to run out, but there’s a big gap in the wood shed which used to be full!

Now here’s the wildlife bit.  That section that’s got the wood in that’s seasoning, why not drill lots of holes in it for wildlife to live in next year.  Literally, 10mm holes with a wood drill, just like you see on insect houses. Some may ultimately burn in next year’s fires, but many will gain a home in the summer and you can enjoy seeing the insects that will grace your yard or garden.

And you can make your wood shed as glam or rustic as you like. The one I mentioned earlier has a slate roof which matches the roof of the house and just looks nicer than just felting.  Leave room for ventilation in the back and sides, if the wind can get through it will help the wood to dry, just like it does your washing.

So, there you have the simple life guide to wood sheds. If you would like a wood shed, you know who to call!

See ya!!


A home for the winter.

And bird food, I put it out all year, for entertainment value mainly. There will be more about that in the next blog.
But remember, it’s for us just as much as it’s for the birds. A favourite phrase of mine is ‘there’s more politics in a flock of sparrows than in the run up to a general election!’
So, imagine you are a bird, or a hedgehog, or even a mouse. Winter presents its difficulties, food is harder to find,img_2126 shelter is more important, for warmth, especially. Or even for protection, after all if you’re a hedgehog a safe place to hibernate is imperative.

As well as using a box for nesting many birds will over night in them. Back in my RSPB days we found a nest box with 67 wrens in it! Imagine if you needed a poo!!!

Nest boxes should be placed facing southeast and high enough that cats won’t be an issue. There are other opinions about this but every box we’ve put up has been used. Good enough for us!

They should face southeast because the sun is there first thing in the morning, the east wind (the lazy one…) won’t come howling in either and not so hot that the occupants will bake. Right now is the best time to put them up, clean them up and make sure that nothing, usually starlings, has made the hole too big for the desired occupants. There are also different shapes and size of boxes for different birds, so selecting the right box is important.

Hedgehog boxes we position south and make sure they are in a sheltered and secluded spot. WE leave bedding near the shelter and let the hedgehog sort it out themselves, after all they will know how they want it! You could leave some food out, but you never know who will eat it! I think hedgehog food in tins is re badged cat food. Never leave bread and milk for hedgehogs it’s very bad for them.

And bird food, I put it out all year, for entertainment value mainly. There will be more about that in the next blog.

But remember, it’s for us just as much as it’s for the birds. A favourite phrase of mine is ‘there’s more politics in a flock of sparrows than in the run up to a general election!’

Check out this ‘bug’ hotel from Tyland Barn home of the Kent Wildlife Trust

Autumn, the best time of year.

So, blog! Been so busy vlogging just lately that I have been neglecting my blogs. There was a time when I’d blog regularly, fortnightly in fact. So, strangely, I’m sitting here in the Grand in Folkestone at a wedding fair with my good woman and well what would be more appropriate than to write a blog.
Strangely though, it is almost fitting because we’ve been working in Folkestone all week. The lads have been giving some decking a facelift, pressure washing some paving (Ash even demanded a new washer, well he is responsible for maintenance of stores and equipment), as well as levelling and turfing. And modestly I’d have to say they have done a great job.
Whilst I’ve been networking and delivering some design plans for consultation, all in Folkestone. A few changes to make, but it all looks very promising, we’ll see.
One of the topics of conversation has been the time of year, this really is the perfect time of year to get all the actual landscaping done. The ground is softer than through the summer, and temperatures are warm enough for pleasant working and warm enough for any mixture needing water, i.e. concrete and cement.
We can still sort out planting, there won’t be a great deal of growth, but the planting will be ready for next year, indeed in the last week we have planted a solanum, lavendars, salvia, honeysuckle and buddleias.
It’s also the perfect time to put up bird boxes, hedgehog boxes out and start thinking about putting out food and the like for our wildfriends so that they know where these things are when they need them. After all winter is coming, even if it seems unlikely right now. We are still harvesting raspberries in our garden.
So don’t start to think, winters coming it’s time to slow down; think autumns here, time to get busy. Give us a bell, as they used to say.

Infuriatingly delayed excitement


common-chiffchaff-290058_1280 (1)Hello once again, I think I’m a little late posting, so I’ll begin with an apology for that. We’ve had issues with the website hosting, but they are all sorted and we are once again on the air and posting. The situation is now under control and we’re back to normal. 

We are very excited at the moment, there are lots of things happening within the business that will help us get our message out there to more and more people.  

Firstly, we have engaged in the STAR program with Ed Smith and Zoe Cairns, they are going to help us reach more people in ways we are as yet unaware of. Ed is a businessman at the highest level and Zoe is an international expert on social media. I’m not exactly sure what I’ve let us in for yet but as I said It’s seriously exciting.  

We are also in discussion with Zoe about how to redesign her garden and that is exciting too. There will be a pond, insect friendly planting, buddleia, hebes and lavenders, for a start! We’ll be looking to include a hidy hole for hedgehogs and insect hotels. There is already a fantastic ivy hedge which the sparrows love. 

Last week I had an audition for the W.I. to become an approved speaker which went very well. We’ve had very positive feedback and are just waiting for officialdom to make it so! I wasn’t sure what to expect, I was afraid it would be two or three people behind a desk, but fortunately there were probably 50 odd women there and when you have an audience to work with it is much easier. 

Incidentally we have just received the first drafts of the articles soon to be published about us in the Kent Wildlife Trusts next mag. They are great to read, wonderfully accurate or flattering depending upon your point of view, but they were based on a site visit, so… 

On a more natural note, have you heard the chiff chaffs out there? They’ve been coming back for a week or so now. There’s a cool little video about them on our Facebook page I shot last week, go and have a look. They are often the first to arrive. I’ve also seen my first swallows of the year and this morning heard a white throat, woo… And come to that set your alarm early and get out to hear the dawn chorus. If you don’t fancy getting up early, again head out to Facebook, there’s a video recorded at dawn you might like to check that out too. 

Great spotted woodpeckers are tapping away and robins have changed they’re songs too, bluebells are out in the woods, guess the countryside is as excited as we are.   

Remember, we can help bring the countryside into your garden, or the gardens of those you know, you know where we are….

Tata for now!


Sitting on the fence? Nah, we’re jumping right over it!

So, blog time again. I know I keep s55aying it, but it’s all so exciting. Yesterday was 18o, I had lunch sitting on the beach and was down to a t shirt. WOW. Another WOW and it was a biggy, I had to pull over on Monday, two buzzards were engaged in what I have to assume was a mating ritual. They were circling each other and in and out of each other’s path. It was spectacular. A sight I have not seen before. It’s just so cool to have them in our countryside. Reminds me of how awesome it was when, three years ago, I walked the West Highland Way with my son.

Anyone who checked us out on Facebook or you tube will have seen our latest VLOG, the second one is out. Once again we have reached almost 2000 people. Seven hundred have watched it and 16 have shared it. If you haven’t please go and do the same. The feedback has been really encouraging.

And we are off to begin our first garden design of the season tomorrow.  There should be some more exciting news to announce shortly, but for now we’ll keep stum on that one, any way this is meant to be a ‘how to’ blog, so…

Hints for fencing.

Do the job once.  56

Sounds stupid, but if the job is to be done once use the strongest materials, in the case of fencing, put in a concrete post.  It’ll out last you and me, a wooden post will probably rot at the base in less than five years and you’ll be getting the job done again. Generally a concrete post costs twice as much as a wooden post, but the labour costs will be the same.

Use concrete gravel boards, keeps the wooden panels clear of the ground, and reduces rot. Make sure you have a hedgehog sized hole in each side of your garden!

Feather edge panels are far more rigid in construction than waney panels.

Use the correct tools for the job

A post hole digger is an amazing bit of kit and really makes the job simple, digs the hole and empties it.  Unless you hit an obstacle you can dig a two foot hole in ten minutes, awesome!

And a 1m spirit level for post and board levels.

We use string to make sure the fence is straight.

The hole

We back fill using a dry mix of 6:1 ballast to cement, when the fence is erect it is simple to make sure all the posts are as we want them, or adjust them if necessary and pour water on at the end.

If you are attaching a post to a wall we recommend using frame fixings, simple and easy to use, just make sure you use the right drill sizes.

Till next time


Events and Articles

Well then, the KWT Corporate Member COLOURramble version. What a week? What a week indeed. I’m sitting here in the office, the sun is shining and well, I’d not say I’m a control freak, but well everything is starting to go the way it’s been planned for the last year or so.

On Monday I went to see Barry Morgan, Barry is another corporate member of the Kent Wildlife Trust. He has a large garden, so we spent the afternoon thinking about two tasks, one I was interviewed for the next edition of the Trusts Magazine, but also we are planning the overhaul of his garden together, and this will also be the focus of several articles throughout the summer. That is cool!

We have the simple life event coming at the beginning of next month, an introduction to bring birds and animals into your garden. Yep it’s £50.00 and some people have said that’s a lot. Maybe, but the value will be high. We are going to plant some hedging, hopefully the temperature won’t get to warm to quickly, bare rooted stems don’t like to be planted when it’s too warm.

introduction event.jpeg

At the event we are going to make a simple bird feeder, we will discuss all the different ways to feed the birds, how to recognise them when they do arrive. It can be much simpler than opening a bird book to the right page quick enough. There should be some pond life about by then so we should be able to have a look at these creatures too. It really is all about timing. I’m going to arrange for a couple of assistants too. What with tea or coffee and biscuits, you won’t want to miss it. There will ONLY be 10 tickets.

As part of the preparations I presented a talk on birdsong at Canterbury ABC and despite checking my equipment, the CD player broke down, so I had no birdsong to use. It still went well and it was nice to be thanked for such an informative talk. I have another one in a couple of weeks, with birdsong it may be even better!

And next Tuesday I’m back over to Gareth Powell of Play Mountains studio to finish shooting the vlogs, and following the reception of the last one I can’t wait!

Outside, spring really is kicking off, have you heard great spotted woodpeckers yet, seen all the trees are starting to bud, I have bluebells out in a tub in the yard, there is heat in the sun…

Come on this is all awesome, this is going to be an awesome year. Feel it folks!

See you soon and book on to the event here!