One of the things we always notice when we visit Lauren's parents house in Malta, is how much time everyone spends outside. Most restaurants and bars have outside space, and people often turn evening dog walks into a social meeting, with the streets filled with people catching up. Even when they are home, people can often be seen sitting outside their homes, even if it's just on the doorstep, enjoying a drink and a chat. It's something we've always admired, although admittedly the weather makes it a much easier achievement in Malta than in England!
Research also shows that fresh air and outdoor elements have a positive impact on our well being - we were recently reading about such studies and were interested to find out that:
- Serotonin (a neurotransmitter that regulates mood) actually rises when we are outdoors
- Dr. David Lewis, the man who coined the term “road rage,” found that the scent of grass has a significant calming effect on out-of-control drivers.
- A study of post-operative patients, those who had rooms with a view of natural surroundings needed less pain medication and spent fewer days in the hospital than those who faced a brick wall.
When we moved into our home in our home city of Birmingham, five years ago, we spent a lot of time making it our own. Its been a gradual process, but has been a labour of love!
The one part of our house that we never got round to improving, was the garden. Although bigger than most in the neighbourhood, it was an awkward layout, had been very much neglected by the previous owner and we were unsure what to do about it. We love redecorating rooms, something that Sarah usually has lots of ideas for, but we are definitely not gardeners!
So one day a couple of weeks ago, we hired a landscape gardening team, who set about making our garden pretty. Although the square lawn section is fine, there is a large rectangle section, with the two corners in particular looking rather scary! We had made ourselves sit down and think what we needed to do: remove the old fence and the jungle of weeds. And what we wanted to do: to make the garden look pretty so that we would enjoy being outside, and to ideally have some kind of seating area. Here are the results!
This side of the garden was edged by a 40ft long old fence which threatened to fall down with the slightest breeze, and very over grown weeds!
It looks so much nicer and tidier! Our next plan is to get the pebbled area replaced with paving, which is where we will have our rubbish bins disguised under a screen, and a small storage trunk.
Beforethis corner was the same fence, which was patched up badly with wood that was beginning to rot away at the bottom. The area was also slanted, and the grass was more weeds than grass!
We are thrilled with this! This part of the garden gets sunshine pretty much all day so it's a great space to chose for a seating area. We had two sofas with a corner coffee table, which can be converted into one big L shaped sofa, plus an extra coffee table. We love Moroccan lanterns, so have two large white ones, and smaller black lanterns on the steps. We just need to add some finishing touches like extra cushions, and a few plants or small trees.
We love fairy lights, so have put lots of solar lights in the garden - the fencing is edged all the way around with tiny white fairy lights, and the decking has these beautiful Moroccan style lights. This means that as our garden is quite brightly lit, we can spend evenings out here too. It's all too easy to spend evenings in front of the TV, but we have enjoyed using sitting outside as a more peaceful end to the day. Sarah also loves watching the bats in the trees!
The area is ideal for sitting out enjoying the sun, but we are after all in England, and we want to still enjoy the garden whatever the weather. So we installed an umbrella that folds away neatly for when it's raining, or for when the sun is a bit too bright (it could happen England!). We also plan to get some form of heater. We think it will be lovely to sit outside in the autumn with a hot chocolate!
But for now we have enjoyed having breakfast or coffee outside in the sun, and watching some beautiful sunsets. As the decking faces the front of the house, we get a view of the trees that line out street, and some very pretty skies. Its so wonderful to be able to enjoy and appreciate not only our garden, but our wider surroundings too. It's often only when people go on holiday that they take the time to sit outdoors and appreciate the sky or the trees, but we highly recommend taking the time whenever possible, however simple those surroundings may be.
Willow also absolutely loves it! She loves being outdoors, and even though she is walked a minimum of once a day, she always wants to go into the garden the second she gets home - so we think she's glad to finally have company out there!
People always seem to be looking for ways to escape the stresses of daily life, or to chill out, and sometimes it really is as simple as taking the time to sit outside. Leave your phone indoors, but take that glass of wine with you ;) Happy sky gazing!
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