I am so thrilled to finally have a garden of our own. It’s only small and is very overlooked (well we do live in Central London so that is pretty much a given!) and is in need of a big revamp but it’s ours.
Although it needs work to make it a great space we’ve still been getting some use out of it. I had thought that, as the weather turned colder, we’d not be able to spend time out there, but that hasn’t been the case.
One simple DIY project we did back in the summer was to stack up two old metal wheels we found left in the garden and turn them into a simple log burner. That was such a simple idea and yet it’s given us hours of pleasure. There’s nothing quite like a proper outdoors fire to make an evening feel cosy. And of course, our makeshift log burner has really come into its own now that it’s winter in the garden.
We were kindly sent some hardwood heat logs and night briquettes to test out by Lekto Woodfuels and thought we would make the most of them with an evening outside.
It was a cold but clear evening so we set up the log burner and took dinner outside to eat. There’s something so wonderful about eating al-fresco even during the winter! We wrapped up warm, piled up cushions and took throws and blankets outside to make the space warm and inviting.
If you don’t like the thought of your interior throws and pillows being used in the garden then invest in some outdoor ones – you can even get outdoor rugs to help keep your feet warm. I love this Chloe outdoor rug.
Some people swear by gas heaters but honestly I think in a smaller garden like ours there’s no need for one – the wood burner gives off plenty of heat.
Prepare Simple, Warming Food
Whilst Scott got the fire going, which took a lot less time with the heat logs than it normally does with chopped firewood, I set up the table. We had a ‘picnic’ dinner – basically my excuse to do minimal cooking with a mixture of warm and cold picky bits.
We had bowls of olives, toasted pitta bread with houmous, bowls of homemade tomato soup, couscous, mixed green salad, chorizo rollitos, feta and spinach pastries, falafel, mixed meats and corn on the cob which I pre-boiled and then we blackened it over the fire.
Kids love picky dinners like this and they love the novelty of being able to cook over an open fire. If we had a grill on our wood burner we would have also made sausages in rolls with big dollops of ketchup! I could have cooked them indoors but we just wanted to all be outside together enjoying ourselves and so went without the sausage rolls.
I love dinners like this – impromptu, simple and peaceful. No need for hours spent in the kitchen – just healthy, filling and easy.
I kept the table setting simple too – a plain white cotton table runner, paired with a selection of blue and white falconware and vintage china. You can’t sit to dinner at a table without candlelight IMO so my cute house shaped tealight holder from Tesco and a couple of plain white pillar candles propped up on a tile added to the cosy atmosphere.
The food was served up in my Orla Kiely pot (it’s actually a saucepan but I love it too much to confine its use to the hob!) and a wooden platter which I received as a Christmas gift. A simple stone cutlery holder and linen napkins were the only other additions. After all, there’s no point in saving cooking time if you then have to spend it all washing up or tidying!
Keep Entertainment Simple
The heat from the heat logs was fantastic – they actually warmed up the whole garden and we all ended up taking layers off!
After dinner we played cards and warmed marshmallows and squares of green and blacks milk chocolate over the flames – messy but oh so satisfactory.
Then Scott pulled out our games compendium for some draughts (checkers) which he played *very competitively* with Lily and then we sang campfire songs to send Theo to sleep with his last bottle. Clearly the Scottish in him loved a bit of ‘My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean’ and Lily LOVED it when I taught her the words to ‘My baby fell down the plug hole’. I remember finding it just as amusing at her age!
Just spending time together doing simple things is a real pleasure – no fancy games or electronics, just us and the kids with some plain old fashioned family fun. Also if the heavens open you don’t have to worry about packing up complicated games!
I loved that there was practically no smoke coming off the fire – normally we have to wait to light the fire until Theo is in bed as I don’t like him sitting near the smoke but he was able to sit outside in his big snuggly jumper and join us. He loved watching the flames flickering and little firefly-like sparks spiralling off into the sky. Although he wasn’t so happy about not getting a marshmallow 😉
We had a really magical evening spent outside with the fire burning and keeping us warm.
I particularly loved that once the fire burnt down there was hardly any ash to clean up and because it is 100% natural we could just scatter it over the flower beds as it is a natural fertilizer – jackpot there! Hardly any washing up and no mess to dispose of – a winner in my eyes!
One thing I would say though is read the instructions – Scott didn’t realise until after he lit the fire that its recommended to break the logs up before you use them as they expand whilst burning. We ended up with a pretty high tower of flames at one point so he had to knock the logs apart whilst lit (not exactly following fire safety protocols!)
Next year, as part of our garden makeover plans, we are going to buy a larger log burner with a grill and these will be ideal for that – something like this one from Primrose. We will be getting some solar lighting out there too which will be ideal on dark winter nights.
We also got sent some of the night briquettes which we will be taking with us on our next glamping holiday to use overnight in the wood stove. We loved glamping at Caalm Camp last year in our yurt and these would be the perfect accompaniment. Scott reckons they will be easy to transport too as they are light and being uniform in size means they are easier to stack neatly than regular wood.
Find a Project
If you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse you can still grow vegetables and plants throughout the Winter which makes for a great project to do with the kids.
Unfortunately, we don’t but we will be spending this winter preparing the garden for Springtime.
I’ve planted up some beautiful spring bulbs ready to bloom once the weather thaws and Scott is working on clearing all of the junk from the Garden.
We are planning to build a Birdhouse and feeder, paint some terracotta pots ready for next year and to make some plant markers too.
I’ll be sharing our garden progress over on Instagram so make sure you are following me there too.
Do you spend much time outdoors during the Winter?
Thanks to Lekto for providing us with the fuel to have a perfect family evening out in the garden this Winter!