Black Dog

I am going to start this by apologising to anyone who has contacted Made at Burngate Farm over the last few weeks and hope this in some way explains what has or not happened.

In February I was visited by Black Dog, It may have arrived before and may have lingered longer but February was the month when I functioned, not lived but functioned. For those of you who don’t know what Black Dog is, it is a metaphor for depression. Many, many people get visited by it, some more often than others. Some drink to try and get rid of it, some take medication to help, some talk about it, and some don’t. But it is around more often then you are aware of.

I have always been aware that I have had days and months when I haven’t felt myself, starting way back when I was about 14 or 15. It is a chemical imbalance in the brain, nothing to be ashamed off which is what we were led to believe. As women we were meant to suck it up, just had to keep on going, manage the house, raise children, provide a home for our husbands. If we had mental health issues then it was either ignored or women were hospitalised. And although now mental health is talked about more openly now there is still such a stigma attached to it and the funding nationally is very poor. I am not sure how it effects anyone else but for me I struggle to do more than everyday tasks to keep us clean, fed,  watered and paid.

I put this current blip down to the quiet after a very busy few weeks, finding out my husband’s life is limited, organising a holiday, Christmas, New Year, end of shooting season, daughters birthday, husbands birthday, organising a few days in London and then it went quiet. And where most people would use this time to breathe and reflect it gave me time to think and panic about the future. How will I cope being on my own with two children, what if he goes before they are at the same school and I have to cope with getting them to different schools in the morning, When they scream and shout at each other how am I going to cope the I don’t have anyone else to hand them over to. Stupid everyday things that most of us take for granted but can cause serious stress.  How will I earn enough money to support everyone.

I caught an edition of Desert Island Discs a few months ago and the guest was a lady whose husband had died very suddenly. The one sentence which stood out for me is that now she never says how are you to the person she is speaking to, she ask how are you today, and that one 5 letter word makes such a difference. Today I may be fine but yesterday and tomorrow might have brought forth/ bring all the plagues which God can send forth but today I may be fine. And this is where I need to start to learn not to say fine when people ask me how I am and not to say I will when they say let us know if we can help at all. This is when I need to say that today I am ok but yesterday wasn’t good and when my friends and family need to say I have a couple of hours spare on Wednesday, do you want a coffee/dog walk/help with packing. But it’s not just me who can benefit from this, it is all of us, whatever our situations. And just because you haven’t heard from me in a few months does not mean I am OK, it just means that I am afraid to ask for help, and I may not be on your radar to ask and the opposite works as well.

At this moment in time I would also like to thank Penny, Becky, Liz, Tyrell and all in the financial accounts team at Dorset Healthcare NHS Trust who allow me to float in and out on days that I can be there which gives me something else to focus on apart from candles kids and terminal cancer and lets me have a pay packet at the end of the month and a toehold in maybe getting back into permanent work whether full or part time depending on how the candles work out! I would also like to thank everyone at The Purbeck Artisan Yard for their support over the last few months.

in the immortal words of The Four Tops, Reach Out and I Will Be There but please also understand that for some of us reaching out is difficult.



First new make of the year: Play dough soap

I don’t know about anybody else’s offspring but mine, while happy to get in the bath/shower do still need a fair amount of prompting to actually wash themselves.With that in mind when I cam across The Soap Kitchens  #makeitmonday recipe for Play Dough Soap my imagination was fired. Great, I thought, something fun to get the children involved in, making soap that that they can then use. I envisaged a happy gathering in the kitchen and a little halo of smugness for trying to be the perfect parent. Reality on the other hand stuck her nose in and Harry Potter on PS4 was deemed more interesting than stirring concoctions in the kitchen. So orders taken, husband and brother-in-laws sent out into the wilds of Dorset to walk the dogs, my lovely sister-in-law Sarah and I set about having some fun.


Play Dough soap is actually a very simple recipe as follows

  • 1 cup of corn starch
  • 1/4 cup of liquid soap
  • 8 teaspoons of almond oil
  • 1 teaspoon fragrance
  • 1 teaspoon liquid colour


Put the liquid soap and almond oil in a bowl and stir until combined then add the fragrance and colour and mix in


Add about half of the corn starch and stir


Add the other half and with your hands mix in together to combine into one ball


Place into small plastic pots to prevent drying out



We found (or rather sister in law found) this a really easy recipe to follow and somewhat like pastry making. We did find the mixture a bit dry and added some more liquid soap to help combine it. I also used Zenicolor which is not a liquid colour so I am wondering if that made a difference. However the technique, measuring, stirring and bringing it together by hand I think would work really well with children. We have all tried the end product and liked it, it doesn’t foam a huge amount but the liquid soap we used is SLS free so has the foaming ingredient taken out.

This is defintely a good and fun make to do with children at home and I will adding it to my list of makes when I get my workshops up and running.

In other news

I have just started book 10 of my 50 book challenge. The first assignment has been handed in to my tutor for the Aromatherapy course, which seems to have been OK, second assignment is ready to go and working on 3 and 4 to be finished this week (fingers crossed). My husband is doing well, we have a few days booked in London for half term and looking forward to that.


Happy New Year

I was all set to write a doom and gloom blog post following my husband being diagnosed as terminally ill last November but I just can’t, reason being he is so damned upbeat and cheerful and dragging us all along with him. I know this will change in time but right now its not what I want to write about or what you need to read.

Because of the diagnosis, 2017 left with a whimper not a bang on the sales front having had to cancel two large shows but we did have a fabulous family holiday in Mauritius. Subsequently I haven’t thought about Made at Burngate Farm for a few weeks now and struggling slightly to get back into the swing of things. But I need to, starting with application forms for shows in May, and already thinking about next Christmas.

With it being the New Year then of course New Years resolutions are on everyones minds, or maybe not, but I have come up with some and as always hope that they don’t fizzle out halfway through February.

  1. Blog more and ta dah, here is the first one of the year. Will aim to be more consistent, aiming for once a week, and still want to try new makes  as well whether its food, crafts, alcohol or knitting.
  2. Being more consistent at social media-ing I have been very lax about this and aware that all social media sites, well the big three, need to be posted on more.
  3. Read 50 books this year a purely personal one, I have a slight addiction to book buying, cheaper than bags and shoes, but still takes up a lot of space, I will admit to having smuggled them in to the house before. I have also promised that I would limit my buying; read four books and I can buy a new one. I am currently on number 5.

I also have some plans for this year, not resolutions as such but ongoing projects that need to be worked on.

The first is getting our lovely Portland sheep fleeces turned into knitting wool. We are heading to Devon in a coupe of weeks so hoping to get to the mill and sort out the paperwork to get this rolling. If it goes well we have to work on a couple of people with larger amounts of Portland sheep to expand.

Secondly, I am starting an Aromatherapy Diploma. I haven’t decided if I am going to do the massage element of it but I really would like to know how essential oils work together and what benefits they can have on a person, either through using them in skin care products such as creams or soaps, or by fragrance, such as candles or wax melts.

Thirdly, workshops. We have this amazing new space in the village called Create at The Cove, great way to while away a few hours quietly creating with your children. I can highly recommend it, but they have also kindly suggested I could run some workshops down there. I have a few ideas, mainly aimed at children and mainly gleaned from The Soap Kitchen who have some amazing ideas on their #makeitmonday section of their Soap Kitchen Magazine.

So Happy NewYear everyone, embrace the good and try and turn the bad into something positive.





Chapter One: Washing Powder


The Idea

Clothes washing has come along so far since the days of doing it by hand with a washboard and mangle and for that I am forever grateful, but looking at the pile of empty plastic bottles which inevitably will end up in landfill my conscience was well and truly punctured, not just pricked. I have toyed with the idea of making my own washing powder for a number of years but have never got round to actually doing it, but it has been increasingly been playing on my mind.

The Push

Since we have given up running our B&B this has given us more time to spend with the family, and this means getting out and about more. I was luckily enough to have already done a course down at River Cottage HQ and have been raving about it for the last few years. So this past May bank Holiday I took my husband and two children to the River Cottage Spring Fair where the children discovered pottery and how to build a shelter, my husband discovered that actually to was quite nice sitting down and not rushing around and I discovered the amazing Rebecca Sullivan and her book The Art of the Natural Home. Sadly we weren’t in time to see her demonstration but I bought the book and have opened up a wonderful array of homemade natural products ranging from food to cleaning products. It also helps that we did go to the same college although many years apart. Delighted to find a recipe for washing powder Amazon was the next stop for the ingredients.

How to …..



  • 100-150g bar of soap (castile or Dr. Bronner’s)
  • 250g borax, I used Borax substitute
  • 250g washing  soda crystals
  • 5 drops of lemon or orange essential oil, I used rosemary as that is what I had but lemon acts as a degreaser and bleaching agent

Chop the soap into small pieces and put in a blender/food processor along with the other ingredients and blend until smooth. The amount suggested to use is 1-3 tablespoons.

I would like to say that on googling there are a myriad of washing powder recipes for you to choose one, this was just the one I liked.

The Verdict

We have been using the powder for a while and 98% of the time is her been really pleased with it. There has been some residue left when I did a woolly wash so will probably use liquid for that, maybe I can make my own, and there was one heavily stained load that I again used the shop bought liquid. My son has reactions to a lot of the shop bought washing powders and liquids and has had no reaction to this whatsoever. So this is a keeper.

This is who i get to spend time with now

Next week: watermint vodka


Well if you are going to start anything a good place to start is always at the beginning. The last blog, such a long time ago, was very rambling so many apologies and lets start again. I am not the greatest writer but I enjoy it so hopefully that should improve in time.

So, some background. I am 47 years old and I live in Dorset with my husband, two children, a dog, various sheep and Bob & Brenda our orphan lambs. Yes, I really did walk out of a job two years ago with nothing to go to, it was a hard decision but a right one for me, although possibly selfish but i can honestly say I have never looked back. Life can be chaotic and thank god for a diary but everything seems so much better when you don’t leave in the dark and come home in the dark. And then last year our world was turned upside down when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. We had to give up our B&B business and learn to live our lives round the many scans, blood tests and chemotherapy until last month he had his first operation. We still have a way to go but we are getting there.

And in amongst all of this I decided that it would be great to start something completely different and learn how to make candles and soap and sell them. To this day I have absolutely no idea what possessed me to go down this road but here I am, two years on with a small and slowly growing business, selling said candles and soaps and also reed diffusers and refills. and its great, I love it, I never knew I had this in me. I was seriously the most uncrafty girl in my school, my art teacher despaired of me but I gave everything a good bash including pottery and spinning. Maybe in 2015 I went through a midlife crisis, but whatever it was I have had a new lease of life.

And so to the blog, I really wanted to get out there what I do, everyone says you must have a blog, but how boring would it be to just read about that week in week out. I could liven it up by the occasional notification on when one of our sheep had given birth, which appears to be quite random at the moment, but again, wouldn’t liven it up plenty and then I had a thought; Made at Burngate farm doesn’t need to just be about candles and soap and reed diffusers, now I have some time on my hands there is a myriad of things that I want to make and so I have given myself a challenge, to make, however successful or unsuccessful that may be, something new every week. Any ideas please feel free if not I am happy compiling of list of what I have always wanted to try and make. I can happily not include meringues on this list as I did overcome my fear of making them a couple of years ago, but there is still plenty of scope.

In the meantime here is a picture of Bob the orphan lamb who decided that Alfie the dog’s bed by the wood burning stove was the perfect place to sleep.IMG_0857

Next week: washing powder