dear diary ~ a productive week at last

The weather is just how I like it ….for gardening, dry and sunny but not too hot and if I could order a little rain for late evening or overnight to avoid having to water then all the better. In fact it did rain overnight on Thursday and nicely refreshed the garden.

By last Wednesday, we had already stocked the pantry with fresh fruit and veg and the freezer with more home baked quiches so there was little food shopping we needed to do but we did have a few errands to attend to out of town. So mid morning, when there was still no sign of the ‘new arrival’ coming, we decided to pack a flask and sandwiches as we knew we would be out for about 4 hours and wanted to be on our way home before the school rush at coming out time. We began by going up nearly to Emley Moor (where the famous TV mast is) to the garden centre which is now Dobbies. I had a £5.50 voucher and knew what I might buy with it. We also took up a pile of empty compost bags and a few plastic plant pots for their recycling bins. It was good to have another job off the list and gain more space in the shed. The voucher part paid for a little hand rake – the small one that Kent and Stowe do that helps you manoeuvre between the plants in a border.

I was astounded to find a display of lupins all at £25 per pot….really…..they were established and in flower and quite beautiful but they are just a perennial and easy to grow from seed. I used to grow a lot but for some reason they attract the green and black fly and get eaten to the ground in the hot summers so I gave up on them.

Although Dobbies have a cafe it can be noisy and expensive and we need to save money where we can so we lunched in their carpark with our picnic where, if you park in the right place, you have the same wonderful view way across the valley looking towards Upper and Lower Cumberworth as in the cafe.

Our next port of call was near to town at B&Q. I dislike going here – so many products that are potential future waste and landfill. We needed a piece of wood. We often need a piece of wood even though we have many odd pieces in the garage….guess what … is never the right size/ weight /shape or kind for the project of the moment. DH is going to put up some more tool hooks in the shed for me to hang the metal cloche hoops and for this he first need to put a strip of wood in place to screw the hooks to. That will be one of his jobs today.

We found said piece of wood in correct size, weight and shape and luckily it fit inside the car (as DH had not packed his saw just in case) then moved on to one of the local hospice charity shops to deposit the four bags of daughters clothes from her recent house clear out. She had some beautiful items but sadly only two of them fit me (and they are now in my wardrobe for summer) as she was size 8-10 until her recent pregnancies.

We then called in at another garden centre where we get our bags of compost. I noticed that what was previously offered at 3 for £xxx are now only 2 for £xxx no doubt due to all this inflation. We bought our two bags and a new hand trowel so we don’t squabble over the only one we have and finally made our way home.

Thursday we spent in the garden – there is always plenty to do and we concentrated on pruning back the berberis in the front border….quite dramatically – it looks a shadow of its former self but will recover and be a better shape. Plenty of snacks were needed and I have recently had a bit of a craving for these toasted teacakes spread with melting butter (whilst we can still just about afford butter!).

On Friday we had Master Freddie for the day again to relieve a very heavily pregnant mum. So all I managed was a few little jobs around the house. Once he had gone home at 6 o’clock I dashed around the house with a duster and the vac whilst DH made a pasta bake for our tea. We then collapsed in front of the TV and watched Astrid: Murders in Paris (the last in this series) and went to bed at 10pm.

A number of small improvements were made over the week

  • bought car seat for grandchildren to use
  • washed a pile of plantpots and trays for reuse
  • got rid of the pile of logs and old compost bags which freed up some space
  • with the help of DH I completed the huge ironing pile and put everything away
  • bought the piece of wood to put up more hooks which will create more floor space and better circulation area in the shed
  • took the bags of charity clothes creating more space in our spare room
  • scanned on some waiting paperwork to file on computer and shredded papers

and I was quite satisfied with our productivity – each little task has gained us valuable space in the house or shed or, like the car seat, will be such a help when the grandchildren come giving us more flexibility.

Update: Since preparing this post I am now able to announce the birth on Sunday 21st May of another grandson – a little brother for Master Freddie and as yet baby no-name! I am relieved both mum and baby are doing well – Freddie is now fast asleep (I hope) in our spare bed and DH and I hope to see our new little cherub very soon. It has been an even bigger productive week than I thought!

Have a good week everyone.x

dear diary ~ another week underway

Oh these beautiful sunny mornings – don’t they make you feel so alive, I can never wait to go out into the garden and take in the new vista of changes I am presented with daily.

There are an abundance of aquilegia – some in full flower and some just opening up. They are mostly self seeders tall and lanky with tiny blooms, but I also have a couple of shorter hybrids (photo above – though the names have long gone from my memory) with heavier and larger deep pink and cream ‘bonnets’, and they are as prolific as the forget me nots which are just holding up for a little longer – once they go into decline I pull them out to allow the beds to breathe a little and add a scattering of mulch.

In the shady corner the hostas are gathering pace now and the astrantias are almost at full height – it is important to plant as many ‘greens’ and leaf textures here so that with good placement and a bit of luck this area might ‘look like’ dappled shade when really it is just the natural highlights of the golden yellow of the hostas and euphorbias.

The flowering Viburnum tinus is over and waiting patiently for clipping back – I have to clip back quite hard to prevent it overtaking this lttle corner. It does a good job of hiding the two manhole covers in this spot and the dreaded conifer hedge behind which belongs to the neighbour but is quite brown on our side …..and ugly.

The large dish above came from my dad’s one acre garden when mum sold up and left. It looked quite small until I tried to find a place for it in mine! It really is a bit too big but I squeezed it in. I usually fill it with bedding plants but had intended to clear it out this year – the bedding fuchsias hardly survived the winter and the pansies I thought had died but suddenly the whole dish has sprung to life, the pansies regenerated and some forget me nots filling the gaps – it looks so lovely I haven’t the heart to disturb it just yet.

I was amazed to discover the berberis on the front border has also regenerated. Up until two weeks ago it appeared to be a brown leafless mass that I presumed had succumed to the bad winter frosts and cold. It was the first time this evergreen had lost every leaf over winter and I did say it would have to be taken out. It must have been listening, for now it is thick with fresh green growth but a most odd thing has happened – the tiny green leaves that it once and always had are now much larger. Of course I am not such and expert gardener to have the knowledge of why this might be – but no matter it is recovered and healthy. It does need a good prune though as it is overhanging the pavement and does have a dead branch or two to prune out.

My seedlings continue to gallop on and will need potting on in a day or two when the true leaves appear. No sign of the courgettes – I started them off in fibre pots and I should have known better as in the heat they dry out far too quickly and in the wet they can encourage mould to grow.

I can’t believe how quickly the weeks are passing by and how much there is still to do both in the garden and in the house. I have a layer of dust in some rooms that I would rather not talk about!

Yesterday we had another ‘jobs’ day. I stripped the beds and washed the bedding and put the duvet on the line outside in the sunshine to air. One blogger (sorry I cannot remember who) said in the last day or two that no matter what else they did or did not do as a point of routine they always stripped their beds on a Monday. I like that idea.

I will try it as I would like to get into more of a weekly routine – I feel it is often the foundation our lives are lacking.

The two outdoor winter coats I washed at the weekend and had to drip dry on the line (and DH re-proofed with the water repellant stuff) had a little more drying time in the sun. Once they are dry I can put them away at the back of my wardrobe but still within easy access should we have another cold turn in the weather.

I still have my winter wardrobe to swap over. As readers may know I am trying to ‘wear off’ as many clothes as I can. Many of my tops are now on their 6th, 7th and eighth year and still look presentable.

But honestly, I could do with a change and might be a lot more ruthless at what will stay and what might go this year. Can I bear to wear these tops for another year? We shall see.

Today we are having a quick outing to Dewsbury to a showroom to look at a car seat for our car to accomodate Master Freddie et al. No sign of baby yet….but watch this space…..only 8 days now to D day.

This afternoon we have a man who had placed a wanted post on Freecycle coming to collect the final 10 logs from the cherry tree we stored over the year. Most went to my sister but there was a few ‘left-overs’ taking up valuable garden and storage space. It will be so good to have the area cleared and another tick off the list.

For anyone who linked through expecting the ScrapHappy Challenge – I am sorry to disappoint but life is generally hectic here at the moment….crafting may resume soon.

I need to get a move on – have a good day everyone. x

dear diary ~ no time to stand and stare…

It was a long day yesterday. I certainly had no time to stand and stare as the poem goes by William Henry Davies.

Master Freddie arrived at 8.15am and even he was not as lively as usual. It would normally be his day to be at home rather than going to nursery so that might explain it as I think he would usually have a bit of a lie in.

I felt like a lie in myself after waking at 5am and then not getting back to sleep….I eventually gave in and got up at 6.30am and pottered around until Freddie arrived, but then found myself yawning through the day with little concentration. Before lunch we played together at Lego (making monster trucks), a few board games and a little artistic painting (as the first photo shows) and in between I was able to sneak off upstairs to do more ironing whilst DH entertained him.

I discovered that I had no eggs in the fridge and there were none at the Co-op in the village either – every shelf bare, so the baking will have to be done today after we shop in Sainsbury’s.

It was bitterly cold again yesterday – our walk to the village and back with Freddie was brisk and we called in at the library to get warmed up a bit while Freddie chose no end of unsuitable books – either too young or too old. Eventually, we agreed on a smaller pile suitable for his age. He really likes the bit at the end when we place all the books in the checking out machine and he can do all the touch screen operations to scan and borrow the books…… and then wait for a receipt to pop out. I had to persuade him that the elderly lady behind us probably wanted to check out her own books without his help!!

Whilst in the village library I picked up a programme for the ‘Woven 2023’ event to take place in Kirklees between 3rd June and 9th July.

There is a brilliant list of events and workshops all based on textiles – knitting, sewing, macrame, mending and dyeing and if any readers live nearby it may be well worth a visit to any one of them.

The draw back for me is that most of them require pre booking and I am never sure with our comings and goings and childcare if a future day and time is going to be suitable.

Even the greenhouse felt cold yesterday and the seeds didn’t need any more water. The thick blanket of cloud made it a very dull day and the odd shower meant that the towels are still drying on the clothes horse inside. Just what you need when you are expecting visitors! Thankfully, we have two spare -ish rooms so I don’t feel like we are living in a Chinese laundry but I do like to get my washing outside to dry when I can. Maybe today will be better, but so far it is disappointingly overcast.

When we visited mum last Thursday we had a quick look in Boyes in Yarm when we called to pick up some shopping for her. I love a good wander round any one of their stores and their prices are very reasonable.

They always have some nice wool and fabrics at reduced prices and I bought half a metre of this upholstery weight mustard printed cloth and the same of the red poppy cotton poplin. The mustard fabric is to make a bag(s) with…maybe for gifts, if I can team it up with something either co-ordinating or a plain colour. The red is to make some little bags with to hold tiny bars of scented soaps I got for presents.

Of course all I need now is the time to make them!

But first I need to attend to making and baking food for tomorrow – there are unexpected dietary needs that have come to light after talking to my SIL yesterday and so the menu I had planned may need to be modified or changed a little. I am sure I will cope but it just adds to the complexity of the hectic week we have had this week and we find ourselves shopping on a Saturday (the worst of all days in Sainsbury’s).


The well-being challenge

Wow – I could see from my stats page that so many of you linked through to the Andrew Weil page I mentioned for the breathing exercise that I expect he must think he is being stalked suddenly!

My breathing continues and I will now introduce you to my next step of the challenge to well-being.

One good thing yesterday was that I slept like a log from 10pm until 8.30 this morning. I certainly needed that sleep and renewal. Sleep will be my next topic of well-being to address. According to the English neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker, sleep is the foundation that supports diet and exercise. It should be our number one priority.

He says “Human beings are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent gain,”

I must say I have never thought of sleep in this way but it is true – how often do I watch a film that goes on after 10pm just to catch the end (when I could easily watch it at a better time on catch up). Or worse…continued to watch some rubbish program rather than go to bed and sleep.

Or even worse – writing a blog post when I had planned an early night.

Sleep has sometimes felt, like making a meal, an interuption to what I am doing.

Of course this is not helping my state of well-being and if my body and brain are not settling down to a good night’s sleep then presumably the parts that need to reboot and renew are left incomplete – a bit like putting on a wash cycle and not quite finishing it and being left with soggy, half rinsed and unspun washing to deal with.

Good sleep is vital for our body to recharge and repair and eight hours is recommended for this – six hours or fewer defines a lack of sleep. Sleep good or bad has a huge impact on our health and how long we live – so what could be more important.

Since being a child I have always needed a lot of sleep – on a good night I can easily sleep for 9 or 10 hours but more often I find it hard to drift off and it can be interupted and disturbed by needing to go to the bathroom and on a bad night those nine hours are reduced to only three or four.

What I aim to find out is – If I do sleep is it good quality sleep I am having?

And what is actually happening whilst I sleep?

Once I establish how I can improve my sleep I can form a plan to change and then review the changes.

If you want to hear about more of Matthew Walker’s work you can listen to this podcast on You Tube with Zoe Science and Nutrition who Matthew is currently working together with

Or Google Matthew Walker Sleep Expert

Have a good weekend everyone x

dear diary ~ just chit-chat really

Up and down the country it has been lovely to see all the bunting, flags and the Coronation knitting decorating villages and towns – it has been a wonderful celebration of people coming together though I appreciate not everyone has wanted to join in and as we know there were plenty of protests.

My take on the Royal family (for what it’s worth) is that – no we didn’t elect them – none of us did so everyone is equal in that. If we had an elected political president then a majority would have elected them but there would still be many that didn’t and we would still have protests. If you remember the Brexit vote almost split the country 52% to 48% – almost half the people didn’t want to leave Europe and this could happen if we changed to a president rather than keep the Royal family. To me there seems more continuity with the Royal family, who cannot show political preference but can if need be keep the politicians in check, than having to keep switching between political parties and presidents – who would want someone like Trump in power. And the Royal family may cost a lot of money but they also bring a lot of money into the country through tourism and I believe this is much more than they cost the tax payer who will pay around £1.29 per person this year. I think President Putin will probably cost the Russian people much more!

I will say no more on the subject (I am sure everyone has their own valid views), other than I did enjoy the day, the tradition and history of our nation and I look forward to seeing how the new King evolves throughout his reign. I wish there was an easy way to resolve the contentious issue of who or what system, in the future, would be best to lead our country. I am not sure that it is a problem that can be solved to satisfy everyone.

The garden is beginning to unfold and colour is returning. The new tulips I planted late, just after Christmas, have now appeared rising above the sea of blue forget me nots – Queen of the Night and the double Sun Lover – I just love the names – they are late flowering anyway so have not been held back my my late planting.

The dicentra spectabilis is certainly spectacular and well worth the wait.

I grew this pretty pale pink aquilegia over winter in the greenhouse from seed I gathered last summer.

The exochorda macrantha is blooming but will not go on for much longer now – such a shame.

But the white lilac beside it is waiting patiently in bud to burst into flower on a sunny day.

The seeds in the greenhouse have grown quite a bit in only a week. Strangely the Cosmos Sensation are the only seeds that have not appeared yet and I am wondering if I actually sowed any seeds or just got the packet out and then put it back again. A bit of a mystery!

Today we have Master Freddie once again from 8.30 until after tea to give my daughter some time to herself. The new baby could be expected any day now so we are moving onto Amber alert. We have also got DH’s sister and her partner coming for the day on Sunday – it will be lovely to see them but doesn’t everything always happen at once – it has already been a tiring week and I feel I could just do with a bit of time off to myself.

Maybe next week.

I will have to prepare food. I thought I might just repeat the Coronation quiches and fresh fruit salad I made for tea last Saturday and probably the same cake too. I will make them on Saturday rather than today otherwise I might just have a little bit too much help from little hands and I feel I need to get them done quickly and have the kitchen to myself. If I get chance I will bake the cake today and of course Master Freddie will be overjoyed to help me decorate it again.

I spent the day yesterday trying to get to the bottom of the ironing pile – needless to say I didn’t manage it but I did do a lot. It had built up over the week whilst we were celebrating, child minding, gardening and visiting – there was little time for the usual household chores. I also cleaned out the grey wheelie bin after the dustbin men emptied it. Not the most pleasant or easiest of jobs but having nappies in there, even just the wet ones does make it smell rather and today seemed like a good opportunity. Whilst I had the bucket out I decided the kitchen floor needed a good clean too.

I would like to say that the house now looks spick, span and spotless but my nose would grow if I did!!

Have a good Friday everyone x

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