dear diary :: coming together

Wasn’t it a glorious day on VE day, warm, sunny and calm; just perfect for afternoon tea on the lawn and a chat with the neighbours. It was very much a spur of the moment thing for us when my friend from up the road rang and said “were we doing anything in the lower part of the cul-de-sac for VE day tomorrow and did we want to join in with the upper part who were going to be out on their lawns for afternoon tea at 4pm?”

I had not heard of any celebrations and neither had my immediate neighbours but we thought it was a good idea to join in so I hastily made some leaflets and at clapping time that evening gave them to all the houses round about in the close telling everyone if they wanted to join in to be out on their front lawns the next day at 4pm. Not everyone in the cul-de-sac joined in, but the majority of people were just glad of getting out of the house and doing a little socialising – be it at a safe distance.

The next day, early in the morning our cul-de-sac swung into action – it was suddenly ‘bustling’ as neighbours appeared one by one and lawns were mown, bunting and flags went up, and chairs and tables put in place – the activity only ceasing to observe the two minute silence at 11am.

Preparations continued indoors as people baked and maked until at 4 pm they reappeared carrying trays laden with pots of tea and plates overflowing with sandwiches, cakes, even pizzas – whatever spread could be created at such short notice.

For some, like us, it was done in style with ‘proper’ white linen table cloth, cake stands, vases of flowers and china tea pots; for others a hastily found picnic table or rug spread on the lawn and a couple of mugs of tea with a few homemade ‘doorsteps’.


After tea we got to chat with neighbours new and old and heard of their experiences of Covid 19 and the lockdown and most of them, I would say, are concerned as to how the ‘release’ and easing of the lockdown will unfold. Many suggesting they will be taking it more slowly perhaps than the government will be advising and making their own easement plans even before Boris announces his plans today. Coming out of lockdown will be like coming out of hibernation and I will be with the slow and careful camp for sure. I think the tortoise will win the day.

As this hot spell continues I have suddenly got a heap of jobs to do in the garden potting on as well as a little pottering. It is tempting to plant up some of the pots and baskets with annuals but with the cold spell forecast and possible late frosts, I decided to hang fire and transplant some of the seedlings into bigger pots in the meantime. What a shame I didn’t get to buy my greenhouse last year – I really need one now as my mini greenhouse is rather full and limited for head room as the seedlings in the trays are starting to gain height.

Outdoors I have my vegetables and salads tucked up under cloches that I remove during the day – it was so warm the last few days you could almost here the seedlings growing and I have been astounded that there are signs that the potatoes on on their way as they finally push through the earth making little mounds like a mole – I had given up hope as I feared the seed potatoes had not sprouted very well when I planted them.


Sadly the forget-me-nots, that are currently covering my borders like a carpet, will be over very soon. Such a pretty little flower – I keep refilling the jug on the kitchen window sill and adding in some of the clematis montana, which has flowered profusely outside my front door, and the odd buttercup that I find hiding in my borders…they add a lovely touch of colour.

As the garden is unfolding into a wonderful canvas of colour just waiting to be painted I felt the desire to idle away part of the day sketching in the garden yesterday. It has really been far too long since I have put paint on paper and done anything worthwhile in my sketchbook – in fact I had to hunt around to find it as I gathered up brushes and paints to get started. I find the best way to get back into painting is to do some very quick 2 minute sketches – just getting something down on paper without bothering too much of the result.

On an evening, whilst watching repeats go around on the TV, Father Brown, Midsommer Murders (the 8 o’clock slot is my main viewing time) and if I don’t mind a late night – New Tricks often follows on, I have been doing a few rows of knitting but remain sceptical that it will be finished in time before little Freddie turns two next year – such is the pace that I go at!

This was my second attempt at the neckline – I pulled back the first as it did not fall into a well formed edge the first time and failed the inspection – in the words of Sybil on her blog, I failed miserably – so after consulting the wonderful Youtube masters of knitting I discovered how to form a fully fashioned edging with stitches that lean to the right or left – though I would say my attempt is probably more ‘fashioned’ than fully. The sleeves should be fairly straight forward if I can manage to increase on the correct rows – at least there is no pattern on the bottom of them that requires more concentration than I can muster by the evening.

Amidst all the fun stuff I really must get back to doing some targetted exercises for my knee – although gardening is good exercise for some things I do need to keep up with the stretching and strengthening exercises as well – though of the two types of exercise ….. give me gardening anyday – so much more variable as well as pleasurable. All daily walks, for our allowed daily hour, have recently been suspended as I have taken to resting and icing my knee again – is there such a malady as ‘irritable’ knee because that is what it is – if it does not like something it is very quick to grumble – it reminds me of Mrs Pringles leg in the Miss Read books!

Of the family there is litle change in the news – Mum is getting used to her own company inside her own four walls – entertained only by Talking Pictures and reruns of Miss Marple on TV; elder daughter , coming to terms with turning 40, and her partner are working all hours as they juggle childcare around Zoom log ins for lengthy meetings and younger daughter copes 24/7 with the two energetic weenies.

It would seem we have all made our own way along this unknown journey, sometimes just casually drifting along and sometimes with intent and whilst for some it has seemed like going into a very dark tunnel with no end in sight, for others the time is whizzing by as they rush to tackle a list of jobs on the ‘one day’ list and now scramble to get them finished in time for the inevitable return to the frantic world of balancing work and home life. How many have vowed to make changes, but how many will?

I too am planning on change – during the lockdown I have reconnected with our home in a big way and have had the space to identify exactly how I would prefer to manage my time in the future, doing more of what pleases my soul, and what gives me the greatest amount of satisfaction. A new balance is going to be my goal – but one seriously weighted to having more time for ourselves.

I leave you now as I feel the cold weather already descending upon us, waiting with bated breath for the Boris briefing today – in the meantime anyone for a nice hot cuppa and a scone? xx

32 thoughts on “dear diary :: coming together

  1. Is there no end to your talents? Your VE Day party looks absolutely fantastic, very well done, and you can paint too 🙂

    Those salad leaves look very healthy and if your weather is anything like ours today they will be happy to be protected against the bitterly cold wind.

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    1. I dabble a bit in everything for my own enjoyment but do nothing very well! I was so surprised that everyone managed decorations and food at such short notice. I was lucky because I have miles of bunting in the loft from my daughter’s wedding.

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  2. What a lovely blog. Impressed with your painting! I too have been rethinking my future life. Whats left of it. And intend to do more of what I like without doing any damage to anyone else.

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    1. My little sketches are certainly not in your league Jill and I feel very rusty – must make time to do more. It would be such a treat to be able to come and see you painting in your shedudio – I just love the boldness in your paintings – I suspect they match your character. x

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  3. Yes, yes, a scone and a cup of tea would go down a treat. And bunting! You know my love of bunting!

    So glad your family are all getting through this, safely, and soundly. We are relaxing restrictions here but people have gone mad and many have ignored calls for physical distancing.

    Although I cannot retire yet, I know what I’d like to do for my soul if I could retire – gardening, reading, learning languages, and baking. And some horrific craft. I say horrific as the full horror of my lack of skills and bad eye for balance and form and colour, make my work horrid, but the process is sometimes fun.

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    1. When I see some of the brilliant craft work on the internet it almost makes me want to give up trying but then I so love doing things with my hands – my problem is never practising any one craft to perfection.
      How am I going to get this bunting to you – if you let me know the length you would require I can weigh it and see how much the postage would be.

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  4. Well we had a nice afternoon tea party along the road but nobody went to that much trouble – it all looks absolutely lovely – I had cream crackers and cheese. Really fancy one of those scones and a delicious looking sausage roll. Love your painting of forget me nots too.

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    1. I am sure that you had a marvellous time even without all the trimmings – I was so surprised at what everyone managed to do in the few hours available. I only gave out the leaflets at 8pm the night before and didn’t expect much of a response.

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  5. oooh I loved VE day and every one being friendly ( at a safe distance of course!) and your garden is coming along a treat too. Please pass me a scone! xxxx

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  6. Your VE day celebrations look lovely. It is so nice to see the effort everyone went to and your own spread looks delicious. There were bunting and decorations hung in the next village, although I didn’t see any celebrations here.
    A scone and a cup of tea would do nicely, thank you. X

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    1. Until my friend rang me I hadn’t given it much thought, but I am so glad I made the last minute effort to get something organised – everyone that took part was so grateful I had sent around the leaflet and given them the opportunity to celebrate together.

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  7. Loving your post; seeing what you did for VE Day and what future plans you are conceiving. Reading this with my (third) large cuppa of the morning. Today is Mother’s Day in the US. Already had lovely handmade scones delivered to me yesterday afternoon by DD and almost six GS. DS and DiL along with GD 4, GS 2 and GS 1 came by to say hello this morning bringing macaroons. Social distancing in place and no hugs :(. Hard. All the grands made me lovely paintings. First time seeing any of them in person in two months. Messages/calls from the rest of the clan.

    DH and I just put together my Mother’s Day gift–a raised bed cedar garden stand (1.22m w x .6m d and not quite a meter high) for our good sized deck off the kitchen. Pretty and smells delicious. Vegetables will be planted in it; other large planters with veggies and flowers along with a small fountain will be placed in the surrounding area. While we have a lot of land (acre), we also have a surfeit of deer, squirrels, rabbits, hawks, etc. etc. etc. Summers here are ungodly hot and humid and at my age large scale gardening is beyond my ken. Strangely, it was only 1c this morning–however, will be 18c this pm–with sun! And almost 27c for a high by Friday. Been a cold, wet and v. windy spring here so far, so a nice change. Enjoy your week. x

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    1. My little wooden planters of salad veg did really well last year and this year I set the seeds earlier and put some makeshift cloches over them to give them a good start as the weather is so changeable here. So pleased you had a very enjoyable Mother’s day – it was the last day I saw my mum here (ours is in March). I so long for a few hugs from the grandchildren. I am even missing those pesky rabbits in our garden in Scotland! xx

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  8. I didn’t do any VE celebrations, I live alone in a village and it is all very quiet here, not spoken to anyone for weeks. It must be nice having neighbours who speak to you. Sarah.

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    1. Oh I am so sorry to hear that Sarah – it must seem like a never ending trial for you. My younger daughter is in a small village she had only just moved there and knew no-one at the time. A lovely neighbour behind her came to introduce himself when she moved in and now her immediate neighbour has begun to speak a bit (probably sussing her out first as the previous tennants were very noisy!) The village have formed a Whats App group that my daughter joined and together they are all helping each other – so she has been able to make a few friends.
      Anytime you feel like a chat just come onto my blog – it is a good place to feel connected – even just in the comments section. Sending you best wishes. x

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  9. Your VE Day Celebration sounds like it was a lot of fun. It must have been nice to connect with neighbours after such a long period of self isolation. We are starting to lift some restrictions here (Ontario, Canada) however I think most people agree they will be taking it very slowly. We certainly don’t want a second wave of infection. I enjoy the same television viewing as you….love Midsummer Murders, New Tricks and Father Brown.
    I am still working but from home permanently now and it is amazing how much more time I have for my home as I no longer have a 50 minute commute to work each way. I have finally found the time to accomplish a number of jobs around the house that have been on my to do list for some time now. I have many gardening jobs that have been added, but to me working in the garden is just so good for the soul, listening to bird song and being surrounded by all the spring flowers just feels great!

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    1. Hi Marilyn – I hope your gradual ease out of lockdown goes well and at a pace you are happy with after all if it goes wrong it will be a matter of life or death for someone. We have just had our PM speech tonight and I think a lot of people will agree with me that we are more confused than ever tonight – let’s hope we get a bit more clarity tomorrow. The birdsong in my garden has been so lovely to listen to as I work in it. I am hoping the cold spell does not ruin all the flowers that have just come out. x

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    1. It originally adorned the little pavillion tea room at my daughter’s wedding reception venue – having miles of bunting does come in handy at times.
      If you read this Julia can I have an invite to your blog – i do miss it. x

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      1. Hi! I attempeted to invite you to read my blog, not sure it was successful. I may need your email address and I don’t see it here on your blog. Please let me know. I haven’t updated my blog since last July – so behind.

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  10. Your impromptu gathering looks wonderful. We did something similar here and I have to say there was a community spirit that I think we may have missed out on if times were normal and we were all off doing our own thing.

    Your watercolours are lovely and the knitting is so neat. I think we’ve all realised in LD that certain things are more important than others. I’m looking forward to being able to take more exercise but shall be using my own judgement as time goes on about other things. I really do think we need to take responsibility for ourselves coming out of this. Have a lovely day. xx

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    1. I will definitely be making my own choices within the guidelines. There is nothing more that I would love than a drive down into Derbyshire for a day out and a picnic but I feel I must respect all those people who live there and will not want their tiny villages invading.
      There have never been so many people at home all at once on our road – usually even in the school holidays it is like a ghost town.

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  11. The socially distanced VE Day street party is such a lovely idea, your decorations and afternoon tea look fabulous. It’s hard to imagine life going back to way it was before, I know some people are desperate to get out but I think we’ll be cautious when the restrictions are lifted – though no idea when that will be in Scotland. Take care. X

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    1. I think Scotland are taking the right approach – what is three more weeks if it guarantees les deaths. It will be nteresting to see what unfolds- old habits are hard to break unless something better comes along. x

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  12. All lovely Vivien from the food to the plants, painting and knitting! No VE day celebrations here as most neighbours weren’t up for it and I am glad because I doubt that some of them could keep to the social distancing and would be too tempted to be in each others gardens. Hope you have a good week. x

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  13. Your street’s VE75 Day celebrations looked great. I wish that we’d done something like that here, but we don’t have big front gardens, so it wouldn’t really be possible. In any case, it would have been difficult to fit it in amongst all the dancing classes. I too have an ‘irritable’ knee. It usually behaves when I do my normal classes, but it has been playing me up during lockdown. I think I upset it doing an online class at the very beginning and it’s been letting me know ever since. It’s a bit better now, until I go on a very long walk and then it aches.

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  14. Your VE Day celebration table looks wonderful! I’m glad your street made an effort. Ours did too, although I didn’t see any tables as sumptuous as yours. We only have a very small garden, as do most of our neighbours, so we all put out our tables and chairs on the pavement in our cul de sac.

    I think this time we have had, keeping ourselves to ourselves, has made many people think how they want to live post Covid. So perhaps some good has come out of something so awful.

    I do wish I could paint, that and sewing, I find I’m a bit of a numpty :))

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