dear diary :: rest and restore

Oooops….how did so much time pass by since my last post – it has been more than busy here since our return from Scotland at the beginning of May, a bit of a roller coaster, and I am feeling rather fraught and fed up at the moment. Mum has been on another visit and they don’t get any easier. By the end of the last day, as lovely as it is to see her, she is such high maintenance now and has me in such a tizzy. I certainly needed my calming yoga class this morning. She is steadily going downhill, no major or serious illness more an accumulation of niggly complaints that are limiting her mobility and confidence; she is constantly anxious about her deteriorating condition which is making her frustrated and a bit demanding. She would like things to be as they were when she was young and fit and well – sadly her body and mind will never return to that….. but that is true for all of us as we age, and she is both in denial and expectant that the doctor is going to hand her some magic pill to restore her to her old self…….and that is not going to happen. In fact the more tablets she takes the more problems are occurring because of the side effects. It feels like we are fire fighting added to which her daily diet of sausage rolls, mini cheddar crackers and Magnum lollies in place of a good balanced meal is not helping but she wouldn’t agree! Still at 93 does it really matter if she is enjoying them.

Yesterday we took her back home to North Yorkshire and on the way we stopped in Thirsk for lunch. It was beyond busy with the bank holiday visitors and the outdoor market taking up most of the parking places near to the shops and cafes. With no disabled spots available mum had to hobble along the bumpy cobbles with her bad knee (it was actually her good knee until she managed to twist it badly on Wednesday and is now back to a pronounced limp). After lunch she insisted on walking to Boots as she had her mind fixed on getting some Ibuprofen to help with the inflammation on her knee. When the pharmacist knew she took blood pressure tablets she advised against taking the Ibuprofen tablets but suggested continuing with the Ibuprofen gel the doctor had prescribed as it is more localised (taking tablets can cause kidney failure in people with high blood pressure). Mum reluctantly put the tablets back. Later on though whilst shopping in Sainsbury’s in Northallerton I discovered she had sneaked a packet into her trolley! What can I do? She is determined to take them and ignore the advice. She is looking for a quick fix. Aren’t we all!

The Christening of Sweetie took place on the Sunday before last at the little church in Healey, North Yorkshire; a beautiful church in a beautiful village setting and at the moment one of the churches taking part in the Art Installations Trail around the Masham area – for anyone interested see the link here.

It was a gloriously sunny day and the vicar, who was on TV last week and married my daughter in 2008, delivered a very memorable address during the service reminding us that whatever shape, colour or creed we are all unique and handed ‘mum’ a picture of a Zebra as a reminder for Sweetie when she is older (each Zebra’s stripes are unique to them). We sang the hymn with gusto…….well the vicars wife did….’One more step along the way we go’ and then Sweetie was doused with the baptism water…..Sweetie did not take kindly to this.

Making the dress was a labour of love – a joy to make but I am not sure it was my best work – I found my eyes are not as sharp now for such intense sewing and wearing reading glasses all the time is a bit cumbersome and gave me eye strain. Added to which I spent so much time looking down that by the time the dress was finished my neck and shouders had become so tense I was quite dizzy moving my head.

We had a change of mind about the fabric and in the end we used some leftover ivory silk from my daughter’s bridesmaid dresses and Nottingham tulle lace left over from when I made wedding dresses.

If nothing else making this dress helped me to see that there is no way I could do this kind of intense sewing now – any ideas I have had recently about starting another business in this line are firmly quashed. As much as I love to sew and make things my life has moved on now, I am older and slower, and I must move on with it and accept that any sewing I do will be as a hobby….for pleasure only and something not time limited. Although I enjoyed making the dress nothing else got done and I feel like I am back to square one with the house. You should see it now (well no you shouldn’t it is an absolute tip). I have washing and ironing to catch up with, phone calls to make, general cleaning, gardening and it is now time for a visit to Scotland again.

During all the must do’s we have managed a few days out and about – this is the best time of year to look around other gardens. We spent a lovely day walking around the hidden gardens of Little Ouseburn, near York – some of the participants have been opening up their gardens for many years now and it is interesting to see how they have developed and changed over time.

Little Ouseburn Gardens

After my Yoga class last Tuesday we had a trip out to York Gate gardens in Leeds – one of my favourite small gardens now in the care of the charity Perennial and their many volunteers.

I am in need of rest and restoration at the moment – a few days relaxing and time to think about the days ahead and what I might plan to do during June. You may have noticed my lack of comments recently – I have been reading along with my favourite blogs as much as I can and I hope normal service will resume soon.

mEAndering ~ Glenwham Gardens and my garden

Yesterday we were both feeling a bit creaky and decided that a day digging in the garden would be a weed too far so we headed off to one of my favourite gardens around here called Glenwham.

I won’t go into much detail here other than to say this garden was created out of boggy moorland over 30 years ago when Tessa Knott and her husband bought 103 acres of land unseen and over the phone then subsequently on a visit to see the land discovered the ruined farmhouse.

You can read more of the fascinating story of how this garden was transformed here.

On one of the two small lochs they created they have a wooden cabin with a springboard attached to the jetty to jump into the water and a little boat tied up at the side.

Dotted along the banks of the Loch I noticed this dwarf variety of deep blue Agapanthus which I have made a note of in my notebook and will perhaps buy from their nursery another day.

Agapanthus

We had a very relaxing time just wandering up and down the many winding paths through these gardens.  It is quite a sheltered place and very peaceful even with other people wandering around.  There is a wonderful sense of calm and in one of the woodland glades there is a stone Buddha and a string of Buddhists prayer flags fluttering between the trees.

We have seen it develop over the last fourteen years and some of the shrubs and trees are quite large now and I noticed they have had to cut a few things back down to ground level and many of the borders have been overtaken by the more vigorous plants.  We have the same problem in our garden trying to keep everything in balance.

Revitalised after our day off yesterday we were back in our garden today.  I spent a good hour dead heading the rose and removing the dead leaves of the Fatsia that get caught amongst the branches.

Once I had finished I turned my attention to the patch of garden that we cleared last summer down by the stream bank in the lower wood.  It is a difficult corner that catches the cold winter winds and I have been nursing an old Holly back to life – it had growth only on one side due to a neighbouring tree starving it of light and which has since fallen down in the gales.  At last the Holly is sprouting on the bare side and will soon have a nice dense mass of branches and leaves.

The whole area has once again become overgrown with campion and nettles, so I set too to pull them out and clear the patch once again.  The trick of course is to get some plants in quickly and not to let the weeds take hold again but sometimes it is just not possible on a short visit.

I was so busy today that I forgot to keep taking photos – but DH did take a special one for Joy at Diary of a (retired) teacher who wrote about her thistle putting down roots in a pot of flowers… well this is my thistle Joy!!

I am not even sure what it is called – we get one or two each year they self seed so we never know where they are going to pop up next.  This year it has decided to grow out of a crack in the concrete paving just where we need to take the wheelbarrow round to the other side of the cottage – quite inconvenient but I wouldn’t chop it down we just have to work round it all summer and not get too close!  When we had the flood in 2014 there was a picture taken for the newspaper of our flooded garden and one of these giant thistle was the only thing still standing in four-foot of water.

If anyone wants some seeds just let me know.

Tomorrow we are homeward bound so may not post again until Friday if I have time before we travel up to North Yorkshire on Saturday morning to visit my mum and collect Little L for the week.  My internet connection has been a bit patchy here and I have not been able to read everyones new posts so I will have a bit of catching up to do along with the washing.

Back soon x

mEAndering ~ out and about at my favourite gardens

Another scorcher yesterday – I have spent everyday this week and last with so much suncream plastered onto my skin in an attempt not to burn.

We decided to ditch the gardening and go and visit someone elses!  We went up the road to my favourite gardens on the Stair Estates at Castle Kennedy.   DH’s granddad used to be the head gardener here for the late Lord Stair from the late 20’s to early 60’s and DH lived here for a while with his mum, dad, granny and granddad in the head gardeners house.

The old castle is a ruin but quite atmospheric and stands in the most beautifully kept gardens between the White and Black Lochs.  We visit often when in Scotland and have seen many changes over the years but overall it is much the same now as it was years ago.   It is such a favourite place that my elder daughter held her wedding reception here in 2016.

We put up a marquee beside the old castle (which was built before the 14th century) and of course the equally old tea room.

It looked really pretty at night with the rows of candles in jam jars and fairy lights  placed along the open window ledges and in the bushes.

 

It was a really magical place to be even though that marquee took some decorating – looking back I am not sure how we managed to do it all.

The quaint tea room in particular holds fond memories for us.  We have photos of it through the many years we have visited.  It is no more than a rickety old pavilion style hut similar to the ones found on a cricket pitch.  At one time painted dark green but more recently was given a fresh coat of National Trust cream.

Tea Room

The floor inside tended to slope a bit more with each passing year and if you looked closely the legs on the tables had been expertly adjusted to keep the top level mainly by fitting different sized wooden blocks to the underside of the legs or even sawing bits off.  I always enjoyed my afternoon teas there on a slant.

So this dear little ‘tea hut’ had to be part of the wedding – we thought of it as an old friend and so was guest of honour. We decorated the outside with bunting and our guests had afternoon tea served on the picnic tables outside.

We heard from various staff that the new Lord Stair keeps threatening to pull it down and build a Visitor Centre – if he does I will cry.   I am always nervous on our first visit of the year and wonder if it has had the chop so what a surprise we had today when we found it has had a makeover during the winter months and very subtly done too.  They have managed to keep all of its old charm whilst giving it a new lease of life and a disability ramp.  And more importantly a reprieve.  Notice too it has now got a smart new litter bin!

Tea Room

Inside the floor has been levelled and the old Lino replaced with new wooden flooring.  The side entrance has been blocked up and the painted benches round the walls removed – but all in all I approve even if I miss the wobbliness.

Tea Room inside

Castle Kennedy is famous for its rhododendrons, the round Water Lily pond (which covers an area of 2 acres), the Monkey Puzzle Avenue and the beautiful walled garden.

Lily Pond

The Stairs now live in the ‘new’ castle built in the mid 19th century at the lower end of the gardens you can walk as far as their own private lawns surrounding the castle and get a good view of this magnificent stately home complete with fairytale turrets.  With its modern Victorian plumbing it must have been quite something in its day.

 

For all the grandeur of the place one of my favourite ‘hidden from view’ places is this abandoned old potting shed – it is round the back of what was the old greenhouse just inside the rusty iron gate marked private.  I must have a photo from 2009 which looks exactly the same – maybe just a bit more on the lean now!

Potting Shed

Walled Garden

The walled garden is spectacular in summer and it is here that we go to do some sketching – I tend to draw and paint the flowers – DH will often attempt the castle – but then an architect cannot go wrong with a building to draw.

We had the initial drinks reception in the walled garden – a place where we have many pictures of the girls in earlier years with the same backdrop!

This is a glimpse of me from a previous year sat sketching on my little stool like the garden gnome!

mmm…a bit rusty…certainly need more practice but I enjoyed myself and it was pleasant to be immersed in something for a while that is non too strenuous.

And for one time only I will leave you with a picture of me (with my brother and sister at my daughter’s wedding) – I’m on the right in my posh frock and bonnet!

Back soon x