dear diary :: capturing a little colour

It was wet, wet, wet here yesterday – certainly a day for staying inside – but I did sneak out to take some photos as I love to capture those tiny glistening raindrops balancing on the leaves and dripping slowly from the berries. There is still some highlights of colour around the garden to brighten up these grey days. Even the little Violas under our open porch are hanging in there and continue to flower.

And inside too thanks to those many jars of posies I made for the tables at the christening buffet and which are now scattered around the house.

I came across this little gem yesterday in Wilkos – the rose gold ridged jam jar. It came with 3 silk peonies but I have removed and replaced them with fresh flowers. I am not normally a ‘sparkle’ person, prefering a minimalist Scandinavian look, but a few touches here and there add something to our guest room….

…which is a very calming grey with just a hint of soft blush pink (thanks to Sadie who introduced me to pink and for which I now find I have a bit of a crush on it).

I also bought these Christmas foam stamps and glitter stickers for £1 each in The Works. I thought Little L would love to make something Christmassy with them – secretly I do too.

And what is this…….DH’s workbench in operation and that means….

….the pantry is now well underway and has units installed. He still has the wall cupboard to go up on the wall to the left of the window but first he has to do a major Ikea hack and cut down the depth of the cupboard so it is much shallower. To the right of the window and running along the wall on the right to the tall cupboard will be open shelving for storage jars.

The left hand floor cabinet will have a series of five drawers of different sizes to take extra utensils and tea towels and the other cabinets will have open shelving. We are now waiting for the man to come and fit the worktop as it is ‘L’ shaped and will need an expert join at the corner – as most workmen at the moment he has a lot on and will ‘fit us in’ – before Christmas I hope.

I have been busy too – remember the tablemats I made recently – well I have at last finished the remaining two using the other pattern of tea towels in the pack. The reverse is just a plain white honeycomb cotton.

This fabric was not as easy to sew as it is a looser weave but once I had started there seemed little point in stopping and now they are finished I do like how clean and simple they look.

DH decided that as it is beetroot season he would try his hand at making Beetroot and Ginger soup. It is such a lovely Christmas colour and a sprinkling of green chopped chives on top of the swirl of yoghurt would have been a nice touch. It didn’t quite have enough beetroot flavour for me – I much prefer it raw and grated in a salad – or roasted with root vegetables….but if you don’t try you don’t know. Having said that I would make it again but maybe not that often.

I need to turn my attentions now to focus on Christmas – December will be here on Sunday and there will be little time left for anything too creative so it will definitely be a simple affair this year and in my book that is no bad thing. I am already thinking of what will be necessary to do and what I can leave out. More on this another day.

So that was my day…how was yours? x

dear diary :: Sunday – not quite a day of rest

Yesterday I awoke with every intention of sewing again until I drew back the curtains and saw that it was dry and sunny with a wonderful blue sky – perfect for going out into the garden and getting the planters done at last. And I am so glad I took the window of opportunity as it is back to grey dismal fog and rain today.

I had bought 2 outdoor cyclamen plants in Thirsk and then when we were in Sainsbury’s shopping they were selling some for £1 each – such a bargain, so I bought four more.

I found the golden Ilex shrub in Tesco for £6 to add a bit of winter foliage to the larger planter. I used four of the cyclamen plants in the pots and the other two I planted in the front border. I always plant into a plant pot that will fit snuggly into the pottery planters so I can swap them about easily as the seasons change.

Before I put the pots back in place by the front door I brushed all the cobwebs away that had collected under our open porch and round the door. I suspect the neighbours might be thinking that the abundantly draped cobwebs and huge black spiders were part of my Halloween decorations!

I felt a pang of guilt at removing the spider’s homes – we have had numerous ones running across the living room floor recently while we are sitting watching TV in the evening – hopefully we will have a few less coming inside now.

Whilst I was in a clean up mode I washed down all the white plastic gutters and the boarding under the porch roof, the front door and the garage door. Whilst I was on a roll I also cleaned the windows and swilled the steps.

So now our house looks far more presentable. As I was precariously balancing on the steps scrubbing away we had a visit from the local Labour party canvassers and rather than talking politics we all stood back to admire my handiwork. They were very complimentary – a sure way to earn my vote!!

My younger daughter was my interuption today – she rang for a chat about the upcoming birthday get together for Little Sweetie. I never mind having a chat with my daughters no matter what I am in the middle of – I like to hear their news. It was a short call today – only an hour – we can always find things to talk about but you can see why I never get very much done in a day. During the phone call…. somehow…. and don’t ask me how, I managed to volunteer myself into making the birthday cake – I hate the thought of buying one when they are so simple to bake. That is another task to add to my list. I do need sectioning for my own good!!

DH ended up making the mushroom soup, which was rather good – a mixture of chestnut and ordinary white mushrooms with a leek for added flavour. He flaked some Parmesan cheese and added a few sprigs of parsley. And it tasted so much better laid out on the new mats!

I am trying to keep off the tomato soup at the moment as it is not very good for arthritic conditions and may be affecting my knee.

After lunch I did attempt to sew the jumper but the light had gone and I can’t for the life in me remember how I had sewn up the right hand raglan and I do need it to match. I must find the You Tube example I followed – I hope I bookmarked it. Rather than make a mistake I put it aside for another day. The cushion cover never even got a look in but I did discover I have no idea how to tell the right side from the wrong side – my mum’s knitting is so neat I could not tell any difference – any ideas anyone?

Whilst I was debating what to do next DH informed me that Emma was on the TV all afternoon from 4 pm so being a Jane Austen fan I decided to clean the living room whilst I watched the first two episodes – hoovering only during the adverts. I popped some jacket potatoes in the oven so that they would be ready by the time I had finished cleaning and we had them with salad, a mound of freshly grated beetroot and grated cheese on trays in the living room so I could watch the final episode of Emma.

DH has now put a second coat on the pantry ceiling and a mist coat on the walls. The woodwork has had a primer coat too so today he will just be doing more of the same.

As today is our usual shopping day I will be thinking about a meal plan for the week, checking the cupboards and writing a shopping list. I will have to have a root around to make sure I have all the ingredients for the birthday cake too. If I find I have some spare time I will have another go at sewing up the jumper though the light is really bad today so may abandon this again in favour of some more cleaning.

Doing the washing is definitely out in this weather.

Thank you everyone for the lovely comments on the last post you are all too kind – I think I have answered them all. There are some good ideas for me to get my act together and protect organise my time a bit better – though it would seem one or two are just like me and volunteer themselves into anything!

Thank you also to Occasional Scotland for the tiny house links – they may come in useful when we get down to planning our course of action.

Have a good day. x

dear diary :: October…so far, so good …and not so good

Goodness, it is twelve days since my last visit here and during this time it has been quite a rollercoaster. So I thought I might just sneak in and surprise you all. Of course, there have been developments to our recent problems that erupted during the summer – not unexpected but not altogether good news either – it is a long term situation with no long term resolution.

And there has been more illness (nothing serious), some frantic moments, some joyful moments and a moment or two of sheer despair and frustration. I can’t say this is normal life by any means but I still have many blessings to count.

I captured this view across Wigtown Bay last night as we made our way to our cottage in Scotland (well, caravan for those who know the tale). I am in great need of a period of recovery, a little refreshing of body and mind and DH, who has come down with a cold, needs a bit of TLC too. The sea air and our garden will undoubtedly restore us – as Mary says, it is my happy place.

So during all the recent turmoil just what have we been up to?

Our plans to come to Scotland over a week ago changed suddenly the day before we were due to set off. You know the kind of thing where one phone call can change everything – not only did ‘the problem’ suddenly throw up more problems and angst but our younger daughter, in North Yorkshire, was not well and so we dropped everything to go and look after Little L and Sweetie for a few days so she could rest.

It was actually quite pleasant; we spent the morning at Jervaulx Abbey wandering the grounds in the warm sunshine and playing hide and seek amongst the ruins.

We found a secret door to add to Little L’s excitement, but no matter how hard she knocked no-one, not a fairy or an elf, came to answer!

After all that running round we opted for sandwiches in the abbey tea room followed by a visit to the ice cream farm and playground nearby.

Not everyone joined in the fun – some of us were catching up on our beauty sleep!

On the Sunday we battled through the pouring rain with push chair and raincovers, umbrellas and hats and took the children to Preston Park. They have a mock Victorian street with shops and a tea room.

Little L liked the old fashioned toys in the toy shop, especially the jack in a box – she realised very quickly that it would jump out at the very moment the tune got to ‘pop goes the weasel’ and watched it over and over again. In the sweetshop she bought a lolly from the policeman – he was manning the sweet shop because they were short staffed!…..not sure who was manning the police station, maybe the grocer….

On the Monday and Tuesday the weather was good again so we had a drive over to Easingwold and surrounding area. As our daughter felt so much better mid week we decided to return home. Just as we were leaving the mist was swirling across the valley – she has such stunning views to wake up to each morning.

There was not enough time for us to get to Scotland and back before the weekend, when the plasterers were booked to skim the pantry wall, so we stayed home and spent some time in the garden tidying and moving pots around, packing away garden furniture and cleaning out the shed.

It always gives me a sense of satisfaction to clean up the tools for the winter and wipe them with oil. I like the feeling that everything is packed away and in order ready for next year – and when the garden furniture covers are finally in place it signifies the end of the warmer weather and the start of the colder seasons.

Our neighbour is having her back garden completely flagged soon and was throwing away this little white metal table. I thought it too good to go to the tip so with her permission rescued it for our garden.

Just as they had said the plasterers arrived first thing Saturday morning and overboarded the ceiling in the new pantry and skimmed the back wall where the tiles were pulled off. It is now a bare shell.

The work generated quite a bit of dust throughout the downstairs so I had to set to and clean everywhere but that is the worst of the mess over with now and I am quite excited that the next step will be to decorate and then assemble the units. There is hope it will be finished before Christmas.

I borrowed a few more books from the library – one or two that have some fresh ideas in styling the home and one in particular, called Spirit of the home, I am finding quite an interesting read. I don’t know about you but some rooms in our house always feel better than others and some rooms seem to get more cluttered. I am on a mission at the moment to find everything we own a permanent place as well as reducing the amount of stuff we have – I find I have now got three empty drawers in the spare room since I had a bit more of a purge on some old clothes; but it is an ongoing project and one that will soon be put on hold as the Christmas preparations will take over.

We only have a few days here at the cottage because at the end of this week I need to go back to North Yorkshire and visit my mum and take her out for a day or two whilst my sister is away. Then we will go to my younger daughter’s house again on the way back down to stay a day or two with them and take Little L and Sweetie out once again during their half term week. I daresay we will be doing some pumpkin carving.

I am beginning to feel like a nomad and all the packing, unpacking and repacking – this has not been my best career move so far – I had far more time for myself when I was at work!!

dear diary :: nothing to report

I have nothing much to report today. I spent most of the day getting to grips with our finances, checking bank statements and noting the balances, as they have been left to fend for themselves in the last few busy weeks. Goodness knows what shape we are in – I know my purse is quite empty. When I have totted up and taken away all will be revealed – as it is almost the end of May I will be doing my end of April and May Tally together this time but I do not expect that I have managed anything remotely frugal or cost saving – quite the opposite money has flowed out of our accounts like the rapids.

Feeling a bit stressed at the moment I decided to rearrange our Scotland visit to simplify things a bit more by rearranging a few appointments to give us a clear week away sometime in June. This will give us a little more time at home to get some of the half started projects completed, the washing and ironing up to date and restore my sanity before we head off again.

Apart from that I have done very little and it has been absolute bliss.

I will leave you with a few pictures taken today from around the garden.

Lettuce leaves
Courgette
Aquilegia

Just to add a big thank you for all the lovely comments about caring for my mum and myself during this difficult time – I know many of you can identify with the issues I am facing at present and I do value your support.

sEAsons ~ the delights of Spring

And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Sensitive Plant”

Crocus Iris Snowdrop

The weather was so lovely at the weekend you could sense the fresh clean smell of Spring in the air – I just had to down tools inside and go outside for a while.  In the space of a couple of hours I had tidied up a few of the borders, gathered the last of the leaves and replaced some of the earth scratched up by the local cats.   The cats can be quite a problem so to protect the emerging plants and prevent them from being uprooted I pushed a few more twiggy sticks around the shoots – at least the crocus in the lawn are safe.

It is very encouraging at this time of year to see little buds appearing on most of the plants and signs of life poking through the ground here and there – I just hope any future frosts or snow does not damage them.

I also had a visit to our local independent garden centre because I still had £60 left on my voucher (the one the partners gave me when I left work).  The expiry date was 2nd February  this year but I managed to persuade them to extend it for another month as they have very little stock of anything at the moment – the season for them has not yet started and they do not sell many garden tools or gardening products like the large national garden centres.

In the end we decided on a Braeburn apple tree on M27 rootstock for our Scottish garden as it is a good time for planting and we will be visiting our cottage (caravan) in a few days time and can take it with us in the car.

We have a bit of a mystery in that in Scotland we have a Bramley apple tree and it has always fruited well – abundantly well last Autumn – but they are not self-fertile and are actually classed as triploid (requiring two other apple trees)  but there are no other apple trees or crab apples in our garden or the neighbourhood yet it keeps on producing fruit.  The Braeburn is self fertile but might be a reluctant fruiter so far North – we are banking on the mild Gulf stream climate that we have at the cottage to help it along but it may not like the winds.  We will give it a go.

With the remaining money I chose another of the glazed Heritage pots to match the one below that I bought last Autumn only a smaller sized one this time.I have always thought the one I got to put beside our front door looks a bit lonely so now it will have some company.  With the last £6 on the voucher I bought three pots of lovely pink tulips to go in it.

Today the weather is much cooler again and quite windy – good for the washing though – I have been working my way down all the dust sheets from the decorating at my daughter’s house.  I think we have more than we need now between us so the worst of them will be going out, they are not even fit for the rag bin.

I always like this time of year  – I feel energised to start cleaning and clearing, blowing away the cobwebs that have gathered in the corners over the winter and at the moment I am a little more motivated after feeling rather lethargic and probably a little lazy since Christmas.

homestEAd ~ out in the garden

Another glorious day today, bright, sunny and clear blue skies – after stripping the bed and throwing the bedding in the washer I was tempted out into the garden and ended up staying out all day…with the washing.  I planted Allium, narcissus and tulip bulbs, cleared the last of the leaves that had fallen into the borders and spread a bit of manure around some of the plants.CyclamenThe Cyclamens are now planted in the front border by the footpath providing a splash of colour, although there is still quite a bit here and there in the garden.HebeMeanwhile DH spent time on the new shed.  It is has now been slotted into the space at the side of our house and waiting a fit out inside – a few tool hooks and some shelving.  We are reusing some white melamine that was once part of the wardrobe in my eldest daughter’s room, it is still in good condition so a shame to waste it and it will create a bit more space in the garage.

The shed is draped in polythene sheet for the moment to protect it from the rain and allow it to dry out enough to paint.  It will be so good to get the gardening equipment out of the garage and back to where it should be. Once the shed is finished DH will be concentrating on painting the front door.  We have plans to get a new one but to make it look more presentable for the time being we are going to paint the present one.

I may have mentioned that we had been contacted by the National Statistics Office to take part in a survey.  We agreed to be in today and the nice gentleman came at 5pm which was helpful as by then it was far too dark to garden.  The questions were not difficult – mainly about education, career and our present circumstances.  It was hard remembering just how many GCE’s I have though and what the subjects were;  no-one has asked me that for a long time.

I still have the selection bags to make.I tried out a couple of prototypes (apologies for the colour – flash light is never great) using the wrapping paper and some old cut up Christmas cards as tags.  I will probably go with the one on the left with the string tie though each tag will be different.  I have made a note of the paper size I used on the trial one so I can cut them out and make them up all at once and have a bit of a production line going…putting 5 assorted fun sized chocolate bars into each bag will make 8 bags.

Tomorrow I shall have to decide whether to make the bags or clean out my freezer – I doubt I will get both done as I will need to iron the bedding I washed today and also pack to go back up to our daughter’s for the celebration this weekend.  I am really looking forward to seeing Little L and Sweetie again.

But not the packing!

So a few more jobs off the list – shame I have to add some new ones on.

homestEAd ~ the grass is always greener

Yesterday was quite a long day over at daughter’s house.  I was too tired even to write a post.  I didn’t even feel that satisfaction of a job well done either as progress was slow to non-existent.  DH was similar, he is doing the hallway – preparation stage, so not a lot to see other than filled in cracks and holes.

Isn’t it always the way that one day you seem to make a lot of progress and then the next hardly any.  This was definitely a hardly any.

I am challenged at the moment by both the hot weather and a bit of dithering on my part over the patch of garden I am ‘transforming’ at present.

Before I cleared this part it had been home to the many raspberry plants but had also acquired rosebay willow-herb and the large-leaved Persicania (Knotweed).  The raspberry plants have since been relocated to the back of the garden and we will make a proper frame to support them soon.

I thought I had a plan – my idea was to put gravel down on this bit of garden on the other side of the path to create a little seating area with a few plants mainly in pots and an obelisk towards the back corner and incorporating the plants already in situ.

My problem here was twofold – next doors fence which is stepped due to the gradient has a little gap at each bottom right hand corner and the gravel on the other side of the fence keeps spilling through.  So an edging board is required to prevent this – and that will need help in the shape of a bit of muscle to hammer the supporting pegs and boards in place.

The second problem is the two existing plants to the left of the photo beyond the pole – a large patch of Johnson’s blue geranium (flowering over) and the yellow flower I pictured in my last post (still blooming).  I was going to work around these and put some stone edging around them to make a border but after playing around in a variety of ways nothing seemed to work well and in the end I decided to keep the design clean and simple – remove the plants and gravel the whole area otherwise the whole thing was in danger of becoming bitty.

To be able to make a start today I will have to wait until the afternoon when there will be some shade over the plot.  There is quite a bit of earth to remove to get to a level low enough for the path edging to contain the gravel once it is laid.  There lies another problem – what to do with all the spare soil – probably a raised bed in the vegetable patch by the shed.

The aim of this garden transformation is to make the garden look more appealing and low maintenance.  Most of their neighbourhood are young,  first time buyers, both working so they seem to prefer all lawn or all gravel or a mixture of both but nothing that needs very much maintenance.

We are spending a minimum amount for maximum reward and keeping most of the mature shrubs that give the garden some shape and interest. The turf from B&Q for the extension to the existing lawn (well grass) cost about £50 but well worth it.  It covers the patch that had two really old straggly shrubs well past their best and removing them has opened up this space considerably and added some visual length to the garden.

The new grass has grown remarkably well despite this hot weather and was the greenest kid on the block by far (apart from the astro turf next door!).

There was great excitement yesterday for the first cutting and we all stood round afterwards admiring.  The join and difference in colour is not as noticeable now it is cut (I should have taken an after photo so you will have to take my word for it!) and with some extra care and attention and a bit more grass feed and weed the older part should start to thicken out and green up to match.

The large silver Senecio (or Brachyglottis as it has been renamed – I hate that name so I always revert to its former) in the middle of the picture has almost finished flowering and will be due a bit of a trim to contain it in the space.

So before I go round to sort my daughter’s garden I have a little bit to do in my own then back to work again tomorrow  – only 7 days to go now to the big day.

Thank you to everyone for your great suggestions for when I leave work – I am storing up the information and when I get some time for myself to think about my next moves I will be sharing them with you.

Oh and welcome to my new followers – I can never quite believe anyone would want to sign up for my daily ramblings!

But for now while the sun shines I need to make …a seating area!

Back soon x

 

sEAsons ~ summer garden catch up

Just a catch up.  Due to my lack of blogging I haven’t done an update on the garden – both here in Yorkshire and the one at the cottage in Scotland.

Starting in Scotland –

During the winter months we set about clearing some of the dead branches in the upper wood and pruning a few self seeded Elders whilst the undergrowth lay dormant. Milk crates we have found are a necessity in a big garden – they have a multitude of uses!  You may see it featuring in a lot of my photos.

Below in comparison is the same view on our last visit at the beginning of June now the trees are in leaf.

We hadn’t been to the cottage since the end of March and this is what met us – a lovely wild flower garden however, this is actually lawn or should I say grass as it is nowhere near lawn quality and sadly it had to be cut.

Remember the stream to the sea after the flood when part of the banking was washed away with the little bridge.

Below is the same banking last year  – the grass has started to grow on the bare earth.

This is what it looked like at the beginning of June – such a big improvement.

The wild flowers are coming back and providing little pockets of colour.  I am hoping the large yellow flag Irises will take root again.

And soon it will be back to how it was except of course a lot wider than before the flood.    If you want to read about our cottage and the flood go to the menu bar above.

Anyone who is a regular reader of my blog will know about my beloved pond and the excavation work that has been going on to uncover the buried stones.  This is what I found last April.

We added a plank to the top of the old posts to form a seat and planted some Primulas here and there which are nicely self seeding around the pond.

And this is what it looked like when we visited at the beginning of June – flanked with Rogersia and Aconitum, wild yellow Iris and Primula it is looking quite lush.  It is one of my favourite spots and if ever you can’t find me in the garden always look here first!

 

And now in our tiny Yorkshire garden – at the moment this is my favourite little corner – it is the shady side of the garden – Viburnum Tinus, Escallonia (I am not sure of the variety but it is deciduous) dripping in sprays of tiny pink flowers and forming a beautiful canopy over the corner.

The large fibreglass dish beneath was my dads and he had it planted with annuals and grasses but I like it empty and will probably fill it with water when our water butt is back in action and we have some rain.

I was really excited to see the Peony I bought two years ago has at last produced a flower – I can’t even remember the name so if anyone can identify it do tell me.

The black ironwork stand above was another item I brought from my dad’s garden  – it is not really my thing but it reminds me of dad and it has actually grown on me and when planted up with annuals and trailers it stands in the corner of the patio  and gives the arrangement of pots some height.

The Sweet Peas or rather the would be – no flowers to be seen yet and still a way to grow unless I have got a dwarf variety.

I have had to dismantle the display on the patio to put the pots into a shadier place in the garden whilst we are away.  Fingers crossed they don’t dry out in the heat.

And lastly do you remember we have been waiting all winter to have the house re-pointed – I thought the weather was never going to stop raining but at last it happened on the weekend of the royal wedding and then DH cleaned up the brick work with water and a stiff brush – it looks like a new house again now.

So that is the update – and we are now about to embark on another gardening marathon at the cottage so stay tuned.  We never know quite what to expect when we go up and it has been a good three weeks since we were last there.  On the Mull 3 weeks is a very long time and the mild micro climate means everything grows really quickly including the weeds.

back soon x