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 ~ 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

dear diary >> a matter of opinion

DH and I agree on most things, but it is of no surprise that we have a difference of opinion when it comes to what constitutes ‘pottering’ and how long it should continue for. He thinks two hours of minimal activity is all I should be doing at present and of course he is right but I am an all or nothing person and once I begin a job I can’t bear not to see it through.

And I get sidetracked easily.

I am a great supporter of the Lean method where continuous improvement is part of the approach. I am always looking for better ways of organising and storing things and often have a move around much to DH’s dismay! Sometimes, even I have to acknowledge a task will take far longer than I have time for in a day, but if I stop what I am doing then I know it is going to end up as another project on the unfinished task list as other urgent housekeeping chores call for my attention.

Yesterday, I maybe overdid it a bit. I only intended to sort out the collection of small plastic plant pots in the greenhouse, that I had washed before our holidays, and keep only the useful ones. Dobbies, one of our local garden centres, have a recycling point for old plant pots so I have put aside the ones I don’t want to drop off on our next visit.

We have quite a useful space at the side of our house behind the shed where we can keep our wheelie bins and bags of potting compost tucked away from view. I also put the old mini greenhouse here as it is a sunny positon but much cooler away from any direct sun which is great for potted cuttings and hardening off. I keep the larger empty plant pots here too and anything a bit unsightly but the whole area was a bit of a mess because DH had not been able to get to his ladder easily and after he put it back in position the objects he had to move did not quite make it back in their place (need I say more…). So I started tidying up this area and as I went along I found a few problems that required a little DIY from DH whilst he was doing other bits and pieces in the greenhouse and now the area is looking much cleaner and quite tidy.

Before our holidays DH put in some ‘Christmas potatoes’ – I am not sure if they will actually be ready for Christmas day but they are growing well and needed earthing up. My few outdoor tomatoes are at last turning red – it has been a long wait. I haven’t grown this variety before, a dwarf stocky bush tomato that does not require the removal of side shoots called Totem. They are very sturdy plants that stood up well to the strong winds we had a month or so ago. The Zinnias in the top photo have been battered by wind and then scorched by the sun… but are holding on, they are such beautiful rich colours and one of my favourite annuals. I have more in the front borders and they are mixed with a rather lovely colour called ‘Green Envy’. I was quite pleased to see that Carol Klein recommended this variety on her Summer Gardening program (I just love her enthusiasm for plants it is contagious) it is such an unusual colour but looks good beside the vibrant reds and purples. The plants that have done the best this year on the patio are the geraniums – they seem to thrive in hot dry weather but then they do grow an enormous amount of them in France and Italy.

Today I must, must, must make the mushroom and lentil pies to freeze and the quiche bases (I know I have been saying this all week!). I will rub up the pastry mix this morning and then do the filling in the afternoon. If I get chance I have had an idea for storing those candles I mentioned. I need to gather them all together in Marie Kondo style to see what I am dealing with in terms of space required. I do have quite an assortment of candle holders too and maybe I don’t really need all of them. We shall see.

I am hoping that DH will be doing a bit more fixing and mending. When we got home from holiday I found my watering can broken. It is a Hall’s plastic red one with a long bar attached to the spout that you hold to carry it and it had snapped clean in two as you can see in the photo…..rendering it unuseable and there was no way it could be glued back together. It seemed such a shame that it would be of no further use and would end up in landfill at the tip. However DH to the rescue – he came up with a solution…..

…… a bit of a Heath Robinson fix (just like his dad) using this strong metal strip of rust proof aluminium and some screws or maybe they are rivets. I am delighted though and so pleased it could be repaired – in fact it should be stronger than before even if it does look a bit strange.

Have a lovely restful Sunday everyone. x

dear diary >> another day, another birthday

Goodness don’t the years roll by. Another birthday has landed today, another year older… though probably not any wiser.

I was up and about at 6am to enjoy the cool air in our back garden. Breakfast outdoors is quite a novelty for us as normally it might be too cold, cloudy, wet or windy – today it was just right but even as I type the temperature is increasing and very soon we will be scuttling back indoors to cool off; our living room being the coolest part of the house once the sun moves round.

Some friends are coming round early to beat the heat. I have decided against making the fruit scones I had planned – it is far to risky to put the oven on – the kitchen will be like an oven soon enough. What a shame we cannot bottle this heat for the winter months to save on our bills!

I had a complete overhaul at the osteopath’s yesterday – my back problems are not doing too badly but in the course of conserving my back I have managed to do something to both my shoulder and knee whilst bending and over reaching. Added to which my neck is so tight and this has affected my jaw and I have woken up a few mornings with it a bit displaced. My lovely therapist worked on everything yesterday to try and bring some relief to the discomfort but I find any movement at the moment quite difficult. Walking, which was good for my back is now aggravating my knee, the cat / cradle exercises I did daily for my back are not possible because of my shoulder. I feel I am falling apart and learning to moderate my activity and movement to prevent further problems is a struggle.

DH, meanwhile, stripped the beds yesterday then washed and ironed the sheets and duvet covers. My contribution to the housework is limited to the dusting and writing a shopping list.

Our improvements in the home and garden and to life in general continue. If you remember Improvement is my focus word this year – some improvements are bigger than others but all of them have added quality to our life in some way. Painting the greenhouse has been on the list a while but often when we have the time the weather is against us. This week DH managed to apply 3 coats to the front and one side but has had to lay his brushes down at the moment due to this intense heat. It now matches the shed and I love the transfromation. It should also preserve the wood at the same time.

The back garden has a few pretty corners amongst the mess. I planted bush tomatoes, cougettes and potatoes this year as well as a few varieties of salad leaves and radishes.

Thank you once again for all your lovely comments – both those of well wishes for my ailments and for the hand made cards. And yes Sue we learn just how much we need our backs to be good and strong and in working order – I am slowly learning how to use mine better. It is not easy after giving it a lifetime of abuse…too much gardening, bending and sitting at computers.

My computer time is limited now so I am using the time to post rather than comment or answer comments at the moment. Normal service might well resume one day!

Have a good day x

%d bloggers like this: