beaching :: lovely moments in the garden

It feels like we are settling into summer now – clear blue skies, warm sunny days – not too hot and no rain, no winds.

As soon as we arrive at the cottage, daylight permitting, the first thing I do is grab my camera and go for a walk around. It is 6 weeks since our last visit – far too long for this garden; I am sure it would turn completely wild in only twelve weeks! There is always so much to see and so many lovely surprises. The first thing that met me this time was the vivid pink of the rhododendron and the beautiful sky blue of the delphiniums.

Come with me on a stroll around my Scottish garden – of course off camera there is a mound of work to do but for the moment I will just ignore this and just capture the delights that I have found.

This is what we call the the back garden although it is really at the front of the cottage and leads into the woodland – we are quite secluded down here with the canopy of trees. The rhododendron has been magnificent this year and the ground beneath is littered with petals like giant confetti.

Around the pond in the lower wood the primulas I planted two years ago are beginning to spread now and light up a dark corner.

The wild fuschia that is beside the edge of the pond has become so tall and leggy that a branch had broken and fallen across the path, we cut it off but the rest of it will need some maintenance pruning on our next visit.

We took the pond cover off today – a bit late this year but we have been so short of time on previous visits. The pond needs a good clean out too – I really look forward to this, heaving out buckets of mud!

And my little seat by the pond is only just visible – peeping out from under this wild geranium that has seeded itself.

The woodland walk is one of my favourite spots I tried to introduce plenty of leaf shapes and keep everything very natural looking choosing plants very carefully. The ferns just set themselves – they seem happy in dry or wet ground.

Below is the border that runs down the lane side of the house and has a lovely low dry stone wall at the back beyond which runs the daisy path. This is very much a work in progress – the escallonia in the centre on top of the wall is all that is left of the hedge that died in the severe frosts a few years ago. I have yet to decide what to plant to each side of it. I am going to introduce some tumbling rockery plants to the top of the wall for a bit of colour.

And of course the seaside garden – the valerian has formed quite a mass now and is looking good and blends quite well into the wild landscape beyond whilst adding a touch of colour.

Tomorrow we head home again, in the short time we have been here we have managed to cut the grass and the hedges and weed some but not all of the borders – my bad knee allowing. At this time of year I am very selective with my weeding and let some of the seedlings grow on so that I can transplant the ones I want to keep like foxglove and aquilegia, alchemilla mollis and geranium and the annual pink poppies and biennial forget me not.

There is still a lot to do but it will all have to wait now for another day, another visit. For now I am going to sink into bed with my Miss Read book and cup of cocoa and no doubt I will be sound asleep in no time.

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dear diary :: driving north

On Saturday with the rain still lashing down and the road spray coming up to meet us we made our way along the M6 as we headed for Scotland and by the time we crossed the border the sun had appeared and the world looked suddenly like a veil had been lifted. 

We pulled off the road just past Gretna in the sleepy little village of Dornock to eat our soup and sandwiches. We parked near to the little church we discovered on a previous visit – the one with the historical gravestones with viking links I mentioned in this post.

By now it was a long time since we ate breakfast but once our rather ravenous appetites had been fully satisfied, almost to being a little stuffed (who was it put in a bag of crisps and some biscuits), we took a gentle stroll down the lane to see what we could find. 

Exploring is always a favourite pastime of mine so we followed the lane round to the right as it skirted around the bottom of the graveyard.

The wind coming across land from the Solway coast in the distance was quite forceful but for anyone with a love of the sea lying in this tiny peaceful graveyard, as overgrown and wild as the surrounding countryside, and only the sound of the wind and birdsong must surely be a heaven of its own.

To the left the lane meanders round a bend and past a cluster of outbuildings and barns and a very large house stands complete with a magnificent copper beech in the grounds and a tiny blue seat outside the gates waiting for passers by to stop and rest a while. 

The verges sheltered a little from the winds by the stone wall were laden with heavy drooping branches of elderflowers.

Once back on the road we decided to take the route through the centre of Annan, a nearby small town famous for its connections to the Scottish writer and philosopher Thomas Carlyle who is know to have said ‘A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder’ and ‘Music is well said to be the speech of angels’, amongst many other quotes.

As we sat at the traffic lights we spotted a sign ahead we had not noticed before pointing to the harbour.  Now for those who do not know this area Annan is located to the north of the Solway Firth but is a little way inland so the harbour it refers to, as we found out, is on the River Annan that winds its way inland from the estuary.  We followed Port Street all the way down until we couldn’t go any further and this is the harbour.

I was amazed at how narrow this channel is but it obviously does have boats going in and out at high tide. There was plenty of decay round about – some quite sad looking boats have been left to rot on the harbour side – a sorry end for some of them.

The same sad end for the Albert Hall which was thought to be a former town hall. All around Annan there are run down buildings and many run down areas that remain neglected as the local council, like in many other towns, struggle to improve or maintain them. Property is lingering unsold, or unwanted or just unloved….

….. but every so often you come across a little pocket of delight and someone who takes pride in their surroundings.

We continued our journey to Castle Douglas and just made it in time for a quick look around the impressive craft shop on the main street. Closing time in many of these small towns can be 4 o’clock but luckily for me the craft shop stays open until five. It has an expansive stock that is far better than any Hobbycraft shop over two floors and an annexe or two – you can buy anything from wool to watercolours – but on this visit I was purely ‘window shopping’ from the inside of course.

Afterwards we joined the queue for our usual tea of chip butties and a piping hot cup of tea from Moore’s award winning fish and chip shop.  Saturday tea time is a busy time but well worth the wait.

Fed and watered once again we continued on to Newton Stewart so we could shop at the tiny Sainsbury’s – it was the best part of the day with the evening sun reflecting off the sea as we drove around the bay. 

We usually buy fresh butter, cheese, yoghurt and milk from here together with a fresh loaf and rolls and some frozen peas rather than bring them from home. DH treats himself to a bottle of red wine and I go for the bar of dark chocolate.

At last we reach the cottage and still in daylight which is not difficult at this time of year in Scotland – even down in the south it is light until very late. So much has grown since our last visit – this is the view that greeted us from our caravan window looking out to sea – a pure mass of frothy flowers. I just love it.

Bedtime beckons…I will be back tomorrow with more tales from the garden. x

dear diary :: rain, rain, go away…

…and it did for a couple of hours but just enough to get out into the garden for a bit of a snip. I do like this fine rain we have had for days now – it is so refreshing and gives the borders such a thorough soaking – but there were flowers to dead head and a few seeds to sow.

It was only last Thursday that we were sitting in the sunshine on the market place in Masham enjoying one of the award winning ice creams, an apricot and ginger cone from Joneva.

On Saturday I had a bit of an enforced duvet day as my knee had swollen so much all I could do was rest it. I used the time to listen to the little samples on Audible as I had to use up my 16 credits so that I could then cancel my membership. I have more than enough audio books to listen to now so it was pointless rolling over the membership again this year.

On Tuesday my knee was still swollen so I had to skip Yoga, but did manage today’s session.

This week was all about the budget, our savings and future plans as we had the appointment with the financial advisor. He was a lovely man, very knowledgeable and no hard sell so was well worth the time and it cost us nothing. He went through our current financial situation and pensions with us and we agreed that the tasks we needed to do could be done ourselves so no follow up services required at this time. There are quite a few tasks and I will be posting about this soon.

We will be heading off for Scotland again soon – I get to the point when I just need to be by the sea again. I dare not think what state the garden is in up there and I will not be doing a lot with my bad knee, but it will be nice to get away.

Tonight we picked the first of our homegrown mixed lettuce leaves – at least they have continued to grow in the rain.

Welcome to all those new followers and to all my readers who are following the garden posts there is an update now for today in the June page. Click here

Have a lovely weekend everyone. x

windows

Joining in with the monthly meet up photo challenge – the theme for the year is windows. I have always been attracted to windows so this is a great opportunity to display those captured moments when we are out and about.

Other people’s windows have always fascinated me – whether they are the well presented, the shabby, the unusually placed, the tiny or the hidden… wherever I come across anything of interest you can bet I will have taken a photo. These are a few I have taken when I have been meandering out and about.

Bonsall, Derbyshire
Winster, Derbyshire
Gawsworth Hall, Cheshire
Kirkandrews, Dumfries and Galloway
Little Ouseburn, Yorkshire
Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire
Portpatrick, Dumfries and Galloway
Kirkudbright, Dumfries and Galloway
Stanton in the Peak, Derbyshire
Broughton House, Dumfries and Galloway
Wollerton Old Hall, Shropshire
Gainford, County Durham
Portpatrick, Dumfries and Galloway

meandering :: the Bonsall magical gardens

A stroll around the beautiful village of Bonsall in Derbyshire on the trail of their Magical Gardens last weekend. This post is dedicated to Lucinda from Lucinda Sans blog to provide her with a little piece of Englishness. (Sorry Lucinda no tea shops though).

Bonsall is set in the hillside above Cromford village, the nearest main town being Matlock and with Derbyshire being completely landlocked the nearest place to a seaside is the stunning Matlock Baths along the dale; complete with illuminated ‘promenade’ running alongside the river and traditional seaside shops.

Bonsall we found is a village with two parts – the upper and lower levels and a very steep climb between the two. If was a very hot day and we really felt the heat as we went up hill and down dale on this trail – you need plenty of puff to complete it – but there are refreshments waiting at the top should you need them.

For me the village open gardens are not always just about the gardens on show but discovering the unusual, the quirky and that mysterious ingredient that makes a village special and more than just a collection of buildings. And this one is different to many – it has been named not just active but hyperactive as the residents all pull together in so many ways to deliver a wonderful village life here that most people would envy.

Starting to climb up the steep hill to the top; the cottages are snuggled into the hillside with gardens that require plenty of terracing made out of the beautiful soft grey of the Derbyshire stone, covered in moss and a tumbling of flowers everywhere.

Notice above the way the same plants, red geraniums along the front wall and in the background lavender, have been placed in rows but in differing pots giving a very striking arrangement.

These little water fountains and wells are everywhere in the village but this is quite a notable one as I love the way it is the community centre at the top of this hill for the bus stop and post box.

Every now and then a little lane would appear off to one side with more gardens to discover.

It was steep going up but seemed even steeper on the drop down the other side. As we continued further down into the valley it was noticeable how the planting becomes very lush with trees and vegetation. Flowing alongside the road is a little stream, often disappearing under some of the houses and then popping up unexpectedly in a garden or two.

Above must have been the tiniest garden on show – a strip only three feet wide between the cottage wall and the roadside where the stream had been left uncovered and only paved to enable access to the front door. Stunning.

This house below is one of my favourites. No showy planting here – just a relaxing vista of greenery, such a peaceful garden with the gentle sound of the trickling water from the well in the corner.

Every now and then there was an alley way…and a footpath….. it would have been so tempting to have explored where they go but with 30 gardens to see no time for detours.

Some gardens had the quirky – I absolutely would love this outside lav and what looked like an adjoining laundry in my garden.

Then there are the eye catching corners where plants have just grown into an unusual or quirky display!

Still winding our way down the hill (it goes on for ever) the road opens out into an open space with houses round about and we find the village cross – this must be the highest set of steps for a village cross that I have ever seen and forms the centre of the upper village even though it is halfway down the steep hill. The road going off at the left corner leads you to the church. I will take you there another day.

On the way to the church are more tiny cottages with verges crammed full of wild flowers and cottage flowers mixed together producing a wonderful untamed show.

Sometimes just a little splash of colour in a pot is all that is needed to make a big statement.

This garden below so appealed to me – the tidy ramshackle – a brilliant collection of bits and bobs brought together in a display by the shed. Notice how the well cut short grass round about gives it more prominence. It reminds me of those little unkempt gardens they try to replicate at the Chelsea show.

The garden above was so tiny it was called a ‘peep over’ and you viewed it from the garden gate. The owners had cleverly used an open metal gate to allow more of a view and presumably let more light into the garden. I so wanted to walk down that little gravel path. Instead I walked up the hill by the side and peeped over the wall. What you don’t see from the gate is the ‘hidden’ table and chairs beyond the planting – so well thought out.

On the way further down the hill now and back to our starting place in the lower village. Here you will find the Fountain Monument in the centre and the tiny village stores – if you are passing do go for an ice cream.

I will leave you with yet another photo of how you can make any little nook and cranny, shed or corner look appealing.

homestead :: the garden journal

I decided to turn my handy little notebook I keep with jottings on all things to do with the garden into an online journal. This is just a record of what I am planting and doing each month in both gardens, the one here at home in Yorkshire and the one at the cottage in Scotland.

At the moment I don’t want to start a separate blog so I am writing this in the pages section and you can read about my daily gardening exploits if you are interested by clicking on the link ‘The Garden Journal’ which you will find both along the top menu bar above the header picture and in the side bar and this will take you through to the relevant pages.

Each month will have a new page and depending, of course, which garden I am in at the time it will say by the date.

I will still be doing the ocassional gardening post on here – but the more day to day stuff will be in the journal. Pages unlike posts will not notify any followers when I update in the journal so I will let everyone know of any updates at the end of my normal postings. Hope to see you there.

June Intentions

Halfway through the year already and not a lot done. Actually that is not true – I have done quite a lot but not very much of what I originally intended to do.

The little room ear marked as my new pantry is still a dumping ground and the kitchen no more than a bit of a rough plan in my head.

May went far too quickly probably because I was so focused on the Christening that I hardly noticed it passing by. June will be different; must be different because I have a lot to catch up with and half-started projects to finish.

So here are my intentions for this month:-

On the homefront there is still the pantry to sort – it is so long since we drew up the plans I have almost forgotten what we had decided upon.

In the garden it is very much a matter of feeding, weeding and some light pruning – then sit back and enjoy.

I have been trying to scale down my wardrobe so that it is much leaner and both my summer and winter outfits fit into the one space. This is very much a work in progress… without the progress at the moment…and I have decided not to replace garments when they are worn out or no longer fit but just move on to wear something else less worn in it’s place. It is true I think that we wear our favourite few items 80% of the time but I am going to try and have a wardrobe that only has a few favourite garments that I will wear all the time.

The house is ready for a good clean, it has been ready and waiting for days now – I find I just cannot get down to doing it, either I have to go out or when I am in there have been other more important things demanding my attention. My intention is to set aside a day each week and give each room ‘a good going over’ as they say.

If there is time I will make a few more simple cards – I really enjoyed making the last batch and it helps keep the costs down.

I must also finish Sweetie’s jumper and fingers crossed that it will still fit her.

This is now the time for salad, freshly picked leaves, new potatoes covered in mint and melted butter of course and a host of summer veg cooked or raw. I intend to make a few new dishes to have with salad – try out a new quiche filling and make nut roast to slice cold.

The best part of summer is making the most of the outdoors while the weather is fine. I intend to go off meandering….a lot….there are more Open Garden events, Well Dressings, Galas and just generally having a mooch around towns and villages…..down alley ways, over bridges – there is so much to discover and June is a good time to do it.

Scotland will also be on the list this month and another trip to North Yorkshire.

Finally I have booked the appointment with the financial adviser – I am interested to know what he makes of our situation and I am hoping that he will point us in the right direction for a few good investments.

There is plenty to do before his visit – collecting all the information together of our income, outgoings and assets – not a bad exercise anyway as it will help to keep this handy should anyone ever need it.

June is interspersed with appointments for this and that but in between I am hoping for some days when I can really get down to making a big difference in the house, cleaning and sorting. I know already on sunny days the garden will be beckoning me outside though – the temptation will be too much!

treasury :: April and May tally

Feel free to skip this post if reading about my financial exploits is not for you or boring as hell!

Each year in January I start off with some well-intentioned financial goals – they are usually along the lines of spend less, save more and economise. This is probably true for most of us.

I always begin with real enthusiasm….. nay….. real gusto… but by May my resolve to keep going has, by this time, usually got up and gone.  Keeping focused on our finances to the point where it becomes a daily obsession just cannot be continued when there are equally important things to attend to in other areas of my life.

This year is no different.  During April and May there have been many days when I have had no idea of our financial status.   Once I get busy everything else seems to break down and any habits I had nurtured to this point to help me keep on top of things just disintegrate. 

Let’s face it life is just too busy.  

This must mean that I have taken on too much – but how could I not do a party for my SIL or make a Christening dress for my granddaughter or look after my mum to give my sister some respite?

So here I am at the end of May and only just inputting receipts for April and totting up the totals to reveal just how badly we have done.  I know even before I get the all-important final figures that we have not done well, we will have overspent.

So how did we do?

Transport and fuel costs

After a few months now of monitoring our fuel consumption it appears that we always have to fill up twice in a month and this covers a trip to Scotland and another trip or two to see mum/sister/daughter in North Yorkshire. In May we had an extra visit to North Yorkshire and went down into Derbyshire for the day with mum so had a further tank of fuel but this will be the exception rather than the norm. Because the fuel is quite a stable amount I am going to move this into our bill account budget – after all it is a bit like paying a monthly bill. 

The MOT and car service for our estate car was another expense in April but it is more than allowed for in our ‘bill account’.

The puncture we got during May was repaired free under a tyre guarantee – how lucky was that.

Health, wellbeing and beauty

Because of the two family events we have had more hairdressing appointments closer together bringing forward the one I would have normally have had in June to May.

The yoga classes are well worth the £8 a week – it is pay as you go so the two I missed whilst in Scotland did not cost me anything. I have now signed up for an extra class on a Friday for the next 6 weeks (paid in advance) which is smaller and with individual attention so I can work on any problem areas.

I also had a voucher for 20% off Neal’s Yard products so I used mine to get another bottle of the Frankincense Intense Serum this is my one beauty luxury that I could never afford at full price but it suits my skin and I can feel it tightening those little wrinkly areas.

Utilities      

We switched our electricity provider from Scottish Power in March to a dual fuel contract with SO energy.  Our new combined payment is £115.00 (seems steep but it was a good deal as prices have risenagain). Unfortunately there is no breakdown of the payment between gas and electricity but you do get separate statements of the usage. I shall be monitoring it carefully. Switching has saved us quite a bit in the past with the rise in fuel prices and we usually accrue quite a bit of credit over the summer months so this monthly payment should reduce.

Until we have been with them for a full month it is hard to know if we have been excessive with either fuel – my guess is that with the cooler weather recently we may have used more gas for the heating even though I have been buried under a mound of throws in the evening, whilst wearing a woolly jumper, to avoid putting the heat on.

We also switched internet and landline provider from BT to Zen. They have good customer service and should save us a small fortune over the year. We have been loyal customers of BT for many years but we are not rewarded for this so the time had come for a change. As we have only made one payment up front so far I cannot really compare the costs this month.

Grocery and housekeeping costs

This is mostly food, general toiletries, cleaning, stationery items and magazines with a couple of cheap bunches of flowers here and there for a cheerful treat each month. I knew this category would not be good news – I have lurched from spending around the middle £300 a month to well over £400 for my housekeeping costs in April – probably because of the extra food for the party and being too busy to plan out the menus. 

I do have to confess to buying a Gardener’s World magazine in April but this was in order to obtain the free 2 for 1 gardens scheme card, which also came with some handy gloves and a few packets of seeds, some useful some less so; and a Homebuild and Renovating magazine which had a free spreadsheet and tickets to the exhibition.

Home and Garden purchases

I can see from my figures that it is that time of year when the garden needs more attention as the costs in the garden category have shot up immensely.

All those little purchases of potting compost, bedding plants, plant food and even a new broom start to add up.

We also bought another outdoor bench seat from B&M for the patio – £40. (Sadie – I notice you have bought the same one!).

The costs in May are more attributed to the fact that we bought a mini greenhouse, £24 for the tomato plants plus three pots, a trellis panel and stakes to replace a broken one at the side of the house and DH has finally bought the treated wood and made lids for the compost bins he made years ago.

Added to which we bought some bags of small beach pebbles to finish off some of the awkward spots at the change of level on our boundary with next door.

I had quite a lot of vouchers from Wyevale and got a large £10 bale of their better compost for only £4.50. Since becomming part of Dobbies their reward scheme has now ended and they have moved over to 5% discount and 10% on a Tuesday. I also got 4 packs of bedding plants for £6 from Wilkos.

I frivolously spent money on bits for the home, a smart grey linen waste bin for the office £5 from Wilko, to replace an old wicker one, some pretty outdoor garden festoon lighting from Sainsbury’s for the party £34, and absolutely gorgeous, and one of those things you just have to have – a metal tool caddy, reduced in Sainsbury’s to £12.75. They were all a temptation too far but my favourite buys of the year as well as the bench.

Cards and Gifts

This must be the year of the big birthday – you know the ones ending in a nought. I usually spend a bit more on a gift for the more major birthdays and especially for close family members such as daughters and their partners.

I had four or five majors this month (ouch) and bought some friends a theatre voucher each.  

Crafts and Hobbies and Books

The main costs in this category for April were for the bits I got for the Easter decorations and egg hunt as well as my son-in-law’s party decor.  The twiggy branches might have been free but all the little bits soon add up.

In May I had to buy extra cottons and lining for the Christening dress and a pack of new fine bridal pins, I couldn’t believe the price – how much – for pins – really?

I managed to steer clear of buying books – there was little time for reading and I made use of the library – so a good saving here – perhaps my only one!

Leisure and Entertainment

We paid £16 in total for the Open gardens of Little Ouseburn and York Gate Garden (which was on the 2 for 1 gardens scheme).  This money actually goes to the charities running them and could in theory go into my charitable donations category.  Whichever, in my mind it is always money well spent for the pleasure it brings.

Eating Out

Mum’s visits always come with a hefty price tag – she loves being out and about and eating out… cafes, pubs, fish and chip shops…she is not worried where and prefers it to us coming back home and eating home cooked meals. We are the opposite always prefering meals at home! We did manage a few picnics with her so this has helped keep the costs down but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find things she will eat – no fruit or veg or salad.  She did eat the soup we made so a win there.

When we are on our own we have become used to packing up and have saved quite a lot of money over the last few months – but then all our scrimping just disintegrates when mum comes to stay and we end up spending a small fortune. I am not complaining though as it keeps mum happy and she does contibute every now and again buying us all a drink or ice cream. It is more that it puts a heavy load on this part of our budgeting that we would not have otherwise. As we don’t see her every week we take her out and about as much as possible but these kind of costs for eating out and the extra fuel consumption are just not sustainable on a state pension, so lucky we have a bit of a back up with our savings.

Clothing and Footwear

In April I bought a hooded duvet jacket to wear at home in the garden.  I got one from Primark for £15 it was actually a man’s, size small –  but returned it for the roomier medium one a few days later by which time they had been reduced to £10 so I was given a £5 refund. Nice.

In May I took advantage of the Sainsbury’s 25% off all TU clothing offer and treated  myself to some new yoga leggings and a top as well as a grey stripey top to wear with jeans (but the jury’s out on this one and I may return).

The conclusion….

So a disappointing couple of months although I was under no illusion that it would be any different – like slimming you always know when you haven’t stuck strictly to the diet.  My aim is not so much about being frugal as being careful with the money and most of all I am trying to simplify everything so it is easier to keep tabs on things.

The old tea caddy system of long ago was a good system – you could see at an instant how much cash was in the tin and when it was gone it was gone.

Last week I rang and finally made the appointment with the financial advisor from Hargreaves Lansdown and this will take place in June so we should get our private pension sorted soon and in exactly a year from now I can draw my state pension too. Yeah!

I also found a way of making the 4 weekly payment of the state pension work for us.  No matter when the pension comes into our ‘holding’ account I have set up a standing order to transfer £500 of the pension on the 1st of each month into the general housekeeping account.  This gets around trying to budget monthly when the payments come in on a different day every month.

Looking to June I will be guarding the purse strings once again. I have already spent a bit more on the garden yesterday – more on this later – but this should be the last – it is now all down to hard work.

The next big bills will be the insurances for the house and cottage but they are later in the year. All our big expenses for the yearly car maintenance are done and June and July are surprisingly free months with only the fixed price utility direct debits going out.

I intend to get back to some serious menu planning and grocery bill reducing, filling the freezer with meals and making some more cards. I will be so busy in the garden I shouldn’t have time to go near any shops.

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.

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.