mEAndering ~ a photographic day

Just as it was bright and sunny yesterday it was wet and miserable today…and did I mention cold with it?

We decided a rest day was in order today so packed a picnic and headed off South but not to the Open Gardens as the rain was steadily getting worse.  I felt a bit guilty not going as I know how much hard work it must be for the garden owners to prepare and then not to have many visitors turn up must be disheartening but the rain was a bit too heavy for comfort, at least my comfort.

We had not gone far from home when we stopped the car to have our picnic on the moors high above the Holme Valley were much of The Last of the Summer Wine was filmed.  The view is quite spectacular and made more atmospheric today because of the mist.   The wind up here was quite strong, buffeting the car as we ate.

The photo clearly showing the signs of Autumn approaching.  I shall be sad to see the summer go this year although it has been too hot at times it was really nice not to have to think about coats and umbrellas for a while.

Instead of the open gardens we decided on an indoor outing at the Millenium Galleries in Sheffield.  There was an exhibition of the Victorian Giants:  The Birth of Art Photography – which was mainly pioneered by four early photographers – Lewis Caroll, Julia Margaret Cameron, Oscar Rejlander and Clementina Hawarden.  It was a free exhibition with a request for a donation which I don’t mind giving.  I never really knew very much about the beginnings of photography until today; only that it was not a simple procedure and that the early photographers had to be something of a technician as well as an artist to be able to develop them.

The early photos were mainly of women and children and some quite famous people such as Darwin and always posed of course as movement could not be captured and always quite sombre.  To take a photo you had to keep quite still for many seconds and for a child this must have been almost impossible yet some of the photos were quite expressive and captured incredible moments of affection and tenderness to the extent that you felt like an intruder.  There was no photography allowed in the exhibition so I have nothing to show but do have a look at the link if you are interested to know more by clicking  Victorian Giants.

I was completely fascinated by the prints and each one had a small caption beside it explaining the photo, who took the picture and naming the models. The Duchess of Cambridge had made an opening foreword to the exhibition and picked out her own favourites which in itself was interesting.

On the way back to the car park we passed John Lewis in the city centre where there are three large Plane trees  laden with their pretty conker like fruits.

After leaving Sheffield we drove down to Bradwell in Derbyshire to pick up my mum from my sister’s caravan.  We had a quick look in Castleton as it is a few years since we have been – at one time when our girls were young and we shared the caravan with my sister and brother we went on most weekends and holidays – it is much the same as it has been for the last 30 years or more – a slight change of shops and cafes here and there but nothing drastic.  We took the back road out of Castleton to Hope and once again the mist was quite spectacular.

We drove up on to the highest point above Hope and Castleton and stopped to take a few more snaps.

So despite the dismal weather we managed to have a successful and interesting day.

As mum is staying with us a few days now and she is a little high maintenance these days it is possible I will be having an enforced blogging break for a day or too and you may notice an absence of comments.  We will be taking her home on Wednesday evening so blogging should resume after that!

Have a lovely bank holiday.

back soon x

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homestEAd ~ a few pleasureable chores

Roses

I woke up to sunshine this morning and no rain in sight – still quite cool though, but I don’t mind that – I can just put a jumper on.  I had a few chores and errands to attend to – the most important was a visit to my friend.

It was so lovely outside I decided to walk over to my friend’s house with these flowers and a card – she has just lost her dad  – I know just how she will be feeling.  It is twelve years since my dad died and the loss never goes away.

I like to customise my gifts of flowers by wrapping them myself to make them a bit more special.  I also like to give small posy sized bunches of flowers rather than large bouquets but these can be hard to find in a supermarket so I just bought a small bunch of those ballerina blush pink roses from Sainsbury’s.  I removed all their cellophane packaging and then wrapped them in plain brown parcel paper lined with the pretty tissue paper that came in the carrier bag with my Neal’s Yard creams and tied them with cord.  I always keep a stash of used tissue paper – it comes in useful for many things – a quick smoothing over with the iron and voila it is like new and this has such a striking pattern I couldn’t throw it away.  I added a little brown parcel tag that I had stamped with a simple message.

Once back home I filled my bathroom cupboard with the stock of lotions and potions I had bought on Wednesday.  Unlike my recent hesitation with keeping too many grocery products I do like to see a good stock of toiletries – I only buy them when on offer and as few of them come from the supermarket stocking up means I can avoid having to go to town or Meadowhall all the time when something runs out.

Neal's Yard

I love the iconic blue glass bottles from Neal’s Yard and the fact that using these means they can leave out preservatives from most of their products.  They are fully recyclable but I often find uses for them anyway. The little serum bottles I wash out and refill with my own mix of essential oils and use this for massaging my tense neck and shoulders after a hard day or my feet when I have a home style pedicure.   Sheer bliss.

Most of the ironing is done now – I find ironing the linen quite rewarding – I love getting into a freshly made bed at night, somehow I am sure I sleep better.  You cannot beat the smell and feel of line dried linen, especially on a windy day – I try to catch it just as it is still slightly damp and then spray with a linen spray and iron immediately – the mix of outdoor freshness with a little scent makes it a pleasurable task – this is my all time favourite with Orange Blossom and Bergamot essential oils – I am hoping I can recreate something similar myself when the bottle runs out as it is no longer available.

Ironing

DH has been working his way up the cherry tree pruning branch by branch – it looks a little stark now but I know come next summer it will be heading for our windows at a rate of knots once again.  What a shame the scaffolding around the house isn’t nearer the cherry tree – it would have served a dual purpose.  As I mentioned to Mary (who is a bit concerned as to DH’s safety)  I think climbing the cherry tree might just be his boy scout side coming out and he will soon realise he is getting a bit past that now!!

Tomorrow if the weather holds we have planned to attend the Bakewell Open Gardens event – we attended a couple of years ago and found some fascinating places we didn’t even know existed.  The nice thing about Bakewell is that the open gardens are in a different part of the town each year so they are full of new surprises.

If by any chance it does rain as forecast then it will be more ironing (yes there is still more to go yet) and maybe some paperwork to attend to (for paperwork read bills to pay!)  I have already prepared the guest room for my mum coming – I might just add a few flowers by the bedside tomorrow.  I think she may well get a shock on Tuesday morning when she wakes up and opens the blind to see the builders staring back at her from the scaffold!!

clEAn and lEAn ~ dashing away with the smoothing iron

Not the most thrilling of days today – the clearing and cleaning in the kitchen had to take a back seat again whilst I caught up with the pile of ironing.  It really has been breeding in the corner and so I was forced to take action as I have to prepare the guest room bed for my mum who visits on Monday and iron the bedding.  I decided not to have any spares for the guest bed to save storage space but with the recent comings and goings another duvet set would have been useful.

I also ironed all the tops and skirts that I used to wear to work – as I have not needed them they have lingered at the bottom of the basket.  I put a couple of the tops on the charity pile and one of my least favourite black skirts and the rest of them in my wardrobe.  It will be interesting to see how often I wear skirts again now I am at home.  I have quite a collection of skirts because I never wore trousers at work.  I might even throw out all my thick black tights as they are years old and have been washed and worn so many times they owe me nothing.

After sorting my own items I then started on ironing my daughter’s clothes – not the woolly hats and gloves of course.  I intend to get these all done and back round to her house before they come home from holiday.  I will be relieved to get them out of my way – four big bags of laundry is a lot to move around my tiny laundry room – wherever I put them they seemed to be in the way.

DH spent a few hours at our daughter’s house putting the final top coat onto the skirtings, architraves and banister rails.  So only the doors remain and that will be another project complete although we may be called upon to help with the living room when they decide if they are removing the fireplace or not (very messy job).

We have scaffolding surrounding our house now ready for the rendering on Tuesday – weather being fine.  Once this is done we can replace our shed and get some of the stuff that is presently residing in the garage and what will be my pantry put back into the shed – can’t wait.  We will also be able to use the compost bins again – it has been so hard for me to put all the vegetable peelings in the bin and miss out on all that lovely compost.

DH had a go at taming our large Cherry Tree yesterday whilst the weather was fine – it needs more than a prune.  It is in our back garden but when we stand in the front garden facing our house we can now see the top of it above the roof – eek!  I couldn’t bear to chop it down as it gives me lots of shade but it is a bit too large for the plot.  I think he may have to climb it to get to the very highest branches…gulp!

I am looking forward to having at least one of our projects completed soon as we always seem to have a few on the go at once and I am trying hard to keep our main focus on the kitchen and the outside of our house.

Even when I cannot do anything major towards the kitchen decluttering I am making sure I at least do something small each day towards getting the project done.  Tonight I used some of my red sticker items and opened the first jar of Bon Maman compote, the cherry flavour, and made some individual crumbles.  We ate 2 of them with evaporated milk on top and the rest I will freeze.  I think I am becoming less and less of a pudding person I would have enjoyed the compote on some yoghurt so much more.  DH hates yoghurt.  What, I am wondering, am I going to do with my excessive yield of cooking apples if I don’t make crumbles?

Tomorrow it will be more ironing and some paper work to catch up on.  Then on Sunday I am declaring a day of rest and hoping the weather will be good enough to go to the Bakewell Open Gardens in Derbyshire.

What is the likely hood of rain!

have a good weekend. x

dEAr diary ~ reading matter and a natter

A visit to work today to see my old colleagues – I was late as the town was so busy there was nowhere to park – good job it was only a visit.  I chose a good day as the new lady was out in the Leeds office.  I handed round all my thank you notes, I had intended to make my own but in the end I used bought ones.  We all went out for a coffee and a natter to catch up – but I am still glad I am not there anymore, change is very evident and not all sounding good but I don’t have to worry about that any longer.

After my visit I spent a whole hour in the library, bliss, and something I haven’t done for many years – just browsing and picking up anything that caught my eye.  I tend to read non-fiction more than fiction I have this quest for knowledge – always have and at the moment I am in to decluttering and simplifying my life in a big way, so I am not sure if I will find any new advice in the books I chose but it is always worth a read.

One of the books ‘Simplify your Life’  by Naomi Saunders I have read before but thought a refresh might be good.  ‘Declutter your Life’ by Gill Hasson speaks for itself – if I learn anything new and profound I will let you all know!  ‘Today is the Day You Change your Life’ by Elaine Harrison and ‘Leap Year’ by Helen Russell is mostly about those small steps that can make a big difference.  You might remember my word for this year (which is actually a phrase) is ‘ The Power of Small’ so the books are an expansion of this and I hope I might learn something from them.

My other 3 choice of books are more to do with health – ‘Corrective Exercise’ by Kesh Patel, ‘Vaccines’ by Dr Richard Halvorsen and one that I am eager to know more about ‘The Telomere Effect’ by Nobel Prize Winner Dr Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel.

So an early night tonight so I can make a start on one of them and I have no doubt the decluttering and cleaning will begin again tomorrow.

 

 

clEAn and lEAn ~ day 2

A bit of a mixed day today.  At 5am DH took elder daughter and SIL to the airport as the train to Manchester is currently not running from here – not even sure why.  He then came home and went up to their house to put another coat of paint on their hallway and landing doors whilst they are away – they are on to a good thing here I think!

In the meantime I did some more of the washing that has come from the same daughters – 4 big bags of stuff that she has never had time to do on the weekend after their normal washing and I volunteered to help – I must need my head seeing to sometimes.  They are predominantly jumpers, thick socks, hats, scarfs and gloves and when they are washed and clean I am not sure she has any space to put them away.  I had them out on the line yesterday in the sun and they dried very quickly and they will not need ironing thank goodness.Washing

I also watered and fed my planters outside as we need to empty the water-butt to move it – the scaffolders are coming on Thursday and Friday to erect the scaffolding ready for the rendering next Tuesday.  At last we will be closer to getting our leaky wall done and making it waterproof by the winter – it has only taken us the best part of a year to co-ordinate all this as the date has kept moving on due to the really bad weather at the start of the year.  The fact that they will clash now with the Bank Holiday and my mum’s visit next week is not insurmountable just a bit irritating when we have waited so long… but such is life.

I had a quick run round with the Hoover whilst DH was out – DH fixed it yesterday as the handle had almost seized up and would not pull down very easily – now it is working freely once again whatever he did worked.  In fact yesterday was quite a ‘fix-it’ day – the boiler engineer came early with the part for the boiler so we have hot water again which is really helpful when you are doing a lot of cleaning in cupboards – boiling the kettle all the time was such a bind.

Whilst he was here DH removed the outside light ready for the rendering men next week only to find it was rather contorted inside with the heat and beyond repair  – it is over 30 years old so not surprising – so he ordered a new one from eBay.  Meanwhile, I was decluttering and cleaning one of the pull out drawers in our laundry room when the runner broke – drawer (also more than 30 years old) would not move in or out, luckily we had a spare runner and Mr Fix-it stepped in again, maybe it will last another 30 years!  Whilst he was busy fixing the drawer the washer flooded slightly at the end of the wash cycle through the drain cap  – Mr Fix-it managed to screw the cap on tighter as I grabbed a cloth and started mopping up but he reckons the seal isn’t good and has perished slightly so we needed to order a spare.  The Hoover was the last straw and the beginning of a few expletives!  I will say no more.

At 4.30pm this afternoon we both jumped in the car and headed to Meadowhall our nearest shopping mall – they have a Neal’s Yard store there and I needed night cream.  I use the Frankincense Intense with the serum – love the smell and it suits my skin – I also had some Boots No 7 vouchers given to me so I stocked up on the basic face creams that I use to eek out the expensive Neal’s Yard cream.

I was delighted to find the cotton wool pads I use were also on offer in Boots – buy one get one half price so I bought 4 and in Bodyshop the olive shower gel is cheaper if you buy in multiples so I got 4 of them saving £6.  None of these items will go off as we use them all the time.

I was really pleased with myself that I only bought what I went for – I had a little browse in WH Smiths which incidentally is looking much cleaner and smarter these days – they have new lower fitments and the whole place seemed far more open and airy and organised. I can’t help myself with stationery and books it is such a temptation.  Remembering the piles of stuff I have already at home waiting to be sorted I knew I didn’t have need of anything and walked out empty-handed.

A plus point surely.

clEAn and lEAn ~ in the kitchen

Day one – begin at the beginning…

I decided that I should begin at the beginning but like a tangled ball of wool I am not sure where that is exactly.  But a start must be made.

I am already making sure I rise by 8am – perhaps that is late in your book but in mine I love that extra hour of sleep I have now that I am not going to work and it suits me – I feel more refreshed.  I will adjust this back to 7am soon as I think early risers do get more done but for now I am just enjoying some rest.

As soon as I am up I wash and dress so that I don’t  mooch around in my dressing gown (which in my case could turn into an all-day attire if I am not careful).   It is remarkable how quickly you form a routine and I don’t want to get into bad habits that I then have to try and dismantle.

a Monk's Guide to a clean house

It is strange that we had the visit to Mount Grace priory  – I was quite intrigued by the life of the monks especially as I have been reading a tiny book entitled A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind by Shoukei Matsumoto.  He is a Shin-Buddhist monk who talks about the ritual of cleaning and how this helps to have a calmer, happier life creating a refuge from today’s busy world.  The monks have few possessions but what they do have they keep well maintained and clean – everything they have is of value and valued.  The ideas in the book are that your external environment is a reflection of your internal environment – your body and mind.

Sounds good to me so with my cards spread out on the desk I have chosen to first of all declutter and clean my house as I agree with Shoukei that a tidy clean house not only makes for a tidy clean mind but also gives me some sense of order to my life.  It seemed sensible to begin in the kitchen and in particular to start in the food cupboards.

In true Kondo style I removed all the food from the cupboards – tins, packets, jars and storage containers and covered most of the table and the worktops with the contents.  I was quite shocked seeing it all spread out before me on mass like this and it made me wonder how the two of us would ever eat such a mountain of food and why was I going shopping each week for more?

Decluttering the food cupboards

I think the main problem is that some of the packets, jars and tins of food get overlooked as often we might need other ingredients or more time to make something – sound familiar?   I have jars of fruit compote to make crumbles and tins of evaporated milk to make rice pudding yet we don’t really eat puddings I just like the idea of them!

I noticed that with one particular cupboard we tend to use the food at the front and ignore the items at the back – that old 20:80 rule even applies to food it seems.  Recently through lack of time I have made a sketchy menu plan then bought the items to make the dishes rather than making dishes that use up some of the older items.

I also found the remnants of items I have bought for our various visitor’s benefit that we don’t eat and I have been left with the surplus when they have gone home.

The items out of date were the easy ones to dispose of (the guilt not so).  Most of these items were for baking which I have not done for ages and when Little L came and we baked we were limited in what we made by what I could find still in date!

decluttering the cupboardsThen I put red stickers on anything with a use by date in August and September so I can make a menu plan to include these and find suitable recipes.

Finally I refilled the storage containers and grouped together any multiple items.  The visitors foods I will off load onto the visitors!

I couldn’t  decide whether it is a good idea to carry some stock or not.  My keep it simple, lean and minimalist side says just keep exactly what you need and only buy it when you need it therefore reducing storage space and preventing waste when things go out of date.  My thrifty, just in case side, says stock up when there are offers to save money and also in case of emergency like getting snowed in.  Though I must say I can’t ever remember having such an emergency that we have not had enough food.

In the end I decided that I would take the lean approach to keeping a stock of the most used items which is to keep one in hand and when you start to use that one you then replace it.  Some items I use very little of such as honey or flour so I will continue to replace these as I am getting to the end of the one I am using.  For some basic items like instant coffee, butter, jam and cereal I will continue to buy in multiples when on offer as the savings are beneficial and I might keep an emergency kit of baked beans, tinned fruit and other bits during the winter months in case of bad weather.

After a thorough clean and sort I rearranged some of the cupboards (DH will love this as he hates it when I have a move round as he cannot find anything). I am still in the process of switching things about a bit and trying some items in new places as well as using up the red sticker foods.  Once eaten I probably will not be replacing all of these items –  as they are nearly out of date we obviously don’t eat them very often and most of it is ‘puddings’.  The olive oil is the end of a bottle – for some reason we had opened a new one before finishing the old one.

I have designated one cupboard as a ‘stock’ cupboard to take the duplicates – think of it like a mini supermarket – so when we finish something we can check if we have one already before putting it on the shopping list.

So far my cupboards are looking a whole lot leaner and certainly a lot neater  – it is a bit of a work in progress at the moment but when I am satisfied with the outcome I will post some pictures.  I am actually enjoying the process but I really need to change my shopping habits in future to make sure the food we buy is the food we eat.

In conjunction with this exercise I have been going through my recipe folders looking for new recipes to try and at the same time doing a bit of decluttering here – only keeping the ones I know I would make.  The test for this being would I make this for tea tonight? – if the answer is no because it is too long and complicated or requires ingredients we would not normally buy such as buttermilk then it has been removed and put in the recycle bin.

DH thinks it is hilarious that I have spent so much time clipping recipes from magazines then spending more time putting them into a folder only to spend yet more time removing them.  He is right of course so much wasted time when I know I will only make 20% of them.

I am a slow learner!

 

 

dEAr diary ~ mEAndering and rEAsoning

Life has been busy recently but today, right now, is the start of my new journey.  We have a bit of a gap this week between our commitments and obligations – paid work is behind me, at least for the moment,  though I haven’t as yet ruled it out altogether and I just need some me time, time to think or rethink my life, time to ponder and reflect.

We had a lovely few days in Yarm with my mum and we took her to see Mount Grace Priory which is nearby.  If you are ever in the area then do go and see it – I found it a fascinating place.  Most of the priory is in ruins but they have reconstructed one of the 25 monk’s cells to look around, however, don’t be misled by the term ‘cell’ as they are more like small houses which served as a private monastery for each monk – 3 rooms downstairs; living room, study and bedroom with a private chapel and a large work room upstairs for spinning and weaving. Outside each house had a walled garden to grow herbs and vegetables and a covered walkway to the latrine as well as a private cloister for meditation. I imagine they were pretty comfortable living here.

The Carthusian Order is a solitary order and the Monk’s spent many hours each day in prayer and meditation with vegetarian meals being brought to them and left in the little hatch to the side of each doorway.  Only on a Sunday did they socialise and pray together.

I was quite taken by the peacefulness and simplicity of the place – set in beautiful surroundings and everything in the house made of natural materials (no plastics to be seen) which gives it a very earthy, solid quality that feels timeless and you are left in no doubt that as it has been there for many centuries already quietly following one season after another, it would still be the same many more centuries ahead.

Compare this with my lifestyle at the moment and my own abode – I have to confess I am in catch up mode, as my house is basically a mess added to which I have no idea on our financial situation, our diet is not as healthy as it should be and I am desperate for sleep and rest as well as exercise.  I feel like I have just completed a marathon in the last three weeks and my lack of posts and comments are proof of just how busy I have been.

After leaving mum we collected Little L on the way home to stay with us for a few days.  Each day we packed a picnic and set off for an adventure.  We didn’t have to go far – a few swings, a river to paddle in and ducks to watch and this is more than enough to keep a 4-year-old content.  On the final day we baked buns and made jellies with custard topping all decorated liberally with sprinkles.

After taking Little L back to her mum we came home and just flopped on the sofa and watched TV too exhausted to move!   It has been a long and tiring few weeks and I have been yearning for a few days rest and time to gather my thoughts.  I desperately need to change all this busyness for a calmer, simpler lifestyle but with so many conflicting demands I know it won’t be easy.

I don’t doubt there are many of you reading this that can identify with my plight – ‘not enough hours in the day’ syndrome.  My challenge now is to turn this around one day at a time and get my house in order.

To help me capture my random thoughts and tasks I bought some of those coloured index cards, from a well-known store, each of the four colours representing a major area of my life.

I have chosen pink for Health, yellow for the Home, blue for Finances and green for Self, Lifestyle, Hobbies and Socialising.

I have made a start giving each card within the category a sub-heading such as meal planning, skin care, exercise or decluttering and these will be the areas to focus on at some time as I get to them.  This may all seem a bit drastic but for me having the cards is a bit of a prompt and I like to get my thoughts and ideas down on paper so I can see clearly what I need to do;  declutter, clean and maintain – with what I would like to do; sketching, gardening , healthier lifestyle.

It is all a question of balancing.  At this present time my life feels very unbalanced and reactive as different situations present themselves.  I am struggling with minor health issues that I want to address to prevent them turning into anything more major and I often feel daunted by the amount of tasks and maintenance that needs to be done.

I have until the weekend to make a start before we have my mum for a visit over the bank holiday and possibly followed by Little L again.  So next week will be a slight interruption to my plans but come September my time will be my own once again.

One of my first tasks is to go through my kitchen cupboards and check for food going out of date and restocking.  I am not sure what I will find lurking at the back.

Have a lovely day – back tomorrow x

 

 

 

 

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

dEAr diary ~ leaving…tears and treats

How did last week slip by so quickly?  What a whirlwind it has been here.

Unfortunately Tuesday, not only my wedding anniversary day but my last day at work, started with a bit of a stand-off with the new lady – I was playing it cool, polite but not overly friendly (quite unlike me).  It was our first encounter since our difficult day last Wednesday and I was adamant she was not going to spoil my final few hours at work.  Not much had changed in her attitude but she got the message that I wasn’t going to pander to her whims on my last day when I threatened to put all of my reference files in the shredding bag if she felt I was wasting my time checking they were all updated to pass on to her – though as she already knows everything she shouldn’t need them!  Standing my ground seemed to make her more amenable for the rest of the day.

In the afternoon I was suddenly called to the training room for a meeting which  ‘surprise’ turned out to be a buffet spread laid out with Prosecco, party food and cupcakes and attended by all the staff and directors.  There were speeches and presentations, more bouquets, gifts and wonderful words of thanks and appreciation for my hard work over the last 18, almost 19 years.  So my house is full of beautiful flowers once again and my birthday cards had to move over to make room for my leaving and wedding anniversary cards.

I was really touched – it was certainly a good send off – quite unexpected and lots of goodbyes, with promises to keep in touch and a few tears.

Then after an emotional day it was back home to collapse.

Early on Wednesday morning we set off for Pateley Bridge and Studfold Park with fairy wings and birthday presents on the back seat and a picnic in the cool bag ready to celebrate Little L’s 4th birthday.

The only route for us was 2 hours on busy (A) roads through Bradford and Otley and then along some winding (B) roads but it was a pleasant enough run through the countryside – places I had not been before.  We all met in the car park at about 11am – the weather was very warm but luckily it stayed mainly overcast so we didn’t get burnt as we were hunting for the fairies.

Both Little L and her friend were far too excited to eat much of their lunch and only managed half the ice cream cone and a lick at the cream frosting flowers on the birthday cake.

Her main birthday present was a balance bike but she wouldn’t ride it until she was kitted out with the full helmet, elbow and knee pads.  Luckily the postman came with them during the afternoon and then she decided to keep them on until bedtime!

We had bought her a camera that takes real pictures and selfies which you can add cartoon features to.  I had as much fun with it as Little L and would add it to my Christmas list if I could!

After a lovely day playing it was then back home to collapse.

On Thursday morning up bright and early again it was all hands to the deck once more at my elder daughter’s house – DH sorting out new banister rails on the landing and me back on the gravel patch.

By Saturday with a bit of help from the men to lift some very heavy paving stones which formed a pathway and edging we finally laid the gravel.  Our daughter then added the finishing touches of the table, chairs and pots of plants to form a seating area.  It looked really good but I forgot to take the all-important picture – I will take one and post it soon.

After 3 days hard graft it was back home to collapse.

On Sunday morning DH and I rushed around packing clothes, food and tools for our trip to the cottage in Scotland.  We finally managed to get away at lunchtime and arrived at the cottage about 8pm to then unload everything again and finally fall into bed.

After a hectic few days we must have been so tired that we slept for 10 hours solid but at least now we are here our time is our own and we can go at our own pace for a few days until Thursday when our commitments begin again.

I love exploring the garden when we haven’t been for a while – so many changes and so many different plants in flower.  Our Bramley apple tree is full of apples – it must be a good year – each morning I am gathering up the windfalls, before we leave I daresay DH will give the tree a good shake.  I will have to give most of them away as our freezer is still full of apples from last year.   

The cottage garden has lost a lot of its summer colour due to the hot weather  – many of the flowers have had a shorter flowering period with the intense heat and lack of water but the Buddleias on the woodland walk are weeping with the weight of the blossoms this year and they are full of butterflies.

The Hydrangeas are also out in full bloom now – the one above was my dads, I have no idea what it is called but it is a beautiful shade of coral pink around the edges of the petals which fade slightly as they open.

The Rosa Rugosa hedge down the lane has huge hips forming already and the Agapanthus are just loving this sun.

There is plenty to do here – weeding, pruning and tidying but only one day left so I need to prioritise.  On our next visit which will be longer maybe 2 or 3 weeks we should have time to make more of an impact. Going to Italy this year certainly put us behind with the general maintenance.

I hope everyone is having a lovely summer – I have a bit of catching up to do with my favourite blogs.

Back soon x