Mother’s Day – Great Start . . . Crap Finish!

 

It would have been too much to ask for a perfect day, wouldn’t it?

It started well.

I’d requested a Cornus plant/shrub thingy from my son, Matt, and went into great detail re colour and size. Yes, I would have loved a tree-size one BUT I’d visited the plant centre a week earlier and saw the price of the tree-size ones, and to be frank I didn’t think I was worth that much. That’s a bit sad isn’t it? But you know me – the original shrinking violet. Shut up it’s true!

So, knowing Matt obeys my every fancy and whim (mostly) I was pretty confident that a lovely little Cornus would produce itself from Matt’s car boot come Mothering Sunday.

10.00 a.m. arrived and right on time (another quality he gets from me – always being on time) his work truck chugged to a halt outside the house and there, swaying, slightly seasick was my pressie – a small tree-size Cornus.

Obviously I was overjoyed that, A. I’d got a super-duper big plant and B. that apparently I WAS worth that much.

The grand kiddies piled in followed shortly by a plant and Matt somewhere behind it. I showered him with thanks before scolding him for spending that much on me when I would have been perfectly happy with a titchy one – well, maybe not a titchy but it is the thought that counts, you know.

The plant was placed in the garden awaiting planting. I already had the area mapped out and I told Matt that I’d be planting it when they left. At this point he said, ‘You might like to water it first?’

Good point I thought.

‘It’s been in the garage for two days,’ he added.

‘WHAT!’ I exclaimed. ‘So it’s been in the dark for two days with no water and then rattled up the motorway in an open truck?’

He grinned.

‘You lazy git,’ I said, ‘you just couldn’t be bothered to carry it round to the back of your house, could you?’

He opened his mouth to deny it but then changed his mind and continued to grin.

‘And YOU call yourself a gardener? I said.

He laughed.

This information set me back a bit, so when they had gone I watered it in its pot and then this morning I planted it. It looks OK . . . well, brilliant it fact. I think if it could talk it would breathe a sigh of relief. I don’t think it enjoyed the M1 that much?

As I said . . . Great Start, Crap Finish, because . . .

Later that day I toggled up the garden to tuck-in the greenhouse plants. A frost was forecast so they had to have their little duvets pulled-up round their delicate stems. As I was saying goodnight to the baby cosmos (Prince Charles talks to HIS plants so don’t go thinking I’m mad and alone in this), through the greenhouse glass I caught sight of a bird, on the floor, in front of Richard’s shed. It looked perfect, not cat struck at all. I couldn’t bear investigating so I shrugged down to the house and asked Richard to go and see if it was dead. He did so.

It was dead. I believe it had flown into the shed window. He described it to me (he’s no ornithologist) and I realised in was a bullfinch. Last year there had been a pair visiting the garden and only yesterday I was thinking that I hadn’t seen them this year. I was devastated really. I don’t do ‘dead’ animals very well, but then who does. I kept thinking that its mate would also be devastated. I tried telling myself that it would be fickle and find another mate, a prettier, better-at-finding-food-for-the-chicks mate. Then I told myself perhaps it would be happy knowing that its true love hadn’t had a horrible ending in the jaws of some rotten kitty . . . but none of that helped. The vision of the little thing stayed with me for the rest of the day . . . and has carried over to this morning. Yes, I’m a dick. What more can I say?

Whenever I see roadkill in the distance I have to close my eyes until we have passed it. Last year a muntjac had been hit on the busy road at the side of the wood and it had managed to make it to the gate of the wood. It had two broken legs. I still have nightmares now. It looked perfect, except for the two broken legs – and the fact that it was bloody dead. How long had it been there until shock had claimed it? How much pain did it suffer dragging itself from the road and along the grass verge to the gate? Yes, I think too much!

Last week, as we arrived at the wood, we noticed what looked like snow around the shed. On closer inspection (I sent Richard ahead to investigate) it was, or had been, a wood-pigeon. Feathers were everywhere. I never knew they had so many feathers!

Two days ago I raked the feathers together and burnt them.

So, there you go. A lovely Mother’s Day in many respects . . . I spent time with my son and grand kiddies and received exactly what I wanted but how much nicer it would have been if Mr Bullfinch hadn’t committed suicide?

This I guess is the balance of life, hey?

Right, dashing off to sand some wood. A craft fair looms and I must focus on making stock.

Stay Happy xxx

 

Keep Breathing. It’ll All Be Fine.

So, the Ho Ho Ho’s have subsided for another year. Food, that is hard to place into any worthwhile food group, has been noshed, digested, and forgotten about. The decorations have been banished to the attic (they don’t usually survive Boxing Day but this year I was ‘more in the spirit’ and they remained until New Year’s Eve). Christmas, and 2016, is now firmly behind me.

I’ve heard so many people say that 2016 was their worst year . . . ever and, yes, I also had a few downers.

Richard took redundancy this time last year and is still cluttering up my day and my life. I fear he will never go back to work. Though, to be honest, he is now running a little internet thingy selling playing cards and it is meeting with some small success. Then, I had those awful retinal migraines start-up this time last year. I won’t pretend that I’m not terrified that they will recur but, other than chopping off my head, I am at a loss of what to do to prevent it happening? I also lost the chucks. I have resisted having more. I would love to restock but I dare not. I miss them dreadfully. So, yes, shit happened but you know what, that’s life. Shit does happen. We just have to put it behind us and move on . . . and that’s what I’m doing/have done . . .

I’ve welcomed this year with open arms. It doesn’t have to be spectacular, or mind-blowing. I don’t have to find gold hidden beneath the compost heap, or sell a million books on Amazon – though, let’s be truthful here, a few would be nice.  All I truly ask is that this year is a little kind to me. If loved ones are kept safe. If I can go on appreciating the simple things in life (I don’t necessarily mean Richard). Then this coming year won’t disappoint and I dare not ask for more.

I will have my fists raised in times of anguish, times when life deals a nasty blow, and I will do my best to battle through. I might win the fight. I might not. But I will attempt to – always.

So, what have I done so far this year? Well, I’ve tidied and rearranged my kitchen cupboards. I have, with the help of my darlin’ grandson, Jake, moved and pulled out all the twiggy stuff from the two compost heaps. I have scattered compost on the newly sorted flower area. Now that the chucks are no more I have every scrap of garden back and can grow anything, anywhere. I have baked small cakes for the freezer and 3 large fruit cakes for . . . me.  I have accompanied Richard to buy a new chain saw, risky I know, all things considered but the old one expired and what is the use of a log burner without logs?

Frankly, I’m amazed that the old one (a cheap B and Q version) lasted as long as it did, almost ten years. It had been terribly abused. On one occasion Richard had a leaping up-and-down-in-the-air tantrum and threw the poor thing into the ground, still running. He’s not safe with anything mechanical.

This time I decided that it was time he bought something better – I worked on the principle that if it cost a small fortune he would respect it more. Of course, it would also do the job easier and better. So a new Stihl saw was purchased and Richard, being Richard, had to try it the second we got home.

We had an all-out screaming session because he didn’t have any protective clothing and wanted to do his usual thing and just ‘wing’ it. He isn’t allowed to use a chainsaw without me present. I mean, if the daft bugger chops off his leg how the hell am I going to get that into a freezer bag with ice cubes, and then get him, on one bleeding stump, and a leg in a bag, down the garden? So, I am ALWAYS present. I insist on it, even though I merely stand there until logs are cut and then load them into the barrow. On this, the first attempt with the super-duper saw he shouted, above the noise, ‘where are you?’

‘Here!’ I shouted back, standing up from tickling Chea.

‘Move to the left a bit,’ he shouted, ‘you need to shield the greenhouse from anything that might fly that way.’

See? This is why I’ve purposely run out of ice cubes and binned the large freezer bags.

He has now ordered the whole protective ensemble from eBay. The hat, face shield, pants with braces, gloves etc. They don’t come until Friday so the little wood-cutter is redundant till then. And that’s that – the start of my year.

So . . . having written the first blog of the year and added it to my list of ‘things accomplished’ I’m off to make the fire and eat half a fruit cake! The healthier eating has started but I figure fruit cake is OK. After all, fruit is good for you, right?

Happy New Year All.

It might not be perfect but keep breathing and we will all make it out the other side.

Take Care xximages

Not The Adonis Kind

So . . . I guess I was only kidding myself that if I removed all chicken perches, nest boxes, feed and water containers etc. from the chucks summer-house it would help with the loss of my little feathered friends?

It seemed like a sound idea at the time and I have to admit that the summer-house does make a great ‘craft shed.’ It has changed beyond all recognition and now houses all things ‘crafty,’ including a few home comforts . . . two chairs, a radio/C.D. player, a heater and a small T.V. These items are not to be viewed as expensive luxuries, far from it, they were all kicking around the place and have been rounded up and herded into my shed. I did treat myself to a lovely little palm hand-sander and it works a treat, buzzing and sanding away in the early hours of the morning, sending clouds of wood dust up into the air and over the fence into the neighbour’s garden.

I might buy myself a little Workmate – the metal and wood kind – not the hard muscled, tanned, Adonis kind! I find the second kind highly overrated and frankly I’ll get more use out of the metal and wood kind. Well, I have always told you that I’m not ‘girlie,’ what more proof do you want?

I’ve become a tad side tracked here. Back to the point I was going to make.

At this time of the year I usually open the green wooden gate leading into the top of the garden, where the fruit and vegetables are grown, and the chucks are allowed in there. This year, as I stood at the gate and surveyed the yellowing courgette leaves and the fallen apple leaves it suddenly hit me – there would be no delighted clucks and frenzied scratching-up of dying leaves and the terribly unfair assault on all bugs great and small. I wouldn’t sit with the autumn sun, still warm on my face, sipping tea as I watched the antics of Rita Raptor and Mable. Wouldn’t watch as Chea stalked them, thinking that they hadn’t seen her hiding behind a bare gooseberry bush. These things are petty, I know. And silly, no doubt. But this is my life, you see. Little things please little minds.

The greenhouse is now empty, having produced a bumper crop of tomatoes this year. For some reason Richard stepped in and took great interest in watering them ‘correctly’ – obviously I have been doing this incorrectly for the last twenty-five years – and he takes full credit for the bumper crop. He said, ‘Monty (Monty Don, Gardeners’ World) said you have to water them like this. Flood them out and keep them wet.’

No comment.

Seemed to work though – until nearing the end of their growth spurt – then their leaves developed grey mould because they were growing in the equivalent of a paddy field.

They have now been pulled out and thrown in the compost bin. The borders have been dug over and Chea now delights in using both greenhouse borders as giant litter trays, digging out a huge bowl-shaped hole and squatting peacefully, relief all over her little tabby face. I’m not sure what effect this will have on next year’s crop? Or, even if I will eat tomatoes next year, all things considered.

I have to admit to simply standing at staring at the changing leaves, looking, to all intents, that I have lost the plot, or at least walked into the garden for a reason and then forgotten the reason. I can’t help it. I love the changing colours and the way the autumn sunshine accentuates them.

A few more weeks and the leaves will all have fallen, the garden will sleep through the darker, shorter days and it, and I, will wait for the spring. Then we will both start all over again – God willing.

Take Care x20161024_090353

Not dead . . . just taking time out

Hi

No, I’m not dead . . . just taking time out to smell the roses, consider this and that, and generally make up my mind on my next steps.

I’m pretty sure that the ‘writing’ has reached an end. This is not down to my lack of interest in it or to the lack of ideas whizzing around in my head but more to the fact that my health issues won’t allow it. Any amount of excessive scrolling – as in editing etc – totally upsets my head and vision. This, to my detriment, I have learnt. Also, the medication that I’m taking in an attempt to keep these debilitating retinal migraines away leaves me brain-dead and I can sit for minutes . . . and minutes . . .  trying to figure out how to spell a certain word. Usually something massively complicated like, ‘more’ or ‘need.’

I have long learnt that you can’t fight the inevitable and that often that ‘inevitable’ is steering you away into other directions. So, I will never say never, but for now, and for the foreseeable future, the writer in me has retired.

Having said this I do have other ‘irons in the fire.’

We are now looking at moving to Lincolnshire. This is a very new W.I.P and may or may not happen, so for now I’ll shut up about it, other than to say if anyone has a lovely little detached property in south Lincs, stuck in the middle of a field, please let me know. It has to be detached because as I said to Richard the other day ‘I’m sick of yelling at you and the neighbours hearing every word.’ My quest in life is to berate him in private.

Also, after my toe~dipping~into~the~water episodes with the craft fairs, I’ve decided to do more. Not with the books but with ‘pretty’ little bits and bobs – painted hearts and plaques etc. It occupies my mind, keeps me off Richard’s case, and fills that creativity spot in my being that not writing leaves void. I have seven fairs booked so far. It may all end in tears and an attic full of crap but hey-ho there you go.

Dear Richard is going for a job interview tomorrow!!!! I should at this point begin my own Mexican wave or high-five Chea, but frankly I’ll miss him when he is back in the workplace. I can’t remember what it’s like to plug-in the vac and the lack of washing up liquid on my hands has left them as smooth as silk –  well, OK, maybe not as smooth as silk because I’m always scratching around in the garden.

So, directions change. Things move on. This is me now. Tomorrow I could be something else. But as I said to Richard, ‘I think we still have one or two adventures left in us.’

The moving thing is massively emotional. My garden is perfect (don’t mean to sound big-headed) and we have twenty-five years of little passed-on souls buried out there. The house is as we want it and we have a bit of money in the bank. We are comfortable. But, like the writer I am (was) I imagine other scenarios. And besides, ‘comfortable’ is overrated if you ask me?

We will see. I tend to trust in the heavens.

For now I’ll paint my little hearts and do-dahs and drop into crafty mode. Tomorrow, as I say, could be a whole new ball game.

Sending lots of love to you all.

x20160718_130505

 

No Shaking Of The Tail Feathers Here!

Hi All

Do you know that feeling? The one when you are bursting with excitement and have to rush around like a headless chicken (probably not the best comparison all things considered) shouting your exciting news and it falls on indifference and deaf ears? Yes? No? Well I do.

Chea barely batted an eye at the revelation that she was now ‘in print.’ Couldn’t have cared less in fact. I did see her at the edge of the pond with her nose pressed against a bewildered frog but I don’t think she was passing on the news, just terrorising the poor thing. It escaped into the water and she toddled off to roll in the cat mint. I’m sure she has spent most of the summer stoned!

The chucks couldn’t give a toss either. They are more concerned in throwing out feathers right, left and centre and going for the grandmother of all moults. Flight has completely lost her tail feathers and now has a ‘rounded off’ bum. I haven’t told her that it’s not a good look. She’s a bit sensitive to ridicule. Little’s feathers (white) are falling like snow and I fear I may end up with two chucks that look like they are ready for the table. Hush my mouth!

Each morning, when I go to pooh pick, I am welcomed by a layer of feathers and a slimmer chuck. I just hope they feather-up before the weather turns even more miserable. I can’t see the feathered floor without it reminding me of that John Denver song, Grandma’s Feather Bed. Do you know the one? ‘We didn’t get a lot of sleep but we had a lotta fun …on Grandma’s feather bed.’

 I love the imagery of that song …hound dogs, a front porch, old ones chatting, kids bouncing on grandma’s huge feather bed, giggling, etc. I digress.

So, I told the chucks that they are also in print. Flight emitted a fluid pooh that landed on my foot and Little flapped off and massacred a spider that was dangling from a rose bush.

I thought about discussing it with the tomatoes in the greenhouse but then I thought, ‘get a grip you prat,’ so I did.

It is almost that time of year. That time when I walk out into the garden and ‘feel’ it. That something in the air that is quite, quite different. The end of summer and the beginning of autumn. I can’t describe it.

It’s been a pretty crap summer really. Nothing in the garden knows if it’s coming or going. What hasn’t been flooded out, dried out, eaten and chomped to death, has been flattened by the wind or Chea. She’s either rolling around on her back like some sexy temptress or leaping up and down through the veg patch chasing frogs. I may ‘do’ more flowers next year …or not …whatever.

We have started to stock up the log shed. A palette load arrived in the week – even though I told Richard in no uncertain terms NOT to order them. He’s such a sod. He sits on eBay every night wondering what the hell he can order next. My bum barely has time to settle on a chair before some delivery person is banging on the front door with a package for him. I dare not mention that I would like, or need, anything because four days later it arrives at the door.

He is currently buying every boxed-set series known to man. We/I have worked my/our way through Breaking Bad, True Blood, Pirates, Game of Thrones, Banshee, House of Cards, Homeland and Dexter. AND I’ve probably missed out a few! Oh yes, there’s also the first two seasons of Hannibal waiting for viewing …after Dexter. I like to think that I’m a busy, active type of person but frankly, looking at that list, I’m not sure any more.

In my defence I should say that I rarely watch anything on mainstream TV. A couple of soaps – but even they ‘share’ the same plot. And the plots are pathetic half of the time. So, I guess Richard can carry on ordering the boxed-sets?

And, of course, I’m currently working on the two children’s books. Sort of. Now and then. In between rescuing frogs, singing Grandma’s Feather Bed and stacking logs!

Now I need to go on You Tube and listen to the bloody thing…

And then, later, when Richard gets home, we have to start dismantling the rockery around the pond. A major dropping of the water level has recently occurred. But we have now, hopefully, tracked it down to the pipe that runs from the filter box to the waterfall. Unfortunately, said pipe runs through a rockery so we have to gird our loins and dig out the darn thing. I will help – from a safe distance of a few metres – and point out with a long stick which rock needs to be moved, and in which order, so that an avalanche doesn’t occur…and also because I dread to think how many frogs, toads and newts are living under those rocks. Richard is as keen to do this as he would be to stick pins in his privates but it has to be done. Hopefully, we can track down the leak to somewhere in the rockery otherwise it’s a HUGE job which involves removing all of the plants, the surrounding rockery, the entire liner and three ancient goldfish, that are the size of small whales. I mean, where on earth could you put them? It’s not like they can fit in a bucket. And I doubt they could even fit in the bath …well, actually that would be impossible because we don’t have a bath and I doubt they would appreciate a walk-in shower?

After Grandma’s Feather Bed I’d better toddle off to check on the water level…

Take care my lovelies x

Flight

Less Puss In Boots – More Mouse In Crocs!

Hi All

I have been reluctant to report on how well Chea, the ‘nest raiding’ puss, is behaving these days because I firmly believe that once I shout it out to the world she will instantly prove me wrong . So, I’m going to whisper this …she hasn’t, to my knowledge, raided a robin’s nest this year and returned home with her cache of fledglings. However…

This week she has changed her prey of preference – or is it just availability? – to the humble field mouse.

I ventured to look up from the laptop on Monday morning and there, before my eyes was Chea, on the other side of the patio doors, scuttling round the shoe rack and Richard’s Crocs that he had left on the floor. I know her movements and actions now. Scuttling doesn’t mean a bird. Scuttling means a rodent of some description.

Now, call me pathetic but I have a real ‘hang-up’ about approaching mice and all members of that genus. I think it’s some weird ingrained thing. I think it has something to do with the fact that I could make matters worse. If I approach, and the mouse makes a break for it, and Chea takes advantage of that and catches it and kills it, then the poor creature’s demise is down to me. Also, it might run across my toes!

Like the worst person on the planet I watched from the safety of the kitchen and saw the mouse break cover. Chea pounced – and the mouse ran into one of Richard’s Crocs. Chea ran ten circles around the shoe before coming to a halt at the toe. I could see the mouse’s little nose pushing forward through one of the Crocs holes at the front as it tried to squeeze its body through it. Chea sat waiting licking her lips and flexing her claws. This obviously wasn’t the most intelligent mouse. Forward, through the toe of the shoe into Chea’s waiting clutches was not the way to go.

Like old Butch Cassidy and Sundance, racing out only to be gunned down, I left the security of the kitchen and blundered out on tiptoe and grabbed Chea. She was most unimpressed and continued to strut back and forth, back and forth, across the patio doors for a good ten minutes.

After an hour the mouse was still pressed into the Croc, its little nose shoved hard into the hole at the toe, still considering that as a means of escape. Richard would be home soon and I had this awful vision of me being in the loo, him coming in, going straight out the back door, slipping his feet into the Crocs to go up the garden to look for me (thinking I was out there) and squashing the poor mouse, so I locked the back doors and kept the key on my person.

Five minutes before Richard walked in the mouse was still there. As he entered the house I yelled, ‘There’s a mouse in your Croc.’ He looked slightly confused but that’s nothing new and frankly, the day he stops looking confused is the day I’ll worry. We scurried to the door and he, like the Great White Hunter set about freeing the mouse. However, in those few minutes, Mr Mouse had made his own escape and there was no sign of him. Richard banged the old Crocs a bit and looked behind the shoe rack but the mouse had gone.

The following day Chea returned with a baby mouse. Dead.

The following day Chea returned with a baby mouse. Dead.

No I didn’t type that twice. Well, I did, but not by mistake.

The following day I was merrily removing the tips from the broad beans, as a swarm of blackfly were attempting to move in, when Chea came trotting down the path. Again, I knew that movement. That proud, ‘Look what I’ve got. Am I not clever? Am I not a great hunter?’

‘No Chea, you are a little shit!’

Hanging from her jaws was another baby mouse – wriggling. To be honest many of the things she brings back are still alive and live to fly, or scuttle, off to tell their loved ones about their near death experience. I was instantly pissed off. First, she’d brought back what I considered to be mummy mouse, and then, one by one – baby mouse, baby mouse and baby mouse. I threw the broad bean tips at her and she ran off, dropping the mouse who raced into the shrubbery. I caught her and put her in the house.

So …Chea 2. Gail 2.

I still can’t get the idea out of my head of slipping my foot into a gardening shoe with a mouse in it. If I ever did that I would die. Seriously. I would die. Needless to say I now upend everything and bang them hard on the floor before daring to access.

Mind you, if the mouse in Richard’s Croc had passed away, and not escaped back into the wild, I just might not have bothered telling him.

Other than mice everything else in the garden is flourishing. So much so that I have lost the garden paths beneath courgette and rhubarb leaves. Mother spiders have had bumper crops of babies and they, the baby spiders, are hatching by the thousands and floating throughout the greenhouse on tiny strands. Removing baby spiders from my hair is the daily ‘thing.’

The chucks are reasonably well and enjoy dust bathing with the sun on their feathers. In fact, everything in the garden is rosy – as long as you don’t include mice in the equation.

20150616_100746

Take care my lovelies x

Nothing Wrong With My Erections …Even With The Wind!

Hi All

OK, so I jumped the gun and pretended that spring had sprung and that now was the time to start planting things in the garden. To be honest I did whack in some broad bean seeds a few weeks ago, as per instructions, but they, acceptably, have yet to surface so no worries on that score. However, yesterday I planted a double row of peas and a double row of mange tout. Perfect so far.

Knowing full well that I had to attempt to give them some sort of cover, if only to prevent Chea from using the finely raked soil as a litter tray, I struggled against the increasing wind to erect and peg down a super-duper, holey, plastic, protection tunnel thingy.

Richard, of course, was his usual non-helpful self, standing on the path issuing forth stupid suggestions, until I issued forth a few of my own, resulting in him legging it back to the house muttering something about he was only trying to help. Yes, TRYING being the operative word. What that man knows about gardening and plastic tunnel erection could be printed on a postage stamp and there would still be room to spare.

So, being the cocky cow that I am, I struggled alone, navigating  the spiky blueberry bushes that tried to take out my left eye, and narrowly avoiding  a fat green frog that had misread its satnav and was heading away from the pond rather than towards it, where its mates were already into a major mating session with a few willing female frogs.

The gathering wind obliged by whipping up the plastic from the manured soil and wrapping it around my head, causing me to break off temporarily to remove a piece of dung from my left eye. Forty-five minutes later, and with most of the sodding plastic pegged down, Richard reappeared with a mug of tea, his eyes running over my handiwork and saying nothing. He does learn – eventually.

So, with the plastic beautifully pegged down, and with the tea drunk, I rinsed my grubby little hands under the flow from the rain barrel and trotted off back to the house, imagining my little peas, snug and warm, and protected from cat pooh, lying in the lovely earth, impatient to sprout.

Around two in the morning the wind increased to hurricane proportions, slamming shut the bedroom window and rattling the chimney pots. My tunnel was never going to stand up to that. It crossed my mind to dash off out into the garden like Gabriel Oak in Far From The Madding Crowd, where he fought the elements to tie down and save the hay ricks, but the moment passed as I knew my tunnel would already be in the apple tree, hanging there like an empty parachute, whose owner had long vacated. Brilliant. Where, I ask you, is Gabriel Oak when you need him?

So, with a mug of tea, a roll of string and a pair of scissors, I sulked up the garden this morning to retrieve the tunnel from the tree, and lo and behold …it wasn’t in the tree, but exactly where I’d erected it. Hah! The wind hadn’t torn it to shreds. So there you go Richard. Keep your opinions on erections to yourself!

Besides, I learnt from the best …my father. He was a master erector of all things. I knew of nothing that toppled after dad had his way with it. Not a ‘screw man’ by any means, oh no, if a nut and bolt could be involved then a nut and bolt was involved. I think he had a standing order with Screwfix! I remember, on one occasion, building an outside run for an aviary and dad trotted round with a collection of various sized nuts and bolts and gave me clear and precise instructions as to where to put them. Years later I had to take a sledge-hammer to demolish that erection.

Perhaps I should bear that it mind for future erections? #wink

Take care my lovelies x

My perfect gardening companion ...No opinions offered!
My perfect gardening companion …No opinions offered!

With A Little Thought You Too Can Find The Perfect Birthday Gift!

Hi All

So what’s been happening since I last blogged? Well …I’ve had a birthday, not that I honestly take much notice of birthdays now. I guess I should really, you know, celebrate another year on the clock, and the fact that I’ve actually made it through another year without being imprisoned for murdering Richard.

Yes, I know certain followers of this blog love him, Malla for one, but then you guys and gals don’t live with him …though, I like to think that he lives with me.

Would you love him so much if he celebrated your birthdays how he celebrates mine?

As I opened my eyes on my birthday morning he appeared like the genie of the lamp at the side of the bed with a mug of tea and an envelope.

‘Thought you might like to open your card up here?’ he said, handing it to me. ‘I think you’ll like it, this year.’

Did you catch the two words that he’d added on there? “This year.” Richard’s cards are crap – basically.

Knowing that I wouldn’t like the card I forced a smile and opened it. Blinding me, on the front of the card, were the 2 numerals declaring my age and a stupid heading saying, ‘Even though you are (the 2 numerals) you are still cool. The picture was of an ancient being, wizened and bent, dressed in a jogging suit and a pink headband hobbling down the road. I placed the card on the bed and looked at Richard.

He left the tea and disappeared mumbling something about him having thought it was a really nice card but obviously he’d got it wrong AGAIN!

If he could be as good at getting things wrong as he is at getting things right he would be the perfect man. More was to come.

Set out on the long kitchen table was a birthday cake and a very pretty gift bag. I refrained from letting my optimism soar because, as I say, I know Richard. I sat down and he gently pushed the bag across the table. It looked rather full. Could I have got it wrong at last? Could he have got it right?

I slipped my hand into the bag and my fingers wound around a large, shiny object. I secured it tightly in my hand, because it was quite heavy, and lifted it from the pretty bag …and stared …and then glanced at Richard …and then stared some more.

‘Slug pellets? These are slug pellets!’

‘Yeah, I know,’ he said. ‘I know they aren’t really a birthday present …but I know you said you needed some.’

I opened the other item in the bag and that was a pretty chicken ornament thing for the kitchen windowsill. It was OK, nice in fact, because I’d seen it in a garden centre a few weeks ago and remarked on it.

Later, when my son and grand kiddies came over with their little gifts, all of which I loved, Jake (7) asked, ‘Grandma, why have you got slug pellets for your birthday?’

I really didn’t want to say, ‘Because Granddad is a thoughtless idiot.’ and ruin Jake’s extremely high opinion of a really fun granddad …so I didn’t.

The following day I journeyed up the garden and lovingly scattered the slug pellets around my netted-off spring cabbage babies. If anyone tries to tell you that slugs hibernate don’t you believe it. The little sods still risk the wet and cold to munch on next year’s potential harvest.

The garden is almost sleeping now and the chucks are in their element, having been allowed up into the vegetable garden bit. The ground is covered with apple tree leaves and birch leaves and many other types of leaves and the chucks love scratching through the drifted heaps, exposing the last little surviving bugs of the summer. The sound they make as they rustle the drying leaves is like music to my ears – but then, as we all know, I’m weird.

But possibly not quite as weird as someone who purchases slug pellets for the love of his life’s birthday?

I am SO looking forward to Christmas and my ‘surprise’ gift/gifts.2014-04-21 15.42.22

 

Take care my lovelies x

Wasn’t Really Going For The Princess Fiona Look!

Hi All

Being a mainly happy dude, and pretty much a positive human being, it grates with me when I wake up grumpy – no, I don’t mean Richard, as you very well know.

We all have days like that, don’t we? You wake up feeling a bit grumpy and then the first thing on your agenda goes wrong and it sets the day’s tone.

Some time ago Richard convinced me that I needed a new iPod and Bose Bluetooth speaker. I won’t bore you with the details of his argument and although I agreed, in theory, the little voice in my head said that this was a dumb idea and a waste of money.

Over the years I have learnt to listen to that little voice. At first I thought I was merely hearing voices, as you do, as it seemed like a natural conclusion, but then I began to realise that the little voice was sent from my gut and it was purely gut instinct. Anything that wakes that little voice is usually a bad idea.

Back to the Bose speaker and iPod. After having given the speaker a long spell in a drawer because it had peed me off the last time I’d attempted to use it and couldn’t connect it, I decided to have another bash. Obviously it was as flat as a pancake and so I allowed it time to charge – and I gave the iPod a top-up as well. When the thing was charged I did what you need to do to pair the devices. One hour later, I gave up and threw the thing back in the drawer. This was the cause of my bad-day beginning. One hour of my life spent on that crap!

The day did get better.

This morning I set about doing the ‘accounts.’ Sounds grand, but it is simply a matter of reconciling money ‘ins’ and ‘outs.’ Having binned the speaker yesterday, I was using the iPod with earphones. Chea was on the chair at the side of me and she was still sleeping so I didn’t want to wake the dear soul by ‘going large’ with the din – although, she has shown a liking for Pink on full volume! Absently scrolling through the playlist and sucking the end of the Paper Mate, green-gel pen, I was surprised when something warm flowed into my mouth. Removing the pen, I stared horrified at green ink trickling out of it and onto the table. It took me twenty minutes and half a tube of toothpaste to remove the ink from my mouth and tongue – and my chin is still green where the ink had trickled out of my mouth before I could make it to the bathroom. How the hell do they get that much ink in a pen?

So, I’m hoping that like yesterday the day will get better. I’m considering suing Pape Mate. I mean, I didn’t see any warning saying ‘do not suck.’ There were more warnings on the bottle of cough medicine I bought last week – apparently that was going to confuse me and cause disorientation. Fortunately, I wouldn’t notice those side effects, they would blend, and damn easier than this green ink.

Richard now has ‘my’ cold but the brave man has plodded off to work this morning. He had a mini meltdown last Saturday, when, with my snotty cold and deafening cough, he spied me in the garden – digging.

‘You must be feeling better, then!’ he announced over the runner beans. ‘If you are digging the garden.’

‘I wouldn’t say I’m feeling better, Richard,’ I said. ‘But what do you expect me to do? Just sit down and do sod all?’

‘Well, I thought we might go out today to look at properties, and then you got up and appeared too ill, and yet here you are gardening – so you must be feeling better.’ he said sulkily, sounding genuinely disappointed that I wasn’t actually dying and too ill to stand up straight.

I slammed the spade into the ground, which really hurt my throbbing head, and turned to him.

‘Well I’m sorry to disappoint you, Richard. I mean, I’m sorry that I might appear well enough to walk into the garden and dig up a dandelion! I’ll try to have a relapse if it will help…perhaps pneumonia? Would that please you?’

He grumbled something about me being silly and that he didn’t mean that, and then cleared off, to reappear ten minutes later with a mug of tea for me and coffee for his mardy self.

I do see his point, but I literally have to be ‘off my legs’ with something before I give up and in to it.

The irony of this is, another weekend is here, and now dear Richard has ‘my’ cold. See? It’s ‘my’ cold, and I have given it to him. Well that shows what a kind and sharing human being I am. So, I’m now waiting to see if we go gallivanting looking at properties this Saturday, or if he takes to his sickbed. I know which my money is on – after all, he is a man! Though, in fairness, he is a brave little soldier when he wants to be.

Mind, I’ll have to get rid of this green chin before I can be seen out in public looking like Princess Fiona!download (1)

Take care my lovelies x

The Games Children Play.

Hi All

I hadn’t realised how long it’s been since I posted something here and then a ‘friend’ enquired if I’d died? Well, no I’m still here.

The days flash past and I truly don’t know where the hours go to. Although, having said that, I do spend many, many hours in the garden at the moment.

The blackcurrants and gooseberries have come and gone and the strawberries are dwindling, but that might have something to do with little fingers plucking each and every one? Jake and Grace, (7 and 3 years) harvest the ripe fruits and eat them so fast that it’s a real struggle to make them wash them first. I know I should insist, but there is something about small children wandering through a garden wilderness, seeking and finding ripe berries and eating them immediately.

The red gooseberries didn’t last long either. They are (were) a particularly sweet variety and I have to admit to eating them by the dozen, straight from the bush. I couldn’t rescue any this year to turn into jam, because little fingers also found them, but I was luckier with the blackcurrants. I made a dozen jars of blackcurrant, apple, and ginger jam. Also, the rhubarb cropped heavily and is going like the clappers even now, so that was turned into rhubarb and ginger jam. You might be noticing a theme here? I seem to be adding ginger to everything these days.

I’m hoping that the apples, courgettes and tomatoes can get their acts together and be ready simultaneously as I’m now scouting for some interesting chutney recipes. I haven’t made any for a few years, mainly for two reasons. 1) The boiling vinegar gives me a migraine. 2) Richard eats half a jar at a time on chips and jacket potatoes and with no concern for the effort and time that has gone into producing the stuff.

So, there you go. I’m not dead – just busy with the garden. And I have to admit that I encourage Grace and Jake to ‘mess around’ out there, too. It pleases me to watch them play. To create things that only a child’s imagination might create. There are a hundred life-lessons to learn in a garden.

One of their favourite things is hunting for worms. This is something that I stand back and watch, even though cries of, ‘Grandma, come and look at this – it’s really big and this one is having babies!’ are constantly heard. I know my limitations, I’ve never been a great-picker-upper or lover of worms, but even so I insist that they find a pot from the potting shed and place a bed of soil in the bottom on which to place the worms, and then, when the harvesting is over they have to release the worms back into the damp, shady soil.

Jake’s passion is looking for treasure. This takes the form of stones. One time he will be looking for flint, another for smooth round stones. At the end of the session I find him a plastic cat pooh bag (unused by the way) and he takes them home, much to daddy’s displeasure. Daddy asks, ‘Do you really need to take those home? Haven’t we got enough of our own?’ Daddy doesn’t understand that these are not just any common or garden stone these are precious gems, discovered from underneath bushes and beneath soil. These stones could have lain with dinosaur bones. These stones had to be tracked with the compulsion and determination of Indiana Jones searching for The Holy Chalice!2014-06-02 08.38.31

Occasionally I have to answer questions like, ‘Grandma, why is that dragonfly on the back of that dragonfly?’ But we are quite grown-up about it all.

Other than the garden taking up my time, I have also started a fourth novel. So…busy, busy, busy.

I’ll be back in a day or two – this is really just me putting in a brief appearance to let certain people know that I’m alive and well – and looking in earnest for recipes that include ginger. If you have any be sure to let me know?

Take care my lovelies x