Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Weather

The first Summer's day we have had here.   Early high cloud melted away and since then it has been hot and sunny with a modicum of breeze.    Shorts, short-sleeved shirts and panama hats have been the order of the day - and that's the men.   On the whole the shorts have been just below the knee length.   Ladies on the other hand have gone for much shorter, bottom-hugging shorts (and do bear in mind that a large number of people on this estate are over retirement age).    And of course today nobody is complaining about that ghastly gale blowing everything over, instead everybody is complaining about the trials of watering newly-planted bedding plants.   As a nation of gardeners we do love to complain.   Plants are growing so quickly you can almost see it happening.  I am delighted with the Pinks I bought from Allwoods last year - a special offer of nine different varieties of plug plants,   They have done exceptionally well - two are struggling a bit but still alive and the other seven have a mass of buds.   You will see them in due course.

It looks as though the weather is going to stay like this into next week so it will be out with the watering can  daily and when you feel like throwing in the towel remember that they will repay you tenfold in the Summer (fingers crossed)
Oh, and by the way, I can't find out from looking back who it was who told me the variety of my purple and yellow iris but you were quite correct thank you.   I sent a shot to Claire Austin asking what it was and saying I had expected it to be Pink Lady.   She tells me they have never sold a variety called Pink Lady but this one is Edith (sorry can't remember her surname).

Monday, 25 May 2020

Bank Holiday

Really what's a Bank Holiday at the moment - we are all basically 'on holiday' and our Barclays is only open for a couple of mornings a week.   So what's new?   Well the one thing that is new is that the wind has finally almost died down - and what a relief.   I have been unable to go out with Percy for days - Percy and the wind do not like one another.   And the first day I could have gone out I have not felt well.  I awoke with a bad headache, took a couple of Paracetamol with a cup of tea and went back to bed and slept.   I didn't get up until 12 - had my shower and got dressed ready for my Zoom 'afternoon tea' with P and D in Windermere and W and I over here in Wensleydale.   All very civilised and enjoyable.   Now, in the early evening, I feel more like my normal self and hopefully will be back to normal tomorrow.

And, after watching Dominic Cummings this afternoon, I have more sympathy for him.   Maybe it was a silly thing to do but am not sure he broke rules (and if he did there are plenty of others who went off to their holiday homes for the duration). And when I think of all the stupid things our politicians do and all the U turns (or not as the case may be) they make I think maybe he is more valuable at the moment than things would be if he resigned.    You may disagree with me - but that is your right, just as it is my right.   Thank goodness we are lucky enough to live in a free country    where we can say what we really think.I think we now need to get on with more important things after three days talking about it  and nothing else.

My garden still looks great but then if you can't get a colourful garden in May you never can.   I haven't been up the top of the garden to see - I am not steady enough on my feet - but I suspect the Mares Tail will be peeping through.   It is actually quite a pretty plant - pity that like Ground Elder it is hated so much in gardens.

I shall now go and make myself a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits - then I shall settle down to watch the first episode ever of 'All Creatures Great and Small'.  See you tomorrow.


Sunday, 24 May 2020

Mindfulness

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Sorry about the blurred photograph but I had several tries and this was the best.   Many, many years ago, during my first marriage (my husband died in 1991) - also a very happy one - my husband always used to joke that I had a 'butterfly mind'.   He was quite right - I do find it difficult to keep my mind on the same subject for long.   One morning when he brought me my early morning cup of tea he put this in my hand.   He had seen it in a Jewellers somewhere and bought it because it reminded him of me.

Often I have difficulty getting off to sleep - mainly because my mind is too active.   I intend to access infinitywellnessproject.co.uk and take their Programme to see if that helps.   I have been  trying on the advice of my Physiotherapist to do breathing exercises when I go to bed.   Keep my mind just on breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth twenty times - if my mind wanders 'pull it back'.   So far I can only manage five breaths without having to do that.  Hopefully this will improve if I keep it up.

I do also have incredibly vivid dreams most nights - not nightmares - often very amusing or very pleasant dreams of walking in the country - rarely if ever anything unpleasant.   Last night/ this morning was a case in point and  is what prompted today's post.   When I was growing up in Lincolnshire there used to be Lincoln's April Fair which was held on the South Common every year.  It lasted several days and everybody went - it had all kinds of things (many would not be countenanced today, quite rightly) - lions, elephants (they used to parade through town the day before the Fair opened - my grandfather once came home and said to my grandmother 'there's elephants in town' and when she asked him how he knew he said 'I've seen their droppings'), clowns, fairground rides - swing boats, cockerels and horses and such like, and awful sideshows mainly of deformed people,  roll the penny games - many many more.   You could hear the noise and the music from far away.

The reason I tell you this is because last night I dreamt of the April Fair, of going round it, of riding on the rides, of watching the lions , of buying a stick of rock and walking round eating it.
Then - later in the night, just before I got up in fact - I dreamt I got onto a bus and everyone but me on the bus was from the fair.   There was a man in a black and white costume with half his face painted white and the other half black, there was a clown with a red ball for a nose,  there was the lion tamer with his whip.   They were all there.   I got on the bus and sat down.   Nobody spoke, nobody moved, all were like statues.   Then I awoke.

I can't help wondering what an interpreter of dreams would make of it all!


Saturday, 23 May 2020

Saturday

My gardener came to mow the lawns this morning.   It is very windy indeed - hardly able to stand weather.   I had also asked him to empty my two tubs by the front door and pot them up with something for the Summer.   I knew he would be pleased to choose what he fancied and I must say - now he has done them they look well - a fuchsia in the centre and trailing lobelia round the outside.  And now, later in the afternoon , the wind has dropped considerably and apart from my iris and one of my aquelegia nothing else seems to have suffered too much damage.   The perils of gardening are always with us.

We had our Zoom Coffee Morning as usual - I slipped off mid coffee but was able to get straight back on so only one hiccup today.   It breaks the day up nicely.   I also made a chicken, tomato and courgette sauce for pasta - it was nice and garlicky and has left a good smell everywhere.   And the added bonus - there is enough for tomorrow  too.
The recipe is from a Slow Cooker book friend S bought me - this recipe is not quite as tasty as the sweet and sour chicken but it is a good second.

Has the risk of frost passed?   Isn't this the question all gardeners ask themselves this week every year?   I have antirrhinums to plant out in my herbaceous bed - there is one bed on the flat that I can manage myself (all others are on too steep a slope)  and I have nine plants to put in various gaps - and they are half-hardy.   But I have carefully nutured them for the past month - shall I risk it or wait another week?   None of them will be really exposed because all the herbaceous stuff is well up.   Perhaps a still,warm day will persuade me.

Enjoy the rest of your week end.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Gale

Gale is almost an understatement for the conditions  outside today.   My poor iris that I have been nurturing for months is laid flat in all its splendour and many of my Acquelegia are also flattened.   But this is life for the gardener - we pick up the pieces, survive and carry on.

I promised my friend W that I would tell the story of her cat today.   This is a cautionary tale for all of you - cat lover or not.   W has had Jack Russell terriers for years but lost her last one a few months ago; deciding she would not replace Sophie with another dog  she decided she would get a cat from Cat Rescue.   Eventually, after a wait, she took on a tabby cat - she christened her Milly.   This wasearly Winter and throughout the season Milly showed absolutely no desire to go outside, being perfectly content to claim any knee that was around, purr loudly and generally take over the household.  'Thank you for giving me this house,' she seemed to be saying, 'I am happy to take it on and own it.'

Then last week came the almost forgotten phenomenon of warm sunshine and one day, when the conservatory door was open Milly decided to investigate the great outdoors.   W didn't miss her for a while but when she did she searched the house and realised Milly must have gone out.   Would she come back?    No worries, a couple of hours later Milly returned, settled down on the sofa and went to sleep.   All was well.   She had really settled in and knew her way around.

How have things gone over the last few days?   The first day Milly brought home a baby rabbit - and when I say home I mean she brought it into the house.   Then the next day she brought W a shrew, a fat mouse (pregnant?) and a baby rabbit.  After getting thanks and praise for her offerings she sets to and eats them - but - and here's the rub - she eats everything but the eyeballs, which she leaves for W to dispose of!   Anyone got a recipe which include mouse eyeballs?

Thursday, 21 May 2020

The Invaders

Some days, right from the outset, do not quite go according to plan for me.    Is it the same for you?
Right from the moment I got up things seem to have gone wrong all along the line.   Two long phone calls, a bad attack of the shakes (I have an annoying condition called Essential Tremor, not at all dangerous, runs in families, just jolly annoying).  I had several 'business' e mails which needed answering but each time I got part way through an answer I hit the wrong key and sent the e mail off into space and had to start again.  Then after lunch instead of my usual walk I decided that there were one or two jobs in the garden I could manage.   I did manage them but with difficulty because my balance is not brilliant and I can't walk without a stick.   Still, I got the fresh air and I got the jobs completed eventually.   Anyhow enough of that - let's have a look at these 'invaders'.

I love invaders.   My gardener does not.   There is nothing he likes better than going around with the hoe chopping them off as soon as they appear and the only reason he doesn't do it is that he would have me to contend with - and I wasn't a school teacher for nothing D.

The first of these invaders, just coming into bloom as I write is the Aquelegia.   Last year I bought a pretty two coloured (deep pink and yellow) large flowered one and a smaller flowered double purple one.   This  year they are popping up all over the place - some like the parent and some unseen before - seeds which must have come in from somewhere else.   My neighbour H has plenty of diferent ones in her garden and in an effort to curb their enthusiasm she chopped a whole lot of creamy-pink ones off this morning and brought me a bunch to put in water.   I took a photo for you but even my camera is refusing to cooperate today.

Already the next invader is beginning to pop up everywhere.   Last year I did allow my gardener to hoe some up until one escaped his beady eye and I realised just how beautiful they were.   This year they are everywhere - large, deep pink, poppies.   Their foliage is a greeyish green and I noticed at least twenty this morning, some between cracks in the paving, others in the garden itself.   Everyone is staying.   They can give me maximum pleasure.

I wonder what else (other than the dreaded Mares Tail)  might arrive.   We shall have to wait and see.
**Something went right - at last my photograph printed.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

A Hot Day at Last

Yes, at long last the hot weather has made it up here to North Yorkshire and it has been a day of pure unbroken hot sunshine.   Dare I say far too hot for me and I have been unable to do anything but sit quietly and rest.   But on the plus side I do know,and can pass on to you, the fact that my Iris, which I bought as Pink Lady, has been brought into flower today by the sun.   Pink Lady
 she isn't but he is rather splendid (and no way from his size and majestic stance is he a she).


The rainbow that appeared on my door step the other morning has been definitely identified as the work of friend G, who painted it and put it on the step for me to find.   It is beautifully done and has given me a lot of pleasure.


In these rather trying times such small things can give  one a lift and I have needed it today because I have to admit that this very hot weather just does not agree with me at all.   I have found it very difficult to keep going today and think with hindsight I should have been like Rachel and 'gone to earth' more.   A good book and a quiet room is what is needed, and speaking of a good book I have another one to recommend, especially if you are a musician.   It is 'Grace Notes',another book by Bernard Maclaverty and was shortlisted for The Booker Prize in 1997, so    not a recent publication, but  readily availably on Amazon. I don't know when I have enjoyed a book more.

It is a beautiful evening, the heat has gone out of the sun,  the air is clear and it will later be a beautiful starry night.   Sleep well.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Rain at last.

Alright, 'purists' would hardly describe it as rain, but from around eight o'clock last night until well into the middle of the night a gentle rain fell.   It might not have gone down very far into the incredibly dry soil - but the leaves would be receptive and would accept whatever came their way and the soil looks damp still now in mid afternoon - so definitely for us 'thirsty' gardeners it was a bit of a bonus.   And, sadly, the warm sunny weather forecast has just not reached us here.   It is still very windy and cloudy - occasional bursts of sun - and not all that warm.

It was our Zoom virtual coffee morning this morning - five of us for forty minutes - and as usual very pleasant.   Then a ten minute chat with neighbour H who is helping me to control my hair (it is not behaving) and a lunch cooked in my Remoska (Cumberland sausage with onions, apples, herbs and a tomato/garlic sauce.    I ate it with a jacket .potato and it was delicious.

Now at around four o'clock I have arranged to chat with friend on the phone - we chat about once a fortnight.   Then the day will be gone and I shall settle down for the evening. 

Now that my cleaning lady is not coming I try to do one housekeeping job a day - or at the most two, that is as much as I can manage.    Today's major job and the one I find the hardest work - strip and change the bed, wash the sheets, dry them in the tumble drier, iron them and put them to air.   Leave the bed to air for a few hours and then make it up again with clean linen - that is the best - getting into the bed at bedtime with fresh, ironed, sweet smelling sheets - makes the whole job worth while.    I have got to the stage of folding and ironing the sheets - I shall fold them before I ring my friend.  Shall I iron them today?   Time will tell.

When I look out of my window there is a slight hint of sunshine - still windy though.    Better luck tomorrow when it is supposed to be the warmest day of the year so far.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Monday

Mondays come round with increasing rapidity - I for one don't find that time goes slowly at all; the days simply fly  by.   Friend W and I have just had virtual tea with crumpets and honey with our two friends P and D in Windermere.    They actually had the crumpets there to eat - we just imagined this end.   As I have sat here at my lap top the sun has emerged at last and it is a bit warmer but the wind is still strong.

The long grass on the piece of waste ground opposite has been cut today and I must say that it does look a whole lot neater - and the cut has removed a whole lot of dandelion 'clocks' before they have had a lot of time to seed.   So just in time.   But really I feel sorry for the poor old dandelion - it is much maligned.   Individually the flowers are really very pretty - as are the seed heads.   It is just their invasive quality which puts us off them.

Our friends in the Lakes said it had rained steadily there for several hours when we met them on Zoom.   No such luck here; the day has now (2 hours later) gone grey and chilly.   If only those clouds would drop a good rain for an hour or two.
It is so easy if one is a gardener to become obsessed with looking at the sky and asking repeatedly for rain at this time of the year, particularly in a year such as this when we are so confined with what we can and can't do.

There doesn't seem much to write about today - or maybe it is just that I have a day when I don't feel particularly inspired - so sorry folks - that's it.   See you tomorrow, when hopefully there will be something which catches my imagination. 

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Round the block.

Percival and I have just been round the block after our lunch.   I call him Percy when he is good and Percival when he is naughty and today, in a sharp wind, he is quite naughty and doesn't always go where I ask him to.   Blown off course by the wind on a sharp corner he tends to go off at right angles.   But he is better than a walking stick for all that and I did have a necessary walk.

Something went wrong with Zoom - probably my fault (in fact almost certainly my fault as are most problems on computers) and last evening I  wiped the whole thing off and started again.   I have a 'date' tomorrow afternoon with friend W and friends P and D in The Lakes (tea and crumpets at three since you ask) on Zoom and W is Zooming me at three thirty this afternoon to make sure I am 'contactable' before tomorrow.   Oh to be in such demand in these lockdownable days!

Has it struck anybody else that if our present situation was a Science Fiction film we may possibily make fun of it saying that it was just 'too far-fetched'?   And if a vaccine is never found (think of the common cold) then at what point do we start going out into society again and 'risking it'?   And will I still be here when that time comes or will I be in 'semi-lockdown' for the rest of my days (after all I am 88 in six months time)?   I really have got to the time when I can't be bothered to even think about it - I am still here, I have good contact by phone (3 one hour calls this week end with niece, friend and god-daughter) as well as Zoom meetings (fingers crossed), chats over the garden wall and e mails.   Life isn't all bad.

My son is calling in half an hour to water my outside tubs for me (can too heavy for me to use), Zoom with friend W in four minutes, it's all go here in North Yorkshire.   Have a nice evening.