Sunday, 16 February 2014

Lightening Up

It is astonishing to find that finally, after what seems like years, it is lighter when we get up in the mornings.  In fact, we will rise in daylight every day from now on until late October, when the clocks go back again.  What a relief!  It feels like we've finally made it into the light after all these months of dark, cold, wet, miserable weather.  Yay for Spring!

Puppy woke me at 7.30 this morning, crying to go out.  I couldn't blame him, as there was a certain light in the sky that promised magical moments to be had by all.  The air was cool but there was a warmth in the sun that made me feel lighter and more relaxed; I too wanted to go outside.  A perfect day to hang washing out, I went round the house gathering clothes and school uniform and had a line full, flapping gently in the breeze by ten o'clock.  Pea felt the stirrings of Spring too and wanted to be doing stuff, so we decided to go for a walk. I went in search of the boys to deliver the good news and found H2 coming out of the garage with bits of wood tucked under his arm and hammer in hand.  He announced he was too busy to go for a walk as he had a major project in mind and wouldn't have time anyway.  Delighted to see him thus occupied, rather than zoned out playing cyber games, I agreed he could stay home.  H1 caught the tail end of the conversation and said that he couldn't go either as he had tons of homework and revision to do.  I have heard this excuse many times before from him, so I was a little suspicious to say the least.  He insisted that if he didn't revise and therefore failed his exams, he would be made to re-sit them and it would be my fault for making him go for a walk.  Highly unlikely, I said, but just make sure you do more than ten minutes revision then.

Having been completely taken in by the brightness of the sun, Pea and I had only put on jackets, rather than out big winter coats.  As soon as we turned up the lane we felt the stiffness of the chilly breeze, which made for rather a bracing walk.  It was so nice to be out in the countryside enjoying the sunshine rather than battling against all that horrid wind and rain.  We passed fields of heavily pregnant ewes, discovered swathes of bluebells pushing up through the earth along the verges and Pea had an excellent close view of a buzzard resting on a broken branch.

We walked down to the woods where quite a lot of trees had succumbed to the gales we have had over the last few months.  Most of them are Pine trees which seem to fall like skittles in the slightest breeze anyway, but it is still sad to see.  On our way home Pea and I just happened to turn our heads at the same time and we both saw something we have never seen before; a red squirrel.  I held my breath and watched it bounce across the lane in front of us, then it skipped up a bank and over the wall into the woods on the other side of the lane.  We both stood there with our jaws almost on the floor!  We know there are red squirrels on the island, but haven't heard of them this far North.  Sometimes the nasty grey squirrel can have a red-ish tint to it's coat, but this one was shining a brilliant red as the sun caught it and reds have a much lighter frame and little tufts on their ears, as did this one.  Wow, it was over in a few seconds but so exciting.  Almost at the same time we spied a Goldcrest flitting about on the wall near us.  Goldcrests are Britain's smallest bird; they have tiny needle like beaks that poke about in moss and under leaves looking for insects to eat, we were like children in a sweet shop and didn't know whether to wait to see if the squirrel would come back or watch the Goldcrest!  After a few minutes we began to breathe again and walked the rest of the way home in a slightly dazed state.

Pea was very keen to make a start on the vegetable garden after dinner, so as the boys were, for once, happily occupied in the garden (I didn't ask what they were doing but it seemed to involve bits of wood and saws), we all spent a few hours outside for the first time since we moved here in Autumn.  The dogs loved sniffing about and discovering new smells and things to scratch at.  Pea and I surveyed the slightly daunting task ahead of us and made a start.

This is the area we have chosen for our future veggie plot, mainly because the soil looks so good and we think it was used for growing veg in the past.  As you can see though there are an awful lot of weeds that need to be dug out first.  My back ached at the mere thought of all that work, but knowing one day soon we will be able to sow seeds and put plants in gave me the kick start I needed.  We worked hard between us and soon discovered that once upon a time, there were raised beds here; we dug up some well rotted planks of wood and found a weed suppressing membrane that covers almost the whole of our chosen plot.  Noooo!  This means we will have to first dig the weeds out and then scrape the top layer of soil off the membrane, cut it away in sections and scrape the soil back.  Not what I hoped for, I must admit.  It will be even more worth it after all that effort and I will make sure we eat something out of the garden every day of our lives!

I think we made a good start although we have quite a bit of work left to do.  We sat in the garden and surveyed our work with cups of tea in hand and a satisfying tightening of muscles!  The air was going chilly as the sun began to set over the sea, so I fetched the washing off the line while Pea and the boys tidied the garden and their bits of wood and tools.  We had a little wander around the garden and gleefully spotted tiny shoots, buds and bulbs popping up everywhere.  We don't know this garden yet so we are only working on a small part of it while we see what crops up over the next few months.  I think there will be new surprises almost every time we go out to look.

Enjoy your evening and thank you for

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