Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Just Doin' My Thing

A strange kind of surrealism has come over my life lately.  I wake each day filled with a feeling of happiness and contentment.  The fact that the sun is shining most days helps this feeling enormously and my children are healthy and happy, which means everything.  Life is simple; nothing really happens and yet at the same time it feels as if something major could happen at any second.  Could it just be that I'm finally fitting into my own skin and being me?

Yesterday was my morning out doing volunteer work.  I picked Mrs M up from her home and off we went for a walk by the sea and a wander into the woods.  The sun shone brightly and there was a faint stirring of breeze drifting in off the sea.  I am astonished at the amount of bluebell woods I keep finding around here.  There is a fabulous one within a twenty minute walk of our home and here I was, half an hour away and I find another.  The scent is intoxicating and leaves me feeling slightly light-headed.  We sat for a few minutes to catch our breath and enjoy this beautiful sight; it may not be here next time we come.  Someone had cut down some trees near the path and had had a bit of fun with the stumps...

My philosophy in life exactly!

After dragging Mrs M around the paths for a good hour or more, we had a cup of tea by the sea before I took her safely home and she gave me a hug goodbye.  I drove home full of gratitude that I am in a position to do this small thing for someone and make such a difference to her life.  Doing that makes such a difference to my life too and I can justify my existence a little and enjoy doing my thing.  My thing at the moment consists of worrying about my carbon footprint.  I will explain:  in my last post I mentioned that I have recently discovered a fabulous Country singer from South Georgia, called Luke Bryan.  Finding I could no longer live a happy and fulfilled life without purchasing at least one of his CDs, I proceeded to purchase three from overseas.  You see, as we don't really 'do' Country music in Britain, it was way, way cheaper for me to buy the CDs from abroad than at home.  Silly really but there you go.  I will have to wait a bit longer to get them but it will be worth it!   I really want to play his music in the car as I'm driving about the lanes but haven't had a stereo in my car for over a year and haven't really missed it, until now.  I found one I could just about afford, if I saved up, but then I'd have to find someone to fit it and pay them too.  A friend of mine bought one of my candles and I put the money in a jar towards my stereo.

As I drove home yesterday lunch time I heard an odd knocking sound coming from the front wheel of my car.  Oh here we go, I thought, time to panic.  I dug out a phone number for a man who fixes cars in his spare time and who happens to live just down the lane from me.  I got in touch and he asked me to drop round that evening.  Pea came with me and we had a good laugh for an hour and a half as he and his mate fiddled with my car and eventually found out what was wrong.  Fortunately it can wait a few months until the MOT is due.  I asked if he could get me a stereo and fit it for me.  He dug around in a cupboard and re-appeared with a brand new stereo still in it's box and unopened.  He said it cost £100 but I could have it for £50.  As it was much better than anything I could afford I agreed.  He fit it there and then and only charged me for the stereo and none of the other work he did.  I am extremely chuffed!  When my CDs finally arrive I will be able to play them straight away.  Yay!

But back to the carbon footprint thing;  to redress the balance a bit and ease my guilt I am conserving water like mad.  There is a jug by the kitchen sink to catch the water from the hot tap while we are waiting for hot water to come through and there is a rather bright red bucket in the bath to do the same with the water from the shower.  This can all be used to water the garden and polytunnel and also to fill the kettle for my copious cups of tea.  We use the washing up water too, providing it is relatively clean and there isn't too much washing up liquid in it.  I would otherwise be paying for all this water to go down the drain, so using it on the garden makes more sense.  Growing our own salads and veggies helps too as we won't be spending money buying them from abroad (just the CDs then!) and damaging the planet in the process.

The mouse in the polytunnel is on borrowed time as he has pushed his luck way too far now.  He has eaten all the courgette seeds and the sunflower seeds too.  I have found some more courgette seeds in the bottom of my fridge (I keep them there for years), so I can plant some more, but only after mouse eviction has taken place.  I have been patient, I have asked him to go next door and eat their seeds and I have even allowed him to eat the nuts from the bird feeder and he has done all this AND carried on invading my polytunnel.  Enough!  I'm afraid the only thing I can do now is to put some bait down and let it do it's deadly work.  I could set traps, but they only catch one mouse at a time and bait will make sure it gets rid of all the little critters who are dining out on my seeds.  And I am a coward; I don't want to go in one morning and find two bits of mouse spattered on the floor.  Yuk.  Once the deed has been done I can sow more seeds and hope they get chance to grow this time.  I think we may be planting out this weekend as the weather has been so mild and my salads have been hardening off for a short while.  I will probably plant a few in the garden and see how they go before I commit myself to doing them all - just in case!

The Spring is well underway now and the children are half way through their first week of the new term.  All is ticking along just as it should be, thankfully.  I have lots of Welsh homework to do and have done precisely none of it.  My classes begin again on Friday, so I should really get on with it, but I am lacking a serious dose of commitment to the cause at the moment.  I'd rather be gardening and listening to Luke Bryan (and if I'm honest, watching his music videos too!) than struggling with a Welsh language book and filling in gaps in sentences that I really don't care about.  I am a disgrace and I have no staying power.

But heck, it's Summer and I intend to live every moment of it!

What ever you do today, enjoy it and keep doin' your thing. xxx

Friday, 25 April 2014

Snow White Forest and The Seed Thief

My alarm woke me at seven this morning, but as it is still the Easter holidays and I was feeling a little tired after a busy few days, I stayed in bed a while longer and enjoyed listening to the birds singing in the garden.  At eight, I forced myself to get up and go and make a cup of tea.  I spent an hour sitting in the lounge with the boys before I finally had a shower and dressed for a day of pottering about.  I had planned on doing nothing, but as usual, the moment I get going I find tons of things that need my attention.  One of those things was the poly tunnel, or to be more accurate, the seeds that had been dug up and devoured during the night; we can only guess by a nocturnal rodent.  My neighbour has the same problem in his greenhouse.  Time to get tough on mice.

I also began hardening off the young plants that will be planted out into the garden in a few weeks' time.  I will put them outside during the day for the next week, bringing them in at night and covering them with fleece.  During the second week, they will get the same treatment but won't be covered at night (getting tougher!) and finally they will spend a few days and nights outside, in their pots before being planted out in the garden where they will have to be strong enough to cope with the elements and the weeds.  It takes a while and is a bit of effort and time every morning and evening, taking lots of trays and pots in and out of the poly tunnel, but it's really the only way to do it to be sure the plants will live happily ever after.

My gorgeous daughter is studying hard as usual for her AS levels, coming up in a few weeks' time.  The amount of work she has is unbelievable and it really gets her down from time to time.  She has been to school for two days during this holiday, for maths revision work and spends hours a day revising.  We went to buy a hose pipe this morning and then she was back to work as soon as we got home again.  I did some potting up and Pea wandered into the poly tunnel in her slippers and her hands wrapped round a mug of coffee.  She looked pale and exhausted and hardly spoke.  We walked into the garden and sat on the bench.  She picked up her books and attempted to start work again.  I could see by her face that she was on the edge of tears, so I gave her a hug and let her cry.  It was heart rending to see her so upset and especially as there is nothing practical I can do for her.  I'd love to wave a magic wand and have it all go away, so she can be relaxed and happy.  We talked when her tears subsided and we both know she will feel better once the first exams are over and the work load has reduced a little.  It's hard going and I try to help as much as I can by making her home life as easy and calm as possible.  Not always easy with a mad Puppy and two boys in the house!

One thing I can do is to take her for nice walks.  This afternoon we drove ten minutes or so and went for a long walk around a reservoir we discovered on Monday, thanks to Puppy's brother's owner.  It was very quiet, the weather was over cast but mild and we just walked and enjoyed the scenery.  There were two men out on the water fishing.  Swallows swooped and scooped up insects over the lake and a grebe dived for fish.  Middle Aged Labrador took to the water and scared the fish until we yelled at her to get out before the fishermen realised what had happened!  She then found a stream and swam about in that for a bit.  She was soaked but obviously loved every minute.

One thing I love about pine woods is the darkness.  I know that sounds a bit odd but they evoke a kind of memory within me.  When I look into the depth of the forest, between the trunks and see nothing but shadows and bare earth, it stirs something akin to an old, half-forgotten dream that lurks at the edge of my mind but evades capture.  Most odd.  Castle ruins and old houses do the same thing.  I have very vivid memories of certain places I visited as a child and the things I did there, but on questioning my parents about them, they tell me we never went to those places and have no idea what I can be thinking of.

Pea said she could imagine Snow White running through here after the huntsman let her go.  Me too!  Very dark and spooky but in a good way.  If I was a Disney princess, I would be Snow White and live in a tiny cottage in the woods.  I suppose having the Queen hunting you down at every opportunity would be a bit of a worry and cleaning up after seven messy little men would certainly be a trial, but she does get her man in the end, so it was worth it!

One thing I love doing as a way of winding down is playing on Pinterest!  Recently I have been spending quite a bit of time on my boards and through them I have discovered a country boy called Luke Bryan.  Being a country girl to the core, some would say it is odd that I have never listened to Country music.  Until I listened to Luke Bryan that is.  Oh my, he's soooo good!  Absolutely love his music and he's quite handsome too, if I'm honest.  The trouble is, I am such a country girl that I am not into technology and therefore don't have the gadgets to download music and play it.  Sadly, my car sports an oblong shaped gap where there used to be a CD player.  So, firstly I must purchase some sort of device which will allow me to play music in my car and secondly, I will have to find out how on earth I can get said music in the first place.  Oh I long for the days when you could walk into a shop and buy a record...

Thank you for reading. xxx

Monday, 21 April 2014

Bird Bunting Update

The weather just gets better and better.  It is still only April and yet today I wore a strappy summer dress and cardigan, but it had to go as it got too warm to keep it on.  Absolute bliss!  At 9.30 this morning the vet who owns Puppy's brother rang and asked if she could come round on her way home from doing a prolapse at a nearby farm.  We had a chat while the dogs tore round the garden, sprang over the fence and shot up the lane and out of sight.  We decided we should perhaps take them for a walk around a reservoir, not farm from us.  It was lovely to wander along, talking, while the dogs sniffed new smells and trotted along happily.  This is the stuff that perfect days are made of.

Just over an hour later, H1, Puppy and I returned home to find Pea studying hard in the garden with MAL for company and H2 was digging about for bits of Lego in his bedroom.  I set to with my gardening tools and dug up a few more clumps of weeds.  It got a bit hot around lunch time, so I downed tools and took up my sewing needle instead and finished the last string of bird scaring bunting.  I found a few sturdy sticks behind the poly tunnel and almost did myself a minor injury while trying to force them into the ground.  The combination of being a small female and firm, dry ground made certain I couldn't just push the sticks in and be done with it; I had to dig holes and heel them in.  Anyway, a bit of time spent now should hopefully help avoid the necessity of having to re-do them in the future.

I tied the bunting at each end to the sticks and strung it across the garden where I have sowed seeds I want to protect from birds.  In the light breeze the flags fluttered about and looked so charming and country cottagey, I was jiggling about in excitement like a three year old!

To save any accidents with someone bending down and taking their eyes out on the end of the sticks, I found some clay pots in the poly tunnel and popped them over the tops.  Very Mr McGreggor!

Time will tell if the bunting does the job of keeping birds away or not, but I do have an idea of adding some tiny wind chimes for added security - and in all honesty, it would be really pretty too!

I will write a longer post next time, but for now I am going to make a cup of tea and sit down to watch a programme about bees.  Thank you for

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Garden Bunting

Well, what amazing, gorgeous weather we're having this Easter holiday!  We are making the most of every second and spending as much time outside as we can.  This morning we cut the lawns, watered the seeds and planted two rows of shallots - before half past ten!  The long, warm days are bringing the seeds in the poly tunnel on in leaps and bounds and the weeds in the garden are reaching for the sky.  It feels more like early Summer than Spring, but I am not complaining in the least.  I love it!

Yesterday morning, while there was still a faint breeze floating across the skies, Pea and I went shopping.  I bought a pretty new blue floral dress with a little lace collar.  It is for wearing to my baby nephew's Christening next month, but it's the kind of dress that will feel so lovely all Summer long, what ever the occasion.  I also purchased a new gardening book - the first in many years, I might add.  It took a bit of soul searching before I splashed out, but as it was way less than half price, it would have been churlish to leave it behind.  After a busy day potting up salads and annual flowers in the poly tunnel, I was longing to curl up in my comfy chair in the evening with my new book.  And to top it all, I had chocolate!  The perfect end to a perfect day in my opinion.  The book doesn't disappoint. (The Patch:The Big Allotment Challenge.)  It has lots of lovely pictures and tons of sound advice for growing food and flowers.  I am most pleased.

I got up fairly early this morning as the sun was streaming in through my bedroom window and the birds were singing fit to burst, making it impossible to stay in bed any longer.  I made my usual cup of tea and snuggled up in my chair with my book again.  Pea and I had been thinking of some way to scare the birds off our newly planted seeds and future crops.  We have used childrens' windmills in previous gardens but haven't seen any for sale yet.  As I flicked through my book, I saw a picture that gave me an idea for the solution...

Bunting!  Sorry the picture quality is so poor, but I'm rubbish at photographing pictures in books.  Anyway, after the initial gardening jobs and a trip out to fetch Pea's boyfriend for the day and to buy a chicken for dinner tomorrow, I sat at the table in the garden with a selection of fabrics and my mug of tea and began making bird scaring bunting.

 As it will be spending all Summer outside, there seemed little point in taking ages fussing over detail and immaculate stitches.  This has to be functional and look pretty from a few feet away; not hung up indoors for close inspection.  Therefore I could whip up a yard or two in no time and enjoy the fun of it.

To make life even easier (and I always like to do that), I cut strips of fabric instead of triangles, wrapped them over a length of string and stitched them along the tops; no edging and no nice neat finishing.  In this manner, they will flap daintily in the wind and deter any foraging avians away from our seeds and crops.

As I finished sewing the first length of bunting, the sky darkened and the threat of rain hung in the air.  A chill breeze made us pull jumpers on and head indoors, taking our days activities with us.  We will have to wait until tomorrow before we hang the bunting and see if it works.  Until then, have a lovely evening and thank you for dropping by my Windy (and very sunny!) Island. xxx

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Seeds and Sunshine

We have been enjoying some lovely warm sunshine for the last four days and have spent much of that in the garden; either pottering about or sitting getting a tan.  Yesterday I spent the morning doing my volunteer work.  I fetched the lady I support from her home and as it was such a lovely day, we took full advantage of it and went for a walk by the sea.

The harbour was full of the first flush of holiday makers, local people walking and sailors getting their boats back in the water after a winter on dry land.  The tide was high and a gentle breeze drifted across the water making it necessary to wear the cardigan I had been carrying.  We had a lovely walk and my charge was delighted to meet some friends of hers while she was walking next to me, unaided.  They were thrilled to see her looking so well and sprightly, which of course made her day - and mine!

 Back at home Pea and I made a teepee for the Clematis we found struggling for life among a clump of weeds.  I would have liked to buy a ready made one, but the one I really liked was quite expensive at £25.00.  It would have looked really nice as it had birds and leaves twining over it but I couldn't justify the money, especially as I will need several more.  So instead  we bought a few canes for £1.50 and made our own with string!  I'm quite pleased with it and to be honest, it will hardly be seen once the Clematis has grown through it.

Birds bring our gardens to life in a unique way; their movement, song and colour.  We are lucky enough to have lots to admire here and in addition to wild birds, we are often honoured with a visit from Darren, our neighbour's cockerel.  I love to hear him crowing throughout the day and to see him strutting down the track to our house.

Isn't he handsome!  He can be a bit feisty at times so we don't get too friendly, but I am giving him the benefit of the doubt as he has recently suffered a bereavement.  His wife died and he spent two days wandering far and wide searching for his lost love.  My neighbours thought the fox had got him and were surprised to hear him crowing from his house early one morning.  To cheer him up they are getting him some new girls so hopefully he will feel a lot better soon.

The seeds in the poly tunnel are coming up well in this sunshine and I have been leafing through my Chilterns Seeds and Sarah Raven catalogues, dreaming up new planting combinations.  I am sowing hardy annuals at the moment and to help me choose from the myriad of gorgeous flowers available I have decided on three important factors:  attraction to insects, good for cutting and sporting a knock out scent.  I seem to have a colour theme of white, pink and blue going on with the odd dazzling orange from the Calendulas.  Lots of the flowers we are growing are also edible, so they have the added benefit of making our salads look pretty too.

I have sowed tomatoes and cucumbers this week, but as it will be a while before they bear any fruit for us to eat I have bought two tomato plug plants.  I have potted them on twice since and they are growing well with the promise of huge beefsteak fruits to come.

After all this exhausting weeding and seed ordering it is wonderful to sit in the evening with a cup of tea and feel my muscles tighten.  We are half way through the first week of the Easter holidays and we are all relaxing nicely, fully enjoying the lovely Spring weather, the garden and a few trips out.  I am even getting back to my reading after a while away from it.  Nothing too heavy or serious; something easy going and suitable for the time of year.  I am re-reading Thyme Out by Katie Fforde.  Love it!

Have a lovely day and thank you for reading. xxx

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Just Pottering

Well the weekend is here and so are the Easter holidays.  The children broke up on a warm, sunny Friday afternoon with huge sighs of relief.  Poor Pea had to stay in school until five having extra maths lessons.  They have to go in during the holidays too, which I think is really off.  By the time Pea arrived home, the best of the day was over and a cool breeze drifted over the countryside.  Not to be deterred and because she would be bouncing off the walls if we stayed in, Pea and I went for our usual post tea time walk.

The island is wide awake now and the magic of Spring is all around.  Lambs litter the fields like small clouds, birds sing from every twig and tree top, flowers bloom in the most unexpected places and my heart sings with the sheer pleasure of it all.  I am so lucky to live with all this around me, every day.  If I live to be a hundred I will never for one second take any of it for granted.

Since moving to our present house six months ago, the children and I discovered a woodland about half an hours walk from home.  We often walk to the woods as it is just the right distance for a good stretch without going mad and wearing ourselves out!  Recently, we found to our delight that the woodland floor is carpeted with bluebells.  It is still a bit early yet, but on Friday evening we saw that the flowers are just starting to open out; there was a slight haze of blue between the trees and the heady scent of bluebells hung on the still, warm air.  We breathed in so deep it made us dizzy.  The scent of bluebells in a wood is one of the most beautiful things in the world.  Can't wait for them to be fully open!

 Yesterday saw us in the garden for most of the day.  It started of pretty chilly so we went to do some shopping first.  The boys wanted chocolate (as did I!) and I needed a few bits for the garden; a new trug, some canes and weedkiller.  I didn't really want to spray chemicals all over the place but sometimes we have to admit defeat and accept we need to take an easier path or spend our entire lives battling with nettles.  I don't want to do that.  Our gorgeous garden is home to all manner of really horrid weeds; nettles, bindweed, ground elder and mare's tail.  The latter will become the bane of my life if I allow it too.  According to my book 'Botany for Gardeners', Mare's tail (Equisetum arvense in case you wanted to know) is the only genus alive today of it's class and apparently enjoys the status of 'living fossil'.  Whooppee.  It goes on:  400 million years ago it dominated the forest floors of the world and could reach up to 100 feet tall.  Given the chance then, it would happily dominate my entire garden.  So, weedkiller it is.  This could be a bit of a problem though as most of it seems to have taken up residence in the veggie plot.  Oh NOOOOOO!

This isn't mare's tail, this is apple mint - much nicer.  I planted it in an old laundry basket and put it by the gate next to a sunny wall.  It will probably fill this basket by the end of summer and give us lots of soft, fresh leaves to chop up in salads and cream cheese sandwiches.  Putting it in a basket means it's easy to go out and pick some, even if it's raining but it is contained so can't go rampant in the boarders and choke other plants to death.  I think it is less of a thug than normal garden mint, so it could be alright given plenty of space.  I have planted some garden mint at the back of a boarder, between a hedge and some holly trees.  The ground is stony and not much would grow, so it doesn't matter if the mint takes over a bit.

No idea what this is, but I found a little clump hidden among the grass and weeds.  It looks so pretty in the morning sun.  Not that we had much morning sun yesterday, so Pea and I took refuge in the poly tunnel and sowed lots more annual seeds and half a tray of Linaria purpurea 'Cannon Went', a perennial.  The seeds we sowed before are all doing well and we seemed to have foiled the sweet pea nibbling mouse by laying fleece over the pots and tucking it underneath, so mousey can't get at the seedlings.  When the sun finally came out later on, we cut the grass and dug over a bit more of the vegetable garden.  The potatoes still haven't come up yet, so I carefully weeded the soil and lightly forked it over.  It looks so much better just for a bit of effort.  We are taking control little by little but I suspect Mother Nature will always have the final say in this garden!  I don't want a regimented, perfect space anyway, I want lots of flowers drifting naturally and self seeding where they may.  I want birds and insects to live and feed here and for it to look like it has always been this way.  There will always be wild, untamed areas and bits that are cultivated, so hopefully it will be a harmonious garden for all of us to enjoy.

After all that work I felt my muscles tightening and aching.  H2 came outside to ask when tea would be ready.  I almost blew a gasket.  He has been skulking indoors all day knowing full well I was outside - busy.  He knew I hadn't made tea or even thought about it.  So why ask?  In the end I decided to make use of the left over bits in the freezer.  We could have faggots, parsnips, mashed potatoes and veg.  Nice and comforting, filling and easy as all I'd have to do is peel the potatoes as the rest would go straight in the oven.  Actually it would be even easier if I went for a shower and left the children to sort it out.  I gave some vague directions and left them to it.  Post shower and clean clothes, I wandered into the kitchen for a cup of tea - and smelled something burning.  I pulled open the oven door to find that H1 had inadvertently set the oven to 'grill' rather than main oven.  So the faggots were burning and smouldering nicely.  I gave him a telling off to which he replied 'Well I didn't know!'  Of course not.  Should have done it myself.

Have a relaxing weekend and thank you for

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

April Showers

April is here and cracking on at an alarming pace.  We are well into the year now and the Winter is most certainly over and done with.  Yesss!  The Easter holidays are just a few days away and there is plenty to look forward to and enjoy. But not everything in the garden is rosy.  Poor H2 is at home this week with a chest infection brought on by a bad cold last week.  Because he suffers from asthma I took him to the doctor on Monday and he gave us lots of medicine and a few changes to how I monitor the asthma.  Hopefully after a few days rest he will be feeling more like his usual self and be able to enjoy the holidays and an Easter egg or two!

After a day of showers and cool breezes, the evening turned out, as it so often does, to be sunny, mild and calm.  Pea and I took Middle Aged Labrador out for an evening stroll up the lane.  The puddles were back after all the rain but it has also made everything so lush and green.  There are buds popping out on almost every branch and twig right across the island.  The grass is more vibrant and the hedges look fuller and rounder.  As we stood gazing across the fields, we saw the first Swallow of summer swoop across the sky.  It was so lovely and heartwarming to see; a little lone bird that has seen things that I never will and endured hardships that I could only imagine.  But he's back in his place of birth and will soon be looking for a mate to start his own family with.  The perfect cycle of nature.

The problem with April showers is getting washing dry.  I have washed a load of towels about four times now and each time it starts raining as I am heading for the back door to go and hang them out on the line.  Then they sit in the wash basket for days until they start to smell.  Then I wash them again in the hope that the rain will keep off long enough to dry them.  It doesn't and the whole circle starts again.  Today however, there is a good breeze and the sun is most definitely out.  The sky is blue and there are only faint wisps of white cloud here and there.  I have already put a load of sheets out and the towels will join them in a moment.  H2 is curled up on the settee with his Lego Batman book and a dog and all the jobs I had earmarked to do today will be left undone.  I can never do housework with a poorly child at home.  It doesn't feel right somehow, or maybe that's just an excuse for me to be lazy and drink lots of tea!  I have been to the butcher in the next village, 6 miles away, so we can have a comforting tea of sausages in mustard sauce with mashed potato.  I made an apple and berry pie yesterday and there is (miraculously) half left, so that will be pudding.  I have an urge to make a Simnel cake too, but that could just be an excuse to open the marzipan and start nibbling.

Look at the seedlings!  One of the greatest pleasures of my life at the moment is to go into my poly tunnel and look at my seed trays.  Almost everything has germinated now but there are lots more seeds to sow over the next three weeks.  The radishes have germinated in the garden and this weekend we will be sowing parsnip seeds and some salads out there too.  Of course it's not that simple.  As the weather warms up and the seeds start to grow, so do the weeds and the downside of having a garden in a rural location is the wildlife.  Well no, the wildlife is a major plus -  until it's gardening time.  There is nothing more wonderful than seeing pheasants and partridge pottering round the garden, until they start to graze on the delicate seedlings that we have painstakingly planted.  Then it's a different story.  Something in the poly tunnel has been helping itself to our sweet peas too.  We don't want to harm anything at all, but neither do we want them nibbling our precious plants.  It's an ugly battle.

I must go and hang the washing out now and then stick another load in while the going is good.  Then it will be time for a cup of tea, some baking and tea preparation and before I know it, Pea and H1 will be home at the end of another day.  Sometimes I long for a bit of excitement in my day, but really it is the days of nothing-ness that we treasure the most when excitement does come into our lives.  I will try to treasure this one, hope you do too.

Have a lovely day, get some washing dry and bake a cake! xxx

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Spring Fever

My goodness, all this sunshine and rain has brought the garden and countryside to life in a big way!  Everywhere we look there is something growing, something new bursting from the earth.  Greens are greener and more vibrant than ever, the blackthorn hedges are alive with tiny white star-like flowers, the first bluebells are basking in the warm sun and lawns, banks and verges glow with the rich buttery yellow of celandine.  Spring is well under way and I am loving every second.

We have lived in this house for six months now (where did that time go?) and so far have only experienced the Autumn and Winter, so we have had little idea of the hidden gems that lie beneath the earth.  Now of course they are making themselves known and plants are popping up all over the place.  I discovered these lilac wood anemones this week, peeping out from behind a wooden barrel at the front of the house.  So delicate and pretty.  A friend of mine told me yesterday that he has a bank that slopes down to a stream that runs through his garden and it is covered in these flowers.  He said all this in Welsh at class yesterday, so of course there's a chance I could have got that wrong!

Love this Magnolia!  Pea is really pleased as it is right outside her bedroom.  In between the sun we have had plenty of rain, but it has been soft, gentle rain;  English rain.  The sort that comes down straight from the sky rather than blowing sideways and making your eyes sting, like Welsh rain does.  It makes a soft pitter-patter on the ground and Blackbirds perch on tree tops and sing heartily.  The ground soaks up this gentle rain and the plants, trees and hedges put on huge growth spurts seemingly over night.  I went into the poly tunnel the other evening to cover my seedlings with fleece for the night.  The light in there was soft and diffused, the air smelled of warm earth and the rain began to fall gently, making a comforting sound on the plastic that brought back memories of playing in a make-shift tent in the garden when I was little.  A soft wave of contentment swept over me and I knew that this is all I want; my home, children, countryside and garden.  I am a very fortunate woman.

It was H1's parents' evening earlier this week, so off we went to stand in queues with lots of other parents waiting to be told the same things by all the teachers.  I must say that I never worry about what I am going to be told as I know it will be good.  Even if they don't always get the best results, at least I know they behave themselves and give it as much as they can.  Pea will always go the extra mile (or ten) but H1 needs a bit of encouragement in that department.  He gave me a bit of a heads up regarding his maths exam results; however he didn't mention that he had failed dismally.  Whoops.  His teacher seemed a bit on edge when we sat down in front of her and she shuffled her bits of paper about and didn't look me in the eye.  I thought it a tad odd but waited for her to speak.  She began by saying how disappointed she was in H1's results.  I kept quiet as I realised there was more to come.  She moved her papers about a bit more and then said she thought it would be better for H1 to move to a different maths group.  She then sat very still for a second, apparently waiting for the fall-out.  I took a deep breath and said 'Yes I totally agree,'  She looked stunned but quickly regained her composure before letting out a sigh of relief and whispered 'Oh, I'm so glad!'  I knew H1 was a bit upset about having to go down a set, but as we and another teacher close by who joined in the conversation agreed, it is much better to be doing well in a lower set than struggling like crazy in the top set.  Very stressful and a situation that can only get worse.

The following day he had double maths and would be starting in the lower set.  I kept thinking about him all day, hoping he was OK.  That afternoon he came home looking much more relaxed than of late.  He said maths went well, he understood the work because he'd already done it in set one and he wasn't panicking about it anymore.  He still doesn't like maths, but at least now he stands a better chance of being able to do it.

All parents know that there is always something going on with children.  H2 seems to go from one cold to another and is bored out of his brains at school.  He is getting ready for senior school now but as he still has over three months to go before he leaves primary school behind forever, I want him to enjoy it as much as possible.  These last few months will be the easiest of his young life.  Once he starts senior school things will be much different;  homework every night and exams by the ton.  At least now he has time to play on the floor with Lego, wonder around the garden aimlessly dragging a stick about, dig holes on the beach and day dream about DC superheroes.

Pea is under some strain in her school life too.  A levels are very hard work to say the least.  She has homework and revision to do every night and all weekend.  Two days a week the sixth form pupils stay after school until five to have extra maths lessons and then she comes home to spend more time working.  I don't like to see her worn out with tension and worry, she's too young.  She deserves to relax now and then and do something nice or have a treat.  Nothing major, just a mooch round the shops or a new magazine, just something to look forward to.  The Easter holls are coming up soon and we are planning a few trips out here and there.  I will take her to see her boyfriend too so they can spend more time with each other.  There is nothing like a cuddle from the one you love when you're feeling a bit low!

I don't have that yet, so I content myself with pottering round the garden, looking at my seedlings, browsing seed catalogues and watching the birds in the garden.  It's almost as good!

Enjoy a hug with someone special and thank you for reading. xxx