Showing posts from March, 2010

Children and dogs and pink fizz

Every now and then I read those surveys about happiness which tell you that people in their twenties are happy, those in their thirties and forties less so (the twin pressures of work and family no doubt) but the happiest people of all are the over fifties.  This seems entirely convincing to me.  As you get older, if you are lucky, you are likely to be less worried about money, you have the entirely selfish pleasure of time to yourself back as your children leave home, you might well have worked out how to live happily with your partner, either through years of practice or as a second time around with the benefit of more life lived, or if you are single you may have got to the stage where you are comfortable with where life has taken you.  You probably know what is important to you by then and you probably care less about what others think.  You are probably more comfortable than you have ever been in your own skin, even if it is a bit wrinklier than it used to be. Yesterday I was wa

A miscellany of photos

Just a few photos to share.  Here are some of my crocuses.  I used to be a bit sniffy about crocuses but have come to love them.  There is something about the way they open their faces to the sun that makes me smile. Also making me smile is my son and daughter in law's dog, Flora, who is staying with us for a month while they are in India for a month as part of their medical course.  She is such a good natured dog, keen to please, struggling slightly with the loss of her usual place and her usual people but always happy for a walk or a throw of the frisbee or just to be allowed to odd about outside when we are gardening.  Here she is setting off with me down to the little river in the bottom of the valley.  She loves to swim.  Labradors used to be called "water dogs" and she is truly at home setting out for sticks, swimming or splashing about, diving in and scrambling out up the bank to deposit the stick ready for it to go in again. On the way down to the river we pa

The Malvern Spring Show

OK, well I have committed myself now.  I am off to the Malvern Show at the beginning of May and will be meeting other garden bloggers there too.  I'm one of those people who combines a passionate interest in gardening with not much experience of showgoing.   I'm certainly not a hardened showgoer.  I went to Hampton Court once and to Tatton Park a couple of years ago and that is it.  I enjoyed both but somehow I haven't made the jump to going back for another visit to either place or to putting visiting shows onto my calendar.  I wonder if there are particular shows which appeal to particular people?  If so, maybe Malvern is the one for me. I have always  liked the idea of Malvern.  I love the Malvern hills which must be part of the attraction and the fact that it is not a huge show like Chelsea makes it seem easier to dip into.  I also like the idea of an early show.  I am a spring person, galvanised out of my winter torpor by the lengthening days and the increasing warmt

A list of do's and don'ts for cheering yourself up

I have been having one of those periods of drift and slump.  They don't tend to last long for me so in an effort to shake it off I offer you a short list of do's and don't's for attempting to get rid of it, like a dog shaking off water: Do watch chickens run, not hop and scratch, really run as in hurtling along.  Their legs splay and somehow they manage both the speed of hurtling with the action of waddling.  It never fails to make me smile. Do spend time with a just four year old. Me: "Let's play a guessing a game.  I'm thinking of an animal that lives in a field.  You have to guess what it is."  Him: several sensible attempts and then successful guess.  Him: "It's my turn.  It's an animal that lives in a field and its dangerous."  Me: several attempts and success.  It's a bull.  We go back and forth.  I think he's got it.  Then I throw him a curve ball: "I'm thinking of an animal that lives in Africa."  He tr

A memory

I have been tagged by red haired runner and writer Preseli Mags for a meme on memory.  Memories are a blur and a swirl.  I try to pick something out, make something emerge from the mist. My brother's trainset, a Hornby train, the track secured to a big board.  Paul had two trains with their sets of carriages, painted in brown and cream.  We used to play a lot together, my brother and I.  We lived up on the edge of the moor and went to school across town so we didn't really know the few local children who lived further down the common.  We spent hours up on the moors and out on the common whenever the days were fine, but sometimes, it being the Pennines, rain streamed down the window and we hung around moaning that we didn't know what to do.  My mother wouldn't let us say we were bored but she was good at coming up with projects which would take us a while.  I only understood when I had children of my own that there was an element of self interest in this creativity.

Things I like and don't like doing in the garden

I once got talking to a friend about houseworky things.  We were both speakers at a conference in San Diego before you get too stereotypical an idea.  She was saying how much she hated emptying the dishwasher and doing the ironing and I was quite surprised because, while I am not a great housewife, those are two of the jobs that I don't much mind.  Then I read in a blog the other day about the writer's dislike of potting on and pricking out and thought "Oh, I quite like that" so it got me musing about what I do and don't like doing in the garden. Things I like: I love sowing seeds, preferably in the greenhouse in spring when it is cold outside but warm enough to take my jacket off inside out of the wind .  My resolution this year is to label everything, not just the first few trays I sow, but everything, all the time.  Chances of success? Low. I like cutting things back, not the large scale pruning which needs pruning saws and loppers, but the tidying up sort

Hens and eggs and black grouse

Today we had four eggs from our five hens.  I am busily eating poached eggs for breakfast every day but we have now got to the stage where I can't keep up.  Tomorrow I shall bake lemon drizzle cake, one for us and one for the weekend's visitors to the cottage, and that will use up a few more. Here is today's collection: the dark brown one on the right is from our Welsummer hen.  The little white one is from our little white Wyandotte bantam. The paler brown egg at the back is from one of the Frisian bantams. She is a little larger than the Wyandotte but the eggs are way bigger.  With Wyandotte eggs you need a couple to even notice they are there. And the brown egg on the left is from our new hen, the Buff Orpington/Welsummer cross who is intended to be our broody this spring so that we can hatch some more chickens.   She is lovely, a real old farmyard hen, and I am looking forward to seeing her clucking and fussing with chicks in tow. I always use the dark brown eggs when I

Is it spring now? Are we nearly there yet?

This box full of delight brought to me by mountainear has been  keeping my spirits up for a week or two when I have been drinking my cup of tea in the wooden greenhouse.  I have kept sticking my nose outside, smelling for spring but it has been so cold only the snowdrops have replied. But today we woke to clear blue skies, a sharp frost down in the valley but up here on the hill the day quickly became one where the you could feel the season on the turn.  I went hunting for flowers and found one of my hellebores had burst out of its fat bud while I had my back turned.  Tip her head up and look into her face. This morning was spent making bread and sowing seeds in the still chilly greenhouse.  This afternoon it was time to lift our own heads up from the list of things to do and get out onto the hills. The catkins are hanging on the hazels.  This is a cobnut we planted in our field, shining with spring. Up on the ridge just below Penycloddiau there are still patches of snow and the

Well look at this - a book review. Not done one of these since school!

Ten days or so ago a parcel arrived.  I like parcels but they are not usually for me.  It is far more likely that a parcel will be for Ian as a result of his ebay habit (yes I know darling, it is all very useful stuff).  In it was a review copy of Toby Buckland's new book "Gardeners' World Practical Gardening Handbook".  The wonderful Esther at Esther's Boring Gardening Blog (the most interesting and unusual and as far from boring as it is possible to be gardening blog you will ever read) had been asked to review it.  I commented sadly that no one had ever asked me to review anything and lo! an email from the publisher and a copy to review for myself.  Since my collection of gardening books has gradually grown from occupying just one side of our bedroom out towards the middle of the floor, like a beautiful but invasive plant, this seems fair enough.  I might not have a fabulous garden but I do have a fabulous collection of gardening books.  Quickly establishing t

Bits and pieces

So many people asked me for a photo of the new bag that I have taken one.  I suspect you might notice that the background is the corner of a wine rack.    I thought I would also share with you a tiny vase of snowdrops and hellebore which is currently sitting on my kitchen table.  The little vase was bought for me by younger son on his first visit to France when he was about twelve.  I loved it when he gave it to me and I have loved it ever since. The next blog is going to be a review of the new book by Toby Buckland, presenter of the BBC's Gardeners' World programme.  That sounds like a trailer for something which isn't what I meant!  What I mean is that I thought I might write it tonight and find I haven't quite finished thinking about it.  It is quite exciting to be asked to review something and even more exciting to get a free gardening book, since gardening books of the paid variety come trooping through the door here all year long.  Having established that I can