Saturday, 12 January 2019


Sometimes gardens provide more than one expects. It is Monday and I have been down the garden to check on the chard and the ground cress. The purple sprouting broccoli is ready to be picked. It will be excellent with our fish tonight. Come evening the broccoli is steamed and I sit down to enjoy our crop. 
However there is a little extra protein on my plate - a small well cooked caterpillar! Ah! The joy of home produce.

Early next morning, just after dawn, there is one small shaft of sunlight over Morecambe twenty miles away across the bay. Hundreds of geese are flying south west in huge wedges, filling the air with their exotic calls. Moorhen scuttle from the pond. I top up the bird feeders. The scent from the sarcococcus by the back door is heady in the still air and more open snowdrops cluster in the wood.

Then I check the BBC weather forecast and the radar map - no rain till 8pm tonight, we try to dismantle the wreath from by the door and in the end bung it in the bin, I go out and fuel up the sit-on mower, back it out of the shed and hitch up the trailer ready to cart well rotted horse manure down the garden from the heap outside the cattle grid, get out the fork, put on my gloves and - it is raining, soft soaking mizzle. Time for another morning coffee.

Midweek and it is frosty and sunny. Reduced height of 1/3 of beech hedge to 4 feet - it was getting too tall to trim easily. Manure onto roses and 6" compost on one of main veg beds. Had to come in as bread proving on the Aga.

The new extension is nearly ready for a slate roof and the slates are stacked at the back of the house arranged by size, waiting for holes.

We still have ground cress - I sowed it early in the year but because of the heat and drought they did not germinate till august by which time I had put sweet peas in the same place. The latter may not have flowered but the cress has come and is thriving (though not very  peppery to taste).

There are flowers here and there - the first of 2019 - quince, marigold, 
and roses, even a small yellow "senecio" bloom. (Brachyglottis is too much of a mouthful)

The clematis armandii on the shed is in bud. It flowers early but this is a bit too early.

There is still tidying to do - more hedge cutting, bringing the shrubs (almost trees) at the back of the house down to a reasonable size - privet and flowering currant. The buddleia will need to be cut down in the next eight weeks and I must mulch the agapanthus - well, more than I have done so far.

Had tidied up the catmint and I have done the same to the cutting bed plus borrowing compost onto the blackcurrants and raspberries. I pruned the gooseberries (they have one more year to not get stricken by sawfly and mildew) and the yellow climbing rose on the other side of the fence.

It is Saturday, raining, spelt bread baked and preparing the oranges for the marmalade. 
Perhaps next week we will go and see Stan and Ollie at the Roxy.

Sunday, 6 January 2019


It is the grey grizzled days of winter 2019, we had a hard frost, the air is still as we linger under a high pressure and my feet are cold despite two pairs of Bamboo socks. 
Having said that it is cold and dry - I have just mowed, yes mowed, some of the lawns to tidy them up as the grass has not yet stopped growing. However down by the hedge the lawn is a quag and needs some serious draining.

In the garden the grey plants become important to give some light to the flowerbeds.

A Euphorbia


The pittosporum above a hebe and next to rosemary.

Even the smaller plants like this Snow in Summer on the right give variety to a dark corner and the skimmia, left, is just longing to burst into flower.

The sarcococcus by the back door is in flower and yet it is also bearing its shiny black berries from last year.

Daffodils are through under the magnolia and we definitely have our first snowdrops.

The maple is in full red twig colour and the bay in buds - though this is getting too big and will need a stiff prune - more cuttings - they root easily if just shoved in reasonable soil and left.

 We even have the odd wallflower out and the small shrub on the left was bought by R for almost nowt as a four inch high rooted cutting.

Apart from all that we have the dried heads of the hydrangea in vases in the house and I must cut some of the reedmace by the pond before it goes over - it is already starting to look tatty.

And there you have it, onward into the last year of the two thousand and teens. I shall now go and sit by the log burner and read about the Wars of the Roses. Nowadays prominent people (like football managers) (no names) get sacked, then they would have been hung, drawn, quartered, decapitated - just for starters!

Will Brexit happen?
Will Nellie the E survive the next year as President.
Will we ever get our upsizing finished?
Will I finally give in to a new right knee?

And my New Year's Resolution - to diet and lose weight, get more exercise, leap out of bed in the morning (R goes Ha!), drink decaf, less alcohol and generally be a lot more miserable - if that is possible.

Sunday, 30 December 2018


Well, that is that done, just the New Year now the we can get on with enjoying 2019 - Brexit, Trump, shifting manure onto the veg beds, intolerance, global warming, M6 traffic, paying for our upsizing, avoiding onions, losing weight, getting fitter, Brexit, Trump, etc etc.
Oh! Yes, and a golden wedding - has R really put up with me for all that time? (Well, some of it.) If I haven't had my other knee done we will probably be in Pembrokeshire watching the sunset over St Bride's Bay.

Most mornings are dull and drab though Christmas Eve was special - we walked in the Winster Valley in mist and sunshine -

In our downstairs WC, a foot along beyond the sink where the skirting board down not quite meet the floor, there lives a small black spider. When I come in he (though more probably she so I will call him/her it) will nip out a tiny bit to see what's up. Then as I move around it retreats almost out of site. It has been there for over three years and I have no idea what its feeds on.

The view from the house, like this from the living room is a bit depressing - a load of wet plastic, but, when there is sun, despite the building works, the garden has some highlights- a rose here, the beech hedge in full leaf colour - 

and one or two premature snowdrops showing their white flowers. In fact there are flowers on one of the wallflowers, on the odd bramble in the hedgerow and the mild weather (fingers crossed) seems to be deceiving many plants. As usual managed to pick a small vase of flowers for the table from the garden - I mean the table is not from the garden but . . . . well . . . 

New Year's Ever tomorrow and an early bed for me - to be woken by people launching rockets and such at midnight - just hope they are not North Korean nor Putin's new whizzers.

The light of the old year is fading and colour dissipating. Let us hope next year is not a monochrome year.

Here is hoping for a garden full of flowers, fruit and vegetables, body that will let me shovel horse manure and less argy-bargy in the political world. 
A happy and hopefully good New Year to everyone.

Now, where's my drink.

What do you mean the kettle's on?

(Pinched the title from Brenda Lee.)

Fed up with jargon -


I am liking Pam Ayres more and more
After reading the latest editions
Of Poetry and PN Review.
Good verse does not have to be obscure
And I wonder if those who profess
To understand the contortions
Of language manifest in their pages
Really know what is being said.
Modern verse takes a delight
In inaccessability, poetry-speak.
It is not surprising it is disappearing
Up its own niche, one so narrow
As to exclude so many readers.
A spade is a spade not a wrought
Implement with design for the transfer
Of materials from one place to another
Or the excavation of earthy material.
Well, it is the latter, but why not

Just say it is a spade?

Sunday, 23 December 2018


If you date it from the winter equinox

4 different shots from the kitchen, of dawn on the same day

and one two days earlier.

I have potted up the rest of the bulbs that have been sitting in the shed. Many are small but we will see how they do. 
House plants are being fed where appropriate, or left alone to have a rest.
I would shift manure (?) but the builders are blocking my way down the garden - 😕😉 so limited myself to picking up windfall sticks to dry and use as kindling for the log burner.

Next day the builders have moved so it is out with the wheel barrow and muck spreading the back bed. Noticed a problem with the extension - the wall upstairs will come right in the middle of the window! Will have to have a smaller window as dressing room no good if we have to crouch!

In the garden the white birches are going green with, I think, algae on the bark with all the dismal dark wet weather - they might need a wash? 

So to some images to give you an idea of what is happening and finishing with the delightful view from my computer desk.

Sunday, 16 December 2018


Well, not really but with the festive 😟 season ahead gardening takes second place.
The garden is not completely asleep, there are some flowers -

We live up a field, up a track and someone left a non biodegradable black plastic bag of dog poo beside the track - in a field full of sheep droppings next to a paddock full of horse manure. So why wrap it, get a stick and flick it if you must or take it home and put it in the bin. 🤔🙄

Actually it was only thirty yards from our heap of garden manure! Mind boggles.

Back to the garden - I know it is only December but some daffodils think otherwise - 

The raft is still a raft as we wait for steel beams and the timber frame.
The leaf is submerged in the water providing us with a reflection in an infinity pool two inches deep (5cm for the rest of the EU) (Yes we are still members, for now. The whole thing is a farce brought about by a small number of Conservatives putting pressure on David Cameron before an election.)

Anyway. one thing we do have at this time of year are spectacular skies over the bay.

Down in the veg beds the ghost of fleece has still stopped the imminent death of sweet peas but the other beds are well composted in preparation for next year. I will give them another dose in the spring.

It is Friday and the timber frame has begun to go up - now I can picture our downstairs room. 
Went to a specialist in Preston - "Don't do any heavy lifting" - like manure, paving stones or the sit on mower when I get it stuck in the stream? The old body is a bit moth-eaten.

Very cold today (for us) - not above 2C and ice not gone on pond, frost in the shade. Forecast snow tomorrow morning then warmer with gales and MORE rain.

But no snow just RAIN.

To finish this week a load of pigeons and their hunter in the night -