Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Working Weather

We've been blessed these last few days with glorious weather; so glorious I've been able to sit in the garden with a cup of coffee in .... a t-shirt!
So of course I've been gardening, while Jean-Luc has been wood working.
He has built and put up the trellis on the back of the fruit bed. 
This is essential as the loganberry (like so many other plants in this garden) likes to roam; last year it roamed all over the fruit bed and totally obscured the gooseberries and went on to explore next doors garden.  Why do I favour plants with a wanderlust, plants whose main aim in life is to emulate the Roman army or British empire; colonising and conquering the garden, subjugating lesser plants as they go.  I shall have to retire to my secret volcano base to think this through.
  We did look at pre-made trellis but they came in at 4 times the price of this made to measure one that Jean-Luc built.
 I was thrilled to spot one of my favourite plants had bloomed.
I love Snakeheads Fritillary.  Subtle, elegant with a touch of the assassin about them.

 So while the trellis was being built, I was weeding, digging and composting the herb bed and manuring the greenhouse.  In about three weeks it'll be full of tomatoes and peppers.  We're still eating tomatoes, chutney and passata from last summer.  At least the smell will mean the cat no longer takes naps in there so I might get some planting done.
 I planted up a whole load of seeds including red and green broad beans, courgettes, rainbow chard and cucumbers.  I'm also experimenting with growing Physalis, or Cape Gooseberries, I hope they grow as they are delicious but I know that Lancashire will be a challenge for them, even in the greenhouse.  Green fingers crossed.
The next task is to order in some 'exotic slips' such as sweet potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes and possibly some Oca.
This year I am mainly experimenting.
 I couldn't resist taking some pictures of these lovely plants.
The charismatic yellow chard...
...and the sublime freshness of the new hawthorn leaves.  For me this is the very essence of spring colour.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Lovely Presents from Lovely People

I was lucky enough to receive some lovely presents for my birthday last month.
One was this fabulous book by Charlotte Mendelson from my sister.
 I have to ration myself reading it because no only is the cover as sumptuous as the writing is beautiful, but it is also hilarious; laugh out loud, gurglingly funny.
My sister has great taste in books.
And my lovely friend Helen knitted me this purrfectly marvellous cat.
Isn't is amazing!
It looks so at home on the shelf.
I am very lucky.
ps not to be outdone Jean-Luc is taking me to Amsterdam in May, we're going tulip spotting at the Keukenhof Gardens

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Tigers in the Bamboo

It's spring and as the days warm out we begin to venture into the garden once again.  A beautiful time of year but a dangerous one also, for woe betide any one who wanders too close to the bamboo thicket.
Before they know it they may well be ambushed by a well camouflaged tiger, waiting to spring on unwary prey.
Always a favourite ploy if you happen to be carrying pots or plants down to the greenhouse.
Otherwise in the garden there is exciting news - things are beginning to grow!
 The wild garlic is making a very welcome appearance and spreading nicely too.

 Baby chives share space with daffodils.
 The army of Lysimachia girds its loins as it prepares for a summer campaign to colonise new territories - much like the Roman Army.  Constant vigilance and strict patrols are the only way the cranesbill geraniums can protect their borders. There is much muttering from the rest of the plants in the border about Hadrian's Wall, especially when they have to also contend with the guerrilla like forays of the Fox and Cubs infiltrating the rest of the border.  Possibly a mistake to have planted that one!
 Rainbow chard still growing and still beautiful and delicious.
Baby Bloody Dock is growing by the hedge (and showing the appalling weediness of the back of the border).  This wild plant is a relative of Common Dock but is the young leaves are edible; they have a lovely lemony, slightly bitter taste similar to sorrel and are delicious in salads and with fish.
It's a wonderful time of year, full of plans and optimism for the veggie beds and visions of what the garden will look like, without the disappointment of slug, caterpillar and late frosts to dim one's hopes.  I can't wait for the wild garlic to get large enough to make some pesto with it - yum!

Saturday, 4 March 2017

A little bit of Hygge or Murfle

I know Hygge is 'The Big Thing' at the moment, but to be honest my sister and I knew about it decades ago; except as teenagers we coined our own word for it and that word was - Murfle.  It meant to snuggle down on a cold or rainy day with a hot drink and favourite book, it meant a thick, snuggly jumper and socks, it meant going shopping as adults and looking at something and saying 'it's very murfle isn't it?' and knowing that object was a reminder of home and comfort and the shutting out of a cold, harsh world.

So today after nearly two weeks of Jean-Luc being ill with viral laryngitis and an ear infection (and I suspect an accompanying throat infection) I felt the need to take a cheerful photo of the flowers I'd bought him.  It's a dynamic of our relationship that some may find strange, that when he is ill or miserable I buy him flowers or in summer I'll pick him a small posy from the garden for his office desk. It's my way of telling him I care.

Thankfully the rest and antibiotics are working and he's feeling a lot better but not so much better that I can't beat him at Scrabble - I don't see it as taking advantage but alternative health appraisal. 😈

The Price of Chocolate

I don't quite know what to say about this video, except that I feel it's a real reflection of everything that is so wrong with our economy and society.
 We take so much for granted and should really be a lot, lot more grateful for what we have.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Pretty Parcel

I'm crocheting socks at the moment and that requires stitch markers, until now I'd been using safety pins; cheap and convenient. 
Until, that is, one got entangled in the wool and had to be cut free.  At that point I decided I should probably get some proper ones and so I sent off to Charmed Knitting for some lovely markers.....
and amazingly quickly, this is what arrived in the post....
 .....beautifully wrapped,
 with a lovely card
and in a lovely bag some equally lovely crochet stitch markers with lobster claw clasps to clip on and off the stitches.
Actually, the first parcel to arrive was some knitting stitch markers which slide on to the needles and can't be used for crochet; so I rang Sophie who runs this company and explained what had happened, she checked the order and realised she'd made a mistake at her end...
...and then she apologised, said she'd send me the crochet stitch markers and not to return the knitting stitch markers but to keep them or pass them on to a knitter if I wanted.
The crochet stitch markers arrived the NEXT DAY!
So thank you Sophie for:
  1. lovely stitch markers
  2. beautiful packaging
  3. absolutely bloody brilliant customer service, which, frankly, many much larger companies could learn a huge amount from.
The other stitch markers will go to that fanatical knitter, my lovely sister.
This isn't a sponsored post, just giving some praise where it's due.