Friday, 24 May 2019

On going on












Life and death in the garden. The blue tits have fledged - the top-but-one photo was one of the parents taking food to them shortly before they left. The bottom two photos are a crab spider on a rose. They like to lurk on the white flowers, blending in, waiting, waiting. The bee was quite dead. I don't like to see it, but you know, nature etc. etc. Crab spiders have babies too.

I am easing the family into vegetarianism. No-one has noticed yet. Mostly because there wasn't much meat anyway. Partly I suspect because they just shovel it in whilst wondering what's coming next. If you lag behind when you eat in this house, people start eyeing up what's on your plate.

Have you been watching the coverage of Chelsea Flower Show? I saw some of it. As usual it made the garden look a bit tatty. I was looking out at it earlier.

Me, sighing: It doesn't look much like Chelsea out there does it?

Biggest boy: No, you need to do more gardening.

Just as soon as I have more time. On the subject of time I have lots of books to read, in case of quiet summer moments waiting for cricket to kick off. There is a ridiculous amount of it at the moment. All very nice so long as the sun is shining. I have a few indie authors in the pile, including some by writers I know. All very inspiring.

I was talking to the other half about a snippet I heard on the radio the other day about when Margaret Thatcher was being pushed out. They played an interview that had been conducted with her much later, in which from memory she said that one particular colleague's betrayal had been like a knife in the heart. Apparently she had gone inside to find Dennis by the fireplace and he'd said, 'Don't go on love.' The other half suggested that maybe Dennis had been trying to read the paper and had said it more in the tone of, 'DON'T GO ON LOVE.' Anyway, Boris Johnstone or Michael Gove? Decisions, decisions. Happily none of them to be made by me. I have enough trouble deciding what to do for tea.

Wishing all an excellent and peaceful weekend, in a beautiful garden if you can find one. I shall be watching cricket and walking the dog.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

An elegant moustache








Photos from a couple of weeks ago when the apple blossom was in full bloom. Tiny apples are forming now, along with pears, cherries, figs. The peach tree looks ghastly this year, with peach leaf curl almost destroying the foliage. I need to take it out, but what to replace it with? I have a fig tree I could put in, but I'm not sure. An apple is probably a better bet, no-one will eat figs. Or maybe something ornamental.

We are almost at the end of a week of exams here for the youngest two. SATS for the littlest boy, and just ordinary end-of-year stuff for the middle one. I made a nice meal to celebrate, then had a horrible feeling that I hadn't done that for the other two. No-one has mentioned it yet. I am toying with the idea of secretly turning the family vegetarian. We have two vegetarians already together with one vegan, and I hardly do any meat or fish. I wonder how long it would take for them to notice?

The sunshine has been glorious hasn't it. I wore three layers and a scarf to cricket on Sunday, including my scarf, and I nearly boiled to death. But the cricket club is notoriously chilly most of the time. Hard to get it right, no? The dog has had a spring trim and is all deliciously short and velvety now, with the bottoms of his ears beautifully aligned with his jaw. When he has his hair cut it becomes apparent that he has no chin whatsoever. His moustache has been left elegantly long though, so that when he snores, one side of it blows up slightly. It's a very calming thing to watch and much better than working. I am also planning to put more pretty plants outside the window to look at as well. All in the name of calm serenity. Green is very good for looking at I think.

The littlest boy and I need haircuts too really. I have dog grooming scissors in the kitchen drawer and it's terribly tempting. Have any of you tried such a thing? Is it recommended? Who should go first?

Friday, 10 May 2019

Birds and angels










A quick photo of one of the blue tits, heading into the nest with something tasty. I didn't linger too long, I like to leave them as undisturbed as possible. It makes me happy that they have peace and quiet almost all of the time - just the odd bit of noise when the urchins are about, but even they are pretty good at staying clear of the end of the garden where the nestbox is.

I love watching them flitting about, still working so hard to feed their chicks. Good for the soul amongst all the difficulty the planet is facing. It's easy to be despondent I think, when the mass consumerism and constant growth and ridiculous innovations are never-ending. All we can do is our own little bit. I was talking to a friend earlier and was very inspired by her positive attitude and the small changes she is making. I am going to try harder to make better choices.

Also in the garden, a wisteria I planted maybe four years ago when it was only tiny is doing brilliantly, flowering like mad, and making the back of the house look pretty. I bought another tiny one last year, which is either pale pink or dark/brighter pink. I remember dithering over which to buy, honestly I am absolutely terrible at making decisions, and I thought about it for days, switching from one to the other in my mind. And now I can't recall which I plumped for, but I am very much hoping I went with pale pink. Only time will tell, it's far too small to flower at the moment.

The cricket season is here in full force now so that will keep most of us busy for the next few week. There are also exams for some. I'm already a bit anxious about next year's GCSEs, but that's a problem for another day.

I am enjoying reading at the moment. A few moments of escape every day. There's never quite enough time, but maybe that makes it all the nicer. I've been pottering around the garden, appreciating all the greenness. I've rigged up a bit of a frame around the bed with the tomatoes in it in the hopes of keeping the dog out, although of course he may think that all the sticks and string are some sort of exciting game just for him.

The third item on my to-do list reads 'Find Guardian Angel'. It's actually a lost library book, but I'm thinking it could be a life instruction as well. Or maybe they just find you.

Wishing all a lovely weekend of outsideyness and greenery.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Dog. Bluebells.










Photos from an evening in the woods last week. The biggest boy wanted to photograph bluebells and got a bit huffy because I didn't go to the wood that he wanted to go to, which was three times as far away. He muttered something about there only being five bluebells. Bert and I counted more.

In the end, Bertie was tasked with running up and down photogenically through the bluebells for about half an hour until a good picture was taken. Honestly, he was exhausted.

The first photo is of some tulips I grew this year. I don't normally bother, but I tried three varieties this year. I loved the ones in the picture, they're almost like roses or camellias, wonderful, and really long-lasting. I'll dig out the name if anyone is interested. For some reason I put flame-orange frilly ones in the same pot. I think I was expecting something more subtle. It is not a match made in heaven. I shall keep the pale pink ones and see if they do anything next year, although I have a feeling tulips don't do brilliantly year after year.

I also had some dark red ones which weren't particularly nice. Anyway, it's almost on to the next thing now. The nest box has blue tits in it this year, and the parents are incredibly busy feeding the babies. All those hungry mouths, wide open, yelling for food all the live long day. It is much the same here.

I ought to be out there gardening this weekend, but frankly it's a bit on the chilly side so I might prioritise all the many inside things instead. I shall be making the urchins tidy and dust their rooms as well, which will be fun. One or two of them are very reluctant. I told the littlest boy before school the other day that his room was really dusty and needed dusting. He said, 'I'll look forward to seeing that when I get home then.' He actually did. I might make him dust the whole house. In fact it occurs to me that things would be a lot easier if I parcelled out more jobs to Other People. At the moment it is JUST ME, clearing up after four people and a dog and I'm tired. I would like to be the person who sits down with a book for a change. Do you think such a thing is possible? Has it ever been done before? Do tell me cheering tales of others mucking in and children being useful.

Monday, 29 April 2019

Spring energy














Photos taken in Bath over that glorious Easter weekend. Bert was a city dog for a while. It's not his best mode to be honest. There's a lot of pulling and looking about for his people. Here we are waiting for the biggest boy to take some photos of Pulteney Bridge. Dogs were not allowed, so we sat under a tree and people-watched for a while.

Yesterday the cricket and football season overlapped. I took the dog for an evening walk down lanes lined with cow parsley while the biggest boy bowled some balls at people and they hit some sixes. It was a blissful evening, all soft sunlight and birdsong and frothy white blossom. We bumped into our whippet friend and did some wild running until we could run no more.

I have been feeling a little out of sorts lately. I can't quite put my finger on why, there is absolutely no reason for it. But the rhythms of life tend to be up and down and no doubt it will all swing along sooner or later. In the meantime I am amassing an unfeasibly large pile of books to be read. I find them somehow comforting, or maybe it's just a thing I do when I'm out of sorts. A sort of twenty-first century survival thing. So long as I have books, pens, notebooks and bags to carry them in I'll survive the apocalypse - that sort of thing.

I am contemplating a Kindle. One of the ones that is just an e-reader - I don't need it to be all-singing, all-dancing. Although I wouldn't mind being able to listen to a podcast on it, if such a thing was possible.

I went to a local literary festival at the weekend, and it was excellent. So very inspiring to hear indie authors talking about writing and publishing their fiction. I am full of spring enthusiasm now, and on the home stretch of a first draft. Then there's just the rewrites, edits, rewrites, proofreading, cover, publishing, marketing, oh, and write the next one. So I'm basically almost a novelist.

How is everything with you? Spring energy kicking in? Or whiffling around under a pile of books? Either way I am sending you good thoughts.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Morris
















Ah, bank holiday. It seemed as though everyone was out, everywhere. We cunningly avoided the M5 and went to the village with the big village green. The canal was bustling, with houseboats opened up and everyone kicking back and enjoying the sun. The bridge operators were opening and closing bridges non-stop, some of them still needing winding by hand - hot work on the hottest Easter Monday on record.

Outside the pub there was all sorts of traditional bank holiday stuff - Morris dancing, sausage rolls, ice-cream, lager, dogs underfoot, deckchairs, sunburn and cider ice-lollies (the littlest boy's choice - the closest he can get to actual cider, which he believes he may enjoy). St George was even cantering about the place lancing things, which added to the atmosphere. There was a mummer's play and some strange feathery, flappy black-clad Morris dancers which Bertie took a very decided dislike to. He'd already had a fright when the barrier at the swing bridge went up in the air and the scary people were, well, a bridge too far. We retreated to a shady tree to calm down.

I dutifully did the annual Easter egg treasure hunt yesterday. I always forget what utter chaos it is when people misinterpret the clue and empty out cupboards looking for something that isn't there. I love it really though, especially when they can't get one and I can stand there looking smug and enigmatic because I KNOW WHERE THE CHOCOLATE IS.

And so it is all over and normal life will resume within a day or two. I hope all had a good weekend. I have enjoyed having the little and not-so-little people home. The biggest boy and I had a conversation over pens and notebooks yesterday, which we both take very seriously. I have three nice refillable pens that I got secondhand as a job lot a while ago.

Him: Three?? You don't need three.

Me: I do. What if there is a Brexit pen shortage? Who'll be laughing then?

Him: Can I have one?

Me: NO! They're all mine.

Him: But you have three.

Me: Try some of this tea. Smell it first.

Him: IT SMELLS OF CARDIFF!

It doesn't actually. Cardiff smells lovely, and lapsang souchong does too, although in a very different and more of a burning rubber sort of a way.

Of course he squeezed a pen out of me in the end. Then he took it apart to see how it worked. What is it with boys and taking stuff apart? He also likes making 'improvements' to things. He has added about forty 'useful' apps to my laptop to streamline his existence. Unfortunately it takes so long there isn't usually much time left for homework at the end of it all. But it is all apparently very efficient and if only I would do it all as well, I too could be running smoothly.

Hope all is well out there? Smooth and energy efficient? Or slopping lapsang souchong on the laptop and hoping for the best?