Monday, 21 June 2021

Deeply ashamed


I'm enjoying the foxgloves in the garden at the moment. I sowed apricot and white ones, having in mind some sort of tasteful pastel drift of loveliness, but I have ended up with at least fifty per cent bright pink. That happens to me quite a lot with seeds.

The sweet peas have been a bit of surprise as well. I was going for all sorts of bright colours, but the first ones to flower have been an almost-white hint-of-mauve concoction. The marguerite (penultimate photo) was a divine pale pink when I bought it. Those flowers passed, then a new flush came along that were much brighter. That happens to me as well. I feel that they must do something to the flowers to lighten them (lack of light?), but then it passes and the plant reverts to its more natural colour.

Anyway, I have flowers, and that's good enough. The garden needs loads of work, but I just haven't had much time, far too much work on at the moment, so it is having to wait. I did manage to pop some plants into the wildlife pond, which the dog has been very pleased about as pulling plants out of the pond is one of his very best pastimes.

I am trying to use every little spare moment efficiently at present, so that stuff does get done, even if it is slow going. I had an odd five minutes the other evening so I tidied a kitchen drawer that was getting a bit stuffed full of clutter. That drawer, if you know what I mean. The one where odd plugs and cables and bank cards and string and odd shoe laces and five pencil sharpeners and the rubber things for holding bikes onto the bike rack are kept and that I can never remember where they are when I need them and only ever when I am tidying the drawer or going deep into it to find some other odd missing thing.

Anyway, all this to confess a deeply shameful thing. Bearing in mind I try to be a bit green and eco-friendly when I can, it turns out I have been stockpiling AA batteries and I now have enough to power the whole street for a week. I think it must be a leftover reaction to when the children were small and they had all sorts of ghastly plastic things that flashed and made noises and they were forever asking for batteries.

So now whenever I see them reduced I think, ooh, good, batteries are on offer, I'll just pick up a pack of eight. I am sorry to say I counted them and I have fifty-four. FIFTY-FOUR. Honestly, what is wrong with me? I have racked my brains to think of something I use that actually takes AA batteries and there is nothing. My little voice recorder for interviews takes AAA batteries, but the only thing I have that takes AA batteries is a tiny string of lights on a wire that I get out in the depths of winter and use very sparingly because, well, because it uses batteries. Prepare to see many arty photos featuring miniature fairy lights.

I am now resolving (again..?) to be much more controlled about absolutely everything and not just randomly buy stuff on some sort of mad whim. Anything shameful in your drawers I should know about? xx

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Agriculturally correct


I have purloined a functional camera from the eldest and after much fiddling to change all the bizarre setting (he went through a phase of shooting everything in Super Vivid) I am just about managing to take some photos with normal colouring in them. No doubt I will be told off for shoving the camera in my bag before too long though.

We are all about the cricket here of course. The season for children is short and very intense. The matches for the older two are all over the place, miles away, down hot stretches of congested motorway. And work is rather flattening me at the moment. The eldest has had some lifts to cricket. Lots of the team are in farming and he said he doesn't always know how to respond when they are seemingly quite excited about the sale of a cow or some such thing. I have suggested he listen to an episode of the Archers from time to time. It's where I got practically all of my quite extensive farming knowledge. It's agriculturally correct you know. I'm almost certain I could deliver a lamb or get a cow in the crush now.

I have spent the odd minute staring into the depths of the wildlife pond this week. While it might not look very inspiring to an outsider, I am loving it. It's really a hub for the wildlife. I have a couple of little plants at the edges now and some new oxygenating weed and a submerged plant in the middle alongside the waterlily. All natives except the lily. There is something very tranquil about staring at water, even if it is a bit on the green side. 

On the subject of tranquil, I am wondering if I should take up meditating. So many people seem to swear by it. I need calm and clarity and focus. And a few more hours in the day. Do I even have time to meditate? I suspect it is not something to be rushed, which is my main modus operandi. But maybe that means I particularly need it and it will transform my life. The bottom line is I have rather too much work on and I probably should have said no to some stuff, but I didn't. Just in case, you know. So now I am rather suffering for it. But, lesson learned and all that.

Meantime, I am neglecting the garden and feeding the children very fast things and racing the dog round on his walks at top speed, although he always does his best to make me stop and smell the flowers, or mostly another dog's bottom to be honest.

There are a couple of really lovely flowers on my dog walk that I want to know what they are. I am working up the courage to take my camera along and photograph them so that one of you can identify them, but I will look rather obvious when I'm doing it, so I need to wait for a brave and fearless day. And a day when the dog is in the mood for a hasty retreat. 

Hope all is well at your end and that you're enjoying the sunshine. CJ xx

Monday, 24 May 2021

The ice-cream habit

The wildlife pond is filling up nicely in all this wild weather, but the beans are on their last legs. The eldest has taken to the roads with a first driving lesson. He went to a nearby village and it was bin day. The bins were in the road because there aren't pavements, and apparently he nearly took one out as he flew by. In fact it all sounded fairly eventful, with pedestrians in the road and oncoming cars and torrential rain and overtaking and kerbs and all sorts. I wonder if driving instructors ever wake up with a huge intake of breath in the middle of the night imagining they are being driven off of a cliff or something. It makes me nervous just thinking about it. 

Within two days of the urchins not having to wear face masks to school any more, the littlest boy managed to catch a cold. This has morphed into a hacking cough, so I am wondering if he will be sent home. With only five days until half term, I could really do with some peace and quiet. We are at loggerheads quite a bit these days, mostly over screen time. Honestly, it's a battle. The other two often give me helpful parenting advice over it all, which is marvellous, as you can imagine. 

Work has been busy, which is good and I am very grateful for it, but it hasn't left me much time for fiction writing lately. Plus, I fear I have been a bit slack. I tend to work every day, including weekends and bank holidays, and I think that it's left me a bit drained. Must try harder. The weekend working started over the past year, partly because I've been busy and partly because there hasn't been much else on. And somehow it's become a habit. 

Having ice-cream in the house has become a habit as well. It used to be a birthday treat, but there must have been a point during the pandemic when I suddenly thought we deserved to have ice-cream all of the time. Of course, there will be complete outrage if I cut off their supply now. I fear it is a bullet I will have to bite. Just as soon as I am feeling up to it. Pick your battles and all that.

Any new habits at your end? I am sure lots of people have taken up very good things like exercise and painting and learning a language and I am definitely going to do that next time instead.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

A sad goodbye

Photo by Mircea Ploscar at Pixabay

I was so sad to hear of the death of my blogging friend Teresa Kasner. She was such a kind, generous person and she'll be sorely missed by so many. Her posts were always so warm and welcoming, I felt as if I was sitting down with her for a chat, having a wander round her beautiful garden, spending a moment by the fire, admiring her lovely home. And I always felt a bit better after a while spent in her company, she had such warmth and open friendliness.

I looked at several beautiful flower photos for this post, but the sunflower seemed the right one. Teresa was sunshine to me, always welcome, always warm. I will miss her. CJ xx

Saturday, 1 May 2021

At the bottom of the pond


It's all drama in the garden. The fencing chap (not the £1,800 one) did a lovely job, except that he cut off my wisteria that I'd been carefully nurturing for a couple of years. It was just starting to get nicely established. There is a sad stump left behind. I am checking it daily in the hopes that it will sprout.

The blackbirds have had their nest plundered twice by a magpie. They yelled and yelled, but to no avail. It flew off with a very sizeable chick. I fear they have none left now and have had to start again from scratch.

This afternoon I emptied the wildlife pond. It tends to get leaves and apples and pears dropping in it from time to time and it had gone a bit green and sludgy. There were LOTS of frogs in there, as well as newts, so it was a bit of a trick to relocate them temporarily. The liner is all nice and clean now, the golf balls have been removed, the pebbles washed and replaced and the waterlily and the newts are back in the bottom. I just need a substantial amount of rain to fill it back up now. With a bank holiday coming up I might be in luck.

The pond really is such a good thing in the garden. Back when we had a bit of a freeze I was taking the top layer of ice off, mostly to remove the duckweed in a nice handy sheet. I was amazed how many birds came down to drink afterwards, I think they were happy to find water that wasn't frozen. And the frogs love it, and they're good for the garden, eating slugs, so it's beneficial all round. A little plug for ponds, in case you were contemplating one. 

Mine is very simple. A hole lined with some free offcuts of carpet from the Sort-It Centre, then a stout pond liner (not a rigid one), then filled with rainwater and a small waterlily. I'll get some oxygenating weed next time I'm at the garden centre. I've had other plants in the past. The iris was lovely, but the dog took a liking to it, and after a protracted battle, he won. I'll probably get one or two plants for the shallower water at the side too.

In other news, I have it on good authority (the chap on the check-out at the Co-op) that there was a punch-up at the barbers after lockdown ended. The urchins went to the other one and managed to have a nice trim without having to resort to violence, as far as I know.

Otherwise, life has been fairly free of drama and mostly all about work, which is no bad thing, although I could do with some more time. Twas ever thus. All clear at your end?

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Into the light


More over-exposed photos from my camera, really must get that sorted. Although at the moment I am focusing on trying to get someone to fix my old laptop that I use as a second screen. It just needs a new cable putting in between the screen and the keyboard bit, but the local shop quoted me a ludicrous amount that involved ordering things from America and waiting for weeks and paying import tax and all sorts of ridiculousness. The he tried to sell me a new laptop. The piece I need is £3.50 on ebay. 

I also had a bit of trouble with quotes for new fencing. £1,600 for collecting a dozen new panels and dropping them into the pre-existing concrete uprights. I don't mind paying a reasonable sum for having a job well done, but given that the panels themselves cost less than £30 each, it seemed excessive. So I haven't tackled the camera thing yet. Plus, where would I go? 

I booked to take my eldest, the birdwatcher, to the wetlands place, then it was cancelled, and I booked to the take the youngest to a skatepark and that was cancelled too. Not complaining at all, but it was very exciting to write things on the calendar. Now we are back down to 'Worm Dog' and 'Check Miso - 6 Months'. (I made some homemade miso a while back, which needs to ferment for half a year). 

The barbers open tomorrow, but they are not operating a booking system so it will be queues the length of the high street I imagine. There is a serious amount of hair in this house, people are receiving comments. Not me, I did my own. And hopefully it will have grown back out in a year or so.

There is a serious cat problem in the back garden at the moment. With a missing fence panel at the back, it is a cat free-for-all. I had no idea there were so many. Bert is incensed. More so as he is not allowed out because of the missing fence panel and the risk that he would spot a cat and that's the last we'd see of him. 

Football has started up again, which is good, although I'd forgotten how long a match is and how cold it can be standing there watching. I think I have become soft over lockdown. All that nice warm inside time. 

News from your end? xx

Thursday, 18 March 2021



Blue skies down by the river and birdsong everywhere. I hear a woodpecker on my walks most mornings which is lovely. He is showing off a bit and staking his claim to his territory I think. 

It's been a week of small frustrations here. You know the sort. Banging your head against a brick wall with the Revenue. Ditto trying to open a bank account for a child. Trying to tell the printer that there is nothing wrong with the brand new genuine branded cartridge you have spent a small fortune on. Ordering a new printer, then ordering the ink somewhere else, then being told the printer is not in stock. My head felt dangerously hot at one point, I worried it might explode. 

The littlest boy has grown over the latest lockdown so that neither his school trousers nor his school shoes fit him any more. He had to take a note in so that he could wear non-uniform shoes as they are being quite strict at his school these days after a number of rather shambolic years. The middle boy also seems to have grown out of his school shoes. He pointed out that they were bought for him way back in August, so it is no surprise that he needs new ones. Good grief. He has only worn them for about three months. 

Anyway, I am being all calm and zen about it all now and not getting het up about things I cannot control. Well, okay, that is absolute rubbish, but it's what I aspire to.

Bertie had a hair cut last week, which he absolutely loathes. He shakes like a leaf when he realises we're headed for the groomer's. I practised walking past her house with him last night to try and get used to it, but it didn't work at all and I ended up carrying him. I wonder what he objects to so much. She does shave him quite closely in places.

My camera isn't working properly at the moment. On an ordinary setting it lets in so much light that a picture is almost entirely white, so I have to put it on a really dark setting. Not sure if it is fixable, but it is making taking pictures tricky. Maybe it's time to look for a new-to-me one. The biggest boy did mutter something about giving me his old one, but I fear I would be told off all the time for slinging it carelessly in my bag. Any sort of definitive action is slightly beyond me right now for some reason, so I will no doubt just stumble on taking over-exposed things or too dark things and muttering under my breath. 

I hope this post didn't come out as too much of a moan. I am very chipper really, just slightly short on any actual news. How are things at your end?