Thursday 30 March 2017

Standing together

If you don't mind I think I might say something about the environmental situation, which is looking more than a little grim both across the pond and also here, where Brexit will surely be followed by a watering down of environmental protections. And about the local situation as a nearby wildlife pond is due to be filled in, fields are being filled with new houses and a supposed charitable organisation has been indiscriminately ripping down huge towering ivy plants and other valuable foliage.

The biggest boy, the birdwatcher, gave me some horrendous figures for the drop in various common (or now, not-so-common) species the other day. For example, a 62% drop in skylark numbers over the last fifty years, a 71% drop in house sparrows and a 96% drop in turtle doves. That's almost all of them. And down on the ground hedgehogs are faring badly, with numbers at an estimated 50% lower over the past 15 years alone.

As our seas fill with plastic and our land is torn apart and poisoned, pretty much all I can do is keep on doing the little things. Not buying too much of anything. Choosing organic when I can. Walking not driving as often as possible. Looking at exactly what I'm purchasing and asking if I really need it and if there's a greener alternative. Growing a little of my own food. Planting a few flowers for bees and butterflies. Looking after my wildlife pond. Speaking out for another one.

It is heartening to know that  many other people feel the same way, are making the same choices and trying to stem the tide. We need to attend to the small things, as well as protesting the big ones. The slow food movement has a saying, I think in response to the merger of Bayer and Monsanto, 'They are giants, but we are millions'. Nothing makes me happier than meeting like-minded souls who care deeply for our planet and the other creatures who make their homes here. Are you with me?

Sunday 26 March 2017

Going down in flames

It fell to the littlest boy to choose an outing this weekend. He had had a couple of weekends trailing round behind bigger brothers, so he was allowed to pick where we went. He chose the beach, one of his favourite places. He took his spade and dug holes and made friends with dogs and tried to stop the sea coming in and pleaded unsuccessfully for an ice-cream.

We got fish and chips instead and sat and watched the sunset. I always love to watch a sunset. I take big breaths and think deep thoughts about how we only get to watch a certain amount of sunsets. I like to fully appreciate each one that I get to watch.

The evening was enlivened a little by a dramatic fire on the seafront. Apparently someone set a shed on fire and it spread and a whole flat went up in flames. No injuries thankfully.

A few years ago the pier went up in spectacular fashion. The one in the pictures is the rebuild. Hopefully now with functioning alarm system.

When I haven't been strolling along promenades, eating chips and watching sunsets I've been pressing on with the whole writing thing. Writing articles here and there, and a little editing too last week. It's hard work breaking into the world of freelance writing, but slowly, slowly I'm, well, not getting there, but just doing little things from time to time.

It's hard to maintain momentum (or even hope) at times, but for now it's what I'm doing. We shall see how it goes. I don't have any unrealistic expectations, which is good. Just, you know, giving it a go.

Anyway, that's that. Did you all have a good weekend with a little spring sunshine? In fact, down at the beach there was a howling gale. Sand in my hair, my teeth, a layer of skin nicely exfoliated. Oh I do like to be beside the seaside. Wishing all a good week. CJ xx

PS. I'm over on Jo's blog, How to Hygge the British Way this week, if you'd like a look.

Saturday 11 March 2017


Spring is in the air no? The return of Gardener's World is the surest sign of it I think. I do so like the programme now that it's just Monty Don in his lovely garden. Couldn't stand the Top Gear style joshing that it was starting to degenerate into before when Joe Swift was on all the time. I love the peace and calmness that is Monty, trailed by Nigel and Nell, wandering about, clipping things down here, pegging them up there. No ridiculous wittering on, no stupid banter. Just Monty and a dog or two.

The filming is always delicious. Close ups of flowers and raindrops and bees and frogs. It never fails to inspire me. Beth Chatto was on last night, in her divine garden. She made her own tiny lake with a rowing boat on it. Happy sigh.

The boys discovered newts in our little wildlife pond this morning. Honestly, we were all so excited. Build it and they will come. There is so much frogspawn now. Apparently newts eat it, and also the tadpoles when they emerge. Maybe that's why newts have appeared.

I got the box of seeds down yesterday and had a rummage through. Time to start popping things in I think. I got out sweet peas and sunflowers to start with. The tomatoes are already in. I like to get some sugar snaps in quite early, and I've got the radishes out to direct sow. There's rocket ready to eat in the garden already, peppery and delicious. Let the gardening begin.

Friday 3 March 2017

To knit or not to knit and to crochet instead

A brief sunny spell in the garden. Blueberry buds, frogspawn and fresh rocket leaves. But not much else. I still haven't sown any seeds so far this year. Quite often I go too early and end up with windowsills full of little plants stretching towards the sun. I'm trying later dates this year, we'll see if they catch up.

I am trying to settle into the deprivation that is Lent. No snacks except fruit, no salty deliciousnesses, no sugar. Sigh. It will take me a while. I am still in the bleak phase at the moment. I told the biggest boy my life was empty and meaningless on Day 1. I may have been overdramatising. (I don't really mean it, of course I don't, you know how I like to be ridiculous.) I shall of course get into the swing of it all and hopefully feel all the better for it.

On the knitting front I have come to a halt with The Black Thing. The body is done, it just needs arms, but I'm just not feeling it right now. Apologies for the picture, it has a darkness about it which does not like to be photographed. It's like some sort of black hole sucking in all the light.

I found some odd bits of yarn in much happier colours. Spring if you will.

I'm thinking a small blankety thing for the living room in winter. For those days when a hot water bottle isn't enough, or for early mornings when the little people come downstairs to read and it's chilly.

Alicia is making a lovely one here (scroll down to the last picture). I happened upon it as the yarn sat in front of me being considered. But I'm not sure if I can do a whole one in crochet. It's a funny thing isn't it, how most people favour either knitting or crochet. I'm more of a knitter. It's relaxing, up and down and back and forth. I find crochet a bit more of an effort, probably because I'm less used to it. But the texture, it's lovely. I'm torn. Thoughts? I'm also aware that crochet seems somehow to use more yarn.

The weekend is upon us again. There will of course be football to be watched, come rain or shine (the weatherman says rain) and believe it or not the first cricket practice. That surely marks the start of spring. Have a good couple of days, I shall wish some sun for you.