Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Mind the cat













You find us awash with Trumps here in the UK. I was very taken with the photo of Larry the Downing Street cat sitting under 'the Beast', Donald Trump's presidential limousine, which had no doubt been flown over here at great expense for the three-day visit. Anyway, I am hoping someone got down on their hands and knees and checked that Larry had moved off to safety before driving away. Otherwise I fear Mr Trump would find himself a little unpopular... The nation is very attached to Larry, who was later pictured on the windowsill licking his, well, himself. Dear Larry. We are of course reading all sorts of symbolism into the whole thing.

Anyway, there is only one day left, after which we can return to our normal state of political drama and obsession over the cricket scores. Never mind the world cup, we are deep in the cricket season in this house and the washing machine is groaning as it tries to get the whites white. Bats have been handed down from big brother to smaller brother, and the biggest boy is developing a nice line in bat refurbishment, sanding, oiling, repairing and regripping things. I am huffing about the sawdust and smell of linseed oil. Is it linseed oil that bursts into flames if you leave it on a rag to dry? I can't remember. I'm hoping not.

I am currently in a complete willpower slump. I would like to be eating less, but alas, by 3pm each day all of the self-discipline has totally evaporated. By the evening I am just throwing crisps down my neck willy nilly and rummaging through the the fridge for tasty morsels. Where does the willpower go during the day? I am a fabulous model of self-control all morning, then it just crumbles. Ooh, crumble, I have just remembered, there is orange and rhubarb crumble. And I have cream. Happy sigh. No, it's hopeless, I cannot resist.

I am even being sucked back into the evil that is coffee. I'm always so envious of those people who drink water and eat raw food all day and bounce around with all the energy. Maybe I need to be locked in a detox facility until it sticks. I think a new habit takes around three weeks to form.

Any tips for being healthy gratefully received.

PS: I have just googled linseed oil and discovered that yes, it can indeed burst into flames on a rag without a spark. So now I am wondering where all the rags have been left. And what that orange glow is coming from the garage...

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.