Wednesday 20 July 2022

Mr Beaky


Scenes from the garden. It's so dry out there, although by some miracle next-door's grass is a deep green and growing beautifully. I am compiling a list of environmental crimes. Complete destruction of the back lane habitat. Mouse poisoning. Unreasonable grass. He is rather opposed to anything wild or living I fear. It is very much an empty shoebox garden with just grass, not a single other plant. I am working up to having a polite conversation about it all.

Around the neighbourhood we are losing at least a dozen big ash trees to ash die back. The felling notices say that although there will be replanting, it will be done somewhere else. Disappointing, because some of the trees are in big open green spaces, which will then be big empty green spaces. 

I don't mean to be all doom and gloom though. On this side of the garden fence there are all sorts of bees and butterflies and birds and in the other next door garden it is delightfully wild.

I have had the back door open a lot. I was eating my breakfast the other day while reading and something wandered into the room, strolled around and disappeared off again. I saw it out of the corner of my eye while I was engrossed and it took a good thirty seconds for me to realise that it wasn't the dog (he was out on a walk). By the time I'd leapt up and gone to investigate, it had disappeared. I finally spotted it - a cat, sashaying back up the garden path, cool as you please. Very good job the dog wasn't at home. 

Today has felt expensive. Food, petrol, locksmith (dodgy garage door), clothes for urchins and a head torch for the eldest who is going away and says that he thinks he will have to be active after dark. One of those days when outgoings far exceed incomings. Plus, someone is making very free with my organic cacao, which to my mind is a little luxury, to be had sparingly. 

I sent the middle boy out to pick the cherries, like in the olden days when time off of school was so that urchins could help with the harvest. I asked him if he felt a huge amount of homesteader satisfaction in putting provisions by for the winter. I think he was struggling to feel it to be honest. Supermarkets have ruined that sort of thing I fear.

I have been decluttering a little. I took an old hand puppet toy called Mr Beaky (think Emu, only with a shorter neck) to the recycling centre shop when the littlest boy wasn't around - most of this sort of toy removal has to be conducted stealthily or it will all be 'rescued' back again. 

At the recycling centre they have a portacabin where they hang out and all around it they have decorated with garden ornaments such as gnomes and pigs and things. Just as you drive up the slope to arrive, there is a big pole. When I went with the biggest boy, the first thing we saw was Mr Beaky perched right on top of the pole. I really must remember no to go there with the littlest boy for the foreseeable future or I shall be in all manner of trouble. I shall probably have to buy him back as well. Sigh. I had been so surreptitious in sneaking him out.

Hope everyone is cool and calm and collected out there. CJ xx

Sunday 10 July 2022

Flying ant day

Dog and frog
                                                                        Dog and frog

It was Flying Ant Day today. That hot, dry day in midsummer when suddenly all of the flying ants appear. I rescued several from the fox/hedgehog/dog water bowls that I have about the place. Also a woodlouse from the pond, which was very satisfying. The pond level is a bit low at the moment, so it must be feeling a bit more crowded in there than usual. I also need to remove some of the weed, which is growing really well. In fact, a tiny strand of it has grown to fill the whole pond, and the water lily also needs to be smaller. Or maybe I just need a bigger pond. The littlest boy is all for digging a new, bigger one, but there is a layer of rock just below the soil surface here and I haven't forgotten how hard it was to chisel out even the small pond that we have now.

The garden is nicely messy and full of flying things, especially the grass which is still thick with clover and probably at least eight other flowers. The blackbirds are stuffing themselves with blueberries and the pigeons are still gorging themselves with cherries from the three trees dotted around. Still no sign of an actual hedgehog, but all in good time.

It is wall-to-wall cricket here at the moment, but at least the whites are drying nicely on the line and of course it does keep the urchins mostly out of trouble for many hours. Although apparently the littlest boy knocked off the biggest boy's hat at tea yesterday, so the biggest boy took a bite out of the littlest boy's apple in retaliation and I feel that may have turned slightly ugly. I imagine they might try and tone it down a bit when I'm not there though, do you think? The middle boy has taken himself off to a different cricket club where he can be nicely distanced from the rabble that is the rest of the family.

I am very aware that in less than three months the biggest boy will have gone to university (all being well). There is a list of things that need to be purchased that promises to be expensive. I am going to have to rein him in a bit I fear. He has researched the local wholefood shop near his chosen uni very thoroughly, and is also aware that he will only be able to buy anything there the day that his student loan is paid and never thereafter.

I need to teach him to cook some nice cheap vegan things. I am thinking lentil things, veggie mince things, scrambled tofu and maybe something around pasta. Feeding him has always been a serious and substantial undertaking. 

He found an actual student kitchen in a video the other day. Apparently it was utterly horrific. I wonder if he will appreciate me more when he is knee deep in uncooked chicken, burned oven gloves and last week's lightly furred washing up. Do let me know if you have any cheap and easy vegan recipes that would do for an optimistic student. CJ xx