What a difference a day makes

I had a good stretch of unbroken sleep last night, the weather has been cooler this morning and the neigbourhood is, at least for now, blessedly quiet. A pleasant spell of peaceful respite before the bank holiday.

There are many compensations for the trials that summer weather brings to my ailing body, sweet scented full-blown roses being just one, and when I’m not frayed to bits with weariness they give me much pleasure.

Sadly, although I felt better this morning than yesterday morning and I have crossed a few tasks off my list, my energy is going now. I can feel my muscles starting to seize up and a headache brewing. It’s time to take some painkillers and rest again…


Garden news

The aquilegias that I grew from home-harvested seed last year are in flower! They are mostly pretty pastel variations on the parent plant’s dusky pink blooms, but I like this rich deep blue one best.

Although we’ve had some spells of sunshine, the weather continues to be quite chilly and I’m glad I was late in starting my courgette and runner bean seeds. They’ve popped up through the compost now and will hopefully be ready to plant out by the end of the month. I’m already putting them outdoors during the warmest part of the day, so they won’t need a long period of hardening off.

The garden is looking very lush with spring growth now, the rain has been good for that at least, and we haven’t had any frost lately (as far as I’m aware). There are flowers on the strawberries, blackcurrants and loganberries and buds on the raspberries. I’m picking chickweed, rocket and mizuna to eat, have a potentially decent crop of coriander leaves to come (my first success with this!) and my saved parsley seed is germinating well. I’ve eaten my first crop of radishes and planted some more. I’ve earthed up the spuds twice and they’re due for another top-up soon, though it won’t really matter if I don’t get around to it.

I still need to repot some of my fig cuttings and to give as many of them away as possible. I’ve agreed to keep the ones for the community garden for a while, but I want to reduce my watering commitments as much as I can.

I set myself a New Year resolution of only having ten pots to water this year and have failed dismally on that front. I now have more pots than when I set the goal. Oh well, I’m doing better with other resolutions! I’ll plant out the bulbs that are currently in pots and few other potted plants will be axed once they have flowered (things that are pot-bound, not doing very well and too big to repot easily). That and rehoming various things will reduce the total pot-count eventually.

I also need to rip out a lot of forget-me-not plants BEFORE they go to seed. They are very pretty at this time of year, but rather invasive. And last, but not least, I need to keep applying weedkiller (carefully and selectively) to the blasted bindweed – I let it get out of hand last year and I must be more ruthless with it this year .

It’s frustrating having to limit what I do in any one gardening session, but little and not too often achieves more in the long run than a long stint that flattens me for days.

Spring visitor

As Colour it Green says the weather at this time of year is a bit of a battle between winter and summer. We’ve had a lot of amazingly warm foretaste-of-summer days in my part of southern England this March. The warmth has brought welcome visitors to the garden and clothed early flowering shrubs and trees with blossom.

Blue skies, blossom and sunshine lift winter- weary spirits, but with a drought and hosepipe ban in view, wet days are welcome too. At the moment my garden soil is in wonderfully workable condition and bit by bit I’m getting things tidied up ready for spring planting. The bigger of the two raised beds is almost finished – I just need to feed the raspberry canes with a dressing of blood, fish and bonemeal and apply a nice thick mulch of grass clippings.

The second raised bed needs a final clearance, then I’ll pop some radishes in the space the courgette plant will occupy later in the season, with a few sprouted supermarket Charlotte spuds to fill up the spare corners. Runner beans will go in a large container and I’ll also have a few pots with herbs and saladings, but I’m transferring as many potted shrubs as I can into the garden to reduce the amount of watering I have to do in the summer.

Shameless imitation

Last week Esculentetc drew my attention to this post by The Quince Tree on Twitter and I bookmarked it for future use. Today the sun is shining beautifully, and although I am not up to going for a proper walk or anything strenuous, I was determined to have a few minutes outdoors after lunch. I took a container with me and peeled my eyes for colourful and interesting objects.

I kept to the rule of not picking anything, but, lacking a matchbox in which to arrange my finds, I tried some alternative displays as you can see below. It was a delightfully pleasurable little exercise and one I shall repeat in different seasons. Do have a go yourself and share your finds with the blog world. Thank you Quince Tree and Esculentetc.


I can’t get into the New Year spirit this year. 2011 has had some really great moments and experiences, but looking back over the year my overall impression is of far too much dreary hard work for little or no reward. Just not enough good stuff to balance the crap. And I don’t feel like spinning the little bits of goodness into absolutely bloody wonderfulness just to avoid sounding like a complete loser.

Nor do I much feel like making plans for 2012 which are more than likely to be scuppered by my poor health and the consequent necessity to do battle with the DWP. Like the poster, which I have now taken down from the kitchen wall, my courage, determination, endurance and hope is faded and battered.

But still, I’m not quite ready to give in and quit completely either, I simply don’t know what else I can do to do to make things better, so rather than scrabbling around trying to think of something, I’m just going to step back a bit and let things be. Do what has to be done and try to find some time and energy for getting out to meet new people and see interesting things.

I’m not making any resolutions today, but if and when I do (maybe around spring equinox, when nature really starts to flourish and grow again) I’ll probably use this blog post as my inspiration. Thank you Mary Gordon (and whoever it was that tweeted the link to me).

Only time will tell whether 2012 is mostly a Happy or a Crappy New Year for any of us, but here’s hoping for the best… And a nice fat Lotto or Premium Bonds win – it won’t cure my physical problems, but being able to tell the DWP where to shove their forms and procedures would lift my spirits no end! 🙂

Season’s Greetings

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Laptop 1958 style

From The Countryman magazine Winter 1958. The equivalent cost today would be £522.22 according to this calculator, which would buy a PC laptop package more than adequate for most people’s needs.

I suspect that far fewer people would have aspired to a portable typewriter as a Christmas gift in 1958 than will be hoping for a new laptop under the tree in 2011. Not only would the cost have been out of most people’s reach, but it’s not quite as interesting as a computer is it?