Wednesday, 30 October 2013

rambling on about . . . my daily routines going to pot . . .

A routine has been established with the dogs – my own has gone to pot.  Only one walk in the rain so far.  This morning the wind has dropped and the sun shines burnishing the leaves to gold, and crows are silhouetted against an azure blue sky.

Rufus is my constant companion, whither I go, so goes he. After the first night when he began howling at one in the morning, he now sleeps on the bed in the crook of my knees.  A bad habit I know, but one I am prepared to put up with for a good nights sleep.SDC19060   Poppy is getting on a bit, so sleeps whenever and wherever.  The only problem now is trying to stop them eating horse poo which they seem to have a taste for, and as this is horse country, there is plenty of poo for them to have a go at.

 

I have been taking a few photos in the garden and playing around with them for a bit of fun.

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And in between all things dog-related I have also been trying to map out some ideas for the November novel writing month which begins in a couple of days.  It has been hard to concentrate this week and slow progress has been made, maybe I won’t complete the 50,000 words this time around, but at least the seed will have been sown, and I can always continue when the competition is over.

SDC19038So, only three more days before my neighbours return from their holiday – looking after someone else’s dogs  has certainly been an experience – not sure I would want to repeat it, but they are loveable little creatures and have won a place in my heart.

Friday, 25 October 2013

rambling on about . . . house guests . . .

I have house guests for the next week – very noisy, hyper house guests.  One is under the desk at the moment, doing heaven knows what – the other is mooching about puffing like a steam train after a bout of running round the house with a tennis ball.

They are staying with me whilst my neighbour goes on holiday to Scotland, I have a double sided page of instructions.

I’m not sure I’ll survive.  If I make a fuss of one the other barks like a maniac and vice versa.

SDC19030 Meet Poppy

It is mayhem – and this is only the first day.  There are toys everywhere, some already ripped to shreds – which doesn’t suit my tidy nature at all.

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I’m sure they will settle – my neighbour said they would probably sleep all day – I have seen no evidence of this so far.  Don’t get me wrong – I am a dog-lover and up until the last few years have always kept dogs.  But I have got out of the habit.  So it will be back to long walks, probably mostly in the rain and at ungodly hours.

SDC19031 and Rufus

Only another seven days to go – will I still be sane at the end of the week – I seriously doubt it.  I’ll keep you posted (if I have time).

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Finally, the house has gone quiet, both are flaked out – Rufus on the spare bed (apparently he needs a lot of re-assurance and likes to keep you in his sights). Poppy is downstairs in her bed. 

I think I need a little lie down myself.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

rambling on about . . . home and garden pictorial . . .

To be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter . . .

to be thrilled by the stars at night;

to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring -

these are the rewards of a simple life

- John Burroughs

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Garden - Rudbeckia

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Home - Zinnia

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Garden – Japanese Anemone

SDC18941Garden – Purple Kale

SDC18943 Garden – Cosmos Purity

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Garden – a cache of snails

SDC18973 sky before rainstorm

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sky during rainstorm

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sky after rainstorm

SDC18964-001 Home – lentil soup

SDC18976 Home – Lanterns and Pumpkins

Robert Frost

“God made a beauteous garden
With lovely flowers strown,
But one straight, narrow pathway
That was not overgrown.
And to this beauteous garden
He brought mankind to live,
And said "To you, my children,
These lovely flowers I give.
Prune ye my vines and fig trees,
With care my flowers tend,
But keep the pathway open
Your home is at the end."
God's Garden”
Robert Frost

Monday, 21 October 2013

rambling on about . . . a few snatched moments

Although it has been raining pretty much all week I have managed to snatch a few moments to carry on tidying and clearing the summers’ accumulated detritus.  Empty pots stacked, supporting canes pulled out and stored, tomato plants removed and composted.  Things are beginning to look a little more shipshape in the veg plot.

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Now I can get down to planning for next year and how I can fit everything in to make full use of the space that I have.

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It isn’t going to be easy, now that I don’t have my allotment I won’t be able to grow as much as I did, and maybe not as much variety.

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But I am going to give it a darn good try, using as much ingenuity as I can muster.

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I am inspired by Jono at Real Men Sow who is in, more or less, the same situation as me and he seems pretty chipper about it.  I have to think positive – I have been growing veg, one way or another, for most of my adult life – this is just another challenge.  I couldn’t contemplate not growing my own food, for me it is unthinkable.

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Sorry about the quality of the photographs but the weather outside is dire at the moment and I have had to use heavy editing to get even these poor pictures.  So onwards and upwards, as they say; as Flighty mentions in a recent post – it is time to start looking through seed catalogues, checking what I already have and what is needed – and you know what, it isn’t going to be as bad as I feared.

Friday, 18 October 2013

rambling on . . . about an autumn dilemma

Picture this  - a border – full of pink petalled flowers with ferny leaves and tight shiney buds being tossed about in the autumn winds like a ship on the ocean with rain-spoilt petals that droop and wither.

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Should they be brutally ripped out at their roots in a fever of border clearance to make way for new plants eager to get out of their small pots – or left to die a graceful death when the first frosts arrive.

Oh – the misery of indecision.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Rambling on . . . about the last of the summer wine

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Seven o’clock. Still dark. Through the half open window the first bird wakens and starts singing. A Robin, trilling up and down the scales. The heating clicks on as a heavy fog veils the valley. Drip,drip,drip.

So this is autumn, the not so pleasant side of autumn. Damp days, grey skies and constant drizzle. Drip, drip, drip.

The sun broke through for a little while yesterday and a few gardening jobs were completed. Tomatoes gathered to be ripened indoors

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Apples harvested for winter storage

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The last few courgettes, hanging on grimly, and a handful of surviving caterpillars on the kale, squished, in my gloved hand.

The day before I walked in the rain already tired of being indoors. Around the village there were a few colourful sights to cheer.

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A Rowan tree full of berry

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Crab apples festooning a front garden tree

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Pyracantha berries mirroring the red of the telephone box

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A vivid, eyecatching Acer, enough to bring a smile on the wettest of days.

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The trees down the lane are still hanging on to their leaves which are slow to change colour, reluctant to give up their summer glory.

Soon we will hunker down and accept the shorter days and longer nights.  Soups and heartwarming stews will be made, more time spent in the kitchen and beside the fire.  Last winters’ projects will be hunted out and resumed, picking up from where they were left when spring arrived.

Hats, coats and gloves are at the ready – come on winter, do your worst – let’s get this over with.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Rambling on . . . about orchards and literature . . .

 

When I was a young girl of about fifteen or so I went with a friend to visit her grandmother.  Nothing life-changing about that you might think, but, behind the suburban bungalow was a huge garden full of fruit trees and nothing else, they were old and gnarled and hadn’t been cared for in a long time (the grandmother was very ancient to my young eyes), but, I had been in my first orchard and met my first orchardist.

Wandering among the old trees in the long grass I tasted fruit fresh from the tree, plucked a strange green plum and savoured the buttery sweetness of a greengage.  From that simple moment I promised myself that when I had my own garden I would plant fruit trees, and the first of these would be a greengage.

The memory of that garden stayed with me; I remembered my promise to myself and duly planted a greengage, four apple trees and a Victoria plum. Unfortunately my garden isn’t big enough to plant them as an orchard they are scattered through the borders, but the picture below is something like my remembrance of my friends grandmothers orchard.

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So when I came across a book called The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin  her debut novel, that took eight years to write, it seemed inevitable that I should buy it, and I am so glad that I did.  Without doubt it is the best book I have read in a long time.  ‘It is an astonishing and unforgettable epic about a man who disrupts the lonely harmony of his life when he opens his heart and lets the world in.’

see interview with Amanda Coplin here

If this post tempts you to read the book I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Rambling on . . . about a vase full of autumn . . .

 

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There is a smell in the air, the smell of autumn, a yeasty, damp, fruity smell,

carrying a hint of smoke and a hint, too, of decay.

It fills me with nostalgia, but I do not know for what.

It is a smell I love, for this is and has always been my favourite season.

I have never been let down by autumn, to me it is always beautiful,

always rich, it always gives in heaping measure, and sometimes

it can stretch into November, fading, but so gently,

so slowly,

like a very old person whose dying is protracted

but peacefully, in calmness.

(Susan Hill – The Magic Apple Tree)

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Rambling on . . . about writing that novel . . .

character questions.

I have always enjoyed reading fiction, so it seemed a natural progression to think about writing something of my own.  I have notebooks full of thoughts and ideas and a few beginnings of stories that never really amounted to much.  It was only when a fellow blogger mentioned that he was thinking about joining the National Novel Writing Month nanowrimo  last year - that I said ‘I will if you will’.  There – I had commited myself to writing the draft of a novel, 50,000 words in 30 days – with no idea what I was going to write about.

After slogging away every evening for a month I completed the said number of words required for the draft, and to say I was dead ‘chuffed’ is an understatement.  I had stuck at it and had the semblance of a story for the first time ever.  Then I put the pages in a folder, put the folder in a drawer and have never looked at it since.

A few days ago I was clearing out the office desk and came across the folder and started reading – I could hardly believe that I had written all this in a month – and actually thought it was better than I remembered.

So I took the bull by the horns and gave it to a friend to read – hoping that she wouldn’t say she enjoyed it so as not to hurt my feelings.

I spent a restless night wondering if she had started it yet and what her reaction would be.  She came round this afternoon bearing the folder aloft – saying  that she had spent the evening reading my draft – and, hooray, she enjoyed it – genuinely.  There were one or two criticisms which I took on the chin, knowing already that I could have expanded the story in some places, and she said that I had almost given away the ending too early on – but other than that . . .

Whew – it was nerve-wracking, no-one has ever been given the chance to read anything I had written before , it was a secret, private thing – but it was a worthwhile exercise and has given me a little more confidence in my ability as a writer.

I don’t think I could stand the strain of doing it for a living though - it is all-consuming – all that thinking and plotting is enough to make your brain explode – now when I read a book I take in all sorts of things that I never noticed previously.

So – I am quite happy just to do it for pleasure and to keep my brain active – and one satisfied reader is a good start . . . for now . . .

I am thinking about doing it again this year as I found it such an exhilirating experience – fancy joining me?

Click on to the above link if you are interested – we could give each other moral support when things aren’t going very well – what say you?

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Monday, 7 October 2013

Rambling on …about comfort food . . .

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Shepherds Pie

Steaming . . . hot . . . soft mashed potato under a crunchy top - oozing gravy

this is my favourite comfort food

what’s yours?

Friday, 4 October 2013

Rambling on . . . Gardening Woes or How Not to be a Gardener . . .

 

As the gardening year comes to a close – the serious work of garden maintenance begins. Even though I have only just returned from a lovely break by the sea, fully rejuvenated,  I seem to lose interest in the garden at this time of year, and the thought of all that tidying, pruning and bulb planting, is enough to make me take to my bed and wait for spring to arrive.

SDC18840 The last roses blooming

I am not sure why this happens – I’m supposed to love gardening – I often say so, so it must be true; but as I get older I  enjoy being in the garden whilst not actually doing anything.  Strolling round admiring the flowers and taking pictures, a little bit of pottering here and there, sitting in the shade reading (some would call it loafing), harvesting the fruits of my labours,  all make me happy – but getting down to the real nitty-gritty – well, that’s a different matter.

SDC18747-001 Victoria plums

All the pruning back, removing pernicious weeds, planting dozens of bulbs etc. just seems like too much hard work. The only thing I can do to make life easier is to simplify everything – so a lot of serious thinking is going on as to how to enjoy the garden without becoming a slave to it.

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Chilli plant

Is it inevitable and natural that we wind down along with the season – or am I on my own here?

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Rambling on . . .Leylandii nightmare . . . Going, going, gone . . .

A couple of weeks ago my neighbour told me that they had decided to cut down the Leylandii at the bottom of the garden.  It has to be at least 200 feet high.  It is planted in the corner and overhangs my garden by 10 feet or more.  It shades my raised veg  beds and stops them getting any rain, which means I can’t plant anything towards the back of the bed, and it sheds dead needles all year round. 

I almost jumped for joy when she told me but practised a little restraint – when I really wanted to say ‘goody goody gumdrops’ or words to that effect.  The only thing I will miss it for is the shade it affords when I sit on my garden bench in the summer admiring my vegetables – other than that it serves no useful purpose as far as I can see – and I say ‘good riddance’.

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Going

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Going

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Gone

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Whew – thank goodness for that!

Sorry pigeons – you’ll just have to find somewhere else to roost.