Friday, 28 February 2014

a birthday treat …

Tomorrow is my birthday and I feel that I can now officially say that I am a young-at-heart old lady.  I am being spirited away to the Norfolk coast for a week for my birthday treat.  I can only hope for good weather to accompany us.  I shall not become downhearted as yet another year has passed – life is good, and I am living it to the full as best I can – keeping my brain active with lots of reading, writing and crosswords;  promising myself  to learn something new – this year it has been crochet and overcoming my fear of technology – and stretching my inventiveness trying to keep this blog interesting for all you good folk out there.

Here are a few positive quotes about ageing.

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Today I am 65 years old .  I still look good.  I appreciate and enjoy my age.  A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you’re in and take advantage of it.  You still bring to bear all your prior experience, but you are riding on another level.  It’s completely liberating. (Nikki Giovanni).

fish basking in the sunshine

I’ve enjoyed every age I have been, and each has its own individual merit.  Every laugh line, every scar, is a badge I wear to show I’ve been present, the inner rings of my personal tree trunk that I display proudly for all to see.  Nowadays I don’t want a perfect face and body, I want to wear the life I have lived. (Pat Benatar)

hedgerow snowdrops

But if we are truly happy inside, then age brings with it a maturity, a depth, and a power that only magnifies our radiance. (David Deida)

storm damage

There is a fountain of youth – it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love.  When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age. (Sophia Loren)

‘Til we meet again  - I will be back with tales to tell – keep well mes ami.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

a bit of warm dry weather can make all the difference …

So far this week hasn’t been too bad at all weatherwise – on Monday I sat on the garden bench with a cup of tea and a book – in February – good heavens!

the first of the tete a tete

The sun is inviting the early bulbs to flower

golden showers climbing rose with birds and leaves obelisk

I spent the afternoon planting my new climbing roses – the leaves and birds obelisk was a Christmas present and now takes pride of place by the front door – the rose is Golden Showers.

winter pansies

The patio pansies are flowering their socks off – and have been all winter – although they are looking a little battered and worn now – bulbs are pushing their way through in between them.

curly kale

The curly kale is just about finished now and starting to go to seed but there is no sign of any spears on the purple sprouting broccoli yet although the foliage really looks healthy and shows no sign of  upset at being dug up and moved from the allotment.

purple sprouting broccoli

and the Chard is still just about edible but will soon be going to seed.

chard

When indoors I have been working on two granny blankets after promising myself to learn to crochet

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and indulging in my favourite fish finger sandwiches for lunch – oh yes!

fish finger sandwich

I am trying to take it steady in the garden – after a winter of inactivity I don’t want to do myself a mischief – although I did drop a concrete planter on my big toe which  caused the air to turn blue – OUCH!

‘Til next time – take care and happy gardening.

Monday, 24 February 2014

a busy weekend … one way or another …

Saturday morning dawned with sunshine and a bitterly cold wind.  Husband was repairing the shed roof, a section of which the storms had lifted and blown away.

At lunchtime a delivery of logs was expected – I loaded the wheel barrow and shifted from the road to the back garden log store  - husband stacked. Result – aching backs.

log store

Hopefully we have enough now to see us through the remains of the winter.

In the garden surprise at seeing Delphiniums shooting already

delphinium shooting already

and a small, but charming, drift of primroses starting to form.

a small drift of prims amongst the leaf debris

Self seeded crocus popping up in the herb bed amongst the Marjoram and Chives.

self-seeded crocus in amongst marjoram and chives

On the kitchen window sill a tray of salad leaves thrive.

window sill salad leaves

Sunday was an entirely different matter – overcast, very windy and bloody cold.  Husband decides to tackle the straggly ornamental cherry which has just started budding and needs at least 3 feet cutting from the top.  (I shall be following this tree this year linking with Lucy at Loose and Leafy).  This meant that I had to be involved, ladder holding, pointing him in the right direction and gazing skyward, which meant a lot of bending backwards – giving me backache and a headache to boot – even though I didn’t actually do any of the work.  We didn’t want to cut it back too far as it is such a glorious sight when it is full of blossom – just needed it to be kept in check.

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You probably can’t see much difference but we filled a builders bag full of prunings.  Not done in the best of conditions – but least it’s another job out of the way.

Now – what’s next on the never-ending ‘to do’ list!

Friday, 21 February 2014

an accidental spending spree …

 

I only went out to buy some potting compost, but you know how it is when you visit a garden centre -  I came back with a lovely little tree a Salix Pendula, Pussy Willow to you -   two new dahlia tubers, a Christmas Rose and an obelisk.

Isn’t that always the way – oh well, it’s only money.

salix pendula

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

christmas rose

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I have one thing for free though  - a little bonus – my first crocus are blooming.

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Have yourself a good weekend.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

bookworm–the year in books …

February, so far, has been a busy month,  reading-wise, and hugely disappointing.  Three out of the four books I have read have not lived up to expectations.

 

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My Darling Cecilia
If you're reading this, then I've died . . .

Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret - something so terrible it would destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others too. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick achieved it all - she's an incredibly successful business woman, a pillar of her small community and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia - or each other - but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband's devastating secret.

I was mesmerized with the first few chapters, kept greedily turning the pages. But then I realized that things were getting shallower and shallower instead of deeper and deeper. It was like walking into a pool expecting to swim once you hit the deep end and discovering that you're wading in the kiddie pond. All of a sudden, it was clear that I didn't genuinely like any of the characters and that everyone--everyone!--seemed to be sour and/or dour and/or unhappy.  Not a cheerful read by any means.

 

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In New York Times bestselling author Tracy Chevalier’s newest historical saga, she introduces Honor Bright, a modest English Quaker who moves to Ohio in 1850, only to find herself alienated and alone in a strange land. Sick from the moment she leaves England, and fleeing personal disappointment, she is forced by family tragedy to rely on strangers in a harsh, unfamiliar landscape.
Nineteenth-century America is practical, precarious, and unsentimental, and scarred by the continuing injustice of slavery. In her new home Honor discovers that principles count for little, even within a religious community meant to be committed to human equality.
However, drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, a network helping runaway slaves escape to freedom, Honor befriends two surprising women who embody the remarkable power of defiance. Eventually she must decide if she too can act on what she believes in, whatever the personal costs.


I've never been a big Chevalier fan, but this is by far the most useless work that she has written to date. Some could argue that the lack of maturity in the plot mirrors that of the main character, who is thrust out on her own in an unfamiliar world at the age of 20. For all the hype about it being historical fiction, it felt like a lame romance novel written with adolescent language.  From it I learned something about Quakers and quilt-making and a little about slavery, but the story just didn’t grab me – it was all so predictable.

13588138When Vianne Rocher receives a letter from beyond the grave, she has no choice but to return to Lansquenet, where she once owned a chocolate shop and learned the meaning of home. But returning to one’s past can be a dangerous pursuit, and Vianne and her daughters find the beautiful French village changed in unexpected ways: women veiled in black, the scent of spices in the air, and—facing the church—a minaret. Most surprising of all, her old nemesis, Francis Reynaud, desperately needs her help. Can Vianne work her magic once more ..

 

 

 

 

 

I really struggled with this book. I really wanted to like it, it was billed as a sequel to Chocolat,   but I just couldn't get into it, the action was so repetitive and I couldn't seem to rekindle my love for the characters.  I think Ms. Harris has squeezed one book too many out of this series.

 

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Eithne is the keeper of secrets in her family. When her sister Beatrice disappeared from her home in the dark woods of Co. Meath, it was 13-year-old Eithne who uncovered the forlorn evidence of her life: a string of pearls, a pink beret, a compact and her beloved sketchbook. Their mother, Sarah, was so grief-stricken that she did not speak for five years, and her father Joe, sank further into drink-filled rage.
Now, as an adult, Eithne is an artist, and tries to remember her sister in her sketches of the dark wooded bogs behind her house. For there was something else about Beatrice that was rarely spoken of in the household, a dark, guilty secret that her disappearance only made worse. And now, almost twenty years later, all could be revealed when a stranger appears .

I can’t quite make my mind up about this book – it was beautifully descriptive but the dialogue was a little lame and although the pace of it kept me wondering what was going to happen next it became fairly predictable.  The female characters didn’t seem to have any control over their lives and let themselves become victims and she could have enlarged the plot around a couple of interesting characters that just became secondary to the story.

The next book from my pile is

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As late summer steals in and the final pearls of barley are gleaned, a village comes under threat.  A trio of outsiders – two men and a dangerously magnetic women – arrives on the woodland borders triggering a series of events that will see Walter Thirsk’s village unmade in just seven days: the harvest blackened by smoke and fear, cruel punishment meted out to the innocent, and allegations of witchcraft.  But something even darker is at the heart of Walter’s story, and he will be the only man left to tell it …

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am joining in with Laura at A Circle of Pine Trees for February’s – This Year in Books.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

so much to do … so little time …

So – how was your Sunday – did you enjoy a day without wind and rain – did you bathe in glorious sunshine as we did?  I ventured into the front garden where it was sheltered and warm to do a little shrub pruning – I almost had to take my coat off.

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I cut the top third off the hardy fuschia, hypericum and cotoneaster tree, there is just the buddleia to chop back.

There is still a lot to do out there after so many weather delays but little by little I am slowly making an impact on the garden – as you can see in the next picture, there is still a lot of dead stuff to be collected and beds to be cleared – I left all the forget-me-not seedlings in to help keep the soil from washing away but I will start to clear and move them now so I can think about sowing and planting some annuals

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Here are some that I will be sowing this year

1st row: l to r - california poppy . pot marigold . nasturtium

I also have some wild flower mixes – it will be a bit of a squeeze trying to fit everything in but I do like the garden to be full of colour and bursting at the seams.  There isn’t much colour in the garden at the moment – primulas, pansies a few snowdrops and the perennial wallflower – but the bulbs are making good progress, so I guess it will be only a few weeks before it looks a lot more cheerful.

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Do you have a lot of catching up to do ready for when spring finally arrives?

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

from the inside looking out ...

The rain is lashing against the windows, the wind is howling and creeping in through the cracks and crevices and I am sitting here with a blanket wrapped around my legs - chilled to the bone, even though the heating in on.  I am trying to think positive thoughts



It is a case of keeping yourself occupied in weather like this.  So I have been busy editing my 2012 draft novel

and teaching myself to crochet


and staring out of the windows
 
 
 
 
 
 
For weeks now I have been struggling with my computer.  Slow, slow, slow.  Coughing and wheezing and sounding like a steam engine.  Poor old thing - it is practically a pensioner - it hasn't done bad, I got it second hand and it must be at least thirteen years old - but now it is driving me potty - waiting for it to load, the screen freezing - at times I have felt like ending it all whilst waiting for it to connect to other blogs.  Then the keyboard refused to work and I had to replace it but it didn't help disguise the fact that the computer was on its last legs.

So after checking the bank account decisions were made and a new computer was on the books.  I contacted my friendly computer man and he set about sorting one out for me.   JOY.  He spent the afternoon setting it up and transferring all my stuff.  And guess what - everything works - I can't believe how fast it is - all those hours I spent sitting in front of the screen waiting, waiting, waiting - are gone.  I am finally able to post on Blogger which I haven't been able to do for months (I have been using Live Writer) I am also able to visit Facebook without it freezing and saying 'Not Responding'. 

It doesn't take much to make me happy - but this certainly does.  Now all I have to do is investigate all the wondrous things it can do that my old one couldn't - why did I wait so long?

 
In the midst of winter I found there was,
within me,
an invincible summer.
 
~Albert Camus



Hellebores - captured in a rare moment of sunshine
 
 
Catkins - one of the joys of the
hedgerow at this time of year 

Thursday, 6 February 2014

a humdrum life ...

     Sometimes I am just not in the mood to think about blog posts - do you ever feel like that?  I so admire the folk that post everyday and make their posts varied and interesting - like Cro at Magnon's Meanderings who has just completed his 1,500th post and has a letter from the queen to prove it (not).  I fear I would bore you to death if I did that as my life is just so ...humdrum.

     I suppose I could tell you that I received a parcel this morning from across the water containing the book 'A Delicious Life' by Marie over at 66 square feet which I won on the lovely Jennifer's blog Three Dogs in a Garden.

SDC19706      Or I could mention our tree chopping escapades last weekend, cutting the willow branches back that were overhanging the greenhouse, but that would be just boring

SDC19688      Or the fact that we had a grey squirrel in the garden for the first time in many years (no photo as it left as swiftly as it came).

     And I doubt you wouldn't be interested in the peacock butterfly that was out and about at the weekend (excuse blurry photo - it was flicking its wings so fast I couldn't press my finger on the trigger quickly enough).

SDC19695      And I won't bother you with the fact that blue tits have been showing interest in the new bird box we have installed because I have no proof, except for the fact that I saw them popping in and out from the bedroom window.

     And are you really that interested in the seeds, shallots and seed potatoes that I have bought in anticipation of the new growing season - no, I thought not ...

2014-02-061     And then there is the new needlepoint work I have just begun - you couldn't possibly be interested in that ...

SDC19699  so I won't bother mentioning it ...

     The one enjoyable thing I did this week was to watch the new Richard Curtis romcom 'About Time' which I absolutely loved, but beware, tissues are needed at the end - I wept buckets.

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   So, after all that, I don't think I'll bother with a blog post this week,  as you can see, just another uneventful week in my humdrum life.