Byeeeee!!!! (For now!)
In exactly one month Much Malarkey Manor will be 9 years old. For 9 years I have been writing about hens and cats, veg growing and allotmenteering, bee-keeping, teaching, sewing and baking. The arrival of grannyhood. The departures of much loved pets. I have been ranting about (mostly) traffic, noisy neighbours, shoddy customer service and other minor injustices of my tiny world. I have been writing about writing. Several Christmas extravaganzas have passed through the halls; a couple of NaNoWriMos, too. And recently, the move from Kent to Shropshire, and our settling in to Damson Cottage.
Along the way, I have met some lovely fellow bloggers, and folk who have been kind enough to read and comment and hold sometimes daft and sometimes meaningful conversations across the blogosphere. And it is to a fellow blogger, nay friend, I've recently been chatting regarding what do you do and where do you go when you meet that natural blogging hiatus that greets us all at some point in blogland.
Basically, what point is blogging if it ceases to teach or to entertain? Surely, beyond that, blogging becomes a mere on-line diary. And whilst reading someone else's diary can be a scintillating, almost forbidden activity, it can also become deadly dull when you find yourself writing about the stupidity of growing too many courgette plants for the nth year on the trot. Which means, of course, that reading about it must be even more boring. Déja vû? Déja vû.
The level of blogging has rocketed in the last 9 years. Where once everyone could be said to have a book in them, it seems now that everyone certainly has a blog. There are some amazing blogs out there. There are some terrible blogs out there, too. I suppose the point I am labouring towards is - where does my blogging go from here?
I am not planning on giving up blogging. I enjoy the writing and the interactions. But I need to find a new direction. A new purpose. ('And the porpoise?' said Baldrick. 'Will be along later,' said Blackadder.' A literary allusion for Andy. I couldn't help myself!) I have many hair-raising tales to tell about my work - but I can't because my contract precludes me from doing so. The next big Damson Cottage 'thing' will be towards the end of October with the Big Kitchen Build. The fruit and veg are growing in the garden. The hens are henning. Flora Bijou Mybug will be 4 next Friday. The piano learning is still plinking. It is raining. There are 5 hares in the field next door. You see? Same old, same old.
'But what about the last 2 weeks?' I hear you shout. (I do hear you shout...don't I???) Well, finally we persuaded a heating company (honestly, don't people want work these days?) to come and replace the leaky oil pipe 'twixt our tank and the boiler which means I can finish landscaping the area in front of the studio now the pipe is buried and not leakily flapping in the wind. I have been working long hours. Andy has been working long hours. The adaptor lead on my keyboard died so I had to get a new one. The wren babies have fledged and are making an inversely proportionate racket compared to their teeny 'not much bigger than a bumblebee' size. The Aga made a spectacularly gorgeous ginger cake. And that is it. Hardly fascinating blogging stuff.
Oh, and yesterday - St Swithin's Day - it rained. So the rest of the summer is officially stuffed.
I need to do a bit of thinking. Sit on the loo and await inspiration. Our Weebly account is up for renewal in the Autumn, and we have already decided to let it lapse. I expect I'll be making a return to Blogger, unless I can find a better host. I suspect that because of our rampant 0.6 mbs service here out on the edge of the sticks that all blog host sites will be equally slow and frustrating.
A new Much Malarkey Manor direction is out there. I can feel it, circumnavigating the edges, waiting for its opportunity to pounce.
In the meantime, I have a niffy sink to unblock and a marmalade cake to get into the Aga.
Byeeeee!!!! (For now!)
It has oft bemused me why Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' has long been a set text for school children, given it is a play of barking mad proportions, swinging from tedious plot explanations to fast-paced comedy courtesy of 'let's all laugh at the dunkards' and back again. It is widely regarded as Shakespeare's final solo play (he co-wrote a couple of plays after this) and has been interpreted as Himself as Prospero the Magician, surrendering his 'magic' in preparation for his return to dignified retirement in Stratford-upon-Avon. Well, I have a theory about this. I reckon Mr S. had become heartily fed up with this writing malarkey and he thought, 'I know! I'll write a spectacularly crackers play (to complete even with 'Cymbeline') and everyone will think I have finally, and literally, lost the plot. Then I can retire and eat sausage rolls in my pants, and no-one will bother me for a sell out show EVER AGAIN.'
That's what I think, anyway.
So on Friday evening, myself and his Lordship Malarkey found ourselves at an open air performance of 'The Tempest,' the ruins of Stafford Castle providing an atmospheric backdrop. At 7 p.m the skies opened and dropped a tonne load of wetness, which did not bode well for the actors. We would be weather-sheltered, thank goodness, protected from the vagaries of 'British weather in Summer' by an audience stadium type thing. But the actors were fully al fresco. It reminded me of an open air production of 'The Importance of Being Earnest' we saw years ago. Everyone was in the open air that evening, and the weather lashed it down good and proper. We squished up under an umbrella, the cast slid around on the grass, their Victorian finery growing more sodden by the second, and they earned a massive round of applause at the end of the performance for their stoicism. I digress...
The performance started at 8 p.m by which time the sun was squeaking through the clouds and I was ready to drop off to sleep on account of the pre-theatre dinner we'd partaken of in Stafford itself, at the brilliantly named, 'Bear Grills.' I cannot praise this place highly enough, least of all because it had 5 - count 'em! - vegetarian options! I had the vegetable tempura in a sweet chilli sauce in a ciabatta bun accompanied by massive chips. And then I had (because Andy made me) an Eton Mess sundae with proper strawberry icecream, fat strawberries and proper (none of this squirty in a can stuff) whipped cream. It was fantastic, but because I can't eat as much as I used to on account of my weight loss, I ended up feeling properly stuffed. AND I left some of the chips!
So, back to 'The Tempest.' It was set in the 1930s and started on a cruise liner with a New Year's Eve party. Two women sang various 1930s songs, then tagged along for the rest of the play looking a bit lost and a bit vague as to why they were there except to make up the female quotas. The chap who played Prospero was too young, the lady who played Miranda seriously over-egged her pudding, the guy who played Ariel deserved a medal for gymnastics/ ballet/ violin playing and wearing wellies with aplomb. Mostly, the show was stolen by the blokes who played the drunks, Trinculo and Stefano. But even more mostly, I was thrilled that Gonzalo, the 'honest old counsellor of Naples' with all his Utopian ideals was played by Herr Flick of the Gestapo from 'Allo, Allo' aka the fine actor, Richard Gibson.
It wasn't the best Shakespeare I've seen (David Tennant in 'Hamlet', anyone? Ian McKellan 'sans pantaloons' in 'King Lear'? Any production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream?') but it certainly wasn't the worst. Oh no - that honour goes to a three hour long Russian language film version of 'King Lear.' In black and white. In a warm lecture theatre. With no interval. Terrible.
Overall then, weird but entertaining in parts.
Then, as we were leaving the auditorium and hoofing it down the hill to get to the car park and make our escape before the car park bottleneck dance started, this popped up in my head - 'Book title : 'Backstage at the Carnival.' (I added the punctuation, by the way. I don't think in punctuation. That would be incredibly sad, n'est pas?)
Well! That was annoying. I tried to ignore it, but as with all these sudden inspiration moments the words would not shift. Even when I woke the next morning and thought for one delicious moment that I HAD forgotten the title, it came winging back to me quick as Pot Noodle. Which means I have to start writing again. I mean, properly writing, not just doing odd little bits of faffing around like I have been doing. It's because my computer has finally made it out into Studio Malarkey. And at the end of this month it will be school summer hols and how else am I going to fill those endless weeks? Eh? Eh??
'Backstage at the Carnival.' I don't even know what it's about yet. Presumably a carnival. Who knows? I have tried to put off the fateful 'pen to paper' (or rather 'fingers to keyboard') hour by this morning buying curtains and a curtain pole for the living room, a blind for the back bedroom and a curtain pole and curtains for the front bedroom. And by perusing wallpaper and floor tiles on the interwebbly. But now the moment has come. I shall hie me to Studio Malarkey and see what madness comes forth. It could be my last work and then, like Will Shakespeare, I shall be able to retire and eat sausage rolls in my pants. Vegetarian sausage rolls, of course. With maybe some sweet chilli dipping sauce.
My muse. Get it?? Mews?? Never mind...
Because Olly is an all-round lovely person who likes chickens and bees and is also my astral twin, here are more studio pictures specially requested by her.
So, we have started moving in, as you know. I didn't want to move too much stuff in until today because Matt the Electrician has been out powering her up, so to speak. And now we have lights and sockets! Hurrah! From the outside then, this is the best photo I can get before without crashing into the laundry on the other side of the courtyard. Taking this photo was bad enough as it is a tad drizzly at the mo, and I reversed into the climbing rose which is planted against the laundry and it deposited much drippy wetness over me.
Inside, then...here is my end...
...sewing and knitting corner, and my dressmaker's form as yet unnamed, answers on a postcard please.
Other corner, my writing desk. Note the bunting. I have more bunting. I am not sure of Andy's bunting tolerance level so may have to smuggle it in flag by flag, all surreptitious-like. It is homemade bunting of course.
Then at Andy's end...
Andy! That's his 'pensive artist' look, by the way, not his 'Stop taking photos of me' face. Not as much clutter up his end, mostly because a lot of his clutter is still cluttering up the third bedroom.
The bookcase is mostly full of my craft books, plus gardening books. The boxes contain Andy's painting and lino printing stuff. We have a big table in the middle for spreading out on.
The window blinds arrived today. I got them in the Dunelm sale, six in total. They are a pattern called 'The Healing Garden' which I took to be sign because that is also the name of a piece of textile art I have started some tentative work on. Covered in delicate drawings of all sorts of flowers and herbs, they are. I'll post a photo when they are in situ.
There you are then, Olly! Inside 'Studio Malarkey.' It feels properly like a room now it has a light switch and sockets. Marvellous! And finally...more bunting, because you can never have too much bunting in a garden room. Well, that's what I think.
It was windows this week. Nine in total. Tall ones, short ones, some as big as your head. Or is that coconuts? Anyway, on Thursday me and Himself set off for work, window sills cleared, furniture moved, Flora ensconsed in the dining room with all her kitten paraphernalia - food, water fountain, litter tray, curtains closed - with notes on both dining room doors along the lines of 'Please do not open these doors. We do not want our cat to escape and be squished like a bug on the road.' A front door key was left in the laundry with phone numbers in case of emergencies like the front of the house caving in, or a dining room door being opened and a cat escaping onto the road.
All in all it was a bit stressful and a bit trepidatious. Poor Flora mewing pitifully to be let out immediately we shut her away. The idea of two window fitters wandering around our house loading the contents of our lives into a massive van and hi-hoeing off to the Costa De Sol. Stuff falling down. Stuff falling in. Stuff breaking. Stuff exploding. Flora escaping and being squished like a bug on the road. You know.
And yet, before I knew it, it was the end of another school day and there had been no frantic calls from the window fitters, the police, the fire brigade, the Emergency Squished On A Road Cat Hospital. I drove for home probably slightly faster than I should have. Surely everything was all right, then? Our possessions intact? Our house intact? Our Flossie Kitten unsquished?
Of course everything was all right!! As I pulled into our driveway I thought, 'Denise, you worry too much.' Inside, the only evidence of window fitters were two used coffee mugs and a teaspoon, and a thin layer of dust everywhere. Poor Flora was hiding in the corner of the dining room, panting a little but otherwise fine for her incarceration ordeal. I picked her up for a cuddle and she snuggled into me whilst we took a Window Tour. Front room window - tick. No extra lintel reinforcement needed after all. Landing window -tick. Front bedroom window with extra safe safety glass because it is a low window - tick. Main bedroom window - tick. Back bedroom window - tick. Bathroom window with lovely delicate Victoriana floral glass - tick! Six windows down, the three kitchen windows to be fitted on the morrow. Phew!
And they haven't half made a difference to the look and lightness of the cottage. The windows that were three small panes are now, instead, two large panes. The two pane windows are now single pane picture windows. We went for bottom openers which means the handles are hidden from outside view. Chrome , too, instead of white plastic. Himself and I are ridiculous admiring of them. I even sent an email to Steve, who owns the company who supplied them, saying how happy we were with the whole buying and fitting process and thank you very muchly.
'Tis another 'big job' done on Damson Cottage and with every big job done our house feels more and more like our home, which the house in Maidstone never seemed to feel despite our living there for almost 12 years. Andy was home on Friday so was around to see the kitchen windows being fitted. He was also able to see the electrician who is returning on Monday to put an electricity supply into the studio which means I need to go out and buy a light fitting. Flora and I are home alone this weekend as Andy is entertaining the crowds at DogFest in Knebworth with his veterinary prowess. I have spent this morning removing the film of dust left by the window fitters. All is fabuloso!
On other matters, the strawberries are cropping well and the early raspberries are on the cusp, the tomatoes, beans, sweetcorn and squash are putting on growth of gargantuan proportions, the courgettes got eaten by something, I suspect the pair of fat pigeons who parade around the place, so more seed has been planted for Courgette Part 2. The roses in the courtyard and front garden are MAGNIFICENT! The hollyhock by the front door seems to have triffid genealogy. The grass needs mowing. The studio is looking like a proper room. I continue to play piano with both hands.
And I made my first Aga pudding. Syrup sponge...
Don't ask me why. P'raps it was just the end of a long, tiring day exacerbated by short staffing, and not only having to keep eyes in the back of my head, but split myself into two. P'raps it was the culmination of a few weeks of a heck of a lot happening, of 'stuff' being done. P'raps it was just nothing really.
For today, arriving home from work at just before 6 p.m and swinging into the drive, my eyes rested on this...
....our almost complete studio. And I felt just a teensy bit, well, tearful.
This morning, the site looked like this...
And then the studio company arrived whilst I was at work and started the build. They are returning tomorrow to finish off the work, and then me and himself can move into our dedicated arty-crafty space over the weekend! I am looking forward to this weekend. Might be a bit of rug and window blind shopping going on. And getting Matt the Electrician in to power us up. And finding some storage book shelfy kind of stuff. Hanging some pictures. Stamping some personality. Or just sitting inside and staring at the view.
I'll blog again with more photos of the finished studio when it is, well, finished! And I'll leave you with a couple of photos of a harey visitor we had at the weekend, who came to check out the studio space, possibly with a view to moving in?
Isn't he beautiful?
Here she is, then! The Aga. The Lady in Red. I have to say that the red in the photo doesn't do the red in real life justice, but it'll do if it's the best my ipad can manage. And already I love cooking the Aga way. We had to remove the cupboards in the corner of the kitchen so the Aga could be built - a fascinating process in itself - and I only did a bit of stomach heaving at the mess revealed when the cupboards came out. No damp, thank goodness - just yucky discolouration which means I'll have to whip out the paintbrush because I'm NOT tolerating that wall looking like that for another 4+ months until the new kitchen is done. Anyway, we are chuffed to bits with our new addition; she's a proper smile maker.
The builder is arriving on Monday to lay the base for the studio. The studio is being built on the 14th and 15th of June! And whilst we are about it, all this 'phoenix rising from the ashes of destruction' malarkey, we are getting the cottage windows changed, too. As the surveyor said when he came out on Wednesday, 'How old are these windows?' Well, I don't know, but what I DO know is that they are a bit wafty drafty ergo not very efficient, and thusly need 'doing.'
We are using the same company who did our back door when we first moved here. They were very good. No sales flannel, fair prices, excellent advice, and plenty of recommendations about good pubs in the area. Steve, the company owner, is very keen we should try a Thai place called 'Pin's Kitchen.' He told us a story about how he thought the woman who runs Pin's Kitchen had nicknamed him 'Billy Elliot,' which, given Steve is about 6 feet 10 with the build of a wrestler, was rather confusing. 'Why does she keep calling me 'Billy Elliot?' he said to his wife. 'She's not calling you 'Billy Elliot,' said his wife. 'She's calling you 'bloody idiot!'
Anyway, the windows (9) will be ready in two to three weeks' time. And once they are in we can start thinking about decorating. But then should we wait and decorate after the kitchen is finished. I am thinking there might be a lot of dust occurring when the kitchen is being done. Can't be having dust up my Laura Ashley. Hmmmm....
We had a decent bit of rain today which was good as I've been having to run around with watering cans and hose pipes to keep the vegetables ticketty-boo this last week. I have also set up a bee hive in the optimistic hope that a passing swarm might set up home - well, there is a bee keeper in the village up the road so it COULD happen! Especially if we get a sudden hot spell.
That's about it, really. Still plodding away with the piano lessons. Did a bit of knitting today. Got a new stumpwork embroidery book in the post so I expect that'll fire me up to do a bit of sewing soon.
Is all well with you, my bloggy chums?
I might have known that, after a period of happily treading water (metaphorical water, I hasten to add - we haven't started swimming or anything) life would suddenly fling itself onwards in a great freestyle of 'Stuff Happening All At Once' relay race.
Firstly, then, the Aga is being fitted on 1st June. Which means I've had to secure the services of an electrician pretty darn quick so that the relevant 13 amp spur thingummy doo-dahs can be installed beforehand. Electrician arriving day after tomorrow - TICK!
Secondly - the studio is arriving 2 weeks earlier than expected on 14th June. Whilst this is quite thrilling, it means the base needs putting down sooner than expected. So I've left a message with the base laying man, and will now be on tenterhooks waiting to hear when he can come and do the do. The studio company chap is doing a site visit on 31st May. I hope all meets with his approval as he strikes me as the kind of chap who is very picky about what his studios are to sit upon.
Also arriving on 31st May is my Mum. For a three day visit. Now, there is nothing like the imminent arrival of my Mum to make me GET THINGS DONE and when I say this I mean, 'Get into the garden and make sure there is NOTHING that will raise in her the urge to take up a chainsaw/ flamethrower/ industrial strength weedkiller.' Not after the infamous Hedge Cutting Incident of August 2016. The hedge in question is still sulking.
Now, the problem with having a large garden is that if you concentrate on one part this is akin to turning your back on the rest of it, and we all know what happens if you turn your back on the rest of your garden when you are concentrating on one part i.e your Hydrangea Walk, don't we? Yes, the bloomin' thing goes wild with growth, that's what happens. And in this case, the wildness has been happening in the front garden.
Yesterday, then, I was out the front, weeding mostly. I take my life in my hands when I weed the border by the road, not because of the traffic, but because the front border is filled with Rosa 'Wild Edric' which is not only wild by name, but wild by nature because it has copious thorns akin to shark teeth in razor sharpness. So whilst the roses are glorious in pink beauty and smell like proper old fashioned roses should, crawling under them to weed out the grass and dandelions and effing mare's tail is extreme sport gardening requiring double glovage, knee pads and a hoodie. Yet I survived - hurrah! And the front garden is back in order, ready for inspection.
Thirdly, (am I up to thirdly? Have I gone beyond thirdly? I have lost count...) I received an email on Friday re: a publishing contract. Now, before you all get over-excited, it's nothing majorly major. What happened was this - several months ago I contributed some writing stuff to a website about the menopause. And then I got asked by the website if it was okay if they used my contributions in a self-published book. Yes, said I. And then that self-published book was picked up by Bloomsbury, no less, and is going to be published by them! And the email was to say that all the contributors, of whom I am one, will shortly be receiving from Bloomsbury 2 contracts to sign! And in return, I shall be receiving a free copy of the book when it has been published.
Mildly exciting - not my major novel publishing contract, granted, by hey! Bloomsbury!!
So here I am, in a gallop of life. The best thing, of course, is that after a gallop comes a sedate walk. I think I'm going to need it.
The frolicsome hares have reappeared in the field next door. They are causing enormous entertainment. Of course, I know not if they are the same hares who entertained us last summer, or if they are the next generation of hares, or even if they are new-to-the-area peeps, but they are there, and they do a lot of gallivanting and lounging and it is GOOD!
And there was great excitement last week because a pair of red-legged partridges have also arrived! Are they friends of the hares? Did the hares say, 'Hey, guys! We know a great field - plenty of grass, hedges, trees - come along, why don't you? Pay a visit? Join us for a bit of gallivanting and lounging.' And the red-legged partridges said, 'Okay dudes! Except we don't gallivant or lounge. We sort of casually potter and suddenly scuttle. Is that okay?' And the hares probably said, 'Hey man - whatever your bag.'
(I do apologise. I don't know why I've gone all hippy. Might be down to the mid-blue linen dress I bought a couple of weeks ago which is long, with a slightly tapered hem and massive pockets and makes me feel slightly way out, man. There I go again...)
And then, the day before yesterday, who should return but Mr and Mrs Duck! Well! There they were, pootling around the field near their previous nest, scoping out da joint, as I believe is the popular vernacular. Apparently, (and I know this because Chris the Plasterer who reinstated our collapsed ceiling told me so, and he is a GREAT authority on all birds, Latin names and all) ducks will often return to a nest in the same season and raise another batchling of hatchlings. Mad, of course. I mean, they've already got 8 children. Why would they want more? I've only got 2 and that is QUITE enough.
But ARE they the same Mr and Mrs Duck? Blowed if I can tell really. Neither can Andy but then he still can't tell the difference between Primrose and Camilla when it is patently obvious which is who(m). Well, to me, anyway. Still, there are ducks back, so maybe more ducklings?
We bought four more hydrangeas at the weekend to complete the 'Hydrangea Walk(!)' Hydrangeas, I have learned, are very good at suddenly pretending to be dead. Talk about throwing a floral tantrum when you don't get enough water. The white ones are the worst. Anyway, I should really have taken my hint from their name - 'Hydra' = 'water' and 'ngea' = er...'ngea'. Anyhow, they were suitably drowned, and quickly and happily reinstated to their former buoyant glory. They look jolly good, perking up the middle garden border no end.
Which brings me to a 'problem area' of the garden. 'Twixt and between the middle garden and the top garden there is a circular bed of roughly 8 feet in diameter. It spends most of its day in mottled shade, to the one side of it being the goat willow containing the tree house - a major sun blocker - and to the other, open to the next door field of hare 'n' red legged partridge 'n' duck fame which provides a smattering of evening sun. When we arrived the circular bed was home to a massive buddleia (about 15 feet tall) and a mat of greenery of indeterminate nature spreading hither and thither. The buddleia has been hacked back, I mean, judiciously pruned to about 4 feet, ivy has been wrenched out and weeds extracted to reveal several spindly lavenders, a couple of even more spindly miniature rose bushes and a variety of cottagey gardeny typey plants. All looking a bit spindly.
What to do, then? What to do? Ideas thus far have extended to: patio it and pop a gazebo on top, grass it over and pop a shepherd's hut on top, leave it this year and see what happens re: spindly plants now they aren't having to compete with the weeds and being overshadowed by triffid proportioned buddleia or pop the Eglu on top and fill with quail. It's no good as a vegetable bed because it is too shady. It does afford beautiful views that should not be wasted. The earth is compacted and rock hard. Midgey bugs seem to like loitering in the area. But it is a nice feature between the middle garden and the top garden.
Answers on a postcard please. Practical, inspirational or instinctual (is that a word?).
I was sent home from work at lunchtime on Friday because whilst attempting to separate two students who were trying, literally, to strangle each other, I was brought crashing to the ground and to be quite honest, as I found myself sitting on the floor, crashed, and still gamely hanging on to one of the students, I was thinking, 'Am I too old for this? Is this is my job description?' and 'This is what happens when students refuse to learn about the glories of the English language because perhaps they could have then talked out their disagreements rather than drag a 51 year old granny á deux into a VERY undignified position.' Anyway, I was a bit Elvis (all shook up) and a bit scraped and bruised so off I was packed.
And yesterday, yes, I was spasmodically tearful, and I ached and felt a teeny bit sorry for myself, and after catching up with the housework, I installed myself on the sofa with a pot of tea and copious magazines, and watched crap telly and read. And admired the new ceiling!
That's better, isn't it? The exposed beam look didn't do it for me. Chris the Plasterer and Tony the Tiler were out on Friday to do the do. They did a precautionary treatment for dry rot, damp rot and woodworm, and by the time I arrived home early from work they were almost job done. When they heard what had happened to me, they insisted I sat down whilst they made me a cup of tea. Which was nice.
Anyway, today the sun must have known I was feeling off with myself because it did this...
...so I had no choice but to get out into the garden and bloomin' well garden, and I tell you this - never mind pills and potions and all that jazz for perking yourself up. Gardening is the best therapy you can get! Four hours I was out there, digging and weeding, watering and planting. Admiring the views. Enjoying the sun. Looking at all the prettiness going on. Chatting to the hens and a little yellowy greeny frog, and some very naughty wren babies who were causing much malarkey hither and thither. Not a thought about school. What was it that happened on Friday? *Shrugs* Blowed if I remember.
So squash seedlings into the new raised bed filled with our first home made compost...
Courgettes into the random raised bed opposite the veg garden area but it'll do for now.
As you can see, I have mulched both beds with chippings from the goat willow tree that was, and I hope this will keep the (bastard) slugs at bay. The strawberries are putting on a goodly amount of flowers in their bath bed...
And the new hydrangeas are settled in their middle garden border. I have also (almost) completed digging and weeding the rest of the same border, and I reckon I'll put hydrangeas in that part too. It'll make a beautiful show in years to come. Whilst weeding I uncovered several lily of the valley, gamely trying to hold their own against the docks, dandelions et al, so now the weeds are cleared maybe the lily of the valley will spread and mix in with the pulmonaria.
The hydrangea walk (hark at me - hydrangea walk!) will blend in with the lilacs...
I wish I could describe how gorgeous the scent is that is coming from these blossoms at the moment. Totally sublime. Totally...mmmmmmm....!!! And the apple trees, having been pruned this year for the first time in lordy knows how long, are full of blossom...
It truly is the prettiest time of year. The darling buds of May.
And now I am going to take my embroidery design books into the garden, sit under a tree and start planning out a new piece of stumpwork embroidery, inspired by my morning in the garden. A rough start to the weekend, but a smooth and relaxed finish.
Last night I had one of my periodical 'ballet dancing' dreams. These generally involve me dancing around like a ballet dancer (worry ye not - no tutu involved!) either in a theatre where I have been called upon to perform and I leap onto the stage not knowing what on EARTH it is I am supposed to be doing, or in a green space, generally a hillside, where I am dancing on my own, or - as 'twas last night - in a park, where I was doing 'minding my own business dancing' in and around the few people who were using the park for their own park business.
And, as usual following these ballet dancing dreams, I woke feeling VERY optimistic and light and bouncy of the foot and with a sense I could take on the world or a new venture or other some such malarkey. I do love my ballet dancing dreams. I don't pretend to know what they mean symbolically or literally (am I actually being guided to take proper ballet lessons maybe? I already have the shoes...) but they do lift my spirits and that's all that really matters, I suppose. They are infinitely better than the 'being chased by a bear' dreams that haunted me in my teens.
So, yesterday I went with Heather to the local garden centre and purchased, at great expense, 4 large hydrangeas. Two white, one pink, one blue. They are now planted in the section of border I dug over last weekend. I know not what colours the blue and pink ones will be next year because hydrangeas can change colour according to the acidity of the soil they are in, and I do not know the soil acidity of our garden, only that is it clayey. But I do know the white ones will stay white because they are unaffected by acidity. Anyway, they should grow to around 4 feet high which will provide a goodly but not too high border 'twixt us and the farmer's field. A nice, dense hydrangea hedge is what I'm aiming for. Lovely!
Mrs Duck and her ducklings have gone! She was definitely on her nest last Thursday, then on Saturday afternoon all that was left was a single egg in an otherwise empty nest. Well! Of course I was disappointed not to have seen the ducklings - there were potentially 8 as the nest had 9 eggs in it - but I am glad Mrs Duck hatched her brood and got them away before the noisy business of groundworks for the studio begins. Andy peered through the remaining egg using his surgeon's head lamp, but he could detect no sign of life, so he returned it to the nest and it was still there the following morning, which reassured us that the nest hadn't been got at by predators either. I like to think that Mrs Duck is now bobbling along the canal shepherding her babies safely before her. Well, that's my story anyway.
Andy is forging ahead with his wall laying plans for the veg garden beds. It all looked a bit 'Battle of the Somme' this morning as we had some steady rain last night and, as I mentioned before, dig deep enough in our garden and you hit some fairly hefty clay - but he is doing a good job and talking in 'manly ggrrrr' terms of 'hardcore', 'footings' and 'cement.' I am not interfering other than to make noises of approval and encouragement and ensure he keeps his muddy manual labour clothes off the new sofas. I think the veg garden is likely to take 2 growing seasons to get organised and established but already we are very excited about how it will look and function.
And I am just settling down on the velvet sofa (hark at me!) with my textile books and a writing pad to do some serious potential new profession studying, with 'Clash of the Titans' on in the background.
Release the Krakon!! On with the day!!!
Rantings, ravings, observations and musings, useful stuff, silly stuff, funny, sad and thoughtful guff!