Monthly Archives: Jun 2020

Sunflower special edition, update 5…..

So there has been tears of laughter and yelps of joy this week. So much has happened. We have had glorious sunshine, high winds, even hail. Have all the sunflowers flourished? Has anyone been cheating? Let’s find out.

Auntie Jeanie – Its been a windy time in Bexley this week but I’ve been assured it’s the weather, not auntie Jeanie😉 Sally has been ok, she keeps requesting to moved to a different area of the garden as she is worried she will topple over. However despite a little leaf issue she is looking good. Looks like a bud is forming too.

Sally sunflower.

Nanny Bev – Over in Gravesend, despite the high winds and sunshine Gerald is being a little less awkward this week. He asked nicely for a longer support as he was shouting that he had outgrown his and bad weather was on the horizon. Not sure how he could see the horizon as he is not that tall yet!

Craig and Sam – Down by the seaside things are looking a little odd. It’s all to play for between the two as Craig who was the strongest contender, seems like his sunflower is covered in some sort of alien cocoon. Has Sam imported Poole spiders to explore the back garden? At least Brian is still AWOL and Sams flower is putting out some nice petals. But will it be enough?

Jan and Lisa – Now you may want to take a seat for this one and reach for the tissues. But are they for tears of joy or sorrow??

Jans flower is looking great, catching up nicely. Strong leaves and gained in height this week.

Jans sunflower on the left.

Lisa’s flower started off really well this week so well, Lisa went out to brave the world to purchase a new bigger pot. Whilst she was out the wind built up and tragedy stuck! The sunflower was blown over. Not just blown over but beheaded in the action. Yep the wire support cut clean through the stem and chopped it’s head off!! 🤭Lisa is mortified as you may imagine, coming home to this….

No Lisa sunflower. 😢

I will forward the details of the sunflower councillors later in case anyone has been affected by this tragedy. 🌻🌻🌻

Jo and Ben – Sun, rain, wind and hail in Dartford this week. Not just a little hail either. Massive blobs of ice pelting from the sky threatening to damage anything in their path. Jo even considered protecting SUNY with an umbrella but it was thundering at the same time so not the best idea. All we could do was watch through the window and hope for the best as the storm continued. 20 minutes later the sun broke through the clouds once again. On approaching SUNY and the sunny eight Jo noticed that the lettuce had been destroyed, the begonias had turned holy. Opps no that should be holey not holy. I know it’s Sunday but plants don’t have a religion as far as I know. There stood tall and proud still was SUNY and the sunny eight. A little war wounded but they had survived. The best news by far though is not only is SUNY regularly peeping over the fence, but he is now in bloom. Vibrant yellow petals are revealing a pin cushion black centre. He continues to unfold as we speak. Well done SUNY for surviving the storm. The sunny eight are also all standing taller and some buds are forming. It’s looking good in Dartford. X

SUNY the magnificent.
The sunny eight.

So what will happen over the next week? Will Sam’s flower burst into bud? Will Lisa sabotage Jan’s flower in revenge? Tune in next week to find out. 🌻🌻🌻🌻

Homemade and homegrown

Lockdown has really encouraged me to continue to try new things and what better way to use my own produce that has kept me positive at this challenging time.

I’d seen a video on how to make elderflower cordial, it looked really easy and as I love elderflower cordial I would give it a go. My neighbour had a very handy elderflower bush outside of her house and kindly let me cut the flowers for the cordial. Ben had to assist for this as some where very high and as he is nice and tall!!

Newly picked Elderflowers.

To make the cordial we had to cut the flowers from the stems, dissolve caster sugar in hot water then infuse with the flowers, lemon and citric acid for 24 hours. I’d managed to purchase some bottles and so set about sterilising them in the dishwasher when the 24 hours was up.

A little sugar 🤣

The next day I strained the cordial to remove the flowers ect and bottled it in the freshly sterilised jars. It should now keep in the fridge for a few months but in all honesty I don’t think it will stay around that long as it’s delicious. Especially with fresh Strawberries and Raspberries from the garden.

Next I set about making Strawberry jam. We have a lot of fruit all at once but sadly there is only myself and Ben to eat it at the moment. We have enjoyed them with meringues, crepes and I have them with my cereal every day but we still have more.

So after finding a simple recipe I picked a large quantity of berries and mashed them with preserve sugar and vanilla.

The end result, two jars of gorgeous deep red soft set jam which I’ve enjoyed tonight with more fresh fruit and pancakes.

The home made hair gel was a success very easy to use and not at all sticky. Would I make it again? I may do especially as I now have many flaxseeds lol.

Friday saw another trip to the garden centre with Bev. I hadn’t intended to purchase anything but for years Rich and I had been looking for a bench to put next to the pond to enjoy our cup of tea whilst we feed the fish. They say you find what you’re looking for when your not looking and that was the case here. One lonely bench, the right size remained in the garden centre it was just meant to be.

Dinner this evening was also a new experience. A while back I had purchased some goats meat, so tonight it was the turn of the goat chops. To accompany them a salad made with home grown cucumber, radish, parsley. Really delicious and again so lovely to be able to enjoy something I had spent time growing.

The first cucumber.
Goat chops and salad.

Suzy and I were about to go out for a walk after dinner but all of a sudden the wind came from nowhere, the skies grew dark and the heavens opened. Not just rain but huge hail stones. I’m so please we didn’t head out just yet. The hailstones did do a small amount of damage to the newly put out lettuces today and some of the plant leaves and when we did get out for our walk it was like a wintery scene in places with piles of white hailstones covering the ground. However the sun shone and it was still warm enough to be wearing shorts and tee shirt.

So there we have it, another productive few days. The first raspberries are now ripe and delicious, the Lilly’s are so nearly popping open and the stunning purple Mallow is in flower.

Seed pods themselves are so interesting.

The remainder of the evening has been filled with some more of Suzys cross stitch.

Sunday’s blog will be the eagerly awaited Sunflower special. Has there been much change this week, did the storms cause damage, has Brian showed he face again? All will be revealed. Night x.

Recycle and Upcycle……..

Busy few days. I’d had an idea for a project so I set the wheels in motion.

The Lilly’s that Rich bought me for valentines have grown so tall they blew over in the wind a few days ago. They needed a deeper heavier pot but it’s also the wrong time to repot them. So I came up with an idea.

We had a wooden pallet hanging around for a year or so. Dad didn’t want to part with it. I’m now so pleased he held on to it. However that wouldn’t be enough so after a plea on the local face book group another pallet was collected. I’d watched a few videos and it didn’t look that difficult to make a wooden planter from the pallets. I could have bought one but they were £70 in the garden centre and the total of this make was £0.

I must admit I had some help and I’m glad as getting the old pallets apart was hard going. They really do build these things to last.

The challenging part was also finding the right tools for the job. Jono was helping me and had to laugh every time he said “we could do with an angle grinder” or “we could do with a jigsaw“ Well guess what dad had them, just where were they? After a short time and asking dad out loud many times we found everything we needed.

A few hours later, the pallets were apart, cut to size and fitted together.

The finished planter.

A great success even if it take two days.

Thursday stared with the weekly shopping being delivered. Always an exciting time. After sorting the shopping it was time to head to the recycling centre. The car had been loaded two days ago from the sort out of the car port and some of the shed. We had so many tins of old paint and cardboard.

I don’t know about you but I find it very therapeutic going to the recycling centre and throwing everything into its relevant areas.

My next job of the day was to investigate the cupboard under the sink in the car port. A few days ago I’d discovered we had been having a mouse visit a cupboard just inside the kitchen. It’s very odd as it’s just the water filter cupboard and there is not any food there. I knew it must be getting in through a hole where the water pipe is run in. But as with most things here not much is quick and easy. I had to empty the cupboard, take out the back, which was not easy and then squirt in at a very odd angle some spray expanding foam. I’m feeling like I’ve had a major workout already today.

Time for a quick change of scenery. I needed to pop to Holland and Barrett at Bluewater. The mall is getting ready to be reopened. The floor has directional stickers and queue markers. Staff are now back in many closed shops busy cleaning, rearranging, repricing and creating new window displays. After all it was March the last time they were open for business, easter time. Evidence of which is still in some of the windows.

On my return home something bright caught my eye. I turned the car around and parked up to get a better look. Breathtaking. A whole field of red poppies.

The purpose of my trip to Bluewater was to purchase some Flaxseeds. I’ve been learning a new way to care for my hair. It’s been frizzy for a while now and I’d seen a lady with gorgeous curls. She shared with me the method she uses and the websites so after some research I decided it was well worth a try. It basically means not using any solvents, silicones or alcohol in the products in your hair.

For three weeks I’ve only used conditioner to wash my hair and natural styling products. I haven’t even used a brush or comb as I can now manage to detangle it using my fingers. The difference is already noticeable. But a home made gel has been highly recommended so today I set about making a batch.

The gel was very easy to make just a bit more tricky to strain out the flaxseeds. Probably as I had heated it for a little to long. But with some perseverance and quite a lot of chuckling to myself, I had a small batch of flaxseed gel which I shall road test tomorrow.

The finished flax seed gel.

But that is not the end of today’s home made or home grown. Well nearly home grown, actually I’ve used products from my neighbours house for this.

Elderflower cordial. Looks easy and as I love it I couldn’t resist giving it a go. So with Ben and step ladder in toe, we popped next door to harvest our elder flowers. After cutting of the majority of the stems I dissolved some sugar, well a lot of sugar in boiling water then stirred in the flowers, lemon slices and zest and citric acid. It’s now cooling and waiting until tomorrow afternoon before I strain and bottle it. Fingers crossed.

Tonight I was also treated to dinner cooked by Ben. He did a great job. Beef tacos. It’s always nice to have a night off.

So there we have my busy few days. Making things from scratch is so rewarding and it makes me smile remembering the things dad taught me over the years. I hope you are all keeping well. It’s now time for me to relax and be able to remember happy times with Rich whilst looking at the Lilly’s Night x x

Ben’s new project……

You haven’t heard about our adventures for a few days as we have continued to busy ourselves decorating and sorting bits out.

Bens room looks fab, the up cycled doors look like new and Ben has now moved in.

All of this wouldn’t have been possible without such good friends. We are truly grateful.

Just new handles needed now.

Today Bev and I had a sort out in the car port. I knew dad had lots of tools and we always joked that it would take half an hour to find the one we would need but boy did he have a lot of tools. The one that made us laugh most today though was not finding another three dustpan brushes but finding not one, two or three. Not four but five, yes five Stanley knives! That’s after I had trouble finding one yesterday. Love you dad x x

Whilst having a sort out we put some chairs we didn’t need and some cupboards at the front of the drive. The chairs went straight away. The cupboards later on in the day were enquired about by a lovely lady walking by with her dog. We had a chat then I helped her drop them round the corner to her house. It turned out we had a little bit in common. She proudly showed me her garden of which we have both found solace in gardening in tough times. After a chat I returned home to transport all the tools to the shed. So guess what one of the next projects needs to be? Yep tool sort as I’ve lost my potting bench for now.

The garden enjoyed the rain and is looking lush again. The roses are in bloom and the first of the Dahlias are in flower.

My evening was spent trying to sit still catching up with my cross stitch. I feel like I haven’t done any for a long time.

Tomorrow we are having a break from sorting bits out and will making something new. I’m looking forward to the challenge and I’ll share the project with you when it’s completed. Night for now x

Sunflower special edition, update 4…..

After all that gorgeous weather last week I think we all shivered from the wind and rain this week. But how did the sunflowers fare?

Nanny Bev – Gravesend is often on the weather map for having some of the warmest temperatures. But not this week. Gerald has remained cool and strong withstanding the high winds. Especially as he is not supported like the fellow competitors around the country. He is stickless!


Auntie Jeanie – Sally sunflower has moved this week. She is still near Bexleyheath however she has been repotted. Her roots need to branch out. Seems as if she survived the weather though. Will the potting on though hold her back next week? Will it be all roots and no change in height?

Sally Sunflower.

Craig and Sam – It’s been a bit windy along the coast in Poole this week but the sunny two have survived after their close call with Brian. 🐌 Sams sunflower head is looking pretty robust forming a good bud and although Craig’s looks like it’s got a wonky bottom it’s strong where it matters.

Craig and Sams sunflowers.

Although I think the folk near the sea are a little confused as they are trying to enter these two specimens into the completion and hope we don’t notice!


Jan and Lisa – Wow, what has Jan been up to this week? Is she secretly putting ice cubes on Lisa’s pot so that she can catch up? What a surprise. Apparently today Jan is even inserting a taller stick! Lisa though is still streets ahead. Look at the height of that beauty. Will hers be requiring a move or new stick by next week? love how Lisa has also taken the photo in front of a white drain pipe. Is this the sunflower version of airbrushing to deceive our eye?

Lisa and Jans sunflowers.

Jo and Ben – What a windy week in Dartford. It’s been very nerve racking with Jo checking on SUNY and the sunny eight during the high winds but we are happy to report they are made of tough stuff. It may have helped that the sunny eight were all resecured mid week with some extra string. SUNY is nearly peeping over the neighbours fence now and is forming a good strong bud. He even posed for a selfie!

SUNY on my shoulder.

So there we have it. Another varied week with the sunflowers, they are all doing so well. What will happen though during the next week with cooler conditions predicted and even someone mentioning a trip to the sunflower barbers! I think there may be some foul play in thought!!


A busy thoughtful week…..

Where to start? We have tried to keep busy this week as it has been very emotional which has made Ben and I quite worn out.

Dads funeral was on Tuesday. It’s hard enough having lost Rich recently but dad as well! To have two funerals in a month is two more than anyone ever wants. Dads funeral was fitting. The music I hope made him chuckle. We chose Andre Rieu, Amazing Grace which was the live version. As we entered the chapel there was a round of applause. It did make us smile. For our other piece of music Ben wanted the tune from the Cornetto advert as we often heard dad singing just one cornetto whilst he was in the shower. When it started to play Ben said this isn’t in English or the tune. But this was Pavarotti singing O’ sole mio. A few of the mourners were singing along in their head which dad would have smiled at if they sang out loud. Beautiful.

Flowers for dad from the garden x x

Lesley the Chaplin read a poem on Ben and my behalf. It’s exactly what we would want to say to dad.

By an Unknown Author

As we look back over time
We find ourselves wondering …..
Did we remember to thank you enough
For all you have done for us?
For all the times you were by our sides
To help and support us …..
To celebrate our successes
To understand our problems
And accept our defeats?
Or for teaching us by your example,
The value of hard work, good judgment,
Courage and integrity?
We wonder if we ever thanked you
For the sacrifices you made.
To let us have the very best?
And for the simple things
Like laughter, smiles and times we shared?
If we have forgotten to show our
Gratitude enough for all the things you did,
We’re thanking you now.
And we are hoping you knew all along,
How much you meant to us.

We needed a positive project this week to all be involved in. So we decided to move Bens bedroom to the back of the house where he can have the windows open and not hear the traffic. Monday was the beginning. We had help, thank you Bev and Jono, all the furniture was moved out which created a blank canvas. Wallpaper removed and walls prepared. We have decided to upcycle the cupboards above the bed and the head board.

Mummies little helper not being very helpful.

Wednesday a good friend and decorator came over to help us out with the painting of the ceiling and walls so that Bev and I could crack on with the furniture. Thank you Cliff, you did a marvellous job. Fortunately it was a nice sunny day so the wood could be painted outside.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday saw more painting and reattaching some of the furniture and of course the wallpapering. Now I’m not sure but I don’t think Bev liked this wallpaper. 😉 It was a bit odd as it was self adhesive as in you peeled the back of like a transfer. This took a fair while but we got there.

Doing all these jobs always brings back happy memories. I find myself talking to Rich and dad, asking for guidance and where on Earth will I find certain tools in the shed 😂 Thursday was a particularly tough day. I missed Rich more than most days today so I decided to stop jobs earlier in the day and just spend some time chatting to him and looking back at our previous adventures. We didn’t have enough time together but we really packed a lot in to that time. Even when things were very challenging. So I will keep smiling and keep remembering all the happy times. Ben and I often share some of our thoughts. We try to make sure we still smile despite our tears ❤️❤️❤️

So where are we up to now?

Cupboards up, painted and awaiting new handles.

Headboard reupholstered and repainted.

I need to research how to get the doors to line up!

Tv up on the wall.

Now we are at the stage of having part painted the wardrobe doors just to help them to match in.

Before painting.

As you can see we are nearly there. It’s been a good little project complete with another bit of recycling rather than buying new which is very rewarding.

For the quiz night we took part in Friday evening we were set homework. Ben and I made a castle which we used recycled boxes ect and positioned it over the pond (moat) it was fun homework. Not like I remember from my school days.

The garden hadn’t been forgotten during the week. The flowers will be smiling after the heavy rain this afternoon. Plants in the greenhouse are coming on in leaps and bounds.

Stormy clouds.

Tomorrow look out for the special edition sunflower blog, but for now enjoy the colours and flowers and enjoy your evening x x

The rose, Malvern Hills arrived. I have picked this as dad would play on the Malvern hills as a young boy and has asked for his ashes to be scattered there.
Malvern hills planted.
The gorgeous flowers I received from our family this week. Thank you x
The view from the snug window.
Something is happening in the wildflower meadow.
Cherry tomatoes are doing so well.
The first raspberries of 2020.
Just picking a few strawberries each day.
Mummies little helper would like to eat more strawberries.
The Salvia is unfolding.
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