The living room transformation……

Well the final piece of the puzzle or should I say the living room has been completed today.

For some time I’ve been working on lightening up the fireplace as the wood was extremely dark. This took some doing and has probably been the toughest bit I’ve worked on. With advice from some friends I set about taking back the varnish on the wooden fireplace. Dad built and designed the fireplace when we moved into this house back in 1982. The fire place has a lovely piece of wood on the top and sides and the bottom was completed with a bit of skirting and scaffold board.

The original fireplace.

I carefully taped all around the sides and coated the wood in the varnish remover. The instructions said it may take two coats and lots of scrapping. Yeah right, five coats and lots of scraping later and the next morning some sanding back I finally had some good looking wood.

Mummies little helper.

However on carefully removing the tape I discovered not only had the product removed the varnish but some of the paint and wallpaper. Well that’s another trip to B&Q then to get some paint to now repaint the whole chimney breast. Just before this though I treated the wood with a wax and I’m really pleased to say the grain looks great and it’s so smooth when you run your hand along it now.

Bugger.

Bev kindly offered to paint the wall for me as this isn’t an easy manoeuvre for me just yet.

The end result looks better than I could have hoped for. Just some lights and ivy to put up to soften the look and give it a beautiful warm feeling.

The doors into the next room were also very dark but I really didn’t fancy stripping all the varnish from them. To my surprise when Bev arrived she came along with a curtain pole and some teal colour fabric, which happened to match the lampshades perfectly. What a difference this makes to the door, whilst still letting light in from the next room. Well done Bev, great idea.

Before.
After.

So there we have it. After a few weeks work in lockdown two, three repainted units, two repainted tables, three painted lamp stands with new shades and a completely new look to the fireplace we have a transformed room. So much brighter, more modern and at a very small cost. Also it has given me something to work on over the last few weeks when we can not go anywhere we want again or meet up with groups of friends. A few well earned days off I feel now to catch up on some of my Suzy cross-stitch before I start the next project on the list. Have a great weekend everyone.

Let’s brighten up the cabinet

Over the last few days I have been tackling the display cabinet in our living room. It’s never been my cup of tea as I am not an ornament kind of person but you compromise when you live with others. Dad loved browsing antique shops so it does give me some happy memories and I can hear him saying “don’t open the box, it will lose value” 😂

The dark display cupboard.

So I remove all six doors and between my car port and utility room I manage to spread them all out after sanding them lightly.

I’ve gone for the same colour as the small units in the living room as it does make it all appear brighter. I enjoy painting furniture but all the prep is frustrating.

After four days, Ben and I remove the painting tape, tidy the edges up and put the new handles on before placing them back on the units.

The end result looks rather refreshing and again makes that end of the room so much brighter. Another simple up cycle project.

The finished units.

No project would be complete without a cup of tea and a piece of cake, and as I didn’t have any cake in I whipped up a quick Lemon drizzle that I’d seen on line. Delicious.

It’s a light bulb moment!

Can you guess what I’ve been up to again? Yep you guessed it up cycled some more furniture.

As I may have mentioned in previous blogs my living room is quite dark and so was the furniture. Rather than buy new furniture (there is nothing broken or wrong with what we had) I got to changing the look. You’ve just seen the newly painted units now it was the turn of the coffee tables and lamps.

The tables matched the units and were quite dark wood.

The previous dark tables.

First I needed to sand them back, the tops I wanted to strip all of the varnish to bring them back to the original wood. This took a bit of time but looked good after. The legs were a little tricky but again I persevered.

Sanded and ready to go.

The legs have been painted the same as the units and the tops waxed to bring out the grain of the original wood. The end result looks great.

The two lamps in the room were again dark wood. I purchased a third second hand, removed the lampshade and sanded them all back. I first used a chalk spray paint but on the new lamp it just kept going pink in colour. The tall lamp stand wasn’t taking the paint very well despite the paint saying no need to use a primer. Plan B, use the spray I’m used to working with. This worked well on the two original lamps but again not on the new. So not being defeated I returned to B&Q (my forth visit this week) purchased a primer and started again on the new lamp. Bingo. This is what it needed. Phew. With the new shades, the second new shades as the first I’d purchased were a different colour to how they looked online, they now look like completely new lamps and compliment the room better.

Mummies little helper

I’m very pleased with the end result, so whilst on the living room after taking Suzy on a lovely Sunday sunny stroll I took the doors off the next unit and got them sanded and ready for painting. You’ll have to wait and see how they turn out.

Today (Sunday) has been gorgeous and sunny so Suzy and I also couldn’t resist a little time in the garden. I mulched the roses, Suzy did what she does best. Laps up the sunshine.

Happy weekend everyone x x

Adventure to the Isle of Wight

College half term was fast approaching. The year has been incredible tough. We really needed a little adventure, a change of scenery before the nights draw in and the days become cooler.

After two days of solid accommodation searching, anywhere in the country we came upon a 3 bedroom townhouse in Seaview, on the Northeast side of the Isle of Wight. Ben and I had only been to the island in late December with my dad to accompany him for work so we were looking forward to seeing the island “open”

Bags packed, Lexy loaded Ben, Abbie, Bev, Suzy and I set off towards the ferry from Portsmouth. The ferry was to take us to Fishbourne and from there is was a short drive to Seaview. To start our trip off it rained, in fact it rained ever day we were there.

First stop, lunch. A little eatery was found facing the sea and we relaxed and enjoyed our meal.

The most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen.

Once keys collected we all excitedly explored our temporary home. A three bedroom town house with views over looking the sea from the second floor. That will do us nicely thank you.

The next day we headed off to Cowes. Cowes has been seen as a home for international yacht racing since the founding of the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1815. It gives its name to the world’s oldest regular regatta, Cowes Week, which occurs annually in the first week of August. Later, powerboat races are held. It’s a pleasant town to walk round and made easier on full belly’s after a pub full English. Of course to help keep us warm as you guessed it, it’s raining again.

Thursday we drove across the island to the windy west. Boy was it windy today. Our aim was to visit the Needles and Alum Bay, famous for its coloured sands. Yep raining again and combined with the wind that meant that the cable car wasn’t running down to the bay. So only one thing for it, walk, down lots and lots of steps. Well worth it though. The waves were crashing over the lower cable car station but this didn’t deter from the majestic brightly coloured cliffs. No trip to the beach is complete without a paddle either, well not for Bev😉

The Needles in the distance.

Fridays adventure was to Shanklin. Every time I had visited here in the past everything had been closed so we were looking forward to visiting Shanklin Chine. It was an interesting place to visit with lots of history.

The Chine had a calming feel to it and very pleasant to walk through. Especially when we returned after sunset to visit the illuminations.

No holiday is complete without a game of crazy golf. Yes it’s still raining but hey, we are brits and we are on holiday and not going to miss out. We may have got slightly soaked but we had lots of fun and survived the dinosaurs.

Hot chocolate never fails to warm one up.

Suzy also enjoyed her holiday, she loves the beach and even managed to have a swim, even though it was unintentional!

So if you fancy a holiday and want to feel like you’ve gone abroad, the Isle of Wight is a lovely place to visit. Why not give the coastal path or geocaching a try when you do x

Arriving back in Potsmouth.

Marlow and cook off day.

Making the most of my mini break, I headed to Marlow on my way home. Suzy and I parked up and just as we were about to head out of the van it started to rain. I did have a do I don’t i moment, but I have good waterproofs so does Suzy so there was no excuse.

Our aim in Marlow was to complete another adventure Lab Cache series and just have a wander.

There are some quaint little areas to see and one of my favourites had to be the suspension bridge and the view down the river to the weir.

Marlow suspension bridge.
Sir Stephen Redgrave.

Leaving Marlow was a little bit of a challenge as the suspension bridge had a width restriction and guess where my google maps wanted to take me? Yep across the bridge. This is one challenge that I have found going it alone in the van. You can’t drive and find an alternate route at the same time without pulling over. Today there was no where to pull over so I just kept driving up alternate roads until google maps got me back on a suitable route.

Safely home and van I packed it was time to relax before Saturdays Cook off.

Some of you may have seen that once a month Since this crazy pandemic, Martin, Nick and I meet up and enjoy some home cooked food.

We alternate who cooks starters, mains and desert. Today Martin made a very tasty mulligatawny soup, which was a soup that I’d not made before and didn’t even know the ingredients involved.

Nick was on Mains today and he made a mince beef, onion and mushroom pie with mash, Brussel spouts and carrots. Again delicious.

Desert was to be a coconut and jam sponge with home made custard served in mini milk bottles.

We had picked a theme for today’s meals. School dinners is something we all remember. Lumpy raw mashed potato, roast dinners, Brussels like bullets, pink custard and Tottenham cake, gypsy tart and so many more. I am please to say there were no lumps in sight and no yucky skin on the custard. Another great success. Next month we are going for an autumnal bonfire night theme. I now have a few weeks to think about what starter I can serve.

The evening was completed with a few rounds of Jenga. A tense game with so much concentration and holding of breathe.

The eyes of concentration.

I hope that you are all staying safe and positive where ever you are and making the best of these strange times. Ben and I are trying to and I think we have to use this time to try new things and challenge ourselves.

A mini break to Henley

As if I haven’t had any challenges lately, I decided that it was about time Miss Lexy and I went for an adventure. I’ve not been away with her on my own but I am determined to continue the journey for Rich.

We chose Henley as our destination. Not to far to drive (first time driving the van since my operation), a campsite that I was familiar with and I knew that way I wouldn’t need to do any heavy lifting, and good walks for Suzy. The town is also a short walk away and their is a cafe on site.

The drive down was traffic free (some positives to many having to work from home still) despite the heavy rain. Suzy was quite content on her bed with her seat belt on in the back. She sat up most of the journey as she can see out of the front window from there.

Once we reached the campsite, the barriers opened automatically and we drove straight to our pitch. The campsite have had to change all their booking in procedures to comply with Covid regulations. This means no going into the reception, and then sending you a map and you pitch in advance so that you can come straight in.

Once in we received a lovely welcome phone call from reception to ensure we had arrived safely and found and had everything we need. I’d booked a hard standing pitch with water supply, grey waste point and fresh water to save me from moving the van during my stay. Also this made lighter work for my back😉 However the pitch is slightly on the tilt so I had to drive Miss Lexy onto her levelling blocks. In the past I’ve had to have someone do this or guide me as it’s not my strong point. But after checking twice I was levelled and chocks in. Pat on the back for Me.

Our first afternoon Suzy and I went for a walk round the nearby fields before heading back for a cup of tea and some relaxation time before dinner. Sadly the cafe isn’t open at the beginning of the week in the evenings but I had come prepared with a homemade chilli which just needed warming and the rice cooked. Great comfort van food and little washing up.

Chilled out Suzy whilst I set up.

Suzy started to get chilly, bless her. She has recently been to the Suzy Salon, so I snuggled her up in her bed, wrapped her up and put the heating on. One of the bonuses of Miss Lexy is that she has great heating and hot water settings.

After a good night sleep and brekkie, Suzy and I got ourselves ready and took a gentle walk into town. Everywhere is so pretty with all the autumn leaves.

I love the walk into and around Henley. The architecture is so beautiful. Lots of historical buildings and quirky features. Our aim for today was to follow a set of adventure lab caches around the town. This way I would find out a little history, have a gentle stroll with little rest stops and Suzy could explore. Many of the shops here allow you to take dogs in which is so handy as I was unsure of how to be out and about on my own with Suzy. What if you needed to go to the loo? Get a drink or snack? It’s strange not having Rich here as we would share looking after Suzy.

Our first stop was a quaint small pet shop. As I mentioned Suzy was chilly last night so we enquired what outfits they had that may be suitable. The gentleman was so helpful and he tried them on Suzy. She decided on a grey hoody, very fitting with a compass on the pocket detail.

Next we wandered to the first lab cache point and spotted a local produce market. Superb, I love a market and I hopped it has a cheese stall. But that could wait to later.

The walk was very therapeutic, also my first carrying a small rucksack as I had drinks for Suzy and I, and I wanted a little space incase of any purchases. This doesn’t sound odd but I haven’t carried any weight since my surgery so it was a bit of a test. I’m pleased to say, although a little tired at the end of the day I managed it comfortably, even after our 4.5 miles😀

The warm sun shone all throughout our adventure. We strolled along the river, Suzy tried to make friends with the ducks and geese, they were not impressed. After finding a few of our locations we went to the angel pub for a light lunch and enjoyed the atmosphere whilst sitting outside next to the river.

Once reenergised we completed our stroll and headed back towards the market. It’s so nice to see the local farms displaying their fine produce. I purchased some Goats cheese Gouda which I am excited to try soon.

This is a selection of the photos I took on our walk around Henley.

A living wall incorporated over a painting of a dog.
Charter house.
Anne Boleyn’s house.

Something I’ve noticed around Henley is all the colourful front doors. One building which looks like the doors should be identical, isn’t. The doors are all slightly varying in size. Fascinating, I wonder why?

To complete our lovey day Suzy and I met up with Lisa in the campsites cafe for dinner. It was Mexican night so we enjoyed burritos and a good catch up.

Suzy looked very chic going to dinner in her new outfit and was warm and cosy.

Autumn colours from the campsite.
Very tired puppy.

Getting back to some normality….

Five weeks ago I could hardly move. Now I’m driving, walking very well, managing a bit of gentle gardening and back to my favourite pastime of upcycling.

So here is an update of what I have been up to in-between lots of relaxing and resting still.

The weather has been gorgeous on a few days so I have taken this opportunity to do a spot of gardening. Don’t worry, I’ve not overdone it and only done what feels comfortable. The front wall baskets have now been planted up with winter bulbs and very pretty pansies that remind me of oranges and lemons. Hopefully they will look even more spectacular in the spring.

Tete a tete bulbs going in.

During the week I have also worked on two cupboards from the living room. As you can see they were quite a dark wood and the living room is quite dark during the day so I set to giving them a lift.

Sanded then wiped down out in the sunshine with mummy’s little helper they were ready to paint.

We chose a colour similar to duck egg blue to coordinate with the grey sofa, sanding the tops back to the natural wood and waxing them.

I’m very pleased with them, but of course it doesn’t stop there. Next will now be the coffee tables and the lamp bases and probably the display unit. It’s addictive this hobby.

The back garden bulbs also started to be planted this week with Jono and Bev’s help. Hopefully the hyacinths will look great in front of the pond in the spring.

This weekend has been filled with meeting up with some friends. Saturday we enjoyed afternoon tea in Rochester, very indulgent, and today Nick, Martin and I went to see a show filmed at the 02 with Michael Ball and Alfie Boe but shown at the cinema. It was great. Lots of songs from the musicals amongst other greats. Trouble is it’s reminded me how much I miss going to concerts or the theatre. Let’s hope the theatres can open again soon.

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…..

It’s a very exciting day today. Four weeks ago I had surgery on my back which has made so much difference to my daily life. So today a few of us had decided to have a trip out to Hastings to browse the antique shops, do a bit of geocaching and maybe treat ourself a to something nice to eat.

Martin picked up Sam and I and we had a good run down to the coast. When we arrived the sun was shining and the sea was so calm.

The caches we decided to do today involved us looking for blue plaques around the town. This worked out well as we could do this in combination with exploring the antique shops.

The antique shops were fun to browse and we played a game of I would buy this from each shop. I think at one point I chose a large metal sphere, and Sam and Martin some other odd items. There were so many nice pieces of furniture that I would have liked to have to renovate but I don’t have the room. Perhaps I need to buy my own chateau.

Brunch this morning was in a cafe overlooking the sea. I had scrambled egg and chorizo which was very nice.

As well as looking out for blue plaques there was some interesting art work around the town.

After exploring and seeing all these quirky places along with these old buildings we headed to the pub for liquid refreshments before dinner.

Of course dinner had to be fish and chips as we are by the seaside after all. They were enjoyed sat on the front over looking the sea with the sun starting to set over Beachy head in the distance. Beautiful.

A truly wonderful day that didn’t disappoint in any way. Great company, delicious food, sunshine and an interesting town. Best of all I managed to do all this with zero pain and able to keep up. Brilliant.

The last view of the day was this vibrant rainbow that appeared just after we had finished our dinner. We just made it to the car before the rain came. A wonderful time was had by all.

What a difference…..

Three weeks ago, the sun was shining, the days longer and I was still up cycling and recycling what I could to keep myself occupied.

Part of the reason for trying to keep myself occupied was that my back pain was getting worse. Moving became more difficult and Suzy walks were getting shorter and shorter.

I’d had an MRI and was awaiting an urgent referral to the team at Kings for possible surgery. However not doing things by half’s, on Thursday 10th September I had to call an ambulance as the pain was unbearable and my legs gave way. Ben was in complete shock after being woke by telephone to come over to my bedroom and help me and keep Suzy from worrying whilst we waited for the ambulance.

Once in A&E, after many hours I was admitted to a ward and another MRI. A disc in my lower back had herniated and was compressing lots of nerves. Surgery was now the way to go and after a middle of the night transfer to London Kings College Hospital and many do we don’t we from the surgeons I was quickly taken for the surgery. As you can imagine the next few hours were a bit of a blur. When I woke back on the ward I was asked to get out of bed and have a wee. To my complete surprise there was no pain! I could get in and out of bed, walk and sit. Sitting hadn’t been comfortable for weeks. I was truly amazed.

Sunday I was even more amazed as I was told I was doing so well I could go home. Quite a scary thought as they usually keep you there for 3-4 days but due to Covid it was safer to recover at home.

When I’d heard that I may need to have surgery some of my friends told me they had put a plan in place and I had to go with it. The plan was rapidly bought forward. Sam came to stay at our house to be with Ben and Suzy. Mark stayed home to look after their side of things and Bev, Jono and Victoria took turns in popping over to help me once home.

As many of you know I’m not very good at doing nothing but I now had to. I wasn’t going to risk undoing the work the surgeons had performed and I think my body was screaming at me to stop after a rough six months. I have done as I’m told, taken things slowly, lifted nothing heavy, I’ve not twisted, stretched or pushed myself to much. I had to ask for help to shower, cook my dinner, walk Suzy and many other jobs that we take for granted.

Now two weeks post op and Sam drove me to the country park where we could let Suzy back off the lead for a good run around and to test my walking on the grass. We have one very happy chilled out dog this afternoon. Suzy loved interacting with her chums and chasing the ball. It will be a few weeks yet before I can drive or walk Suzy myself but everything is going in the right direction. Best of all, no pain!!

I’ve thanked the NHS many times this year and I find myself saying it again. THANK YOU. What would we do without you?🌈🌈

So what was I up to before this little hiccup? We had two wicker baskets for bits and pieces in our hall way that didn’t match. You guessed it, they do now. Thanks to some more spray paint🙂

The completed baskets.

The plants in the green house have now finished and one of the last things to pick was our one and only melon. It was enjoyed sitting in the sunshine with some Parma ham. Just how dad and Rich would have.

My other little project was to respray a couple of photo frames as I have so many wonderful memories that I want to share. The first two went well and looked great once Mark had put them on the wall for me. However it didn’t look complete. It needed a third frame and unable to purchase the same again I set about restyling a bigger frame. I managed to do this whilst recovering after the op sitting in the sunshine. I pulled apart an eight frame, reattached it in its new formation, filled in the excess holes and sprayed it to match the other two. Another successful upcycle.

The original frame.
Sanded and ready for spraying.
The eight frame to be taken apart.
The final frame now on the wall thanks to Martin and Nick.

The weekend was topped of on Saturday with Nick and Martin joining Sam and I. Some of you may remember last month we had a holiday debrief and enjoyed a meal with each of us making a course. This weekend Nick made the main and Martin the starter and desert (I was excused from this month) and Sam on clearing and washing up.

Nick had set a further challenge by picking a Welsh theme as we had all holidayed there together a few years ago.

So Martin’s starter was home made Leek and Potato soup, garnished with sautéed Leek and chives, Delicious. Next was Nick’s main which was a Welsh lamb stew with home made sourdough bread. Again full of flavour and delicious and desert (I always love desert as I have a rather sweet tooth) was baked by Martin and was an Eve’s pudding but made with pear instead of apple. Bloody lovely and yes I had to have seconds. what a way to spend an afternoon😛

So there we have it. The last three weeks all caught up. All my other projects are temporarily placed on hold whilst I recover. For now I shall continue to be gripped by the Netflix drama, The Fall. (Thank you Cheryl, great recommendation) and alternate my time between putting my feet up, walking a little further each day and catching up on some reading. I may even do some research into the next big adventure☺️🚐

Take care everyone and thank you again to everyone that has sent me messages and helped myself and Ben out over the last few weeks. X x

Bakewell – Home of the pudding

Today was the day, we get to go and sample Bakewell. I’d been looking forward to this part of the trip. I last visited here in 2012 and really wanted to return for a more in-depth tour. Rich and I had planned to camp near here but sadly it wasn’t meant to be. But I feel like I’ve bought him along with me today in a small way to share the adventure. He would have loved it, especially all of the cake!

The drive across the Peaks was breathtaking. So pretty.

Perhaps best known for its unique and delicious Pudding. Bakewell is Idyllically situated on the banks of the river Wye, the biggest town in the Peak District National Park’s mellow stone buildings, medieval five-arched stone bridge and quaint courtyards are a magnet for painters, photographers and sightseers alike. I can see why. We decided to explore this town today via a geocache. A multi that would take us to various locations. To do this we had printed out various photos of parts of buildings, these were the clues we needed to look out for. Different to how we normally do a cache, but fun.

This is a sample of what we were looking out for on our route.

Now before we could sample the famous pudding, lunch was in order. A very nice leek and potato soup with halloumi fries. Delicious.

Our walking tour commenced, taking us off of the usual tourist trail and up some narrow alleys that were brightly decorated in climbing roses and quaint front doors.

This Dahlia was the size of a dinner plate. Beautiful.

Up to the Old House Museum, one of the oldest buildings in Bakewell. This architectural gem is one of Bakewell’s best kept secrets. Built during the reign of Henry VIII as a tax collectors cottage the building was expanded during the Elizabethan period as a gentlemans residency. From Tudor to Victorian the building and objects tell the story of life in rural and industrial Bakewell. Sir Richard Arkwright housed his millworkers here.

After walking back into the town, we headed to the pudding shop via the bright, colourful displays of flowers in the park. The gardeners have done a fantastic job here. So many varieties and well thought out borders, all in height order and colour blocks. Even a small memorial garden.

Now, to the pudding – Legend has it that the towns famous pudding, was created by mistake by a local cook in the mid-19th century. Today her delectable ‘jam tart that went wrong’ can be sampled at various bakeries and cafés and posted virtually anywhere in the world!

We may have purchased some and may have posted some. Will you be one of the lucky recipients of “the pudding”?

Bakewell was a lovely town to visit, and I’m pleased that we made it here. However I felt lost without Rich today as this would have been one of our adventures. Thank you to Martin and Nick though for accompanying us here.

A few more buildings to discover before we headed back to our base to enjoy another tasty evening meal.

Buxton

Buxton is a spa town in Derbyshire in the East Midlands region of England. It has the highest elevation – about 1,000 feet (300 m) above sea level – of any market town in England. Close to the county boundary with Cheshire to the west and Staffordshire to the south, Buxton is described as “the gateway to the Peak District National Park”

We decided to set out a little later today as the weather forecast suggested more thunder storms. So a tasty breakfast was made by Martin and Nick. It consisted of Oat Pancakes with fresh fruit and apricot and marmalade muffins. Delicious.

The journey to Buxton was so picturesque. Rolling hills and rocky outcrops made up the vast landscape. 40 minutes later we arrived and found somewhere to park close to town. As usual our first stop was at a small cafe with outside seating to enjoy a refreshing drink and snack. I had a chicken and thyme sausage roll with home made coleslaw, very nice.

Chicken and Thyme sausage roll.

Our tour guide again today was a multi geocache that led us on a tour of the town. We needed to visit most of the historical locations to gather some information.

Built on the River Wye and overlooked by Axe edge moor. Buxton has a history as a spa town due to its geothermal spring which rises at a constant temperature of 28 °C. The spring waters are piped to St Ann’s Well (a shrine to St.Anne since medieval times) at the foot of The Slopes, opposite the Crescent near the town centre. The well was declared to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Peak by philosopher Thomas Hobbes in his 1636 book De Mirabilibus Pecci: Being The Wonders of the Peak in Darby-shire.

St Ann’s Well. You can fill your bottles and drink straight from the Well. Pure Buxton Water.

Buxton landmarks include Poole’s Cavern, an extensive limestone cavern open to the public, and St Ann’s Well, fed by the geothermal spring bottled and sold internationally by Buxton Mineral Water Company. Also in the town is the Buxton Opera House which hosts several music and theatre festivals each year. The Devonshire Campus of the University of Derby is housed in one of the town’s historic buildings.

Buxton Opera House.
The Devonshire Dome, home to the University of Derby.

The Grade II listed fan window Below, was built in 1863 at Buxton Station is a well known landmark in the town, greeting rail passengers to and from their destination along the Buxton to Manchester line. Originally part of a twin railway terminus, it was restored and repaired in 2019 (following vandalism which broke glass panels) organised by the Friends of Buxton Station; the fan window is just one of many improvement projects which have slowly transformed Buxton Station since the volunteer group rejuvenated in 2015.

The fan window of Buxton station.
Pavilion Gardens
Reputed to be the oldest hotel in England.
With a rich history that dates back thousands of years, and includes some notable guests including Mary Queen of Scots herself. The Old Hall Hotel now stands as one of the spa town of Buxton’s most popular places to stay, nestled deep in the heart of the Peak District.

The Crescent (as photographed below) was the centrepiece of the Fifth Duke of Devonshire’s plans to establish a fashionable Georgian spa town in Buxton. The grade 1 listed building is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in the country. The redevelopment and restoration will secure a major investment of circa £50 million in Buxton and put the town back on the national and international map as England’s leading spa town. The project will create in excess of 140 permanent jobs, 350 construction related jobs and many more permanent jobs indirectly through new spa-related businesses resulting in a boost the local economy by over £4.5 million. The Crescent and Thermal Spa Experience and development of the Pump Room will also provide new indoor attraction for residents, visitors, groups and schools.

Plans for the Crescent include a  81-bedroom luxury spa hotel occupying the majority of the Crescent and which will incorporate the magnificent Assembly Rooms and a  thermal natural mineral water spa in the Natural Baths. The project will also feature 6 retail units in the front ground floor.

The project is estimated to cost over £46 million.

View from the slopes.
Buxton Town Hall.

The Met Office Climatological Station, located on The Slopes in Buxton, just above the War Memorial, has records of the Buxton climate, reaching back nearly 150 years. Records of Buxton weather originally began at the 1866 in the grounds of Devonshire Royal Hospital.

Buxton Climatological Station moved to the current site in 1925 and continues to provide data to various bodies. Michael Hilton (famed for this Buxton Weather website) and a group of dedicated volunteers currently maintain the station. The Station has records of temperatures, humidity, rainfall, and much more – and even details like the daily temperature of the soil, one metre (3 feet) below the ground.

After visiting these locations we had a walk through the Pavilion gardens. It really is beautiful, but best of all a river running through the middle. The stream is brown in colour, but clear due to the amount of iron in the water. The water looked so inviting and the children were having so much fun, so you guessed it, Suzy went in followed by myself and Martin. Perfectly refreshing for a day like today.

Having to retrieve the very over excited Suzy to move on to our next location.

A few more caches and it was time to leave this historic town. We wanted to stop at a road side cafe we had seen on the journey in. It overlooked the peaks and you could see for miles. Just in the time as they were just about to close. Fortunately they could provide take away cups so we could take our time. We also purchased some Stilton pork pies, I shall let you know what those were like later.

Tea drunk, photos taken, Homewood bound. Ben is cooking tonight, coached by Nick. We are all looking forward to our home made burgers and potato wedges.

Incoming storm.

A day out in Leek

A little background and history.

Leek is a market town in the county of Staffordshire, England, on the River Churnet. It is situated about 10 miles (16 km) north east of Stoke-on-Trent. It is an ancient borough and was granted its royal charter in 1214.

Leek’s coat of arms is made up of a Saltire Shield. On the top is the Stafford Knot, either side is the Leek “Double Sunset” and below a gold garb. The crest is a mural crown with three Mulberry leaves on a Mount of Heather on top of which a Moorcock is resting his claw on a small-weave Shuttle.

We decided to explore this lovely old market town today. Using geocaching as our tour guide we set out to find a few historical spots in the town. Well we would until we became distracted by tea and cake.

Refuelled exploration of the town can began. We needed to find the memorial, church, market sign and college amongst other locations.

The town is so interesting to walk around. Full of unusual architecture. Even a gold postbox to honour the Olympian, Anna Watkins for her gold medal in the 2012 Olympics for the women’s double Sculls.

The Nicholson War Memorial in Leek, Staffordshire, England is a 1925 war memorial. It was commissioned by local manufacturer Sir Arthur Nicholson and his wife Lady Marianne, née Falkner, in memory of their son Lieutenant Basil Lee Nicholson, who was killed in action at Ypres, Belgium, in 1915, at the age of 24, and in memory of all the other local men who died fighting in World war.

After a good few hours exploring and caching we headed off to Rudyard Lake.

Rudyard Lake is a reservoir in Rudyard, Staffordshire, located north-west of the town of Leek. It was constructed in the late 18th century to feed the Caldon Canal. During the 19th century, it was a popular destination for daytrippers taking advantage of easy access using the newly constructed Staffordshire railway.

Legend has it that the village of Rudyard was named after Ralph Rudyard, a local man reputed to have killed Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth field, although as the place-name, meaning ‘a yard or enclosure where rue is grown’ in Old English , was first recorded in 1022 and subsequently mentioned in the Domesday book in 1086 it is more likely that Ralph, if he ever existed, was named after the village.

On the miniature railway train.
One happy puppy.

In September 1864 Carlos Trower, an Afro-American tight rope walker who called himself ‘The African Blondin’ was engaged by the North Staffordshire Railway to walk across the lake on a rope suspended some hundred feet above the water. This was the first major event organised by the NSR. Special trains were run from nearby towns and the Potteries with over three thousand spectators attending.

This carving was made to commemorate the tightrope crossing of the lake by Carlos Trower in 1878 and again by Chris Bull in 2016.

After all this exploring it was time to relax with lunch of baps of various fillings and ice cream for desert. Suzy was treated to another swim in the lake before heading off home. It was such a warm evening dinner was also enjoyed outside. Well you have to make the most of the British summer.

Miss Lexy goes for a pamper….

Today Miss Lexy, my trusty motorhome was booked in for some work. She had a cracked water pipe leading out from the kitchen sink and need her water sensors checking. I set out in plenty of time to make the journey around the M25 and to Burgess Hill. I felt quite happy, wide awake and ready to go. However emotions as we know can just change and as I reached Swanley on the M25 tears came from no where. I have so many memories of Rich and today reminded me of last May when we traveled to collect Miss Lexy for the first time. Also of the many adventures we had all together. It was to be like this all the way to Burgess hill. Fortunately I could see where I was going. Once I’d reached my destination I took a few moments, took some deep breaths and handed over Lexy’s keys. She would be there for a good few hours so I had arranged to meet My friend Jono here.

We toddled off to Brighten. Found a car parking space and walked along the sea front. The sky was bright blue and the sun was warm and bright.

Brighten sea front.

After a while walking around and seeing some very interesting art work on the buildings we enjoyed some lunch again on the sea front.

A little beach restaurant was chosen and as an added bonus we were told that everything on the menu was half price due to the governments new eat out scheme. With that in mind we picked a sharing fish platter. It was delicious.

Brighten is a very interesting place to explore and Rich, Ben and I enjoyed exploring it last year. It also reminded me of my last trip away with my dad which was to Glasgow. A vibrant city, also full of amazing art work.

I found this description of Brighten:

“Brighton’s location has made it a popular destination for tourists, renowned for its diverse communities, quirky shopping areas, large cultural, music and arts scene and its large LGBT population, leading to its recognition as the “unofficial gay capital of the UK” and is the most popular seaside destination in the UK for overseas tourists. Brighton has also been called the UK’s “hippest city”, and along with Norwich named as one of the UK’s most ‘Godless’ cities, and “the happiest place to live in the UK””

This is so true as their are many statues and beautiful buildings to see.

A live statue.

It was now time to head back and collect Miss Lexy. She is all repaired and ready for her next adventure.

Although it’s been an emotional day it’s been a nice day and it reminded me that I need to persevere and keep doing things like this x x ❤️

The veg patch project

I’d spoken a while back about creating a couple of new raised beds for growing vegetables but put it on hold as I thought no point this year. However I was full of energy today and decided that it was worth starting, at least installing a temporary bed as I had quite a lot that I could grow now.

This is what the area looked like before today.

As you can see Suzy was on hand to assist as usual. I’d marked out a rough size with bamboo canes. It’s a tad smaller than it will eventually be as I wanted to leave room for the new edging that is yet to be made. Also I plan to turn this into a raised bed so that it will have some good quality topsoil added and enable better root systems. Once the shape and sized was marked the shape was cut with a grass cutter and the grass removed with a spade.

Starting to take shape.

Now was the real energetic bit, to dig the soil over and remove as many stones and old roots as possible. Of course at this point the sun came out in full and tried to bake me. But with a few refreshment stops I soon had this part competed.

It would be better if I could edge the patch somehow and after some searching through dads bits and pieces collection I found some lengths of wood that would do for now.

Temporarily edged and dug over.

After some compost was added I marked out where I wanted to put each vegetable. I decided to plant spring onions, red carrots, 3 different types of radish, 3 different varieties of lettuce and spinach.

This spot is visited by Suzy and the birds quite frequently so the next stage was to place some netting over. Again I had this available in the garden shed. It was easy to place as I dropped it over my mini cloche frames for support. A quick drench, tidy up and labels in, job complete. Total spend, zero! I already had everything that was required. Now to wait patiently for the vegetables to grow.

So there we have another quick relatively easy garden project. Fingers crossed everything grows. I’ll leave you tonight with a few more photos from the exciting veg and flowers. Night x

There is a sign that the carrots are getting bigger.
The huge begonias.
This hanging basket is full of colour.

Sunflower special edition, the finale…..

On the 20th of April 2020 we had to say goodbye to Rich. This was also the day that the Sunflower family competition got under way.

As I mentioned previously Rich and I had started to grow the sunflowers back in March and his idea was that each family member would have one, nurture them, talk to them and look at it each day and smile. I know I for one always smile when I see my happy sunny yellow faces beaming against the fence.

So here goes the final sunflower blog for 2020. Let’s remind ourselves as well as to what everyone’s looked like back then.

Craig and Sam –

Craig and Sam started off so well. They kept their sunflowers indoors for a while. Even Cosmo left them alone

Then Sam and Craig transfered the sunflowers to the big wide world of their garden in pool. Again they were growing nicely until disaster struck.

Brian has arrived to the competition. I think he should have been in the race between the Hare and the tortoise but he said he had a keen taste for sunflowers and he began chomping away.

Jan and Lisa – (and not forgetting the adorable Libby) Again a good start out in Reading. Their tactic seemed to be leave them outside during the day and bring them in at night. This lasted for a while until the winds came and snapped Lisa’s sunflower head clean off. It was like a scene from the revolution in Paris. Lisa was mortified and also out of the running.

Jans flower however fell off the table in the wind very early on in the race and its top snapped straight off. Fortunately the sunflower fairy delivered some new sunflower seeds which were planted with haste but lots of love. The result was that Jan was catching up and back in the runnings.

Auntie Jeanie – over near Bexleyheath. We had to keep an eye on Jeanie, as they say it’s the quiet ones you have to watch and as a keen gardener she had lots of previous experience and knowledge. Sally the sunflower was a bit of a mystery. We didn’t know if it was in or outdoors to start with. But slowly and steadily Sally grew stronger, survived the high winds, hail and rain and is now looking beautiful.

Sally sunflower.

Nanny Bev – now this was risky for Gerald. He started of growing indoors but was soon planted into a larger pot and positioned outside, sheltered by a wall. However Bev has two very big strong dogs, would they like to nibble Gerald as they do the bamboo? Now I know that Bev gave Gerald the odd feed here and there. Did this help, would she be the winner?

Jo and Ben – well when I say Jo and Ben its really just Jo lol Ben has outgrown growing sunflowers. SUNY sunflower as did all the plants started their life here in Jo’s greenhouse. SUNY even remained in the greenhouse for a few more weeks as he had a phobia of slugs and snails. He needed quite a bit of reassuring that he would be safe in his new container and next to the fence. Also he was promised full sunshine. What he didn’t expect was a massive hail storm, pounding through his leaves. Fortunately the flower hadn’t quite revellers itself and survived. SUNY was also joined a few weeks later by the sunny eight. Eight youngsters all fighting for the best spot by the fence.

So here are some of the highlights.

The first out of the competition was Lisa in edition 5. Beheaded, a nasty way to go. Second out was Sam and Craig in edition 6. Although the Sunflower healer was called in in edition 7, we heard in edition 8 that the sunflowers had been revived, however we didn’t get to the root of the therapy and after some consideration it was decided that some foul play had occurred and they were now out of the competition. Great effort though guys.

Craig and Sams late entry 😉

Jo’s sunflower was the first to bloom back in edition 5, closely followed by Jeanie in edition 7. Nanny Bev was in full bloom by edition 8 and wow, Jan’s seeds had put in a great fight. What was she feeding them. Her sunflower, Ginny was in bloom just after update 8.

It’s been great fun hearing all the sunny stories, tears with the disasters but the main thing is that the competition has kept us all smiling and hopefully the readers of this blog to. Rich would have loved all the comical stories, especially Sams and Craig’s. I think Rich may have grown his sunflower on the shed roof to gain that extra height 🤣

So the moment you have all been waiting for. Drum role please.🥁🥁🥁

4th place goes to Jeanie with a grand height of 121cm and a flower span of 12cm.

Sally sunflower.

3rd place goes to Jan with a height of 134.5cm and a flower span of 12.7cm

Ginny, Jan’s sunflower.

But second and first I think has to be a tiebreaker

We have the second highest plant with Bev at 168cm and the tallest plant is Jo’s with 170cm. However in second place with a flower span of 14cm is Jo and in first place a whopping 18cm span is Nanny Bev.

Gerald
SUNY and the sunny eight

Not in the running though was one of the SUNY eight. One of Jo’s sunflowers reached an incredible 175cm tall and a flower span of 23cm!

A huge thank you though to Rich for starting the competition. I know I for one think of him every time I see SUNY and the sunny eight dancing in the breeze or smiling up to the sun. Rich wanted us to keep smiling just like he did through the tough times and he certainly got his wish ❤️❤️❤️

Introducing The Berry Patch

Many years ago my vegetable patch was turned into the berry patch as I was often away in the summer when the vegetables would be ready to harvest. We started the patch being full of strawberries, but I have since added raspberry canes and this year hanging baskets with cherry tomatoes.

This was the berry patch this morning.

As you can see the strawberries have taken over in some places and the raspberries needed thinning out.

Some of the strawberry plants are also now three years old and they didn’t produce much good quality fruit this year so it was time to pull them up and add them to the compost.

Plants removed and soil dug over.

Last year I had planted up some of the runners from the existing plants and they had been in pots so far. But now there is room to plant them out into the strawberry patch.

Healthy new strawberry plants in place and watered.

The early fruiting raspberries have now finished fruiting so it is time to cut them back. It’s quite easy to do as the canes have already turned brown so easily identify.

Thinned out and supported.

Whilst I was busy working in the patch I had a couple of friendly visitors not bothered by me at all.

Of course I had my reliable little helper on hand today also.

Mummies little helper strikes again.

So there we have another productive day in the garden.

Sunflower update: The results are now in, all sun sunflowers have bloomed. Results will be revealed in Sundays sunflower special Blog.

a Laurel, laurel tree?

Part one today of prepping for the new greenhouse extension. Yes I know I’m mad wanting to extend the greenhouse, but it will be worth it next year.

So tools at the ready, Jono here to help we set to work.

The before shot.

Part of the reason also for taking out the Laurel is that the roses on the arch are not getting enough sunlight, taking it out will make a big difference.

Now to cut it all up to fit in the garden recycle bin.
Mummy’s little helper, supervising?
Mummy’s little helper standing by, ready to help.

After a few hours of cutting and sawing the job was complete. Thee is a big empty space, however so much more sunlight is getting through and once winter comes we will move the arch and extend the greenhouse. The plan is also to put in a second water butt at the side of the greenhouse. It will all be concealed by a new trellis and climbing rose which I hope to relocate.

Job complete.

Mini garden project day…..

Sunday mornings are for laying in bed. I haven’t laid in bed for months but today it seems I fell back to sleep and woke with a start at 9.

What to do today? It was drizzling with rain but lovely and warm, so after Suzy and I had been for a walk I set off down to the workshop. I wanted to check that I had the right attachments for the drill for a project I want to start later in the week. Luckily I do so hopefully the weather will be on my side on Wednesday. More about that later.

Last year Rich helped me to place an irrigation system in the bottom border. But sadly I left it out during the winter and it appears something nibbled it. After investigating the garden shed I had almost all the parts required to relay the system. The only parts that I was short on was the spikes to hold it into the ground. With my crafty head though I found the wire and fashioned some new ground spikes. Now we can begin.

Hopefully this is all that is needed.

Laying the hose was not an easy job on my own. Climbing in and out of the plants, trying not to stand or fall on any. But after a couple of hours I had the pipes in place with droppers by each area that I need to concentrate the water on. Time for the big switch on. This system is operated from the water butt that gathers water from the shed and greenhouse roof, so it’s so important that I remember to turn it off or else there wouldn’t be enough water for the greenhouse plants. I turned the taps and returned to the flower bed to see if I had successfully installed the system.

Much to my delight water was dripping slowly from each mini tap. Hooray.

That was a tricky job but I’m so pleased id managed it. Next job was to plant up a couple of Clematis that had recently been delivered. I thought Id ordered one but two arrived. I planted the first Clematis next to a Jasmine behind my compost bin and the other in the back border. Hopefully they will grow and I can train them to cover various sections of the shed and trellis. Snails though tend to be a problem here, so I fashioned a snail defence device from a plastic bottle and copper tape.

The garden has been buzzing with bees and butterflies today. They are loving all the flowers that were planted last year. Last night we also had a huge amount of flying ants take off from the Salvia pot.

This seasons huge white upright begonia.
The same begonia in red.
The big tomatoes are coming along well.

For dinner tonight we were cooking up a roast chicken. I’ve been growing carrots for a couple of months now and tonight I pulled one up to find a plump red carrot. How joyful. I pulled up a few more and some rogue spinach that had seeded itself in the spring onions. It’s so rewarding growing your own. Until next time. X

Mummies little helper supervising the carrots being pulled.

A different kind of trip

Last weekend Ben and I packed up Miss Lexy and headed off to a campsite in Henley on Thames. It was a campsite I’ve been before with Rich on a few occasions so thought it would be a good place to return to as I would be doing all the van life bits without him.

We had a nice easy drive down, the M25 was the clearest I’ve ever driven. Clearly many people are still staying at home.

Arriving at the campsite was different to past check in’s as we had already been sent the gate code and pitch number so that there was no contact with the reception staff. This we managed to do and found our pitch with ease, Parked up and plugged Miss Lexy in. it was now that I started to realise this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. I knew how to do all the electrics and water ect but what I wasn’t used to was doing it all without Rich. We had such a routine, each knew what the other would be doing. We were the perfect team. It was a shock for myself how I realised a big part of our team was missing so it wasn’t going to be the same again.

Miss Lexy all set up.

Part of the reason for our trip was to have a well earned change of scenery the other was to meet up with Jan and Lisa. We had booked a lunch at the campsite on our arrival day. This was the first time I had eaten out since February due to lock down. We had to book in advance but that was ok our table was waiting for us and we ordered with staff in gloves and masks. My roast beef dinner was beautiful, although strange eating from a paper plate and wooden cutlery. It was great to catch up and after a few hours chatting Ben, Suzy and I returned to the van to relax for a while and enjoy the sunshine.

I put up our camping sofa and Suzy made herself at home immediately. One happy relaxed puppy.

I didn’t want much space anyway 😂.

The first night in the van was so strange. Ben was very comfortable in the roof space but I felt lost. My wonderful man wasn’t there sharing the space with me. We had such fun when in the van and this evening really made me realise how much I was missing him. We were so fortunate to have so many adventures and in the last year trips out and our honeymoon in Miss Lexy. My friends have told me to keep going, keep going away in the van. Rich will be watching me and supporting me in a way he can. ❤️

Bringing Miss Lexy home for the first time.
Breakfast outside Miss Lexy on our honeymoon last year.

We made it through the first night. Ben woke early, makes a change 😂 so we got ourselves organised and walked into town to meet Jan and Lisa for another lunch out. The walk didn’t take long and it was so nice to walk through the streets with all the pretty houses and many flowers decorating them and the streets

The old Toll house.

Henley is famous for its yearly regatta but sadly this year the event wouldn’t be running. After our delicious lunch by the river we all went for a boat trip along the river towards Marlow. The sun was shining and the dogs seemed to love the sights and smells.

Suzy enjoying the view.
The pub were we enjoyed a beautiful lunch.

After a glorious afternoon Ben and I headed back to the campsite. More views of historical buildings and the old brewery.

Our trip was coming to a close. It’s going to take some getting used to but I will keep trying despite it not feeling right with out Rich by my side.

Today Bev and I headed off to the rose nursery near Leeds castle. I wanted to buy a standard rose to give some colour and height in the border. Rumwood nursery has the best selection of roses I’ve ever seen and great prices. We chose a yellow rose called sun blessed. It looks fabulous in its new location.

Before.
After.

The rest of the afternoon was spent pottering in the garden, moving a few plants, enjoying a relax in the hot tub and a steak and chips dinner with Ben in the garden.

The best way to spend a hot sunny day x x

Lunch of baked Camembert and French bread.
Mummies little helper.
Cheers my darling x x Never forgotten.

A flicker of normality…..

Lockdown has been frustrating, challenging and unknown. We have all missed seeing our friends and family. Going out for dinner, being able to just walk into the supermarket and going to the cinema.

Well today we did just that, we went to the cinema. Bluewater have put some newish films on for £5 a ticket, reduced the capacity by 50%, made everything contactless and strict cleaning.

A trip to the local shop to stock up on drinks and popcorn and off we went. Bluewater was fairly busy and still has it’s one way systems but easy to navigate.

The screen only had 5 other people in it. Plenty of space. Then they teased us with new trailers of Top Gun and James Bond. I can’t wait for them to be out at the cinema. We saw Jumanji two. A good film with some great actors and some comical moments.

It was a nice afternoon. It gave us a glimpse of the world getting on with everything despite the pandemic.

Once home I spent some time looking at all the plants in the garden. Some are coming on really well. Some have been chomped.

The greenhouse is doing well and the first melon has now appeared.

The first melon.

The first tomatoes on the big plants have appeared which is very exciting and the salad crops are doing so well, my salad tonight was 100% grown by me. Very satisfying.

The first spring onions.
The hanging basket cherry tomatoes.
Two types of lettuce, spinach, cherry tomatoes, spring onion, long radish and cucumber.

There is also more beautiful flowers now, so colourful.

An incomplete birthday

What a difference a day makes- one day your loved ones are with you, the next they have slipped away and those of us left behind have a gaping hole in our life.

Also in times like these you really do appreciate your friends, the messages of support and the kindly written words. I have received so many lovely words of well wishes and encouragement over the last few days. Complimenting me on how strong I’ve been. But the last few days have been so tough. Why do we feel more emotional and upset at birthdays? I’m upset everyday but this has been tough. Every time one of you has sent me a message or made a donation to the Ellenor I’ve cried again. I really do have amazing friends and family and I’m so thankful.

Some of you didn’t want me to be on my own today (yes Ben is here but he doesn’t usually get up until after lunch) So one of my friends arranged a surprise afternoon tea/ lunch which was held at Bev’s house. So much effort went into it. There were birthday banners, balloons and a prettily laid out table. Flowers and the most pretty birthday cake I’ve ever seen. Thank you it was so lovely but I can’t eat any more cake for a few days 😂

The spread consisted of sausage rolls, savoury scones, plain scones, fruit scones, carrot cake, chocolate cake, and this huge birthday cake. Not forgetting tea and Pimms.

Ben made me chuckle this morning. When he got up he apologised for not wrapping my gift up properly. He didn’t know where the wrapping paper was kept. I think he improvised very well ☺️

First thing this morning I took Suzy for her play date with some of the local pups. Normally she plods along the path, sniffing and peeing her way along, but no not today. She knew, I was pulled along, not a single stop until we reached the field then she was off. A very happy puppy.

Come on mum, why so slow?

Once again thank you all for being there for us. It’s very much appreciated and we couldn’t have got this far without you x x

Sunflower special edition, update 8…..

What a windy week it’s been. Has everyone survived? Are all the sunflowers in one piece still? Let’s find out.

Sam and Craig – last week we heard that they had been in touch with a sunflower healer. Part way through the week I was updated with the good news that they were well and truly back in the race. It did appear on first glance that magic had happened in Poole, however a birthday video call later in the week showed up some sunflowers on the dining table. They had cleverly tried to fool us. Great effort guys

Auntie Jeanie – We have a weather beaten Sally this week but she is still holding her roots and dancing to the windy beat. She even seems to have another bud forming. Well done Sally.

Sally’s second bud.

Nanny Bev – Gerald can’t make up his mind this week. He now wants to be called Geraldine. Why I hear you ask? Well it appears Geraldine is having babies too☺️ congratulations.

Jo and Ben – SUNY is still in bloom but near the end of his petals now. However the great news is he is getting ready for the next show with some more buds. As long as he can hold on in these blustery winds. It’s appears the sunny eight are dancing away with SUNY as they blow this way and that, again just holding on my the skin of their roots. Fingers crossed they will survive.

Jan- We have been informed this week that Jans flower is no longer nameless. I guess sunflowers can grow into their names and this is no exception. Introducing the one and only Ginny come lately. She is late to the party but look at her. Tall and strong (and being pampered by going for a trip to the summerhouse to avoid the high winds.)

A few have asked when will our sunflowers be judged, well the plan is that those in bloom can now measure the height and width of their plant, and once we have all the measurements a winner will be announced. Jan’s may follow in a week or so as it’s playing catch-up.

Have a sunny week everyone🌻🌻🌻

A tough week with a surprise ending……

This is the week of project Workshop and garden shed. It wasn’t going to be an easy task. Dad had been sorting his tools and work bits out, and had achieved more than I realised. However you could still hardly get in the workshop and the garden shed was also swamped in old panels and fixtures.

Where to start? Well I suppose the first task is to make room to be able to get in and open cupboards. I had some help thank goodness with this. Andy, dads friend who he previously worked with spent quite a while in the workshop with me telling me what things were and if they were still used. Sadly most of the instrumentation was obsolete.

We started to get everything out that was to go to the scrap yard, three car loads in fact. This was heavy going and took three of us to manoeuvre it all to the front of the house. The trip to the scrap yard was very interesting and fascinating to watch all these people coming and going and how the staff sorted at speed which metal was which to give us the price.

After this we also had to separate what was going to the refuse centre. we thought it would fit in with Bev’s garden rubbish but nooooo. Another trip will be required. Bev and I worked solidly on Friday sorting out what tools we had and what was in each cupboard. It was hot work and exhausting.

Nanny’s little helper today.
The almost complete garden shed, just now needs rearranging.
I’ve never seen this door able to be closed.
Wow, I can see a worktop.

Saturday morning I was up early and determined to get more done. So by 7am I was in the workshop sorting out the roof space. Everything that is still relevant and in working order has been kept. Another run to the scrap yard is also required. But by mid morning the main workshop is almost finished, all bar labelling the drawers ect to know what is where.

The start of a potting bench, with 3 empty sets of drawers ready to have pots stored.

So with the workshop well on its way i was due for a well earned break. I had arranged to meet Sam, Mark and Ryan for a picnic at Capstone park to celebrate my birthday which is next week. Ben, Suzy and I jumped in the van and set off.

Part way there I noticed in the mirror something flapping on the side of the van. It was the electric socket cover. I pulled over but I couldn’t manage to fix it, so out came the handy role of gaffa tape. An essential with van travel. Back on the road again it was time to head for the car park. The guys met us there and with our picnic and chairs we headed up to a field.

However at this point I was amazed to see at the far side a gazebo, table and chairs and a group of my friends. I was completely overwhelmed with emotion. It’s been such a tough week and I’m especially missing Rich so to see everyone here was fantastic.

Nick had spent the previous day baking and provided us with afternoon tea. We had home made scones, Jam and cream. Ginger cake, and a beautiful homemade birthday cake with fresh strawberries. Not forgetting the camping stove with not only cups of tea, but decaf tea and goats milk for me. Thank you so much everyone. You don’t know how much you’ve brightened my day.

I forgot to take a photo of the whole cake.
A socially distanced tea party.

After a while a couple of the guys got out some remote controlled cars which sped around the field. Suzy was most excited by this and once of her lead ran as fast as she could to chase them. Needless to say we have a very worn out puppy laying next to me tonight.

So there we have our very productive but emotional week. I think dad would have been pleased that the workshop has been sorted and taken to the scrap yard. He had clearly started to sort all the metal he just needed a bit of help to finish it. Love you dad, and your 7 Stanley knives, 3 sanders and endless storage boxes ❤️

Sunflower Special edition, update 7…..

It’s been another mixed weather week for the Sunflower gang. We have had heavy rains, storms and glorious sunshine. Currently in Dartford it’s very windy but the sun is shining brightly. So what’s been happening this week?

Auntie Jeanie – well that touch of yellow we saw on Sally last week has progressed further. Look at her glorious bright sunny face. How pretty. Well done Jeanie, the second sunflower to bloom.

Jeanie’s, Sally sunflower.

Jan- Well would you look at that. From an early disaster to this beauty. This seems to be the only none chomped sunflower and boy is it looking great. Will we see it sparkle next week?

Jan’s sunflower.

Nanny Bev – Go Gerald! What have you been up to this week? Drinking Spinach? There must be a good 10 inch spurt on. So tall in fact Bev now couldn’t see the bud, so standing on tiptoes she managed to hold the camera up high and take its picture from above. Shock, another Sunflower nearly in full Bloom. Well done Gerald.

Go Gerald.
Gerald.

Sam and Craig- Well we didn’t think we would hear anything from these guys this week after their disaster last week but I have it on good authority that they have been in touch with a sunflower healer and will be able to update us in due course.

Jo and Ben- SUNY is still proudly showing his bright yellow face this week along with sneaking in another bud further down the stem. The sunny eight had to be supported again after their growth spurt and to protect them from the wind. The Buddets showcasing with the sunny eight are performing well and hope to Premier their new looks next week.

SUNY and the sunny eight.
Looks like it’s going to be twins.

Will there be a full show of Sunflowers next week? Will the sunflower healer manage miracles? Will Bev need to get her ladders out next week to look up to Gerald? Stay tuned 🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻

Cherrygate…….

It’s cherry season. We love cherries here and as I mentioned previous I had bought quite a lot.

Thursday saw a couple of jars of delicious looking cherry jam. It was another easy recipe and didn’t take to long. Think I’m getting the hang of jam making.

Suzy enjoyed a great play time. We set of on one of our usual routes and met a chap along the way. He was heading to the closet field and said he meets up with a few others. Well Suzy was sooooo happy. Us humans made a socially distanced circle and all the doggies played and ran, really enjoying themselves and all got along. It was lovely to see.

Today was meant to be a gentle day but you do know me right??

I set about planting in the new roses next to the arch and moved a couple of plants to accommodate. It is quite windy, cooler and the odd spell of rain but that doesn’t stop me.

After lunch I decided to tackle the wild flower meadow. It has been said that it can take a good season to get going. A few new things are growing through but I’m impatient, so a few weeks ago I ordered some wild flower plug plants on my friends advice. I pulled out some of the regular long lawn grass to make space and planted in 40 wild flowers. Fingers crossed for them.

Before.
After.
Mummies little helper likes to sit right in front of where I would like to work.
Before.
After.

Friday evening I made a delicious recipe that I had seen on a few you tube chateau programmes lately, as I had plenty of cherries I thought I’d give it a go.

So easy to make and scrumptious when cooked. I’ll put the link to the Jamie Oliver version I made next.

https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/fruit-recipes/cherry-clafoutis/

Stage one.
Stage two.
Cherry Clafoutis.

So there you have my odds and ends few days. The garden is looking stunning at the moment, let’s hope the wind and rain doesn’t damage it tonight x

Love the bright purple of the Verbena against the dark foliage of the dahlia.
Richs delphinium is looking wonderful.

Roses and plants….

A while ago I had seen a rose nursery near Leeds castle. So Miss Lexy was prepped and off I went to pick Bev up and poddle down there.

We had a lovely (very hot) time walking through all the roses. I’ve never seen so many and apparently the scent was heavenly. A rose was found for the arch and will be planted in a few days when it’s not quite so hot.

The reason for taking Miss Lexy out was also so that we could enjoy the sunny day and have a picnic. You can’t beat cups of tea and scones with home made jam and fresh cream outside.

On route home we stopped at the cherry farm. Needless to say there may be a cherry jam post in the next few days. 🙂

Once home I enjoyed a relaxing few hours in the shade and then the hot tub before spending time watering the garden. So tonight’s photos are of the new blooms springing into life.

One pink lily amongst the white.
Richs gorgeous Delphinium

Jammin……

A very early morning today. I was up and in the garden by 5.30 to give the patio furniture another coat. By the time I finished just after 7 the sun was above the house and very warm. So glad I started this early. Mind you, getting up early is tiring so I treated myself to breakfast back in bed.

Up again Suzy and I went for a short walk before it got to hot. I didn’t want to be out long but sometimes things happen. This morning we met a lady with her dog and we just got talking. I know I’ve had a tough few months but she has just had a diagnosis of cancer for a close family member. She spoke to me for a long time about it. understandable very upset, especially about all the not knowing as things are that bit tougher during this pandemic. All I could do was to reassure her and listen. I also pointed her in the direction of the specialist nurses and Macmillan as they really helped both Rich and I. But the main thing I wanted to share with her was Rich’s positivity. To take something positive from each day, keep your head held high and keep smiling. We parted after introducing ourselves fully and hopefully she felt a little comfort that she wasn’t alone.

So now to the fun part of the morning. After the strawberry jam success I thought I’d have a go at raspberry jam. When I looked at the fruit last night I realised there was to much to eat myself, so jars sterilised and fruit picked along with a few strawberries.

It’s really easy to make jam. It could be my new addiction 😂 Two and a bit jars of delicious jam. Apparently it will keep up to a year unopened, I can’t see it lasting that long.

Must now make some labels.

I promised myself some chill time doing sewing or reading this afternoon but I’m really not very good at slowing down. So I gave the table a third coat whilst in the shadow of the umbrella. It really is a scorcher today. I followed this no by rigging up a series of wires across the greenhouse roof as the cucumber plants have now reached the roof and need further support.

Very tall cucumbers.
The melon plants.
The peppers are catching up.
The first aubergine flower.
The cucamelons.
Aubergine plants.

The reward for this madness was a long relax in the hot tub with a soft gentle breeze. Wonderful.

The completed patio furniture.

Sunday, Sunshine and sanding……

So exciting. Sunday Ben and I had arranged to meet up with Jan and Lisa (Rich’s mum and sister) at Epsom downs for a socially distanced picnic. We spent a little time getting Miss Lexy ready for the day out, fridge on, water filled, Suzy treats packed and off we went. I think that is the quickest drive around part of the M25 I have ever done. Definitely not much traffic on the roads still. The parking area we had picked out had magnificent views for miles and the golf course had fenced off a small area for people to safely walk their dogs and have picnics. It was so great to see each other after all this time. We enjoyed a very pleasant few hours, nice food and cups of tea. It made such a change to be out. Can’t wait to use the van more in the future again, Although it’s not the same without Rich. I’m sure he would be smiling at our little adventure ❤️

Wow, it’s hotting up here. Because of that the latest project has been put on hold. I decided that it was more important to sand the garden furniture down and recoat it to protect it against the weather as it was looking a bit dry. Also it’s a year overdue.

Jono kindly offered to give me a hand for a few days this week. It’s much nicer doing these kind of jobs with someone to talk to. We braved the shed and found not one, not two but three sanders. Although we only had the sand paper for two. However before we started with this tedious task Jono helped me to retrieve the hot tub from storage. I had been persuaded that due to the gorgeous weather this week and to help my back it would be a good idea to get it out. Patio cleared, tub inflated, water started to fill and HOLD IT!! We have a problem. Despite how carefully Rich and I had put the tub away last year, we seemed to have a puncture. One spray bottle of washing up liquid and an hour and half later we found a tiny hole. Fortunately I knew where a repair patch was stored and what I thought was the glue. Jono covered the hole and we left it for an hour or so whilst we started sanding and popped to b&q. On our return Jono joked and said that it would be funny if the glue hadn’t set and guess what? It hadn’t. The writing on the tube was foreign and on googling it it turns out it was lubrication not glue. Doh! Another tube found and this time we were more hopeful. The following morning I could fill up the tub ready for Pimms o’clock later in the day.

Cleaning the inside and checking for the puncture.
So inviting.

Tuesday, hotter still. We managed to get a coat of Cuprinol on the furniture. It’s looking so much better already but it will need another coat. My plan is to get up early Wednesday morning and do another before it gets to hot.

Mummies little helper.
Looking better already.

The next part of the garden redevelopment was to put up gates half way down the garden. The idea is to stop Suzy running at full speed, especially in the winter and churning up the grass. It was something Rich, dad and I had discussed at great length. Recently a striking looking arch with gate popped up on my pc at a fair price. The only thing that was making this tricky is that the grass edging near the pond is sloped so we needed to dig some of that away to get the arch even. After much cursing we think we have it level. Now to see what Suzy does when she spots a cat on the shed.

Jono imprisoned.

So there we have another few busy days being productive. Some of the new blooms are looking gorgeous, especially the Lilies and Cosmos. The Cosmos have such delicate flowers with lemon centres and there is a new colour in the Lilies. A subtle difference in the hot pink by being tinged with pale white.

The two pink colour variations.
Cosmos lemonade.
Salvia Armistad with its velvety petals.
The Michaelmas daisies are out in bloom.
The cherry tomatoes are starting to turn red.
The raspberries are ripening at record breaking speed.
The ladybird crossing.
Jono’s new friend. It was rather large.

Whilst I sit here in the shade and update this blog, Suzy did go tearing down the garden to bark at not a lot. Sadly she went through the plants to get there. There is now a temporary guard until I can complete the job 😂

Cheers Rich x x

Sunflower Special edition, update 6…..

Fortunately nobody in the competition this week had hail or storms to contend with but there has been another disaster. Let’s find out what’s been happening……

Nanny Bev – A steady week this week in Gravesend but it does seem that Gerald has had another growth spurt. He obviously likes his position and now enjoys the sounds of a new garden water feature. Perhaps it’s the soothing sounds helping him to grow. No sign of any petals yet but I’m sure it won’t be long.

Gerald.
Geralds new water feature.

Jan – As we found out last week Lisa’s sunflower is now out of the competition. But Jan’s is catching up and looks a great contender. Lovely bushy leaves and it has also gained some height this week.

Jan’s Sunflower in Reading.

Auntie Jeanie – There has been some excitement this week at Auntie Jeanie’s house. Along with some healthier leaves there seems to be a touch of yellow on show. Will we see a complete flower next week? Let’s hope the sun doesn’t get to hot for it😎

Auntie Jeanie’s sunflower.

Jo and Ben – over in Dartford Sunny has continued to bloom. He often changes position to face different directions in the garden. Perhaps he is keeping an eye on the SUNY eight. They are also doing well with two more in bud this week. Altough the ladybird seems to be under attack from the local ant club. It was fascinating to watch the ant try and attack it from different directions but as it did the ladybird would tilt its defensive armour in the same direction to protect itself.

SUNY.
A budding sunny eight.
Lady bird under attack.

Sam and Craig – Over in Poole this week things haven’t been so good. Now Sam and Craig have the only plants planted in the ground. Is it that they prefer to have their roots contained in pots or do they object to the salty air? Who knows but whatever it is they are very sad Sunflowers. Although the sunflower impersonating banana trees that we met a few weeks ago seem to making up for the lack of growth done by the sunflowers.

So there we have it. Another fun week in the sunflower houses. Will we see not one but two plants with vibrant yellow petals next week or with Brian have moved to Kent? Bye for now 🌻🌻🌻

A lovely treat for a special friend…..

Ever since Rich was admitted to hospital back in March, I have had many fabulous friends supporting me. You all know who you are and I can’t thank you all enough. One though in particular messages me every morning to check I’m up and ok to face the day and has done every single day since 28th March without fail.

Two very excited happy ladies.

We have all had a tough few months and find certain things extremely difficult. I know Sam is missing hugging her friends as am I.

I wanted to say a little thank you to her and make her birthday as special as it can be in this challenging time so together with Mark I arranged a surprise.

Sam was told that she would be going out to dinner on Friday evening and to dress up. She messaged me as usual in the morning to tell me that Mark had arranged a surprise. I could hear the delight in her voice, even by text. She really had no idea where she was going and I joked that perhaps she was going to Macdonalds as they were now open.

After walking Suzy I started making the birthday cake. My friend Cheryl had told me about it and sent me a photo of the one she made for her husband’s birthday. Sam and I are partial to a spot of Pimms and even had a Pimms canoe boat paddle/ picnic a few years ago.

Now if you have never tried a Pimms drizzle loaf cake, do it! Do it this weekend. It’s so easy and tastes fab-I-lous. Here is the link to the recipe.

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/food/recipes/a576669/pimms-cake/

Once the cake was out of the oven cooling, I prepared the vegetables for roasting, wrote up the menu board and with Ben’s help put up what birthday banners we could find. Some said happy birthday boy and others said happy 40th birthday but hey. You have to make do in times like this.

Just before Sam, Mark and Ryan arrived, Ben and I got dressed up, well you would if going out to a posh restaurant, made up a jug of Pimms and waited for our guests.

The doorbell rang and there stood the guys with a surprised Sam. Mark had told her that they had to call in to collect something. The surprise worked.

We enjoyed our evening very much, had a good look at what was growing in the garden and remembered some of our past adventures with everyone including Rich who was greatly missed during our evening.

The restaurant served Turkey with roast vegetables and home grown strawberries and raspberries with meringue and ice cream for desert. Of course you can’t have a birthday without cake and candles. The candles were snuffed out to remain hygienic.

I’m so looking forward to be able to see all of my friends again and thank them in appropriate ways for all the help and support they have offered. I was so pleased on this occasion to make someone’s day.

Pimms and Lemonade drizzle cake.

The Venus fly trap has also been busy in the last few days. I noticed quite a few dead flies caught within its jaws.

The garden has had quite a lot of visitors over the last few days. Sadly I havn’t been able to catch them all in pictures. But here are a few.

During the extreme heat next week it will be interesting to see what other little visitors we have.

I would just like to finish tonight talking about Father’s Day.

It will be very hard this year and for many years to come to not be able to give my dad a hug and wish him happy Father’s Day. Also to try and think what do you buy the man that has everything he could possible need. Are all dads as difficult to buy for? But dad is back home with us at the moment and I just want to let him know that he really was a fantastic, role model, funny man and superb grandad. Ben and I often talk about him on our walks with Suzy or whilst we eat dinner. We miss him and his funny ways so much. But I will continue to remember him by doing all these little projects. Putting into practice what skills he showed me all these years. That is the best way I think I can thank him and make him proud and hope that somewhere he is watching back saying how proud he is of us for carrying on. That’s and “no you don’t use it like that” and “it’s in the shed, somewhere” so please don’t message us on Father’s Day with sad messages. Go out and do as Rich would, something positive, make something or redesign something else. Be brave enough to tackle something that you’ve been putting of thinking you don’t know how to do it. Smile and talk about your adventures, and if you can give that person next to you a huge hug from us x x

Yes, another garden project……

You may remember a few weeks ago we made a wooden planter out of pallets for the Lilys. whilst sitting in the garden a few days later with Bev she asked why hadn’t I made one for the other Lilys? Good question, why hadn’t I?

So the next project was born. Measurements taken and this time wood purchased as the taking apart of the pallet was so time consuming (however have since found out an easier, quicker method)

Jono came to help me again. I had seen a slightly different design that had built in legs which was a great idea.

First all the sides were cut along with the leg supports.

Then came the fun bit of trying to attach the first leg. Dad would have straight away said oh you do it like this but we worked it out in the end.

We must be getting quicker at this. Mind you it helps to know where the tools are that you need 😉

A great end result. Nice and sturdy and compliments the other planter perfectly.

A good match.

The Lilys are looking beautiful. I’m so please Rich chose them. Every time I look at them I smile with happy memories x x ❤️❤️ Thank you Mr Hurcombe. X X

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!

Gerald.

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!

Banana???

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.