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?
On your marks, get set, gone.

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.

Flowers for dad from the garden x x

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

By an Unknown Author

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

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

Mummies little helper not being very helpful.

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

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

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

So where are we up to now?

Cupboards up, painted and awaiting new handles.

Headboard reupholstered and repainted.

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

Tv up on the wall.

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

Before painting.

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

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

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

Stormy clouds.
Cucumbers.

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

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

Sunday at the car wash…….

Come on, you must have that song in your head now to? Sing it………

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVlpy5USN-E&feature=share

Welcome to Sunday, sunny, blue skies, bit of a breeze, but lovely. We are so fortunate at this difficult time to have superb weather. It would be unbearable with cold days, wind and rain. At least with this weather we can enjoy our daily walks and time outside. Suzy certainly does and this morning was no different. We went out early again and after some running around fetching and returning for treats (Suzy not me) we had a stroll through the orchard. I have to say it was very pleasant. The path is right next to it but it was cooler in there and so uplifting to see the pears, apples and cherries forming. Although lots of the apples had clumps of what looked like spiders nests on them. Very strange. Is this something that apple trees are prone to?

One happy Suzy in the Orchard.

Mid morning I changed a few of the winter pots. The bulbs had finally died back so it was time to refresh. Planted with the vibrant plants Nick bought for us and paired with Freisha bulbs for some later summer colour and fragrance.

We have decided to take dads car to the funeral this week but he would be disgusted at how dusty and dirty it was. Most of it was pollen by the looks of things but anyhow we couldn’t say our goodbyes with it like that.

So swap car time and Ben and I set to work with lots of suds, a brush, sponge and hose pipe. It’s handy having Ben to help wash the cars as he can reach the roof far better than me.

I mean, come on, how much taller?? Love you Ben x

We had lots of laughs whilst washing the car and we may have had a bit of a water fight. Well Ben started it and I got him back at the end with a good drenching. Least it got him motivated to have a shower.

Before.
Nearly done.

I should point out at this moment mummy’s little helper is pleading for my attention!

Cars washed it was time for dinner, Bens turn to cook tonight. Whilst he did this I measured up and ordered a few bits for our project this week. I can’t tell you about that just yet though.

We had a lovely evening with pizza and a movie. The film was the latest Joker. Both of us enjoyed it but it was nothing like the other batman films.

Suzy enjoyed the film to.

Time for a few flower pictures from today before I enjoy a cup of tea with a book. Night. X

The Poppy is in bud at last.
Even as these Alliums turn, they are still beautiful.

Sunflower special edition, update 3…..

So it’s all hotting up, quite literally the weather has been gorgeous this week from Gravesend to Poole. Everyone’s sunflowers have had sunshine and a bit of wind. Some have had guests, but more about that soon.

Let’s start with Auntie Jeanie this week- Last week we saw signs of leaf damage on Sally sunflower. They had started to turn brown and crinkled. Has there been any improvements this week. There certainly has. What has Jeanie been doing? Is there a magic potion involved or is it just tomato feed? Mmmm she’s not telling!

Sally sunflower.

Nanny Bev – Gravesend has had lots of sunshine this week. So much so a new sun umbrella has appeared in her garden. However is this to stop Gerald burning under the hot rays or is it so nanny Bev can sit out for longer, shaded from the sun to sing to Gerald? He is looking stronger this week, she is doing something well.

Those leaves are looking very sturdy.

Jo and Ben – Another sunny week in Dartford with SUNY sunflower and the sunny eight. Some pretty strong winds to content with now that they are all out in the open. There no shading from breeze or sun on that fence. Have they all coped with the move? Yes they have. They all seem to be thriving. SUNY is even showing signs of becoming a budding contender🌻

Oooh is this the first in bud??

Craig and Sam – Now we hear that one of these guys has been very sociable this week and invited friends over. Or have they? Was someone or something trying to steel the limelight? Actually it was Sams sunflower being very naughty and inviting Brian over for breakfast. What Sam’s sunflower didn’t realise was that breakfast was the sunflower. Naughty troublesome Brian🐌 Apparently Sam rescued Brian, but did she give him a flying lesson or hint that Craig’s sunflower was just next door?? Will Craig’s flower take the lead next week?

Craig’s on the left, Sam’s on the right, Brian?? Gone🐌🐌

Jan and Lisa – after a false start Jan’s version deux has been making steady progress this week. She is another sneaky one to watch. Is Jan out there tenderly stroking the pot or is she bringing it in to the house every night for safe keeping? Whatever she is doing, it’s working and there has been lots of growth this week. But look at Lisa’s towering ahead? Her flower seems to have kept all its leaves and hang on, is that another budet forming up there?

So there we have it, another week and the gang have all survived despite a few war wounds. Will there be rain this week to quench their thirst or will we see Brian and gang back for lunch at Craig’s diner? Tune in next week.

A slower paced few days…..

Now that most of the hard work is done I can take the time to potter and enjoy some sewing time.

Friday involved planting a few more plants in, taking Suzy for a short stroll and watching and listening to the air ambulance landing and taking off. It lands on the field just over the road, not on the hospital helipad any more. It’s a great event to watch but it always makes you think what has happened that someone is so poorly to need the air ambulance. I never mind the noise as I know it’s only for a short time and they could be saving someone’s life.

The back view of our house.
Fridays cross stitch.
Radish with the salad tonight.
The first of the delphiniums coming into flower.

This rose was purchased from Hampton court flower show many years ago, it’s older than Ben. This is the best it has ever bloomed

Saturday morning, Suzy and I had a lay in. We didn’t go and get our cup of tea until 6am. When we got downstairs we were met with a note on the floor from Ben.

Wake me up at 11.30 please and please make sure I stay awake! It did make me chuckle.

Although I didn’t need to worry as Ben appeared in the garden at 10.30 and surprised me.

I fell back to sleep and didn’t get up until nearly 9. That is a miracle for me. After this I got up though as I can’t bear to waste my day in bed. Suzy and I had a short stroll then started to do a few bits outside.

The first two cucamelons have been planted in the greenhouse and whilst my neighbour and I had a chat over the fence and a plant swap (I got a couple of pepper plants, fab thank you Karen in exchange for a climber) Suzy decided to have a dip.

It was warming up and most of the jobs that needed doing were in full sun so I decided to start tackling the work bench. Dad would often be squirrelling away here stripping and rewiring panels ect. I know it’s still only been a few weeks but I’ve been in the garden so much to keep me going and help me through this tough time I was sure dad wouldn’t mind me having a little sort out so that I could have a potting bench.

Dad was mid way through renovating this panel so I carefully put everything in a box as it all looks alien to me, so that if need be someone else could continue with it.

An almost clear potting bench.
Cleared and cleaned corridor to the greenhouse.

We often took the Micky out of dad, in his shed with his spider spray and hoover but I have to say it was far easier to hoover than sweep. Dad would have been smiling today watching me do that. Dad could never find a dustpan and brush either and would often return from a shopping trip with a new one. I don’t think I will need to buy any for a while 😂

The garden was a hive of insect activity today. Very hard to photograph them as they are all fast movers. But I did manage to capture these beauty’s this afternoon.

How beautiful.

Ben and I popped out to say hi to Bev and to see how her sunflower is progressing. We enjoyed a cup of tea on the garden before a trip to Homebase to buy some paint for Ben.

Ben rocking lockdown hair.

Once back home we enjoyed a quick dinner then I was back out in the garden feeding the fruit and veg. Whilst doing so I noticed some orange spots on one of the raspberry bushes. After some research it appeared there is a bit of Raspberry rust on one of the plants. So I gave it a quick trim and thinned it out as apparently it can be caused by the plant being to dense not letting enough air flow through. Hopefully I’ve caught it before it reaches the others. Apparently it still fruits ok which is good.

Time to relax and do some more of Suzys sewing. Enjoy the evening everyone.

Tomorrow I shall start with a sunflower blog update for you all.

A self seeded poppy in the front wall.

Miss Lexy goes on a picnic…..

How exciting. We were off out today. But first a little work on the wild flower meadow. It’s a lovely day, a little cooler with a soft breeze but the sky remains bright. I’d spotted a few dandelions in the meadow so I got my handy tool and removed all that I could find. In their place I popped in some Scabious plants that I had spare along with with some scabious wild seeds. There are a few plants popping up now but it’s a slow process, especially when we haven’t had much rain. I treated the meadow to a good water after and made a start on getting Miss Lexy ready for her outing today.

Miss Lexy has been on charge over lockdown and with her solar panels her batteries have been topped up nicely. Fridge on ready for today’s picnic supplies and toilet checked. We had a feeling that public toilets wouldn’t be open at the park and we were right. Always good to have a back up.

Once we were loaded and Ben was awake and out of bed we got ourselves ready for the off with Suzy in tow. How exciting. This was a real treat.

Ben and I had arranged to meet Sam and Ryan with the dogs at Camer country park. It’s not to far from home and I knew it didn’t have a height barrier so all good for Miss Lexy.

It’s very strange meeting up with friends now as you still have to social distance. But in a big open country park with our own picnics and chairs that was easy to do.

A very excited Ben and Suzy.
Keeping our distance.

We picked a spot in the shade for our 2 meter picnic, but do you know what? It was ok. We could see and hear each other and that was perfect. The cafe was even open and managing to serve safely but we had everything we needed. Even a nice cup of tea courtesy of Lexy.

Ben and Ryan even managed a social distance kick about.

After a relaxing few hours we headed home, unloaded Lexy

The day was ended with watering the garden and ensure everything is growing ok and not being nibbled.

I amazed by how this Allium (Sicilian honey garlic) has changed.

The flowers now seem to be closing, I wonder if they are turning into seed heads.

Dinner tonight was a salad I had seen Jamie Oliver make. You can’t go wrong with a Jamie recipe. A roquefort salad with bacon, homemade croutons, walnuts and French dressing also home made. I added pear, I must say it was the nicest salad I’ve made.

Also exciting tonight was how many strawberries there were to be picked. Bring on strawberries every night and every morning.

So there we have it. A lovely day out. Miss Lexy got a good run and Ben saw sunlight 😂

Waterfall day…….

Today’s the day. Waterfall will it won’t it??

A bit more Bob the building and it was time for the grand switch on.

The grand switch on.

There we go. Not 100% Success as a little came under the rock, however the water isn’t escaping out of the waterfall so that will have to do. This has been a very testing project. We have learnt a lot and although it looks small it’s been heavy work as the rocks around it are extremely heavy. I shall keep my eye on it in the next few days. All that remained was to place the remainder of the rocks along the time to make it look natural.

The finished waterfall.

Brilliant time to move on to something else. The thing with gardening is there is always something to do. As it was still quite cool I planted up some more in the greenhouse. We now have cucumbers, melons and aubergines growing with just the cucamelons to plant in once they have established stronger roots. All the other plants will stay out tonight ready to be moved into the borders and pots. Fortunately I had a spare pot as I forgot id started off some runner beans and so they have a new home next to the sunflowers.

This afternoon saw the delivery of the new pond plants. Two different water iris. Now many of you know that lately we have had an issue with the heron. Because of this i had reworked the netting to cover all possible gaps. But now the new plants would need to go throw the netting as they will be tall. Not wanting to damage the excising netting I rolled it back and placed some summer netting that I could cut a few some holes in for the plants to break through. Then on the winter I can remove it and cover back with the original netting.

The netting from the wildflower meadow was removed tonight also. Currently it looks like long grass with a few others plants coming up but I shall work on this later in the week.

After dinner Ben and I took Suzy on a walk to the country park. I expected lots of people to be out but it was really quiet. Suzy had a good run and she loves to run and jump through the long grasses.

Front garden project

Good morning. Apologies for the late blog but it seems I fell asleep early last night and back to sleep this morning.

Tuesday morning Suzy and I were up early so we got out the front before it became to warm and checked our preparation. Yep the wall was dug over and window boxes filled with soil ready for planting, a blank canvas.

The geraniums survived the winter so of course I’ve kept them. Just tidied them and moved them together a little more. We used to fill the wall with geraniums and trailing geraniums but it costs quite a lot and we wanted to keep on encouraging more bees. Also this year as it turned out all these plants wouldn’t be readily available from the garden centres. So my planning started back in March. I regularly receive a gardening magazine and they often have seeds or special offers on plug plants. Ok plug plants arrive and they are tiny and you have to pot them on but that has proved a welcome distraction in the last few months. They arrive the size of my thumb and about 36 plants to a pack and most I managed to get for about £5 for 36 plants.

For the front wall this year I decided it would be a lot more relaxed with different heights and textures. The window boxes at the top used to be filled with trailing plants but I’ve gone for Scabious plants, some from plugs and some from seeds at the back. These will give height and be a big attraction for bees and butterflies. At the front I’ve planted some geranium and Petunias again grown from plug plants.

Along the bottom in the wall I’ve got the beautiful Pink geraniums but added in sweet peas to climb the railings (all grown in toilet rolls tubes to encourage long roots) and Rudbeckias. I love Rudbeckias with their sunflower like orange flowers.

It was very enjoyable planting out the front as so many people at the moment will say good morning as they pass doing their morning excersie.

After a good watering in the wall is complete. Fingers crossed it will come into life soon and not surcombe to snails. Time to pop out take Suzy for a walk then head to the vets to collect her treatments.

During the afternoon I popped a few more sweet peas in the border and admired the greenhouse which is now far emptier than the last few weeks. One morning I must get in there early to plant in the grow bags.

The weather is also perfect today to sit under the umbrella and while away a few hours sewing.

These alliums are bigger than my hand.
The orange blossom is looking stunning.

Well for today I must motivate myself to get out of bed and todays task come hell or high water will be to get the waterfall complete. Wish me luck. X

Waterfall day gerzilenth……

The day started really nicely. I woke to a well made cup of tea that Ben made me, it was 5.30am but I was awake and it made me smile. At 7.30 we were both dressed and ready to take Suzy out before it got too warm. We had a lovely walk, not many people around and one very happy puppy dancing through the long grass. We had quite a few giggles.

Ben makes me feel so short and I’m really not. 😂
Wild roses in the country park.

We got back to a cuppa and breakfast on the patio. It’s a glorious sunny day.

Now to the waterfall. Has the concrete set, has it worked? Well the good news is that the original leak had been fixed. The bad news is that the water runs below the rock. The concrete hasn’t sealed it. Deep breath count to ten.

This isn’t meant to be happening

Of course, mummy’s little helper is alway on hand.

Almost but not quite.

So what to do next. Guess it’s down to Homebase to get some weatherproof sealant. We didn’t have to queue for very long and got what we thought would work. Straight back to get it applied and fingers crossed it drys and does the job. If not, well I have a plan K!

For the remainder of the afternoon I pottered, planted up some more veg seeds. I’m staggering them so they don’t all come at once. Whilst planting, I left the fruit cage door open as I intended to go back in to water the beetroot. As I turned round I saw this little furry face chomping away in something that she was clearly enjoying very much. Boy did I tell her off. Have you guessed what she was chomping? Our delicious strawberries. Such a cheeky dog.

Bev delivered a lovely gift today. She had organised for these to be hand made so that I could hang them in the garden. I hope you agree they are really nice and are now hanging in the tree near the water feature. Thank you Bev x

The rest of the evening was spent with Ben and I enjoying a roast dinner on the patio and sending out messages to many people on dads phone to inform them he is no longer with us. Some of the reply’s back really being a tear to your eye and laughter from the whitty memories they have shared about dad. I find this is quite exhausting so I ventured back to the garden to plant out some of the Cosmos and to spend a little time unwinding whilst watering the plants. But finally I rest to write this blog before I head for bed. Night all x

Garden project continued.

An exciting day lay ahead. It was time to start planting up the new border today. It has seemed like such a long time ago Rich and I discussed our garden plans but as promised I am carrying them out.

Starting to position the plants.

The majority of the plants have been grown from seeds and plug plants with a small number being taken from cuttings of last years plants. I think for my first major growing mission it’s been a huge success. The greenhouse has been filled to its maximum and I’ve used so many various sizes of pots. The end result dosn’t look much at the moment but hopefully in a few weeks the plants will have settled into their new position and continue to grow and bloom. As long as the pesky slugs and snails don’t eat it all!

Impressive root system on these grown from seeds.

As well as all these plants in went 70 bulbs in this area. Fingers crossed they do well.

Believe it or not though there is still more to go. I have some cosmos flowers to plant and a few seeds and a couple of ornamental millet grasses are on there way.

Cosmos currently in the greenhouse.

The front garden wall was also prepared this morning but more to come on that in the next few days.

So plants in it was time to check the dreaded water fall.

I gingerly lifted its weather protecting cover to reveal what seems like good firm concrete. Hooray. It needs some tidying but it should be good for the grand switch on tomorrow.

So for the final job of the day, move the veg bags to make room for the new sunflower family. I’m hoping when they grow tall they will look stunning against the newly painted fence. I’ve also started to companion plant them to make the most of the space and the soil. Two bags have the variety Shirley tomato in them the others will soon have spinach, beetroot and radish in them.

The new home for carrots, radish and spring onion.

The thing about growing your own veg, herbs and fruit is that it tastes so much fresher and full of flavour. Tonight’s dinner was full of fresh flavours as I used our own lettuce, radish, basil, parsley and chives. Soon I hope to be able to harvest our own cucumber, carrots and cherry tomatoes.

The raspberries are coming along nicely.

So there we have it. Another productive day in the garden. Some beautiful flowers and plants enjoying the sunshine as well as mummy’s little helper x

Mummy’s little helper.
The fox glove, self seeded on the garden has very fine hairs just inside.
Some very happy busy bees in the garden.
Do we have our own crop hearts?
The greenhouse now has empty shelves. But not for long……

Sunflower special edition, update 2…..

Good evening and welcome to Sunday sunflower update part 2. Last week we were introduced to the sunflower family. All the sunflowers have had a busy week. Some have moved home and most have had to withstand strong winds.

Craig and Sam’s week – you may remember that Sam and Craig live by the sea. They have had strong winds this week and baking sun. The sunflowers are looking good despite this and they have moved from the cosy house to the breezy hot garden. There was a bit of a close shave when the plants started to bow their heads but after a quick drink they were standing to attention once again.

Craig and Sam’s sunflowers.

Jan and Lisa – So after a false start from Jan’s first sunflower she is back in the competition with version deux. Being tenderly cared for will it now creep up the support to top flower? Lisa’s is looking like a tough cookie and holding on to that strong stem and dark leaves. Both of their sunflowers are being taken back in at night and in when it’s windy.

Jan’s steadily growing seed.
Wow, looking good there Lisa.

Auntie Jeanie – Sally sunflower had to shelter from the wind in the greenhouse this week as she is feeling a little delicate. She is showing some signs of slight leaf discolouration, has she had to much sun??

Sally sunflower.

Nanny Bev – Has Gerald been behaving himself this week? Well he has had his supporting plants removed from his pot, is this a plan to ensure he gets all the nutrients in the soil?

Gerald looking like he is enjoying the sunshine.

Jo and Ben – Down in Dartford this week we have had some high winds which has meant that SUNY sunflower has been kept in the shed on occasion. But today he is out, free and moved on to be with his fan club. Introducing the sunny eight, the new kids on the block. Let loose from the greenhouse today to be with the big one. How will he get on in his new location and how will he cope with sharing? You’ll have to tune in next week to find out.

SUNY.
New kids on the block.

Waterfall day part? How many days have we been working on this?

Another day, another amount of time spent perfecting the waterfall. Today the plan is to seal in the top part of the liner, concrete in the stone for the water to pour over and get most rocks back surrounding it in position.

Did it go to plan? Well I guess Sunday or Monday we will find out when the concrete is dry and we can turn the water back on. For now it looks like this.

No rain predicted today but it rained anyway.

Thank you to Bev, Dean and Ian for your advice, help and support with this. I’m certainly learning lots of new skills at the moment.

Bev and I needed a few bits so we tidied up and headed over to different garden centre. There was a small queue but it moved quickly. We were given very friendly advice on distancing and the likes before being let in. I have to say even though they were low on stock it was very well organised.

Bev and I went out separate ways and I returned to the garden to start some of the exciting bits. Planting my new plants that I have been nurturing from seed or plug plants. I tackled the pots first. Some needed swapping around and some needed new soil. But despite the rain they are a bit closer to being completed now today.

Upright begonias.
Red dianthus.
Dahlia in bud.

I also managed to plant a few plants in the new border. Echinacea’s and a Geum with it’s hot striking red flowers.

Whilst pottering, I had a text to say my Perscription is ready at Bluewater. I thought it was a good time to stop gardening as otherwise I’d be out there all night. I jumped in the car and headed for the car park. Now Bluewater on a Saturday afternoon is generally heaving but currently there are only three shops open, Boots, Holland and Barrett as far Marks and Spencer’s for food. The mall was like a scene out of a movie. You know when there is that deadly silence and the streets are empty.

One way directional signage.
Never have I seen it like this before.

There were some security staff positioned inside reminding customers to walk on the left and follow the arrows. I guess they are preparing for when they can open more. Even still, it’s very odd!

With everything purchased that I needed it was time to head home. It’s an odd weather day as the sun is shining but the wind is being a little tough. Tonight Ben and I had decided it was pizza night. So with our shop bought pizza and film on netflicks we settled down. It’s usually me who falls asleep during a film at home but surprisingly it was the other way round tonight.

Tomorrow will be week two of the sunflower diaries as an added blog bonus. But for now. Night night.

Honeysuckle.
The first of the orange blossom.

Retail therapy, the garden centre kind……

So a planned rest today. I took Suzy on an early walk ready to meet Bev at the garden centre before it got busy. We both had a list of things we needed. Not much but it was so nice to get out and have a look round again.

We only had to wait a short time in the queue and we were in and off. What to look at first. All the bright colours and shapes. So pretty. Bev wanted a bamboo but they didn’t have the one she was looking for. So in to the seeds. I’d planted spring onions but the darn foxes dig them all up this week and kindly left the soil all over the path for me. Also my mixed colour beetroots aren’t showing much sign of life so I wanted to get some good old fashioned red ones. The third choice was some long radish. Radish are so quick and easy to grow and our first crop are delicious so it’s time to grow a new variety to me. The beauty of radish is they are so easy and you can companion plant them with other crops. Some of mine are in with my cherry tomato hanging baskets.

Bev then treated me to a decent pair of secateurs for my birthday next month. I did a trial prune tonight and they work a treat. Thank you Bev x

We happened to stray upon the water features and Bev chose herself a new one for her garden. She spent later in the afternoon rearranging her plants and pots and I think you’ll agree she has done a great job.

Almost complete.

After a bit more wandering and picking the pots we had come for we headed to the tills. We must resist and put our blinkers on as we past anything else.

Once home and refuelled after lunch I did a little repotting in the garden. The lavender Bev bought me last week was a bit too snug in the pot I put it in. So it now has a nice new one to match the Maple pot.

A bit more tidying of the garden and another go at arranging the rocks on the waterfall. The waterfall is definitely a pain job but we are nearly there. I think the beginning of the rock layout is looking so much better.

That’s all I have energy for today as I also managed a few hours of paperwork and that’s so draining. But it is relaxing to have a trip around the garden and explore what is springing into life. The first Iris in the pond today opened up and looks dazzling. Have a good evening. X

The first crop of home grown strawberries.

Final fencing day.

All planned for an early start and I’m generally up and ready to go at silly o’clock. However this morning was a struggle. I think the heat and the previous days project took it out of me. So instead of rushing around I took a gentle walk with Suzy as it was nice and cool then carefully unwound the netting from the fruit cage so that we could get to the fencing behind the raspberries today. But first second coat of the last panel of trellis, who put trellis in the garden I ask myself yet again?

Bev arrived and we cracked on. Sadly we hadn’t got the mix right on the concrete yesterday so it had to be removed and replaced. Dads shed hoover came in very handy to suck it all out of the waterfall before we started again. Today’s attempt seem to go better and is setting. We even got as far as laying in the liner to work out the final details. But I’d got to the point my brain was fried and I just couldn’t think. So we decided to leave it for today and I’d go back to it tomorrow afternoon.

Getting there.

Fencing continued but in this heat it was hard going. The end result though was worth it. It looks so much fresher and the colour is great.

I seem to be wearing the fence paint too.

The shower took a while as every time I thought I’d got all the paint off me I found some more. In fact I’ve had my shower and I’m still finding it 😂

The garden has rewarded me well tonight as I harvested my first radish’s. They are crunchy and fresh tasting. Nothing like you buy from the shops.

The first strawberries will also be harvested tomorrow. I think it will be a steady crop to start then bang, strawberry jam making time.

Digitalis candy mountain. Rich and I bought this at the garden show last year x

That’s it for today. I’m out of energy but it’s been worth it. Very productive again and great looking results. Tomorrow some down time before getting back to some form filling, followed by some more work on the waterfall. Hopefully soon I will get to plant lots of the newly grown plants on the border. Night all. X

What an exciting start to the day.

After not a lot of sleep I gave up. Breakfast was at 3.30am. Suzy was not amused as I wouldn’t let her have hers until 6.30.

As you know last night I was very undecided about what colour to paint the fence. Pretty certain I now knew what colour to go for I headed of to B&Q really early to beat the queues. Little did I know I could have turned up 45 minutes earlier as they opened at 7 not what the website said at 8. Anyway no need to wait just straight in and headed to the fence paint. It appears everyone and their aunties are painting their fences as the shelves were quite bare and the colour I had chosen was no where to be found. However I did see an example of another colour that took my eye so two tubs and some bamboo cains later I was in the very short queue for Marks and Spencer’s. What a treat. I haven’t been here since March. I treated Ben and I to some nice meringues and a lemon meringue for during the week ahead, hopefully to go with some of our own strawberries.

Back home and refuelled Bev arrived and we cracked on. First with painting some of the fence then making the cement for the waterfall. Now I’ve never done this before neither has Bev. But we had a laugh and were chatting about how dad would have told us to do it this way or that way. Anyway, I’m not sure if we made it quite right, maybe a little dry but time will tell in the morning. If it’s not right I shall remove it and start again. Practice makes perfect right?

Didn’t look pretty now but it’s next phase is to layer pond liner over the top.

After a healthy lunch of salad and chicken we continued to paint the fence. Who invented trellis? It’s awful stuff to paint. Mind you it became a bit easier once we removed it and laid it down to paint. Did anyone mention it was the warmest day of the year so far?? I do pick the wrong days to do stuff sometimes. But we were sensible, lots of suncream, drinks and working under the sunshade. We didn’t manage to finish the painting today but what we have done in our opinion looks really good. What colour did I pick I hear you say? Sage. A cross between Grey and green. Suits the garden.

Before.
This panel is still due a second coat.
This one still needs its second coat.
Completed panel.
Hopefully soon all the new plants will be in and we can have a tidy garden and path.

I really appreciated Bev’s help today, even Ben gave us a hand until he couldn’t cope with the sun anymore. It’s taking along time to paint as I can’t remember the last time it was done however it’s worth the effort and to have someone to chat to really helps x

Tomorrow mornings weather isn’t looking to great but if I’m up at silly o’clock again I will check our handy work on the waterfall, redo if necessary and cover it for any forecast rain. Then later in the day crack on with the fence painting.

Enjoy the lovely evening everyone. Night x

Chilled out kind of hot day???

What a lovely warm sunny morning and it was to get hotter. I decided I needed a more chilled out day today so Suzy and I had a slow plod round the garden with a cup of tea. Every time I walk past the waterfall I think how on earth should I fix it.

I spotted a few strawberries turning red this morning and by this evening they had come on in leaps and bounds, just like our new friend today.

This morning.
This evening.

Meet toady!

Toady is a shy little fellow and likes to hang out behind my bags of compost. I don’t blame him. It did get up to 26° in our garden this afternoon. He was still there tonight when Ben and I went out at 10pm. Fortunately Suzy isn’t bothering him or her.

After I’d popped out to run some errands and picked up supplies at Wickes I returned home to enjoy lunch el fresco. This truly is a gorgeous day. I spied a little creature on the patio but it seemed quiet content but later on whilst I returned all the plants to the greenhouse I felt something tickling my foot.

Introducing the newest member of the gang, Colin or Coleen??

Colin/ Coleen says hi.

I let Colin have a ride on my croc and put him somewhere safe in the garden but not near anything it might find to tasty.

It’s too nice to be inside so I covered the table and set up my sewing station outside whilst dinner cooked.

Dinner was reasonable healthy as it’s taco Tuesday. Ben and I were going to watch a film over dinner but it’s to nice to be indoors. So the garden it was to be. It’s just like being abroad in this weather.

This waterfall is still on my mind, so after we had cleared up I took out the new pond liner and tried a few variations. I think I have a bit of an idea how we can fix it now. Fingers crossed.

The new project I wanted to start today was delayed as I didn’t get my ready to collect email till later in the day. But now I have it I’m being indecisive. Which colour do we go for painting the fence? Traditional brown or slate grey??? I’m so confused.

This is a photo of someone’s fence in the colour I’m thinking of as an alternative?

For those of you the know my garden it will be for the right hand side, so partly hidden by the fruit patch in the summer and roses growing over it at the far end. Any ideas chaps?

So chilled out hot day it was. Suzy even enjoyed her paddling pool and a play in the garden. Sleep well everyone. X

A frustrating day……

Typical type of Monday. So much paperwork on the list of today’s jobs. But the best way to get through it is to have something to look forward to after.

First job check the waterfall and take its measurements as it’s still leaking. Before heading off to the aquatic shop Suzy and I had our Monday morning stroll to the greengrocer that sets up at the hospital Monday and Fridays. Today he had so much lovely looking fruit and veg. We were spoiled for choice. We restrained though and just bought what we needed and came back home to a breakfast of crepes and fresh fruit whilst sat in the garden. Mmmmmm.

A quick dart to the aquatic centre and back home to start the dreaded paperwork and hours of phone calls. You just have to be patient otherwise you could get really stressed. My reward though was at 3pm I gave in and retreated to the hot sunshine in the garden with Ben. He did a great job of cutting the grass whilst I really striped the water feature back to see where the problem was. I think I’ve found it but it needs a bit of remodelling.

The front right edge is where the problem is so I think I need to make it angle round a little more., then relay new pond liner and cement rocks back in.

Trouble is, whilst I’m doing these jobs I find more that need doing. Well actually we knew this one needed doing just keep putting it off. You’ll have to wait and see what this project will be in a few days time.

This evening I took some time to set up dads online obituary. I still can’t believe he has gone. It feels like he is away working and will be back soon. Here is the link should you like to have a look.

https://www.funeralguide.co.uk/obituaries/77420

Where does the day go? That’s it we are out of day time and I’m worn out after waking up at stupid o’clock again. Once again I shall leave you with a few garden pictures and hopefully tomorrow we shall be greeted with the first semi red strawberry. The first of the crop x

This time last year……

May 2019, Rich and I had gone to Berlin for a long weekend geocaching and sight seeing with our two wonderful friends Matt and Adam. We knew we wouldn’t be able to rush around or walk far but it was still a bloody marvellous weekend partly made so special by Matt and Adam. Rich kept saying to me how grateful he was to them both for being so patient with him and to keep us both laughing. We enjoyed some wonderful sights, history, food and many cocktails. It’s a city break I will always have fond memories of and very special to me x

Cocktail menu anyone?
My Pimms in the garden listening to our water feature tonight, cheers Rich x ❤️❤️.

So as I had lots of memories passing through my mind today I spent another morning in the garden. I didn’t want to do unpleasant jobs or paperwork today. First off I checked out the water fall. It’s still leaking. Count to ten……….. so this week it needs completely pulling apart and rebuilding with new liner. There must be a hole somewhere.

I can’t do anything about it today so may as well crack on putting the hanging baskets together. Looks like I’ll be busy watering this year as I don’t recall ever having so many out. Although four of them do have cherry tomato and radishes in them. I sat myself surrounded by the ones to be planted and as soon as I was about to begin, along came mummy’s little helper.

Even though I have been growing many many plants, it wasn’t until I sorted through today to see what to put in each basket I realised that I didn’t have much of a selection for them. Most of the new plants would be to tall or to big. But after some arranging they were all planted and I now have a spare shelf in the greenhouse. they all look a bit sparse now but they will soon grow on.

I had to move this one as I went to get in the car and couldn’t open the door!

Garden tidied it was time to head over to Ingress park and meet Victoria and Sophie to take Suzy for a social distancing walk. It was such a pleasant afternoon, sun shining, nice walk around the abbey then along the Thames and back again. Suzy had a very nice time. It was also her first time in the car since March!

Once home Ben and I had a very early dinner once again sat out on the patio in the sunshine. What a glorious evening. I could hear a little banging noise whilst we were outside and it turned out to be our neighbour taking her old shed down. I offered to give a hand and so we both smashed it apart with a hammer. I can’t tell you how therapeutic it was in a funny kind of way. My reward later on was to be a piece of homemade strawberry pavlova. It was delicious and gone before any photos were taken.

I was going to continue with some sewing after but the evening is just to glorious to be inside so I put my feet up, Pimms to hand and organised the next stage of project garden. There are so many plants in the greenhouse, 120 to be precise that I’ve either grown from seed or plug plants, and another 120 summer bulbs to go out. Planning is the way to go as I have a wall in the front garden to plant up, containers and of course the new border. Planning complete and documented ready to start later in the week to give me a break from solicitors paperwork ect.

The evening tour of the garden flowers was very bright, lots of new buds opening up and flowers bobbing in the soft breeze. I’ll leave you for tonight with those images. X

Cucumbers coming along nicely in the greenhouse.
Self seeded foxglove.
The newest allium to the garden.
Roses climbing up the front of the shed.
New allium.
Peony.
The first of the orange blossom in bloom. Apparently they smell gorgeous.

It’s Saturday, a day like any other……

What day is it? Couldn’t quite work it out when I woke up this morning. It’s very confusing this lockdown daily routine. Every day is much like the day before.

Today is Saturday, not that that matters unless there is something on the tv you would like to watch. It’s also a year ago today that Rich and I went away with our good friends Matt and Adam to Berlin. Berlin was fabulous. Rich did so well even though he had to really watch what he could eat and he was very tired after recent nuclear treatment. But we all laughed lots, drank many cocktails and enjoyed the unique city.

So what does one do today. Definitely reflect on last years adventures, try an complete the repair of the waterfall and maybe prepare the hanging baskets ready for planting in the next few days.

The best way to start the day though before all this is a cup of tea in bed. Suzy and I went to the kitchen later than usual this morning and just as I opened the blinds I could see we had a visitor! Heron!! Walking bold as brass across the garden ready to pick from the gold fish menu. We are not having that Mr Heron. Our fish restaurant is now closed. Send out guard dog Suzy! Wow she went bolting our the door to give the heron what for, but it took flight with it’s huge wingspan rather quickly. Hopefully she gave it an ear-bashing with her barking

Ok so we are wide awake now. Let’s get organised. Our neighbour had found us some straw on their travels recently for our strawberry plants. That became the first job of the day as the fruits are growing quite rapidly.

Strawberry patch all cosy.

The next job that needed completing today is the waterfall. Fortunately Bev arrived to collect our rubbish for the recycle centre at the right time. So with both of us balanced Bev applied the sealant into the pond. The work we did yesterday had fully dried. After a few more hours we should be good to turn the waterfall back on.

Water back on and slowed down with the new to me found flow control lever.

The weather is a bit overcast this afternoon so I sat myself in the middle of the lawn with 6 old hanging baskets and one new and started to prepare them for the plants I have been growing in the greenhouse. Normally I like the same plants in them each year but with lockdown that wasn’t going to be possible, anyway I had so many seeds it would be a great distraction to grow it all myself this year. Hopefully cheaper to, which I think it has been.

Some plants have survived from last summer but I took them all out, trimmed them up and replanted.
Basket of begonias, some old from last three years and some new.
This years new basket for outside the kitchen window.

The time just flew by preparing the baskets but Ben was now up and ready for us to take Suzy out. There is certainly more family’s over the country park at a weekend. Some running, some photographing the long grasses and even a group all sat with social distance amongst the long grass, radio on and just chatting. It was really nice to see.

Suzy had a good run off the lead chasing her tennis ball and making new furry friends. After a while though she was worn out and ready to go back home. If you close your eyes and listen to the video you’d be sure there was a steam train pulling in 😂

Suzy loves bouncing in and out of the long grass.

Ben and I decided that we would eat our dinner together on the patio this evening. I can’t remember the last time we did this but it was a beautiful evening and listening to the new water feature is go so relaxing. We had some sausages to cook up and so I thought I’d give toad in the hole ago. I’ve made this on numerous occasions and I’m terrible at it. No matter how hot I have the oven the batter is never fully cooked. You know what they say, practice makes perfect.

Well that’s it from Dartford today. Blog typed and about to be published. Have a safe night everyone x

Sunflower special edition, update 1…..

Happy Saturday everyone. This morning I wanted to share with you our progress on the sunflowers.

Rich and I started growing the sunflowers before he was taken into hospital. It was to be similar to our family gingerbread competition where we would each grow one and see who’s became the biggest. It turned out to be much needed in these moments as it was something we could all watch and nurture in our own homes in these peculiar times as we can not be with each other.

Let me introduce the sunflower club members.

Craig and Sam – live by the sea. Salty air?? Will this cause a problem? They have a curious Cat called Cosmo (will this be a disadvantage? Will she want to climb the sunflowers and snap them?) currently their sunflowers are residing indoors next to the window.

Jan and Lisa – live in Reading. They have a cheeky little dog called Libby. (Will Libby decide you have a little snack on the stem of the sunflowers?) One of their sunflowers had a slight accident in the wind and fell of the table outside. Alas this one belonging to Jan is no longer in the competition. It’s top snapped off😳 However Jan received some new sunflower seeds in the post, Will this be like the hare and the tortoise, Will Jan’s take the lead?? Their sunflowers are presently living in the summer house at night and the garden by day.

Little Libby.

Auntie Jeanie – lives Near Bexleyheath. Now this may be the one we need to keep our eyes on. I’m not sure where her sunflower is living. Is it outside 24/7? Is it being kept under secret light lamps? Is she feeding it magic potions? Best keep our eyes on this one 😉

Nanny Bev – Lives in Gravesend. Owns two huge dogs, although big softy’s and like to lick. Now Bev has named her sunflower Gerald, Will this be an advantage? Does this mean she is secretly a sunflower whisperer? Bev told me Gerald is misbehaving but is this just a ploy to throw us off her magic green fingers?

Jo and Ben – Growers of sunflower seeds. Live in Dartford. Usually we have poor air quality what with living so close to Dartford tunnel but currently with the world staying at home things are a little clearer. We started all the seeds in our greenhouse and distributed them amongst the family. Now did we tamper with any of the seeds before they left us? Did we use a larger mix of enriched soil in some but not others? Suzy lives with us and has not yet shown any interest in our sunflower, phew. Our sunflower is currently in the shed at night and garden by day.

So. Now you know all of the contenders let’s introduce the stars of the blog themselves, let’s here it for the Sunflowers, and Gerald.

Craig and Sams leafy sunflowers.
Lisa’s luscious sunflower
Auntie Jeanie’s sunflower.
Gerald and friends, Bev’s sunflower.
Ben and Jo’s leggy plant.

So there we have the family of sunflowers. Who’s will become the tallest strongest plant? Who’s will have huge head of yellow? Will any succumb to the dreaded slug and snail family? All will be revealed in the coming weeks.

Such a rewarding day…..

Ok fingers crossed, Will the new water feature be delivered and will it work? Keep reading and all will be revealed.

Usual start to the day, cup of tea and back to bed. Getting better this morning. It was not until 5.15! No sign of Heron on Heron cam, result. Nobody making me breakfast in bed today but I suppose two days in a row would be like a miracle. Out in the garden to check on the little leak on the small pond waterfall. My solution last night hadn’t fixed it, sigh. So, water turned off I found the problem. Ok. Little more repair work required but I think we have most of what we need. Just where is it in the shed???

Whilst waiting for it to dry out I had exciting day ahead. A trip to the garden centre. Complete extravagance. Such a weird feeling to be going somewhere like this after all this time. Also meeting up with Bev there. What a treat. It seems like such a long time ago we could do things like see our family’s. Sadly no coffee and cake stop but that didn’t stop us enjoying ourselves. We were like tiny children in a sweet shop. All the bright colourful plants and pots. Staff were constantly filling the displays. You could not fault how it looked.

Bev had mentioned that she was going to treat herself to a new maple plant. That got me thinking. A maple may be just the right plant to sit beside the new water feature. After looking at a few we spotted this unusual colour one. Perfect. Bev also found a lovely one for herself.

Bevs new pot and maple.

Next Bev wanted to find the Lavender plants as she wanted to treat me to remember dad by. Now those of you that knew dad well, he absolutely detested lavender plants. It was the smell he couldn’t stand. He often said under no circumstances would I be allowed to have one in the garden. Rich and I often taunted him, saying we were going out to buy one and where should we put it. Apparently if we did get one he would have dug it up. All of this was said in banter. Yes he really didn’t like them and no I wouldn’t have bought one whilst he was still here. However it always makes us smile remembering the banter we would have about them, so now it seems very fitting to have one to remember him by and smile at our teasing. After deciding where to put it, I decided to put it in Richs pot that he chose after our visit to the Gardeners world live show.

So home from the garden centre, and the water feature was soon delivered. The service was outstanding from the team and the lady even put it all together for me to check everything worked ok before delivering. The water fall was meant to be the next job on the list but we couldn’t resist cracking on with the water feature.

After a little crawling on the ground to install the cables we soon had it in a perfect position. Water filled and the grand switch on. Yes it works and looks fabulous. Rich would have loved it as not only does it look nice it has the spishy splashy noise we were looking for.

Of course we then potted up the new Maple tree and placed it all together with the lavender. Superb. A great project that gives me happy memories of both my dad and Rich and a perfect day that I could sit out here and enjoy my dinner on the patio with the new sound of running water. The Maple looks mesmerising in the afternoon sun.

Having lights in the water hadn’t even crossed my mind but now I have them, wow. It completes that part of the patio perfectly in the dark with the other little lights.

The waterfall was the next task. It had dried out nicely so Bev and I made a plan. We mixed up some stuff we found in the shed, no surprise there! And set to work. Making one of the sides sightly higher and putting in some of the rocks. Fingers crossed it works. If not I have the water proof sealant at the ready.

The final thing I purchased at the garden centre was a couple of new hanging baskets. I had one in mind for the other cherry tomato plants which would live in the fruit patch with the other two. the other will be filled with flowers and placed out once the last frosts had passed.

Companion planting. Cherry tomatoes along side radish as they are a fast growing crop.

That’s an oil put it for today. What will we do tomorrow? Night all x x

Water feature day?

Thursday started really strangely. I woke at 4am to the sound of Ben walking around the landing. No, I wasn’t dreaming, it really was Ben. He couldn’t sleep either so he offered to make me a cup of tea. Of course I said yes. Both back to beds with our tea, when I awoke to another noise at 6am. Surely not Ben again? But yes! Our sleep patterns are all over the place. I didn’t mind today as I was treated to breakfast in bed. Great start to the day.

It wasn’t much longer before I got up and outside to prepare the equipment I needed for the days project, but first a walk to the shops with Suzy and Ben to buy biscuits and sausages. We are fortunate that we have a great little selection of shops on our estate including a butchers. I asked them today if the could ever get goats meat, but apparently only if I wanted a whole goat lol. I’ll pass for today.

Back home to today’s project. Removal of the old water feature, prepare site and place newly purchased water feature. The old one still worked but it didn’t make splashy noises and so Rich and I had discussed changing it in the spring. I went out the day before and spotted two I thought we would both like and made my choice.

Previous water feature.

I learnt a big lesson today. That is to check your product before you do all the work to check it is in full working order. Today I hadn’t done this first!

Removal of the old water feature was relatively easy. Take off decorative stones, store ready to be washed. Remove ball and hosepipe. Ask slugs to vacate said ball. Scoop all the water out of reservoir. Remove reservoir from the ground being careful not to wake any deadly spiders. (Ok so they were not deadly just menacing!) continually check for sleeping newts. Ahhh hang on, two of the little fellows relaxing in the mud. Both were very still so I gently scooped them up and placed them in the bushes near to the pond.

Olivia NEWTON
NEWTON John.

Going well so far. Except I’d forgotten we had original cut the slabs to fit the water feature. But as I was on my hands and knees I spotted something lurking in the back of the border. Blow me down, dad had kept a couple of slabs there. Brilliant. So after rummaging in the workshop I found the required tools, removed one of the smaller slabs, filled in hole with left over Soil from recent border project, placed a layer of sand down and then bedded the new slab on top. Voilà new looking area of the patio. Except for a small gap in the slabs but we won’t panic just yet. The gap, I can live with as the new feature will be placed on top.

So slabs in, it was now time to get the water feature out of its packaging Everything looked in order so it was time to place the cable in the conduit. It started well but then the new cable wouldn’t go through one part of the conduit as the diameter was slightly smaller. Grrrrrr up to the work shop and loft in search of more. I found a piece much to my amazement, mind you was it really? I should remember dad holds on to everything, somewhere lol x it fitted. Marvellous.

Cable through it was time to connect. How very exciting. There are three connections for LED lights with a water proof seal. But one of the waterproof seals is damaged. Arggggggggg. Disappointment! I can not now finish this project today. I called up the garden centre who were most helpful. They have located me a new feature and will collect mine and then drop a new one on Friday. Oh well. Things happen for a reason I guess. At least the area is prepared and cleaned all waiting.

So I will continue with the water feature for you later today (Sorry the blog is a little late but I fell asleep typing it last night. When I woke I had written some really bizarre sentence. Must have been my dream in words lol)

I did manage to take some evening garden photos for you. So enjoy and have a good day x

Very exciting, Strawberries on their way.
A self seeded fox glove.
Also self seeded
The new addition, a dwarf standard Lilac for spring colour in the new border at mid height.
Very excited to see the new allium.
Rebecca is in full bloom.

All churned up, the finale…..

Yesterday saw the filing down of the ten gallon milk and butter churns. This morning we woke not so early but wanted to get the churns finished. I don’t like being half way through something, I just want to get it done and the mess cleaned up. Who knows also how the weather will pan out later. It’s very changeable at the moment. As we unlocked the back door to continue our project, a big shadow flew across the garden. Heron was back, but…… he did not land. Victory to us I think.

The churns needed a second coat today but as I looked at them I couldn’t decide if I really liked the dark green one. The previous green had been a lot lighter but then I worked out that my mum last painted them about 20 years ago they are bound to have faded. A few people had said they particularly liked the one that was black with green trim including Ben. So what was I to do? Carry on or go and buy a lighter green? Mmmmmm. Ok we shall stick with it and see how they turn out.

Patio covered I set to work. Some of you know I do not have a sense of smell but boy this stuff must be strong, certainly gives you a headache. After an hour or so and a very impatient Suzy trying to distract me to take her out the churns were complete.

I had a few errands to run and thought this would be a good time as I couldn’t move the churns yet and I was just preying it wouldn’t rain! It is nice having a choice of vehicle to drive, however I have to keep thinking, right which car went out last? Which one needs a run this week? Especially as our shopping is being delivered we don’t even drive to the supermarket. Today it was the turn of dads car so after my errand I gave it a drive down the A2 and found myself at the aquatic centre to buy some treats for the fussy budgie. The garden centre also reopened today and even though it only had a short queue I resisted and just went to the aquatics. On entering each side was displaying stunning water features.

I got the budgie snacks and drove home but the water features were still on my mind. After a lunch of reheated roasted veg and feta I checked the churns. At last they were dry and I could arrange them on the patio and source pots to fit in them ready for planting. Now that they are all done I can live with the dark green. They compliment each other very well.

The green and black together.

The pots in them could do with spraying just to make them look a better match and I have to put the copper tape back around the one holding the hostas but over all, a job well done.

It’s no good the water features are still on my mind so I did a little research and went back to the aquatic centre. This time to give my car a run. The one I had decided on was out of stock but the assistant said their manager was at another branch today so if they had one he would bring it back and even drop it off home for us. Great service and I’m pleased to say the water feature arrived a few hours ago. So can you guess what tomorrow’s project might be? I won’t tell you which one I chose but upon measuring it it looks like it will fit the space better.

There you have it. Another project filled day and of course a Country park walk with Suzy, who incidentally wanted to be friends with everyone over there today and completely ignored me. She really does have what Rich called big dog syndrome as she often finds the biggest dogs to play with. As usual I will leave you with a few garden photos. It’s so wonderful seeing these blooms and photographing them daily. You can see how they subtly change day by day. Tomorrow I shall also try and give you a wildflower meadow update. Night for now. X

The first cucumber is on its way.
The lettuce are starting to look more like lettuce.
Little starburst flowers in the Allium.
How cool are these individual flowers on one bud?
A little more sewing this evening to occupy my mind.

All churned up……

Another early start, Yep you guessed it, Suzy and the crows 5am on the dot. I didn’t seem to mind so much this morning though as I just made a cup of tea and went back to bed and did my impression of my dad. Every morning he would sit with the iPad on, showing the cctv and wait for the paper man to walk on to the drive. Then it would be a race to see who could get to the front door first. ☺️ But this morning I wasn’t looking for the paperman, I was on Heron watch! The wind was almost non existent this morning so I thought it would call by and I could double check he couldn’t go fishing without my permission. Two hours of cctv later, well from the corner of my eye, no sign of the heron.

By this time I was wide awake and raring to go. The weather was due to be warmish and no wind today, perfect for sanding the milk and butter churns. It was a project dad and I spoke about a few weeks ago and I said I would get round to do it. As we are home and still don’t really go out (remembering that even though Boris is relaxing a few measures, the virus still exists and there is no vaccination or cure for some yet) I thought today was the day to start.

So patio prepped, covered in sheets and cardboard I set to work with my safety goggles, gloves and face mask. This took me hours and I had to keep stopping in between as using a wire brush is not something my hands like very much. By lunch time very churns was wire brushed, washed and put out to dry by the pond. One was extremely rusty so I just knocked out the bottom as it was well beyond repair.

Mummy’s little helper wasn’t allowed out to help, she may have got metal in her paws.
Before.
Rusty bottom.
This churn was the worst and extremely rusty.
The two green churns scrubbed up and rough paint removed.

Now as I was working on the churns, I noticed company names around the necks of the churns, so I did a little research. One had co op dairy, the others had C&G Prideaux ltd. I quite enjoyed sitting with my cup of tea and trying to find out the age and history of these. So here goes….

The Prideaux Family

In 1878 Charles and Veronica Prideaux moved to Motcombe, and set up a business selling eggs and butter.

In 1892 they opened a factory in Stalbridge followed in 1897 by one in Shillingstone. By 1900 Charles began producing edible casein or Casumen, and the Prideaux Casein and Milk Food Company Ltd was founded. They gained contracts for military hospitals and opened a factory in Evercreech. This was followed in 1907 by a factory in Mere and in 1910 by one in Castle Cary.

In 1914 C & G Prideaux Ltd was incorporated, the shares being held by the family. Full cream milk powder was produced under the name Dorsella. The First World War brought new Government contracts and increased business – especially with regard to dried milk powder for hospitals and abroad. During the war the turnover amounted to £1 million per year. It also meant a change in the workforce.With many men leaving to fight and women taking their place, the workforce now totalled over 200. A print works in Gillingham was started during this time to produce packaging.

Evercreech was mentioned in quite a few articles that I’d read. Seems to be a popular junction for milk trucks and a railway station for the milk to be loaded on to trains. This was in 1966.

So there you have it, a little bit of history in our back garden and we stick plants in them. But they do suit having plants stuck in them.

After lunch I decided to do a click and collect for the black paint I needed as I already had the green. It was so odd going out. I purchased on Screwfix site and within ten minutes I had an email to say my item was ready for collect. Now I wasn’t sure if there would be queue of people but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself the only person in the queue. In no time at all I was back at home and ready to paint.

Fortunately we have a decent amount of space on the patio!

I started with the black churns and worked my way along. It didn’t take to long and they would be touch dry in about an hour. But I couldn’t apply the second coat today so that will be the job for the morning. The green paint was way darker than how they had been but I reckon they were last painted 25ish years ago so the green must have faded over time.

Very dark green.

A few will need a second coat but not all. They now look so much smarter, but I’m still not sure on the dark green. Ben liked the one where I painted the rim and handles the opposite colour and I tend to agree, so I shall replicate this on one of the others tomorrow.

Some plants also turned up today from a friend and I think their striking colours will look great in one of the butter churns.

All tidied up and a much needed shower had, it was time for a simple dinner of chicken salad and chips, do try popping some strawberries in your salad. Fabulous combination.

Suzy had a nice evening watching a dog training programme on the television. I’m not sure if she liked the dogs most or Martin Clunes narration voice!

Fingers crossed for a bright but no wind start to the day tomorrow. But that’s it for today. I shall leave you with today’s flower pictures. The alliums are opening steadily and the rose climbing across the shed looks the best it has for years. Night all..

Odd few days……

This lockdown is not to difficult when the sun is shining but on days like today when the temperature suddenly drops and the winds blowing hard things can be a bit more challenging.

So I didn’t feel I had enough content to write a daily post the last few days as I’ve had to tackle some of that challenging paperwork stuff and start making lots of phone calls but I try to remind myself that some of you have commented that you love my blogs and seeing our garden. As one friend said today, she has garden envy but dosn’t have the time to devote to her garden so lives mine through the blog. That’s a really nice thing to say x

So here goes, Heron alert!! Monday morning and Suzy and I woke early ( now there’s a surprise) she had her usual run and bark at anything and everything she could smell in the garden whilst I made a cup of tea to take back to bed. Once settled again