Saturday, 18 January 2020

Not so much derailed as re-routed

It has been a busy week, and generally a very good one in the great scheme of things.  Most of it was been taken up with a day of shopping (yuk) followed by two days intensive cooking.  Blooming tiring but the end result is more than 60 home-cooked meals in the freezer.  We both want to eat properly every day - one of the joys of full retirement is no more getting in so late and exhausted that a bowl of cereal or plate of toast has to suffice - but I have no desire and little intention to spend a couple of hours in the kitchen every evening concocting something lovely from scratch.  With an eye on The Bigger Picture it is definitely worth the time and effort this takes - especially as I do absolutely zero washing up, that is Management's contribution to the proceedings!

There was also a haircut and an unplanned car wash after coming out one morning and finding not a single side of my (white) car had missed the attention of what must have been a very incontinent seagull.

The rain finally stopped long enough for a session in the garden, and yesterday I completed a big section of the Coppice.  On the downsize I hate having to cut away so much of the leaves from my hellebores, but they have blackspot and it does the plant no good.  This winter has been so constantly damp and mild that the spores will be laying on the soil waiting to be splashed back into the newly emerging foliage.  Another reason for applying a thick layer of mulch so that those spores stay buried.

On the upside the yearly application of mulch means that whilst I have been cutting back dead foliage and clearing up fallen leaves, apart from a couple of persistent dock I have not had to remove a single weed!   In a garden this big, so densely planted, that is a Really Big Thing 🤗

(The 'pots' in the ground are bottomless collars which protect small hellebores until they are big enough that the risk of being mulched over or stood on is minimised)

Derailed?   I had planned another Coppice session today but at 9.00am the phone rang - it was the wife of our deceased friend asking if I could go round and I was there a few minutes later.  She needed someone who was not family to have a mug of tea with, and a favour too.  I gave her the "listening to" that she needed and we had a bit of laugh, then I walked to a few nearby houses and delivered details of the funeral.  It was 11.00am before I got home, and the promised sunshine clearly wasn't going to arrive, so I cut my losses and settled on the sofa for some more quilt binding.

I had finished the Irish Chain earlier in the week, the "Bee Kind" Trip Around the World was completely by lunchtime.

From a postural standpoint, sitting down all afternoon and evening to stitch a third binding may not have been the choice of an expert, but I wanted it all finished!  And it is:-

Unless you are a quiltmaker/knitter/creative-anything with a cupboard full of not-yet-completed projects that you do not want to see going to waste you will not understand how gloriously liberating it is to have everything finished.

There was still time to take a moment to enjoy a lovely sunset:

Blog comments:  finally, thanks to Sustainablemum and Jessica I can leave comments on Blogger blogs (Wordpress was never a problem).  The solution was Firefox on my iPad - I am not going to waste any more time wondering why Firefox on the Mac will not work.  Yes I know they run on completely different operating systems, but come on people - cars can drive themselves, satellites circle the entire planet, why not blog cookies which behave consistently on different home computers?

Unanswered comments on my last few blog posts:  thank you all very much,  I'm going to just say "I really appreciate the time you took to leave them" and move on.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

An hour in the Coppice

Just one hour today, I even set an alarm on my phone to ensure I stayed within my self-imposed 60 minute limit and took advantage of a brief clear spell - tomorrow's forecast is atrocious.  I cleared and mulched a small section in the Coppice, maybe no more than two metres but very enjoyable nonetheless.

Let's do this backwards, first the 'after' pictures:

And a much brighter shot of what I achieved during the week:

Looking around the rest of the Coppice, almost everything is either covered in fallen leaves, or last year's decayed foliage, or in the case of the Euphorbia, old flower stems I never cut back.  2019 was not a year where the garden received more than perfunctory attention, I hope I can do better in 2020 because the plants deserve more care.

For those who live with the misguided idea that Bag End is a beautiful garden which always looks immaculate - {{snort of derision}} - do not believe all you see on social media.

Blog comments:  thanks to Jessica and SustainableMum I could fix the problem.  But we have had the stuffing knocked out of us today, and I just do not have the heart to do so right this moment.

On Tuesday afternoon I had tea with a lovely neighbour, mad as a box of frogs but always excellent company - intelligent, articulate, erudite, widely read.  We did not always agree but he was a rare soul with whom you could discuss world events & politics and differences of opinion caused no divide.  One of the bonuses of having an 81 year-old brainiac as a friend.

At 7.00am on Wednesday morning he was off to Carlisle for major surgery - having faced the Sophie's Choice of "50% chance of surviving the operation, 100% chance of dying without it".  He passed away last night without ever regaining consciousness.

We were not an integral part of each others lives, sometimes weeks would pass between debates and discourse, but I cannot quite believe I am never going to talk to him again.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Week one and the first job is done

The weather forecast continues to miss its accuracy targets but I am still smiling and excitedly going “sqquuueeeeee!!!”  Because it is only the first proper week of the year and I have a fully completed job in the garden under my belt.

The ‘before’ photo, grotty pictures throughout - there has been an occasional bit of brightness, but generally the light has been very dull:

On Wednesday I managed about three hours outside, albeit without the promised sunshine, but in that time succeeded in completely weeding the large bed we created last year at the entrance to the Coppice.  It was covered in bitter cress with a significant contribution from Rose Bay Willowherb.  By the time I was a Grown Up Sensible Girl and decided it was time to stop the soil was clean, dressed with ash from the woodburner, and with Management’s help [tub filling] I had 45 pots of chippings in place ready for the next dry day.  We are finding it so, so much easier to use large pots for moving materials as opposed to the overfull and far-too-heavy trugs that LP insisted on.

Photos from midway - snowdrops are throwing themselves out of the ground at an indecent speed, the hellebore has new growth, and some of the anemone corms are putting on an unseasonal amount of new growth:

A couple of days later and the bed now has a lovely deep mulch of freshly shredded leylandi:

It took 29 pots to cover the bed, and I had a refilling session so there is a good supply in place for next time I get outside.

Conifers are allelopathic so this mulch should suppress weeds even better than deciduous chippings.  I know that means I miss out on self-seeded bonus plants, but I can live with that.

Still unable to log in to the comment side of Blogger, so thank you for the kind words about my table runner post. However, the lovely Jessica at Rusty Duck wrote to me with a fix (similar to SustainableMum's).  Like me, she uses Feedly which integrates nicely with Firefox.  So a 'simple' solution would be to load Firefox on the iPad and go from there . . . I will try and get to that at the weekend, I may not succeed 🙃

The lampshade was unexpected - supermarkets up here are always much smaller than the multi-department aircraft hanger size establishments of more heavily populated areas, which means we see very little of the clothing & housewares items that everyone else gets to chose from.  So it was something of a surprise very early on Sunday morning to find the shades in Morrisons, half price.  There were only four on the shelf - all of which now live at Bag End 😊

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Lousy weather = great day

Living between the coast and the hills our 'norm' is to go to bed thinking the weather will be one thing the following day, and waking up to find the reality has turned out to be completely different.  It can make planning outdoor activities a little tricky and a lot frustrating.

Not so much today - the forecast was for thick cloud, rain and high wind all day and that is what we got.  Despite there now being TWO truck loads of wood chip on the drive and my absolutely itching to get outside and be active in the garden there was never any doubt that Tuesday would be an indoor day.  Yesterday afternoon I attached binding to all three table runners by machine, and much of today was spent hand finishing.

Much time was also spent trying to persuade the newly installed version of Safari on my Mac to play nicely with cookies from Google.  Hand sewing the binding was more successful.

The Google Cookie Monster obviously recognises me in the Dashboard window - otherwise I wouldn't be creating a new blog post.  Going to a normal 'view blog' tab is a different proposition and no matter how many times I clear all the cookies and reboot, there is no "Signing In" that the comment engine will accept.  I love my Mac, I would hate to go back to Windows/Android, and I know the problem will resolve eventually - doesn't mean it is not tiresome and was time wasting until I twigged what was happening.  It is not the first time Apple have done this - it was a problem in early releases of Safari 12, we're now on early releases of Safari 13.

So there is no replying to all the lovely comments about not swimming in Windermere, but thank you so much for all of them - you did give me a good chuckle!  Fear not, without a wetsuit, gloves, hat and booties there is no way I'd go in the water this early in the year - current temperature is about 4 degrees.  Given the right protective gear however . . . 🏊🏻‍♀️   🏊🏻‍♀️   🏊🏻‍♀️  

This also means I am going to struggle to leave comments on any other blogs.  {{sigh}}.

Monday, 6 January 2020

A new decade off to a good start

The first Monday of the new year - everyone back to work and this is when life can finally get back to 'normal' instead of what-the-heck-day-is-it extended holiday confusion.

2020 has started very agreeably.  By the end of the previous year I had every single quilt top quilted!  Phew . . . 😀  The last time I was cleared of an 'unfinished quilt' backlog was in 2006.  Not surprisingly I may also have been completely cream-crackered from five solid days on the longarm machine, but that is how I had planned on spending the between Christmas & New Year week and it worked well.  I now have what feels like about three miles of binding to apply.

The decorations were all packed away on first day of the decade, the boxes are back where they belong and the house has a rather nice January-emptiness about it.

We had a lovely trip down to Ambleside at the weekend and slightly iffy weather did not spoil our day.  I had hoped that most of the holiday visitors would be on their way home but the place was still very busy, which is good for the traders.  It did not get in the way of our plans: we walked around the town twice and then down to Waterhead, and I came away with a fabulous pair of walking trousers and more progress on the swimming front.  I can confirm that at this time of year, the water in Windermere is Absolutely-Bloomin'-Freezing!  And I only dipped my hands in . . .

I am back at the (lovely and warm) swimming pool, and our tree surgeon is back at work and has dropped off the first load of chipped conifer.  Unfortunately, the weather has gone from "iffy" to "total pants" and I cannot envisage getting outside to start work on the weeding and mulching anytime soon.

Finally, thank you so very much to everyone who commented on my last post of 2019.  You said some very lovely things and they are all very much appreciated.  Last year was thoroughly horrible and I barely survived it, without my friends I fear would not have got through it at all.  Folk who visit and leave comments, and sometimes - magically - become real friends, make a huge difference.  Unless you have experienced it for yourself you will not understand 😞

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Goodbye 2019

Goodbye 2019, and good riddance.

I am so very, very glad to see the back of you.
You were unkind and you hurt me badly.

You were cruel in ways that were not necessary.
You inflicted pain that was truly not deserved.

You caused distress and suffering where it was not warranted.
You took too much and gave very little in return.

Be gone and good riddance.
You do not deserve any more of my time or attention.

You are an Annus Horribilis and I will not be looking back on you with anything but sadness and regret.

I am going to bed now and I do not want to see you again.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Winter Solstice

The Wheel continues to turn - three hours ago our little rock reached the point of apogee in her orbit around the Sun, and is now slowly working her way back.  However, thanks to the intricacies of astrophysics the Earth is actually closest (in miles) to the Sun on 5th January 2020.  Such timing would fit so nicely into the tradition of 12th Night, if that concept was not a construct of modern Christianity . . . I think the rhythms of planetary orbits were established long before that 😊

But the light does return, slowly at first - 90 seconds to 2 minutes each day in January, and about 2½ minutes more in February.  Today my latitude receives only 7 hours 11 minutes of daylight, but by the end of January that has increased to 8 hours and 41 minutes.

I think we could all do with some sunshine after the last few months.

Accepting that this is a time of hibernation, of slowing down and resting, of regrouping and thinking, has been a good thing to do.  Fighting the heaviness of this time of year just does not work, hunkering down does.

After the political turmoil and uncertainty of the last few months, who knows what next year will bring?  The fires in Australia are truly catastrophic and the damage to wildlife and the ecology of the Blue Mountains will take generations to heal.  Closer to home, last night there were nearly 100 flood warnings in place across the country, and despite dreadfully high winds and much rain over the last week for once we do not seem to be badly affected.  Small consolation for those who are.

We have heating and the house feels lovely.

Although we are not doing much 'different' from usual, the fridge and freezer are well stocked.

I am now swimming a couple of times a week and it is becoming a transformative (and very happy) experience.  I never expected that 😲

There is much clearing up, clearing out, and a slim chance that we might move into the next decade without a lot of the cutter and baggage from the current one.

Lots to give Solstice thanks for.

image from Pinterest, no copyright attribution available

You can read an excellent (brief) explanation of Perihelion here, which I think is fascinating, but I'm strange like that 😉 and I find all sorts of odd things interesting.