Sunday, 30 April 2017

My Sunday Photo

a summer snowflake on a dull, rainy day


Saturday, 29 April 2017

A Garden Update

Okay, it's time to show you what I've been up to in the garden, starting at the back of the house. All of these photos are a few days old, and since they were taken pots have been moved (although still not planted up!) and some of the new plants are now in the soil.

This is taken from the dining room side of the house, looking down the garden. Where you can see trellis I will eventually plant white climbing roses and in some of the planting pockets I now have the summer snowflakes (white/green) and the dwarf phlox (pink/green). I haven't decided on the rest of the plants to fill out this side of the garden yet, but I'm open to ideas. I'd like to end up with some winter interest and I'd like to stick to pinks, reds, whites and lilacs, with yellow being added with the spring bulbs.

This is taken from the same position but looking across the back of the house. The clematis looks a bit poorly but is actually doing well despite being moved and replanted in a pot. I thought it had died when it was uprooted in one of the winter storms, but since being re-potted it seems to have a new lease of life. The gardener has advised me to leave it alone for this growing season so that it can re-establish its roots and then look to cut out the dead growth and fix it to the trellis ready for next year. 

I'm standing by the honeysuckle which grows over the fence from my neighbour's garden to take this photo. This is the space where I'll have some seating but I haven't decided what I want yet. 

And this is the space behind the garage.  If you look carefully you can see the delivery I was waiting for peeping out from between the bins - a crabapple tree, Malus Royal Beauty. It's planted in the bed roughly where the stick is. This has been chosen not only for it's size (10 feet at full maturity) but because it provides year round interest as it tends to retain its fruit through the winter and therefore attracts the birds. The fruits on this variety are not very big so can't really be put to a culinary use. In the bed where the tree is planted I will probably add some ornamental grasses and also some decorative stones to create a rockery, which will be planted up with some alpines.

In the bed by the fence there'll be some evergreen shrubs. I haven't decided on the varieties yet, only that they will have white flowers.

Moving to the front garden now, these photos were taken earlier in the week. The climbing plant on the left of picture is a jasmine (white flowers), the central plant is a buddleia wisteria lawn (lilac flowers) and the one on the right is a dwarf rhododendron (white flowers). The other plants dotted about are different heathers, some summer ones and some winter ones. Once this all fills out I think it'll be enough planting for the space. Surprisingly it make the space look much bigger than it actually is - I thought this was just my imagination but a couple of neighbours have made the same comment.

And finally, this is looking along the front of the house. This part still has to have more gravel put down (I have loads bagged up in the garage but need help from my nephew to get this done - he filled the bags and they are way to heavy for me to move!) but the plants are doing well - it's alternating hebes and lavenders.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Looking Forward

I've been thinking carefully about my short, medium and long term plans. I'm glad I took the time to do this as I feel extremely positive about how things are going.

In the short term, my focus has to be to recover from the depression. I know that it will be so easy to just hide away at home but that won't help me at all, so I've arranged a few treats to look forward to ... not as many as I'd normally do but I don't want to overload myself and I can always add extra if and when my health improves. The special treat I'm most looking forward to is a return visit to the Harry Potter tour at Warner Bros Studios, this time accompanied by a fellow Potterhead friend. With another friend I've booked tickets to see Keith James singing the songs of Leonard Cohen and I'll also be going on a day trip to Lichfield later in the year on my own.

In addition to these, band practice resumes this week after the Easter break (which I'm really looking forward to) and I'll still do the weekly walking with L, the monthly book group, plus we're also trying to find a local pub quiz we can all do. I have another week's holiday in May (as I don't teach during the UK SATS week) and Ced's birthday falls during this week so, in celebration of his life, I plan to visit Bristol to see the sights using the tourist bus and to revisit SS Great Britain. Other possibilities include a trip to see Chester/tour of the Manchester ship canal, and maybe a short stay in London but I'll  need to feel a lot better before I fork out the money for these.  

For the medium term, my focus is on the home.  I'm hoping to get the third bedroom decorated in the very near future (just waiting for the date to be confirmed), followed by my bedroom, the en-suite and the family bathroom. This sounds a lot but my involvement is limited to choosing the tiles etc and paying for it! Completion of these rooms just leaves the hall, stairs & landing, and then the living room to be done, which means that the entire house will then be finished. I'm aiming to get it all done within the next year to 18 months .... it feels really exciting to write that! I'd originally committed to an additional four years of part time teaching to finance the work I wanted to do on the house and garden so, if things go according to plan I will still have 18 months to two years left to do after the work on the house is finished which will give me the opportunity to save all the income from the teaching for future holidays etc.

Long term plans are still a bit hazy, except that I hope to be able to retire completely once my teaching commitments are over and to start doing some travelling. Most of the places I want to see are in the UK, but I do have a few special foreign holiday destinations in mind as well.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Take Three Thursday

Organised by Mary-Lou @ Patio Postcards, this is her weekly meme to share three photos which have a common theme. My photos are of three varieties of thyme I've acquired for my garden - Highland Cream, Doone Valley and Pink Chintz.

Thank you for organising this link up, Mary-Lou.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Busy Doing Nothing

It's a day at home for me today which is just as well because it is bitterly cold out there. I don't 'do' cold! The heating has been turned back up and I'm snuggled up in a comfort blanket as I type this, but I'm still shivering and desperately hoping that it isn't another bout of the dreaded lurgy.

I'm waiting in for a delivery, due either today or tomorrow, of something special for my garden and once it's here and planted I'll do the photos to show you what's been happening in the garden. Does this cold spell mean that I should hold back on the planting until the weather improves?

We had plenty of rain last night so the garden has had the watering it deperately needed. I could hear a constant dripping and eventually tracked it down to a leak where the down pipe connects to the gutter so that's something else I need to get sorted, but will hopefully be the last 'outside' thing demanding money for a while. 

I'd planned to get on with the sorting/decluttering (I'm just doing little bits at a time to nibble away   at the seemingly endless number of boxes still to clear) but have decided instead on a doing-nothing-except-reading-eating-and-relaxing day. It feels like a much better use of my time!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A Nice Problem To Have!

I'm not complaining, but I have too many books! Despite sending the majority of Ced's books to the National Trust at Lacock for their fundraising and also donating over 100 paperbacks to the BookBarn, I still have way too many. I also did a ruthless purge and passed on loads of books I'm unlikely to ever read to friends. However I finally had to admit that maybe, just maybe, it's a bit of a problem when I found myself searching online for new bookcases. 

I decided to add a smallish one to the third bedroom after it's decorated (won't be long!) and then to be strict about the books I keep. Happy with my decision, I settled down for the evening when the doorbell rang ... it was my brother-in-law with another delivery of books from my sister!

I may need a bigger bookcase but, as I said in the title of this post, it's a nice problem to have!

Monday, 24 April 2017

Memos, Mail, Me on Monday

For the first time in ages, here's a wave to Sian and all the other Mondayers on this lovely Monday morning.

I'll start with the 'new' things which, of course, are to do with the garden.  It's not a complete reveal but if you read yesterday's post you'll know that I was going to the local garden centres ... this is what I bought. I'll list all the names in my garden post later this week.  The two roses, different varieties but both white, have been planted but the rest has been placed around to see if I like the arrangement. With a few tweaks, they'll be planted later today.

Moving on to the interesting mail, I received the results of my Ancestry DNA test on Saturday. There's no real surprises with the largest percentage showing ancestry from Great Britain and West Europe - my sister commented that we are more British than our Royal family! A family story is that one ancestor was a Spanish sailor from the Armada who came ashore and settled in England and the DNA results show a percentage as originating from the Iberian Peninsula - a very small percentage, i.e. 2%, but I'm claiming that as a possibility even though I have absolutely no documentary evidence to back up the claim! The best part of the results is it provides links to others who share, or may share, a common ancestry; my results show 98 people who have links with my own family. I've had a quick look at some of them and can easily identify a few but on others, all showing a high probability, I can't see an obvious common relative so I'm hoping that this will be a route into discovering the ancestry line I've struggled with. 

I've nothing else to talk about so I'm off to the garden centre again. I don't really like the pebbles in the gaps at the edge of the paving (wrong colour, and I think it'll look 'more finished' if it's some sort of pea shingle) so I'm off to see what else is available. Then I have a couple of hours teaching and will finish off with some photography if the weather holds - we're due rain later today. I hope you all have a good week whatever you have planned and I'll be round to read your posts later tonight.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

A Photo An Hour | Saturday 22nd April 2017

Organised by Louise @ duck in a dress and Jane @ is that you darling, yesterday was the day chosen to take a photo an hour throughout the day.

7 am (ish) | my day started at silly o'clock. I'd been awake and pottering about for a couple of hours before I remembered to take a photo for 'a photo an hour'.

8 am | in the middle of doing the previous night's washing up. I'd been too tired to bother with it after a great evening with friends who came round to see the progress on the garden, and which went on a lot later than any of us had planned! 

9 am | I've been shopping (ran out of bread!) and have just finished putting it all away. This is my current favourite owl shopping bag hanging on the door handle to remind me to put it back in the car.

10 am | out in the garden, filling the gaps at the edge of the new paving with pebbles. The pebbles were in the garden before and were bagged up and stored in the garage, so this was a simple job and I managed to get about half of it done - I'll need some help from my nephew to finish it as I can't reach/move the remaining bags of pebbles.

11 am | L, the landscaper is back to finish off the grouting - his last job in the garden. This is a sneak preview for you ... I'll do a proper post about it later in the week.

12 pm | moving some of the empty pots out of the garage where they've been stored. 

1 pm | waiting for the kettle to boil and indulging in an after lunch maple and pecan danish pastry - my reward to myself for working in the garden in the morning!

2 pm | playing 'word with friends' on the iPad.

3 pm | back out in the garden enjoying the sunshine and taking some photos - here's the shadow of some leaves against the fossilised ones in the stone and the (out of focus!) green ones in the front!

4 pm | looking for ideas for planting.  I'm hitting the local garden centres today (Sunday).

5 pm | relaxing on the sofa with a coffee and my latest book.

I fell asleep so missed the photos for 6 pm and 7 pm!

8 pm | the final job in the garden - watering the plants. 

This was the final photo for the day. I had a soak in the bath and then planned to read in bed but actually fell asleep and slept through the entire night, not waking until 6 o'clock this morning.

Plans for today include meeting J for breakfast at the newly refurbished Leyker's Coffee Bar in town and then a potter round the local garden centres. 

Many thanks to Louise and Jane for organising this monthly link up.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Yoo Hoo, It's Only Me ....

.... I'm back! Hopefully!

Apologies for my prolonged absence but I've been ill, constant bouts of the bug that laid me low at Christmas.  I've had lots of sick days, though have managed to keep up with my teaching commitments, but apart from that I simply haven't had any energy  for anything else. If I've not been teaching I seem to have been sleeping, so lots of things have fallen by the wayside, this blog being one of them. Physically, I'm almost back to normal but emotionally am still not right. I'd been hovering on the brink of crossing the line into depression before Christmas but the inevitable happened and I'm now focusing on putting this latest depressive illness behind me. I still have a way to go but do feel that I'm making progress. I have the support of the people around me and my doctor is aware of the situation so I'm as optimistic as I can be, that this aspect of my life will improve soon.

Despite being ill and having no energy, exciting things have been happening in the garden so I have lots to tell you but that's for later in the week. I also have my camera out for the first time in months and will be back with an update tomorrow - it's 'a photo an hour' today and I'm joining in for the first time in I don't know how long. So I need to go and do things so my photos aren't too boring!