Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Summer Fun Photo Scavenger Hunt

Edited to remove incorrect info.

Mary-Lou @ Patio Postcards has published the list for her summer photo scavenger hunt. It's open to everyone, the more the merrier, so I hope some of you will join in. The hunt runs from Jun 1st to Sept 30th and all photos should be taken during that time. If you have any other queries just pop over to her blog - she'll be happy to help.

Now for the important bit - here's the list ...

1.     Something fuzzy
2.     Bubbles
3.     A web
4.     A zig zag
5.     A seasonal relaxing space/item
6.     A pipe
7.     The inside of something
8.     Rust or something derelict
9.     A kite or balloon
10.   Something Yellow
11.   A toy only found out during June to September
12.   A wedding
13.   A dome
14.   Someone fishing
15.   Something crafted from wood
16.   A baby (human or animal)
17.   Circles or crosses in architecture
18.   A fan
19.   Feet of man or beast
20.   Something found under ground
21.  A plaque
22.  A dial
23.  Something powered by wind
24.  Seasonal food or drink
25.  A hat

I''ll be joining in as soon as I get my camera back from its service. 

Come And See The Garden, pt 1

Before we start, I'd better mention that the photos were taken a couple of weeks ago when I first intended to write this post and things have come on since then. I can't take any new ones today, or for the foreseeable future, as a) my camera has gone for a service and b) it's pouring with rain.

We'll start in the space behind the garage.

Believe it or not (as I'm having difficulty believing it myself!) I actually assembled the wooden compost bin without any help - that sounds so easy. However, I'd completely underestimated the effort this build required, but repeated bouts of fighting with the wooden pieces together with a few rests and lots of coffee and cake and somehow it's finished and shows no signs of collapsing. I chose this one because of the simple (!) slot together build, but I hadn't considered that the strength and rigidity of the structure was achieved by the tight fit of the individual pieces and I struggled with the final slot on each level. It's in use and if it collapses now, I'm buying a plastic one!

Next to the compost bin are the wheelie bins and the water butt. The green bin will be returned to the council as I don't pay for the green collection and the other two wheelie bins (once they've been cleaned) will be kept in the garage as this will be a lovely place to sit, but that can't happen until I get rid of the gravel that's currently bagged and stored in the garage. One idea is to train a plant to grow against the garage wall and along the side fence, and to have the bench in front of it. That's for the future though. The water butt still needs some attention. It was right in the corner before the paving was installed and now that it's been moved the connection from the drainpipe keeps breaking. It's decision time before I invest in getting it sorted as it may be best to replace it with a bigger one.

The bed you can see in the photo has now been planted with donated cosmos plants, courtesy of one of my pupil's grandma, which will provide some colour for this year. In the front of the bed I've planted some phlox (pink flowers), and over on the other side there is a camellia (white flowers). I plan to throw some perennial seed mix in this bed to fill up the space at the back and then sit back and see what happens!

I arranged for a friend of a friend who specialises in trees to have a look at the crab apple tree and it is now staked to try to straighten the trunk. I think it looks a bit extreme but he is confident that it will be effective so, although I ignored the other gardener's advice about the clematis (more about that later!), I'll heed his advice about the tree. For now!  

In the bed with the tree are some grasses (planted in their pots, following a suggestion by Laydkis) - carex 'ice dance' and scirpus cernus for now, although I think it unlikely I'll need any more once these have grown. There are also snowdrops and crocosmia bulbs planted around the stones. I just have to put the bark down to finish this bed for now, but will be adding more bulbs in the future. Amy suggested that I use gravel but I want a change and also thought that it might be too much stone all around.

There are also a couple of pink phlox plants and two different varieties of thyme. The phlox isn't doing too well in this bed so I bought the pinks you can see in the photo and which are now planted near the back fence so that the (eventual) sweep of colour across the garden won't be broken if the poorly plants don't recover.

I've now settled on reusing the pebbles to fill the gap around the edge of the paving.  I've done half of it but have to wait until I can get to the rest of the pebbles which are still in bags in the garage. The rain is doing a good job of cleaning them and they look a lot better.

We're going to have a working garden party to sort out the gravel, currently packed in rubble sacks that are way too heavy for me, or any of us feeble females, to move without hurting ourselves - they were packed and stacked by my young, strong nephew! Anyway, the plan is to split the contents of each bag between two or more sacks and move them out of the garage. I need some to finish off the front garden and two friends and a neighbour are taking what they want. The rest will be advertised free to collector - there's no point trying to sell it as there have been quite a few adverts for gravel lately, all free to collector. 

That's it for today ... part 2 to follow later in the week.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Memos, Mail, Me on Monday

An extremely wet Bank Holiday Monday wave to Sian and the rest of the Monday crew. 

Mail first, nothing too exciting delivered by Royal Mail this week. It was mostly junk mail and the only thing of interest was my postal voting papers for the election. That envelope is sitting on the table waiting for my attention later today. Emails have been much more exciting, all to do with my family tree. Ancestry is now recording 115 links to DNA matches and of those, I can now find four in my own tree.  That doesn't seem like many but I don't have my full tree on the system yet and the majority of those 115 people don't have a family tree registered at all, so I'm pleased with my progress so far. I am regularly receiving emails from people who are as keen as me to discover the linked ancestor.

Memos next, I went with friends to see 'Snatched', starring Goldie Hawn. There were some laugh out loud moments so I'd recommend it if you're in need of cheering up. I also went to see Keith James singing the songs of Leonard Cohen. I'd been to see him before when he was singing the songs of Cat Stevens and I loved his voice, guitar arrangements (sticking very close to the originals but with interesting added extras) and the fact that he didn't try to imitate Cat Stevens in any way, so I knew it would be a good evening. I have to admit that I don't like Leonard Cohen's voice and have never been able to get past it to actually listen to his songs, so this was an opportunity to discover his music. In the end, it turned out that I already knew a lot of his music as so many other musicians have covered his songs over the years. So, apart from the heat, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

And finally ... me! I've been to B&Q to take advantage of their Bank Holiday bargains on bedding plants, after seeing today's post by Joy.

It's mostly upright petunias plus one tray each of pansy and marigolds, and they will all go into pots, but not today. It's too wet to think about being outdoors so fingers crossed for a break in the downpour tomorrow, just long enough for me to get them all planted. That's not much to ask for, is it?

As for the rest of the day, I don't have anything planned but feel the urge to get on with things so will continue with bits and bobs of admin. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with the backlog of filing and non-urgent admin that I ignored at the start of the year. Getting up to date with it all will be a significant milestone for me.

Hope you all have a good day.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

My Sunday Photo

view from the back garden, taken earlier in the week


Saturday, 27 May 2017

The Simple Woman's Daybook | Sat 27th May 2017


Outside my window ... it is cooler and the sun is setting.

I am thinking ... that I need to investigate the cost of getting my Nikon camera kit serviced. The focus seems to be slightly off and the camera body and both lenses could do with a good clean. This is the camera Ced bought for me during his final illness so it is very precious to me. 

I am thankful ... that the depression is losing its hold on me. Realistically, I know that I still have a bit of an uphill struggle ahead of me, but I'm finding most days so much easier to cope with. I've started making plans for the coming months and I'm looking forward to what lies ahead.

In the kitchen ... there is a stack of dirty plates and cutlery waiting to be washed and put away. Maybe later!

I am wearing ... a baggy t-shirt and an old cotton skirt - I've been out in the garden this afternoon.

I am creating ... a much more detailed family tree. I'd previously only documented the direct line of ancestors but am now expanding each name on the tree. This is usually a winter pastime, but I'm keen to find a common ancestor with one of my newly found DNA links so it can't wait.

I am going ... to arrange a cinema night with friends - to see 'Baywatch'.  It's not my usual choice of film but we saw the trailer for it when we went to see 'Snatched' earlier in the week and decided to give it a try.

I am wondering ... whether to have a ceiling fan installed in my bedroom.

I am reading ... 'Missing Presumed' by Susie Steiner. I started it this morning and so far so good.

I am hoping ...  that the garage can fit my car in for repair next week. At the hottest time of the year so far the air conditioning has decided to stop working. I fear it is going to be expensive!

I am looking forward to ... the half term holiday next week. It'll be another staycation, just relaxing at home. 

I am learning ... to slow down!

Around the house ...  it's a complete mess. I've decided it is time to look at getting a cleaner!

I am pondering ... a big, big holiday in two or three years time ... two or three months in America. I'm making a list of what I want to see and do so any suggestions of 'must sees' will be very much appreciated.

One of my favourite things ... music, any genre.

A few plans for the rest of the week ... I don't have any plans at all. I'll be taking one day at a time and doing whatever I fancy on the day, even if that is to nothing.

A peek into my day ... It's been a strange sort of day. I woke up suffering with a headache, painful joints and muscles and I struggled to get out of bed this morning. I put it it down to dehydration after such a hot day yesterday, so I've been drinking plenty of fluids all day. I felt much better by lunchtime so have been pottering in the garden this afternoon - nothing too strenuous though, just a bit of weeding and some deadheading. I stayed at home this evening and have been reading and sleeping ... I don't think I'll sleep too well tonight now.

A favourite quote for today ...

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened", Dr Seuss

Friday, 26 May 2017

Taking a Moment ...

... to be present. To still my butterfly mind. To appreciate what's around me.

Late Thursday afternoon I have three private pupils. I left home early to do some shopping first, but that didn't take as long as expected so I set out on the drive to their home knowing that I'd arrive way too early for their lessons.  A bit of 'me time' seemed like a good idea so I pulled over into a lay-by to enjoy the view through the car window. 

A few minutes of doing nothing, then there was just enough time for a short walk through the field on the other side of the hedge. It was too hot to walk far, but a promising location for a cooler day.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Take Three Thursday

It's time to share three photos for Mary-Lou's weekly Take Three Thursday linkup. 

I chose to take mine in the garden this week, three images of white petalled flowers - fleabane, climbing rose and clematis. 

I didn't deliberately choose to photograph the dirtiest flower  ... honestly!

it hasn't grown tall enough to reach the trellis yet but it's started
 flowering and there's lots more buds to open over the next few days

this is going to be a new favourite ... I love it

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Yesterday's Adventure

Yesterday I volunteered to accompany Year 1 and Year 2 children on their end of project trip to see two local castles. I had responsibility for six year ones and was delighted when one of the girls said that she was glad I was 'being a year one with them'! So, as an honorary year one we found our seats on the coach and started the are-we-there-yet part of the journey.

This was our first destination, Farleigh Castle, just a couple of miles from the school. I didn't take my camera with me yesterday because of the regulations about photographing the children, so the photos in this post are ones I've taken on previous visits to the castles.

Here the children had a treasure hunt where they had to match the photos in their books to places and objects they could see around the castle. They also had room in their books to sketch anything they wanted to, and also the opportunity to read about the history of the castle in a very big, child friendly book. The highlight for a lot of them seemed to be either sitting on the grass for their snack (apples) as soon as we arrived, or sitting on the grass for their picnic lunch at midday! 

Then it was back on the coach for the longer ride to the next castle, Nunney, about a 20 minute trip and we passed the time with a rather challenging game of 'I Spy' - challenging because quite a few haven't yet grasped that they have to be able to actually 'see' whatever they are asking the others to guess! 

The attraction of this castle was the moat! There was only time for a quick look round, one sketch of the castle and a walk round the outside of the moat - keeping very close to the wall and as far away from the water as possible. Nobody fell in, so I'm counting this as a success!

So, back to the coach and the return journey to school. It was a tiring, but full of fun day. Brilliant weather (dry, warm, bit of a breeze but not too sunny), and the children were so well behaved. It was lovely to have the opportunity to chat to them and experience their developing sense of humour. Best quote of the day at the first castle was 'my dad used to live here when he was a pirate'!!

Monday, 22 May 2017

Memos, Mail, Me on Monday

A very sunny Monday afternoon wave to Sian and the other members of the Monday crew.

It was back to teaching today after a busy weekend. I wasn't looking forward to it on such a hot day but it's the last week of term so I'm keep the the half term holiday (next week) firmly fixed in my sights.

Today, I made time for my first on-the-way-to-school-picnic-lunch, taking time to just sit and enjoy some quiet time ... or at least as quiet as it can be when you're parked by a busy(ish) country road. I stayed in the car this time, sitting in the front passenger seat with all the doors open and the car parked at just the right angle to catch some of the breeze. This was my view - the Alton Barnes White Horse.

After school, it was back home for another first ... today was the first dry day to sit outside and use my new garden furniture. It was delivered during the week and I'm completely happy with my choice. It has padded cushion seats for the chairs and the bench but it was too hot to use them today, but just as comfy without them. Taking time to sit outside with a mug of coffee and a good book (I'm re-reading To Kill A Mockingbird) and just relax from the efforts of the day is a lovely way to wind down and will definitely be a regular part of my routine!

Here's a photo of the new furniture. Sorry, it's not that wonky really; the photo was taken with my phone and I can't manage to straighten the image. You get the idea anyway.

Hope you all have a good week.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Take Three Thursday

I stayed away much longer than I'd planned and am now playing get-my-act-together at home.

Here's three photos of leaves/raindrops for Mary-Lou's Take Three Thursday.


Wednesday, 10 May 2017

A Quick Update

It's another quick post today but for a much better reason than yesterday. I've spent the afternoon in the garden, planting all my new goodies ... sorry, but I haven't taken any photos yet. As soon as I finish this post, I'll be packing and then I'm disappearing for a few days (so I won't be updating my blog) as I'm going to stay with friends. 

I'll do some photos of the garden when I get back.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Faffing About!

I've only got time for a quick post today. I've wasted most of the day faffing about trying to balance the end of year accounts for the band. Not really part of my role, but it has to be done and it looked like it wouldn't get done if I hadn't taken it on. I think I must have 'mug' written across my forehead!

My plan was to get up early and get it done, thinking it would only take about an hour at most. I was £30 adrift and I've spent all day, apart from an hour to have my hair cut, looking for the error or omission. I've just found it - a column added up incorrectly, which I'd checked I don't know how many times during the day! Anyway, it's all done now and I can pass the accounts back to the person who should be doing the work and forget all about it.

I'm going to have a soak in the bath to relax, get something to eat, and then I'm off to the book group meeting for the evening. At least the day is ending well!

Monday, 8 May 2017

Memos, Mail, Me on Monday

A cheerful Monday morning wave to Sian and the other Mondayers. 

Mail first ... I actually received quite a few parcels during the week but I'm only going to tell you about two of them this morning. The rest were destined for the garden so you will hear about them later in the week when I do a garden update. I'll start with the not-so-happy mail; I had some book tokens to use up so ordered a photography workbook from Amazon and when it arrived I was disappointed to see that a lot of the pages were ripped. Most definitely not what I expect for a brand new book. It's on it's way back for a refund and I'll use the money for something else, but I don't know what yet.  If I'm honest, I'm not too disappointed as a quick glance through confirmed that the contents were too basic for me, so I probably would have returned it anyway. 

I forgot to take a photo of the book, but I did take a photo of my definitely-staying-love-it happy mail.

It's not the best of photos as it's still covered in shrink-wrap and I struggled a bit with reflections, but this canvas will be on the wall in the third bedroom once it's decorated. I saw it advertised on Wayfair, fell in love with it, and a few days later, here it is!

On to the something new ... Ancestry is now showing 107 possible connections to me. I read up on how to use the information to identify common ancestors and from that have identified four links as the most likely to lead to the information I need on my paternal line (from the data available to me at present). Genealogy is usually a winter pastime for me but this is quite simply too exciting to wait!

Another 'new' is finding a new-to-me local walk, over fields towards the river instead of my usual route along the canal towpath. No photos of that yet though.

I don't have to work this week and will be spending most of the days at home, pottering and waiting for deliveries of plants. Tonight there is a band committee meeting to agree marketing material (it's going to take ages, I can feel a headache coming on at the thought of it!), and tomorrow night it's the monthly book group meeting (which'll be good because the pub where we meet does the best bowl of chips ever!). I had friends to stay on Saturday night so I cooked us a meal and we talked the night away, catching up on all the news. They've gone on down to Devon now but will call in on their way home mid week and stay overnight again. 

On Friday, it would have been Ced's 78th birthday. When he died I decided that I'd do something special on or near his birthday in celebration both of his life and our relationship, but I still have to decide what I want to do this year. Whatever I settle on will happen sometime this week.

Hope you all have a good week and have lots to look forward to.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

My Sunday Photo

a visitor to the marina


Saturday, 6 May 2017

The First Day of My Holiday

It's the dreaded SATS exams in UK schools next week so I won't be working - I am officially on holiday. I'm not going away, I think it's now called a 'staycation', and I'm ready for the break.

I had band practice this morning and arrived home to find that some of the plants I ordered had been delivered. I won't tell you what they are as there are more expected, and once they've all been planted I'll do another garden update.

I did a bit of food shopping on the way home from band and treated myself to these flowers and a Danish pastry, which has already been eaten! I don't need to go out for anything else so I can now pull up the drawbridge and shut out the rest of the world for the remainder of the weekend.

I have friends coming to stay on Monday so fingers crossed that it stays dry and we can do a few touristy type things.

Friday, 5 May 2017

5 in 5 | Around the Marina

I'm linking with Sandie @ itchifingers for her monthly 5 in 5 link up, and sharing some random photos taken within five minutes this afternoon at the marina.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Take Three Thursday

Linking with Mary-Lou @ Patio Postcards for her weekly photo meme, sharing three photos with a common theme.

My three photos for today are of the 'pictures' I can see in some the garden paving. It's fossilised Indian sandstone and I realised, after I'd taken the photos, that I should have made them wet to enhance the colours. Sorry!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

A Rock Garden

This is a bit of an experiment!

I'd planned to create a rockery type arrangement in this bed - the crab apple tree is at the other end, you can just see part of the stake on the left of the photo. In my mind I was seeing it as the sort of rockery with lots of alpine planting but yesterday I was browsing in the garden centre (can't stay away!) and saw these rocks. One quick change of mind later, and I bought a couple together with some grasses to see if I'm happy with how it will look. It's now going to be a selection of grasses with some of these larger rocks arranged in the space. So far I like how it looks but will need to buy some more rocks to get a better idea of the finished result.

A question for all the experienced gardeners out there. Will it be okay to use a covering of bark for weed control or will I (in some way I haven't thought of) be creating problems for myself? Also, do you have any suggestions for grasses that are non-invasive and reasonably low growing (say about 2 feet max). I'd like to add a variety of textures to add interest but which doesn't detract from the tree.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017


Well so much for a quiet day yesterday. Despite planning a quiet home alone type of day, I somehow became 'the person to see' and had a steady stream of visitors from mid morning through to late afternoon. In between, I fitted in a flying visit to the garden centre (didn't buy anything), made a list of everything in the freezers, scanned some documents for Lauren, ordered some goodies, and sorted through another box of stuff.

This week has to be about restocking the freezers. I've made a list and will go shopping later, after I finish teaching at 3 pm. I'm going for a slightly different approach this time. Usually, I spend a couple of days cooking non-stop but this time will cook a different meal every day and then freeze the extra portions. It'll take a bit longer to fill the freezer but shouldn't be as time consuming as my usual approach. Today I'll be having chilli so will end up with four main meal size portions, one to eat and three to freeze. I'll also make some pea and ham soup (using the soup maker), giving six lunch size portions to freeze. 

The climber in the front garden has started to flower and has put on a growth spurt with all the rain we've been having, so today or tomorrow I must give it some attention and fix it to the trellis properly. It's a Solanum lacuna 'Album', more commonly called jasmine nightshade. I'm definitely going to have to learn how to photograph white flowers properly!

The white rhododendron (Madame Masson) is also starting to flower but is looking suspiciously pink in places!

I've found the compost bin I want and have ordered it, hopefully for delivery tomorrow. I then have to decide if I want to paint it or just leave it as the natural wood. I also ordered a couple of shrubs, some bulbs and a few perennials for the garden but they won't be here until next week. I'm debating with myself on whether to do a gardening notebook/scrapbook; part of me thinks it'll be fun and useful but a bigger part of me isn't sure! 

This evening will be put to good use, finishing this month's book ready for the book group meeting next Tuesday. We went for something lighthearted this time, The Burning Man by Christopher Fowler, and I'm enjoying it so far.  I like the two main characters, find them quirky and fun, and as there are several more books featuring them I'll be looking out for others to read. As if I don't have enough books! Anyway, I'm just over half way through with another 170 pages to go so should easily get to the end tonight. I have a friend coming to stay for a couple of days so I want to get it out of the way and know it's done.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Memos, Mail, Me on Monday

A happy May Day wave to Sian and all the other Monday posters. I'd opted for a quiet, home alone, Bank Holiday weekend and I'm thankful I made that choice. Sleep is still very elusive and I tire easily as a result, so this weekend was an opportunity to chill and recharge the batteries for the week ahead.

I'm not sure that I really have anything new to tell you as I've already mentioned receiving the books from my sister, and told you about the crabapple tree in previous posts. Hang on a mo while I have a think  ....


okay, thought of something ... when I received my Ancestry DNA results I was originally notified of 96 links to potential 2nd, 3rd or 4th cousins. In the space of a week, that number has grown to 102 links and I've already received messages from some of them and have contacted others, trying to work out who our common ancestor is. Some I already knew (on paper), but it looks like it may now be possible to make a start on my paternal line, the one I was completely stuck on. The vast majority of the potential links will need a lot of research to identify the common ancestor as I don't recognise any of the surnames at all. Interestingly, a lot of the links are based in the USA, whereas all my previous research had only found connections in the UK and Ireland. I'm excited about the possibilities this is opening up. 

And that's all I have to tell you this time. I have another quiet day planned, although I think Julie and her youngest daughter will call in at some time during the day. I'm going to carry on with some online research, not ancestors, but plants and interesting garden stuff. I'm looking for a beehive shaped compost bin and also some ideas for perennials to fill the planting pockets that run down the right hand side of the garden.