Thursday, 15 December 2011

The view from here

I honestly thought I would write SOMETHING a bit sooner but then life has a way of getting in the way, and who knew what was around the corner.
It's been an age since Betty AKA my Creative Director featured here and, at the risk of appearing like a batty cat woman, today was an appropriate day to feature her on the front cover as it were. Inspired by a new find on the net, Susan at e-i-e-i-omg (what a great name!) I thought it was well beyond an acceptable timeframe for saying nothing. Not that I believe anyone at all will even be bothering to check in any more....(shout if you do).

Summer was upon us, in fact it had all but gone on our return from Kefalonia (and man that was hot). The garden harvesting was in full swing, work was busy, life was normal.
5th August 6.00am 'Bleep' went the cat flap. The lovely new high tech, chip reading, installed in a glass panel at an exorbitant cost cat flap designed to keep the right cats in and importantly out, as a certain cat in the neighbourhood was inclined to pay us ininvited visits.
6.30am I'm afraid some cats like the taste of birds a whole lot more than others. Thankfully Betty has only ever really been interested in the pre-cooked variety or at least the 'delivered to your door' type i.e. if Cat A has done all the work and she moves in to clear up. I'm afraid Basil is in the Cat A category and at this point, I spied him enjoying his latest target over on the lawn. I stood and watched. I am not squeamish and in fact had to finish one off for him earlier this year as his boisterous play was not the kindest thing to observe, clearly tweety was on his way.
7.00am 'Bleep' "Basil, you are a bad boy...we saw you" "Are you coming in now? Are you done?" "No you can't come in here, I'm going for a shower" "Go on, out"
7.10am. Doorbell. "Do you have a white cat?" "I'm really sorry"........
We were always nervous about that road. Not an A road, not a city road, but our busy residential road and a risk. A risk highlighted by the lady from the cat rescue centre weighed up against not re-homing cats who end up in there for months and months. A risk we took. And lost.
Betty has been a fixture for 11 years. She's always been very shy, and the 'neighbourly' cat to which I referred had become something of a nuisance to the degree that she'd been afraid to leave the house some times, the cause of cystitis brought on by stress. Long story short, we decided to fight fire with fire and Basil was brought in to reclaim some territory out there. He took to the task like a man and those pretty pink ears were soon battled scarred and leathery. Betty even started to poke around outdoors a bit more, and join in the 'negotiations' in a kind of two pronged attack; her brains, his brawn.
But Basil, like thousands before him, was no match for half a ton of moving metal. Gone in the blink of an eye.
Monday 12th December
6.00am Puddle on the bedroom floor. Cystitis. Vet. £62

Tuesday 13th December
5am Twelve puddles on.............the bed. This is no longer cystitis. There's blood.
5am-8.30am A puddle every 30 mins.
8.30am "Hello? .....It's alot worse" "Bring her in"
We have a great vet and thankfully he is just around the corner; Betty screams from the minute she is 'encaged'.
Thursday 15th December
6.15pm. She's back home. A little bald patch. A bloody test tube of bladder stones as a souvenir. £630. And she's purring her little head off.
Worth every penny.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Just add Basil

Sooooo, ok back in January I was bemoaning the lack of colour around here. And at some point I also promised to be a regular blogger again. Well, I apologise for the latter if you are one of my six (six!) followers - thankyou those of you who've chosen to keep up with my pathetic efforts! It's a complicated story but boils down to sharing one laptop to run two businesses, keep up to date with news (we have no TV) and the laptop in question having the most annoying whiney sound, dodgy screen and fickle nature. Anyway, colour in the garden has or soon will be sorted thanks to my inheritance, pictured above. If you've read this blog over the last year, you'll know about my dear sis. Lesley had a passion for gardening that knew no bounds. During the hardest days of her ongoing treatment, the garden and veg patch were her paradise & solace. During 2009 she acquired a greenhouse - a gift, the sort that gardeners are so good at! Free to anyone who will take it away. And so, that greenhouse was carefully photographed (very important if you have any chance putting it back together again), dismantled and stored in the allotment shed awaiting the right time. Unfortunately for Lesley, the right time never came and with her passing, we had to let the allotment go; the practicalities of keeping it on were just unworkable. But, the greenhouse had to be saved! And I, who had longed for one too, had now inherited it along with a gazillion packets of seeds, you see pictured at the top. Last year was just crazy and although, thanks to a kind neighbour & Mum & Dad, we did have time to plant a few tomatoes and peppers, giving us a harvest before the Summer was out, I didn't get into my stride at all.
Until Spring 2011 that is. I am sure I have waaaaay too many plants for the limited space available but inspired by a fantastic course at West Dean College (remember my chilli pictures) I have gone all out for a bumper crop of pretty much everything. If I do have too many plants, the nicest thing will be giving them away to friends and family or selling them for the church funds - whatever, I don't care, as long as I am growing.

And Basil?

Well, actually I haven't sown any yet!

No, he's the cute new addition to the family who's got Betty in a daydream.

Like me, he's loving the garden.

And If there's another 3 month gap between posts, it may well be because I'm curled up with this little chap.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

In need of greens (and reds, yellows, purples....)

Gosh, I really need some colour right now, don't you?

January really is a tough month; reality bites with the continuing dark days of Winter, the post-Christmas blues (both money AND trousers tight!)....but, Spring is coming. Today I got outside and inspected the very wet borders and there are signs of Spring, just a little bit here and there poking out the ground from under sodden leaf fall.

I had meant to post pictures of my very orderly broad (fava) bean patch that survived the snow and is looking, so far, so good. And, best discovery of the day, the garlic is up! Planted at the same time as the broad beans, which are now a good 4" high, the garlic has finally decided to make an appearance. It's my first time growing either, so I am, as you can tell, a bit excited. Looking forward to getting alot more from the garden this year (to be less reliant on store bought produce) which is both enjoyable to grow and of course, much better to eat. I can't tell you how I rhapsodised about cucumbers last year, but I am not kidding, I was transported back to my childhood just tasting a REAL cucumber!

Talking of which, if you are unfamiliar with the building below, (see Susan's comment), it's commonly known as the Gherkin, which in America would be a dill pickle. Now do you get it? I think the pickle building sounds so much better!

Wishing any onlookers a belated Happy New Year and hoping that those of you passing by, might leave a comment, pickle related or otherwise.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Architectural Wonder

Went here today.

Bit disappointed it wasn't in a big jar of vinegar.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

To this!

Perhaps not alot of snow by your standards, wherever you are looking in from, but enough to be 'snowed in' round these parts.

And very pretty if you don't need to be somewhere.

If you're wondering, soon after I took this, I did go and clear the bird table & bath so that the birds had some food & water. If you put out food for the birds, don't forget to keep the supplies up, especially water in the cold weather. And if like me, you are bird crazy, here's a great book idea for Christmas. I got mine as an early birthday present, thanks Dave. X

Even the most common birds are fascinating if you watch them for a while, and this chap (maybe a she, haven't got that far in the book yet!) is part of a small colony that regularly hang out beside the kitchen window.

A word of warning if you do hang feeders, be prepared to be sweeping up grain every day, so don't hang them over precious plants or areas where you want to avoid weeds. But the dropped seed provides for the ground feeders, so try and not be too precious about the mess.

Whatever the weather this weekend, make like a character in Mary Poppins, and feed the birds. (Although you'll find it's considerably more than tuppence a pound these days).

Have a great weekend.

Friday, 26 November 2010

A change is as good as a rest

From this......
To this.

I really should have had a before, before the after shot (pre-demolition) but you know how you live with things for such a long time, that you don't really see the problem. Or see how bad it is. Or see how you could have done so much better.


Well, now's not the time.

But my garden has seen a major transformation this Summer. And no, that's not why I haven't posted for 7 months, it didn't take that long! There were other things happening.....

I wake up every morning and look out on this scene and I could not feel happier about it. From the greenhouse, inherited from my dear sister who never got to see it put up, to the lawn (the third one I've done - this one is staying!), to the rose against the wall on the right (now added to since this shot is about 2 months old) - all of it makes me smile a big beaming smile.

ALOT has changed this year, some of it I want to share here...and some, well, those who've been around me will know, is perhaps left in the past.

If anyone out there still looks in on these pages, I hope to keep a more regular appointment with you.

But if I don't, you'll find me, most likely, in the garden.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Beauty is in the eye ....of a needle

I have a thing about patchwork quilts. And if you've been paying attention, you'll know I started one last year. It has progressed slowly, as with everything outside of work, a hobby is a luxury these days, whatever your job it seems. I have even chucked out the time-suck that is tv which I thought would free up a few hours each night but now I find that whereas I used to sew no matter what mindless crud was on the box, now I'm always just doing stuff! No matter.

So, I was thrilled to buy an original, hand stitched, genuine American quilt during my travels - isn't she a beauty? And a bargain at $99. Made around 1900, yes it's worn & faded, but so would you be aged 110. I think it's darling. Check out the detail.

Picked up a few other treasures too; wool, string, rocks (I know, say it, I'm weird) and some more regular souvenirs...

That corn sack will be turned into a wall hanging, the wool may be washed and spun but right now it smells of lanolin and memories; the Dr Pepper crate is a shelf unit waiting to happen (and don't ask what came all the way home alive in it, you don't want to know).

And the quilt? What else but spread across the bed as her maker intended all those years ago.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Sheep Deprivation

Bleary eyed and missing those critters.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

I Heart Missouri

Those of you who have been following where I've been this past week, will perhaps know a little bit about the farm and if so, will know there are an unusually high number of heart shaped rocks to be found on the property. In my week there, I picked up 3 and probably spotted half a dozen others.

Whatever the geological reasons may be, I prefer to think there are other forces at play. During my week long stay, I was truly welcomed into the home and hearts of Susan & Joe and brought back with me (along with the rocks!) a head full of happy memories which will stay with me a lifetime.

As I sift through the 200+ photographs and get through the jetlag (ughh), my heart aches for the wide open spaces I've left behind. Not to mention the Good food, Great company and Gorgeous lambs.

It's 'G' year for lamb names this year, read this for an explanation on naming and some useful background on the flock breeds. Whilst my naming suggestion for the little girl pictured above has yet to be taken up (G-Spot.....and what is wrong with that?!), did you notice something over her right shoulder?

Go on, take a closer look.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Bloggers of the World Unite!

Finally, I am setting off to a place I have heard/read about for 3 years. From finding a link following a radio show about food bloggers, I have enjoyed a wonderful 'penpal' type relationship with Susan from the farm. This really is the power of the net, enhancing what humans have always had a need to do - communicate, share and discover.
Wishing you all a Happy Easter.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

2000 watt smile

Lesley, my dear sister

21/06/62 - 12/02/10

I've held off posting something so private, and painful in part because I worried someone looking in would be a friend I have yet to tell and in part because a blog posting seemed a trite way of communicating a personal sentiment. But, it's 2010. I have a blog because all along, I wanted to share thoughts, pictures, feelings to friends, family and a community of perhaps future friends - that's the power of the internet.

I also wasn't sure of my choice of picture - this was taken last Spring and clearly, the physical side effects of chemotherapy were already in train. There are perhaps, more flattering photos in our family album.

However, I keep returning, not only to this photo, which I love, for that wonderful smile and the memories that come back but also since my last, almost prophetic posting, I'm reminded that there was a time when I was grateful for the days on which she sounded good. None of us knew then just how little time was left.

I still have reasons to be cheerful and I have learned much about my sister in the days since her passing. And the most important lesson is one she inspired, and that is to keep smiling.

Smile though your heart is aching

Smile even though it's breaking

When there are clouds in the sky,

you'll get by

If you smile through your fear and sorrow

Smile and maybe tomorrow

You'll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness

Hide every trace of sadness

Although a tear may be ever so near

That's the time you must keep on trying

Smile, what's the use of crying?

You'll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just smile

That's the time you must keep on trying

Smile, what's the use of crying?

You'll find that life is still worthwhile

If you just smile

Friday, 8 January 2010

Reasons to be cheerful

The little robin, perched on top, enjoying the winter sun
Helping a friend in need
My tax bill being far less than I budgeted for
Skype-ing friends in far-flung places
Spotting a forgotten box of chocolate from Christmas sat on the shelf
Cracking the seal on a new bottle of gin!
Planning a trip
Seeing a neighbour doing great following a stroke
Remembering fun stuff
My sister sounding good today.

Whatever your plans this weekend, take time out to remind yourself of the good things in life.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Sunday, 20 December 2009

The tide is turning

Like most people, I'm looking back on the year and reflecting. There's been too much drama, not enough laughter and sometimes it's just been a blur.
But the year is ending on a much more positive footing and I can't wait for a new beginning.
Those of you expecting a Christmas card from me (in vain) I'm sorry; you'll understand why when we speak. I'll find you all in 2010 and make up for it.
On this cold December day, stay warm, stay healthy and stay in touch!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Square Eyes

That winter project, 2"X2".