Category Archives: Gardening

‘….the times they are a changing’……

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I am sitting and writing this on my own MacBook Pro which (with birthday money from my brother) I bought on eBay.  So quick and easy to write but the actual doing was a trial of endurance, nervous tension and much research.  And it was also quite a buzz.  And had a Happy Ending.  Thank goodness.

And so this year is drawing to an end and I realise I have been blogging for approximately a year.  All started because on sad reflection and facing reality I realised I couldn’t afford to run a car.  Pretty scary actually after having borrowed or owned a car for the last 50 years.   (I keep writing and thinking in BIG numbers when thinking about memories etc.  – I mean 50 years sounds ancient!)  But anyway I have managed fine without a four wheeled friend – my little bus pass allows me the travel that I need or fancy and on the days when I vaguely think ‘now if I had a car……..’ I realise that I have slowly developed a different way of thinking.  What you can’t have you can’t have so get on with it!!! And I do.  But ….  how about a motorbike  …. anything is possible … maybe ….

It hasn’t been an easy year but like most people I just try to enjoy the good moments and scramble through those grey periods .  My wonderful Polytunnel is up and running – the garden is well, mine.  In other words I trim and dig, plant and weed, always enjoying myself and when I stop enjoying myself I stop and read a book,listen to music, cook, knit or blog or browse the extraordinary world wide web.  The weather this summer and autumn has been quite wonderful in fact to hot for me but as I am retired I can retire under my nice shady tree.  Suddenly hot days are no longer a trial.  Cold drink, good book, very nice, thank you.

I have been gently knitting away as the days shortened and have put together a little collection of fingerless gloves.  My wonderful niece Katie Lynn who has  created and developed her business Molten Wonky   (I am trying to add a link here  but ……she is on Facebook and has a website really lovely bright, original fused glass designs )  Anyway she is selling them for me (hopefully!).  And I am excited about it all.  I need this little buzz and so enjoy the designing and making.  So my workroom is feeling much more positive with some sort of structure developing.  Because not only am I knitting but I have started a module with the Open University in Maths.  And my course has started and I am a student!  Now where this journey will take me I have no idea but I know that two opportunities have opened for me to use as I will  and I am strangely nervous and thrilled at the same time………you really are never to old to learn about yourself and your capabilities.  And obviously the background  to all this is littered with tears and doubts, fears and confusion, disappointment and self-pity.  Thank goodness for the kindness of everyday folk and the loving toleration from the special people in our lives (and of course the dog, the cat and 3 chickens!).

This is the first post I’ve written on my wonderful MacBook Pro so I will now try to stick some photos on but time and my patience with my own ineptitude could run out before I manage.  Listen I don’t have time for too much ramblings I have THINGS to do!  Gloves don’t knit themselves and study needs strict attention and with both if you don’t get the details right you miss the ultimate satisfaction.

First snow - early morning - all gone by the evening.

First snow – early morning – all gone by the evening.

autumn leaves - inspiring

autumn leaves – inspiring

a gaggle of gloves

a gaggle of gloves

wonderful sunflower planted by the birds outside the front porch

wonderful sunflower planted by the birds outside the front porch

comparing truths….

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its a strange little word Truth because it has so many disguises.  In fact its the most untruthful word there is as it bends and sways, changing form and direction always willing to please whoever is insisting their vision/feeling/direction/words are correct and are in fact, the truth.  Its only recently that this truth has hit me so forceable and I believe it is my age.  I listen to todays politicians with almost horror as I hear the same platitudes, the same great plans and repetitive ideas, the same ‘truths’, the same lies in fact the menu hasn’t changed one jot.  I no longer shout at the radio/television just turn it off or over to something else.  I feel like that because I really have heard it all before but many younger folk are also turning off or over because they don’t believe a word and I just can’t blame them.  Who does actually run this country or any country?  Money begets power and to keep the power you need more money.  So the powerful have always to bend and sway in the name of truth to maintain their position with one eye on their competitors and the other on the general mass who are fed endless garbage through the usual channels (owed and run by the rich and powerful!).  And even when some new events shocks us  (e.g. Hillsborough, bankers , ‘phone hacking,  treatment in Carehomes, police making false statements etce.tc.) we believe ‘well, surely someone must accept or be forced to accept blame for this ‘ but nothing really happens just the usual lot of words (where the word truth appears a lot) and the inevitable enquiry costing thousands to find the ‘truth’.   Yet Charlie & Mary Muggins down the road who are quite prepared to jog along quietly and accept the advice and go along with the ideas are now told their pension will be slashed, their childs education is rubbish, their local hospital is filthy and its pot luck if they find a ‘caring’ nurse, and their jobs are probably on the line or at least their pay will be static for a couple of years, so what truth do they have to face?  I am neither right wing nor left wing in fact as with most people I have a right wing and a left wing  hoping to stay balanced.  For me the only solution is a good, honest dictator and that really is fantasyland but at least I’d know where to aim my rotten eggs.

Phew I don’t really know where that came from.  Maybe its the shame I feel that our society is still going on and on about the same problems which have irked us for the last 40 odd years but we find the money to go to war and interfere with other societies as though we have solved all the problems.  Oh dear, there are so many hidden agendas going  on and I for one just don’t trust those men in suits with their slippery smiles.  Which leaves me a rather cynical OAP.   I do find it very depressing.  So thank goodness for music, and gardening and knitting and OU (I’m just about to start a Mathamatics module) and friends and well, lots of things.  I’m lucky with my tiny grain of sand and accept full responsibility for my problems.  But I really resent what my government is doing with my vote and I have not been very happy and certainly not proud of the politics of this country for many years.  I accept there are many worse regimes (and I expect we sell them weaponry) but I will not believe we can keep on pandering to the few getting very rich and therefore having all the power.  It does not make sense that being good at gathering wealth gives you a right to interfere with the running of society.  There are good men and women out there whose skills and intelligence, visions and imaginative ideas are not tied into making loads of money.  Their ambitions are aimed much higher from promoting and persuading our society to pull together somehow so we all feel part of a great scheme and all matter in its construction and maintenance – I believe they are out there.   But I hope they go out and live a bit of real life before they become politicians because there are some things you cannot explain unless you’ve experienced it.  And I do accept that my truth may not be your truth but as long as they are both honestly held we’ll agree to differ and maybe even sway and bend a bit and find a new truth!

weeding IS theraputic…….

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I am a ‘can I go out to play’ sort of  gardener and also a very sweaty one and all together look like someone you would not like to met ANYWHERE at ANYTIME!  Because once the flies get going I also swear liberally and with gusto – but that is not the only therapy.  For when all the sweat and swearing has finished and you have a shower and scrub your filthy feet then make a nice cup of tea and your face has lost its drunken flush you wander out to see what was achieved.  A patch of nice clear rich brown soil planted with three lilies saved from imminent destruction in B  & Q.  I hope they will be part of a red/yellow/orange section of the border.  But the most theraputic part of this bit of gardening was digging and tearing out a plant I thought was rather pretty and has turned out to be an invasive, treacherous wicked fiend who tramples over all around and about and wipes them out.  But no more I now have its number and from now on it will NOT be allowed to wander far.    In truth I have gone right of the damn thing and will eventually get rid of any bits lurking anywhere!  So beware.

Yep, that little bit of brown soil is all I'm going on about!

Yep, that little bit of brown soil is all I’m going on about!

I’m not sure whether to write this next bit but its part of how it is.  As I ripped and dug and pulled out the roots of this plant, I thought of cancer.  My husband died of cancer and I miss that man almost unbearably at times  I sometimes wonder how I go on breathing but I do and will until my time comes.  So I garden with joy and sorrow for both of us.  He was a painter and I know his easel would have been outside all this wonderful summer and with great energy, skill and colour he would have been totally engaged in catching the vibrant days this sizzling summer has produced (and done a quick cartoon of his glamourous wife busy digging, sweating and swearing ) and both of us thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

If you are lucky enough to have a life you should live it as full and as honestly as you can – that is what I have to repeat to myself daily and I can hear Colin in my head and feel him in my heart just steadily willing me onwards and upwards.

What is your therapy for those hard days or do you just grit your teeth and hope the morrow will dawn with a brighter light.

pphhhhhhh…….what a SIZZLER

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just a few  images of my summer – being retired means you can relish every minute!

beautiful Oriental poppies full of style, colour and delicate beauty

beautiful Oriental poppies full of style, colour and delicate beauty

BUT  even those beauties suffer from 'the morning after the night before' look - still look stunning though in a bedraggled way!

BUT even those beauties suffer from ‘the morning after the night before’ look – still look stunning though in a bedraggled way!

my favorite plant, well one of them - what a colour and I love the black  centre

my favorite plant, well one of them – what a colour and I love the black centre

this Campanula has blown me away this year - it obviously loves sunbathing!

this Campanula has blown me away this year – it obviously loves sunbathing!

never seen these emerge before but yet another delight

never seen these emerge before but yet another delight

wall art - obviously this hot weather has bought forth little shy plants

wall art – obviously this hot weather has bought forth little shy plants

my cool spot under the copper sycamore

my cool spot under the copper sycamore

wish I could grow chickens in a pot but no, this one thought I'd made her a nice dust bath!

wish I could grow chickens in a pot but no, this one thought I’d made her a nice dust bath!                                

on Knuckles and my daily walk we found some beautiful Butterfly orchids

on Knuckles and my daily walk we found some beautiful Butterfly orchids

 natures sculpture -this always reminds me when I'm a bit down that a life with no heart is no life at all - hope this weather is  not melting you.

natures sculpture -this always reminds me when I’m a bit down that a life with no heart is no life at all – hope this weather is not melting you.Knuckles having a cool off - I even have a paddle and it is so....... C O O L   aahhhh! Knuckles having a cool off – I even have a paddle and it is so……. C O O L aahhhh!

tunnel vision is up and running thanks to William

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the SWEAT

the SWEAT

had to cut the hedge right back to dig the trench - not in the original scenario!

had to cut the hedge right back to dig the trench – not in the original scenario!

 at last - covering the skeleton - after quite a bit  thought as we laid out the 11.2mx9.2m polythene to drape over the supports - very nerve wracking! All sweat, no blood, or tears ( or the dreaded actual tear as in rip)!

at last – covering the skeleton – after quite a bit thought as we laid out the 11.2mx9.2m polythene to drape over the supports – very nerve wracking!
All sweat, no blood, or tears ( or the dreaded actual tear as in rip)!

you take the soil etc out then guess what you put it all back - its called ballist (and b........y hard slog)!

you take the soil etc out then guess what you put it all back – its called ballist (and b……..y hard slog)!

tomato and peppers plants cheering when they see the polytunnel looking sleek and secure - at last a proper home!

tomato and peppers plants cheering when they see the polytunnel looking sleek and secure – at last a proper home!

and the workers celebrate with fresh baked chocolate brownies.

and the workers celebrate with fresh baked chocolate brownies.

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my potting shed is up and ready and I love it!

If you really enjoy doing something and its a feasible fantasy just go for it – you can make things happen with a bit of thought, help and courage. Sometimes dreams stay as dreams (I have plenty of them!) but if you set your sites within your own perimeter so much can be achieved and so much pleasure derived. By the way this was a time when I missed my car but guess what within 20 minutes I’m onto the bus with my shopper and collect the timber we needed – no problem. And enjoyed a little rest going in and out of town plus chatting to a neighbour! Guess what I bored him with!!!the wonders of polytunnels. Now I think about it there was a look of gratitude as the wee bus trundled into sight.

I am so often inspired by reading other blogs there is so much energy and love out there so thank you inspiring bloggers who live a life however seemingly small.  My world is tiny but it is mine and I love and try and cherish it.  Sometimes I’m in the zone and nothing can faze me but…….well there is always a butt so just kick it very hard and move on!

trying to find my spring….

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times are hard.  It seems the whole world is struggling and I’m in there thrashing about with the best of them.

But I get on my local bus and Alan the driver always greets me by name as he does most of his passengers.  And if Davy, who uses his bus pass to gently while away the day by just sitting and observing to and fro on the local journey up past the Beauly Firth, can help someone with a pram or a suitcase he does with pleasure and a shy smile.  People are basically kind and friendly – we all need a pat on the back occasionally and we all blossom when we are acknowledged for just being a person.  Because I am retired and my hobbies are quite isolating climbing onto ‘my’ transport taking me into the ‘world’ has become a simple pleasure.  Now and then I do miss not having a car but I only have to look at the debit and credit accounts on owning a car and I know for once I’m on the right side.

Not long ago I signed up for a course at the Highland Printmakers Studio ( should be able to link this but sorry I haven’t got there yet). A really great place full of creative energy and very helpful, friendly artists who are eager to share their enthusiasm.  As I have no knowledge, or experience of printmaking I just found a course that still had room which was Collagraph.  Never heard of it but thats what I wanted to go and tackle the unknown!  Next week is the last of a 6 week course and I have really enjoyed myself.  Back to childhood covered in glue and ink, thank goodness for aprons.   I have started drawing again I have been made more aware of shapes and textures and my first love colour was given free rein but in a new constrained way.  I loved the way you created a ‘block’ you printed from with paper, card, bits of fabric, cotton thread, string pretty much anything that would work all torn or cut into shapes and glued onto card – the net bag lemons and oranges often come in add brilliant texture.. Then you applied printing inks – hard work this as you had to rub into all the edges then remove some etc etc etc.  or you used a print roller for a different effect.  The inking is up very interesting  as there is always an unknown element after its been under the press.  So exciting as all the protective layers are stripped away and you gently peel the dampened paper of the block to either a shocked silence or a little yelp of pleasure.  I am now busy at home making a ‘block’ for the last session – its been a fun experience and pushed me gently along a path I know I want to explore and enjoy much more.

Just wish the weather would cheer up a bit.  But the potatoes are coming through and so are the cabbages and leeks must check on the broad beans.  Indoors my tomatoes seeds have germinated as have the cucumbers and peppers so now I have to nurture them onwards and upwards.  The polytunnel eventually gave up the ghost this winter but we can re-cover it so all will be ready (hopefully) by the time the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers need to be in their warmer home to grow and produce some wonderful fruits.  I realise with gardening you either love it or tolerate it or hate it. Like  most things I need to get into the mood but once in I love to garden.  For me its a great big adventure playground and in fact this year I am going to put up our big green canvas tent to use as a summer house  plus the barbecue and a mattress and a sleeping  bag and my summer holidays are sorted.  The dog will be delighted! If you want to join me bring a tent  (and the sun) I’ve plenty of room and you’d be very welcome!

not getting netted ……

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….. I try not to be deviated from my intended pursuit. But it is so easy to be deviated. But once you do wander away from your intentions well, its just a jungle of information, facts, people, opinions most of them fascinating and stimulating BUT unless I have put aside the time to pursue this labyrinth of new stuff my day just disappears puff all into the NET. I emerge blinking, brain fizzing and very confused. I only wanted to find out a bit more about snowdrops! As in the garden we have 3 species the pretty little usual one, one with a double centre and the adorable frilly petalled one in the photo. But I was pathetic and gave in to peering at other alluring stuff which has got me nowhere except to once more proclaim I am but a speck of dust in this wonderful world. So be it.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERABut even a speck of dust has to settle somewhere and luckily I am very settled (and quite safe from a fevered keen dust remover). My home is surrounded by my garden which is surrounded by a very beautiful aged stone wall. We are having the most stunning weather at the moment – clear blue sky, no wind, the air is cold and on waking everywhere outside is covered in sparkling frost. Just what I needed to inspire me to garden.

My raised beds are being dug and weeded, the shrubs are having hair cuts (quite major in some cases). Now is the time to get into those jungle areas and clear out brambles and nettle patches. Because I have lived here for 10 years I know the bits I want to be quite brutal with and the areas I will just tidy a bit. I also know that once the growing season starts in earnest to clear/or tidy is much harder. I am not a serious gardener but love ‘playing outside’ – if the weather is fine I want to be outside. In a perfect world I’d have a big swimming pool so between bouts of gardening I could float about in water. Of course the total dream would be to have a simple house by a (warm) sea where I could grow tomatoes, peppers, aubergines etc. etc. outside
then flop into the sea and gently swim, then sit on my cool terrace and knit, listening to music. Bliss.

But where I am is where I am and I feel very grateful for the very pleasant structure I have around me. The loss of my beloved husband is part of why I feel so strongly the need to achieve as much as I can with this next (last) part of my life. He was not one to sit about and bemoan facts you cannot change. So while all my faculties are still functioning I will try to create a life full of positives because in my head and heart I hear his voice saying ‘come on, what’s next?’ plus of course a big hug and a gently kiss.