Author Archives: Bec - views from my garden bench

In a Vase on Monday – Raspberry (jam) and custard

‘Happiness is like jam, you can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself’ Author: Unknown

The weather in Manchester has made a return to its usual Summer windy, soggy-ness but that’s a good thing as you almost hear the plants sucking up the water. Everything is looking a bit more chirpy than last week. I’m still pottering along gardening in the shade, sorting out the house and making changes – it’s been a good summer so far especially as my arthritis pain just about disappears when it’s very hot.

I’ve been pondering a few things this week – in the garden as out and about. We’ve got a few trips planned including a trip to Derbyshire at the weekend and a WI camping trip in September. It was jam making of all things, that inspired my In a Vase on Monday.


In a vase on Monday: yarrow and marguerites

For the flowers I picked are Achillea ‘Ritzy’ and ‘Heidi’. Their common name is yarrow. The pale yellow flowers are ‘Madeira marguerite’ – Argyranthemum. I couldn’t squeeze anymore stems into the bottle 😦 I promise I’ll do a bigger vase next week :-). Both types of flowers have appeared on the blog before:

The titles of these posts made me smile – I am most definitely keeping calm and carrying on – and a change of scene is the right thing for me.

The ‘vase’ is a Chambord miniature it’s a black raspberry liqueur which can be mixed with wine, bubbly or gin/vodka. The bottle makes it seems as if it’s been around for a hundred years or so. However, it was launched in 1982, although it’s based on a drink made in the Loire valley in 17th Century. My vase is on a pile of cookery books – jam making, Nigella and WI – seems a good plan to follow their example.

Do have a look at the Rambling in the Garden where Cathy hosts the meme. She has many zinnia, rudbeckia and nicotiana in her vase today. Looking around everyone’s vases from around the world zinnias are popular this year. Cathy says they are fairly easy to grow so I’ll give them a go next year.


In a Vase on Monday: yarrow and marguerietes

I NEED to make Jam soon – I am going on a Women’s Institute camping weekend in Cheshire in September – we stay in a Scout bunkhouse but you get the idea. We always have food competitions and one of them is jam. I’ve only ever made jam a couple of times and it’s been a winner both times (weird) as I’m not much of a pudding or cake maker – that’s My Chap’s department.

lavender in pinkster gin bottle with autumn fruit jam

In a Vase on Monday from December 2016- lavender in v small gin bottle with my prize-winning Autumn fruit jam

I’m probably going to use a similar recipe to this one:

Recipe – Autumn Fruit Jam

It’s a very simple recipe I use – 900g mixed soft fruit which included:

  • about 300g v tart blackberries
  • two big Braeburn apples – cored, peeled and sliced
  • about 200g blueberries – only about 20 from the garden, most were from a well known supermarket 😉
  • about 250g frozen raspberries from the garden
  • handful v v tart red currants from my garden
  • 800g jam sugar (this has more pectin)

The Method is here in the original post.

Have you got a favourite jam recipe? Or a favourite flavour?

A walk along the Bridgewater Canal and Worsley Green

We went for one of our favourite walks on Sunday – it’s about three miles and takes an hour. I picked blackberries too.

Alphabet bridge, the warehouse – looking towards Monton

Here’s some pictures from along the canal, the Packhouse at Worsley Green. It was built in 1760 – the black and white Tudor style beams were added in the 1850s.

I’ve described this walk before – In a Vase on New Year’s Day – dogs, woods and walks 

There were some ducks who made very good models too.

For the gardeners among my readers – The RHS Bridgewater Garden is about a quarter of a mile from Worsley Green. Work is coming along well and I’m hoping to go on a tour soon.   I am so excited that this wonderful garden is coming to Salford.

In the garden

We decided to get an arbour for the decking at the bottom of the garden and collected it this evening. I talked about the area on my latest blog post – Six on Saturday 11 August 2018

The petunias are looking particularly lovely at the moment too. I don’t think they’re much good in vases as they’d droop quickly 😦

We’ve also been sorting out My Chap’s sedum and succulent collection. I’ve been doing my photography prompts. The succulent planter makes an appearance in the photo above too.

Week 33 – from above

Like many things in life – it’s often a good idea to look at the bigger picture.


I am trying to spread more happiness for myself, My Chap, my pals and most of all my family. We are looking forward to a long weekend in Derbyshire this weekend. We are planning to go to Hardwick Hall We will be going to Chatsworth House, another time as it’s a full day is needed there.

What do you have planned for the weekend? Do you have any recommendations for places to visit around Chesterfield, in Derbyshire?

Any favourite jam recipes or fruit combinations?

Let me know in the comments

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xx xx


Six on Saturday – out and about around my garden – 11 August 2018

I’d been thinking for a while that I haven’t taken many photos or described what’s happening in our garden – so I looked around for a linkup to prompt me to join in, and found Six on Saturday – hosted by  (participant guide) who lives in Reading, Berkshire. That’s where I went to school, though I’ve lived in Manchester for over 20 years – so it’s a small world sometimes.   I’ve been following various contributors and, as usual, been inspired by the plants they grow and what they write about – but hadn’t got my act together to take photos on a Saturday.

So I’ll be covering what’s been happening around our garden, the locality in Monton, Eccles, Greater Manchester, the North.  Mostly gardens and places we visit with an emphasis on plants.  Knowing me, I doubt I’ll be contributing every week as time runs away from me, but I’ll try my best 🙂 I hope this post covers the Six on Saturday brief. 


Our garden in Manchester has had a tough time this summer, the temperatures have been in the high 20s for a couple of months with very little rain. Even in our north facing, shady garden, we lost plants which had too much frost in the Spring and now drought conditions. I’ve been doing daily watering from the water butts and have sedums/succulents in a couple of hanging baskets, instead of more traditional bedding plants.
We didn’t do very much in the garden last year, apart from grow lots of lavender, as we were busy with wedding planning, and my health wasn’t great.  It was a case of keeping up with watering the pots, but we didn’t buy any new shrubs, didn’t got to any flower shows or make any changes to the layout.

1. Corner decking – what to do? 

For the first couple of years we lived here, this corner of the garden was shingle and an old bench (2009-2014).  In fact, this bench is why the blog has its name – as we used to sit here and discuss what to do in life, and in the garden.


Before – nackered bench 2010



Deck – veg plot on the left and flowers on the right – 2014

My Chap built the decking in 2014 – it was a pre cut kit from B&Q – as it worked out much cheaper.  We’ve had new fences at the back now, as they fell apart when some of our neighbour’s conifers were cut down.  This is was our favourite place to eat in the garden until the chairs broke.  Now we have a green metal bistro set in the middle of our nackered grass this summer.


a lovely place for eating out during the summer

Current situation – July 2018


I’m hoping the photos will push me into painting the fences, the table and buying some new bistro chairs.   I’m looking out for metal wall art or a mirror for the fences.  The camellias live on the left, there’s an Abutilon, a dwarf lilac, some lavender and  a Philadelphus.  This area gets the morning sun and some of the last of the evening sun (when the conifers in my neighbours garden are pruned).   Yoda is just out of shot.

Any ideas what else I should put in this area? Apart from more plants 😉 I’ve got some nemesia (see below) and some more lavender for scent. 

2. Tigridia pavonia ‘Auria’ – tiger flower

These stunning flowers last only a day in our garden – you can see it’s in a pot in the photo above.  The bulbs came from Wilko a few years ago. Obviously, I had to look up the proper name as my memory is a sieve for flower names.  This reminded me that the bulbs need lifting over the winter and placing in trays of sand as they aren’t hardy here.

3. Nemesia ‘Sunshine’

These are outside the front door in a blue china pot – it’s called ‘Sunshine’, which seems appropriate given the hot and sunny weather we’ve had since May. The scent is lovely.  This is the first time I’ve had this plant and I’ve bought more for where we sit outside.  I think they’ll need to be put in the porch to overwinter though.

2018-08-10 17.13.40 crop.jpg

4. Hydrangea from Tatton Park Flower Show



It seems very happy in a pot, in the shady side of the garden – what a stunning colour.  It’s hurling down with rain here so I’m not going to go out to see what it’s called.

5. Petunia ‘Night Sky’ and Petunia ‘Cascadia Rim Magenta’


Petunias ‘Night Sky’ and Cascadia Rim Magenta

I’ve got a couple of troughs of petunias on the porch walls by the front door which cheer me up every time I see them. The Night Sky (purple spotty) and Cascadia rim magenta (maroon with yellow edges) are looking particularly fine.  You can see the Nemesia in the background too.

6. Bee Spotting in Manchester – #beeinthecity

We were out in the city centre running errands – but managed to do a bit of #beeinthecity spotting while we were there.  This public art trail has certainly caught the imagination of the public, especially children.


Bee No. 2003 – ‘My Heart Belongs in this Place’ Hatch, Oxford Road, Manchester

‘My heart belongs in this Place’ sums up what I feel about this wonderful city. There are nearly 200 bees around the city. I’ve found about 35 so far, I’m off to find some more…#beeinthecity

And look what I found in the hanging baskets at Hatch – Petunia ‘Night Sky’.  There were lots of flowers, in planters and baskets, around Hatch – all in very good condition.  It’s lovely to see flowers in such an urban, industrial-style place. I’m always looking for nature in urban areas.

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Petunia ‘Night Sky’ in Hatch with ‘My Heart belongs in this place’ in the distance


Had a lovely lunch in Hatch on Oxford Road – it’s collection of containers housing a catering space for food startups; although the microbrewery and coffee emporium are permanent (and there’s free wifi too).


I hope you’ve enjoyed my first link up to ‘Six on Saturday’ hosted by  Do have a look at the contributions from others to the meme at the end of his post.

He’s been on a family holiday to Slovenia which looks stunning.


Have you noticed any unusual flowers? or in unexpected places?  If you’re local to Manchester – Have you been bee spotting too,? Have you got a favourite?

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xx



Wordless Wednesday – Halle St Bee-ter A chorus of industry – #beeinthecity

Halle St Bee-ter's A Chorus of Industry - No 3401

Halle St Bee-ter’s A Chorus of Industry – No 3401 – #beeinthecity

Location: Cutting Room Square, Ancoats – with Halle St Peter’s in the Background.


In a Vase on Monday: be present with yoga

“Calming the mind is yoga. Not just standing on the head.” Swami Satchidananda

This week, despite the heat in Manchester, I’ve done quite a bit of gardening in the evenings, when most of our North facing garden is in the shade.  I notice my mood is better if I’ve spent time outdoors, especially pottering around and watering the plants.  I’ve rationalised my plants into bigger pots, pushed together so that I can water everything I need to and bigger pots retain the moisture.  It’s also the first summer I’ve watered shrubs in the garden. It takes me about half an hour to water the pots (with a watering can and water from the water butts).  We have had so little rain here – and the temperatures have been in the high 20s for a couple of months.  Also, I’ve put succulents, sedums and drought tolerant plants in my hanging baskets.  Gardening helps me be mindful – as does yoga.


7 August 2018 – posy of sweetpeas, lavender and dianthus – with The Book of You and a Be present yoga print

How yoga helps my mind, body and spirit

I’ve been practising yoga, on and off, for about 12 years, starting completely by accident.  A friend of mine had a pal who was learning to be an Iyengar yoga teacher so needed people to practise with.  It was right next to work, straight after work so it seemed a good thing to do. It changed my life.

When I was younger I had poor spacial awareness and was always tripping over, which lead to some hilarious incidents including my Steve (my former partner) pulling me out of a peat bog as I’d sunk up to my knees and was slowly falling face forward into the bog.  Another time I went flying, just as a busload of tourists came round the corner in very rural Ireland.  I was always collecting bruises from bumping into things.

It’s a long time ago, but the first things I noticed doing yoga was that it helped me stretch (especially my hamstrings), helped calm my brain as I was concentrating on breathing and the position of my limbs.  I learnt to do corpse pose (Shavasana) not ‘banana’ pose as my first Yoga teacher Jacky named it.  Yoga isn’t a quick fix – it took me about 6 weeks to see the real benefit. I carried on with Jacky’s classes and then John Aplin for years until my work pattern changed.

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Wordless Wednesday – Bee Inspired #beeinthecity


4286 – Bee Inspired #beeinthecity Aquatics Centre, Oxford Road, Manchester until 23 September 2018

Location: Aquatics Centre Oxford Road

There are nearly 200 bees around the city. I’m off to find some more…

In a Vase on Monday – Bee Cheerful & Enjoy Today

‘Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you miss the sense of where you are going and why’ Eddie Cantor, US Actor and Radio Broadcaster.

The very hot weather continues here in NW England, the ground is parched, we’ve had huge wildfires on the moors near Bolton and Oldham, we’ve got the threat of a hosepipe ban from early August (not that I’ve got a hosepipe) and everyone seems to be moaning about the heat.  I’m not complaining about the heat – I’m cheerful as it means my arthritis pain is minimal, which makes a massive difference to my wellbeing and energy levels.  So I’ve been doing more walking in the woods near us and getting out and about.

So I’ve been watering my plants with the watering can every evening; I find it a very relaxing, mindful activity.  I’ve had a very relaxing time in July as I’ve got time off work – time for Wimbledon and enjoying the sunshine (with factor 50, shades and a hat).

I decided to go with a bright arrangement today.  For my Vase, I’ve picked:

  • Coreopsis – ‘Sunkiss’ and ‘Early Sunrise’.   The common name is Tickseed, but luckily I’ve not had any tick bites on my walks, though horse flies are rampant at the moment and most people I know have a nasty bite or two.
  • two patio/mini roses one red and one shocking pink – both gifts so I’ve no idea of their names.
  • Hypericum from my front garden – it’s appeared a couple of times in the blog
  • Pale yellow marguerite daisy – I’ve got three of these growing well after being in the ‘sick plant’ section at a well known DIY store.
  • An orange French Marigold, sadly the rest have been decimated by the slugs 😦 They’re the only plants that have been eaten, so that’s not so bad.

The print ‘Enjoy Today’ was designed by Becky Bettesworth.   I bought it when I visited Cornwall for the first time in over 30 years in 2015.  I sailed often when I was younger and it reminds me to be ‘in the moment’ and accept the direction of the wind (and/or life).

The jug and mug are made by
They have cute, stylised birds flying on the inner rim.   I bought these in Cornwall too.


Red and Pink roses, Coreopsis, Marguerite, Hypericum berries

It was so hot, I photographed the vase in the early evening shade, so I am pleased the flower colours came out so well.

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Wordless Wednesday – ‘the love bee’ Manchester #beeinthecity

25 July 2018 – 4262 ‘the love bee’ part of Bee in the City Manchester – 23 July to 23 Sept 2018

Location: St Peter’s House Chaplaincy, University of Manchester, Oxford Road

There are nearly 200 bees around the city. I’m off to find some more…#beeinthecity