Category Archives: In a vase on Monday

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 www.nationaltrust.org.uk/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

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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.

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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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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 charlottemacey.co.uk/
They have cute, stylised birds flying on the inner rim.   I bought these in Cornwall too.

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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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In a Vase on Monday – in the pink with Pimms (and tennis)

This week I’ve been watching a lot of tennis.  It’s definitely part of my summer schedule to watch Wimbledon, I’ve watched it since I was a child.  My Mum loves watching tennis, so I caught the bug from her.  We went to Wimbledon in 1977 when I was 11 – Centre Court tickets. We saw Billy Jean King and Martina, Ile Nastase, a very young John McEnroe. we had a brilliant day. I’d love to go again, need to remember to apply for the ballot 🙂 A friend told me she won ballot tickets for the Ladies Final in 2009, when Serena beat Venus, so it’s worth a go.

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So for today’s vase, I thought I’d do a Wimbledon theme.  There’s always plenty of flowers and plants around the Wimbledon site – and it all looks lovely from what you can see in on the TV/  I picked some dianthus (commonly known as pinks), some  purple perennial wallflower (which is still flowering!), white pelargonium and a different lavender from last week. These colours sum up summer for me – pinks, reds, purples and whites.  My strawberries are over so I couldn’t include them 😦 The plants aren’t looking very happy in the heat even though they’re in the shade.

It is very dry in our garden, as we’ve only had significant rain one evening last week and once in June.  The temperature has been in mid-20s for a couple months now – with no cloud cover.  Our houses aren’t designed for this level of sustained heat.  I have the curtains at the front of the house and I am grateful for once for a north-facing back garden.  I’d been gardening in the shade when I can too. As well as a lot of watering using the watering can – the water butts are full again from last weeks rain so that helps.
The huge moorland fires at Winter Hill, by Bolton and Dovestones, by Oldham are only a few miles from me – the smell of smoke hung across the city centre for a few days two weeks ago.  The firefighters are still dampening down the peat, many footpaths and a few roads are closed.  Grim.

The flowers are displayed in a small jug with roses on, that I bought at Bodnant Garden, a National Trust property, where My Chap and I got engaged in June 2016.  We have picnics often so one of my small hampers is a prop too. I’ve written before about Bodnant, and the jug has appeared before, too:

I don’t have any dainty teacups to put in this shot, as I only have chunky big mugs for tea but I’m sure you get the idea with the mini jug, and the sign is a nod to the scoring in tennis and the small picnic hamper.

Do have a look at Cathy’s post in Rambling in the Garden – she has zinnias this week which I’ve never attempted to grow. Maybe next year.

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Pimms 
I love Pimms – I drink it all year round, usually in pint glasses without fruit just mint and Ice.  Drinking pints of Pimms is my Dad’s fault as he couldn’t be bothered to go back into the kitchen to pour more Pimms when we were sat out enjoying the sunshine in the back garden.  I like the Blackberry and Elderflower Pimms too – it tastes like alcoholic Ribena.  Yoda likes Pimms too 😉  For those that don’t know Pimms was invented in 1823 by James Pimm who owned oyster bars in the City of London.  It’s a gin-based drink and even now the herbs and spices used are a secret recipe.  He went on to invent a number of Cups based on different spirits including No. 6 Cup (vodka),  No 3 Cup (based on Brandy) now available as Winter Pimms.  I drink Winter Pimms too and that’s lovely as a hot drink on a cold, wintery evening.   All the other Cups are phased out at the moment 😦

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Here are some of my favourite Pimm’s recipes in addition to Pimms and lemonade.  My dad used to put borage in our Pimms but mint is fine too.

Pimms and ginger ale

  • 1 part Pimms and 3 parts ginger ale over ice

My Chap particularly likes this one with a quality ginger beer.

Cranberry Pimms 

  • 375ml  Pimm’s No.1 Cup
  • 1litre sparkling lemonade, chilled
  • 200ml cranberry juice
  • 1 sliced lemon as garnish
  • Mint leaves as garnish
  • Redcurrants or fresh berries, as the garnish

yoda collage with pimms

You can see that Yoda has aged a few years in these pictures too…

*****

Do you have any favourite summer drinks?  We love gin and tonic too. My Chap has a collection of gins.
What do you have planned for the week?

Carpe Diem

love Bec xxx xxx

 

In a Vase on Monday – tea and biscuit recipe (lemon and earl grey)

It was Canada Day last week (1st July). celebrating the foundation of the nation in 1867 – it reminded me to look out a vase my former boss Bonnie gave me a few years ago.  The connection is she is Canadian, and the vase was has a famous Canadian landmark on it.  I have to admit I looked it up, as I’d forgotten it’s called the CN Tower in Toronto (553 metres 1815 feet high). It’s the ninth highest free-standing building in the world.  The vase is abstract and not to scale 😉

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For my vase, I picked lisianthus, lavender and a chive flower.  I am really suprised I’ve managed to keep the lisianthus alive and thriving. But, their common name gives it away prairie gentian, it’s very happy in my front garden.

The Brits reading this blog, will know that temperatures have been over 25 degrees for over 2 months, and only two small rain showers here in Manchester.  The huge moorland fires at Winter Hill near Bolton and at Dovestones, near Oldham are only a few miles away – the acrid smoke smell hung across the city centre for a couple of days.  The firefighters, Mountain Rescue and the Army still dampening down the peat.  Grim.  I’ve been watering the pots and key parts of garden every night – luckily I find watering plants very restful and mindful.  I’d really like some overnight rain though.

Please have a look at Rambling in the Garden hosted by Cathy where people from around the world post their links of the flowers and plants they’ve picked from their gardens.  She has a riot of purple this week – inspiring for me as I love purple plants in the garden.

I think I’ve written a couple of times about Bonnie on my blog. She was a huge mentor in my career, and I often think ‘what would Bonnie do?‘ She has a brain the size of the universe. but is always kind, helpful and supportive to everyone she worked with whatever their role and expertise.  She’s still missed around work; she’s happily retired now, walking the hills of Yorkshire and bird watching.  I mentioned her in this blog:

Tea tasting with Cottonopolis WI – July 2018
We had a great meeting hearing all about tea – and tasting some awesome brews.  Marcy from Parched Tea in Manchester came to speak at our meeting; we do our best to support local business and charities.  As well as selling quality black and green teas, she has developed teas for Manchester central library and the Bronte museum in Haworth.

20180703_192535She even has a kettle that has different temperatures – green teas prefer 70 degrees not 100 degrees unlike black teas, like oolong.

I don’t think I’ve written much about my tea drinking on the blog. I love earl grey, lady greys sunshine greys, Empress grey, in fact, most gunpower teas – all drunk black.  I think you might see a theme here – I’m lactose intolerant (I found out over 30 years ago).  My Chap loves strong builders tea with minimal milk – strong enough to stand a spoon in 😉

Our competition this month was to make something flavoured with tea or coffee. I decided on earl grey biscuits, as they’re simple to make.

Earl Grey and Lemon Biscuits

Here’s the recipe – it’s adapted from an American one so it uses cups – Canadians tend to use cup measurements too.  I adapted it a bit as I couldn’t find the vanilla extract.

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) demerara sugar
  • 1 cup (220 grams) Butter
  • 2 cups  plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • about 10 drops of lemon juice (either fresh or bottled) or vanilla extract – according to taste.
  • 1tsp water to help bind the dough
  • 2 Earl Grey teabags – finer the leaves the better.

Notes

  • I used M&S Empress Grey as one of my favourites. Bagged tea is finer so it is better than loose tea for the dough mixture. You could grind loose tea in a pestle and mortar.
  • leaving the dough to cool in the fridge will help the tea infuse into the mixture too.

Method – takes about half an hour

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C or 350­°F.
  2. Mix caster sugar and demerara sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Add in flour, salt, and tea leaves.
  4. Continue to mix until a soft dough forms – it will be flaky and lumpy but
  5. Roll dough into a long sausage shape on parchment paper.
  6. Chill in the fridge for about half an hour rolled
  7. Cut into 3cm thick round shapes and place on baking tray.
  8. OR you can roll out about 3cm thick and cut with a round biscuit cutter.
  9. Bake on a parchment paper on a baking tray for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

Amazing – I won! and all the biscuits were eaten – they didn’t look like much but the definitely tasted nice.   There were only three entries though as everyone had been really busy.  Not the best picture as they disappeared so quickly.  I’ll definitely make them again.

biscuits 3Cottonopolis WI meet on the first Tuesday of the month from 730pm at Halle St Michael’s on George Leigh Street, Ancoats Manchester.   Our next meeting is on 7th August when we will be going on a history walk around Ancoats and a quiz.  Visitors always welcome and we’ll have cake.  We’re a friendly bunch.

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Are you doing any baking this week? or is it just TOO hot?  I’ll be spending time in the garden, when I’m not watching the tennis, and watering pots in the evening.  I’m going on a couple of courses this week, so I’ll report back on that soon. 

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xx xx xx

 

In a Vase on Monday – Marvellous Manly, Sydney Harbour, Australia

We are all equal in front of a wave – Laird Hamilton – professional big wave surfer

My Chap and I were in Sydney for a few days ahead of travelling to Melbourne for my nieces 18th birthday party. I’ve been to Sydney seven times over nearly 30 years. It’s one of the truly great cities of the world – and I could never get tired of traveling around the city by foot, on the Ferries or the double decker trains. My Chap has never been, so we decided to see some of the key places. I’ll write some more posts about our travels around Australia, so do come back again.

Sydney has changed alot in some ways, and in other ways has stayed exactly the same. I’m not talking about the famous sights, Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Rocks, the Ferries or the Opera House. Sydneysiders are still friendly, helpful and still have a really weird Australian accent. Though you’ll find, like most cities, the waiting and serving staff come from all around the world; we met Italians, Dutch, Germans, and of course, Brits and Kiwis.

Looking across Manly and the North Shore beaches

On Monday morning we headed off to Circular Quay to catch the ferry to Manly, which is on the North shore of Sydney Harbour. Sydney has an amazingly cheap, integrated, transport system across trawith a top up card like the Oyster Card. It’s easy to add money and the fare system is very clear – it also extends right out to the Blue Mountains which are over an hour away on the suburban trains. I wish we had a system like this in Manchester.

The trains (which are double decker and also serve as Underground trains) and buses stop right by Circular Quay – I recognised lots of the ferry names from previous visits so I know they ‘recycle’ them. The Ferries come in various sizes and people ‘really do’ commute to work by ferry. You can easily ferry hop around the Harbour, including visiting the zoo. We didn’t have time to do this much, but will definitely be on the Ferries more next time we visit.

Manly is about a half hour ferry ride, which also takes you past The Heads, the entrance to the harbour and it’s very easy to see why Captain Cook sailed straight past, and made landfall at Botany Bay a few miles down the coast. It’s a very small gap for such a huge harbour. Both North and South Health are now part of Sydney Harbour National Park. Cook sailed on to Botany Bay which is now the centre of the Australian shipping industry.

Sydney Harbour is the fourth largest harbour in the world. It’s proper name is Port Jackson. The geographical centre of Sydney is Parramatta which is a 45min ferry ride to Circular Quay. Manly is 25 minutes heading east towards the Heads. So this gives you a good idea just how vast Greater Sydney is, each neighbourhood has a different character and there’s usually intersting things to p see, parades of shops, parks and markets. If you’re a ‘people watcher’ like me, you’ll enjoy pottering around and a trip on a ferry is always good fun. There are many bays and inlets, with harbour or sea views commanding huge sums, these are some of the most desirable locations in the world.

We saw incredible homes almost glued onto the cliff often with infinity swimming pools. They have alot of glass and huge family rooms and outdoor eating out areas.

Manly – an Autumn Day Out

Manly It’s the home of Australian board surfing. Everyone tells you to visit Manly and they’re right. It’s a lovely place with many 1920s Art Deco buildings, just head over the road from the ferry terminal up the Corso to the surf beach. When I first visited Manly in 1991, the Corso was full of seaside ‘tat’ shops, but it’s definitely scrubbed up now. There’s some great places to eat and plenty of clothing shops. The Art Deco pubs have scrubbed up too – no sign of the 100 dollars fruit machines like the first time I visited.

If you like watching Australian sport Manly have a Rugby League team – Manly Sea Eagles. I watched them cuff Parramatta, the last time I visit Sydney in 2004.

Manly Surf Beach

It’s the Autumn in Sydney, the temperature was a lovely 19 degrees, sunny and there were were 30 foot waves – but most of the surfers were out on a spur from the rocks by Shelly Beach – too far away to photograph though.

We had a lovely day pottering around Manly, which has some great walks which take you past the ocean swimming pool.

We walked from Manly Surf Beach, via Shelly Beach to North Head – about 3 miles. There are sculptures and heritage boards along the way – it turns out Manly surf beach used to be called Cabbage Tree Bay – there are a few of these trees on the foreshore.

North Head National Park – new setting for In a Vase on Monday

The hills on North Head were covered in Banksia trees, so I improvised with the ‘In a Vase on Monday’ – no plants harmed in taking the photograph 😉 and I look closer to the edge than I was. I hope Cathy from Rambling in Garden will let me off with this – and I promise to do a proper vase when we are in Melbourne.

Do have a look at Cathy’s post this week – roses! There’s always beautiful flowers from around the world.

I’ve been taking photos of interesting plants I’ve seen around Sydney – I’ve got no idea what most of them are, although I’ve spotted plenty of our house plants growing happily in gardens – seen some huge Peace Lillies.

We spent a relaxed half hour looking at the views and watching the surfers. There weren’t many plants blooming, there were many succulents around and it was very dry and dusty. Easy underfoot though and there are board walks too. Since this is a National Park, no dogs are allowed (with v heavy fines) – not a problem for most tourists.

I did forget that sunset comes earlier and quicker than in the UK, so we had to cut short our walk around North Head and head back as we didn’t have a torch and my fear of Australian critters would overcome in the dark.

We walked back to Manly and had dinner, and a pint or two, in Four Pines Brewery – thoughtly recommended. Then the ferry back to Circular Quay – it was very windy so we were the only people out on the prow – hardy Brits.

It was a great day out 🙂

Sunny Sydney – we will be back

It’s a whistle stop tour but we will be back to stunning Sydney…

Come back again for our next adventure around Australia – the Blue Mountains – an hour out of Sydn

Have you been to Australia? Where did you go? If you’ve not visited yet, what would you like to see?

Carpe Diem,

Love Bec xx xx xx

In a Vase on Monday – Bee Kind this Spring

‘Be happy for this moment, This moment is your life’. Omar Khayyam (1048-1132) Persian mathematician, astronomer and poet.

Over the last month or so, I’ve been concentrating even more on my mindfulness practise – and being more in the moment. But, it feels a bit like groundhog day at the moment, Winter (and snow) re-appearing and Spring receding into the distance again (much like it was at the beginning of March). Once again it was a very cold weekend, with snow forcast, so I thought about what I might find the garden; most of the plants are looking a bit sorry for themselves (especially the Camellias) but plenty of bulbs coming up.

27 March 2018 – Hellebore, tête-à-tête daffodils (with ice) photographed on 18 March 2018

On Sunday 18th March, there was about 3inches of snow in our garden, the sky was blue, but it was very cold. It certainly concentrates your mind when you have to bundle up in your thickest coat, scarf, hat and gloves (and walking boots), just to explore what flowers are out in the garden. So I dashed out, and I found more than I was expecting. It made up for the pain from my arthritis, which doesn’t like the cold at all. I’ve struggled with the cold, with pain, which makes me tired all the time. That’s probably why it took over a week to write this blog – oh well I’ll try to be quicker next time.

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