Tag Archives: Gardening

Happiness – one week and five things that helped #1

The human mind always makes progress, but it is progress in spirals.
Madame De Stael (1766-1817), a woman of letters, at the heart of European romanticism and a leading opponent of Napoleon.

This year has been very tough, I’m not ready to go into details at the moment, but I’m beyond fortunate to have my family and friends around the world, supporting us all – but most of all My Chap whose been my rock since the day we met.  Im SO excited to be marrying him later this year.

My health hasn’t been great, including much increased arthritis pain too, contributing to bad sleeping and chronic exhaustion; but I’m working on all sorts of strategies to help me.  I am grateful to everyone who supports me, the NHS staff, colleagues, friends and family – I’d be in a pickle without them.

Amongst these tough times, there has been times of happiness, things and people that have made me happy. As part of my mindfulness practise, I’ve been noting them down, more systematically, in my diary.

I’d been thinking for a while that I’d like to start writing a regular post about what I’ve  been grateful for and/or what’s make me happy.  I was inspired by:

They’re great ladies – one I’ve known for years in real life too (first in Manchester and now she lives in Worcester) and the other lives round the corner from me – though we’ve not yet met face to face. That’s the Internet for you – hopefully we’ll meet up soon.  They write thought-provoking blogs, touching on wide ranging topics including feminism, life with a chronic pain condition, running, the outdoors, food, cooking, life in Manchester and the West Midlands – many adventures and plenty of gin 🙂

Please have a read of their blogs

1. Journals – gratitude, health notes and ‘to do’ lists

7 May 2017 – stigu journal, calm journal and ‘to do today and tomorrow’

I love my Stigu Planner*** (http://sticktostigu.com/);  it’s a combination of a diary, note book and to do lists. They describe it as a rest and zest handbook – there are themes for each month, weekly practise activities – some of them are really funny cartoons. I had a stigu journal last year too – it’s not too ‘full on’, supporting my wellbeing, without being all about ‘rules’.

The Calm Book – calm the mind, change the world*** is great for suggestions on Nature, Sleep, Travel, Work, Creativity, Relationships, Food  (www.calm.com), with affirmations and visualisations (there’s an app too).  The daily questions are:

  • What made you feel calm Today?
  • What are you grateful For?
  • What were three highlights of today?

It’s so beautiful with wonderful illustrations and pictures; I can’t write in the book – I tend to write in my stigu journal instead.

For well over a year, I’ve been making a note of my arthritis and pain symptoms, as participant in Cloudy with a Chance of Pain, (www.cloudywithachanceofpain.com); it’s a citizen science project run by the University of Manchester investigating if there’s a connection between weather conditions and chronic pain.  For me, warm, dry weather definitely helps my arthritis pain; I’ve been tracking it with an app as part of the project.  I’m looking forward to reading the wider results.

Also, I’ve been doing daily mindfulness practise for a couple of years now, and reflecting on what I’m grateful for each day – so I’ve decided to be a bit more organised about writing them down, so I can look back in the future, as my situation improves.

I’m grateful for all these things these things, and yoga too.

2. The Garden (and Gardening) 

Hand with two rings with mud under fingernails, sedums in background

7 May 2017 – been replanting sedums for My Chap – mud under the fingers as usual. 

I managed to get out in the garden every day this week, sometimes it was for only half an hour to water the plants. It’s been v windy and dry here.  We’ve managed to sort out, cut back and clear alot of the ‘dead wood’ from the winter. We’ve planted some shrubs too.  Ive written before how my garden is my solace; I know I ‘need’ to spend as much time as I can outside – even if it’s just drinking tea in the garden – when I’m too exhausted to do anything more.  I’ve been planning which flowers to cut for next week’s In a Vase on Monday too.

  • A summary of my ‘In a Vase on Monday’ offerings since 2015.
  • Cathy hosts the meme over at Rambling in the Garden – here’s her summary. Each post will have links to people (and their vases) contributing from all around the world.

3. Afternoon Tea with a pal 

Cakes sandwiches on a three tier vintage China cake stand

7 May 2017 – Afternoon tea at Vintage Ambience, Monton, Salford

I spent a lovely afternoon with my friend, and her beautiful baby girl, we talked about life, the universe and everything – wedding planning too. I met her at Cottonopolis Women’s Institute (www.cottonopoliswi.com) She’s wise and kind,  much more crafty than me, and makes great cakes too. The afternoon tea at Vintage Ambience*** in Monton was top notch (www.vintageambiance.co.uk)

4. Smoked Salmon Salad

7 May 2017 – smoked salmon salad in the garden


It was a bank holiday weekend here in the UK , and, the weather was lovely, so we had lunch in the garden everyday. My Chap is a great cook, and makes a great salad – this one had lovely heritage tomatoes too. My Chap and I talked about what what veg we might grow in the garden this year; cherry tomatoes haven’t grown well these last few years, we don’t have a greenhouse, so I don’t think this helps.

The smoked salmon reminded me of all the men in my life who’ve loved it. My Uncle Fred introduced me to it when I was about 18 months old. He, my Aunt, and my Dad grew up in Hackney in East London before, and during, Second World War with many Jewish neighbours so it was a staple food for them.  My love of cooking comes from them, I feel their influence and love every day, even though they’ve all passed on a good few years ago.

5. Wedding Planning 

7 May 2017 – wedding countdown website


We’ve been trundling on with our plans – we’ve spoken to our friend about invitations, I’ve met my dress designers, bridesmaids dresses are on track and we are meeting our florist soon too. Our photographer is great too and every time we go to our venue, we love it even more, they make luscious cake too.  Ours is going to be an unconventional wedding – just the way we want it.  My Chap is doing so much of the arrangements as I’m under the weather, it’s a team effort – Roll on September 🙂

The quote from Madam De Stael, was in my Stigu Journal, reading about her reminded me, we must persist. As Stigu notes elsewhere , life moves in spirals, only you can decide in which direction.  I’m  moving in the right direction… Slowly but getting there.

What have you been grateful for this week? 

Carpe Diem

Love Bec

xxx

I’ve mentioned activities in Friday 28 April to Thursday 4th May 2017
***Please note: I paid full price for both journals and afternoon tea, I wasn’t asked to write a positive review.

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Happy 1st Birthday – views from my garden bench

Time moves in one direction, memory in another

William Gibson (novelist) b 1947

I won’t ever forget 2015 – the most physically and mentally demanding year of my life – it all changed in late April when my friend died.  I have so many good memories from our adventures together over 25 years – we remained friends to the end.  I’m glad he and my Chap were good pals too.

All that happened last year stretched my resilence to its limit, but I’ve come through the other side.  It’s reminded me to stick to my principles, take care of myself and that there’s always a way forward, even if it’s tiny steps.   Counselling, mindfulness, tai chi, yoga, and walking in the great outdoors, espccially time in my garden, have all helped me top up my resilence.   My Chap, my family, and my friends all helped too. It’s a long and complicated journey to recovery but I’ll get there.

I started my blog a year ago today – here’s my first post  – much of what I said I’d write about is still just as relevant now:

  • where we visit – I love history as well as time in the garden
  • what’s been happening in our lives
  • cooking and crafting too
  • my thoughts and dreams for the future
  • many pictures of the garden, plants, flowers and the veg plot.
  • And maybe, just maybe, some campervan adventures…(well that didn’t happen – the campervan went on its way in July 2015)

William Ford Gibson coined the team ‘cyberspace’ in 1984 and wrote about the principles that govern how something like the world wide web might operate.   Tim Burners Lee ‘invented’ the internet in 1989 (at CERN).  Cyberspace has given me so much over the years, I’ve worked with academics, since the early 1990s so I was an ‘early adopter’ of email and the www – I’m fortunate.  Most of all the web has given me ways to stay in touch with my friends and make new ones – and I met my Chap on an internet dating site five years ago.

Alot of the time last year, I’ve really struggled to write, which is a bit of an issue when I write for a living.  But my blog has helped as I can write about things I love.   I’ve found a lovely, friendly and helpful blogging community too – especially all the gardening bloggers.   I’m still an amateur gardener compared to most of them but that doesn’t matter.

I’ve joined a few topics which have helped me in the dark times:

  • In a Vase on a Monday

I’ve really enjoyed contributing to ‘In a Vase on Monday’ hosted by Cathy from ‘Rambling in the Garden‘ which involves picking flowers and plants from your garden or the local area and putting them in a vase.   Sounds simple doesn’t it? It is – so do join in.

I love looking at everyones vases, from across the world.  It’s given me so many ideas what to plant in my garden too. The flowers and vases have lifted my spirits in the dark times.
Most of all, everyone is so lovely, friendly and supportive.  I’m going to try to comment more this year on people’s vases.  I’ve appreciated every single comment on my vases, and I hope my vases and flowers have lifted someones mood too.

in a vase in monday

In a vase on Monday

See more of my Vases – 2015

  • #100happydays

The #100happydays challenge has helped me look for positive things every day, even when I’m having an exhausting day. My favourite part of the 100happydays challenge was writing about Lisbon – a wonderful city which I know we’ll visit again.

lisbon guide (6/100), fish stew (7/100), tram (8/100), wine at the castle (9/100) #100happydays

lisbon guide (6/100), fish stew (7/100), tram (8/100), wine at the castle (9/100) #100happydays

Castle de Pena (10/100), don't panic (11/100), funicular railway (12/100), bed rest (13/100)

Castle de Pena (10/100), don’t panic (11/100), funicular railway (12/100), bed rest (13/100) #100happydays

I’m a bit stuck with my updates from December for #100happydays  at the moment – as 7th December was a very, very tough day but I got through it.  And frankly, I was glad to see the back of 2015.   You can catch up with more of my #100happydays photos here

Life IS better in the Garden
My garden continues to be my solace.  I know it, my pals and family, but most of all my wonderful Chap will help me get to where I want to be.

yoda in the snow and plaque Life's better in the Garden - copyright R Jones 2016

yoda in the snow – Life IS better in the Garden taken 17 January 2016

I think yoda will be making a few more apprearances in 2016 too…

Happy 1st Birthday Cottonopolis Women’s Institute – January 2015

I’m a proud member; I’ve tried so many new things this year, met lots of new pals and had fun too.    I’m going to write more about my WI adventures in 2016 too.  If you’re local join us… if not have a look for a local group.  There are Men’s Sheds too.

#100happydays for 2016 from Coed-y-brenin mountain bike centre

#100happydays for 2016 from Coed-y-brenin mountain bike centre

Blogging in 2016… Carry on carrying on

There’s alot of changes ahead at work but I’m going to try to look for opportunities, be positive and try to make a difference – and give everything including my blog, my best efforts – as I continue my recovery.  In 2016 my blog will cover:

  • where we visit – I love history as well as gardening
  • what’s been happening in our lives – we’ve got a holiday planned in Cornwall in May
  • more cooking and ‘crap’ crafting too.
  • my thoughts and dreams for the future – and to be braver!
  • more  pictures of the garden, plants, flowers and the veg plot
  • yoda
  • This year I promise to write a bit more often, improve my photography skills, answer ALL my blog comments but most of all ‘Have fun blogging

Thank you to everyone who’s read or commented on my blog – I appreciate it more than I can say = I’m still surprised where you all come from.

I hope you’ll all tag along with me – Life’s an adventure – Live it

And I’ll be ‘seizing the day’ this year for definite, once I can find some more energy…

Offically Spring is around the corner (even though the daffodils and crocuses are already flowering)

Love

Bec xx

 

Raspberry ripple tulips, blossom and holidays! In a vase on Monday

Gardening tulips dogwood

In a vase on Monday – Tulips and dogwood – 27April 2015

It’s glorious sunshine in Manchester today, I decided to feature tulips again in my vase on Monday (Yellow and purple ones last week). These three reminded me of ripe cherries and raspberry ripple ice cream.  This could be because I’ve got holidays on my mind. We’re off to Cornwall on Saturday for a week – I am so excited!  I went last September (2014) for the first time in nearly 30 years. We had a wonderful time, especially at the Eden Project, so we’ll be going back there, the ‘Lost gardens of Helligan’ and the beaches too. Heaven!

These tulips were planted last autumn – I’ve mentioned before how much I like purple. These came from Wilko’s but as usual, I’ve got no idea what they’re called.

tulips gardening

Three purple, pink and raspberry ripple tulips – in a vase on Monday 27 April 2015

The dogwood (Cornus) is a variegated one with red stems in the winter.   It’s at the end of my garden and pokes out between a row of conifers in my neighbour’s plot . It hangs over into our garden; so we prune it, so it doesn’t poke me in the eye when I’m gardening.    Dogwood is easy to grow but it definitely needs pruning for it to be at its best; it spreads though if it’s left and the old wood doesn’t have the glorious stem colour.  There are loads of varieties including ones with yellow stems, it’s very common in gardens here in the UK because of it’s all round interest and its hardy.

I liked the contrast of colours with the purples, pinks, greens and whites. Also thought too much foliage would overwhelm the tulips.

I’ve used the same vase last week as I haven’t got any other tall thin ones – though I think The Chap might be bringing something home from work for me.

gardenin tulip dogwood vase

In the sunshine – tulips and dogwood – 27 April 2015

We had a good day in the garden yesterday after a very hectic few weeks.   I rearranged my strawberry plants, put a dwarf raspberry in a larger pot and put the tumbling tomatoes in hanging baskets.   Also I tidied up all the fuscias in pots we’d over wintered in the garage and thought about what I’d put where.   A bit of TCL for my cosmos seedlings too – fingers crossed they survive us going away.  And The Chap put up the solar lights up too – we’ve eaten out in the garden 9 times so far this year.

The other things I’m enjoying this week are the wonderful blossom on the cherry, apple, hawthorn tree – they look incredible this year.     There are many around where I live, as it’s full of Victorian houses and mature gardens.  I’ve only got room for two dwarf apple trees in pots in my garden but I’d love more.  The blossom is really brighting my drive to and from work; I really must get out and take some photos this week as they’ll be gone soon.

Cherry blossom

Cherry blossom – 26 April 2015 – NO FILTER!!

Do have a look at Rambling in the Garden where Cathy hosts ‘In  a vase on Monday’
 www.ramblinglinginthegarden.wordpress.com. She’s got a wonderful selection of vases this week and is celebrating her 1000th blog post – I’m a very long way off that milestone. It’s great to see what people are growing around the world.

What plants have you enjoyed this weekend? Or have you been to Cornwall? Any suggestions where to go?

Have a lovely time

Carpe Diem

love Bec xxx

1st day of Spring

Primroses - 20 March 2015

Primroses – 20 March 2015 – my mum gave me  these

Today is the first day of Spring, International day of happiness and a rather cloudy solar eclipse (more about that soon). I was working at home today,  due to a long and boring electrical saga at work.

There’s more flowers out in my garden including these primroses (primulas). Primulas like a semi-shady spot; they’re happy under trees but don’t like the soil too soggy.  Mine are along my left hand fence in my north facing garden so don’t get any afternoon or evening sun. Primroses are traditionally yellow or shades of cream, but now the hybrids come in many colour combinations – yellow and purple, crimson and yellow for example. I’ve got some really pretty salmon pink and yellow ones in my front garden.

i’ve been planning more adventures – watch this space.

All In all, a very good day, and I have a pint of Pimms too.

 

 

 

Childhood garden memories….

‘It often happens to children – and sometimes to gardeners – that they are given gifts of value of which they do not perceive until much later
Wayne Winterrowd

I started gardening a long, long time ago – about 40 years ago I think. My Mum gardened when I was little; she still does – but only when it’s sunny. She gets my chap to do the heavy work now like digging or pruning.   My Mum, Dad, little brother and me moved into a new build house in the early 1970s – I was four.  The garden had 6 foot fences, a tiny patio and a lot of sticky, London clay and no grass at all.

I don’t remember much about this time but I know my mum and dad put in a lot shrubs that didn’t need much pruning, including honeysuckle on the fence by the back door and vibernum which also has a beautiful scent (in May/June).  They put grass seed down as soon as they could so we had somewhere to play.  Random plants grew too from dormant seeds in the fields that the house was built on.  The best were blackberry canes and my Dad cooked a lot of Apple and Blackberry Pie. When I see these plants in other gardens it reminds me of my childhood and my parents’ garden.

My mum took a cutting from the replacement honeysuckle a few years ago and gave me a bit which I put at the bottom of the garden.  It took a good few years to get going but soon clambered over the fence onto bushes in my neighbour’s garden.  It smells wonderful and is even stronger in the evening; its scent wafts across the decking at the bottom of the garden (Where I Sit Part 1).  I don’t know the variety (said I’m an amateur gardener) and don’t have any photos – I’ll take some later in the year.  Honeysuckle is great for growing through other plants though and it’s the unexpected flowers peeping out that I like.

My mum also rescued a silver birch sapling that had been ‘run over’ by the council grass cutting chaps (in a skip she claims) and planted it in the back garden – it’s now a 40 year old, 40-foot beauty with plenty of birds using it as a base to nip down and eat the strawberries, etc.

My mum did a lot of pot gardening with your typical ‘council park’ style bedding plants, like violas, pansies and begonias – it was the 1970s and there was less choice than there is now – none of these huge garden centres.  But every pot had a fuchsias of one sort or another – some standard height, some trailing and some bush varieties, pinks, purples. I adored the flowers which I imagined were ballerinas.   Often, I helped her put broken pots in the garden for drainage, fill with compost and plant the flowers – and a lot of watering and dead heading flowers (to keep them flowering).  She had pots full of plants that wouldn’t grow in the garden because of the clay soil – rhododendrons, for example.

My mum still loves fuchsias, still pot gardens and has a huge patio covered in pots.

So when I moved into my house, the first thing she did the following Spring was buy me some terracotta pots and some bedding plants.   Here’s what I planted:

Pots summer 2010

White lobellia, pink petunia and fuchsias

I’ll let you know what I plant in the pots this Spring but there will definitely be fuchsias – I’ll tell you more about my love of fuschias another time.

Things to do in the garden – February

There are all sorts of suggestions online and in magazines – mostly for people with huge gardens, loads of time or very organised – I’m none of these.  Here are a just a few:

  • plant veg seeds indoors – I’ve only got v small window sills so it’s tricky deciding what to plant. Whatever you choose it’s got to be worth it in the garden either flowers or vegetables.
  • tidy the shed (yeah right I haven’t got space for a shed) and scrub your seed trays (I’ve only got two).
  • prune autumn raspberry canes – there are two sorts of raspberries – I’ve got the kind that fruit in the early summer.  Now’s the time to plant raspberry, gooseberry and blackberry canes too.   Blackberry and Apple pie – Lovely!
  • plan your borders and new beds – oh yes I’m definitely doing this but more about this soon.

Have you managed to do anything in the garden in February? and what do you fancy planting?

Have a lovely week

Carpe Diem

love Bec xx

I waited a long time for a garden of my own – well into my 40s

It was worth the wait.  It’s only small.
I bought my house because of the garden –  I can sit on my sofa and look at the view. The view has changed a lot in five years mirroring the changes in my life.
My garden has been my sanctuary and escape from the aggravations of life in a busy Northern city.
Planting, weeding and watering is my relaxation, but most of all, I love sitting in the garden usually with an earl grey or a pint of pimms.
All sorts of wonderful things happened since I got my own garden including an inspiring, energetic, incredible Chap storming into my life and staying.
I plan alot of adventures sitting in my garden.

I think this blog is going to be about:

  • where we visit – I love history as well as gardening – there are many wonderful gardens nearby like Tatton Park, Dunham Massey and Bodnant
  • what’s been happening in our lives
  • the odd bit of cooking and crafting too.
  • my thoughts and dreams for the future
  • many pictures of the garden, plants, flowers and the veg plot.
  • And maybe, just maybe, some campervan adventures…

I am most definitely an amateur gardener though – I’m rubbish with latin names.

Currently, I’m waiting for the daffs to arrive (Feb 2015) – Spring is nearly here.

daffs

tete-a-tete daffodil and english lavender in my front garden – Spring 2014

Carpe Diem

Bec