Tag Archives: lavender

In a Vase on Monday -A Cold, Snowy, Salford Spring?

‘No Winter lasts forever, no Spring skips its turn’ Hal Borland (1900-1978) American author and naturalist

No one in Britain can have missed the weather the last few weeks, #thebeastfromtheEast, #StormEmma and more snow due this weekend. I hope you don’t mind, but some of this post was written a couple of weeks ago, and the rest today, as another wintery weekend looms. Also I’ve been a bit stuck, very tired and osteo-arthritis aching but I’ve been plodding along. I feel a bit like Spring, stuck around the corner, nearly in reach but not quite. I saw something on twitter today, which made me laugh:

Winter this year, is like a person who leaves the room in a huff, only to come back in ‘and another thing…’ only to leave again… and return…

#theBeastfromthe East brought about 4 inches of snow to Monton, it’s very unusual to have this much, usually it’s about two inches, as it’s very flat around here with many canals. It was THAT cold and icy our local Parkrun (Worsley woods) was cancelled… this never happens as its under trees and very protected compared to most Parkruns. Fortunately my Chap was OK about this, as the air was far too cold for running – you wouldn’t think to look at him that he has asthma 🙂

The wind chill dipped to minus 12 during the night, and minus 8 during the day. I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold in the middle of the city. I’m very used to cold, when I’m up a mountain and layered up. It reminded me of the very cold day in January 2015, when we went to Neuschwanstein, in Bavaria with my Brother and his family, who were visiting from Australia – happy memories 🙂

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A very cold, snowy day in Monton on 4th March 2018
It wasn’t lost on me that 1st March was the start of the meteorological Spring – so I layered up with my thickest, longest waterproof, gloves, hat, scarf and boots and ventured into the garden to see what flowers I could find. I was surprised to find some tête-à-têtes, and some purple perennial wallflower so I quickly picked the flowers, and put them in a vase with some lavender. The vase has appeared in ‘In a Vase on Monday’ many times, I wrapped ‘bee happy’ washi tape around it. The print is part of a series – the Winter print with descriptions of moons has appeared too (Worm Moon, Pink Moon and Flower Moon) at the start of metreological Winter. Butterflies and bees seem a long way off at the moment, but like most things, they’ll be back.

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In a Vase on Monday – love and marriage #teamRebecca

‘You have made a place in my heart where I thought there was no room for anything else. You have made flowers grow where I cultivated dust and stones’. Robert Jordan (1948-2007) author of  The Wheel of Time series of fantasy novels 

Spring is definitely on its way here in Manchester – I LOVE Spring, it lifts my soul. But,as usual the weather is due to change again, so I’m making the most of the sunshine.

The snowdrops have been flowering for a couple of weeks, dwarf irises, crocuses too. I picked some along with some lavender leaves and flower spikes from last year. The vase is purple recycled glass I bought at the Eden Centre, in Cornwall. It’s appeared many times ‘In a Vase on Monday’.

Do have a look at Rambling in the Garden www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/ where bloggers from around the world present their flowers; there’s such amazing diversity and skill. Many thanks to Cathy who hosts IAVOM – she has some stunning iris this week.

20 February 2018 – iris, crocus, snowdrops, lavender in purple glass vase

With my vase I’ve included a print which says some very important words in French, Spanish, Italian German and English 🙂  The Little jar is a wedding favour with a chocolate mousse/pudding. It was luscious. My Chap laughed when I said ‘Oh look another Vase for Monday flowers’ 😉

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20 February 2018 – my vase, sign ‘I love you’ and chocolate mousse jar

It’s been a week full of love for us: it was Valentine’s Day, we always have a relaxed meal at home, unless we’re at a gig 🙂 As ever, My Chap bought me flowers, he does this regularly. I think he likes bouquets nearly as much as I do, but then he does work in the florist industry.

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Adventures around Manchester and beyond…

A very special wedding – My Chap’s nephew Darren and his fiancee Rebecca who awesome people and devoted parents to baby E 🙂 . E enjoyed their day v v much  and she had a wand! how excellent is that?  Darren and Rebecca  got married in a beautiful Georgian Hall, with many snowdrops in the grounds. There was what alot of laughs and fun, there was live music and we danced all night.  Their wedding cake was truely amazing and tasted awesome – a chocolate cake with hidden depths 🙂

There was so much love that day, and every day in their relationship, it’s wonderful to see.

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20 February 2018 – wedding flowers , wands and my wedding shoes 🙂

I wore my sparkly purple floral wedding shoes too 🙂 and Rebecca had beautiful wedding flowers #teamRebecca.  I’m not putting any other pictures at the moment as they’ve not uploaded many – but their wedding cake was utterly awesome.

Food as an expression of love – We’ve had lovely food this week too – pancakes with blueberry sauce on Shrove Tuesday, made by My Chap. I’ve got no idea how he made the sauce but it was lovely.  We a sumptuous Chinese dinner to celebrate the ‘Year of the Dog’ but no photos as we ate it so quickly. My Chap would still love to have a dog but we will have to wait until we are retired…. fingers crossed a cat may be joining us later in the year.

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Here are some crocuses and pansys from our front garden – many more are on their way.

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20 February 2018 -crocuses, primulas and pansies in our front garden

I’m continuing with mindfulness, #savouringHappiness on instragram @becmonton56. Walking for at least an hour each day, weekly yoga too (not quite managing to step it up to daily yoga practise). I’m still very tired, my arthritis aching, but I’m better than I was. And Spring is around the corner…. 🙂

What do you have planned to #savourhappiness this week?

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xx xx xx

lavender in pinkster gin bottle with autumn fruit jam

In a Vase on Monday (not) – luscious lavender and jam at Christmas 

As Rosemary is to the Spirit, so Lavender is to the Soul. Anonymous

Merry Christmas everyone – I’m late to the party as usual for in A Vase on Monday; I’ve been wiped out with flu all week confined to bed, which messed our Christmas plans a bit.

It feels a bit odd writing about lavender at this time of year – it has been a very odd year in many ways – and I don’t just mean the weird weather.  I’ve been back at work over a year, in a new role too, but it takes just about all my energy to do my job and run the basics of life – hence my rather intermittent blogging.  Thank goodness for my Chap who is truly wonderful and takes care of me every day.

Lavender is one of my favourite plants – I adore its scent as well as the flowers.  I have about 15 plants around my sunny, front garden – varieties include Munstead, Hidcote, Vera (White) – They thrive in the fairly rubbly soil.  I’ve got some other lavender in the back garden in pots on the deck – under the conifers that overhang from my neighbour’s garden.  So as you can imagine I was thrilled to find some still flowering in  December – despite the very wet and windy weather we’ve had in Manchester.  I picked these on 23 December 2016.

lavender in pinkster gin bottle with autumn fruit jam

In a Vase on Monday – lavender in v small gin bottle with my prize winning Autumn fruit jam

I’ve written about lavender quite a few times on the blog, but I think this is the first time the flowers have appeared in a vase alone.

As usual, I am joining in with Cathy from Rambling in the Garden who hosts this link up – she has a simple, beautiful, vase of snowberries and rosehips – it looks very wintry and festive.  I do love looking at flowers, plants and vases from around the world – it definitely brightens by days – and my mission for next year is to pick, photo and post more often about the plants from my garden – and be more prompt on Mondays even though Cathy says it doesn’t matter if I’m late.

Women’s Institute prize winning jam – yes really
My jam won ‘tastiest jam’ at our  Women’s Institute weekend away in September.  I am staggered still, as it’s only my second attempt at jam and there was ALOT of competition. We had a wonderful time in the Cheshire countryside at a Scout camp at our Big Weekender – do have a look at the photos :-). I was very chuffed to win this badge 🙂

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Autumn fruit jam (blackberry, apple, raspberry, blueberry, red currant) – a prize winning jam


Recipe – Autumn Fruit Jam

I used 900g mixed soft fruit which included:

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

and 800g  jam sugar (this has more pectin)

Method

  • I put blackberries and apple in first in my maslin pan, added the raspberries and blueberries and topped up with redcurrants.
  • I added the sugar slowly and ensured it melted first, then added a bit more.
  • I simmered and stirred, everything slowly stunned to mush.
  • Keep going til you get a ‘rolling boil’ – the liquid went darker and the bubbles look thicker.
  • To check the jam will set I used the frozen plate method
  • put plate in the freezer – take plate out when ‘rolling boil’ – splodge a blob of jam on the plate – push it to see if jam wrinkles then it’s ready
  • I’ve also got a jam thermometer but i prefer the plate method.
  • My chap ladled the jam into the jars – jam funnel much easier.
  • Jars and lids were washed and ‘cooked’ in oven to sterilise them.
  • pour the jam in when still warm 🙂
  • I’ve made chutney for years but jam is MUCH quicker to do.
lavender in a very small Pinkster gin bottle

lavender in a very small Pinkster gin bottle

lavender in a small pinkster gin bottle

lavender in a small pinkster gin bottle 

If you’re wondering why I picked a Pinkster gin bottle – it’s because it’s flavoured with raspberries 🙂 and these bottles are from gin explorer boxes that come monthly for my Chap from me. It’s a really great way to try out new gins.

The Christmas gin fairy might just have brought a full size bottle too – shame I’m still feeling far too rough to drink anything apart from peppermint tea.  But it’s not all been bad, I’ve been checking out wedding photographers. I’m on the mend slowly, but that’s been the recurring theme of 2016.

I hope you’ve all have a lovely, relaxing Christmas break and that 2017 is a really good year for you.

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xx

 

*I wasn’t asked to write about ‘gin explorer’ and I pay full subscription price for each box.

Red keep calm and carry on sign pink vase flowers

In a vase on Monday – keep calm and carry on

The future depends on what you do today.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) 

It’s been an incredibly busy Summer for us.  The organisation I work for has been through a complex restructure;  I’ve moved team, building and started in a brand new role – so there’s been alot of reading, meeting new people and setting up projects and activities.  I’m enjoying the new role and all the new challenges – rather tiring though and my arthritis and back pain have been giving me gip.   I feel like I’m trudging through treacle at the moment but I know all the knowledge and processes I’m setting up will help me later on.

I’ve been so busy, I’ve not contributed to the ‘In a Vase on Monday’ theme since June which I’ve missed very much. I’ve picked flowers fairly often, and even photographed them a few times but have always run out of time writing the ‘actual’ blog post.  I’ve been looking at everyone’s vases though – the vases and the people and their stories bring me much solace.

I’m hoping I’ll have a bit more time to blog as we head towards Christmas.  There’s less options for flowers/plants for vases but I’ll do my best.

Red keep calm and carry on sign pink vase flowers

Keep calm and carry on – it’s been hectic – In a vase on Monday – 21 September 2016

1. In a Vase on Monday

For this week’s vase, I picked some purple, lilac and pink ‘Spencer’ sweetpeas – they’ve from two different locations one at the front door (you can see them in the background) and the other near our decking at the bottom of the back garden.  The flowers have smelt wonderful. I didn’t fare quite so well with the dwarf sweetpeas – no flowers at all so I don’t think I’ll bother growing them again, I’ve tried growing them for three years but no success.  There’s so little space in our garden everything has to pull its weight.

There’s also some mini red dianthus, some white and red margarite flowers.  Also some pink Pelargonium from a huge plant which I’ve managed to overwinter three times.  There’s some purple wallflowers which survived our mild Mancunian winter – they’ve been flowering all summer too.  And of course, some lavender.  Lavender is one of my favourite plants, I adore the smell. I’ve got about 15 plants in the sunny front garden and a few in the sunniest part of the back garden.   Most of these plants have been flowering most of the summer and have bought us alot of pleasure. We eat out in the garden as much as we can – mind you the weather in Manchester this year has been very changeable (and wet alot of the time).

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(Not) In a Vase on Monday – Remembering the gentle giant

My Chap and I are away in Cornwall this week – the beautiful coastline, countryside and gardens are replenishing my soul – along with some great fish cooked by My Chap :-).  I’ve been reflecting on what a momentous year this has been – I’ve found more inner resilience than I knew I had. I’m a stronger person than I was.

Today’s ‘In a vase on Monday’ is somewhat unconventional – the photo is nearly a year old but I hope you’ll allow me this.

It’s been a year since my friend (and former partner of 20 years) Steve died so suddenly on 30th April 2015.

I could tell you a million stories of Steve – we all have them.   Instead I’m going to tell about the significance of the flowers I chose for his funeral – they reflect his life and interests:

  • A red rose – because he was a proud Lancastrian, he loved the hills, towns and villages of this green and pleasant land
  • Cream roses – like the ones from his beloved mother’s  garden
  • Sea thistle – because he loved the sea
  • Orange blossom to represent his love of Spanish cities and many happy holidays with friends. Our last holiday was to Seville.
  • Eucalyptus – to represent a wonderful holiday to Australia to visit my brother and his family.
  • Purple heather – because he loved Scotland, hillwalking and the hills
  • Rosemary – to reflect his love of cooking – he and my Dad were always discussing recipes. He talked recipes and food with my Chap too – and we cooked together often.
  • Rosemary is for remembrance too
  • And finally lavender – he loved sitting in my garden and loved the smell of lavender.
Flowers for Steve's funeral - roses, rosemary, lavender, sea holly

Flowers for Steve’s funeral – roses, rosemary, lavender, sea holly – 15 May 2015

We read the following poem at Steve’s funeral:

Feel no guilt in laughter

Feel no guilt in laughter, he’d know how much you care.
Feel no sorrow in a smile that he is not here to share.
You cannot grieve forever; he would not want you to.
He’d hope that you could carry on the way you always do.
So, talk about the good times and the ways you showed you cared.
The days you spent together, all the happiness you shared.
Let memories surround you. A word someone may say
Will suddenly recapture a time, an hour, a day,
That brings him back as clearly as though he were still here,
And fills you with the feeling, that he is always near.
For if you keep those moments, you will never be apart
And he will live forever locked safely within your heart.

Author unknown

Steve was a big man with a big personality and he touched so, so many lives.

He has been taken far too soon – Rest in Peace Steve (1967-2015).

We remained friends to the end.

His sudden death affected me deeply – but I have realised how much resilence I have and am getting back to where I want to be.  I couldn’t have done this without the love and support of My Chap, my family, Steve’s family and our many friends.

Life isn’t a dress rehearsal…. so I’m off to pick tulips in the garden of the cottage we are staying in (with permission).  Part 2 of ‘In a vase on Monday’ later…

Carpe Diem

love Bec xxx

I’ve written about Steve elsewhere on my blog:

You can find more about ‘In a vase on Monday’ which is hosted by Cathy at www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com.  today she is celebrating the wedding of her Younger Daughter – Cathy picked flowers from her garden for the bouquet and button holes.    She’s very talented :-).  Reading all the blogs from people around the world showing their flowers has lifted my mood this last year… thank you everyone 🙂

 

 

#100happydays challenge 35-41 – Love, food, poetry, learning and travel

Happiness depends upon ourselves 

Aristotle 384 – 322 BC

It’s been very interesting  thinking everyday about what has made me happy –  it’s often centred around friends and the people I love, travel, food, places and history – our life in and around Manchester – the first industrial city.  Today, it’s a diverse, fascinating and tolerant city.  I’m proud to be an adopted Northerner.

I could, of course, take a picture of something in my garden every day for this challenge – as my garden does truly lift my soul.   Or a picture of my Chap – he has been my rock since the day we met – and particularly this year.

#100happydays is helping me get back to where I want to be.  Continue reading