Tag Archives: Women’s Institute

Spread kindness like confetti – International Kindness Day 

Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world. Annie Lennox – singer 

If you’ve been anywhere near the Internet, or the news, today you can’t possibly have missed that it’s International Kindness Day.  I don’t know about you but I try to be kind to people, ‘stand in their shoes’, ‘treat people as you’d like to be treated yourself’… I don’t always get kindness back, but hey that’s their problem not mine.  But, what I do know is being kind, helps me be a better person.  It also helps when the world around us looks dark, whether it’s Trump, Brexit or people breaking laws.

13 November 2017 – Spread kindness like confetti

One of the best things I found today was the 2017 Kindness Advent Calendar from Helen at Make Today Make Today Happy. Have a look!

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Happiness – one week & five things that helped #3

The weather took a major turn for the worse this week (12-19 May 2017) – it’s hurled down for most of the week, the garden certainly needed it – everything was really parched. But, all the rain meant I didn’t get into the garden much, let alone anywhere else. I’ve also been feeling very tired, and arthritis pain is high.  However, I’m continuning to note down activities, people and things that make me happy or I’m grateful for.

As ever, major thanks to Suzy from www.fromthefringe.co.uk who hosts this weekly gratitude link up.  I think she’ll recognise the lighthouse, as she lives around the corner from me 🙂 Also to Emma from www.misspond.co.uk who inspired me to blog and also writes regular posts on Happiness.  Thank you ladies. One of the things, I love about blogging is meeting (usually virtual) new friends, finding a community and developing a network of people all around the world. I’ve been very grateful for them all these last couple of years.

Here are five things that helped bring me happiness this week:

1. Hen Do arrangements 

Officially, according to tradition (recent tradition, mind you), I shouldn’t be organising my own hen do – but I am.  It’s because I have friends from various parts of my life work, locals, friends from uni, women’s institute and friends I met for random reasons over the last 30 years. My two UK bridesmaids have a lot on in their lives at the moment. One lives in London and is doing a Masters. The other is local to me in Lancashire, but she has a very hectic family life, busy life and her own 25th wedding anniversary do to arrange.   I thought I’d get the ball rolling so I asked everyone what they might want to do… So I’ve done a survey – I want to give people a chance to get to know each other, potter around Manchester, and also have some fun.  No dressing up, no tackiness, no clubbing (I’m too nackered). I am quite sure an Afternoon Tea will be involved 🙂

2. A visit to Salford Angels Women’s Institute 

I’ve been a member of Cottonopolis WI (since it started in January 2015), we meet in Ancoats, just north of Manchester city centre, on the first Wednesday of the month (7.30pm). Do come along if you’re a local. There’s always cake 🙂

I’ve written a few times about WI means to me; the fun, camping, adventures and excellent meetings and speakers – it’s most definitely not jam and Jerusalem – it’s been a campaigning organisation since its inception in 1915, lobbying for equal pay, The WI were founding members of both the ‘fair trade’ and ‘Keep Britain Tidy’.

One of the great things about all the new WI’s around Great Manchester is we do lots of joint activities and people attend other WI meetings – so I know ladies all over the city.  So on Thursday I went off to see the Salford Angels and had a lovely evening, with plenty of cake.

3. A walk around our neighbourhood – Monton in Salford

My Chap and I went for a walk around the neighbourhood after we’d had our tea. It’s something we do often in the summer evenings. We have a good look at all the flowers and plants in front gardens, noticing plants for our garden.  It was lovely to chat about this and that, nothing complicated or heavy, just a good chat and a laugh or two.

We are lucky to live in Monton, in Salford. It’s very green place, the Bridgewater Canal is at the end of my street, Worsley Woods are a mile, or so away, and there’s a couple of golf courses (not that we play – but there are many footpaths).  There’s even a parkrun at the end of our street.

It has a lighthouse that’s 30 miles from the North Sea (it’s really a garden shed) – just another reason why Monton is a bit quirky.

Red and white lighthouse, with two canal barges by the Bridgewater Canal

19 May 2017 – the lighthouse by the Bridgewater Canal, at Monton, Salford -30 miles from the sea!

4. Lunch with my pal C

I had a great time catching up with my good pal, hearing all her news and discussing my news – it really lifted my spirits. She’s a good listener. I’ve known C for over 12 years, we shared an office at work. She’s an IT geek and I’m not 🙂 Our birthdays are a couple of days apart, we usually go out to celebrate our birthdays, involving cocktails. Annual trips to Manchester Christmas markets, days out to Dunham Massey. Shes part of the Cottonopolis WI posse too – and obviously, she and her husband will be at our wedding in September.

5. My Gardening magazines arrived

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I love our garden and gardening.  Ive been a bit lax about take part in In a Vase on Monday recently, but I’ve got my eye on some margarites for next week. Bloggers get involved from all around the world. Their beautiful flowers lift my mood when I’m feeling low. This link hosted by Cathy at:

This week my Gardeners’ World and Royal Horticultural Society Magazine arrived. I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking through deciding what we might plant, or if money and space were available. The Gardeners’  World is very accessible for beginner gardeners like me, the RHS one helps with plant pests, plants that might suit our shady, north facing soggy back garden – and Latin plant names too.

We’ve been to RHS Tatton Park garden show most years (we are going again this year), but I only got around to joining RHS last year.  I can’t tell you how excited I am that the 5th RHS garden Bridgewater will be a mile or so from our house up the canal (hence it’s name). It’s great for Salford in so many ways, not least employment and training. Watch this space, as it develops – work has started, it opens in 2019 – the plants need time to grow 🙂

What have you been grateful for this week?

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xxx

This weekly gratitude post covers:

  • Week 3 – Friday 12 May – Thursday 19 May 2017
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 🙂

apple blackberry raseberry jam

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.

In a Vase on Monday – first and latest fuchsias

In search of my Mother’s garden, I found my own. 

Alice Walker, writer (1942- )

Hardy fuchsias are tough – mine have been flowering well, despite very wet and windy weather in Manchester.  By the time I got outside, in daylight, to pick the fuchsias the rain had pulverised the flowers on two of the three bushes I have planted around the garden.  These are picked from the bush outside the kitchen window, as it’s more protected from the elements.  I took the photo at 2pm with a flash, as it was so gloomy.

pink and purple fuchsia, pink dianthus and cotoneaster in hand painted lavender pattern vase

21 Nov 2016 – fuchsia, pink dianthus and cotoneaster in hand painted (by me!) vase at 2pm in the gloom.

Fuchsias are the first flowers I remember in my Mum’s garden when I was very little – I thought they were like ballerinas.  My Mum adores fuchsias, and has always had lots of hardy and tender ones all around the garden in pots.  I grew up in Berkshire and our garden was heavy London clay so many of her favourite plants were in terracotta pots on the patio – I learnt to garden with her.   My Mum is  nearly 80 now (please don’t tell her I said that 😉 ) and still has many pots filled with fuchsia, around her large patio – and often brings another fuchsia for our collection.  My Chap just smiles and finds another space for them.

I’ve cut cotoneaster too, which is next to the fuchsia by the front door, the bush is covered in red berries and the leaves are turning red – it looks glorious – I don’t know the variety as this was one of the few plants in the garden when I arrived. The cotoneaster is proping up the fuchsia stems just like it does in the garden. The dianthus  was a gift and this is the very last flower – the plant never really got going this year as it’s been so wet.  I bought the fuchsia in Morrisons of all places and it’s tom thumb (or a relative) – It grows to window hight which makes a lovely view when I’m washing up.

21 Nov 2016 - cotoneaster, hardy fuchsia and pink dianthus

21 Nov 2016 – cotoneaster, hardy fuchsia and pink dianthus

I decided to take a photo indoors too – I rarely do take indoor photos of anything as my house is quite dark (north facing) and small so there’s always something in the background.

21 Nov 2016 - cotoneaster, fuchsia and dianthus in my hand painted lavender vase.

21 Nov 2016 – cotoneaster, fuchsia and dianthus in my hand painted lavender vase.

I painted the jug at ‘Pottery Corner’ in Chorlton*, Manchester in March 2016, using glass paint.  It’s just one of the many things I’ve done with my WI pals from Cottonopolis WI www.cottonopoliswi.com, in Ancoats in Manchester.  I was really pleased with how well they came out, as I’m quite clumsy and not much of an artist.  Do come along if you’re local or look out for a WI – it’s not what you think it will be like 🙂

purple vase and jug - hjandpainted by me at Pottery Corner, Chorlton

March 2016 – Painted vase and jug – I painted at Pottery Corner, Chorlton, Manchester with the lovely Cottonopolis Women’s Institute.

Looking back – first fuchsias (and first terracotta pots) 

I looked back on Facebook and found some photos of the first pots I had in my garden.  My Mum came up to visit in May 2010, bringing some spare terracotta pots, and we spent a happy few hours planting them up.  The number of terracotta pots has grown rather alot since then 🙂

Pink, purple fuchsia, petunia, lobelia' helicrysum, pelagoniums in Pots. Copyright R Jones

First pots in my garden (with fuchsia, petunia, lobelia’ helicrysum, pelagoniums) – August 2010

hanging basket and pot with pink petunias, fuchsia and lobelia - orange rose

19 November 2016 – Flowers from my garden in Summer 2010 – my first pot and hanging basket,  with my solitary rose

In August 2010, I wrote  (on facebook),

more pots in my garden – I had such fun planning these… could be turning into a closet gardener…

In fact, I’ve always been a gardener but I lived in flats in Manchester for over 20 years, so had no opportunity to do much.  I’d garden when I was at home at my Mum and Dad’s house down South.   A small garden was the number one priority when I was looking for a house to buy.

I wrote about my Mum and her love of gardening in one of my early posts in February 2015 and fuchsias get a mention too.   Considering how many fuchsias I have around the garden, and how long they flower for, I’m really surprised how rarely they’ve appeared in posts or in Vases:

I love fuchsias and have plenty of tender ones which live in the garage over the winter (as we don’t have space for a greenhouse).   I really must remember to pick and photograph more fuchsias next year.

I’m dreaming of Spring and planting bulbs in pots in the porch where it’s dry and my Chap is distributing the pots around the garden.  This week Cathy has a very zingy pink Chrysanthumum which is making me think of high summer.  Do have a look at her post on Rambling in the Garden, where people from around the world post pictures of flowers from their gardens and localities.  No matter how grey and wet the weather is, these beautiful photos and descriptions lift my mood.

Have a lovely week and I hope it’s dry where you are.

Carpe Diem

love Bec xx

* I paid full price for my painted vases and wasn’t asked to write a blog post about Pottery Corner.

 

Vase with Hypericum, Rudbeckia, Hydrangea

In a Vase on Monday -friends, flowers and the future – it’s never too late

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.  Marcel Proust 1871-1922

This week is the third birthday of ‘In a Vase on Monday’ hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. This week she asked us to join her and write on the theme of three.   Cathy’s blog post really resonated with me, her kind words in my difficult times last year really helped me, as did her fellow gardening bloggers from all across the world.  Reading their blogs and all the beautiful flowers lifted me so much… and inspired me to plant, prune and grow.  I’ve picked three kinds of plants to represent three groups of my friends.

  • Lacecap hydrangea – these are white, fading to pink and then finally the delicate brown of the lace which look beautiful through the winter. It’s planted in my front garden and it makes me smile every time I leave the house.
  • Rudbeckia – The dark one is ‘Cappuccino’; I don’t know the name of the bright yellow one. I bought it at Monton festival. There are hundreds of varieties of Rudbeckia.
  • Hypericum – which has small yellow flowers in the spring which change to red berries in late summer and black berries in the autumn. This plant was in my front garden when I bought my house seven years ago.   So much has changed since then but so much has stayed the same.

My friends have helped me so much especially these last 18 months, just as my garden has.  Writing my blog helped me too even though most of the time I was so exhausted, I could barely string a sentence together or take photos.    I’m feeling so much better now, but my new role means reams reading, many people to meet and numerous projects to plan, so  less time for getting outdoors, let alone blogging.
My mission for 2017 is to be much more organised!

Vase with Hypericum, Rudbeckia, Hydrangea

13 November 2016 – 3rd birthday for In a Vase on Monday -Hypericum, Rudbeckia, Hydrangea

These flowers represent just some of my friendships –

  • Hydrangea – my Women’s Institute friends (some are old friends and some new) Inspiring Women every one of them – We’re members of Cottonopolis WI, in Ancoats, in Manchester www.cottonopoliswi.com– do come along if you’re local
  • my pals from work who come from so many places near and far (like the many varieties of Rudbeckia), some of them I’ve known for nearly 20 years and others are much more recent arrivals in my life.
  • and my Monton pals who’ve always been here with me  🙂 like the Hypericum.

The square vase is a gift from one of my oldest friends from University in Stirling – I’ve known her and my other Uni pals thirty years this autumn.  How did that happen ;-)? I feel 31 in my head apart from when my arthritis, aches and pains are playing up.  They’ve been such a support to me over so many years, but especially these last 18 months.

Cathy also talks about how picking flowers for her Vase has made her very observant about her garden.   This certainly chimes with me – noticing what is in my garden, what’s in bud, flowering, what’s gone over – and also what’s been munched by the slugs.  It helps with my mindfulness, which is one of the  activities which helps me daily.  She also says it’s humbling to read how the meme has changed people’s lives.  I know it’s changed mine.

Thank you Cathy

I know how much though goes into Cathy’s comments on every blog that links up to the meme.  Her words helped me so much when I was feeling so overwhelmed and exhausted.

And I’m sure this will make Cathy smile – as usual I’m late with my contribution.  I don’t think I’ll count up how often I’ve actually posted on a Monday and how often I’ve missed the day – oops. Cathy says it doesn’t matter so I guess I’ll keep picking vases and posting them a bit late.

It’s been a very hectic at work – and frankly it’s been another momentous week for the world.  So I’ve been reflecting this week about remembrance, friendship and the future.

  • I joined in with ‘In a Vase on Monday’ on 16 March 2015 only a couple of weeks after I started blogging – tête-à-tête daffodils and iris.  I’ve planted daffodils for next Spring this week – how appropriate 🙂
13 November 2016 - 3rd birthday for In a Vase on Monday -Hypericum, Rudbeckia, Hydrangea

13 November 2016 – 3rd birthday for In a Vase on Monday -Hypericum, Rudbeckia, Hydrangea

RHS Bridgewater – their 5th Garden here in the North West of England

This week I went to a public meeting about the plans for the new Royal Horticultural Society Bridgewater Garden on the site of Worsley New Hall in Salford.   It’s called Bridgewater because the canal runs to the south of the site.

  • There’s a sneak preview on the RHS website – and they’re asking the public for comments via email.
  • The plans look wonderful, they will repair the walled kitchen garden, repair the Victorian cottages and bring them back into use.
  • There will be low glass buildings, with cedar cladding and wild flower roofs.  It goes to Salford planning committee in December, with work starting Spring 2017.
  • There will be 140 jobs created at the garden, many volunteering opportunities, education, and support for schools, young people and the local community.  They will repurpose the disused terraces and formal gardens, repair the lake and put in a new one.
  • The first phase will open in 2019 (the area in the SW on the map) as the plants need to grow :-).

 The garden will be about a half hour walk from our house along the canal.   I’ll be a regular visitor; just like my Mum who’s a regular visitor at Wisley.  We often walk up to Worsley Green and the Woods, no one can believe how lovely it is despite being in the middle of the city.  We’ve been getting out on more walks around Lancashire and Greater Manchester too, so fingers crossed I might get up a small hill or two next year.

I can’t tell you how excited I am.   It will be stunning…  a new beginning.

In other news, we think we’ve found our wedding venue for September 2017.  It won’t be a surprize that it has a beautiful garden.

My Chap is my rock – he has truly helped my soul blossom – he IS my new beginning.

As Robert Ford (1874-1963), the American poet, who knew a thing or two about the rural life, said:

In three words I can some up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.  Robert Ford (1874-1963)

Carpe Diem indeed!

Much Love

Bec

xx

spring wreath - tulips, roses,

In a vase on Monday (not)- Spring wreath

Inspiring Women – motto of the Women’s Institute 

I went on a wonderful adventure last weekend – a flower arranging course in a Georgian mansion in the beautiful village of Marcham, in Oxfordshire.   It wasn’t just in any old place – I went to Denman College which is part of the Women’s Institute.

Denman is home of the cookery school, craft and lifestyle courses – there are over 500 courses each year from day courses to week long ones covering all sorts of topics – not just what you’d expect from the WI – cooking, preserves, crafting, dress making, etc. They have classes on history, writing, dancing, drumming, as well as lots of trips and walks.

It was a spur of the moment thing to go – I’ve had such a rough time last year and things are hard going at work, because of departmental mergers. I thought of the contributors to ‘In a vase on Monday’ from all around the world and especially our host Cathy – so much inspiration and support from everyone.  I’ve learnt alot about flower arranging since I started my blog in February last year, though I mostly ‘plonk’ flowers in vases.  I thought now was a good time to learn more.   Also a change of scene – Denman and it’s 17 acres looked amazing on the photos.   So I ‘seized the day’!

spring wreath - tulips, roses,

Spring wreath I made at Women’s Institute Denman College – 1st April 2016

Do have a look at Cathy’s vase over at ‘Rambling in the Garden‘ – she has some beautiful tulips this week. Quite a few of my fellow – vase fillers have chosen tulips this week too.  My tulips in the garden are nearly ready to bloom – lots of purple and white ones from what I remember.   They’re one of my favourite flowers so I’ve planted many in the garden this year,  which seem to have escaped the squirrels – hurrah!

So today’s ‘In a vase on Monday’ isn’t what it should be – not posted on a Monday (Sunday!), not flowers from my garden and not a vase…. so I hope you don’t mind.

  • most of flowers and foliage are from Christine Pearce’s (the tutor) north facing garden in Abingdon in Oxfordshire, or from around the grounds of Denman (with permission) and the roses, tulips and carnation are from the wholesaler. – I hope this counts as ‘local’ for purposes of ‘In a vase on Monday’.
  • flowers – tulips, carnations and roses
  • foliage – Elaeagnus, rosemary, ivy, cornus, Choisya, euonymus
  • wreath base – hessian and hay with a block of oasis at the bottom right.
  • the wreath has a tiny vase in it – can you spot it?
  • I used Oasis for the first time – not too complicated considering everything… and I’ll definitely make more wreaths

My Chap was very impressed!

Wreath Repair 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Spring wreath with the first tulip from the garden by our front door- 4th April 2016

The wreath needed a bit of repair when it got home as it was warm in the classroom and the car…droopy tulips – so I added the first tulip from our garden and a tête a tête.

tulip and daffs Collage

I’m going to write more about my time at Denman in other posts:

  • how to make this Spring wreath – surprisingly simple to do and my first time using Oasis.
  • pot fleur flower arrangement – my 2nd arrangement on the course.
  • my hand tied bouquet with Spring flowers – 3rd arrangement – v simple and logical to do.
  • staying at Denman College – for a Women’s Institute newbie like me 🙂
fountain, garden and view of the house at Denman College,

Denman College – the training centre for the Women’s Institute, Marcham Oxfordshire – 3 April 2016

Anyone can attend a course at Denman – you don’t need to be a member of the WI or a woman! People hold weddings there too.

Fountain and summer house at Denman College - 3 April 2016

Fountain and summer house at Denman College – 3 April 2016

I had a truly wonderful time, in a beautiful location, great food but most of all, with some lovely ladies (mostly from the WI and some not) – the sun was shining too.  I’ll definitely be back.

Carpe Diem

love Bec xx

Note: I paid full price for my course at Denman College and neither Denman or the Women’s Institute asked me to write a blog post about my visit.