Six on Saturday 27th February

It looks so nice outside, the sun’s shining bright and people walking past our house aren’t all togged up in hats and scarves. Unfortunately we’re still in self isolation until midnight tonight so we can’t go for a walk to soak up the sun, but, we can go in the garden. It’s still a bit chilly and damp for me to be tempted to do any actual gardening but I am gearing up for it. I can feel the enthusiasm creeping back in!

I suspect my first point will feature in many Sixes this week. Daffodils! Finally the first of them have opened out so we can see their beautiful faces.

Isn’t that just a photo of pure joy? I just love love LOVE daffodils and everything they stand for! As far as I’m concerned, the only downside to daffodils is that they’re poisonous to cats so I can’t fill our house with vases and vases of their beautiful yellowness! Even the water that they’re kept in becomes poisonous to cats as I found out to my dismay when our pussy cat Willow drank it some years ago. Willow’s not with us anymore (not because of the daff incident) but I still feel guilty that drinking the water made her poorly. Daffs must be really poisonous because the water literally made a reappearance within a matter of minutes, if not seconds.

Speaking of our feline friends …..

….. this one doesn’t belong to us (our girls are house cats) but he (we think) visits our garden every day and he’s learnt to trust us and happily strolls up for head rubs and fuss. He does have an owner (he wears a collar) and is obviously well cared for because his fur is always well groomed but he seems to enjoy our garden. We’re animal lovers so we do encourage wildlife to visit our garden whenever we can.

According to Monty Don, you should be able to organise your garden and its eco-system so that it all supports itself and you should have minimal issues with pests because the birds will eat the lily beetle larvae and the ladybirds will eat the aphids etc. etc. However, despite the aforementioned black cat’s best efforts, squirrels are far too quick and clever to be caught, which means they just carry on carrying on with their daily business largely unfettered.

This is evidenced in the above photo. All week, from my home office, I’ve been watching a squirrel diligently gathering grass and carrying it off to next door’s jungle presumably to build a drey. I was hoping it was doing me a favour by clearing all the dead fronds to save me a job, but, no! It’s been busily decimating my festuca intense grasses. Cheeky squirrel! It’s a good job he’s cute. Hopefully the grasses will recover and we’ll see baby squirrels soon.

Last weekend I did do a little bit of actual gardening until it started raining.

I repotted my blueberry bush. Luckily I had some ericaceous compost leftover from last year in the shed. It’s showing signs of regrowth this week so I’m hopeful that I might get lots of antioxidant rich blueberries in a few months.

I took delivery of three raspberry canes last week and I planted them in our raised bed and now I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I tried to grow raspberries a couple of years ago and they just died on me. Someone told me they don’t like to be planted too deep so I’ve planted these ones just enough to cover their roots. Someone else told me that cutting the canes to fifteen centimetres after they’re planted can encourage off shoots so I’ve hedged my bets and cut two of them but left one as it was when it arrived. I really hope I get some raspberries this year.

Finally for this week, is a little bit of cuteness! This Harry Potter meerkat has been keeping watch over my sempervivum pot for a couple of years. You can see in the second photo what the pot looked like when I bought it. More than half of the plants didn’t make it through last winter and the survivors looked a bit sad in the original big pot, so I decided to repot it in my wicker sheep.

That’s that for this week. I’m off to check out other Sixes now at the Propagator’s blog and after that I may go and wander round the garden dreaming of tomorrow’s freedom!

Six on Saturday 20th February

I have felt like a different person this week and it’s all because the days are getting longer and warmer! We’re self isolating at the moment pending the results of a Covid test so a wander around the garden this morning was a pleasant change from being indoors! The garden appears to be pleased with the change in weather as well and things are finally starting to show signs of Spring. So happy!!

First up is this pussy willow. I bought this last year, pre-lockdown when I was still in the office and, therefore, in Notcutts most lunchtimes. I’d definitely started my new job because I remember showing my new boss so it was sometime between 3rd February (new job day) and 18th March (last day in the office). It was covered in its little furry catkins when I bought it, so I have high hopes for the next couple of weeks. It’s currently trying to grow its first catkin for this year. I couldn’t get the camera to focus on it unless I put my hand behind it!

My next picture made me very happy. When I went out into the garden this time last week there was absolutely no sign of my crocuses so I assumed that one of our many squirrels had feasted on them, but I went out today, and what do you know? There they are!

Behind the newly discovered crocuses is a row of daffodils that have bravely faced the snow and come out the other side. According to Timehop, in the last two years we’ve had fully open daffs by now, but I guess the snow has slowed them this year because this is the stage we’re at right now. Not far off though, eh? Hopefully by next week’s Six I’ll be able to proudly show off a fully blooming daff.

Next up, another one that made me smile. Lupin regrowth! This was new last year and it looks like it’s going to grace us with its presence again this year. If I’m honest, I didn’t expect it to. I had a lupin before which died as soon as I planted it. I must’ve done something right with this one. I’m sure I bought two last year, but I didn’t see any sign of the other.

Last week I shared a photo of a skeleton pink damask flower, and this week I’m able to share a snap of the regrowth coming through. This will be tall and willowy in no time, but the flowers won’t appear for a few months yet.

Final point for today is another little surprise. I was worried that this hydrangea wouldn’t survive because all of last year’s dead blooms got knocked off somehow and I was concerned that the frost would get in it, but there are definite signs of new growth here.

All in all today’s wander around the garden was the most encouraging I’ve seen it for some time. I think I have lost some plants to the cold and snow, but not as many as I feared when I went out last week. There is a LOT of tidying up that needs doing, the weeds are starting to come through and there’s lots of winter detritus that needs sweeping and raking up. I was hoping to be able to do some of that today, but it’s been quite wet and wet gardening is miserable, so I’m going to leave it till things have dried out a bit. I feel like, now I’ve learnt a bit more about gardening, what works and what doesn’t, and I’ve learnt how our garden reacts to things, I need to sit down and plan it out a little bit rather than saving random plants from sale tables and plonking them in wherever they’ll fit. I shall head off to the Propagator’s blog now to check out some other Sixes for inspiration.

Happy Valentine’s Day


I know some people are cynical about Valentine’s Day, we’ve all heard someone say ‘every day should be Valentine’s Day’, but let’s face it, that’s just not feasible is it? Life gets in the way, and that’s perfectly normal. Others say it’s a made up day for commercial gain, well, you know what, Winnie the Pooh Day’s made up too and I’m not going to stop celebrating that either! What’s wrong with taking the time and putting the effort in to celebrate your love on one day a year?

This time last year we celebrated the day with a meal at one of our favourite restaurants, Los Banditos.

As you can probably tell from the name, this is a Mexican restaurant and the food is always top notch! I nearly always have chicken fajitas. The eagle-eyed amongst you might notice that on my skillet is steak. I remember now that the staff were run off their feet and also dealing with one very large and very demanding table (for demanding read rude) and I felt awful telling them they’d brought me steak instead of chicken, but they swapped it quickly and all was well.

As an aside, I can’t believe how much my hair’s grown in a year! I’ll have to put that jumper on to check, but I reckon it’s down to the middle of the next white diamonds now.

Anyway, I digress. This year’s been a bit different. Obviously we couldn’t eat out and hubby is now at work, and I met my sister-in-law for a walk early doors, but in between times we have celebrated in our own unique way.

First I made us an afternoon tea. Ok, so maybe it’s a bit more relaxing if you don’t have to make the afternoon tea yourself, but the benefit of making it yourself is that you get to choose exactly what’s on it!

Our heart-shaped sandwiches were filled with tuna mayonnaise and sweetcorn, cheese and pickle and cheese and red onion mayo (hubby is still being pescatarian so no meat today).

We also had olives and crisps (Walker’s Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli – the king of sharing crisps!) which you wouldn’t normally get with an afternoon tea.

I didn’t take an individual photo of the scones, but they were yummy. It’s such a shame that for something so delicious, they get overshadowed by controversy! First of all, no one seems to be able to work out how to pronounce them! Is it scone as in gone or scone as in flown? It’s perfectly simple as far as I’m concerned – it has a magic ‘e’ on the end, therefore my scone is flown! But then that theory doesn’t work for gone. No wonder people get confused by the English language! Then we have the cream or jam first debate. Are we supposed to go the Devon way of cream first and jam on top, or do we follow Cornish traditions and slather on the jam first with a dollop of cream on top? I go with Devon. Surely the cream is a substitute for butter, and when would you ever put butter on top of your jam? Also, if you have decent clotted cream, then it will be significantly more dense than your jam, meaning it’s much easier to spread jam on the cream than vice versa. Maybe it depends whether you think of your scone as a savoury treat that happens to have a sweet topping, or as a dessert. I think of a scone as essentially a savoury snack, hence my feeling that the cream is a butter substitute, but if you think of it as a dessert, then I guess the cream would go second in the same way that you would put cream on the top of an apple pie, not the other way round. I don’t think there will ever be a definitive answer on this, but I am perfectly prepared to do extensive personal research in search of the solution!

I may be shot down for saying this, but I always feel that an afternoon tea is too heavily weighted towards the sweet with insufficient sandwiches so I redressed the balance. We had one main cake which was my banana bread which is the easiest thing in the world to make, and I do so most times that we have over ripe bananas to use up, and I made some dark chocolate dipped strawberries to go on the side.

Yum, yum and some more yum!!

After we’d devoured our afternoon tea, we laid out all my craft supplies on the table. Hubby is back at work at the hospital and even though he’s not working on the Covid wards, he’s obviously still at higher risk of coming into contact with the virus so he’s doing his best not to go in shops so he doesn’t inadvertently pass it on, so we decided to make our Valentines cards this year.

Here’s his card to me.

Quite minimalist and tasteful I think …. until you look inside!

Still, he’s thinking outside of the box by decorating the inside of it. He was laughing to himself as he was gluing away and said at one point, ‘you’ll just have to tell people V made it!’ V is my five year old niece. This might be feasible if she didn’t live over a hundred miles away (and she also probably wouldn’t have made me married to a one armed, naked husband). However, I love it and we had lots of fun together making the cards.

Mine to him is a bit more cohesive, shall we say!

It doesn’t have buttons and a ladybird inside though!

I hope everyone who wants to is managing to celebrate this day of love in the best ways, despite not being able to do the usual kind of things. I’ve probably enjoyed this Valentine’s Day more than any other I’ve ever had.