Quick Catch Up

Here I am again! Twice in as many days. This is going to be a very random outpouring of news I fear! Sorry in advance – think of it as eclectic!

I’ve entitled this ‘quick’, but in reality it is anything but because my nails have got so long, it’s really hard to type accurately! I was recommended a new nail technician and I’ve been religiously going to her for beautiful sparkly gel nails every three weeks.

These are what I’ve had so far.

The last set had to be less glitterified because I had a very important work event which required professionalism! I’ll tell you more about that enough another time, but suffice it to say, it worked! It led to another work event which happened to be on the day that I was due to get my nails re-done hence they’re now REALLY long! I’m not due to get them done for almost another two weeks, but I will be going for full on sparkle overload ready for the festive season.

What else have I been up to? I did some baking. I bought some fabulous cookie cutters a few weeks ago and I really wanted to try them out, but didn’t want to completely scupper my diet plan so I scoured t’internet for a diet friendly cookie recipe and found one that didn’t break the diet bank.

It swapped sugar for sweetener and only used a small amount of low fat spread instead of butter.

Here they are pre-baking.

They lost some of their shape in the oven but I was still pretty pleased with how they turned out.

I won’t lie, they weren’t as tasty as Millie’s or Maryland cookies, but I was happy enough to offer them to my Dad (sweet things connoisseur) and C when they came to visit.

That visit was a mercy mission for our little Olive. She recently learnt how to hop up on to the banister at the top of the stairs.

Doesn’t she look pleased with herself?

Cats aren’t always as surefooted as they’re reputed to be and our poor Olive slipped off the banister and fell top to bottom, right down to the hall below. We put the cardboard turrets on the posts, as you can see in the photo, but it didn’t stop her jumping up.

So, Dad to the rescue ……

We have a safety shelf to catch floundering felines! Of course, to the best of our knowledge she hasn’t toppled off since it’s been safe to do so, but at least we have peace of mind.

Last weekend was super busy. On Friday I was in London for the annual ISTA (International Steel Trade Association) lunch at the Brewery. I completely forgot to take any photos which is a shame because the food’s always beautifully presented. We enjoyed salmon mi cuit for our first course. I’m glad I didn’t know that mi cuit means half cooked until after I’d eaten it because it would’ve put me off but it was really tasty. The main course was Hunter’s Chicken but it wasn’t Hunter’s Chicken like you get in the pub down the road! It was super posh Hunter’s Chicken and was scrummy. The dessert was pear sponge pudding with ice cream and completed a trio of deliciousness.

The speeches were shorter than usual, which I think was a good thing because the state of the steel industry isn’t good so many more words would just have added to the gloom. The ‘celebrity’ speaker was Dr Phil Hammond, who I’d never heard of, and after hearing him, I think I’ll just forget him again! It was a good day though, I caught up with some old friends, met some new friends and ate some yummy food – what’s not to like?

On Saturday I travelled back down to London. If I’d known further in advance I could’ve stayed overnight on Friday to save all the travelling, but hey, never mind. I’d already arranged with my Dad that he’d drop me at Uxbridge tube station and he’d go to the Harry Potter Studios in Watford whilst I jumped on the tube to South Kensington. Destination? The Royal Albert Hall …

… to watch the Champions Tennis.

I arrived a little early so I had a quick wander around the Prince Albert Memorial statue in Kensington Gardens.

Prince Albert is surrounded on all four corners by representations of Europe, America, Asia and Africa.

I took my seat in the Royal Albert Hall in good time and, whoop, I was on the front row! Great view!

I was slightly disappointed to have a net in front of me, and I experimented with taking photos through the holes, until, that is David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferrero took to the court and started practising their serves! I’ll take a net on my photos over a one hundred plus mile per hour tennis ball in the nose!

My photos aren’t great because of the net and because the iPhone isn’t great at capturing action photos, but as well as Ferrer and Ferrero …

I also saw Tim Henman and Goran Ivanisevic …

… playing with Mark Philippousis and Xavier Malisse.

There was also an exhibition doubles with Heather Watson, Martina Hingis, Thomas Enqvist and the ever popular Mansour Bahrami.

I had a great day. Dad, meanwhile had a great day at the Harry Potter Studios. He reported that the studios were dressed for Christmas …

… and he was very impressed with the new Gringotts exhibit which hubby and I saw back in May.

On Sunday we went to the Good Food Show with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and again I forgot to take any pictures! It was a good day though. We sampled lots of gin, cheese and curry and managed not to spend too much money on gimmicks! Last year we all bought frying pans which were supposed to revolutionise our cooking lives. Needless to say, said frying pans ended up in the bin quite quickly when they failed in their promise! I did buy several skinny syrups which I’m now enjoying on my porridge and baked oats in the mornings.

This weekend has been much more about upcoming festivities. On Friday I went to Resorts World to check out the shops and grab a bite to eat, and they’re in full on Christmas mode.

It seemed the right time to get festive at home, so, the decs are up!

So, there you have it. A round up of the last couple of weeks. Hopefully it’s not too disjointed, but if it is,just remember …. eclectic!

Six on Saturday 7th December

I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks, and I’ve missed my creative blogging time. I’ve just had a lot on and haven’t found time to write. It also feels like I spend my whole life tired at this time of year so even when I have found myself with a few spare moments in which I could’ve shared what I’ve been up to, my brain’s been too sleepy to work!

I will try to find some time tomorrow to write a general catch up post of what’s been going on in the land of Green Girl Gardener over the past few weeks, although some of it I’ll have to tease you with because I have to keep some of my exciting news under my hat for now.

Anyway, enough of that and on to my first Six of December. It may also be the last of December – the impending festive season means a distinct lack of free time on Saturdays. We’ll see, maybe I’ll be able to squeeze one more in.

1. Hydrangeas

We have one Hydrangea in the back garden which was gifted to us by my in laws when we moved into our house. I finally planted it out at the end of Summer 2018 and it’s done well this year having more room to spread its roots.

However, when I checked it this morning …..

….. something has trampled it and broken off some of the faded flower heads. This, I think, is not good news. The old flowers protect the next year’s growth underneath so now I’m concerned that it might be damaged before the weather improves. Incidentally, please excuse the weeds – this area was almost inaccessible throughout the Summer because the Sweet Pea frame was in the way.

We have another Hydrangea in the front garden which I salvaged from a sale table this Summer, and it did really well and looked so pretty all Summer. I’m hoping it’ll get quite big and fill the corner of the garden.

I was really surprised to come out this morning and find some new growth on it.

I can’t remember what variety it is, but I’m sure it’s not supposed to bloom at Christmas!

2. Roses

We have lots! I love them!

This one is a patio Rose that’s in a pot on our bistro and it’s still valiantly trying to flower for me. There’s a teeny tiny spider currently making a home in its petals.

This one I think could be described as a mummified Rose! It’s my Rose Hot Chocolate which did really well this year. It’s become somewhat lanky so it needs a hard prune. I’ll have to check when to do it.

Finally, in the front we have beautiful Rose hips. This Rose was in the garden when we bought the house so I don’t know what variety it is, but it’s lovely.

3. Staying in the front garden, the Camellia has buds!

This also seems early. It flowers oh too briefly in very late Spring/early Summer and I’m always sad when the beautiful pink flowers turn brown and drop. I hope any potential cold snaps don’t ruin its chances of flowering next year.

4. Daffodils

Close inspection of the area in front of my birthday planter this morning revealed Daffodil shoots emerging. ALREADY! I’m sure they didn’t peek their heads into the world before Christmas last year. No sign of the Crocuses yet though. I wish I’d planted more Daffodil bulbs this Autumn. Last year I planted these ones in a row and whilst I loved their cheery yellow joy in the Spring, I think they’d have had more impact if I’d have planted them in clusters rather than a straight line.

5. There’s good news and bad news in the greenhouse. I always eat my sprout (singular!) first when eating my Christmas dinner so in a similar vein of getting the worst out of the way first I’ll show you the bad news first.

These were my cuttings, emphasis on the past tense! So disappointing. They were doing so well and now they’re really not! I don’t know what went wrong. Too cold? Too damp?

Anyway, sprout dealt with so on to the turkey and roasties.

The Fuchsias and Gazania seem to be coping ok with the cold. According to my thermometer, it’s been down to – 1.5° in the greenhouse. Let’s hope it doesn’t get any colder (for my sake as well as the plants!)

6. In case I don’t manage to squeeze another Six in before Christmas, I’m going to finish with Euphorbia ‘Rudolph’ for obvious reasons!

Unfortunately the reason for its seasonal moniker isn’t obvious during the festive season. You can just about see the pink tinge still but during the Summer it had bright red ‘noses’ just like Rudolph. This was from the sale table in Notcutts and I’m really pleased with how well it’s done.

I’m really late finishing this post this week (I started it at about half eleven this morning in the hairdresser’s) so if you pop over to the Propagator’s blog there’ll be plenty of other Sixes to catch up with in his comments. I’ll try to be back tomorrow with another post to make up for my extended absence.

Six on Saturday 16th November 2019

Is it officially still Autumn? It doesn’t feel like it (especially not as I have a man in my porch fitting a smart meter meaning the gas is turned off hence no heating!) It’s soul destroyingly Wintery.

Anyway, I went wandering in the garden this morning to snap some pics for a Six and the sign in my greenhouse seemed very apt.

I think I’ll start in the greenhouse for number one. It’s chilly in there as is corroborated by both my posh and accurate thermometer …

… and my pretty but slightly less trustworthy thermometer.

The cuttings are having a very similar reaction to the cold as I am – a bit lacklustre and definitely not as happy as a couple of weeks ago!

A fellow blogger advised me a few weeks ago to keep them fairly dry but not bone dry, but, despite not having watered them for well over a month they’re just not drying out at all! I need a heated greenhouse, but that would send the new smart meter into spasms of panic I fear!

Conversely, the Gazania and the two Fuchsias (one hardy, one not but I can’t remember which is which) seem quite happy with their surroundings.

I’ll have to ask my Mum which is which when I see her as she took the cuttings. It’s not going to hurt having them both out of the cold given how small they are.

Meanwhile, back outside we have today’s number two, which is two Cordylines looking beautiful.

They’re both in planters, the green one stands proud at the back of my birthday planter and the pink one is nearer the house in my patio planter. They give some welcome interest and much needed colour to the sleeping garden!

There are still a few plants desperately soldiering on and producing colourful petals to cheer the gloom. For number three I’m going to share my Erysimum.

This was from the sale table in Notcutts in Summer 2018. I planted it out last Spring and it did well all through this Summer. I’m not keen on pink, but this pink is rich enough to delight the senses.

Number four was a recent purchase that was planted out towards the end of the Summer.

Fatsia Japonica, whose leaves have something of a look of a giant Marijuana plant! How do I know this, you may ask with a knowing smirk? Well, you try going to the Caribbean and not seeing Marijuana leaves depicted on every piece of tourist tat for sale! Anyway, there’s nothing illegal about this lovely specimen. It’s supposed to get pretty big and it’s grown quite a few new leaves already so here’s hoping.

For my penultimate point I’m using a photo that I took purely because I liked the way the rain looked on the leaf.

This is a cluster of leaves on my Scarlet Patio Rose. I love how the leaves are tinged with pink, picking up the pink of the emerging shoots below and the blurred Heather in the background, and the rain droplets that reflect the light and accentuate the leaves’ veins.

I’m going to end on a festive note which I think is acceptable given that the big day is only five and a bit weeks away.

Holly! We have an abundance of it in the garden which can be painful when it gets too big and requires pruning! None of the Holly bushes flower or get berries which I think must mean we only have one sex of Holly bush resulting in absolutely no copulation at all, and therefore no offspring.

Right, I’m off to do something that doesn’t require gas or electricity now I can see exactly what it’s costing us! While I’m freezing to death in the dark why don’t you pop over to check out more Sixes on the Propagator’s blog.