Six on Saturday 22nd June

Whoop! It’s sunny, and at the weekend! I’ve had a really rubbish week – headache every day since Tuesday, work stress and some awful meals meaning I nearly fell off the Slimming World wagon – so I really needed to feel sunshine on my skin to get a vitamin D boost! Hopefully this weather is going to encourage the flowers to bloom and the fruit to ripen.

I really want to go to the Confetti Field in Pershore. It’s a field full of Delphiniums and Cornflowers and other such delights and it’s open now, but only for ten days. They had to delay opening because the weather meant the flowers hadn’t bloomed, so less confetti and more of a green carpet! Hopefully they’ll all be blooming next weekend and I might be able to find time to go.

Anyway, it’s Saturday so that means it’s time for another six. Don’t forget to check out the Propagator if you’d like to read other sixes.

1. Lilies

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This is an Asiatic Lily which I bought for some stupidly low price in Homebase last year. It sat in its pot all Winter and it completely died down to nothing and I thought I’d lost it, but, it came back! It likes shade so I put it in our problem border which is underneath next door’s jungle of trees and it seems to like it. The above picture was yesterday morning before work, and when I when out today, this is what greeted me …

Gorgeous!

2. Cosmos

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I grew these from seed in the greenhouse. I had Cosmos last year, in a pot, and they grew to a metre or so high with these lovely smiley flowers waving at the top. I planted this year’s behind my birthday planter thinking that they’d grow tall again and peek over the planter, but they’ve only got to about a foot tall! Never mind, they make a nice splash of colour as you walk up the garden.

3. Hanging Basket Brackets

I bought these at Gardeners’ World Live last Friday, and they’re designed to fit over a fence. I had a moment of panic when I went to try and put them over our fence, because it appears that the top of our fence is deeper than average and I had to really force them on. I found the Fuchsia baskets at B&M when I went last weekend in search of Mayflower curry sauce which was recommended as a low syn meal for Slimming World (delicious in case you were wondering). I think they look lovely brightening up our bistro.

4. Purple something!

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Can’t have too much purple in a garden, but I’ve no idea what this is. I’ve a feeling I’ve pulled it up in previous years thinking it was a weed but this year I decided to leave it to see what happened. We’ve got it in the front and back gardens. I’m glad I left it because it’s produced a beautiful flower.

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5. Fox Tail and Hare’s Tail

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These were my grass purchases from Gardeners’ World Live that I told you about last week. I’ve potted them up, and I’ve had to stake them because they flopped! Hopefully they’ll get strong roots and will grow out a bit so they can eventually stand on their own. I just love them though.

6. Eupatorium

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I thought it was about time I bored you all with my fave again! It’s got pretty big and it’s waving it’s beautiful purply green leaves at me again.

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These were its teeny tiny shoots peeking up at the end of March filling my heart with delight. Hasn’t it grown a lot in just three months? I think I’ll take a couple of cuttings this year, surely there’s no such thing as too many Eupatoriums! Eupatoria?

We’ve been working hard on our latest garden project today (you might have caught a glimpse of it in the background of my purple something photo). I was hoping to include it in my six, but it’s taking longer than anticipated and hubby’s tummy told him it was time to stop for the day, so I’ll report on that another day.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend folks – I’m off to see if I’ve won the lottery! Keep your fingers crossed!

Six on Saturday 15th June

Apparently it’s Summer. You wouldn’t know it from this past week though, would you! I’ve not been able to get out in the garden properly without fear of washing away with the floods! It’s not quite been biblical proportions, but surely not far off!

I did manage to pop out last night for a quick appraisal, and O. M. Geeeeeeee! The weeds are taking over! Clearly, unlike me, and most rational beings, they’re a fan of drizzle and downpours! It’s dry at the moment, so once I’ve finished the task at hand, I’ll get out there for some damage control.

First things first though, I’ve been AWOL from Six on Saturday for a couple of weeks due to, well, life, but I’m back this week – can’t go out anywhere today because I’m waiting for a VIP (very important purchase) to arrive which is going to order my garden much better. More about that another time though.

I had a very lovely, relaxing and soul affirming day out yesterday at the NEC for Gardeners’ World Live!

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As you can see, it also included tickets to the Good Food Show – two topics very close to my heart. Unfortunately, having just started Slimming World, I couldn’t really take advantage of all the yummy offerings available, but it was still nice to look around.

Right, how do I narrow all my pics down to six?

Maybe I’ll start off with Foxgloves, or Digitalis for the Latinate amongst us. As an aside, I’ve just discovered that Digitalis is the Latin translation of the German fingerhut, literally, thimble. I think henceforth I shall refer to thimbles as fingerhuts. There’s a reason Germans are known for their efficiency, a thimble shelters and protects your finger so why on earth would it not be called a fingerhut?

Aaanyway …..

So beautiful – look at those pretty fingerhuts! During my weed patrol last night I had a peruse of my borders and it would appear that the mystery plant which was part of my last six, which I suspected was a Foxglove, but then decided it wasn’t developing in a very Foxglovey way, has actually decided it is a Foxglove. I’ll probably include that in a future six when it’s properly flowered. It may still change its mind, but for now it certainly looks like it’s of a mind to develop fingerhuts.

Think I’ll talk Fuchsias for two of six (is anyone else a Trekkie? I totally just thought ‘resistance is futile’ as I wrote that. If anyone’s completely confused, google Borg).

I L.O.V.E Fuchsias. They remind me of my Grandad. In the floral marquee there were several beautiful displays like the one above. They look quite normal to me because I’ve always known of Fuchsias, but it occurred to me that they actually have quite an unusual looking flower. Completely different to any other genus that I’ve seen.

Last Summer I had a Fuchsia Delta Sarah (named after yours truly, obviously!) which has purple and white flowers, unlike the usual pinky tones, and it’s supposed to be a hardy variety, but it didn’t come back this year! I asked the man at GW yesterday about it, and he said I’d got it in the right conditions so maybe it just hadn’t got big enough to survive the Winter. So, I bought the biggest one he had.

It looks quite pink in that photo actually. Hope he gave me the right variety! It only has this one flower at the moment so maybe it’ll mature a bit more purple. Whatever, any Fuchsia is beautiful, and I will have a Delta Sarah – resistance is futile!

Numero trois is grass. I adore grasses, especially thin fronded ones which wave at you in the breeze (although I am partial to a Cordyline too).

Ooh, I just can’t help myself, I have to fondle the fronds! When we got round to the Fox Tail grass (bottom right) it was just all too much and I had to make a purchase. You wouldn’t believe how soft those fox tails are. I was going to get three for £14 but at the last minute I saw Hare Tail grass and added two of those and got all five for £20.

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Apparently they like being in a pot, so I’m going to put all five in one pot for a beautiful grassy display. Unfortunately I planted my purple carrots in the perfect pot last week so I’ll have to do some reorganisation.

More grass news. My Festuca Blue is very happy in its pot on our bistro, and is in flower.

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And, it’s had babies!

It was obviously a very mat/paternal little thing because it’s managed to procreate through the gravel and the weed control! I’ll try to extract them without damaging them and will grow them on in a pot.

Up next, Alliums. Beautiful, beautiful Alliums.

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I’ve had a mixed outcome with my own Alliums. My Giant Alliums are a massive failure and I had such high hopes for them. They started off so well, with masses of leaves that I thought were going to take over the world, and then tiny buds on tiny stalks appeared, and then the whole lot died! However, I did have two surprise Alliums amongst my Daffodils which flowered beautifully until all this blasted rain came and flattened them!

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Number five combines two of my passions – gardening and crochet/knitting.

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Lovely colourful yarnbombing. I learnt that it’s not good to have permanent yarnbombing on trees because it restricts the trunk from growing, but as this is a pop up garden, the tree will only be yarnbombed over this weekend.  There were chairs so you could sit and knit in the yarnbombed garden, but the weather wasn’t really conducive to that. We were lucky that it wasn’t torrential like it was earlier in the week, but it did spit on us a couple of times while we were outside.

Finally I’m going to make a shoutout to the stars of Gardeners’ World without whom the show (both on the telly and the live version) wouldn’t be the same.

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Poor Monty was a very busy boy! We had tickets to see him at 10.30 which was great (he talked about developing Longmeadow from the early days right up to what he’s doing with it now) but then he had to rush off to do a presentation on another stage, and we saw him at various points throughout the day. Plus he had to do some filming for last night’s show which was from the show.

We didn’t have tickets for Carol Klein, but the stage is open so we saw her from a distance. I just love her enthusiasm for all things floral.

I’ve run out of points and I didn’t talk to you at all about the contents of my subscriber goodie bag. I got some Willow to grow in a pot, which I’m quite excited about and some hedgehog food. I’ve never seen any hedgehogs in our garden but it’s quite possible that we have one. If not, maybe some food will attract one!

Anyway, my VIP has arrived and I want to get out and do some weeding before the heavens open again so I’m off.

Check out the Propagator’s page if you’d like to read some more sixes.

Sandybrook Country Park (and a few bits and bobs).

What a truly excellent long weekend! Just what the doctor ordered.

I drove out of work on Thursday afternoon full of the joys of Spring (when the weather was still behaving appropriately for a season beginning with S) knowing that I had three days of rest and relaxation ahead of me.

My long weekend started with a trip to the theatre with hubby. I’d forgotten until a couple of weeks ago that in the deep, dark midst of the January blues I’d booked tickets to see Thriller Live at the Alexandra theatre in Birmingham so we’d have something to look forward to.

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For those who lived under a rock in the 80s, Thriller is an album by Michael Jackson. Now I realise that he’s somewhat of a controversial figure these days (I guess he always was, but for different reasons) but from where I stand, whatever he may or may not have done, (and I guess we’ll never know for sure now) his music is still iconic and I grew up with it. The first album I ever bought (on cassette tape from Woolworths!) was Bad and I loved it.

Anyway, the show was brilliant and really took us back to our school days. I didn’t know if they’d turned his music into a story like they have with We will Rock you did for Queen, or if it was going to be just like a concert. It was somewhere in between. There wasn’t a story but it wasn’t like a normal tribute act either. There are five lead singers, one of whom is a woman, and lots of backing singers/dancers. If you can get past the controversy, I’d highly recommend seeing it for a bit of escapism.

Anyway, on to the main event of the weekend – I was going on a mini break with five girl friends that I’ve known forever. We were heading for a return trip to Sandybrook Country Park near Ashbourne in Derbyshire. It’s a complex of fifty two lodges, ranging from one to four bedrooms, some with hot tub, set on a hill just a short walk away from the Tissington trail. We requested the same lodge, number sixty five, that we had last year. It’s at the top of the hill, one of the furthest away from the entrance so it has lovely views and is relatively quiet with little to disturb you when you’re sat in the hot tub or on the decking.

Last year we went over the early May bank holiday weekend and the weather was glorious. This year, not so much. I took the photos above on Sunday just as we were leaving which was, typically, the nicest day, weather-wise. The rest of the time it was pretty rainy, but there were breaks in the drizzle so we did all get to use the hot tub without being rained on (although some of us are such hardcore hot tub devotees that a bit of rain didn’t stop us!)

We headed into Ashbourne on Saturday for our pre-booked afternoon tea at Betty’s Sewing Box. Last year we walked along the Tissington trail to get there, but this year it was definitely a car kind of trip!

This place is like some kind of heaven mixed with cake! Not only does it serve a great afternoon tea for only £12.50 …

but it also has various crafts hanging around for you to have a go at …

and it’s attached to a craft shop…

This year we got to eat, drink and craft to a background soundtrack of the likes of Glen Campbell, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash. Honestly, I’m amazed I ever managed to drag myself away! I did leave a little piece of myself in the form of a granny square that I knocked up over lunch!

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After we’d consumed our fill of sandwiches, scones and cake and drunk enough tea (or Diet Coke in my case) to keep the whole of Derbyshire hydrated we moseyed on into Ashbourne to have a mooch. We all have a bit of a penchant for charity shops (of which there are lots), and there’s a fabulous bear shop that I was very excited about returning to.

I came away with this gorgeous Charlie Bear called Shelby (a la Peaky Blinders) …

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and these books from a couple of charity shops.

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I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to which cost me lots of money! He did have ten percent off though (hope that doesn’t mean they’re closing down.

We didn’t let the rain dampen our spirits. When we got back from Ashbourne with our spoils and full tummies, we managed to fit in a hot tub session before we knocked up a buffet tea and then set about the important business of chatting, laughing and reminiscing over a glass of Prosecco or three ….

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and in my case a couple of Bric Royales.

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This is a cocktail that I discovered when hubby and I went to Malta in January. It’s rosé wine with a shot or two of passionfruit liqueur added. Can you count a drink as a cocktail if it only has two ingredients? Not sure.

I signed up for Slimming World a couple of weeks ago, which probably wasn’t the best move given that I had my girlie weekend coming up. I followed the plan for the first week and managed to start a downwards trajectory …

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… but I wasn’t going to be beholden to it while I was away. I didn’t want to be awkward for communal catering, and I also wanted to be able to tuck into my afternoon tea and enjoy a tipple in the evenings, but I did try not to go mad.

I started each day, as I have been at home, with overnight oats that I made and took with me.

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This is the first batch I made. It’s just oats, fat free Greek yoghurt and frozen fruit layered up – free on Slimming World. Doesn’t it look like cheesecake? I was really hoping it would taste like it, but no such luck. It’s quite nice but cheesecake, it’s not!

I certainly indulged a little, as well as the afternoon tea and the booze, we had buffet teas with pizza, quiche, crisps and hummus (not all at the same time) and that’s my favourite kind of meal so I could have gone crazy, but I managed to reign myself in a little, at least more than I would have if I hadn’t just started Slimming World.

Anyway, wonderful weekend though it was, I think it’s left me a little sleep deprived – you never sleep as well in a strange place do you – so I can hear my bed calling. Only two more days to get through though – I have another four day week because I’m off to Gardeners’ World Live at the NEC on Friday. Whoop! Excited muchly!