All about the animals

This week has had a distinctly animal theme, even more so than my normal weeks!

First up I have to mention that it was International Cat Day on Thursday. I remember celebrating this last year while my blog was in its infancy. I didn’t have time on the day this year to do a blog post (because we had a very nice man from Hillaries round to price up some blinds for the bay window in our living room) but I posted this picture on Instagram in recognition.

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The main picture is one of my favourites of our girls. I love how they’re cuddled up together on my Eeyore teddy but both looking round to have their photo taken. Aren’t they beautiful? The kitten picture was taken in the first week that they lived with us and they were already completely settled in (and we were already utterly in love with them). They were eight and a half weeks old here. They were completely fearless as kittens – that didn’t last! These days Tink seeks refuge in the corner of our living room as soon as anyone dares to touch the hoover and Olive makes short work of the stairs in pursuit of safety under our bed whenever anyone knocks on our door!

I’m going to jump back two days now to Tuesday morning. Anyone who follows me on Instagram or Facebook (or pretty much anyone with whom I’ve come into contact this week) will have already heard or read about my hedgehog drama.

I was later than usual leaving the house on Tuesday morning for reasons involving a key, my car bonnet and some chavvy-scumbag-waste of oxygen (that’s the more polite version of the moniker I was using for much of this week!) I don’t know what made me decide to pop down to the greenhouse to check on my tomato plants, but I did and I’m thankful to the God of luck or hedgehogs or fate or whatever it may have been.

As I approached the greenhouse I gasped because there was a hedgehog sitting looking at me. I was so happy for a millisecond as I snapped a photo to see a hedgehog, but almost immediately thought, why aren’t you running away from me? It was moving so I knew it was alive.

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Then I realised it had got trapped in the netting round our strawberry raised bed. Oh no, no, no! I started running around in a similar way to Rabbit when he realises Pooh Bear is a wedged bear in much tightness, and in his front door, no less! I got scissors from the greenhouse and started gently trying to free him.

The netting came away reasonably easily from his back as I carefully snipped away, but as soon as I’d freed him slightly he must’ve got some room to move and he adopted typical ‘I’m a scared hedgehog’ pose and curled up into a ball. I went and put gloves on at this point because I needed to pick him up to detangle the netting from his little feet. I was so scared I was going to hurt him, so I really lightly tugged at the little bit of netting that was left but it came off without having to apply any force.

I put him back down and ran back to the house and got some water and hedgehog food that I was given in my goodie bag from Gardeners’ World Live. I had no idea how long he’d been there so I didn’t know if he’d be hungry and/or thirsty. I sat back and tried to be completely silent so he’d think I’d gone, to see if he uncurled and tried some food or ran away, but he didn’t. I think the poor thing was just petrified after his ordeal.

It was approaching time for me to leave, and I had no idea if he was injured at all, so I decided I’d take him to the vet. If he stayed there curled up all day I didn’t know if a fox or cat or even a squirrel or bird might attack him. I already felt guilty enough for not having been careful enough with the netting in the first place to let this happen, I didn’t want a hedgehog massacre on my conscience too.

Luckily we’ve been somewhat remiss with keeping on top of taking our bigger recycling to the tip, so I had a box in the kitchen.

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I scooped him up and threw in a few hedgehog snacks just in case and trundled up to the vet. I didn’t go to our normal vets because it’s further away and I didn’t want him to be stressed out any longer than necessary. I think he’s upside down in the picture. Poor thing.

I rang the vet later in the day and he’d been walking around and eating. Phew! I offered to collect him and release him back in our garden (now the netting has been safely removed) but they said he’ll go to a hedgehog sanctuary to be monitored for a couple of days and will then be released again. Let’s hope by now he’s happily snuffling around someone else’s garden.

I was a bit concerned in case he was a she, and there are babies around somewhere wondering where their mum’s gone. It seems, according to the oracle that is google, that hoglets are reasonably self sufficient pretty soon after birth so hopefully all is ok. I decided to invest in a camera to install near where I found the hedgehog just to see what might be wondering through and around our garden.

I found this one on Amazon for a pretty good price.

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How irritating! It’s now on a lightening deal reduced by £7.51! Oh well, we wouldn’t have the last two nights’ photos if I hadn’t bought it full price.

I made the mistake of sitting on the swing chair straight after fitting it to the raised bed so we got some pictures of me!

Me in relaxed mode, me in deep social media concentration mode and me joined by the man of the house!

We did however get some pretty decent animal pics. There were several pigeons.

We even got the elusive Jay.

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Not the best of photos but better than anything I’ve managed to get thus far because Jays don’t seem to be as brave as pigeons and magpies. The camera’s set to 5mp so I think I’ll change to the maximum 12mp to try and get some better images.

By the way, have you spotted the deliberate error? I’ve changed the time settings now!

We had a feline visitor. This is a new cat to the area. There are actually two of them, both black and white – siblings I’m guessing – but I think this is just one of them.

We almost got the perfect close up …

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… but only almost!

I’ve saved the best for last.

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What a handsome young fellow!

I’m amazed that we didn’t capture any squirrels because there’s pretty much always one there when you look out. I guess they spend a lot of their time on fences and up higher.

We did manage to catch the Greater Spotted Green Girl Gardener!

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It’s impossible not to get snapped when you go to retrieve the memory card!

Right, I’m off to put the prawn crackers that came with our Chinese tonight up there in the hopes of enticing some wildlife. A bowl of water might be a good idea too. I really want to snap another hedgehog or even a badger. That would be amazing!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend folks.

Happy Birthday To me

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Green Girl Gardener is a whole one year old today! Where has that year gone? I knew it was coming up because about a month ago my iPhone calendar reminded me to ‘cancel WordPress if not using’. I just swiped it away, and that made me happy because it meant I’d been successful in my venture.

After I published my first post, hubby turned all Del Boy and declared that ‘this time next year we’ll be millionaires!’ Well I haven’t been successful in that way  (not that the intention was ever for that to happen), and I don’t even have that many followers/regular readers, but it still feels like an eminently successful year to me because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every second of blogging. I’ve always been a closet writer (I still think there’s a novel in me somewhere) and this is a fabulous way for me to express myself creatively. It makes me happy to play with words, find the most amusing way to express myself, to conjugate to my heart’s content.

I think the blog has had its main focus on my gardening adventure, but I’ve also managed to bring other passions into it – crochet, cats, holidays, teddy bears, tennis. Hopefully I’ve provided some light entertainment on otherwise dreary days, and maybe I’ve even provided a little bit of education along the way (although probably not in gardening because I’m still right down the bottom of that particular learning curve).

I’ve found lots of fellow bloggers who blog on all sorts of subjects from crochet to mental health to cooking to travel, but most of all I’ve found fellow gardeners. Luckily (for me) most of them are far more experienced than yours truly and they’ve helped me identify mystery plants, they’ve offered tips and tricks either directly or through their own writing and they’ve opened my eyes to different kinds of gardening. I can honestly say that starting my little bloggy venture was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve complemented by space here with a Green Girl Gardener account on Instagram (@greengirlgardener if anyone’s interested) which allows me, when I don’t have time to blog, to share those random photos that I take when I pop out to check the garden before work, or when I spot a beautiful plant while I’m out and about or when I’ve created something scrummy with my own homegrown goodness.

I’m going to celebrate my first birthday by sharing some of my favourite photos from the past year.

I’ve tried to pick one photo from each month, but I’ve got so many photos that I love that I think I’m going to have to do another montage!

Above we have for July my Eupatorium (that had to be in there, didn’t it), Olive and Tink, our furry girls for August and my birthday planter for September. Then there’s the fox cushion I made for my mother in law in October and hubby and I in a cenote in Mexico during our November holiday. Next row shows my Hellebore flowering in December and my Christmas present greenhouse housing a hubby (a husband hut as my friend on Facebook quipped) in early January. Penultimate row is us with a friendly falcon in Malta in February and the Palace of Holyroodhouse during my trip to Edinburgh (which was also in February but I must’ve written my post in early March) and finally one of my raised beds all planted and netted in April, the iconic Universal globe on our fantastic holiday to Orlando in May and last but not least, the Confetti Fields that I visited in June.

Here we go again. Top row shows a Gazania which was the first sale table find that I blogged about back in July 2018 and an Eeyore house at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens which we discovered in August. Jump down a row to a wild pony in Sutton Park which we came across in September, I still remember how happy I was to have seen one because I was starting to think they were a myth, and my set of Clover hooks which revolutionised my crocheting life in October. Next up is a white feather in November which I think is my gardening expert Grandad popping down from heaven to check I’m not messing up the garden, followed by our yummy Christmas dinner in December, our furry girls keeping warm in January and me meeting my new baby niece in February. Fourth row shows a mountain of bears in March (that’s been added to since then!) and an elephant that I crocheted as a leaving gift for my boss when he retired in April so he doesn’t forget me and lastly a Gringotts vault at the Harry Potter studios in May and the start of my love affair with overnight oats as I started Slimming World in June.

It’s so nice to look back at these photos – yet another benefit to my blog. I also take more random photos when I get an inkling of an idea for a blog post and I find that quite often they evoke the strongest memories.

I’ll finish with a thank you. To all you lovely readers – friends, family, colleagues and fellow bloggers – thank you so much for reading, liking, commenting, complimenting and educating me for the last year. I really do appreciate it every time someone takes time out of their busy day to read my musings and ramblings, and I hope I can continue to entertain and perhaps amuse for a long time to come.

A thoroughly domestic evening

I’m just going to state the obvious to get it out of the way!

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I’ve been in ice cold air con most of the day, which you would think would be a good thing, but in reality it means you spend the day freezing various body parts off and then it feels like you’re literally walking into a furnace when you leave!

Still, it’s not as hot here as it is on the continent. 44° in France according to my friend and colleague today! That’s dangerously hot! I was over there earlier this week. Luckily I left before the mercury topped forty, but it was still insanely hot! Incidentally, I’ll share my triumph with you. I had to drive all the way to Antwerp from home! It’s a REALLY long way!

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I was a bit apprehensive about it. Actually I was a lot apprehensive about it. So much so that the majority of my preparation involved planning the journey rather than the meetings I was going for! I’ve driven on the right hand side of the road before, but only on holiday without any time constraints, never on my own, never so far and never in a right hand drive car!

However, I did it! I made it all the way there, and back, and I didn’t get lost, I didn’t drive on the wrong side of the road, I didn’t crash, nothing bad happened at all! It was fine.

Just recently our little Olive has worked out that she can jump up on our stairs banister post and boy does she look proud of herself when she’s up there.

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Proper pleased as punch she is! That’s how I felt when I got off the Eurotunnel in Folkestone and realised I’d done it, and with a fair amount of aplomb too! This has opened up holiday possibilities. I’ve already looked up Disneyland Paris!

Anyway, on to the business of the day. Work all day, blah blah blah, but then came home and went straight out into the garden to check progress. I ended up doing some harvesting.

The Sweet Peas had gone mad again!

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I don’t know how Monty Don manages to only cut them every seven to ten days. I’m doing them twice a week. It’s a good job really because they only last a couple of days once cut anyway. I understand now how my grandparents used to grow so many! They used to sell posies that they’d grown and cut at the top of their drive with an honesty box. I remember, as a child, the rows and rows of wigwams in their garden covered with Sweet Peas.

I also spotted that one of my Calendulas grown from seed had sprouted a flower. I’m not really counting these as a success because they’ve gone so leggy but I was pleased to see a flower.

I decided to cut it and bring it in to go with the Sweet Peas so I can enjoy it with some of the flowers that are still hanging in there in my arrangement from the weekend. We have another beautiful display, and the living room smells divine!

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As well as the flowers, I also harvested the last of our potatoes, the Charlottes, and lots of the petit pois. It’s so satisfying growing your own produce.

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I was practically skipping around the garden like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz (not wise in this heat – felt quite dizzy).

I dragged myself away from my outdoor haven to the kitchen to make use of some of my spoils. Despite it being fifty million degrees, we decided to forge ahead with our plan to cook chicken curry from my Pinch of Nom cookbook. As luck would have it, we’d run out of rice so I did Slimming World chips in the air fryer made with our Charlottes.

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Amazing! They were so much nicer made with Charlotte potatoes than whatever Tesco baking potatoes are. They really tasted like chippy chips only less greasy.

I shelled my petit pois while the curry was simmering away.

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Anyone know if you can do anything with the pods? I wonder if you can make a soup or a vegetable stock.

When the curry was nearly ready I popped a handful of petit pois in.

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OMGeeeeeeee! It tasted amazing, if completely inappropriate for the heat!

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I can see that this is going to become a regular in the Green Girl Gardener household! Thank you Pinch of Nom – I don’t know what I ate before you came into my life!

Just proofread my post. How many times have I mentioned the heat? British through and through!

Time for beddy byes (or more like time to go and lie in bed lamenting the heat, whilst keeping the duvet firmly over me, possibly with one leg out, because we Brits are far too prudish to sleep uncovered, until it’s time to get up again to go and complain that oh well, that was probably our Summer, until the next heatwave when I shall repeat from the beginning of this paragraph. Such is the nature of an English Rose!)