Happy National Pet Day

Evening!

Really really quick post tonight because I’m absolutely exhausted today after burning the candle at both ends. I was at a retirement do last night for a wonderful man, Robert, who was my boss for the majority of the last sixteen years. It was a lovely evening. Really lovely and, most importantly, Robert had a fantastic evening.

I mentioned in my last post that I had to rush off to desperately finish some crocheting. I was making an elephant as a gift for Robert. I got him a couple of other gifts, but I really wanted to give him something handmade so it had that personal touch. I managed to finish it at the eleventh hour – phew!

Here it is deconstructed.

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And drumroll moment ….

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Cute huh?

Talk of elephants leads me nicely on to the topic of the day – it’s National Pet Day. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show some of my favourite photos of the various pets in my life.

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This is my hubby with our friends’ dog Pip. She’s a lovely dog with a great temperament. Hubby loves her (I think the feeling’s mutual).

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This is Charly who belongs to my brother in law and sister in law. This photo was taken after we’d done the Poppy Run a few years ago. Charly is proudly sporting her poppy medal.

Now on to our pets who are no longer with us. I don’t have many electronic photos of cats that I had pre-smart phones.

This is Sandy who was our cat from approximately 1980 until 1996.

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He was really tiny for a tom cat. He was around for the whole of my childhood and taught me how to care for and love animals.

Sherry was our next pussy cat. She lived with my parents and I, then my Mum and I, then she was just my housemate and she was still around when I met hubby.

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The first picture is my favourite pic of Sherry. It was taken on an early phone camera before you could turn the camera round to do a selfie so it was pure luck that I managed to get us both in. The second was taken in the communal gardens of our old flat.

Sherry was with me through thick and thin, through break ups, through my degree, my wedding. The day she died was (and still is) the worse day of my life. It was so emotionally traumatic, but I wouldn’t change anything because she was an amazing cat. I still think about her most days and she’s been gone almost a decade.

We had Willow next.

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Willow was completely different to Sherry. Sherry was super confident but Willow was the epitome of a scaredy cat. Bless her, she was happy to be with us  but she was scared of anyone she wasn’t familiar with. If the doorbell went she’d race into our bedroom and hide under the bed and wouldn’t emerge until she felt it was safe to do so.

Poor Willow met with an unfortunate end in a road accident so we made the decision to keep our current cats as house cats. I don’t think it would be fair to make a cat that was used to going outside into a house cat so we had them from tiny kitten so they have never known the outside.

I’m going to spam you with the gorgeousness that is Olive and Tinkerbell now!

Every cat that I’ve owned (or should that be that’s owned me?) has been from a rescue centre. One of the main purposes of National Pet Day is to promote adopting from rescue centres because there are so many animals – cats, dogs, rabbits, chinchillas and many others – that need forever homes. Take a look at their website if you’re interested.

Right, ‘boing boing’ said Zebedee ‘time for bed’. In the words of Bridget Jones ‘I’m off to Bedfordshire’.

Happy Mother’s Day

First things first, if you’re reading this and you’re not in the UK, Ireland or (apparently!) Niger, and you’ve just come over in a cold sweat, don’t panic Mr Mainwaring, Mother’s Day for you has either been and gone, or is yet to come. For us here in the UK, it’s today.

I always feel it’s a mixed day. There are so many mothers who’ve lost a child, children who’ve lost their mother, estranged mothers and children, women who are, or have been, desperately trying to become a mother without success, and that must be so difficult. My own Mum is over a hundred miles away with the biggest car park in the UK (AKA the M25) in the way, so I don’t see her very often, but at least these days it’s easy to get a card and gift to her. Although, maybe I shouldn’t have bothered with the card!

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Does it make it any less lazy that I designed it on Moonpig and put pictures of flowers from our garden on it and then used my own wording inside? And I had it sent to me rather than straight to Mum so that I could sign it myself?

Apparently Anna Jarvis introduced Mother’s Day in the US after losing her own mother in 1908, but prior to her death she had tried to rescind it because she didn’t agree with how commercial it had become. Ironic perhaps that when she died penniless, her bills were paid by the greetings card companies that she so scorned!

I chose not to walk down the traditional motherhood path, my babies have fur!

I’ve spent the weekend pottering in the garden, actually it wasn’t all pottering. Yesterday hubby and I finished off the slabbing around the raised beds and greenhouse. It was so much easier with two. Hubby made short work of mixing the sand and cement leaving me to do the more precision work of laying the slabs. It looks pretty good, if I do say so myself!

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I feel like my seedlings should’ve sent me a Mother’s Day card. I’ve given them all they needed for life, I’ve nurtured them, I’ve worried about them, I’ve reassured them and I’m so proud of them.

This is how they’re looking now.

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Sunflowers, Calendula, Sweet Peas, Cosmos and Aquilegia. I say ‘and Aquilegia’ but they’re the only seeds that aren’t doing anything. I just googled it and the RHS site tells me the seeds need light to germinate so you shouldn’t cover them! It didn’t tell me that on the packet! I’ll have to go out and see if I can salvage the situation. I need to do some more sowing anyway because I got some Poppy seeds with the latest Gardener’s World magazine.

I’ve done some planting out today as well. I still have loads of plants waiting around patiently for their forever home so I decided to plant a few out. The problem I have now is that I planted loads of Summer bulbs last weekend and almost immediately I managed to forget where I’d planted them! I have a vague idea, but I really need them to throw up some shoots so I know where I’m safe to plant other stuff! I did manage to disturb a couple of them today – whoops!

After what happened to my Berberis when I planted it out last year (it lost all its beautiful leaves immediately) I get really worried whenever I plant anything out, especially if it’s been happily moseying along in its pot for some time, but I have to bite the bullet and keep everything crossed.

On the left is Leucothoe Axillaris ‘Curly Red’. This was a birthday present, so it’s been sat in its pot since September waiting for me to find somewhere for it to live.  It likes partial or full shade so I’ve put it on the side of the garden which is shadowed by next door’s huge conifers. The photo doesn’t do it justice, it’s really lovely in real life.

I wish I could tell you what the shrub on the right is. It was £1.50 from B&M Bargains and it had no label. I purposely kept it in its pot for quite a while so I could see if it flowered or did anything that might give an indication as to what it is, but it didn’t. My best guess is Cotoneaster, but it’s never had any berries so I’m not sure. Any suggestions are welcome!

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I also planted these out. They are Rose Campion and they were gifted to me last week by our cleaner at work. She’s so kind and she often brings me in various plants that have self seeded and multiplied in her garden. I’m less worried about these, firstly because I haven’t had time to get attached to them and secondly because they’ve been sat in a plant pot for the past week with barely any soil around them and just a little sprinkle of water, and they don’t seem to be any the worst. According to t’internet, they’ll have beautiful magenta flowers.

My daffodils are starting to fade already.

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It’s so bitter sweet. Fading daffodils means we’re getting closer to Summer which is my happiest season, but it’s so sad to see the beautiful yellow blooms turning brown and withering. I console myself with the knowledge that they’ll be back again next year.

There’s good progress going on with my established plants too.

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Just look at the amazing colours on my Polemonium. Isn’t it beautiful? It has tall waving flowers. There’s no sign of them yet, but to be honest, I’d be happy for it to stay like this. Stunning!

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I think this Geranium is the living embodiment of determined. I relocated it sometime during last Summer when it was ridiculously hot because I needed its space. I had to be quite rough with it when I was digging it up because it was really well established, and I seem to recall I didn’t even replant it on the same day that I dug it up. For a while it really looked like it wouldn’t make it, it wilted and lay completely flat on the ground, but now look at it. The epitome of perky.

Finally my wild flower. It was on the sale table and it just said ‘Wild Flower’ on the label so I had no idea what it would do.

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The first pic is when I planted it in August, the second was taken ten days ago and the third was today. It’s grown soooo much. I didn’t even expect it to make it through the Winter! I’m really impatient for all the flowers to open out. It’s going to be gorgeous – just look how many individual little buds there are in each little cluster.

I suppose I’d better go and get ready for the new week. There’s been very little garden time in the week recently, but now the clocks have gone forward so it’ll be lighter for longer in the evenings so I should be able to get some mooching in the garden done after work now – whoop!

Have a good week all.

Decluttering for my sanity

I had a really uneasy feeling when we got home from our trip to Malta.

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(I mentioned it, so I’m showing it!)

Anyway, uneasy, as if I’d forgotten to pay a bill, or missed a really important meeting, but I hadn’t forgotten anything so I couldn’t work out why I felt that way, or more importantly, how to stop it.

I still don’t know for certain what the problem was, but I think it’s to do with work. I was in my previous role for sixteen years so to say I was in my comfort zone is somewhat of an understatement. I could pick it up after a holiday without skipping a beat, and I could let myself linger in the holiday blues without it affecting my performance, but things are different now. I now have a lot more autonomy and a lot more responsibility and I can’t rest on my laurels. I’m still somewhere near the bottom of a steep learning curve, and I guess, when I’m away from it, subconsciously my brain worries about my return in case I’m revealed as an imposter Account Manager!

I’m back in the game now and had a good week, but my head was feeling cluttered. My Dad’s good friend has a saying which perfectly illustrates this feeling. She says that her shelves are full. Well, my shelves were bowing under the weight this week so I took action! I decluttered!

Yesterday I worked from home and I spent some time organising my email. I had a couple of furry helpers.

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I created sub folders and filed loads of emails away, I read all the unread items in my inbox and took any action required, and I cleared my deleted mails down. I get lots of emails relevant to my old role that I no longer need and lots of mails that just say ‘thanks’ or ‘ok’ that I preview in the reading pane and then delete without opening. This had led to a big blue ‘643’ next to the deleted folder which was just adding to the weight on my shelves. It was like those little blue dots you get under apps that you’ve updated – I can’t leave those there either, they just bother me. I went through and deleted my unread deleted.

After work I continued the decluttering. I was on a roll, and with every item of clothing I added to the charity shop bag and every piece of rubbish I put in the bin I felt lighter. I now have a black bag of clothes, shoes and bags and two piles of books to go to the charity shop and we took an entire boot full of rubbish to the tip.

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I went through pretty much every cupboard and drawer in the house and cleaned out all of our belongings which were surplus to requirements. I was pretty ruthless – I felt the need to be.

I have an empty washing basket, a non existent ironing pile, a rearranged kitchen which looks much neater and I’ve finally hung up the quilt that my Mum made us for Christmas.

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Isn’t it amazing!

And I have space on my bookcase for my patiently waiting Little Boxes of Crochet.

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Speaking of crochet, I have finished the baby blanket that I’ve been working on for my new baby niece, Emmeline, and just in the nick of time because we’re meeting her for the first time tomorrow afternoon.

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I’m taking a chance that the recipient’s parents will be too busy taking care of their new bundle of joy to read this before tomorrow afternoon. This is one more thing ticked off my to do list.

As well as work, my head is full of half-evolved ideas of garden projects so I popped out there (after four thirty pm and it was still light – whoop) to try and evolve my plans so I can put them into action and cross them off my list – more on that later – and while I was out there I had to have a look at my wakening plants.

My daffs are yawning and stretching and are moments away from waking up and showing us their beautiful flowers, and, remember I couldn’t remember what I’d planted in front of the daffs? Well look! They’re crocuses! Isn’t nature clever?

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My rose ‘Hot Chocolate’ is happily growing some new leaves …

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… and the bluebells continue to push up round the edges of our gravelled bistro.

Spring is most definitely springing and it makes me happy. Can’t wait to get out there and continue with the grand master plan!