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.

Wimbledon!

Whoop! The best fortnight of the year is here!

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Oh I wish it could be Wimbledon every day! I’ll watch any tennis – singles, doubles, men, women, mixed, wheelchair, grand slam, ATP 1000, 500, 250, challenger, Davis Cup – but there’s something special about Wimbledon. I guess it’s partly because it’s my home slam and also that it’s the tennis that I grew up watching (because no other tennis was ever shown on telly) but it’s not just that. It’s the tradition, the occasion, the royal connections. I think if you were to ask the players, if they could only win one slam, which would it be, most would immediately answer, Wimbledon.

First held in 1877, Wimbledon is the oldest slam, it’s the only slam still played on the original tennis surface, grass and it’s the only tournament where players have to wear the traditional white kit. The great Roger Federer was, a couple of years ago, reprimanded because the soles of his trainers were fluorescent yellow and had to change them for the rest of the tournament. Venus Williams was berated in 2017 for having pink bra straps on view and had to change the garment midway through the match (she was, of course, allowed to leave the court to do so!) The outfit has to be predominantly white, with the only real deviation being the players’ sponsorship logos. The All England Club staunchly upholds these traditions, and I hope they never change.

The first year I went to Wimbledon was 2012 when I got tickets to the Olympic tennis which was held there, and I caught the Wimbledon bug. I applied in the ballot for tickets to the Championships held in 2013 and I was lucky enough to get two centre court tickets. Since then Dad and I have both applied every year, and there’s only been two years when neither of us has got tickets. One year we both got tickets so we spent three glorious days in London and spent two full days in Wimbledon.

We arrived at Southfields tube station on Tuesday, the earliest we’ve ever visited the Championships, and excitedly joined the crowds walking up to the venue. Soon we were in and our senses were being assaulted by the almost tangible atmosphere that draws you into the occasion.

This year we had No. 1 Court tickets so we headed straight there for the 1pm start. We were on the very back row, ZC, but we still had a cracking view.

Having tickets for one of the show courts pretty much guarantees that you’ll see some of the big names in tennis and this year on No. 1 Court we got to see three number ones.

The ladies world number one, Ashleigh Barty playing China’s Saisai Zheng.

The ladies British number one, Jo Konta playing Romanian Ana Bogdan.

And finally my all time number one (with the exception of Sir Andy Murray), Rafa Nadal playing Yuichi Sugita from Japan.

All the number ones won reasonably easily. That’s the potential downside of getting tickets so early in the fortnight, there’s a risk that the matches might not be as gripping as later on in the tournament because the competition hasn’t yet been whittled down to the top performers for that year. The matches we saw were great and there were some brilliant rallies and exciting winners along the way but all three matches were won in straight sets without even a hint of a tiebreak.

This did give us time to have a bit of an explore of the grounds that we’ve not been able to do before when we’ve been engrossed in matches all day.

We popped out in between the two ladies matches and picked up the afternoon tea that we’d booked in advance.

We sat at the top of Henman Hill (Murray Mount, Robson’s Ridge) to eat our delicious picnic. I only had yoghurt and fruit for breakfast because I was trying to save Syns for the rest of the day so I was thinking about my rumbling tummy and not about taking photos of our food. This is what we had though.

Delicious! We’re not vegetarian, just cheese freaks! The sandwiches were on wholemeal bread so they would’ve taken care of my Healthy Extras. Pretty sure the rest of it doesn’t fall under Slimming World rules though! I couldn’t resist the scone with clotted cream and jam (cream or jam first? Always cream for me – doesn’t make sense in my head the other way round, you wouldn’t put jam on before butter!) but I did only partake of one of the cakes (the other three are in our kitchen now waiting for hubby to eat them being ignored by me) and I didn’t have any cream on my strawberries.

I didn’t want to miss a second of Rafa who was up third, so we took the opportunity after we’d eaten to pop to the Wimbledon shop before heading back to watch Jo Konta.

I got a jumper which I’m not going to be able to wear for some time given the current warm weather. I would go and take a picture to show you, but there’s a puddy cat curled up on my lap and she looks so comfy.

Speaking of puddy cats, I got them a present.

They love these bands and they carry them round the house in their mouths!

And of course I got a bear. Come on! It is me you’re talking to!

Looks right at home with his compatriots, doesn’t he? He’s called Rafa, by the way.

The grounds are meticulously maintained, no mean feat given the amount of footfall over these two weeks. This is the first year I’ve given more than a fleeting glance at the planting around the courts. There are living walls by the big screen outside No. 1 Court and there are hanging baskets and planters pretty much anywhere they could squeeze one in, all following the purple and green Wimbledon colour scheme.

2019 sees the debut of the new roof on No. 1 Court.

It’s looking like there won’t be any rain delays over the course of the tournament but the roof is still coming into its own. As I’m watching Andy Murray and Pierre Hugues Herbert play their debut doubles match, they’ve just closed the roof because of poor light to allow them to finish the match tonight. Jamie Murray wasn’t so lucky – he was playing on one of the outside courts without a roof so that match will conclude tomorrow.

Final picture for today, and a fitting end for a tennis post I think.

The late, great Fred Perry!

Enjoy the rest of Wimbledon folks.

Confetti Fields

It’s Friday, the sun’s shining and I’m off work till Thursday. Whoop!

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My holiday started at noon today because I had booked a half day so I could go to the Confetti Fields in Pershore. I’m so glad I decided on today because the fields didn’t actually open on Tuesday and Wednesday because of the wet weather. They’re only open to the public for ten days a year while the flowers are in bloom, so this must’ve been a blow to the Real Flower Petal Confetti Company, not to mention the people who had planned to visit.

As I’m following the Slimming World plan, the preparation for my day trip had to start last night. Dieting involves a huge amount of forward planning otherwise you tend to fall off the wagon, which is one of the reasons that the diet industry is so huge – people get fed up with having to plan, or they simply don’t have time, so they give up only to restart again multiple times. I know, this is my life!

Anyway, I decided that I’d make myself a picnic to take with me. This meant I had to forego my usual breakfast overnight oats so that I could save my fibre allowance for my picnic. I decided to make myself a bacon and mushroom omelette in my omelette maker.

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This left my fibre option free so I could have a wholemeal roll for lunch.

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If you’re a savvy slimmer, you can make the Slimming World plan work whilst still eating quite a lot of food. You just have to choose the right foods. I had a cheese triangle instead of butter on my roll and filled it with ham, beetroot and red onion and I chopped up two carrots into batons and whipped up some Slimming World syn free caramelised onion hummus. So garlicky, no vampires will be troubling me for some time! Yum!

So far so good!

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I can’t guarantee that the week 5 progress update will continue the downward trajectory because I’m going to Wimbledon on Tuesday, and we’re having afternoon tea (lush) and it’s become a tradition to eat in Gino’s Restaurant (double lush) whenever we travel from Euston so staying on plan isn’t going to happen! I’ll get straight back on it on Wednesday though.

After eating my car picnic, I headed off to the fields with the glorious sun shining down on me (about time too!) There is a beautiful field of wheat before the entrance.

Didn’t Theresa May say the naughtiest thing she ever did was run through fields of wheat? Hardly naughty, but I can see why she felt the need to do so. Those ears of wheat do make you want to run your hands through them (I didn’t!)

Once you’ve paid your entrance fee (only £5), the first thing you see are rows of Cornflowers.

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Beyond that there are thousands of the most beautiful Delphiniums.

The Delphiniums were probably close to six foot tall. I don’t often share photos of myself, but this pic shows how tall they are.

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Apologies for the dodgy selfie stick skills!

There’s a pop up cafe in a big marquee serving refreshments with lots of outside seating. I didn’t go in because I didn’t want to be tempted into Slimming World abandonment, but I can confirm for any non-dieting potential visitors, they do have cake!

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In the other marquees you can buy big bunches of Delphiniums, original paintings of Delphiniums by the resident artist and petal confetti. This is the main purpose of the fields – the company harvests the petals and dries them to make petal confetti for weddings.

This concept is an excellent one in so many ways. When the plants are growing and in flower they are excellent for attracting pollinators.

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The field was buzzing with bees, but also with people. The field was so obviously providing immense pleasure for the visitors. The great weather was surely a factor, but everyone there was smiling and enjoying being outside and getting back to nature. All ages were represented from babes in arms to the older generation enjoying the colour from their wheelchairs. The finished product is sustainable, non polluting and degradable. I didn’t check out the price, but assuming it’s not prohibitive, there should be no need for any future brides and grooms to have any paper confetti chucked over them ever again.

I predict this weekend will be a very busy one for the Real  Flower Petal Confetti Company! They close for business on Sunday and with the mercury set to rise even more over the weekend they are offering the perfect day out.

I wish I could’ve taken photos of Pershore itself, but I was driving. It’s beautiful and if I win the lottery tomorrow I’ll buy us a house there. It was so peaceful and pretty. Most of the houses seemed to have names instead of numbers and all the gardens were well tended and bursting with colour. The high street had a couple of chain stores, but mainly looked to be independent shops. The views of the surrounding area were just stunning. My heart gave a heavy sigh as I reached the motorway and had to head back to the urban jungle. At least I have my garden to seek refuge in!