Six on Saturday 13th February

Gosh, I’m struggling to type this today. I went out to the garden to look for Six-worthy photos and it is bitterly cold out there and my hands haven’t thawed out yet! I was only out there for about five minutes and that was over an hour ago! According to the BBC weather app, it’s going to be in double digit figures, temperature-wise, all next week and I can’t flipping wait!!

It was quite a sad wander through the garden. It’s been so cold recently, for a prolonged period, and I don’t think the garden is very happy about it at all. It’s a good job I’m not spending much during lockdown, because, having looked at the garden, I think I’m going to have to invest quite a bit in new plants in the Spring/Summer because some of them definitely don’t look like they’ll recover.

One such plant is this Osteospurmum.

It’s made it through the two previous Winters without a problem. I even repotted it last year because it had done so well but, as you can see, it really hasn’t taken well to being snowed on and frozen for days! I’m annoyed, because, being in a pot, I could’ve moved it into the greenhouse for a bit of protection, but I didn’t think to.

There was proof in the greenhouse of just how cold it’s been – my thermometer shows the low and high temperatures and the low is now lower than it’s been since I got the greenhouse at – 4.8 degrees!

I left a half full watering can in there and it’s frozen solid! Unfortunately, a ladybird has fallen/landed in there and it’s frozen to death! Poor thing.

Back outside, I spotted a skeleton Pink Damask flower in my birthday planter.

Hopefully this plant will survive the elements. It dies down completely in the Winter before coming back in the Spring/Summer and with it being in my planter, hopefully it will have been kept a bit warmer underneath the soil.

I managed to find a bit of colour in the form of my Dogwood.

There are so many problem areas in our garden, and this is one of them. I’m sure this Dogwood would probably be doing much better somewhere else, but I’m limited in what I can grow because of next door’s jungle. At least it’s survived the arctic out there!

I’ve saved the best two photos for last! There is some regrowth happening! I really didn’t expect to see anything getting ready for Spring – even the daffodils have collapsed under the snow and now I’m not sure if they’ll bloom. However, there are some signs of Spring.

This Heuchera was given to us by my Dad and C when we first moved in and it’s survived every Winter so far, even this one! It has a beautiful delicate flower later on. I’m glad it’s stuck its middle stamen up at the snow and forged ahead to produce new growth.

The other bit of new growth I noticed is one of my patio roses. I have two of them, both from the sale a couple of years ago, and they could do with a bit of a prune. They’re also both leaning which I presume shows me which way the prevailing wind blows! I noticed the new leaves that have appeared, but what I didn’t notice until I got in and looked at the photo is that at the back there, there’s a rose bud. I hope that doesn’t try to bloom too early because it’s definitely still too cold for it.

I’m hopeful that soon there’ll be more signs of Spring for me to share, and if not, hopefully I’ll be able to get some new plants to replace the poor deceased ones.

I’ll sign off now but before I do, I’ll just remind you to check out the Propagator’s blog for other Sixes. People from all over the world join in, so there should be some colourful contributions from people living in different climates. Have a great weekend all.

Diagon Alley Lego Reveal

Yes, I know I’m approaching my mid forties and I don’t have children to use as an excuse, but much of the past ten days has been filled with building Lego and I have LOVED it!

I shared some photos of my Lego Hedwig, Harry Potter’s owl, that my hubby bought for me in my Christmas Catch Up post at the beginning of January. Here she is in all her glory posing in front of our fireplace.

I have vivid memories of a cardboard box of Lego living in a white wardrobe in my bedroom at my Dad’s house sometime in the 80s, but I don’t think it held my attention for long. It more than likely belonged to one or both of my brothers. I think back then, Lego wasn’t aimed at girls. I wouldn’t have been discouraged from playing with ‘boys’ toys but if it wasn’t marketed towards me then it probably wouldn’t have occurred to me to want to play with it. Making Lego Hedwig made me realise how much fun it is though, and now Lego have got their marketing spot on and the second I saw their Diagon Alley set I knew I’d end up owning it. I ummed and ahed for a few days because it is quite a financial investment but, hard as lockdown is in so many ways, it does mean I’m not spending nearly as much money on things like diesel, lunches out and sale table plants, so I went for it.

It took a week to arrive (damn you Amazon Prime for giving me unrealistic expectations for every other delivery service!!) during which time I must’ve checked my inbox a thousand times looking for the tracking email. It was well worth the wait. Look at the size of the box!

Ok, not much to give perspective, but it was big! It contained bags numbered one to twenty, but there were two for each number so forty in total plus the base plates and some roof plates and a bonus box twenty one.

Then there were four instruction manuals. As you can see from the back of the box above, the set was made in four parts which can stand alone or join together.

I tried really hard to pace myself to make the build last longer. This was partly enforced by having to work all day, but I still only managed to make it last ten days. I would estimate that it took me about twenty five hours to complete and I enjoyed every second!

Book one contained the instructions for bags one to five and it built Ollivanders wand shop and Scribbulus which sells quills, parchment and other magical stationery requirements.

Book two covered bags six to nine and contained lots of pink bricks which made Quality Quidditch Supplies and the Daily Prophet.

This build was three storey and even had detail crammed on to the roof. You can see the copies of the Daily Prophet newspaper stored on the roof and in the attic space.

The instructions for bags ten to fourteen were illustrated in book three and they produced Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour and Flourish and Blotts book shop where Hogwarts students buy their school books.

The detail in this block is amazing and so realistic. We had ice cream from Florean Fortescue’s at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando and it really looks like this. In Flourish and Blotts the characters can even read copies of Gilderoy Lockhart’s latest book.

Finally, the most ostentatious of the builds came in book four and bags fifteen to twenty – Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.

Also incorporated in this build is Knockturn Alley. This is where you’ll find Death Eaters (followers of he who shall not be named) and other dark witches and wizards, hence I’ve positioned the Draco and Lucius Malfoy characters at its entrance. The detail in Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes is stunning too. There’s a mechanism hidden in the roof that allows you to raise and lower the top hat and you can see the various jokes and potions for sale on the shelves inside the shop.

The set can be displayed alongside each other and each block has a connector so they sit perfectly together. The set is over a metre long.

Or they can be put shopfront to shopfront to form a real street feeling which is really cool!

You’ll have noticed all the characters strategically placed in the most relevant places.

There are fifteen in all, although Harry is included twice – once in his Hogwarts uniform and once in the clothes he was wearing when Hagrid liberated him from the Dursleys and took him to Diagon Alley for the first time – ‘yer a wizard ‘arry’. For the benefit of non-Potter enthusiasts, in order left to right, the characters are Hagrid, Harry, Ollivander, Gilderoy Lockhart, Ginny Weasley, Molly Weasley, Ron Weasley, Fred and George Weasley, Harry again, Hermione, Draco Malfoy, Lucius Malfoy, the Daily Prophet photographer and Florean Fortescue.

Bonus box twenty one contains the pieces to built a welcoming piece and includes the second Harry model.

There really isn’t much room for improvement in the set, but if I was going to nit pick, it would be nice to have Hermione’s cat, Crookshanks to add to Harry’s owl, Hedwig, who sits on Scribbulus’ sign and Ron’s rat, Scabbers, who’s up in the roof space of Quality Quidditch Supplies. I suppose it could be argued that they are a random owl and rat, rather than being Hedwig and Scabbers.

It also seems quite odd to have the Daily Prophet photographer – Rita Skeeter would maybe be more exciting. Having said that, the photographer’s camera is quite cool.

That’s it! Everything else is perfect. I hope Lego are working on some of the other significant buildings in Diagon Alley and also Hogsmeade. Gringotts Bank would be an amazing addition as would Honeydukes, the Leaky Cauldron and the Three Broomsticks. Oh, and the Ministry of Magic.

Right, now if I could just wave my wand and magic up some space in which to display Diagon Alley that would be most welcome.

Six on Saturday 6th February

Saturday again! The weeks are flying by which is odd because life is one long cycle of work, walk, Netflix, crochet and sleep at the moment – you’d think time would be dragging. Some positive news this week – over eleven million vaccinated but also, slightly concerning news that the South African variant has been found not a million miles away from home! Eek!

Moving swiftly on and pretending the bad stuff isn’t happening, and we find ourselves amongst Snowdrops! Hubby had to have a root canal filling on Thursday (considered setting up a crowd funding page – how can it cost so much to have pain inflicted upon oneself?!) and while I was waiting for him I decided to go for a walk and I found a lovely little park that I had no idea even existed. It had a couple of lakes, lots of ducks, geese and swans and millions of Snowdrops. Snowdrops are so pretty and delicate, but I don’t find them all that cheery because, to me, they symbolise Winter not Spring, the end of Winter maybe, but still Winter.

Now Daffs, on the other hand, are definitely cheery because they do offer me hope that Spring is on the way, bringing us warmer days and, most importantly, heralding the advent of Summer. Oh Summer how I do miss thee! Sadly, my Daffodil blooms are still a little way off bursting their bright yellow cheeriness out into the world, but they’re getting there and it surely won’t be too long till I look out of the kitchen window to see a pop of colour. Can’t wait!

Also looking good is my Rhododendron which was new to the garden during lockdown last year. I shared it in my final Six of 2020 and the buds are much bigger now. It’s been covered in snow and frost for much of the time in between its two starring roles, so I hope that hasn’t set it back. Time will tell.

Hubby’s at work today (hooray – finally he got some work again!) so I did my good deed for the day and got up early to drop him off and then decided to make the most of being up and about and took myself off for a walk in Sutton Park before the crowds descend. It was delicious me time, so rare at the moment for those of us who co-habit (the opposite being true for those who live alone). I wandered along the paths, listening to my audiobook and actually looked at my surroundings, which I tend not to do when I’m there with someone else chatting away. It was a very misty morning and the landscape looked quite stark – can’t you just imagine Heathcliff smouldering away somewhere amongst those trees?

Back home, and I popped straight out to the garden to complete my Six photos for today before I came to warm my bones next to a radiator.

This Clematis is acclimatising in the greenhouse at the moment. It arrived this week from Thompson and Morgan. I only went to their website to order raspberry canes because my Aunt told me now is a good time to plant them, but I ended up pre-ordering Begonias which will be despatched in May and a Sarcococca plant which my Aunt recommended for the scent, as well as the raspberry canes. Then this Clematis popped up as a special offer so it fell into my basket! I know exactly where I’m going to plant it once it’s warm enough. It’s Clematis Advent Bells which is, as the name suggests, winter flowering so hopefully next year we’ll have a bit of prettiness in the garden at Christmas. The raspberry canes have been delayed so I won’t get them till the end of February – hopefully they’ll still thrive, but I guess I probably won’t get fruit this Summer.

Finally as I was heading back inside I noticed the beautiful colour of one of my Hebes. I purposely planted this Hebe close to the house so that we could see some colour from our kitchen windows in the Winter.I don’t know what kind of Hebe it is because it came in a mixed pack of four just labelled Hebe variety pack (or some such generalisation). I don’t ‘do’ pink unless it’s really bright – can’t abide baby pink – but this is a gorgeously bright pop of colour to cheer even the dullest of days.

There we go, Six completed, so that’s one thing ticked off my to do list for today. What next? Clear some space for my newly completed Lego Diagon Alley? Watch episode three of Bridgerton? Clean the bathroom? While I ponder that, why don’t you check out some other Sixes at the Propagator’s blog?