2018 Review in Pictures

I should’ve probably written this post on 1st January, but I was busy finishing off my greenhouse and since then I’ve been back at work and feeling somewhat tired. It’s amazing how quickly you get out of the habit of getting up early and doing proper adult things. Every January when I go back to work I struggle to keep my head above water because I’m so tired and suffering from the January blues. I always manage though, and soon we’ll be through January. February’s not much better, in my humble opinion, but its saving grace is that it’s closer to Spring and you can finally see that the days are getting longer. The end of Winter is in sight!

I downloaded the top nine app which makes you a collage of your nine most liked photos on Instagram.

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I like all these photos (as, apparently do the people who follow me on Instagram) but I didn’t feel that it represented my year as I remember it. Of course, I only started my blog and the accompanying Instagram account (greengirlgardener for anyone who’d like to follow me) in July so it’s not representative of the whole year, but there’s not one gardening photo on there and that was a massive part of my 2018. I also realise that I need to be careful not to use a photo I’ve already posted as my featured blog picture because that’s how I’ve ended up with the same photo twice. 

Anyway, I thought I’d look back on my year and try to select my personal favourite pictures, and maybe you’ll find them interesting.

We managed to keep our fur babies healthy and happy in 2018 – this really isn’t a chore because they are just so delightful. I couldn’t not include my favourite pics of the gorgeous twosome from this past year.

How do I choose my favourite pictures from the garden? Honestly my phone is full of pics of plants and garden paraphernalia! I’ll try to narrow it down.

This is what really sparked my enthusiasm for the garden when we had the jungle chopped down and I could really see what we had to play with!

It inspired me to create our bistro.

I soon added other features to give character to our space.

My wheelbarrow planter.

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My planter which was made by my Dad for my birthday which I love.

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My raised beds ready for growing fruit and veg in the summer.

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More recently my greenhouse which I’m really excited about.

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The garden gave me so much pleasure this year. I can’t possibly show you everything that I planted or managed to nurture, so I’ll try to narrow it down to a few of my favourite photos.

When the cats were kittens it was impossible for me to crochet because they would run off with my yarn, but this year, now that they’re the ripe old age of three, I rediscovered my love for hooking and I also resubscribed to Little Box of Crochet. Here are some of my makes.

I also met Amanda, the owner of Little Box of Crochet at the Grand Sale Event.

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I went on three holidays. Lanzarote at Easter with hubby’s side of the family.

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Sandybrook Country Park near Ashbourne with some of my best and oldest (in time, not age!) friends for May Bank Holiday.

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And Mexico in November with hubby.

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2018 saw the last of my school year turn 40. My birthday is at the beginning of the academic year so I turned 40 in 2017, but my best friend celebrated her milestone birthday in style in 2018. We went to London, saw Les Miserables in the West End and had afternoon tea at the Dorchester.

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I don’t even like tea, but I was in the Dorchester and I was drinking tea whether I liked it or not! I look thin in this photo – might print it out and stick it to the fridge to motivate my New Year diet!

This is really not in chronological order because this happened in February. It’s just in the order that it’s fallng out of my head! We finally knocked our teeny tiny kitchen through to the dining room to create a big kitchen diner. It’s the best thing we’ve done to the house – we no longer fall over each other when we’re trying to cook, and we no longer risk going up in a puff of smoke like we did using our old dodgy cooker!

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Hubby and I went to Thorpe Park with two of my work friends (one of whom made a rollercoaster fwiend – sorry, in joke!) Until I went to Orlando for the first time in 2016 I’d never been to a proper big theme park. I used to go to a local theme park when I was a kid, people can’t believe that I’ve never been to Alton Towers! I loved Thorpe Park. It was so much fun.

My youngest brother got married in August and I gained another sister-in-law. It was an amazing day and really made me appreciate time with family.

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Oh, almost forgot! I got a promotion and became an Account Manager. I’ve tried to embrace my new role and am enjoying the learning process. It’s not always easy, and I’m spending a lot of time outside of my comfort zone, but I’m relishing the challenge and am determined to succeed and prove myself. That reminds me, I must ask for new business cards!

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I think that’s the major events of 2018 covered. So, what’s to come in 2019? If all goes according to plan, then I’ll travel to Orlando and Spain. I’ll return to Sandybrook with the girls. It’s highly likely that I’ll visit the south of Italy with work. I’ll visit the Hippodrome to see Peter Pan and the Alexandra Theatre to see Thriller Live. I’ll pay an extortionate parking fee at the NEC when I visit Gardeners’ World Live with my best friend. There are tentative plans to go to Kew Gardens, do pub quizzes, visit Tallinn and to remedy my not having been to Alton Towers. I’ll take part in my first CAL (crochet-along) with thousands of people around the world when I follow attic24’s sweet pea blanket pattern. I’m planning to decorate the downstairs loo, redo the bathroom and obviously there will be exploits in the garden. I did briefly toy with the idea of a huge PVC igloo on the lawn today when I was daydreaming (and imagining myself to have won the lottery) but I’ll satisfy my gardening dreams by beautifying my greenhouse and growing my own fruit and veg this year.

I hope you all have plans for 2019, whether big or small. Life’s for living!

 

 

 

The cutest greenhouse in the world

Happy New Year! I wonder what 2019 will bring for us all.

Well, for me it’s going to bring homegrown fruit and veg because the greenhouse is done! 154 screws, seven hours and more than one or two rude words later my new greenhouse is erected! It’s really little, six foot by four foot, and it’s super cute. After I’ve published this post I’m going to peruse Pinterest to find ideas to make it really pretty (as well as functional).

Hubby had to work yesterday so I asked him to take the box out of the garage for me so I could start building it while he was out earning a crust. When it arrived I couldn’t believe how small the box was.

I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if there had only been half a greenhouse in there, but amazingly it was all there.

It’s actually a green greenhouse!

I got the first few bits together quite quickly and easily and it was starting to take shape quite nicely.

I had to abandon ship (or greenhouse) when the light faded because I couldn’t see what I was doing, and I was also cold right through to my bones because I’d been out there for five hours. My poor fingers were so cold that I was struggling to actually hold the screws and nuts. I’d managed to get most of the greenhouse in place though, all that was left was the opening window in the roof and the door.

We headed back out this afternoon after we’d had an epic snooze after the new year festivities last night, and it’s a good job there were two of us for the last bit because the door in particular was quite tricky to keep together until all the components were assembled, but with a little bit of teamwork (and a few more rude words) we got the job done. I nearly fell out with the door because we just could not work out how to attach it properly, but we worked it out with a bit of lateral thinking.

Here it is in all its green and cute glory!

I love it! Isn’t it cute?

Hubby has bought me some staging to go inside for Christmas, but because I was so busy at work and sorting out Christmas preparations, I didn’t actually get chance to choose it so he could order it until a couple of days before Christmas so it hasn’t arrived yet. It’s green as well! I’m really excited to put everything into use, but I need to be patient – we’ve got the cold months of January and February to get through first before I can start sowing seeds. In the meantime I can start beautifying it!

A lot of my Christmas pressies were garden and/or greenhouse related so I can put them to good use now.

I can’t wait to grow purple carrots! Do you think they’ll taste any different? I actually googled carrots last night because I had a feeling that they weren’t always orange. I was right, they used to be naturally white, yellow or purple but in the seventeenth century a strain was produced with higher beta carotene content which made them orange.

I’m excited to grow coriander too. It says on the packet that it’s a spice, but it’s a herb isn’t it? Either way, I love it. A curry isn’t the same without coriander and it’s lovely in a salad as well. I looked for coriander plants a few times over the summer and didn’t find any, so now I can grow my own.

Did you spot my environmentally friendly bamboo pots and saucers? I’m really going to try hard to cut down on the plastic that we use in our house and garden this year. It’s heartbreaking to see all the images of sea life swimming around with plastic in the ocean, crabs using yoghurt pots as shells, birds with their beaks bound to their breasts by plastic drinks rings.

Well, I’m off to surf Pinterest now for greenhouse ideas. Got to make the most of my last day of freedom before going back to work tomorrow. I’ve had such a lovely break (even if it did include solving a work crisis on Boxing Day!) and I’m sad to go back and lose all my free time again, but I’m excited to see what the working year ahead will bring, although I’m a tad nervous about what effect Brexit will have on my company. 2018 was very good for me professionally, and I’m hoping to build on that in 2019.

A lovely day in Stratford upon Avon

A few weeks ago a friend tagged me on Facebook in a news article about a new cat cafe opening in Stratford upon Avon. Cat cafes are very popular in Japan and they’re slowly making their way over here. Until now the nearest one I knew of is in London, in fact, this one claims to be the only cat cafe in the Midlands. Obviously I had to book it tout suite and today was the day.

The cafe is called Shakespaw Cat Cafe. Get it? It’s in Stratford, birthplace of Shakespeare, cats have paws. Couldn’t really be called anything else could it?

The cafe has a double door to stop the cats escaping on to the street (much like our house has for the same reason) and you have to ring a bell to get let in. Once inside, the cafe is super cute. The tablecloths are Cath Kidston style made from oilcloth and the chairs are all mismatched but eclectic. There are multiple shelves around for the cats to lounge on and several cat beds and toys dotted around.

We were seated upstairs but told to feel free to roam around and go downstairs to where there were more cats, and were given menus to choose our food. There’s a cover charge of £5 per person to make your reservation and anything you order from the menu is charged on top of that. There’s no obligation to order anything other than a drink if you don’t want to so it doesn’t have to be an expensive outing.

Note the cat themed drink names like catte and cat white. He he! Ordinarily I’d take any opportunity to enjoy an afternoon tea, but given the amount of food we’ve eaten over Christmas we decided to go for a sandwich and soft drink each. That’s not to say that I didn’t indulge in a cake for dessert.

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The food preparation area is strictly cat free for obvious reasons.

There are various rules to comply by for the safety and welfare of the cats. They are pointed out on entry to the cafe and are also displayed by the food prep area.

Finally, on to the stars of the show, the beautiful cats. There was a tiny eleven week old black and white kitten, two pure white sisters, a mackerel tabby called Viola, a squishy faced and very vocal Persian (I think) and a beautiful ragdoll. I got photos of most of them.

When our hour and a half allotted time was up we settled up our bill and waved farewell to the fluffy felines. What a lovely way to while away a lunchtime.

The cafe’s in the centre of Stratford, so within a couple of minutes we were back by the river, the banks of which were buzzing with people. The Christmas break and relatively mild weather must’ve brought the crowds out for a bit of fresh air and exercise. I had to snap a couple of pics as we wandered across the bridge to our next destination. Stratford is so pretty. We vowed to go back in the summer and go on a boat trip and eat an ice cream and meander along that river in the sun – doesn’t that just sound dreamy?

What was our next destination, you ask?

I have to admit, much as I love butterflies (who doesn’t, right?) part of the draw of visiting the butterfly farm was the promise of 25°, tropical conditions. I miss the summer! I miss daylight and I’m fed up of walking round in a SAD induced fog. Anyway, let’s not dwell on that. Butterflies!

Nature’s pretty clever. See what looks for all the world like a leaf at the bottom of the black bananas? It’s actually a cleverly camouflaged butterfly.

See its little legs?

The brown one sitting on the orange. Pretty stunning eh? Wait till it opens its wings.

The butterfly farm doesn’t only have butterflies. There are moths, ants, iguanas, beetles, tarantulas, snakes and, oh look …..

The lesser spotted hooded human!