2020 A Year in Review

2020 may have been the oddest year of most of our lives but it’s done now, and we have to have hope that 2021 will be better. I have, for the most part, managed to stay mentally sound throughout most of the year, which I know isn’t the same for everyone. I thank my lucky stars that this happened now and not a couple of decades ago when we would have been far more isolated that we have been thanks to Zoom, FaceTime and Teams.

I also massively appreciate the fact that we have outside space which, although at the moment isn’t at all enticing due to the inclement weather, got us through the warmer months of the year with relative ease, especially so when we were allowed to have people in our garden.

Here are some of my favourite garden photos of last year.

The garden was reasonably productive in terms of fruit and veg in 2020 …

… and we had quite a few visitors of the fauna variety!

Inside the house, we made a few home improvements. The first was pre-lockdown when, with the help of my Dad, we transformed our bathroom from dingy to sparkly clean safari wonderland.

During lockdown when I was furloughed and hubby’s workplace was demonstrating exactly how a zero hours contract benefits the employer (they still are!) we tackled first our spare bedroom/my home office making it a homage to all things Harry Potter …

… then when I was unfurloughed but hubby was still unbusy with zero hours, he decided to tackle the woodchip in our living room and we completely redecorated including wallpapering, laying laminate flooring, opening out the fireplace and hanging the TV on the wall.

Outside we built a catio on the side of the kitchen so our furry girls can get some air safely.

Away from home, amazingly we did manage to squeeze in three holidays. The first was, to paraphrase Craig Revel-Horwood A-May-zing!! A week long cruise round the Caribbean preceded by a two night stop in Orlando and a trip to Universal to go on the new Hagrid’s Magical Creatures coaster. This was pre-COVID, in fact I remember the first I heard about it was by scanning the Sky news app whilst I was sunbathing on deck, and I assumed it would be like the previous SARS disease. I never even entertained the thought that it could turn into what it has! Blissful ignorance, eh?

In between lockdown 1.0 and lockdown 2.0 we managed a short break to Norfolk which was a game of two halves – lovely to get away and see the sea, but I got bitten by a dog, we had to come home early because hubby had a job interview (which he didn’t get!) and I got a flat tyre!

In September we went to Edinburgh for my birthday. This had been booked pre-pandemic and we didn’t know until the last minute whether we’d be able to go, but I’m so glad we could because we had a fantastic time. One of the best holidays I’ve ever had.

We had a few great days out – we walked alpacas, visited confetti fields, played with meerkats, met gorillas at Twycross Zoo and we walked and cycled many times in Sutton Park and Kingsbury Water Park …

… and we also had a couple of great days in making up for things that we should have been doing. We had a non-Jamaica party for two on the day we were supposed to be flying out and we had a tennis afternoon tea on the day Dad and I were supposed to be going to watch the ATP tour finals in London.

I also did a lot of crafts – mainly crochet, but also knitting, baking, jigsaws (do they count as crafts?) model making, felting and, obviously, mask making!

So, all in all, although it certainly didn’t feel like it at times, 2020 was actually a pretty full year and I achieved quite a lot. Amongst all this, I was also working full time (apart from being furloughed for nine weeks in the summer) in a job that I only started six weeks before we were plunged into lockdown and home working, and I feel that I managed very well to learn the new job (although this is an on-going process) under challenging circumstances. It turns out that home working, while it doesn’t suit everyone or every job, works pretty well for me, and for my team. As I mentioned before, thank goodness for technology!

Now it’s time to look forward to 2021 and I’ll finish with a quote that I recently read in a fiction book, the sixth in the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley but that is based in fact (the first book I didn’t enjoy as much, but I’m so glad I persevered because they got better and better and one thing to look forward to in 2021 is the release of the final in the series).Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards – Soren Kierkegaard.

Six on Saturday 3rd October

I’ve been a bit remiss with keeping up with my blog. I was away last weekend so that’s my excuse. Anyway, here I am for a Six.

I’m going to start with a couple from our trip away. We went to Edinburgh for a few days for my birthday and we had a really great time (more of that on another post somewhen). I thought I’d come back with loads of planty photos because we’d planned a trip to the Botanic Gardens, but, as luck would have it, the day we’d planned that was the only day we had rain! Typical! We decided to do indoor things instead but we were fully booked every other day so had to take a literal rain check on the gardens. Good excuse to go back!

We came across this house in Prince’s Street gardens and I was taken with how pretty it is set in its lovely garden which was blooming with roses and lots of colour. I googled it to see if I could find out anything about the house and it’s the head gardener’s house but was also used in a BBC children’s programme.

On my birthday we’d booked a trip to Loch Ness which was absolutely brilliant. It was a long day, we met the tour at 8am and arrived back in Edinburgh at 8pm, but it was worth it. We stopped at several picturesque places on the way to Loch Ness and back.

Our tour driver was super knowledgeable about all things Scottish and he told us that there came a point when trees were dangerously low in numbers because there was no legislation in place to ensure replanting of trees after felling and it became a critical issue, so now for every tree that’s felled, another has to be planted. However, when this legislation was introduced, most of the trees that were planted weren’t native to Scotland meaning that now Scotland has more non-native trees than native. They were pretty impressive at this stop on our way back to Edinburgh.

This isn’t the best of photographs because I took it from a moving bus but you get the idea. We saw a few restaurants and shops whose entrances were entirely bedecked with beautiful flowers and plants, but this is the only picture I managed to snap. This is in the New Town part of Edinburgh where the architecture isn’t quite as lovely as it is in the Old Town, but the injection of colour really perks the buildings up.

Back home and the garden is in sore need of some tidying, but given the weather today and the upcoming forecast, it’s going to have to stay messy for a while! I have sunflowers which have flopped, wind battered runner beans and straggly pansies.

My ornamental kale is looking beautiful though.

This is hanging off the catio facing outwards in case furry friends nibble it, so we can’t see it unless we go out, but I’m happy just to know it’s there!

My fuchsias are still providing some much needed colour on these dreary days.

I feel that there hasn’t been enough fuchsia love on my blog this summer and I think it may be because they haven’t been as impressive this year, and I think that’s my fault. I must research fuchsia care so that they thrive next year. I have three and they all flowered, but they didn’t get many leaves and they didn’t get bushy like they were originally. Maybe some timely pruning is needed.

I may be slightly cheating with this last photo as it encompasses six in one! The photos may be multiple, but the point is singular.

And that point is, simply, colour! I took all these photos this morning before the rain started and it did make me happy to see all this colour after a week of dreary weather and the prospect of months of it to come.

That’s my Six for the week. As ever, the link to join in or just to read more Sixes is https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/six-on-saturday-03-10-2020/#respond

Six on Saturday 28th September

It feels like a very long time since I did a Six on Saturday. I was away on holiday in Spain for a week, and then I had a day to catch up, then had to jet straight back off to Spain for a work trip, then it was my birthday the day after I got back, so it feels like I’ve had a hectic couple of weeks. It felt really luxurious to have a lie in this morning.

The weather at home while we were on holiday was pretty good so the garden didn’t look too bad when we got back, but then while I was away for work there was a day of heavy downpours and, going by the look of my bistro ……

…… it was somewhat windy too! Unfortunately my leaf blower died on me last time I used it, so I may have to sort this out longhand (so to speak!)

Anyway, on to today’s Six. Don’t forget to pop over to the Propagator’s blog if you want to check out more Sixes.

Number one.

I’m far too embarrassed by the state of our front garden to show you the whole thing – suffice it to say, there’s somewhat of a dandelion party going on! I would like to show you my Hydrangea though.

This was an acquisition earlier this Summer from the sale table at Notcutts and it’s done really well. I wanted something that will grow quite big so it’ll take up lots of space and make maintaining the front a bit easier (hopefully!) so I jumped at this as soon as I saw it. Its flowers have been the palest of green through the Summer, but now they’re morphing into this beautiful pink.

Number two.

Into the back garden for the rest of my points, and I think I’ll start with my Sunflower which is almost properly open.

I was worried it would open while we were on holiday, and then while I was away for work, but it’s held on to save the best for my return. Probably tomorrow or Monday it’ll be at its full glory.

Just to give you an idea of how tall it’s grown, that’s the top of my head, and I’m five foot four. I’ll measure it later, but it’s got to be eight feet tall.

Number three.

The Coleus and Eupatorium cuttings in the greenhouse look to be doing quite well.

The purple Coleus and the Eupatorium are both starting to grow new leaves, which seems like it should be a good sign, but as this is my first time taking cuttings I might be wrong! Hopefully they’re growing roots as well as leaves. Maybe I should pinch the new leaves out so they focus purely on the roots. Any words of wisdom on this?

The red Coleus doesn’t look as happy, but I found the slithery perpetrator of that nibbled leaf still in the pot, so that explains it! He got unceremoniously chucked up the garden!

Number four.

I’ve still got some veg on the go.

Charlotte potatoes which have started to sprout nicely. I’ll get out later to cover as much as I can with compost to try to encourage more spuds. These are supposed to be ready for our Christmas lunch.

There’s a few leeks growing as well. These were supposed to be ready in October, but they look a way off yet, so maybe we’ll be able to have these for Christmas lunch too in a nice cheese sauce. Yum!

Number five.

The plants that continue to delight through Autumn are coming into their own.

The Eupatorium is starting to flower. They look pink to start off with and then when they open they’re a lovely bright white.

The Heather is showing off beautiful bright colours ….

…. as is the Cyclamen.

Finally the Callicarpa Bodinieri is starting to grow its purple berries, which is precisely why I bought one after falling in love with the berries this time last year.

Number six.

The trusty Cosmos.

Still going strong, as you can see.

The poor things are in desperate need of some deadheading though so I’ll do that over the weekend to try to prolong their pretty blooms.

That’s it then for this week. I’m off to the shops soon on a birthday shopping trip so no doubt I’ll tell you all about that soon.

Have a great weekend folks!