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

Showing off my flowers

I really need to fill in my passport renewal form tonight before we jet off on holiday and I’m craving some crochet time too, but I just wanted to pop in to see you before I get on with other things.

Here’s my crochet wip for you to look at.

F57DB862-7D3D-408B-87A5-3EA52A5DE57E

It’s from this book by Sarah Zimmerman who also has a fab blog. Check her out here.

0F45FB41-02A9-4B6D-BDBF-E861D67B4147

It’s  supposed to be done with chunky yarn and quite a big hook, but I didn’t have any chunky so I’m doing it with double knit and a 4mm hook. It’ll just be smaller than the book intended. Anyway, more about that when it’s finished, but do check out Sarah’s blog if you like crafty pursuits.

I’ve been enjoying the last of the summer garden this week, and today I got to show off the progress we’ve made this summer to my Dad and Step Mum and my Aunt and Uncle. I don’t get to see my Dad and Step Mum as often as I’d like (busy lives and a bit of geographical distance) and my Aunt and Uncle even less (much much more of a geographical distance). Thank goodness for technology, social media gets berated sometimes, but it does mean it’s easier to stay in touch from a distance.

It was lovely to hear people step into the garden and gasp because so much has changed since last they saw it. Admittedly the real ‘wow’ change was accomplished by the three beefy guys with chainsaws who chopped away the jungle, but I think we’ve made a real cosmetic improvement since then.

I really wanted to just share some photos with you that I took yesterday morning. It had rained in the night and the shimmer of water in the early morning light made the colours of our plants and flowers really pop. I just had to risk being late for work and I trotted out to capture the beauty.

Look!

My standard roses! I’ve shown you these before, but I think they deserve a second airing. They’ve done so well and they got a few admiring comments today.

1E220E25-DEEB-4516-82E5-919536923BA6

Beautiful patio rose. I can see why bees delve into flowers. This just makes me want to dive into it. So beautiful.

I love vibrant orange. On the left is a magnificent marigold looking like the plant version of a Pomeranian puppy and on the right glorious gazania just starting to unfurl itself as the early morning light wakes it up.

I’m really not a pink person so I’m surprised that I’ve been drawn to all this perfect pinkness for our garden. Doesn’t the rainwater bring out the beauty in the colours? Starting top left and going clockwise these are cosmos, gerbera, erysimum, cyclamen, fuschia and dahlia.

A86E6F42-F268-4A27-AE3A-D05E5CF55E4F

These are my viola bunny ears. This little viola withstood the hot hot weather during July and August and has come out the other side happily and is still rewarding us with beautiful flowers. Can you see why it’s called bunny ears? The two purple petals on each flower peek up just like perky little bunny ears.

D6AA08B6-8F6F-49B7-87BB-709BF1266EF4

This is my diascia cherry blossom. This is one of my big success stories. It was past its best when I brought it home, but today it’s thriving and it makes me grin.

972B0DD4-871F-4D8F-86A6-867CA0CAE91E

This is calluna, normally just known as heather. I don’t buy many full priced plants. I prefer to save plants from the sale table, but I couldn’t resist this. I love the pink and white against the lime green. Lovely.

Anyway, thanks for popping by, I’d better dash and start my passport form.