A weekend in the garden – finally!

I haven’t done a Six on Saturday for a couple of weeks, partly because the weather’s been so rubbish that I’ve barely been able to get out in the garden, and partly because due to said pants weather nothing’s really been happening out there other than weeds growing! I’ve also been speed crocheting a secret present which has taken up every spare moment, but is now almost finished (more on that when it’s been gifted).

However, despite a terrible weather forecast this weekend, I have managed to get out there in between showers and downpours. Yesterday I spent a bit of time in the greenhouse. I have lots of happy places, but one of them is definitely in my greenhouse with a compost filled table, some bits of paper (last year’s Gardeners’ World calendar) a trowel and some seeds.

I noticed in the week that something had started to eat my seedlings!!

How annnoying is that?! They’ve chewed my sunflowers, decimated my cosmos and absolutely obliterated my zinnias. I found the culprits – nestled underneath my seed trays were two snails and a slug! All three were swiftly disposed of down the end of the garden where they can eat weeds to their hearts’ content for all I care!

I do have some have intact seedlings/plants left and I decided that some of them were big enough to move to the new cold frame to start hardening off. First of all I had to remove the biggest herb Robert I think I’ve ever seen! This weed thrives in our garden, and especially, it would appear, likes the heat of the cold frame!

It would seem that the slimy things don’t like sweetpeas because they’re largely unscathed and three sunflowers look to be redeemable. I must remember to go out this evening to lower the lid.

Back in the greenhouse, I did some replacement sowing and some later seeds that needed doing. I sowed my petit pois in my raised bed a good couple of weeks ago, and absolutely nothing is happening! I don’t know if there’s any hope or if they’ve been eaten and/or dug up by animals but in case I don’t get any from the direct sown seeds, I sowed some in pots to transplant (hopefully) so I at least get some petit pois. I also sowed some more cosmos, because out of twenty that I sowed (most of which were growing nicely) I now only have three that haven’t been chewed! Then I decided it’s finally warm enough to sow my runner beans.

Then I potted up some pansies and begonias that have been patiently waiting for some time.

I did actually still have a couple of pansies in the pots which had managed to survive the winter. The begonias in the wheelbarrow are a yellow and orange mix again. If they turn out like last year’s did, then they’ll be beautiful all through the summer (if we ever get one) and into the autumn. I’ve ordered these from Thomson and Morgan the last couple of years because you don’t seem to be able to get yellow and orange from garden centres very often and they are just so pretty. I hope there are enough in the planter. I ordered fifteen, but a couple didn’t survive the post and three went in my hanging basket. We’ll see.

I decided to try something a bit different for my other hanging basket.

I bought this grass Nigrescens a few weeks ago intending to put it in one of Granny’s pots, but I changed my mind. I think it’ll be ok in here, and it’ll be nice to have something in there all year round. I can always pot it on if it gets too big.

Just before I headed in, I decided to go and dig up the euonymous that I noticed at the end of the garden. It was quite tricky to get up because it seemed to be in several pieces all surrounded by nettles and borage (work in progress!) but hopefully the bits I got will thrive.

Today I headed back out there not sure how long the rain would stay away, but apart from one brief shower, it stayed away until well into the afternoon.

Our garden can be quite daunting because there’s still so much to do, and I’ve found that it’s best to pick a small area or job and concentrate just on that, otherwise you run the risk of coming in feeling overwhelmed and a complete failure. Today I picked this area behind my birthday planter.

I think I did a pretty good job getting the weeds up. I’ve learnt not to be too precious with gardening. It’s never going to be perfect, so it’s best to just accept that from the get go. There were some giant stinging nettles that did their best to sabotage me. There were right in the corner behind the hydrangea, next to a holly bush and some brambles! A somewhat spiky area to tackle.

You can’t see the bramble, but I decided to leave it in the hopes that we might get some blackberries. If it gets too wild in the meantime I can always change my mind. You can just see on the left that the rhododendron is teasing me with pink flowers. Hopefully they’ll pop out soon. Bottom right is my much-loved eupatorium. It’s taking it’s time (as is everything else given the cold spring) but it’s slowly getting there.

Towards the back, in the middle is a new addition. My Mum gave me this grass from her garden when I saw her briefly at Granny’s funeral. Driving back from Surrey with it in the back of the car was like having someone dancing in a hula skirt in the boot all the way home! I’ve been trying to decide where to put it, and Mum said it needed somewhere where it can go crazy, so I settled on here. Hopefully it won’t mind the shade of next door’s jungle.

I made two discoveries in this area. One is a fern in the back corner. Hopefully it’ll grow nice and big.

The second has self seeded from a Juncus Spiralis grass in my birthday planter.

As you can see, I’ve dug this one up and potted it on to get a bit bigger before I decide where to put it. It’s also called corkscrew rush, and you can see why.

This is exactly the look I was aiming for when I practised curling my hair yesterday ready for my first proper night out out post lockdown in a couple of weeks. Nature does it much better than curling tongs!

Sticking with the self seeded plants, I decided to fill my new wall basket with beautiful self seeded cowslips.

Since the very first cowslip appeared at the end of the garden, we’ve had a few more appear each year. Good job I like them, but then, you probably can have too much of a good thing. I’m not there yet though. I’m going to put something floral on the bird table on the left but I haven’t decided what yet. Probably something trailing would be good.

It was somewhat muddy out there, given all the rain we’ve had recently. I was very grateful for two things: first, my rubber gardening gloves that you can see in the corkscrew photo. They were much better for pulling up wet weeds and scrabbling in mud than the fabric ones that get all soggy and second, my new doormat to stop our kitchen getting mud trailed through.

Two family members were very pleased when we came back inside.

They’re really not used to being on their own anymore since we’re nearly always at home in this new covid lifestyle. Now, I think I’ll go and do some more crochet and play with these lovely little girls. Hope everyone has a good week.

It’s been a while ….

I’ve missed a couple of Six on Saturdays and haven’t seemed to find the time to write any other time for a while, so I thought I’d use some of the bank holiday to write a quick catch up on the last couple of weeks.

My new love of Lego continues. I succumbed to ordering 4 Privet Drive, the house that Harry Potter lives in with Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon and Dudley and it’s fab. You can make Hogwarts letters come flying out of the fireplace like they do in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Ron’s blue Ford Anglia really does pull Harry’s bedroom window out as it does when Ron, Fred and George come to rescue Harry in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. You can even open up the side of the house to see inside the cupboard under the stairs which was Harry’s bedroom until he went to Hogwarts.

I also treated myself to a newly released set – Winnie the Pooh’s house in the Hundred Acre Forest.

The attention to detail is fantastic. Pooh bear can sit on the log outside his house and inside he can look in the mirror when he can do his stoutness exercises and obviously there are honey (hunny!) pots galore.

I’m super excited that Lego have just announced some new Harry Potter sets being released on 1st June. I’ve already ordered the Hogsmeade set which includes the Three Broomsticks pub and Honeydukes sweet shop, but I can feel a couple more purchases coming on!! Honestly, we need a bigger house so I can have a Lego room.

We could also do with a teddy bear room! I treated myself to a new bear called Theo last weekend when I went to Webbs garden centre.

He’s currently living on our bed. I did buy some lottery tickets this past weekend thinking that we could see if our neighbour would consider selling us his house so we could make a Lego room and a teddy bear room and a gym. We did win, but I don’t think he’d sell it to us for £30!

My actual reason for going to Webbs was to choose some plants to go in Granny’s pots that I inherited. I tried to choose plants that either had a relevant name or that I thought Granny would like.

On the left of these first three pots is poppy Beauty of Livermere which I thought Granny would like. She was a very cheery person so the bright red of a poppy seems appropriate. She was also born between the wars so a poppy is relevant. In the middle is a fuchsia. My Grandad loved fuchsias and they remind me of visiting them both when I was a child. This fuchsia is one of six that arrived from QVC. Unfortunately they’d been tipped upside down by Hermes so I’m trying my hardest to help them recover. I’ve put a little fairy in the pot with this one, which was the worst hit, to watch over it. On the right is a patio rose called Sweet Memories.

On the other side of my raised bed we have, on the left, hebe Golden Pixie. Granny had a hebe in her front border which she told me someone reversed their car into. In the middle is geum Pink Petticoats which, again, I thought Granny would like. Finally on the right is polemonium Stairway to Heaven with obvious relevance.

I love how they look arranged around my raised bed, with the two lily pots at the head.

I also bought this rose …

… because it’s called Sheila’s Perfume – Granny was called Sheila. I haven’t decided where this is going to go yet.

While I was planting these up, I spotted some movement out of the corner of my eye so I went to investigate, and found this friendly little robin.

Now I know it’s not unusual to see a robin whilst you’re gardening, but I’ve never had one let me get this close and for so long. It really seemed interested in what I was doing. My Mum said it was my Grandad popping in to see what I’d done with his pots. They were his and Granny’s when he was still with us, and he was the gardener really, Granny maintained them after he’d gone, and now I’m going to continue doing that.

I also inherited this stool which makes me think of Granny and Grandad every morning when I get up.

It’s been around for the whole of my life, and I remember sitting on it when I was small enough to do so! It came from Kenya when my Great Uncle (Granny’s brother) was working there. It’s not worth anything to anyone else, but to me it’s priceless.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of crochet too. I finished my Picnic on the Beach blanket which was a cal (crochet along) by Coastal Crochet.

And I’ve made quite a bit of progress on my D’Histoire Naturelle blanket which is a Scheepjes cal.

I should now be doing the next cal which is the Picnic by the River cal also designed by Coastal Crochet, but for Little Box of Crochet. However, I’m being patient with that one because I’m busy crocheting something else which I can’t tell you about in case the intended recipient reads this!

Moving back to the garden, and it’s coming back to life slowly but surely. Everything seems to be taking longer this year, probably because it’s been so cold and dry. Here’s a collage of colour for you – Welsh poppy, geum Totally Tangerine, pieris in full on show off mode, honesty and two different erysimums.

Finally, I’ll end with some pics of our visit to Hoo Farm last week. We’ve been here a few times and it’s always a good day out. They have lots of animals, and many of them are rescues or old animals that are living out their last days in peace. They’ve also added a walk through dinosaur section called Hoo-rassic World since our last visit which was fun.

Right, I’m off to do some more speed crocheting as the decidedly autumn weather outside has put the kibosh on anything outdoorsy!

Dreams of Mickey Mouse

Some of you may recall our non-Jamaica party for two last May which I organised to take our minds of the fact that we were supposed to be jetting out to Jamaica.

When this holiday was cancelled, we swapped it to Orlando, and, as I type, we should be at thirty thousand feet drinking a gin and tonic on our way there. Even though it was cancelled a few weeks ago, I couldn’t quite bring myself to remove it from my phone calendar, almost as if that was accepting that we weren’t going, so this morning I’ve been assaulted by reminders!

I’ve no idea why it says Tuesday in the little box! Anyway, we honestly didn’t think, when we swapped to April 2021, that we’d still be in the situation that we’re in with Covid. April 2021 seemed so far ahead at the time, that we assumed the world would’ve beaten this virus by now, but onwards we battle!

As it turns out, maybe some things truly are meant to happen a certain way, because we wouldn’t have been going anyway. It’s Granny’s funeral on Wednesday when we’d have been three days into our holiday. Much as I love holidays, and Orlando in particular, I wouldn’t have missed this occasion and chance to say au revoir.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of my favourite photos and memories of our previous holidays to Orlando. There are a lot of photos, so I fear this may take me a while to narrow down to something manageable.

I’ll start with our first trip, and our first visit to Magic Kingdom. This was our very first day in Orlando and I absolutely had to go and meet Winnie the Pooh and his friends.

I was so starstruck!! This was at the Crystal Palace where you can eat as much as you want from the buffet and meet Pooh bear, Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger as they roam around the restaurant. Excited was not the word!!

Sticking to the character theme, on our third trip we went to Epcot for the second time and had lunch with Mickey Mouse!

Whilst we’re on the subject of Epcot, here’s some more Pooh bear spam!

Fabulous topiary. I think, of the Disney parks that we’ve been to, Epcot is my favourite. We haven’t been to Hollywood Studios because it seems to be weighted heavily towards Star Wars which we’re not particular fans of. Animal Kingdom is good and we enjoyed our day there because we got to see lots of animals and a couple of the attractions are really good (we went before the Avatar additions) but it’s not very Disney so probably Busch Gardens would suit us better (it’s on the list!) Magic Kingdom is awesome and I’m sure we’ll visit again, but it is more for the younger visitors while the young at heart such as ourselves would probably prefer to visit less frequently (but it should certainly be on the list for first time visitors in my opinion). Epcot, however, has a lot of Disney content to satisfy the child in me, but also has loads of other cool stuff. I guess it’s more educational with all the different countries represented. It also has possibly the best simulator ride in Soarin’. It galls me to say that given how much I love the Harry Potter simulators at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, but it may just pip them for the actual ride, but not the queue where Hogwarts and Gringotts beat it hands down.

I have to share the next photo which I took at Epcot because it makes me smile every time I see it. This is Bruce from Shark Tale and I didn’t notice that he was trying to eat that poor lady until I looked at the photos of the day back at the hotel that evening!

As I seem to have moved into talking about each park, I’ll move on to Kennedy Space Centre. We’ve been to Kennedy twice and it’s a great day out. It’s about an hour’s drive from the International Drive area, but it’s an easy drive. Kennedy is also a fairly educational day and there is much less emphasis on thrill seeking. Having said that, hubby did find himself in outer space on our last trip.

There’s a really interesting bus ride around the park where you see and learn a lot about space launches. You might even spot a ‘gator lurking in one of the waterways around the complex.

Moving on to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, which together make up my happy place! I just feel, as soon as I emerge from City Walk to either turn left for Islands of Adventure or right for Universal Studios, a surge of happiness and a weight lifting. It’s pure fun, escapism and excitement.

I’ve found it difficult to narrow down my photos of these two parks but I’ve just about managed. I’ll start with my two favourite rollercoasters.

On the left is Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and it’s amazing! It was new last year and we were really lucky that we managed to go pre-covid and ride it. We had to queue for two hours to get on it, but it was worth it. The queue was amazing going past Hagrid’s hut and with a view of Hogwarts for some time and then the actual ride was exhilarating. You sit in pairs with one on the motorbike and one in the side car. Hubby let me have the motorbike since I’m the main Harry Potter fan and it was great! At one point you’re speeding towards the end of the track with your heart in your mouth wondering how on earth this is going to end, and then you screech to a halt and go backwards before stopping in the dark forbidden forest and then free falling to the track underneath. Amazing!

On the right is the Incredible Hulk coaster. The queue is less impressive but is still Hulk themed and atmospheric but the actual coaster is brilliant. One particular part is my favourite – as you approach the end of the tube in the photo going relatively slowly, all of a sudden the Hulk roars and you’re propelled forward pushing you back in your seat and possibly evoking a completely unintentional squeal of excitement (or is that just me?)

There’s so much about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that I love, that I can’t possibly show it all so I’ve chosen a few select photos.

Top row starting on the left is inside the Hog’s Head pub where we stopped for a gilly water, then Hogwarts Castle and Hedwig in her cage sitting on Harry’s case in the queue for the Hogwarts Express.

Bottom row left to right is the Hogwarts Express which is one of my favourite parts of the Wizarding World, the Leaky Cauldron where we’ve stopped for lunch a couple of times and the Knight Bus.

We spent my 40th birthday in Orlando and we splashed out and visited Discovery Cove which is completely different to the hustle and bustle of the other parks. Discovery Cove has a daily crowd limit of 1400 so it’s not busy (apart from the restaurant at lunchtime!) and is completely relaxing!

The day is quite expensive, but is all inclusive. You can arrive early and get breakfast, then you can go and get your life jacket or wet suit, snorkel and fish-friendly suntan lotion, and then you can grab a sun bed or you can go snorkelling in the Grand Reef with rays and tropical fish and a segregated section with sharks or you can float around the lazy river stopping off to wander through the aviary. At lunchtime you can get a yummy lunch before choosing how to spend your afternoon. You can swim with dolphins although we’ve chosen not to here and you can laze around in the deliciously warm water in the sunshine.

Sticking with the water theme and moving on to a different park but returning to Universal, is Volcano Bay. We’ve stopped at Cabana Bay twice, once with a volcano view which was so nice to wake up to.

This has been my screensaver on my work laptop for the past couple of years. That pool that you can see has a wave machine that starts every so often signalled by the drums and there are a couple of awesome water rides in the volcano. One is a trapdoor ride right from the top to the bottom and the other is an aqua coaster which is super fun. There are plenty of other water rides/slides in the park and probably my favourite is the lazy river from where you have a view of our hotel.

I think I’ve probably bombarded you with enough information and photos now, so I’ll finish, but I am getting hungry so I feel compelled to share one last photo which was my 40th birthday dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe on City Walk and is probably my favourite meal ever, and I’ve had it all three times that we’ve been to the Hard Rock! Behold, the chicken fajita!!