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.

856e3de8-c346-4c3c-b37c-1ba42d5c4a28

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.

3CA3B5FB-7042-4C49-8FEE-4A636354D0D1

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

965B5BB5-7F92-4A8C-82E5-77BAF62E553A

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

60C782D1-A10F-41B0-AF9F-20768B937571

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

D2058BE7-404E-4D3D-9B5C-94EB60985DC0

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.

E760F832-56CF-4516-B341-62FD4F166F4F

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

d0a4a7b8-f646-4a79-a3af-410dd7b1a92c

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

002a24ec-40f9-4d5b-80ca-512df0de965f

And Mexico in November with hubby.

img_1869

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.

6866f1b5-ccc7-4ff2-b5f2-2862a007bc66

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!

30011e1a-58ce-43d9-bfe6-9adc78f9217d

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.

4AC4B353-B093-4D9B-B2E6-8D014BE838DE

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!

c73d2778-c1a5-4b31-8003-237811588cb2

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!

 

 

 

Busy week

I’m writing this without a title at the moment because I’m not actually sure what I’m going to write about!

I haven’t posted for nearly a week, which I think is the longest I’ve been away from my blog. In my defence, it’s been a very busy week, at a time when I could’ve really done without it, but hey, that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes, isn’t it?

I’m not feeling quite myself at the moment, partly, I think due being such a busy bee this week. This was my first week back at work after our lovely break in Mexico. For anyone who missed the posts, here’s the best of our trip in pics (arachnophobes don’t worry, I won’t traumatise you with the tarantula again!)

 

It was only a four day week back too! I’d booked Monday off to try to get over the jetlag. Massive fail! Tuesday back at work I was a complete zombie! Wednesday I had to fly to Frankfurt for a business workshop on Thursday, which meant as well as not being over the jetlag from Mexico, I was now another hour in front of myself!

I flew Lufthansa which was a reasonably pleasant experience. I know geographical stereotypes are generally to be taken with a pinch of salt, but German efficiency isn’t one of them. This was the first time I’d been to Germany, but I have many German colleagues, and they are always super efficient. In my experience they make you feel reassured and confident because their efficiency shines through. They get annoyed with themselves if anything causes them to be anything less than spot on the mark, so they work hard to make sure this doesn’t happen. The whole Lufthansa experience was the same. Everything happened on time, not a minute before or after. Frankfurt was the same. Shuttle bus turned up when and as expected, hotel check in and out was a breeze and service overall was commendable.

As this was a business occasion, I couldn’t take as many photos as I would normally. Remember I’m new to this job, and I don’t want my new colleagues to think I’m some sort of weirdo who takes photos every three seconds (whether that, in fact, is true or not!) I did manage to sneak a couple though when I was on my own.

6E73161D-9F7C-4D9B-B32C-06CFD771F206

This was when I got to put my head down after a team dinner. It was really nice to chat with my colleagues that I don’t see often, and some I met for the first time, I’m part of a really great team, but the old jetlag means I needed my bed, or rather, the NH Frankfurt Airport’s bed, but you catch my drift. At first I thought it strange that I only had a singe duvet, but then I realised it was another example of German efficiency. Why provide a double duvet for a double for single occupancy room? Less washing, less space, less carbon footprint.

70DE2DEF-D31E-4A2A-B504-A11D88FF39E7

Treats in the breakout area during the coffee break. I’ve found it’s common on the continent to provide sweets in the coffee area, and I have to say I wholeheartedly approve of this practise. Hours in a meeting room with no fresh air, often on not enough sleep and trying to concentrate for long periods often leads to that feeling in your head as if your brain’s doing slow backflips and it can feel as though you have lead weights attached to your eyelids. What better remedy than oodles of processed sugar? The little glazed profiterole was labelled up as a mini windbag! After a quick peruse of google I have discovered that windbag is indeed what Germans call profiteroles. I love learning stuff like this.

 

The meeting started at 8am and overran somewhat, so I didn’t get back to the airport until after 6pm, which wasn’t a problem timing-wise because my flight wasn’t until 21.55, but was a problem for my mental state. I was feeling completely exhausted and burnt out and as a result my brain was playing tricks on me, so, I decided what I needed was some familiarity so I took myself off to McDonalds. I don’t care what anyone says about the (lack of) nutritional value of McDonalds, it tastes wonderful and as I sat scoffing away and reading my kindle I could feel my woes dissolving and my rational self taking over again. Just to complete the process I did some crocheting. This was nearly a disaster. I’d remembered to pack the yarn and hook  but forgot the pattern and a stitch marker! Thank goodness for technology. I asked hubby to WhatsApp the pattern to me, which he did straight away, bless his heart, and I improvised with a piece of yarn for my stitch marker.

This is as far as I got before I needed stuffing (which I hadn’t brought), but the lights you can see in the background are UK lights so it was all good.

440853ED-792F-49CF-B42D-CE2D875552BD

Exhausted as I was, I could still appreciate the beauty of flying in the dark. I love the lights of the airport (the carbon footprint concerns me, but I appreciate the obvious safety necessity). This was Frankfurt from the air.

28F2A12B-5E5E-4C7A-9D6A-FDA64BDBFDF9

Difficult to take a non-blurry photo when you’re in the process of being accelerated to 500mph!

I was so so glad to get home to my own bed, not that I was in it for long because I had to be back on the boards for a conference call at 8am! No rest for the wicked eh? I’m not complaining though (ok, I may have done a bit in the height of tiredness). I’ve fought for this opportunity and I’m determined to make it work.

I actually made it to 9pm last night before I collapsed into bed with the cats (hubby was out for the night). I read my kindle for a bit (fab book I’m reading at the moment – Kate Morton’s latest) but then this happened.

679680EA-CCE8-4104-9594-6CFEAD6A3823

Somehow I still don’t feel recovered. I’m still in a bit of a daze! Maybe I had too much sleep!

If I did then it’ll stand me in good stead for next week because on Monday I’m globetrotting again! This time I’m heading for Gijon in northern Spain for training on heavy plates (big bits of steel cut into a big rectangle that can be used to make the JCBs making a building, or the fabric of that building, or even a luxurious cruise ship). Gijon is difficult to get to. I have to drive to Heathrow, fly to Madrid and then catch a connection to Asturias and obviously the same in reverse on Wednesday to come back. I get back to Heathrow after 10pm so won’t be home before midnight. People think travelling for work is glamourous and exciting. Well, whilst it has its moments and sometimes you get some free time to explore, it’s generally the opposite of glamourous. I can now say I’ve physically been to Germany, but all I saw was the inside and outside of an airport and a hotel and a bit of road in between. It gave me a taster though and I’d like to go back for a mini-break with hubby because it looked nice as I flew in. I did once go to a convention in Barcelona and as part of the day the company organised a whistle stop tour around Barcelona so I did get to see Sagrada Familia and some other Gaudi works so that was closer to glamourous.

I haven’t had enough umpf to get out in the garden since we’ve been back from Mexico. I was hoping to this weekend, but I’m still not with it. Hopefully I’ll be back to my normal self next weekend and I’ll be able to get out to do a bit of pottering. I satisfied the gardening urge this morning by tending to my houseplants.

3CC8B02D-B320-4637-8458-2AF779864282

I’m sad to report that the succulent in the flamingo (there’s a phrase I never thought I’d utter!) is the only one that I’ve managed to keep alive since my brother’s wedding. I think I must’ve over-watered the others. Succulents don’t like too much water. The cacti seem to be happy enough. The Venus Flytrap not so much! Not sure what I’ve done wrong there. It’s still alive so I’ll google for some advice.

 

My mantlepiece is doing well. Either end are my airplants which just need an occasional spritz of water. I’ve managed to keep the two succulents in the typewriter and the floral mug alive so far. The owl and the bounce mug contain the cuttings that my friend gave me. In the mug is a Chinese money plant and in the owl (it seems I don’t really do conventional plant pots!) is my chain of hearts. It’s not so much a chain of hearts as a sprig at the moment, but it’s alive and growing slowly so I’m happy with that.

F8DA1E9B-311F-4E9E-AD08-CE756E3D8A11

My roses look a little sorry for themselves. I’m still working out their watering needs, and I think it’s slightly more than I’ve been doing thus far. These were a birthday present so I’m doing my best to keep the, going in the hope that I’ll be able to plant them outside.

Right, best think of a title and then get ready for a night at our good friends’ house. Hopefully they’ll trigger us out of our jetlag haze!

Underwater World

We are jet lagged! I imagine this is what it feels like to be on mind-altering drugs. Earlier we went to Tesco (through necessity certainly not desire). I generally avoid supermarkets. Life is just too short when you work full time to be faffing around in supermarkets in your free time, wondering how the human race hasn’t become extinct. If it can’t even handle a shopping trolley how on earth does it undertake more complicated activities such as, oh I don’t know, crossing the road or raising a child! Anyway, somehow today, in our multi time zonal state it suddenly became more bearable. I’m pretty sure I managed not to leave my trolley horizontal across the end of an aisle whilst I wondered off to (at length) ponder the virtues of Cushelle over Andrex as is the want of your seasoned supermarket goer, but I was definitely less spatially aware than usual and (joy of joys) pretty much unaware of the irritating foibles of my fellow shoppers. Maybe that’s as a result of post holiday relaxation, or maybe the jet lag. Either way, I shall return to online shopping next week because I’m sure both will have deserted me not to return until our next holiday, leaving me open to the possibility of committing hara-kiri with a carrot should I attempt to enter a supermarket.

We landed back down on earth with a bump today (and not one of a Dreamliner!) As well as braving Tesco, I’ve emptied both suitcases and my beach bag, put the passports away, hung up everything that didn’t need washing, filled and emptied the dishwasher, watered the plants, cleaned the kitchen and straightened my hair (but I drew the line at applying make up – one thing at a time, eh?) Hubby has emptied the bins, cleaned the cats bowls and changed their litter trays and between us we’ve done two loads of washing (including hubby’s uniform ready for his return to work on Tuesday) and now we’re cooking tea. There was a fairy for all manner of domestic chore whilst we were on holiday and I was hoping it might have popped in our suitcase to continue back home, but no such luck!

So, I’m going to live vicariously through my past self this evening and tell you about our excursion last week. We decided we’d just do one excursion while we were away, partly because they were flipping expensive but mostly because we really felt the need for copious amounts of lying, relaxing, snoozing and general nothing doing. We looked at the options and toyed with a trip to Chichen Itza, but ultimately we realised that this would’ve just been a box ticking exercise and we weren’t all that desperate to see it. Impressive as I’m sure it is, you can no longer climb the pyramid, the pick up was at some ungodly hour and it would’ve meant spending several hours of our precious holiday on a coach. So, we opted for Underwater World.

Our pick up was scheduled for 7.55am, but by 8.15am we were still lounging in the sun on the front steps of the hotel. I have to admit I was starting to worry, but there was no need, the minibus had got held up getting into Playa Carm (as the locals call Playa del Carmen). There’s a checkpoint to get in and every vehicle is checked. This must be irritating for people coming in for deliveries and hotel staff etc. but it’s for safety reasons and did mean that the hotel felt super secure.

Soon we were on our way down the highway to our first stop which was a cenote, which is an underground lagoon. There are over six thousand cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsular and as there are no rivers in the area, they provide the primary source of drinking water. The water filters through the rocks when it rains and it is crystal clear (until, that is people go in and stir up the silt on the bottom).

We entered the uunderground world down a very steep staircase.

11F7A01B-68CA-473E-99E7-5BC211A11453

Please excuse the swimwear! I promise I won’t make a habit of posting pics in such attire! You can see the steepness of the stairs and the concentration on hubby’s face to make sure he doesn’t fall down them!

There is absolutely no natural light down there once you’ve moved away from the entrance so for most of the time we had to follow our guide Ricardo’s torch as you can see in this photo.

DE26C629-D417-4A51-A806-EB3D56403C57

Luckily nobody asked what would happen if the battery died until after we’d got back to the stairs! Apparently it has happened and they all had to hold on to each other and feel their way around the rocks until they got back! Argh! When we were in the depths of the cave Ricardo turned the torch off and you literally couldn’t see your hand in front of your face!

The cenote is filled with stalagmites and stalactites which are thousands of years old, formed by the water dripping through. You have to be really careful not to touch them because they are very easily damaged.

This is one of the most special things I’ve ever done.

After we scrambled our way back up the stairs we headed back to the highway down the bumpiest road I’ve ever known. Halfway down we suddenly stopped to the cry of ‘tarantula!’ Somehow our driver had spotted this little (big) fellow crawling around at the side of the road.

8590F5F2-F841-47B2-AD81-5CF2A45D5A4F

I’m not the biggest lover of spiders, although I’ve got better since I’ve been gardening more and coming across all manner of creepy crawlies, but I was very impressed by this guy. Now, I’m not saying I want to find one of these in the bath, but I find them a lot less shudder-inducing than the common house spider, because they don’t scurry. They’re too big for scurrying! You can see some scale in the next photo.

0720438A-4C99-4AC2-A962-711C376546C6

Another minibus was heading towards the cenote and they pulled over when they saw the commotion and the driver picked the tarantula up!

Brave guy!

We carried on and headed to our final stop, a beautiful beach where went snorkelling. Unfortunately I don’t have photos because we had to leave our belongings in the minibus because there were no lockers, but imagine Caribbean paradise and you’ll be part way there!

We suited up in our life jackets and snorkels and followed Ricardo into the water. There’s no guarantee of seeing turtles because they’re not in captivity, they’re free to swim wherever they please. Apparently ten years ago you’d be likely to see close to a hundred on a good day, but now you’re lucky to see five or six.

We were reasonably lucky, we saw three.

DCIM907GOPRODCIM903GOPRO

These aren’t the actual turtles that we saw. Well, they might be, but I didn’t take the photos, they were in a photo package that I bought of the day. They’re pretty close to what we actually saw.

It’s very serene when you’re floating around looking down at turtles, not able to hear anything because your ears are below the water. Very calm.

Sadly some of the turtles are getting cancer because of the chemicals that we, the human race, are putting into the sea. I couldn’t see any evidence of it on the turtles we saw (apparently they get white tumours) but it really makes you realise that we need to change our ways for the good of the animal kingdom, and the planet as a whole. Obviously we need to wear sun protection, but there are animal safe products available. There are alternatives to many plastic consumables.

As well as the turtles we saw two sting rays, an adult (mummy?) and a baby.

DCIM102GOPRO

Again, not my photo, but a good likeness.

This was an absolutely brilliant day! I’m so glad we chose this over Chichen Itza, we have amazing memories that we can cherish forever.