Happy Birthday To me

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Green Girl Gardener is a whole one year old today! Where has that year gone? I knew it was coming up because about a month ago my iPhone calendar reminded me to ‘cancel WordPress if not using’. I just swiped it away, and that made me happy because it meant I’d been successful in my venture.

After I published my first post, hubby turned all Del Boy and declared that ‘this time next year we’ll be millionaires!’ Well I haven’t been successful in that way  (not that the intention was ever for that to happen), and I don’t even have that many followers/regular readers, but it still feels like an eminently successful year to me because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every second of blogging. I’ve always been a closet writer (I still think there’s a novel in me somewhere) and this is a fabulous way for me to express myself creatively. It makes me happy to play with words, find the most amusing way to express myself, to conjugate to my heart’s content.

I think the blog has had its main focus on my gardening adventure, but I’ve also managed to bring other passions into it – crochet, cats, holidays, teddy bears, tennis. Hopefully I’ve provided some light entertainment on otherwise dreary days, and maybe I’ve even provided a little bit of education along the way (although probably not in gardening because I’m still right down the bottom of that particular learning curve).

I’ve found lots of fellow bloggers who blog on all sorts of subjects from crochet to mental health to cooking to travel, but most of all I’ve found fellow gardeners. Luckily (for me) most of them are far more experienced than yours truly and they’ve helped me identify mystery plants, they’ve offered tips and tricks either directly or through their own writing and they’ve opened my eyes to different kinds of gardening. I can honestly say that starting my little bloggy venture was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve complemented by space here with a Green Girl Gardener account on Instagram (@greengirlgardener if anyone’s interested) which allows me, when I don’t have time to blog, to share those random photos that I take when I pop out to check the garden before work, or when I spot a beautiful plant while I’m out and about or when I’ve created something scrummy with my own homegrown goodness.

I’m going to celebrate my first birthday by sharing some of my favourite photos from the past year.

I’ve tried to pick one photo from each month, but I’ve got so many photos that I love that I think I’m going to have to do another montage!

Above we have for July my Eupatorium (that had to be in there, didn’t it), Olive and Tink, our furry girls for August and my birthday planter for September. Then there’s the fox cushion I made for my mother in law in October and hubby and I in a cenote in Mexico during our November holiday. Next row shows my Hellebore flowering in December and my Christmas present greenhouse housing a hubby (a husband hut as my friend on Facebook quipped) in early January. Penultimate row is us with a friendly falcon in Malta in February and the Palace of Holyroodhouse during my trip to Edinburgh (which was also in February but I must’ve written my post in early March) and finally one of my raised beds all planted and netted in April, the iconic Universal globe on our fantastic holiday to Orlando in May and last but not least, the Confetti Fields that I visited in June.

Here we go again. Top row shows a Gazania which was the first sale table find that I blogged about back in July 2018 and an Eeyore house at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens which we discovered in August. Jump down a row to a wild pony in Sutton Park which we came across in September, I still remember how happy I was to have seen one because I was starting to think they were a myth, and my set of Clover hooks which revolutionised my crocheting life in October. Next up is a white feather in November which I think is my gardening expert Grandad popping down from heaven to check I’m not messing up the garden, followed by our yummy Christmas dinner in December, our furry girls keeping warm in January and me meeting my new baby niece in February. Fourth row shows a mountain of bears in March (that’s been added to since then!) and an elephant that I crocheted as a leaving gift for my boss when he retired in April so he doesn’t forget me and lastly a Gringotts vault at the Harry Potter studios in May and the start of my love affair with overnight oats as I started Slimming World in June.

It’s so nice to look back at these photos – yet another benefit to my blog. I also take more random photos when I get an inkling of an idea for a blog post and I find that quite often they evoke the strongest memories.

I’ll finish with a thank you. To all you lovely readers – friends, family, colleagues and fellow bloggers – thank you so much for reading, liking, commenting, complimenting and educating me for the last year. I really do appreciate it every time someone takes time out of their busy day to read my musings and ramblings, and I hope I can continue to entertain and perhaps amuse for a long time to come.

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!

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!