Green Girl Gardener has a birthday

So I’m another year older, as they say, but actually, if you think about it, I’m only a day older since age is cumulative.

This time last year we were in Orlando celebrating my 40th birthday (all week I’ve been tortured by this on timehop!) This was my view as I entered my fifth decade.

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I loved 40. The second I turned 40 I felt like a whole load lifted off me. All of a sudden I felt perfectly ok with the fact that I don’t want to party till the wee small hours. That a great night out for me involves a meal and a couple of glasses of wine with good company. That a Saturday night in with a takeaway and a box set is an acceptable luxury. I developed a confidence and a happiness that came entirely from within that allowed me to concentrate so much more on the things that matter and to disregard the trivial. I became far less concerned with the opinions of others. I guess this naturally comes with age, but with me it literally happened overnight.

….. but now on to to 41.

My birthday was yesterday, but actually my birthday treats started the day before. I took the day off work and treated myself to a full body Swedish massage to kick the day off. I get emailed offers all the time from Bannatyne Spa but normally can’t manage to get an appointment outside of work time, but this time I managed to get one on my day off. What a great way to start a Tuesday!

Thoroughly relaxed, I slinked off home, ready to be picked up by my Dad to go and choose my birthday presents. Weeks ago I asked if my (now traditional) shopping spree could take place in Webbs Garden Centre this year instead of in a shopping mall. Dad was game for this as he hadn’t been to Webbs since we used to pop in there on our way to my Dad’s when I was a kid (work that one out then, hey!?)

Webbs is AMAZING! It has a Lakeland and a Hobbycraft inside it, and an incredible food hall which, if you’re lucky, gives away free samples to entice you to buy one of their wheels of cheese or pots of chutney or regional wines.

By the time we arrived, our tummies were telling us it was time for a little smackeral of something, so we bypassed all the amazing houseplants and averted our eyes from the Christmas displays and headed straight to the restaurant. Yum, jacket potatoes, not as good as Ted’s (because that’s not possible) but a pretty close runner-up.

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Tummies full, we headed outside for a trolley and the shopping commenced. I very nearly succumbed to a bear. It was a lovely bear, and very soft and cuddly, but I managed to drag myself away. Our house has its fair share of cuddly toys already so I left it for someone else to give it a home and I wheeled my trolley off to the greener part of the garden centre.

Look at all my lovely gifts.

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There’s a teddy bear! Our house may have its fair share, but what excitement to realise I can continue the bear obsession in the garden!

I’ve been wanting a Cordyline for ages so I made a beeline for those.

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This is definitely going to go in my new planter which was my present from my Dad and Carole.

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A wheelbarrow of grasses! These, along with Hebes, are my current plant loves. In there is Carex Testacea, Miscanthus Gold Breeze, Stipa Tenuissima and Juncus Spiralis. I love the way they wave at me in the breeze.

I never thought I’d have a wheelbarrow as a birthday present! This actually came from Homebase not Webbs. The ones in Webbs were proper galvanised ones and were super expensive! I needed a wheelbarrow, but Monty Don I am not, so a super expensive one was not necessary.

Juncus Spiralis, as the linguists amongst you will have worked out, is curly. Curly grass! How fun.

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I did get one indoor plant.

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The air plant in the shell on the end. This is to replace one of the succulents from my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding which didn’t make it. I couldn’t resist the little tropical fish.

I was at work on my birthday so I waited until I came home to open my cards and presents.

Look how well my friends and family know me.

F29ED728-B407-44B2-9650-66635D37E84BTwelve cards with cats on and a cat mug!

Both my brothers have got my number too.

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Pooh bear!

My friend continued the theme with this lovely Eeyore which I’ve clipped on to my handbag.

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And my husband knows how to melt my heart ….

….. with a card from my fur babies (and a Paperchase one at that!) Picasso eat your heart out!

He got me two floating charms for my Pandora locket …..

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Tiny and cute, huh? They look great in the locket (I already had Mickey).

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And he got me a Newton’s cradle that I spotted in Flying Tiger a few weeks ago.

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I got some more gardeny gifts too.

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Garden centre vouchers and a Webbs gift card and a trug that contains gardening gloves, rustic plant markers and seeds with instructions on when best to sow them. The cactus card was from a special friend. I take ages choosing cards for other people because I always want to pick just the right one that they’ll love and that is relevant to them, so I always appreciate it when I receive cards that have been chosen with thought.

My Mum sent me a handmade bag.

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I haven’t decided what to use it for yet. It’s the right size for crochet hooks but it would be good for cosmetics too. Aren’t the fabrics she used lovely?

This month’s Little Box of Crochet also arrived on my birthday and it’s Oh. So. Good! Gaspworthy! More about that later when I have time to divulge its autumnal contents. The card was from a friend at work and I couldn’t resist including it in the photo because it matches perfectly.

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So, my birthday is over for another year and I’ve been so spoilt by my nearest and dearest and, as ever, it makes me so appreciative of all the wonderful people I have in my life who always find a way to make me feel loved and special, not just on my birthday, but always. Thanks guys, you’re the best – big squeezes to all of you.

Oh, and it’s not over just yet.  I have a meal out on Saturday night with some of my favourite people in the world and another on Tuesday with some more favourites, my oldest friends (in the chronological sense, they’re not all ninety!) and I get to meet up with my best friend at some point soon which we don’t manage very often.

TTFN.

Saturday shopping trip

I needed to pay a cheque into my account today (successful PPI claim – whoop!) so we headed off to our local shopping centre, Sutton Coldfield, to visit the bank.

We took the need to go into Sutton as the perfect excuse to indulge in a spot of lunch. When I say ‘we’, really I mean ‘me’ because hubby, as with most men, really doesn’t get excited by food. He sees eating more as a necessity and not something to look forward to, or plan, or dream about, or salivate over! How can one not get a little rush of excitement over a perfectly dusted Victoria sponge cake with jam oozing from its middle, or a block of purple wrapped Dairy Milk straight from the fridge, or a ginormous bag of crunchy onion rings with a creamy pot of cheesy dip just waiting to be dunked, or a big, steaming bowl of spaghetti carbonara?

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Erm ….. where was I? Oh right, lunch! I can’t believe my blog is a nearly two months old and I haven’t talked to you about Ted’s Hot Potatoes yet. He makes the best jacket potatoes EVER! He started off with a mobile potato stand in 1980, then he graduated to a semi-permanent hut, and now you can find him in his own shop/restaurant with inside and outside seating. Essentially that means Ted’s has been around for ninety three percent of my life!

When I was in my early teens, my Mum and I had a tradition that involved Ted. We used to pop into Sutton towards the end of the summer holidays to get my new stationery ready for the return to school. I used to love this trip firstly because choosing new stationery is one of life’s great joys for me, and secondly because Mum used to treat us to a hot jacket potato from Ted, who was still in his mobile stand back then. We always had the same topping, and Ted is the only potato seller I know of to do this, and it’s still my go-to topping to this day …..

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Delicious! Cheese and Branston on a piping hot, crispy jacket potato. It’s really (REALLY) not diet-friendly and with less than eight weeks until I have to squidge my lumps and bumps into a bikini, I really should be mindful of such things, but they taste soooooooooooo good!

Anyway, jacket potato happily consumed, we went for a nose around Flying Tiger. I always find something to buy in here. It’s full of me type things. Things that I don’t need, but I do want. Today they had yarn! This makes me happy!

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The blue/green/purple (my three favourite colours) ones I think I’ll make a blanket with. Not sure how big it will be, but if I do a c2c one I can just keep increasing until the first ball runs out, and then start decreasing with the second. It doesn’t say what weight it is, but it looks slightly thicker than DK and says to use 4.5mm needles (hook in my case) so I’m guessing it’s closer to an aran and I think I’ll use a 5mm hook.

I’ve no idea what I’ll do with the fabric yarn. I got it to experiment with because I’ve never crocheted with fabric yarn. It might be good for a basket – watch this space!

I also got another of the surprise bags that I told you about in this post. This time I got all these goodies.

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Not quite as exciting a haul as last time, but somehow the universe was looking out for me. I needed a new lidded drinking cup (severe danger of feline drinkage in this house if you leave an uncovered drink out!) and I didn’t like any of the ones in Paperchase which is where I’ve always got them from, so imagine my glee when I got home, opened the surprise bag and found a cup that is furry girl proof!

I love the lacy ribbon, and I’m hatching a plan to crochet in the holes along the edges so it makes a pretty join. So many wips on the go at the moment so it could be some time before this happens!

Paperchase next. Can’t, absolutely can’t, not go into Paperchase. I got two notepads. One is for work so I can organise my notes from a new meeting that I take part in (if you don’t have nice pretty pads for work, give it a go, they make a good day at work even better, and a bad day less bad) and the other is just because, and why not? It’s got gridded pages so will be useful for designing crochet projects as well as garden ones.

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Final stop WHSmiths. I worry about WHSmiths because they’re up against Amazon and I’d be so upset if they went bust. I’m the worst culprit, for going in there and then buying what I want cheaper on Amazon, and I do feel guilty about it. Our WHSmiths is already smaller than it used to be when I was in there with Mum searching for the best furry pencil case and the least boring protractor for my return to school. The back third of it is now the post office.

I do try to make sure I get my magazines from WHSmiths and, although I read the majority of my books on my kindle, if I want an actual book, like an autobiography or a cookery book or something else with pictures that doesn’t translate brilliantly to a digital form then I will take myself off to WHSmiths to try to support them and keep them going.

I just love browsing books. I resisted a kindle for a long time because I love actual books, but I succumbed and now I love love love it. Pre-kindle I hated having to give books to the charity shop, unless it was one I didn’t particularly enjoy, because if I felt a connection with a character or a storyline, I felt it with the physical book too, but space was at a premium so keeping them all became impractical. I also do most of my leisure reading in bed, so when they brought out the kindle paper white it was like a dream come true. Proper relaxation, chilling out in the dark but still able to read. The kindle is obviously great for holidays too because you don’t have to cart heavy books around. So, I’m a kindle convert, but I do miss actual books and have to have a nose around them frequently.

Looking at the children’s books makes me smile. It makes me think of Christmases and birthdays when I would always receive at least one book. It reminds me of the complete worry-free time of being a child, when I had so much more time to sit and lose myself in a book. Children’s books have really stood the test of time. There are now the wonderfully colourful covers of David Walliams and Claire Balding books, and the ever popular Wimpy Kid, but there are also so many books still on the shelves inWHSmiths that I read as a child.

You already know about my Pooh Bear obsession, and I read all of these other books too when I was growing up, but these photos were taken today in WHSmiths. I was pleased that there were several children also browsing with their parents. All too often the aisle for young readers is empty. Many children nowadays prefer to be staring at a screen (and not a kindle one) blowing things up rather than losing themselves in a book, developing their imagination and educating themselves by reading. This makes me sad. I wish I could make explain to them the pleasure that I got as a child, and still do now from reading.

These books are in the children’s section …..

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….. but I first read Michael Morpurgo as an adult. His most famous book is War Horse, which has been adapted into a hugely successful play and film. We’re going to see it next month at the Birmingham Hippodrome. I’ve also read another of his books called Wild Running. It’s a brilliant read. I highly recommend you pick up a copy (maybe from WHSmiths!)

I spotted this book whilst I was meandering through the aisles.

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I read To kill a mockingbird on my very first foreign holiday in Menorca when I was twenty one and I loved it. It has a very powerful message, but is written in plain English. This copy has the same cover as the version I had. It makes me remember sitting in the sun, on the harbour (on my own for some reason – can’t recall why) reading it and realising how lucky I am but that not every one is. The film adaptation with Gregory Peck is very good, but I’d advise reading the book first. That bit of advice goes for pretty much any novel to screen adaptation, including these next ones.

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They even have the Tinkerbell seal of approval! The film version of the Philosopher’s Stone (Sorcerer’s Stone I believe in the US) was pretty good and the films got better and better as they went on, and I love them, but they still don’t come close to conveying the magic of the books.

I was late to the Harry Potter party and the Prisoner of Azkaban was already out in hardback when I started reading the series, so I read the first three tomes straight after each other. I will forever be disappointed that I somehow managed to pick up the adult version of the Philosopher’s Stone (see the different style cover?) because it doesn’t match the rest. Ho hum, can’t be helped now.

I was hooked after the first chapter, in fact probably halfway through it, and was then torn between wanting to read quickly to find out what happened and a desperate need not to finish because I couldn’t bear not to be in that wonderful, magical world.

After I finished Prisoner of Azkaban, I then, along with half of the rest of the world, had to wait somewhat impatiently for the release of each new book. I ordered each one from Amazon because they promised faithfully that each book would be delivered on the release day, and they were as good as their word. My sofa used to sit in the bay window of my flat at the time, and I remember getting up early and kneeling on the sofa, chin cupped by my hands, staring out of the window willing the postman to come trotting round the corner, his big red bag bulging with Harry Potter goodness.

If there’s anyone who hasn’t read this amazing series, I really really REALLY implore you to because it is just magical. I used to dream about Harry Potter when I was first reading the books, and they were such blissful dreams from which I was sad to wake.

Go go go! Amazon has them, WHSmiths has them! Every bookstore in the world worth its salt has them! WHSmiths is your best bet – you can go pick them up tomorrow, even Amazon prime won’t get them to you by tomorrow now!

Go!

Tut tut looks like rain!

Are you fed up with the Pooh Bear quotes yet? Sorry, can’t promise they’ll stop any time soon. There seems to be a relevant one for most situations, although it didn’t just look like rain today, it absolutely chucked it down aallllll daaayyyyyy!

Hubby was at work earning the bacon, and I couldn’t get out in the garden because of the awful weather, so I was at a bit of a loose end. I had to collect our food shopping, but other than that the day was my own to do with it what I wanted. I decided to go for a wander around the shops after I’d been to Tesco as they’re mostly under cover. So, what did I come home with you ask? Well, defrosted oven chips, but other than that I think I found out where my money goes!

I’m such a sucker for advertising! If I were an Eskimo I don’t think it would need a good salesperson to sell me ice. They’d just need to dress it up all pretty and cover it with glitter and I’d happily set up a subscription!

I got drawn into Lakeland by this ….

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Cute little animals and cake. What’s not to like huh? So I came out with the fancy, super duper cutter that promises to turn me into a cake decorator extraordinaire and the bits and bobs needed to make a few of these cuties.

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Assuming I’m successful (and why shouldn’t I be? Let’s think positive – she thought she could so she did!) I’ll show you all the finished articles when I’ve given it a bash.

Then I decided to have a mooch round Flying Tiger. Love this shop – it’s full of weird and wonderful stuff that somehow I manage to convince myself is absolutely necessary to my well-being! See, it’s the Eskimo/ice scenario again!

Theyve definitely got my number with this particular ploy ….

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A big shiny bag for £2 with unknown goodies inside and only a titchy porthole to pique your interest! It’s just mean! How am I to know if I want it or not? Curiosity got the better of me!

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I love the contents, just need it to stop raining now because it seems I’m set up for a picnic with wooden cutlery, egg napkins and a toucan bottle opener. I also got some cute post its that I’ll be able to use at work and some silver tape that’ll be great for Christmas.

I also picked up a fisheye lens attachment for my phone camera.

Hmmmm ….. might need to do a bit of practise!

Finally I went to Paperchase. This is up there with the best, possibly my favourite shop. Today they even had fantastic music playing. It was like an 80s disco but with  more pens and less curly perms.

I skipped out with my purse a few pounds lighter but happy with the gorgeous things in my shopper.

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Hope you’ve all had a great Sunday too and here’s to bank holidays. Whoop, another day of glorious time to do whatever we so desire!