Six on Saturday 2nd November

I’ve a feeling Six on Saturdays will be few and far between for the next few months. It feels like we haven’t had a dry weekend for months so I’m not able to get out and do any proper graft, which means I’ve got very little gardening news to share. I wonder if the Propagator notices fewer people joining in over the winter, or if I’m the only fair weather gardener around.

Anyway, it finally stopped raining so I took the opportunity to squelch up the garden to see what’s going on.

1. Most of the annuals have resigned themselves to the fact that their season is over (which is more than I have!) and they’ve almost visibly breathed their last and deflated! The Coleus which looked almost regal all through the Summer is clearly a plant after my own heart and hasn’t taken kindly to the couple of frosty mornings this week.

It’s so sad because the colours were so glorious.

2. However, all hope is not lost! A quick peek in the greenhouse shows that my cuttings are coping ok with the downturn in the weather. My thermometer showed 9.2° in there today, just a slight change from the recorded high of 47.2° over the Summer!

Also in the greenhouse are two teeny tiny Fuchsias and a Gazania.

The two Fuchsias are cuttings that my Mum gave me last Christmas. They lived in our porch until we built my greenhouse after Christmas and then I transferred them there until it was warm enough to put them outside in the Spring. I remember Mum telling me that one of them is hardy and one isn’t ….. the problem is, I can’t remember which is which! I’ve played it safe and put both in the relative warm. The Gazania was from the sale table in Notcutts in Summer 2018 and I fully expected it to die before Christmas 2018 but half of it survived the Winter. It didn’t rejuvenate to its former glory so I’m hoping a Winter in the greenhouse might save it again for next year.

3. There are a few sun-lovers that are hanging on for dear life!

One of them is a Calendula that I grew from seed in the greenhouse.

All of the Calendula grew very lanky, not sure if it was something I did wrong, but they did, and still are in this case, produce beautiful blooms.

4. My Fuchsia Delta Sarah is out performing itself.

This was my favourite Gardeners’ World Live purchase. I bought the biggest one I could find after my previous one didn’t survive the Winter, despite it being hardy. So far so good, it’s still full of buds and is looking quite happy.

It’s really hard to take decent photos in this perpetual half light. With flash they look surreal but without you can’t see the colour at all. Roll on Spring!

5. Unlike me, my Eupatorium thrives in the Autumn. It shoots up in the early Summer and then spends August and September waving elegantly in the breeze, but by the end of October when everything else is preparing for a long snooze (at best) the Eupatorium comes into its own.

The jagged dark green leaves stand out against the purple stems and then, the piece de resistance, the fluffy, cloud-like flowers crown the shrub royally.

6. Outside our kitchen window I can see my beautiful Berberis. This time last year I thought I’d lost it. I planted it out in the garden and all its leaves dropped straight away leaving bare spiky twigs. I dug it back up and put it back in its pot and kept my fingers and toes firmly crossed and in the Spring it rewarded me with some fledgling leaves.

Through the Summer it thrived, although perhaps didn’t quite regain its former glory, but now that November’s here the leaves have turned autumnal.

I really wish Autumn didn’t make me so Eeyoreish because I’m so busy feeling gloomy that I forget to appreciate all these beautiful colours. I’ll try harder!

Mexico in Mexico

I can’t actually believe that tomorrow is our last full day here and that soon I’m going to have to contemplate wearing shoes, drying my hair and, you know, adulting!

As I write this I am lying on a sunbed, with my wireless headphones (thank you NLMK) pumping my holiday playlist into my lugholes, barely inches from a very inviting swimming pool. There are guys and gals regularly wandering past asking me if I’d like a tequila sunrise, a pina colada or any other manner of delectation.

Of course, we could’ve chosen to go and imbibe our choice of poison at the swim-up bar in the next pool, but we prefer the quieter more relaxed vibe of this pool (and we’re drinking Diet Coke so really no need of swim-up bars).

There are coatis wandering around in the foliage behind me, cats lounging in the shade trying to keep cool, tropical birds chattering away to each other in the trees above me and occasionally a flamboyance of flamingos soaring high over head.

Spot the imposter!

This truly is an animal lover’s paradise. Not so good for those not so fond of the fluff and the feather, but really, we’re in their home, not the other way round. A guy flicked water at a coati yesterday on purpose as he got out of the pool (the guy, not the coati). The coati didn’t give two sniffs of his turned up snouty nose and carried on about his important business of snuffling and being cute, but hubby and I were both incensed (in a most internal and private British way).

We’ve had such a fantastic time (and it’s not over yet). We really are so lucky that we have the means and the opportunity to take holidays like this every so often. The luxury of doing nothing, or everything, depending upon your mood is something to be thankful for. Admittedly we’ve spent the vast majority of our time doing the nothing rather than the everything, that’s exactly how we wanted it.

We went to the beach one day. I couldn’t tell you which day as I have very little comprehension of time at the moment. It certainly wasn’t yesterday, because yesterday was somewhat spectacular, but more of that at a later date when I have photographic evidence. Maybe it was the day before? Maybe not. Who really cares?

The beach is just over the road, through one of the sister hotels (where you can also make use of their all inclusive facilities). We walked over, down a lovely sheltered promenade, but for the infirm, over-heating or, dare I say it, exercise-shy you can jump on a golf buggy to be deposited a stone’s throw from the white sands.

The beach was very pretty, although, I think hubby and I have been spoilt by the indescribable, and untouched, beauty of the Maldives and any other beach will now struggle to match it. Still, first world problems and all that.

Hubby went snorkelling but reported slim pickings (or should that be viewings?) on the fish front. I had a bit of a paddle. We stayed at the beach until lunchtime and then headed back along the promenade to our hotel. The only shade on the beach was provided by palm trees and the sun beds were somewhat crammed in and the humidity was high so we were in need of a few minutes of air conditioning to cool down.

Today we could’ve joined in with a coconut party at the next pool. We politely declined due to a serious lack of botheredness, but I have to say, I was slightly intrigued as to the specificities of a coconut party. The entertainment staff promoting it were dressed a la Carmen Miranda, sporting coconuts on their heads, but I assume the actual party entailed more than careful balancing of fruit on one’s bonce. I wasn’t concerned enough to extract my derrière from my sunbed, but from what my ears could detect, there was much whooping and singing of the Macarena. Not sure what that has to do with coconuts, but whatever!

I was just interrupted by a passing band of coatis (I just guessed at the collective noun, but then googled, and I guessed right. Score!) This happens every day towards late afternoon. They’re around all day and evening, but they like to patrol the pool around now. Presumably they’ve learnt people are likely to have dropped (or disposed of) food by now.

This is a common sight. Coati bottom protruding from a rubbish receptacle!

Look at the teeny tiny baby!

Hubby has just gone off to the shop to dispose of another 160 MXN (£6.11) on Cheetos crunchy.

Totally worth it (even though we’re all inclusive), they’re amazing!

Anyway, silly boy left his Diet Coke unattended and a coati, having a very sweet tooth as we’ve discovered coatis do, has knocked over and pilfered said Diet Coke.

This really is a real-time post today!

It was supposed to rain today, but we’ve had about three and a half spots! Hubby is now back with Cheetos, so I think we may make our way back to our room before the weather changes its mind, and also before the dreaded mozzies come to consume our blood. So far I’ve managed just two bites (both before we realised they’re active in the day and therefore had neglected to liberally apply the deet!)

Having re-read my post, I realise that Eleanor Oliphant (fantastic book that I finished in two days at the start of the holiday) has rubbed off on me and my parlance is somewhat loquacious and elaborate (I did that bit on purpose!) Sorry!

Anyway, the coatis are now trying to steal my bag because they can smell my Cheetos so I shall vacate my sunbed forthwith! Chat later!!

That’s my knee bottom right of photo – they get that close when there’s a chance of dinner!!

Fantastic Mr Fox

It struck me yesterday that there’s quite a lot of foxy business going on in our house at the moment, but a lot less going on in the garden.

I told you a while ago about our fox pooping problem in the garden. Well that seems to have stopped, which is good for our garden but potentially not good for the fox! I googled the life span of a wild fox, and it doesn’t make for happy reading. Although in captivity foxes have a similar life span to their domestic counterparts, in the wild foxes only live for two to five years. It’s a hard life out there, they have to contend with disease, parasites and predators (which in the UK is pretty much us with our cars and chemicals).

I’ll be quite happy if I see the fox again (even if it does mean picking up fox poo) but if, as I suspect, our fox is one of these cubs that were born in our garden a couple of years ago, then he will have reached the lower end of his life expectancy. I’ll think positive: he didn’t look diseased or parasitic and I never saw him roadside, so maybe he’s just gone to poo elsewhere!

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Inside our house it’s a different story. I have a crochet drumroll moment for you coming up.

I’ve been working on a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law for a few weeks. She has a fox that visits her garden that she feeds every day so when I bought this book by Sarah Zimmerman ….

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….. and saw the fox motif, I knew I had to make it for her. This was my first experience of corner to corner (c2c) crochet, and I have to say, while I love the finished project, I didn’t love the process. In order to get the different colours in the right place you end up having lots of different little balls of yarn attached to your work which get tangled up as you crochet and turn your piece.

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I do love the effect when it’s finished though. I think it makes all the detangling and rude words worth it!

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Here’s the motif finished. I decided to make it into a cushion with a stripy back. The stripy c2c was much less faffy than the fox because the colour changes were much less frequent.

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You can see my lovely new clover hook had arrived by this point. This hook practically glides through my work with no snagged yarn and very few dropped stitches. I’ve since ordered lots more sizes so I’m never without a clover hook.

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Anyway, back to the foxes.

Time for the drumroll moment …….

Whoop! Not even into November and I have one Christmas present sorted already!

Now you may think one fox is enough for one house, but not this one. My Little Box of Crochet for September arrived on my birthday (what impeccable timing). Obviously I opened it straight away to drool over the scrummy contents, but I was very disciplined and didn’t start it until after I’d finished the cushion. Look at the box.

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Gives you a good clue to what the project might be, and I’ve also given you an extra hint with our foxy tray behind. 

Here’s the fox himself on the cover of the pattern booklet.

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As ever, the box is crammed full of everything needed to make Gareth the Sleeping Fox as well as some super cute extra gifts.

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There’s a foxy stitch marker which is needed to keep track of your rounds with this project. This was designed by Beth from Koruclay. You can find Koruclay on Facebook, Etsy and Instagram if you’d like to have a quick peek at the goodies.

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And some gorgeous little chicken buttons by incomparable buttons, who are also on Etsy.

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This beautiful, and so so useful tape measure is in perfect keeping with the theme. I told you about the tape measure before here, but here it is again in all its wonderfulness.

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Little Box of Crochet always includes a postcard. This one is designed by Jennie Maizels.

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I’d love to know what other Little Box of Crochet subscribers do with their postcards. They’re far too lovely to actually send (or is that really selfish of me?) I feel I should display them somehow because they’re sooooo pretty.

This project uses waistcoat stitch which I’ve never done before. I started it last night and, oh my goodness, I found waistcoat stitch difficult. I just couldn’t see where my hook was supposed to go, but after frogging my work a hundred times, I think I cracked it, although it doesn’t look perfect!

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I really like it, it looks like knitting. In fact, one of the tutorials I found on YouTube called it knit stitch.

I should probably explain frogging for non-crochet people. It’s a fairly new word to me, and I have to admit I thought it sounded a tiny bit rude and had to google it to reassure myself that the crochet world hadn’t lost its collective marbles, but I get it now I know what it means. I’m sure it wasn’t around before I took my kitten enforced crochet hiatus. It comes from the frog sound ribbit, ribbit. It sounds like rip it, rip it which is essentially what you do when you undo your crocheting.

Well, I think that’s all I have to say about foxes for now. I’ll be sure to show you all my finished Gareth when I get there.

Hope everyone enjoys the rest of the weekend, rainy and blustery though it may be!