A bit of catching up

I really hate that life keeps getting in the way of things I want to do. Of course, it’s a well known fact that I am the queen of procrastination, so I probably could shoehorn more in if I spent less time on social media and playing candy crush, but, you know, we all have our vices!

This morning I’m also being thwarted by this little lady who seems particularly in need of cuddles.

A914A8E3-27F1-4098-8DCD-DA4CB76DD6BD.jpeg

Who am I to say no to a snuggle with my Olive?

She may be feeling in need of some reassurance today because I was away for two days this week. Off I went on the epic journey to Gijon in northern Spain again. You may recall that I did this journey in November just after our holiday to Mexico, and it took only slightly less time to get to Gijon than it did to get to Mexico! Eighteen hours it took this time for the round trip for a meeting which lasted three and a half hours. It was an important, necessary and, as it turns out, positive meeting, but I do wish there was a direct flight from somewhere nearer.

As it is, I have to drive to Heathrow to catch a flight to Madrid for a connection to Asturias. I do love Heathrow. London airports generally mean an exciting long haul flight for an exotic holiday. A work trip couldn’t be further removed from exciting, but still the airport evokes those feelings. There’s also a Harry Potter shop! Slightly inappropriate since Harry and his chums would be the last people to need an airport being in possession, as they usually are, of a Nimbus 2000 broomstick and floo powder. I guess Mr Weasley would love learning about our primitive muggle modes of transport though.

I couldn’t resist, and unfortunately these I can’t claim on expenses!

There was a slight panic with my last flight when I got a message to say it was cancelled! Turns out they’d put two flights together, I think because of the bad weather expected in the UK. I ended up with a little delay (much preferable to a cancelled flight!) and a huge plane. An A330 to be precise. It was nice after all that travelling to be on a luxurious plane rather than crammed into an A320. I even got a seat back telly, and look what was showing …..

23682858-AA91-4D03-8E6B-F9F4A029103F.jpeg

Poor Julie Andrews got cut off in her prime halfway through Feed the Birds, but still it was just what I needed when I was feeling somewhat jaded and in need of some creature comforts.

Being away for two days means I’m now even further behind on my attic24 Sweetpea blanket CAL. Lucy published part five on her blog yesterday and I’m only a couple of stripes into part three.

2218D536-51E8-4FEA-A943-5C9BDB635430.jpeg

Little puddy paws love it already, even if it is smaller than it should be. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up, but I am feeling the pressure when I see other people posting that they’re not only keeping up, but are managing to fit in other projects whilst they’re waiting for the next instalment. My excuse is that I have to go to work and the gym, and I have to eat and sleep. I’m also hard at work on a gift for a very special little lady who will be exactly a month old tomorrow.

70EE726C-E48C-4FD6-A224-AA1E04F8A08B.jpeg

Perfect use of the seatback pocket!

I shivered my way out into the garden this morning, still in my dressing gown, to have a look at what’s going on out there. Blimey it was chilly! There are signs of life though, which is encouraging.

On the left you can see my giant alliums coming through the cyclamen and heather. They’re the pointy, leafy bits. These are, if nature does its thing, going to be a couple of feet tall with giant purple Pom Pom heads. On the right are my trusty daffs which I planted when we moved here five years ago and they turn up every year, regular as clockwork to signal that winter’s on its way out.

36711DAD-D876-49F7-A2DB-69955BA8BDC1

All the bulbs that I planted in front of my planter are coming through nicely. I can’t remember exactly what I planted now, but I think the row closest to the planter are various varieties of daffodil, but there may be some tulips in there. I definitely planted some tulips, just can’t remember where!

16061A67-C373-4718-9A4F-6AEA4A791F07

The second row, in front of the daffs/tulips, which you can’t see that clearly are, I think, snowdrops, but they could also be crocuses.

BF861548-94D9-4A7D-A598-2D95BE854754

I’m glad I’ve forgotten what I planted where, because it’s quite exciting waiting to see what will appear (so if you can tell, please don’t ruin my own surprise that I’ve created!)

When I created our little bistro area …….

EB25840C-CE96-4F57-8652-6F21CE29A207

…… the one sadness was that I’d covered up a lot of bluebells which we inherited with the house, so imagine my glee when I went out this morning and spotted this ….

DD44CB7C-995D-487C-86EB-F6A5745C2E92

It would appear that the indomitable bluebell won’t be quashed! They’ve pushed aside the weed control fabric and are popping up all along the edge of the bistro! Yay! Not what I planned at all, but a very happy accident. I’m learning not to plan or be too meticulous in the garden because nature seems to find a way, and I prefer, in a lot of cases, to let it do its thing. It knows better than me!

Finally I looked at my Eupatorium. It was so beautiful at the end of the summer and into autumn, but it’s looked very dead for a while.

02A88ADE-8D34-4890-B02E-015087918BDE

I was almost too scared to investigate too closely, but I decided to be brave, for its sake. I gently scratched at one of its main stems hoping and praying to find some green. I did! It’s alive! Just sleeping hopefully. I can’t find much info on t’internet but my Mum managed to find a site that instructs to cut back at the beginning of spring. I’m going to wait until it’s warmed up a bit and then I’ll get the secateurs out and then keep everything firmly crossed!

Right, I’m off out for a bottomless lunch later so I’d better dash and get ready.  Wishing you all a great weekend!

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 busy bee

Oh my goodness! Where has November gone? One minute it was October, then I blinked and it was December! In a way this is a good thing because I’m not keen on the dark, dull days of November, and once we hit December we’re in the same month as the Winter solstice so I know that soon the days will start getting longer again, even if only by a couple of minutes each day.

I’ve just worked out that I’ve only been in my office for seven out of a potential twenty two working days in November and I’ve slept in my own bed for only seventeen out of the (thirty days have September, April, June and November) thirty nights in November! I have to say, I feel as though I’ve spent more than the normal amount of hours at work given the amount of travel and concentration that’s been going on, but I feel like I’ve spent even less than seventeen nights in my own bed! I am exhausted.com!

However, I’m back now, the only travel I have to do between now and the big day is within the UK, Christmas can now commence!

So what’s been keeping me busy this November? I’ve already told you about our holiday to Mexico and my trip to Frankfurt, and this week I had to go to Gijon in northern Spain for training as part of my new job. Gijon is approximately a thousand miles away. Mexico is nearly five thousand miles away. It took us fourteen and a half hours to get to Mexico, door to door. On Monday it took me thirteen and a half hours to get to Gijon, also door to door. An extra hour and I could’ve been back in Mexico!

It’s a nightmare journey to Gijon. There are no direct flights and you can’t even go from Birmingham. So, my day started with a two hour drive to Heathrow. So far so good! I’ve always loved Heathrow, and now it has a Harry Potter shop so it’s even better!

I couldn’t resist a few purchases! Some of them are Christmas presents so I can’t show you.

The route is then Heathrow to Madrid and Madrid to Asturias, and the same in reverse. Unfortunately two of the flights were delayed. On the way out they discovered that the plane had been hit by lightning so we sat on the plane for two and a half hours before we finally took off.

They checked all round the plane before we were given the all clear.

10A92CBB-1C53-448A-8511-6C0096858DD3.jpeg

It felt like that scene from Liar Liar when Jim Carrey is chasing the plane.

The delay did give me opportunity to indulge my inner plane spotter! There are BIG planes at Heathrow. I was on a Boeing 777 which is pretty sizeable, but I saw a few jumbos and A380s.

Flying into Madrid was quite serene thanks to a spectacular sunset ….

BD286F34-9852-4CCB-AA92-F828E90B7C69

…. but then it was panic stations! The delay meant that I had to go careering through the airport at top speed in order to make it to my connection. Madrid airport is humongous. My connection was from the same terminal but I still had to get a train from gate S to gate K and had to go back through passport control and security. The security guard had stepped away from the x-ray machine so I had to wait for her to get back and ready herself. I have never seen a person sit down and put rubber gloves on so slowly in my life! My entire insides were screaming ‘hurry up’ but obviously you have to keep the frustration internal in these situations lest they decide you may have a bomb secreted about your person and delay you even more! I made it with seconds to spare!

The two days of training were full on and tiring, but were really useful. I have to admit, some of the technical aspects were very complicated and I’m not sure I completely took them in, especially towards the end of the second day when my brain had reached its saturation level!

I got to look round the factory in Aviles which produces the slabs which are then rolled into the heavy plates which I, and my colleagues, sell on.

70F66203-4F44-4CED-B228-D3E8097BD484.jpeg

Unfortunately the steel shop wasn’t working while we were there so it was somewhat of a theoretical visit.

The next day we were shown round the reversing mill in Gijon where the plates are rolled according to specification, and happily, it was working.

It’s really quite impressive to see it all working, and seeing and understanding the process helps me in my day to day job. It is also very helpful o meet and spend time with colleagues from other countries. It’s always good to put faces to names/voices. It did occur to me while watching the plates being rolled that the amount of energy and resources being used are mind blowing. Having said that, within my company there is a massive focus on sustainability and responsible steel production. I won’t bore you with talk of steel, but suffice it to say, steel is the fabric of life, and if you are interested, there is a fabulous corporate video on YouTube produced by my company which gives me goosebumps, and it makes you realise why steel is essential to all our lives.

The journey back didn’t take quite as long, just eleven hours (or to put it in practical terms, forty minutes less than it takes to fly from London to the Maldives!) There were no problems between Asturias and Madrid. Asturias airport is one of the smallest airports I’ve travelled through. The arriving passengers come through the throng of waiting departees and disappear past the smallest duty free shop I’ve ever seen. The planes have plenty of space on the apron due to the low traffic and the way they are parked brings to mind the parking of soccer moms in 4x4s in Sainsbury’s after the school run!

I had a couple of hours in Madrid this time so it was a much more leisurely transfer from gate K to S. As I was lounging exhaustedly on a seat at the gate, I even had time to wonder whether the ceiling had been modelled on aliens from Area 51 or perhaps John Lennon!

25DC96E8-07D8-43A9-AA47-3068E05F18A2.jpeg

I was delayed again on the flight from Madrid to Heathrow, this time because of a discrepancy between the numbers on the paperwork and the actual number of passengers. It was only an hour this time, but an hour is a long time when you’ve got a two hour drive home ahead of you, and you just want to get home to your husband, the cats and your bed! There’s nothing like being away on your own to make you appreciate what you have waiting at home. Even if it’s a good and worthwhile trip, in the words of Dorothy (and countless homeware stores), there’s no place like home.

Foreign trips over, yesterday brought a domestic trip to London. This was for the annual ISTA (International Steel Trade Association) lunch. This is normally on the first Friday of December, but this year it fell on the last day of November.

A750AFDC-0CBA-41C3-A7EE-7B10FA2FBE36

Several of us caught the train from New Street to Euston, which gave me the opportunity to catch up with some colleagues whom I hadn’t seen for a while because of all this travel, and also to get a little bit of crochet done.

First stop was the Jugged Hare on Chiswell Street. This is a common meeting point for attendees of the lunch so it gets ridiculously busy. The owners must love it, not so much the bar staff! I sampled an orange gin and a pink grapefruit gin here – all before lunchtime! This is one of the occasions where a work event is actually a bonus (although it does mean a day out of the office and lots of work to catch up on!)

83C32F99-5EDF-4D1B-B870-895164508A39

The Jugged Hare has very rural decoration considering its in the middle of the capital! I struggle with this stag. As a general rule I prefer animals to be alive. I just hope this magnificent stag wasn’t killed just for its head. It’s bad enough if it was killed for meat and then its head taxidermied, but being a meat eater, I can’t take the high moral ground on that (although I absolutely would not eat venison – it’s Bambi for goodness sake!)

Lunch is always at the Brewery which is just a hop and a skip from the Jugged Hare. It’s a great venue, and this year seated approximately six hundred and fifty guests.

There are various speeches, culminating in a comedic act. This year we were treated to a very amusing turn from Marcus Brigstocke.

55A840B7-370D-4050-B750-3D3D12D86C6F

He was really very funny. It must be so hard at an event such as this to know what level to pitch your humour at, but I think he got it spot on. He centred a lot of his jokes around the impending disaster that is Brexit, making it obvious that he is a remainer. Incidentally, the organisers ran an informal poll on whether, if given the opportunity to vote again, the guests would opt to remain or leave the EU. The result was overwhelmingly remain with seventy six percent of the vote. While this is not necessarily representative of the country as a whole given that the room contained many people working for European companies who could be adversely affected when we leave and people for whom trading with Europe is an essential part of life, I did find it strangely reassuring to be among kindred spirits (as well as frustrating that, despite this opinion, we’re stuck with Brexit).

Anyway, let’s not get political!

Tomorrow I have a lovely day planned. I’m driving up to Altrincham with two friends in order to attend the Little Box of Crochet Grand Sale Event. Hopefully I’ll return with lots of lovely goodies. I’ll be sure to tell you all about it.