2020 A Year in Review

2020 may have been the oddest year of most of our lives but it’s done now, and we have to have hope that 2021 will be better. I have, for the most part, managed to stay mentally sound throughout most of the year, which I know isn’t the same for everyone. I thank my lucky stars that this happened now and not a couple of decades ago when we would have been far more isolated that we have been thanks to Zoom, FaceTime and Teams.

I also massively appreciate the fact that we have outside space which, although at the moment isn’t at all enticing due to the inclement weather, got us through the warmer months of the year with relative ease, especially so when we were allowed to have people in our garden.

Here are some of my favourite garden photos of last year.

The garden was reasonably productive in terms of fruit and veg in 2020 …

… and we had quite a few visitors of the fauna variety!

Inside the house, we made a few home improvements. The first was pre-lockdown when, with the help of my Dad, we transformed our bathroom from dingy to sparkly clean safari wonderland.

During lockdown when I was furloughed and hubby’s workplace was demonstrating exactly how a zero hours contract benefits the employer (they still are!) we tackled first our spare bedroom/my home office making it a homage to all things Harry Potter …

… then when I was unfurloughed but hubby was still unbusy with zero hours, he decided to tackle the woodchip in our living room and we completely redecorated including wallpapering, laying laminate flooring, opening out the fireplace and hanging the TV on the wall.

Outside we built a catio on the side of the kitchen so our furry girls can get some air safely.

Away from home, amazingly we did manage to squeeze in three holidays. The first was, to paraphrase Craig Revel-Horwood A-May-zing!! A week long cruise round the Caribbean preceded by a two night stop in Orlando and a trip to Universal to go on the new Hagrid’s Magical Creatures coaster. This was pre-COVID, in fact I remember the first I heard about it was by scanning the Sky news app whilst I was sunbathing on deck, and I assumed it would be like the previous SARS disease. I never even entertained the thought that it could turn into what it has! Blissful ignorance, eh?

In between lockdown 1.0 and lockdown 2.0 we managed a short break to Norfolk which was a game of two halves – lovely to get away and see the sea, but I got bitten by a dog, we had to come home early because hubby had a job interview (which he didn’t get!) and I got a flat tyre!

In September we went to Edinburgh for my birthday. This had been booked pre-pandemic and we didn’t know until the last minute whether we’d be able to go, but I’m so glad we could because we had a fantastic time. One of the best holidays I’ve ever had.

We had a few great days out – we walked alpacas, visited confetti fields, played with meerkats, met gorillas at Twycross Zoo and we walked and cycled many times in Sutton Park and Kingsbury Water Park …

… and we also had a couple of great days in making up for things that we should have been doing. We had a non-Jamaica party for two on the day we were supposed to be flying out and we had a tennis afternoon tea on the day Dad and I were supposed to be going to watch the ATP tour finals in London.

I also did a lot of crafts – mainly crochet, but also knitting, baking, jigsaws (do they count as crafts?) model making, felting and, obviously, mask making!

So, all in all, although it certainly didn’t feel like it at times, 2020 was actually a pretty full year and I achieved quite a lot. Amongst all this, I was also working full time (apart from being furloughed for nine weeks in the summer) in a job that I only started six weeks before we were plunged into lockdown and home working, and I feel that I managed very well to learn the new job (although this is an on-going process) under challenging circumstances. It turns out that home working, while it doesn’t suit everyone or every job, works pretty well for me, and for my team. As I mentioned before, thank goodness for technology!

Now it’s time to look forward to 2021 and I’ll finish with a quote that I recently read in a fiction book, the sixth in the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley but that is based in fact (the first book I didn’t enjoy as much, but I’m so glad I persevered because they got better and better and one thing to look forward to in 2021 is the release of the final in the series).Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards – Soren Kierkegaard.

Six on Saturday 3rd August

Evening all.  I’m a bit late to the party today! I spent the day sitting in the hairdressers’s chair, then perusing a garden centre and then lounging on what is one of today’s Six.

Unusually, four of today’s Six, whilst being in the garden, aren’t actually alive. Wait! Are bananas alive once they’re harvested? Hmmm ….

As I’ve mentioned it, we’ll start with the banana for number one.

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Despite planting as many butterfly attracting plants as possible, like the Buddleia above, we still don’t get very many butterflies fluttering into our garden, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I’ve been leaving some bananas to ripen in our kitchen for more than a week and today ….

…. I hung them in the garden. Anyone who’s ever been to a butterfly farm will know that butterflies adore bananas. This may be a really bad move and I might just be attracting flies or squirrels, but I thought it was worth a try.

Second inanimate object, that I mentioned above for number two, and one that I think necessitates an apology from me. We now have this luxury in our garden.

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The reason for the apology? It was delivered a week ago yesterday, I got it mostly put together and then it started raining …. and it pretty much hasn’t stopped since! It’s the universe punishing me for daring to purchase such an extravagance. Our gardens needed the rain though, right? It’s still not completely erected – it has a canopy to go over it. Assuming it’s dry tomorrow I’ll get that done. It’s so blissful sitting on it. It’s going to be my go-to Summer crochet/kindle/daydreaming location. Unfortunately it’s too far from the house to pick up our WiFi so I won’t be blogging from there.

Numbers three and four are some of today’s garden centre purchases. Firstly, we invested in a new bird bath. We had one already, but it’s tiny and we really don’t get many birds in it. In fact, the most popular visitor to it is next door’s cat to quench his thirst! It’s a small bird bath so is perfect height for a parched feline – we’re going to leave his watering hole in situ and hope the birds realise there’s a new public baths available for them. The new one is not only much more attractive than the old one, but it’s much taller so I don’t think the cats will bother with it.

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The second purchase I want to show you, I’m really pleased with. I’ve been eying up an ornament in Notcutts for a few weeks now that I’d absolutely fallen in love with, but on which I really couldn’t justify spending over a hundred pounds. It’s a little dragon and he’s having a snooze and his tail is draped over his nose to keep it warm just like our cats do. It’s so very cute, but really, over a hundred pounds for a garden ornament? So much money!

Anyway, I stumbled over one pretty much the same in Dobbies today for a third of the price, so hubby bought it for me (imagine happy face emoji!!)

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I haven’t decided where he’s going to permanently nap, so for now I’ve left him under the care of my little wellington-booted froglet.

I’m going to move on to living things now for my final two points.

First is a Calendula that I grew from seed that is also being supervised by my rainy day froglet.

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I don’t feel that these Calendula are particularly successful. I think maybe I left them in pots too long and they’ve gone really leggy. This pot doesn’t really fit in my straw sheep, but I shoved it in there a couple of weeks ago  just to fill a space and now it’s flowered for me.

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Although the whole plant is a bit lanky and awkward, the flowers are pretty. It hasn’t completely unfurled yet.

Finally, my Rose Hot Chocolate. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this one before. It was a gift from my Mum not long after we moved into our house.

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It had its first flower a few weeks ago and it’s been going strong ever since. In fact, it’s never been so prolific before! I normally get two flowers and then one more towards the end of the Summer if I’m lucky!

It’s not done yet either!

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I pruned it reasonably hard earlier this year, after it had flowered the first time which I thought would be detrimental to future blooming this year. Obviously I was wrong as it’s producing beautiful and fragrant flowers.

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Hope you enjoyed my mostly non-living Six (although the jury’s still out on the banana question). If you want to check out other Sixes, pop over to the Propagator’s blog for links.

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.