Category Archives: Green Care

Breakfast, Bench and Bug Boxes

The day started badly, as I had passed a disturbed night and felt tired, stiff and fragile. As the first light of a non-too-rosy dawn crept through the curtains, I groaned and turned over.

This was how I slept in, set off late and was unable to accomplish my first task of the day. We had barely laid out the parts for a new garden bench when the Monday group arrived, two hours earlier than we were expecting. As I’m not allowed to be a volunteer (due to the conflict of interest thing) we had to leave.

As a consolation prize Julia bought me breakfast at Harvester, which was excellent. Fruit, yoghurt, Full English, toast, marmalade, a quick crumpet (because it was there) and refillable tea. All for 75% of the cost of two Olympic breakfasts at Little Chef. I passed on cereal.

After that we returned home to find the internet was down. BT claim we hadn’t paid the bill. They seem to do this about once a year – cutting us off for non-payment without actually sending us a bill or a reminder.

By the time it came back on we were already back at the gardens tacking a pallet bench together ready for tomorrow.

Then it was shopping, chip shop and try to get a blog post done before midnight…

Done, with 12 minutes to go. I will add photos later.

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Bug boxes made from frames out of the school skip and filled with the hollow stems of scabious

Hope and Plums

In all the wedding cake, hope is the sweetest of the plums.

Douglas Jerrold

Despite the temperature and wind, a lone Peacock toughed it out in the garden this morning. I’m sure there would have been more if we’d had more time, but we could only manage a flying visit. Julia was taking a group for someone else at the main building and we had to be there for nine.

While Julia had a word with the school caretaker I took the chance to take some photos. These include the fruit and some of the beds. I took the fruit because it’s a nice thing to photograph (and some of it is just starting to ripen). The beds are quite good too, with some of the grasses now starting to show well.

I’m taking them as reference shots to help Julia with her garden planning. Now the mint has been cleared by one of the volunteers (too soon in my opinion) they are looking a bit bare, and devoid of pollinators. Apart from that I’m doing nothing – Julia can work out what happens next.

It’s going to be very interesting as the seasons come round, as we need to see what bulbs are planted.

In truth nothing much needs doing as it’s a well established garden with plenty of provision for wildlife, but there’s always something needing to be done. They look white and green from the photos but there is lavender in there and a few remaining orange lilies with scattered evening primrose.

Soon we will be picking fruit and collecting manure for the rhubarb beds. The rhubarb has been a bit week this year, a sure sign it needs feeding as it’s always known as a “hungry crop” by ancient gardeners leaning on spades.

When we fed the rhubarb on the farm we ended up with a rhubarb jungle, so watch this space for further news.

 

The Day gets Better

I’ve just been adding photographs to the post about the attempted break in. As you can see from them, we had a CSI van and beautiful blue skies. I don’t usually go to the garden when people are there but I thought Julia could do with a hand this afternoon. She normally has to travel through town on the bus with two bags of kit as she travels from one job to the next but I thought after the trials of the day she deserved a lift.

I am such a gent. I am also currently unemployed so it seemed the least I could do.

While I was there in the morning I forgot to tell you that Julia had spotted a beautifully marked Green-veined White. I could only get a distant photo with my phone, so I have nothing to show. It’s a common butterfly, but it’s a new one for the garden list and that’s always good.

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Willow arch

Yesterday we had a good few hours, with Bill from Men in Sheds bringing his battery powered saw to help cut up pallets. We now have all the bits cut to make three new benches.

He also  brought four nest boxes in kit form so the group can put them together and paint them. Even better, he’s going to do another 20 for us. This will let us upgrade the existing boxes and leave some to sell towards funds.

Despite the break in it’s been a good week, and the fruit is looking good. All we need to do is stop people stealing it.

 

I would have taken more photos, but the batteries ran out. (These were all taken on Wednesday morning, though the post is written on Thursday.)

We were also given a perfectly usable set of 5-a-side goals the school was throwing out, or fruit cage frame, as we now call it.

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The new fruit cage

 

 

 

TGIF

First job of the day was to wake up. I did not achieve total success in carrying out this task. My mistake had been uttering those immortal words “I’ll just have another few minutes.” I set my new phone to give me 15 more minutes and, 25 minutes after it went off, was found cuddling it affectionately to my bosom.

Julia soon put a stop to that.

We visited the Mencap garden next and I had a look at the progress made during the week. Julia is aiming to build some interest amongst group members and to tidy up a bit. It’s never going to be immaculate, and that isn’t the intention, but she is aiming to make the garden more productive and define the wildlife areas more clearly. We know from bitter experience that visitors are all to keen to complain about weeds, and that this always causes problems.

Then, after coffee and cake (the remains of our stash from Mrs Botham) it was time to go home. It also seemed a good time to take Julia’s new Facebook profile photo.  She always looks happier after cake.

I realise that cake for breakfast is probably frowned on by Big NHS Brother but what harm can a bit of cake do? The sultanas alone must be worth one of my five a day, and if they really want us to go to ten a day I’m going to struggle without cake.

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Great job, cake, wonderful husband – you just have to smile

From home, it was off to the anticoagulant clinic again. I won’t bore you will the details, but after struggling to get my blood to respond to anticoagulants they are now struggling to stop it responding. I let them flap for a bit, but as stress is a killer I decided not to worry about it.

Final job of the morning is checking out a few blogs and writing my first post of the day. That is now done, and after loading a few pictures I will be doing my first job of the afternoon, which is eating lunch. The other plans are collect prescription, shop for evening meal, visit duck pond, eat ice cream and watch Pointless.

In the evening I shall coerce Number One son into washing up, collect Number Two son from the station, cook tea, dispense unwanted fatherly advice on a variety of subjects, and complain that nobody speaks clearly these days. They will counter this final assertion by pointing to hearing aid adverts on the TV, though I may well be asleep before any come on.

 

 

New Phone, Fingers and Flowers

 

Last night Julia went on line and arranged an upgrade for me with our airtime provider. Though you do have to pay for it somewhere along the line, it seems like a free phone and is not too bad.

The problem was that they set the ball rolling by sending me a code in a text. It’s tricky receiving a text on a touch screen phone when the screen is in pieces and stabs you in the fingers when you try to use it. Even when you try to use it carefully.

The new one is bigger than the old one, which seems to be the trend. It is also more complicated. I haven’t finished setting it up yet, but I have managed to fit the screen protector and insert it into the protective case.  Yes, definitely a case of locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.

(Did you know screen protectors come with their own screen protector protectors? I didn’t.)

I have also activated the fingerprint security system. Time will tell if this was a good decision.

Call me a pessimist if you will, but all I can think of at the moment is various ways I could lose my finger, and how I would unlock my phone if that happened.

The photos are from the Mencap garden this morning. There was no group in, and Julia needed someone to hold the other end of the tape measure.

Friluftsliv

That’s right – friluftsliv. It’s not a typo and I didn’t fall asleep with my head on the keyboard.  (I have, once or twice, fallen asleep with my head on the keyboard, (in case you are wondering) but the result has never been very interesting).It is a Norwegian concept, meaning “free air life”.  It’s similar to ecotherapy, nature therapy, blue sky hospital and green gym but in Norway it’s part of everyday life, while we struggle to find time to include nature in our busy lives.

I say “busy lives” but in truth how much is “busy” and how much is just just useless clutter generated by emails and texts and Twitter?

According to a 2016 UN Report, Denmark, with hygge, is the happiest country in the world, with Norway fourth. The USA comes 13th and the UK 23rd. No disrespect to American readers but we have free health care, half the suicide rate and a quarter of the murder rate: how can we be less happy? Can a lack of wilderness make so much difference?

The ironic thing from my point of view is that we’ve just spent five years pushing the idea that getting outside is good for you and despite all the evidence that supports us, we weren’t able to get the idea across.

We know that working with soil combats depression, aggression, anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, irritable bowel and fibromyalgia.

We also know that getting outside has a wide range of benefits, such as increased self-esteem, reduced anxiety and aggression, increased energy, weight loss and improved mobility.

Various researchers have shown benefits in increasing overall health, decreasing anti-social behaviour, promoting healing and slowing the progress of long-term degenerative conditions. I can’t find my list of references and I’m having trouble tracking a link for the last one, sorry about that.

The availability of outdoor space even affects the development of children – there’s even a condition attached to lack of outdoor play – Nature Deficit Disorder. Generally I’m sceptical about this sort of thing, but having seen what happens when you put a group of kids in the middle of a field I’m a convert.

Sadly, the UK is slow to learn the benefits of being outside.

 

 

Something you don’t see every day

I know from my own work that people take animals to Care Homes because the residents benefit from having animals around. We’ve even taken ducklings and chickens to visit when we’ve been to Care Homes, though the consequences can be messy, to say the least.

Seeing my father for his 88th birthday yesterday we found something we’d never considered before – a miniature Shetland pony visiting the rooms.  It’s not bad when you can reach 88 and still find something new to do.

The home has been doing well with events recently, and Dad has also been bowling and sailing, two other things he’s never done before.

As a family we’ve had a couple of bad experiences with horses over the years. Dad was cornered by one of his grandfather’s plough horses (an animal well known for nasty temper, as was the grandfather). His father was nearly killed by one of his gun horses whilst serving in the Royal Artillery during the Great War. It panicked whilst under fire and kicked him in the chest. However, I think I’ve mentioned this before so I won’t go on.

I didn’t have my camera with me, and I’d left my phone in the car too, so there is no photograph. However, I did manage to find their website so you can see what they do.

Sorry about the lack of photos again – I’m going to have to up my game. Here’s a cheery picture from the archive to make up for it.

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Care Bears on the Farm