Tag Archives: garden

Random Thoughts II

After studying a number of articles on writing I decided to take some of the advice on board and write every day. I’ve previously tried setting myself targets, and have sometimes managed to hit them. Unfortunately this occasionally presents problems when I run out of inspiration. As you can see from yesterday’s post there are days when even the use of a random subject generator doesn’t help. It did, however, help provide inspiration for today’s title.

I turned it on again today and turned up: “Write about moving home.”

Coincidentally, that is precisely what we are thinking of doing. It’s time we looked at bungalows and, based on the experience of my parents, it’s better to start thinking about it now rather than delay. They were about eighty when they moved last, and even though they didn’t move far it was obviously quite hard for them.

I’m actually quite worried that the random subject generator is predicting my thoughts so accurately.

We’re having to make some big decisions about where we want to live. I’d actually be happy living in a tent. The maintenance required would be minimal – just some canvas and a needle and thread. It would be lovely in summer, just roll the side up and have one massive garden room. The other 362 days of the year would be more of a problem and winter wouldn’t be much fun, but these days winter isn’t much fun anyway.

Julia is insisting on somewhere with walls and a roof. She’s probably right. She’s also stipulated that it needs to be near a hospital because I spend so much time there these days. She’s very practical. I was thinking of living near the coast and learning about sea fishing – she’s thinking of medical care. My worry about the coast was centred on global warming rather than blood tests. As sea levels rise East Anglia is likely to return to the sea and even if you could get enough sandbags shopping in a rowing boat isn’t going to be much fun.

She’s also insisting that we give the kids the address of the new house. This is a bit of a blow as we will have to let them visit. In that case we will have to have a bigger kitchen to house the larger fridge this will involve.

Actually, she’s probably right about not moving to the coast – that would just be asking for people to come and visit.

We have a few years to decide, so there’s no need to rush. One thing we do want is a manageable garden as, inspired by other blogs, I want Julia to have plenty to do in retirement. I’d feel guilty if she hadn’t enough to do. The other thing is that I’d like to be detached. After thirty years living joined to a man with a drill and a passion for DIY (which he indulged for three hours this morning) I don’t want to share a wall again.

So, here’s a question. If you were moving again what would be important to you? A bit like Desert Island Discs, you can take your current spouse and let the children have your forwarding address…

 

 

 

Bear’s Guest Blog

It’s a bit nippy out, and there’s a North wind blowing across Nottingham as I type. You notice things like this when you have no trousers.

This cold wind may be a metaphor for the current state of world politics, if you think that a bear with a head full of viscose kapok is capable of metaphor. Or it may just be a weather report. Looking at our current crop of politicians, it’s clear that brains aren’t required, and in at least one case the stuffing appears to be leaking out.

The lack of trousers may also be a metaphor, depending on your view of the Prime Minister’s well-publicised private life.

boris stuffing

The lack of trousers is even more apparent when you spend a lot of time sitting in a tree. It wasn’t particularly cold during the photoshoot, but there was an element of chafing I didn’t particularly care for.

This isn’t the only deficiency in the knitting. You’d think if they expected you to type a blog they’d have managed a few fingers, wouldn’t you?

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Me amongst the cranesbill

However, I digress.

Today the two large moving objects that share the house went to visit something they call “the gardens”. This is different to “the garden” which is an area of untamed growth to the rear of what they call “the house”.

To get to the gardens we drove, which seems to be a process where the one with the furry face twiddles a few bits and pieces and offers a stream of helpful advice to other drivers.

The quiet one, who knitted me, mutters things like: “You really shouldn’t say things like that to people.”

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I keep pointing out I’m not a panda but it doesn’t seem to sink in

I remember her voice from the knitting, because she did my ears early on, though it was nearly a day before I could see her. It’s a pity she didn’t take a bit longer and add a few extras. I’ve already mentioned trousers and fingers, but when posing for photographs it might have helped to have had a few joints. There is a limited number of poses when you can’t bend anything, and I’m not going to be Playbear of the Week if I can’t strike a pose.

Fortunately I do have a winning smile and a twinkle in my eye.

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From this angle the lack of knees and elbows isn’t apparent, but this doesn’t mean I’m going to stop mentioning it

Counting My Blessings

The garden needs a lot of tidying, and some new fencing, but as you can see from the photos, the patio is looking good. This is due to Julia’s hard work. So, blessings one and two – a colourful patio display and an apple tree with 14 apples on it.We will have to wait for the June drop to see how things develop.

Blessing Number Three – Julia still doesn’t realise she married an idiot. I am doing my best to hide this from her, though I think it is slowly dawning on her that after 30 years I have shown no signs of improvement.

I have a job. I may not have enjoyed it much this morning when I went back to work but it pays the bills and, more importantly. over the last couple of months it allowed me to be furloughed. If I had still be self-employed the last few months would have been a lot harder. I am slightly ashamed of myself for not sticking with self-employment but accepting that job offer two years ago has proved to be a smart move.

I still have my health. It may seem, as I grumble and gripe, and throw down handfuls of pills, that I am not the healthiest of people. This is true, but I’m a lot better off than many of the people I chat to in various waiting rooms. However, most, if not all, my health problems are caused by my complete disregard for diet and exercise, so I have only myself to blame.

That’s five reasons to be cheerful, which is quite enough optimism for one day.

Sherwood, Nottingham

Sherwood, Nottingham

Pictures are from the garden on the day we had afternoon tea.

Scone Chronicles – 38 – Tea in the Garden

We had tea and cake in the garden this afternoon. As Julia had gone to the trouble of baking banana bread I thought this called for a revival of the Scone Chronicles.

She has been working away in the garden all lockdown and the patio is looking like the sort of place you might find a new species of beetle. Or even a lost tribe.

As you can see, we also had Battenberg, though that came from the shop. Life really is too short to make your own Battenberg. We’ve had Battenberg nearly every week since the start of lockdown, which is one of the brighter spots of the last couple of months.It’s a very reliable cake, and usually cheap. Other budget cakes can be a bit hit and miss, while other, pricier, cakes can be be covered in calories and three or four times more expensive. There is a case to be made which suggests Battenberg is an aid to dieting, but that might be pushing it a bit, even for me.

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Banana Bread and Battenberg

The banana bread was excellent – moist, tasty and light without being soggy or crumbling. Fortunately we still have some left. This is the advantage of afternoon tea at home – plenty of chance for second helpings. I won’t recommend it too heartily as I don’t want to have to queue for a table next time I’m here. It is possible for venues to become too popular and I don’t like crowds.

It’s back to work tomorrow. However, the good news is that I have two days off after that.

As I sit and think, it occurs to me that about 68 years ago my parents were married in the time of sugar rationing. I’m now, despite the recent shortages from panic buying, able to buy more sugar than is good for me. History can be a strange thing.

Later we had banana bread for supper with a nice cup of tea. It was slightly drier than when we had last eaten it, but still good. We have enough left for a couple of good slices, but will probably butter them.

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Is it just me. or does the position of dried fruit and plate decoration make this slice look like a face?

 

Some Thoughts and a Few Photos

I’m feeling lazy today, so I am sitting watching TV as I blog. This is why I started to limit myself to 30 minutes of writing, as writing like this can easily spread to three or four hours.

I’m trying out a new typing finger as the first two on my right hand are now aching from arthritis and one of the joints is red and swollen. I’m now using my ring finger, with a little help from the little finger. It seems to be working out alright.

Bee on Chives - Wilford

Bee on Chives – Wilford

When I sit at the table and use the both hands it isn’t so bad, but when I’m sitting in front of the TV I have to use my left hand to hold the netbook.

The accuracy isn’t all it could be, but I’m sure that will come with practice. It is a whole new chapter in my story of old age and hypochondria.

Damsel Fly - Wilford

Damsel Fly – Wilford

The hospital rang this morning for a telephone consultation. My blood test results were all good, which is nice to know and, as the new drug isn’t doing much, I have been told to increase the dose from next Tuesday.

I also have to keep notes of the swelling of my fingers. The good news on this subject is that my feet are not as painful as usual, so the drugs could be working. If I could learn to type with my feet this would be the answer to my typing problems.

Iris at Mencap Gardens

Iris at Mencap Gardens

The photographs are a selection from yesterday. The damsel fly and bumblebee took some getting. The waterlily was easier, as they tend not to flit about.

I’m wondering if I could start a whole new genre of misery memoirs, featuring old men grumbling about illness, technology and how things used to be better. For “misery memoir” substitute “curmudgeon chronicles”.

 

Blood Tests and Bumblebees

We went to the Mencap Gardens today. I took my camera, book, note pad and Kindle with me. I was intending to pass the morning reading, making notes and taking great nature photos before having a picnic lunch and returning home to watch quizzes on TV. It did not, as any married man could guess, work out quite like that.

So how did I find myself holding a hosepipe and watering fruit trees while Julia chatted to the school caretaker and, from time to time, offered advice?

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Bumble Bee on Chives

It started with a blood test. I’m still in the introductory phase of having immunosuppressants (methotrexate) for my arthritis and they are monitoring things to ensure that my liver doesn’t dissolve. Well, something like that. The general advice for people on immunosuppreants in the time of Covid, is, in brief) to keep taking them but take precautions, including avoiding sick people. To help me do this I have to go to hospital every two weeks for a blood test. Yes, that’s right – to avoid sick people I have to go to hospital, a big building full of sick people.

We arrived, I hit a bollard because I wasn’t concentrating, Julia stayed in the car because it seemed sensible, and I started walking towards the entrance. The system has changed. They had security guards a couple of six weeks ago, though they weren’t doing anything. At that point the coffee bar was still operating. Then we had nothing apart from hand gel and a notice. Now, there were members of NHS staff, notices, hand gel and a crowd. One woman was protesting that she was allowed in two weeks ago and sat in the coffee bar to wait for her father. She was told she couldn’t go in, as the system had changed.

Until last week I couldn’t take Julia into the supermarket with me, but I could take her to the treatment centre at the Queen’s Medical Centre. Now the NHS has brought itself up to the same standards as TESCO. It’s a shame they didn’t make these changes weeks ago, but it’s good to know that the NHS now has the same standards of infection control as a budget supermarket chain.

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Magpie – Mencap Gardens

However, having people congregating in the foyer did make it difficult to maintain a six foot distance from everyone, which they hadn’t thought of in designing the system.

After my blood test I had trouble getting out as two people stood in the middle of the floor discussing why only one could go in, and the NHS staff member didn’t think to move them to one side. ON the far side of them a woman hovered unable to get past and preserve a safe distance. She was standing in front of the door I needed to get out. So I waited.

Another staff member asked if I was OK.

“Yes,” I said, “but I can’t get out because there isn’t room to get past people.”

“You could use the door behind you.” she said.

The trouble with these modern glass buildings is that you can’t always tell the doors from the windows.

521 words and I’ve ended up on 35 minutes.

Then I went to the gardens but there is no time to tell you about that.

Pictures are some random shots from the gardens.

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A Nice Day in Mencap Gardens, Wilford, Nottingham

 

Flowers and Fossils

Today I’m going to do pictures of flowers from yesterday’s visit to the garden with a few other things interspersed to show the nature of decay and the passing of time.

That’s sounding either depressed or arty, and I don’t know which is worse. The depression comes, amongst other things, from having to fill in a questionnaire for the hospital. I participate in a regular pain survey so they have sent me one about depression, anxiety and isolation. By the time I’d finished I felt considerably worse.

The artiness may come from being bitten by a vampiric art student, or from watching too much Grayson Perry on TV.

I’m glad to be back in the old editor. There’s a certain solidity to it, which I don’t get from the new one, and as I write I can see I have written 144 words.

I have now had two tries at loading a group of three photographs, but there is no sign of them. This seems to be an increasingly common problem. When I publish the post they will all suddenly appear.

Last night, whilst wading through reams of information on the new editor and associated rammel, I found a button that would have erased the entire site. I was very tempted. There is nothing in the writing that I am attached to, and as I struggled with the “improved” system it all felt like it was just too difficult to carry on. I may have to avoid finding that button again, because it’s very tempting.

Over the years I’ve followed links to the sites of people who have commented on my blog and found that they have no posts listed. I’m beginning to see why.

And once again the photos fail to appear. I hope they will turn up when I publish. And lo and behold, they did turn up. In the wrong place.

The devil’s toenail is nice to see, I haven’t seen one for years. It’s nice to have something on the blog that is older than me.

The Second Post

I made the mistake of pressing the button to look at the new editor and now I can’t get out of it. As with the last attempt at a new editor I don’t see it as an improvement and I don’t know what a “block” is. I’m not keen and would much rather either (a) have a proper explanation or (b) only “improve” things that need it.

Anyway, back to work. This post is about what we did yesterday. As usual my writing lags considerably behind my life.

The Mencap garden was pleasantly sunny, though not quite as colourful as it has been in past years. I’ve noticed this in the garden at home too, where the marigolds seem to have disappeared. It might be neglect or it might be a dry spring, I’m honestly not sure. It might just be a case of it being a dull time of year. Some times of year just aren’t colourful.

I just looked to see how I was doing on the word count, but that doesn’t seem to be a feature of the new editor.

That’s 186. I know that because I counted it three times. Once I lost count myself. Then I lost count again, this time assisted by Julia. It was a fraught five minutes.

In the garden I sat down and watched as Julia started work. A couple of brown birds dropped in followed by another dozen squeaky companions. The long tails and the squeaking were diagnostic of long-tailed tits though, as usual, I couldn’t get a decent photo.

There were blue tits at the end of the garden, where they have a brood of youngsters in one of the nestboxes.

Apart from that it was the normal suspects – blackbird, kestrel, magpie, herring gull, As we lunched, Julia dropped part of her Scotch egg, so she broke the bits up and threw them onto the grass for the local magpie, which had been looking very blue as it posed in the sunlight. Before the magpie could get to it a crow swooped in and started clearing up. It’s amazing how quickly things can appear.

The breeze was quite brisk and the few butterflies we saw (mainly whites with a few peacocks) didn’t linger. I was able to try photographing a few pollinators, including a few cooperative bumblebees, but again, there weren’t that many about.

I am finding the new editor a trial to work with and have just returned to add photos and a link after transferring back to the old editor.

 

Time to Stand and Stare

I’m going to post about the garden to start with. It’s a nice calm place to start.

We bought sausage baguettes from the Co-op on Wilford Lane and ate them as we watched the geese fly over on their daily trip to the river. It’s an extravagance but it’s nice to eat out once in a while, and it’s hardly Babylonian in its excess.

There was a robin, a crow, a few pigeons, some magpies and a flight of about a dozen long-tailed tits. You’s think I’d manage some decent photos but I had the small camera and it was set for close-ups. By the time I’d adjusted it I normally found I was zooming in on an empty branch.

The flowers were less flighty and I even got a couple of wildlife shots, though bees and caterpillars aren’t the hardest of subjects.

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Caterpillar and flower. My flimsy knowledge of plants and wildlife is revealed for all to see.

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Safer ground here – it’s a bee and a nasturtium

Imagine my mind like an over-full bookcase. As you force a volume of coin knowledge in at one end a book of insect knowledge falls off the other end.

Eventually the Council House clock struck nine and I had to leave for work. I may cover the events of the day later – breaking a grandmother’s heart, talking to a lunatic and cynically laying a trap for a potential young collector.

Those, of course, are just the highlights.

Runner Beans - guess what's for tea

Runner Beans – guess what’s for tea

In Victorian times they were grown for their decorative flowers rather than the beans. You have to wonder who first decided to taste them.

Harlow Carr Garden

Harlow Carr is the Royal Horticultural Society Garden just outside Harrogate, a town which is home to Betty’s Tea Room and a Sainsbury’s supermarket that has a sushi bar. In Yorkshire the only dead fish you normally see has been fried in batter.

Just a few photos for now.

 

Well, maybe a few more…

There will be more when I have time, plus two more scone reports.

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