Monday, 28 April 2014

I used to be a townie, but now …

In the autumn of my life I am strictly a country lady.  Many years ago now  I worked in the centre of town and was used to the traffic, the noise, the people – lots of people.  It was a way of life that I enjoyed and I never considered living any other way. 

entering the village

Then I met a man who took me away from all  that I knew, he  lived in a village twelve miles away from the town – at first I took three different buses to get to my work as I didn’t drive at the time – this was fine – I loved my job as a project manager for a display and design company and wanted to keep it.  Eventually though, the travelling got me down and I decided on another course for my life.  Living in the country was just so different from anything else I had experienced so far.  But I got used to it and began to love it.

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Now - we come to the point of this story.  I had used the small dental practice in the village ever since I moved there and was quite happy to go even though I moved to a different village eventually.  It was convenient, just a couple of miles away - my dentist was gentle and caring – and even though it changed from NHS to a private practice – I stayed with them.

mowsley's leafy lanes

Then catastrophe – the practice closed – and after thirty odd years I had to find a new dentist.  But all was not lost – we found out where the dentist had moved to and joined the new practice.  The trouble is the new practice is back where I started, right in the centre of town.

a tree lined mowsley street

I used to know the area like the back of my hand – all the street names were familiar, but a lot of the shops had changed or closed down – and even though I hadn’t been anywhere near town for several years – it had a feeling of ‘home’ about it.  This feeling was not to last.

wild flowers and grazing cows

The sound of the traffic was the first thing I noticed – you couldn’t hear yourself speak – and the noise actually hurt my ears.  The practice is in a nice  part of town opposite a big park – so not too bad – in fact quite pretty really.  But there were people everywhere, walking dogs, jogging, people going shopping, off to their work, people of all different colours and nationalities – it all came as a bit of a shock to the system actually.

dandelion-filled roadside verge

An hour or so later we were back home – and as we drove down the leafy lanes to the village and saw once again the familiar signposts and hedgerows full of blossom -  the tension seemed to leave my shoulders, my fists relaxed and I stopped holding my breath.  I can’t remember being so relieved to be home – no cars, no people, no noise – just the sparrows squabbling in the trees and the distant sound of the lowing of the cows.

churchyard lime trees just leafing up

Of course, the country life doesn’t suit everyone, and it certainly isn’t as convenient as living in a town.  We have no bus service, no street lighting, no gas, no shops or school nearby,  no entertainment like theatres or cinema – it is certainly a quiet life.  But, as with everything, you get used to it and adapt. 

So, yes I am definitely a country lady now – town mouse turned country mouse – and there is definitely no going back, except for dental appointments of course -  but when I become too old and infirm and unable to drive a move back to a town might be inevitable – but let’s not worry about that yet a while. 


red tulips make a cheery welcome

newly planted border

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‘Til next time – happy gardening – and enjoy the rest of the week.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

is blogging addictive? …

“the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma”

Well – I wouldn’t go as far as the ‘severe trauma’ bit but I do think it is kind of habit-forming. Are you always thinking about the next blog post?  As I was drifting off to sleep last night I was pondering this – as you do – well maybe you don’t.

snapshot of daily life

Whatever I do -  wherever I go - it seems to turn itself into  a blogging opportunity.  Is this affecting my lifestyle?  What I am trying to say is – am I doing things so I can blog about them or am I just going about my business then blogging about it later.

late april flower posy

Why do we feel the need to share the minutiae of our lives?  Is it because it is easier to deal with strangers, people who you will probably never meet face to face – or is it because we can glamourize our lives – things that we may find boring but might seem more exciting to others.

lettuce growing under a bell cloche

I don’t think it is quite the same as keeping a diary or writing a letter where we can reveal our innermost dreams and desires – but without our knowing blog posts can be quite revealing as to who we really are.  I think it is this that I find particularly interesting.

buckets of geraniums

Those  who write about their everyday lives, rather than a specific topic like gardening or crafting, say, open up their lives for all to read about, but probably only reveal themselves as they wish to be seen.

apple blossom

As to it being addictive – for me, I would say yes.  I take my camera everywhere with me – ready to ‘snap’ a moment for the next blog post.  It has definitely made me more observant, finding pleasure in the small things that I would probably never have noticed.

stewed rhubarb

It has opened up a whole new world of what it is like living on another continent – finding out how different our lives are, and yet in some ways, very much the same – the daily round of  people just getting on with their lives wherever they live.

tomato plants

Before I started this blog I had no one to talk to who shared my passion for growing things no one who was really interested – now I have blogging friends who share my enthusiasm.

dicentra and apple blossom

Here are one or two suggestions from the website  blog critics - addiction or conviction -  that may indicate a blogging addiction:-

Impulsivity – Having a great idea for a blog post and feeling the need to address and write about it immediately.  Becoming irritated if you are unable to blog when the idea presents itself.

Do you feel compelled to blog and then feel a sense of elation once the blog entry is published – yet the high is short-lived and you feel compelled to begin again.

Dependence – A strong dependence on others reactions and responses to what was posted.  A need to be affirmed

Well, if I am totally honest, the first two out of the three apply to me – seeing it written down like that is a little worrying I must admit.  But then, such is my personality, that I go at something with all guns blazing, put my all into it – then go ‘cold turkey’ and stop for no particular reason except that I have had enough – and turn my energies to something else – this is the way of things.

Just for fun I took a blogging addiction quiz here (hope it works) and it confirms I am 62% addicted to blogging.  Oh dear. And this blog here tells you 20 ways to know if you are addicted.

So, although I sometimes curse the day I ever started blogging, mainly because it just seems to ‘eat’ up time – I would say that if I had to become addicted to something, that didn’t include drugs and alcohol – then a blogging addiction is a pretty harmless and enjoyable pastime – what say you?

Thursday, 24 April 2014

bluebell woods and a bit of bad timing …

We made our annual pilgrimage to see the bluebell wood at Coton Manor – the website said the bluebells were now flowering.  I can remember the first time I went to see them – what a sight – the sun was streaming through the trees – the bluebells were flowering their socks off – and that particular bluebell fragrance when they are en masse is intoxicating.  It really did make my heart miss a beat and put a big grin on my face .( see here for last summers' visit)

Alas, this time, the day was a little dull and a lot of the bluebells were still in bud – next week would have been better to get the full effect.  It was still glorious though and the Coton Manor gardens are a delight.  It is quite a steep garden with streams running through it.  They have been busy getting the borders weeded and ready for the coming season everything was in spit-spot order.

A fine and subtle spirit dwells
In every little flower,
Each one its own sweet feeling breathes
With more or less of power.
There is a silent eloquence
In every wild bluebell
That fills my softened heart with bliss
That words could never tell.

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy.

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People come from miles around to visit this garden the car park was jammed full but somehow everyone seems to disperse and it doesn’t seem crowded – and at the end of the visit we all gravitate towards the tea rooms where pots of tea and freshly made cakes and scones are devoured.

All in all -  an afternoon of delights.

“Over every inch of wood, as far as and even beyond its boundaries, the bluebells are also thickening for flower, a million spikes with dark hearts of bud and here and there a breaking out of petals.  They cover the rich soggy wood-soil like shining green reeds, everywhere.  Among them and perhaps because of them there are a few primroses, fewer anemones.  The bluebells crowd out everything, drown the whole wood-floor with great pools of flower until the trees, in May, seem to be standing in deep lakes of liquid mauve.”

Extract from ‘Through the Woods’ by H.E. Bates

Saturday, 19 April 2014

a quiet corner …

 

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As the sun goes down on another beautiful day I wander the garden in contemplative mood.  Looking over the fence into the surrounding fields I see the hedgerows donning their coats of spring green, the distant blackthorn bushes sprinkled in white blossom, and the grass lush and vivid.

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Away from the bright yellows of the daffodils, and the garish reds and oranges of the tulips, I have quiet corners of the garden where it is calm and tranquil, holding its breath, waiting for the next flush of flowers.  Country garden flowers of foxglove, columbine and sweet rocket – nothing that jars or shouts ‘look at me’ – unassuming and content to let their more vivacious cousins do all the talking.

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Of course, I wouldn’t want all the garden to be like this, my love of colour is  obvious.

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And yet … I also love those flowers that stay in the background … just going about their business … quietly.

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Filling in gaps and spaces in shade or sun, a backdrop – they are essential to the garden – performing year after year – surviving harsh winters and the droughts of summer … leaving the clamour and glamour to others.  It is like sunshine after a rainy day – you can’t appreciate one without the other

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I like a soft garden with the odd burst of colour and keep the brash, the blowsy, the glaringly obvious, all in one part of the garden, together, and let them  show off all they want – so that when I feel the need I can visit them – to make me smile with their joie de vivre.

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All too soon the garden will change, as gardens are wont to do, and become ablaze with the glories of summer, but for now I shall enjoy this more gentle season.

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‘Til next time – happy gardening and enjoy the Easter break.

Monday, 14 April 2014

an outdoor life … why do we garden?..

“The earth is our origin and destination.  The ancient rhythms of the earth have insinuated themselves into the rhythms of the human heart.  The earth is not outside us; it is within: the clay from where the tree of the body grows.  When we emerge from our offices, rooms and houses, we enter our natural element.  We are children of the earth: people to whom the outdoors is home.”  John O’Donohue

At this time of year I take every opportunity I can to spend time out of doors – so gardening, as a pastime, is ideal for me.  But, if I am honest, for six months of the year, when the weather is good, although a lot of gardening activity goes on – I do seem to spend an inordinate amount of time lounging about – drinking home-made cordials and tea, and sitting in the shade reading (my fair skin doesn’t take too kindly to an excess of sun).

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Because, let’s face it – gardening itself is hardly restful – it seems innate in us, as we wander around that we always find something that needs doing – the odd weed to be pulled, a plant to be staked, a pot that needs watering -  you know how it is.  But  to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labours is just as rewarding.

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On Friday the weather was just how I like it – warm and bright, and not too hot to be uncomfortable – I sat with a cup of tea and my book (not very well-written, full of cliches, yet with an engaging plot), but kept putting it down, more interested in what was going on around me.  Surrounded by blossom and birdsong I watched a blackbird to-ing and fro-ing with a beak full of worms to feed its young; a humming bird hawk moth hovering over the forget-me-nots dipping its long proboscis into the centre of the tiny flowers; a peacock butterfly looking for nectar – to me, these things are all part and parcel of the outdoor life and being a gardener.

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A garden gratifies all the senses – to touch the silken petals of a rose, to smell the different fragrances of flowers as you pass by, the sight of the jewel patchwork of the flower borders,  the sound of the wind rustling through the trees and the song of the creatures of the air, are all good reasons for why we garden.

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There are those who denounce us:-

“Horticulture is just a pointless way of passing time until you die”  Jeremy Clarkson

“There is more to growing old than just being interested in geraniums” Mary Beard

But, we also have our champions:-

“The garden is a joy for all ages to engage in, and isn’t limited to putting in geraniums, sitting back in a deck chair, and waiting lazily for it to grow”.  Alan Titchmarsh

My garden is a respite, a solace – a place to breathe.

This extract from The Rules of Life by Richard Templar says it all ~

Leave a little space for yourself each day:

So what are you going to do with that time?  Answer:  absolutely nothing.  And I do mean nothing.  This isn’t time for lying in the bath, sitting on the loo, meditating, reading the newspapers, or sleeping.  This is a little space for you, a breather, a time to sit still and do absolutely nothing.  Just breathe. I find ten minutes sitting in the garden just breathing is a fantastic boost a couple of times a day.  I sit there, thinking nothing, not doing, not worrying, just being, while I appreciate the pleasure of being alive.  Keep it simple.  Keep it bare.  Keep it pure.

‘Til next time – have a good week and happy gardening.

 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

just a thought …

 

This blogging lark is a funny old thing isn’t it.  I read all sorts of blogs, not just those about gardening, but often it isn’t the subject that draws me to blogs, but the way the blog is written.  I often post comments on my favourite blogs and most people who love gardening, the countryside,  which is mainly what my blog is about, or maybe feel a connection with me,  return and comment on my posts – but a few don’t – ever, and sometimes it bugs me - but I still keep leaving comments on theirs, because I enjoy them.  I was pondering about this and wondered why.

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Over the weekend I came across a blog where all the commenters were having a lively discussion – being rude to one another – having a laugh at each others’ expense and then someone said “well it’s better than looking at bloody daffodils”, and then it struck me – that not everyone is interested in gardening – and I sort of felt a little stupid that I was hoping for comments from these people who just weren’t interested in what I have to say.  I guess I would blog anyway regardless of people leaving comments or not – but it does make blogging feel more worthwhile when there is two-way communication.

muscari - grape hyacinth

But then I thought, well, I am not necessarily interested in their chosen genre so why do  I enjoy some of these blogs when I know nothing about the subject?  After a lot of thought the reason I came up with is that it is the person behind the blog that I like and the style that they write in, regardless of what they write about.

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So I conclude that you  just have to carry on blogging about what interests you in your own style regardless of how others write, or what they write about - and hope that someone, somewhere enjoys reading it enough to leave a comment, and not get into a ‘stew’ when they don’t. If I tried to change my style of blogging, and what I blog about, it would seem false to me, and I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to keep it up, although I do wish sometimes that I could be funnier and more witty – but hey ho – what you see is what you get!

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As I said at the beginning – blogging is a funny old thing – and it is wise to remember, I tell myself -  that you can’t please everyone – so you might as well just please yourself.

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(For those of you who are interested in gardening – the above pictures show just a few of the plants that are flowering in my garden at the moment).

I would be interested to know if this has happened to you and what your views are.

‘Til next time have a great weekend, and remember:-

“You can be the ripest juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”