Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A little chatter...................

Morning, all - I have been meaning to say how lovely it has been to get all your messages and emails - from "old" and dear friends, and also from new-to-me-friends who pop in here at RCR. I will respond to your emails, I promise! But seriously, it has been  a really heart-warming, good feeling, if also a totally guilt inducing and DO SOMETHING, LINDS, kick as well. All good, people. All good.

It worked, anyway. I am here!

Temps are cooler today in Middle England, but are set to soar into the 30s tomorrow. I am plastered with anti bite cream and anti bite spray and have swallowed an antihistamine too, in an effort to turn my flesh into something totally unappetising to all insect life. I am sick to death of huge inflamed bites which itch like crazy. And I just found another ant eruption on the steps in the garden . Followed by the sad demise of the spinach courtesy of the squirrels or birds. Well, most of the seedlings were scattered over the paving slabs.

All does not go swimmingly in the garden at times. Like when I watered the nemesia so much that the roots rotted. Actually, it was the spray from the tap and the hosepipe....forget the explanation. They died.

I planted Virginia stock.

Is anyone else a little taken aback by the fact that we are now about to start August? 2013 has very fast wheels, it seems. Autumn starts in September for me, but it is not far off. You know, I found a large pumpkin on the allotment, and thought, oh, for goodness' sake - you are supposed to be an autumn crop, and then realised that whoops.. Autumn is coming. That would explain the rapid growth of the squash.

I need to stop garden related chatter.

There is indeed more to life.

Like Christmas presents. I need to start the list and the planning, because they will be home-made, as usual. And home-made takes time. So Pinterest may be featuring heavily in my future. Don't you just love all the ideas and the sheer genius? It is a wonderful place to while away a couple of months hours. My sister is superb at making things she finds there. I have made a few things, especially food related things, and crochet items, but Marge is a star. I am a great big sister. I even posted her my flower maker thingy - you remember those metal spoked ones and you used raffia back in the 60s? Yes? Those ones. I found mine and posted it to her. That reminds me - I must see what she has been making. Her garden may also have delayed all things crafty. She loves her beautiful garden, but it is 50 times the size of mine. Or more.

I am going to start assembling some fabric. I will be back.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Long time friends.....................

My friend from the northern part of Australia came to visit me yesterday. I think the last time I saw her was when we were about 15, and I remembered that she had had glandular fever back then. (So why can't I remember the 3 things I need at the chemist??)  Memories are really bizarre things. And a huge amount of fun too. 

So, meet my friend, Jen. 

I have said this before - I love catching up with old friends, and for whatever reason, there is never a pause in the chatter, a silence. There is too much to talk about. Stories to listen to. Memories to share. From bright green cream soda drinks at Saturday morning tennis lessons with Leon Norgarb, to the fascination with long hair. To little sisters, and to the adventures which led us to strange places on the globe. 


And yet, the connection stays. Two of our daughters - Jen has 2, were born 3 days apart. They are the epitome of the next generation of explorers for us. Her girl lives in the UK. Just as mine lived in NZ. And that daughter of mine baked a world class quiche for us and prepared a feast for lunch. Jen only had a few hours, but an awful lot was packed into those few hours, believe me. 

And then I took her back to the station so she could return down south. There is a little grandgirlie for her to cuddle back there! But there will be a next time, and we will pick up again, just where we left off, once more. 

 It was a delight to see her again. 

(Insert happy smile)

You want to see that cupboard? 


I still have some moving about to sort out, but it is in the room. This is a good thing. The small side is shelves and the large side is hanging space, with a top shelf. 


I picked some roses before the storms came. And they are starting to look wonderful inside. It is always such a pity to see them pattered and bashed by the vagaries of the weather. 

The lilies, on the other hand, are made of sterner stuff!

You see that calm and serene photo of Jen and me up there? You have NO idea how many had to be taken before we got one reasonable one. All those ones we would never put out there for the world to see. 

What the heck - here we are after my daughter, the photographer and chef, asked us to try to look a little less "simple". There was a deathly hush and then we cried with laughter, as in could not breathe and the tears flowed down the cheeks. Oh my sainted aunt. 

I am wearing purple. 

I am that kind of age. 

Crying with laughter and washing away the make-up goes with the territory.


We are interesting women. Nothing simple about us at all.........

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Summer Sunday......


Hello. I am back sooner than you expected, aren't I?? I thought so. We had a storm yesterday evening, and I was to be seen out there in the garden, popping up the flower umbrellas I bought in Switzerland a few years ago. They worked. Well, on the three pots I planted them into. The nemesia did not keel over and expire. Tomorrow heralds more rain, so I will be out there later with the umbrellas again, much to my daughter's amusement. 


We have a great Facebook page for the village - I think just about the whole village uses it, judging by the numbers - remember the little pram I bought for Missy? That page. Well, yesterday, I was scrolling through my newsfeed when a friend of mine posted an Ikea cupboard for sale. My sister has one of these, and I like the range. I think this one is now discontinued, but it was just 2 years old and selling for £25. I snapped it up so fast, you have no idea. 

I love bargains.


So today, after church, a friend of mine and his son emptied his Galaxy of seats and went and collected it for me, and, bless their cotton socks, managed to get it upstairs into my bedroom, with the assistance of my daughter, the star. I love my friends. And my kids. And then, as I lay expiring in the garden, Diana screwed the doors back on, sorted the railing at the top and then called me to inspect the finished article. It is beautiful. I am really thrilled with it. 

The fact that the other bedrooms are full of all the stuff I had to evict from my bedroom to make space for it is irrelevant. I will think about them tomorrow. Maybe. Or the next day. 

Diana is waiting impatiently for me to empty my cupboard, so she can find her old treasures, and, actually, to supervise the tossing out of 90% of my wardrobe, I suspect. No. I KNOW she can't wait to "assist". Maybe next week. 


So, that has been the action for the day. One cupboard installed. Now I need the matching chest of drawers. The Hemnes one with 4 little drawers along the top, if you look at the Ikea website. My sister has quite a bit of the Hemnes range and I LOVE it. I wanted to get the day bed too. Maybe I should get rid of my bed and get the day bed. I wonder..... it does expand to a double. I know this, because I sleep on one at Marge's and there is nothing wrong with it at all. What a good idea. Now I need to win the lotto. 


I need to get my mind off plans to remodel the bedroom, because it always moves on to the entire house and then I want to start painting, and then the whole world turns upside down here. Cease and desist, Linds. . I have photos, but have yet to download them. 


My coffee is cold. I thought you needed to know this. 


Diana saw fit to wash the cushions of the wing back chair and the couch this morning. I have just wrestled the alligator, aka stuff the cushion back into the cover for the wing back chair. The couch ones are still drying. I have to say it makes the chair look worse than ever, the clean cushion. I once re-upholstered 2 wing back chairs, and swore never to unleash my staple-gun on one again. However, the cost of reupholstering them is prohibitive. Maybe I should go to an upholstery class or ten. I wonder if there are any on the adult education list..........


There are other things I would rather be making. Many other things. 


I can't tell you how much I love sitting out in the garden. Sitting is a misnomer. I sit for a second, then see something that needs picking, deadheading, tying up, sweeping, re-potting, watering name it. But I call it sitting. I do take the time to enjoy the prettiness. Stuff grows and then dies, and the heart skips a beat, but then something else grows in its place, and so the cycle goes. 


People here are setting off on their summer holidays. School only goes back in the first week of September, so August is summer holiday tome in England. So there is the great dispersal across the world - mainly to Europe - and in a few weeks, everyone will be home with tales to tell of their adventures. 


It is ironic that this year, we are actually having a summer, for the first time since 2006. It may be hotter here than most sunny places people head to! Mind you, there is no beach anywhere nearby. Well, this is England and we live slap bang in the middle. About 3 or so hours and we could reach the sea. It has been a while. BUT, David will be home soon - not that many weeks from now, and that means we will see the ocean again, when we go to load up all his worldly goods. This year has flown by. Just his dissertation to hand in and his Masters is done. Now to try and find work in his field. 


Jean is back home again. It is good to have her back in the village. 


And here is my conquering the heat idea. The paddling pool, surrounded by chairs. So we sit there with the feet in the water and eat our supper. Genius, people. It works. And then I use the water to water the garden. My dahlias are starting to bloom too. This one above is the first. I love dahlias. 


Diana is cooking egg and bacon for our supper. I can smell it from here. Time to hit publish and retire to the now clean cushion on the rocker. 

I will be back.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Is anyone still there?



It has been some time. It has also been an immensely frustrating time when your email account is hacked and hello, I am not in Manila and I do not need money. 
A) Manila is not even on page 90,836,734,548,920,202 of the bucket list.
B) I would NEVER ask for money! 
C) I would have told you if I was off on an adventure, which clearly I did not. 
D) You all know I do not speak in the kind of way that email was written. 
E) I sign my name Linds, if I sign it at all. Not LINDSAY in capitals.


 It is all sorted, but not before you were all sent an email if your address was in my contact list. I do apologise and a pox on all evil hackers/spammers. The ultimate irony is that the spam email was one from my email provider. However, I see that this is so common that they have now ditched yahoo as a provider and are going  it alone. I have no idea why they ever changed. AND the Evil One also redirected my mail for all of 12 hours that it took to get it all sorted and hunky dory again. Indian call centres redeemed themselves.


Sorry, people. All is up and running and tickety boo again.


So the days have vanished, and I have not sat down at this computer for ages. It feels weird. The fingers are clumsy and still lock, but here I am. Missy arrived for a short visit, and Moregranny had a wonderful time with her out in the park, the library and garden. And Doing Craft. We made a bird house out of a cardboard box and MUCH embellishment. And a roll of sticky tape. She had a wonderful time.

So did Moregranny.

So what has been happening............. there is a new Prince in the land, Prince George has arrived, and the heat...... dear Heaven. The heat. We have hit the 30s, which I know is not very high, but the humidity means that even mid 20s, there is no air, and one drips. So I have taken to dampening a tea towel and popping it in the freezer and then either wrapping it over my head, which seems to have mislaid any skills at temperature regulation, or around my neck. Or over the legs. Anywhere. It works.  Hmmm. I must pop a few more in the freezer, I think. Lots more.

Actually, I think it is pay back for sailing through the menopause without a single symptom or hot flush. We are making up for it now. My hair permanently frizzes, and I am long past worrying about it. Thankfully, I can now twist it up on top of the head and get it out the way. 

We will not be making any front pages of glamour magazines in the near future.


The garden is growing. The beans are growing. Down at the allotment, the courgettes, pumpkins, gem squash and cucumber are threatening to overtake the world. I may have planted them a little too close together. And maybe 3 in a bed would have been more than enough. 9 is proving to be slightly problematic, as in I can't get close to the beds any more. I sort of sling the water in the general direction of the greenery and call it good.

But one soldiers on valiantly.


We have been eating lettuce, potatoes, spinach, beans, courgettes and broad beans from the garden - I love popping out into the garden to pick food for supper. There are hundreds of tomatoes growing bigger by the day, although they will take some time to ripen, of course.


My daughter will attest to the fact that I am battling on the energy field. I fall asleep the moment I sit down anywhere, and then can't sleep a wink at night. The heat, as I may have already mentioned. It is as if I had the central eating on full blast. So conversation is somewhat lacking in the evenings.

Last Sunday, we had Glynis and Peter and their family here for a BBQ, which was wonderful. So much fun. Even more fun to know one could plan a BBQ because that sun stayed up there in the sky for weeks. There has been church, looking after dogs for G and P while they were away for a week, watering of their garden, Jean's garden, the allotment and home, of course - all at different and yet similar times.


My life consists of water, and gardens, and moaning when the torrential rain did finally come (it filled the water butts! Hooray!) and flattened said garden too. Stuff broke. You would have thought it was a national disaster, had you seem me last week. I mean is was FLAT. So was I. But, with the aid of sticks and much propping up and cutting back, it has survived. Sort of.


My daisy squares..... did I mention them? They have not multiplied. Books have not been read. (Well, it took me a month to read America the Beautiful, by Ben Carson. Very interesting.) My grand idea to read 52 in my 60th year is going to be a challenge. We are already 2 months in. One book is not a stellar beginning. Maybe I will add in the ones I read to Missy. That will tick a few boxes. They are books, of course. Very short books about fairies and princesses. She is such a girly girl!


So it is summer in England. Diana has been doing some temping, and had to use my car for a couple of weeks, so I stayed close to home. Apart for the aquazumba, some pilates, and aquarobics. Thank heavens I have good friends who go too! But I have LOVED being at home. Pottering. Dozing in the rocking chair. Tending my garden. Freezing the mountain of courgettes. Planting. Deadheading. It takes me all afternoon to water the small garden here, you know. I chase the shade around, so I can do it slowly and rest in between. The days of bounding all over the place are long gone.

Eau de Mosquito Repellent has taken over as perfume of the moment here too. Pesky things - I asked the question on Facebook last week - what was the Good Lord thinking when he invented bindweed - a horrible weed which climbs up every living plant and strangles it - and then I added mosquitoes to the same category. Stick around, and I am sure I will find more things to add to that list. I will be handing it over when I reach the pearly gates, for Answers. I seem to be allergic to mosquito bites. Spider bites, any insect bite. So, add great red swellings to the frazzled hair. Oh, and I haven't worn make-up for weeks. It melts off as soon as it goes on.

I am sure you are getting the picture by now.

Visiting our friend, Tessa, and wandering around her glorious garden. Mine is about the size of her pond. Stunning. 
Anyway. Moving has been a challenge, but we are on the case. Concentrating has been a challenge, so I decided to adjust the medication I take in an effort to raise the IQ a little. It is consumed by one of the tablets, and there is only so long I can manage before I need it back. There is, of course, a price to pay, but it is like wearing a skirt or a dress - the choice is whether to try to keep cool and have liquid fire dancing around your legs or expiring from the heat. So we wear skirts and dresses and don't take one of the meds, and we choose the consequences and hopefully we will be in touch with the IQ soon.

You know how some meds dry out the system? Well. One can survive anything, but when the sinuses dry out, enough is enough, and the list of meds to counteract the side effects grows, you get to the stage where you draw a line and won't cross it. So that is where I am. Trying a new balancing act.

But I hate talking about me.

Apart from my garden and my thoughts and my exciting life. And my dreams. My days.

We all have challenges. But challenges are there to be met. To stretch us. Refine us. Change our lives in ways we cannot imagine. Thank God for faith. And it could always be worse.

Schools are finally on holiday here, as of Tuesday this week,. and there is the sound of children playing out in the gardens and a slower pace of village life. A summer pace. Evenings sitting out in the gardens, BBQs. Fruit salad - I made a bowl this morning after I froze more beans. If stuff doesn't get done early, the heat means it never gets done, so early it is then.

This afternoon, I am popping down to the library. I have been showing an older lady how to work her iPad on Friday afternoons. She is having a Facebook lesson today, because she can only read hers and doesn't know how to post. So that will be fun. Provided that the library has a couple of fans. The last time Missy and I were there, I was a puddle. The librarian became quite concerned by the beetroot appearance and offered water to cool me down. I just do not cope with that kind of heat. Actually, everyone knows I am from darkest Africa, so they assume I am used to it. Hah. Where I came from, there was no humidity,. Shade meant cooler. Sea breezes. This is something else.


But it is sunny and hot and I am loving the doors and windows wide open. Now that I have frozen tea towels I can cope with anything.


I have a school friend from Australia coming to visit me on Monday afternoon - we last saw each other when we were about 15, I think. We have quite a few years to catch up on!


So I am back. Now I need to know what everyone else has been up to as well. I have some serious reading to do. Maybe if I list everyone's blogs as books, that will count towards my 52 books.................

Sunday, July 07, 2013

A heatwave................

I am quite sure you are sick to death of garden talk. Much like my family. They think I need to get a life. Hah. I love my garden. I still get excited about new flowers appearing. And while that happens, I will be out there enjoying it all. I do admit that the watering of it and the allotment take a huge amount of time. It is my main occupation, but the results are worth it. Even when I creak. 

Now we have got that out of the way, hello. It is Saturday night (just - midnight approaches) and we are having the most wonderful warm weather. So I have been sitting in the garden a great deal. Actually, I had an hour long nap at 4pm. What can I say......I am no longer a spring chicken.


Tomorrow, Jean and I have coffee duty at church, but Jean is in Cornwall at the moment, so Diana and I have been baking today. In the heat. Cup cakes, cinnamon loaf, chocolate tray bake, cheese straws. They are all ready to go in the morning. And tomorrow is going to be even hotter. It is also the Men's Final; at Wimbledon, and that should be a wonderful match. Numbers 1 and 2 in the current world standings - and one of them is British - Andy Murray. So the nation will be glued to the TV set and roaring on the support. 


I popped down to the allotment this evening to water, and the plants are thriving in the heat. The courgettes are multiplying, and some have become marrows. See below. If you click on any photo it will take you to Flickr, and there are descriptions under each photo. That would be in an attempt to keep this from becoming a gardening blog for the summer. The allotment BBQ was today, and there were loads of people down there having fun. I didn't go, because I didn't want to go alone. And anyway, I had too much else to take care of here, there and everywhere. 


Diana has not been feeling 100% today, so she has had a quiet time here at home. Frustrated, though, because she wants to DO stuff, of course. We did go down to the village centre for the Craft Market in the church hall this morning, and it was great to chat to other creative people who live nearby. 


Andrew, Ann and Missy will be here from Thursday to Saturday - they have a wedding to attend, so Missy and I will be playing together. I think and few adventures will be in order. 


I do love summer, you know - when the skies are blue, and the air is warm. Because the houses are all so close together here, when I sit outside, I can hear the children playing in paddling pools, the lawnmowers going, the birds tweeting, and voices - laughter and chatter. I love it. 


I keep thinking that I am saying the same thing over and over. I probably am. But hey, my life is following the same routine most days. Nothing wildly exciting. My hands are still on strike, and wearing a skirt to keep cool is a trade off. Coolness vs increased discomfort, because the skirt drifts around my legs, and touches that lightly, and that, my friends, means fire. But I am cool. 


Last night, I fell asleep in the rocker early, and woke at 1.27am. A new record, by one minute. And then I went upstairs to have a bath and dropped my book in the bath when I fell asleep again. Submerged. It is still drying out on the windowsill. Dr Ben Carson will have to wait a day or two for me to return. I cannot read soggy pages. 


We had a BBQ last night. And would have had another one tonight, had Diana been able to face food. Maybe tomorrow. The smell of meat being cooked outdoors is wonderful, isn't it? Sizzling. And popping out into the garden to gather vegetables to make salads is the best thing ever. Stop talking about the garden, Linds......


My sister loves Pinterest as much as I do, and found a crocheted daisy blanket she wanted, only she doesn't crochet, so Mother and I have been deciphering patterns, and making daisies. Well, Mum is making hundreds. Me, not so many, but they are slowly mounting up in a pile. It is always fun to try something new. Mine may make a cushion, perhaps. The hands. Ugh. The muscle relaxants are working well at putting me to sleep though. Not doing much for the hands so far. I live in hope. 


And I am still test driving cars to see which one I will choose next. The Peugeot was lovely, once I got used to the funny automatic gear changes. And the Nissan Qashgai is next on the list to try. It is fun to drive them all, though. Thankfully, Old Faithful is still puttering along. 


The local church is having a sleep out tonight. I went up to take some photos, and there are over 50 people sleeping out on the Rec. Quite a few of my friends.This is to raise awareness of the homeless problem, which is everywhere. Our church collects food for the shelter in the nearby town, but they are desperate to fund a place where they can offer somewhere to sleep,. Right now it is only a day centre, and there is such a huge need for more. More of everything. 

The huge cuts in the welfare budget have caused a massive increase in the need for food banks. At the time of the financial crisis in 2008, I looked for a food bank locally to donate to. In the entire county, there were none. Now there are dozens. The worst off are suffering the most, and it is a disgrace. It can happen to anyone. The average age for a first time house buyer in the UK has risen to 37. THIRTY SEVEN. That means that a whole generation of people are potentially living with their parents much longer, or are renting, which makes saving for a house even more unrealistic, given the cost of renting here. Or they become homeless. Social housing is just not there - nowhere near enough homes for the numbers who need them. And yet, house prices keep rising too, making the required deposit of 20% in most cases, an impossible dream. 

There is need. There is suffering. There are people hurting. 


Thank God I have a place to grow food, and store it. Thank God I have a home. A bed. So much. 


So, the week comes to an end. I have been trying the pilates again. I have had to make a swift exit from the pool at times when the aquazumba music is too loud, and the sound waves hurt. I have also got back in for softer numbers and danced in the water. Oh, how I love that too. 


And now I am heading for bed. And I will take a dry book with me. It is already Sunday here.....

Monday, July 01, 2013

Creaking and an Away Day.........................


OK. Let me just begin by saying that the spirit is willing, but the body has different ideas. My hands have started misbehaving in a big way, so hitting the keyboard is not as simple as it was a few weeks ago. Maybe the weather is responsible. All I know is that I wake up with my hands locked. The right hand is clenched, and has to be manually unclenched. The left index finger has decided to stick straight out. Pointing at something only it knows.


I have even managed to confuse my doctor.

And I am now awaiting the blood test results. There must be a clenched fist syndrome. What ever it is, it can depart forthwith. It is not welcome.


So. Last week can be summed up with the words rain, sun, rain, rain, rain, wind, sun. Sun was yesterday. Our church Away Day. Our vicar is in charge of 4 churches in different villages, and he was returning from his 3 month sabbatical, which included time at Bethel Church in California, and everyone combined for our away day near Bedford. We all took the food we were asked to provide, and there was so much it was unbelievable. And Adrian and Louise, our vicar and his wife, arrived for the afternoon session. The applause could be heard a long way off.


It is lovely to have them back, but we have been so well pastored by our retired minister, Gordon, who, with his wife, is now off in France, recuperating! Everyone adores Gordon.

The welcome back cake made by Jo - it was stunning!
Back to the away day.


 It did not start brilliantly for me, because the tea rooms where we were gathering, were in a metal building with a wooden floor. And as the music group started tuning up, I was gone. My road runner impression again. 


 I am happy to report that I found a bench in the woodland, where I could hear, and join in with the singing. There is something wonderful about singing loudly in a woodland, with no-one earthly to hear you. I may even have attempted a dance around my stick. Well, think waving arms. I can still remember arms (port de bras???) from my ballet lessons when I was 5.

I am quite sure there was applause in Heaven.


Between sessions, there was the opportunity to go for walks in the woodland, and we all know how much I love forests. I went on two walks and loved every minute. Thankfully, it was all level too. 


The views over the surrounding Bedfordshire country side were gorgeous too. 


Green, speckled with sunshine.


So it was a lovely day. Sunny and exhausting, but great to be with so many people of every age as well. Having fun together.

Wild flowers at Moggerhanger.
When I got home, there was the watering awaiting me. The wind was hot and dry and everything grew rapidly and then lay down and withered. Much like me. The gardener. So there was much watering to do. Diana took this photo of some visiting pigeons. They drive me crazy. Thank heavens my neighbour stopped feeding them. These two pooped all over my chair under the apple tree. I don't think they like me at all. 


And there was more wildlife about. I had just finished watering the top section when I saw what looked like folded over leaves on a giant lily of the valley leaf. It was not folded over. Every leaf was riddled with  little grey caterpillars and they were on a mission. So every leaf has now vacated the premises and the surrounding plants have been liberally dosed with anti bug stuff. 


I can handle spiders. No problem. 


And sunset, promising a lovely day, with a rose bud reaching for the skies. (The lovely day has yet to appear.) 

I will be back.