Friday, 8 May 2015

Thank you

To those who protected, wherever they were, away or at home.

My grandfather has kept a daily diary for more than 70 years. We came across his entry for that momentous week. He was in Wensleydale on duty when VE Day was announced, but had spent most of his time in the Middle East - in Egypt and a now unrecognisable Baghdad.

He celebrated his 92nd birthday on Saturday. It's hard to believe that he's seen16 Prime Ministers come and go, a man walk on the moon, the atom bomb, the Cold War, medical advances, the evolution of technology, architecture, music, food and travel.

He was the first person I knew to get online and I started this blog for him back in 2008.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Weekend digging

We've spent the last couple of weekends digging in the front garden. It's roughly the same size as the back but with deeper beds and greater potential thanks to the enormous amount of sun it gets. Having been left with a clean slate courtesy of the building work last year, we've been itching to get out and start turning a very sad brown patch into a green one. The plants that have gone in already are looking happy and the bees and hoverflies are certainly enjoying them. We now have a path lined with rosemary and lavender to the right. The left side is awaiting the turf and we're toying with the idea of something fun like a step over apple tree run along the path. On Saturday, we bought obelisks for the sweet peas and beans, picking up a couple of Allium Sphaerocephalon as we went along. We returned from Wisley on Sunday with a boot full of sweetpeas, epimedium and ajuga, a sad looking pot promising much riches in the form of a Krinkled White peony and a Tasmanian pepper plant. We potted up our 10ft crab apple (Evereste) - now staked and clamped into its pot until it becomes established - and planted out the latest garden centre haul. The turf will be ordered this week before the miner bees become too established in the bare earth. Once in and happy, we'll finish the borders with bedding plants. I'm thrilled with my sweetpea obelisk - and the very snazzy Twool I bought yonks ago (who I was pleased to see had a super display in the Wisley Plant Centre). Everything seems to be unfurling in the warming sun. And it's National Gardening Week to boot. Hooray for green.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Friday's flower

Thank goodness it's Friday. The sun's out, the breeze is warm. Incredible weather for a Spring wedding. The medicine garden is coming along nicely - our crab apple tree arrived today together with a huge pot which it will eventually call home. One of my favourite plants in the middle bed is Ribes sanguineum 'Elkington's white' - it's been covered in bees all day and releases a wonderfully sharp blackcurrant aroma as you brush past. Have a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Before and after - our new kitchen larder

When we bought our little cottage, the decor had breathed its finest hours in depths of the 20th Century - each nook and cranny was a nod to a particular decade. The bathroom was rocking an early 1990s pastel and white design. The small bedroom embraced the very orange flower power of the 1960s. The kitchen had the original 1920s windows, the 1970s boiler and lino, and the 1980s fitted cupboards. The larder had a 1950s vibe. Handmade fly screen cupboards, more pipework than a Heath Robinson sketch and a very exciting electricity box. 
Our incredible builders worked their magic. The space was reduced, the door turned, pipes were removed and those remaining were sunk, the electric box was replaced with a shiny white box of tricks with switches. With the walls painted white, we called our carpenter.
His team worked their magic. After a little bit of jiggery-pokery, it's now become a brilliant larder with fancy shelves and a home for pretty much everything.
Each time we open the door, we can't help but go 'oooo'. We no longer have to get on our hands and knees (with a torch!) to see what we have. We've still got a few finishing touches left to do - the fancy wine rack, proper labelling for the kilner jars and Mr M's spice rack for the back of the door. I'm not a massive microwave fan, but we bought it during the build - it's one of those combi pups. I've used it once since the builders left. It's shiny and space age. The oak shelf above the door isn't quite finished - Mr M made it from an off cut from the work surface. The brackets need to be painted white and the shelf oiled a few more times before we can pop my Grandmother's old loaf tins up there.

So - that's my first kitchen show and tell. I can't believe it's taken me so long to share. We still don't have the splash back or blinds up, but slowly but surely the grand reveal will come.

Monday, 6 April 2015

And then it was April

And Easter was early, my parents celebrated their ruby wedding anniversary, much champagne was drunk, Mr M's medicine garden started to take shape, chocolate was eaten, rabbit ears were bought, gym gear was donned, library books were read at a voracious rate, a tree was bought (!!!), I nipped to Edinburgh for work (architecture to die for - the view of the rugby chaps warming up at Murrayfield was a pleasant plus) and I started to feel normal. Words are still a little scrambled - but I've thoroughly enjoyed losing myself in the prose of others - Ali Smith, Maria Semple, Nigel Packer, Patricia Duncker and John Williams to name but a few. As I write this post, my bones are still warm from the Easter Monday sun that seemed to call to the dandelions, poppywort, daffodils and daisies to raise their yellow faces to its warm glow. Thank goodness we can wave goodbye to the coldest of seasons and hello to Spring, the rejuvenator. So many plans, so much to catch up on. It's been a long time. How are you?

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Kew Gardens in February

We popped to Kew Gardens on Sunday for a delightful afternoon with Mr M's goddaughter and her family. It's years since I was last there, and surprisingly Mr M's first visit. With threatening skies overhead and sleeping beds save for the crocuses, cyclamen and snowdrops, our first stop was the orchid display. The displays were really quite incredible - giant hangings heavy with orchids, luscious greenery and the odd miniature pineapple. I'd completely forgotten about the ponds with their enormous fish - little Miss H was mesmerised for at least a nanosecond.

After the orchids, we made our way to the Palm House. Such an iconic Victorian structure. As soon as you step inside, the change in temperature and steam adds to the sense that you've been transported back in time. For those visitors in the 1840s, they must have looked over that canopy imagining themselves as the famous plant hunters of the day.
The pretty detail was unexpected. As was the aquarium underneath. And the pair of chirpy robins. And the hothouse seemed to do my horrible chest infection and snotty cold the world of good. I was wrapped up in my duvet coat throughout and plied with neurofen cold and flu and benylin. It's been a week now - all incredibly boring. I'm bored of being poorly with leaden legs and unable to go to gym - it's all so tedious.
By the time we were done, the heavens had opened so we hurried to the cafe for coffee and cake. Fabulous shop - I fell in love with the tiny bee earrings by Alex Monroe. Something else to add to my birthday wish list.

It's been such a long time - I hope you're well. x

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Tiny signs of Spring

At this time of year the back garden feels barren. The choking geranium has yet to stir under the apple trees and the only signs of life are bluebells, potted hellebores and our neighbours camellia. The snowdrops I moved two years ago have overcome the shock and formed little, tiny clumps of bluey-green spikes piercing the soil and fallen leaves. The tiniest of buds, white as snow, heading towards the light, before gracefully bowing their necks, heavy with their frills. I saved a special one with double petals, planting it in one of my favourite pots. Last year saw only foliage, but this year there is one solitary bud.