Monday 31 May 2010


After last weekend's glorious sunshine, the much needed rain descended and now the flowers have really arrived. We've rolled over into summer at No.25 with the last of the late daffs deadheaded, the euphorbia fading and the forget-me-nots pulled out for another year.

This is our third summer here and the garden really looks like mine now (well my style at least, Woody's not much of a gardener beyond the allotment). I've lost just a couple of things to the freezing winter but on the whole I think it's done everything the world of good because it looks the best its ever done.
My garden is planted with things to remind me of people and places and gives me so much joy. This pretty little thing is a geum called Mrs Bradshaw and like so many of my plants orginates from my mum's wonderful garden. I remember this delightful plant from our childhood home and where my parents live now. Isn't she lovely.
Valerian is Cornwall to me, my favourite place apart from home. It's taken ages to really settle in my garden but finally it's sowing itself merrily around (especially in the little drystone wall which reminds me of how it looks along the lanes around Port Isaac). Over the summer it will grow into gorgeous spires of fluffy pink and carmine blooms and this year I've tracked down the white variety to fill the border even more.
Not that there's much room! I think you can tell I'm a cottagey, stuffed-to-the-brim, kind of a gardener. I've got such limited planting space (two raised borders, 6ft by 2.5ft - one shady, one full-sun) so I don't bother to plan and just buy/grow what I fancy and keep my fingers crossed. I'll need to do some dividing next year but for this summer I can just about fit everything in.
Persicaria Superbum loves it here (another from mum's) and I have Firetail in the shady border which does it's thing later in the summer. This fluffy pink variety has spread in a perfect fashion and doesn't seem to need any care or attention at all.
I need to plant more aliums too this autumn. Aren't they fabulous.
So the show is just beginning. Early summer brings lupins, nepeta Six Hills Giant (catmint), geranium Johnson's Blue, aquilega, lady's mantle and the beginning of the valerian. By mid summer the hollyhocks will be in full bloom along with irises, potentilla, verbascum, feverfew, knautia, cosmos, old-fashioned heavenly scented pinks and the climbing roses (James Galway & St Swithun's Day). After that the hot zingy colours take over with crocosima Lucifer, heleniums, rudbekia, dhalias and good old fashioned sunflowers.

For now everything in my garden is lovely (well if you ignore the untrimmed lawn, the nibbled hostas and the weeds that is).

Sunday 23 May 2010

Faith Restored

Well, doesn't the world move in mysterious ways? Thank you for all your sympathies over my stolen purse last Sunday and even more so for the stories about those that turned up again thanks to the kindness of strangers. On Tuesday I had the most incredible phone call from a very kind lady at the Wolverhampton Sorting Office. Amazingly, my purse had turned up in a sackful of post from the Moorlands (yes really, our post is sorted by an office more than 50 miles away; if you post a letter here to someone just down the road it has to do over a 100 mile round trip to get there - ridiculous but I'm waffling!)

Apparently items that are dumped in postboxes (all sorts of things she told me) are routinely destroyed but this kind lady had a quick look inside to see if there was any identification and came across a few snaps in there of my boys and me and took pity on us. She took the time to go out of her way and tracked us down via our Caravan & Camping Club card and my purse was retuned by Wednesday lunchtime, complete with bank cards etc, just the £15 cash missing.

I can hardly believe it and even more kindness in that my mum and sisters don't want to return the replacement Cath purse so I've been extremely fortunate all round. Funny how someone smiles on you sometimes.  The world is full of lovely people.
So to celebrate I had a quick nosey in a new little antique shop in town and came across these beatuies which are just the thing for sitting back and enjoying this wonderful weekend we're having.

They were just £8, can you believe and will be perfect for taking away on our little jaunts.
Summer has arrived all of a sudden after some very chilly weather and we're revelling it. The garden is beginning to bloom again.
 The view is greening up and this morning the steam train is puffing merrily up and round the line (you can just see the steam through the trees).
And there is much potting on and potting up going on on my little bench. 
Happy days.  

Monday 17 May 2010

A Day Outdoors

I'm feeling a little bruised this week after a bit of an unpleasant incident yesterday. Off I trotted to the car boot for a gleeful hour of bargain hunting all by myself, only for it to all end horribly half an hour later when I realised some complete sod had stolen my purse. Luckily I noticed quickly and cancelled the cards etc but the shock lasted a lot longer.

My own fault really; being in a rush I shoved my purse in the bottom on my basket (under a sheet) but it must have been on view at some point and was swiped. Usually I just take along cash in my pocket but I think I was too busy thinking about not staying out too long and getting back to Woody and the boys and took the whole thing with me.
And most sadly it was my lovely green Cath K purse that I bought with the vouchers given to me by my old work colleagues. My mum and sisters have been very sweet and ordered me a replacement between them, I can't believe how kind they've been. I've registered with an counter-ID theft agency so hopefully that should be an end to it, just waiting for the new cards to arrive now. So very frustrating and at least I'm ok but please, do be more sensible than me and watch out now the car boot season is really underway, there are some horrid people out there.
So, as you can imagine I really needed cheering up so a day outside in our lovely local woods was just the thing. We're really lucky to have an idyllic RSPB wood just around the corner from home and it's a regular haunt for us throughout the year. This weekend the leaves and bluebells have really unfurled and it was the most calming, peaceful place to be.
The wild garlic is in full bloom and smells delicious - I forgot to gather any though. Something to do with the bundles of sticks I was having to carry for two little boys I think (what is it with boys and sticks?!)
This time we finally completed the whole walk all the way down through the wood to the canal and steam railway line and then back again.
Stopping off for a bit of dam building, hide and seek and some bird watching meant it took us all afternoon but who cares - summer is nearly here and it was a day absolutely made for meandering.
This is the lovely Red Lion pub that greets you on the canal bend and for many years you could only reach it by train or canal. We love to stop here for a treat of pop and crisps and watch the barges or steam engine pass by.
I'm not sure if these rather elegant houses (a bit more than cottages aren't they) were built by the railway company or the water board but I would love to live in this house with it's lovely vegetable patch, in this peaceful valley .
We made it home in time for tea and a well deserved sit down. All my troubles melted away and I slept like a baby. Being out in the open; the best therapy there could be.
Have a lovely week and hold onto your purse!

Tuesday 11 May 2010

A few treasures

Well, what a week. All the Whitehall and Westminster shenanigans have had us here at No. 25 completely gripped. I've always been a bit of a political junkie and being married to a journalist means that 24 hour news (usually via good old radio) looms rather large in our house on occassions such as these. Definitely a moment in history and the end of an era indeed, whatever the result has turned out to be today.

But even rolling news doesn't deter my vintage nose and I've turned up some lovely things lately. The first is this beautiful old card which I only wish I could give to everyone who leaves such thoughtful, funny and very kind comments on my little blog. They mean the world to me and I cherish them all and do wish I was able to reply to them all, thank you ever so much and hopefully I'll get around to visiting some blogs that are new to me very soon.
And shall we have a nice cup of tea together? My grandad made teapots for a living (a very skilled job apparently) but he was an expert in crafting the little brown Staffordshire ones with the coloured bands around them so I'm not sure if he'd have approved of this very elegant version. "Looks nice but won't brew" I think would probably have been his verdict. I couldn't resist myself, I do love Woods ware and I'm gathering quite a collection in this lovely shade called Beryl.
And sticking on the kitchen theme I picked up these two old Tala food decorating sets which still have all the right bits. I might get around to doing a bit of icing at Christmas but I'm not sure about piping mashed potato though - life's a bit too short I think but still, the packaging is just fantastic.
I'm not completely sure why I bought this though - the colour is gorgoeus but do I really need an old soda siphon? Well for 50p I'm sure it'll find a home somewhere!
And finally... oh this is tooooooo exciting for words. I popped into Oxfam on Friday morning not expecting to find all that much and came out with six meters of Cath Kidston fabric. Honestly the assistants nearly had to give me gas and air! I think this is the Cut Flowers (or maybe Herbaceous Flowers) from a year or two ago and is beautiful. At the moment its made up into two single duvet covers which I'm a bit loathed to unpick but I have the most fantastic project in mind for it.
Think home from home, the open road, fresh air and frolics and visit Attic 24 to get an idea of what I have in mind. Ours has been sitting on the drive for nearly a year awaiting repairs and some funds but we're ready to go now and I'll be joining Lucy in her new club. I'm so excited I could squeal. Wagons roll!

Thursday 6 May 2010

Simple Pleasures for May

#1 Enjoying the green - everything seems to have exploded into shades of lime and moss around here this week. A few much needed showers have made the buds unfurl, watered my thirsty allotment and brought on the weeds! Ah well, this glorious canopy greeted me on the way back from town yesterday and is well worth a bit of time pulling dandelions up I reckon.
#2 Finding three tired littlies having an afternoon slump

#3 Blooming hedgerows. The blackthorn is fabulous this year and the may (hawthorn) isn't far behind.
#4 Black & white ladies back in the fields again following a winter indoors. I never tire of seeing the cows trail in and out of the fields every day; (maybe I would if I had to fetch them in though!) and I do love meeting them in the lanes on their daily jaunts.
#5 At long last finding a milkman who can deliver a pint to our door (and a fresh loaf too). Bottles on the doorstep (usually with holes in the foil thanks to the blue tits), delivered by a farmer in our village who had a milk round, was part of my childhood. Buying milk in plastic containers that curiously never needs a shake to mix in the cream, has never felt right at all to me.

And the talk of "super dairies" where the cows never go to the fields and live in huge hangers with plastic matting feels even worse. I may be naive and have no real idea of the challenges the dairy industry face but I am thrilled to be supporting a local milkman who gets his milk from a local farm where the cows only come inside when the grass stops growing.

#6 And finally, curling up for a very late night tonight in front of the box with crisps and chocs for company (poor Woody will be up all night covering a local count for the paper). What ever tomorrow brings there is something I find quite thrilling about joining in a national occassion, making my contribution and watching history unfold.