Sunday 26 February 2012

Hello Dolly

My quest for a dolly tub has been a long and lenghty one I can tell you. If only I'd known how sought after they'd be when I used to play with the one my grandma had..

They did have a top loader machine by then, but her dolly tub and peg had seen plenty of use and I do remember seeing my great aunt use a mangle.
But I'm not planning to use a dolly tub for the laundry - oh no. The garden is where I want one
And look - here one is! Standing rather overwhelmingly over my pots of bulbs that are just beginning to emerge. I've seen these tubs used as planters in so many lovely magazines and they set off lots of plants and foliage beautifully.

In the Sarah Raven catalogue I saw them stuffed to the brim with scarlet parrot tulips and I thought they'd look just the thing in my plot where I've got tons of old colanders, buckets and troughs.

But blimey, they can go for an absolute bomb (£50+!) so I've been keeping my eye out for an affordable one for ages and yesterday I dropped on at long last.
First of all it will be home to a big pot of tulips, to be followed probably by some foxtail lillies, then agapanthus and maybe a little potted holly tree and lights for Christmas.

Its a hefty thing so instead of filling it with compost I've piled up some crates inside and then the pot can sit on top. Who knew that a rusty old tub could make me so happy - apart from me!
P.S. As you can see I've reverted back to the usual style of my blog because I think the format I changed to meant that lots of people couldn't actually see it - which sort of defeats the object really! So sorry, I hadn't realised! Well, here I am back in the old groove and it feels rather comfortable. Have a lovely week. Xxxx

Sunday 19 February 2012

Candlemas Bells

Sharp, blue skies and the promise of flowers brought me out of hibernation today. Finally we got to go off on our snowdrop walk and it was the perfect day. Cold, brisk and bright.

I've not been here for many years and it was lovely to return. There were more snowdrops in the woodlands than I remembered and fewer on the walk to the lake, but the display was just beautiful.

They were everywhere; carpeting bank sides, drifting through the trees, crowding together in pots and dotted singly here and there. The stiff breeze made their little heads nod and dance making the whole garden seem alive.
A short stroll through the trees brings you to a mile long lake, full of waterfowl and with an ancient boathouse. They're lovely things I think, but a bit sinister. In all those country house books and programmes, something terrible always happens in the boathouse!
The boys enjoyed a run about, collecting sticks as ever and Woody (although absolutely not a gardening fan) loved the gentle surroundings and being out in the fresh air.
Me - I just loved the flowers. Oodles of them, so early in the year was a joy. I'm getting fonder of cyclamen as I get older. There were some minuscule varieties dotted about that could have been bouquets for fairies.
Isn't this a clever trick? In amongst the borders are little mirrors so that you can see the delicacy and beauty of the inside of these little beauties. Genius.
And then, past this lovely private walk to the estate church, is the kitchen garden that one year I will definitely visit in July when it'll be fit to bursting with crops.
The Gardener's Cottage is still lived in and today smoke curled from the chimney across the fallow, turned beds. I find walled kitchen gardens fascinating, full of memories all those gardeners been and gone. Here there are espaliered fruit trees, Victorian greenhouses and traditional terracotta rhubarb forcers. One day I shall get to have a proper look around and not a two minute sprint, chasing small boys!
A truly lovely afternoon to remind you that winter is on the wane. There might still be plenty of time left for the frost, the snow and the cold but those weeks are numbered now. Spring is creeping up to the surface and even though we'll still be muffled up for ages, the flowers will flow. Crocus next then the narcissi and before too long the glorious bluebells. Bring it all on I say!
P.S. I've been faffing around with my blog again! You can choose to view it in which ever way suits you by selecting from the menu on the left - I rather like "magazine" but have fun choosing. Just select the picture in the top left hand corner for the latest post and I think commenting is the same as usual. Xxx

Sunday 12 February 2012

Dropping On...

 A local phrase (I think), meaning a lucky happenning or something you've hoped for,
 falling in your lap...
Like after you've had to call off your planned walk to see the snowdrops in a lovely garden because the weather is just too bitter and foggy....
....and everyone is feeling a little fed up of the chill and the gloom... you bundle up the family and head to a new favourite pub for Sunday lunch...
...and find that they've booked you onto the table right by the roaring fire.... dropping on indeed!

Sunday 5 February 2012

Winter Whirlwind

Blimey what a week. I can't believe we're at Sunday afternoon again so quickly. Where did last week go? It started off for us with some brilliant news; my second nephew, little Charlie, arrived safe and sound and right on cue so there has been much visiting, cooing and baby talk around these parts let me tell you and pretty fantastic it is too.

Last Sunday was the birthday party for one our boys' closest friends. Since they've known each other we've become really firm friends with his mum and dad and really enjoy getting out and about with them and having many a good old laugh. One of their traditions is to have an outdoor party, despite their chap's birthday being in deepest January. Every year they plan a walk around the valley, a different route each time, and all his friends come along for an afternoon of fresh air, adventure and discovery.
It's such a brilliant afternoon and somehow the cold and chill adds to the whole event. This year we were walking around the old Victorian waterworks down the valley that were restored long ago to leave pools, water meadows and woodlands behind. We ventured along the canal too which even with 10 adults to chaperone 11 kids was a bit hair raising at times, but there were no splashes or incidents and we had a pretty marvellous time with a picnic lunch and hot chocolates at the pub playground the round things off.
Mind you it was absolutely freezing! The kids never noticed once but it was definitely one of those afternoons where you have to keep moving along or you just might freeze to the spot.
All this bunch needed was a stick and some ice on a marshy pond to keep them happy though.
I do love this time of year and find the bleached stems, stark branches and misty hollows quite amazing. You can see so much bleak beauty in the different textures and washed out colours all about.
And then the week got colder again, the air dry and still. Until yesterday when the wind got up and the clouds came down. The first flakes fell around lunchtime here and were that curious, powdery type that you think will never amount to much and then you turn back and the next time you look out of the window the trees are covered, the lawn has gone and you can't see the hills anymore.
All afternoon and evening it fell so we cancelled plans and stayed home to play and cook. By the boys' bedtime the radio brought news that the city roads had ground to a halt (as usual), cars were being abandoned and the football crowds were stuck at the stadium. I was so glad to be home ringing out soggy trousers, gloves and coats and getting ready for bed in our little house, covered in a deep blanket of snow.
Today we're warming up under dripping rooves and trees. Woody's igloo is holding it's own but the roads are clear again and it looks like we'll be back to normal in the morning. Fun while it lasted though.

P.S. Thank you ever so much for all the lovely comments on my scribbling! They made me smile so much and blush rather too. Bless you and thanks