We're home, and had a fab time!

Ah, what a two weeks we've had - we saw so much, cycled quite a bit - clocking up around two hundred miles - yes, I'm shocked too and ate quite a bit, but more on that another day, probably tomorrow.  Today, I'm focussing on coming home - our ferry docked at 6am Saturday morning, which if you know me you'll know that's a time I don't see very often.

Despite being at the ferry terminal early, we were one of the last to embark and so we were one of the last to disembark too.  They put us in with the caravans and vans rather than the bigger cars on the way home, which was probably why.  But once we were back on English turf - or more accurately tarmac - we headed towards the A3 and back towards London, arriving home around 8.30am.

Our next job was to unload the car.  Even though we'd only taken a couple of panniers worth of clothes, we had more than just our panniers to unload as we'd made a few wine and goats cheese purchases along the way. Well it would have been rude not too, as we had space in the car.

MOH was first in the house and soon out again to tell me "the picture had fallen off the wall" and I'm not sure my confused face helped much. I heard his words, but could not compute. Heading inside, sure enough a picture had fallen off the wall and had landed on our new glass table.  Eek!

This picture fell off the wall while we were away when the wire snapped, landing on our new glass table

Sadly on its way down it knocked, or most likely bounced a glass candlestick onto the floor - and that didn't end well.  But one survived.

A broken glass candelstick
The candlestick that survived
That's a coaster sized dent right there

It took us a while to actually pick the picture off the table and check for damage - both to it and the table, but when we did we were relieved to see the table in one piece. Phew.

The glass in the picture too hadn't broken - another phew - but the picture had dislodged itself in the fall. The frame also has a coaster sized dent in it. 

We're not sure if the coaster helped protect the table or not, who knows?

So we've a new task on our house list, and that's to get this picture re-framed.  Given the success of the pictures in our spare bedroom, I'll be heading back to Bromley Picture Framing.

Usually when we get home from holiday

Apart from having my first cuppa, it's the garden I'm most keen to check to see if the plants in the greenhouse survived, and this time was no different but I was also keen to see how the allotment fared too - before we went we planted so many tomatoes out, I hoped they'd manage on their own. So once the car was unloaded, I was straight out into the garden to see what was going on.

The fox cubs who are living next door (don't ask, I'm not impressed) had made full use of our garden while we were away.  I'd expected it to happen and we'd rigged up a chicken wire contraption to hang over the greenhouse door so it could still be left open without interference. That worked and was still in place, so that was pleasing.

My chicken-wire contraption to prevent unwanted guests

My plants in the greenhouse also seemed to have coped, I think the weather here helped, along with the "slow-release" water bottles upturned in the soil, which you can just see in the photo above.  They work in the same was as animal water feeders, with holes pierced in the lid.  I say they're slow release, but when I left one was already half-empty.  But still the plants survived, and the small blueberry plant actually thrived.  Some of the seeds I'd sown had also germinated, so we'll be planting some butternut squash over at the allotment in a few weeks.

Canterbury bells adding some blue amongst the fuschia

Elsewhere in the garden there was plenty of colour for our predominantly green garden. The blues of the Canterbury bells growing through the hardy fuchsia, the deep purple of our clematis on the patio alongside the white and pink roses and having given up on the struggle to stand upright a large pink fluffy peony, which is now staked!

Alongside the conservatory the agapanthus buds had grown taller and I counted nine flowers, which is quite a few more than last year's single flower!  The flowering angelica had also changed while we were away, and I've a feeling there's more to come from this one.

The angelica flower had changed too

We found small holes all over the lawn where the fox cubs had started to practice their digging skills and there was now a much more definite path - or mud patch - by the fatsia.  Neither of us were too impressed with this development although with the garden being left vacant for two weeks I guess it was to be expected. 

The fox cubs had started to practice their digging skills in various spots around the lawn, they'd also left plenty of other deposits too

We spent yesterday clearing out a large section at the back of the garden to make it less appealing to the foxes. There's less cover there now so hopefully they'll not think about setting up home in our garden. We still have to box off behind the shed but that will have to wait until the weekend.

With the garden checked, and after getting some food provisions we decided to head over to the allotment. That too had benefited from the wet weather and all of the tomato plants and more which we'd frantically planted on the day we left for France were still going.  I was struck by how many poppies were in flower, and ours were comparable to any we'd seen along the Loire.

The poppies on our allotment were just as good as any we'd seen in France

The rhubarb was looking more settled, there were apples on the small apple tree and the beans were going a bit bonkers up the cane frame I'd made for them. Our broad beans, which were just a tad too small before we left were now ready for picking so we spent a while picking the largest and middle-sized pods. It was dirty work as they were covered in black fly, but we soldiered on and picked an amazing 2.6kg!

Picking broad beans is dirty work, especially when they were covered in black fly

As well as the plants, the weeds and the grass had also grown well!  Some of the grass is now above knee height which isn't so good.  We knew we had more digging to do but first I think we'll need to cut the grass, by hand.

While our plants had grown well, so had the weeds and the grass which is now above knee height

The strawberries too had done well and lots had ripened while we'd been away, so there must have been some sun!  I picked 0.6kg of strawberries, including some very odd shaped ones.  This hand shaped one is probably one of the oddest strawberry shapes I've seen. Clearly the bug that burrowed into it thought it looked interesting too!

Just one of my odd shaped strawberries, thankfully there were more normal shaped ones too

Back home and with the beans podded and the strawberries sorted through we were left with two colanders full of freshly grown fruit and veg, that was definitely the best welcome home. Some of the beans will go into a risotto, and more are destined for a sort of guacamole - thankfully they're a good match for goats cheese too, which I brought a fair bit of back from France!

We picked 600g of strawberries from our allotment and there's plenty more to come
That's 2.6kg of home grown broad beans podded and ready for eating - yum!

What's your home from holiday rituals - let me know in the comments.

Happy and Home at A Residence blog