Reflecting on my week #95

It’s been another of those weeks where the work days fly past pretty much unmarked and almost unnoticed apart from the amount of time spent away from home, and where it feels like we’re living for the weekend. And in a way, we are, as without the confines of the office we can cram as much in as we can. Or we can choose to stop and chill.

Or do a bit of both. The end of last week saw both of those. A relaxing, but get things done kind of day at home, where I finally ordered a new kitchen bin (the one we saw at Grand Designs in May) and some doormats which I’d been pondering for a little while longer.

There was also a trip to Norfolk, in the wind, and after a short delay at the Blackwall Tunnel we were on our way. Only to be paused again a few miles further down the road, with a small fallen tree. Recognising that it could turn into one of those journeys, a loo stop was built in. Nearly four hours later we arrived armed with a fish and chip supper.

Sunny Hunny in the wind

It’s often windy in Hunstanton, but even for there it was windy this weekend with its 50mph winds. So of course, what better than to go along the cliff tops for a walk?

Beside the sea in sunny hunny

It was hard work at times. Even the plants were struggling.

Plants in hunstanton battered by the wind

With the forecast proving to be correct, some indoor activity was needed. And that’s how we found ourselves in Setchey, close to Kings Lynn, wandering around a warehouse of antiques and collectibles. It was the sort of place that was displayed in a series of spaces, each with items belonging to a separate vendor.

fab-licious vintage sign

The result was a visual assault on your senses, so much so that it was impossible to see everything on a single walk around the vast space. There were items along the way, like this Fab-licious sign, that seriously tempted me and challenged me to remember their exact locations, should temptation really bite and turn into a purchase.

There was a small decorative brass box, which I was so taken with somehow I didn’t even photograph, and now wish I had. But by then something else had caught my eye - a large basket of embroidery and crochet threads, which I immediately thought could work with the part-finished tablecloth, and project for the future, which I purchased in a similar kind of place in Suffolk a while back.

A basket of vintage craft supplies

Looking back at that post I was pretty pleased with my colour matching memory. I was also pretty sure that I’d have fun just sorting through its contents, which turned out to be the case, I’m sharing more about what was in the basket in my next post, but no promises on exactly how I’ll use them!

My garden in July

Well, how wrong was I? In this post last month, I said I thought we’d had the hottest and wettest weather. Then, as the saying goes, July said hold my beer!

We melted one day, and squelched the next, and what’s more, the seeds I sowed last month started to germinate and grow. Some in the greenhouse, and some outside in pots, like the beans below. Although on one morning inspection - yes often I pop out and check on them before I head to work - I noticed the squirrels had decided to have a closer look. So the spare gabion basket was quickly deployed to prevent them digging up any more seeds, and the bean seeds that were on show were quickly prodded back under the soil with my index finger.

impromptu protection for my beans

It seems to have worked though, as the beans have germinated. Although some of the dwarf beans have decided to reach higher, and are behaving more like climbing beans, and the runner beans failed to germinate. That pot is now home to a courgette which is taking its time to produce.

regrowth in the mint pot

I’ve had more success with herbs though. I’d chopped the mint pot, and as I hoped it would, it’s sprung right back so clearly I need to drink more mojitos. This month was also the month that our agapanthus flowers started to break free from their pod.

early agapanthus

It’s fascinating to watch, and when I mean watch, I mean observe as it’s a really slow moving drama.

growing lettuce

The lettuce seeds germinated and were pricked out into the new oblong pots. To prevent any wildlife interest, the pots were quickly covered in chicken wire, which was most probably left over from the fox-proofing episode a few years back (which is still ready and waiting for use if it’s ever needed!)

Our patio and alongside the conservatory was filled with the scent of jasmine on the balmy evenings, at times it could be quite overpowering, but still quite lovely. This cascade of jasmine, which is alongside the conservatory was tamed and tied into the trellis, and I’m really pleased with how it’s progressing along the trellis, providing privacy.

scented jasmine

The jasmine hasn’t made it to the agapanthus yet, but as you can see, as the month progressed so we inched closer to flowering agapanthus, but not quite yet.

agapanthus progress

We had a couple of days of in July and used some of that time to tackle the pear tree. It was, of course, festooned with pears, but as we’ve never managed to eat one of them in all our time here I felt less guilty about some severe pruning. We’ve not managed to eat them because, like the cherries, it’s a race to get to them before the wildlife, and those that are left are still rock hard. I’ve tried cooking them but with little success. In fact the most enjoyment I’ve had from the pears is when I find a decomposing one in the beds, that’s almost perfectly preserved, it’s fascinating (and clearly not edible)

sizing up the pear tree

We took a few of the large branches off, aiming to straighten out the profile of the tree, which had started to lean over for the light. At some point we’ll have to get the gardeners in to prune the laurel which is claiming all the space.

before making the cut
we lost quite a lot of pears

There were several trugs carried out to the green bins, and our gardening time was restricted to how much space we had in those. As you can see it’s a much smaller tree now, and the plan is (if the tree understands the plan) to remove the older branch once the tree has recovered and is growing more upright, but for now it’s there as a bit of an insurance policy.

lots of pear trimmings to dispose of

I’m hopeful that it will do what’s required, and while this is quite a severe pruning, if it behaves like the forsythia we cut a month or so back, it’ll be ok. The forsythia has put on much fresh growth and now you’d not realise it’d barely been sticks after MOH had tackled it.

I’ve jasmine growing throughout the garden and the one in this pot was starting to look straggly and the canes a bit skew-whiff, so that had some attention too and is looking much more compact, and has since filled out a bit. Having a cone of flowering jasmine, sounds a perfect addition to the garden and I’m already looking forward to when it flowers.

training a pot of jasmine

Talking of flowers, the overwintered geraniums continue to bloom, and bring a welcome pop of colour to the garden.

geraniums pretty in pink

Our strawberries are done - it was great to eat so many fresh from the garden. The redcurrant plant produced some berries, which of course disappeared the weekend we were in Liverpool and I’m waiting for the salad to grow enough so we can eat it. I also need to pot on (or probably out) the parsley, and the kale which is still in the greenhouse, but that’s venturing into a job for August.

How was July in your garden?

Reflecting on my week #94

I’ve had one of those super productive weekends, the sort that make you wonder what happened the week before. And unlike Stephen Covey I’m starting at the end, and with the new - or rather old - crochet project I picked up last night. I planned to settle in to catch up on some hooking last night when a nagging voice in my head said to measure my navy-yellow-green wrap. I was using the slightly unconventional measuring method of comparing to one of my favourite wraps, one that’s the right length and drapes well. Just as well I did my comparison measuring as my project was at least six inches longer than the wrap.

Picking up an project from earlier in the year

There still seems quite a bit of wool left - so perhaps I could have made my wrap a little wider, but I’m not going back now! I know there’s not that much left though as the cardboard I used to start the ball of is just starting to show. But after planning to do some crochet, while MOH cooked tea, my hands were at a bit of a loss. So I turned back to some squares, which I first picked up in March this year, and the project which came to Portugal and then Liverpool and remained untouched. But now I’m already a square down and making good progress on the next.

The pattern is much more brightly coloured and designed to replicate Portuguese tiles, and while mine will be variants of grey with the multi coloured yarn I’m using, I think that will mean I’ll focus on the stitch detail. I’m pretty sure though at some point I’ll be making a full on colour version too!

the much smaller ball of wool that's left

Most of Saturday and Sunday were spent in the garden, which is why the evening of crochet really appealed. In the greenhouse I made a tomato discovery, and the salad leaves just outside the door are doing well too. Less so my kale seedlings which were nibbled the very night before I planned to plant them out. Some may make it, but I think I’ll be sowing some more and hoping they survive and catch up with where there should be.

our first tomato of the year

Our agapanthus are still cheery though, the flowers are mostly out and there’s a haze of white blooms just outside our conservatory. The second pot of agapanthus, which is in a more sheltered position has no flowers and it’s clear it’s not happy there so once I’ve bought some more to bolster its presence it’ll be moving into the pot next to these. That sort of makes me a little twitchy as we’ll lose the symmetry of planting, but if the plants aren’t happy there, then it’s all a bit half-hearted really. The plan is to fill the three pots by the window of the conservatory with ferns, which should be very happy with the shady, and damper conditions.

agapanthus in bloom

My project for the weekend was one of those that now you’ve started was much bigger than you first thought. This section of the garden is just along from where our new neighbour had some over enthusiastic pruning. That hasn’t been repeated so I shall be magnanimous and put it down to an enthusiastic error. The ivy which they’ve cut from their side has now died, and so this weekend I released it from the trellis from our side of the fence. It was quite something when with that final snip if fell away from the trellis, and relief from me that it was quite happy to fall on the other side of the fence.

I’d kept as much of the top growth that I could, so that I could work out if it was worth saving, or not. And with the trellis showing for the first time in many years we were keen to have something grow back there quite quickly. So my next job was to ‘encourage’ the plants to grow where I wanted them, I think there’s almost as much twine as plant in the end result.

work in progress in the garden
still more to do but it's getting there

It’s still a work in progress and these pictures are for those of you who are pleased to know my garden is a real garden and goes through scruffy looking moments too. The photo above is how I left it, as well the crocheting was calling and as I said earlier in this post MOH was cooking dinner. That means there’s a constant stream of questions asking where this is and where that is, in fact it’s hardly relaxing at all. It’s just as well the results are always tasty; yesterday he cooked duck legs in a tomato and date sauce, which tasted way nicer than I’ve just made it sound.

Manly gin from the Craft Gin Club

It wasn’t all gardening and crochet though. There was gin too. Our latest box of gin had arrived during the week and it only seemed right to try it out. I was a fan, but then again I much prefer botanical gins. MOH prefers dry gin, and while he was happy to drink this one he would choose something more to his palate. He thinks I was swayed by the name, as that’s one of the places I stayed when I popped over to Australia for a few weeks back in the millennium. It’s also a place I’d happily go back to too, especially now I know they have at least one distillery.