February flowers

It has been a gift of a day with glorious dawn-to-dusk sunshine and barely a breath of wind. It’s certainly not the type of day you expect here in February. We’ve had a lovely weekend with my brother and his family visiting and we’ve been so lucky with the weather. We waved goodbye to them earlier this afternoon and, as my eldest child returned to uni a few days ago, it’s now back to the quiet of just the four of us again.

After they’d gone, I sat in the garden with the dog in the warm sunshine, contemplating life and admiring the violets in the lawn. Studying all the early spring promise and beauty was so cheering that I had to share it with you here. I can’t remember seeing as many violets before and while the snowdrops are not quite as abundant as in previous years, there are still plenty lighting up the lawn and path edges and looking wonderful in the afternoon sunshine.

In other news, my cast has gone. My bone is healed. Hurrah! What I stupidly hadn’t mentally prepared for, though, was how stiff and sore my hand and arm would be. My hand has swollen up (dubbed this weekend ‘the fat hand of doom’) and the skin is incredibly sensitive so there’s no pruning, digging or sowing for me yet. I will have to patient and work hard on regaining movement and strength and in the meantime carry on planning and dreaming. Thank goodness for the February flowers.

In a Vase on Monday: quiet anticipation

If you stand outside and shut your eyes, you can definitely hear it – the birds know it’s coming; their songs have shifted up a gear – and in the warm sunshine of recent days it’s easy to feel in your bones that early spring is here. Of course, winter could come back and bite us but I’m taking it as it comes at the moment and savouring the simple pleasures of a blue sky, a calm sea, busy birds on our feeders and the joy of finding early spring flowers dotted around garden.

Snowdrops in the lawn and in clumps in the borders, primroses in the wildflower patch and in borders, violets and muscari in the cracks and crevices in the paving. We have divided clumps of snowdrops and spread them around the garden (post-flowering) in recent years but the violets, muscari and primroses appear where they want to and we’re happy to let them do their thing. Spears of the narcissi I planted in the lawn under the window where I sit at my desk are around 20cm tall so those will be flowering in the next few weeks and the new tulips in pots are coming up. The tulips in the borders are a little behind but they’re pushing through the soil and there are bluebell leaves already carpeting the area under the cherry tree by the bottom gate.

There is so much floral loveliness to look forward to but in the meantime I’m enjoying the bright sunshine colour of these daffs (4 bunches in tight bud for £3 at the market on Saturday which opened within 24 hours in the warmth indoors) and a small posy of tiny spring flowers I picked in the garden this morning – violets, primroses, snowdrops and a single muscari. I seared their stems for a few seconds in boiling water to hopefully keep them looking perky for a few days. For more flower therapy, do visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see what she and other garden bloggers from around the world have found to put in their Monday vases today.

It’s half term this week and my younger two are off school. My first-born has also come home from university for a few days for home cooking and laundry services. He’s still in bed (I think he misses his bed most of all) but my younger son is out having a driving lesson and my daughter is in town with a friend so all is quiet here. I can hear a robin singing its heart out in the garden and the soft snore of my dog dozing after a good walk this morning. It should be a fairly laid-back week with a few appointments and commitments but plenty of time to catch up. I have an appointment at the fracture clinic on Friday (oh, I am counting down the days) and I’m daring to hope that the cast will come off at last. I’m eager to start strengthening exercises so I can get busy in the garden as soon as possible. My secateurs are calling me!

Wishing you a thoroughly good week.


These photos were taken yesterday morning while standing in my pyjamas in the crisp frost on our balcony, trying cack-handedly to use my SLR camera. I can now manoeuvre my right arm into position so that my fingers can just press the button but holding the camera steady is a challenge. Anyway, this was yesterday’s sunrise. This morning it was wall-to-wall greyness and pouring with rain which, if I was a superstitious person, I’d have taken as an omen…

I had an appointment at the fracture clinic this morning and was convinced that all would be well and that the plaster would come off. It will be six weeks tomorrow that I broke my wrist and six weeks is the average time to heal a break. I was so looking forward to coming home and Washing My Arm. But, no. The orthopaedic consultant said the fracture is healing well but it was a complicated break with lots of bits of bone that need to fuse back together and he doesn’t want to risk removing the plaster too early. It has to stay on for three more weeks. Three!  In my comedy-sketch mind, I threw myself onto the consulting room floor and wailed like a banshee. But in real life, I said ‘Really?! Oh… Ok.’ and sighed and smiled ruefully.

When we got home, David expressed surprise that I was so disappointed. He thinks I’m pragmatic about these things as I usually give a good impression of being prepared for the worst and am sanguine in testing situations. I hadn’t really analysed it before but it is one of the many grown-up disguises. I pretend to be prepared for the worst so I don’t look like a prize idiot when the worst happens. I’m all ‘Of course I knew that would happen so I didn’t get my hopes up’ when on the inside I’m shouting ‘Noooooooo!’ and crying and cursing. It doesn’t lessen the disappointments in life, it just saves face a little and protects others from the full force of raw emotion. It’s the classic swan-like behaviour – all calm and serene on the surface but paddling furiously underneath.  It’s what most of us do, isn’t it?

So, it’s pants and frustrating and disappointing but I will give myself a talking to, regain my sense of perspective and get over it. It is winter, the time for hunkering down; there are always books to read; I am able walk and talk and eat and drink and do plenty of other good things. Oh, and the dog has just been sick on the carpet and, err, sorry (not sorry), I can’t clear it up! I’m feeling better already 🙂

Wishing you a lovely weekend.

PS My next blog post will not mention broken bones. I’m sure you’re as bored of it as I am!


My daughter woke me up at 6.15am sounding much more excited than she usually does at that time of day to tell me we were snowed in. “There’s a load of snow out there, Mum, and it’s still snowing!” Was a snow day on the cards?

Several text messages and pinging on the station run WhatsApp group later, plus constant refreshing of the national rail website to check whether the trains were running, and my two conceded defeat. The trains were running, school was open, it was possible to get to the station in a 4×4 and our neighbour had room to take them in his. Off they trudged, up the path to the gate, rucksacks over their shoulders with a very hard-done-by air. I waved them off, poured myself a large mug of tea and felt relieved that I didn’t have to be anywhere other than here.

It is a pain having a broken wrist and there are things I can’t do but on the upside there are Things I Can’t Do. Like drive. And thorough housework. And anything that requires two steady hands. Luckily I didn’t have any work-work pre-booked in this month (which is good because it’d take me ages) so once the essential household chores are done, I have plenty of time to myself. I can read, watch films and chat to friends and I’ve been doing as much of all three as possible. In addition to the books pictured above, I’ve also read ‘A Man Called Ove’ by Fredrik Backman and ‘A City of Bells’ by Elizabeth Goudge on my Kindle. I’ve been absorbed by them all but if I had to choose my top three, they’d be ‘Someone at a Distance’ (couldn’t put it down), ‘The Music Shop’ (lovely, lovely, lovely) and ‘A Man Called Ove’ (I absolutely loved Ove).

The two cookery books were Christmas gifts. ‘Black Sea’ is a fascinating food/travel book about the countries bordering the sea – Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia and Russia – and contains some delicious recipes like Raspberry Buttermilk Tart and Bedtime Pudding with Tahini Cream (there are plenty of savoury recipes too) and foods new to me, like börek (a Middle-Eastern pie) and bulz (a Romanian savoury doughnut). ‘The Art of the Larder’ has been on my wishlist for a while because I aspire to be someone who can rustle up a magnificent meal from packets, jars and tins when supplies are low. Also I want to save money on our food bills. When I’m back in full cooking action, I’ll definitely be making several of the recipes and I’ll report back. This not being able to cook (or, rather, not being able to cook independently) is probably the most frustrating aspect of being one-handed. I’ve a box of Seville oranges waiting to be made into marmalade and that definitely requires two hands! I don’t think I realised before how much a part of my life cooking has become and I miss it. It’s actually best if I stay out of the kitchen while it’s going on…

On to film recommendations, there are only a few because I’ve watched some seriously average films (on Netflix and Amazon Prime) to distract me from pain and to pass the time. Being irritated by a film can be as distracting as completely loving one, I’ve found! However, I really enjoyed watching ‘The Bookshop’ (starring Emily Mortimer and Bill Nighy), ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ and ‘The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society’.

TV-wise, I’ve been glued to ‘Les Miserables’ on a Sunday evening (isn’t it fabulous and aren’t they all thunderingly miserable?!), am slightly annoyed by ‘Cold Feet’ on a Monday (I think this is probably a series too far), and have discovered Marie Kondo’s magic tidying series on Netflix. I’d like her to come and meet my house and my husband and children and work her magic here.

I am trying not to miss being able to get stuck in to the garden too much. Strolling around to check up on the snowdrop action and to spot where the bulbs are pushing through helps but there are roses and fruit trees to prune, a greenhouse to clear out, seeds to sow… These jobs will wait, though, and it hopefully won’t be long now before I can spend proper time out there. In 10 days it will be six weeks since the accident and I hope the plaster will be taken off. I’ve been doing my finger and arm exercises and eating bone-building food full of calcium, vitamin C and protein to speed things along. Fingers crossed (on my left hand!).

I hope January is going well where you are and that you’re having a good week. Bye for now.




In a Vase on Monday: winter wonder

Having temporarily lost the use of my right hand/arm, I’m adjusting to a much slower pace. The simplest of tasks that you wouldn’t give a second thought to with two fully working hands are much harder and take much longer and it’s hard not feel permanently irritated and frustrated! Determined to start the week off on a positive note and to have a productive day, I went into the garden with my secateurs, carefully snipped one stem of hellebore (winter rose) from a healthy clump growing by the path, put the secateurs down, retrieved the flower stem, picked up the secateurs without squishing the flower… (you get the point!).

I can’t use my  camera at the moment because the controls are on the right (how do left-handed people manage?!) so these pics are from my phone. They are grainy but nevertheless show the beautiful blushing on the petals, the delicate veining and the intricate flower centres. This little vase of winter beauty will keep my spirits up for as long as they last indoors; I seared the stem in a centimetre of boiling water for a few seconds which will hopefully prolong it. The gorgeous flowers should continue to bloom in the garden, though, for at least another month. At the time of year when light levels are generally low, when it’s cold and when it seems an awfully long time until spring, with the added complication of one arm down, I need all the chinks of wonder I can get.

It’s lovely to be joining Cathy and the other Monday vase bloggers with my very simple offering this week. Click on the link to see more floral loveliness.

I hope January has got off to a flying start, that you’re well and you have a lovely week.

PS Thank you for your lovely comments and good wishes on my previous post. Forgive me if I don’t reply to each one individually  – it takes me so flipping long to type!

End of Month View: December and the turning of the year

Hello! I hope you’ve had a very lovely Christmas. Ours was ‘different’. I managed to fracture my right wrist on 22nd December (ice-skating) which pulled me up short and I’ve spent the days since mostly in a fog of painkillers, not being able to do very much at all. The fracture is a tricky one and I have to try to keep my arm raised and as still as possible (but keep wiggling my fingers) if I’m to avoid an operation. Various festive plans were abandoned and I had to resign myself to letting go (which is not easy if you have slight control and perfectionist tendencies!). Then my poor mother-in-law, who was staying with us, succumbed to a nasty flu-like virus on Boxing Day and retired to bed. She’s still not properly better but is recovering. David has coped magnificently with all the catering and general looking-after and the kids have been great (wrapping each other’s gifts, clearing-up, discovering the bus…) and have – I hope – enjoyed an extremely slow, laid-back time. I’ve watched films, read books, eaten too much chocolate and tried not to be grumpy because I’m so incapacitated. It’s certainly made me appreciate my usual independence and I can’t wait to get back to full, two-handed mode!

Anyway, all that explains my absence here – I haven’t been able to get out and cut material for Monday vases, I can’t take photos with my camera and it takes me an age to type with my left hand! Today, though, dawned all bright and sunny and full of that new-year, new beginning, shininess. It filled me with positivity and my lovely daughter agreed to wander in the garden with me and photograph things I pointed at (and a few I didn’t). So, all credit goes to Harriet for the photos and to my kind husband for helping me wash, dress and butter my toast, for fetching and carrying and for ignoring my bad-tempered frustration over the past 10 days. I have resolved to try to make the most of this enforced rest by reading, dreaming and creating and coming up with schemes and plans for the garden and life in general. The days are already getting longer and it won’t be long before the first snowdrops and daffodils appear.

Thank you for joining me here in this little part of the www over the past year, for your comments and likes. It’s been an absolute pleasure and I hope 2019 brings you all you hope for and more. Happy New Year.

PS Thank you to Helen, The Patient Gardener, for hosting gardening bloggers’ End of Month Views.

Why I love Christmas cards

  • I’m addicted to stationery. Always have been. Give me a notebook, a pad of paper or greetings cards and a pen and I’m happy. All that potential, all the possibilities. My favourite childhood toys were my post office and my library stamps. And I always loved a writing set.
  • There are some beautiful cards – sitting down to write them is a pleasure rather than a chore.
  • Remembering the connections I have to the people I send Christmas cards to – childhoods shared, school years survived, journeys taken, workplace friendships forged… It’s important to me to remember them and it’s probably one of the only times of year that I reflect on my past in this way.
  • David’s family and my family are scattered across the country, from the south-west to the north-west and our friends are worldwide. A card is a simple and meaningful way to let them know we’re thinking of them.
  • Christmas stamps!
  • I absolutely love receiving Christmas cards. Recognising the handwriting (handwritten envelopes!) and opening the envelopes. I even love reading the round-robin letters that some people send. I want to know how they are and who’s doing what.
  • Buying cards is great way to support charity – this year, ours are from Alzheimer’s Society, Oxfam and Amnesty International.
  • Cards received can either be recycled or they can be cut up and reused as gift tags. All you need is a hole punch and string or ribbon.
  • Receiving a flurry of post that isn’t bill-related.
  • Each card sent and received is an exchange of thoughtfulness, of love and of remembrance.

I posted our cards today. I even managed to make the deadline for the USA but just missed the one to Australia (sorry Lindsey – it might arrive before 25th!). I’m not quite as organised with the gift-buying, though. That’s next on the list…

Wishing you a lovely mid-December weekend.