Into the blue

Ladybird on bluebell photo courtesy of my daughter ūüôā

No, this is not a comment on the local election results. This blog will be a politics-free zone for the next five weeks (and possibly longer).¬†It’s just Too Much (if I hear ‘strong and stable’¬†again I might have to throw the radio into the sea)…

Hey, how about some lovely bluebells instead?! These photographs are from last Saturday and a¬†walk in a nearby ancient wood. It is full of bluebells at this time of year (and people¬†doing the obligatory ‘in among the bluebells’ photoshoots). We were lucky with the weather and¬†we almost had the woods to ourselves to¬†soak up¬†the atmosphere. There is nothing quite like it ‚Äď dappled sunlight through the trees onto a sea¬†of blue (purple) flowers, rich birdsong, woodpeckers drumming, bees¬†buzzing, the sweet scent of the flowers… We took deep breaths and heaved deep, happy sighs¬†‚Äď it was wonderful.

I drove over to East Grinstead yesterday evening to hear Steve Biddulph (of the books ‘Raising Boys’, ‘Raising Girls’, and ‘The Complete Secrets of Happy Children’ fame) give a talk about girls’ mental health and raising daughters well. It was pretty powerful stuff. It seems that since companies started marketing to¬†girls as young as 8 years old, there has been an increase in girls suffering from anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm and so on. Of course, there are many other factors and it’s not nearly so simple but¬†his assertion¬†is¬†that ‘the media’ (advertising, music videos, tv shows, films) teaches girls that looks are their most important aspect, that their body will never be good enough, that sex is something to be¬†traded for belonging and/or power and other depressing stuff.

He wanted us to leave the theatre angry (in a good way), to be fired up, a vanguard for the third wave of feminism and he did a pretty good job! He’s written a book (of course) called ’10 Things Girls Need Most’ to help parents help their daughters and it has some hugely sound suggestions. I’m not going to¬†give you a full review as I haven’t finished reading it¬†but if you have a daughter, it’s definitely worth a look.

Do you have exciting weekend plans? I hope it’s going to be fairly quiet here¬†as¬†I’ve got a load of seedlings to pot on and some more seeds to sow, and more digging to prepare another area for planting. It’s seven weeks (seven weeks!) until the village Garden Safari. Yikes.

Have a good one.


In a Vase on Monday: Hopeful

It’s lovely¬†to be joining in again with Cathy’s gathering of Monday vases after missing a few. I do so love a good faff with flowers. This week, I’ve picked and plonked three ‘Queen of Night’ tulips, some bluebells (from my garden, not the woods!), forget-me-nots, Cerinthe major, aquilegia and a few tendrils of honeysuckle foliage.

The garden is as dry as a bone, the soil dusty. We haven’t had any rain to speak of for weeks now.¬†We’ve had to use the hosepipe to water all the¬†newly planted trees, something we try to avoid doing as our water bills are extortionate; I’ve even been saving¬†any leftover drinking water to pour on those plants lucky to be near the back door. There were promising-looking dark grey clouds (that’s not a phrase you hear very often!) earlier but they passed by without shedding a drop. There are showers forecast for this evening so I have my fingers crossed.

Happily, many of our plants are toughing it out and we’ve not been short of April flowers. The daffodils are almost over with just a few multi-headed white ones still looking good (although their top-heavy stems are lolling about, through lack of moisture¬†I reckon). The tulips planted in pots are almost over, while those planted in beds are hanging in there. There are plenty of self-seeded Cerinthe, marigolds¬†and forget-me-nots, and the aquilegias are starting to bloom. The bottom of the garden is covered in bluebells which is amazing considering we¬†were¬†stomping all over it a month ago, clearing pernicious¬†weeds and planting pencil-thin Himalayan birch whips. One day, several years from now, there will be a sinuous river of graceful white birches down there in a carpet of¬†bluebells and other delights.

I’ve mentioned my love of tulips many times and how I’d love to have so many in the garden that I can pick armfuls to bring indoors. Well, I’m a little way off that but I have been picking handfuls for the past few weeks ‚Äď here’s one I picked last week, still looking good in the lounge. It is immensely satisfying to grow your own flowers to pick and bring inside¬†‚Äď a fairly¬†simple task with a massively pleasing¬†reward.

Cathy is also showcasing tulips this week. Do go and see, and have a look at some of the many other wonderful vases of flowers from around the world.

Thank you for visiting and commenting. It’s been a bit full-on round here recently and I’m behind with responding to comments¬†and blog-reading (sorry), plus the ironing and much more! I hope you have¬†a good week.

The leaning tower of ironing…

Bank holiday, bluebells and baking

Since David has been working away from home during the week,¬†weekends have had a slight¬†air¬†of urgency-bordering-on-frantic-rush about them. There is so much to fit in that we’re often frazzled, with little time left over for relaxed conversations, making plans or¬†spending time together (forget ‘quality’ time, just¬†time),¬†so a bank holiday weekend is¬†a treat. We can luxuriate in an extra day¬†‚Äď time for a relaxed¬†coffee and chat together, for long family meals, for a dog walk together, and wandering¬†around the garden and pottering. Today is a grey and drizzly day but I don’t care; Saturday and Sunday were gloriously sunny and we spent plenty of time outdoors. Frankly it’s nice to have an excuse not to be in the garden digging out stumps and lugging rocks around, which is what we had planned to do today. I’m glad to have a rest.

There’s an ancient wood near here which is full of bluebells and wood anemones at this time of year. It’s a magical place to visit (even when there are no bluebells) and is a favourite place of ours. We walked the dog there yesterday morning ‚Äď the sunlight filtered through the branches, birdsong was all around and the smell was divine. Breathing¬†big lungfuls of spring air, scented by¬†spring flowers, surrounded by glorious nature ‚Äď there is nothing quite like it.¬†Sorry if you’re fed up of seeing photos of bluebells; I’ve seen quite a few on other blogs and on Instagram but I never tire of them.

I also made¬†time to do a little¬†baking in honour of the long weekend; I love to bake¬†but have to be¬†in the mood. I made Nigella’s Victoria Sponge (from How to Eat) but substituted 30g best cocoa powder for 30g of the flour, thus making it into chocolate cake, and added¬†a simple choc fudge icing. It got a big thumbs-up from the boys. The stars for me, though, were¬†the Rhubarb and Lemon Scones I made¬†to use up the¬†few stalks of rhubarb pulled on Saturday (recipe from¬†this blog¬†which sadly seems to have disappeared). I doubled the quantities given and can vouch for their more-ishness.

Thank you so much for your kind comments about my girl’s knee situation¬†‚Äď it¬†is getting¬†better and she’s off the crutches; I’m sure she’ll be dancing and trying out her pointe¬†shoes in the next week or so. As for football, she’s determined that she’ll carry on. Family life… Gosh, it¬†has it’s ups and downs, doesn’t it? I’m¬†struggling a bit with how best to deal with my eldest at the moment. His GCSEs start in under¬†three weeks and I keep walking into rooms to¬†find him sprawled out¬†and on¬†his phone, or taking him a mug of tea when I think he’s hard at work only to find¬†he’s gone back to bed. It’s so exasperating! I know I’ve banged on about this before… He is doing some work but he’s taking an enormously relaxed approach to the whole thing. He tells¬†me there’s no use¬†in him revising for pointless¬†exams because the world could end tomorrow (hmm), or he tells me¬†how stupid¬†it is to make 16-year-olds do exams and the government is crazy and the system is bonkers (he could have a point). Sigh. All I want is for him to do himself justice so he’ll have as¬†much choice as possible in the future. I wonder what to do for the best but, for now, I’ve decided to back off.¬†I know things¬†could be a lot worse.

My¬†boy is still inside this crotchety 16-year-old, though. Last week he called me into the kitchen where both cats were¬†in a stand-off. One of them had brought in a very cute mouse, I’m fairly sure it was a field mouse, which was sitting statue-like between them, not moving a whisker. We managed to shoo the cats outside and get the mouse into a box ‚Äď I think the poor thing was stunned with fright but it wasn’t obviously injured. He carried¬†it carefully down the road to¬†let it loose in the¬†field¬†and came home to¬†report that he’d waited to see that the mouse was ok and watched until¬†it had scurried off into the undergrowth. That is my boy.



In a Vase on Monday: Grey day Flowers

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I’m not usually drawn to pastel-coloured¬†flowers¬†and I’m not a huge fan of yellow ones but¬†I discovered¬†these¬†yellow tulips in the bluebell patch at the bottom of the garden, and big clumps of¬†primroses down there are still flowering their socks off. The blue/violet and yellow seemed a little lacking on their own, so I added a couple of sprigs of a pink scented pelargonium that¬†have¬†been flowering for a couple of weeks now in another vase.

There’s a heavy blanket of cloud sitting over East Kent today (it¬†feels like it could start bucketing down at any moment)¬†and¬†low light levels, so even in my usually bright kitchen photographing the vase was tricky and¬†I hope¬†I’ve captured the delicate colours.

As usual, I’m joining in with Cathy at Rambling in the Garden (who has sweet peas today!) where you’ll find links to loads of lovely¬†vases from around the world.

Have a good week.