Rainstorms and sunshine

Before all the heavy rain we had this week I cut back our lavender bushes at the front of the house. Planted as plugs last autumn, this is their first year of flowering and the first time they’ve been cut back. Experts say that hardy lavenders should be cut by mid-August to ensure there’s enough time for the plants to put on some growth before the winter. I was determined to do this properly (we’ve been slapdash in the past and ended up with woody, floppy lavenders), so I read up on what to do – some said cut back to about 20cm, others said to cut back to just above where you can see little nodules of growth on the stems. I’ve done both. I cut about eight plants back hard but that did look very severe, so I cut the rest to approximately 20cm-domes. The smell was amazing and I had to dodge the bees who were still buzzing about. I felt a bit bad about removing their food source, but I didn’t want to leave it much longer and run the risk of leggy lavender. Oh no, not this time. I’m aiming for perfect, healthy, prolific bushes that will last for years…

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I also pulled out all the poppies from the veg patch before they spread seeds everywhere. There were lots of them this year and we let them grow to see what their flowers were like. Not nice, it turned out – a candy pink with yellow centres – so we don’t want them popping up again next year.

I've cut all the self-sown poppies down before they spread their seeds everywhere. I didn't particularly like them – they were a candy pink with yellow centres so don't really want them popping up everywhere again next year.

My goodness, the rain! The wheelbarrow abandoned under the cherry tree is full to the brim with water. Yes, it’s great for the garden but it’s been SO windy and the rain so heavy that it’s flattened the borders in places, knocked off a load of apples and autumn leaves and mostly confined us to the house.

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There was plenty of sunshine inside our house on Wednesday, though. It was my birthday. Quite a big birthday. (Shh, my 50th.) It’s taken me rather by surprise. I didn’t mind 30, or even 40, but 50 is undeniably getting older. Definitely middle-aged. Oh well. I should thank my lucky stars that I have good health, a wonderful family and fabulous friends. I had a thoroughly lovely day, filled with flowers and laughter and went to bed feeling very grateful and happy.

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That’s me with my youngest and eldest. We tend to be difficult to photograph, pulling faces, being silly, and this was the best of the lot!

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Wishing you a very good weekend filled with sunshine (real or imagined) and smiles.


A shark’s armpit


Today it is raining. It has been raining since about 7am. The light levels are low and the rain is very heavy. There is also the occasional rumble of thunder. We can hear water gushing down the drainpipes, battering the extension roof lights and bouncing off the steps outside. The gutters are overflowing. It is quite exciting, awesome even, all this water pouring out of the sky. The sea is a moody green-grey and rippled by the rain. The dark clouds in the sky are as grey as a shark’s armpit. *


*I cannot take the credit for that wonderful simile. I heard it on Radio 4 during a wonderful piece by A.L.Kennedy about August in Scotland. I’ve searched for it on BBC i-player but I can’t find it to link to it for you. Sorry.