24 May 2022

Pink Tutus


these peonies remind me of ballerinas in pink tutus

Dancers in Pink by Edgar Degas

I love this time of year in the garden when everything is starting to grow and burst into flower.  The lupins and foxgloves growing up tall amongst the roses, hostas and ferns unfurling their vivid green leaves.  Everything is looking quite lush at the moment thanks to some regular night time rainfall and daytime sunshine.


 





This evening Paul is at bowls club, Sarah is cycling in the gym, Rick is asleep and I'm watching the Chelsea Flower Show.  Perfect.




15 May 2022

Waste Not Want Not

Earlier this week I made a beef casserole and served it with some puff pastry rounds. I don’t make my own pastry but I had a ready made slab in the freezer. 

I only used half of the slab so this morning I used the other half to make some Pain au Chocolat pastries using a bar of confectioner’s chocolate I found lurking at the back of a cupboard. They turned out quite well, although a bit heavier than I would have liked. We had them warm from the oven with our coffee.  



That left me with half a bar of chocolate. Hmm. I did a quick Google search and found a recipe for fudge using peanut butter and Greek yoghurt. I had half a tub of yoghurt in the fridge (son-in-law Craig likes Greek yoghurt for breakfast) so I had all the ingredients. I have never made fudge before but it was easy to mix all the ingredients together. I now have to wait for 8 hours for it to set. Not sure what it will turn out like but the mixture tasted sublime (yes, I licked the bowl clean!).

I just hate throwing food away.


11 May 2022

Cowbells and a lot of shouting

 

Kat and Craig came up to Lincoln at the weekend to take part in the city’s annual cycling event. Setting off from the city centre they rode 62 miles around the Lincolnshire countryside before returning to tackle the steep hills of the cobbled Cathedral Quarter towards the finishing line in Castle Square.

 


Sarah persuaded Paul and me to form a cheerleading squad.  She was well equipped with her carefully crafted sign and cow bell and as it was a bright sunny day I agreed to go along. This meant driving to certain locations on the circuit in time to cheer Kat and Craig on, no easy task bearing in mind that they were not cycling together.

 

Driving through the Lincolnshire Wolds we eventually arrived at a likely crossroads near Wragby (Weaver will probably know where this is) where an elderly gentleman in a yellow cap was stewarding the junction.  The riders had a choice here of turning right for the long route or straight on for the medium route.  Unfortunately a natural bend to the right confused a lot of the riders who kept missing the sharp right turn.  The steward was doing a lousy job of directing the cyclists.  It wasn’t until he got into his car and drove off that we realised he was just a spectator, not a steward!

 

So we ended up directing the cyclists ourselves while we waited for our guys to cycle through. All of the riders seemed to appreciate the enthusiastic bell clanging and yelling; Sarah has a very loud voice.  After cheering Craig and Kat past this point we abandoned our post and drove cross country to another location.  We missed Craig (he can cycle very fast) but managed to see Kat whizz past, still looking strong and comfortable.

 

keep going Kat!


Now we headed into Lincoln and parked up, ready to be at the Castle Square finishing point. It wasn’t long before Craig came hurtling up the steep cobbled hill of Michaelgate making light work of the steep gradient.  He had completed the course in 3 hours and one minute, coming third.    Eventually Kat appeared and we shouted ourselves hoarse cheering her on up the hill.  She had ridden amazingly well, finishing in 3 hours 39 minutes. 

 

Kat tackling Michaelgate "That cobbled climb hurt!"

 

1 May 2022

Running Away with a Lawn Mower

 

I’ve just picked some lilac from the garden.  When we lived in France my neighbour, Philippe, would always bring me a bunch of lilac at this time of year.  The lilac is the only thing in bloom at the moment apart from the apple trees that are covered in blossom.

 

apple blossom

Paul is currently on light duties after hurting his back so yesterday I decided I would mow the grass.  It was the first time I have tackled the grass since we moved here and I struggled to control the self-propelled lawn mower, it kept running away with me.  Rick wasn’t much help either, dropping his ball in the exact place I was about to cut.  I struggled to manoeuvre the mower around the fruit trees and almost tipped it over along the steep bank but I finished the job, in a fashion. 

 

Rick always keen to help

I just hope Paul gets better soon, the garden needs him!


last year's new border maturing nicely


27 April 2022

Mostly About Rick

 


Rick has just been outside barking at the rooks that were attacking a squirrel in the trees.  Sometimes nature can be hard to witness.  Yesterday I walked into my bedroom and came face to face with a hawk devouring a blackbird right outside my bay window.  I crept away and left him to his meal.  He must have been hungry because there were just a few feathers left after he flew off.  It’s a pity he chose blackbird instead of pigeon from the menu.

 


We’ve had Rick for five years now.  He was about four years old when we adopted him so he’s nine years old now and starting to show his age.  A little more greyness around his face and he moves quite stiffly when he gets up in the morning.  He still races after his tennis ball in the garden but doesn’t demand that it is thrown quite so many times.

 

guarding Sarah's slippers

He loves sitting under Sarah’s desk when she is working or guarding her slippers.

 

Are you sure there's room for two of us on this chair?

He is extremely affectionate and loves to climb up on laps for cuddles.  He won’t accept that perhaps he is a little too big to be a lap dog.

 

25 April 2022

Stairs

 




I am happy to report that I no longer have to climb a ladder to reach the ‘gym’ in our loft room.  Last month our new customised steel staircase finally arrived all the way from Holland.  It’s a hefty beast but fortunately the delivery guys were happy to help Paul carry it into the bungalow and lift it into position.  I’m amazed they managed to get it in without breaking anything.  I wasn’t much help really, just hopping around and squeaking “don’t trip on the step, mind the glass door, mind the paintwork…”


 

The staircase is quite steep – we have plenty of floor space but limited headroom as you climb upwards.  However, it is much easier than using a ladder and it definitely looks more stylish.  I have no excuse now not to visit the pain cave!  Oh, I’ve just remembered, the balustrade isn’t finished yet and I suffer from vertigo…

 

24 April 2022

Unhappy Hound

 


Someone has stolen my chair!  My beautiful red, lookout chair by the window.  Just the right size for me to sit and stare out of the window, ready to terrorise any unsuspecting visitors.  I am really not a happy dog.  Just take a look at what has taken its place….

 


I’m a French Pyrenean Shepherd dog, not a ruddy French Poodle!





22 April 2022

Topsy Turvy

A few days after Kat and Craig returned to the UK after their wedding they hired a van and drove up to Lincolnshire to collect the furniture that we had been storing for the last four years. 

 

red sofas

After they left it looked like we had been burgled!  The stylish red leather sofas in the sitting room had gone, as had the king size bed and bedside cabinets in the guest room.  Rick was bereft, his favourite chair at the window had disappeared.  Paul was delighted to be able to reclaim his garage that had previously been stacked with boxes and a wardrobe.  

The bedroom furniture was quickly and easily replaced but buying new sofas has not been so straightforward.  After a lengthy trawl around the shops we finally found something that met our requirements – stylish but comfortable (must be high backed) and dog proof.  The wait for delivery is several weeks, hopefully towards the end of May, so in the meantime we are using our garden chairs to sit on.  With the chairs grouped in a semi circle facing the television it resembles a sitting room in an old people’s home.

garden chairs

Paul has been happily re-organising his garage.  Sarah probably needs to remind him that a container of furniture will be arriving from Australia later this summer.


19 April 2022

A Danish Wedding

 


“So, me and Craig have been thinking about eloping….!”

 

Kat and Craig have been together for about four years, both stationed at RAF Brize Norton.  Their romance blossomed under the blue skies of Cyprus on Kat’s first posting out there.  Kat first got married when she was 23 years old – a beach wedding in Tobago witnessed by friends and family.  Sadly the marriage did not last but we have happy memories of that holiday/honeymoon in Tobago.

 

“I think it’s a great idea.  What are you going to wear?”

 

With our full blessing Craig and Kat flew to Copenhagen on 12th March and enjoyed a week exploring the cafes and sights of the city on rented bicycles.  At the end of the week they travelled to a private island where they had their wedding ceremony, staying in an exclusive tree house on the edge of Roskilde Fjord.    The photos show a very happy couple!

the wedding celebrant was very tall!

Kat made her own dress from white satin

the tree house had a glass roof so they could see the stars at night




A magical wedding.



18 April 2022

Homecoming

 

When Sarah was home for Christmas I guessed that things were not going too well between her and Chris, her fiancĂ©.  A few weeks after her return to Sydney she announced she was coming back to the UK.  I was so surprised, you could have knocked me down with a feather!

 

She gave notice to her employers, arranged for all her worldly goods to be packed up and shipped to England, and booked a one way ticket home.  Paul collected her from Manchester Airport on 8th March. 

 

Rick waiting for Sarah's homecoming

Sarah has worked for her employers in Sydney’s CBD for over ten years and the company was not prepared to lose her!  Thanks to the magic of modern technology she is able to continue in her publishing and multi-media role working from Lincolnshire.  Currently her office is located in my garden room but at the end of May she will be moving to brand new office space close to Lincoln.  The modern concept of shared working space will hopefully give her the opportunity to meet and interact with other people.

 

In the meantime one half of my precious garden room is given over to a desk, computer and two over-sized monitors.  The other half has been commandeered by Paul with his young plants and some very snazzy lighting to make them grow straight.

 



I have been overjoyed to have my daughter back home but at the same time it has been difficult to witness her sadness and disillusionment.  She had such high hopes and exciting plans when she set off to Australia all those years ago.  But she is strong and determined to maintain her independence in the future.  It is early days and it will take time for her to meet people and make new friends but I know she can build a new, exciting and rewarding life in England.

 

17 April 2022

Daughters

 

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog.  No excuses really but March was a particularly eventful month.

 

Sarah’s three year relationship came to an end and she made the incredibly tough decision to leave Australia and come home to the UK.  She had lived in Australia for 13 years.  I still can’t quite believe she is back.  She is temporarily living with us until she buys her own home in Lincolnshire.

 


Kat is clearly delighted to have her sister back but she also had her own ‘event’ by eloping to Denmark with her boyfriend – they got married in a forest and honeymooned in a tree house.

 


Like I said – an eventful month!



5 February 2022

Cold February

 

There’s not much to write about in February; I tend to hibernate when it’s cold and grey outside.  Earlier in the week I celebrated my birthday by staying at home and drinking Prosecco and eating garlic prawns instead of joining the coffee morning group at the village hall.  That says a lot about me I suppose.

I ventured out yesterday for my weekly dance session.  I have just about mastered the Bossa Nova but I'm not too sure about the new Night Fever routine they want to introduce.  We don't take this dancing too seriously though and we have a lot of laughs.

It’s a bitterly cold day, I think the wind must be coming from the north east.  I literally marched Rick around the village early this morning, not wanting to pause and get cold.




When I got home I immediately set about cleaning the oven.  It’s a job I have been putting off for months because I hate doing it.  I use a sodium hydroxide cleaner that is fearfully corrosive but cleans like magic and means I don’t have to spend ages scrubbing with a brillo pad.  I was very safety conscious and togged up with double rubber gloves and glasses to protect my eyes.

 


The result is very pleasing.  A clean and shiny oven. I might just do a quick Bossa Nova around the kitchen!



30 January 2022

Sunny Sunday

 

Such a beautiful day here after yesterday’s storm.  Blue sky, sunshine and just a murmur of wind. 

 


It’s Sunday so after a quick sprint in the gym I’m having a relaxing day.  Paul has his chef hat on today and is cooking paella for dinner tonight.  We’ve just a gin martini each because I decreed that 11.00 a.m. was cocktail hour .  Rick had a gravy bone biscuit so he wasn't left out.

 


I’ve just spotted the first dwarf iris in bloom among the Nemesia (that has continued to flower all winter), a nice sign that Spring is not far away.

 



29 January 2022

WIndy Day

 

There is a gale blowing outside – two of our loungers have just rolled across the patio, their plastic covers acting as sails!  The wind has got stronger throughout the morning, it was definitely not blowing so much when I took Rick out earlier. 

 


I’ve had a busy morning, I like to get my jobs done before midday.  I mopped the kitchen floor and did some ironing.  I groomed Rick.  I vacuumed the leaves from the tiled passageway outside the kitchen door and mopped the area; it gets very muddy with paw prints.  A pointless exercise today really, another pile of leaves had gathered by the time I came back indoors.

 

I can smell wood smoke, surely no one would have a bonfire in this weather!  More likely someone has lit their wood burning stove.   There was a huge fire in a neighbouring village on Thursday  - 30,000 straw bales went up in smoke apparently caused by some nearby piles of woodchips self combusting.

 

straw bales going up in smoke

Paul is currently climbing a mountain on his bike in the gym.  Kat is also climbing the same mountain in Brize Norton and they are chatting together as they cycle.  The wonders of technology.  Me?  I rode up a volcano yesterday so I'm putting my feet up now.


 P.S.  The fire has re-started in the high winds and the skyline is glowing this evening. 



25 January 2022

Chainsaw Nightmares

 

Every time I heard Paul fire up the chainsaw when we lived in France I used to shudder, fearing that he would sustain some horrible injury.  Of course it was an essential piece of kit at our home in the French countryside and so I became accustomed to its horrible whine.  Needless to say I felt very relieved when there was no room for the old petrol driven chainsaw in the trailer when we moved back to England.

 

Our garden in Lincolnshire is quite modest in size.  The boundary on the northern edge has a line of Poplar trees that have grown up over the years on a strip of land that doesn’t appear to belong to us or the paddock on the other side.  The Poplars are far too high to be tamed but Paul was keen to cut down some smaller trees and undergrowth that were starting to encroach on the garden.  Yep, you guessed it – he needed a new chainsaw!

 

A few days ago I was busy indoors and Paul was outside tidying the garden; it was a cold but wonderfully sunny day.  I stepped outside and was met by this sight…

 


"I'm going to tie this rope around the tree and I need you to pull it towards yourself away from the power lines"

Apparently he didn’t want to worry me so he had quietly proceeded to cut down some trees!  His new battery operated chainsaw is very quiet so I had been oblivious to what he was doing.  Whatever next!



24 January 2022

Another Milestone

 

Next week I reach another of life’s milestones when I become eligible to claim my old age pension.  I’m not sure whether to be depressed by this thought or slightly smug that I have survived long enough to qualify!  I am grateful that I currently enjoy relatively good health and try to maintain this by cycling frantically in the roof gym at least three times a week, daily dog walks and sensible eating.  I’ve actually managed to lose 8 kgs this year and my hips and knees have thanked me for it. 

 


We had a wonderful family Christmas, finally reuniting with Sarah after three long years. Kat was also on leave from the RAF so it was just like old times being together and having fun and laughter.  We had a magnificent Christmas tree in the garden room and the girls did a great job of decorating it (I only had to rearrange two baubles this year!).  I insisted it should stay in situ until after the girls had gone home.  Unfortunately by the time we took it down the tree resin had leaked all over the floor and I spent hours trying to remove the sticky mess from the carpet.

 


January is now very quiet.  Too early to do much in the garden.  I need a new project.