Friday, 3 December 2010

Rolypoly Robin

In these cold and snowy days it is very hard for the little birds in our gardens to find food. We always take great pleasure in feeding and watching quite an array of different kinds of feathered friends. We have seen Blue tits, Coal tits, Greenfinches, and Goldfinches. Collared doves and pigeons. Dunnocks and House sparrows, Starlings, Blackbirds and a little Wren. Then of course there is the sweet little Robin.

The cheeky little chappy with the bright red breast, pictured on the top of a milk bottle on a Christmas card. In fact we have discovered that this sweet little chap is maybe quite not so sweet. Having made birdcake with fat and fruit and nuts, we placed them on the feeders along with some streaky bacon. We sat back to watch the birds feed. On the fence sat a Dunnock and a Collared Dove. The little Dunnock is a nervous little bird who spends a long time checking that the coast is clear before hopping onto the feeding tray to fill his tiny tummy.As soon as he lands on the tray he is " bombed" by Mr. Redbreast, who then returns to his perch on the other side of the garden.
The Dove, a much bigger bird flutters over to the tray only to recieve the same treatment. It seems that size doesn't matter to the Robin. He will not allow any other bird to feed at "his" table. He will not share.

We will endeavour to keep our feathered guests fed through the winter, and hopefully the Dove and the little Dunnock can manage to find Mr. Redbreast napping and fill their little tummies in peace.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Good days, bad days.

Today was a good day. I walked round Durham City with Philip. Had lunch in a very pictuesque pub garden and strolled along the riverside in the summer rain.

I remembered all the good things in my life and am thankful for them all.

Tomorrow may be different..... but tomorrow is another day.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Fight the good fight

At times like this I yearn for a quiet place where I can be alone and hide away from the world. In my mind my wardrobe has a corner way, way back where no-one can see into. I long to crawl into that space and just sit. Safe, warm and hidden. Where I can just fade away and not have to fight any more.

Sometimes life is such hard work and I just don't have the energy to go on. Well meaning people will say " what do you have to be depressed about? You have a nice life" And I do. I am not alone or old and infirm. I am not homeless. I am not unloved.

I am one in four (if you believe the official statistics..... I believe it is more like one in two) of people who will suffer some sort of mental health problem in their lifetime. I was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder, what used to be called Manic depression. This may be a controversial thing for me to say but I feel shortchanged because I only get the severe depression and not the manic highs. I'm sorry if that offends anyone, but after watching tv documentaries about people with manic depression I get the impression that the "up" episodes can be envigorating. I have heard manic depressives say that the manic episodes are the only time they feel alive. That is not true for me, when I am not really down I do have a good life.

I know this blackness will pass, it always does. As long as I don't allow myself to shut myself away and become reclusive. I am lucky to have many supportive and empathetic people in my life and am truly grateful for their love and support. I have many resources on which I can draw, if only I can get some motivation. I wish you could buy it at Tesco! I try to surround myself with positive distractions and ride out the bad times.

In good times I am grateful for the down episodes, because without the downs I might not recognise how good the good times are.

Writing this has helped me and I hope it might let others know that they are not alone in suffering. I send positive wishes and thoughts to anyone who is suffering right now.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Shoot that damn dog!

Does anyone want a dog? I certainly don't want it, but it seems to follow me around. I thought I had got rid of it but it keeps finding me. I'm talking about the big black dog that is depression. I really thought I had it sorted but for some reason it keeps rearing it's nasty little head to bite me.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Those pesky wabbits!

So, returning to the allotment after a two week absence, I was dissapointed to see that the beans have not come up at all. Not so much "has beans" as never will be.

We do have some mange tout sprouting but they are looking very sorry for themselves after being nibbled by rabbits. Not entirely eaten away more "manged en peu" than mange tout.

The tomatoes are doing well and look healthy and strong.

Of course we have the potatoes. I am searching for potato recipes!
We decided not to follow the advice of just about everyone we know, I don't want to shoot or snare and eat the bunnies! We have covered the peas with chicken wire to try to deter them, although if they really want them they could easily burrow under. We have also employed someone to keep watch on the veg when we are not there. Philip's son and daughter in law gave him a little scarecrow for Father's day. I hope he works on rabbits too!

There is still so much to do to clear the rest of the land but in this weather it would be just too much like hard work. There are still piles and piles of rocks and bricks to clear before erecting a shed and maybe the greenhouse.
The tree we cut down is still lying in bits in the entrance. We had thought about burning it in situ but thought our neighbour might not be best pleased if his shed caught fire. Then we decided to take it to the local tip.. but the bearings on the trailer have gone and we just cannot afford to get it fixed at this time.

Philip seemed to have lost momentum a little and talked yesterday of giving up the allotment altogether. After all the work we've put in already I was horrified. Luckily he seems to be interested again. He was even talking about taking on the neighbouring patch as the guy appears to be letting it go a bit. That would give me room to have quite a few chickens which sounds good to me. We'll see.

I keep hoping for a real good downpoor, but it just isn't happening. I spent about two hours watering yesterday and the ground looked just as dry and dusty as it did before I started. Is it me or does everyone get so protective over their veg? It's almost a maternal feeling. Ok so it probably is me and I should maybe not admit to that so publicly.

Later today we are taking delivery of a truckload of fresh horse manure so next week will be spent shovelling shit. Oh the joys of gardening!

Friday, 18 June 2010

The "Home" Counties

After a long and very strenuous week working on the allotment, Philip and I travelled South for a week's camping. No not St Tropez. Last year we discovered a lovely little campsite in Tenterdon, Kent. We decided a return visit was on the cards. So, on Monday we set off with the car packed to the roof and the dog sat on my lap. I wouldn't normally travel with Zak in the front, but unfortunately the wheel bearing on the trailer went a couple of days earlier so everything had to go in the car.

The campsite boasts a lovely pond which is home to some of the biggest carp I have ever seen. One of my favourite things to do is to feed the fish, they know you're approaching as soon as you step onto the jetty, and by the time you've reached the end they are working themselves into a frenzy. Their mouths are so large, the food is vacumed up in seconds.

I am originally from Kent but don't know the area well, and anywhere I thought I remembered has changed so much anyway. I did revisit Dungerness, and even though there is a pair of nuclear power stations there, it is a very quaint and original place. Dungerness used to be a thriving fishing community, the fishermen lived in little wooden shacks from where they would sell the daily catch. The place has changed but some of the shacks are still there. The area appears to be a popular place for artists and "crafty" people.

Dungerness is a very picturesque place and has a wonderful "feel" about it.

Philip, Zak and I had wanted to travel on the RHD light railway, I love the smell of steam trains. Unfortunately we missed the train and took the car instead.

Philip excelled himself with his camp cooking. He roasted a chicken in the cobb cooker, made pancakes for breakfast and stirfried pork and peppers in black bean sauce over an open fire.

Whilst strolling along the harbour in Rye, Philip and I fell in love....with a beautiful canadian canoe. Philip stood talking to the boat builder while I ran my hands along the sleek lines of the sublime vessel. Oh yes ..yes.. YES!!!! sorry I forgot where I was.

Philip has asked me to try and control my excitement over baby animals when he is driving. I saw this adorable Shetland foal and frightened the life out of him with my joyful cries, it must have been loud because I did feel a little horse!

Eggs, chips and beans

247..248..249..250!!!!! We did it! We planted 250 potato sets in, possibly the most inhospitable piece of ground in County Durham!

If you have been following my blog you will know that Philip and I have worked very,very hard on preparing the ground on our allotment for planting. We have been totally amazed at the amount of bricks and other debris we've dug up over the last week, and every day we believed there simply could not be any more bricks in the plot. And every day we have excavated more, in fact we could build a shed from them. Nonetheless the spuds are in and will hopefully break up the earth for us and make the next digging over much easier.

After all our hard graft we both felt a little jaded to say the least. We needed a break. We decided to take a week away in the open. A week under canvas was just what the doctor ordered.

On returning home, we couldn't wait to go to the allotment, and lo and behold we have potatoes growing. It is so satisfying to see the first green leaves of potato plants just peeping out of the earth. Spurred on by this we have now planted four varieties of bean and some mange touts. Next to go in will be carrots and beetroot. I know we are planting late in the season but we are hoping for some success.

I cannot wait to get the allotment fenced off so that we can build the coupe and buy some hens. Most of our fellow allotment holders keep chickens and some have given us eggs from them, what a difference in taste!

We may end up being self sufficient some day. Ah the Good Life.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Making beds and raking it in.

So, we had the weekend off from the allotment, but today we hired a rotavator and got stuck in. You won't believe the difference it has made. We had an early start ( well early for us) and have managed to clear a sizable chunk of land for planting.

Unbelievably we unearthed yet more rusty metal and I really think there was an entire village buried there! So many bricks!

Having the allotment is a very social thing, every time we are there we have visits from fellow growers. We have been given lots of things to help us on our way and so much advice. Actually I think we are considered to be quite mad for taking on the plot. They are probably taking odds on how long it will be before we throw up our hands in defeat. Hear this fellow growers..... I will not be beaten!

So, ever the optimists, we have purchased 250 seed potatoes and will be planting them tomorrow. Apparently they will break up the soil and push up the weeds and rubbish from beneath. All hail the common spud!

Another job for tomorrow is to order a load of manure. Now you may find this strange but I am really looking forward to shovelling shit. Apologies for the language but it just doesn't have the same ring if I say shovelling manure.

We have both caught the sun, perhaps a little too much but there you go. I am so looking forward to tomorrow. Lets hope for more sun, but I must remember the sun tan lotion.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Reap what you sow

We recently got ourselves an allotment. I was so excited, i have always wanted to grow my own food. When we started to work our plot we discovered endless pieces of rusty metal and enough bricks to build a house! Maybe that is what the previous gardener was hoping for. Perhaps he thought if he planted the raw materials he might harvest a new build!

The plot actually resembles a building site more than a garden. We have started work on digging over and clearing but I wonder if we have taken on a project that is too big for us. I am not one who gives up on things easily and I am determined to give it a good go. I have worked really hard already and the thought of someone else coming in and reaping the benefits of my labour does not appeal to me.

I think we will have to call in the big guns and hire some machinery to get the place into any sort of shape for planting. I've never used a rotavator but I am looking forward to the experience.

We have already started to plan our crop layout for next year. I would love to become self sufficient and live off the land. This might age me but I always wanted to be Barbara Good from "The Good Life" We even plan to make wine at some time in the future and definately have a few hens.

And I can get fit and tone up whilst working on the allotment. Who needs to spend a fortune on Gym membership!

Watch this space!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Yesterday I was doing the dishes and gazing out the kitchen window, when I noticed a man walking with a dog. Nothing unusual there. But what breed of dog was it? I looked harder as he approached. Suddenly I got a clear vision of the "dog"...... it was in fact, not a dog but a tiny Shetland pony! I could not resist, I rushed out and cried to the poor unsuspecting man "Can I stroke him?" Bless the man , he stopped and allowed this crazy lady to fuss his little pony. I bombarded him with questions...."what kind of pony is he?" "How old is he?" "where do you keep him?" "Is he hard to care for?" He patiently answered all my questions before making his escape. He probably thought I was mad, but I cannot express the pure joy that the experience afforded me.

Of course, now, I really want one!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Wedding plans

The wee folks wedding is nearing
I think I need a new hat
Gary's been tending the garden
and watching out for that cat!

The invites are being posted
The fairy cakes almost cooked
The flowers have been ordered
and the honeymoon has been booked

The fairy princess is nervous
The garden gnome full of joy
When he looks at his beautiful fairy
He knows he's a lucky boy

The toadstools are being positioned
In neat little rows all around
But for me to see things clearly
I'll have to lie on the ground

And so I look forward with pleasure
And hope to see you all there
A wonderful, magical moment
One I can't wait to share.

These are a few of my favourite things

The warmth of the sun on my face
The sound of birds in the spring
To see my little dog playing
A few of my favourite things

Hearing the laugh of a loved one
What happiness that can bring
Time spent with friends and family
A few of my favourite things

Thursday, 22 April 2010

"J" walking

Last week I reached the age of fifty, yes 50! The half century! I am a middle aged woman, a woman of a certain age. Am I bothered? Absolutely not!

My 50th birthday was the perfect excuse to invite lots of people who mean very much to me to gather together and help me celebrate. I decided on a fancy dress party themed "J". The first reaction from friends and family was "why "J"? Becauase J is the first letter of my name, the next was "What on earth can I come as that starts with "J"?" Well it certainly got us all thinking.

On the night I was visited by an array of famous names includung John Bon Jovi, Jackie Onasis and Julius Ceasar. I was honoured to meet for the first time a Canadian lumberjack turned ice hockey star and the lovely Jordan - in duplicate!

I was blown away by the distance friends and family travelled to help me celebrate., and humbled by the huge challenge overcome by two people in particular. I only hope they know just how much it means to me.

I consider myself truly blessed in having such wonderful people in my life. My partner worked so hard to make my party fun and he made me a fantastic birthday cake with 50 candles.

I am a very,very lucky girl!