Sunday, 23 April 2017

Spinning round and round

glorious spring hedgerows; the cow parsley is perfect right now

The consensus round here is that the Easter break has flown by in a flash. And yet how quickly I get used to the no-school routine. I do think that I'll have to work out how to fit in some writing time come the summer holidays though; I've been totally unproductive for the two weeks of Easter. But oh it's been blissful. Blue skies and balmy temperatures.

I've had to go round outside watering things it's been so dry. The children have spent hours at the skatepark, which they only do when it's completely dry. They are a mass of bruises and cuts and scrapes. They need to go back to school to give their knees a chance to heal.

There are three months (ish) until the summer break now, and I really want to make the most of them and find a writing routine. And a direction. There are so many directions I could take I feel as though I'm in the middle spinning round and round and not going anywhere. And it's very easy to lose hours in the day to other things - hanging the washing out, whipping the duster round, knocking up a quick asparagus quiche. I am very easily distracted.

I would like to be one of those people who does so much you don't know how they fit it all in. Instead I am the sort of person who gets to the end of the day and thinks, oh, where did all the time go? Do you have any productivity tips you'd care to share? I'd be very happy to hear them. CJ xx

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Earth Day photo

Inspired by Lynda at Sultana Bun I'm sharing a photo for Earth Day that means 'earth' to me. A spot where mountains reach up above the sea. Man is there, but not too much. Treading lightly. A raven was circling the peak, giving that wonderful gronking call. There were bees on the heather. Up there not much has changed for hundreds of years. The troublesome stuff is further away. There's room to think. I love it.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Gardens and non-gardens and the whole hedgehog thing

gardening on a tiny strip above the river

a close-up - this is right above the river

summer house? whatever it is, I love it

green-veined white butterfly
Photos from a weekend wander in the Cotswolds. Check out the lovely allotments right in front of the church. I shouldn't mind to garden there, it would be very calming I think.

I love all the old clipped hedges and trees against the stone. Gorgeous. We found a tyre swing over the little river which appeared to be held up by a dodgy bit of string. We stuffed the littlest boy into the tyre and swung him out in grand style while the biggest boy yelled, "It's breaking, I can actually hear it breaking." We got him off without incident. I think at least one of our number, who shall remain nameless, would secretly have loved the string to break. The river was only about a foot deep and a couple of feet below, so it wouldn't have been too dramatic, as plunges into rivers go.

I've been looking back at the pictures of houses and lovely gardens and sighing a bit. Our next-door neighbour's garden is a sea of gravel, and over the past few days the people next to him have had their entire rear garden paved as well. There is not so much as a blade of grass left. I have been standing at an upstairs window gazing out at it all. While our garden isn't brilliant, it is still fairly full of wildlife. Together with the neighbours on the other side it is a block of every shade of green. Different trees, shrubs and blooms, a wildlife pond, a couple of nest boxes and birds, birds everywhere. Then there are the other two gardens. My heart aches for it all. No place for wildlife there at all.

To my way of thinking we have a responsibility when we taken on a piece of land, however small, to  care for it and the creatures that depend on it. We can't just take it all for ourselves and leave them with nothing.

To top it all, the middle boy and I found a dead hedgehog on a nearby road yesterday evening. It really rather upset me. The poor hog was no doubt wandering around looking for somewhere nice to be and all he could find was roads and paved areas. Even the better gardens tend to be inaccessible. None of the children have ever seen a live hedgehog, except a rescued one at the Wildlife Festival. And I've only ever seen one, when I was a child. We had a really long garden, and all of the gardens in the street were separated by two strands of wire, one about a foot off the ground and one about a foot above that. Hedgehogs could wander all over the place happy as clams.

We entered our sighting on a couple of websites that record hedgehog numbers ("Log your hog"). They even like to know about dead ones as it gives an idea of how many are out there. Apparently hedgehog numbers have fallen by a third between 2003 and 2012 alone. There were an estimated 36 million in the 1950s, now less than one million. A Guardian article suggests that the decline is due to habitat loss, poor management of hedgerows and fragmentation of habitat due to new roads, housing and other developments. A casualty of the world we are creating.

A final grumble - I discovered that one of the amazing and immaculate plots down at the allotment site is kept that way by frequent and liberal applications of weedkiller. It shattered my illusion I can tell you. So many creatures live down there, feeding from the plots. There's really no need for it.

Anyway, that's it. I shall keep my chin up and keep doing my bit. CJ xx

Sunday, 16 April 2017

A bit of a breeze

It was a bit windy out on the headland the other day. I felt like one of those trees by the end of the afternoon. And my hair was really big.

It blew the cobwebs away though and made it extra delicious to get home.

Easter morning passed in a blur of treasure hunting and chocolate. In the afternoon we went to the Cotswolds for a trot round. I have far too many photos which I shall torture you with another day. When we got home the littlest boy tried to tempt me with pudding but I stood firm.

I'm looking forward to another week of no school. There's nothing spectacular planned, it will just be fairly local things and home things. No rain forecast, which is good on the one hand, but for us gardeners, well, it could all do with a good soaking. The biggest boy and I did our bird survey the other day and the ground had gone from deep mud to hard baked and cracked dust within the space of four weeks.

While we were down by the river, this tall ship sailed by.

She's the Kaskelot, a three-masted barque built in 1948. No doubt very impressive with all the sails up, or whatever the nautical term is.

How was Easter with you? Mucho relaxing I hope.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Spring energy

I can feel a bit of spring energy enthusing me at the moment. The glorious weather has helped, the blossom is looking fantastic and I'm hopeful that the bees are out and about in the dry air getting everything nicely pollinated.

The nest box definitely has great tits nesting in it. We see them pop in from time to time. No babies yet, I guess they are incubating eggs right now though. Oh how lovely it would be to see in. I like to imagine them in there all warm and cosy. The nest box is on a sheltered wall, the rain very rarely heads towards it. No doubt we will see the adults more once they have chicks to feed.

I got the bean sticks up the other day and sowed a couple of runner beans at the foot of each one. It's all under way.

Tomorrow evening I shall be setting out the traditional Easter treasure hunt that the little people like to do. We've already done more Easter hunts than I can shake a stick at. The first one was after school last Friday. A school chum with a couple of fields and an orchard had everyone round to look for chocolate. It was so warm and sunny it felt like summer. Then we did the trail at the wetlands place and we happened upon another one in Waitrose that we did at breakneck speed. Waitrose isn't our normal place to shop, but we were on an errand elsewhere, hence the speed. Everywhere we go people are thrusting chocolate at us.

I'm still being very good and not eating snacks (except fruit) or sweet things (except fruit). Haven't quite reached my target weight yet though... Oh, I'm joking, I don't have a target weight. But I do feel better for avoiding snacks and sugar so maybe I shall continue it for a while. Otherwise I over do it. I don't seem to have a happy medium, I am all or nothing.

I hope everyone has good Easter break. I've already done the traditional bank holiday things - gardening, queuing on the motorway, looking at the sea, eating outside. No doubt there will a little more of the same. And you?