Snow days in Spring!

We are snowed in! Our rural village in a Valley makes driving conditions hazardous if not impossible madness. Luckily the long-suffering came home early from London on Wednesday evening his man-flu all the excuse he needed to beat the forecasters warnings of heavy snow.

This morning armed with a ruler he walked out the back door to measure the extent of the recent snowfall before diligently clearing the front path for me the resident hippie. The snow had drifted off the paving slabs last night and the ‘freezing rain’ had landed causing a skating rink effect. The long-suffering showed off his agility as he ice-danced his way to the gate. It turns out he had a depth of 16cm to clear.

Once the pathway was clear we both ventured out on foot to explore this winter wonderland while it lay still, pristine and relatively untouched except for the milkmans cart and a few tracks of hungry wildlife searching for food.


The ground beneath as our feet crashed and crunched down through the thick ice covering the powdery snow below, made for difficult walking. Our feet sinking with every step, we marched rather than walked. Every raise of our feet sent slivers of ice  skimming across the surface the smaller shards tinkling as they went.

Without the benefit of any sunshine, the grey skies and cold winds caused instant wind chill against any exposed skin although for the most part we had it covered. It was left to me to provide the sunshine and contrast against all this white and grey, as a marker/muse for the long-sufferings photographic hobby in my sunshine yellow coat.


and some from me….


Back home Whats App went into overdrive, the first photos – arriving from our son were quite alarming – ‘snow in the loft’ and required an immediate phone call to check all was well!

It was, apparently normal, for an Edwardian house exposed to the elements. My son and daughter-in-law still have a water tight roof just not under the eves if the wind is blowing the wrong way!

The next photos from the renamed family The House at Mole Hall……

formally at ‘The house of two halves’ was a more pleasant perusal. Grandchildren out playing in the deep snow!

IMG_2777IMG_2780IMG_2779IMG_2778The recent snow then, inconvenient for most, but great fun and free entertainment in the great outdoors!


Finally The Muck Heap Decreases!

Last year….at the beginning of November I took delivery of 50 bags of farmyard muck. Bags a novelty for me as previously in our old large garden with its heavy clay soil we only took delivery of huge trailer loads dumped straight from the farm.


We intended to do the same ‘no-dig’ top dressing activity as before only in this garden it would be for different reasons. On our old clay soil it was used to build up over many years a decent depth of workable topsoil leaving the worms to take it to the depths below. This garden is on thin stony soil and in parts underwater after prolonged winter rain from the runoff of the fields at the back. The added muck will do much to feed the soil and add some bulk to hold the water during times of low rainfall.


I am sad to say as I write in this first week of a new year the pile remains, although it has recently lowered sufficiently enough to enable me to hang out the last of our house guests bedding. Many things good and bad have come between me and the muck……..

An infection – one of many health and safety perks of my chosen career. A rose thorn decided to track its way up my arm, I had removed the offending invader with needle and tweezers I thought. Not so, as a few days later after an emergency visit to a doctor, my ‘sorry to bother you its probably nothing’ turned out to be serious needing strong antibiotics and a warning if things did not improve I could end up in hospital! A lesson here for the future then, ignore at your peril! I was out of action in mine and my clients gardens for over a week.


A harrowing and uplifting week in equal measure was spent going through my late mothers belongings. Treasured memories abounded from her most personal of things and many photos of a bygone age. Now in my own home as I sit at her newly installed writing desk – she did not write, by the way, her writing took the form of numbers in the many business ledgers she meticulously kept – I feel she is not so far away and maybe even looking over my shoulder as I write!


Work was busy -new clients, new designs, new challenges – gardens never stand still.

Decorating started in earnest after the muck pile arrived, the long-sufferings excuse not to muck spread in the cold and wet! I was also too busy choosing paint and blind fabric.


And then in the last week of November on a cold, wet night the first of the many house guests from the house of two halves arrived by courier in a crate. After a day of car, air and finally van travel on her own she was beside herself to see a friendly face prompting her usual stress wee all over my boot.

The long suffering and I had previously been out to make sure Lanna ‘mad dog’ had all the creature comforts she could desire. Food, chew bone, snack biscuits and lastly a comfy bed. On this last item there was much debate, It quickly became clear we had in mind a Great Dane and not a medium sized springer spaniel!


Just as I was enjoying having a dog to walk again on bright frosty mornings, the rains came and apart from a brief respite for snow, have not stopped much in subsequent weeks. The fields became a slippery quagmire sucking at my feet as I performed acrobatics just to stay upright although I did once have to submit to a downward dog saving myself from a full body splat at the last minute!


‘Mad Dog’ for her part was oblivious to my exertions so intent was she on running free reunited at last from the dried barren wastelands of Cyprus to the lush green fields and exciting woods of Dorset –  flushing out the hiding pheasants along the way.


Two weeks later, a day late, due to heavy snow the rest of the family from the house of two halves arrived for an extended stay before taking up their new posting – thankfully in this country – in the New Year. Once again our house was transformed….


With them as well as the clutter came sickness bugs, sore throats, colds, nappy rash, teething, but through all of that there was Christmas, fun, food – when tummies allowed – laughter, reflection and eventually new chapters for all.



And the muck heap…….with all the increased – happy – demands on my time it continued to berate me every day I walked out the back door! Must try harder!

Happy Productive New Year to all my readers wherever you are!




Time to take stock and get on with the business of writing!

If you are reading this post as a regular follower, please accept my apologies for the lapse in posts, four months worth to be precise!

I am with almost everything else – except housework – very motivated, organised, conscientious and up to the task in hand be it work or leisure. Not so it would seem the hand of writing!

Blog posts have been started, sidelined, restarted and then left while extra work commitments, family ‘staycation’  – from the house of two halves – long-sufferings mid life crisis and then unexpectedly the death of my wonderful Mother who was always my inspiration for never giving up when I might otherwise have, early on in my recovery.

I shall miss throughout this Autumn not hearing my mother’s regular updates regarding the mess the falling leaves were making in her garden, especially as, and I quote ‘most of the leaves are not even from my own trees!’

As the plants in our own garden and the gardens I tend start to slowly retreat back from their summer exuberance……….

calm is returning.  The sense of urgency to sow, plant, weed, mow, renew and re-design that the onset of spring and summer brings has passed.

There is still much to do of course in ever shortening hours. Daily raking of leaves, bulb/bare root planting, autumn tidy up, design and planting plans for new projects. However, some days now there is a stillness and less frantic pace, time to pause and take stock.

For us the new ‘Project meadow’ has been a success. The steady succession of bulbs and wildflowers in the sparse grass previously a well kept lawn, along with the addition of new prairie borders to the outer edges, kept the show going all summer. Recently it was cut down and more bulbs planted. Next year will be the true test of continued success as I watch and hope everything added this year returns and more besides!

With the dark mornings, evenings drawing in and the distraction of the long suffering gone, as his weekly London commute restarts, the hand that once wrote will attempt to do likewise!


Ne’er cast a clout till May be out!

IMG_1769And so the saying goes, but ….. does it mean The month of May or when the Hawthorn fills its branches with ‘May’ blossom?

It seems on this we mortals are divided, but whatever your preference our ‘May’ Hawthorn blossom is out in all its glory, however I am still wearing scarf and fleece, and if the last two weeks are anything to go by I will not be casting them off any time soon!

For the last six weeks or so summer bedding and vegetable seedlings have been available to purchase alongside the weekly grocery shop as well as the usual horticultural outlets. I wonder how many new enthusiastic gardeners were caught out by the late frosts of a fortnight ago, and then watched as they blackened and died, or sat and sulked becoming slug bait in their weakened state.


I myself got itchy fingers with a cold frame bursting at the seams but luckily common sense prevailed on that occasion.

Instead my attentions went elsewhere in the garden specifically to my outdoor summer-house.  Until a couple of weeks ago it had become a second shed with folding garden chairs/tables, empty plastic plant pots and anything else that never made it back to the actual garden shed!

The idea was to create a calm space to read, write, paint or retreat to when I am either too jiggered to work in my own garden after toiling away in my clients, or long-suffering has his all things sporting day(s) on the TV!


First a complete clear out of items to be stored elsewhere, the remainder sat outside waiting while I brushed and swept, disappearing in a cloud of dust sending any resident spiders heading for cover deep in any vacant nook or cranny.

An old table I up-cycled years ago was to become – with modification – my desk, all I needed was an upright chair to sit on……. Oh the beauty of the internet, at the touch of a button – or two – a second-hand furniture store was located in Dorchester not far from us.

Dorchester Curiosity Centre trading from the Old Bus Depot. An Aladdin’s cave greeted us as we moved from room to room full with furniture, bric-a-brac, collectibles and more. It was easy to lose yourself there for a couple of hours especially with the added temptation of a hot cuppa and glorious home-made cakes to die for!

In the end decisions had to be made and we settled on a painted chair for the desk, a comfy ‘Lloyd loom’ style chair to relax in and an old milking stool to use as a side table.

My ‘haven’ is now complete with gardening, art and writing books/magazines, there is power too extending the hours I can indulge out there!

IMG_1806This last weekend although sunny, was cooled by a chilly breeze, the welcome 12mm of rain did much to perk things up! The Dahlias in the cutting patch have come through the winter and are showing strong – if a little munched – growth, hopefully the late addition of copper rings will help keep invadors at bay! Long-suffering has given my retreat a fresh coat of paint – giving up Saturday afternoon sport fixtures to do so!

The autumn sown onion sett’s planted before our Road Trip have not been a success, appearing to my eye neither strong or prolific, in our reduced plot there is not room for more! Saturday I succumbed although ‘May is not out’ to the planting in the veg plot of runner & french beans, along with nurtured flower seedlings for the cutting patch. The courgettes will be waiting another week yet though!

The fleece is ready should frost threaten although the weather man is predicting rain for the days ahead. Fingers crossed then!

Some new – car boot and bargain basement new – additions to the garden for the toddler – from the house of two halves in Cyprus. Hopefully come August when next she comes to stay pressure on the wooden duck in the border who is almost headless from being continually thrown down the slide will be relieved.

Some May flowers in the garden……….

And a Sunday morning breezy steep coastal walk to keep the hip from getting complacent at West Bay Bridport……..

Where did April Go?

The whirlwind that is our family from the house of two halves in Cyprus have flown back to their home after spending sixteen days living with us. Calm – but not necessarily order – has returned to our humble abode

This past month has flown by in a whirlwind of activity as first we faced the reality of back to work after two months away on the other side of the world, whilst at the same time with the garden in full wake up mode there was jobs to do outside as well as in.

In the midst of all this activity, our sons Wedding Day was fast approaching – eighteen months of planning now only weeks away. Our daughter in Cyprus was to be bridesmaid the reason for their extended stay and our frantic endeavours to prepare the house for a family of six!

Preparations started out in the garage as the long-suffering swung himself monkey style up on the rafters to retrieve stair gates, Jumperoo, collapsible buggy, outdoor slide, toddler car seat and booster seat. Next it was the loft, down came the old  cot, toys, high chair and changing mat.

Through the door over the course of two weeks there followed by courier a steady stream of baby wipes, nappies, fold out mini bed, extra bedding, baby cream, breast pads and much more besides as the long-suffering catered for every eventuality.

Meanwhile I took the recyclable option and toured the local charity shops for toys and books to help keep the little ones entertained!

And like all the best Grandparents entertain we did! Every morning we woke up to read the wheels on the bus or incy wincy spider until we knew them word for word and the actions too.

Breakfast, first the toddler – a surprisingly clean affair, next the baby – totally the opposite – with that mornings offering over her, me and floor! My own breakfast was always a shared affair with toddler finishing hers extra quick to help me with mine. The older two – boy and almost teen – followed down later at intervals boy first with messy hair and teen her ponytail perfectly smooth after hours of repetitive brushing.

The end of the day always finished with the regimental routine of bath-time this used to be long-sufferings time, but now baby in too means back up is needed, we both and baby end up looking like drowned rats as toddler demonstrates her prowess at splashing every one and thing in sight!

I am left to do nappies and pyjamas, a stressful experience as the toddler has hers so tight as to stop leakage and possibly circulation!  The baby now rolls constantly while sucking her toes – her only option as sucking thumbs is frowned on by the parents – causing powder to not always land where directed, still the carpet has a lovely marbled effect now! Story time follows, book of choice Incy Wincy Spider!

The days went by too quick a never ending cycle of daily washing, cooking, working and best of all spending time playing with the young and chilling with the parents when young are in bed! Easter came and went leaving behind a mountain of Easter eggs in its wake.

Plug plants from Sarah Raven –  my guilty secret this year – steadily arrived at intervals in the midst of all this increased activity sending my stress levels through the roof as I secretly potted on the tiny fragile seedlings, so as not to alert the toddler to the delights of water and compost.


And then the big day arrived, our son, ‘the baby’ of the family married his long term girlfriend. The ceremony was conducted and held at Athelhampton House in Dorset, more on this to follow in another post as I write my review!


So here we are in present day ‘the aftermath’……………The washing machine is ready for a rest from the relentless daily offering of all things messy that only babies, toddlers, boys and teens provide. We have given away or are eating the Easter eggs left behind along with half eaten packets of biscuits and wedding cake – bad news for long-sufferings expanding waistline!

We have dismantled equipment now stacked waiting for the return to loft and rafters.  Our lounge once again is a grown up space as is the kitchen without high chairs, bibs, wipes, baby cups and cutlery.

The vases of table flowers so carefully arranged for the big day by the brides father and myself are gradually dying, each day on my return more petals from the ever depleted blooms have fallen until soon they will be no more.


Only now in the eerie quiet of a house without children, we are suddenly both in mourning for the holiday of a lifetime so long in the planning over and gone, grandchildren arriving and then leaving, a wedding excitedly anticipated – bringing family and friends together if only for a weekend.

We will rally, quicker than we think too, already the long-suffering is back enjoying the rectangular box in the corner of the room showing all things sporting.


Me, I will happily retire to tending the garden and endeavour to get back to regular writing again, away from all things sporting!



The Meadow

What a happy homecoming, after eight weeks of travel on the opposite side of the world the garden and I are reunited.


The grassy area at the front that this time last year – when we moved in – was a pristine manicured lawn with knife edged small circular beds under the three trees has now after only a year started its transition into a wild flower meadow.

I could hardly contain my excitement as we drove up the drive, at the sight of the many upright leaves from some of the 300 bulbs lovingly planted in the autumn. The Fritillaria meleagris already in flower, maroon chequered and white heads nodding in the warm sun and gentle breeze.

Leaving long-suffering to the cases I jumped out of the car for a closer look, my delight complete as I noted that there was a healthy representation from all the different bulbs planted – Camassia, Species Tulip ‘Saxatilis’ and Narcissi ‘Actaea’. I stopped short of counting every one but suffice to say at least 70 per cent had come up!

Narcissi poeticus ‘Actaea’ just one in flower but many more I hope over the next few weeks will slowly open imparting their lovely fragrance as I wander through the middle pathway.

It remains to be seen how many of the 150 wild flower plug plants planted last spring, make an appearance.  Some are already to be seen, the rest, well I shall watch and wait fingers crossed!

Meanwhile we left the luggage in the hall as we excitedly toured our ‘estate’ to see what other delights we could find…….

And more…..

Even more

Freedom at it’s Best

Day 27 late afternoon, Arthur’s Pass – The long-sufferings itinerary for our last night in Aramoana saw us driving down a relatively short gravel track, across the Mount White bridge and down to the most idyllic deserted spot alongside the Waimakariri River.

This really was the perfect place, it had it all – mountains, blue rushing river, bridge, open space, views to die for, a special place for our last evening meal – rib-eye steaks, new potatoes and stir fried veggies.


Of course with all this beauty there has to be one fly – literally – in the ointment…..SANDFLIES were EVERYWHERE!

View from our window

But….with a view from our sleeping quarters like this, we could put up with anything!


We wondered if anyone else would arrive to camp at our special out of the way place…luckily for us nobody did!




and Sunrise