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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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From hands on to Hands free!

We are home safe from the icy house of two halves.  With every tear of joy reunion, a waterfall of sadness at leaving must come again. It does not get any easier.  Four months will pass until next we meet and April seems such a long time away.

The older children will not forget us, our faces are almost as familiar to them as those of their parents, even the toddler will not look vaguely upon us as we appear – often as buffering images – on ‘mummy’s’ phone or iPad.  The baby however is a different matter.

For her we have been just two more faces blending together like a field of smiling sunflowers, only those she sees hourly/daily will stay within her mind.  Over two wonderful weeks the bond we have shared has for her already been forgotten, as I write this post.

When next our eyes meet her smile may be wary, without the slow spreading radiance we have lately enjoyed.  Instead of relying on us for support she will likely be sitting unaided, possibly even rolling over from back to front – as we left she was already halfway there!

We are as Grandparents not alone of course in our present situation and luckier than many.  Cyprus is not the other side of the world, taking only one days travelling by car and plane.  Nevertheless the enforced separations only accentuate the speed at which all the Children but especially baby, develop over days rather than weeks.

Last night though, my sadness at leaving was tempered on our arrival back at Heathrow and still further as our onward journey, on a motorway blanketed by thick fog made driving conditions hazardous. I could not but think as we drove slowly along – ever mindful of what may lie in the murkiness ahead – of the families lives torn apart by recent road accidents in conditions just such as these.

Fate dealt me a lucky hand at escaping the carnage of my own crushed vehicle and as the many miles separate us all once more, I feel thankful for the continued time to spend with family and friends.  For some in an instant that has been cruelly taken away.

 

Did I Say Rest?

Currently we are spending time with our Daughter, Son-in-law and Grandchildren out in Cyprus. There are four children in total three girls ages 12, 20 months, 3 months, and one boy of 6, a very bouncy 2 year old springer spaniel completes this exhausting line up!

Our days start with 19 month old toddler arriving in our bed any time from 5am onwards, our daughter – having first fed and settled baby – disappears (in secret) downstairs for a ‘workout’to something called insanity, surely at this ungodly hour insane it is!  Our son-in-law will – if he is lucky while we are here – be in bed on baby watch duty until the day job calls.  The eldest, 12 going on teen is normally still asleep or reading (the latter her favourite pastime) whilst 6 can be found building Lego, playing with action figures or zapping anything that moves or otherwise with his light sabre.

Between seven and eight on a non school day it is breakfast time. Unfortunately to reach the relative warmth of the dining room – if someone has switched the gas heaters on – we all have to brave arctic conditions immediately we step outside our  bedrooms.  Wearing excess layers to keep out the cold I now resemble a ‘bag lady’ in my mismatched layers.

Temperatures in Cyprus at this time of year can be minus overnight. In the day, the sun when it manages to break through the cloud feels warm, however most days after our arrival rain has lashed down creating rushing rivers in the deep gullies that line the roads.

Inside the icebox house of two halves – it was once two, three bedroom semis – cooling fans now sit silent on extra high ceilings, making the too few heaters work that much harder to heat the extra space in the rooms. The sun when it does put in an appearance seems not to penetrate through the windows and walls at all.  We draw straws to decide whose turn to make hot drinks/meals in the icy room that is the kitchen.  Call of nature runs are held off as long as possible, whilst Ice cold tiles underfoot – thank god we packed slippers – render naked toes immobile.

After breakfast, more layers go on for walking the mad springer spaniel.  We depart the house a motley crew on our various modes of transport – pram or hands free sling for baby, trike with added adult control for toddler, push-bike for 6 and scooter for 12.  The four walking adults are split between being pulled along by dog, pushing the pram/trike, racing a bike or scooter, intermittent snails pace walking due to toddler exiting trike along with carrying, picking up when fallen, providing shoulder rides and pooh picking.  Eventually once the slow stop start has tried all our patience we try to persuade the toddler she has tired legs, this rarely ends with a happy outcome, only a rigid, screaming uncomplying body as we try to manoeuvre her back into her trike.  This excursion gets repeated late afternoon too, remember this is the fit outdoorsy family!

We all love Christmas time with the exception of husband/dad/grandad (VM) even though he is in the house of children and all things Christmassy he continues his relentless, mostly tongue in cheek Bah Humbug routine. Frowning, mumbling throughout the day whenever things go off plan as often they do!  So far he has cut his lip on a bacon buttie, making more fuss than the youngest child – the pouting went on for the whole day! The toddler while having a tantrum at ungodly hour knocked tea all over his slippers causing another day of moaning about cold feet as said slippers slowly dried out elsewhere. Water knocked over by the man himself narrowly missed his myriad of tech gadgets laying on the floor below. On the rare occasion he does nappy duty the floor resembles a battlefield and we have to send out for more supplies of baby wipes. Keeping up with the fit family he has found himself a running partner and although secretly enjoying being pushed physically to greater distances, we are all on his return suffering the consequences ‘I need to rest, my calves/quads are aching’.

I have decided my wrist will not be resting any time soon in Cyprus. How can I not pick up and cuddle our beautiful new baby Grandaughter who amongst all the hullabaloo that continually goes on around her is calm, serene and generally so good natured as to sometimes be forgotten.  Our animated, funny toddler loves to be picked up to sit on my lap and listen to her many storybooks or being bounced frantically up and down on my lap singing ‘half a pound of tuppenny rice’ and then disappearing between my knees as we ‘Pop goes the Weasel’ evoking chuckles galore.

With 12 and 6 there has been in the making a gingerbread house, seventy-two mince pies – including twenty-four special gluten-free for our daughter – and an elaborate lattice mince pie to use up the leftovers.  All the rubbing in, kneading, rolling and squeezing of thick icing through icing bags has, even with the excellent help taken its toll on my poor wrist.

The good news is although my wrist/hand is not improving my new hip parts are working particularly well with still not a clunk, click in sight!  Lots of walking with mad dog and without, along promenades by the sea.  Swimming in the local pool – a necessity just for the warm comfort of the changing rooms – floor workouts playing with the toddler and baby – toddler is well trained in providing a comfy cushion for  ‘Nannas’ accident battered knees and hip against the cold hard floors.  Climbing up and on or below and under a cabin bed to read 6 his bedtime story is a particular highlight, giving me hope that eventually mountains will be within my grasp.

To be able to do all these things and more fills me with so much joy.  I may never be able to run alongside holding hands or roly-poly with abandon down grassy slopes and hills, nevertheless the many things I can still do, thanks to technical advances and a skilful surgeon I will be forever grateful for.