The blossom is out in the park opposite my house and I am so glad to see it. It’s been a cold spring so far, and I am finding these last weeks of lockdown are dragging, but a walk through the trees with their pink and white confetti petals always makes me feel better. My kitchen is packed away for the extension project that has been delayed again, but I have kept out a small box of my treasured pots to display seasonal flowers. I can’t be without some floral decoration.
I ask people to save me their empty syrup and treacle tins, as I love them as small vases or even planters, with some holes punched in the bottom. The tin at the back is very old, it was rescued from a house clearance about 50 years ago and I discovered it in my parents’ garden shed. The classic Tate & Lyle design has not changed.
We have been busy moving the containers from our garden into my parents’ garden, as we had thought that our building work was starting this month. We have now hit a problem, and I am really not sure what the outcome will be, as our builder disputes the design of our building foundations and we seem to have reached an impasse. We had a structural engineer to design said foundations, but it seems this is not enough. It is so disappointing, and we feel powerless. Builders can do exactly what they like. I really wish we had not bought a house that needed work doing to it, as it has been nothing but problem after problem, but hindsight is a wonderful thing (and I do realise that it’s not important in the great scheme of things). I am spending lots of time at my parents’ home anyway, as they have both had quite a few serious health problems recently, and the garden is something we can all take an interest in and work on together, so I’m trying to look at the situation positively.
Painting continues and I have designed this edible flowers poster for my next print. The first two designs, Cutting Garden and Allotment, are currently at the printers, which is exciting. You may notice an ink splodge on this one. I had just finished hand lettering it, when I dropped a spot of water on the paper….fortunately it can be fixed with Photoshop. I don’t use computer design for my work, but I will make an exception in this case! Kind of sums up how life has been going recently!
This week, on my Instagram account, I am doing a giveaway, with a copy of Arthur Parkinson’s fabulous new book, The Flower Yard (Kyle Books, £22). This is a brilliant read. It is aimed at people with genuinely small gardens. As he says in his introduction: “It is a calling out against what is small-garden dysmorphia, where gardens with lawns, sheds and even greenhouses are indeed called small.” Arthur’s plot is literally a 5m long front yard, and he transforms it with pots of richly coloured flowers, in riotously imaginative combinations. His advice is always practical, but I really like his entertaining writing style, and his arch comments. Garden writing needs more of Arthur.
My giveaway includes one of my original paintings, some seeds, my home made garden markers, and a copy of my Zine. Trowel is not included! If you would like to enter, please visit my Insta account.
I will be doing more book reviews here, and that should happen next week. I am very busy with work, and I’m also at the start of my novel rewrite. I sent my completed manuscript off to about 15 publishers and agents just after Christmas. It probably was not the best time to embark on a project which would result in a shedload of rejection 🙂 what with a depressing lockdown and everything else that has been happening here. But nothing ventured….I did indeed get shot down. Some rejections were polite, some brutal, but most importantly, I have had three positive responses. The first was from a hybrid publisher. That’s really one step up from self publishing, and it’s not really a route that I want to take, but it was nice to have my manuscript read and accepted. The second was much more exciting, as I had a reply from a large and well known digital publishing company. They had taken time to read the whole book (mostly agents only ask for the first three chapters), and I received a really constructive two page email saying that they had loved my writing style, and that if I made some revisions, they would like to see it again. I say ‘revisions.’ It’s a pretty massive rewrite. They made lots of helpful suggestions, which includes removing a major subplot. But I am going to give it a try because there was enough in the response to make me feel very positive about it. The third reply was from an agent, who said they would like to see the MS, after I have rewritten it. It is quite a thing to get an agent to even look at a book from an unknown author, so again I took encouragement from her comments.
I foresee some late nights and early mornings ahead of me.
Finally, here’s the Mother’s Day tea box that I delivered to my mum on Mothering Sunday. She loved it, and it’s something that I would do again for someone who needs a treat to cheer them. Lots of cafes are doing doorstep deliveries like this in our area. The beautiful Easter stamps and pretty inks are from Cambridge Imprint, one of my favourite websites for browsing beautiful things. http://www.cambridgeimprint.co.uk I made the scones, lemon cakes, tiffin and sandwiches, but those little macarons came from Lidl.
I hope everyone is doing okay, whatever your circumstances. It has not been an easy time for anyone. Let’s hope we can look ahead to a lighter, brighter spring and summer, seeing friends and family and appreciating our freedoms. I know I will not be taking anything for granted.