I am not sure where the last month has gone. I know I have been super-busy with work, and with re-writing my book (over two thirds of the way through now!). In the mean time, restrictions are easing and I have enjoyed visiting my sons and seeing some friends, although I need to emerge from my burrow and do more of that. I have not really had the distraction of outside, as half of my garden is currently residing at my parents’ house and the remainder looks a bit sad. We had cleared our yard, as we were expecting our extension to start any day. However, the builder pulled out for good a couple of weeks ago (reasons not clear. He didn’t feel like it? He wasn’t up to it? He couldn’t get it together? You tell me, Brian!). I do wonder if it will ever actually happen. In 30 years time, I might be discovered, Miss Havisham-like, languishing in my unmodernised basement kitchen, surrounded by withered B&Q kitchen catalogues from 2018.
However, other things have been happening to friends and family, which make me realise that bricks and mortar are definitely not the most important thing in life. I decided to make the best of the situation and give the back garden a temporary makeover. At least we would then have a space to sit and enjoy, rather than an empty courtyard. So, I took some spare white masonry paint to the uninspiring 1990s brick walls.
It did not take long to give it a coat or two. Then I washed and swept the slabs, and I had a move around of the plants which are still here. My bay tree, the olive tree, all stalwarts that I could not do without, and which were too large to be moved out anyway.
I have also emptied and refreshed these two old painted wooden crates from last year, lined them with basket liner from Wilko and planted them up with pink marguerites and diascia. There are strawberries in my old planter on legs. Add a few blankets, some new outdoor cushions from Homebase, and a little orange tree from Lidl, and there you go! A place to sit again.
For me, activity – whether it’s making something, drawing a picture, or painting the furniture – is a good way to cope with sad news (I’m not referring to builders here), and disappointments (yes, now I am referring to the builders). When it rained, I turned to an indoor project instead. I had tried to get rid of this old armchair on Facebook market place, as it was in the way, but there were no takers. So I decided to give it an overhaul instead. I dyed the loose cover using a machine wash dye. Never done this before and it was so, so easy, it only cost £8. I absolutely love the result.
Here is the ‘before.’ I had made a previous attempt to dye it but it was a sickly pale pink.
So I turned it into this: full on fuchsia…
Packing quite a punch! I love it. I daubed a quick painting to go with it, but that was only temporary.
I also treated myself to an old tea crate from eBay and had fun styling that up outside too. So, a bit of art and colour therapy did the trick.
Meanwhile, I have been importing a few of my pots back into my own garden. I planted lots of tulips in November, and they have come good in May.
I still love my up cycled pots, and this veronica has settled happily in an old flour tub, which I found for free at our local tip!
I have also been growing some seeds for summer flowers. I have cosmos and zinnias going well at the moment. I recently potted these on and they’ll be planted out as soon as it stops raining long enough for me to get back out there.
More positive news is that all four of my prints are now back from the printer and are they available to buy. Here are two of them. ‘Cutting Garden’ and ‘Allotment.’ They are £22 each, plus £5 postage and packing. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like one. I also have ‘Edible Flowers’ and ‘Coastal Plants’ ready to go. All the prints come on lovely, thick textured watercolour paper, and I hope that they are bright and uplifting.
We have had two family birthdays this month, so two cakes had to be made. A classic chocolate button one and a lemon with semi naked butter icing. It’s lethally good! And for a friend, I have recently made this apricot, almond and lemon traybake with thyme. It is gluten-free, and a really lovely recipe by Xanthe Clay in The Daily Telegraph.
And finally, in cheering-up strategies, I have been out field larking again on fine evenings. This is just mudlarking in the fields of Lincolnshire. I returned to the Victorian midden (or dump) nearby, and had a lovely couple of hours foraging around for old bottles and china shards. I found some very pretty old ink bottles, and fish paste jars. For me, they are fascinating fragments of lives past, and it is a totally absorbing pastime. I was quite inspired by watching Detectorists on iPlayer (if you haven’t seen it, tune in for a gentle and funny watch.)
Now I need to get back to the book. It is taking its new shape quite nicely and when I can get at it, I do really love retreating into my made up world. Hopefully, by the time I next post here, the end will be in sight and I will be almost ready to resubmit it to the publisher. If they don’t like it, well, I will send it out to a few more!
Onwards and upwards…