Friday 31 December 2010

Goodbye, Farewell....

What a year it has been. Looking back over it via the BBC news I am shocked to see just how many big stories there were I had forgotten and then the 'worst' Winter since records began. Still it's been memorable for many other reasons, personal reasons;  all of you will have very different versions of the same 12 months- I sincerely hope that for you, dear reader, you can look back on the year with some fondness, with lessons learnt and memories to cherish.

For me it has been jam packed. It started with a marriage where I finally got my dream of being a Bridesmaid (love to you A and D). We moved into Mamma G's for 9 months ('thank you' is never going to a big enough word) and watched our new home take form. I opened up an Etsy shop and started to sell my personal view of the world and have made some beautiful new friends along the way. I retreated somewhat and became a little more depressed and anxious, not even going to the Allotment about which this blog is supposed to be about. We moved into the new house, with new hopes and dreams that are slowly showing themselves to be achievable with time and effort. Two healthy babies were born into our close-friend circle. And then it ended with my new psychologist telling me that talking therapy was doing me more harm than good ~ my therapy is to be writing, photography, blogging, yoga, enjoying the beauty of Nature and simply (easier written than done!) being Me. Which brings me right back to you again :)

My 2010 will be primarily remembered for the joy of a new home with my Hubby. But I could not have got to this last evening without YOU. You have supported me, encouraged me, shared your lives with me and generally been little internet guardians, gently nudging me forwards whilst showing me that where I am in life is where I am meant to be. I can not thank you enough, I don't know how. So a simple but very humble bow of the head, hand to the heart and 'Namaste'.

May the next year be a continuation of growth, of joyfulness and good health in your path through life; may it also be the same for me.

P.S. Andrew, you are my

(I'm glad you took me to the lottie today and we worked together, tending to our land with love and hope)

Thursday 23 December 2010

Merry Christmas one and all

In a fit of insomniac induced madness I am up at the ungodly hour of 4.30am on the blasted internet, having just coloured my hair (which took and hour in itself). I just haven't been well of late and my sleeping patterns are all over the place which really isn't helping and is in fact making me feel much worse - not only mentally but my double vision is just unbearable when I am tired.
So why do I come here? I have no interesting news other than my hair is now 'maghonaghy/dark auburn' and the house is freezing. I come here to write my last post before Christmas. I need a break, time to myself, time to try my darnest to cope with Christmas, get through it, enjoy it?? and see you all on the other side.

I've been too ill mentally to even see my friends and so I continue the legacy of finding this time of year the worst to deal with. I can only fake so many smiles before I crumble and each day feels like a marathon.
So my darlings.. here is my 'Christmas Card' to you; may you all have a joyful, peaceful Christmas holiday and come out on Boxing Day with your sanity intact ;)

Wednesday 22 December 2010


Saw this on BBC news this morning - cute...
The chinese tourist industry wants help to change the translations at their most touristy sites but I love them the way they are!!!

Photo rights are those of Chris Drew Here's some more - fun and cute - way change them?? :)

Saturday 18 December 2010

A taste of summer in the depths of all this snow

So Andrew and Maggie were just 'talking' there about how they want it to snow more, hahaha. It's been snowing most of the day and we have had a mighty 3 inches (maybe only 2 but I want this to sound dramatic) - N. Ireland is in the grips of the biggest freeze in 25 yrs and if it continues in the same fashion over the rest of the month, one of our weathermen said it would be the coldest since records began (1910) wow!

So what is there to love about all this coldness apart from looking at the snow from the cosiness of the living room wrapped up in my blanket? I would really to prefer it to go away, it's pretty dull feeling stuck in the house at the weekend. However, I am loving this weather for one reason, one reason only - FOOD. Our squash, parsnips and scorzenera are seeing me through these dark, cold, dreary days when really all I want to do is go back to bed as soon as breakfast is over.

This utter beauty lasted us 3 weeks and goodness knows how many tasty dinner accompaniments. It was so sweet and we always roast ours - it makes it even better :) It has the fun name of  'Chioggia'.

The parsnips are amazing this year - HUGE and the extra cold = extra sweetness; they are so good that Andrew can barely get them out of the ground without them breaking in half. Okay the ground is dead hard but it's also because us Gaults have 'the gift' - it's fact - we grow good parsnips ;) No pictures as I don't want to make you so jealous that you come and find my lottie and steal them all, I'd understand why you did it but it would make be very sad and we wouldn't want that, would we.

A new and super exciting root veg grown this year was Scorzenera - yes, say it again, don't you sound posh!?? It's basically a black, long root that when you dig it up and peel it, cook it and stick it on a fork and into your mouth, tastes like parsnip! only not so parsnip-y. Yum

But last week I had a brainwave - granted, it does not take long for a wave to pass through my humble empty noggin but I think I hit upon a moment of shear genius - getting a jar of Lottie Strawberry Jam out of the cupboard and tasting a little of that sweet summer goodness. It has been a joy, I only allow myself a little every now and then to stretch the affair out but it is so worth it. :) What is a scone without a little teaspoonful of strawberry happiness ??? A sad scone - that's what.

Food = happiness in the winter :)

Friday 17 December 2010

GardenMama Rocks!

That is all I have to say at the moment - Nicole at GardenMama totally Rocks!! I heartily suggest a visit ~
You never know, you may see someone there you know and you may just get invited into a giveaway. That's all I'm saying ;)

Hugs xxxx

Wednesday 15 December 2010


The hinges are going to snap on my laptop someday or maybe it'll protest at me by just staying firmly shut ~ i have been on and off the internet, well, over a dozen times today trying to find comfort, trying to connect...each time i snap it shut, angry that no one has written something for me at a time of need, angry at my utter loneliness, angry that this is where I turn to for help,  angry....

So instead I write - for me, for you if you too are having one of those days where you just can't think straight, were there are too many things going on in your head at once, were there is a bloomin' big cement mixer truck outside your house driving you mad with it's noise and the fact that now it's leaving, there is a huge delivery truck coming up this tiny street to take it's place.
Did you know i literally live in Eden?  I also have a copy of the book 'Paradise' (by Toni Morrison) on  my stunning up-cycled coffee table; when I went to turn the heating off there I heard bird song over the builders generator and saw a few indistinct fellows flying way up high in the sky - where were they going? I came back in here, tickled a sleeping Maggie on the way past and looked at my Christmas tree and the space on the sofa that Andrew should be in (if I had my way). Wrapped up in my favourite blanket Andrew calls me and tells me about his day at work so far and I go on a little walk with him in Belfast as he danders over to the photography shop where I get my prints done. He can tell I'm really ill and is going to try and finish up at the office a little early - just having him near me will really help (though I didn't tell him that - I was all, 'no, no I'm okay..').

I fell asleep in the end reading, I had decided this was a load of stupidity and it wasn't fair using my blog to dump my problems on the world. I have half of another post started - actually grow our own food related :) I'll try and post it later with photos, once I've had something to eat, spoken to Andrew in the flesh and hopefully wised up a bit. But again I am going to press that publish button because for me, selfish though it is, I need to speak out, I need to share my pain in order to lessen it, I need to feel like I'm here too - not always forgotten in the corner as I feel I deserve. I need to turn that anger into something else....

Hell, in the end at least there's a delete button.

Thursday 9 December 2010

A shiny new Gardening book what I love :)

A while back when we were firmly ensconced at Mamma G's house I was very fortunate to receive a copy of a new gardening book, way before it's publication here. Asked for my humble opinion of the tome in return for a copy to keep, I said 'well, count me in, my good man!' Only today did I learn that this very publication has been released early (not like a crazy criminal more like a happy gift onto the world) and thus my review must be posted forthwith :)

Soil Mates is a delightful book even just to look at and hold. The cover has a lovely texture that feels just like the soft burlap it intimates, the paper is thick and the stunning layout on alternating red, yellow and green pages is lovely. Never mind the beautiful full page illustrations (over 20) that make you to tear the book apart so you can frame them (note to self - maybe I should do that and then buy another copy to actually use as a reference).

This is a book that is more about sharing knowledge than talking down to you.The intimate and fun style is infectious; we're talking about Matchmaking not merely of 'companion planting'. There are 20 'Love Matches' with detail about how and where to plant the seeds/seedlings, giving space for each plant, a fab table with all their foibles - their 'turn ons', 'turn offs' how 'needy' they are, any 'stalkers' and  the drama of 'love triangles'. It is written like a mother dropping the children off for a sleep over, ahaha.

In fact, though it does teach us and teaches well I think, it proves that veggie gardening is not just for stuffy people but those who love a giggle as much as the next person, and darn it, it helps me to remember facts when I think of how ' Beet - with her bright disposition and cheery colour - just lets Mint roam. She knows he'll always be there when she needs him'. To use a modern term - this is a book about' friends with benefits' *blush* Plus as we all know organic is the way to go, and this book is all about the organic. It is easy to see that it is written by a fellow lottie holder who has an appreciation for the best in horticulture, the best for the kitchen table.

But not only is there info on the matches, the foibles and details on the veggies (their healthy goodness and how to grow them) but there are recipes. Easy recipes that you will want to try, with the main ingredients being the lovers themselves and a whole load of other things you'll either have to hand already or have no trouble getting at the supermarket. For once I am sitting with a gardening book that makes me want to grow and cook (I don't cook - ever).
The last section is maybe more what we are used to in our usual gardening books. Lists of family names, who belongs where, what temperature is best for germination, crop rotation, and what soil each veggie prefers etc. But even here, the fun element comes into play; compost and manure (which all allotmenteers have a dubious lust for) are called 'aphrodisics', working that soil is 'bed making and TLC' then we keep the 'stalkers' at bay and welcome the nice helpful insects. Don't get me wrong, the light-hearted style belies sound knowledge essential for the first timer and equally helpful for anyone (everyone) who needs a little refresher.

You  know I didn't want to love this book so much - I sound so sycophantic and I don't generally do things like this. My blog is about my thoughts and my allotment and my mental health etc. But I love this book and think it would make for a fabulous Christmas present or indeed a gift for yourself once the mayhem of looking after everyone else's needs is over (ie Boxing day). 128 pages all for you to curl up with and eat the last of the chocolates and mince pies - you know you deserve it :)

'Soil Mates' is written by Sarah Alway and is published by Quirk Books.
Amazon link - here

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Of life and death

It's a human affliction to know of our own impending end, to realise that this life is only for a short while. I shouldn't dwell but somehow the winter months are all about death for me; the death of plants, the darkness of the sky so early, people getting ill, the lack of energy due to less vitamin D (from the sunlight) in our bodies.
We celebrate the end of the year by rejoicing, drinking, spending too much money and gaily decorating our houses but have you ever taken the time to think of the amount of suicide, the loneliness and the many people who take this time to look over the past year and see just exactly what they have not achieved, not experienced, lost.
It's a common thought - 'I should have done... I ought to'... what are you putting it off for?, why would you keep that outfit 'for best'?,  doesn't he/she know you love them?
What if tomorrow never came?.
What of all those empty chairs in your house right now, look around you; are you alone?, are you with the people you want to be with?, doing what you want to do? - NO you are not, or why would you be sitting in front of an inanimate object that feels like your best friend in the world reading the words of someone you don't even know.
I know I am in a downer, I am a chronic depressive, but I share the thoughts in order to make you see, to make you have to think about that which we all put off. What is the point of your life?, what have you brought to the world?, how will you be remembered? who will come to you funeral?

Love, create, be passionate, learn, listen, read, compliment, try everything, travel and above all share your experiences and be there for others. Never be anyone but yourself - you are enough!! (If only I could believe my own words........)
Why dear god do I need the approval of others to feel like life is worth living? Help me out here - do you ever feel the same?

Scared to publish this but I shall press that button in 10 seconds..

Friday 3 December 2010

My olibigatory 'It's been snowing!' blogette

Yes, it snowed, make that snew (a better word I think), last night and all morning today -hurrah sort of. I mean it's darned pretty you can't deny that, anything that covers over all the dirt and makes things clean and sparkly always goes down well with me but I don't have that same kiddie feeling of, oh let's have a snowball fight or try to sledge, no I am old now :(.  Now I think, crap how much gas am I going to use up heating this house today?, is Andrew okay on those roads?, what about Mamma G?? In general, I adore snow ~ in pictures, from a plane (I have seen Everest from above!!!) on Christmas cards etc but put it outside my door and I get a bit peeved. I have trouble enough walking about with the old double vision without contending with slippery surfaces and everything looking the same - sheesh!

But what does make me super happy is Maggie + the snow. Everytime it falls, it's like the first time she has ever seen it - here she is going out for a quick pee. Runs over and pees then runs back but stops, does a circle, stares at ground, turns round, stares up at me and then the rest of the photos are a total blur as she went crazy running back and forth. Oh I love her - she cracks me up.

I also adore the shape of snowflakes -
here is one I made last week
and here is my favourite ever, sent from Canada by the ever adorable Joy as part of our moving in/Christmas pressie (hugs to you Joy!) How it sparkles! I adore it! This was taken this morning but now, by candle light it is even nicer :)
So no Lottie news as usual, haven't been in ages now, what with the weather and my feeling mentally ill lots. But look what we're eating tonight - one of our own pumpkins :) I can't wait and ooops, in fact it's go.
Love as always, stay warm xxx

Friday 26 November 2010

Thank you Nature

I am not religious, but I came across this Jewish song today and by replacing the words Lord and God with that of Nature it became so beautiful and as I read it my heart swole even in this day of hailstones and freezing winds. Nature leads us through these inhospitable times in order to show her beauty, power and prescence and in order to make the sweet spring all the more uplifting.

'I will extol Thee, O Nature, for Thou hast drawn me up, and have not allowed my foes to rejoice over me. O Nature, I cried out to Thee and Thou didst heal me. O Nature, Thou raised my soul from the grave, Thou kept me alive that I should not descend into the pit.'

At these times of poor weather, of cold and hard ground, this period were I can not be in touch with Nature She still gives me strength. My Depression is utterly woeful but I look to my photographs and try to remember the joy of seedlings, of much colour and fragrance and rich bounty from the soil. May you do the same.

My warmest wishes to you  all xxx

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Excerpt from my Dublin diary...

This has nothing to do with allotments, with buying seed or even thinking about garden design. However I have always wanted Grow Our Own to be about growth, growth of every kind and particualrily personal growth, also, I just wanted to share with you a bit from my wee trip to Dublin over the past 2 days.....

Dublin Nov '10

A melting pot, a cauldron of people, ideas, passions and fun - bag loads of fun. You come to Ireland, North or South and you will never be stuck for a conversation. Go into a bar, one that seems dark, old, dirty even and you walk into another world. Forget wanting everybody knowing your name - this is a place where a stranger is a friend you just haven't met yet. Honestly. There may be differences (political, religious, ideological) but damn it, that can be overlooked over the rim of a pint glass and for the duration of your stay you're with family. Better than that, you are with mates.

Craic can be summed up in 5mins of being in a good bar. Relaxed chat over nothing, nothing important, becomes the most pressing issue. Find something, a common ground of any sort and the relaxed (and sometimes passionate, beautifully passionate) talk and camaraderie flows - like the beer.

Sit alone and you are never alone. Conversations that you can't quite catch envelope you and the occasional burst of laughter, it all equals a comfort blanket where you are safe. You are Home.

I enoyed my time in Dublin and spent a good few hours alone when I just wrote and wrote in my trusty Moleskine. The weather was foul, utterly miserable and I have sore feet today but looking back at my little scribblings and the few photos I did manage to take, I know it won't be too long before I'm back there :)

Here is a vaguely gardeny, 'grow your own veg' related photo - barley (at the Gunniness Factory; but don't worry I didn't sully the next batch of the Black Stuff, this was for tourists to touch!) - see I do think of you when I am away xxxx

Friday 19 November 2010

A beautiful Autumn day

I have been so busy this week, you simply must forgive me ;) I have my very 1st craft fair tomorrow, or rather, today as it is now way past my bedtime!! I am going to Cookstown (which has the longest street in Ireland, maybe even Europe - wow, I know) to try and ply my photographic and crafty wares. Please send all the most powerful and optimist vibes you can, I need them - eek!

So last weekend Andrew and I went for a lovely drive. We do happen to live in one of the most amazingly gorgeous places in the world - the Antrim Coast. So we drove and stopped for a beer and then went to Carnfunnock Country Park to revel in the beauty of the autumnal colours with our wee Maggie in tow. Here are a few (I think) delightful photographs to prove, if proof were needed, that Autumn, although often despressing can in fact be one of the most nautrally glorious times of the year.....

My love, as always...

Ummmmmmm, a collage would have been good here but I am far too sleepy...
Talk next week as we are off to Dublin for the weekend - yippppeeee!

Saturday 13 November 2010

So who would live in a house like this? pt 2

Welcome to our kitchen/dining area. We haven't done anything in here yet bar bring in our furniture and I bought the funky new red clock. We have the tiles ordered for the rest of the room - the builders only did the 'kitchen' so we've had to get the dining area done ourselves. Lucky our builders are super nice and got us discount on the same tiles from their supplier - every little helps.
In the mean time we just cook in it (well Andrew does, I just don't cook) and Maggie sleeps over by the door, ha, there she is showing off her area of the house. We are (I say 'we' but I mean Andrew, as I am obviously sitting on my bum writing this) at the moment moving round our white bookcases tthat will go eaithher side of the red sofa and then we'll get the wall mounted long one to join them together above our heads. We have ssoooooo many books, we LOVE books. Once we get them all brought round I ought to take a photo of the garden ones we have in themselves - it would a good stack!

Anyway this room needs love and attention but not right now - we are burnt out! The french doors slide open unto the garden which is a sun trap and nice and seclued, but as yet only has mucky clay and 2 bins and 2 bamboos in pots, hahaha. Andrew is going insane with his desire to garden out there and always has his head over the squared drawing pad, designing everything to scale :) But more about that all in good time - I want you to be excited :)

Oh --- A few weeks ago I mentioned that Mamma G had gone to Italy and brought us back the largest lemon EVER. Even though this is a small one! Mamma had to bring it home, just so we could marvel in it's awsomeness - here beside a good sized 'normal lemon' :) The wine in the background is literally called 'The Tears of Christ' !! - it was lovely. And the freaky lemon is now yellow.....
 I'm off now, Andrew is working away, I'm exhausted and very thirsty and just want to rest! Darn it. Oh and there are Maltesers to eat and a 'Take That' documentary to watch xxxx

Wednesday 10 November 2010

An Elbow epiphany

Another passion of mine is tapestry and embroidery. I started to do this when I found out I had permanent double vision - I'd had a vague interest in needlework and knitting before that but the knowledge that I shouldn't be able to do this made me want to prove science and my specialists wrong. (I'm a very stubborn girl.)

I recently came back to it with increased exposure to fellow artists on Etsy etc and this is some of what I have come up with so far, but it's much more than pretty threads and buttons.
I think too much, ask my Dr's, ask just about anyone :). But last night I was just laying in bed waiting for my hubby and thinking about what all I need to create and do for the upcoming Cookstown Winter Fair on the 19th of this month. I was having a mild panic attack and suddenly needed help to switch off. Beside me was my MP3 player  - Elbow was on when I pressed 'play', the song was 'weather to fly' and it really got me - right in the gut.

I have a desire to create, to make myself understood. As much as we all want to be individuals don't we all desperately hope to make that connection with others? Be it through art, writing, singing, music....we try to express our emotions and we long to know we aren't alone.

'...we decided instead we should pull out the thread that was stitching us into this tapestry vile' - these are lyrics in the song. They are also a wonderful, painful expression of the end of a relationship. Something which I have had to do in my life; end a painful, destructive union. It made me think, wouldn't it be so much easier if we could just rip out those stitches that bind us to the past, tie us to pain and confusion?? But we can't.

Instead we can pick up the needle, put a new thread through the eye and continue our life's tapestry with a different colour, a different pattern.

When I create - I grow.

My needlework shall now take on a different meaning, it may just be a personal thing and that's okay. But each stitch shall now be an affirmation of my choice to live a life that is not vile, to live in a world where I (up to a point) have the control to go in the direction I want and make new connections along the way. Possibly even making a life that is beautiful - a piece of art.

Elbow - 'weather to fly', on You tube

Tuesday 9 November 2010

So, who would live in a house like this? pt1

Me - "Welcome to our living room, please do take a seat. :)"
"What? There aren't any, there isn't anything in this room at all, bar your lovely hubby!" - says you.
"Ah, ...yes" - says me, "okay come back in 6 weeks and we'll start over". *blush*

Yes there isn't any thing there to speak of, though we have got the general components (walls, ceiling, floor, windows) and a rather snazzy fireplace on the wall. If you just give us a load of time at the hardware shop and ikea and let us get our furniture from Mamma G's house oh and some new cushions and let Andrew lay a floor..........
You knock the we go are again.

"Hello" says I in my poshest accent, "please do come in and welcome back"


Now haven't we done well. The walls are painted in 'Dragon's Blood' and 'Regency Cream' - I love paint names :) All the furniture was ours, just stored in Mamma's house (poor lady, she has had so much clutter in her house - actually *blush* she still has...) apart from the table, which was Mamma's and I have stripped it, stained it and waxed it back to a new lease of life. I'm quite proud of it - it has an extendable top and when you pull the 2 halves apart the middle is tiled in delicious 60s/70s muted tiles in cream and well, darker cream. We now have another piece from a charity top which I intend to work on - it's fun :)

We finally got some of our art on the walls which feels wonderful and really makes it a home. That chair and those coaster don't belong in this room, they were taken from the kitchen. You see I took these photos on a night when we had friends coming and thus it was tidied up for a change, hahaha.

So there you go, I shall show you the kitchen/diner next time xxxxx