Friday 28 May 2010

Bank holiday and I'm taking a break

After my really good weekend last week, I had a pretty poor week. I felt great writing about things on Wednesday but really there hasn't been much joy in my heart. I need time, time for me, time to just try and not think at all.
I'll be back; this weekend and the Monday Andrew has off will hopefully recharge my batteries. I need the beach, the sea air in my hair, paddles in the cold Irish sea and the sand under my toes. I wish you all a great gardening time whilst I leave this computer for a few days; I feel it has taken over my life, haha. Apart from my e-mails I won't be involved in much on the net. No offence xxxxxxxxx

This is just a little bit of fun from Flighty's blog - the 8th picture of my 8th folder. Andrew and a very friendly and seemingly hungry goat at 'Owl World' recently. Hahahaha

Love to you all x

Wednesday 26 May 2010

my happy-go-lucky Saturday

It's not often I have a happy post that is all joy and merriment. So allow me please, the pleasure of basking in it's glory. Also, if you wish to feel jealous at any point, feel free (really, I hardly ever have a GOOD day), I don't mind at all ;)

Saturday was a good day (I have already mentioned this I know but it's so fab to write it), let me take you through it.....

First we saw around our new house! Ahhhh, we had  to wear hard hats but the fashion faux pas was worth it. We have walls and windows and a roof and some wooden struts pretending to be internal walls and pipes of all sizes, oh and a front door and patio doors out back... etc. It's also completely rendered on the outside and by now it should have it's staircase in. Oh joy of joys. The 'gardens' front and back are a little less inspiring and a bit on the teeny tiny side - BUT still big grins all round.

Then we had a trip to good old Maud's cafe (they do the most fantabulous ice cream ever, in the world, ever - though I don't like ice cream at all) for coffee and homemade scones - yummy. The cafe looks out over the Lough and it was heaven sitting there watching people go by and seeing the water sparkle and shimmer in the sun :)

A quick trip to Tesco (not really a highlight) for some BBQ provisions including Dandelion and Burdock fizzy pop (WOW, how come we never tasted this before??), and off to the Lottie.

It was spring clean weekend at the lotties and we managed to get rid of a lot of rubbish. It's amazing what you gather up over the months that have no value at all to anyone; yet there it sits. So that was great. I took photos galore (you can see a couple on my other blog) once the suncream had settled into my skin and let Andy do the stinky rubbish work, 3 barrow loads of it. Then we put a brushwood cover over our porch so as we had a shady place to retire to throughout the day (remember Andy is ginger - the sun is his enemy - like he were a vampire, haha) and had a drink.

The afternoon pasted with lots of weeding and photographing and chatting and playing with Maggie. It was the most lovely of days, the sky so full of big lumps of blue and as far as the eye could see, there was not a dark cloud to be found. I swear plants were visably growing in front of our eyes and (though ulitmately annoying when their babies eat try to eat my food) cabbage whites were fliting all over the place and the birds were singing so hard and beautifully it was as though Mr Lloyd-Webber were there and they might be 'discovered'. I also got to watch the bluebirds feeding their babies on our shed, due to the shadows cast on the ground.

I cleared the pumpkin patch of poppy seedlings (a whole bucket full, oops) and Andrew placed his dad's old stepladder in the middle for the squashes to grow up - should look cute. (He planted them later when I went home). Everything else around the plots was looking much happier, perkier and greener in this lovely heat and anyone who went by was smiling.

We invited Mamma G down for our little BBQ, which was lovely, sausages with red pepper in them and of course the freshest salad ever, straight from the beds. Then I went home to have a lie down, expecting to go to the party down at the plots later....I woke up the next morning instead, haha. Boy I could sleep for the UK in the Olympics ;) So I missed that, but I heard it was good craic and went on until the wee hours.

So there was a lovely day, a truly fab day. I don't get them often but what a blessing when they do visit me! Spread to love xxxx

Monday 24 May 2010

Bloomn' Monday - A red poppy

My utterly gorgeous oriential red poppy - 'Ni hao! and how are you today?'

'Well, my my ' said I, ' hello to you too and aren't you just absolutely, utterly gorgeous. I am having a fab day thank you, the sun is shining and the birds are singing and everything here on my lottie is growing before my eyes - today, my friend, is a good day.'

'I am glad, for today is also a good day for me. I opened up to my fullest today and the sun was shining on my face and the bees were visiting me for breakfast, it has really been quite delightful so far. Oh and then here you are with your lovely dog'.

Maggie tries to sniff Poppy in a friendly way and danders off to check for cats ('darn cats', thinks Maggie)

'May I take your photograph?' says I

'Why yes please, for you see as a Poppy I get battered about as soon as the weather turns and I look particulary nice today, I would love for you friends to see me', said Poppy.

And so I did take her photo and here she is looking all gorgeous. She has many siblings coming too and that makes me very happy - Saturday's visit to the lottie was a very lovely affair indeed :)

Sunday 23 May 2010

Love for my Hubby and the 'Tentwam'

He gives me flowers xx

This is his special gardening trug with his favourite things xx

Watering and giving his babies a good lookin' at xx
He took cuttings of lavendar and lets the poppies grow wild by the compost cause I love them xx
AND... he's a builder of fabulous tentwams!!! Don't you love it?

I love him xx

Friday 21 May 2010

A collage of wonderment

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Yes dear reader I have created a collage of wonderment for your viewing pleasure. This is some of the loveliness on our plots at the moment. Click on it to make it bigger and enjoy, I am :)

(left to right )
row 1 - Strawberry flowers, Pak Choi seedlings, mixed Lettuce seedlings
row 2 - Borlotti beans, Redcurrants, Cherries (3!!)
row 3 - Summer Raspberries with rhubarb and blueberries, Salad bar #1, Autumn Raspberries betwixt wall flowers and strawberries, Broad bean
row 4 - Salad bar #2 and carrots in blue barrel, Redcurrants, Potatoes and lavendar

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Like a Phoenix rising from the phlegm

Yes dear reader I have fought off that flu and now I am Carrie-the-unstoppable (though slightly sniffly) once more!! I am woman, hear me roar!! :)

I was even at the allotment this afternoon and even better than that, I liked it! My god, my hubby has been working so hard and I am so proud of him. He worrys about the plants far too much and thinks everything isn't growing as well as it should be BUT with my perspective (having not been there for a few weeks) I was able to say how it really is. And it is fabulous. Yes, the runner beans are a disaster but we have back ups which shall hastily replace the failures, apart from that I can't believe how great everything is doing.

We have loads of soft fruits coming, it's amazing! The summer raspberries have settlled in now, this being their second summer and they are happy :), the strawberries are the same, reproducing like rabbits, I've never seen the plants so perky and covered in white flowers. But the best things are the currants, wonderful thick tassles of redcurrants casading down and 3, yes 3 (so far) cherries!!!

I didn't have a camera with me so next time, expect lots of photos, I may even do a fancy collage. I haven't even mentioned all the perfect salad bars we have and beans and flowers and trees and potatoes! The seedlings in the coldframes, new wigwam and the 'tent wam' ( my name for it - you'll understand when you see it). Oh, I was super glad to see it all today.

Plus as Andy went over to collect some lettuce I sat with my eyes closed and listened to the many bird songs and smelt theat lovely 'green' smell, so strong, especially after me cutting a whole load of PSB. Nirvana? no probably not, with the motorcycles zooming by but Eden - yes, hahahaha.

Saturday 15 May 2010

Crappy Flu stills lingers on but...

I haven't been to my lottie in ages. Well I nearly get there today, I was in the car park whilst Andy took down some new seedlings to the coldframes. I'm still too ill to be out and about and couldn't go down with him as it had just started raining and I was shivery as it was. I loved seeing Mary, Dougie and a friend have a typical break from work though - a cup of tea sitting out in the rain refusing to believe it was happening!

So all I have been seeing of the lottie is what is put on my plate at dinner time. I haven't even been in the kitchen to take photos of the things brought home and I've eaten everything before I think of photographing the cooked version- ooops!

But what has made its way home? Well :-
* 2 wonderful asparagus spears (now mine did go in a flash off my plate, no hope of a photo there, hahaha)
* 7 more thick stems of rhubarb (which Andrew stewed down with some sugar and a dash of water to made the most wonderful compote - I eat some every morning, it's so good)
* lots more leeks (I wonder if they'll ever run out?)
* Sorrel (from the verges but we have our own now, ready to plant out, in fact Andrew my well be doing that right now)
* Loads of salad leaves, in particualr my 2 favourites, red salad bowl and mizuna.
* Loads of PSB (forgive all those things I said about you in the past PSB, you are amazing and diffinately worth waiting for!!!)

I also saw that Bobby's memorial bench and apple tree have been put in place and look great, but I hadn't my camera so I'll get that the next time I am able to go down.

Hugs, off to try and sleep again x

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Trip to MALVERN ~ #3 Hampton Court Castle

Sunday saw a beautiful blue sky greet my streaming sneezy eyes. The cold had most diffinatley turned into a Flu on the Saturday and I was a mess today, sad now that the weather had finally decided to co-operate. Breakfast with Ella and the other guests was a subdued affair, I couldn't eat much of the lovely organic food due to my sore thoart and we all felt a little sad that it was home time for all of us.

Our flight wasn't until 8pm so the trip to Hampton Court Castle Gardens I had been hoping for was fulfilled and indeed turned out better than I wished. The difference a visit to a garden in the sunshine to one's spirits is amazing. Yes I was still coughing and sneezing, I should have been in bed somewhere taking meds but boy, my soul was singing.

You walk into the walled gardens through an arched gate and *bang* you are hit with the most fabulous kitchen garden complete with ingenious plant supports and ohh, more tulips! A kitchen garden about the size of 2 allotments and oh so stylish with a small wild meadow section too. Oh just look at the photos - you'll wish you had been there too.

lavender hedges around the herbs - so much more orginial and fragant than box

Then we were into more formal gardens and check out the wonderful pavillions surrounded by moving water, moats around the 2 pavilions, rills and a thicker shallow canal. These areas also had many trees and more permanent structures for things to grow up and around.

An amazing (haha) Maze with a tower in the centre which you can climb to the top of and watch other people struggle and giggle below you trying to get where you are (evil grin). But when you walk down those stairs again there is another set of steps going end up underneath the maze and come out at a sunken garden complete with waterfall! Oh my goodness - is this Heaven???!!

Well to me it was and after walking up through the ferns on the step stones up the stream we walked out into a parkland area with a superb borrowed landscape of tree covered hills. AND a cafe serving mainly home (castle) cooked cakes. Yippeee.

We could have visited inside the Castle as well but #1 we hadn't the change and #2 we wanted to go all around the gardens again :) And there were more to be found, including the Dutch Garden - MORE tulips and a long pond with carp in it.

Check out the website. I took 94 photos and could merrily share them all but your computer would explode I fear. xx

Anyway, that's the end of the Malvern trip though we did visit some other towns etc but really I want to get back my lottie blogging. For instance, we had an asparagus spear each with our dinner last night - HOORAH!

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Trip to MALVERN ~ #2 Ella's farm

Welcome to my 444th post! Yipppeee, I reckon that is some sort of mile stone and even though I sit here in bed with the flu I am going to celebrate (just not sure how..) And our new house has a roof!!


Anyway, I have to tell you about the absolutely fantastic B&B Andrew and I stayed at whilst over for the show. Really it has become a major highlight of the trip and I shall remember the Old Country House and Ella with much fondness. It is a magical place where I felt completely at ease and though ill at the time and wanting my own bed, I did find it hard to leave. The website shows it off beautifully but of course I had to take a few pictures of my own.
 The kitchen garden

Ella's parents bought this amazing 220 acre farm and farmhouse in the 30's. It was very run down and sounds utterly romantic (that feeling for romance still lingers round every corner). Ella grew up there and helped to make the sparkling perry her father became so well known for in the county, there were also pigs and her mother was a talented plantswoman - hybridising hellebores amongst other things!

The orchards aren't really viable anymore - as with all small farms it costs a bomb to produce anything now that would be worth the effort. It is so sad. However the trees are still there looking beautiful at this time of year in blossom, the land has sheep on it from another farm, Ella has a very rare bronze age herd of sheep herself and wildlife is everywhere! Andrew and I saw our first Woodpecker, just doing it's thing in the garden all day. There are bats, squirrels, owls and foxes (which of course have a taste for the lovely free range chickens, sadly) and all sorts of rare plants and trees from a life time of adventure overseas. There are many tumble down outhouses, a pond the size of a small lake and to top it all off -  oast houses!

Inside the house is no less electic and jam packed of interest. Books are everywhere, pottery, mis matching old pieces of beautiful wooden furniture, a huge fireplace, wooden planks and trusses (some 100s of years old)  lots of cosy cushions and throws, paintings and arty bits of this and that. You can be quite happy on a terrible grey and cold day just looking around the kitchen!

Anyway, I just loved it so much and Ella was such an interesting and friendly person that I had to share the secret of our happiness in England with you.

Monday 10 May 2010

Trip to MALVERN ~ #1 The Show itself

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed myself but it would seem it's just me, I didn't get it, I didn't think the show was terribly wonderful and full of inspiration. I'm telling it here as it was for me, as with everything you are free and indeed encouraged to find out for yourself.....

Pros -
** The parking was free and super easy, really the whole event was organised to a T and really couldn't be faulted at all. Although there were a heck of a lot of people there, it never felt too crowded and that's saying something coming from me (one who hates crowds).

One of the greenhouses Andrew needs in his life.

** The main show tent was fabulous. We were there on Friday, arriving at 11.30 and leaving at 5.30. We watched a good few shows and bits of others. The lady compère was fun and could talk for Britain - she was lovely. The Three Men Went to Mow painting skit for charity was brilliant! I kept realising I was grinning inanely AND the best man won (James, with is masterpiece of fingerpainting - bold, colourful and innovative; I voted twice for his piece). I also witnessed Cleve holding a chicken that much to everyone's surprise laid an egg straight into his hand. The 3 of them (James Alexander-Sinclair, Cleve West and Joe Swift) really are utterly lovely and instantly likeable.

** The Recovery and Wellbeing Garden  (by the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust) won a Gold Medal and was People's Choice on Friday. Here's some pics; there's chickens in the black shed and the tiles were handmade by the clients of the programme but nowhere did it mention how incredibly beneficial to mental health such an activity as their allotment programme is - it was just infered by the title, which most people hadn't bothered to read, they just knew it as the 'tile one'....

 ECOTHERAPY ROCKS!  I was so desperate for Ecotherapy to be shown off at the show (a lot of exhibitors and sellers had no idea what it is!! = I must work harder!)

** Oh, the craft and food halls - yummmy. It was very lucky that we didn't bring much money with us and that the ATM machines were empty. Plus there was the issue of us flying home and all those silly restrictions; so many things were too fragile, too big, too expensive or indeed smelly  (cheeses and meat products etc) to put in our suitcase. But the talent of those in the 3 counties is amazing and boy can they make great sloe gin and damson gin (I was given lots to try - for medicinal reasons of course).

** Everyone was super duper friendly, even before the tipsy fruit drinks.

** Exquisite flowers and plants were everywhere in the main floral tent. Oh you couldn't move without falling in love with something else. Of course the tulips and acers were stunning the socks off me. We really couldn't bring any plants home so looking at seeds was the next best option. What we desparately wanted had sold out but we got contact details :) Plus I now have a love for alpines.

** Food prices were a little steep but was of excellent quality and that kind of makes up for it. Everything organic and locally made, so even that big chocolate brownie Andrew and I shared must have been healthy - right??

** The Meet@Malvern bloggers - were polite and friendly. I got big hugs from the lovely VP, Helen and Karen. It was funny to see fellow bloggers as it is hard to put a face to names such as Happy Mouffetard or VP for example. Though many (and I was told this myself) looked just like the photos of themselves, hahaha. Plus James was wonderful - hugs galore and we shared a biscuit moment; that man could charm a snake!

The setting - oh my goodness the Malvern hills are hypnotic, the trees and the constant play of light across them - just heaven......

Now the Cons-

** Something I will not dwell upon of course, but as with everything, where there are ups, there will also be downs. And the biggest one, the most glaringly obvious one was....a severe lack of show gardens! I know, it sounds daft but there really was a shortage and more than that I found many of the ones there to be uninspiring, terribly cluttered with too many uncomplimentary hard lanscaping materials and sorry Mr Beardshaw but, stupid and clumsy in a few cases.

** Andrew and I were pretty much the youngest people there, bar those being dragged around by their parents, crying! Plus the overall demographic didn't seem to fit us - we are not super rich, large acreage owning people with a desire to dress like the Royal family on a day out at Balmoral and to grow our seedlings or house our chickens in buildings more expensive than the average new posh car (no matter how well made and designed they were). Though on  the other side to that were the many cheap and nasty market stalls at the entrance, these were equally as depressing.

Don't want to end on a sour note though. I'm glad we went, glad to see one of the 'big RHS shows' and very glad to have (albeit, briefly) met some fellow blogger friends. Special thanks to VP and Helen, James and Wiggly Wigglers.

More on our travels tomorrow, with better photos xx

Friday 7 May 2010

well there's a sign upon the door.....

Nope, not gone fishin', I've gone to the MALVERN Spring Show!! How exciting.

Plus one of my personally handcrafted bird houses (complete with titled roof) has a little family of blue birds in it. I'm so HAPPY!!!!!

Plus...If you look at my other crafty blog I have good news about my photography.

Though I am slowly dying of the cold I am a happy girl these days :)

Thursday 6 May 2010

A Tulip Festival - yipppeeee!

May day saw Andrew and I take 'a wee drive up the coast', which a favourite thing of ours to do. If you have ever been lucky enough to drive along the Antrim Coast Road you'll know it's pretty special, on one side is the sea and the other is towering high hills littered with sheep, gorse and trees wrecked by the wind over the years so they grow horiziontally.

My favourite place to drive to is Glenarm, it has the best coffee shop, a beautiful little church and graveyard, woodland walks, a jewellery workshop and the Glenarm Castle and Gardens. Well imagine my joy when, upon arrival, we saw a banner stretched across the road proclaiming the Tulip Festival being held in the Castle Gardens. Oh, as I'm sure you have gathered my lust for tulips knows no bounds these days - it's a terrible lusty affair.

We had to go and were not disappointed - tulips all over the place, crafts and a stop off for coffee and a biscuit. Well for me that pretty much equals a good afternoon, spent well.

Feast your eyes over this lot.... and forgive me I did hold back, honest!
Kitchen garden and cafe

Can you spot the odd one out?

A glimpse at the Castle - still a private home to the Earl of Antrim.

Sunday 2 May 2010

Ecotherapy Rocks - again!

Check out the BBC news wesite today dear friends -

We know it!
Yet I can't get out of this room; my depression is terrible and the anxiety is only at bay with medication. The green I'm seeing today is on line and on TV  :( Though I did just eat some fresh PSB, simply stir fried by Andy - he's off again to the lottie...
ecotherapy 'rocks' - get it, hehe ;)