Wednesday, July 11, 2018


Pottering, I love that word.  The Oxford English dictionary defines it as "to occupy oneself in a  desultory but pleasant way" but although there may not be a proper plan to my pottering I do have plenty of enthusiasm for it.

I've been re-potting and dividing some houseplants.  Some of them go outside in the shade for the summer break whilst others are repositioned in any space available on a window ledge.

I enjoyed taking photos of some of them from above:

I love this Kalenchoe.  Look at all it's babies along each leaf edge!

You can just make out their tiny roots and they drop at the slightest touch and form new plants.

Billbergia Nutans, a gift from a gardening friend.  I gave her an Aspidistra in exchange.

I love the exotic-looking flowers.....

.....which open out like this.  They drip a sticky substance so I position it over a tiled floor or on the marble worktop when it's at this stage so it's easy to clean off.

One of my favourite Rex Begonias - 'Escargot'

This is my favourite cane-type Begonia ready to go outside for the Summer.  When it's time to come back in I take cuttings, which root in water easily, and throw the parent plant on the compost heap in case it's infested with Vine Weevil eggs.

Beautiful spotty leaves

My poor neglected Maranta.  Very congested and showing signs of distress - lack of water and direct sunlight with possible attack from Red Spider Mites.  I'm so sorry you poor plant!

A collection of cuttings rooted in water and ready for potting.

During my pottering I remembered to take photos of some craft things.  In an act of sheer defiance against arthritis I took out a 1.5mm crochet hook and some fine cotton thread and set about this old pattern I found in my scrapbook of cuttings.  I had to use my magnifying glass (that hangs around my neck) and only did it in good light so although it took a long time I'm quite pleased with it and enjoyed the challenge although those picots around the edge caused a bit of bad language I can tell you!

It fits perfectly on one of our 3 tall, narrow window ledges where it's difficult to find just the right plant or ornament.

It still needs wet-blocking to straighten out the squares

Next there's a bit of needlepoint which I haven't done for ages.  The Swallows come back and nest in our field shelters every year and I love watching their amazing aerobatic displays.  Seen here with Magnolia blossom.  I used a chart from a page of an old copy of Needlewoman magazine from the 1970s (I think) or early 1980s.  I already had enough crewel wool in my stash but had to buy the canvas.

I stretched and mounted it myself then got it framed with non-reflective glass although it does still reflect a bit as you can see on the chest of the swallow on the left.  Still, it's less reflective than ordinary glass.

Swallows & Magnolia blossom

Then there's Frida's Flowers from Jane Crowfoot which I started when it was released as a CAL but abandoned after a few instalments as that was when Mike became ill.  I'd only completed the 2 sets of plain white/beige hexagons.

I found the yarn and pattern in a bag when I was tidying and have started working on it again.  I've done 3 sets of flower hexagons.  I'm enjoying working on it now knowing that Mike is well again (touch wood etc etc).

This is the one I'm working on at the moment.  There are 4 more to make.

In the garden the soil is mostly rock hard as it's been so hot for ages so digging is out of the question so I'm just managing the weeds as best I can.  I do think the weeds are winning though as they are flowering and producing seed so quickly it's difficult to keep up with them!

There are lots of young birds about now as the Rooks, Jackdaws, Magpies, Sparrows and assorted Tits have all fledged so the garden is full of chatter and squawking.  I've been enjoying watching all the different creatures using our birdbath on the ground; it's a favourite of Blackbirds, Collared Doves, Woodpigeons, Green Woodpeckers, Rooks/Crows/Jackdaws, foxes & badgers):

This young squirrel came tiptoeing cautiously across the patio.

Isn't he gorgeous!
He's also found the seed feeder on the window!

The ducks enjoy a bit of a paddle and preening session

One evening recently I was leaning out of the bedroom window waiting to see the young badger (as you do!) who's been visiting when I heard a slurping noise.  I looked down and saw a large dog fox enjoying a drink there too.  I didn't take a photo as I didn't want to disturb him and spoil the moment.

Here he is.  He'd just finished pinching the last few remaining gooseberries from my bush nearby.  I left them for him as badgers seem to love them and they've beaten me to them before now and decimated a crop overnight so I have to choose just the right moment to harvest them.

I hoping the weather cools down a bit for the weekend as I've got a marathon on Sunday!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Dividing my time

I never understand how is anyone bored when they retire as I still don't have enough hours in a day to do everything I want to do.  So many things but not enough time and I'm even more aware of the time element now I'm getting older.  I don't mean to be maudlin but you never know when life can change suddenly (my sister died when she was my age and a dear friend has just been through a life-altering illness) so I'm in Carpe Diem mood again!

At the moment I'm dividing my time between gardening, running/fund-raising for ARUK and homelife.  I was disappointed to have to turn down a couple of speaking opportunities recently but I just couldn't fit them in.

The gardening has meant that my hands and wrists are too sore to do as much crafting in the evenings as usual so I've just been doing a bit of embroidery, tapestry and crochet (must take photos! post) in the afternoons when we have a teabreak (knitting seems to be hurting my wrists at the moment but I can do it in short bursts).  Yoga too has been rather difficult at times despite my wrist supports and I've had to miss the last 2 weeks' sessions as a result.

There have been a couple of running events, both of which were fun so I'll get them into print before their memory fades completely as they were a couple of weeks ago:

Marathon 151, the Kent 50

This was my first trip back to Reculver where I completed the Viking 100 miler back in March and a group of us decided to wear our special finishers tees to mark the occasion.

Group photos with the obligatory bunny ears!

The weather forecast was for it to be HOT and even though we started out at 7am we soon felt the heat. It was on exactly the same route we did for the 100 but this time there was no mud and everywhere looked so much nicer in daylight!

I took loads of photos so will keep the words to a minimum.

Everywhere was really dry and there were irrigation units in place everywhere sending out plumes of water

Mud Hill had recovered from our pounding

Even the wheat had made a good recovery where it had been trampled down
There were lots of huge farm vehicles about, like giant Tonka toys for big boys!

I shared a few miles with different people at various stages throughout.  That's Clare up ahead.  I blame her for putting the idea into my head...... 

Clare and I were chatting at about 20 miles.  It was hot and dusty.  She was 'just' (I've put the word in inverted commas as I know it sounds crazy to non-runners!) doing marathon distance then leaving with her hubby Jono who was intending to do an ultra within the time they had available (it was a lapped event so you could choose to do 1 lap, 1/2 marathon, marathon, 50k or the full 50 miles).  She wasn't feeling the love and decided to stop sooner than planned.  I wasn't feeling the love either as I was too hot and as I didn't need to get 50 miler under my belt as I'm not training for anything specific I decided to do just 50k instead (31 miles).

Note the new 100 marathon cap.  I've finally retired my once-purple cap with its crochet as it was looking pretty tatty.  The new cap feels odd as I've had the other one for 13 years!

Jelly Baby Junction was a welcome sight on each lap

They even gave us each an Ice Pop.  Oh my, that was the best thing ever - I put it down my cleavage (sorry if that's too much info!) and it really helped get my core temperature down a bit!!!

On my last lap I phoned Mike to let him know I was finishing sooner than planned and he was really worried that something bad had happened to me, bless him.  Once I'd convinced him that I was OK I continued and took loads more photos.

This width restrictor always made me smile as the post on the left-hand side is missing so everyone uses that route!

I was fascinated by some of the farm buildings.  I have no idea what these flying saucer domes were for and didn't like to stop one of the workmen to ask!

The huge expanses of netting fascinated me too.

In close-up it looks like a beach scene with all the seagulls on a sandy cliff

Reculver Towers in the distance.  Probably about 2 miles away.

Now for some photos of wild flowers.  As part of their land management schemes, many farmers now  create what are known as 'Cultivated Margins' around their fields to create a habitat for insects and birds.  You can read a good case study here  which is written by the owners of Vine House Farm in Lincolnshire from whom I buy my seed for wild birds.  You can see part of  a margin in the photo above and those below.

Ox-eye Daisies.  So pretty.

It was amazing running alongside this stretch, which was on my left, as in my left ear I could hear Vetch pods popping and releasing their seeds whilst in my right ear I could hear the roar of traffic on the A299 Thanet Way!

Echium Vulgare aka Vipers Bugloss is one of my favourites.

Convolvulus.  Pretty but unwelcome as it's invasive because of it's amazing network of roots.

I can never get enough of beautiful pinky-mauve Knapweed (Centaurea nigra)

Hoary Plantain (Plantago media) is another favourite.

Lovely stripey Mallow (Malva sylvestris)

A clump of gorgeousness!  This is beautiful Sainfoin whose name is from French words meaning 'wholesome hay', indicating its value as a fodder crop.

The flowers are definitely worth showing in close-up.

Bees were having a feast.

The area is known as 'Marshside' and is full of drainage ditches.  This was my favourite as it had some beautiful plants along the margins and in the water.

I shared my last few miles with these lovely nutters, Kirsty and Paul, who went out for the full 50 miles when I'd headed for home!

I got another lovely medal for my collection (I've run out of hanging space/pegs so Mike needs to build me some more).  My time was 6:53:54 - I was too hot to care and glad I stopped when I did!

Before leaving I had a nice catch-up with Traviss and Rachel who'd just got back from another adventure in America.  Whilst they'd been away Rachel's milk kefir grains, which I gave her last year, had gone mouldy so I gave her some more and in exchange she gave me a lovely Aloe Vera plant which I've potted into a terracotta pot and added to my collection.

Marathon 152, The Teddy Bears Picnic

Well I could hardly miss this one could I.  A lovely mid-week event in beautiful Kings Wood and only an hours drive away.  

As it was going to be another hot day, Big Ted and I dressed accordingly:

Here he is, proudly sporting his Alzheimer's Research UK badge

Big Ted was a family hand-me-down and came to my sister from our cousins so he's at least 78 years old (as that's when he came to Judy and that's how she would have been now) but is more likely about 86 years old.  He's well worn and has been well loved.

Some of my early childish attempts at stitching a repair to his paw #coulddobetter!

I didn't want to carry him round with me so he went o to join Rachel at the registration desk.

This bear won the prize for 'Best Bear'

But Big Ted won the prize for being the oldest bear!

A fellow runner had fun 'styling' him with his prize and a can of Pepsi for rehydration!

It was another HOT one so I just trotted round at a comfortable pace, chatting with people and taking photos whilst watching my footing as there are some rutted tracks with tree roots - I remembered last time we were there and Maryanne faceplanted badly losing a tooth in the process.

The route was mostly on what's know as 'Fire Roads' which are wide tracks allowing vehicular access into the forest in case of fire.  There were a few bits through the woods which were welcome as it was cooler under the leaf canopy.  It was an undulating route so everyone walked the uphill sections to save energy.

The beauty of walk-breaks is that you get to see more wildlife.  There were so many butterflies and day-flying moths flitting around and I saw several massive anthills which one runner sat on, to tie his shoelace,  thinking it was a tree stump - he soon moved!  Every time I looked at the ground I saw a steady stream of ants so I wondered how many thousands there were throughout the whole wood.

I stuck to marathon distance this time as it was too hot for an ultra and was delighted to finish in 5:54:58 which is 12 minutes faster than 2 years ago.  Love the sweet medal!

Next will be some crafting and garden photos........that is, when I get a minute!