Sunday, April 24, 2016

Show and tell and a 'no show'!

I'll get the 'no show' out of the way first so I can put it behind me. I didn't get to the St George's Day marathon that was planned for Saturday. Actually, I didn't get much further than our village because as soon as I started the car it was obvious something wasn't right - it was the shaking and spluttering emanating from the engine which was the clue!

As I had a 1.5 hour drive ahead of me I didn't really fancy breaking down on the motorway so common sense prevailed and at 5:30am I drove home and phoned the AA. The nice man from the AA arrived at around 6:30am and had a poke around under the bonnet, attached his diagnostic machine and at around 7am announced that he couldn't find out what was causing it and it needed to go to a garage. At that point I relinquished all hope of making the 8am start of the marathon and relaxed into the situation.

The car was attached to the rear of the recovery van and I sat in the cab with the driver as we headed off to my chosen garage before heading off to collect a 'courtesy' hire car. So now I just have to await the verdict which won't be until Monday at the earliest. Hey ho, c'est la vie and all that! Of course this meant that I was a marathon down for my Challenge and so I searched around until I found one which fitted in with my schedule - you'd be amazed at how many marathons there are every week just within the 3 counties around where we live.

Now for some fun stuff including Nature and some crafting.

Look who's come to live with us - some tadpoles!

I'd been for a pre-50mile massage with Mary Massage Lady and James, one of her boys, had told her she had to give Aunty Susie some of the tadpoles that grandma had brought them from Leicester - apparently grandma said that there is a shortage of frogs in Sussex which I hadn't heard but I was delighted to take some of them home in a jam jar.

I used to love watching tadpoles grow into frogs when I was a child and it took me right back to being a kid going searching for frog spawn with a net stuck on the end of a garden cane by my mum. 

I replaced some of the water in the jar with that from one of our ponds so they could adjust to it and I fished out some leaves complete with algae which they demolished very quickly. I've moved them into a larger container now and am topping up the water with rainwater from the water butts when it gets too cloudy.

James has instructed me to let him know when they start developing their legs, bless him. I love that he's so interested in wildlife and Nature - last time they came here I told him all about worms and he took home the soil from a worm cast I'd showed him & kept it on his bedside table until Mary tidied it away!

We've had more lovely weather this last week and so most of my time has been spent outdoors again. I feel blessed that we live in such a beautiful place and I never take it for granted. I am never alone outside as there are so many animal and birds friends around me. This little squirrel came to investigate me when I was having a cuppa whilst sitting on the swing:

Whilst I was down there I said hello to Treebeard who guards one of our favourite oak trees.

He's been there for years and gets battered by wind and rain so I'm amazed he's still in one piece

I've noticed that the oak trees are coming into leaf much earlier than usual and it called to mind an old country saying predicting whether we'd have a wet or dry Summer:

Oak before Ash,
In for a splash.
Ash before Oak,
In for a soak!

Now I'm not entirely sure how valid this is as a weather forecast these days as most of the Ash trees have succombed to Chalara dieback (a dreadful fungal disease which is causing the demise of many of our woodland Ash trees) and so they may not even manage to come into leaf at all.

I love spotting a spider's web covered in droplets of dew

This Starling was singing his heart out on the kitchen roof. His feathers were irridescent in the sunlight.

When I was weeding in the front garden I was followed by a dear little robin who pecked out any bugs that I unearthed. I was also aware of the ducks who were only a few feet away from me. We built this tiny splash pond as a drinking place for wildlife never really thinking that the ducks would claim it, but of course they have. On one occasion we had Mrs duck and 7 of her nearly-grown-up ducklings in there all at the same time - goodness knows how they fitted in there!

Mrs Duck snoozing in the sun

There are so many huge bumblebees around just now. They are the Queens who have overwintered and are now searching for places to nest as they are laden with fertilised eggs.

Our beautiful Pulsatilla is in full flower now and the petals really glow in the sunlight.

The seedheads are really pretty too - all soft and fluffy.

I love the acid-yellow of this sedum as it cascades over the low wall

I had to divide this Comfrey plant into several sections as it grew way too big last year

It's pretty magenta flowers are like a magnet to pollenators and the leaves help speed up the rotting process on the compost heap. I chop it down twice each season and it flowers for ages.

This is how thick the root grew in one season last year - it is really woody and measured just under 2" across!

I managed to divide it into 6 new plants

The Euphorbia Robbiae I planted last year to brighten up the area underneath this conifer has decided to take over the world! I put in 3 small plants last year and this is how much they spread.

After some drastic maintenance I unearthed several pretty Aquilegias that were being smothered by it.

As I cleared away the weeds and divided plants as necessary I put a generous layer of home-made compost on top of the soil to increase the soil fertility. I don't dig the soil over as that only uncovreed weed seeds and I let the worms take the compost down into the soil for me.

When I was collecting the compost I was aware that there were little creatures still hiding in there and I was careful to put them back into a safe place if I disturbed them. This young Devil's Coach Horse larva soon burrowd back into the heap when I put him on the surface.

Another section of the garden cleared of weeds and with a layer of compost. It always looks nice when the surface is all the same colour!

This section still needs weeding and tidying but I took this photo 'cos the sunlight was illuminating this Euphorbia (unnamed) and the stems looked beautiful.

This small bed is finished and will look lovely in a week or so when the Rhododendron flowers burst open

This Polemonium pauciflorum (centre) had seeded itself onto the compost heap. I love getting plants for free! It's a lovely form which has long yellow trumpets with deep pinky/red markings on the back.

Next to tackle will be the gravel garden which will take a lot of work because everything needs dividing!

Here's a close-up of the shrub in the background. It's Berberis Darwinii and it is a shrub I hadn't encountered until about 15 years ago and it is now one of my favourites for Spring colour. Just look at the flowers - they are very attractive to bees and other pollinators and are an important source of nectar early in the year. I could hear the buzzing when I was 30' away it was so loud!

The other interesting thing about this shrub is that the branches are bright yellow on the inside when you prune them, but you'll have to wait until next time I prune it to see.

When I came down one morning I found someone waiting for me on the sunbed:

By the time I'd finished my chores he'd been joined by another one!

I ate my breakfast looking at the view of part of the orchard. That's an early plum in flower.

I watched 3 buzzards circling high in the sky.

Esther was being groomed by this Jackdaw who was looking for bugs to eat whilst gathering some nesting material.

He flew away with a beak full of Esther's lovely warm winter coat. As I brush her I leave it out in a plant pot so the birds can help themselves.

Now for a bit of crafting. First we have some rather uninteresting but important bits of the Frida's Flowers CAL from Jane Crowfoot.

These were from Part 1 - I made 4 but might make more if I decide I want to make the piece bigger.

This is Part 2 which I started this morning.

I'm using the magic loop method (left) rather than 6 chain (right) suggested as I don't like the large hole in the centre on this occasiion - sometimes I don't mind it if it's part of the design.

I'm not sure why the parts are being released in fortnightly portions as they are very quick and easy to do. I suspect the main flowers will be more complicated so may take a while longer.

I finished my 2nd crazy quilt patch and really enjoyed it. I embellished it much more than the first one and started to experiment with different stitches which was fun. The next block uses something called 'freezer paper', whatever that is!

2 rows of blanket stitch with different stitch lengths plus 'tacked' herringbone stitch embellished with seed beads. I don't draw lines as I prefer to just do it by eye.

Some of the buttons have bugle beads, some with sparkly thread. The pale mauve 'laid' thread on the left has been couched with 3 strands of a dark green embroidery thread. I used it for the stem stitch on the line above. The stitch below the buttons is herringbone stitch again but this time with a dark green thread woven through it.

I have a lot of marathons coming up over the next few weeks so I'm really hoping I get some good news about the car on Monday!

1 comment:

Lowcarb team member said...

Hope you did get good news about the car...

Lovely post and your photo's are great.
Love the flowers, ducks and especially the Treebeard - amazing.

Take care

All the best Jan