Sunday, April 15, 2018


Yep, we saw that beautiful yellow globe for a short while last week and what a difference it made to our spirits!  I spent every dry day out in the garden trying to play catch-up interspersed with some maintenance runs - I have another marathon next weekend on the same day as the London marathon which I'm not doing this year.  I also needed to do some preparation for a talk I'm doing in our village next week about my association with Alzheimer's Research UK (I can hardly believe it's been 13 years!).

Carbeth Cardigan

As soon as the sun peeped out the daffodils burst into flower with a vengeance and we used the opportunity to take some photos of me wearing my Carbeth Cardigan standing next to a clump of daffodils, as you do!  I was surprised to see a whole load of traffic coming to my blog from Ravelry and when I checked I found that Kate had included me in her blog post entitled 'Carbeth Colour'.  Thanks Kate.

Yep, still showing off my 100 mile buckle!

I used just under 4 skeins of Artesano Alpaca aran (no longer available but gorgeous) and used 5 & 5.5 mm needles.  I made the 2nd size which has just the right amount of drape.  I made the sleeves longer than usual so that I can leave the cuffs rolled down to cover my hands in cold weather - I have arthritis in my hands and spend most of Autumn and Winter wearing fingerless gloves around the house.

It's an absolute stunner and I'm really pleased with it.

I love this cardigan even more than the jumper version and I'm sure it will be a firm favourite.  By the way, Kate has now released her pattern for the longer version with lacy stitches.  It's called 'Carbeth Swan Dance' and yes, I'll be knitting that ready for the autumn. 

Into the Garden

We've had so many visitors recently, all getting prepared for their respective broods:

A pair of Jays spent hours gathering small twigs from the orchard

Mrs T. Duck, wife of Titch (of Titch and Quackers fame who have lived here for about 5 years now) started to take a great deal of interest in the pot by the front door.  She kept flying up into it and pushing all the soil aside to make a nice hollow.  I carefully gathered up the bulbs she pushed out and planted then elsewhere!  It isn't the first time she's laid eggs there but they were more exposed until I planted a small conifer in there which seems to make the eggs less visible.

Her preference was to lay an egg first thing each morning after breakfast, sit on it for a couple of hours and then leave it alone until the next morning when she'd lay another one.  They don't lay them all at once 'cos it would be impossible as we've seen nests containing 15 eggs before.  When she's satisfied that she's laid enough she will start sitting on the eggs which are then called a 'brood'.  Last time I checked she'd laid 8 eggs and she seems to be spending much more time sitting on them now and when she leaves the nest to get food she covers them with down plucked from her belly.

As she's right by the porch door we try to leave as quietly as possible and she just watches us carefully but doesn't move.  We're praying that the Magpies don't spot her as that's how previous broods have met their end.

Another welcome sight was this beautiful Greylag Goose who landed down by the pond one morning. I'd seen 3 flying over earlier so assumed he'd just lost his friends momentarily and had stopped for a rest.  He had a good look round and then came up towards the house so I got a wonderful view of him:

Then I turned my attention to some tidying of grasses and pruning in the front garden.  Getting rid of the dead grass makes such a difference to their appearance so although it's not the most glamorous of jobs it's well worth the effort.

This one had the added bonus of a young Natterjack Toad hiding in its midst!  Thankfully I didn't hurt him and I still left him plenty of dead grass to hide under.

Next it was the turn of the Pampas Grass which is much more tricksy as it's quite tough and you need to use leather gloves or it can cut your hands.  You also have to get right inside it to pull out the old stuff in the middle and the strappy leaves are quite strong and can hurt any exposed flesh.

First I cut off all the dried stems

Then I pulled out as much dead/dry material as possible.  After 1.5 hours I'd removed 2.5 barrow loads!

Aah, that looks a bit tidier!

I also cut down the massive stems of the Cardoons (you can see their silver leaves in the photo above right) and took all the stems round to the compost heaps.  Why?  Because they provide excellent nesting material for the birds who we keep seeing flying off with their beaks full of beautiful soft lining material for their nests!

I was also way behind with my pruning regime so there was a massive pile of sticks when I'd finished so I made a bonfire, as you do, and kept adding to it as I cut more branches.

These beautiful stems from the dogwoods are far to pretty to burn and I use them as plant supports:

I also did a bit of remodelling of the Pittosporum at the side of the house as it was getting too big for the space:

I stood back and looked at it for a while before deciding on the shape I wanted and settled for a ball as I could see the perfect place to start shaping.  That's much neater!

I have loads more to show and tell but not enough time so will save it all for later.  I also have a secret I'm bursting to share but have been sworn to secrecy for a while longer (which is agony as I've known about it for nearly 6 months already!).

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