A GoodLife

The thing about growing up in the 70s

(Seen through the obligatory rose-tinted spectacles of course)

Was the amazing amount of high profile,  iconic,  creative types who were influencing culture – both high- and low- brow.

Building on the political,  social and cultural upheavals of the 60s, the 70s (if you could ignore the occasional ill-advised hair or clothing choice)  embedded that peculiarly British love of the weird,  the avant garde,  the misfit.

It embraced the iconoclastic,  the creative and the revolutionary.

So what icon of the 70s have I found to have made the most lasting impact on my life?

Was it Marc Bolan?

No,  definitely too glam

Was it the Sex Pistols?

Umm,  bit too spiky and aggressive.  Not enough languishing or wafting in a wraithe-like manner.   I definitely preferred the Goth movement that came in the 80s.

So what was my icon of the 70s?

Tom and Barbara Good,  from BBCs The Good Life.

I harbour dreams of smallholdings.

Of meals entirely made up of things Ive grown

Of children skipping happily down the lane in clothes I’ve made.

My reality?

When I asked oldest child why he didnt want me to knit him a,  really rather trendy,  beanie hat he said

“Because you’re a bit rubbish at knitting mum.   Thelast hat you did made me look like Yoda”

My yield of strawberries this year?

IMG_20150809_163759 IMG_20150809_165023  and these are alpine strawberries too,  so basically the size of grains of rice.

Six,  admittedly flourishing in a bushy,  leafy kind of way,  tomato plants and my crop to date is?

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One measly tomato.

And it’s a cherry tomato,  so about the size of a 5p piece

Less Tom and Barbara Good.

More Margot Leadbetter.

But all is not lost.

I can work a kaftan and a g&t.

Ahem.  🙂

Fiction Friday

I’ve been ignoring it for weeks.

But today I finally succumbed.

I went into the garden.

And I didn’t immediately turn around and go straight back into the house again!

This is what awaited me

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And this

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And where did this come from?

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It wasn’t there the last time I looked!

And after two hours solid gardening, can’t you see the difference?

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Nope, me neither.

Sigh.

This Week I Have Mostly Been Reading

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Well, it was ok. The tale of an ex-pat Singaporean woman who returns to the family fold, and business, after the breakdown of her marriage. The story was reasonably well told, well structured. But….But. It lacked something. The main character was not particularly likeable, so it was hard to care whether her journey of self discovery led anywhere. The descriptions of Singapore? Uninspiring. The descriptions of the art of soy sauce manufacture? Routine.

A bit of a missed opportunity.

Next Week I Shall Mostly Be Reading

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A mysterious authors society, books that rewrite themselves and things that lurk in the woods.

Sounds promising.

Whoosh

I looked out of the window today.

I really wish I hadn’t.

Sunshine?

Showers?

You know what that means…

The whole garden has gone “thppppppttttt”

And that, my friends, is the sound of vegetation expanding exponentially (wow, my old English teacher would be proud 🙂 )

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I am still trying the old “eyes tightly shut, fingers in ears, “la la la” I can’t see or hear you” trick

But it won’t be long.

It won’t be long before I have to go out there

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In the immortal words of Swans

“In my garden….
Things grow in my garden”

Quite.

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Sprung

Could it be?

Could it possibly be?

4, count them, FOUR whole days without rain?

It has been, gasp, positively warm.

There have been

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Flowers

And buzzy things

And flowers

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And tweeting things

And flowers

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And oh? Did I mention the flowers?

So many flowers that I had a spectacular run of fifteen sneezes on the trot yesterday as the first twitchings of hay fever tickled around my nose.

Hmmmm, Hope there’s no pranayama breathing in yoga this week. 🙂

Chilly

Woke up to a very excited older child who was keen to show me this

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Frost on his bathroom window.

And I realised that, with the seemingly universal use of central heating nowadays, I couldn’t remember the last time Jack Frost had been busy on our (or anyone else’s) windows.

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You forget how beautiful it can be.

But I do vividly remember the horror of stepping out of bed on a cold winters morning when the only heating was the coal fire downstairs.

Brrrrr.

Lets talk about the weather

I love British weather. This is probably a good thing as there is so much of it. You can look out of the window at 6am and dress appropriately for what you see, and then during the course of a day be dressed inappropriately 5 times, and appropriately again 4 times. And that’s just by lunchtime.

As well as providing an endless supply of topics for us to talk about, the weather makes every day just that little bit more exciting. Will I be looking like a drowned rat when I pick Rosie up at 3.20pm, having worn a summery dress as dictated by the clear blue skies I saw before leaving for work this morning and now being faced by ominous black clouds as I leave work at 2.30? Light patchwork quilt or heavy duty duvet for bed tonight? If I book a UK holiday for next summer will I need to pack shorts and tshirts or snow suits?

It keeps you on your toes it does.

It is also incredibly inspiring. I look out of the window, and what I see this afternoon is wildly different from what I saw this morning. This morning late summer sunshine bleached the garden. This afternoon I saw fat raindrops on glossy holly leaves

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The lower light levels gave warmth to the ripening crab apples

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And I noticed for the first time the ripe plums on the Cambridge Gage

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There were also raindrops on roses

20130919-223345.jpg and if there had been any cats in the area, rest assured whiskers on kittens would also have been snapped.

Heaven on Earth

When I was small my mum introduced me to the delights of gardening by giving me my very own patch of earth in our back garden. My delight in plants was begun by watching the gangly stems of sunflowers spring up and then produce their brilliant smiley faces, and by watching a tiny miniature rose blossom among the weeds I never quite got round to pulling out. I remember my mother was always there in the background, never interfering but always being on hand to help out or offer advice if asked – pretty much as she was throughout most of my life.

Inevitably as a teenager and student, other priorities took over and growing in scholarly wisdom and knowledge was more important to me for a number of years. Then came marriage and family and thoughts turned to homely things once more.

When we bought our Victorian house many years ago, one of the things that sold the property to me was the garden. Small and surrounded on three sides by wall, it had very f features apart from a path which had been placed, unimaginatively, straight down the middle of the lawn. Here indeed was an opportunity to try about all the plans I had been making in my head whilst reading books and watching television programmes on transforming your garden.

My husband has now given up complaining about the number of gardens he is forced to visit, he knows he is fighting a losing battle. We are fortunate to be only a few miles away from the wonderful Hidcote Manor, with its fabulous herbaceous borders and inspiring planting. We also live near the Cotswolds which means we are only a short drive away from the villages of Stow on the Wold, Chipping Campden and Bourton on the Water, whose cottage gardens are all great sources of ideas and information for a novice gardener like me.

The work at times has been hard but finally I am starting to see the fruits of my labours. The peonies have blossomed, their weighty blush pinks heads bowing to the ground and their wonderful perfume vying with that of the rambling Rosa Albertine to dazzle the senses. Powder blue delphiniums and pastel pink foxgloves rise above the low growing geraniums and campanulas, and the many different varieties of lavender I have planted are a delight even in the winter, when sachets full of their dried flowers perfume my clothes and remind me of the warmth of summer. Now there is plenty of flora in place the wildlife has returned to the garden too. Earth which was barren is now rich and full of earthworms; dragonflies and butterflies bring colour to the air and a variety of different birds are now frequent visitors, coaxed back with regular feelings of nuts and bread scraps.

There is still much to do in my little garden, for the time being however, and while the continued hot weather makes even the easiest of tasks wearisome, I am content to sit in my garden, listening to the birdsong and the pollen-drunken humming of the honey bees.

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