Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Life is full, work, grandchildren and a rapidly growing garden are using up lots of time (and energy). My pond, which I made about 15 years ago, appeared to have sprung a slow leak. Fortuitously a friend had decided to get rid of his huge pond, only a year old and constructed before his son started walking, so had a virtually brand new liner which he gave to me at the end of last year. Re-lining a pond, a much bigger job than I had anticipated. Removing all the edging slabs, catching the 2 remaining goldfish and then emptying the pond, by hand, it took days. My glasses kept falling off and into the mud at the bottom, the frogs kept jumping into the pond and then scrambling to get out, so I’d help them, take them down the garden and then 15 minutes later they would hop past me and launch themselves back into the thick sludge. The sludge, buckets full were deposited around the flower beds, Hubby said that it looked as if a cow with a bowel problem had been let loose in the garden, I’ve been assured that it’s good for the plants though. After days of re-levelling, cementing slabs back, re-filling and re-planting I returned the fish, plus three we had been asked to adopt by son, and then realised that they were too visible to the heron so had to net the pond. It’s been good to have the warm weather but it has created an issue with the pond water, it’s turning green, I suspect because the oxygenating plants are not yet established. Should I invest in an aerator?

We have also had Jack’s 7th birthday, I can’t believe that he is 7, it only seems like yesterday that my first grandchild was born and now I find myself escorting him and his friends to the O2 dinosaur exhibition, where he proved himself to be as knowledgeable about ‘terrible lizards’ as the guide escorting us. Obviously there was also the family birthday meal and, thanks to the early summer weather, it was a bbq plus an early outing for the paddling pool. One of life’s conundrums – how come that when you pack the pool up for the winter it has no leaks, but when you get it out the following year it has developed one? Grrrr.

Work is another conundrum. Where is it all going? I don’t know, it just seems particularly grim at the moment and I have a premonition that before too long I will find myself reapplying for my job on a lower pay band, not good news leading up to retirement as it would affect my pension. I am having an interesting debate with the people in control of parking. We have to pay, currently £12 per month to park for half an hour a day, at the hospital where we are based. They are now increasing the fee to £20 per month. I have taken issue about this, pointing out that I have no choice about whether I park at the hospital or not and also the fact that the new rules will mean that we have to park a hundred yards from our office where the gas cylinders and on-call equipment are stored. The response I got has inflamed me even more ‘ if you wish to park on the hospital site’. Hang on there you ignorant bureaucrat, I don’t ‘wish’, I HAVE to, it is one of the conditions of my role that I have a car, that I use that car for my job, I cannot do my job without a car. Plus, why should I, as a job-share, pay the same parking fee as a full timer? Any employment experts out there who might like to weigh in on this one?

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A thing of beauty

This morning Hubby was busy doing his hunter, gatherer thing which involves chopping and splitting logs. I was lurking indoors, recovering from intensive Grandparenting, by indulging in on-line consumerism, when there was a tapping on the window. Hubby was gesturing toward the back-door and by a certain degree of mind-reading and assisted by years of playing charades I interpreted his posturing as indicating I should open the back-door. My Hubby is one of the most accident prone people I know and as I moved through the house to get to the door I realised that he had been cupping one hand and looking intently at it’s contents. Oh lordy, he had been using the chainsaw and had already nicked his nose, had he now managed to chop off a finger? Was that what he was holding so carefully? That would be why he couldn’t open the door. I increased my pace and grabbed a phone as I passed. A list of items flew through my brain; plastic bag; ice cubes (blow I haven’t made any in the new freezer); frozen peas then; clean tea-towel, I flung open the door and looked into Hubby’s cupped hand and there it was –

Hubby has come across it whilst wielding his chainsaw, so it had sawdust all over it and my task was to clean it up. I did the best I could using a fine-haired artists paint-brush and then put it back in the driest, most secluded part of the woodpile. How had it survived the snow and cold? Lovely to see something so delicate, beautiful and summery in chilly December.

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In and out

That’s it then, my choose and book saga is over and so far, so good. Have no issues with my care whilst in hospital, from the consultant to the physio to the theatre porter, they were all lovely. Well, the anaesthetist could do with better people skills, but that does seem to be a fairly common element within that speciality, so I wouldn’t hold that against him. I was well looked after.

To date my recovery appears to be progressing well, certainly much better than last time. I’m taking things very easy, the physio advised me not to lift anything heavier than a full kettle so I had requested that none of the grandchildren come around for the first week, I wouldn’t be able not to pick them up. Someone decided to ignore me though, so Izzy came round yesterday with her Mummy who had offered to run the hoover round. All went well until I went for a lie down, Izzy came with me. I laid on the bed whilst Iz combed my hair, stuck the baby dolls bottle  my mouth and kept up a continuous stream of toddler chat but then she picked up the electric guitar and that’s when I protested, she ignored me so I called her Mummy to remove the aspiring Eric Clapton, not a happy bunny, she may never play the guitar for me again (fingers crossed).

This not picking anything up is causing Hubby to have to take on the plant watering and he is now regretting encouraging me to create quite so many hanging baskets and pots, with this hot weather he is having to be very diligent with the watering cans. Being resourceful he has managed to cut down the time spent filling watering cans from the butts by using the water from the family-sized paddling pool. It  hadn’t been’ emptied after the ‘Welcome Joshua to the family’ barbecue we had on Sunday. Good plan really as it’s not being wasteful with water and also the plants appreciate water which is warm rather than ice cold.

 One of my pots which I planted with ‘rejects’ from a DIY store. Really looking forward to the orange fushias flowering.

The lily in my pond hasn’t flowered for at least 5 years. The fish may have died but the lily is thriving.

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Purple thoughts

Just waiting for the morning sun, yes sun, to dry off the dew from the grass and then I shall be out there giving the lawn (grass, moss and weeds) the first cut of the year.

Meanwhile, back in the weird and wonderful 13th dimension which are the maternity services, a strange calm has descended. So far my manager has not approached me directly about the plans to rip me from my natural habitat. Many others have told me that I am a) to be co-ordinator on labour ward; b) sister on postnatal ward; c) a stand alone midwife on the stand alone birth unit but there is nothing from anyone in authority. Two of the message bearers were apparently told to discuss options with me but, until I have been in conclave with a body in a senior position, I am of the opinion that the consultation has not commenced so that gives me 3 months to consider my next move.

The election. This has given me a wonderful platform to air my concerns about local maternity services. Representatives of the political parties are knocking, innocently, at my door canvassing for my vote. In times gone past I would politely rebuff them, not now though, I have a captive audience. Last night Hubby answered the door and was in the process of saying goodbye to a rosette wearing bod when a tubby little madwoman invited the caller in for a chat. Huge satisfaction and enjoyment, being able to sit one of our local officials down and enlighten him about the troubles within the maternity services, not just locally but nationwide. I know that it won’t make a jot of difference, Hubby’s expression was ‘pi**ing in the wind’, but at least I can express my concerns to someone who may pass them on, even if it is only to warn others about the mad woman!

Years ago my sister told me about a poem concerning a lady of advancing years, Warning by Jenny Joseph. We joked that we would become the person described in the poem and that I was already on the way there as I do ‘ hoard pens….. and  things in boxes’. Well, last weekend, Easter Sunday in fact, was my birthday. I decided that this was my most important birthday…ever. I was now of an age when I could retire and I had achieved this at Easter (symbolism) so I was of a mind to celebrate. The first step toward my ‘rebirth’ was managed by one of my daughters, hair colour, she chose violet, it is really more purple, but it is vivid and it is different. Then my offspring took me to Crazy Bear to educate me in how other, less ordinary people, spend their leisure time. Thankfully they had been there before so were not a fazed as I was by the decor, with which I co-ordinated well, and the cleverly concealed toilets. Sunday saw a surprise meal, children, grandchildren, sister and best friend, fabulous and special. Deviation, back to ‘Warning’. I think I am slowly slipping into the persona, especially with my new found diversion of engaging political cold-callers. As the poem advises-

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

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Life has been super busy recently, hence no posts. I have had 2 weeks without having the boys so you would think that I’d have an excess of time for relaxation, well that would be the case, if it weren’t for Son moving house last Friday so, as I couldn’t help on the moving day because I was working, I offered to look after Evie on the days prior to the move, those excessively hot days. Their move went well, however since they both have a desire for perfection they concentrate on a specific, wonderful in their work life but rather limiting when moving house and needing to set it up quickly for an 8 month old who is crawling , cruising and into everything. As a result, by Monday the house was still full of boxes, mirrors propped up against walls and totally unsafe for an adventurous bundle of mischief so, I abducted her for the day. Thankfully it worked the trick and by the time I returned her the house resembled a home, rather than a junk yard.

On Sunday Amy, the boys and their Mummy and Daddy came round for dinner as they had only returned from Majorca the previous evening. We were lucky to still have Amy as, on their first day there, she jumped into the deep end of the swimming pool while her Mummy and Daddy were attempting to control her brothers. By the time they had realised that she was not with them she was bobbing up and down underwater. Daddy leapt into the water and dragged her out, blue and, eventually, spluttering. She recovered well, unlike Daddy’s camera and wallet which were in his pockets when he jumped into the pool.

I’ve been having a clutter clear-out and am now a huge fan of ‘Freecycle’ . I have always been a terrible hoarder, mainly because I hate throwing out something which is still ‘fit for purpose’, so having a system whereby you can pass things on to people who want them is brilliant.

Whilst I’ve been on annual leave one of my women who I had booked for a homebirth had her baby, in a lay-by! Whilst I was discussing homebirth with D and her partner she asked me what would happen if she decided that she wasn’t coping well labouring at home, I reassured her that if that were the case then we would transfer her in to hospital. I did point out though that as this was her second baby, and if she were progressing well in labour, the chances were that by the time we had got her to the maternity unit the baby would be very close to putting in an appearance, and it may well be too late for the epidural. I’m so glad that I said this as what happened proved my point. Apparently a midwife had been called out early in the morning, examined D, found that it was still early labour, stayed for an hour observing irregular contractions and then left, leaving D with her phone number for when labour kicked off. Labour did kick off, and D decided that she wasn’t going to bother the midwife as she was finding contractions too much to cope with, so decided to go straight to the maternity unit by car, only they didn’t get that far before baby decided that car travel was interesting and so he would get a better look by being born, in a lay by, on a dual carriageway. Thankfully everyone is well, the car does need valeting though!

For the past 5 weeks I’ve been on-call for a family friend who was having a homebirth. Needless to say this 1st baby was reluctant to start the being born process by himself, so off went his Mummy for an induction on Thursday. Boy was this an awkward little boy, so, so near to being born normally, but, after 14 hours on the syntocinon drip, Mum’s cervix nearly fully dilated, a doctor discovered that baby was trying to come out brow first and so a CS was the method by which the not-so-little – 8lbs 11ozs, baby boy came into the world. Once again though, Mum and baby doing well.

I’ve just managed to get 2 days much needed gardening in, the borders are looking so much better now and the risk from errant brambles has been contained. I must be stronger than I thought as I succeeded in snapping a tine off a garden fork, only 3 months old and with a 10 year guarantee. When I returned it to the store the assistant told me that they had never had one returned, broken, before. Don’t mess with me, I’m obviously a force to be reckoned with.

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A lady called Lucy who works for immediate future, a company involved in Kinder’s latest publicity campaign, thought I may be interested in highlighting their search to find ‘6 funny kids’ to be the new faces and personalities of Kinder Chocolate Mini Treats. I shall post any more info about how to apply when I receive it. I might just keep it to myself though, I mean, I have 6 little grandchildren who I think are the cutest, cleverest and the biggest personalities……. ever!

I received an ‘award’ for my little blog


Thank you to Kim at All Grown Up for my pretty accolade. Now that I am in receipt of this I have to nominate 5 other blogs. Oh heavens, I hate having do this but here goes, in no particular order. When I feel that I have loads to cope with and start indulging in self-pity I look around and remember that there are other bloggers whose lives are far more hectic and demanding than mine, one of them is Fraggle. My next choice is Anji, this blogger has been wonderfully helpful with herbal remedies for the menopause, unfortunately she supports a rubbish football team 😉 but there again no one is entirely perfect. Sometimes being a blogger allows you to become super-involved in a fellow-bloggers life, recently I have felt impotent when reading Cartside’s entries, she has already received at least  of these awards and now the  3rd is pulsing it’s way through the fibre-optics. Someone who will appreciate the roses is Flighty. This blogger is an ‘old friend’ now. For years, and on different platforms, he has always had kind words to say whilst posting wonderful photos of plants, wildlife and Tornados. Still in a gardening frame of mind, I could also add bicycle frame, last but not least comes Town Mouse, she who kept us amused at the trials of being a commuter is now living the good life and revealing that life in the middle of no where can be a wonderful place to be.

Having posted my links I now have to list 5 current obsessions and 5 pet hates. I have a feeling that I could have problems with the second list, I’m fairly sure that I have more than 5 pet hates.

Current Obsessions 

  1. Freecycle. I’m a natural hoarder but this concept has been a godsend, now I don’t have to throw anything away, I just pass it on to someone who wants it more than I do.
  2. The long-range weather forecast. Daughter is getting married, in the woods, the weather has to be dry otherwise her fantasy will be a disaster.
  3. Stopping Jamie, one of the twins, from using his cuddle cat as a dummy. It feels horrid, all wet and slimy and it stinks, not to mention it affecting his dentition. I have no problem with him having it when he goes to bed or if he feels unwell or unhappy but I do have a problem with him having it constantly dangling from his mouth. 
  4. Duck weed. This horrid little aquatic plant is completely clogging up my pond and must be threatening my pond plants. Usually I scoop it out but this year, since the heron ate all the fish, we have hundreds of tadpoles and I can’t remove the duck weed without also scooping up loads and loads of them. I also have a solar powered fountain which generally keeps the weed down slightly but I’ve had to take that out because the tadpoles were being sucked into the motor and clogging it up. I keep coming up with little ruses but so far none of them have worked.
  5. Trying to find the red, toy phone that goes with the Little Tykes kitchen. Last seen being carried round the garden by Izzy. Would it float if she had thrown it in the pond? Would I see it if she had thrown it in the pond? Why would she throw it in the pond?

Pet Hates

  1. Excessive paperwork
  2. Hearing sportsmen/women referred to as heroes. Thy are not heroes. They are accomplished, talented, gifted and many other superlatives but thy are not heroes.
  3. Celebrity chefs. Taste is individual. Advise me how to cook something but please don’t tell me what, and how, and with what I should be eating.
  4. Needles. More specifically needles in my veins.
  5. Drivers who use mobile phones, but not a hands-free, whilst they are driving.

I should have entitled this entry ‘The Change – Part 7’ as I am now experiencing yet another symptom of the menopause, a rash. As long as it says on my trunk I will tolerate it, if it dares to spread to my face then I shall have to reconsider my pledge to beat menopausal symptoms without using HRT. If you are reading this Kezzy then apologies for writing about my menopause!

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Every few weeks my work/homelife pattern dictates that I have one ‘rest day’ and ten working days, tomorrow is the final day in this pattern and I’m bushed. In the middle of it I went to a lovely homebirth, once again it was a rush to get my gloves on and there was no time at all to call the second midwife, beautiful baby girl, everything wonderfully quick, easy and natural. Mum and Dad very happy with their third baby and her relaxed arrival into the world.

I received a Certificate of Appreciation from Tamba . It was because daughter had nominated me for it as I provide her with support, it’s my job, I’m her Mum and her children’s Grandmother, I should support her. Still it is lovely to have a certificate and, even better, it gives me free membership of Tamba so the boys and I can start going to a twin group. That will be wonderful as it will be somewhere which is set-up to cater for multiples, I’m  hoping to be able to go somewhere with the boys and to actually enjoy myself and relax…..slightly!

Due to the glorious weather I have been able to get out and garden for a couple of hours in the evenings, such a wonderful way to unwind after a ‘heavy’ day. Now I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that the rain holds off until Saturday as I haven’t managed to mow the grass yet.

Tomorrow is Jack’s 5th birthday. It is terryfying how quickly time passes, I can still remember in minute detail the day he was born and I became a grandmother, it was the most emotional day of my life. Now he is a little school boy who constantly amazes me with his knowledge of dinosaurs and the solar system.

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Good Day

Oh how I wish that everyday could be like today. The weather has been mild and dry and I have been able to spend all day in my garden. My spirits are high and I feel that I have spent the day being super, super productive. I’ve raked the grass, drastically pruned various shrubs, de-weeded the flower beds, ensured that the fencing around the pond is strong enough to withstand the twin’s attention and entertained 5 grandchildren, 2 daughters, 1 mother, 1 step-father and one extremely pleasant man from Aus, no idea who he was! I think that he is a distant relation to step-father, I felt very sorry for him as he has been staying with Mum, who is totally bonkers. Not bonkers in a jovial, amusing way but quite outspoken, overbearing and insulting to those unfortunate enough to pass within commenting distance. Anyway, whoever Aus man was he was treated to my Mother conducting a guided tour of our house, poor man must have incredibly embarrassed, but he coped terribly well, making all the right noises about how lovely my house and garden are and expressing disbelief at me having 6 grandchildren. It was shortly after this that 5 of them came flooding in, some through the front door, others via the back gate, all squealing and then just standing, silently staring at this exotic, sun-glass toting male who was commandeering Nanny’s attention. Izzy broke the spell by announcing that she needed a poo, and that Nanny had to take her to the toilet. Aus man left shortly afterwards.

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Spare time

Did I mention a wedding we were going to? I can’t remember. If I did it would have been because of Hubby’s reaction to the dress that I had purchased for the occasion. Nice little ‘frock’ (the name Hubby uses to describe any apparel combining a top and skirt), or so I thought,  from Next, calf length, 3/4 sleeves, black and cream in colour, tasteful. Not as far as my dearly beloved was concerned. ‘It’s horrible, you look awful in it’. Now he never, ever comments on what I’m wearing, unless prompted, so for him to voice an opinion shocked me and ensured that my new dress would never leave my wardrobe, except to be returned to the shop.  By being extremely judicious with time planning I managed to fit in another trip to the shops and bought myself another dress, but this time plus jacket and shoes, that cheered me up!

The wedding on Saturday was lovely. Why do I always cry at nuptials, conditioned response perhaps?

Sunday we went to my Sister’s for lunch and, just to prove that she can, she cooked. I could fib here and say that it was terrible, it wasn’t, in fact it was lovely, there was a price to pay though. I seem to have been nominated to host my Mother’s 80th birthday party, blow, blow and thrice blow. My niece was there and was saying how much my blog makes her laugh, especially my menopause entries. See, that’s just what I’m trying to get across, the change is either seen as good material for comedians or something to hide under the carpet, it’s not, not to the woman who’s going through it. Anyway, she insisted on reading one of my ‘The Change’ entries to Hubby, who has never read my blog. At the time  was mortified, it’s one thing writing an on-line diary, divulging thoughts and feelings to a computer screen, it’s another thing entirely hearing someone reading it to your nearest and dearest. I do have to say though that Hubby became quiet afterwards, perhaps it gave him food for thought or, he now thinks that I am totally neurotic and is busy hiding all the knives and paracetamol.

Today has been a lovely day. The tree surgeons came and cut down one of two giant leylandii which were taller than our house, and then reduced the other one to 10ft. Amy came and spent the day with Nanny and Grandad, she was fascinated by the tree surgeons but decided that they aren’t as brave as her Daddy. The weather was glorious so we sent much of the day outside, which was lovely. We gardened, spread some grass seed, watched the frogs in the pond and played with the sand table, just what I needed to unwind.

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High wind

My poppies are prone, my sunflowers have slanted and my still sour apples will never ripen now as they are carpeting the grass. It was so windy yesterday evening and into the night that many of my taller plants are now flattened. My pride and joys, the sunflowers, which I germinated in a jar with blotting paper so Jack and Amy could see how amazing nature is, took the worst hammering. One of them has snapped, the cane was too short, whilst even the ones with long canes are listing at a 45 degree angle. At about 8pm last night, when I realised how strong a combination the wind and rain were, I went out and provided more support for the plants I thought would suffer most but in some cases the canes have just gone over as well, and anyway, who would have thought that hydrangeas would be at risk, I suppose it’s the weight of the flower heads. Today will have to be spent pruning where broken and supporting where tilting.

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