5 May 2021

Taking Stock

I'm pleased to say I am now fully vaccinated, I had my second covid jab a couple of weeks ago and am even more pleased to say I didn't feel as bad afterwards as I did with my first one. I took a paracetamol before bedtime, slept well but had a thumping headache when I woke, and felt a little tired up until about midday. Small potatoes.

oOo

When the garden wakes up from winter sleep I walk around looking at what needs to be done,
what's showing signs of life, what can be resuscitated and what looks dead. 

The geraniums were covered over winter so I was hoping to see some semblance of survival.
This was a beautiful deep pink/crimson colour.
The other 11 look just the same!
Winter 2019 I didn't cover any and most of them survived!!


Fickle thy name is clematis.
I have tried (with only a modicum of success), to grow them for years.
Last year this clematis above was thriving, it took off, it had lots of buds on it,
it was looking good ...........
then one day it started to wilt, and the rest is history.


This one, newly planted last year didn't do much at all, well actually it didn't do anything, 
it looked dead, but now it's looking promising.
I have a theory - when they're in pots I think I overwater them
so I'm going to neglect them and see how that works out! 


This lovely winter clematis (can't remember its name) is the star of my garden.
It's on a north facing wall and has bloomed for the past 4 years covering two fence panels.
I didn't do anything, not quite neglected it, just let it get on with it,
which is why I'm going to apply the same method to the summer ones.


A first for me last year was this passion flower.
It was lovely with healthy flowers, I was very pleased with it.
It was growing round a climbing rose, through some trellis attached to a fence panel that had to be replaced. I did my best to remove it but had to cut some of the stems. There's no sign of life after a few weeks, it's not looking good.

  
 A neighbour left this pot outside her house for anyone who wanted it so I snapped it up 
and painted it. It was ok through the summer but didn't fare well over winter.
I'm going to give it a good sand down and re-paint it. 

The biggest job I have been busy with is painting the fence panels. Three were damaged and had been battered around for months in all the bad winter weather, so when we finally replaced them I started painting. I enjoy it, I find it slightly theraputic, but I've reached the side pathway now and I'm getting bored! Also one panel is completely covered in ivy and another still has clumps of dead ivy that I removed years ago, clinging to it. It might take a while for those to get painted.


What a state the small patio was in. I didn't really notice how bad the fence panels were last year with the tree in full greenery and my bike and flowers covering some of it.
It already looks better with the fence panels painted and when I have cleaned the slabs and planted the tubs with pretty flowers it will be transformed back into my little corner of sunshine and relaxation.


The cherry tree is starting to bloom, seen here with a lovely little visitor.
No doubt the birds will get more cherries than me!


This one at the bottom of the street is glorious.


 What a shame that the beautiful blooms only last a few short weeks


∼ Be safe and well ∼ 
Polly x

28 April 2021

Misbehaving


 My youngest daughter sent me this birthday card a few years ago, can't think why!
I was surprised to see the author of the quote was Orson Welles,
at first glance I thought it was Oscar Wilde.

This little girl has got the look spot on!

∼ Be safe and well ∼ 
Polly x

23 April 2021

St George's Day


St George Patron Saint of England

Today we celebrate St George's Day, a heroic knight in shining armour slaying a ferocious, fire-breathing dragon. It's thought he was born in the 3rd century AD in Cappadocia (modern day Turkey), died in Lydda (modern day Israel) and his tomb was in Lod and was a centre of Christian pilgrimage.
So how did he become the Patron Saint of England? 
It's likely that he was an officer in the Roman army, joining the retinue of Emperor Diocletian. It is thought that during the persecutions of the Emperor George was executed for refusing to make a sacrifice in honour of the pagan gods, and like many saints he was depicted as a martyr after he died for his Christian faith. 
But still we ask how did he become the Patron Saint of England when he never actually came here?
Well although he never visited England, his reputation for virtue and holiness spread across Europe and his feast day – the 23rd April – was celebrated in England from the 9th century onwards. He became popular with English kings. Edward I had banners bearing the emblem of St George (a red cross on a white background) and Edward III had a strong interest in the saint and owned a relic of his blood. The St George cross was not used to represent England until the reign of Henry VIII.
The dragon was added later
The story goes that St George rode into Silene (modern day Libya) to free the city from a dragon who had a taste for humans, but it’s a story which post-dates the real George by several centuries! Images of George and the dragon survive from the 9th century – 500 years after his death. Originally these may simply have been representations of the battle between Good and Evil. But the story was developed and popularised in the Middle Ages in a compendium of stories about saints’ lives.
St George was canonised in AD 494 by Pope Gelasius, who claimed he was one of those 'whose names are justly revered among men but whose acts are known only to God'. A feast day of St George has been celebrated in England for hundreds of years on 23 April, which was possibly the date of his martyrdom. Following the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, St George's Day became one of the most important feast days in the English calendar.
During the Middle Ages, people believed that St George was one of the 'Fourteen Holy Helpers' – a group of saints who could help during epidemic diseases. St George's protection was invoked against several nasty diseases, many fatal, including the Plague and leprosy. From around 1100, his help was also sought to protect the English army. In William Shakespeare’s Henry V, the monarch calls on the saint during his battle cry at the Battle of Harfleur in the famous “Once more unto the breach, dear friends” speech, crying “God for Harry! England, and St. George!” Five hundred years later – during the First World War – a ghostly apparition of St George is said to have aided British troops during their retreat from Mons, and the naval commander of the Zeebrugge Raid cited the saint as inspiration.
England isn't the only country to celebrate St George, he is an international saint shared with Venice, Genoa, Portugal, Ethiopia and Catalonia among others, and many of these places have their own celebrations and ceremonies in his honour.
St George represents those we honour. The Order of the Garter (founded by Edward III in 1348) is the highest order of chivalry in the country and Queen Elizabeth II is at the helm as Sovereign of the Garter. To this day St George’s cross still appears on the Garter badge and his image is the pendant of the Garter chain. In 1940 King George VI created a new award for acts of the greatest heroism or courage in circumstance of extreme danger. The George Cross, named after the king, bears the image of St George vanquishing the dragon. The image of St George also adorns many of the memorials built to honour those killed during World War One.
So even though he wasn't born here or visited here, it's a good legacy to have adopted.

 ∼ Be safe and well ∼ 
Polly x

17 April 2021

A Good Read

Things In Jars by Jess Kidd
Roll up, roll up, suspend belief, prepare to be entertained. Things In Jars reads like an old fashioned circus. Whilst it wouldn't make my 'All time favourite reads list' I liked it, but my book club girls didn’t. One comment was “too much unnecessary prose, and repetition” there probably was a bit but I didn't feel the need to skip any of it; and most of them didn’t like the content, yes some of it is grim. Victorian London was grim, awash with violence, crime, disease, stink, penury, and dead bodies. Bodies appeared almost hourly, in doorways with their throats cut or heads caved in. Half-burnt in hearths, garroted in garrets, folded into trunks or bobbing about in the Thames, great bloated shoals of them. And the installation of a world class sewer system only added to the mire as bodies were unearthed. Kidd describes Victorian London perfectly. I thought one aerial description as seen through the eyes of a raven was particularly potent:
Breathe in—but not too deeply. Follow the fulsome fumes from the tanners and the reek from
the brewery, butterscotch rotten, drifting across Seven Dials. Keep on past the mothballs and
the cheap tailor’s and turn left at the singed silk of the maddened hatter. Just beyond, you’ll
detect the unwashed crotch of the overworked prostitute and the Christian sweat of the
charwoman. On every inhale a shifting scale of onions and scalded milk, chrysanthemums
and spiced apple, broiled meat and wet straw, and the sudden stench of the Thames as the
wind changes direction and blows up the knotted backstreets. Above all, you may notice
the rich and sickening chorus of shit.

Medicine was making great headway into understanding anesthesia and medical and surgical procedures, and to advance their understanding doctors and surgeons studied dead bodies, some obtained legally, but many nefariously. And then there were the collectors, the arrogant, ruthless, amoral gentry collectors, hungry for the unusual, abnormal, remarkable - Things in Jars. And a little girl named Christobel.

The story starts in London in 1863, Bridie Devine is a private detective. She wears a dagger strapped to her thigh, smokes a pipe, often enlivened with substances other than pure tobacco, and she solves murders by reading corpses and talking to a ghost. She shares her home with her quirky assistant, the seven-foot-tall Cora, who asks more than once whether Bridie would like this or that person held upside down. The other frequent companion in her life and investigations is Ruby Doyle. Ruby, a renowned boxer in his day, is the ghost. He appears shirtless in shorts sporting a cocked top hat, muscles aplenty, and a considerable number of tattoos, with peculiarities all their own. Devilishly handsome - think Tom Hardy with a handlebar moustache! Ruby knows Bridie well, and she finds him very attractive. Their history is revealed later in the story.
Bridie’s last case was a disaster, she is haunted by her inability to prevent the death of a child. With her reputation in tatters, she is surprised when Sir Edmund Berwick hires her to find his kidnapped 6 year old daughter Christobel. Bridie is determined not to fail. But Christobel is no ordinary child, she has extraordinary abilities, and water behaves oddly whenever she is near. The Thames is resurgent, battered by never ending biblical rains as the city floods.
With gruesome murders, double dealing and avarice Bridie must keep her wits about her if she is to find the child.

This book won't suit everyone, I was the only one out of 12 of us in my book club who liked it. I thought it was a clever combination of humour, kitsch, folklore, imagination and colourful characters, and I liked the fantasy and gothic elements.

∼ Happy Reading ∼
Polly x

14 April 2021

L Plates

My 17 year old grandson had his first driving lesson today. Last year his parents took him for a few lessons on private land and he did quite well. I bought some lessons for his birthday last October but he wasn't able to use them until now. His driving instructor was very pleased with him.

I'm happy for him, and terrified!

∼ Be safe and well ∼ 
Polly x

13 April 2021

A Splendid Appendage


This lovely gentleman was happy to let me take a photo of him sporting this magnificent moustache.
He has maintained it for over 30 years! We met him and his wife in a café in Lyndhurst whilst on a day out in the New Forest area a couple of years ago. It was a coach trip through some lovely countryside and villages stopping only once for lunch so I didn't take any photos except this one below taken from the coach.

I don't know what it is, it's inland, some kind of lookout tower maybe, or a water tower. 
If you know please tell. I thought it was a nice structure.

∼ Be safe and well ∼ 
Polly x


9 April 2021

A Life Well Lived

The Duke of Edinburgh, the longest-serving royal consort in British history, has been at the Queen's side for seven decades.

They met and married before I was born, and, along with the queen he has been part of my life, almost like family.  

He has been the subject of much criticism of his early history. But through no fault of his own two of his sisters were married to Germans and therefore could not deny the German connection. His childhood was almost nomadic, born in Greece, exiled from there and grew up in France, then with family tragedy and his mother's health problems he was moved around from Germany to England to live with his Mountbatten relatives. He attended Gordonstoun where he was a hard worker and excelled at sport. 

He served and loved the Royal Navy and planned to make it his career. The early death of King George VI changed all that. He suddenly found himself thrust into becoming The Queen's consort. He had to re-direct the focus of his life to the  devotion and responsibility to his wife and Queen.

When he joined the Royal firm the footmen were still wearing powdered wigs!! He was considered an outsider, but that helped him to see beyond the life of royals. He was very down to earth, comfortable with, and could communicate with people from all walks of life. He became a reformer, steering the royal family to move with the times. In 1961 he was the first member of the royal family to be interviewed on television. He was instrumental in the documentary about the royal family. He encouraged Her Majesty to write her own Christmas messages, and to use autocue. He encouraged palace garden parties to include and honour members of the public. He launched the royal family into the modern age, encouraging them to be more visible, more in touch.

He wasn't afraid to speak out on issues that are commonplace now, such as climate change and the environment, but were considered controversial 40 years ago.

He was controversial and sometimes rude, but he had strong beliefs and sometimes it's hard to remain silent in the face of stupidity.

He was by the Queen's side for 251 overseas tours and carried out more than 22,000 solo engagements and gave more than 5,400 speeches, as well as taking part in thousands of other engagements with the Queen. Always by her side, always supporting her.

But he found time to follow his favourite pursuits - polo for many years, cricket, and when he retired he took up horse drawn carriage driving, which involves racing carriages at breakneck speeds through courses and over obstacles. He was the main driving force in establishing the official rules for the sport and, after "smashing up" a carriage he was involved in creating an "indestructible" one made for him by the workshops at Sandringham.

He has a huge portfolio of charities. Worldwide more than 6 million people have taken part in the The Duke of Edinburgh's Awards scheme. He attended over 500 gold award ceremonies for the scheme, shaking thousands of hands, on his feet for hours. His work is an outstanding example of a life dedicated to public service. His legacy will live on.

He was loved, admired and respected. A very sad loss for the nation, but especially for Her Majesty.

At The Queen's coronation Prince Philip paid homage to his wife and promised to be her "liege man of life and limb". He fulfilled that promise to his sweetheart to the end, being by her side for 72 years. Her majesty has lost a beloved husband, friend and rock.

R.I.P. Your Royal Highness



6 April 2021

Beauty Amongst the Garbage

Beauty and grace, qualities attributed to swans


This beauty has made her nest amongst all this garbage.


What is wrong with people who just toss their rubbish away
without any thought or concern about where it ends up.


Thankfully she doesn't know how badly some people behave, her only concern is incubating her eggs. I think this is part of the river Cam that runs through the town. Swans breed here every year and previous babies have grown into healthy adults so the rubbish doesn't hinder them. I have a feeling that there might be a working party of volunteers who clear it up now and again.


Daddy swan was just a few feet away


keeping a very watchful eye on some ducks

 
There was also a family of moorhens


But daddy wasn't bothered about the moorhens


he didn't give up until the ducks flew away,maybe the ducks steal their eggs. 


How cute is this little family


following mum back to the nest. Cuteness overload


Her other babies were underneath her and I'm sure that lone one eventually joined them.

∼ Be safe and well ∼ 
Polly x


3 April 2021

Easter

 Happy Easter


Historically we don't get good weather at Easter, it's usually
chilly and overcast, and this year is shaping up to be no different.

 However you celebrate I hope Easter will be a happy/sunny/fun/peaceful time for you

Polly x


30 March 2021

Oaklands Park

What a glorious day it has been here in my part of the UK. My car registered a high of 26 deg sitting in the sunshine! My friend M and I visited Oaklands park. 

The house, a beautiful surburban residence, was built in 1865 for local industrialist Frederick Wells, a director of the Chelmsford Brewery, on land purchased from the estate of the influential Mildmay family.
The house was used as a hospital in World War I, and when it came up for sale in 1930 Chelmsford Borough Council bought it for use as Chelmsford Museum and Essex Regiment Museum.
The additional wing at the side is quite modern but blends in with the original building.
In 2019, the museum had a full refurbishment, with a new cafe, interactive displays and new artefacts.


The grounds are lovely with wooded areas, flower beds and two adventure play areas. 


This group of trees is very popular with children, it's like a den inside.

The Hive cafe has an extensive menu offering delicious home made sandwiches, breakfast and brunch, afternoon tea, and a host of gorgeous mains and desserts. They have a restricted take-away menu at the moment so M and I had coffee and cake sitting on a bench in the shade. Next time we go we are going to take a picnic.
∼ Be safe and well ∼ 
Polly x

24 March 2021

A Good Read

The Uncommon Reader by the wonderful treasure that is Alan Bennett
An absolutely charming, witty, (and a little cheeky) novella celebrating the pleasure of reading. Our protagonist is none other than HRH Queen Elizabeth.
One day whilst Her Majesty is  walking with her corgis in the grounds of Buckingham Palace the dogs wander off. In pursuit of them she sees the Westminster travelling library parked just  outside the Palace gates, and feels duty bound to borrow a book. Her first choice, a novel by Ivy Compton-Burnett isn’t exactly a page turner but on her next visit she meets Norman, a young man who works in the palace kitchen and frequents the library.
Aided by Norman Her Majesty soon develops a passion for reading. Devouring work from Hardy to Brookner, from Proust to Beckett, she is never without a book in her hand or her handbag, and as a consequence her public duties begin to suffer. Her equerries decide the reading has gone too far and conspire to bring the Queen’s literary journey to a close. 

Some favourite quotes:
"Read ma'am?"
"Books"
"When I get a chance, ma'am. I never seem to find the time”.
"That's what a lot of people say. One must make the time. Take this morning. You're going to be sitting outside the town hall waiting for me. You could read then."
------------
What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren't long enough for the reading she wanted to do.
------------ 
"Books are not about passing the time. They are about other lives. Other Worlds. One reads for pleasure," said the Queen."It is not a public duty."
------------ 
"You don't put your life into your books. You find it there."
------------ 
As it was, with this one she soon became engrossed, and passing her bedroom that night clutching his hot-water bottle, the Duke heard her laugh out loud. He put his head around the door
"All right, old girl?''
"Of course, I'm reading."

I love the idea of Prince Phillip taking a hot water bottle to bed!

I do hope Her Majesty has read this book, and laughed out loud. It is a gem.

∼ Happy Reading ∼
Polly x

20 March 2021

Waiting

I've cut my hair!! nothing drastic, not the layers just the back bit, about an inch, I couldn't stand it any longer. My daughter tidied up a few bits I couldn't see very well and it actually looks good, almost a new style.

My walk in wardrobe is getting awkward to walk into. On the floor are four bags of clothes and stuff waiting to go to a charity shop and three bags of quilts waiting to be collected by the Project Linus co-ordinator. There isn't anywhere else to put them without them getting in the way all the time. 

Lockdown has provided us with an opportunity to have a good sort out of things we no longer need. 
My daughter gives me items for charity shops, even my grandson has sorted out his clothes!

I finished the last quilt just before Christmas. Most of them were made using material and fleece left over from previous quilts. I did buy some new fleece for some of them. 

I'm a bit OCD about colours matching and co-ordinating, and themes, but a lot of the left over material was small amounts that wouldn't do this so I just had to go with what I had, but once they were sewn together I was pleased with the results.

This one above is just ok

I like this one

I just about had enough for this nautical/fish/shell theme with a few neutral whites to fill in.


I love this one, it's Mostly Disney characters - 101 Dalmations, Jungle Book, Bambi, Mickey Mouse and Dumbo, with a few Peter Rabbits. I spent a lot of time looking for more material to make quilts of each character, to no avail. But I think it's lovely and I'm sure there is a little girl or boy somewhere who will be happy to own it.

After making a Christmas quilt for my Aussie daughter I had some material left over but not enough
for another quilt so I bought some more, then I had too much! so I made this slightly larger one, it
has 7 squares across and 8 down instead of 7 x 7, and a small border on the top and bottom.

This is a favourite

And this one

This is number one favourite.
Made from strips, it's time consuming but very rewarding. After making this quilt I vowed I would never do a multiple backing again - that note to self didn't last long! This backing was much easier though.

It isn't a true square, it went a bit wonky. It started out well, I made a template from
a finished quilt and sewed the strips onto quilting paper starting with pinks 

then mauve, orange, green, yellow and blue, finishing with reds and a few left over pinks. It started going wonky about 3/4 of the way through but I just couldn't work out how to correct it.

This one reminds me of rhubarb and custard!

This is very pretty

Hopefully we will soon be out of lockdown and I can reclaim my walk in wardrobe! 

Be safe and well ~
Polly x
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