Sunday, 18 July 2021

Summer salads, herbs & micro herbs ...

 Hi all, 

Our hot weather has arrived after a rather wet & grey time - it is welcome & the garden has needed attention as everything has just shot up. 

While doing lots of other things, I have neglected my salad planters along the wall of the house - they still contained the remnants of the winter greens that had bolted or just gone leggy. 

I shared these very useful & versatile planters with you before 

This in 2017 when I decided they were a good idea & and the progress of the first planting 

One of the planters, the green on closest to the small water butt has nasturtiums that self seeded from last year. The flowers & leaves are used in salads (we use no chemicals at home at all)  so they are a welcome addition. The celery in that planter has bolted to seed but it looks pretty so will stay for now. 

I grow celery by just placing the cut crown in shallow water for a few days until it roots then moving it to the planter where we use the new leaves in salads. 

The other two black planters were cleaned out & salad leaves sown in one, the second will follow once these have about 2 weeks start on them. 

I love the freedom of picking some fresh salad leaves from the planters right by the kitchen door to use on sandwiches or in salads. 

I was gifted this pretty micro green set for my birthday & grew some soon afterwards but I think it was still a bit cold & they did not do too well. I did a second lot of 5 pots & these will go on the kitchen window sill for now where I can keep an eye on them before just popping them in the planters outside. 

Gardening in the heat is hard work so herbs picked for the water jug - chocolate mint, fennel, camomile & lemon grass brewed in hot water, cooled then added .... 

With few cut flowers in the garden, a  vase of herbs will do nicely as flowers ... 

The parasols are up, the sun is high in the sky, & shade is needed .... 

These hollyhocks were sown last year in lockdown from a packet of seeds I had collected from the mother in laws home when it was sold. The first sowing was not very successful so I thought I would try again last year in lockdown & used random flower pots we had & they took - the second year & better than before ... 

The patio table is moved to the side under the fats Japonica & next to the laurel bush for shade ...

Thank you for your time; each & every visit & comment is much appreciated, be safe all  💖
Dee ~💕~

Monday, 21 June 2021

Happy Summer Solstice

 Today marks our longest day,  & is an important part of the ritual of time. The sun will rise at 4.52am  and set at 9.26pm, giving us 16 hours & 38 minutes of sunlight / daylight.  

The Solstice marks the beginning of the astronomical summer. The word ‘solstice’ comes from the latin word meaning ‘sun standing still’ which is a good description of how the day will seem to hang around. 

Pagans mark this day, often at Stonehenge because they believe mid summer has special significance.  

People used to light fires to keep the dark & bad spirits away.

Some of the folklore sayings associated with mid summer

One swallow never made a summer

When the summer birds take flight, there goes the summer with them

Welcome summer, the long days & short nights are very welcome after a long winter. 

Some previous blogs on this day:

summer solstice 2015

I will light candles tonight for my light, unfortunately there is no sun today which would have given us brightness. 

However, this weekend we have been out taking photos of very summery scenes in Shropshire - the poppy & daisies in the fields 

Beautiful, lush green fields amongst green trees 

Thank you for your time; each & every visit & comment is much appreciated, be safe all  💖

Dee ~💕~

Monday, 14 June 2021

Lockdown day 448 & still counting ...

It is hard to believe that after 448 days, we are still in restrictions of sorts. 

Today was a palatable hope that things would open up as planned on 21st June but alas, after we watched the G7 leaders socialising on the Cornish beach, cheek by jowl, further extensions were announced this evening -- thanks for nothing to the Delta / India variant.

I have chartered the lockdowns since the beginning from my own view: 

March 2020 - Living with social distancing & uncertainty ...

April 2020 - We are all in the same storm, not the same boat ....

June 2020 - Lockdown day 75

1 July 2020 - The milestone 100 days of lockdown in the UK

October 2020 - 200 days of lockdown ...

18 November 2020 - 240 days of lockdown & thinking festively ...

31 December 2020 - Create the life you want to live in 2021

31 January 2021 - In the end, we’ll all become stories ...

22 March 2021 - Lockdown day 365 - My year in review ...

Lockdown day 448 is yet another delay on this Covid survival expedition where life seems to be in suspension still, a sort of Alice through the looking glass where things are not as they seem. 

My modest work as an Elective Home Education Tutor came to a grinding  halt last March because I could not work in homes & across several different places so for the first time in my life I was without a purpose or job. I had worked hard over 18 years to work with those who opt out of mainstream education & my contribution was important & fulfilling - that stopped suddenly & when I could eventually restart with a tiny cluster in September, it was a relief to have that interaction again, to have a purpose, to be valued for my profession & training, to have an identity outside the home. 

That stopped again in January & with so many having had a long lay off, there was a great reluctance to re engage again - the momentum was lost. 

A new acronym came about for people like me - F I R E - Forced in to Early Retirement 

It might be an interesting prospect but my state pension is still a way off & the loss of the familiar routine is unsettling.  We have to learn to accept the reality of the world we are presented with but our own sense of worth is connected to the contribution we make in society, to the associations we have with our worth. The strides of the equalities have been lost as many women have again picked up the responsibilities of the home - falling back to  cooking, cleaning, planning meals,  the stereotypical roles reinforced again, the frustrations of the expected roles ...

The support systems have loosened too, the cosy shopping breakfasts with girlie friends or the meals shared with friends at home have not been there; not all friendships have survived & with it those support systems are gone. 

Tonights announcement brought a feeling of pandemic fatigue, a weariness of life that someone else has control over.  Many of us have done all that the last 448 days has asked, yet there is no end. We have had our 2 vaccinations, have kept socially distanced, worn our masks & done our bit. 

I have once again postponed my long trip to Transylvania for the third time, my Holocaust trip will probably be the same & be moved to 2022. 

The most important trip that is on perpetual hold is the one to South Africa to reunite my Father’s ashes with my Mothers & brothers. When that will be is out of my control but it is not far from my mind at all. Dad was a Covid victim & Covid seems to be reluctant to release its hold on our lives. 

The weariness of another Covid delay just gnaws at one, no clear answers to its origins or why it has claimed to many - it seems as if all the collateral damage wrought by it is incidental. 

I try to focus on the positives - of having a healthy lockdown grandson & his parents are doing well, of a grown up younger daughter choosing to spend the last 6 months of lockdown with us - that was very special as adult children returning are a blessing. 

I wonder what Lockdown number I will post next? Hopefully not another Advent countdown ... 

How is this new normal treating you? What is it like where you are? 

Stay well, seek out the things that bring peace to your mind, be blessed ... 

Thank you for your time; each & every visit & comment is much appreciated, be safe all  💖

Dee ~💕~

(extended lockdown deserves no images ... sorry) 

Monday, 24 May 2021

Enjoying a greener time

 Lockdown in its various forms has been with us for 427 days in the UK & life is still not back to any form of routine for us so I apologise for my lack of posts ... 

One of the upsides of lockdown has been the rise in people buying pot plants for their homes - this is a great thing because of the known benefits of cleaning the air, removing some of the many chemicals our homes emit from carpets, soft furnishings, furniture etc. 

I have always had some houseplants & shared my reasons in this post 

Youngest daughter come home at Christmas & has stayed on as she can work remotely; this has been an unexpected pleasure to have an adult child back home after several years at university & up north working. She brought her houseplants strapped in to the back of her car & they have happily joined our plants. Our inglenook fireplace has become the home for most of them - a large comfortable space which gets filtered light & the plants are not in the way. 

We have also been out together & have both added to our plant collections so it is looking lush here. I needed some additional plant pots & have been swayed towards metallic ones in various hues of copper, brass, hammered, ridged & plain - the catch the light & look good too. 

The dining room orchids have happily lived on the side console table for years but they have had their moments lately of not looking their best in spite of being repotted last year. I had a jiggle around & moved them across to the sideboard opposite, in front of the large mirror.  Two usually share a wounded brass container but that did not fit well so I had to move plants around to give them their own plant pots ... 

Do you have any houseplant tips or plants I should be adding? Tell all please as I love looking up interesting plants. 

Thank you for your time to stop by & read;  each & every visit & comment is much appreciated, be safe all  💖

Dee ~💕~

Friday, 26 March 2021

Some touches of Easter at home ...

Easter is almost upon us again & I have been finding the familiar things we use at home.  Last year , Easter was a trying time as we had not long entered lockdown & were still trying to get our heads around the new reality.  I have absolutely no new items at all but looking back over the previous Easter links, I realised that every year is different using the things we have & how the colour scheme changes & things move about the house too. 

This is what 2021 Easter decorations look like - lots of links because I know many of you love the details. 

One of the first things to change is always the conservatory sideboard so we can use the things straight from it. 

I love this vintage flower pot I was gifted about a decade ago - I always put some small daffodils in it in Spring & it is just a firm favourite with its bright raised details. 

The table cloth is a length of fabric I bought & hemmed - the colours will be perfect over Easter.  I love finding fabrics that can be used as table cloths  ...

The sideboard with details that regular followers will be familiar with since I have not bought anything new in ages ... 

The cream Spode Chelsea Wicker plates with their ornamental border set off the brighter wares. This pretty pattern was produced between 1954 -2003 & the pattern is used as a base for some other patterns. The platter is another vintage one that is useful for cakes etc. They are perfect with the other creamware items, some old, some new. 

This vintage glass & chrome jar is a useful treat storage & it appears often at home. 

The running hares bowl & jug were a gift some years back from Bell Pottery in Oxfordshire - they are firm favourites & their colours set the tone for the other items. 

The little rabbit dish & bowl were bought in Graaf Reinet in the Karoo, South Africa,  on a previous visit. I just knew they would sit well with my other things. 

The fused glass bowl is from a glass artist in Aberdeen in the Karoo. Marguerite Beneke is a talented glass artist & I have visited her studio several times to purchase original items from her. 

I often buy art when I travel & I saw these two original prints at an artist in Riga, Latvia & just knew I had to have them. Art is easy to take back in luggage & is a good reminder of places you have visited. They are displayed in simple Ikea Tolsby frames that work well for displays. 


The 4 rabbit plates & the two jars (blue & brown) were bought from Dunelm mill shops a few years ago - they are so useful for cakes at Easter. High street items can mix very easily with vintage & handmade if they share a common colour or theme. 


The dining room sideboard had a little craft tree that appears often at various times as it is very useful. It has a few favourite Easter items on it. 


The Easter bunting I made some years previously is back up on the inglenook fireplace in the lounge - it fits in well & is all that is needed there. The link contains instructions to make it if anyone feels so inclined. 

The front door just gets a simple rabbit shape hung on the door again. I have pots of daffodils framing the door - simple & yet colourful.

I think I am ready for a peaceful Easter weekend, how about you? Do you add seasonal items? Tell all ... 

Thank you for your time to stop by & read;  each & every visit & comment is much appreciated, be safe all please 💖

Dee ~💕~

Monday, 22 March 2021

Lockdown day 365 - My year in review ...

Blogging is useful to be able to return to times past because it is there as a reminder of the time set in stone. This last year has become a bit of a blur with the length of time & how we had little need to focus on the days, weeks, months so they gently blended in time ... 

It is almost incomprehensible that we have been in lockdown of sorts for 365 days - a whole year of life changing restrictions. 

In December 2019, I took several overseas trip, the first to the Christmas markets of Munich, Salzburg & Innsbruck with Ms M, then a Twixmas trip to Cologn, Vallkenberg & Monschau with hubby, enjoying the closeness of the continent. The first reports of a new virus in China started emerging but it felt far away & ‘their problem.’ 

In January 2020, we met the daughters at the Lakes & had a weekend together for youngest birthday - we spoke about the news of the virus & the daughters urged us to sign up to home delivery for our shopping which we ignored. They both said it was time to have the store / stock cupboards fuller with the things we use often.  Having lived in remote locations in various countries, we humoured them because it seemed unlikely that we would have shortages. Little did I know  ... 

Daughter & friends took a rebooked trip to Iceland early February & she said some were already wearing masks on the planes & there was a feeling that it was the calm before the storm that seemed to be coming closer. 

I wrote in March 2020, a year ago now, about living with social distancing & uncertainty as we watched the shop shelves empty & the hospital beds fill up. 

It soon became apparent that we were all in the same storm, not the same boat during this crisis as I stopped teaching in homes & the schools shut on the 20th March 2020 for just a few weeks, or so we thought and on the 23rd March, we started the first of several national lockdowns.  We were all washing our sanitised hands frantically everytime we touched something that was delivered or even the post. I sanitised our postbox flap, the door handles & my handbag in the hope of keeping the virus out ... 

We learnt new words which would become part of our daily vocabulary ... 

This uncertainty was new to us so we took to keeping busy to be distracted - baking bread, scones, pancakesgardening;  making & framing scarves from a trip in Summer 2019;  sewing booksleeves, facemarks (which were largely unavailable), reading, blogging, walking - anything to keep busy. So much free time was something us working people were unused to, as was having no set routine. 

In April, we hoped we had passed the first peak, limited outside exercise beaconed, & our hopes brightened along with the Spring days. I had my first home delivery of shopping as well as my lockdown birthday, just the two of us with cakes & gifts arriving by post -how very different to what we had planned.  I also felt unwell, not hugely ill, just not right with extreme lethargy, muscle pains, felt cold & couldn’t get warm at all, had  a persistent cough that lasted for weeks but with no tests available, I will never know if I had a mild case of Covid. The Covid app I had downloaded of the largest UK study ever told me to self isolate as my symptoms were of Covid.  Easter was with no visitors, a strange cocooned time but I still put up some Easter decorations & set the table for our lunch - the simple things to keep going. We welcomed our first grandchild in to this crazy world but were unable to see him for weeks except on face time. 

In May, I enjoyed the brighter days, of local woodland walks amid the snowdrops & of doing some sorting, changing decor at home & framing a silk scarf I had bought as a souvenir in Vienna.  I framed the second half as a gift for a friend - spreading the cheer ... Our local woodland & lakeside walks became my saving grace as I watched the tree canopy green up above us & the bulbs appear - the small signs in nature that the pace of life was gently progressing. 

In June, I blogged about lockdown day 75, a milestone - head over to be reminded of it. I also took on a little project of making an auricula theatre for plants, using only reclaimed wood as the hardware shops were still largely closed & heavily restricted. I ordered the plants from nurseries online & fortunately had some old terracotta pots. Working away outside in the brighter sun was uplifting.  I continued to sew - the simple repetition of hand sewing requires concentration & the time passes - gently. 

In July, I managed to complete a sewing project that had been on hold for some time - hand sewn banners for daughter with the crest from France. It was an enjoyable project, using many skills but time passed quickly. It was also the 100 days of lockdown, a skewed reality of life suspended. Like many, gardening had been our saving grace, having something to focus on as we carried on ... 

We felt life returning to normal in August as hairdressers & pubs reopened & welcomed the Eat out to Help Out government scheme, I managed to meet up with a friend in our county town for the first time in months - still wearing our facemarks but a feel of freedom was there. We had our first socially distanced friends to a meal at home - the conservatory doors flung open, the meal planned with no shared dishes, the threat of the virus ever present but there was a glimmer of hope in the air  ... I made a special sewing book for a friend & it was a lovely project to just do something really special with the many vintage & modern fabrics I am so fond of. She painted some beautiful cards - head over to look at them. I managed to meet up with friends & Godsons to visit some local sunflower fields - even though we were masked up, it felt like things were improving. We even visited our south Shropshire hills where my maternal ancestors came from - the open space is one of my favourite places ... 

In September, after getting advice on returning to work as an Elective Home Education tutor in people’s home, I tentatively returned to work with a tiny group of students who had space, no vulnerable relatives & limited contact with others. The rules we stuck to were really strict & we followed it to the letter with the parents graciously allowing the sanitising of the tables, additional space, sanitisers & facemarks all round. How different it was & so time consuming ... 

October marked 200 days of lockdown, a number we would have though unimaginable in March when we started this crazy journey. Visiting favourite local places helped as a change of scenery was needed to break the endless days ... 

However, the Autumn months of October & November once again brought an increasing number of Covid 19 cases & rules were tightened again and we just knew that Christmas was not going to be the same. My second European trip was postponed for a whole year - the feeling that life is on hold was hard to come to terms with; planning for longer than a week was fruitless ... 

I blogged about 240 days of lockdown in November, it was hard not to be obsessed with the numbers, as summer gave way to autumn  at home. The familiar rituals help in times of uncertainty & marking the start of Advent seemed predictable. Like many in the UK, for the first time ever, my Christmas tree went up in November, we all seemed to need that sign of hope, the joy of Christmas to lift our flagging spirits. It was fortunate that the first Sunday of Advent fell at the end of November too .... 

I still marked the usual rituals of Advent in  December because that routine gave meaning to an endless state of lockdown & they are the rituals I know which herald in the festive season. The returning of the Winter light at the Solstice is always a turning point for me in Winter, it brings hope & by now, we were in need of hope. Like most of the UK, we had a tiny Xmas with just a returning daughter & us - small but meaningful while face timing daughter, hubby & the new grandson, his first Christmas.

The New Year of 2021 quickly seemed like a repeat of the old except that we all knew of someone who had been ill with the virus. In January it took the life of a beloved Father & put my sister in ICU for 10 days. Dad was not allowed any visits for the 2 days in hospital & died of Covid Pneumonia. 

Vaccines have brought some hope - hubby had his first in January, I had mine in February & there is a glimmer of hope. However, travel is still very much off the cards with many countries not vaccinating at the same pace we are so we do not know if protection will be there. 

Our two long travel trips postponed from 2020 might not even happen in 2021 across Europe. We had planned a trip to take the new babe to meet his great grand Father in November 2020, but that did not happen & he will never now meet him, instead we will have a trip to South Africa to inter Dads ashes in the family grave. 

We approach this milestone of 365 days of national lockdown, with mixed feelings - feeling like we have lost so much, but we have also reset our priorities.  

Lockdown has been tough mentally - our spirits have waned with successive lockdowns because we have lost hope of normality - of meeting with friends, doing something out of the ordinary, having a meal you have not personally supplied & cooked, having something different to speak about, having your identity validated by others not just as a wife or mother. We wear many cloaks of the roles we take on & Covid took away the status & identity associated with our contribution to the work we do. Those of us who are self employed found our lives transformed by changes out of our control, the familiar vanished & we have to take stock of what we want this chapter to look like. Do we want more of the same or is the same even there? Us midlifers have to reinvent what we thought this chapter of our lives would look like with another 30 + years in us ... 

Lockdown has given many of us a taste of retirement (without the pension) & the endless free time is a novelty, but it can be boring after a while, fun if it is not forever - too much of a good thing can be bad.  Being financially independent is also important so this between stage is trying.  It is finding a new balance in life ...

Most of us have Lockdown Fatigue - we want to see light at the end of the Covid tunnel, we want to feel we have control over our lives again & we want to LIVE, not merely exist .... 

Please share how you have found lockdown & life in this changed state. I hope you have found a way through this pandemic & are well.

Thank you for your time to stop by & read;  each & every visit & comment is much appreciated, be safe all please 💖

Dee ~💕~