Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spring Is Late

It's official, spring is late! How do I know? Well Facebook very kindly showed me this photo yesterday, taken exactly a year ago, with the exochorda in flower amongst tulips and dicentra.

And this was the same view yesterday -

no flowers on the exochorda yet, tulips still in tight bud and the dicentra has only just poked its head above ground level.

But even with this lateness spring is evident in the garden

and I hope that with a few more warm days, as is predicted, the rest will catch up too.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Little Detour

After a day of cleaning and gardening at my parents' yesterday I took a little detour on the way home and went to Castle Acre.

The views from the top were impressive, but all the time I kept thinking that it wasn't how I remembered it from visiting as a child.

I had a good wander round, it was nice but I was puzzled as to where all the arches were that I knew had been there before.

I wandered back to the car and saw a sign to 'The Priory' and the penny dropped - that was where I'd been as a child not the castle! As I walked out of the village the priory came into view across the fields.

It's managed by English Heritage and when I got to the entrance there was only 20mins left until they closed so I didn't pay the £6.90 to go in, instead I wandered around the perimeter on a footpath.

 Now I could see the arches that I remembered.  Arches from the cloisters,

and from windows long missing their glass.

I will go back and pay to go in as I'd love to get up close to those arches and see the re-created herb garden showing the herbs that the monks used to use for medicinal purposes.

But even from a distance it was a lovely end to the day - a day where I found this gorgeous cloche hat in mum's cupboard, bought and worn by me in the 80s!

Hope you all had good Easter weekends too.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Taking Something Old....

Back in April I bought a little, tatty, unloved footstool from eBay for £15.98.  I'd been looking at new ones and they were all either:
  1. too big,
  2. too expensive or
  3. both of the the above
It arrived and sat looking sad in my conservatory until this week when I finally had time to tackle it.

First off all I removed the green cover and found another pink one underneath, so that came off too.

The padding/wadding seemed in good condition do I left that on and sanded the nasty brown varnish off the legs.  At this point it hailed so progress halted!

Today I removed the legs and waxed them, found some fabric in my ever increasing stash and armed with a staple gun set about re-covering it.  

I didn't really know what I was doing but I'm pretty pleased with those corners!  Then I put the legs back on and voila! I think it looks good alongside the free chair I obtained 18months ago.

I did some digging in the veg garden today and was supervised by this little chap and his mate; I don't know where they're nesting but they were certainly busy collecting grubs.

On my way inside I noticed the euphorbia fireglow has emerged - such vivid colours.

I also picked some hyacinth blooms on my way back up the garden and they're now filling the house with a heady scent.

Now if you'll excuse me I'll just put my feet up for a few minutes :-)

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Question - what is the connection between Mr and Mrs Andrews, a military orchid and a zeppelin raid in Suffolk? Don't know? No nor did I until a couple of weeks ago.  I'll explain.

Mr and Mrs Andrews, above as painted by Thomas Gainsborough, had a son, Joseph. Joseph was a botanist and an apothecary and his preserved plant and herbarium is the oldest in existence and is now housed in the Natural History Museum in London. Within that collection is the military orchid.

Military orchids are extremely rare and are only found in two areas of the UK including this part of Suffolk.  They grow on chalk.

Now I've lived in this areas for 22 years and I wouldn't have associated it with chalk.  What I did know though was that there are some very steep and out of character 'cliffs' throughout Sudbury and a couple of weeks ago a friend and I went to hear a fascinating talk about the chalk pits of Sudbury which explained it all!

The speaker explained how there had been 11 chalk pits in Sudbury and Great Cornard. Most of the pits had kilns to burn the chalk to produce lime and at one time the railway had sidings going into the pits to transport the chalk.  There were tales of possible tunnels between the pits too and of a zeppelin raid due to the glow from the kilns causing the pilot to think it was a far bigger town that it really was!

Today I walked a footpath between 2 of the pits, I wonder how many of the residents of this housing estate realise that they're living in an old quarry.  See the chimneys at the top of the picture? That house is on the original ground level.

On the other side of the footpath I could see the measures put in by Sainsbury's to hold up the cliff edge behind their store, which was build in a neighbouring pit, that's the roof of the store in the foreground.

Apparently if you go back in time far enough Sudbury was a coastal area and the cliffs would have resembled those of Dover.

As I was walking back from the footpath I saw this beautiful blossom - a real sign of spring :-)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Rather Lovely Weekend

It's been a truly gorgeous spring weekend here, an unusually quiet one on the social front (apart from a visit to the theatre later tonight) and pretty much wall to wall to sunshine.

The garden is full of spring flowers

but my favourite has to be this white forsythia; 

it's still rather straggly but has more flowers each year, and smells rather nice too!

The seeds I sowed last weekend have germinated and the potatoes are starting to chit.

Yesterday I walked back from the market along the river (as I usually do) and noticed that the willows are starting to break buds.

For the first time this year I was able to eat lunch outside, twice!

Today I sat by the pond where the frogs were croaking - I always know it's really spring once they start!

I've enjoyed having a quiet, laid back weekend, I hope you've had a good one too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Bathroom Makeover

During last summer I decided I wanted to revamp my bathroom.  It was a nice bathroom, the suite was new when I moved in, and I liked the decor but the carpet was driving me potty.

(before pictures)

The dark brown carpet looked nice, for about 5 mins after it was vacuumed and after that every piece of fluff and blonde hair in the house was attracted to it and it generally looked a mess!

After several months of not being able to tackle it due to elbow issues I finally ripped the carpet up a few weeks ago.

Cue first hurdle - the bath panel no longer touched the floor (see it's propped up on those little wedges you get with art canvases).
After filling some of the holes in the boards first by making a few extra struts with square dowel, glue and string (the man who came to make a new step did give me some funny looks when he saw this method)

I cut bits of wood and dowel to plug the gaps, sanded and undercoated.  I also painted the panelling.

I used a product called DraughtEx to fill the gaps in between the floorboards, it's amazing stuff and can't be seen once in place.

Draughtex got me thinking and I bought some pipe insulation foam things and fixed them onto the bottom of the bath panel to fill that gap.

I used Little Greene oil based floor paint, which took 16 hours to dry and involved a fair amount of planning in order to allow access to the toilet at all time, and yesterday, apart from a tiny piece of trim around the step, I finished it.

I treated myself to a new bathmat and hand towels from Dunelm,

and I am VERY pleased with the end result.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Returning to My Happy Place

Today I managed one hour gardening - that might not sound much, and indeed it isn't really but it's one hour more than I've been able to do since last August when I tore the tendon in my elbow. As I cleared and tidied and cut back (gently as I'm still not too good with secateurs) I noticed signs of spring all around:

primroses still moist with dew/rain,

 quince buds about to break,

and snowdrops hanging their dainty heads.

There are hellebores under the shrubs

and hyacinths just about to risk popping their heads up above their leaves.

By my kitchen window the winter flowering honeysuckle is just starting to flower - it was flowering the day I first moved in 7 years ago.

There's still loads to do but it was good to get back into my happy place today :-)