Saturday, September 25, 2010

Loving London...Missing Home!

Despite a wonderful time in England I must admit to feeling completely homesick. I want my family, clear skies, my pets and my garden.

But what a feast we have been having...and not the culinary kind either. I am convinced that even if we lived here we would struggle to fit in the richness of all that England has to offer.

Seeing my sister and her family has been the absolute highlight of the trip so far. Right now the weather is super chilly outside so the teens are playing an indoorgame of cricket with a toilet roll! Go figure :-)

Later today I am going to be making pasta with my nephew and brother in law as I bought them a pasta machine to say thank you for having us. This should be fun!

Sister and I are going to collect blackberries and rosehips to make cordial later when we take their adorable black puppy for his first walk out now that he has had all his shots.

Here are some photos of our last week...

Pre-theatre dinner above the Globe Theatre looking across the Thames at St Pauls.

Wet, wet, wet - caught in a downpour crossing Tower Bridge.

Approaching the Tower of London...yes, it's wet!

All Hallows Church - oldest church in England, built 675AD

We found where the original Globe once stood.

So far this week in London we have:
Figured out tube, taxi and bus services.
Walked, walked and walked some more!
Seen people of all walks of life and cultures.
Eaten some great food.
Been surprised at the move to sustainable living even in the city.

We have visited:
Hever Castle (childhood home of Anne Boleyn)
HMV Music Store
National Art Gallery
Globe Theatre and embankment surrounds including a visit to the old Rose Theatre
HMS Belfast
Tower of London
Tower Bridge
Britian At War Museum
London Zoo
Greenwich (a day trip up the Thames)
Churches and Cathedrals
Buckingham Palace and the mews

It has been a busy time and we were so thankful that after a week with crowds we could return to the peace of my sister's little village.

The fields behind her home...

Sheep...I love sheep!

And a field full of horses for my precious daughter. This looks like a mutual admiration moment doesn't it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The day has arrived...

Today marks the start of an adventure that I have been saving and planning for for 2 years. This is my third trip to the UK, the first being when I was 14 years old, the second being in 2007 with my Superman (6 day whirlwind trip) and now this time for 2 weeks with my very precious older daughter.

I vascillate between excitement and nervousness, sadness (at leaving the other Little Heroes) and anticipation (for seeing my sister and her children again after many years.)

But either way, the bags are packed, plans made and it's time to go. The wonderful ladies at the Down to Earth Forums recommended some reading material for me and I have been holding off on reading then since they arrived yesterday.

So between the books, my new iPhone (loaded with all my favourite music) and the movies on the plane I can face my sleepless night! And of course the excitement of my daughter will carry me through!

Thanks for following and reading my blog, it will go quiet now for 2 weeks...See you on the other side!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Finishing off and catching up

Yesterday morning I decided we needed to attack the to do list and tie up loose ends, finish projects and catch up with things we neglected during the time I was sick. This saw us making 8 jars of lemon curd, 8 portions of tomato and veggie sauce (used in pastas) and soap.

We decided to make a gift for my sister and used one of our home grown loofahs to be a soap receptical. We cut it into 6 pieces and then poured the hot soap into them. We also made a normal batch of soap.

I then settled down to sew up my girls beanies. The styles and colors so reflect what they like...cute.

We also repotted the first of our tomato seedlings that had outgrown their newspaper pots.

After this was done I took the to do list and spent the afternoon doing all the shopping things. A busy but productive day.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What I will miss...

I am sure by the time I leave on Thursday you will all be so tired of hearing me talk about the trip that you will be telling me to "Ssssh, just go now!" but well it's becoming an all consuming thing.

I know I will miss Superman and the Little Heroes so much - sometimes it hurts to think how much I will. Besides for a 6 day trip away in 2007, this is the first time I will be away from them. Everyone tells me it will do them good, but I will really miss their hugs and kisses.

The garden is changing daily too - literally! Last night there was 1 tomato seedling up, today about 10! Hubbard squash also made their way into the world overnight!

The little cucumbers are saying a friendly "hello"....

As did the courgettes....

And the second planting of sweetcorn...

I know when I come back the garden will already be showing the beginnings of a jungle. I love watching how it changes day to day, counting my chickens before they hatch!

At the same time there is a bubbling excitement for all that my elder daughter and I are going to experience and of course seeing my sister and her family for the first time in 3 years. (6 for my daughter!)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Two telltale signs...

My garden is showing all the signs of Spring but these two especially...

The vine is developing leaves on all the stem nodes....

And my asparagus plants are sending up their spears. They are thicker than last season, as is expected and there are lots more of them.

These spears open out into the most delicate foliage with a gorgeous typical spring green.

Thank you to all for your wishes of good health....I am feeling much better. :-)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Little Blessings

We all know that winter is a time for health woes, but somehow for the last few years I have escaped ill health. I think that is why I am feeling so mad about being sick. I have exactly 7 days before I leave for the UK (in fact this time next week we would have been in the air for 2hrs). I can't be sick! There is so much to do and now to have to do it sick makes it all that much harder.

Today I went to the Doc and got some mootie...poor me - I have an upper respiratory tract infection and really yucky sinuses! So it's an antibiotic for me - first in 8yrs! Ah well!

But this week my new basket has been filled twice with winter veggies. On Monday evening we enjoyed broad beans and spinach with a roast chicken (No, not one of my girls.)

And tonight we munched on peas and carrots with a lovely stew.

Little blessings in my rather miz world.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A laugh to pick me up!

A friend sent me this today to cheer me up. You may have to "right-click" it to open in a new browser window as it is very small here.

I could never eat something I had named, so my "Henrietta" is safe here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Quiet time in bed

Well I haven't shaken this flu...and Superman has put me on enforced bed rest. Schoolwork and reading is done on my bed while I lie and cough :-( and sniff :-( (feel sorry for me yet?) but when the work is done it has given me some time to knit and sew during the day which is not usual for me. I normally knit in front of the TV at night!

The Down to Earth Forums had a pin cushion swap on the go, so I have made a pin cushion which will be posted to a recipient in New York later this week. I got the pattern from Martha Stewart on the web!

I have got almost all the way on Buddy Boys ribbed beanie.....

And have started a stripey "cat hat" beanie for my eldest. And now the weather is warm! Oh well, they can use them next yr!

Back to bed!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Is it a it a it a Pyramid? No it's a.....


I thought of calling this blog post "Spring Waits For No Woman" but this one was more fun! I am SICK!!! I hate being SICK!! Especially when there is so much to do in the garden!

Nonetheless, at 7 am I was up and planning where to put my herb spiral. Superman and I debated for almost an hour as he "was not going to have a ramshackle stack of bricks" in his garden. So I left it to him to come up with a concept (which he is good at!) and got stuck into the compost heap. (More on that tomorrow!)

Superman and Son (at the expense of Superman's thumb) created a herb tower from left over wood, right outside my kitchen door. It is superb! I am thrilled.

The concept of sunloving hardy herbs at the top, which don't want lots of water, working down to the shade loving water demanding ones at the bottom was brought into the planting of the tower.

All the compost we added was being sifted by myself and one or other of the children and then taken round. We must have used about 10 barrow loads, which should give these herbs a good start in life.

So let the pictures speak for themselves.....

Herbs that were planted
Oriental mustard greens
Golden Sage
Pineapple Sage
Leaf celery
Golden majoram

Now we wait and see how it grows.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Busy garden day

This morning we were going to go to see the Namaqualand Daisies up the West Coast. However the drive is only worth it if the sun is out. Daisies are sun lovers and stay closed unless the sun shines. As the day dawned it went pretty quickly from clear to overcast.

Depsite feeling a cold coming on I rounded up the troops and we hit the garden at 9. Superman & Son hit the compost heap with a vengeance. They sifted out all the stones and twigs and handed over the most gorgeous compost teaming with worms.

A lot of it went into a awkward little space that was created when we changed our pathway a couple of months ago. I was busy clearing out an area that we had left to the nasturtiums and borage and found a whole lot of gooseberry plants. I uprooted them and after giving them a good trim, they were planted into this newly composted area.

More compost went under the A-frames and into the other two beds that have been lying fallow. Buddy boy, my youngest, acts as a go-fer on these days. He doesn't have the physical strength to do much heavy work so he fetches and carries. Today I asked him to mark out what we were planting.

In the bed that we cleared out (nasturtiums and borage) we planted courgettes in the centre. Against the A-frame at the fence I planted watermelon. Alongside the pathway fence I planted butternut. The A-frame against the wall has gem squash. I hope I have them all in earlier enough to avoid the milddew that hits in late summer.

Potatoes went in about 1 month ago in the first two beds. Behind them the A-frames have Hubbard Squash planted at their bases. The next two A-frames will have cucumbers. The next three stay empty until the broad beans, carrots and spinach are done. Then I will do a planting of beans, I think.

We also trimmed and transplanted the chili bushes to where the rhubarb was. This opens the bed at the front of the house up where I will plant tomatoes as soon as we have chicken proofed that area.

I am feeling more hopeful that we have enough time as two more days of work and we should get everything done that can be done before I leave on the 16th.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hurry-hurry...first corn is in!

Yesterday I realised that it is 2 weeks until I leave for the UK. This cuts into our busiest gardening time and we have to hurry hurry! Thinking back to last spring I was much better prepared.

This time last year my seeds were already sown in trays and in the hotbox that Superman & Son made and my planning was already done. However this year schooling demands have been much more intense and I have not had the same amount of gardening time. we were finished earlier than normal and headed into the garden around 3pm. We got a lot done which leaves me with a feeling that we will be able to get everything into the ground before I go. My mummy will be here for the younger children while I am gone and I know she will tend after the seedlings well.

Today we fed all the strawberry plants from last season with worm juice and Seagro. We also took the strawberry plants out of the fruit tree barrels as the trees are going to be moved in the next while. These plants we split and repotted. Superman needs to hang more baskets for me then we will replant the plants.

We also sowed seed of 4 different tomato varieties - yellow pear, roma, oxheart and mmmh...forgotten! Then we sowed 4 different chilli varieties and 2 varieties of sweet peppers. I could have started these a month ago, but well, didn't have time!

Then we cleared out two half beds. They both recieved some lovely homemade compost. This bed (below) is in shade all winter. I planted some cauli and broccoli the front about 1 month ago in anticipation of the sun's change. It is now reaching this bed in the late afternoon. Corn was started in our newspaper pots about 3 weeks ago and these were planted in the back of the bed.

Tomorrow we will plant up the second bed with some beans. The last crop here was cabbage and turnips. I like to plant beans or peas after any crop is finished as the legumes fix nitrogen in the soil.

All in all, not a bad afternoon's work. While I was busy with 3 children, my younger daughter was cooking up a storm. We were served fresh pasta with bolognaise sauce and a salad. (She is in training for when I am away and is doing a GREAT job!)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My new basket

Isn't she pretty?

I bought it today at the Society for the Blind. We did a homeschool outing to this organization and met some very brave and wonderful people who have learnt this amazing skill of basket making. They also weave seats for chairs and have a fully fledged computer programming course there.

I love my basket...I couldn't wait to get home to fill it with garden fresh veggies.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy Spring!

A Tragedy by Doris Webb

This is the short, sweet, sorrowful tale
Of Jessica Jenkins Jones;
She planted a packet of seeds with pride
While her dog looked on with his head
on the side
And thought, "She's burying bones."

When Jessica left, he dug like mad
In search of the luscious bones
So Jessica's garden it doesn't grow,
And Jessica's dog is cross, and so
Is Jessica Jenkins Jones.

Here's to spring, although today is dark, cold, wet and gloomy!