Sunday, 30 May 2010

Beauty & the beast

After the wonderful rain which has at last fallen here  in one of the driest parts of Britain, this morning I did some gardening .The rain has really perked everything up but with this morning's sunshine George was able to cut the grass and I planted another row of radishes and spring onions.  .   I am mad about clematis and at the moment the early ones are really putting on a good show.  This is The President of course.

I was working near the honeysuckle tree - an old dead tree which George wanted to chop down some years ago but I persuaded him to leave it and I planted a honeysuckle and a climbing rose - Rambling Rector.  In the evening this smells divine and when the honeysuckle has died, the rose takes over.  This is BEAUTY!

And this is the BEAST !  a huge grub which I dug up whilst edging my island bed.  Actually, I dug up two - but  I am afraid I put the trowel right through the first one !  Oooops.  Then I unearthed another - it must be the size of a fifty pence piece - I should have put one beside it for comparison.  I bet there is some bright spark out there in the ether who knows what it is - a June Bug, perhaps?   Anyway, I left it writhing on the grass and went to find George so that he could see it and when I cam back it had gone.  I hope Mrs. Blackbird got it.  It was breakfast, lunch and dinner rolled into one, a veritable feast.

Stitching ? No, not this week apart from the U3A class on Thursday and shortening the sleeves of a white blouse I bought in France last year..  But I have been thinking a lot - I must get cracking as I have to produce some new work for Open Studios in July.  I put four items into the Fowlmere Art Show last weekend but they were not very well placed, in fact I had to really hunt to find two of them.   A lovely show, but overcrowded.
On Tuesday George's Rotary Club (plus wives & partners) met for a meal at The Green Man at Six Mile Bottom (highly recommended) and then went on to have a guided tour of Tattersalls in Newmarket.  Most interesting - it was founded in 1766 and is still a family owned business and, if I heard the figures correctly, they have a turnover of bloodstock sales of over two hundred & seventy million pounds a year !  Howzat! It is possible for members of the public to go into the selling ring and witness the horses being sold - I think that would be quite exciting.  There would be no danger of accidentally bidding for a horse, as all the buyers are corralled into one segment of the ring.  There are also some very elegant rooms which may be hired for weddings or  product launches and everything, but everything was immacculate.  We saw a portrait of the founder which bears a dent in the top corner - evidently where it was hit by a champagne cork when the sale of the  first million pound horse was being celebrated.  A very nice evening, but golly, it was cold.  Come back, summer.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Sunny Spain

Guess where I've been !!!
Yup, that's right - George and I flew to Gibraltar to visit my brother who works there, although he and Annette actually live just down the coast in Sotogrande in Spain.  We had a wonderful time, the weather was perfect and Annette is a very good cook so we had some delicious meals.  Their house is just fabulous with a delightful garden and pool and so many courtyards and terraces and arbours that I got very confused and frequently found myself lost!  We haven't been to this house before.
This is one of the terraces - it is hard to realise that you can just go in and leave all the cushions and lamps out all night!   And this is PART of the dawing room! There is a lovely garden and during the night pipes rise up from the lawn and sprinkle away so that the grass is always green.  Sotogrande boasts the Royal Golf Course and several polo grounds and the whole village is within a cordon manned by armed guards who monitor who goes in and out - they are very security conscious, with iron grilles at the windows and electronic steel shutters.  It took a lot of getting used to !  One day we went to the market and I spotted these -  SNAILS
But more excitingly I also saw this wonderful stall full of the most vibrantly coloured fabrics - Annette told me it was all in preparation for the Flamenco season.  Stupidly I didn't buy anything (I could fill a market stall any day with the stuff I've got in my workroom) but when I got home I thought what wonderful bunting it would have made for Open Studios!
There were mountains of rolls in every shade and pattern you could imagine!   We went to Tarifa, the nearest village to North Africa where the Africans brought in their goods, which were taxed - hence the word tarif ! You could look across the straits and see all the houses on the opposite coast, it was so clear.   It was a delightful little village where we had coffee and browsed the shops -  I bought a very colourful cotton skirt for 10 euros. Then we went  to find a little shack near the beach where we had plate upon plate of wonderful fish, including fried sea anemone!  It was very windy on the atlantic coast and the sand was so fine it whipped against your legs and really stung.  Oh, and I also bought that necklace that I am wearing !

It was lovely to spend time with Ian because he has always lived and worked in Europe and therefore I don't get to see him very often. They made us so welcome and it was nice to see how the other half live !  But it was equally good to get back home and smell  the honeysuckle festooning the dead tree and the daisies growing in the grass.   Sometimes things can be just too perfect !  I don't have a maid or a gardener but I do have lots of special  friends and the lovely Brenda and George next door invited us in for a BBQ when we got back so I didn't have to think about cooking. Home, sweet home ! 

Saturday, 1 May 2010

First of May - Muguet day

Today is the First day of May and my maternal grandmother who married a Frenchman ('mais malheuresement il etait mort avant que je suis nee ' as I was taught to say) always had to have a corsage of muguet  de bois  - as I believe is the custom in La Belle France.  Well, they can be jolly expensive to buy - so I grow it, the only trouble is it has a mind of it's own and grows where IT wants and I dont  i.e. in the lawn!   I always hope that there will be some to pick on May 1st and then I think with great affection of Grandma Daisy, who was a real character .  I insisted on having Lily of the Valley in my bridal bouquet and in June, in 1957, they were extremely difficult to get hold of.  Nowadays you can get anything at any time!

I don't wish to put the boot in (in this case a dear little Victorian green glass Wellington boot) but this morning I have picked some Lily of the Valley and it smells divine.  And if the sun shines today even more will come  out and I shall be able to give small bunches to friends - everyone is delighted to receive this dear little flower.  

All gardens look lovely at this time of the year, especially after the welcome rain we had yesterday.  Looking at this picture I have decided that the pink tulips are far too large for the island bed and when they have finished blooming I shall put them underneath that wonderful acid greeny yellow in the border at the back where they will look ravishing next year - I love that colour combination.  We bought all our hanging basket plants at Scotsdales on Wednesday at the Rotary Gardener's Question time which George is involved in running - and  they all have to be planted up - sooner rather than later!"

So I guess that this afternoon I shall have to knuckle down to it, although I would really like to go into Cambridge and mosey round the shops.  George cannot understand this.  But when I feel 'mongy' as I do at the moment I just want to go and be amongst lots of people and I suppose if I am honest, enjoy a bit of retail therapy. I need a friend to say, come on let's go. On the other hand, if I stay here and do the gardening I shall save some money! At least we are going out to dinner tonight so NO COOKING !  Have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend everyone - I'm off now to have lunch and do the D.T. prize crossword with George.