Friday, 30 January 2009

Gone Fishin'... he should be so lucky!

Allow me to introduce you to Mr Persistent Heron, Mr I-know-there-are-fish-down-here-somewhere Heron, Mr pain-in-the-backside Heron. Who, if nothing else, is providing me with distraction this past few days and keeping the weepies away.

He is beautiful close to, huge close to, and if it weren't for the fact he seems to have eyes in the back, front and sides of his head then I could get a closer picture of him, for he is usually no more than three metres away from the conservatory. Yesterday I looked out of the window and found him in the pond, not only do I fear for the fish, but as one dear friend pointed out, they can pierce the liner with that beak.

Anyway, I hastily threw some netting back over the pond and will have to look to securing it properly this weekend, with the Arctic blasts heading our way here in the East of England. But this morning, there he was again, now taken to try and hide in a spiky tall grass, and then when that failed he came back and sat blatantly on one of the slates edging the pond, for all the world as if he had every right to be there. I just feel so sorry for the poor little fish, cowering away at the very bottom of the pond, hidden (hopefully) amongst the oxygenating plants, no doubt cuddling up to the frogs for comfort.

But how to get rid of him permanently seems beyond me, Mr I'll-be-back-later Heron.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Sweet Dreams Rosie

This is one of the last pictures I took of our cat Rosie, doing what she liked to do best, laze around, roll around in the sun. We took her to the vets last night, she hadn't been well and I think we both knew what was going to happen. But somehow you know, all the preparation in the world doesn't help when a vet looks at you, strokes the cat and says, 'I think we've come to the end of the road for her'. We both cried, but knew what had to be done. And so she was put to sleep, just a little ouchy Miaow when the needle went in her paw and then peace and relief. I am sure we will feel relief for her too, but at the moment, as is often the case, we are thinking of ourselves... how we will miss her.

She was my husband's companion over breakfast... she would always run to greet us, tail in the air, when we had been out... she was there when we worked in the garden... she sat in the kitchen when I cooked, prepared meals, ironed... I talked to her all the time and now I'm wandering around, feeling totally lost and heartsore, talking to myself.

I may have got cross with her often, for digging up plants, seedlings, seeds, bulbs... for chasing and catching small birds then leaving their pitiful carcasses for me to find... but goodness, how I wish she were here now.

She was almost fifteen, and we had had her for all bar six weeks of her life, and a quarter of our own lives. I remember bringing her home, a hissy, spitting little wild bundle, small enough to fit in my hand, and I have photos of her on my shoulder, parrot-like... by which time, needless to say, she had realised that one of us was a pushover, the other not quite so easy, but that this was a lovely house to be in, with a great big adventure playground of a garden, where she would later find all sorts of small creatures to annoy, lots of hidden spots where she could lie in the sun and snooze for hours undisturbed.

I hope she enjoyed being with us, as much as we loved having her. Sweet dreams Rosie

Monday, 26 January 2009

Special Announcement

I would like to announce the arrival of my new blog.. TALES FROM A NORFOLK VILLAGE... which you can find at

Please add it to your favourites and drop in now and then to see what's been going on in my neck of the woods.

Thanks for following my rants, raves and ramblings thus far!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

One for all you gardeners out there

Sometimes you can have too much choice, too much information. This photo is of one of the planting areas in our back garden which is due for a major reworking this year. Trouble is, I have an idea in my head what I want it to look like, and have spent hours looking at my gardening books, sites on the internet, and now have accumulated so much 'stuff', so many ideas, I am bewildered.
The area itself is east-facing, so it gets all the morning sun once it moves past the house, and then at a certain time of day, is in shade due to the mature silver birch on the left hand side. Then, depending on time of year and day, it is also shaded towards the back by a tall pyracantha hedge. Now both of these shade-inducing plantings are staying - the pyracantha provides the back drop to what will be an entirely enclosed gravel garden, which has only evergreen, non-flowering plants, a quiet area with seating and fountain for thinking and being quiet, and apart from that, blackbirds nest in it every year and love all the berries. (Part of the pyracantha can be seen on the right of the photo, as it is taken looking across the area from the right hand side where there is a path.)
There are other plants which will stay.. a 'Bridal Wreath' which has a niche cut into it for a small statue of Ceres... three delphiniums... two peonies... alchemilla... the stinking lilies (nothing personal!)... a small shrub with delicate blue flowers and dusty green foliage whose name I have obviously forgotten, and maybe a buddleia. Going to other places are a euonymus, a tall heather, both of which can be seen in the middle of the photo. Going to the compost is an old hydrangea, lots of marjoram which has seeded itself everywhere, wallflowers, and other bits of rubbish. There is a small posh Christmas tree in a pot which can be seen in the photo, but that is being moved to a permanent position nearer the patio. There is also a large bright red crocosmia right of centre which will probably stay. If I could find a home for it, it would probably move, since see this as a mix of blues, purples, pinks, white. There are also masses of nigella seedlings which pop up, and aquilegia too.
What I see in my mind's eye is a mass of colour.... I love daisy type flowers, gerberas (though never have any luck with them so won't bother again, and verbascum don't seem to like it here either) I want a mix of flowers of different heights, propose buying them in threes or fives... mixed in with grasses and foliage, perennials mainly, something evergreen as well.
The soil is alkaline side of neutral by the way. And the size is approximately 25 feet from left to right, and twelve to fifteen feet front to back... it gets wider to the right hand side near the path.
So, anyone else growing in similar conditions who might know what goes and doesn't? All practical suggestions and ideas welcome, thank you.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


According to the American writer Alice Walker, 'Tea to the English is like a picnic indoors.' Is that a reflection of what she thinks we have for afternoon tea, or that our picnics are the same as that meal?
We are all year round picnickers, the contents of the basket depend on the time of year, of course. To give you an idea, we had one just after New Year, having gone to visit one of our favourite places along the North Norfolk Coast. It was a bitterly cold day, yet there were lots of people about. Twitchers visiting the nearby RSPB reserve could be seen tramping across the walkways on the marshes, huge telescopes around their necks. There were groups of people walking along the top of the shinglebank sea defences, which were breached quite spectacularly several years ago, a not-infrequent event it has to be said. There have been many times when the North Sea inundates the coastal village, and what in normal times is a coastal road with marshes and then the sea on one side, and housing on the other, just becomes part of the mighty sea. Luckily, the houses are built several metres above the road, so rarely get affected, but all are prepared whenever a strong wind is allied to a high tide. There were also many people in the town itself, and although the sun was valiantly shining, the wind was just too cold for it to have any effect.
So when we passed a bakery, with its doors open and the tempting, mouthwatering smell of fresh pasties wafted out into the narrow street, our tummies rumbled, and it took only the merest of glances being exchanged between us, before I was climbing the steps into the bakery and asking for 'two hot pasties, please.' We then beat a hasty retreat to the car, where we had a flask of coffee all ready and waiting, and a short drive to a favourite parking spot alongside the marshes, where we devoured the hot pasties, squirming at the very hot bit in the middle, getting covered in flaky crumbs of delicious pastry, but worth it for the really warm feeling inside.
Sometimes, in the winter we will collect hot pasties, sausage rolls or pies from bakeries as we pass them on a day out. Or we'll have hot tomato soup in the flask, and it has to be the one in a red tin, I'm sorry. Like their baked beans, to my mind, nobody does it better than Heinz. With that we'll have crusty rolls from a bakery, or freshly made sandwiches. Sometimes only a cone of chips from a chippy will do.. you know that feeling, right? In the summer of course, it could be sandwiches, fresh rolls, cheese and salads, fresh fruit and maybe a sticky willy (an iced bun in the shape of an eclair) if we feel like a real sugar fix.
The site can be one of many... alongside a river near the lockgates, the salt marshes, on a relatively high spot overlooking open countryside (where we often fly a kite as well!), near the sea, in the middle of the countryside, in woodlands.... all of them are places we have found over the years, rarely visited by others, at least not at the times we have gone. Maybe the odd walker passing by now and then, but none of them are places where you find children running around, screaming and spoiling the silence. The silence and solitude are treasured, not that we live in an incredibly noisy area, but it's never totally, totally silent... that silence which is deafening according to some people. Like it's never totally dark, there are the street lamps casting that awful orange glow so you never see the full beauty of the starry skies.
Picnics can be as elaborate or as simple as you like of course. There is one venue in this area that used to host outdoor classical music concerts, with fireworks, and the picnics there all came in proper baskets, with ice buckets for the wine or champers, real linen napkins and proper cutlery... though I always fancied unwrapping hot sausage sandwiches and opening the thermos of tomato soup, just to be different and see the looks on people's faces as they caught the whiff of sausages.
What seems to be important is that it is food you enjoy, eaten with people whose company you enjoy, in a place which brings mutual enjoyment.
Someone else once said that kissing a man with a beard is like going on a picnic.. you have to go through some bush to get there, but it's worth it in the end!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Antlers Away....

Antlers away, and so is the sleigh, it's time for these little deer to come out and play.
Though looking out of the window at the almost horizontal snow falling at the moment, I wish I had taken the shot today, it would have looked more deer-like than a slight sparkling of white frost on the ground.
But Christmas is all behind us for another year, but don't fret, only another fifty weeks and we can do it all again!
But how many of you keep the tradition of Twelfth Night I wonder? Are you sick of the sight of tinsel and baubles once the Big Day itself has gone, or Boxing Day, or does New Year's day bring out the need to take it all down, it seems inappropriate to leave the decorations up any longer?
I have to say I am a bit of a traditionalist, but find that as I get older this is waning a bit, and the sticking to keeping the cards out, the tree lit and so on going until January 6th is waning as well. Somehow it now seems pointless... it's all behind us now and hanging on to the decorations just doesn't feel the same. So, yesterday, much to my husband's amazement, I took down the wreath, the small black tree with its tiny turquiose baubles and lights was dismantled and packed away, and the cards taken down. But the lights remain... those on the dresser are staying put, as are those across the dining room fireplace, and the ones I stuffed into a clear glass vase and stood in the fireplace have now been put into a smoked amber glass vase and are being left in place. The outside lights will be switched on for the last time tonight and removed at the weekend.. except for the permanent ones on the summerhouse and the holly tree.
And what do you do with your cards? Recycle via Tesco/local council or by reusing them? I tend to keep the special ones, the first one from our granddaughter this year (with the aid of daddy holding her hand, well, she is only ten months old!), and special handmade ones from special friends... these get put away in a box. Sometimes I recycle by cutting out certain bits and making 3D cards the following year, and others, the thinner ones, I have cut into hexagons for my next patchwork project. What's left will go to the bin in Tesco.
I hope you all had a wonderful time and are looking forward to this new year, with hope and excitement and wonderings at what it will bring.