Crikey! Already the 11th of December! I wanted to do more by now? I thought I’d write some cards, send a few things to far-flung places but looks like being a queue wherever I end up now. I might just stick to the stuff I want to do? What’s new there? Everything in Brexit land will be too expensive – don’t get me started on the price of stamps! – and I go to Poundland for almost everything else… (other retailers do exist!) and we are not following traditional plans at all. We might do Christmas Eve presents for some, Christmas Day for others and Boxing Day for the rest. Zoom calls will be made (maybe we need to schedule those?) and now that some are getting vaccinated maybe it will all be a lot less dangerous. I haven’t had the terror but MS really bit me on the bum this year. Stress is worst for it and gardening could help it. My new mantra for 2021.

I’ve wrapped a lot of things today (that is organised!) I sent a card off yesterday (only one) and it wasn’t strictly a Christmas card. I think I will sit down with everybody tonight and get those written!

Life may get better after all!

I’ve been planting again!

I’ve used toilet roll inners to make little pots for the greenhouse. We are encouraged to recycle after all. I’ve got a selection of seeds to grow red leaved shrubs and I planted half of the three packets today. I think it was ricin communalist, communis impala and a carmencita Bright red. So I planted 15 of the seeds and saved the rest for the spring. I am starting to add my own flavour/colour to what’s there. I get inspiration but it’s been taking a while.

I bought two camassia cusickii bulbs for the front. Hopefully this will give me some delicate blue flowers by the front drive bed. We have to sort the pane in the greenhouse too.

Poppies – we have a LOT of poppies!
I will have to check what the seeds were that I planted! The envelopes had Latin names…
Loads more poppies…
Some are bigger than others! I might have to bring them inside if it gets too cold?

Our planned shed/dismantling the decrepit one is on hold presently but the garage is getting a new heater. Life in 2020 isn’t what we expected but hopefully with a vaccine or two in circulation we can start to plan a bit more. I’m certainly planning on filling the greenhouse this year. I will be a little more vigilant of the contents when I purchase very specific plants.

Slight gap in the greenhouse!

In fact Spiky is no more!

In a rare burst of energy, I took to Spiky bush with a saw and flattened it! I pulled up some grassy weeds, trimmed some Ivy and cleared the patch I didn’t dare go hard on all year! I do gardening as my exercise or that is one of my 2020 change-arounds. I have to stay on top of the garden if we are to stay here. We bought the house knowing it was a challenge, plus the surgery which no-one anticipates, not cancer but we don’t know when it could be cancer… hey, then the pandemic everyone in Government apparently didn’t take seriously. That got in the way a lot this year and rather than a spur to get on with life, I fell into a rut. I’ve tried to find something more permanent work wise as I have so little money it’s not silly, even with gifts, it gets spent so easily (and not even on nice luxuries. I will take the work I am offered and will try and work on something for me.

An area for these bulbs!

I actually got my £10 Christmas bonus from the kind Government department that hasn’t increased it since the ‘70s. It won’t even buy a good sturdy pair of gardening gloves these days. (That selection of bulbs cost just over £15!) I also don’t think a lot of people expect to see someone gardening in December. I had a random conversation and decided to come inside when the school kids started going past. Full bin again!

Shot of dead bush!
Weeded and bulbs planted!

Christmas is a coming!…

It’s weird, I am wishing I liked going out in the cold and rain as this week has seen lots of challenges. A lovely rejection letter, but it was a lot of work to apply for the job, and hard not to dwell on the why not? If I was so good ‘but didn’t fit with the direction the team are going in’ then it is SO hard to know what I have to do to fit into the right slot…

And then there’s TECHNOLOGY: I have used Macs for years but current iPad doesn’t do all it should for me. I can’t open the training courses I am asked to do as the iPad doesn’t have Flash at the level of the Government organisation that’s produced the training? So I try the PC hubby set up for the kids over Lockdown 1. Hmm, the pop ups on the said important organisation website are not opening on the PC my husband has set up with minimum components as they are too OLD! Gah! So maybe the iPad is too new too?

I will get there it seems but I had to do the training module THREE times before I passed it. So four times the amount of time I get paid for completing a mandatory test to continue doing my zero-hours job. And you ask why I want a different job? I know I’ve suggested writing a book or something, but even that feels uphill at the moment. I worked in publishing and if my book is about my gardening I know some of the people to approach but if it’s something else it’s the side of publishing I wasn’t involved with, fiction. Hmm, seriously my lockdown brain isn’t focussing!

Random fruit!

Random pics from the Lockdown Age!

Doubling up!

I have doubled my readership this year! And it’s not even Christmas! We’ve started doing Christmas early, and even have four advent calendars… two bought at great expense from a garden centre we visited to see the Christmas decorations! Seems like Garden centres still are the place to go for startling lighting displays. And the only place on the last weekend of November that actually had advent calendars…

Well, almost. The teenager had an orthodontist appointment in Hitchin today, and I popped into M&S. They had some! So we now have one each! I don’t get to that retailer much now and other retailers had run out, so it’s a Pat on the back rather than a plug. A rather random selection of chocolate advent calendars.

I am still looking for work btw. It would have been nice to end 2020 on a high with employment that makes me sing, but I am sticking to what I have. (My views over this rubbish year are over 2,000! I don’t know how that compares to other word presser but I don’t advertise much…) I am now looking forward to seeing the gardening article published Stateside in March next year, but we’ll get through all that chocolate first. Seasons Greetings!

PS I purchased the calendars I could find. I’m sure others are available if you plan ahead! 🥳 Major supermarkets were out, we did try! Family favourite? Not any left!!!

Indoor pursuits (or, I am struggling)…

Nowhere is there a manual for Just Do Whatever It Is You’re Avoiding… I know I just need a kick up the rear but it’s not that simple. I see pictures of things people do or make and I go, yes I used to do that. It’s cold outside and I have things to plant, mostly bulbs, but I went outside earlier and it took me longer than expected to put sticky numbers on the wheely bins. My fingers weren’t behaving.

I’ve pulled out recipes, both online and my granny’s handwritten fat-stained journal of handwritten go-to favourites with minimal instructions, and nothing appeals. There is a sewing machine set up on the pull-out cabinet in the bedroom. It took me, butter fingers, ages to thread it this morning and then I was easily distracted by other things.

Searching out the Covid detritus!

What does this make me feel about chasing some proper work? Rubbish! I do want to work again but the current climate is, well rubbish, too. I want motivation and faith to tap me on the shoulders and say, Oi, Do This, It’s Guaranteed Income and Job Satisfaction!

And I haven’t found a recipe for the blocks of chocolate, that doesn’t involve ingredients we don’t have. The cupboard is full of the lockdown 1 tins and the Lockdown 2 bulk purchases of pasta, bread flour and tomatoes. So my search for a recipe is limited by the same challenges I’ve set the kids in recent weeks: use only what we have in the house, Korean Kimchi being a lucky find by the oldest!

Granny’s secret clootie dumpling recipe! Shh 🤫

And it’s turned three o’clock just like that. Maybe too late to start baking, or is it classic procrastination? Too late to start sewing and cutting up bit of fabric, or am I scared I am not up to it any more. Unemployable, therefore not a creative bone left in my body? Did I say it was cold outside? Maybe I’ll take the dog out…

Christmas is starting early!

Normally we wait till December for decorations…

But we have a tree decorated and some sparkly bits and it’s only 21st November…

And I also have been pondering whether my gardening is helping despite it being November. My hubby has lots of holiday left as he worked through lockdown in the shed. Day off today has seen us staining wood for shelves. We have no storage in the house so have had to resort to the cheapest option staining pine boards on metal supports and brackets. I see these going up in every room soon as we can’t afford anything more substantial or costly. But we also need to get rid and Covid has put paid to pretty much any car boots or online selling to be honest. So the shelves are the only option for now. I know my oldest also has been nagging for this in her room to fill with books. That might be the pre Christmas job.

The greenhouse is full of poppy seedlings. If I can keep them cared for, maybe I will have lots in the ground by next spring. There will be blue and copper ones as well as purple. Not traditional red ones but I am trying to keep on a colour scheme. But I will try as hard as I can not to lose everything the minute the spring sun comes out!

There are four trays and I’ve confused them. Remember my Amazon mystery seeds? They haven’t grown but poppies have!

I’ve also found some more verbena boniariensis seeds I am tempted to bring on in the greenhouse. Probably doing this all wrong but I don’t care. Cardboard toilet roll inners are proving to be good little pots and I have thousands of plastic ones for later stages. I don’t throw much away, ever!

Not long before I can fill these!

Oh dear I can’t go to work like this!

I’ve ripped my sleeve!

I just went out to spread some blue slate in the front garden and I am filthy and ragged! I was told Hubby thinks it’s too sharp for the back as the slate was too sharp for the dogs paws so the buy3 get one free offer has gone down the sides of the front path. The rainbow gravel was already slipping about so the blue slate will perhaps do the job of holding the white in place.

Four bags have not gone far! And it looks ok but I might need to buy some more. I was thinking I might use the extra to fill my circle but I’ve run out. At some point we will order a bulk bag of some kind of gravel (and sand) for the back but it’s slipping down that list again. Even the shed is in jeopardy!

I shouldn’t have spent so much on birthday boy but I always spend before I get paid… I better get changed for work! It’s zero hours and some months it has been zero so I will take it if it’s offered!

Ooh the weeds! Normally under the car…
I wasn’t going to cover this bed as the tree trunk needs removal!