Category Archives: Summer

Beach House Memories

12917577We recently purchased a condo in North Myrtle Beach South Carolina.  I’d never been there before we flew down to look at the unit and I love the area. This book is set on the Isles of Palms which is 95 miles from North Myrtle Beach so perfect timing for me to read it.

It opens with Lovie (Olivia Rutledge) again at her beloved beach cottage. She is an old lady and in the last stages of cancer. The story is designed like a sandwich with the first and last chapter in the present and the rest of the book mainly about the summer of 74 at the beach. A plus is the sub plot where they study loggerhead turtles and the newly hatched babies. We saw some nesting spots when we were in Florida. These creatures are amazing.

Lovie finds love this summer and she truly finds herself. We all face crossroads in life. Some us face more than others, but  I think we all wonder what our life would have been if we had taken the other road.

As I read this story I thought that everyone over maybe 60 should read this book. Choices were made that changed the course of life and in the end, if you believe in soul mates you can believe that these two will meet again.

Maybe it’s where I live, but I seem to be more aware of the life journey than I once was.  Here it’s 55 and older, and there have been a lot of changes on our street.  One couple downsizing to an apartment, another moving to a local assisted living, another choosing to move across the state to be closer to their daughter and they also chose assisted living.  One lady described it to me as turning to a new chapter.  This book made me look back and see more clearly the chapters of my own life story.

A recommended read for sure.

 

 

 

 

 

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When is enough too much?

So this week I went shopping with a friend who wanted to buy two new bras. After trying on what seemed like the whole shop, she eventually found the perfect pairs and all was well. It was a blistering hot day and by the time we got back to her place we were both gasping for something cold to drink. We sat under the shade in her garden and I spotted several pairs of lovely lacy bras in a variety of colours drying on the washing line. Why did she need more pairs, I asked? Her reply was that she wants her bra to match her outfit. What? Needless to say, I felt woefully inadequate with just a black bra, a white bra, and a flesh-coloured bra, in my possession, but they serve me well enough.

IMG_20190723_211537_706Before I left, my friend showed me one of her ‘bra’ drawers. I counted twelve pairs, plus the five on her washing line, and the two new pairs she’d just purchased.

20190728_144159I was still pondering on this the next day as I put away some freshly-ironed clothes and realised I shouldn’t have been so quick to tease her on her bra fetish. I counted fifteen pairs of leggings. Okay, I do yoga and attend classes regularly, but fifteen? I certainly won’t be needing any more pairs anytime soon, but then I did just see this adorable pair online…and sixteen is such a nice even number, isn’t it?

How about you? Is there anything you collect to excess?

An unexpected bonus…

20190209_125341Just returned from a great few days at my mother’s on the south coast of the UK. We had the most glorious weather and it was amazing to be by the beach. Vivvy adored it and spent every opportunity to get in the water. She’s a real water baby, except when she spies the garden hosepipe to clean her off, then she runs a mile in the opposite direction.

My mum has just had a new satellite system installed for her TV, phone and internet and loves her new big TV. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to connect the internet on my laptop and spent a good hour speaking to the supply company who tried to work out why. My mum streams Netflix on her TV and that was working fine, so the engineer was stumped. They are sending a new box which should hopefully fix things, but it meant I was without the internet for four days! Can you believe it? Four days! At first I wondered how I’d survive not checking emails and looking at social media, but I have to be honest and say that I didn’t miss it at all. In fact, it was really relaxing (although it did mean I was late posting my blog this time around).

20190628_133914After lovely long days spent shopping, lunching (that’s my mum and sister-in-law in the photo), having numerous breaks for coffee and tea, visiting with family, and playing with Vivvy, it was great to come home in the evenings and relax with a game of cards with my mum (who always beats me, hands down), chat over a late night drink in the garden as the sun went down, or watch TV. In fact, I might even start having ‘internet breaks’ more often. It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time, now I think I’ll put it into effect.

How about you? Do you have regular ‘internet breaks’? If so, how long can you manage without checking in?

Moon Over Pendennis

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Falmouth – our hotel

Earlier this summer, we took a short break away to Falmouth on the south coast of England. Falmouth is a pretty Cornish town with a deep natural harbour and beautiful award-winning beaches. The weather was so gorgeous that we were able to take advantage of the latter with some lovely swims and walks along the shore, both in the early morning and as the sun went down.

We chose a hotel right on the peninsula, said to be the oldest hotel in Falmouth. Not only did we have a lovely sea view from our fourth-floor room but we also had a dual aspect so we could see right along the coastline from east to west. That meant lovely sunrises and sunsets.

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Moon Over Pendennis

From our room we could see Pendennis Castle, a really well-preserved 16th-century fortress built by Henry VIII and now owned by English Heritage (the castle is that blob in the centre of the land mass).  The views from the Castle grounds are fabulous, too, especially across the Fal River to lovely St. Mawes which boasts its own castle.

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From Pendennis to St Mawes

We took a couple of trips during our stay, one to Truro to see its three-spired cathedral. Building was completed in 1910 and it is a great example of gothic revival architecture. The cathedral is right in the middle of town and is reached by quaint little roads and alleyways. Truro Cathedral has a real community feel and appears very much to be integrated into the town’s activities. There is also a thriving cafe and restaurant in its annexe building where we enjoyed a delicious lunch.

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Truro with Cathedral

On the way home we took time to enjoy coffee at Jamaica Inn on the edge of the atmospheric Bodmin Moor, with which I have a special affinity, and spent a pleasant hour planning our next trip to Cornwall. Can’t wait.

A Summer of Firsts

This summer has certainly been sweltering so far, and I love it. But it has its downside too, for keeping the garden thriving has been a major task. Thankfully we’re not on a water meter or a hosepipe ban so the new flower border is more colourful than ever.

But despite our best efforts our vegetables have been a failure – a first for Dave. The broad beans cropped well but of once shelled were all covered in black spots and consigned to the compost bin. We managed about three meals from the runner beans before they withered. Dave has cut them back in hope they’ll reshoot. The peas were a non-starter and the sweet peas although flowered had stems no longer than 2 inches and soon died in the heat. That said, the onions, carrots and potatoes are cropping, so at least we’re not starving. But therein came another first for us.

We kept finding the onions pulled out and scattered around the vegetable patch, we’re talking here about the whole matured, fully grown and ready to harvest bulbs. Then some of the dahlias were pulled out of the ground. A few mornings on we found tattered and chewed children’s soft toys discarded amongst the veg. Big holes were appearing in the ground, too big to be cats and we have no wild rabbits here. The culprits were seen one evening when I spied them coming into the garden through the adjoining hedge – foxes, a family of 7. Urban foxes have always been around but we’ve never had any damage. They’ve even dug large holes under a neighbours’ new fence.

But there have been some lovely firsts too. We haven’t seen many butterflies here this summer apart from the pesky cabbage whites. One appeared that I hadn’t seen before – a marbled white. Not as troublesome as the cabbage whites.

Marbled White Butterfly

The butterflies might be scare but there have been plenty of moths. One was  a privet hawk moth, with a wingspan of approx 4 inches, these moths are the largest in the UK. I haven’t seen them since moving away from London so a first for my garden. It was also unusual in that there are no privet hedges locally!

Privet Hawk Moth

Another morning I noticed a strange-looking black and white butterfly sitting on one of my flowers. A closer inspection showed it was a moth. I grabbed my camera and tried to take a photo. As I did, it opened its wings and took flight revealing the most beautiful orange wings as it fluttered over the fence into another garden. Research told me it was a tiger moth, and that the unknown hairy caterpillars I kept finding on a rose bush were in fact tiger moth caterpillars. More firsts. As always, I’m too slow with the camera so I’ve had to obtain these 3 ref photos.

Tiger Moth

Last Wednesday as Dave and I were enjoying a coffee on the patio, he noticed a very fat, long (at least 3 inches!) green caterpillar making its way across the slabs. It looked rather like those stuffed draft excluders we all had years ago to keep the wind from blowing under the doors. He took a photo and ran inside to look it up on the internet as neither of us recognized it. Whilst he was gone, I spied another happily munching away on a fuchsia bush. They turned out to be elephant hawk moth caterpillars – I never knew they also came in green, I’d only ever seen the brown ones. We found out that they start off green and over the course of a few days slowly turn brown.  Two days later, trundling along the patio heading for the undergrowth along came a brown one. At least they shuffle along slowly so I was able to capture them on camera. (As I’m writing this post, Dave has just come upstairs to show me another green one he’s found chomping on a plant!)

Another first is a sunflower growing in the new border. In all the 40 years I’ve been gardening here, I’ve never grown one. I’d popped a few sunflowers seeds from the birdfeed into the ground out of curiosity to see if they would grow. Two of them I must have pulled out when weeding but one has grown into a beauty, almost 6 feet tall with lots of buds coming out.

But the best first of all wasn’t a moth, butterfly or caterpillar or a flower. It was a pair of goldfinches settling on the birdfeeder to enjoy a feast of nyger seeds. I knew goldfinches were in the area, I’d seen and heard them about them since last winter, so I’d put out the nyger seeds in the hope they would come into the garden. They did, and a few days later two youngsters joined them. Now we often have 7 or 8 around the feeders. They take no notice of Dave or me or of the resident sparrows.

Talking of sparrows… Billy One Mate still pops into the garden for a feed on the ground but he’s now with a small flock of his fellow starlings. I know it’s him as he has a white flash down his chest. He’s thriving, bless him, after such a shaky start.

And with summer still not over, who knows what other firsts might appear.

Tourists at Home

Recently, while my mum was staying with us (she lives a couple of hours away on the coast), we decided to spend the day in the nearby Georgian city of Bath. The weather was absolutely glorious, so instead of focusing on shopping as we usually do, we decided to act as tourists for the day and take in some of Bath’s major attractions.

20180611_130351First we visited Bath Abbey. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked past the Abbey and enjoyed various concerts inside it, but acting the tourist I discovered that it’s one of the most visited places in the south west of England, and one of the largest examples of perpendicular Gothic architecture in the country. It was founded in the 7th Century and rebuilt in the 12th and 16th Century, and has been a place of pilgrimage for hundreds of years. In 973, the first king of England, King Edgar, was crowned here, and the service set the precedent for the coronation of all future Kings and Queens of England.

After admiring the Abbey, we decided to treat ourselves to 20180611_124624morning coffee and a Bath bun at the Pump Rooms just across the grounds. Built in 1706, the Pump Rooms form part of the Roman Baths, and still retains some of the original Georgian features. While dining, visitors are treated to music provided by an excellent pianist, and there’s the opportunity to ‘take the waters’ of the hot springs still poured via the original marble vase, now over 200 years old. The waters are said to have curative powers. (sidenote: it tastes foul). 20180611_114031

The Pump Rooms were very fashionable amongst 18th Century high society.  Jane Austen mentioned it in some of her novels “Every creature in Bath was to be seen in the room at different periods of the fashionable hours”, and it provided inspiration for other notable authors, namely Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein while staying nearby.

As we wandered around the city, my mum was fascinated by the living statue street performers. But on such a hot day she was very concerned that they were out so long in the sun without a  break. Knowing my mum’s caring nature, I had the impression that at any moment we would be heading along to the nearest supermarket to order a supply of water for distribution amongst Bath’s outdoor performing artists! 🙂20180611_130335

We thoroughly enjoyed our day as tourists, but we did manage to get some shopping done, too. Why change the habit of a lifetime?

Opening the Back Door

First, apologies for being a day late. What I had intended to write about has been delayed, so at the risk of boring you I will once again open the back door and reveal the back garden. We’ve been working hard and so thankful for the brilliant weather experienced here in the UK lately which has meant we’ve been able to get practically everything done we intended to do. Everything is growing well, and we can at last enjoy sitting on our new patio admiring our efforts as it all slowly grows and flourishes. In the space of a four to five weeks the long border has gone:

And a bird’s eye or rather bedroom view:

There is still the other borders to transform but they are going to have to wait. Two plants are been particularly stunning at the moment: my ever-faithful perennial aquileiga and a new clematis bought for £1.69 from our local Aldi supermarket.

In preparing the groundwork last November, Dave smashed two of the blue bowls on the new water fountain but, bless him, he bought me another and rather than waste the old, transformed it into a new pot feature.

Yesterday, I counted the pots around the rear garden, patio and front garden – there’s 85 of them! And that doesn’t include the old kitchen sink next to the water fountain. Plus he’s planted up and hung 20 wall baskets. So you can understand why we’re so impatient for it all to grow. We’ll have to wait. Let’s hope this marvellous weather continues.

As to what else has been happening… for those who haven’t seen or heard – two weeks ago some of my paintings were in a public exhibition held by my art group. The full story can be read over on my art blog, but I was delighted that one of my works sold. On top of which, I was asked to do a commission, and I won a prize in the exhibition raffle. All in all, a brilliant weekend.

 

On the downside, now the garden is done, we have no excuse not to start on the major living and dining room makeover and that’s going to be a very messy, dusty job. Not looking forward to it and I may have to escape for a few weeks whilst it’s going on.

Have a great June, everyone.

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