Category Archives: Summer

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.

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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.

Kit’s Website and Blog , Kit’s Kitchen  Kit’s Art  Site

Gallery

Good Bye to Summer 2017 in the Pacific Northwest

This gallery contains 2 photos.

I’m writing and scheduling this blog early so by the time it goes live the weather might be back to normal temperatures. Or at least I’m hoping they will, this year as been something else. Our normal weather for this … Continue reading

Gallery

An Apology

This gallery contains 6 photos.

My apologies, everyone, I am unable to do my blogspot today due to several domestic problems in the Domino household. Nothing to worry about and normal service shall be resumed as soon as possible. Meanwhile, for your enjoyment, here are … Continue reading

An Emotionally Uplifting Summer

It’s been a fun month, even if it has been busy. I’ve been working hard on a new fantasy story and it seems like there’s been family event after family event. We have two spare beds in our house and I’ve been washing sheets like there’s no tomorrow! But it’s all been fun.

We held a family reunion at my brother’s house to celebrate what would have been Mom’s 93rd birthday. It was a lot of fun and visiting and catching up.

Hubby and I showing my aunt how the “photo booth” worked. 🙂

And we released balloons in Mom’s favorite color (purple) in her honor. We’ve always said that when Mom passed, she was finally with the love of her life, our beloved step-father, who passed away in the early 90’s. Well, two of the balloons released knocked up against each other and their strings entwined. They stayed that way all the way up until they were out of sight. It made us smile as we thought of them as Mom and John holding hands. 🙂 Have you ever had a moment like that? Where something random happens and it fills you with such a feeling of love? It’s an amazing blessing to be able to have that happen.

Also on the fun front, we went to see Neil Diamond in concert. Again. Must be about my fifth time. Two years ago, my daughter took me for a “banner” birthday. I blogged about that here. This time, we got my husband to come, along with another daughter and her husband.

You know…that man is 76 years old now and still doing concerts. Every other day during his tour. At 76! Wow. I hope I’m that active when I’m his age! I have to admit, he was moving a little slower. But that voice of his is as amazing as ever, along with his ability to fill a crowd with joy. He made us all feel special. He is a very special man with an amazing talent and I’m so glad I’ve gotten to see him so many times.

Now we’re in a heat wave here in the Pacific Northwest. A week or so of highs in the 90’s (32’s in Celsius numbers).  That’s really warm for us in the summer. We rarely get 100 degree days, or even approach them. So this is going to be a hot, hot week. We are lucky enough to have air conditioning. It doesn’t make it easier to sleep at night, but the days are much more comfortable, and we’re very grateful for that.

I hope you are all having a fun, fun summer. And staying cool in the heat, or embracing the sunshine. Whatever you love to do, this is the time to do it.

Summer rocks!

For more information about Laurie Ryan:
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Everything in Threes

Why does everything seem to come in threes? Is it magic number? We have the Three Stooges; plants should be grouped in threes; the Holy Trinity; the three wise men, traffic lights – red, amber, green; clothes, especially for babies: one on, one off and one in the wash; pre-packed meat in supermarkets, chops always seem to be in threes, not one or two or even four; three primary colours: red, blue and yellow; the three little pigs; three blind mice; no buses for an hour then three come along at once; three teaspoonsful equal one tablespoon… I could go on but it does seem odd (excuse the pun) that life and nature frequently have this triplet number. I’ve often wondered why or if there is any significance. Are these things simply a pattern? A lucky number, perhaps? No, I don’t think so for trouble always seems to come in threes too? At least it does in my house. I’ll elaborate…

Dave’s been retired now a month. It’s been brilliant. We’ve had a lot of fun, more laughs than I can remember us having and he and I have enjoyed every moment of this new phase in our long marriage. Except this month has also brought unwelcome and unexpected expense. Picture the scene: a beautiful Sunday, guests joining us for lunch, a roast merrily cooking its way, then bang! All the power in the house goes down. Trip switch flicked on again and again. Bang! Yes, you’ve guessed it, the cooker decided to burn out one of the heating elements in the oven. Oven turned off, meal resumed in the jet stream and microwave. Engineer summoned Monday morning. New element ordered, fitted on Wednesday.

Thursday, pouring with rain. Never mind, have washing to do. Thank goodness for tumble drier as we don’t have room for a washing line in the garden. Load machine with sheets. Drum turns a few times as it fills with cold water. Then bang! Trip switch shuts power off. Dave blames pump in koi pond and goes off to sort. I turn washing machine back on. Off power goes again. Kicks machine. Okay, it’s nearly 14 years old, never broken down so I can’t complain. Suspect pump has given up. Removes wet, soaking bedding from drum. Scratches head. What to do with dripping washing. Engineer summoned again in hope he can fix it. Yes he can. Heater element blown. New one ordered and fitted following Monday morning.

Now have larger washing mountain to climb. First load in: several large towels. Washing machine works a treat and an hour later they are dying in tumble drier. Well… I thought they were. All lights flashing on machine, washing still damp after two hours. Drier defunct. Research problem on internet: Common fault. Terminal. Still pouring with rain so can’t even rig up temporary line. New tumbler on order for next day delivery.

So, that is our three bad things done. Hopefully. Please no more. Dave reckons the dishwasher will be next as it’s over 10 years old. I’ve told him if it does break down, he will be doing all the washing up for wishing it upon us.

It’s still raining, and blowing a gale, but at least the garden is thriving, even if we can’t get out there and enjoy it today.

Kit’s Website and Blog  and Kit’s Art  Site