In the Garden – June Update

As I said sometime earlier, I’d like to do a monthly update of what’s going on in the garden. It’s purely for my own purposes so I can look back on it next year and find out how much further forward or behind we are, so don’t feel the need to read it, unless you suffer from insomnia.

So here goes…..

In the “greenhouse” I’ve got Snowball Cauli and Purple Sprouting broccoli, both grown from seed. They’re a bit lopsided as I didn’t plant them on quick enough. Not sure how they’ll work out but that’s all my fault. Also got lots of herbs growing from seed for, hopefully, planting out in the new herb boxes made by dad. The red peppers are coming along at last, although the chilli peppers from a growing kit bought last year, don’t seem to be thriving at all unfortunately.


Cauli’s and Broccoli


Red “bell” peppers


Pot of mint from mum’s and tiny mint grown from seed


Baby herbs










Also in the greenhouse I’ve put in winter pansies and hollyhock seeds ready for some autumn colour (hopefully!)

Moving into the main garden, the potatoes are going great guns still and have flowered beautifully. Katherine’s sunflowers and tomatoes are all doing well in their bright orange buckets (far better than ours in the garden actually – humph!). I built a cage for the cucumber this weekend to save the fruit growing on the floor, and that seems to be holding up okay so far (miracles do happen!). There’s new growth on the Arthur Bell roses (still in pots), orange tree and Christmas cactus, and Sheila’s Mrs. Sinkins white/pink, the amazing Twisted Celosia “Hot Topic” and Clematis are all looking very good too. The pot of wildflowers from a pack of seeds from BBC Countryfile are going ….well….wild, and we’re looking forward to finding out what’s there (and trying to identify it!).

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The dahlia hiding at the back of the leeks is coming along quickly after the weekend’s rain, and the lettuce is looking largely unmunched and lovely – not sure when to pick it though?! How do you know when it’s ready????

The beans are reaching the tops of their canes and have LOADS of lovely red flowers on them (at the moment!).


Moving down the garden the carrots are very thick and close set but I’m a bit worried about carrot fly and thinning them – it seems to me that you have to do it in the middle of the night, using tweezers, under netting and wearing full head to toe protective clothing – right?

The Yarcombe Chard donated by Brenda from work has been the most successful thing in the garden so far and is brilliant, fast growing and very, very handy to have around when I’ve forgotten to buy veg. The peas are starting to get a bit bigger at last and have flowers on them too thankfully. We also have sprouts and cauli planted in that area.


Right at the bottom of the garden we have rhubarb donated by Sharon, sweetcorn, duly planted in a circle (essential apparently) and three sunflowers grown from seed. IMG_1369

The sweetpeas are still dwarf but at least are big enough to tie up a bit! The Cosmos are still a great joy and seem to keep on flowering and flowering (hurray!) and both little pots of violas together with the hanging basket with them in, bought from the reduced shelf at Homebase have done remarkably well. The tomatoes are a bit of a worry…..those donated by Mrs. Smith and Sheila are doing fine, as are the cherry ones grown from seed, but the grafted Indigo ones have leaf roll which means they’re stressed – not half as stressed as I am with them being stressed!!


Over to the flowering side, all seems to be going well. The mesembryanthemum seeds which I recklessly put straight into the bed as seeds have started to come up in satisfying little clumps – can’t wait to see their lovely happy flowers! The geranium donated by Linda is thriving although it is a bit top heavy and needed a lie down after the rain we had. Everything else is coming along nicely. The pear tree that was rescued from being dumped is starting to get established, the leaves have stopped going brown and there’s new growth on it. The hydrangea is going to be spectacular soon – hopefully – and the big green bushy thing by the bird feeder has surprised us by having gloriously soft pink flowers – which has probably saved it’s life to be honest!

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The Acer is beautiful, though needs a bit of pruning later in the season to make up for what looks like years of neglect. We might try moving it to the front of the house at some point in the future but I’m not sure if it would be too sunny for it there.

The courgette donated by Rosie is going mad! It seemed to double in size after the rain at the weekend and has had lots of lovely flowers so fingers crossed that we will get some courgettes from it!

Finally (phew!) moving to the front of the house, the planter potted up by Kev is an absolute joy and makes me smile every time I come home.


If you’d have told me even 6 months ago that I’d be so excited about the garden, I don’t think I’d have believed you. Long may it last!


Foodie Photo Challenge – B is for Butternut Squash #A-ZFoodiePhotos

So, we’ve squished and we’ve squashed and here are the results of our Butternut Squash foodie challenge.

Frances has shown us a simple but delicious way to use the squash – very handy to know as I’ve never tried it this way before. She roasted it in olive oil, salt and pepper and added some soy sauce. Looks very tasty!

butternut1 butternut2








Linda’s recipe for butternut gnocchi with sage and Parmesan sounds brilliant! I’ve never made any sort of gnocchi, or even eaten it, so it seems beyond clever to me!

butternut 3

Now, I admit to having had a bit of a disaster with mine… I made butternut squash cupcakes and went so wrong somewhere along the line that I ended up with a loaf cake too! Initially I went messed up by making the very basic mistake of not reading the recipe right and missing the fact I needed quite a large amount of Olive Oil. I drained the end of our bottle and then had to resort to jimmying off the lid of a bottle of 1 cal Olive Oil spray to make up the difference! The cakes were very tasty the first day but seemed to disintigrate into a greasy mess a couple of days later – not exactly a success I’m afraid!


Chocolate next! Bring it on!!

H is for … Happy

So what is it exactly?! A very portly dwarf from Snow White? A very annoying song which appears to be superglued in the charts? Or the official view which is…

hap-py (hapē)

1. feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.

“Melissa came in looking happy and excited”.

2. fortunate and convenient

“he had the happy knack of making people like him”

(find the second one a bit odd, but there you go – it’s official!)

So, this elusive thing. Should we just be glad when we feel it, or should we try to document it? I’m coming down on the side of the first choice here. I recently TRIED a project called 100 Happy Days. Google it if you want a full description, but basically the idea was to submit a daily picture of what made you happy and to submit them with a hashtag to Facebook or other social media outlet. I thought it sounded brilliant and was convinced I wouldn’t be one of the 71% of people to “failed” the challenge. But, I lasted less than a month. Personally I don’t think I’ve failed but it’s a difficult concept to comply with. Not only does it assume that the happy thing is material or capturable, but that you’ll have a camera or mobile accessible at the time. And, the biggest downside, is that it makes you realise how much of the time you’re NOT ecstatically happy! So, to me it seems a much better thing to actually take the time to realise you’re happy, enjoy it, pack it away in your head to bring a smile at times you need a smile and move on to finding the next happy thing. By all means take a photo if you have a camera handy, but don’t add to the stress of life by forcing a happy capturable moment every day.

Oh, and be happy!



G is for …. Gardening #LindasA-Z

The most polite thing to say about the garden of the new house when we moved in was that it had “potential”. I’m not quite sure why we didn’t take photos of it before we started work on it, but it was a mess. Hopefully we’re going the right way to do something about that…

April 2014 - starting to dig over the garden areas which were completely overgrown.

April 2014 – starting to dig over the planting areas which were completely overgrown.

Not many words this post (hurray!) as I thought I’d do a monthly garden update from now on (in theory) so I have something to look back on when I’m wondering what the heck we did when last year. So these are the photos from today.

Veggie side with runner beans, spud bags, cucumber and lots more

Veggie side with runner beans, spud bags, cucumber and lots more

Flower side with the tomato nursery by the shed

Flower side with the tomato nursery by the shed

Weedy old sweetpeas! They have 2 chances....

Weedy old sweetpeas! They have 2 chances….

In the "greenhouse" - baby sweet peppers, chilli peppers, cauli and broccoli

In the “greenhouse” – baby sweet peppers, chilli peppers, cauli and broccoli

New plant stand made by dad, ready for the herbs. Katherine's sunflowers

New plant stand made by dad, ready for the herbs. Katherine’s sunflowers in orange buckets!







I’ve planted lots of herbs this evening so hopefully they’ll end up in the planter dad built for us. Did misread one of the packets and thought I was going to be growing something far more foxy than Basil Bush though!

Here’s how it’s looking as a whole now, thanks to all Kev’s hard work over the past weeks. He’s a star!

June 2014

June 2014


F is for …. Funnyman #LindasA-Z

Oh no. What will happen to the world’s kipper industry now our darling Lord Flashheart has died?


Bizarrely, looking back, it was my parents who first introduced me to Rik Mayall in the form of a very unexpected Christmas present – a video (hark at how old I am) of some guy called Kevin Turvey who I’d never heard of. Perhaps it was because they watched it with me, but I found it more squirmy than funny the first time I saw it…. I think they found it so funny because of his broad West Midlands accent – how quickly we forget where we come from!

Next time Rik came to my attention was when the guy who worked with me on a Saturday in my parents shop asked me if I’d ever seen The Young Ones, stating how amazing he thought it was. I was shocked. Was this some cunning ploy to distract me from our usual tea break game of eating jam doughnuts without licking the sugar from our lips while looking up rude names in the phone book? How could this cool 80’s teenager think that The Young Ones was amazing?! Was it some Una Stubbs crush? How could he be admitting to be a Cliff fan in public? I’d thought he was someone to look up to! He played ace air guitar using just a brookstick, had a teabag t-shirt and bleached jeans! How could this epitome of cool be saying these things to me? The shock was enough to make me lose that week’s no sugar licking/rude name game I can tell you.

He told me when and where the next showing of The Young Ones would be, explained no more and left me perplexed as to why Cliff would need to be shown after the watershed.

And then I watched it.

Fortunately without mum and dad this time.

Oh. My. Word.

I think perhaps the controllers of the BBC had assumed the same as me and thought, ahhh, that lovely Cliff fellow making a series for us.

How wrong we both were.

The first episode I saw was Bambi….

I don’t think life has ever been the same again since. I can’t resist if I find an episode of The Young Ones while I’m flicking through telly channels late at night even now. Next thing I know I’m setting series link. It’s irresistible, stupid, shocking, laugh a minute sheer and utter mad brilliance.

Then, in 1993, they brought the madness LIVE to a stage near us – unbelievable and not to be missed!  We were lucky enough to see them performing Bottom live at The Great Hall of Exeter University. What a night it was! If Bottom was outrageous and funny on telly, live it was something else. I’m so glad I took time out to look around me while we were there because the sight of so many people holding their stomachs and wiping away tears from their faces was unbelievable (in a good way, not mass hysteria or food poisoning) and one I’ll never forget. If you could have harnessed the power from the laughter that night you could have lit up the whole world.

I’m so sorry for Rik’s family, friends, colleagues and each and every one of us who he has made laugh over the years. He’s left us far too early and there’ll never be another one like him.

He has left us with an amazing legacy of laughter and with a generation of children who have been brought up by us madsters who have been brain addled by his brilliance – thank goodness.

Farewell People’s Poet. Goodbye to one of the funniest B’stards ever to tickle my funny bone (oo-er).


E is for …. Escaping #LindasA-Z

Prior to moving house we used to be very good at escaping. We just used to pile in the car and off we’d go. Sometimes with a plan to go somewhere new, or somewhere old, or just to see where we ended up. I hadn’t really realised that we’d stopped doing it so much, but looking back over the past year’s photos that I’ve taken, it’s obvious that we don’t do it so much. I’m not sure whether it diminished when we decided to move as we had so much to do to the old house before we left it, and then the new house when we moved in? But, whatever the reason, this week we’ve managed to get some good quality escaping done and it’s been blissful – like a mini holiday.

Kev had booked Thursday and Friday off work for his birthday so we’ve had a long weekend, which always helps with escaping. Thursday we went to a daytime showing of X-Men: Days of Future Past. If you’ve never been to the cinema during the day when everyone else is still at work, I encourage you to do so. I always look forward to a trip to the cinema and then spend much of the film being frustrated by the people who eat, chat and who don’t think the “turn off your phone” message can possibly relate to them. By going during the day, if you avoid school holidays, you eliminate most, if not all, of that problem. And Hugh Jackman’s backside……oooops, I mean the film, was great too!

Friday we were invited out for lunch with my parents, for Kev’s birthday. Rather than wait until lunch time my dad text me in the morning and said that he’d heard there’d be a fly-past in Lyme Regis in remembrance of D-Day, did we fancy going? Perfect escape material, off the cuff, unplanned and something very worthwhile going to see and a good way to remember those who sacrificed so much so that we can live the lives that we have since those dark and sad days.

Whilst the weather as we were leaving home was looking decidedly dodgy and we took raincoats, the weather at Lyme was so beautiful that we ended up sat on the seafront, having been to buy cold drinks and suntan lotion! Still managed to get burned though! Didn’t manage to get a decent photo of the fly-past, but this one of the sea front scene will remind me of a lovely morning.


We also managed to do a mini escape on Saturday after I’d finished work. My daughter and I went to the Awliscombe and Weston Fête which is held in the grounds of a local pub (what sensible people!). It’s by far my favourite fête of the year and a place where I manage to catch up with lots of lovely people, some of whom were the first I knew when we moved to Devon. We also managed to see our first ever duck race as well!

We didn’t manage to do quite so well as this man had with his escape session though! Had to zoom in hard to get a photo of him but I think this is the first time I’ve ever wished I was a into fishing!


All of this has gone to remind me how much I love escaping and what a great thing it is to be able to do. We still have a whole day of the weekend left so who knows what might happen?!