Sunday, 30 June 2013

Saving the Planet, a plant at a time .... and an odd ingredient!


Sunday greetings to you my lovelies.  As you can see I've had a bit of a change again - I really didn't like that other layout and rather than making my blog look up the minute and snazzy, I thought it made it look confusing and jumbled.  Yep - more so than usual!  So back to the old template with a new bright and breezy blue background.  How long it will stay like that is anyone's guess.  Although - with these new changes apparently happening tomorrow (about which I don't have a scooby doo!)   I may not have any readers at all!  I wish they would leave things alone.  Its not broken so why fix it?  Pah to the Googley powers that be. I'm sure techno people are all ready prepared for the change but I have no clue about such things so shall just keep posting in the hope that people still find me  if they want to.

More planting took place today.  I had some great bargains from town yesterday which were too good to turn down.    There is a fruit/veg/grocer shop in the High Street (used to be called The Big Apple but goodness knows what it is now - same stuff, same staff, just a different name).  They usually have some great plants at very reasonable prices and I was thrilled to pick up this sweet little (actually its not little at all!) perennial Veronica (Ulster Blue) plant which is looking very at home in the rock garden where it should thrive in full sun (cough!).   This is an upright variety of Speedwell and my research informs me that flowers were pinned to the garments of travellers in Ireland to protect them from harm.  I love the little purple candles and am told that regular dead heading will prolong the flowering season.  This bushy little specimen cost just £1.99.

I also picked up this lovely fuchsia - again just £1.99 and currently flowering its head off, it makes for an instant impact in the garden.  It didn't have a label on it but was sitting amongst lots of Tom Thumb variety
fuchsias so it may be one of them.

I also purchased two lovely lupins, again at £1.99 each, and these will hopefully be living in the woodland border if the slugs leave them alone - which I highly doubt somehow!

My other two bargains were "necessary purchases in the interests of plant saviour!"  I'm going to have a bit of a rant now.  Why  oh WHY do supermarkets insist on having racks and racks of beautiful plants on sale when they have no plan of how to properly look after them?  They are not watered and are simply left to wither and die.  I'm going to name and shame Aldi as the culprit in this particular case.  Over the last few months, I've seen shrubs,trays of bedding plants, perennials, fruit trees and vegetable plants left to wither away through lack of care.  It must cost them thousands in losses if this is the case in every store.  They'll put them out on offer one week, and by the next week,  most of them are dead through lack of water in their pots.  The case in point this week was big metal racks of veggie plants - tomatoes, sweet peppers, chillis .... all curling to pale yellow crisps in the strong sunshine.  They had been reduced to £1.49 per plant by this time, once big strong sturdy plants planted up into two litre pots all showing signs of dehydration.  I liberated a yellow pepper which was probably the best of a bad lot, which is just coming into flower and also a yellow cherry tomato plant which is already beginning to set fruit.  When I got home, I stripped the dead leaves from the bottoms of the stems, and sunk their parched roots into buckets of water - I could almost hear them gasp their thanks!  Whether they will survive to produce fruit of any worth is anyone's guess - they may well be beyond saving - but at least they will have had a chance.  Ooh I say - I feel all virtuous!!
In their new snug environment, no doubt breathing a sigh of relief

Ok, rant over - you can come from behind the sofa now.

Elsewhere in the garden .....
The ceanothus is covered in little blue blooms
and is alive with busy bees!



There are rogue raspberries by the compost bin!
I think these are interlopers from next door.  I hope they fruit!
The dark petunias have really bushed out and look gorgeous


The rose bush is loaded with buds - I thought this one was called 'Mother of
Millions' as we bought it as a remembrance rose for my Nan.  I can't find any
rose of that name however so perhaps it isn't!  I shall never know! 


















Smells divine whatever it is!





















I have a recipe to share with you now.   As a change from the usual roast dinner this evening, we're having roasted veg with thyme and oregano (I love the smell of roasting vegetables!),  couscous and diet cola chicken.   Yep you heard that right - diet cola chicken.  I can hear all the EURRRGHHHS from here - but please, bear with me whilst I explain.

Take some chopped onions, a couple of cloves of smashed garlic and some diced chicken boob  breasts and fry them off to brown in a deep frying pan or wok.  Next, take a can of diet cola or 330ml if you have a bottle, empty it into a jug, add a stock cube, 6 tablespoons of passata and a good shake of Worcestershire sauce.  Give it a good stir up.  Once the chicken is browned and the onions translucent, pour in the stock mixture.  Bring to a gentle boil, and then simply simmer away until the sauce has reduced and thickened up.  Season if needed.

It is an extremely tasty dish, very quick and simple to do and you don't 'have' to tell anyone there is diet cola in it!!    Try it - if you like barbecue flavoured sauces then I promise you won't be disappointed.  This is a recipe loved by many on the Slimming World plan and so has the added bonus of being very low fat.

We've had a busy old day here at Peapods and our early start to the day means that we have achieved lots of garden and houseworky type jobs.   I shall be glad to crawl into our freshly made, (very girly) bed this evening. (Seconds before this photo was taken a hooligan jumped on the bed.  Bloody animal!!)

Thank you very much for your visit today, and if the changes made tomorrow prevent you from visiting me in the future, then I'd just like to say - its been a pleasure sharing my mad ramblings with you :)

With love xxxx



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Saturday, 29 June 2013

Public Transport - People Watching

Don'tcha just love it?

There used to be a standing joke years ago about drawing the short straw and having to sit by "the nutter on the bus".  These days I'm sure that for every 'normal' person who boards a bus, they are matched in equal measure by 'a nutter'.

I have to catch two buses home from work and they are always a cause for amusement.  On the first one today, a young woman stumbled out of the pub just in time to see said bus sailing past her towards the bus stop.  "STOPPPP" she yelled, sprinting in a wobbly fashion alongside us and banging on the side of the bus in a rage. "STOPPPP YA BASTAAAAAARD!".   The bus driver slowed marginally and approached the bus stop at a crawl, allowing her to catch up and get on.  She got on and doubled over to catch her breath, holding her hand up at the driver and imploring him to hang on for her mates who were just drawing level with the bus.  Once on, they all wobbled their way to the back seat, whereupon a massive slurred, very loud drunken argument ensued between the three of them about who had money and who didn't, and who had 'stuff' and who was going to pay for it.  Then there was an intermission during which they all trooped down to the front to ask the driver whether they were on the right bus, had a bit of a discussion between themselves and then all trooped back again to carry on with the money-and-who-had-what-stuff conversation.

The second bus (when it FINALLY arrived nearly half an hour late - grr!) was packed full of soggy, annoyed humans, quietly steaming in the muggy fug.   Oh it was delightful.  Entertainment for this leg of the journey was a young tracksuited couple - he with a buggy with a baby not more than six months old in it and a staffy bull terrier which, rather alarmingly, had lots of pink scarring over its face, lying resignedly at his feet.  Standing opposite with an empty buggy was his girlfriend.  She was having a ranty conversation on her mobile phone and every so often glaring at her other half in an accusing fashion and nodding at him to underline whatever point she was trying to make.  He reciprocated by continually telling her to shut the eff up.  Their beautiful blonde haired toddler son was standing on a seat gazing into space, seemingly oblivious to his parents' heated interaction.  The poor little mite quite honestly looked hollow eyed and sad, with dark shadows beneath his eyes.   When they got off the bus, Mum yanked him unceremoniously over the seat by his arm whilst continuing with her phone call.  I've not stopped thinking about the little lad all night if I'm honest, wondering what sort of life he has.   I do hope he's okay.   I hope they're all ok.  But I have a sneaking suspicion that they're probably not.




Sunday, 23 June 2013

Westonbury Mill Water Gardens

Hello all,

I'm so glad you could join me again here in my little corner of blog-land.  I've had a bit of a re-vamp, brushed some cobwebs away and hope you like the new look.

Phew it has been a very busy weekend.  Yesterday we hosted a surprise party for the birthday gal at my brother's house - we worked out socks off to make it perfect and thankfully - it was!  More of that soon, but in the meantime I promised that I would share some pictures of our visit to Westonbury Mill Water Gardens.

We happened upon this amazing little place on the way home from our ever so slightly bonkers trip to Wales.  You will remember that Mum wasn't feeling well, and so we were wending our way back towards the Midlands.  She was beginning to feel better by this point, but was, I think, feeling as though she had upset the whole day.  We reassured her that she had not, and that she could not help being poorly.  All the same, I'm so glad that my brother took one of those split second decisions to turn off when he saw the brown sign for the above, because we spent the best couple of hours meandering around this gorgeous little place and the day was well and truly rescued.

It was a place full of follies and water mills....
 
And foxgloves....

Of cool watery vistas ...



and gargoyles ..




Secret Hidey Holes .



And comfy roosting places

A dome made of 5000 wine bottles ...

The sun shining through them lit them up like stained glass ....
Casting incredible reflections on the tiny pool inside ....




Ponds full of dancing dragon flies

An beautiful Japanese maples ..




Gnarly tree stumps

Pretty Ladies

Swathes of flowers

Jurassic-like Gunnera

Papery bark
HUGE leaves

Perfect planting



Green Woman

Mad water powered cuckoo clocks

Hundreds of tadpoles - never seen so many!

Tranquil places .....

Gorgeous colours 

Ahhh.. All home to roost... must be time to leave.


Bye bye beautiful place ....

Check out the website HERE to find out more about this hidden treasure, which cost us less than five pounds each to visit.  There are also links on the website to a couple of virtual tours around the gardens which are worth a look.

See you soon !
With love xx

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Solstice Blessings

...from me to you all, whether you celebrate or not.

Our kidnap of the aged one went to plan this morning and we have spent the day travelling around the Welsh Borders viaThe Marches, Powys and as far as Rhayader.  We had breakfast at Harry Tuffins, and then travelled on to Newtown.  We had a wander over the little bridge at the back of the car park into a lovely green park space.  I took a couple of photographs of the water:



The aged one and my bruv.

 and cooed over the tiny baby conkers forming on the huge horse chestnut tree which was overhanging the river.   How cute!


We stretched our legs for a while up through the town











I had a serious case of the wanties when I saw a) this window display

 and b) THESE SHOES!!



 Back on our travels again, we headed towards Llandrindod Wells and stopped at a lovely little pub just outside Llanbadarn Fynydd  (where its currently all kicking off about the wind farms) where we sat in the garden and took in the sunshine.  A tiny waterfall provided a pretty little back drop along with splendid old trees and swathes of buttercups/kingcups.



Red Kites abound in this area and I was absolutely thrilled to see a pair hovering just above the car, instantly recognisable by their deeply forked tails and huge wing span.  A little further on, we saw too many to count, all wheeling and stooping above the valley. The sky was alive with them and I was transfixed - apparently it was feeding time at the Red Kite Centre hence why there were so many. See here for the website http://gigrin.co.uk/  We didn't have time to stop and visit as we were intending on travelling onwards to the Elan Valley, but it is a place I would love to visit at some point in the future.

I was also lucky enough to see two Jays (each of them in different areas). I don't think I've ever seen one as close as they were today but of course there is never enough time to stop the car and focus the camera properly so my birdwatching activities were sadly not recorded for posterity.

Unfortunately, Mum didn't feel too well and we had to stop for a while to find a convenience as she felt very sick.  Its very unlike her to be sick like she was and we're putting it down to the fry-up she had which she's not really used to anymore, half a pint of shandy a little later, and sitting cramped up for a couple of hours.  She didn't feel well enough to continue on our adventure and so we made the decision to turn around and head back towards home.  After the poor old girl's fourth episode of being sick (!) she finally began to feel a little better and so as we were travelling back towards Pembridge, purely by a stoke of luck we happened upon Westonbury Mill Water Gardens.

It was a very spontaneous decision to drop into this  absolute gem of a place and as I took nearly 100 photographs whilst walking around, I think I shall designate it a post of its own once I have weeded out the rubbish blurry shots (which will probably leave me with 3 and a half decent photographs to show you!).

We got home at around seven and it was good to sit and unwind for a while with a couple of cups of coffee. I was starting to shake from caffeine withdrawal by then!!

After LM went to work this evening, I ventured out to the garden to light my solstice candle.  As it is still very breezy in our garden, I used my hurricane lamp and lit a pillar candle inside to shelter it from the wind.  I placed this on some fronds of ivy in the middle of the sun circle which I use as my little altar outside.  Once the candle was lit, I sat quietly on the garden chair, just watching the candle flame gutter and dance behind the glass.   I have a glass orb in the garden which hangs from some wind chimes and inside the orb is a solar powered light which changes colour and softly glows from blue to yellow to red to white to green.  The chimes are very soft and tinkle beautifully.




I was joined by Charlie cat who sat beside me, trilling and chirruping his daft little furry head off.  He's a very vocal cat but doesn't miaow at all - he just makes these weird chirping noises like he's trying to miaow through a purr! The breeze was just lifting the leaves; a gentle whisper through the trees at the edge of the garden.  It was still quite warm at 11pm.

The skies were still quite light on this longest day of the year, and the clouds were tinged with pink.  Suddenly from no where a huge gust of wind stormed down the garden and absolutely took my breath away, ruffling my hair as it went.   It was just one single, sharp gust - and then nothing else  Just the gentle continuous breeze again.   It was most odd, but (and you can call me strange if you like) that single, sudden gust of wind was quite comforting. Like I'd made a connection somehow.  I guess you had to be here huh? ;)


The moon is stunning tonight.  A waxing gibbous moon, just two days shy of being full.  As blooming usual my stupid shed of a camera wouldn't step up to the plate to ensure a decent shot - so I took a lot of blurry blobs instead.  Pah!



Love and Light, my friends.





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