We bought our house back in 2018 and although we didn’t move in until October we were regularly peeking from the kerbside from the time of our first viewing in early summer right up until the move. During that whole time the tiny little bit of front garden was a mass of gorgeously sweet smelling, yellow Roses. On reflection I think the Roses may have been the reason I missed the fact that the windows could do with replacing and the garden wall is probably going to collapse in the next five years but hey ho. Roses though! Despite naming one of my daughters Rose, I have never actually grown any. I remember being a bit obsessed with Roses on fabric at around the time she was born and made her a cot quilt and patchwork cushion with some Kaffe Fassett Forget Me Not Rose, but it never occurred to me to plant a Rose! Probably just as well because we have moved three times since she was born, so unless it was potted it would have been left behind anyway.

My first instinct was to keep the Roses in the front garden. There were a couple in the back too but they had to come out so I could hang out the washing without it snagging on thorns. The two at the front of the house are still awaiting a decision on their fate. They are beautiful and largely self sufficient. Every year the other half hacks them right back with a view to us digging them out, we never get round to it and they grow back and flower so fiercely it’s like they’re trying to justify their right to stay. And I would be happy for them to stay if it wasn’t for the fact that the whole of the front needs a complete overhaul. Unfortunately I can’t see a way of getting on top of the weeds and clearing everything else without the Roses coming out or getting damaged if they stay in. I don’t use chemicals as a rule but this little strip of garden has been neglected for over a decade according to one neighbour so the weeds are well established and the ground compacted. I fear a dose of weed killer may be my only chance with this patch especially since I no longer have the strength or stamina for gardening that I once had.

It’s a job I don’t think I can put off much longer. Our house now has the scruffiest garden on the street and because it’s a mess people seem to think it’s okay to dump their crisp packets, coffee cups, face masks and so on in there. Last week someone decided it was the ideal place to offload a child’s scooter and skateboard so now they’re just sat out there because it feels wrong to get rid of them just in case the rightful owner is looking for them. It’s all a bit daunting and I cannot believe I used to manage a fairly large garden, with a thriving vegetable plot most years. Admittedly I was starting to find it a struggle towards the end which is why we opted for a house with only a small strip of garden at the front and back, but having no growing space at all would have been going a little too far and my mental health would not have thanked us for it.

So the front. What to do? Well whatever ‘we’ do it’s going to have to be me that does it because the other half is a bit rubbish at gardening. He’ll hack stuff down and take it to the green waste skip at the tip but for anything else I find he needs too much instruction and he has an obsession with using loppers for everything when a pair of secateurs would suffice. Best just to leave him inside watching Doctor Who while I play ‘avoid talking to the neighbours’ by crouching behind the wall. Does anyone else dread having to have a conversation with a neighbour or a passer by while they’re gardening? I’m sure this is the main reason why my front gardens have always looked more unkempt than my back gardens, every house I’ve ever lived in, no exception! I’m an unsociable sod, I know, but if they knew how much energy I have to spend interacting with them then I’m sure they’d leave me alone to use that energy on making my garden less of an eyesore. Honestly, talk to me while gardening and I will go in for a cup of tea to recover from the social interaction and never come back out again, well only after dark to sneakily tidy the tools away!

The only way I am ever going to get my frontage looking dapper is to devise a plan, stick to it and then hope nobody approaches me! So here’s my plan:

  • Clear the rubbish! This is not something I am comfortable with. There are discarded face masks, wipes and goodness knows what else in there. It’s a job for thick rubber gloves and maybe one of those litter picker pincer thingys.
  • Kill off the vegetation. Weed killer I’m afraid. I can’t get down on my hands and knees to tease out by hand and some of those weeds are well established perennials who think they own the place. I don’t have the patience to wait another year while they suffocate under a layer of plastic or old carpet.
  • Tidy up the edging stones. One or two have been completely removed but are still lying around. They just need putting back.
  • Remove dead vegetation (assuming the chemicals have worked!)
  • Level the soil and remove some if necessary.
  • Put down membrane and cover with stone chippings.
  • Pop a few low maintenance pots and planters on the stone chippings.
  • Stand back and say job done!
So we made a start!

I’m also toying with the idea of painting the wall. It is not the original wall and the brick used is an ugly orange sort of brick that is spalling all over the path so covering that up would instantly make things look better. But that would mean being out on the pavement while I painted! Almost certainly that would mean PEOPLE. Hmm. I’m going to have to think about that one carefully! Look! A Ladybird!

Blackthorn Blossom
Honeypot Wood – Stockton-on-Tees

There aren’t really any words I can add to this post. I think nature says it all. I wish I’d taken more photographs but it was only a short walk so I just snapped the flowers. Spring has sprung, the sun is out, it’s Easter weekend and I have chocolate so all is well.

I hope you’re all having a lovely bank holiday weekend!

It’s been weeks since my last post. It doesn’t feel like weeks, but looking back over photographs I suppose it must be. Since my last post I have managed to get out of the house a bit more. My Covid anxiety has lessened a bit and I seem to have had a reason to get out to the post box most days in the last couple of weeks thanks to a flurry of Etsy sales. One day last week I extended my walk beyond the post box and ended up meandering through the gravestones in our local cemetery. It’s a peaceful place to walk. I like to study the names on the stones if they are still legible and the different carvings and engraving styles.

On this particular day, I was disturbed by a flapping and fluttering above me so, I looked up to see a sizeable flock of bright green birds taking flight. If you live in certain parts of the UK, like London for example, you are probably not a stranger to seeing these things but to a northerner who thinks a Goldfinch looks exotic, it’s quite a thing to see a flock of such brightly coloured birds in the sky. I came home and did a bit of Googling and discovered they were very likely Ring Necked Parakeets. I was lucky enough to find a feather to take home!

This week I extended one of my post box trips into the park instead. It was busy and at times a challenge for me but I managed to loop round the lake which is something I have been unable to do since before lockdown because the path narrows in places and the thought of someone coming the other way panicked me too much. I’m glad I made myself do it. I wouldn’t have caught sight of this late brood if I hadn’t. You will have to excuse the slightly blurry photograph, but they just wouldn’t keep still even though I asked nicely! Lovely though it was to see the fluffy babies, I think I’ll stick to the cemetery for now as it’s so much quieter. I imagine these little ducklings will have grown a lot next time I see them.

On weekends when my husband is home we travel further afield, we seem to have made a habit of it. A flask of coffee and a small picnic to share wherever our travels take us. The weekend before last it was Rosedale in the North York Moors, last weekend it was a spot on the Durham Heritage coast. We don’t usually walk long or far. I’m not in the greatest of health at the moment and the inactivity of lockdown has made things even more of a struggle but I’m hoping I can build myself back up to whole hiking days!

Found on a beach.
Rosedale, North York Moors.

I’ve managed to stitch a few new cards over the past few weeks but mostly I have been sourcing more vintage clothing for the shop. I’m finding that selling a mixture of handmade and vintage is working for me. Sometimes I have creative blockages and sewing and stitching becomes a chore whilst at other times I find photographing and preparing items of clothing for sale a chore. Usually if I’m not in the mood for one I am able to focus on the other so in that sense I no longer have the periods of inactivity that sometimes caused my old shop to stagnate. Currently I am focused on the vintage but it’s a slow process trying to juggle family commitments and the shop so I am only able to list a couple of items at a time. I’m hoping I will be able to put more time in once the summer break is over.

Vintage dresses
Set of 3 hand stitched patchwork cards