Sunday, 24 June 2018

Walking into the view - back to walking again

This will be a posts of few words and many photos.  I did my first WALK again this week, after a break of nearly 2 months - perhaps longer actually because of getting the house and garden ready for viewings and then the pollen and my asthma being bad.  Anyway. I got K to drop me at the top of the hill towards the Horeb x-roads and walked back down.  Only hill was our hill, which IS steep, but I managed far better than I gave myself credit for.


Hedge Woundwort.

Red Campion, looking a little sun-bleached.

Above, Navalwort, and below, Bramble.

Finally, our paddock, being restored to lawn again.  We have a chap who is going to come and cut it regularly for us.

Last night K and I transplanted the apple trees I had planted in haste in my veg plot, as the chap wot cut the grass has a rotovator, so rotovated a little spot where I could put peas and I have been clearing it further so those will go in this evening.  I have a few more home-grown from pips apples to go in this area too.

Right, off for a walk with a friend.  HURRAY!!

Friday, 22 June 2018

Returning to normality . . .

Well, I think I can tentatively say, the worst of the pollen problems are now behind me.  I checked the pollen count yesterday and whilst levels were V. High, they were for weeds, Plantain and Dock, and NOT grass any more.  Grass is the worst one for me.  I am allergic to Dock, but as long as it's not surrounding me I seem to be able to cope.  You cannot imagine the relief I am feeling.  Not 100% yet (and worried I may never be able to step back down a level with my Fostair inhaler now I am up to maximum dose on it) but I hope I will get there gradually.  I will plod on with the low histamine diet as best I can and see if that makes a real difference - on the days I get it right, it does appear to.  I can now enjoy the summer AND get back to tackling the garden, which is hopefully going to trim the half a stone off (and more) I put on whilst on the steroids.

Raubritter in my garden yesterday.  One of my favourite roses.  I saw it for the first time at Cothay Manor in Somerset, when we went to an Antiques Fair there (friends of ours were standing and gave us free tickets to get in).  Currently in a tub, but about to be planted in the Intake plot in what used to be the paddock, when she has finished blooming.  Next to Vielchenblau, below.  These are two roses I just HAVE to have in any garden in the future. I had intended to take them with us when we moved, hence them being in tubs, but now I shall plant them up and treat myself when we do finally move on from here.

Tuscany Superb below - another "must have" for any garden of mine.

Meanwhile, in the Intake plot, the path has disappeared (I cleared the front couple of feet yesterday afternoon and got my OH to mattock out the Potentilla which is where Raubritter is in this photo.  It was completely infested with a very fine grass and it had to go as it was impossible to eradicate the grass - though I have tried down the years.  Work continues there today.

Bulbs, Cowslips, Aquilegia, an Iris, Alkanet - established for years and always a blardy mess because I have to stay indoors in June.  It is SO frustrating.   Well, I have decided, they are ALL GOING.  Even the compost (which will be useful on the veg.  plot - hollow laugh!) and then swept clean (concrete base of old yard beneath it) and the tubs and planters of veg. are going in there.  Which is a laugh, as they AREN'T growing!  I can't win . . .

Looking better already . . .

This is the abandoned veg. plot - there are a few apple trees in there somewhere.  The bit bottom left hand corner is actually a planned planting of annuals, not weeds!  We have a chap coming to mow the paddock back to a lawn today and I am going to get him to give me an hour's weeding/digging in here so I can get some peas and things in the ground.

Later - the gardener's been.  The paddock lawn took 3 hours, but he managed to rotovate a little bit of the veg plot so I can get some peas in - I will extend it as best I can.  Peas are in soak as I speak . . .

The Under Gardener declared himself "too busy" to help with the ex veg. plot, but he HAS busied himself clearing the really overgrown area where we used to have soft fruit when we first came here.  It had been a . . . "wildlife area" for about 20 years now and needed clearing - and keeping clear.  Progress here and I even found two escapee Blackcurrant bushes which will be pruned back when we've cleared the Codlins and Cream beside them and the willow tree at their back . . .  There are 3 Ash trees with Ash Dieback along the boundary and we need to get a quote for a tree surgeon to come and take them down this summer.  Another expense . . . along with having the top gutters emptied (grass growing in them!), building work done, and p/p and expenses for the driveway relocation.  I think I am going to be working nights in the Crisp factory . . .

Anyway, onwards and upwards.  I am feeling better, the pollen season has now finished and my lungs feeling less besieged, I have just two days left on steroids and I can WALK AGAIN!!!

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

A more positive day - and New Plants

My best buddy Ghengis keeping an eye on proceedings out in the garden.  He's been with us a few years now and got his name from being an absolute "barsteward" to the other cats when he arrived - attacking everyone and generally being a Bully and a Thug.  His alternative name was "Moonface" because he had great big eyes and the round padded face of a tom-cat.  I never thought I would tame him (he was completely feral) let alone him wanting to be my lap cat all the time.  The minute I sit down on the sofa, Ghengis is there, climbing up from the side and walking over my cup of tea or cold drink so I have to quickly move it before he drags his tail through it!  It took him two years to learn to purr, but now he purrs like a grampus, bless him.

He was watching me potter round briefly this afternoon, arranging some plants that had begged to come home with me.  These are the last, I will be Good Now . . .  

Isn't this gorgeous?  I just couldn't resist it when I saw it at Tesco today.  Primula Noverna "Deep Blue" - the flowers have a hint of purple and that lovely silvery "mob cap" top.

This is Salvia "Love and Wishes" which I'd not seen before either (Tesco again).  They were £5 each, but the OH said go for it, so I did.

Above and below: tubs and new plants either side of steps up to the patio.  The two Lavender plants I got yesterday and today and will go in nice tubs when I find some.

As you can tell, I am feeling a lot more chipper this afternoon.  My breathing has been better and I'm keeping to the low histamine grub.  I discovered that Lidl do tasty Chilli and Lime Sweet Potato crisps today - not entirely without sin, but then neither am I!

The most swiftly-made Elderflower handcream in history.  Melt two packets of lard gently, add enough elderflower heads to be totally covered, cook gently for a few minutes, strain and decant into containers with a few drops of a smelly essential oil (I used Ylang Ylang).  Brilliant for those cracked finger ends in winter.  You can of course use the base of your choice - my lard one is the original recipe and probably 100 years old.  It is easily absorbed into the skin.

"Tess" had dropped several flower heads today and rather than compost them, I decided to microwave-dry them and use them either in hand-made soap (I WILL eventually make it) or just as pot pourri with some essential oil sprinkled on. I placed the petals individually across a double sheet of kitchen towel, making sure to discard any petals which had started to brown (they would only get browner).  I gave them about a minute and a half, and then a short burst more if they needed it.  Smaller petals give one minute and then perhaps 30 secs but be guided by how they are.

Eating for health

A close-up of the Paul's Himalayan Musk which will soon go over now, as we wake to another day of rain.  I shan't complain though, as it means pollen levels are low.  Thank de Lord for that!  

I am gradually coming off the steroids now (4 days left) and hopefully I will be able to get to grips with my low-histamine diet.  I had forgotten how easy it is to make a BIG blooper over what I can eat and what I should avoid at all costs.  The steroid-munchies are not helpful - in desperation I swear you would be tempted by wallpaper paste!  

Yesterday we were manning the shop where we have a unit, and I packed what I thought was a sensible lunch - wholemeal pitta breads with Chilli Hummus, an apple, bananas for both of us, cheese and oatcakes for Himself, fruit squash, Earl Grey teabags.  The only trouble is, pitta bread and hummus isn't that filling when you have been awake since 2 a.m. and although I had had a cooked breakfast (hah! Fishfingers), by 10 a.m. I could have eaten a scabby horse between two mattresses.  I ate a rather large banana, and then later decided that I would have a bag of crisps and went across to the garage to buy one, then thought better of it and bought nuts - Peanuts to be precise. More nutritional value. . . I nibbled away at those the rest of the day and ate an entire (small) packet.  Then I realized - peanuts are histamine-rich, and Bananas release histamines . . .

We were late back - I wanted a quick tea.  Fish and chips.  No, change of mind due to calories in battered fish - smoked haddock instead.  I LOVE smoked haddock and better still, love it in Kedgeree.  We ate our meal and then I noticed how tight my trousers felt - the peanuts had me SO bloated.  Then I checked my list of what I could/should be eating - and smoked fish was a no-no as high in histamine.  It had quite an impact on my asthma too.  Lesson learned.  Now I have about 10 days at home where I can train myself up properly again and eat well and I desperately need to just REST.  

We actually have a gardener coming on Friday to cut the paddock which is going to now be kept under control and become a garden again.  I am also going to get him to dig and weed my veg plot as neither K or I can manage it for health reasons (K still suffering from a frozen shoulder).  Then I can mulch it heavily over the winter and cover it with sheeting to stop it reverting to grass, which is its main aim in life.  I am so ashamed of it.

I am 3/4 of the way through The Crow Girl which I found in a charity shop.   I have to say, although the content is thought-provoking (incest/paedophilia- something I would normally shy away from reading about) that part is dealt with unsensationally, and it is actually the psychology which is so interesting - multiple personality disorders and the like.

A selection from the donated books counter (charity donations) at Tesco's).

£2 well spent in The Works.  I really MUST make my Elderflower handcream today - picked the blossom yesterday.

This is a nice healthy meal (tomatoes high in histamine but balanced out by the red onions, cauliflower, butternut squash and sweet potatoes.  The latter two veg are NOT my favourites, but are Good For Me so I am forcing them down.  I did a huge vat of it the other day when I was "resting" and have 3 double portions in the freezer.

Right, enough wittering on about health issues.  I'll shut up now I've got it sorted in my head.  Onwards and upwards.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Well, THAT wasn't a very Good Day

This is the lovely Hybrid Foxglove Digiplexis that I bought last week.  I might have bought a friend for it today.  Both planted up and part of the movable feast.

Well, yesterday was NOT the best day either for my health OR my wealth!  Where I have had to be on a higher (and more prolonged) dose of steroids for a further week (then slowly decreasing for a further week), sleep has been at a premium.  Some nights I was getting just 3 or so hours, then 2 or so, then I went an entire 24 hours without a blardy WINK.  The steroids give you the energy to get through it, but my eyes have been turning into the proverbial you-know-what holes in the snow!  Plus the steroids have my face getting fatter - NOT a good look.  Thursday into Friday was where I didn't sleep at all - slept 10 - midnight on the Thursday and was then awake until midnight on the Friday into Saturday.  I watched a lot of middle of the night tv (some good programmes) and read my book, and then laid in bed, looking at the wall . . .  However, by Saturday, my asthma was showing signs of coming under control again.  Good News.

Another treat.  I have decided when I have worked hard and not slept well, I deserve something special.  This lovely Rosa mundi (R.versicolour) came home with me from the Garden Centre on Friday.  We had done the little Wee Flea at Hay and I made a Wee Profit, and this rose was one I used to have, but it was when we first moved here and I didn't know how poor the soil was and it sort of starved to death.  This one won't.

I bought several of these documents from another trader at the Carmarthen Fleamarket yesterday.  I found a couple of other nice things which are destined for the 2 day Antiques Fair at the Botanic Gardens next month. They were a small positive in what was an absolutely dire day, both for selling, and for my asthma.  Our stall is inside the big agricultural building on the showground.  There are outside stalls too, but it rained and so lots of folk left early.

By lunchtime, my asthma was getting worse and worse and it felt like a hand was throttling my lungs.  I think the building was full of trapped pollen, plus there had been a YFC show there the previous day and so there would have been dust from hay and straw (which I am also allergic to) in the air.  

No-one was buying much at all inside (yet again - this has been getting worse and worse over the past two years) and we barely took enough money to cover what it cost us to stand.  By 2 p.m. I decided that enough was enough, and I was going to end up in A&E if we stayed any longer, so we packed up and left (with help from our dear friend Pam, who helped pack and carry.  (I was beyond carrying and had to just sit in the car).  K worked so hard too, as he carried all the heavy things.  I felt guilty just sitting.

When we got home, the car stayed packed until this morning.  I was glad I had half a risotto in the fridge which I could just put in the "popty ping" (microwave) as otherwise it would have been beans on toast!  

I took a further 3 steroids (having been dropping down and got to 5), my Vitamin D, my STRONG old fashioned anti-histamine (Actifed) which is the ONLY thing which helps at such times, Magnesium, Diet Coke (for Caffeine which also seems to open my airways), washed my hair, changed all my clothes (pollen ones into wash), and took off my makeup and washed my face to get rid of any pollen on my skin.  I sat down quietly - I could do no more.  I did manage to make it to 11 1/2 hours before taking my inhaler (should be 12 hours but if I'm good I can go longer).  I managed to sleep about 7 hours and have been feeling better today. I am stepping down off the steroids again now.  I have to see if I can manage without and if not, then it's back to the Dr's.  

Another treat - it's a quarterly baking magazine I usually get and it cheered me up when I was feeling so miserable.

Back at home, the cats were just enjoying life and happy to have us around to feed them.  Alfie with his mum Miffy.

Pollen levels are back to very high again, which is a pain as I had hoped they had peaked.  Ah well, all I can do is keep inside as much as possible.  Thank you for listening to my moaning!

Friday, 15 June 2018

I love my garden - and a movable feast

I have been enjoying my garden this summer.  It's frustrating because I can't get out there and garden 8 hours a day which is what I really need to do to get totally on top of it before the end of summer/sunshine, but hopefully in a couple of weeks I shall be able to garden when I want again - AND go for walks again.

Anyway, I have managed a bit of pottering, mask on, Haymax balm round nose etc and a hat on to keep the worst of the pollen away.  I have also been inside looking out, and thinking that the "stone garden" - the right hand side where the wildlife pond and the rockery are, and which has a slate slabs and chippings base, was looking very empty now the Aquilegias had gone over (v. quickly this year too, due to the heat).  Then I thought, well, I have LOTS of things in planters, and they are a movable feast, so I have been reconfiguring the area, and putting roses where they will make an impact, with a view to planting them in their new situations, and giving that side a totally different look.  My garden has been reinvented a lot down the years, and this week I have the "move-its" again!

The first rose to get moved was the splendid Tess of the D'Urbervilles, who now brightens the corner of the bay window.  I'm not sure I can plant her there without some industrial digging, but I will see what I can manage.  Until this spring, this corner was absolutely PACKED with Monbretia corms about 6" deep, and then I got ruthless . . .  A couple of little plantings and it is looking pretty.  

You will have to ignore the pile of cut down Aquilegias in the middle there, but I like the way the Delphiniums almost glow against the dark backdrop - they really draw the eye to the back of the garden.  The white rose left is Lichfield Angel (not Cathedral as I wrote the other day).  I think that will be planted there in due course.

View from the pathway across the same area.  Zepherin Drouhin, on her support, has been joined by a big Lidl Salvia, and two Lupins, plus the two rescued Hollyhocks which won't do anything until next year now.  The pot behind them has a bright pink Clove Scented Pink which exactly matches ZD.  The blue pot on the right hand side front of the wall has the little arching Fuschia I got from the Nursery on Tuesday. I can't remember if the Pinks with  it are white or pink, but  'twill look pretty anyway.

Mother and son - Miffy broke into a run when she saw me, obviously thinking "food", whilst her son, Little Whale,  was doing a Perambulation of the garden to see what I had been up to.

Right, this won't do.  My bed is calling me, and let's hope I can sleep better - I had another 3 1/2 hour night on Wednesday and was so dizzy all day long afterwards.  Stepping down off the steroids now, so fingers crossed I will be ok after.