Tuesday 27 May 2014

It's hectic here

May is a beautiful month up our valley.  Tam is here for the week and so we took the opportunity to unwind and have a little walk further up the valley. Nothing strenuous, just enjoyment of the peaceful river and wildlife.

The steep slope up towards the old swinging bridge has been cleared in parts and new trees planted.  This is a mass of Foxgloves in summer.

Looking upstream from the swinging bridge.  Which actually doesn't swing any more, but it used to and the name has survived.

Looking downstream.

The path beckons . . .

View across the valley with a carpet of bluebells on the top slope.

The path ahead.  I wish you could hear the birdsong.

Time to count blessings, I think . . .

We had a REALLY hectic weekend, and are only just starting to recover from the early starts, standing, packing, unpacking, walking around.  We went to Malvern Fleamarket on Monday and were there over 7 hours, going round the stalls.  It was fun, brilliant, rewarding - and exhausting.  We had a brilliant bottle of wine from Ledbury, but unfortunately it was the last straw that broke the camel's back for my asthma and I spent the night wheezing and upping my medication.  The photos we took are on Tam's camera and I hope I can upload them whilst she's here but if she needs her connector-thingy, they will have to wait until next week when she is back at home.

Anyway, I have taken photos of some of my Malvern goodies, so will put those up tomorrow.

Friday 23 May 2014

The wanderer returns and other cat updates

It was with GREAT relief on Wednesday that we welcomed home our wandering hunter, who had been away 10 days on a hunting trip along the valley.  The weather had been pretty good, and even the bits of rain didn't bring him back.  However, just when I was starting to think that he had been poisoned by the p.i.g. of a gamekeeper down the valley, he strolled in the door and demanded breakfast, and some more please, in true Oliver Twist fashion.  I was surprised, as it wasn't raining, as that's what normally brings him home.  However, I underestimated the little hirsute barometer, as at lunchtime it began to pour and set in all day and night, and Little Whale ate another 3 breakfasts and a main meal and pronounced his timing to be perfect!  As you can see, he took up poll position on the sofa and his brother joined him for cuddles.  They have been sleeping jammed two to a one-cat box in the kitchen ever since : )

Banshee's eye is slowly improving, and she is still on eye drops and also having the last of the Metacam.  She has been basking in the sunshine outside, and is absolutely DELIGHTED that we had someone in to cut the paddock grass, which was getting towards waist height and full of Dock.  It didn't do my asthma any good, but HAD to be done.  But something good may have come out of it, so watch this space  . . .  I have tempted fate enough already so fingers crossed.

Ban has been sat out here, hunting, and when I tried to get her in last night, ran away from me at a speed I've not seen her employ for several years now!  We need to do some raking up, or perhaps that will be my OH because of the pollen.  I am struggling with allergies and asthma right now and back on a short course of steroids, but not too bad overall.  T arrives tomorrow, and we have two Fleamarkets lined up for the Bank Holiday weekend.  The Malvern trip will mean getting up at 4 a.m.

I bought myself a super-duper new pillow (Memoryfoam one) yesterday but it has made my neck bad so I had to change it back to the old one in the middle of the night, having tossed and turned for 6 hours - including an hour downstairs on the sofa with a cup of tea and a good book.  I think I should sleep well tonight!

Sunday 18 May 2014

The garden in May

G, our middle daughter, is home with us this weekend, which is a lovely change.  We sat out in the garden and enjoyed the sunshine.  I am fast reaching the end of my book (Phil Rickman's The Wine of Angels) but still have a pile to enjoy afterwards.

The garden is looking at its best at the moment.  Having written that, I can see grass where none is meant to be!!!

What a shame we have no one along to view the house yet, though it is headlined on Profile Homes' website at present.

One view of the main pond.

Some of my aquilegias.  All tousled pale pink in this spot.

A combination of Weeping Widow (Geranium phaeum) and the black clematis-petalled Aquilegia here.  I have the former all around the garden now - it seems to like it here.

I bought 5 cut-price Scabious this week, and have popped them in gaps around the garden.

A corner of the wildlife pond.

Banshee asleep on my lounger.  She has a damaged eye after the ex-tom Ghenghis chased her and bowled her over.  It was mending, then it must have happened again last Wednesday when Ban insisted on being outside whilst we were at the Hospital.  I am hoping that there will be signs of improvement soon but it still covered in a film of blood from a damaged blood-vessel.  She has some eye-drops and is on Metacam to help with the pain.  Fingers crossed that she mends soon . . .

Thursday 15 May 2014

Maytime walk at Llyn Llech Owain

I had a phonecall from a good friend of mine today, suggesting we meet up for a walk.  It was something we had been planning for a while.  Life had got in the way over the past 3 years or so and we had a lot of catching up to do.

We went to Llyn Llech Owain Country Park, so she could walk her dogs (a Jack Russell and two rescue Greyhounds).  As you can see, the weather was delightful.

A splendid Hotel had been set up for wildlife.

Sulphur Tuft fungi growing in the pine needles.

This is one of the lakes on the site, provided with a viewing hide.  It was such a beautiful spot.

You may just be able to see a Canada Goose on the water about 3/4 of the way across the photo (and half way down).

There were lovely views.  I couldn't help thinking of Edward Thomas when he wandered here.

Curiously-bent trees like the ribs of an old wooden ship.

Early Purple Orchid.

Hurry up with that water Mum!

Tuesday 13 May 2014

A visit to a friend

I had a phone call from a friend from my Uni days recently.  I was shocked to hear that she had stage 4 pancreatic cancer (which had spread to her stomach).  I arranged to go and see her yesterday, and drove up into the foothills of the Cambrian mountains.  It was a beautiful day, and spring was at its best.  Beech trees, roots entangled in the stone banks and walls beside the lane, were fresh with lime green leaves.

I kept driving and driving, hoping my memory served me correctly as my friend had normally come to visit me, and the lane got narrower and narrower.

It was good to see my friend again.  Everything is out in the open, she knows she will die, but is still planning her garden (which is a magical place) and I stayed several hours, whilst we talked about everything under the sun. We laughed as well as talking of sadder things.  It made me realize that we never know what is round the corner, and we must live life to the full and never waste a day.

I wish I had taken photos of her magical garden.  Imagine mossy tumbledown stone walls, masses of knee high Forget-me-nots, beautiful Rhododendrons, Clematis, many many plants in pots, just putting out leaves, a tangle of Adjuga, deepest purple, overgrown ponds, and wildlife everywhere.

On the way home, I stopped to get a pic of these sheep on Llanllwni mountain.  They come in positive and negative colours - white over black, or black over white!  They are Badger Face Welsh Mountain sheep.

The wee one on his own.  The usual Welsh Mountain sheep often have a splodge of tan on the back of the back and around the tail, and sometimes on the legs.  This little chap has a bit of everything!

I stopped to take photos along our valley on the way home.  It's that time of year when everywhere is a hundred shades of green . . .

Saturday 10 May 2014

Photos from a recent walk

I took myself up the hill for a walk this week, to stretch my legs and my lungs.  The Hawthorn is now in bloom - "May" my mum always called it, and forbade me to bring any into the house as it was "unlucky".  Now in the hedgerows, its elegant arching branches are bedecked in all their splendour, and sway in the breeze.

The Ash trees are a LONG way behind the Oak trees this year and so I am hopeful of a good summer.  They do say that a cold spring often heralds a hot summer.  "Oak before Ash, nought but a splash; Ash before Oak, you're in for a soak" . . .

I was good and decided to carry on walking up the 2nd - much steeper - part of our hill.  As you can see, I made it to the top and was able to draw breath and look back at Black Mountain.

The hedgerow banks are full of wild flowers - here mostly Red Campion and what my mum called "Shirtbuttons", which are Greater Stitchwort.

Another view of the edge of Black Mountain from a field gateway.

Spangles of more hedgerow flowers - Bluebells, Stitchwort, Red Campions, Cow Parsley and young ferns.

Wild Aquilegias (Columbines, Granny's Bonnets) growing outside our field gate.  We have about a dozen plants which have survived the annual scalping of the bank by the Council . . .

As I came through our gateway, here is the Honeysuckle I planted about 4 years ago.  It has such pretty colouring.

I am resting today as I'm very tired after a different medication for my asthma has kept me awake at night.  Meanwhile, I shall let the wild flowers be a balm to my soul.

Monday 5 May 2014

Normal service will now be resumed

Profuse apologies for not having posted in so long, but life has been flat-out, foot-to-the-floor HECTIC here. We have been working very hard on the house and garden, to get them looking as good as possible for the new estate agent's photos.  The garden is still a work in progress, and there are still bits I need to sort in the house, but it's presentable now.

I have, I know, overdone things rather and I am down to an energy-less crawl these past few days.  We had a day off on Saturday to go up to the Antiques Fair at Builth Wells.  No photos as I forgot the camera, but it's the usual sort of scenes you get from me at antiques fairs!  We had a lovely - if tiring - day, and then threw all caution to the wind and did a long day at the car boot sale yesterday - up at 5 a.m. and not home until nearly 3 p.m.  It was worth it, but getting up this morning to repeat the experience wasn't, and we returned home without setting up (it was SO windy and bitterly cold) and I fell into my bed and slept for a couple of hours.

This afternoon I managed half an hour in the garden, setting a few seeds and planting the plants I got from the boot sale and from Morrisons at the end of last week.  Here are some photos of the garden and various plants etc (sorry for the lack of words):

I seem to be spending quite a bit on plants at Morrisons recently, but gosh the savings - £1 and £2 per plant (perennials and climbers and shrubs).

A Clematis Montana rubens I planted last year.

Some of the cowslips about the place.

This is the dark-leaved Jacob's Ladder  I bought at Malvern recently.  The flowers are more purpley than this photo shows.  I got some seeds for it from eBay this week, so will grow lots more - it's lovely.

Another (established) Clematis.  I've bought some more recently and put them in up on the bank which I cleared recently (behind the rockery).

The cheat's garden!  I took out the biggest weeds, ripped out all the spent Celendines and covered the lot with Muck Heap no. 2!!!

There were so many celendines around the apple tree - now put to bed until next spring.

The slightly boggy corner where there is a gigantic boulder buried - one which never made it to being incorporated in the house structure.

All the bulbs have now gone over so I have replanted with Geraniums and small hardy Fuschias.

Ferns unfurling by the pond.

Area by the rockery and planned (and abandoned) cascade now all tidied up and some clematis have been planted across the back where we've put a windbreak-type barrier up for privacy.

My little plastic greenhouse and the new polytunnel at the top end of the yard garden, full of seeds in trays and strawberry plants.

Lastly, the bed in the middle of the yard has been weeded and I've bunged some Nicotiana in the top corner, and spread a few Nigella seeds about.

An early bedtime is calling me again.  Hopefully I shall be able to get up to date with people's blogs now.