Saturday, 22 August 2020

The Distancing Diaries - Day 154 & 155


 On Friday (day 154) I was up just after 6am so I could book next week's National Trust adventure. I fed the lads who, due to Storm Ellen's 50 mph gale force winds, had little interest in going outside and then did my final Wii Fit workout of the week. After our fruit & yogurt breakfast I prepared yesterday's foraged damsons and windfall apples & made a crumble for a rare weekend treat. I make my crumble vegan-friendly by using olive oil rather than butter, adding it gradually to plain flour and stirring it with a slotted metal spoon until it resembles breadcrumbs then add unrefined sugar and oats. 

Thinking that it would be a perfect drying day, I did a load of washing and pegged it out on the line only to snatch it back moments later when the rain started and instead hung it on the airer in the utility room.

I repotted three houseplants that had grown too big for their pots and took the Aloe Veras down from the shelf above the kitchen window for their monthly watering. At the beginning of lockdown I feared my poor Aloe plant was dead but after dividing it and watering it sparingly with rain water (which I collect in pots scattered around the garden) both it and its babies, are doing wonderfully well.


 

With a break in the rain I went outside, anchored the pots down with broken pavers (I knew there was a reason I'd kept them) and staked anything that looked vulnerable doing some deadheading and sweeping when I'd finished.


After our noodles the rain had returned but it didn't stop Jon experimenting with the irrigation system he'd built. 

I left him to it and mopped the kitchen floor. 

Wearing: Maxi dress made from vintage block printed cotton (custom-made in India, 2018), long line block printed waistcoat (eBay)

For the rest of the afternoon, I sat in the lounge & finished my book, The Mountain of Light. We had roasted vegetables with grilled haloumi for tea and some of the apple and damson crumble (with custard) later. After Gardener's World we watched a couple more episodes of The Lawyer accompanied by a few glasses of rum & cola.

On Saturday (day 155) after I'd seen to the lads, I made mugs of tea and brought them back to bed where we read until 8.30am. 

After Jon had gone downstairs to start breakfast, I stripped & changed the bed and loaded the washing machine, pegging it out on the line after we'd eaten. Jon spilt cola down his white tee shirt the previous evening so, along with this week's dirty tea towels, he experimented with an eco-friendly boil wash which took an age but did the job. 


Jon tweaked the irrigation system and satisfied that the final skirting board, the awkward one behind the glazed kitchen cupboard on the bendiest wall, had finally stuck he painted it white to match the rest. Just the shelves and the last bit of tiling to go.....


The Beeb were spot-on with their prediction for a mixture of weather, although yesterday's wind had died down to a less threatening 20 mph we were treated to both warm sunshine and torrential rain.
 
WEARING: Vintage handmade patchwork maxi skirt (charity shop, 2014), 1970s cheesecloth blouse (eBay)

We own a tumble drier, made in the Black Country by Servis in 1982 (the company was established in 1929 but ran into financial difficulties in the Eighties and was sold)We inherited it from Jon's grandma in the early 1990s but rarely use it & even then, only for bedding, never clothes. I've had it on twice since lockdown started. Nothing beats line-dried washing. 



Between showers I raked up the debris from Storm Ellen (mostly helicopters from the neighbour's dreaded lime tree), weeded & swept the front outside the gates and topped up the bird food then, following Monty's advice from last night's Gardener's World, cut back the mint and the parsley.

Jon popped out to the Co-op for cola as we'd run out. Amazingly he only bought what he went out for, the cat food had been in the van since the last time he'd been shopping. One time he went out for a pint of milk and came back with a Triumph Herald. 


After a blog catch-up I painted my nails. Blueberry has been my regular festival colour for years, it's the first time I've used it this Summer. 


In normal times, after almost three months of us being on the road, the garden is looking as frazzled as we are, my pots are dried up & half dead and the borders overgrown and gone to seed. These days I can't stop popping outside, plonking myself on the bench (even in the rain) and marveling at how green and lush everything looks.


I love how the pansies, geraniums, marigolds and nasturtiums that I planted in the Spring are still blooming madly as are last year's Sweet Williams and Fuchsias. The Crocosmia and Montbrecia in the borders at the front of the house have stopped flowering but those further down the garden have just started. The delphinium & penstimon I cut back in June have grown back and blossomed again and, although most of the agapanthus have finished, this morning another two brilliant blue globes burst forth. 


The fennel, little more than a bunch of dried up sticks a few months ago, are elegant and taller than me, their fronds slowly turning a delicate shade of bronze. In amongst the ornamental blooms I've squeezed in pots of tomatoes, peppers and aubergines and they're coming along a treat.


Tonight's tea was pizza with salad, leaving a bit of room for the rest of the crumble & custard later. We've got one episode left of Danish crime thriller The Lawyer and then what? Maybe re-watching the ultimate Scandi Noir, The Bridge or the riveting Line of Duty from the very beginning or maybe Morvern Callar or Apocalypse Now, films we've seen before but loved (hooray for the BBC i-player!) Whatever we chose I can guarantee that rum & cola will be involved.


Stay safe & see you soon!

55 comments:

  1. Evening Vix! I was literally reading about your garden with a smile on my face. It rally is wonderful, I do not blame you keep popping out to see it. I need that colour nail polish in my life. Sorry Vix another copycat coming on. Speaking of which it was the hubsters birthday today and inspired by you guys again coconut mushrooms were thrown in with the other prezzies and he was thrilled. Also I got the Barry M mascara you recommend and it too is great. Back to today, I am loving the shots of the kitchen nearly there hey! So excited for you. Just had a visit from sister and brother in law who are a bit on another page with the old covid so made for interesting conversation.(ugh) anyway ginger beer will be consumed and all will be right with the world. Last thing- red maxi just gorgeous! Shazxx

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    1. Afternoon, Shaz!! Sending your husband lots of birthday love, hope he had a fantastic day. I read your comment out to Jon and he spent the rest of the night craving coconut mushrooms. Guess what's gone to the top of next week's shopping list?
      Blueberry is one of my all-time favourite Barry M nail paints, I keep holding out my hand and admiring it (sad, I know!) Isn't the mascara fab?
      Oh no. Doesn't it scare you when people start spouting those out there Covid views? We had a different postman the other day and he started banging on about the Illuminati and how Bill Gates was planning to inject us with microchips when they find a vaccination. And they think we're brainwashed for wearing masks and maintaining a safe distance! Hope you enjoyed the ginger beer and that the party lasts all week! xxx

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    2. Sorry Jon!! lol it put a smile on the hubsters facexx

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  2. Line of Duty, the first three series were shown here over the summer. Husband really enjoys it and found out Season 4 will start online on September 4! He's happy.

    Early morning thunder and buckets of rain so far today.

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    1. Your husband's got great taste. Season 4 will leave him speechless, Stephen Graham is one of my all-time favourite actors and he's outstanding in it.
      Your weather sounds like ours, I'll be growing fins soon! xxx

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  3. Line of Duty and The Bridge - fabulous! And enough of a gap to enjoy both again. Your garden just looks amazing - looking at the cobbles/paving stones and no weeds in sight! How dare Jon criticise your raincoat when he is cagoule guy! (Actually, I love cagoules! Not too stylish but incredibly practical). Strange weather. We were forecast rain but after one sharp shower, lovely and warm. Nothing for it but to sit outside with a beer!

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    1. You're not wrong there, Catmac! Worth the licence fee alone. I'm not sure where all the weeds have gone but I'm very happy about it.
      I know, Jon looks even stranger than I do in his cagoule - I found it complete in its fold-up pouch abandoned at festival last year, I love having a wander around when all the unters have gone home, the stuff they leave behind is ridiculous.
      When it's not raining the weather is gorgeous, lovely and warm. Not looking great for this week here, I've changed my NT booking to tomorrow as we've got severe weather warnings for Tuesday. Cheers! xxx

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  4. Love your kitchen cupboard, and the wood shelves above the windows. Really unique and just so right. I'm hanging out for some fresh vegies and yummy things like vegetarian sausages, but I'm too nervous to venture out to get them.

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    1. Thank you! I hope you've got a good stock of supplies in. I don't blame you for being wary about shopping especially with that new spike in cases. Stay safe. xxx

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  5. I'm glad your aloe has survived lockdown. With too much time at home I think I over watered mine, so I threw it out yesterday - a lesson learned.
    We've had some dreadful weather here this last week. I'm just relieved the roof seems to be OK now. X

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    1. Oh dear! Aloe is very temperamental, I feared the worse when mine went a terrible shade of yellow, they really do seem to thrive on neglect.
      I'm glad your roof is okay, it's always a worry when the weather's as bad as it was last week. xdxx

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  6. Cupboard is fab! Love it. Jon did well only comming back with what he is told! Paul Normally comes back with half of the supermarket!! Especially if it is on offer or reduced. If he goes to the import shop he is like a headless chicken!! So I have to go with him like a parent accompanying her child.
    Paul at the moment is quite happy tinkering with the wardrobes as he heard this annoying squeak and he is doing everything to get rid of the squeak!! Still no joy.
    Finally got my barry m parcel I am quite impressed. But I am still going back to maybelline as I love their polishes. The diet is going ok. Take care and keep safe out there!M

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    1. Isn't it lovely? The junk shop in Walsall had three, he'd shipped them over in a container from Hungary, I wish I'd have bought all of them now, it would have been ace with towels in upstairs in the bathroom.
      How funny, Paul and Jon have the same shopping habits. He comes back with all manner of stuff normally, I had to frisk him yesterday, it's most unlike him to come back with what he'd gone out for, I suspected a bag of Black Country scratchings in his pocket or a bag of wine gums!
      What on earth is it with that squeak?
      Marry M nail paint is the best and their mascara, waterproof kohl and eyebrow kit, I love Maybelline's Superstay Matt Ink, the finest lippie known to woman! xxx

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    2. You are not going to belive this! Paul saw a bloody rat near the koi pond!! I am not going outside!! Pest control has been called!
      Don’t get Paul started on pork scratchings again!!!!! we had this chat a while ago didn’t we !!! We haven’t a clue about the squeak, he think we need new hinges. I love superstay ink, it costs an arm and a leg over here as much as Chanel !!! So I just lip balm at the moment. I hope you haven’t been having any raves in your back garden !!

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    3. Oh dear, I bet the rats are after the koi food, greedy sods!
      Pork Scratchings. Jon says he buys them for the cats but seems to eat most of them. Get some WD40 on those hinges (or olive oil, Jon's answer to everything!)
      I buy my lip ink from eBay (sealed, unused!) I never pay more than a fiver! Get your Mum on the case.
      You've found out our secret, we're reliving the summer of 1990 with dayglo vests and whistles! xxx

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  7. Garden's looking really lush. I repotted some plants yesterday and my Aloe has produced two babies, which I potted up also. I repotted my spider plant but it's looking a little, shall we say, limp this morning. I hope it survives. What channel is The Lawyer on please? George Clarke has a new prog starting tonight, Channel 4 of 5, about National Trust properties. Been warm and balmy here this week and it almost puts you into a false sense of security that everything's going to be ok. It's all about seeking out the happy bits and trying to ignore the rest without burying your head in the sand. I think red is deffo your colour. You look so pretty in your red dress. I wonder how many happy hours were invested in your patchwork skirt which is also lovely. Have the rest of a good weekend, both.xxx ps I've got a story about an orange VW van. Tell ya later.

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    1. Don't keep me in suspense, I want to hear the story about the orange VW camper!
      My Chinese Money plant has had a baby, I'm not quite sure what to do with it, I need to investigate. I hope the spider plant perks up, they're usually pretty hardy, aren't they?
      The Lawyer is on Channel 4's "Walter Presents" and All4. Really gripping, there's two series on there, I think you'd enjoy it.
      That patchwork skirt must have taken hours and hours to make, so sad it ended up in a chrity shop but good for me.
      You're right about finding the good bits, stay abreast of the news but not left it scare you - I always think Channel 4's news is less hysterical than the rest. xxx

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  8. one reason i stopped working for summer theaters up road was my garden - 6-8 weeks away in may and june makes it impossible to grow some substantial veggies, its that time when they need the most attention in weeding & watering..... (beside of that this jobs were poor paid and most of the earned money had to be spent on overprized accomodation and to long train travels...)
    love the red look in its oppulence - and of cause the pictures of the cute lads! beuatiful flowers as always! xxxx

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    1. I don't blame you, your crops are far more important! We're certainly not going to be self sufficient with our growing this year, I think we'll have to have a rethink next year, there's just not enough sunlight in the garden so I'm thinking about raised beds on the lawn - that's if we're not back to normal next Summer (I'm thinking they won't be!) xxx

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  9. I will have to give your crumble recipe a try as there are so many brambles locally. The blimmin wind has blown my sweet peas over. I picked them all up but I'm not sure if they will survive. Such a pity as I have picked posies from them for weeks and weeks and there's still loads of flowers on.

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    1. I miss the masses of brambles I used to forage in the parental home.
      What a shame about your sweet peas. I was expecting a lot more damage. maybe those huge trees of ours give us a bit more protection although watching them sway about on Thursday was pretty scary! xxx

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  10. I love a good crumble and your vegan-friendly apple and damson one looks especially delicious! Apart from a couple of delicate things, which I hang up on a drying rack in our spare room, we have no choice but to use the tumble dryer, as there's absolutely no space for a washing line in Dove Cottage's garden. I'm admiring Jon's determination with the irrigation system. He really can turn his hand to anything, can't he! Your custom made maxi and long-line waistcoat are just perfect together and the colour is absolutely gorgeous on you. Our garden usually looks past its best in July, after we've been away to the UK. There are usually far less patio plants too, as they'll only die on us while we're not there to cosset them. Maybe we'll need Jon's irrigation system when we come over next year! xxx

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    1. You can't beat a foraged crumble!
      No space for a washing line? I can't believe how tiny the garden is in Dove Cottage!
      Jon tested the irrigation system again this morning and we ran around like mad positioning all the pots underneath the sprinklers, getting soaked at the same time! I think we're almost there now, we'll see if it turns itself on at the right time tonight, last night it started up at 11.30pm and gave Jon the fright of his life.
      xxx

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  11. That's a lovely unusual kitchen cupboard Vix and it looks very useful.I was pleased to see how happy your Aloe Vera plants are x

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    1. Thanks, Flis. I fell in love with that cupboard in a junk shop years ago, a normal fitted kitchen wouldn't have felt right in that house.
      Do you remember how ill those poor plants looked? they're really happy now! xxx

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  12. It must be frustrating to carry the laundry outside only for it to start raining, but on the positive side rain is good for greenery and your garden does look wonderfully green. I know that's more up to your care then just the rain but rains has its good sides as well.

    I love that vintage block printed cotton hand made maxi dress. It looks great paired with that long waistcoat. The patched maxi skirt worn with wide sleeved blouse is fabulous as well. You always dress so beautifully and uniquely. Have a nice Sunday!

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    1. It is a bit of a pain to peg everything out only for it to start raining. I try and save all my washing up and only do it on sunny days but just lately we've had rain every day!
      xxx

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  13. Your garden looks so lush and colourful
    I live seeing it. We've just been to out first national garden scheme visit and I thought it's something you may like, you can see the gardens open if you look on ngs website. The cupboard looks fab. I'm going to check out the lawyer too. Xx

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    1. Thanks so much! That's a great tip, I shall investigate further.
      The Lawyer is riveting. I'm not sure what to watch now! xxx

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  14. Your garden looks lovely! Everything's flourishing. Even though we've both been at home, work's meant ours is starting to look tatty as we haven't been in the mood to tidy it at weekends.

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    1. You definitely have to be in the mood for gardening. I do find our weekly NT visits are a good incentive to do stuff. xxx

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  15. Your garden s so lovely-it would feel like a little holiday out there, but you nd Jon work so hard on it. I need to weed my rock area, but it is so clammy I'll wait until the sun start to go down. i'm truing to think or research some day trips for myself-we don't have the kinds of gardens to see, so have to get creative. I do want to visit the park my daughter bike to from her school. I haven't seen it before, bt it look like a nice wander. Perhaps we'll pick-up sandwiches after we get her things unloaded before we had back the four hours to home.

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    1. There's always something to discover in your own neighbourhood. We're long overdue a walk around the block, Jon's hoping to find a few conkers as his friend's house is plagued with spiders and they're brilliant for keeping the evil beasts away! xxx

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  16. This is such a strange year - but the big benefit to you guys is that your garden is amazing! What a sanctuary you have in it, with all that greenery and colour. It's just lovely. I LOVE the long robe over your red gown, that's a fabulous look.

    I laughed at Jon going out and coming back with a Herold! L often forgets to buy what he went for. Happy weekend to you and the lads, Vix!

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    1. If anyone had told us what this year would bring we'd have accused them of taking too many drugs or watching too much sci-fi!
      The waistcoat is such a useful piece, it adds a new dimension to everything and has the biggest, deepest pockets. xxx

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  17. Morvern Callar! I haven't thought about that film in years but I think you've inspired me to do a rewatch. Samantha Morton's just brilliant.

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    1. I love Samantha Morton! Hope you enjoy the rewatch. x

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    2. It's a good book too! Alan Warner is a very good writer!

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    3. Ooh, thanks, Catmac, I'll look into the book as well!

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  18. The gloom outside of your window is no match for the colorful walls and bright curtains inside! Your garden really is looking wonderful this year. You've both accomplished so much by staying at home.

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    1. Thanks! We've been very productive, it's surprised both of us! x

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  19. I love that red dress and it goes brilliantly with the long waistcoat. Your garden is so productive, always lots going on. The crumble looks tasty and I might try making it with olive oil as I would think it's healthier than butter too. I use my tumble dryer far too much - we don't have a line or enough space for one but I have started doing smaller washes and getting them out on a clothes airer where possible. The programs you are watching will be going on my list as I know we like the same things :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Betty! That waistcoat is such a useful piece with it's big pockets!
      Much as I love a bit of butter spread on crumpets it's expensive to use frivolously. Olive oil is great in a crumble - I use it for pastry too on the odd occasion Jon demands an apple pie! xxx

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  20. We have some great brambles at the bottom of our garden and I know of a Bramley Apple tree on a walk that I go on, which I’m trying to keep secret but am going to have a look later today, I love a good crumble or even just the fruit stewed together Did you watch the Monty Don prog.on Friday Vix? I thought it was my highlight of the week as it was so good, but I think your garden could be featured on there.I’ve never owned a tumble dryer and have never wanted one, if I can’t get washing dry on the line I put it on a clothes rack near to a radiator and it dries overnight.Sunny in the West Mids this morning, great

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    1. Apples always taste better when they're scrumped! I've got my eye on a patch of brambles near the church, I might get my bus nutter mac on tomorrow and go out armed with a carrier bag!
      We loved Monty on Friday, he's the highlight of our week. Wasn't that girl who lived on a narrow boat with her three legged cat and boyfriend (not husband!!) lovely? There's a new gardening series on later, Dermot Gavin 6.30 on BBC 2 I think.
      We'd never have bought a tumble drier if we hadn't been given one. I much prefer my dried clothes to be crisp rather than floppy! xxx

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  21. I have never been able to keep an Aloe plant alive even with my green fingers, maybe I'll try again with rainwater for watering, it's worth a try.

    We have literally just finished watching The Bridge, it's the first time we've seen it ... WOW, it was brilliant. I love Saga, although Alan said her directness reminded him of someone, I don't know who he means.....!!

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    1. Aloes are notoriously temperamental, I feared the worse with mine.
      Isn't Saga wonderful? I'm so glad you're enjoying The Bridge. I can think of worse people to be compared to! xxx

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  22. Your re-sized maxi dress was worth the effort, Vix. You inspire us to take scissors in hand and boldly open seams rather than pass over a vintage garment that doesn't quite fit...
    The long-line block-printed waistcoat offers a layering option not often seen here in the States. Hmmm? Surely this would be a simple pattern for beginners? Perhaps even done in reversible sides with a bit of padding for warmth?

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    1. Thanks, Beth! I could have "tweaked" it but I thought I'd do it properly, it's not like I'm short of time! I've made a longline waistcoat in the past with a vintage pattern, they're such a useful thing, especially when they have pockets. I can carry my secateurs and twine in mine and know where they are at all times. xxx

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  23. I'm enjoying not needing to worry about my garden burning up when we were at the State Fair every August. Good thing we're home this year as our heatwave has me watering twice a day to keep everything alive. Your garden looks absolutely incredible.

    I need to re-pot some plants that are horribly root bound but I'm putting it off for fear of killing them. Ugh, maybe I'll follow your lead.

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    1. I dread coming home from festivals and seeing everything wilted and half dead. There are advantages in not having a social life anymore, lush plants!
      I use an eating fork to tease the roots of my overgrown pots, good luck! x

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  24. Auntie Gladys would have loved chatting with you about your garden and what you’ve done. She started hers with one packet of seeds and went on to win Rochdale in Bloom Best Backyard several times. I always accompanied her to the awards ceremony and lunch at Rochdale Town Hall where they film Peaky Blinders.
    Sad to say it breaks my heart to see her garden in such a state now. Hopefully the new owners will bring it back to life xxx

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    1. What an inspirational lady auntie Gladys was, I'd have probably driven her daft asking her questions!
      I hope the new owners restore her lovely garden to its former glory, you ought to post them a few photos of how it was to inspire them. xxx

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    2. That’s a good idea. I will xxx

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  25. "...went out for a pint of milk and came back with a Triumph Herald." Hehe. I once went out for a haircut and came home with an armchair (and a haircut).
    xx

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Lots of love, Vix