Wednesday, 31 March 2021

The Distancing Diaries - 30th & 31st March, 2021

Just after I'd published my blog post on Monday evening Liz and Al came round and we were legally permitted to toast her birthday. They'd spent the day zip-wiring, Go Ape's very first customers of 2021 and they were treated like royalty. 


Despite the early hour and the chill in the air, I could already tell that Tuesday was going to be the glorious day we'd been promised. I did a load of washing and pegged it on the line before my Wii Fit workout and, after our fruit & yoghurt, I dragged the summer suitcase out from under the bed, grabbed my bikini top and a wraparound skirt, plaited my hair and pulled on my boots ready for a day in the garden.

Jon's plan was to work on Gilbert so, leaving him scraping and applying filler, I brought all the seeds and seedlings from the house and put them outside in the sunshine, giving them a thorough misting in the process. 




Spring is everywhere! My borders bring me joy.


The bed that we'd spent the latter part of last week clearing now contains our redcurrant and blackcurrant bushes and the gooseberry bush we'd bought from Wilko last year. Keeping with the fruity theme, I thought I'd try and dig up the rhubarb that lives in the patio border as it fares badly there, swamped by the cluttered planting. It took an absolute age to remove it and I hope it survives its new home although Liz thinks her father-in-law might have some going spare. 


Next, mindful of the frogspawn, I skimmed the pond for debris before topping it up with rainwater.



Kev, a blog reader who lives nearby, stopped off on the way to visit a friend and gave us these groovy Mid-Century stainless steel ashtrays with one penny inserts.


After our lunchtime noodles, I sowed Summer Savory, Black Velvet nasturtiums, Evening Primrose, rocket candytuft and columbine seeds in any available receptacle I could find.

Just like sewing, when it comes to gardening I make it up as I go along, moving things I find growing elsewhere and transplanting them in the hope they'll flourish. After sowing my seeds I wandered around the garden emptying out pots and digging up stuff until I had enough to fill the bed I'd cleared on Sunday.


24°C heat and a day pottering around the garden with the sun on my back...I couldn't be any more content.


I was struggling with my Wear:Sleep: Repeat collages so I'm back to wearing anything I fancy - today it was a block-printed organic cotton wraparound skirt bought from my beloved Cottage Cotton in Goa five years ago, and a crochet bikini top (part of a set) from Missguided, reduced to £6 three years ago. When it arrived I was so impressed with the quality and fit that I ended up buying another couple of sets.


After I'd finished my gardening I threw one of my vintage block printed bedcovers on the lawn and got stuck into my latest book, wondering why it's taken me 54 years to read any Frederick Forsyth. 


Tea was half a pizza with salad. 


The overnight temperature wasn't going to drop so, for the first time this year, we left Jacob out all night and I pegged another load of washing out on the line. We watched more of Waking The Dead on the i-player and the second episode of The Detectives: Fighting Organised Crime on BBC2.



Wednesday was another glorious day, I had a potter around the garden with the lads before mopping the kitchen floor and getting stuck into my Wii Fit. After breakfast, Jon suggested we walk down to Wilko as we needed a few bits and pieces so, after giving the seedlings a thorough watering, we made our way into town, picked up what we needed and walking back up the Hill of Doom.


This is Walsall's Guildhall, which formerly held the law courts, police station and cells. Two previous guildhalls stood here before the present building. The first was the timber-framed Medieval Guild of St John the Baptist. This building controlled local government and trade in Walsall. The guild itself was suppressed by Henry VIII in 1546, and a local corporation took over its functions although the building itself survived into the Eighteenth Century when it was extensively rebuilt. The only remaining part of the second Guildhall is the statue of justice pictured here, which has been dated to 1823.  The current building was completed in 1867. It was derelict for many years before extensive regeneration in the early 1980s by local architect Sir Gordon Foster. During the 1980s it housed some cool indie shops and a coffee shop downstairs in the old cells, later it became an Italian restaurant and now, sadly, it lies empty.




No coat, no jacket! We're having the warmest couple of March days in over 50 years. The vintage handmade patchwork maxi skirt & leather belt were charity shop finds, the vintage Polaroid sunglasses came from a car boot sale, the 1960s Santos Fashions, London cheesecloth blouse is from eBay and the fringed raffia bag was from Topshop's sale last year.


On the way home, we saw antique dealer, Spencer, who lives on the next street. He's the same age as us and we've known since we were teenagers. He has been on Salvage Hunters a couple of times, Drew ended up going to his house and buying some of his personal collection. Kirstie Allsopp also visited him when she did one of her naff makeover shows and rumour has it that she still hasn't paid him for what she took from his shop. We chatted about gardening and he offered us an old galvanised potting bench for a fiver, I handed over my cash and he offered to deliver it later. 


Of course, we didn't stick to the list when we were in Wilko, these bulbs accidentally found their way into our basket! After our noodles, we got changed into our working gear. Jon continued with his work on Gilbert whilst I set about planting 52 bulbs (I've left the hostas and the physalis for the weekend).


The bed I've been working on was supported by an old plank that had rotted down over the years. After a rummage through our stash I found out some Edwardian edging tiles which, after I'd dug out the old wood and positioned them, Jon hammered into place.



Much smarter!


I was just finishing up when Spencer popped round with our bargain bench. 


It's destined for the greenhouse, another job for the weekend.


Same, same but different! I'm wearing the black version of yesterday's bikini and another Cotton Cottage organic cotton skirt. 



It's Bin Eve so after we'd tidied up and brought the seedlings, tortoise and washing inside (we've got unseasonably cold temperatures forecast from tomorrow) we wheeled the bins out and labelled our litter -picking sacks ready for collection at 7am.


Tea was a Morrison's The Best Layered Vegetable Tart (with butternut squash, spinach and chestnuts on beetroot chutney in puff pastry topped with nuts and pumpkin seeds) along with a glass of wine - it's our Never Had A Wedding Anniversary tomorrow and we're celebrating 29 years of unwedded bliss early. Rum and cola will follow shortly!

Stay safe and see you soon.

47 comments:

  1. Happy Unwedding day!! Arilx

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  2. Everything is really coming along in the garden and you look absolutely gorgeous in your gardening attire. Tomorrow is mine and my husband's anniversary too, but we did have a wedding. Happy Never Had A Wedding Anniversary to you and Jon! :)

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    1. I hop you had a fabulous wedding anniversary, Martha! xxx

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  3. So nice Liz and Al could come over. I love your outfits with bikini tops and Cotton maxi skirts. You have the most stylish gardening attire that I've seen. I planted some strawberries and parsley myself yesterday. I don't have a garden but my balcony will do. I'm planning to grown some tomatoes on my balcony as well.

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    1. Thanks, Ivana! Your tomatoes should be fine on a balcony, I bet you get a lot more sunshine than we do! xxx

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  4. Happy Unwedding Day. You two sure have life figured out! What a shame that gorgeous building is sitting empty- I love so much of what you show on Walsall. Maybe more will be revitalized after the pandemic.

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    1. Thanks, Sam! Sadly, I think a lot more of our councils will be bankrupt by the time all this is over. xxx

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  5. Happy never had a wedding anniversary to you both😊

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  6. Happy NHAW Anniversary, Vix and Jon! As L and I like to say, "We haven't killed each other yet"! ("She's become immune to my poisons," says he. "He keeps waking up when I smother him," I add cheerily).

    You look incredible in your crocheted tops, with both skirts, Vix! So happy you have some warm weather!

    That building is gorgeous! That's too bad that it's sitting there empty! I love the idea of it filled with shops and cafes. L's hometown has a cafe called the "Jail Cell" which is in the old town jail - I love that idea.

    All that gardening! Love it! Great to see the lads (Stephen, Frank and Jacob). Have a great weekend!

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    1. Haha! You two sound just like us! Romantic to the end!
      It's been lovely to have a taste of summer, it's horribly cold here now though. Those bikini tops are back in the case under the bed. xxx

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  7. Happy 29 years of unwedded bliss to you both.we have our 31 year unwedded anniversary on May 2nd which is the I get my second jab! We have thought about getting married over the years but I begrudge giving £500 to a registrar. Impressed with all your gardening jobs, I am rather slow this year, although I'm did see some grass seed today.

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    1. Happy Anniversary for 2nd May, Carole and partner! Getting the second jab is the best present ever. We did think about having a civil partnership when it was made available to everyone but there's far better things to spend our cash on! xxx

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  8. Happy Unwedding Anniversary Vix! Hope you have a lovely day and the sun shines for you both. I think that greenhouse bench was a bargain and your garden is looking so exciting. That Guildhall would make an amazing mini market full of small trader units - like they used to have at 'Kensington Market, London' in the 60s and 70s you could get all your hippy gear in little 8 foot square units packed tightly with everything from antique tin soldiers to kaftans and jesus creepers, antique nightees to Indian incense burners - it would be brilliant to recreate something like that! As always you look beautiful and your crochet tops look amazing. Betty x

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    1. Thanks, Betty! Back in the day there were a few quirky shops in The Guildhall but sadly it's Walsall and the majority of people seem to want cheap, mass produced stuff. Kiensington Market sound like a dream! xxx

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  9. Nice that you could meet up with your friends - all small steps to us getting back to normal life, if we can remember what that used to be! Your garden is looking so good - I'm hoping to be out in ours over the weekend tidying it up and if the sun shines having coffee sat out there.

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    1. It's lovely to be able to meet with friends again, it feels like a real treat. xxx

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  10. Looking all spring like at yours Vix. I saw your town on Salvage Hunters here in NZ.

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    1. Walsall seems to appear on Salvage Hunters quite frequently, Drew loves the old factories and workshops we have a plethora of. xxx

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  11. happy non wedding anniversary you two! Hi there Vix, been painting my room/coat closet funny add on space" cupbaord of doom" which has taken up my time but feels so good I will not tell you how long I have been wanting to get that done. Shelves lined with left over wallpaper paint leftover from other projects no money spent just loads of time. Anyway you have been busy! Spring is def here and you have already got your bikini top on YEA! good for you I am glad you saw Liz and I am now going back to "catch up" with all the goings on of the last few days. That was a mammoth wear it again challenge well done. Shazxx ps love Columbines when dad died that is what I planted in his pot.

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    1. Thanks, Shaz! I'm liking the sound of your decorating, there's something really rewarding about making use of the stuff you've already got rather than having to buy new! xxx

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  12. It's wonderful to see the gardens springing to life once more. My grass enjoyed the first cut of the year yesterday and it was warm enough to sit out. X

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    1. Hasn't it been lovely? Still no lawn mowing for us, we're a disgrace. xxx

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  13. Spring has indeed sprung - but my just-about-to-flower clematis is coming indoors (well, into our cold but not frosty vestibule lol) at the weekend - can't bear to think of all the flower buds getting frost-bitten. Thankfully it lives in a big pot so I should be able to finangle it through the front door lol.

    I'm considering seed-planting - but I don't have a plant-sitter to look after things should we get the oppo to travel later in the Summer - and don't want to come back to a world of dead plants/produce lol. I'll stick to bulbs and geraniums! If you go on Twitter be sure to follow @geraldstratfor3 - an absolute darling of a gentleman and plant-grower extraordinaire.

    This week has been taken up with my Mum's bungalow drains - I know - glamour all the way. It has caused much anxiety. We got it sorted this morning - the company we used was AMAZING. Now we just need a. a locksmith and b. a reputable roofer. I have never felt more middle-aged LMAO.

    Our back has been looking like an outdoor market as I've had an abundance of summer textiles out, airing. It's lovely to see more folks out and about socialising (without littering, breaking branches off trees and pishing in the flowerbeds Nottingham-style. Absolute wankers).

    Why do clothing combinations look so obviously amazing when you just whack them on the washing line together - rather than trying to think of them whilst standing in front of a clothing rack?

    Love your racey workwear, Vix - I need to flounce about in finery (or at least, a good hat) when I'm due to paint the shed over the weekend (I know - I can't help but share my exciting schedule).

    Have a fabulous Nothing-Nuptual-To-See-Here Anniversary xxx

    Maryland - big love and Easter eggs, lovely!

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    1. Hello Elaine! I'm glad you've managed to get your mum's bungalow sorted. Our lovely neighbour (Kitty's owner) is a locksmith, if only I could send him your way.
      I've noticed that our clematis is in bud, it's in a sheltered spot so hopefully should be okay with this inclement weather. I just wish my tulips would hurry up!
      We didn't expect to be going anywhere this summer, only one of our festivals thinks it may be going ahead and that isn't until September so it'll be a season of gardening again for us this year. I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed for an escape in the Autumn.
      You're right about the random clothing combinations when you peg stuff on the line! I thought I'd give a few of my summery dresses a launder whilst it was drying weather, sadly they're back in the summer suitcase under the bed again now.
      Have a lovely long weekend! Sending you sunshine. xxx

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  14. Congratulations Vix and Jon on Your 29 years Anniversary of unmarried Bliss-and Wishing you both continuing happiness for the future together xx

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  15. A very Happy Anniversary to you both !! Been with my guy 30 years too! Have a great day :).

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    1. Thank you<, Mary! Many congratultions to you and your man, too! xxx

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  16. Amazing architecture on the Guildhall and to be built on the slope like that takes real engineering. Such a pity it's standing neglected now. Was thinking your edging tiles might be Victorian, at any rate, they're worth a penny or two. Very Happy Unniversary to you and many,many,many more. xxx

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    1. It's an amazing building, I hope they can find some use for it, it would be such a shame for it to fall into derection again.
      Those edging tiles were from the parental home which was built in 1910. The Victorian ones I have have a registration number stamped on the back and they're a bit fancier. I'm startled at the price they fetch online! xxx

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  17. A very happy 'Never had a wedding anniversary' to you both. I hope you have an extra special drinkypoo tonight.

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  18. How lovely that you were able to toast Liz's birthday. She had quite an adventurous day, by the sound of it, and I absolutely adore her outfit!
    And you look adorable too in your crochet bikini top and wraparound skirt. Hasn't the weather been marvellous? Unfortunately I had two office days in a row, so that I could only indulge in a spot of sunny gardening in Tuesday! On the bright side, I think one of my fritillary bulbs is making an appearance after all!
    Love the ashtrays and how amazing are the details on Walsall's Guildhall.
    I'm rather envious of your £ 5 potting bench and Edwardian edging tiles.
    I hope you had the best Never Had A Wedding Anniversary ever. Congratulations, you two, and onwards to 30 years! xxx

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    1. Thanks so much, Ann!
      Liz found the velvet skirt on ebay and if by magic it arrived on the morning of her birthday!
      Those two days were absolutely glorious, we got so much done. What a shame you had to go into work but exciting that your fritillary is making an appearance. xxx

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  19. I am so glad you guys had a nice birthday I went to go ape In whinlatter forest when Connor was studying forestry in Ambleside and I didn’t know I was pregnant with willow at the time and I cam remember light crying telling me to come down as it was dangerous. Still had a good time even if it was only me and Connor up there.
    I know why willow likes going to skytree so much now!!
    I love the spring time it’s my favourite season, even if the kids do still try to dig up everything and the koi have finally shown themselves, they look a hell of a lot bigger though.
    Looking good in that skirt I ordered a few sari skirts of eBay japan to try. I have one and I get lots of lovely complements about it. That potting bench is awesome that’s the sort of thing the junk man gets .
    Back to decorating my office even if I have ran of bargain paint so some other colour to finish now!! Take care and keep safe. Love and hugs

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    1. Thank you, Allie! Go Ape wouldn't be my choice of fun things to do especially with Jon's dread of heights but Liz loved it!
      I used to buy those sari skirts by the kilo when I first started going to India, selling them on eBay used to pay for our return flights. They look really good with anything as there's so many lovely colours.
      Have fun with the paintbrush! xxx

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  20. 29 years! That's great! Happy Anniversary to you both! You look fab in that bikini top and skirt!
    xoxo
    Lovely
    www.mynameislovely.com

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  21. Congratulations on your 29 year unwedding!

    You have been slogging your guts out. 52 bulbs to plant and the new bed looks lovely. The weather was astonishing for this time of year but it's a distant memory now as it's bloody chilly here now.

    Your Guildhall looks similar to our Corn Exchange only ours isn't on a hill...

    I've read 'Day of the Jackal' by Frederick Forsythe and found it a very taut and gripping book. I don't know why I haven't read more of his either. I'm also reading a Fred Vargas book about French police; it's one of a series almost like Spiral but without Laure. I'll tracking down more of his books.

    The skirts and bikini tops look fab and I love the plaits!
    xxx

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    1. Thank you! I'm a solar powered gardener, I can get loads done when it's warm and sunny.
      I'm really enjoying Frederick Forsyth and the good thing is that there's always at least one of his books in charity shops so I can find more. Fred Vargas is a woman! I read This Night's Foul Deeds earlier in lockdown and really enjoyed her writing, you're right there is a touch of the Spirals about it. xxx

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  22. Happy "Never Had A Wedding" Anniversary! You are so far ahead of us here in Ontario, Canada with the gardening. We had some snow flurries yesterday, and even though it didn't stick, the temperature has been hovering around -6 celsius the past few days. it is supposed to warm up this weekend but definitely NOT bikini top weather.

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    1. Thank you! We've taken a few steps back now and are "enjoying" unseasonably cold weather with snow forecast for Monday. I'm glad I haven't planted anything tender! xxx

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  23. So lovely to Liz and Al in your garden. Isn’t it nice to be able to be friends again.
    I’ve nicked the photo of your wildlife pond to show Philip what I want in ours. We’ve just the spot for it.
    It’s only took us a year but we’ve actually got round to doing stuff.
    I’ve got some seed packets for you that Mum gave me for you. I’ll put them in the post this week. Xxx

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  24. So lovely to see you gardening in the sunshine, looking so fabulous in your crochet bikini and cool maxi skirts!, woww, such a summery vibe and lots of fabulousness!.
    And so stunning to see you in your Green blouse and patchwork skirt!, lovely photos!
    I'm amazed that your neighbour appeared on Salvage Hunters (a favourite tv show!) and you got this cool piece from him for a tenner!. You Rock It!
    besos

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  25. Happy unweddingversary!
    Your crochet bikini tops are great! I would totally wear those too- such a nice shape!
    Well done on all the gardening work. I've got some flower bulbs to sow still- getting a bit panicked about sowing them in my new planter- CBC and I are really resistant to actually getting the damn thing lined and filled- so daunting!
    I like your posh edging pieces- they look so smart!

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Lots of love, Vix