December ‘Gardening’ in the Rain – 8 December 2018 – Six on Saturday

The weather has been wet, very wet, in Manchester this week – but it’s still mild for time of year. There’s hasn’t been too much gardening by me except for bulb planting in pots in the porch. My Chap has the unenviable task of putting them out around the garden. The wet weather makes my arthritis ache which makes me tired – ho hum.  But we have been making plans, plans for the garden, plans for #ChristmasatDunhamMassey, plans for relaxation and self-care.

So I nipped out today with the ‘big coat’ on to take photos for my #SixonSaturday and then retreated indoors to take some more 😉

1. Hacking around

We’ve been out doing some pruning today in the Rain – mainly because it’s so windy we’re worried it will damage the shrubs and the privet tree. Well, My Chap has been chopping things down – he’s a trooper.

Me? I was hacking down the grasses and the ends of lavender (there are about 20 bushes so it takes a while). And making mugs of tea.

This hand hoe is just great – very sharp. It’s comfy to use too – I’m terrible with tools as I’m so clumsy. I won it in a Twitter competition earlier in the year 🙂 Whey! I was gobsmacked to see Burgon and Ball were founded in 1730. They made agricultural shears in Sheffield – Steel City. It’s good to see a family business still going strong.

2. Bulb love

Most people go to TK Maxx to buy cheap clothes, random homeware, and weirdly flavoured chocolates. Me? I come back with cheap pots and bulbs – I’ll be potting these up tomorrow, in the porch 🙂

3. Violas and Pansies

Orange Pansy

Pansies in the rain

Orange pansies are taken with my Lensbaby #Trio28 – sweet effect. This a sharp focus with a soft, dreamy focus to the edge (So no cropping as you’ll lose it).

The violas and pansies are looking more chirpy, especially if they’re out of the rain.

4. Roses in the Rain

The orange rose is STILL flowering – all through the summer had a rest in September and it’s been flowering since late October…

My Chap says it needs pruning so I think that’s tomorrows job apparently.

Red Patio Roses – Lensbaby #Trio28 – twist

I’d moved the patio rose into the porch out of the wind and rain – it obviously liked its new spot as it flowered again. I moved it to take this photo as I wanted to see if I could get a good twist shot. In poor light, I thought this was a good effort.

5. #ChristmasatDunhamMassey

#ChristmasatDunhamMassey two giant reindeer made of lights in the woods with red and blue lights

#ChristmasatDunhamMassey – giant reindeer in the woods

These reindeer are about 40 foot high – plenty of other deer in the woods.

I had such a good time at #ChristmasatDunhamMassey* I booked to take My Chap and some pals next weekend. There are still places left especially in the week – it’s on until 30 December- book online for #ChristmasatDunhamMassey here. I’ll write a more detailed post next week – I’ve got the video to edit first.

Or check out a light show near you – they’re spectacular.

*I was invited free of charge to the preview evening for National Trust Staff – in return for social media coverage – I always give my honest opinion.

6. Indoor gardening 😉

Since the weather is so grim outside, I’m mostly reading these magazines. I learn so much from both titles – especially Gardeners’ World.  I believe you never stop learning so and I’m far from an expert when it comes to gardening.  Bit rubbish at remembering Latin names… oops – could be the E in ‘O’ level Latin to blame.

I might just have ordered a few plants for next year…double oops.

I joined RHS a few years back as we go to Tatton Park or another RHS show every year. So you can imagine my excitement when it was announced their 5th Garden – RHS Bridgewater will be two miles up the canal from us in Worsley, in Salford (right by the Junction 13 on M60 for the locals).  It’s coming along nicely – I’ll be going for a look round soon I hope.  The Garden and membership are handy because Wisley is near my mum house’s so we go when we are visiting her. She goes with her pals every month – they have a nice lunch and a good walk round to see what’s flowering – and buy a plant or two.  I get my love of gardening from my Mum.

Reading the magazines, listening to the rain hitting the windows, I’m planning and thinking of high summer and all the plants I’ll grow next year…how my bones won’t ache, how everything will grow and bloom just as it should – reality isn’t usually like that… but hey gardeners are optimists at heart.

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As usual, I’m joining J from www.thepropagatorblog.wordress.com with #SixonSaturday – he’s got many cuttings, seedlings and tiny plants under his care – definitely living up to his name this week. Gardeners from around the world join in – there’s usually some tropical flowers to lift my spirits at this time of year.

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My Self-care when I can’t garden

I’ve written often about how gardening and being in the garden is my happy place, it lifts my mood – it’s vital to my self-care.

So what do I do when it’s hurling down and I can’t get out into the garden?…

ln daylight, I sit so I can see out into the back garden – I have plenty of violas and pansies by the door. The porch and path have viola pots too 🙂 I check the small flowers as I go in and out. Concentrating makes you focus on the moment – that’s a good thing 🙂

During the week, when I’m at work, there’s no chance of getting out in the garden as it’s dark when I get home – what do I do then? I go for a walk at lunchtime even in the rain, noticing the plants, birds and animals as I walk around Oxford Road in Manchester. It is surprising how much urban wildlife and plants even in places they shouldn’t be.

Find YOUR self-care

Everyone seems frazzled and stressed in December – it seems as if they’re rushing around trying to please everyone else…so many expectations and meanwhile forgetting to take care of themselves… it’s a quick way to burn out 🙁

Here are some of my self-care options when the weather is grim and I’m hunkered down in our house – usually with music in the background 😉

  • Yoga
  • Sewing – I’m making Christmas tree decorations from felt.
  • Making soup – I like chopping things
  • Baking biscuits – quick 🙂
  • Soak in the bath – with candles –
  • we light candles every night in the lounge too – scent is a powerful mood enhancer
  • Mindfulness – breathing apps 🙂
  • Audiobooks
  • Writing postcards/cards to my friends – Everyone loves real post.
  • Listening to My Chap play his guitar.

Please don’t forget about YOUR self-care… and find what helps you… everyone is different so you need alternative self-care options.

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What are you planning for next year? We’re planning our Cornish holiday too.

Have you been to a garden light show like #ChristmasatDunhamMassey? 

What’s your self-care when the weather is horrible?

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xx xx xx

December 2018 SMART Goals – Focus, Reflect, Relax

I’ve written a few times on my blog about how I set goals in December, not in January so avoiding all those ‘New Year, New Me’, New Year resolutions. I think it’s easier to make changes in your life at another time of year.  I started making changes in December over 10 years ago – it seems to work for me, as the run-up to Christmas has always been a time of reflection and regrouping for me.  I’ve always had a diary, used reminders or to do lists either on paper or electronically. It really helps me to be accountable to myself. Last month, I started writing my SMART Goals on my blog, as it helps me to see what I’ve achieved over the month, the quarter and going into 2019. It also makes goals more real, realistic and accountable if they are public goals shared with your friends and family.  In December, I’m concentrating on my photography especially with my Lensbaby and my working life.  So I am focusing, reflecting and relaxing.

If you’ve ever been on any marketing, project management or planning courses they’ll have mentioned SMART objectives. SMART goals are:

  • Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-bound (i.e.What is the deadline or timeline for your goal?)

I wrote about how to set your SMART Goals last month:

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Let me know in the comments how you get on?

How I monitor and record my progress:

I have a diary/journal where I note daily activities. Also, I use alarms on my phone to schedule activities. I use the Pomodoro method – timed 25-minute work sessions and then a timed five-minute break – every four or five 25 minute sessions you have a longer break. This method really helps me focus. Continue reading

Is it really December? Six on Saturday 1 December 2018

It’s the first day of Winter today according to the meteorological calendar. The older I get the quicker the time flies by and the more rubbish my memory becomes; this is one of the reasons I started a blog – to record what was happening around us, in the garden, days out and what adventures we got up to.  It’s certainly done that, I’ve rediscovered my love of photography.  It also gives me a chance to see how the garden changes from day to day and year to year.  But, I really do sound like a broken record mentioning often what odd weather we’ve had this year – it’s been very, very mild, temperatures often 10-15 degrees – and not getting anywhere freezing overnight.  Here beside the Bridgewater Canal, in Monton, in Salford, quite a few of my plants still haven’t realised it’s December. Usually, the garden in December would be looking rather leafless, bare sticks and trees, the odd evergreen plant and a basket or two of winter violas and pansies – with frost and cold, wet soil.  Instead, there a couple of plants flowering that really shouldn’t be…

1.Margarite – Argyranthemum Frutescens

five small yellow daisy like flowers - margarites

yellow margarite

I have three of these plants in pots, in the front garden, and they are still flowering – they’re proper sun lovers.  I love daisy style flowers, so I have many different plants – dahlias (Bishop styles), Leucanthemum, these and cute alpines. Continue reading

big burnley clothes swap sign

#BigBurnleyClothesSwap Burnley, Lancashire

It’s Lancashire Day today 27th November. The day commemorates the first day the county was represented at Parliament in 1215; Lancashire is a wonderful county, so much to see and do here. I live in Eccles, which started out in Lancashire, but is now in Greater Manchester, but most people consider themselves Lancastrians.

I thought I’d tell you about my visit to Burnley in the Lancashire hills last weekend; I was invited by Burnley Social to the #BigBurnleyClothesSwap to cover the event (free of charge). Burnley Social are working to promote Burnley as a great place to live, work, study and visit.

They ran the event to support students and young people to #recycle and #reuse while supporting the local Hospice (www.pendleside.org.uk) – and have a bit of fun too.  They’d laid on hairdressers and makeup artists, and a photographer – and music.

Boohoo supported the event by donating ‘samples’ for the event – thanks Boohoo 😊

row of party dresses on a rail

Why I love Clothes swaps #recycle #reuse

These are great ways to refresh your wardrobe – all you do is bring some clean, good quality items and swap for items from other people.   When you get to a clothes swap event you’re usually given token or coloured raffles tickets corresponding to the same number of items you’ve brought (swapping like for like). So a raffle ticket for tops means you can choose a top, accessories for accessories etc.

I’ve been to a few clothes swaps at my WI.  If you’ve not been to one – please try one out or get together with a group of friends yourselves. You’ll be surprised what you find – and swapping with real people means they have suggestions about what you should try that you’d never pick up.

I got a lovely checked shirt for my husband to add to his collection and a new party dress for me (under wraps for the moment)

Everything was well organised at #BigBurnleyClothesSwap and I saw people choosing some beautiful things.   Thank you Burnley Social 🙂 I hear there’s going to be another clothes swap in 2019.

canvas bag 'suits you girl' boohoo.com bagpurple yellow sequin skirt with blue and purple sequin skirt

Supporting Charity

Money from ticket sales and all the left-over clothes were donated to Pendleside Hospice (who have charity shops too). Continue reading

Salvia, petunia, wallflower and snapdragon with a bee jug - with a hygge 19 November 2018

‘Making Winter’ by Emma Mitchell – A Review – In a Vase on Monday 19 November 2018

I’m getting set for Winter here in Manchester – a biting East wind was buffeting Manchester and sky looked like we were stuck inside a Tupperware bowl. V grey 🙁  Time to get ready for Winter… blankets, soups and stews, making objects and food for Christmas – my husband was muttering about making a fruitcake – and Hygge…

This word has been all over the internet for the last few years but there’s a lot more to it than you’d imagine…

Hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special. – Alex at www.hyggehouse.com/hygge

Alex (who has a Danish Mum and a French Dad) writes that Hygge isn’t really about ‘objects’ or ‘food’ it’s a state of ‘being’, being in the present, taking life a bit more slowly, spending time with friends/family, forming memories… This resonates with me.  Do have a look around her blog as she has some good suggestions for the ‘slower’ life.

salvia petunia wallflower with jug with bees and a hygge sign

salvia petunia wallflower bee jug with a hygge sign

Time to get a little ‘hygge’

Here’s the full list on this lovely print 🙂

Time to get a little ‘hygge’
Woolly blankets and thick socks – Yes
A mug of hot chocolate and with cream and marshmallows – well a lacto-free one would go down very well right now
Creating future memories – yes, we are making plans for December, Christmas, and January (a trip to London)
Blazing logs – no fire in our house but there are plenty in the country pubs in Lancashire 
Preparing a favourite recipe – Christmas fruitcake?
Taking a Nap – yes we all know #selfcare matters
Closing the curtains – the thick winter curtains are up 🙂
Belly laughs – always 😉
Reading by candlelight – Always candles in our house anytime of year 
Evenings with friends – Bring them on 🙂

So what are you doing to get a little ‘hygge‘?

Salvia, petunia, wallflower and snapdragon with a white jug with bees on it 19 November 2018

Salvia, petunia, wallflower and snapdragon with a bee jug. 19 November 2018

In a Vase on Monday – salvia, petunia, wallflower and snapdragon

I ran out around the garden looking for flowers – it was surprising how many flowers were still around… as I’ve said before the weather this year has been so odd this year.  I picked a bright, summery vase too because I saw a couple of bees around the front garden at the weekend (when it was warmer).  Here are my flowers:

The Vase looks as if it was picked in late September not November.   There are some hardy fuchsia flowers around still so they may make it into next week’s vase… but we’ll see what the weather brings this weekend. Snow on the hills around Manchester for definite 😉

Jug

The jug is made by Sophie Allport (www.sophieallport.com/uk/);  I bought it on our first visit to The Lost Gardens of Heligan in 2015. It has a quote inside the rim (Busy, busy bumble bee). This jug has appeared before too:

Lensbaby photo – Trio 28 sweet

I thought you’d like to see the same vase taken with my ‘Lensbaby’ – central focus and softer edges.  I’m pleased with this photograph.

salvia petunia wallflower bee jug 19-November 2018 hygge sign

salvia, petunia, snapdragon, and a wallflower with a bee jug 19 November 2018 – taken with Lensbaby Trio 28 – sweet

Note – this photo is my copyright so please don’t use or download it

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As usual, I am joining Cathy from Rambling in the Garden – this week she has some Viburnum in an ikebana-style arrangement (Japanese).  There are some glorious arrangements around the world – Spring in the southern hemisphere too.

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Making Winter – A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months
By Emma Mitchell  – A Review

I bought this book in 2017, and I’ve dipped in a bit last winter, making a couple of recipes, but my focus was on getting healthier. It gets a mention here:

However, I wanted to write a proper review.  The short answer is – I really love this book.  It’s a beautiful book with stunning photography and drawings.

Emma writes about living in Fens, the countryside, changing of the seasons and collecting wildflowers and plants from her daily walks.  She also writes about how nature, being outdoors and crafting have helped her mental health and wellbeing.  I can’t tell you how much this chimes with me.   Emma also writes about the science – serotonin.

The book has recipes, crochet patterns, making hawthorn gin, wreaths, and drawing/paintings – each has stunning clear photographs and instructions.  Everything I’ve tried has worked fine.  Even though I’m, not a crocheter, my pals who are said these patterns are fairly straightforward to do – with clear stitch instructions.

I’m feeling the need to make some plum, orange and ginger blondies:-)

Silver Clay

There’s a section on silver clay too – how to make jewellery pendants using leaves and other natural materials.  I loved making a silver clay pendant when I was at Denman College in October, with my Mum.

I’ve booked to go back in January for another course 🙂 excited 🙂

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  • I see on Instagram that Emma has a new book out in January 2019 – it’s called The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us – A Diary
  • you can follow Emma on Instagram (@silverpebble2)

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Emma’s book reminded me I need to start reading Nigel Slater’s Christmas Chronicles – full of recipes and preparation for Christmas and mid-winter.  I need to look out our Booth Christmas book (get our food order in) and then re-read the mighty Nigella – we saw her ‘In Conversation’ a couple of weeks ago – she was as fabulous as you’d imagine 🙂

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So what are you doing to ‘get Hygge’?
Have you read Emma’s Book? if you have – what did you think?
Do you any Autumn crafting?
Do you do anything special at this time of year? or is it all full speed for Christmas? 

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xxx xxx