Five fuchsias with magical pals – In a Bottle on Monday

I’ve written many times about how much flowers, gardening and the great outdoors help my health and wellbeing – coupled with mindfulness and yoga help me every day.  I think I’d be in a much tougher place without all these things.  That and my ace family and friends.  Not long after I started my blog, nearly four years ago, I came across a gardening blog called Rambling in the Garden (, run by a lovely lady called Cathy.  There was a link up every Monday involving picking flowers and plants from your garden (or locality) and placing them in in a vase – it was fascinating to see what she had grown in her garden, and what the other gardening bloggers around the world were growing. Today the meme has it’s fifth birthday.

I thought I need to get involved, as one of the reasons, I’d started the blog was to keep track of what is growing in the garden and when it flowers.

Here’s my first link up:

I learn so much from being involved in this meme – so much about gardening, what to plant and what not to plant, flower arranging and how to take ‘macro’ photography shots.   But more than that Cathy has always written lovely supportive and caring comments on my posts, always has something constructive to say – and above all has always been kind.  One day, I hope to meet Cathy face to face – probably when RHS Bridgewater opens – as I know she’d want to look around.

Keep on doing what your doing Cathy – it’s magical and wonderful.

Cathy says she had no idea what she’d started, but I know for sure it has a positive impact on so many people 🙂 xx

Gardeners join in from all around the world – On dark days in the middle of Winter, seeing the bright blooms from around the world have lifted my mood.   They’ve helped me when I’ve been unwell too as it’s encouraged me to get out and take photos.  It’s helped me to write better too – to find my voice.  So thank you to every IAVOM blogger who’s picked and taken photos over the years – and an extra special thank you to everyone who’s ever commented on my vases.  I’ve been rubbish at replying but I’ve read every comment.  I rarely manage to post on a Monday either – mainly because it’s dark/wet in Manchester and life is full on. But, Cathy says that doesn’t matter… it’s the joining in that counts.

And sometimes pals in your phone/internet can help you more than they realise, help you find a way through, find a new perspective…


Today is the fifth birthday of ‘In a Vase on Monday’ hosted by wonderful Cathy.  Here’s what she’s picked and written about – not a vase and some dried flowers – but much more than that it’s about kindness, friendship, help and support – Thank you, everyone 🙂

For this week’s contribution to IAVOM, Cathy suggested NOT using a Vase…. have a look 🙂

If you want to join in – have a go, it’s not massively complex – some people just post one photo and minimal words, others weave the photos into stories – others pick plants from holidays and trips. It’s a good way to see how your garden or locality changes, month to month and year to year – and you never know you might find a new pal or two on the internet.

five fuchsias in five bottles in a wicker basket with a Veronica Dearly quote.

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poppies in a wildflower meadow - using Lensbaby Trio 28 - twist

Firethorn, pansies, Remembrance Day poppy wreath, Six on Saturday – 10 November 2018

It’s been a windy and cold in Manchester this week. There’s still some summer flowers hanging on, but mostly it’s full-on autumn colours reds, orange and yellow. I’ve not been out in the garden to do any jobs as the weather has been foul.  Planting tulips in pots in the porch have been my main focus this week.  Also, I’ve been busy crafting felt poppies for my Remembrance Day Poppy Door Wreath.

There are many poppies too – as there should be at this time of year.  There are some stunning installations near Churches and memorials, in parks and in railway stations.  Our WI sent poppies to one of our sister groups out in a small village in Lancashire who was making felt and wool poppy wreaths for their war memorial – I made 16 felt poppies.

1. Viburnum

small white viburnum flowers on a branch with green privet bush in background
This is one of two standard viburnum trees that came as a wedding gift to us last year;  they were in full bloom for our wedding in September 2017. Since then – they’ve flowered at very random times – I think the very cold weather in March and boiling heat in June/July has confused the plants. They’ve been re-potted so I hope they survive the winter OK.
I don’t know the variety, as M and S didn’t admit it.  I’ll take some bud photos next time it’s sunny to help me identify it – no scent though.

    • Do my gardening pals have any ideas what variety it might be?

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Red and orange pyracantha coreopsis, marguerite in a triangular, red glass vase

Orange and red firethorn, bonfires and fundraising – In a Vase on Monday – 5 November 2018

Anyone in the UK will be well aware it’s Guy Fawkes Night, so as I’m writing this there’s the fizz, bang and pop of fireworks all around me. Plenty of people still hold their own family fireworks in the back gardens. Locally, in Pendleton in Salford, there is a huge fireworks display and bonfire at Buile Hill Park organised by Salford Council – many of the cricket and rugby clubs were hosting events as fundraisers.  I’ve had the colours of fire on my mind today. I wanted to write about two things today – flowers and fundraising. Orange is the connection – we’ve been fundraising for Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Red and orange pyracantha coreopsis, marguerite in a triangular, red glass vase

Red and orange pyracantha coreopsis, marguerite in a triangular, red glass vase

In a Vase on Monday – fire!

I wouldn’t usually include the berries that are going over but it seems appropriate to acknowledge the change in the seasons…

The vase is an unusual triangular shaped red glass vase dating from the early 1960s.  I found it in my friend Steve’s home after he died in 2015. It must have been a wedding present for his father and mother.  Knew them over 20 years, I never saw flowers in the house.  But, I kept this vase and a pair of crystal vases probably another wedding present.  One had a pile of pennies in it.  I fill these vases with flowers and think fondly of Ju, Kev and Steve – very missed.


As usual, I am joining Cathy at – it’s a simple idea pick plants, flowers, seedheads etc from your garden or locality and put in a ‘vase’. The vases are very inventive – gardening bloggers from around the world join in.  Do have a look – it certainly lifts my mood on a dark, wet Manchester evening when I can see flowers in their full Spring glory on the other side of the world.


Prickly plants help stop burglars

With the dark nights, it’s easier for burglars to lurk and enter unlit buildings. One way to deter people with nefarious intentions is with shrubs with thorns. Good contenders are:

  • Pyracantha – Firethorn – I certainly felt it taking cuttings for the vase.
  • Berberis – there are many different varieties, including a stunning maroon one.  My mum has it under her kitchen window.
  • Roses including climbers.
blue ticket for Motor Neurone Disease Association Manchester Ball - 3 Nov 2018 with orange mascarade mask on a party table

Motor Neurone Disease Association Manchester Ball – 3 November 2018

Fundraising for the Motor Neurone Disease Association

On Saturday, my husband and I attended the Masquerade Ball for the Manchester Motor Neurone Disease Association along with 300 other people in all their finery. Bright blue and orange are the corporate colours of the association.

Our aim is to raise as much money and awareness as possible to help people living with MND (we call them warriors) five of them were at the ball.

My husband’s younger brother died from MND aged fifty in January after five years with this vile disease. He is loved and missed every day.  My husband runs ultra marathons, endurance events, trail and half marathons. He’s pushed our pal Bethan who has cerebral palsy around Brighton marathon. Bethan lost her mum to MND.

The ONLY positive thing about MND arriving in your life is that you find some amazing people who become lifelong friends.  We were with many local pals from the association and our running pals from #RunMND who came from all over the country to support our fundraising and have some fun.  Plenty of people were there too from our local hospital Salford Royal which is the regional centre for MND support and care.

We had some suburb auction prizes including Manchester United tickets, take that concert tickets, numerous meals and afternoon teas, wines and spirits. We won the auction on a specially commissioned painting.

The event was organised by Stacey Kerr who’s our awesome volunteer fundraising coordinator – she has raised nearly £40k in her own right in five years.

We raised a staggering £11,600 – well done everyone

Here we are in our outfits #withfilter  wearing my wedding dress 🙂 yes my shoes glow under the flashlight 😉

Find out more about our branch here:

My husband’s next run is Manchester Marathon next April 2019 – you can find his JustGiving page here:

Find the RunMND posse (usually wearing orange ra-ra skirts) – there are nearly 900 of us around the UK and even some in Australia:

Plodders, strollers, endurance in anything (walking, pushing wheelchairs, running) are very welcome – including supporters like me

More information and help on MND:

It’s a vile, grim disease but if you’re affected please get in touch.

You’re never alone xxx xxx

Find us on social media too.


I still can’t form sentences to explain how much I miss my own brother who died suddenly in March 2017 – he was doing what he loved which is a comfort.  He is loved, missed and thought about all around the world

I am reminded that ‘life isn’t a dress rehearsal’ get out and live it, have fun with the people you love, be kind, make a difference and laugh every day.


Do you fundraise?

Carpe Diem,

Love Bec xx xxx


Using SMART Objectives for November Goals - consolidate, learn, balance

November 2018 SMART Goals – Consolidating, Learning and Balance

I’ve never written one of these posts before on my blog, even though I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a list of goals/plans written down – it is achieving your goals that’s the tricky thing.  But, I thought I’d start doing writing my SMART Goals every month on my blog, as it will help 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 shared with colleagues, friends and family.  It also helps me to think of some words which sum up what I want to achieve – Learning, Consolidating and Balance. 

postcards a black wooden background, scattered around one says Dream Big, another 'Live Simply, Be Grateful, Give Love, Laugh Lots', another a 1-10 list on a grey background, A large letter B card, four orange/yellow roses and a pair black garden snipper sissors

Dream Big, Live Simply, Be Grateful, Give Love, Laugh Lots – and have a list 😉 – and flowers in your life

I’ve been thinking over the last year or so about what really matters to me.  The affirmations in the picture I took for the header sum this up too.

I took this photo at the BlogOn conference in Manchester in September.  It was part of a photography session with Lucy from ‘Captured by Lucy’ who as well as being a very talented writer and photographer sells her own very high-quality backdrops for photos – I didn’t take this photo on an old wooden painted floor – it’s vinyl. Continue reading

Halloween Orange Rose – In a Vase on Monday – 29 October 2018

I love roses 🙂 they’re often in vases around the house (from florists).  My Chap often buys bouquets for us.  We only have four rose bushes in our garden – two pink climbing roses, a red patio miniature rose (see below) and this orange beauty in our front garden.   When I moved into my house nine years ago this month, it was in a bit of a sorry state, as it was in desperate need of punning and TLC.  It’s one of the first things My Chap did after he met me was to prune the rose (and install a gate into the garden from the ginnel – AKA alleyway).

The orange rose soon revived – it tends to flower in at least two distinct seasons.  This year it has flowered three times. It has a delicate rose scent too which wafts across the garden path.

In a Vase on Monday – Halloween Orange Rose

This is the last hurrah of the orange rose bush this year 🙂 I can’t believe the range of colours; it is bright orange as a bud fading through to the most stunning sunset colours.

Do any of my gardening pals know what variety it is?

Orange roses have appeared many times in my vases over the last three years – it’s also flowered at some very odd times including in January this year 😉

The bud vase is made from recycled glass; purchased at the Eden Project in Cornwall.  It has appeared a few times too:


The print is part of a series covering different animals representing different names for the moons.  The Autumn print is a Beaver; the Autumn moons are Corn moon, Hunter’s moon and Beaver moon.

The summer print will need to wait until next year 😉

As usual, I am joining in with Cathy from Rambling in the Garden who’s written about the history of All Saints Day and Halloween.  She has some glorious dahlias on their last hurrah too, before the frosts hit and the plants die off.   Cathy also has pumpkins with her vase which reminded me of a pumpkin flower arrangement I made a couple of years ago.

Pumpkin Flower Arrangement

Here’s something different for Halloween.  I’ve been on two flower arranging courses at Denman College in Oxfordshire.  It’s the Educational College for the Women’s Institute.

In October 2016 I was there for the weekend learning different styles of flower arrangements.  I learnt how to use a pumpkin as a ‘vase’. This arrangement has a block of oasis and it’s just a case placing the flowers as if making a round arrangement. For the arrangement, I used:

  • chrysanthemum
  • sea holly
  • rosemary
  • Callicarpa – beauty berry
  • choysia – this is a variegated one
  • poppy seed heads, pine cones and ivy

I’ve been far too busy to attempt this type of arrangement this Autumn – but I have unearthed my terracotta carved pumpkin for the porch.

Making a door wreath

This photo has also reminded me to make an Autumn door wreath – there’s a wreath ring around the bottom of the pumpkin on the plate. It is decorated with fluffy wool, pine cones, seedheads and ivy.   It’s a straightforward wreath to make and most of the elements are around in the woods or my garden.  I’ve put it on my list to make a door wreath this weekend 🙂

Here’s my tutor Christine’s arrangement – Stunning isn’t it?

My Denman Tutor – Christine Pearce’s arrangement featuring a broom and cobwebs too.

I learnt so much from Christine at my two visits to Denman.  You can see her work and book for courses via:

I wanted to tell what a great tutor she is – this isn’t a sponsored post and she hasn’t asked me to write about her or do a good review. 

Denman College – part of the Women’s Institute

I’ve written a few times about how much I have loved my visits to Denman. I’ve been on three weekend trips. Two to do flower arranging and last month, a mother and daughter weekend.

You can find out more about the courses at Denman – anyone can go, male, female and you don’t need to be a member of the Women’s Institute.


The clock’s changing, the darker nights and Halloween make me reflect on what

When autumn darkness falls, what we will remember are the small acts of kindness: a cake, a hug, an invitation to talk, and every single rose. These are all expressions of a nation coming together and caring about its people.
Jens Stoltenberg (1959 – )  the Norwegian Director General of NATO since 2014 – he was previously Prime Minister of Norway.  

Jens words resonate with me – I try to #bekind – and be in the moment.  My daily mindfulness activities are going well. I’m also walking or spending time outside for at least an hour each day.  


what do you have planned for Halloween? Have you seen any unusual Halloween decorations? Manchester has huge monsters on top of buildings – have a look on my Instagram for more photos

Carpe Diem,

Love Bec xxx xxx