How Does Your Garden Grow 4

I love my garden, growing up in central London we never had very much of one but had the fabulous parks as a substitute.  Regularly me & my friend Katie used to cycle all the way out to Wimbledon Common miles away to fish for tadpoles or Hyde Park just to play and muck about all day until it was time to go home.  There were no mobile phones for mum to keep tabs on me, just a tupperware box full of sandwiches and a bit of pocket money for drinks.

I cannot imagine letting TC out to do this when she is 8!

Anyway, I digress, once I'm on the memory trip in my head I kind of get lost in the moment!  I love my garden but I am so impatient, I plant a seed, watch it sprout, then want immediate gratification with flowers and vegetables galore!

This year everything is growing at a snail's pace, so again this week not much to see in terms of progress, except the carpet of fallen apple and cherry blossom petals that have covered the front and back gardens.  Mixed with the rain the last couple of days, it has all become a big mess that we are constantly bringing into the house on our shoes.  The upside of this, of course, is the promise of apples and cherries this year.

The Peonies have been ready to burst forth for a while now, I think they are waiting for it to stop raining, every year their huge scarlett heads get rained on and weighed down.  I do my best to shake them out to prolong their lives.

I buy new Lavender plants every year to add to the clan, I love Lavender, I save the heads and dry them.  I need to find time to make Lavender pillows, I've still got some I dried a couple of years ago and when crushed between your fingers, they still hold their pungent fragrance.  The severe ongoing winter this year did away with a 3 bushes this year, I will be particularly sad if I lose the Pink Lavender I planted out as a tiny bush when I found out I was having at girl at 20 weeks, it has one or two sorry new shoots on it, I will leave it there to see if it rallies next year.

Hidcote is one of my top favourites along with go old Vera!

I buy all my shrubs as small baby bushes, I love to plant them out and watch them flourish & flourish they do.  Our Mexican Orange Blossom or Choisya is now many years old, I have a precious photo of my first born sitting next to it as a 3 year old and now they are both all grown up.  I'm not keen on the fragrance it gives out but every year without fail it flowers like crazy and is evergreen.

And look who I couldn't resist at the garden centre, a mini dahlia.  Plants are like cute puppies sometimes, buy me, buy me!

And finally, everyone ready to flower, now how do I persuade the sun to stay out for longer than a day??

How does your garden grow this week, hop on over to Mammasaurus to see some how everyone's garden is doing this week.

Learning to Drive - My Magic Moment this week

My father asked me what I would like for my 17th birthday, I said excitedly, driving lessons please!  He said no, to this day I have no idea why, I was asking for 3 or 6, whatever was on offer, I can't remember what he got me for my 17th birthday.

I did take those 6 driving lessons, I wanted to learn to drive, something we all did after our 17th birthdays and a skill for life.  I remember my first lesson well, the instructor was an older man who watched me run across the road from my house, I got in the car then he blasted me with "what have you got on your feet!!"  I had my usual high heels, I was never out of them in those days unless I was at the track!  I offered to totter run back across the road to change but he bellowed that we didn't have time.  I was 17, now I would have got out of the car, saying it's my time buddy and I'll be right back! 

We finally got away after he showed me where everything was in the car, A, B, C - accelerator, brake, clutch is how I first remembered which pedals were which.  The whole family was there watching me, they were hoping I would kangeroo up the road, sorry I couldn't oblige, I was determined to glide away smoothly - like Ginger Rogers - I managed later to reverse in high heels just like she did!

After my 6 lessons, I decided he was not the instructor for me, he was gruff and always seemed in a bad mood, but then his nerves must have been shot driving learners around all day and into the evenings!

I left the lessons for a while after that, I lived and worked in central London and used the buses & tubes plus the odd taxi when we all crammed in to make it cost effective.  I was never going to able to afford to buy a car with all the costs involved and where would I park it, where I lived the parking had either parking meters or parking permits.  So that was that for a while.

My next instructor was a woman, whose style was to slap your hand if you were doing something wrong, this shocked me the first time as I had no idea it was coming!  After a few slaps, I decided to terminate our agreement as I was in danger of slapping her back.  I do wonder if anyone ever did, unacceptable behaviour, if she had done that to my child, assault comes to mind!

By then I had met Mr J who said he would teach me and he did, he was calm and patient with this now 20 year old who still wore her high heels, although not for driving now as driving scuffed and ruined her leather heels!  I drove wherever we went, I had now moved down to the south coast with him where the roads were wider and I felt at ease with driving in such beautiful surroundings and countryside.

The day came for my test, my friend had been pestering me for weeks about the date, I didn't want to give myself anymore stress so didn't tell her.  It took her 7 times to pass and I really thought I was in for the long haul!  I drove us in Mr J's Alfa Romeo to the test centre and waited nervously.  The test began and as soon as I had done the mirror, signal, manovere, all was clear, I started to gingerly edge out into the empty road when a car came from no-where & sped past, I asked the instructor if I should just get out now as I was sure I had already failed.

An hour later, I was back at the test centre, Mr J no-where to be seen, I drove the car around the nearby streets (only he had a mobile in those days for business).  When I finally found him in a nearby cafe he said he knew I would pass so he didn't wait! 

The next morning I was off in the car up the M23 to visit my mum at home in London.  It was a planned visit, I could have taken the train but I had a driving licence now!  It was my first time on the motorway and quite a daunting ride especially with no map.   All went well until the car went dark, what was it, a huge lorry had come up behind me fast, it was a tense ride but once I hit central London I knew my way and my driving duck had been broken!

A few months later Mr J bought me my first car, a pale blue VW Beetle, I loved that car, it was old but ran like a dream and it was mine.  I was so sad to part with it when I had my first child, I wonder where she is now, hopefully someone has restored her, we're both vintage now!

I'm linking this post up with The Olivers Madhouse and Magic Moments.


How Does Your Garden Grow 3

Here comes the rain, do do do do, here comes the rain, I said "it's alright", who sang that, it is not alright!  It is nearly the end of May and still rain, wind, coooold!  Anyone else getting really cheesed off with the weather??

This week nothing much has happened in the garden.  The blossom is fully out on the trees and starting to fall now, the rainy, windy week smattered with the odd ray of sunshine thankfully didn't wipe them out completely before the bees have their chance with them.

More Aquilegia have shown their beautiful faces, more purple and a delicate pink with ruffled centres. 

I've planted out some ready potted flowers to fill in some gaps, a few Lobelia and Marigolds.  I flung some Calendula seeds I saved from last year onto a couple of sparse beds and they have sprouted, very slowly but they are there.  I look forward every year to their sunshine yellow and blazing orange daisy-like blooms which go on and on all "summer".

All my trees in containers that I planted from seed a 2-3 years ago have all come to life again.  I really need to find somewhere to plant them this year, the plan was to create a memory garden, we tried once a few years ago and the local rabbits stripped the foliage bare in days!

Our Hazel
 The Tomato and Courgette seedlings are nearly all planted out into containers, hanging basket and gro-bags, but as it has been so very cold for the time of year, they haven't grown at all, they seem to be suspended in animation, we need sunshine!

Outside of the garden, the fields are golden yellow, bursting with crops, interspersed with green fields, the stuff of oil paintings, they make the landscape so very pretty.  I found these Bluebells hidden amongst the nettles when I jumped out of the car to snap the scenery for another post.

And look who's come up and so fast..... the Forget-Me-Not seeds I had sown indoors last week to plant at TC's nursery in memory of Matilda Mae, so teeny, so delicate, hopefully they will be as gorgeous as the ones in a corner of our garden that come up year after year. 

How does your garden grow this week, hop on over to Mammasaurus to see some how everyone's garden is doing this week.

Beauty-full - Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm

Elemis is an amazing, leading luxury British spa and skincare brand I have been using since its early days.  As with all the brands I favour, I cherry pick the ones I love and that suit my skin.

Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm is a powerful, super-cleansing, luxurious balm that will sweep away make-up and remove impurities without stripping or drying the skin.  It is suitable for most skin types but especially favours the normal to drier types and those of us who look for anti-aging qualities.  It contains a fusion of fragrant oils and waxes including a signature blend of geranium, lavender, chamomile (my 3 favourite oils!), eucalyptus, ho wood, orange, menthol and clove which is blended into the highest quality shea butter, wheatgerm, oat, coconut, starflower and elderberry oils.  Finally this is all perfectly infused with mimosa and rose floral waxes which soften the skin, restoring elasticity and tone.

If you have never smelt or used floral waxes you are in for a treat, concentrated.divine.aromas, I have used them when making my own balms and soaps, a very luxurious item that adds richness, texture and fragrance.

The top ingredient throughout the whole Elemis Pro-Collagen range is Padina Pavonica, a new one on me, known for its anti-ageing properties, it also improves the skin's elasticity and firmness.

How to use:

For daily cleansing, smooth over face (avoiding the eyes, I always use a separate eye make up remover product), neck and décolleté, gently massaging into the skin, moisten fingers and continue to massage before removing with the cleansing towel (dampened) that comes with the balm, this also has the added benefit of gently exfoliating the skin which, in turn, will improve the absorption of your day and night creams.  Your skin will feel smooth, hydrated and comfortable.

The Balm can also be used as a treatment mask for a deep cleanse, smooth generously over face and neck with dry fingers and massage in to warm the skin. Leave to melt into your very grateful skin for 10 minutes.  Wet the cleansing towel with (not too) hot water and place over your face to steam for a couple of minutes as an optional extra.  Use the towel to gently wipe away any excess balm cleanser.

I have been oil cleansing my face for years with a hot cloth, I learnt this from a beautiful lady at the salon my mother used to frequent in London, her skin was flawless and she was in her 70's.  The Elemis cleansing balm has so many wonderful nourishing and anti-ageing ingredients and I've seen a noticeable improvement in my skin which has been "normal" forever but now is heading over to the drier side, so I need all the extra help I can get! 

I purchased mine as part of a kit, but Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm retails at Time to Spa for around £39.50 for a generous 105g of product. 


Manners, How do You do??

I'm not all that bothered by people's manners on a daily basis, if you don't want to hold that door open for me young man that's fine, but I find that most do anyway.  Maybe it's my winning smile (ha!) or that "hold the door for me or else" look I give sometimes when I'm struggling with many bags.  I am no longer grappling (again) with a buggy (and to those with double buggies, you have my deepest admiration) which, along with no more daytime nappies, has been very liberating to say the least.

But I digress, manners...  As parents we try to teach our emerging children the way of the world and how to fit in and be polite and well-mannered.  A few weeks ago an Education Minister complained that a lot of nurseries are failing to teach children good manners, by which she meant they are unable to socialise correctly or listen to the teacher.  This doesn't seem to be the case at TC's nursery I'm pleased to say.

It is in a child's inherent nature to be "naughty" and to get into mischief, TC has that look when asked to do something, I can see it, it says "I am going to look you clear in the eye and not do whatever it is you want me to do until I see fit!".  But we are saying please and thank you to everything and so far she is doing well in that department.  She makes great eye contact and I know in time she will stop interrupting every thought I have and learn they it's ok to wait if she doesn't get everything NOW (I do remember this with my own mum, being told to "wait a minute" was a frequent occurrence!).

I'm not sure yet, though, if I'm going to teach her the "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all", she can already convey her displeasure with that look, which she has definitely got from her daddy!

I can ignore things like a friend or colleague answering their mobile when I'm talking to them, in fact I'd prefer if you did answer your phone, it might be important especially if you have children and some things cannot be avoided in this technological world we are all part of.  It does appears to be a something that probably won't be going away any time soon either.  Even my 2 year old can text and use my mobile, I never know whether to applaud this or be slightly scared of how easily toddlers take to today's gadgets!

I could list a few otherinstances but when you analyse things like being forced to listen to someone else's music on public transport, it does seem a bit trivial, my answer is to move if you can (no not dance, although that would be a great outlet for pent up stress on the tube!) - these, like answering your mobile are part of today's modern manners or lack of them.

One thing that does irk me though is courtesy on the road, when I let a driver through or whatever and they simply drive on as if it was their right of way anyway, acting as if they haven't even seen you.  Makes me want to wind my window down at times!

So how do you do on the traditional or modern manners scale??  In everyday life some niceties can just get lost in the hustle and bustle so maybe it's not that we're impolite, just rushed and we "forget" our manners?? 


How does Your Garden Grow

Not much to report from the garden this week, the rain and wind came back again, soaking my Apple and Cherry blossoms, they seem to be intact still so really am hoping for some warm sun to bring them on more and let the bees do their work!

The seedlings are all doing well and some have been planted on into larger pots.  Some things are taking so long to germinate, I planted 3 differing heat chilli seeds and none came up so I planted more on top of those and they all popped up, then guess what, the others popped up too, so now I have a lot of chilli's, am already plotting what to do with them if they make it to fruiting and what I can freeze!  No Scotch Bonnet yet though, was really looking forward to cooking with those!

The tomatoes and Courgettes are all coming along nicely and will find their way into grow bags, pots and a hanging basket full of flowing Cherry Tomatoes - well that's the plan anyway!

Apart from the Dandelions and Borage, the only plant attempting to flower in the garden are the Acquilegia, every year they come up, the seed blown from a neighbouring garden as I know I didn't plant them myself.  The gloriously deep purple colour is magnificent and I can see some pink and white specimens too.  I am an avid seed saver and every year I collect the seeds from anything that will give up its seeds to me, it's a fascination I have had from childhood, I love showing TC how to collect seeds, of course she wants to eat them so am ultra careful as some seeds can be poisonous.

We're popping some sunflower seeds in pots this week, I don't hold out much hope but this year TC is ready to understand the seed in the pot, water, watch it germinate and grow into a flower, then if we even get that far, collect the seeds and do it all again next year.  I have put my cosmic order in for a warm, balmy September to make up for all the rain and snow thus far!

I am also planting some Forget Me Not seeds in memory of Matilda Mae, if they seed successfully I will plant them out at TC's nursery who I'm hoping will do some fundraising for the Lullaby Trust.  I want to scatter some seeds there too and let nature do its thing - it seems a fitting place.

How does your garden grow this week, hop on over to Mammasaurus to see some how everyone's garden is doing this week.

How Does Your Garden Grow - My Magic Moment this week

A new Linky popped up in my inbox the other day from Mammasaurus and although I don't have much time to join in many Linky's, my love of photography wins out every time, I may not be the best out there but to me each photograph I take is a personal memory, a snapshot of life here and now.

Our garden has been late starting like most others this year, last year the wind took off all the blossoms from my apple and cherry trees, 6 trees in total, all usually laden with glistening cherries and bursting with apples until well into the Autumn, last year nothing.

So with the Apple and Cherry blossom starting to peep their flowers from their tight buds, I have faith this year we will see fruition!  It's always a magic moment for me when the garden starts springing into life, every leaf, bud and seedling gives me so much pleasure.  This year I had already started the garden when the second load of snow fell, blotting out all my hard work, thankfully some well established plants have survived.

The primroses and labyrnum are still hanging onto their Spring blooms and my Honeysuckle has weathered the winter and is now growing like a weed, I hope its flowers are prolific again this year, with Lavender and Honeysuckle the garden smells divine in the late summer sun.

The seedlings are doing well now albeit late, I'm only growing cherry tomatoes, larger tomatoes, courgettes, chilli's in varying degrees of hotness, basil, parsley and oregano.

We have a patch of grass that grows Dandelion's on it every year, we watch them turn from sunshine yellow flowers into puffballs that we always blow around and make a wish or two.

And my baby conker tree has grown and sprouted its giant leaves on its stick frame again, a neighbours child threw the conker over a few years ago and it rooted, I don't have the heart to uproot it and besides one day TC might need some conkers!

How does your garden grow, hop on over to Mammasaurus to see some other beautiful blooms.

Also linking this up with lovely Jaime at The Olivers Madhouse and Magic Moments, seeing everything sprouting is my magic moment this week.

The Gallery - the Weekend

I had decided this year to try to attend as many Foodie Festivals, Farmers Markets, etc as I can now that my girl is over 2½.  But all good intentions and with her starting nursery, potty training, et al all  arriving at once plus the seemingly endless bad weather this year, I thought I would make the Foodies Festival at Brighton Hove Lawns on the May Day Bank holiday weekend my first foray into the foodie fiesta this year.

I've also wanted to join in with the Gallery linky for a while, I absolutely love photography and have since childhood when I helped my dad in his darkroom to develop prints.

Sadly Saturday was a bit of a wash out weather wise with rain and wind but this did not dampen my enthusiasm and I set off sans famille to snap some fabulous food and drink.   Once the family had arrived we sat down for our very welcome glass of Lanson champagne, absolutely divine and I had another later in the afternoon just because! 

For our taster meals, we chose a deliciously fragrant fish curry from Fishy Fishy and Jaime's nachos with various dips.   We were sat next to Gennaro Contaldo and family, Jaime Oliver's mentor and partner in Jaime's Italian, in the VIP tent, he was charm personified, signing programmes for all who approached him.  His show was quite brilliant, packed to the rafters with everyone enthralled by his culinary skills, he managed to produce 3 dishes in what seemed like no time at all.

We then grabbed some coffee's at the Coffee Bean Co. and headed home as the weather wasn't giving up any time soon but...

See the full weekend's antics and more photo's on my foodie blog Nutritious Deliciousness.