Shadows

I was sitting having a cup of tea on the garden bench and couldn’t help but notice the beautiful shadows of the lavender on the arm – perfect for yesterday’s Weekly Prompt challenge of ‘shadows’ πŸ™‚

Guests

I forgot what it’s like to host guests

Clean the house so it looks at its best

Tidy up random stuff

Make it look good enough

Hide the worst of our everyday mess

I’d got used to our lock-down delays

Quiet living and insular days

Covid curses no more

Cast bad spells on my door

Feels so strange to return to old ways

So we welcome old friends with a smile

And remark that it’s been quite a while

With great caution we start

With new joy in our heart

To embrace this post-Covid lifestyle

Weekly Prompt: Visitors

Weekly Prompt: Garden

Two years ago we didn’t even have a garden, we were living in a one-bedroom first floor flat in London with no outside space at all.

And now here we are in a three bedroom bungalow in Inverness with garden front and back, and find ourselves slap bang in the middle of a pretty steep green-fingered learning curve. There are multiple really old rose bushes in the front garden just coming into bloom now, so I’m learning (generally by trial and error) how best to look after them and everything else plant-wise we inherited when we bought the house.

I’ve always loved spending time in nature and absolutely love having a garden, both in the passive and active sense, and our intention long-term is to grow some fruit and vegetables as well as flowers and shrubs so that our outdoor space can be practical as well as pretty. I’ve already added several herbs – lavender and thyme and rosemary and lemon balm – and intend to add a lot more scented plants as I go along.

Over this last year and a half since the Covid pandemic changed everything I’ve really appreciated having ready access to so much outdoor space, and my garden has become my little sanctuary in more precious ways than I could ever have imagined. I regularly cut the grass and pull the weeds and prune and dead-head and generally look after everything as best I can, only to find to my delight that as I nurture my garden it nurtures me in return.

British horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) said that ‘The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies’ and that’s exactly what I’m experiencing here – my plan for the future is I’m definitely going to become an old lady who potters in the garden, and I’m happy to report it’s a healthy habit I’m already starting to build now ❀

Weekly Prompt: Garden

Home

Home…

A nineteen thirties bungalow in style

Mock-Tudor boards on double-fronted bays

Old paint-peeled rendered walls that made me smile

And fall in love in oh-so-many ways

Its shabby chic and part-neglected air

Called out to me to make this house my own

Look far beyond its age without a care

Ignore its dated dΓ©cor overtone

And now we live together in this space

Eclectic symbiosis oft appears Β 

Where partial changes slowly taking place

Bring modern touches to the faded years

I love the way the blend of old and new

Creates a loving home for me and you… ❀

Weekly Prompts: Old and New

Both Weathered and Unexpected

It’s probably a bit late for both Weekly Prompt challenges but I only found this guy today and just had to share him – better late than never!

This is a sandstone effigy of a knight, and along with one small section of sandstone pillar still standing in a small, very old graveyard he is all that remains of a Dominican Friary built here in 1233. He has no arms any more, and his head and chest are extremely weathered, but if you look closely you can still see the design on his belt buckle holding his scabbard and long sword by his left hip. On his right side there is a shorter stabbing sword or big knife, and looking behind his shoulders there is still a hint of chain-mail patterning cut into the stone.

He’s maybe not the clearest of effigies to make out but the poor guy is just shy of 900 years old and sandstone is not the most hard-wearing substance on the planet, so I’d say he’s looking pretty good in the circumstances, even his knobbly knees. Especially as the friary itself was disbanded and destroyed during the reformation in the mid-16th Century, with many of the original stones being re-used for major buildings elsewhere in the town, so he’s lucky to have survived.

I’d decided today to explore two of the three old burial grounds within a stone’s throw of each other in the middle of Inverness – Blackfriars is the smallest and most hidden from view of them all, tucked in behind a rather ugly relatively modern telephone exchange building, and I’d never actually been there before so finding a 13th Century stone knight still standing strong was a pretty cool find. I imagine he’d be pretty spooky at night though, looming out of the wall like that πŸ™‚

Weekly Prompt: Unexpected

Weekly Prompt: Weathered

Favourites

Hmmm… I’m not good at favourites… Well, not consistently, anyway. My favourites tend to be more fly-by-night than firm fixtures in life, dependent on circumstance and context and timing, as much as anything.

For example, what is my favourite chocolate? Milk chocolate, for sure, but other than that – usually it depends on my mood. I do prefer good quality milk chocolate though, not something made with excess milk-fat then over-sweetened and with negligible cocoa solids – I find cheaply-made chocolate is often such a disappointment both in texture and in taste. Give me Green & Blacks 37% organic milk chocolate any day – Mmmm… ❀

My favourite flower? I like traditional flowers, and usually prefer them growing to cut, so my favourite bloom tends to change variously with the seasons. And even then it depends on whether I choose a visual favourite or a scented favourite or a ‘seasonal first’ favourite… However small and humble, there’s nothing quite like the first snowdrop heralding the beginning of the end of winter. Or the first crocus of spring, or the first rose of summer…

My favourite season? We live in a temperate climate so usually I’m happy with whichever season I’m in at any given time of year, although I must admit this particular spring has not been the best here in Scotland – wet and windy and a lot colder than usual. But I like that we do HAVE four clear seasons here, with reasonably-easy-to-deal-with changes in temperature and weather to go with all four seasonal variations, so that nature adjusts herself accordingly.

Oh wait, I’ve just thought of a proper, permanent favourite – the house we live in now is definitely my favourite home ever! It’s the first one in my life I’ve had any real say in, the first one I chose for myself (well we chose it together, but I did get to choose) and it may not be perfect by other people’s standards but its beautiful imperfections mean it’s perfect for us. It’s probably going to take us til retirement to get it just the way we want it, but we prefer working on it ourselves over time so inevitably that slows down the overall process a bit.

Weekly Prompts: Favourites

Last Week…

The Weekend Prompt at Weekly Prompts this week is Last Week… Hmm… Let me see now… What might count as highlights in this crazy busy world of mine right now? (Spot the sarcasm…)

Last week I spent quite a lot of time in my garden again (surprise, surprise!), mainly weeding and planning and monitoring the progress of all the plants. My yellow azalea is now flowering, but the red one sitting right next to it is still a bit shy to open up. The single little colony of white bluebells are probably looking their best just now and the plentiful blue bluebells making their presence felt all over are still going strong…

What else? Um… One day last week I actually went into a proper shop that was not a supermarket – woo-hoo! In the end I didn’t buy anything but I really enjoyed browsing again for things other than food and essentials. It felt a bit weird to begin with but I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it again soon enough. No, thinking about it I went into TWO shops, because I also visited a toy shop and bought my youngest grandson a gift for his sixth birthday πŸ™‚

Oh, and the other day I decided finally to paint my wooden garden bench. I bought the paint a couple of weeks ago but the spring weather has been a bit inconsistent so I never seem to have two dry days together to get it done. Instead I took the bench in to the conservatory, let the wood dry out properly, gave it a good clean and a sand and have given it a first coat of paint. Now that’s fully dry I’ll need to give it a second coat… maybe tomorrow?

Yeah, life isn’t exactly fast-paced at the moment as we start to come out of the pandemic, but that’s OK with me… πŸ™‚

From Buxom Blonde to Menopausal Matron

For years I was a natural buxom blonde. Natural in that my boobs are big without any intervention and my hair is blonde at source. In the past I suppose I had a reasonably nice curvy figure (although having three kids by 21 left their mark) and as I got older I used to dye my dulling dark blonde hair lighter to try to re-capture that youthful brightness. For the longest time I looked young for my age, too, so people would see me and judge accordingly. In many people’s eyes big boobs plus blonde hair equals bimbo – vacuous, dumb, shallow, whatever the particular stereotype du jour.

It used to be quite fun to see the look on people’s faces when I surprised them with the reality that I’m actually quite smart – I gained a first class honours degree at 40. Or parents would say to me in a patronising, parental tone ‘Wait til you have kids, then you’ll see!’ and I’d point out I already had kids, I’d been a mum since I was 18. My voluptuous soft curves often belied my underlying physical strength – beneath my layer of fatty tissue I also have well-built muscle. On initial acquaintance for various reasons I often simply wasn’t the person people assumed I was, and for many years that social dissonance almost became part of my identity – I was often able to use the stereotype to my advantage.

But as time passed it bothered me more and more to so easily be dismissed by others as irrelevant in a snap judgement just because of how I looked. It stopped being fun and instead I found it increasingly frustrating. In my late forties I stopped dying my hair and deliberately lost that ‘blonde bombshell’ look I’d kept for so long. And now I’m in my late fifties my once-shapely figure is more menopausal matronly than sexy hourglass, my dark blonde hair is greying and it seems the old stereotype no longer applies. So am I taken more seriously now? Nope, not a bit of it – it seems I’m still routinely dismissed as an irrelevance in society at large, but now it’s because of my advancing age rather than being a buxom blonde! πŸ™‚

Weekly Prompt: Advantages

PS After publishing this post, it was brought to my attention that it would be a suitable answer for this week’s Fandango’s Provocative Question, which asks:

What impression do you think you give when you first meet someone?

So I’m cheating and using my post to answer this challenge, too! πŸ™‚