Weekly Smile: 26 July 2021

My biggest reasons to smile this last week or so include:-

My husband has recently turned 60, so we had a lovely little family celebration with colourful balloons and banners and traditional birthday party finger food – sandwiches, sausage rolls, crisps and other savoury nibbles, followed by chocolate cake with six candles (one for each decade). What fun!

My son came to visit for an extended long weekend that included being here for the birthday celebrations – due to ongoing Covid restrictions across the country this is the first time we’ve managed to meet up this year, and it was so wonderful to see him again. Hopefully it won’t be so long before our next reunion ❤

The new bed we’d ordered was delivered last week, and oh, it’s sooo… comfortable to sleep on. Although I don’t always sleep too well so it’s probably just as accurate to say it’s sooo… comfortable to lie awake on in the middle of the night! 🙂

Weekly Smile

June Strawberries

We’ve got some lovely strawberries growing in the garden this year – perhaps a little later than we had expected after such a cold wet spring, but today the first fully red berry has finally ripened and has now been picked.

We’re still very much fledgling gardeners so we’re really pleased with the results of our labours. Big smiles all round – Yum! 🙂

Weekly Smile

Today’s Canal Walk

While the weather’s been nice I’ve been spending a lot of time in the garden, so haven’t been out on as many walks as usual.

But this afternoon I decided to forego the weeding and instead went for a wander along the banks of the Caledonian Canal here in Inverness. The change of scenery did me the world of good, and of course I took my camera with me – to my surprise I took almost 300 images and almost used up a whole battery charge by the time I got home.

I really enjoyed my leisurely walk on such a lovely June afternoon, and it feels really good to have taken a whole new collection of photographs from beyond my garden – definitely something to smile about! 🙂

And as a bonus I got home to find Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge this week has the option of posting images of water or landscapes – perfect!

Weekly Smile

Rhododendron Blooms

A follow-on Weekly Smile from last week’s single rhododendron bud that was finally showing some promise 🙂

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far, and delightfully my hesitant-to-date rhododendron bush has now decided to bloom all its flowers at once. I really love their deep pink colour, although they have a slightly purplish tinge to them that doesn’t seem to pick up well in my camera – but the bees are happily buzzing around so all in all I’ve got plenty to smile about ❤

Flower of the Day

Rhododendron Bud, At Last!

When we first moved in to our house just over a year and a half ago, there was a small unkempt and overgrown rhododendron bush effectively blocking the pathway round the side of the house, growing right up against the conservatory wall. I cut it back quite vigourously that first autumn to clear the path, understanding that we would no doubt lose the following year’s flowering but deciding it was worth the temporary loss. Sure enough, we had no flowers last spring/ summer, but thankfully the plant itself soon settled back into normal seasonal growth.

Over the last few months I’ve watched new leaf buds appear, along with a few potential flower buds with their initial green growth. The buds grew larger, and larger still, but with no signs of opening up. I’ve watched other rhododendron bushes in the area flowering, yet for some reason mine remained tight shut. I wondered if it was possibly a lack of light, or a lack of nutrients (the bush is growing beneath a tree), or some other unknown factor I’m as yet unaware of. I realised with disappointment there was no indication even of what colour the flowers might be, and being a relatively ‘new’ gardener I was completely stumped as to what to do…

But this morning, after day after day of pouring rain saturating absolutely everything in sight, to my delight I noticed that four buds are finally beginning to open – woo-hoo – and it looks like the flowers will be a deep pink, assuming they continue to open out fully. I was so unbelievably excited to see them at long last I stuck on my wellies with my pyjamas to go out to the garden to take a few pictures, so I suppose the promise of my first ever rhododendron flowers definitely has to be my Weekly Smile for this week! 🙂

Weekly Smile

Flower of the Day

Hugs All Round

From Monday 17th May here in the Highland Region of Scotland we moved from Level 3 down to Level 2 Covid restrictions, which means lots of different things for lots of people. For me it means we are now allowed to visit in very small numbers indoors instead of being restricted to the garden, and we are allowed to hug people again!

Seriously, being allowed to hug the people I love most in the world is such a wonderful gift, my ageing parents and my adult children and my growing grandchildren… We’re normally quite a touchy-feely family so it’s been really difficult NOT to hug for months on end, always keeping our distance while only meeting up outside.

So without a shadow of a doubt that’s my Weekly Smile for this week – being able to hug my family again ❤ 🙂

Almost a Rainbow of Colour

I’ve been feeling a bit down lately, physically and emotionally, so spending time pottering around in my garden most days is proving to be one of life’s greatest pleasures for me at the moment.

In spite of some really intense weather for this time of the year – last week saw extended periods of pelting rain, intermittent hail, and even a sprinkling of snow – I’ve still succeeded in dodging the spring showers for long enough to get some weeding done, break a sweat digging out a few stubborn rhizome root-stalks that needed some serious excavation to remove, and of course cut the grass. The garden always looks so much more cared for with the grass cut, even though keeping the flower beds weed-free remains a constant work in progress!

Maybe not a huge amount achieved, granted, but with all the bad weather we’ve had so far this month it’s been enough to warrant a very welcome smile of satisfaction on my part. The plants certainly seem to have enjoyed the refreshing rain, and I’ve enjoyed photographing them too – this week I’ve almost achieved a rainbow of colours to share, with a little artistic license allowed as to the exact colour of the orangey-yellow meconopsis! 🙂

Weekly Smile

Weekly Smile: In the Garden

I’ve not found it so easy to find any smiles to share over the last couple of weeks, but even though the weather’s not been the best over the last few days and I’m still not feeling at my best health-wise, I’ve nevertheless made an effort lately to get out into the garden as often as possible to start some serious re-arranging of stuff.

When we first moved into our new home 18 months ago (a lovely 1930s bungalow in need of a fair bit of tlc) our priority inevitably focused on the interior of the house – and anyway, it seemed sensible to leave the garden pretty much as it was for at least the first full year to see what plants appeared, to best understand where the sun rose and set across all four seasons, and to give ourselves time to work out how we might choose to use the garden space in the long-term.

So we’ve been making plans to make some big changes in the back garden this year, and have made a good start by finding new homes for both old and fragile glass greenhouses so now have two empty spaces waiting expectantly for whatever comes next. As well as the two ex-greenhouse spaces there are also still two old sheds in situ – the largest wooden structure most definitely needs to be replaced entirely, it’s clearly not been properly weather-tight for years so is slowly rotting away from within. But we want its drier replacement to be re-sited on the other side of the garden, requiring some ground-work to be done in advance.

We need to move the current washing line, shift the active built-in breeze-block compost heap, and get rid of a large old tree stump to make way for the new shed, as yet un-sourced, which will sit on the footprint of one of the old greenhouses and then some. The sunniest, most sheltered spot in the back garden, currently occupied by the old shed and the ghost footprint of the second old greenhouse, will eventually become a patio area, and a replacement rotary washing line will be re-positioned on the site of the second, smaller metal shed, which will be repurposed elsewhere as a bike shed. A vegetable plot will be introduced. Flower beds will need altered in size and shape and some re-sited altogether. So not surprisingly that’s all going to take some serious re-organising to achieve and some time for us to get there.

In the meantime we’ve been busying ourselves outside for the past few days making a start on the ground-works. So far we’ve taken apart the old unused brick BBQ – the mortar was so crumbling in parts it really wasn’t too difficult to disassemble – and while my husband was at work I’ve spent some time starting to chip off the residual mortar with a cold chisel and hammer. I’ve also managed to stabilise the wobbly garden steps with the help of a breeze block or two filched from the base of the greenhouse, and have removed a rickety wooden railing that was becoming more of a hindrance than a help.

I’ve replaced some old unsightly rotting wooden border edging with some solid re-purposed narrow concrete facings, also taken from the old greenhouse base, and have already dug up and re-planted some early spring bulbs for next year. I’m going to have to re-position quite a few mature plants this year, so I’ve also spent time sitting quietly on the garden bench with a cup of tea surveying the situation and making even more plans. Because four months post-Covid I still tire quite easily, and still get breathless quite quickly, so I find I have to rest a lot, quite often. But still I can get out there and do something, so I do what I can.

So my Weekly Smile for this week is just that, no more no less – I’ve been getting out there into the garden and doing what I can, health permitting, and I’m really enjoying it. The focus on carrying out manual physical activity in nature helps me feel better emotionally, however tired and however breathless I get. The effort is worth it, the feel-good factor rewards are so worth it… I’m worth it 🙂

Crochet Bunting Finished!

I posted a few close-up pics a couple of weeks ago showing some of the unfinished crochet triangles I was working on, with the eventual intention of making them up into bunting. I’d already completed one small strand of 11 (with smaller triangles) as a kind of trial run, so as I was happy with how that turned out I then made a second slightly larger strand of 17 bigger triangles, which also turned out surprisingly well.

So yesterday I sat out in the garden and stitched together the last strand of 17 larger triangles – here are the two longer lengths of bunting sitting folded on the garden bench, all ready to brighten up my dull and boring garden fence (which badly needs sanding down and re-painting this year) whenever anyone visits in our garden. I love it when creative experiments like this turn out well – big smiles all round! 🙂

Weekly Smile

The Healing Power of Nature

Honestly, this week I’d have felt lost without having my precious garden to escape to. It’s helped give me a proper focal sense of purpose during my first full week of unemployment due to redundancy, an actual, practical physical space to spend time in welcome activity as well as providing me with an abstract emotional passive space to process how I feel about not having a job any more.

This week I’ve had ample sunshine and fresh air and feel-good exercise and a quiet, subtle reminder that whatever else this pandemic has put a stop to, nature has endured throughout. Over this past year of repressive Covid restrictions and devastations the seasons have turned as ever, from spring to summer to autumn to winter and now back to spring again. The world still turns on its axis, familiar and free, and life goes on regardless…

So for me, I’d have to say that the healing power of nature has won the week, helping to keep me smiling through an otherwise difficult few days 🙂

Flower of the Day

Who Won the Week

Weekly Smile