Garden Birds

No pictures, I’m afraid, just words today. Since hanging a small bird feeder on the plum tree outside the kitchen window last week, we’ve been paying far more attention to identifying which birds we see (and hear) in our garden.

Squalling seagulls swooping here there and everywhere are a given, of course – after all we live by the sea – and crows and wood pigeons are never far away with their cawing and cooing. We have blackbirds – both black males and brown females – and sparrows and dunnocks aplenty. I’ve occasionally seen a great tit or two, and there are coal tits and blue tits, and the other day we spied two goldfinches with their red heads and flashes of gold on the wing.

So my smile this week is not only that we can see and hear all these different species of birds in our garden, but also that I’m learning to recognise them again – I love living so closely attuned to nature, it feels good to be part of it every day 🙂

Weekly Smile

Strawberry Surprise

We’ve been taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to our garden since moving in to our house last October, carefully letting all new green shoots grow enough so we can decide if we have bona-fide plants or weeds, and so whether they stay or go, and it’s amazing what has appeared out of the earth so far.

And look, to our surprise we seem to have some strawberries growing in a flower bed! Whether or not they’re ever going to ripen red enough to make any edible fruit is unclear at the moment, but for now the promise of the possibility over the summer is enough to make us smile in anticipation 🙂

Weekly Smile

Mango and Ginger Cake Dessert

After a week of warm sunny weather, it’s much cooler today and we’ve had nothing but rain all day today. Bummer. Good for the garden though.

I was sitting on the sofa tonight watching TV and I fancied something sweet to eat. I checked the fridge, but found nothing tempting there. I looked in the larder cupboard, and found nothing there to fit the bill either. So I decided to make something using store-cupboard ingredients.

I took a tin of mango in juice and chopped the fruit into bite-size chunks, laying them in the bottom of a Pyrex dish. I quickly mixed up some basic cake mixture and flavoured it with ginger powder, vanilla essence and a little of the mango juice from the tin. I poured the batter over the fruit and stuck it into the oven.

While the cake was baking, I boiled up the remaining juice from the mango tin with a slug of apple juice, a dash of sugar and some more ginger powder and reduced it until it made a thickish syrup. Once the cake came out of the oven I pricked it all over with a skewer, and poured the syrup over the top and left it to cool a little.

I didn’t leave it for too long though, and was soon tucking in to a substantial portion warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream… and it was yum! Guess who has a big contented smile on her face now, as well as something sweet in her belly.

Nice yummy surprise for my husband when he gets home from work at 10pm too! 🙂

Weekly Smile

Brightening my Day

We’ve just had Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May 2020) and I’m very aware that my mental health is not great just now.

My motivation for doing anything much, in tandem with my melancholy mood, has been pretty low lately. I’ve been pushing myself to do ‘fun’ things to try to force myself out of it, bringing temporary relief at times but overall I feel I’m failing miserably at keeping my head above water. So while the weather is nice today I’m simply spending time pottering about aimlessly in the garden, letting go of the stranglehold grip on my own feelings and just letting the colours and smells and sounds of nature work their magic on me.

We had a lot of rain over the last week so all the flowers are looking bright and plump and the foliage is a really rich green; everything looks sated and content. I notice the old roses I cut back so drastically before the winter are finally starting to bud, and I’m relieved to see the large fuchsia bush by the gate I also hard-pruned almost to the ground is filling out nicely. Not having killed off either the fuchsia or the roses the first year we live here is certainly a good reason to bring a soft smile to my face.

As well as the ‘frequent flyer’ wood pigeons, seagulls and crows never far from sight we also have several blackbirds visiting regularly, the drab brown understated females as well as the striking black males with their orange beaks. And for the past couple of days I’ve also seen a few delicately-tinted blue tits flitting about hither and thither, pale yellow breasts and soft blue backs catching the sunlight as they dart about. Learning anew to recognise some of the childhood birds I now see regularly again makes me smile a little, too.

So in a week where I’ve been struggling to smile much at all without frantically forcing it through sheer willpower and definace against the lingering lure of depression, today I’m finding surprising solace in my garden by simply letting myself be – allowing myself to feel down when I feel down, and in turn feeling powerfully rewarded by the magic of nature’s own remedy helping to brighten my day.

Weekly Smile

Meconopsis Cambrica

This week’s Weekly Smile comes from waking up this morning to the first of the lovely yellow poppies growing in our garden deciding to start to flower.

These I believe are Meconopsis Cambrica (also known as Welsh poppies) and their sunny open smiles just made me smile too 😀

It’s so reassuring that nature is oblivious to coronavirus lockdown and is simply carrying on regardless, helping to keep us all sane in this increasingly crazy world…

Nesting Pigeon

I have a wood pigeon nesting in a tree in my garden – she sits tight as her mate fetches and carries back and fore, and she keeps an eye on me as I spend a lot of time outside just now while the weather is nice. I’ve got used to her being there, and I’m hoping her eggs hatch successfully – apparently baby pigeons (or squabs) are ugly little things and I don’t ever remember seeing one in the flesh before, but the idea of having a pigeon family choosing our garden to make babies in is my Weekly Smile for this week 🙂

Head Shot

A head shot of me taken with the selfie feature on my phone, sitting in our back garden the other day after a busy morning weeding. I’ve got my reading glasses on because I can’t see the phone properly without them and inevitably my hair’s a bit wind-swept but my smile is genuine – I felt grateful and happy to be enjoying the fresh air outdoors, so took a quick pic to send on to my kids just to share my day with them. I’m not usually keen on pics of me, but right now it’s the only way we can ‘see’ each other so needs must! 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Head

The Little Things That Count

My Weekly Smile this week is made up of a selection of some of the little everyday things to be grateful for in life during this difficult time of coronavirus crisis and lockdown limbo – so for me, that includes tasty comfort food in the form of chicken stew and creamy garlic mash, beautiful bright flowers cheering up my conservatory on a spring-showery day, a multitude of yellow daffodils waving in abundance in my front garden, and the beautiful blue skies of the Scottish Highlands while out for a walk close to home ❤