Archive for April, 2011

Postaday2011: Busy Bank holiday

I have just a few minutes to post a blog for today. Sometimes I sit here and wonder why I do this, I have done quite well so far but what is the point? I mean I can write on the topic subject, my day, things I remember, so may things and I enjoy writing but as the year progresses and spring has crept over windowsill, I have found many more thing to do and it is getting later and later before I write my blog.

Today the glorious sunshine half shone through dirty windows. The winter had left its shadow in street dust that shaded the sun. Car exhausts have belched their fumes and stirred the dirt from the road that has stuck fast to the windows and facias of our house. Bank holidays, well bank holidays are good and it is really good to have H at home. I really struggle with some things so that’s where he comes in. Today we cleaned all the windows in the house, inside and out and I washed the curtains. What a major difference!

The sunlight is clearer, the rooms brighter, the nets look bright and reflect the sunlight instead of a gloomy room through the dust that has been captured in the lace. The whole place looks cleaner and brighter and we are only a fraction through our de-cluttering. Today several bags went off to the charity shop and I tidied and sorted the toy cupboard but the major thing was the letting in of the sunlight. To me that is the real beginning of spring!

Along with all these events come a list of other things to achieve, my list gets longer and time, although the days are longer, seems to be in short supply. So why do I stick at writing every day on my blog? There is far to many other things to do. I don’t even get the time to turn my computer on at the moment! Ah well, I said I would do it so I will continue.. Feels really good to spring clean as  well as de-clutter though.

The diet is going really well so far , day three covered! Exercise routine established and bless him, Harry has been joining me in my 10 minutes a day wriggle about to reggae time. I say wriggle because as I need a new knee, dancing isn’t really the right word. I just do what I can within my limitations as long as I move and exercise, it counts. My goal is to be slim enough to have the surgery and to be able to walk like I used to along with a million other things I used to do with ease. My garden for instance. Right now I am suffering for using my one good arm for cleaning the windows. I am thinking positive.

Well I have 2 minutes to post today… phew maybe I will just make it.. xx

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Postaday2011: The worst meal I have ever had!

I suppose I have been very lucky in that most meals I had out have been really good, but then I don’t eat out much. I love cooking too much to want to eat someone else’s food, unless of course it is with friends who have invited us around to their place for a meal. In which case I have never had a bad meal and the company has always been fantastic.

I know I am going to upset my children and many other people when I mention the worst meal I have ever had. I am not sure what it is that makes me dislike the food so much. Maybe I have read too many things about the company, maybe I prefer really healthy food that I know has nothing added. Maybe I prefer good old home cooked food.

Over the years I have always done my own baking, Saturday was baking day and it took all day. With five children still at home the biscuit and cakes tins were constantly being filled. Pies and bread were baked for the week ahead. Friends the kids brought home came for the cakes, sleep overs meant extra baking… at the time I remember saying that nothing lasted five minutes, little did I know that just a few years later when they had all left home I would appreciate those times so much. These days I only bake if I know we have guests coming or the occasional batch of biscuits if we have run out. Sadly, I throw cakes away with fur coats on by the end of the week where nobody eats them any more.

I am not a lover of cakes or biscuits or in fact sweet things. I have a savoury tooth, as they say. So the need to bake is limited to treating my local daughters to the cakes I baked when we had guests. I always bake several, habit I guess, and freeze them, only to give them away the following week knowing H and I are not going to eat them.

Anyway, I digress, again! My worst meal has to be…. a MacDonald’s cheese burger. My kids love them and although I chose to say they looked awful etc I was in no position to say until I had tried one. My kids and I went along to the restaurant and we all ordered. They were really happy because I was not terribly keen to let them go there to eat. There was nothing I liked about the meal. The burger, was just a burger but the heat from it had wilted the lettuce as well as the cheese, the mayo served only to make the soggy and doughy roll … slimy, is the way I would describe it. Whatever happened to bread? It used to be firm and tasty, today it is like a half-baked dough that depresses to nothing when squeezed between the fingers. Ugh!

As much as I tried to eat the item with dignity, it slipped and slid between my fingers and I felt rather like a caveman eating with my hands and still making an awful mess with it. The chips were ok, but everything else was just plain awful to me.

A little while later I decided to make some burgers myself. What a difference! Wholemeal roll, with substance, home made burgers with onions, salad, gherkins and tomato ketchup, American mustard or Mayo. They were firm and tasty, probably a lot more nutritious and we all loved them a whole lot more.

My kids still go along to McDonalds now and again, but they have left home and are much older, they also know how to make their own burgers and at the end of the day it is their decision. I think, and hope, that the good home cooking they enjoyed as children will have rubbed off. After all, I do believe a good healthy, wholesome and natural as possible diet, has to set them up for life of good health. I do apologise to MaccyD but, I am an honest person and I really cannot stand their food. Now KFC… That’s a different story!

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Postaday2011: No time, no time

There was so much I wanted to post about today but I have run out of time. My computer wants to update and update and update… Why all at the same time? Each update wants to restart my computer… so I will have to succumb to the irritating desires of this piece of technology that controls my life because by the time it finishes restarting it will be way past the bewitching hour.

ps the first day of my eating plan has gone really well –  here’s to another , equally successful, oh, and ten minutes exercise –  not bad considering I am not so mobile. We shall see where this takes me… till tomorrow, hopefully earlier.

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Postaday2011: The first day of the rest of our lives.

It’s such a common expression, cliché or whatever you want to call it but for us it has to be just that. The beginning of a new life for us. Our trouble is, not poor eating habits, we eat really healthy food, vegetarian meals, pulses, nuts, fruit and lots of veggies as well as meat, it is more the fact that I love to cook, I also love to entertain. This means crazy new dishes, lots of them to try and wine to wash them down. Well, that’s me, H doesn’t drink.

Harry has his induction at the gym next Tuesday and I started my slimming regime tonight. I am so ashamed to quote this but, it hasn’t ever been a problem until the arthritis has got worse. I laugh when they say, ‘it’s your weight!’ OK but I have it in my collar bone, my hands, my elbows, my shoulders, in fact everywhere… but none of the aforementioned do I walk on! I have inherited from my mother, my grandmother etc.. it is because I have difficulty moving because of it that I don’t exercise as much as I want to.

Don’t get me wrong, I cannot ever see myself sitting and doing nothing. I am busy all day every day, it is just I cannot walk or run, use my arms like I want to.. anyway I digress. I will hold my breath and state my weight as a starting point to the rest of my life. I know my friends will be shocked, my kids say, ‘you’re just cuddly’ bless them, don’t want to hurt my feelings but at the end of the day losing weight will only help me and at the moment I am the weight of nearly three people.

I weighed 23 stones and 2 pounds tonight and this is my start to becoming healthier. It isn’t going to be a daily thing on my blog but once a week I will touch base and let you know how much I have achieved. I will happy to answer questions if anyone has any along the way. I must be the best nutritionist ever. I went to see one once and what she had to say I reckon any ten year old could tell you… I believe in natural food, no preservatives, no additives, raw as much as possible. Balanced, yes, not necessarily vegetarian but if it is, that’s good too, I have so many wonderful tasty recipes, now all I need to do is get H to conform… now that’s a challenge..

I will post some before pictures as soon as I get some, much as I hate the idea but I think it will encourage me because once, or should I say, now that I have gone public I cannot let myself down. Here is to the first day of the rest of our lives….!

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Postaday2011: No Topic

I say no topic because there wasn’t one that I could use today. I think I should have kept some from the past for such moments as these. Today we were asked about Donald Trump and whether he would make a good president. This is a difficult one because I am in the UK  and have no idea about Donald Trump unless I research him. I wish I knew then I could fill my blog for today.

Actually I am already pretty impressed with my blogging achievement so far. Normally I go for two or three weeks and fail to write any more be it blog or diary. Yet here I am at the end of April and apart from a few days when I was poorly or unable to get to my computer, I have blogged constantly. Pat on the back Marie!

Just recently, both Harry and I have come to a place in our lives where we needed to make changes. Some might say it was the seven year itch but whatever it is we are making big changes. We are able to let go of all the paraphernalia that we held onto from our pasts, clear the house of accumulated rubbish – well, it is useful stuff but if we haven’t used it is the past year then it is obsolete. It is actually quite difficult because as we take things out of their boxes, drawers, cupboards, the memories spill out along with each item. It is a hard task to think on each one for a moment, place that memory in its appropriate box in  our memories and let the object go.

Although hard at first it becomes easier and easier, our minds become clearer and clearer and we become closer and closer. Everything that held us to our pasts has gone and it has left – just us. It’s really nice, like a final commitment to each other. The house is underway but it never stopped there.

Both H and I have a weight problem. mine as much because of arthritis as anything because pain prevents me doing the exercise I need, and H well he sits all day, 12 hours a day to be precise, in an office after a 4.30 am start and he is tired a lot of the time. The new cleansing of everything has motivated us to try to do more for ourselves too. Now the gym would be a waste of money for me but a boon for Harry, I, on the other hand am joining a slimming class. H did go once but he is a rough, tough ex submariner… it was definitely not his thing. So I control the meals according to what I know and he does the more guy stuff at the gym. I will of course be trying to exercise a lot more but mine has to be at my pace and according to my pain levels, but I am going to do what I can.

So here is to a total decluttering of us at the same time. I will log our progress, not because it is to be the main topic but , hopefully, to encourage anyone out there trying to lose weight too. If you think you have weight problems, wait till you see what we have to crack!

I apologise to all the American folk out there for knowing nothing about who would be a good president but thank you for your blogs that give insight to your lives in the US. Watch this space for some shocking weight information from this corner of the UK.

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Postaday2011: Tidy house, tidy mind

The ‘put back together after the weeks holiday’ event and declutter intention has grown into a major scale incident and we have spent the weekend going through every cupboard and space that we can and throwing out stuff that we haven’t used in ages. And do you know the best thing? It feels really fantastic, like the house feels lighter and we can breathe easier. We are on a roll now and just over the last two days we have thrown away nearly a dozen dustbin sacks of rubbish. Now I don’t want people thinking we live in a tip, my house is always clean and tidy , it is just that we are hoarders. we keep things ‘just in case’. I had books that were possibly unreadable, from my childhood, my children had and were, quite frankly falling apart, sitting gathering dust on my neat, all in order, book shelves.

We had all the folders and files from my uni coursework, so much office stuff, notebooks, pens, pencils, most of them no longer working. I went through my clothes, my shoes, in fact everything you could imagine that 40 odd years could accumulate and I threw it all away. I still kept all the little keep sakes from my children, the mother’s day cards and cards from special friends.. quite a lot of stuff, I am not heartless and one day I will let them go, but everything that had no sentimental value and we hadn’t used went.

There is still so much more to get rid of, and with each full bag we felt lighter in ourselves. We have made some life changing decisions along with the clear out and somehow it has brought us closer together. The tidiness, and phase one , as H calls it, has done us the world of good. We have got rid of the past and are embracing the future. We should have ordered a skip really because we could have at least half filled by now but instead H has taken trips to the amenity tip, we have bagged stuff to go to the charity shops and over filled the recycle bin. It feels sooo good!

The other decisions we have made will hopefully continue the changes, still so much more to get rid off, the biggest thing  to lose is our weight. We both battle hard with weight problems. A lot of mine are not helped by arthritis, even the clearing out has left me in a lot of pain, but the peace of mind and painkillers help. I need to lose quite a lot before I can have a very necessary knee replacement operation. H needs to also lose a lot to help his health too. I can’t go to the gym because of the pain factor but H can. He can’t make the slimming club but I can, so between us we are going to do the best we can. I will post the before picture as soon as I can get my daughter to take it for us and I hope it will be good enough to inspire others too.

At the end of the day, why do we keep clutter? We don’t need it, not even just in case, I envy these people with minimal homes. We are aiming for it ourselves and we started this weekend. Our home, ourselves and our lives are going under the ‘get rid of it’ motto. Believe me, it feels so good, so very good.

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Postaday2011:rebuilding, decluttering and sailing.

Whew! What a hectic few days, our guests have all gone following a Friday night of entertainment. Well not really entertainment, the father of my grand daughter’s friend was staying in Portsmouth and it seemed silly that he had to travel all round the Peninsula to be here for 2.30. We decided it would be much better to stay the night here. So we all had a meal together, I made a packed ‘breakfast’ and we got up to see them all off at 3am.

The house seems awfully quiet but it is nice to have my studio back. Harry and I have decided that we need to de clutter so as we were rebuilding upstairs that’s what we started to do. I have to explain that to accommodate the girls we had to move the furniture around, like the freezer that is normally in my studio, all my art stuff including canvasses, easels, paints, stacking drawers, which all had to be removed. Then there was rearranging the furniture in the studio to accommodate two camp beds and so on.. So rebuilding was quite an event.

The de-cluttering was just something that happened when we realised we would have so much more space if we got rid of al the ‘stuff’ we had accumulated over the years and had never used. Like sticky labels that were no longer sticky, printed paper that was now faded, note pads, yellow with age, an excess of pens and pencils and so on. It went on to old magazines, folders, things we were keeping for no apparent reason… What a wonderful feeling. My stuff is all together and easily accessible, all the ‘office stuff’ has been sorted and again, we know where it is, I have space in my room to move. It seems like the house has taken a huge sigh as it released its clutter and relaxed into a tidy space.

Three parts through the decluttering, my daughter Suzi rang and asked if we would like to go to a ‘boat launching’. LOL I must explain, her husband, who was once Harry’s lodger, is an expert model craftsman and had built another boat that he wanted to go on a trial run with at the local boating pond. Actually, they don’t have a car and Oscar likes to be out and about, so to get anywhere they have to walk or take a bus. Having walked miles in the morning, Suzi was exhausted, she is over 6  months pregnant, so if we were to go along, we would pick them up and drive them to the town park.

It was a really wonderful couple of hours! I got to spend time with my daughter and grand daughter unexpectedly and Harry and Oscar got to play boats. 

Oscar set up the boat, built from balsa wood and various other bits that he salvaged from anything he could lay his hands on, and gave it the first trial run. None of us knew whether it would sail or sink, after all, as Suzi said, he hadn’t even tried it in the bath  as he usually does.

Well the little boat sailed, and boy did it sail well. The pond was covered in a kind of sludgy weed that drifted in the wind so the boat had to be steered around it so as not to be snagged. But the boat proved to be an excellent vessel. The proof was positive. As we arrived there were a family of four that were sailing a hovercraft on the pond. We soon realised that they weren’t sailing at all and were rather stuck. The pond weed had firm hold on it and it was stuck out into the middle of the pond.

You can see the weed as Oscars little balsa wood boat set off on its rescue mission. Avoiding it, and the possible consequences of also being trapped in the gungy mess, the powerful motor sailed through the clearer waters till it reached the hovercraft. Oscar is a brilliant model maker and the rudder and powerful engine assured great manoeuverability. It changed direction in an instant should it encounter any obstacle and soon reached the stranded hovercraft. A simple push and it was soon guided to the shore much to the delight of the little girl who was steering it. And her Daddy of course.

A quick check of the engine and rudder to make sure all was ok and not clogged with weed, the hero of the day took her out again. She sailed out to each of the buoys dotted around the pond and moved easily and quickly steering perfectly past weed and round the buoys. After a quick run, Oscar handed the controls to Harry. He wore his old sailor hat for the occasion and we brought drinks to wish Bon Voyage to her maiden cruise, well, J20 for us ladies, Ribena for Maica and Red Bull for the men, yuk!  We wished her a good trip and Harry took control. His years in the Navy weren’t wasted, he took her out and round the pond, avoiding the weed, sailing gloriously around the buoys and bringing her safely ‘alongside’ as he might have done had it been a real boat  when he was a submariner.

Again, the weed lurked in the water blown by the breeze, but Harry was not to be daunted, the little grey boat sailed round the vast pond, between drifts of weed, round buoys and drew up alongside with no effort at all. It was with no doubt that us ladies, Marie, Maica and Suzi, realised that we had the most wonderful and clever men in our lives. I mean to do all that and 1) not know it if would sail or sink, 2) be unsure how well the rudder would steer her, and 3) most important of all, be the rescue boat within a few minutes of her maiden voyage. Wow!

If only they had any idea of how time flies when you are having fun! We sat and watched, Maica played and gave us kittens every time she went near the water, we sang little songs and played games, we watched some more, held our breath as weed threatened to clog her rudder, and …. wondered if we would ever get home to cook dinner before six o’clock…

Seriously, it was a wonderful break from our rebuilding and decluttering and the fresh breeze and warm air did us the world of good. Oscar could see where he needed to modify his boat and so I am sure that once he has played with it a bit and rebuilt it further, we will be sailing again soon.

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Postaday2011: An almost perfect day..

I am a day late with this entry and my only excuse is busy, busy, busy… actually enjoying myself. Apart from a sulky teenager after I had spoken to her about ..well nocturnal timekeeping and typical teenage stuff but well… that’s life…. Actually I think I have a picture that typifies the moment, well the day actually.

Bless her, she spent the entire day not speaking to me or communicating. She eventually changed her mind when her friend returned in the evening and Harry had made her laugh in the fantastic way he makes everyone laugh.

We set out to find a sandy beach and on the recommendation of our neighbour went to Hayling Island, one of a series of little peninsulas on the South Coast of England. As you can see it was what Harry would call a quarry, a pebble beach but as Switzerland has no beaches I would have thought it would be nearly as good anyway. However we had taken Tabby and Millie with us. This was Millie’s first trip to the beach and I was just so blessed to be a part of it.

Millie loved the beach and the sea and spent the entire time trying to eat the pebbles, we took some lovely pictures to remember the moment.

Having seen some other children, she wanted to join them. Although we didn’t find the sandy beach, we did at least have a wonderful picnic and couple of hours where we were.

I had arranged to take my granddaughter to see her uncle, my number three son in Midhurst. It was about a forty minute journey through the most wonderful countryside ever. The 13 mile motorway jaunt led us further and further into rural West Sussex from Hampshire. The road had been cut through the Downs and now a few years on had grown into a beautiful journey, the trees and chalky banks having now grown into  a green mass of countryside. I imagined a beetle running through the grass as we drove up this cleared slice of the journey.

As we left the town the shades of green varied from a dark hunter green to sap green and finally at the yellow tinged lime green, Each tree giving a different shade to the roadside as we passed. Above us the blue sky lost the bright sunshine glare and began to darken slightly as the sun sank toward the top of the hills. By the time we arrived the evening was beginning to cool but not too cool to enjoy a cup of tea in the garden of my son, Scott, and daughter in law, Claire. We had arrived as they got home from work and before little Emily was going to bed… perfect. Claire’s parents joined us from next door for a lovely get together before we had to leave.

We left as Emily was going to bed and began the journey back home. Without the constraints of time we were able to enjoy the scenery around us. The hills of the Downs rolled out in all directions and the countryside reminded me of the nearby village we used to live. Before we reached the motorway again the skies had changed from blue to an orangy pink. Because we were below the high landline the silhouettes of the trees and houses stood out like a greetings card picture, black against the pink evening sky. The chimneys of cottages and farm houses dotted through the fields sent up wisps of wood smoke from the evening fires adding to the atmosphere.

I was in my element and it concluded a beautiful day. My granddaughter eventually came out of her sulk by the time we got home and the following day, my next entry, was just as wonderful.

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Postaday2011: What do I want to accomplish with my blog?

What a brilliant title for a blog entry and one that gives me so many ideas for writing. You know, at first I got caught up in the draw to be noticed, a bit like good old Facebook. Your success was the number of friends you have, never mind that half of them were so obscure as to be insignificant in your life, if they are on your friends list, they count. I think not! A friend, to me, is someone who is touchable, reachable, at least knows something about you that you can’t read on Facebook and someone you can call on for a night out, a meaningful chat, a hug, a friendly word, someone who knows you personally, I could go on and give you a million definitions of a friend but at the end of the day they are more than a name on an internet list…

I began much the same, other bloggers were boasting large numbers of readers and ‘like’ clicks, I wanted to be like that and when my readers rose from four or five to seventy odd once I was so excited and wanted to write more and more. Then I noticed other bloggers were getting hundreds of hits and it suddenly hit me, I would have to be amazing and work really hard at achieving that. My computer life is far less than is necessary to read and reply to that many readers, in fact it is a miniscule part of life for me because my family and real people that I know and love are extremely important to me. Besides, if someone dropped by my blog I would consider it so rude not to reply, I could be all day on my computer! No, I decided there and then that my blog was for many reasons but none of them to achieve popularity in cyber space with people I shall never meet.

I don’t want to sound at all ungrateful to all the lovely people that I have ‘met’ through my blog, those wonderful people who share similar lives or journeys, that it is a pleasure to share with are so important to me. I love to read their blogs and read their comments and would miss them but to me those few are far more precious to me because I can spend time getting to know them through my blogging and theirs, whereas, if there were’ hundreds’ would any of them be as special? I think not.

Mainly I write my blog for me, my children and friends who like to keep tabs on me. I keep a copy of it all and this postaday challenge will give me a year of thoughts, tipsy ramblings, actual events and well, my life and me daily for a whole year. I am notoriously hopeless at keeping a journal but I have always kept everything I ever wrote, even if it was just a few days of a holiday. It is fantastic to look back and see what I was up to, what I was feeling and best of all remember the moments when I was actually writing them. They serve as a strong memory link for me. I wrote some of my first poetry as a child and I have them still, every time I read them I am whisked back to that time and remember exactly what I was thinking when I wrote them. A bit like certain smells or perfumes that trigger a thought or memory from the past, my writing does the same, only better.

My children are scattered all over the world and although we keep in touch regularly, they all tell me they feel more in touch because they read my blog and know how I am feeling. How much more of a reason would I need for writing a blog? Hearing that made me feel so emotional, I never thought of that. When you live with someone you know the little idiosyncrasies, moods, silly stuff we do and how they are feeling but once we all scatter and have families of our own, we lose that intimacy. That is my second best reason for writing my blog.

Thirdly, I have friends who say the same and query when I miss my blog. I find this so really touching and it makes me realise just how many people out there actually do think about me and care. It’s a warm feeling and I love it.

Lastly, but not at all least, are the people I have never met who pop by and comment on my blog. The biggest compliments I have had was like the one I had yesterday.  When I have finished a day’s work and I need to relax I can read your blog and either escape or be inspired. This is something several people have written to me. I love that so much, not the just compliments but the fact that the mindless meanderings through my butterfly mind can actually be useful to somebody else. Can help them to forget a stressful day, can inspire them to rethink their own thoughts and take a breath or unwind. My blog can actually be meaningful in a positive way! That is awesome!

So, I am glad I gave up on being popular to many and am absolutely thrilled to be comforting to my children, inspiring to other bloggers, offer an escape for a few moments from the busyness of life and most of all give myself a book full of happy memories that I can recall at the turn of a page. I thank everyone who reads my blogs and who take away something from them for themselves, that is precious, that is what life should be like. Letting me know that is like returning the gift tenfold. The pebble in the pool or the smile to a stranger syndrome? It all helps to make the joy and love of life go round. Thank you all.

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Postaday2011: catchup – A day in the garden

Actually is was less than half a day. I am totally unable to potter all day like I used to and it makes me really cross but I have a little fold up chair that helps me so much. I was really pleased because I have been trying to keep the weeds down. I seem also to have managed to deter the neighbourhood cats from digging up my garden, still fighting the snails though. I was so delighted as I looked for some pots to plant some errant strawberries and found a whole collection of little tiny, baby snails. Cruel as it sounds, they will not be destroying my garden this year, so a few less. I need to treat my Hostas because as soon as they know they are there I will have nothing but little stumps in the ground.

Painful as it was I was really happy to have managed to tidy up my little beds and sweep the paths. Of course there is still loads to do but how lovely it was to see the little curls of the ferns as they are waking from their winter sleep. I have several different kinds and they bring a little of the countryside to my tiny town garden. Lily of the Valley are also about to bloom and I have bluebells also just blooming. My poor Violas are still not growing , in fact they look decidedly sad. I ‘planted’ upturned bottles today to fill with water ensuring that water gets down to where it is needed. A bit ingenious I thought and taking recycling to its best advantage, They were of course green water bottles so quite in keeping with the scenery. haha. However, there are still some caterpillars or something eating the flowers of my gorgeous bright pink Primulas, leaving only the green cup that once held them.

I have searched manually to no avail, I have removed weeds, I have raked the soil, there must be something else I can do.. As I looked a little further under the Rosemary bush I caught sight of something rather odd. As soon as I had seen it, or thought I had, then it was no longer there. Curiouser and curiouser to quote Carroll. I dived underneath the blueberry bushes hoping to catch a glimpse of what I can only describe to be a gorgeous little creature. I wasn’t sure it had a watch but it sure as heck looked like a rabbit to me… After peering through the plants and leaves I came nose to nose with it hiding behind my rose-bush. It is, although an odd colour for a rabbit, definitely a rabbit. What do you think? ………

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