Tuesday, 13 April 2010

I really should paint the fence...

Spring has been forgotten, it seems, and we've skipped from snow and frost straight to summer. If last year is anything to be judged by, I'll enjoy it while it lasts, because the weather is glorious right now, and no doubt it will be downhill from here on in.

Yesterday was good though - we went to Finlaystone, which the kids have dubbed 'Fiddlysticks,' and much fun was had by all. My mother-in-law, on arriving at the pirate ship tucked away in the forest, promptly transformed into Mad Moll the Queen of Pirates, and set about putting all the children who were playing there in prison, who then made elaborate plans to escape...The kids loved it, although my mother-in-law was thoroughly exhausted by the end of it.

Near the stream that runs through the estate, replete with waterfall:

We built a cairn on the bed of the stream (as a thank you, in my mind) and my mother-in-law got all archaeological with the children, using technical terms, but Rosie insisted it was, in fact, a spaceship actually:

No trilithons and curbstones for Rosie, thankyouverymuch. Oh, alright. Maybe one.

I told my mother-in-law that we do this all the time when we go to the beach, and the other day I walked the dogs there just as the sun was setting and found that someone had made a wee stone circle, Callanish-style but surrounded by wooden posts at each corner, and a beer can stuck in the middle as if in offering to the sea. (It's a good way to try and appear considerate when littering, I suppose). I tried taking a photo of it on my phone but it was just too dark at that point. My mother-in-law, in turn, told me how they used to collect rocks from the beach near the caravan when my nieces were younger, so they could amuse themselves by piling them up when they were stuck at the caravan park. One year my father-in-law went there all alone, for a little respite, and amused himself (no doubt after several bottles of beer, vodka, or whatever it was he had to hand) by building a mini-stone circle on the lawn beside the caravan. He was so enamoured with it that he brought the rocks home and set them in concrete.

Today we took a trip into Glasgow to look for more clothes for Rosie's summer wardrobe, and got back in time to do a little gardening before dinner and dog walking. I treated myself to a blackcurrant and golden raspberry bush to flesh out my fruit harvest come the autumn, and I was pleased to find that the raspberry I already had (feared dead) was not only thriving, but I had another bush sprouting up nearby. So yay! The two new bushes have been planted, and I've stuck some bricks into the soil to make for stepping stones, so I can weed and pick more easily.

The rest of the bed's still in its early stages, and the chamomile has become a late casualty to the frost so now there's quite a gap to fill before the mint takes over. The growing season's started late, thanks to the weather, so there's not much to show except for wee shoots here and there, in amongst the straggly bushes (thanks to Mungo):

The first leaves of the rowan sapling, which I managed to not get in the photo for some reason, has its first leaves starting to unfurl, but I doubt we'll get any berries this year - it's still too young, I think. The alpine strawberries and the poppy's doing well, to the left and right of the stone pile that I've had a go at - finally - arranging into a small cairn (I took this yesterday, so you can't see the finished result yet). I built the cairn around a broken pair of scissors I found in the beds - for some reason it seemed apt at the time, and I'd always intended to put something in there. I don't know why the scissors sprang to mind, though. At the moment it's decorated with decorate red glass pebbles thanks to Rosie, who helped ('helped'), while Tom watered the flowers for me (by which I mean he made mud, near some of the flowers), but it's made me think that I should maybe decorate one of the larger stones - paint it or something. I'm not sure yet.

I've fixed the puddle (which the lavender is obscuring), with a new bowl that doesn't have holes in it, so it now retains water properly - although I was hoping to get something bigger so I could find some frogspawn and transplant it, to help control the midgies...I've had to make do for now, but the rushes are thriving in there at least.

Next to the puddle you might be able to see a white blob, which is actually a shell. I wasn't quite sure what to do with it, but Tom put it there and started putting daisies and buds from the heather plant into it, 'for the garden', he said:

So I've left it there and now Rosie's started to copy Tom as well. I admit, I'm surprised and pleased that Tom came up with the idea. It's such a simple thing, but it says so much about how they see the world around them.

I sowed some primroses to put around the puddle, but so far they haven't done anything so I'll have to get something from the garden centre, so it's all festive for Bealltainn. The rest of my DIY efforts have been a little more successful - we now have cauliflower, broccoli, beetroot (bleurgh), willd rocket, carrots, onions, leeks, basil, cabbage and 'caterpillar plants' sprouting, along with some sunflower seeds the nice neighbour gave us, which have begun sprouting as well. The cucumber and strawberries don't look hopeful, though - they've not done anything yet - but everything else is coming along nicely. I ordered some container bags as a cheaper option to proper containers, which have arrived and now we just need to get the compost and acclimatise the seedlings before planting them out.

And figure out what to do with all 40 cauliflowers I sowed...

I think I went a little overboard there, and while I know there will inevitably be some casualties, sowing and then having to transplant 40 cauliflowers at the same time seems to have been less than bright, as ideas go. I've managed to fob some off on other people, but that still leaves too many.

But in spite of that minor hiccup, there is exciting news:

Mushrooms! It seems like they've taken for ever, but they're supposed to be somewhere cool and I'm not sure I really have somewhere cool enough, that isn't too cold, at the moment, so I'm sure that's slowed them down a little. I've already picked the first few, and have a few more ready to pick as well now, and there's plenty more to come as you can see by the small white blobs. I shall be using the ones that I've picked already for a mushroom risotto tomorrow, I think.

Really, I'm so excited that I've actually managed to grow something, all by myself, I'm like a big kid.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

And another update

Not much time for proper posts at the moment - I'm on a writing and research kick that's kind of taking my brain away from any actual deep thoughts to ramble on about at great length (and aren't you glad) - so instead you'll have to put up with another update about the stuff I've been doing over on Tairis.

Maybe it's the fact that Spring finally seems to have settled in and I'm coming out of hibernation mode. I'm enjoying the sunshine and I seem to be inspired by it at the moment, and so the next few articles I've done are only, oh, four months late (but better late than never...). So:

Yule/Hogmanay - Part 1
Yule/Hogmanay - Part 2
Celebrating Hogmanay

Unfortunately I ended up managing the equivalent of a short dissertation, so the first article wouldn't fit on one page and I've had to split it up...Part one covers Yule, Hogmanay and New Year's Day (in Scotland), while Part Two covers The Processions and Bonfires, New Year's Eve in Ireland, and a short Conclusion. I've attempted to pick out all the important bits from there to give some suggestions on what you can do if you want to go about celebrating the New Year in style in the second article, Celebrating Hogmanay.

All that's left to say at this point is: I do have a life, honest...

Thursday, 1 April 2010

With unerring predictability

Yeah well...It started chewing at me, wanting to be written, so write it I did...

I decided to write an article on Latha na Caillich after all, mainly because I had a few thoughts I wanted to get straight in my head, and as usual, writing it out is the best way for me to figure things out. So in a way it's more of an opinion piece than I usually do - you may or may not agree.

Seeing as it's still fecking freezing round these parts - we've had snow again this week, and the ice and wind resulted in power cuts and who knows what's happened to the phones - I've not actually done anything for it yet. I'm going to make some formal offerings, but given the weather I think I'll wait for the Old Style date, April 6th, to do that.