Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Purple May

In the garden:
Clematis 'Niobe'
Queen of the Night tulip

Last month I mostly -

- Looked like a French peasant - a customer's description of me, not mine.  I was aiming for this look.
- Drank flasks of coffee in lay-bys
- Watched half a play and went on half a city walk.  Life is too short to be bored.
- Heard a cuckoo
- Caught a bus for the first time in years
- Discovered the roof leaked
- Won half a bottle of prune juice at the village Spring Fayre
- Was doped up on Piriton for heat rash and tried not to fall asleep whilst mowing someone's lawn

May was a very jazzy month.  Clare Teal was fab as always in the Salisbury Festival and we were the youngest members of the audience at the Swing Unlimited Big Band concert at the lovely Regent Centre in Christchurch.

The Regent Centre is a restored 1930's art deco cinema

The runner beans, courgettes and broad beans are now in the veggie patch

It is nice to have empty window sills again!

Sarah took up golf which meant that I could visit the club house - yeah!  Why do I like club houses and working men's clubs?  Weird.

The High Post Golf Club do a good range of chocolate

There are advantages to only having one car now.  I get to hang around odd places or old haunts whilst Sarah does stuff.  Apart from the golf club I have had an hour to wander around Lizzie Gardens as the sun goes down and people watch.  I had forgotten how lovely it is.

The Cathedral from Elizabeth Gardens

Water meadows

Lovely oak tree in the background

I used to sit here and muse as an angst ridden teenager - not attractive

You would hardly know you were in town - so peaceful

I enjoyed charity shopping last month.

My sister made a new friend in Oxfam in Devizes

and I bought a toast rack in the Cats Protection League shop in Melksham

Eddie has had lots of cuddles

and warily watched the cows in the field

We bought lots of plants at the village Spring Fayre.  We also won a bottle of wine on the tombola which we swapped with a fellow villager for a bottle of sherry.  We left the half drunk bottle of prune juice that we won at the village hall.....

Village Spring Fayre goodies

Eddie is getting used to me constantly taking photos

Top of the hill (and breathe.....)

That boy has so much energy

We have had lots of irises popping up in the garden

These English marigolds come up every year

The Lilac that we cut down has come back with a vengeance

We planted violas and they are still going strong

Esme showing off her wheels when her mother has to catch the bus!

We bought Eddie two new balls

The countryside is littered with lost balls

It has been unbearably hot some days in customers' gardens.

This was the day I got heat rash

Lots of customers have had amazing poppies

I quite like these orange pots too - oops, the boss is coming

I love this time of year with the long evenings

and the bluebells in Grovely Woods

The person who chops the wood in Grovely woods obviously has a sense of humour

The garden has been full with purple flowers.

Chives in the herb garden


Shaggy tulips

and bluebells

My favourite cow parsley is bursting from every bank and roadside.  I always feel like a prisoner that has just been released when spring finally arrives.  After all those dark, grey days of winter I want to run amok!


Love that green and blue!

Bring me more!

Eddie come back!

Eddie likes the better weather too.

I am back to snurging in hedgerows with my camera, trying to keep one eye on the dog.

Hedge Woundwort on the left
Ground Ivy on the right

- Hedge Woundwort has an unpleasant smell (believe me, it really does), solid square stems of up to three feet and was once used to make plasters and ointments, hence its name.

- Ground Ivy is a creeping, hairy perennial from the mint family.  It is used as a salad green in some countries (must try it) and has been used medicinally for thousands of years.  It can be rinsed and steeped in hot water to make tea (must try that too).  It was used by Saxons in brewing beer, hence its other names 'alehoof' and 'gill-over-the-ground'.  It is toxic to cattle and horses.

As you can see I am always loitering at the back and running to keep up with these two!

Well, June has been pretty cold and wet so far (admit to putting the heating on a couple of times!) so I've got time to read my new Robert McFarlane book and fan my heat rash a bit.

'To know fully even one field or one land is a lifetime's experience.  In the world of poetic experience it is depth that counts, not width.  A gap in a hedge, a smooth rock surfacing a narrow lane, a view of a woody meadow, the stream at the junction of four small fields - these are as much as a man can fully experience.'

- Patrick Kavanagh 1904-1967 (from 'Landmarks' by Robert McFarlane)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Flores de primavera

A month has passed since I enjoyed my 50th birthday present from my fellow bungalow girl - a manky, muddy (usually lives in my gardening trug), used factor 30 sun-cream.  Or rather a flight from Southampton airport to Alicante!  Happy dance.  Didn't like to tell her that I would have been happy with a new linen scarf.......

Yellow Cape Marigold (?) growing on the mountain
Bright pink Hottentot-fig growing in the garden of the villa  
Red Valerian everywhere
Hibiscus growing at the villa

In Spain we mostly -

- enjoyed 26 degrees on arrival after scraping the car's windscreen in Salisbury!

- talked so much on the flight that Sarah managed to leave a pair of reading glasses in the pouch on the aircraft.  We found them in lost property at Alicante on our way home but they had been crushed and run over by something heavy!

- Drank rather a lot of Sangria (hic)

- tried charity shopping, Spanish style.

- saw Curry Plant, Lavender, and Fennel growing wild and in abundance.  

- did a bit of gardening (busman's holiday)

Downsides to going to Spain in April are that the weather can be rather cool (we like swimming in the sea every day and comparing mozzie bites) and it can be a bit too quiet.  But the upsides are that we could go out all day and we could do a bit of gardening at the villa without suffering from sun stroke!  AND, I saw Spring flowers that I had never seen before.....

Flowers at the villa -

Aloe Vera
Another pic of my favourite, the juicy looking Hottentot-fig
The multicoloured, fruit salad colours of Lantana or Spanish Flag

Wood spurge
Coris Monspeliensis - looks like thyme
The spikey Carlina Corymbosa  (this was on Montgo)

Easter Saturday - about 23 degrees.

Easter - we have never seen the beach look this busy

I couldn't wait to get away from the crowds and walk up my favourite mountain, Montgo.

Giant fennel (on the left) is a member of the carrot family

That evening we visited the Old Town to have a look around the food and craft festival.  It was really busy but we managed to find the locally brewed Javea beer which was rather drinkable.

'Feria de Artesania, Xabia'

Easter Sunday - drove to Altea on Sarah's hated wiggly, narrow, busy road - the N332.  The motorways, on the other hand, are always empty because the Spanish will not pay the toll charges - bliss.

Altea is gorgeous

Fantastic views from the top of the town

I loved the little narrow streets with white washed houses

Oh, this is a random Spanish chap who wanted to try my hat on!  Suits you Sir!

Monday - 

Playa del portet, Moraira - we had a paddle but the sea was freezing!

Again, I like to get high up and I had seen that there was a walk to a tower.  The hardest thing was actually finding the path!

Nearly killed Sarah by dragging her up the enormous hill in the heat

but it was worth it for the views.  You could see as far as Benidorm.

And here is the tower - Torre de Guaita de Cap d'Or

Back down to Moraira town and harbour

The castle

Tuesday - we (eventually) found a gorgeous, quiet walk near the Old Town in Javea.  The Spanish aren't very good at sign posts!

Spotty green skirt from a Javea charity shop and new Spanish hat.

Lavender in abundance

Ermita de Santa Lucia - 17th Century and 164m high

Stunning views from the top

In the evening we watched the sun go down with a cocktail at our favourite bar on the Arenal.

Wednesday - a lot cooler, only 17 degrees.  We drove to Denia (with flask of coffee) to try and find the entrance to the Montgo Natural Park (we couldn't find it on our last visit!).  We found the right road this time without too many u-turns.  The walk starts at the little church.

Ermita Pare Pere

The Spring flowers on the mountainside were beautiful.

Field gladioli - Wow!
Some kind of blue flax maybe
Rock rose

Haven't got a clue what either of these plants are!

When we got back down to Denia it was so quiet, out of season.

We were the only people having lunch at a little cafe in a square 'Tasca Carme'

We then climbed another hill to the castle (it had been too hot to look around on a previous visit). There were hardly any people there but it was quite cold and windy.

The view of Montgo and the streets of Denia from the castle

Back for a spot of (cool) gardening at the villa.  I found that the Agave had a huge stem coming out of it which I had not seen at other times of the year.

The agave is a native of Mexico.  The flowering stem appears when the plant is about 10 years old and can reach heights of up to 26 feet. After flowering, the plant dies. 

Thursday - still cold.  This isn't on!  We had a coffee and people watched in the old town.

Small slab of apple cake and the traditional Bombon which is coffee with condensed milk - yum!

We saw the market for the first time - amazing fruit and veg.

We then drove on the windy, mountainous N332 (again) to Teulada.

Teulada was quiet too - hello?

The Ermita de la Divina Pastora in Teulada is 16th Century

Which way?

Then back to Javea for an icecream (indoors!) whilst we watched the surfers and the waves crashing.

Back home.

As Sarah peeled my fingers off the chair in the departure lounge of Alicante airport I tried to gird my loins for leaving.  I have to say that when we landed in Southampton and drove home I was amazed at how green and lush the countryside looked but I'm still in love with Spain.......even when it is cool and cloudy!