Saturday, 19 May 2012

The birds & the bees...

At last, at last it's becoming warmer and more early summer-like. I don't mind rain at all (especially when we are still in drought conditions here, with a hosepipe ban in force!) but the cold recently has been depressing. Usually, the central heating timer is switched to 'off' in April & doesn't go on again until October if we're lucky...but this year we still have the odd day when it feels essential!
Life has been so busy recently...lots of new things happening at work and home...and my dearest friend Susan Branch & her beloved Joe are in England right now on a working holiday as she writes her next book. They will be staying here with us soon, but I couldn't resist a little trip cross country to where they are staying in Kent last weekend...it's so wonderful to have them here, and I feel I must make the most of it! Being able to visit is such a luxury...
Her own blog is such a delight & will tell you much more than I can here - if you don't already follow her then I highly recommend doing so!
On Monday we made the short trip to Sissinghurst...a glorious National Trust property and (more importantly to us) garden which is the former home of writers Vita Sackville-West & Harold Nicolson...oh, what a place!
Secret gardens...hidden places...

that make you feel as though you are the one who discovered them...
There is a tower there, where Vita wrote in an ancient room filled with books and photographs and history...the climb to the top is worth it for the spectacular views over the Estate...
you can see the conical white tops of the oast-houses in the background...a traditional Kentish structure where hops (for beer) are processed
All the plants & trees are amazing, tended by 9 full-time gardeners. These old fashioned house leeks are among my favourites...they remind me of my grandparents house when I was a child...
The huge and ancient open barn is home to many swallows at the moment - and I loved this blackboard, detailing the wildlife sightings over the past months...
I'm so glad that I finally got to see somewhere that I've heard so much about...it lived up to all my expectations (and the company was wonderful too!)
We had a minor panic late last week, when our bees decided to swarm...
it's a scary sight! the air was full of a bee tornado for an hour or so, until they settled in a hanging mass on a bush in next door's garden. Bees are complex creatures. Being novices, we didn't spot a new queen cell in the brood...she hatched out and, as there is only room for one queen in any hive, the old one took the hint and left...taking half the colony with her. A lovely man from our local beekeepers association came to help Paul collect the swarm, which was fascinating...he took them away with him as he has a spare hive where they'll be safe. So now, we have a new young queen and a refreshed hive-full! Sean (the beekeeping man) was so interesting to talk to...and proved the fact that, where bees are concerned (and much else) you never stop learning!
Alice finally got her summer clip last week, too. We took a walk the next day, in our favourite wood...
the last of the bluebells were out (not a great year for them...due to the dry spring I think) and as we stood there, all we could hear was birdsong...
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there's not much that sounds more beautiful than that, to me.
I hope you're enjoying your weekend...thanks so much for all your lovely comments and welcome to any new readers...especially Dawn, who paid me the huge compliment of commenting when she usually never does! I'm honoured...it's so good to 'meet' all of you!
xoxo









Saturday, 5 May 2012

Good morning....

We get up pretty early around here. Even at weekends, usually by 7.30 and much earlier on work days. So it was just past dawn & very chilly and grey when I let Alice out yesterday morning. After completeing her - ahem - ablutions, I noticed that her attention had been caught by something on our next door neighbours roof. I couldn't quite see what it was, but called her in and we went back upstairs with tea. I went into the bathroom and looked out of the window - something I do every morning as I love the view, which seems to subtly change every day....and this is what I saw!
Such a beautiful, dapper young mallard! He was quacking away and when I looked to the left, I could just see another drake and a female duck on the next roof along. He stayed for quite a while before flying off to join them. We often have a pair in the churchyard at this time of year - someone leaves a plastic bowl of water out for them - and it's a wonderful sight.
The garden is looking gorgeous right now - all the rain and cold has done wonders for the plants, although the bees aren't too happy, I would guess. Luckily we left them plenty of honey to get them through the difficult spells.
Instead of vegetables this year, I have planted a bee-friendly selection of flowers in the raised bed...to encourage our new guests...
the irises & day lilies are burgeoning, along with the catmint and sage. When we have some warm sunshine (or should that be if??) I have a feeling that it will be an explosion of colour and fragrance. I can hardly wait!
I hope you have a fabulous weekend - a long one for us here. Happy Mother's Day to everyone who will celebrate that tomorrow...let yourselves be spoilt! (UPDATE!! One of my lovely Stateside friends has just reminded me that Mother's Day is, in fact, next week (thanks Nancy!) so please ignore the words above...or don't, and demand to be spoilt two weeks in a row!!)
I'll leave you with a few 'words' from our sponsor...
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xoxo