Tag Archives: mosaic

May

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How amazing is the sunshine? Admittedly I’m quite enjoying sitting in the cool of my house after a hard hour smashing china under the rays.

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Don’t get me wrong I love, LOVE the bright glorious light. I genuinely sprang out of bed this morning with an appropriately cheery song on my lips.

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I just like looking at it from the shade. With an icy clinking drink in my hand.

This weekend Zeph learnt to ride a bike. At 10 I feel bad for letting it get so late before enabling this ritual but we’re not really bike riders. He’s wanted one for ages so when passing the Raleigh shop on Barton street we amazed him by actually going in and purchasing a second hand bike and a brand new helmet.

Of course his joy was short-lived when he got on and couldn’t ride it instantly but he’s a stoic optimist my boy which fills me with pride and half an hours googling and some remedial first aid led to us getting up at six on Sunday morning. We made our way to a very quiet park with a small hill to put in a bit of coasting practise before graduating to pedalling then turning and finally, by the end of the day cycling from a standing start. Brilliant.

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Saturday night after a shower we counted sixty one distinct bruises, three big grazes and a fine set of hand blisters but one incredibly content boy. I feel swollen with pride at his perseverance.

It turns out cycling, balancing on a bicycle, is one of those things that is near impossible to explain. You just kind of do it I offered feebly, realising how unhelpful it was.  Your body makes thousands of miniscule adjustments to keep you upright and all you need is the time and space to let it get on with it. With lashings of patience and encouragement – balancing the “that’s amazing!” cheering with the book reading indifference is a parenting tightrope I’m getting better at. I will take a leaf from someone else’s book and persevere.

Also – take that Homer Simpson mug…

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A smashing time was had.

It looks as though the teasel is dressed up for best. Zeph’s sharp eyes spotted this on the way to Homebase. We went for some tiles that I have attempted to mortar to the top of my breezeblock wall that runs down the left hand side of my garden. It’s the right height for sitting but not the right width. I though I might try sticking on some slightly wider cheap floor tiles. We found a suitable box on the clearance shelf. I’m not really sure if it’s worked… I’m leaving the mortar as long as possible to go off.

We walked to the store along the wildlife rich footpath again. See, here it looks like a country lane;

but really this is what’s rushing by on the left;

Zeph is about to sneeze here, not overcome with horror...

We saw lots of squirrels, a couple of rabbits, a rat, loads of fluttery butterflies, ladybirds and hoverflies. Zeph and I laugh about how pugnacious the hoverflies are. They hum menacingly right in front of your nose, we like to stop still and “helloooooo” at them in silly voices. They dart away so fast that you don’t see it. First they’re there and then they’re gone.

I tell a friend about the wildlife and she urghs at the rat. Seems so unfair as she ahhed at the squirrels. These are urban, scraggy, wet flattened fur, heroin chic squirrels as well. The rat looked glossy and well-groomed in comparison.

While we were there I acquired a pot of wall flowers from the £1, half dead trolley. We also found some glazed ceramic tiles on the clearance shelf and I splashed out on some shears. Value ones but still about a million times better than my wonky ten-year old car boot finds. We push the heavy pushchair up and down the hills home pleased with ourselves.

The kids spend the afternoon bouncing, swinging and digging a big hole at the end of the garden. I carried out my mortar experiment and then have a happy and productive time smashing all the saved broken china into mosaic bits and sorting by colour into old biscuit tins and margarine tubs. Once again I’m amazed at how many plates don’t really go that far. We have a lot of blue, green and cream and not much in the way of hot colours. I resolve to check out some charity shops.

It’s Spaghetti Bolognese for tea. What with the digging and the slurping the kids really needed their bedtime baths. Cheer abounds among the bubbles. I make DIY plans for tomorrow. Zeph wants to paint eggs for the tree. It all seems look forward toable.

our muddy patch

Shot of a swinging Zeph taken by me standing on the bindweed hump at the end of the garden looking down at a Pa Larkin style junkyard paradise if I ever saw one. Now, this is quite brave of me because I do love a browse through  the garden style blogs. And they all are either very beautiful or deeply productive and even squinting, these pictures don’t look like that. It is the most unforgiving season, my garden is at its most lovely in the blowsy overgrown summer when the harsh lines of play apparatus are softened by climbers and even the bindweed  makes the place look green and lush.

However in the spirit of full disclosure and to combat my natural urge for the aforementioned aspirational self editing:

This is the pile of buddleia I hacked off the tree in December – looking back I think I must have been slightly unbalanced and was driven out into a glowering grey day by all the usual festive pressure to try to exhaust myself with some sawing and tree wrestling. I love the old buddleia but want it to be a bit more shrubby than huge gnarly tree. All this effort left me with an enormous branch pile that I have been sighing at.

In fly lady style I’ve decided to just fill my green bin fortnightly until the logpile corner has been reduced to its usual size. This is the corner behind the compostbin  that gets left for nettles and bindweed to do its own thing. I disturbed a couple of mice and two frogs/toads during my labours today so it’s clearly wildlife rich. I also had to shake all the hibernating ladybirds back onto it from the clippings being shoved into the bin. Poor ladybirds, so rudely disturbed.

This is what needs filling..

In front of the compost bin are our toad abodes. Just two flowerpots half sunk into the earth. The snail shells you can see are the cast-offs from the three enormous toads who were to be found here reliably under the hollyhocks all last summer. I have plenty of snails for them.

Ah my lovely compost – whoop whoop. I am a rubbish, fair weather composter. I know, I am ashamed of this but still even doing it a bit half cocked still gets you good compost. This winter all our food scraps have been going into the food waste bin. Partly we are daunted by the sea of mud to be negotiated to get down to the compost bin, more of this later.

These are my hazel trees and the beginning of my hedgerow bit – they’re grown from seed and cuttings and I’m very pleased they have survived the bindweed surge of late summer. Now they’re big enough to survive most things I think but I’m still planning to lessen the weeds in this corner by growing squashes and pumpkins on the bank in front of them.

I hope this will work. The soil is really rich and I’ve spread some more compost under the weed mat thing (really cheap from Wilkinsons..I used  it really successfully last year having exhausted my supply of old carpet.) The end of the garden gets quite a lot of sun, hopefully having felled most of the tree should help. Must get a saw and saw off the rest of the trunk so the shrub can spring up straight.

This is the eucalyptus tree that was here when we moved in. I suspect it desperately needs topping and the roots snake across the entire garden. It has buckled the paving and concrete in front of the door and contributed to the mud sea and every time it’s windy I fear for the ukrainian church next door but I still love it and the sloughing swooshing sound it adds to our lives. When Zeph was about three he was convinced it would tempt koala bears to our garden and every time we went out we would have to check its branches.

This is the rhubarb Hattie kindly gave us from her mums supply. I’ve been meaning to plant it out for the last, god can it be two?, years. We still get loads of rhubarb from it in the bucket but I think this is the year I’ll release it. Probably onto the weedy bank, surely rhubarb can withstand bindweed?

Brave cheerful bulbs – we are all very cheered by their optimistic green shoots. It seems like such an act of faith burying those dull wizened things in the cold earth on windy autumn days. I think the kids thought I was indulging in one of my manic phases but have been enormously gratified today by seeking out the evidence of our treasure burying last year. Of course we have no idea what we planted. They’ll have been something lovely I know.

This is the pergola my Mum and Dad gave me for my birthday last year, sadly at the foot of it is the previously alluded to mud expanse.

We just don’t have the cash for even a few slabs and there’s a limit to what I can scavenge out of skips with the pushchair… My, lovely, sister-in-law has mentioned she has some spare slabs but the wheels move slowly. I feel optimistic… In the background you can see the tiny bit of mosaic Zeph and I did last summer. We want to  cover the whole wall under the pergola with mosaic but now know how much broken china that is. Luckily I’m woefully clumsy so the stockpile is growing.                         

I just wanted to say – we love our garden. Shabby and muddy and unorganised as it is we love hanging out in it..and getting muddy ourselves…and planting stuff and seeing it grow. Or not. I obsessively watch gardening programmes, read blogs and lust over Alys Fowlers plot or Hidcotes’ knot gardens but you mustn’t let that intimidate you from enjoying what you have or can manage to sustain. Ida doesn’t. That’s my verbena she’s just dug up. Ho hum.