Thursday, 28 April 2011


Loads to write about and no time in which to do it......

'Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
creeps in this petty pace from day to day......'

I haven't read or watched much on the Royal pair so far- but I will be sitting (probably in my pyjamas!) in front of the telly with my tiara on and a flute of champagne in my hand , watching the guests troop into Westminster Abbey; I shall get an idea on what is wedding gear for 2011 and toast pageantry that only the British can do.

I loved the way HRH Diana brought the Royals down to earth and I hope William and Kate continue to do the same. I wish them all the best. Cheers!

Monday, 25 April 2011

I was going to write about...... but

I was going to write about Allendale's woods carpeted with periwinkle, wood anemone, and wood sorrel...... about verges and roundabouts yellowy, orange and sunlit with dandelions..... about Ridley Hall's lawns spattered with forget-me-nots ..... and pink campion and bluebells beginning to colour up in the Easter sun but maybe I won't.

It maybe that I am snatching the opportunity to blog because
a) the computer is free
b) H1 is not demanding me to view the Humax ( I must give him his due- he is always proactive in wielding the remote control in order to record television programmes!)
c)I am trying not to eat any more Easter eggs so I am keeping myself occupied. (this being the real reason!)

Even accompanying D3 on our 6 mile jaunt (I must be honest again- D3 running & me cycling) has done nothing to close my mouth & whittle down my calories.

I was going to write about gardening all Good Friday in sunshine and shorts.....yes! about my frozen to death, very expensive Avalanche clematis (dead as a dodo) and my eternal sweetpea which may well have gone to eternity to be with my grandiflora clematis, ceanothus, astilbe and Avalanche (according to the garden centre tickets I took a sneaky peek at- the latter will survive to -8'- well it didn't!)

I was going to scribble about our visit to Cragside with 11,000 bulbs planted in the formal garden; about our picnic up on Nelly Moss Lake........

On my camera I could not capture the cherry blossom petals drifting like snow across pavements so I won't write about that.

However as I dismantle my chick-laden bonnet, and consider how I am going to use up half a dozen hardboiled eggs (in a house where folks are egg allergic!), I can tell you that our Easter celebrations were brilliant! The joy on peoples' faces as folks paraded in their flower-covered bonnets, displayed their paste eggs (I still marvel at the ingenious ideas for decorating eggs),hunted for eggs and laughed so much as 100+ of us egg jarped till we got a King Jarper.

At home afterwards we had an egg hunt, a barbecue and played fun garden games with C,J,P,C and A. Today as it clouded over a bit we had a 'proper ' dinner and played 'Absolute Balderdash'. I have had a lovely Easter though I missed D2- but I am fagged out by all this jollity!

Friday, 22 April 2011


I am restored - two cups of char and two hot cross buns! (with cholesterol-lowering spread so don't worry)

H1 says my blog entries are too long and I should write little and often ie every day; if I am to have readers to follow and look up my blog I must provide them with something regularly.

So I think, in order to free up some time for me, that we should swop and he should do the ironing while I blog; what do you think?

Holy Week

I have given up and arisen, leaving H1 to snore like a beached whale. I am hot and bothered but I know the moment I change to the summer duvet we will get snow; each morning a sea fret has shrouded the east - but has burned off to reveal a cloudless, blue sky and sunfilled day.

D3 treated us to a Groupon deal which saw us down at Hardwick Hall(Sedgefield) to see X Factor winner Joe McElderry. In my totally unbiased opinion, local lad Joe has a wonderful voice, engaging good looks, an apparently honest nature and seems to have been poorly managed. What is he doing singing (to a huge number of besotted fans of all ages) in a venue like this when lesser talent like Jedward are raking in the cash?

Before entering the marquee with 998 other Joe admirers, we visited Durham Council's Hardwick Park project; the park is free and curious pieces of furniture stencilled with quotes about the original owners are to be found amid the prolific bird population; statuesque ladies watched us from the undergrowth as we climbed over the bridge.

The schools broke up last weekend and Palm Sunday began the journey through Holy Week; fasting and abstinence today being Good Friday; fish and hot cross buns later!

Actually we had fish and chips on North Shields fish quay last night- then disgracefully followed that up with a slider (an ice cream between two wafers) at the Crescent Cafe on Seaton Delaval roundabout. Our resident ice cream expert (H1) declares this to be the best in the North East.

We went back to Hawick Hall gardens and arboretum to see the carpets of daffodils; funny that the Newcastle and Northumberland Society's talk this week was on Earl Grey; an dedicated politician who began electoral reform in Britain by pushing through the 1832 Poor Law. There was all sorts of narcissi out though we had missed the daffs!

Hawick has been planted up with all sorts for future generations- but what on earth are these triffids?

It does not seem long since our long, cold, snowy winter which killed off so many plants; I have lost a well established ceaonothus and lots of gardeners have lost acers, hebes, magnolias, camellias and so on........

My rhubarb has not appeared but my kind neighbour donated enough to make a couple of crumbles.

I need to think doubly hard now..... how shall I design my Easter bonnet? How can I decorate my pace egg so I win the Easter Sunday morning competition? I am going to try to hardboil eggs in red onion skins as well as the usual brown ones; I have been advised to hold the flowerheads against the egg (while cooking) within the foot of tights- I tend to stick the shapes on only to simmer them off- thus I end up with lots of eggs for jarping!!! I get scathing comments about my past religiously themed eggs- as if I would try to sway the vote?! I am going to stimulate ideas with a toasted hot X bun and a cup of tea......

Monday, 18 April 2011

What a week!

If it were possibe to apologise to a blog for not blogging , I would say I am sorry for having been in absentia but I have been rushed off my feet.......

There has been no time to get stuck into Marion Keyes' 'The other side of the fence' either.

I have been lambing; we watched a number of bonny babes being born; in some cases R. the shepherd helped mother deliver twin2; where 3 lambs were born to one ewe (which only has two teats) one of the lambs would be bottle fed and given to a ewe with only one lamb; such canny creatures with back legs spreadeagled while wobbly, front legs clambered futilely for a grip on the barn floor; all the while Ma Ewe was nudging her new born to get up. Magic!

I actually managed to rendezvous with a friend(to give her her Christmas present would you believe?!) at Ramside Hall- now there's a good value lunch- and right beside beautiful Durham City's Park and Ride.

I may not like the Arena as a venue BUT we thought 'Dancing on Ice' (we won the tickets in the Rag Ball Raffle) was brilliant. Torvill and Dean made all 5 of their dances look so effortless; the celebrities, professionals, judges and Jane and Christopher worked so hard to put on class entertainment.

We circled from Shepherd's Dene Centre as every tree and hedge seemed to unfurl around us; once threatened cowslips are growing on Team Valley and Brocksbushes roundabout on the A69. Pale primroses and purple violets peek out from under hedgerows; the countryside has come alive just as much as gardens.

It is just as well we do as much walking as we have eaten Italian with E,J &A..... Indian with S...... Italian again with L&M....... then had an English meal at Hardwick Hall. I know you will think I am off my trolley but the back lanes near Avanti have us bemused- they marshall their recycling and rubbish bins with military precision right up the lane though my camera at night only captures a few poubelles.

Just hang on a tick- I have been advised to go look at the red moon...... I have just been cavorting round the Court in my nightiegown like Wee Willie Winkie!

At latitude 55' north, our evening skies have coloured the earth with a pink glow till the sun goes down at 8.30+pm; we are so lucky to have such long days till the June 21st solstice then midsummer turns us back to drawing-in nights.

A funny thought struck me the other night when S. said she was off 'to spend a penny' and I realised how some of our phrases are going to be out of historical context and may disappear from English; certainly it is a phrase today's children have no understanding of the reasons behind it. I have also just realised what an agricultural county we have up here in the North eg reflected in names herein- Ramside Hall and Shepherd's Dene.

Hardwick Hall and Hawick Hall are both stories for another night.......

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

One swallow.....

H1 reckons he saw a swallow today......... but one swallow doesn't make a summer.......

Sunday, 10 April 2011

In a garden.....

Fading forsythia heralds the garden bursting into life; vibrant colours abound; orange tufts of kerria (Jew's mallow) and pink cascades of ribes (flowering currant) brush the back fence.

Red and yellow tulips stand proud behind a host of golden daffodils.

Bergenia hides among the throng while out in front flowerless pieris flames.

Hyacinths and cheerfulness drift heaven from the perfume patch to the patio bench. The hosta is uncurling its head from its terracotta pot and small pink balls sniff on the end of pungent, chive stalks. Yellow mahonia spikes look up to tiny lilac bobbles and gaze down at spokes of grape hyacinth; while gentle skies of pulmonaria grow alongside cushions of blue, cream, purple... violets, polyanthus and primroses; bees move slowly after just awakening to sunshine... from flower to flower bumbling as though stunned by this sudden call to work.

Neighbouring gardens resound with the excited calls of children and the splash and spray of water; mugs and plates chink and there is a whiff of barbeque. Our blackbird takes an early morning, joyful frenzy and empties the birdbath. Trees have greened and blackthorn edged country lanes white-frosted in three days of glorious sunshine.

The Tyne ,the Tyne ,the coaly Tyne is crossed upriver by a smallscale model of its famous Newcastle/Gateshead bridge. Wey howay! A didn't know that till we did the walk this week!

Garden centres are bustling with ambitious, would-be gardeners pushing pot-laden trolleys full of dreams.

Shorts, cut-offs, strapless tops and sandals......flushed cheeks,freckles, red noses and burnt shoulders...... summer has arrived in North East England.

Aston Villa beat Newcastle 1-0 and the pub heaves a sigh of discontent - again.

Meanwhile we have continued our 25 year investigation into domestic alternative energy! Solar power? we are all 'coldfill' & don't use that much hot water.... Windpower rattles tiles off and requires 130 metres space..... heat-exchangers (below the lawn)give underfloor heating (we have floors & carpets already!)so what is left? photo-voltaic cells feed the national grid but require the right aspect and no patches of shade from trees etc., oh! try, try, try again......

My Mothering Sunday orchid from Kew Gardens and D2 6 years ago is flowering yet again.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Red sky at night- shepherd's delight sky in the morning , sailor's warning.....

The sky was glowing pink tonight but surely tomorrow we could not have a better day than today -18 degrees and counting! We walked in heat from Bradley Gardens today; the world is alive with white blossom on the blackthorn, daffodils nodding everywhere... Hmm! Cast not a clout till may is out..... well we all stripped off to T-shirts and shorts today- but does that mean the month of May or the blossom on the hawthorn which is also called may blossom? Last week we walked from St Oswald's Tearoom at Heavenfield and tranquillity bathed the Tyne (view the George Hotel at Chollerford in the photo)- but today it was peaty brown and raging.

E is 60 today and C&A had baby Emily on Friday. L&S visited and we celebrated E's birthday with lovely grub at the Northumbrian Piper.

My potatoes are not chitting well..... but last year's leeks are thickening up so I won't empty the veg boxes to replace the compost.

D2 has been and gone after an enjoyable and researching weekend.

'The Tudor Wife' (Jane Boleyn nee Parker) has been replaced by Phillippa Gregory's 'The Red Queen' (Margaret Beaufort- Henry VII's mother)..... now I look at the 2 piles of books on my bedside table- perhaps I shall read Jodi Picoult's 'Mercy'?

Mothering Sunday was smashing- I was given a solitary bee nester to encourage yet another pollinator; a new pair of secateurs with soft handles for the gammy hand damaged methinks when trowelling at Vindolanda- blinking Roman clay!!!! and my favourite- coffee creams!