The trials and tribulations of life as a wife, mum, coffee-drinker, cake-eater, biscuit-dunker, chicken-keeper, book-reader, magazine-browser and tv-watcher.
Wednesday, 31 July 2013
How Does (The Bottom of) Our Garden Grow?
The bottom section of our garden is given over to the growing of fruit and veg, plus an area for the chickens, and a large potting/wood shed. The previous owner had used this part of the garden for the same purpose but because he was in his 90s he hadn't been able to give the garden as much attention as it really needed. Add to that the fact that we didn't really work on the garden for about a year after we bought the house due to renovation work, when we finally moved in we were faced with a somewhat Herculean task.
This was what the bottom of the garden looked like when we bought the house in August 2010; this photo was taken from one of the attic office windows, hence the elevated angle. Can you see the Victorian red brick wall that marks our boundary? No, me either. Can you see the woodshed? You might just about be able to make out a corner of the roof just off centre, about a quarter of the way up.
Here's a view from ground level.
And again, about eight months on in April 2011, just as the building work had started.
Let's step in a little closer. Welcome to the jungle.
Albeit quite a pretty one, in a secret garden kind of way.
That's the entrance to the remains of a fruit cage to the left.
Nearly a year on (March 2012), and some huge progress had been made.
We could actually see/get to/use the woodshed. The edges of vegetable and fruit beds are visible. And the chicken run is where the fruit cage used to be.
A couple of months on (May 2012) and several tonnes of gravel have helped in marking out the paths between the beds. DC and his trusty spade (plus ice cream bribe) have also helped.
And now, July 2013, the bottom part of the garden (I mentioned to hubby that we should call it 'the kitchen garden' because it sounds so grand...) is looking verily tip top and abundant, thanks to hubby's hard work over the last couple of years.
Runner beans, plus onions and garlic in this bed behind one of the apple trees.
Squash, courgette, beetroot, peas, carrots and probably something else that I've forgotten.
Jerusalem artichokes, rhubarb, dahlia and a rose bush in the small bed nearest the camera.
Two beds chock-full of raspberries. Enough last year to make 36 jars of jam.
Here's hoping for the same this year.
Some of the apple trees are just visible top left of the photo.
And it looks like it's going to be a VERY good year for apples. We've got five established trees and three new ones, so we could soon be buried under a mountain of eaters and cookers.
And one final photo - I was trying to take a shot of the beautiful cedar tree, but I got photo bombed.
Fleece Navidad - Maggie Sefton. How can you not love a book with a title like that?? Set in a yarn shop in Colarado, I do enjoy this series
Holiday Grind - Cleo Coyle. I love this series set in and around a coffeeshop in New York (two of my favourite things in one book!); also, I read it while we were in NY, so what could be better??!
Agatha Raisin and the Blood of an Englishman - MC Beaton. Another dreadful installment, but still I can't stop reading them. It's like a car crash.
To Davy Jones Below - Carola Dunn. Another enjoyable installment in this series set in 1930s England (and beyond!)
Pretty Poison - Joyce & Jim Lavene. First in the Gardening Shop mysteries series. Thumbs up as it wasn't too twee.
Bones Under the Beach Hut - Simon Brett. Twelfth in the Fethering Mysteries series. I love this series, not really had a duff one yet.
Friends, Lovers, Chocolate - Alexander McCall Smith. Second in the Isabel Dalhousie series.I didn't particularly enjoy the first in the series, but I really liked this one and look forward to number 3!
Dyer Consequences - Maggie Sefton. Fifth in the Knitting Mysteries series; I enjoyed this one.
The Real Katie Lavender - Erica James. Perfect as a holiday read but not sure it would cut the mustard as an 'at home' read.
The Secrets Between Us - Louise Douglas. Gripping, suspenseful but hit the rocks with about 100 pages to go
Sophie Kinsella - Remember Me? A light and fluffy holiday read, but enjoyable nonetheless
Blackwork - Monica Ferris. From the excellent Needlecraft Mysteries series which I love. Enjoyed this one a lot.
Secrets on Saturday - Anne Purser. Sixth in the Lois Meade series and a pretty poor show, I'm afraid
The Gallery of Vanished Husbands - Natasha Solomons. I sort of liked it, but not much happened
Espresso Shot - Cleo Coyle. Another of my fave cosy series; enjoyed this one
The Mummy Case - Elizabeth Peters. Third in the series set in 1920s/30s Egypt and England. This was much better than the second in the series which almost made me give up
Murder on the Half Shelf - Lorna Barett. Umpteenth in the series which ranks among my favourite cosies
A Killer Plot - Ellery Adams. First in the series; I think I liked it
The Shooting in the Shop - Simon Brett. I love this mystery series, set in the south of England; not 'cosy' as such, but probably not far off
The Christie Curse - Victoria Abbott. I cannot remember a single thing about this book. Eeek, what does that say?!
Agatha Raisin: Something Borrowed, Someone Dead - MC Beaton. As always I ask myself 'why on earth do I keep bothering with this series?', but it's like a dreadful addiction - you know it's bad for you, but still you keep doing it.
Rattle His Bones - Carola Dunn. I enjoyed the previous book in the series so much that I thought I'd crack on with another; sadly, this one wasn't quite up to par
The Shop on Blossom Street - Debbie Macomber. A very easy and light read; looking forward to reading the next in this series
Styx and Stones - Carola Dunn. Cosy crime set in 1920s England; I enjoy this series and this book was a good one
What Did I Read in 2014?
Fear on Friday - Ann Purser. Fifth in the Lois Meade series which I really do enjoy.
Coming Home for Christmas - Julia Williams. Thought this would help me get in the festive mood; but it wasn't even set at Christmas - what a swizz - so don't go making the same mistake as me! Predictable and schmaltzy, I'd probably suggest giving this one a miss.
Thai Die - Monica Ferris. Umpteenth in my favourite cosy series. Enjoyable, as always
The Vintage Tea Cup Club - Vanessa Greene. Chick-lit; very predictable.
The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party - Alexander McCall Smith. Ahh, the world of Mma Ramotswe, how I wish I could live there and feel happy and content!
Gunpowder Green - Laura Childs. Second in the cosy crime set in a tea shop; didn't enjoy it as much as the first but I'm still happy to give the next in the series a try
Sentenced to Death - Lorna Barrett. Fifth in the series, and not bad at all. This is one of my favourite cosy series.
The Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson. Ridiculous and funny, and ridiculously funny. I liked this one a lot.
Mini Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella
The Sisterhood - Emily Barr
Death by Darjeeling - Laura Childs. First in the cosy crime series set in a tea shop; very enjoyable.
A Crafty Killing - Lorraine Bartlett
We Are All Made of Glue - Marina Lewycka. Enjoyed this one very much for the most part.
A Year in the Merde - Stephen Clarke. Not bad for a holiday read.
Three Ways to Capsize a Boat - Chris Stewart
Dead in the Water - Carola Dunn. UK cozy. Not the best in the series.
The Quick and the Thread - Amanda Lee. Cosy crime set in an embroidery shop. Just my cup of tea.
Life After Life - Kate Atkinson. Wow, what a read! I'd thoroughly recommend this book, so much so that I'm almost tempted to read it again already
Hiss and Hers - MC Beaton
Around Ireland With a Fridge - Tony Hawks
French Pressed - Cleo Coyle
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt. Book club book no.2 of the year; liked it even though it took me quite a while to realise it was non-fiction!
Body Surfing - Anita Shreve. I enjoyed this book, it was an easy read and I think could be filed under 'thinking-person's chick lit'
My Animals and Other Family - Clare Balding. Read it in two days; really enjoyable, funny, warm, interesting, an all round good read.
What Did I Read in 2013?
As The Pig Turns - MC Beaton. 22nd in the Agatha Raisin series; badly written, but still I keep reading them!
A Highland Christmas - MC Beaton; from the Hamish Macbeth series
Damsel in Distress - Carola Dunn. Fifth in the Daisy Dalrymple series which I am growing fonder of with every book I read.
Sins and Needles - Monica Ferris. This was a much darker and more detailed book than is usual in this series, but I enjoyed it all the more as a result.
Embroidered Truths - Monica Ferris. Probably my favourite US cozy series. Enjoyable, but not one of her best
A Killer Stitch - Maggie Sefton. Cozy crime with a knitted twist. Not that great, but I still keep reading this series!
The Garden of Evening Mists - Tan Twan Eng. Lovely, lovely book
Death of a Gossip - M.C. Beaton. First in the Hamish Macbeth murder mystery series. Very easy to read, not taxing and a not that well written in parts, but enjoyable nonetheless
Theft on Thursday - Ann Purser. fourth in the Lois Meade series; a slightly darker take on the cozy genre and, as a whole, I've found this series very enjoyable
All That I Am - Anna Funder. First Book Club book of the 2013-14 season; a little slow to get going, but gripping and thought-provoking after that.
The Beach Hut - Veronica Henry; chick-lit/holiday reading combined; if you're looking for something in those genres, you could do much worse.
Deadly Yarn - Maggie Sefton. More cosy to be enjoyed by my cotton-wool brain.
Murder on the Flying Scotsman - Carola Dunn. Fourth in the Daisy Dalrymple series; a gentle 'whodunit' and very enjoyable.
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn. Wow, I LOVED this book. A great thriller with twist upon turn upon twist. If thrillers are your thing, then I wold highly recommend this book.
Requiem for a Mezzo - Carola Dunn. 3rd in the Daisy Dalrymple series. Easy reading cosy crime; I like this series (so far)
The Red House - Mark Haddon. I was really looking forward to this book, but I ended up being so disappointed. I didn't enjoy the 'stream of consciousness' writing style.
Join Me - Danny Wallace. I probably would have liked this book when I was 25. But that was 16 years ago. Instead I found it annoying and immature.
The Great Indoors - Sabine Durrant. Enjoyed a lot more than I expected to, which is always a bonus.
The Double Comfort Safari Club - Alexander McCall Smith. Just as enjoyable as ever. Love this gentle series.
The Alchemist - Paolo Coehlo. Book Club book. I've always steered clear of books by this author, expecting them to be a bit 'knit your own yak-wool teabag'; so, was I pleasantly surprised? Well, at least it was only 170pages long, so I whipped through it in a couple of days. Yes, there were a few sentences that made me stop and think, but mostly it is a bit too much of a hippy-trippy self-help book for cynical old me to really like. But I'm glad I've read it at long last.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce. Book Club choice. I really wanted to enjoy this book, and I thought I was going to at first. But then the story, like Harold himself, started plodding along and became less and less enjoyable and rather annoying/boring to tell the truth. So, all in all I was disappointed.
When God Was a Rabbit - Sarah Winman. I just can't decide about this one. At first I didn't enjoy it, then I did, then I was indifferent. But I still keep thinking about it, so does that mean I liked it?!
If Books Could Kill - Kate Carlisle. Second in this cozy mystery series; I was unsure of the first in the series so thought I'd give it a chance by reading the second; I shouldn't have bothered; this one was even worse than the first. Very disappointing indeed.
Decaffeinated Corpse - Cleo Coyle. Can you guess from the title that this is a cozy?! Always enjoy this series as it features my twin loves of cozy crime and coffee. What's not to like?
The Thread - Victoria Hislop. Book Club choice; I wasn't sure that I would like it, but I really enjoyed it. Very easy to read, despite being quite a harsh subject. I'd recommend this one.
The Winter Garden Mystery -Carola Dunn. No 2 in the Daisy Dalrymple series; cosy crime, gentle and easy to read.
Call the Midwife - Jennifer Worth. The book of the tv series; very enjoyable
The Curse of the Pharoahs - Elizabeth Peters. Second in the Amelia Peabody Murser Mystery series, set in 19thC England and Egypt. Egyptology cosy; really enjoyed this one and was itching to get straight onto the next, but had to change course with a Book Club book instead.
The Poisoning in the Pub- Simon Brett. Part of the Fethering Mysteries series; not quite a cosy, but not a brooding Scandinavian thriller either. Enjoyed it very much.