Patio python

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          I’m not a great sun-worshipoer,  one of Hubby’s main requirements for my “Garden planning” was a nice flat area where he could lie in the sun and cook on both sides until he was done.  For myself, I wanted to make the garden pretty, very low maintenance, and I needed a patch of shade available at all times.

          First thing in the morning the summer sunshine arrives from over the houses behind us and streams in through the kitchen window, then as it rises higher it hits the shed and the left flowerbed, slowly moving around the garden until the last few rays linger on the roses at the top right of the garden before sinking down below the skyline for the end of another day.

          I dont remember making many happy memories from our time in “Milton Keynes” (two complete years – minus nine days…not that I was counting), but one thing I do remember is the sun coming up and down in similar positions, and being able to sit with my morning coffee on a strategically placed bench, in the shade in the morning.   As the day moved on and the sun did it’s rounds, however, I would have to retreat indoors.   Although the auburn colouring of my hair is now of a bottled nature because I’m not quite ready to show the world just how grey it has become, the ridiculous pale skin I have protected through many, many summers is very real.  I wear a hat, trousers and long sleeves pretty much all year round, winter for the rheumatism, and summer for the sun… I just change the thickness of the material.  The sun gives me an uncomfortable itchy rash after about ten minutes exposure, and itches in red blotches for a good few days before it goes away.

          Hubby’s flat area for self-toasting is the grass on the top level of the garden.  I’ve managed to find quite a large surface, I think I measured 4 metres by 4 and a half when I ordered the turf.  For most of the day it’s wall to wall sunshine up there, and surrounded by the white walls is quite a suntrap.  By about lunch time the sun is on the front of our house and the shadow in the back garden extends past the “Crazy patio” with its mosaic tile table and wooden benches. Perfect for a picnic lunch.

          In the little yard at the bottom of the garden, I have two chairs and a smaller, coffee size table.  These are against nextdoor’s wall and are always in the shade, even first thing when the sun shines in through the kitchen window.  These two chairs are “My Place”, I can sit here at any time of day, put my feet up on a second chair, close my eyes and listen to the birds with absolutely no chance of my skin burning if I fall asleep.

          From here I can see the flowerbeds, the colour from the flowers of the new alpines at the base and the roses as they open their buds over the arches.  I can see the various garden ornaments I’ve used to decorate the walls and create smiles in little corners.  I can see the little fairy sitting on the bench … and the new stone python which has joined the rabbits on the patio. 

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        More from before : Going’s on in my “Garden“. 

Donkeys

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          Donkeys at the seaside… What’s not to love.

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          The first encounter I remember with the seaside donkeys is way back in my school time memories.   Not primary school as you would expect, but secondary school.   My year in school was one of the difficult years (come to think of it, my school in general had a bit of a reputation for being full of difficult years).  Each year though we were still taken on our school trip by a few brave teachers who had built up a “good/bad” relationship with us kids, if we were good we went, if we were bad we didn’t.

          Every year we were allowed to choose where to go, and every year the teacher’s eyes would roll up into their head as we chose the same school trip as the year before … We would go from Penarth on a coach to Bristol ice-skating rink, skate for a few hours, then go to Western-Super-Mare where we would eat our packed lunch on the beach watching the donkeys.  After a few hours we would then all hop back on the coach and be taken back to school in time to go home.

          Maybe it was the donkeys which drew us to Weston each year, maybe it was the yearly outing to the skating rink, who knows for what reasons a class of 11 year-old had the same choice when they reach a class of fifteen year-olds, but each year mine was one of the hands in the air voting for the same school trip.

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          The donkeys are very much part of the attraction of “Blackpool” too, I enjoyed Blackpool on a few occasions with Hubby before the girls arrived, and then again when the girls were small, the jungle Jim’s and the circus inside Blackpool Tower in particular, but when the hen parties and stag nights took away a little too much of the family holidayness for me I stopped going.  In more recent years, Blackpool has moved some of the party people on and insisted those who stay are better behaved, although Blackpool isn’t at the top of my list to visit at the moment, it is definitely heading back towards the family type holiday again.

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          We have donkeys on our beach at Weymouth, maybe another subconscious reason for why I chose this particular seaside for retirement.  Our donkeys are the “West Hill Donkeys“, you can follow their exploits away from the sands on their “Facebook page“.

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          One late afternoon last summer I was walking along Weymouth prom with Mum-in-law when we saw the donkies had started to be packed up for the day.   While the donkeys quite happily stood eating hay, all the trappings for their day at the seaside were gradually dismantled and stored away in the little donkey shed.

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          I assured Mum-in-law it would be worth waiting, and although it took a while, we were finally treated to the sight of the donkeys being led out onto the sand where they rolled around like school children before they too returned to their transport and headed home.

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          More from before: Semi-retirement by “my seaside” in “Weymouth

Honey lilies

          My honey lilies in the flowerbeds haven’t fared so well this year, I only have three flowering in the right hand bed, and none at all in the left one.

          I originally planted them along with the purple pom-poms with an aim to add some height to the flowers, I’ve just got one pom-pom too, and a pretty stunted one at that, so it’s been quite a dissapointing show all round.

          I moved the bulbs to the back of the beds at the end of last year so their lack of display is my own fault, I’m not going to be too mad at them for not displaying, the roses have added the height this year, however, this evening just taking a last look before settling indoors for the evening, a little buzz caught my attention, and of course, I stayed around long enough to capture the smile.

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          More from before : going’s on in my “Garden“. 

More blooms

          All four roses in the flowerbeds have blooms on them now, I’m far too happy about that, but hey ho, if the little things make me happy then the bigger things don’t seem to matter so much.

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          The orange rose is called “Scent from Heaven” and was one of my best growers last year.  This year its grown high enough over the arch in our garden to be seen from nextdoor. 

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          Both red climbers, “That’s Jazz“, had a lot of trouble last year, firstly the one on the far right had a nasty infestation of greenfly, and by the time I’d gotten to grips with it I had to cut back a large chunk of new growth, its still a bit straggly this year, but much improved.

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          The red rose on the far left had a similar problem, but with rust, I’ve been feeding and spraying regularly this year though and am hoping for some healthy stems on both to take me into next spring. 

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          I have a second orange rose this year, my original plan of a red rose either side of one yellow and one orange in the middle got skuppered by my choice of “Masquerade” as my yellow one.  I chose a deciduous plant and it turned out completely different to the other three in appearance and growing habits so I took the risk of replacing it.  Planting a new rose where an old rose has already been is risky and the new rose very often dies off.  I dug out a big hole in the flowerbed where the yellow rose had been, I lined the hole with compost and I found another plant the same as my orange one to put in its place.   It felt like forever before the new rose finally grew shoots, but it seems just as healthy as my other one now, just a year smaller.

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          More from before : Going’s on in my “Garden“. 

Blooms

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          ‘That’s Jazz‘, this is one of the roses planted in my flowerbeds to grow over the arches.  I had a lot of trouble with ‘rust’ on this particular plant last year and it ended up being cut back quite drastically, but it’s come back in abundance this year and although all four roses are in bud, these are the first, early openers.

     More from before : Going’s on in my “Garden“. 

Pattern knitting

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           I’m attempting to follow a pattern, something I haven’t done since I first began knitting in my early teens.  I’m not good with reading in general, the words on the page don’t keep still and so although reading each actual word is not a problem, reading them in the right order is.

          I’ve knitted quite happily without a pattern for many years, I use my eyes and imagination, I think of something I would like to knit, (I do particularly like textured patterns), I put the stitches where I want them to start and just move them around as the knitting grows.  Knitting for little people is a bit different though because the pieces are miniture and miniture shapes aren’t quite so forgiving if you don’t get them right.  I do however, have a really good reason to try to follow a pattern again, almost as good as the reason I gave up smoking over thirty years ago. 

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           I began with the back, the rib was easy enough, a slight confidence builder as the Aran wool took on the knitted appearance far quicker than the thinner wool I’ve used recently.  I find the hardest part of following a pattern is the first “repeat”, setting the stitches in the right order.  This went off OK, eventually, and once the pattern was set the back grew easily, and quite quickly as I followed the picture instead of the words.

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          The pattern said to do the sleeves next, most probably to help set the pattern in my mind, but I tend to be to eager to wait until everything is finished, quite apart from not enjoying the sewing together, so whenever I can, I knit the front and back first, and put them together so that I can then complete the neck.  This leaves just the sleeves and side seams to sew up to finish.

          The pattern I have chosen has four different shapes of jacket on it, in five different sizes… I could have been kinder to myself  in my choice, but figured I could use the same pattern over and over again.  It works a bit like one of those official forms… If you answer this… Go to question something … If you answer that… Go to question something else …

          Once I found the right version of the left front, set my pattern and knitted the 26 rows required, I noticed one little word I had missed out… Just one little four lettered word (no, not work)… MORE… Work 26rows MORE.  I had knitted four rows to set the pattern, so 26 rows more meant a total of 30 rows, not really that much of a mistake on a large jumper, but in miniture knitting, with thicker wool, a big mistake.  A mistake I rectified easily enough, the perfectionist in me is quite adept at undoing things and doing them again until I’m happy with them.  My next hurdle was having to decrease on every third row… Decreasing is easy, and counting to three rows to decrease is also easy, remembering which number row I’m on is not… I have a bit of a magpie mind… It’s easily attracted by shiny things or thoughts, for instance, I’ll start a row and I’ll think to myself firmly… “this is row two”, then I’ll knit a couple of stitches and reach for my coffee, take a sip, and return to my knitting thinking “what row was I on?”

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          The one advantage I have is that I know my mind flits around to little shiny thoughts so I compensate, as I start a row I write down little marks on a piece of paper in groups of three to remind myself where I am.

          It won’t be long before I’m one of “those” little old ladies… One of the three sisters…

      The three elderly sisters lived together, the first sister went for a bath but as she dipped her toe in the water she glanced at the soap and then couldn’t remember if she was getting in or getting out, so she called for help. “I’ll go” said the second sister to the third, but as she was going up the stairs she stopped to catch her breath… And couldn’t remember if she had been going up or down so she called to the third sister. The third sister rolled her eyes and thought to herself, “how would they cope without me, thankfully I still have all of my marbles intact”, she tapped the kitchen table, thinking to herself, “touch wood”, then shouted to her two sisters… “I’ll be there in a minute… I think there’s someone at the door. .

          After finally finishing the left front, I placed it on my knitted back piece and found it was longer… Of course I knew where to look for my mistake… MORE…   Easily corrected ….

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          The collar… This is something I haven’t tried before so I was interested to see if the pattern directed me in the same way my imagination did.  It was pretty similar to how I had imagined, ribbing back and for in the middle of the back to make the collar longer than the buttonhole rib, which incidentally I wasn’t overjoyed with as Ive always knitted the buttonholes from top to bottom, not side to side… And now I remember why.  But I was very happy with the roll collar and will be using that again.

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          Unfortunately, my button supplier is locked down against the virus… “the invisible mugger”… “Stay home… Protect the NHS… Save lives” .

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          The sleeves came next, increasing every fourth row and keeping the pattern in place of course meant knitting some sections more than once, but that’s OK, that’s how most things in life my work in general.  I very seldom have a plan, I just have a general idea of how I want things to work out and I go with the flow, if something isn’t working out right, then I go back to the last time things were right and set off on a slightly different path.

          Still no buttons… And at least half of my giant ball of wool left… Back to the pattern.  I mentioned there were four choices of jacket to knit, but did I mention the bobble hat?

          Knitting the hat was fun, but making the bobble was amazing… I really don’t remember the last time I made a pom-pom. 

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          I finally managed to buy some buttons. My wool lady was visiting her shop to pick up some supplies for herself. She arranged for me to pick up my buttons during the hour she was going to be there, and so, with my shopping list in hand to queue at the supermarket on my way home, I tapped on the glass door of the locked shop to be let in and came away with so many happy thoughts clutching my treasure in a little paper bag… Strange times indeed. 

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          Of course, still having half a ball of wool just sitting on the coffee table next to the knitting needles while I waited for buttons… You can’t seriously thing I would play some more…

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           More from before: A little peek further into the world that I’ve “Created“.

Virus exercise

          These are strange times we live in, the summer season in Weymouth should be in full swing, the population on a sunny Sunday afternoon should be practically doubled by tourists, but instead during a venture into the outside you can easily walk in the road to pass locals on the pavement at a safe distance with a polite nod as you go.

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          I only go out for my allowed daily exercise with Hubby about once a week, I’m still working in my little supermarket on three days, walking in, standing up for most of my shift and then plodding back home. The rest of the week I’ve been playing in the garden.

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          I remember another busy Bank holiday when I had gone out looking for a “Quiet Spot” and on this walk we headed in that direction again.

      Walking along the south side of the harbour, if you heep going to will come to the old stone pier. You pass the steps up to Nothe Gardens and the Pier Cafe, and just as the pier extends out in front of you there are a couple of… I would have said old wooden steps, but they seem to have been replaced by brand new ones… At the bottom of these steps, even when the tide is in you’ll find yourself on a tiny pebbled beach at the base of Nothe Fort.  But when the tide is out, this little beach is the gateway to so much more.

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          I’m not as young as I used to be, this second childhood is so much more fun, as I already know the bits I don’t like… Vegetables for instance… , although the little girl in me sometimes forgets my aged limitations.  Clambering out to my rock to sit with only the sea in front of me takes more careful negotiation than it would have in my younger years, I can’t afford even a little slip nowadays, and this time, once I reached the stone the warmth where it had been basking in the sun for many hours seeped through to my bones as I sat and made me smile in equal amounts to the sound of the splashing waves. As you can see from the previous photo, Hubby had his camera out too, but this is the photo I snapped from my pearch before I cambered back to dry land at the base of the Fort.

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          The next decision was made by the old lady, the hips, knees and ankles were good to go on, so instead of heading back to the pebbled beach and the Old Stone Pier, we continued around the base of the Fort towards the gardens… And the giant boulders of Portland stone, dropped into place as protection from the sea at the base of the gardens.

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          The end of the path disappears underneath the giant rocks and you have to climb over them to make your way back up to higher ground.

          At high tide the little path turns back into a secret as the waves break onto the wall of the Fort.

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          More from before: Semi-retirement by the seaside in “Weymouth