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Remember the garden

          Let’s go for one final stroll around the garden before we move on to pastures new.

It’s a pretty small garden as gardens go, there aren’t many plants, just a few that have managed to survive my not so green fingers, but I like my little bits of interest, small things which catch your eye when you’re looking at something else.

          Hanging on a rusty nail just outside the back door is a set of keys, one of my first garden ornaments I believe, bought a long time ago at our local garden and D.I.Y centre.  They’re getting a bit old now, and little specks of rust are appearing, that’s ok though, I like rust.

Keys.

          Let’s head off to the right of the door, clockwise ? anti-clockwise ?  I’m not sure, I guess it depends on whether you’re lying on the floor looking up or flying above, looking down.  Next to the right however you’ll find a cat and mouse.  The cat came from the local D.I.Y  and  gardn store, his tail bounces if you press it.  He’s getting a little worse for wear and although I’ve already said I do like rust, I think he might be heading for a little tlc just to make sure he’s around for a few more years to come.

          The mouse, who doesn’t seem at all bothered by the cat, is one of a pair I picked up on a visit to Llanberis at the bottom of Snowdon.  They were just unpacking new stock at the visitors centre shop and I couldn’t resist.

Cat and mouse.

          My chiminea sits in the corner of the garden next to the one fence panel which gives a little privacy from next door and bridges the gap between the house and the side of next door’s shed.  Don’t worry about it being too near to the fence, I’ll have to admit here, I’ve never used it.  I bought it as much as a decoration as anything, and since when the evenings arrive I’m usually to be found toddling off to work in the twilight zone, I haven’t really found the opportunity to sit out in the garden of an evening.  However, all change, maybe I’ll get a bit of use out of it soon.

Chiminea.

          I almost forgot our little ant, I don’t like ants at all, but for this one I made an exception and brought it home from Palma, Mallorca and he sits upon the top of the fence post.

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          Ahh, you’ve met “Snap and Crackle” before, my concrete rabbits which save so many stories from so long ago.

Snap and Crackle.

          The garden spade and rake are children size, they’re faded now, but I like the way  that the faded green and yellow add a tiny hint of colour as they stand up in the corner against the fence post.

Rabbits and garden tools.

          My snail, a tiny cast iron snail found in a little gift shop at a trip away to who knows where, but I’m quite happy to give this little snail a home in my garden.

Snail.

          Very old, very rusted, and very much in need of some more tlc.  This little watering can has been around for as long as I can remember.  I’ll patch it up to go in the new garden, a little tap with a hammer on a flat surface, a careful brush with a wire brush and a new coat of paint …

Teapot stick.

          This moon face sits hidden away in the bottom of the red pyracantha.  Very often it’s very much hidden, but I’ve cut the summer’s shoots away leaving this year’s berries to gather the sunshine and turn a nice shade of red to splash the garden with colour through the winter.

Moon sphere.

          This frog is carved from a pebble.  It’s more than a little worse for wear,  I’m not sure if “Alice” took a liking or disliking to it, she used to pick it up in her teeth and throw it around the garden, hence the scratches and chipped base, but it stays, and it’s coming with us.

Frog.

          Did you spot the worm hiding behind the frog in the last picture.  I’m not sure if the worm will come out of the ground in one piece or not, or if the truth be told, if there’s any worm left below the surface at all.  He’s just a little terracotta worm who is supposed to live in an indoor plant pot, but I preferred him in the garden and he’s weathered a few hard frosts so most of him has crumbled away, we’ll give him one last tug and see how we get on.

Worm.

          I bought two of these bird houses from another garden centre many moons ago, they’re fixed onto the trellis with just one screw though the back.  The pyracantha has grown so nicely around them that it seems a shame to take them off so they’re staying put.

Bird house 1.

          Another addition to the side shed flower bed is this little house on a stick.  It wouldn’t survive being uprooted and moved so it’s staying put too, possibly much to the relief of whatever bug has taken up residence inside.

          … And look, there’s the second mouse.

Stick house.

          Now this piece of my garden I can tell you exactly where and when it arrived.  Middle Daughter gave it to me as a thank-you gift on her wedding day.  Her Mum-in-Law is a flower person and so received a huge bouquet of flowers, I’m not what you would call a flower person at all, pretty things yes but flowers are all together too smelly for me, so Middle Daughter and new Son-in-Law bought me a pretty little garden bird bath instead.

Bird bath.

          My lizard has been around for ages too, I have a feeling I bought it at a street craft market in Hereford.  He’s made of cast and so has rusted to a beautiful brownish red colour. 

Lizard.

          Moving further around the garden to the corner flowerbed, we find the bird house, not just any bird house, the bird house … the bird house which Alice used to sit in often.  I’s not going to join us in the new garden.  It’s so old and weathered now that it wouldn’t make the journey but I can’t bring myself to throw it out so it’s going to stay in the flowerbed and I’ll remember it there.  Unfortunately, the bulrush bird feeded isn’t going to make it either, the rust has made the stem too weak to hold up the head and it’s snapped off with not enough metal left to make a repair.  Never mind, I’ll just have to find something new to replace it at a later date.

Bird table.

          Miss “Sleepyhead” has been sitting at the far end of the garden for a while now,  she doesn’t seem to mind that the ants have built a nest around the post near to her, but she’s been well brushed off ready for a move to a new garden.

Face.

          Another type of visitor who is usually frowned upon is a snail.  This springy one came from the same D.I.Y. garden as the cat, only a year later.

Spring snail.

          Middle Daughter had a set of keys in her garden too and one day they needed a new home so they came to live with me, now there’s a set by the back door, and another hanging just beside the back gate too.

More keys.

          If you turn away from the back gate and walk along the block path, you’ll come to our shed.  It’s made of red bricks like next door’s shed and I’ve dressed it in a trellis of pyracantha too,  orange berries on our shed, and red berries on next door’s.

          Here’s the second of the two little wooden houses I bought too. 

Bird house 2.

          This little horse shoe I bought in a £1 shop in town.  It’s cheap and cheerful but apparently I must remember to stand it up the right way, if the open end is facing down, then all of the luck falls out.

Horse shoe.

          My salamander came from Barcelona, I will admit to not being a big fan of Barcelona in general.  I was very taken with Gaudi though, especially his mosaics and when I found this little garden ornament in one of the stalls on the ramblas I was more than willing to find it a space in my luggage quota for the flight home. 


          Lastly, but not at all least, is my butterfly.  It’s not a bright coloured butterfly, quite the opposite really and it used to hang high up on the back wall of the house.  Unfortunately, the weather got the better of it there and during one particularly windy storm, it flew across the garden gaining a few extra dents and folds.  I guess it’s also in need of some tlc now so as soon as it comes out of it’s travel box and into a new garden, I’ll give it a splash of new colour with my watering can.

Butterfly.

           More from before : Goings on in “my garden“.

Ant too

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          Looking again at the picture of “Ant” from my post the other day, you might have noticed it’s familiar surroundings.  If you did, you would be forgiven for thinking this is a strange garden ornament for me to buy.

          My relationship with ants will never be a happy one, after my encounter I would quite literally cross the road to walk on the opposite pavement if confronted by an ants nest.  I remember walking out of a chipshop at one time and being hungry because a young boy was teasing his sister with an ant on his finger and I couldn’t watch.  One particularly strange summer I was confined to the house for three days as our town was hit by swarms of flying ants.

          Then the “mum thing” happened.  It didn’t happen overnight, but somehow I changed from the little scared mouse that I was, I realised that I had a responsibility to these tiny little beings.  I was to put my fears aside and risk life and limb to protect them if necessary.   I was still the little mouse, that didn’t change, but I realised that if these little people needed me to, I could scare away elephants.

          I tried not to show my own fears, going out of my way to confront them with the girls so they wouldn’t find them crippling as I once had.  We sat on the grass for picnics, we went to the dentist. We ran through dark places making loud noises and we braved small pavements next to busy traffic.  

          At one point, to my horror, Middle Daughter sat down in an ants nest during a picnic.  I’m sure the hair standing up on the back of my neck was visible from across the park, but somehow I did the “mum thing” and brushed them off of her with my bare hands.

          Ants are not allowed in my house, I will suffer them in my garden now, but every little crack under the skirting board or around the window frames has been blocked up, filled with a squirt of Bath sealant (my magic fixer for many a problem).

          As for the new resident in my garden.  I bought him in Palma, Mallorca, they seem to have a fascination there with ants, the hot weather I guess, I’m glad I didn’t actually notice any, but this little fella with his happy smile caught my attention so I brought him home.

           More from before : Goings on in “my garden“.

Ant

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          I’ve had a “thing” about ants, ever since I laid down in a red ants nest many years ago on a family holiday to the Isle of Wight, considering I have such a bad memory,  it’s surprising how clear this tiny snipit of memory is, I can still remember it as if it were yesterday.

         We were visiting Sandown, a sandy beach nestled at the bottom of a display of multicoloured cliffs. The rocks from these cliffs have been used to fill many a little glass bottle of varying shapes and sizes. I can vaguely remember I had a lighthouse shaped one filled with carefully layered coloured stripes of sand and stopped with a cork.

          I can also vaguely remember a chair lift to carry you easily down from the clifftop to the beach below, I can’t remember if we rode the lift or not, but the carpark at the top of the lift, now that’s a different matter completely.

          Picture a family of five, Mum, Dad,  and three Sisters, two of which have red hair and the accompanying luminously pale skin, picture all the trappings which travel with such a family for a day at the beach.

          Now picture if you will, one skinny little mischievous mite, smothered in suncream and impatient to get into more trouble. Dressed in probably a set of bathers and a pair of shorts, toes tangled into a pair of flip-flops, and an all-important shirt loosely floating over the whole get-up as an extra sunshine protective layer.

          That shirt…

          The shirt which has stayed in the depths of my murky grey cells, the one I can remember like yesterday.  It wasn’t my shirt, it was my mum’s.  A creamy beige coloured shirt, with pale brown vertical stripes of different widths. A cheesecloth material, not too heavy, loose enough to let the air through, but thick enough to keep the sun out. A collar and cuffs, and buttons right down the front. The arms were obviously a little too long, but my mum had moved the buttons for her small wrists, and my large hands (even then my hands didn’t fit easily into the cookie jar), my large hands kept the buttoned cuffs from falling off.

          So, there you have the picture, I’ve set the scene, now watch the little red-head sit on the bank to the rear of the car and lean back into the grass. Don’t bother to shout, there’s no point in yelling to tell her what we already know, the red ants, whether annoyed by the interuption, or just attracted by the scent of the suncream have already begun to swarm onto and into the shirt from all directions.  A swipe at a ticklingly long piece of grass turns out to not be at a piece of grass at all.

          The terrified little girl jumps up screaming,  I can still feel the scream even now, as an involuntary shiver runs down my spine.

          The shirt…  That shirt… Covered in red ants, is pulled from my back… Those buttoned up cuffs, fastened so neatly around my wrists, are stuck!

          Still screaming, arms and legs flailing around frantically, the ants are washed away with the only liquid at hand… A huge bottle of pre-diluted orange squash.

           More from before – Holidaying in the “Isle of Wight“, September 2011.