First proper rain we’ve had for a while. I’m a fair weather gardener. Meant less time weeding than I planned today, but the water butts are topped up. The sun is out, catching the rain drops on every surface. Including Nature’s own pompoms. Weird but wonderful. Feels like it could shake the droplets away, any minute.
Alpine Anemone. In case you are wondering.
It looked like this a month or so ago.
Sigh. How time flies.
I miss sharing my current book and knitting progress on a Wednesday. It gave me that extra encouragement to do more. I’d like to carry on, but this time, I think, I’ll include progress in other long term craft projects, or even just life in general. Life doesn’t always serve up enough time in the week to add many knitted rows, or enough awake moments to read another chapter. Some weeks I want to sew or even grow something instead.
Here I go.
I’m going to kick off with my latest book. I have finished it. A few weeks ago, Briony shared a book she had been reading. From her description, I knew I’d like it, so I ordered a copy. The day The Blackout arrived, we had a power cut for a few hours in the evening (again), so I approached this book with even more interest.
The book starts as the electricity begins to go off all over Europe, but no-one knows why. The grid is interlinked across countries. As one area loses power, there is a ripple effect across all countries. Chaos. Traffic lights stop working and cars crash. Hospitals try to cope with more casualties, without the help of power. No water. No sanitation. No power to pump petrol from the underground tanks. Soon everything grinds to a halt. No food or medicine. People start to die.
I thought it was interesting how people went from helping each other, even strangers, to looking out for themselves. As resources diminished there were still pockets of support, such as a soup kitchen and the government departments in some countries struggling on, but there were plenty more that chose to wield a gun instead and seize power.
The failed attempts to bring the electricity back on line were interesting. There were parts in the plot that had holes (what really? You really didn’t think of that? Where are your procedures?), but some of those were necessary to make the story.
It made me think. How would I survive? Water would be our main problem. Over time, I think we’d have the skills and knowledge to survive as a family. I remember reading years ago, that if such a major permanent change happened, such as no electricity, it would be those that stuck together as a community, and shared skills, that would survive. I think that’s true. They advocated building communities in readiness, which seemed to be taking it a little far. I’d hate to eat my words on that one.
The book made me realise how much people rely on electricity. An eye opener. If you read this book, be prepared to add candles and extra canned food to your next shopping list. Maybe water too and a generator.
Thought I’d include the children’s books too. They’ve all read lots this holiday and the pile of read books is even bigger.
Nine year old has resumed ploughing through the Harry Potter series, he’s on number 5.
Twelve year old was desperate to read something less depressing, so I suggested the Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. One of my favourite books when I was her age. She loves it. I can’t remember the last time I saw her so engrossed in a book. There was a film based on the story, but the book is a million miles better than the film. In the sense that the book may once have been in the same room as the script writers.
Fourteen year old is flying through books. She’s finished this one now. Her sixth book this holiday. She is enjoying the uninterrupted time to read.
Last but by no means least, our bed time story book. We popped into the Oxfam bookshop today and picked up a copy of More About Paddington. I’ll be reading a chapter a night to the Youngest, before bed. Often the others will quietly turn up to listen too. There is something rather lovely about having a book read to you, last thing in the day. Especially such delightful stories.
No knitting progress. I’ve been working on my Dear Daughter quilt. Two more squares finished. They are waiting for letters to go with them, which in turn, is waiting for me to be inspired. Sometimes thinking of the right subject, that meets the Teens approval, can be challenging. I’m sure I’ll think of something. In the meantime, I’m on my third square, with three more to go and I’m finished.
In the kitchen
With the children on holiday, my role as chief chef has been called into play more. My usual lunch of grabbing a cheese and pickle toastie is not always enough for my growing brood. I’ve been making fruit muffins each afternoon and chopping up fruit to keep in the fridge, ready for the “I’m hungry” cry.
Another big hit is so simple. It’s an old favourite that tends to be forgotten during the colder months when the ingredients are out of season. I chop up tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and red onions, then top with parsley and fennel from the garden. The children love it. Even enough to discuss whether it would make a suitable breakfast.
The difference is the use of herbs. If I add chopped chives to the top of a dish of boiled potatoes, they disappear in a flash. Without chives, I can guarantee I’ll have left overs.
This summer, my herb collection is going to get a lot more care and attention.
In the garden
I’ve been busy potting up sweetcorn and cabbages. If all goes well, we should have enough sweetcorn for plenty of meals in the garden, and some left over to freeze. Cabbage is a more distant ambition. They will be helping to add fresh food over the hungry months, after Christmas, when not much else is in season. This is planning ahead. It feels way ahead.
A generous slice of life.
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There is no denying that spring is gathering momentum. I keep finding small clumps of flowers budding up in unexpected corners, around the garden. While weeds are gaining an advantage in other areas.
Always the way. “Remove weeds” glides effortlessly to the top of my weekend list.
It’s not the only area that’s growing. Earlier this week, I mentioned how the children are sprouting in height (muffin recipe here). Turns out that they are growing in confidence, self reliance and knowledge too.
The Teen returned from Italy, full of her adventures. She did have fun and has fallen in love with the country. (I knew she would.) This has probably been one of the most successful residential school trips she has been on. I am full of admiration for the teachers that take students on these outings. Whether for a day, a week or longer. They deserve recognition.
I really believe that this sort of expedition teaches children more than the theme of the trip. The Teen has grown in confidence and self-reliance. Something that would be harder to achieve if we were with her, always at the ready to step in whenever she needed us. Instead, she has had experiences to reinforce and add to her belief in herself. She has grown, in height as well, but also in herself.
Middle daughter has also grown. She is over mid way through her first year at secondary. This week, all her hard work was singled out and recognized by the school. No mean feat in a large school. Wonderful for us all to hear, but even more importantly, confidence building for her. There is a definite skip in her step, and an easy smile, at the moment.
I’ve been busy too. Our windowsills are heavy with seed trays. Seedlings erupting through the soil, when my back is turned. I’m particularly pleased with my sweetcorn. Last year, I saved a few of the old cobs that we grew. A couple of weekends ago, I planted them in pots, with only a half-hearted thought that they would grow.
Turns out they did. I have about 100 plants coming up. I can make room for them all in the kitchen garden, but I don’t want to get carried away and count my chickens before they hatch. Who knows what kind of cobs they will produce. Fingers crossed, but if they all succeed, I have images of a farm stall at the end of our drive, with the children spending late summer, selling armfuls of sweetcorn cobs. Maybe wearing dungarees and straw hats. Probably taking it too far.
A girl can dream.
Our squashes, cucumbers and cabbage are doing well too. I’m following the three sister planting approach again. I can’t help smiling at all the trays of seedlings. It looks like a miniature version of our kitchen garden tucked up on the windowsills for now. In a few months time the few square foot will scale up to metres by metres of growing food outside. I hope.
I’m back to crocheting my garden bunting, from last year. Yes, this is garden twine I’m using. No, it is not the easiest thing to crochet with. I must be mad. I did up the size of my hook in an attempt to make it easier, but the squares were loopy and loose. So back to the 4.0 mm hook. One square a day is about all I can manage before my hands ache too much. Growing, but slowly.
Last day of term before the school holidays begin. Phew. Lots to do. Before I forget, must add new school trousers to my list. Couldn’t help noticing that there is a little bit more ankle been shown recently, by two of the children.
They grow. No arguing with that.
Word of the week. Grow.