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Sunday, 23 April 2017

St George's Day

It's St George's Day here in England, the day of our patron saint.  When I was a small Brownie, I used to have to go to the St George's Day March for all the district Scout and Guide units which always seemed interminably boring to a small person who didn't like standing in line or walking in time with everyone else (some would say I've not changed!).  These days, it's not really celebrated much at all - certainly not like the parties of St Patrick's Day - although apparently there is a movement that wants it to become a national holiday.  I just think it's funny and not a little ironic that St George himself never actually set foot in England as he lived in Palestine so our patron saint is an immigrant whilst immigration is one of those things that is high on politicians' agendas ... anyway, this is neither the time nor the place for a political discussion - there's going to be enough of that over the coming weeks as the UK gears up for another general election and all I'm going to say on that is get out and vote.  I might even say it more than once.  Apply for a postal vote if you can't get to a polling station.  Apathy is not an excuse for anything.

So, on to happier things.  Small daughter goes back to school tomorrow.  Actually, I don't think she's too happy about that but I am.  Not because she's getting under my feet or getting on my nerves because she isn't, but because it means I'll be able to get my focus together for some exciting things that are coming up.  It's the Sockalong's second birthday on 3 May - I'm going to be having a giveaway here on the blog and I've got some lovely gifts from generous friends to pass on (I'll tell you more as the date gets closer!) and then it's Yarn Shop Day on 6 May and I'll be at Christine's Wool Shop (CityKnits) in Bourneville.  I'm also going to be posting about this year's Yarndale Sock Line which will be putting in an appearance at Yarndale again before the socks head off to warm some appreciative toes.  

On the subject of appreciative toes (mine this time!), I've cast on some new catnip socks now that the others have gone to their new home.  Honestly, I just can't leave this yarn alone!  I've used the last of the WYS Candyfloss yarn with Sherbet Fizz and I just love the way these colours go together.  They're definitely Easter eggs, or sweeties, or something that just makes me want to get them on my feet as soon as possible!  I've been asked more than a few times recently about changing colours in a sock too, so I'm going to write a post about that very soon.  


I've finished the first sock now and cast on the second so it won't be long before I'm happy-dancing in my new socks!


What about that dinky sock stitch marker?  That was a treat from Rachel at Demelza's Delights who's sent me some of her beautiful stitch markers for the Sockalong giveaway (I may have had to buy some of her stitch markers for myself too!).  

And on the subject of catnip, here's the real thing in the garden ... (did you see what I did there? J


Our cats are very pleased to see it sprouting again, I've noticed them having a good old chew on the leaves.  Luckily, there's enough of it for them not to eat it all!

Come on, let's go and take a quick look round the garden whilst you're here.  I love this time of year when everything's re-appearing and I spot something new nearly every day.  It's like greeting old friends and it makes me very happy.

Forget-me-not.  I couldn't forget this plant, it pops up everywhere!


Our Magnolia stellata (star magnolia) is still flowering.  I love magnolias, they're such beautiful flowers.  Our plant is quite small and I'm glad about that, but it still flowers prolifically every year.


I'm always surprised to see tulips as I'm always convinced that the squirrels have eaten all the bulbs.  These ones are closer to the house and I think that's what's saved them.


Oh, I just love the green flowers of this Helleborus argutifolius (Corsican hellebore)!  This plant has got bigger and bigger (unlike the Magnolia) and is now sprawling across the grass making it difficult to cut without damaging it the plant, but I've decided to just cut around it now.  I brought it from our last house and we've been in this one nearly 14 years now so it's doing pretty well!


Bluebells.  These ones are proper English bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) but we do have some of the Spanish ones (Hyacinthoides hispanica) too which we inherited when we moved here. I did think about digging them all up at one point, but they're contained in the garden, they're not bothering the English bluebells (there is a problem in the wild as the Spanish variety will take over the space of the English ones, much as the grey squirrels have done to the red squirrels) and they're also very pretty, whatever their heritage, so I've decided to leave them.  


Next to the bluebells is the cardoon (Cynara cardunculus); the young leaves of this plant are just fabulous with their architectural points and soft grey fuzziness.  Once the flowers arrive the leaves go very straggly, as if the plant has put all it's effort into the flower and just can't be bothered with the leaves any more - I think it's a shame as the leaves are just as attractive as the flowers.


This is the chocolate vine (Akebia quinata) which doesn't look or smell like chocolate so I've no idea why it's called that.  It's a fabulous plant for screening and hides our compost bin nicely, although it does need some firm pruning or it goes a bit mad!


More leaves, this time of a fern.  I always think they look so prehistoric with the way they unroll, and indeed there is fossil evidence that ferns were part of the diet of many plant-eating dinosaurs. Don't you think it's amazing that a version of this plant was alive so many million years ago?


This is another one that makes me think of history - this is the flower bud of Centaurea montana - and I think it looks it looks like the medieval ladies' headwear called a Crispinette.


What do you think?

Source: http://www.kats-hats.co.uk/crispinette.shtml

We're nearly done in the garden now but there's just one more thing I want to show you.  Ta-dah! This is compost from our compost bin which is going to grow our veg for this year.  I love it when I can recycle something and you can't get more recycled than compost!  It doesn't look like the stuff you get in bags from the garden centre at the moment and it will need to go through the riddle (sieve) to get rid of the big lumps and that's going to be my job for this afternoon, but I'm super-happy that there's so much of it that I can use!


Pretty much one whole veg box full!  It's spurred me on to getting this year's compost started already now that the weather's warming up, so the same again next year will be very nice!


With the school and uni holidays nearly at an end, we took a trip out to the beach yesterday.   We haven't done much out-and-about-ing over these holidays; big daughter has a hefty assignment which is due in this week which she's had to work on, and small daughter has been happy playing with friends, having sleepovers and generally not having to think too much about anything (apart from the trip to buy school shoes the other day which is never a fun outing).  I've love love LOVED not having to do the school run for the last two weeks and although I'm ready for it again tomorrow, I'm also looking forward to the next set of school holidays in May!

Here's the beach we went to - we went to Wales, as we often do, but to a different beach; one that we've never been to before.  This one was at Talacre, a place that we've driven past often enough but never stopped at.  It's a funny place, pretty much one long road that goes all the way to the beach with a small village clustered around the end consisting of two holiday caravan parks, some small closes of bungalows, two amusement arcades, a couple of cafes and a cash'n'carry shop that sells just about anything you could ever want to buy.  It was pretty busy with holidaymakers at the caravan parks, but the beach stretched for miles and once you got past the beach car park area you could lose everybody else quite easily.  We didn't have time to go too far up the beach, but we did walk to the lighthouse.


The dog was desperate to get off his lead and run on the sand, and he did get to have a sploosh about in a small pool, but unfortunately for him there were too many people with picnics around and he can't be trusted not to snaffle sandwiches that don't belong to him so he had to stay on his lead.  We'll definitely go back another day, though, and make sure that we head in the other direction out of temptation's way!


The sun is still shining so I'm going to head out into the garden for a bit before I've got to start thinking about school uniform and the week ahead.  Have a lovely Sunday, whatever you're doing!

24 comments:

  1. That is gorgeous yarn! Your toes will be happy indeed when they're inside those socks :) It's lovely to see the garden coming back to life isn't it? You are a bit further ahead than our garden here in the Highlands, I have tulip & bluebell buds now and only about 3 brave leaves on the cardoon so far (we also have a yellow weather warning for snow tomorrow!). Yes, the bud of the centaurea montana does look like a crispinette! That's a much nicer name than my son gave it when it appeared in the garden the first spring we lived here - he called it "the evil plant"! (He was only 8 back then ;)). What a beautiful beach you discovered in Wales! Glad you have had a relaxing school holidays, but I always thought it was nice to get back into the routine of term time too... Have a lovely week, Helen

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    1. The "evil plant"? That made me laugh! Hope you have more flowers out now! xx

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  2. Lovely to see your garden, it all looks great. I will have to look out for some catnip, my cat QT will love it, hubby is wondering if we should grow it in a pot, does it spread? My Mother-in-Law loves the Hellebore and has many varieties in her garden. Agree with you about the plants similarities. Enjoyed looking at your photos especially the socks and lighthouse ones. Have a good week. Cathy x

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    1. No, the catnip doesn't spread so it's OK to have in your border (unlike other mints) but it will grow well in a pot. The only thing you might find is that if you have a small plant, QT might try to sit on it and squash it, but an upturned hanging basket frame over the top of it will save it! xx

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  3. Love your blog! We are growing catmint for our two cats - they love it. I am a fool for socks, and really like the yarn you are using! So darned pretty.

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    1. Cats really do go mad for catmint, don't they? I love the rather dazed expression ours have when they've sat in it for too long :-) xx

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  4. Very pretty sock wool ..... Been knitting since I was about 5yrs old and I'm just venturing into the world of sock making! Using your fab sock along pattern and I'm on the last 3rd ( foot to toe) now and it's taken me about 9 days so far!!! The trouble is I'm crazy about gardening too and as its been so warm here in the south lately everything is growing at such a pace, much of my time is spent in the garden until it gets dark. Most of the magnolias have finished around here and the wisterias are now in full swing! Happy knitting and gardening X

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    1. I'm so glad you've found the tutorials useful; sock knitting fits in very well with gardening on the whole - sometimes you might even find time to knit in the garden! xx

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  5. You really are making me want to go on a yarn splurge, such pretty colours. You've got some gorgeous plants in your garden, I love magnolia stellata and I can definitely see what you mean about the cornflower looking like a crispinette, it hadn't occurred to me before. I hope the return to school has gone well today. I was looking forward to my two leaving school so that I didn't have to do the school run and then what did I go and do but get a dog, so I'm still out and about at that time now, just with a furry friend instead of the kids.

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    1. At least you can't be late when you're walking the dog! ;-) The yarn's lovely, isn't it? WYS is a good buy, it makes lovely socks xx

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  6. Love your blog Christine and you've inspired me to learn to knit socks- I managed my first one on the third attempt and now have almost finished its partner. I now have about five balls of sock wool waiting to be transformed and have some WYS pink flamingo impatiently waiting to get on the needles. I live about 20 miles from Talacre in Llandudno so I know the area quite well. Our garden is waiting for a major overhaul this year, but things are quite slow here as we have very cold and strong winds. Thanks for your sock inspiration. Rhian

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    1. That's lovely to hear, thank you Rhian! I can imagine that the wind coming in from the estuary isn't always conducive to growing plants, but you're certainly in a lovely part of the world! xx

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  7. The sock yarn is so pretty and reminds me of 'love heart' sweets. It is lovely to see around your garden and all the different plants. The chocolate vine flowers are such a great colour and shape, most unusual. I have ferns in the shady part of my garden and love the way they unfurl.

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    1. Ferns are magic, aren't they? And yes, the yarn is like love hearts - I used to really like those! xx

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  8. Lovely blooms you have in the garden, your compost looks gorgeous, full of nutrients and goodness.
    Loving the stripes in this wool with the plain top.
    I used to carry the flag in the girl guides on parades, happy days!
    Have a lovely week back in your routine. xx

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    1. You'll remember standing in line for hours at parades as well then! Not usually what I'd choose to be doing on a Sunday afternoon! :-) xx

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  9. Hello - another sock-knitter here, visiting from central Massachusetts USA where the daffodils have JUST begun to bloom - your gardens are way ahead of mine :) I enjoyed reading your blog today and have to leave a comment because I am on the second sock of a pair of WYS socks, in Mallard. I love their self-striping color combinations!

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    1. Hello, it's lovely to see you! You're quite a way behind us in the garden, but then you are farther north too, I think. WYS yarns are lovely, aren't they? Those stripes are so addictive! xx

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  10. I love your new sock yarn. It reminds me of sherbet! I've learned so much from you and your garden photos. Today I bought a beautiful hellebore for my flower garden. I'm hoping it will do well in our poor clay soil. Have a great week and thanks for sharing your lovely garden. Pat xx

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    1. Oh, I hope your hellebore does well too, Pat! It should be OK as long as you can stop it getting waterlogged as the roots will rot - but from what you write, I think too much rain isn't something that happens to you too often! xx

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  11. Hi Christine, thanks for dropping by my blog yesterday. It has given me much pleasure to discover where my socks ended up and to know that I can start thinking about a pair for this year x

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    1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog, Sian, and it'll be lovely to have you be part of the Sock Line again, thank you! xx

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  12. Your new socks and your garden are beautiful!

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    1. Thank you! Hope all's well with you! xx

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