Friday, 25 July 2014

Glorious Purple

Photo copyright: Maggie May

We've been experiencing the hottest summer for years. It is really lovely to be able to dry all the washing so quickly and always be warm. Only occasionally has the atmosphere been oppressive with storms or the nights too hot to sleep. 
Everything in the garden has done really well this year including this clematis. I wish I knew it's name. There are hundreds of different varieties so will probably never be able to identify it.
Maybe some one else might know?

Photo copyright Maggie May

Friday, 18 July 2014

Wheelchair Madness

I've been looking after Harry for the last 6 weeks or so and before that was visiting him daily in hospital for nearly a month.
After he came home, I thought we'd got into a fairly good routine which started early in the morning and finished with me rolling into bed by 10.30 which by my usual standards seems very early.
However, I've been very tired and seem very ready for sleep by then.

Everything was ticking along in a fairly smooth way until I borrowed a wheelchair.
As Harry was getting fed up with being trapped indoors, I thought it would be good for him to be able to go to church again or even go for short walks.
Trouble is, Bristol is very hilly and there is no area that doesn't face a moderate to steep hill to get to it.

I thought I'd sussed out a really level way to get Harry to Church, but hadn't realised just how wheelchair unfriendly the local area is. We can see the church practically from our house and it would normally take less than five minutes to cross the busy road and walk up the flight of steps into the sanctuary. The wheelchair access is round the back and the roads to get there are rather rough.

There are sometimes cars who park half way onto the pavement right next to a lamp post. I'm sure the owners have no idea that they've left no space for a wheelchair to get through and I'm not strong enough to face the drop of the kerb to the road let alone get him back up again onto the pavement. Where some of the pavements have a lovely surface of tarmac, which is excellent for wheelchair users, everything is ruined by a private lane that crosses the pavement leaving very uneven slabs that are really jarring for the carer to push across and the wheelchair user is very shaken up. Not good for bad backs.

The local hairdresser that Harry has always used has a raised metal bar going across the bottom of the door that is also up a giant step.

Needless to say, my sciatica has come back with a vengeance and now I can hardly walk without excruciating pain let alone push Harry anywhere.

I'm ashamed to say that I've never really given wheelchair users much thought in the past. It is only when seeing it from another angle by necessity, that I've realised just how difficult things can be.
Maybe everyone should have to go around in a wheelchair for a month to make them wheelchair aware. This could be part of a youngsters education.
In the mean time I must just plod on and get on with life best I can.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Thistles versus Gravel

I expect you remember me telling about the waist high thistles in a neighbours enclosed garden and the beautiful Painted Lady butterflies that emerged from them a few weeks ago.

This morning I felt the whole house vibrating and went to investigate outside. We don't get earthquakes of significant magnitude to cause that kind of experience over here, so I was a bit mystified.
My *neighbour with the thistles* was having the workmen in and everything was being raised to the ground, dug up and the earth hammered flat and covered with a membrane. This was later covered over with a thick layer of shingle.
The whole garden is now gravel.
This is what happens when someone absolutely hates gardening.

I'm glad the butterflies had a chance to hatch out before this happened, though I guess there'll be none next year.
One good thing to come out of it is that the yellow thistle flowers didn't have time to develop into seed. Last year I had quite a job to pull out the baby thistles that sprung up all over my garden.

However, I guess the cats will now come over to use my garden for their toilet needs as unless they enjoy digging about in gravel mine might be more appealing. Come to think of it, they may look on the gravel as a giant cat tray. Eek!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Trees Or Toilet Paper?

My Granddaughters come round for breakfast most mornings before school and they go upstairs and brush their teeth and see to their ablutions before leaving.

The other morning, while I was in my bedroom, I overheard a conversation through the bathroom door whilst Amber the oldest was brushing her teeth and Millie the youngest must have been on the toilet.

"Millie, you're using far too much paper. Don't forget the poor trees that have died for you so that you could wipe your bottom!"

In theory, that was quite a touching remark...... except that I haven't really noticed Amber being particularly into conservation and recycling.
Millie is probably into it more...... so you never know, she might try and cut down on the amount she uses.
Its easy to criticise other people's habits though, isn't it? Especially if it's from a sibling.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Painted Ladies

In my last post I described the flocks of butterflies that were swarming all over the gardens and I mistakenly identified them as Peacocks.
They always seemed to be fluttering quite fast and never stayed still for long enough to positively identify them.
One day last week, I was gardening and found one butterfly that was resting in the shade of a honeysuckle hedge so I was able to study it at length. 
It was a Painted Lady which is another common species of British butterfly that lays eggs on thistles. Plenty for the caterpillars to munch on in the neighbour's garden that is filled with them.
 Maybe not quite as spectacular as the Peacocks, but they do look dramatic when they are all fluttering by the dozen and during the late afternoon and early evening they continue to visit in kaleidoscopes, which is the collective name for many, apparently.

Life goes on in a humdrum sort of way in this household. One day is very much the same as the next. Harry continues to make small amounts of progress and has enjoyed sitting out in the garden during our glorious sunshine. The weather is consistently summery and I see that today is the longest day already.
It is still light at ten o'clock in the evening and the sun rises again at 5 am.
It will all start to change from now on, little by little but we should get another two months of summer if we are lucky.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Good Out Of Bad?

My neighbour makes no secret of the fact that he hates gardening and I sometimes do a bit of weeding for him in his small front patch. However, the enclosed garden at the back of his house is full of almost waist high weeds with a lot of thistles.
They eventually pollinate and I have lots of downy seed heads flying into my garden with the breeze. This, of course means lots of weeding eventually for me.

I was surprised that all during yesterday afternoon and especially late evening, the sky seemed full of orange fluttery things flying over our garden and they were spreading all up and down the road. They were definitely coming from the garden filled with weeds!
I was amazed when I went outside to inspect these fluttery beings. I'd never seen so many butterflies in all my life but none of them would stay still for long enough to positively identify which species.
I searched my book on British butterflies and found that Peacocks definitely thrive on thistles and they looked the same size, colour and shape, so I guess that's what they are.
Just goes to show that something good can come out of something bad.

I continue to look after Harry and he is marginally stronger than when he first came out of hospital. Although I am tired, we are getting into a routine now and help seems to be coming in slowly now, in various forms, so progress is being made there, too.


Tuesday, 3 June 2014

It's All About the Little Things........

Photo copyright: Maggie May

Harry was discharged from hospital last Thursday, amidst absolute chaos at home because of the gas central heating conversion that affected nearly every room.
The good thing about allowing him home was that his pain was more or less completely under control. The bad thing was that the plumbers and gas fitters had taken up floor boards in most rooms and that Harry now needs a zimmer frame to get around and he caught a chill because the front and back doors were left open because of fumes in the house. This affected his waterworks ........ need I say more?
Anyway, it has taken me a long time to work out a good routine to care for him and my day starts at 6.15 am and I collapse into bed by 10.30, which I would have considered extremely early until a few weeks ago.
I am manning the ship single handed as many others do, so get very tired. However, since he came home, Harry seems appreciative of the things I do and I find I can leave him for quick local shopping or a bit of gardening and I manage to go out for walks to keep fit.
My Ceanothus is having a ball at present and gives off a heady perfume that seeps into the house especially in the evening.
I am finding that little things, like a bird coming to feed in my garden, sunshine, fragrant scents from flowers or the way the sun shines on the leaves of trees, give me a lot of pleasure.
It's all about the little things and a good routine.