Monday 27 February 2012

Garden Makeover

Our back garden has been untouched since we got our allotment in May 2006 - so that is six years of neglect.  And it really shows.

The trampoline has completely killed the lawn.  The climbing roses have gone wild with 12 foot demon-stems shooting out through the trees, the honeysuckle has tried to choke a small apple tree and the escapee bunny rabbit has eaten pretty much everything that shows any sign of being green and leafy.

And worst of all the garden has become a dumping ground for various broken down or redundant items like our old tumble dryer, the children's outgrown slide and our cracked roof box as well as multiple chipped, cracked or broken plant pots.  In fact it closely resembled the local demolition yard.

I have taken plenty of "before" photos but I am far too ashamed to show them here.

But finally we have a plan.

The lawn has been destroyed and we either need to completely re-turf it or remove it altogether and we have decided to go with the latter option.

The garden isn't huge, and even with digging up the lawn we will only have a growing area of about 7 metres by 4 but the plan is to have a curving gravel path to the shed/playhouse with two large beds either side that we are going to grow as an ornamental kitchen garden - a mix of flowers and vegetables and fruit.

We have gone back in time by ordering the lovely Geoff Hamilton's old TV series - Cottage Gardens, Paradise Gardens and The Ornamental Kitchen Garden on DVD - programmes that were last shown in the 1990s and were our very first inspiration to garden when we were newly married.  The poor little Lockets are completely fed up with us watching episodes back to back but they are so gentle and charming - and very inspirational.

But the biggest questions is do I give up the allotment?

I have been struggling to keep up with the work up there for the last couple of years - especially when I was unwell.  I had let another lady use part of it last year but she has now left so I have the whole plot to look after and it is huge.

When we first got the allotment the children were much younger and used to love coming up there for the day because a lot of my friends took allotments on the same block so there was a gang of about 9 children happily playing good old fashioned outdoor games for hours on end.

Now, apart from Dot who is quite keen, we have to cajole and occasionally insist that the children come with us and it is rarely worth the effort because they are unhappy there and just want to go home again.

Obviously I could go on my own or with Dot but that excludes the other children and means that I don't get Mr Locket's help too.  And really I need all the help I can get.

When I think about the allotment I feel overwhelmed and burdened because I know that to do it properly I really need to start all over again and really "bottom it" - the paths need clearing, the borders with my neighbours need sorting, the compost heap needs to be cleared of nettles - all before I start to try to dig the beds.

So the answer would be to let it go.

But I am worried that if I do I will regret it.  The waiting list for an allotment is so long that I wouldn't get one back again and certainly not one on the same block as my friends so if I let it go then that's it for good.

But maybe I need to accept that I am not really a passionate gardener. I like gardening and I love growing vegetables but I am definitely a fair-weather-gardener and as we have to drive 2 miles to the allotment I can't easily pop there for 5 minutes in the evening to pick a crop of peas for supper for example and I often end up with unharvested crops that go to seed.  And what I really like doing is sitting in the garden with my knitting or a book!  If we leave the allotment and concentrate on the garden at home I will be able to have somewhere really nice for the whole family to enjoy on a daily, hourly basis without constantly having the guilt of knowing I'm not looking after the allotment OR the garden properly.  Another consideration is the fact that all three children seem to be quite enthusiastic about the garden project and have been out helping us this weekend - something they haven't done for ages.

Sorry, I'm going on - but I am trying to work out what to do.

Part of me wants to just let go of the allotment and breathe a sigh of relief and move on and part of me is terrified of letting go.

What would you do?

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Half Term Knitting

Michaela posted the other day about having a Work In Progress Week where she is going to tackle her many different projects over the half term break.

This made me think about my WIP or NLIP (no longer in process) knitting projects and I worked out that I had 3 first socks on the needles

 Filey, Broad Ripple and a newly cast on Monkey,

 2 dormant second socks - Embossed Leaves and Autumn Leaves - one part knitted and one frogged because it got all tangled (and I had only done the ribbing so it was easier to start again)

and four odd socks that have been in the sock basket and in daily wear for the last couple of years (we don't mind odd socks in this family).  A plain DK sock, a circle sock, a 9-5 and a plain 4ply. When I thought about knitting their partners I realised I was actually feeling quite enthusiastic about it!  So much time has passed since I knit the first sock that knitting a second will almost be like tackling a whole new project - the yarn will feel new and interesting and so will the pattern.

So what I should be doing this half term is casting on those second socks and tackling a bit of each project each day rather than pushing ahead with the two newest socks - but I bet you can guess what I'd rather do.

And at the same time I am steadily unravelling this scarf..............

I always loved the wool (a prize from Moogsmum in Michaela's diet raffle a few years ago) but never really liked the finished scarf partly because of the way the colours pooled (although I didn't know that was what it was called at the time) but mostly because of the mistake in the middle and the fact that it didn't "wear" nicely - I prefer longer triangles like hitchhiker or baktus where you can wrap them round your neck.

I think the colours will look much better in a pair of socks, don't you?

P.S I meant to show you my Valentine's messages from Mr Locket because I wanted to keep a record of them as they made me laugh!

Mr Locket clearly knows a bit about recycling too.

And this was the parting message at the very back of the card............

Monday 6 February 2012

Is it February already?

Well January went quite quickly which is always good as it is never a really great month.  I'm not all that keen on February either but I do find this time of year much easier now that I have a job to give me structure and keep me occupied.

I don't have much news.................. I've been knitting and have finally finished my "Christmas" socks - which ended up so huge that Mr Locket was the lucky beneficiary.

I've also finished my green hitchhiker scarf and I absolutely love it.  Fred has christened it the "Dinosaur tail scarf".

It is so warm and snuggly and so very difficult to photograph............

these pictures made me smile as they show how totally inept I am with my camera.  But I quite liked them because you could see enough of me to know that it was me but not quite enough for me to start analysing and criticising and objecting to what I saw.  Unfortunately the green scarf doesn't go with my pinky/orange dress but I wasn't prepared to go and have a complete change of clothes in order to photograph the scarf.

I have started another hitchhiker as it is a great telly watching project - totally mindless but interesting enough to want to actually do it.  This time it is in a ball of Regia World College Colour in 6ply.

And I have started a new pair of red socks using the Filey pattern - but unfortunately you can't see the design on the socks (again because of my dodgy camera skills)

The pattern tells you to use lots of stitch markers that probably aren't really necessary but I like having them there as Moogsmum made them for me a couple of years ago :o)

My only other news is that I have discovered a rather surprising new hobby - well it is very surprising to me - and pretty much everyone who knows me too!

Hope you are all well and enjoying the snow (if you have any) or the sun (if you have that instead)!

Lucy x