I had my first Covid19 vaccination injection yesterday – and was incredibly impressed by the efficiency of the whole process. My appointment slot was between 9.10am – 9.30am and I was back in the car-park by 9.25am!! So, ‘Proud to be British’ and to have the benefits of a NHS system. Although, as I sat for the obligatory 15 minutes post-jab waiting time, watching fellow patients, I experienced a few quiet wobbly moments thinking about Kate and all the other tens of thousands of people who will not have the opportunity afforded to us. A mixed bag of emotions.
The past couple of days have had a health focus and may explain my yearning for enhanced hibernation - on top of lockdown restrictions! This is because, following various regimes recommended by my Diabetic Nurse, it has been decided that I shall go onto insulin in a couple of weeks’ time. She thinks that the stress if the last year has impacted a lot and the sugar ups and downs contribute to not sleeping well and lack of energy and so on. Makes sense – as I have been very fed-up with those days when my muscles [and mind] seem to be comprised of jelly!?
It does not mean that I will have to keep taking insulin indefinitely as apparently it is best to see how it goes. I must monitor BGLs more diligently over the next two weeks and then insulin will be prescribed at certain (peak) times. Interesting.
A combination of my lack of energy and enthusiasm as well as the continuing – if easing – lockdown restrictions has influenced my decision to offer to conduct another Virtual Open Gardens event this year, as opposed to the ‘normal’ wander-around and be-nosy route.
Following both my initial email (January) and the ‘gentle reminder’ (17 Feb) I have only received four messages from households who have indicated they might open their gardens. However, TWO of those people said this was upon the proviso that they are well enough because one is about to celebrate her 90th birthday, and the other (man) said “At 93 I certainly do not make plans when other parties are involved, however if you manage to persuade two of our neighbours to open their gardens in ****** I certainly would be happy to open ours subject to me being well”. [Bless!]
Additionally, it has been pointed out that, on a local scale:
Another OG participant also said “Bearing in mind that the last time we opened our garden we had over 200 visitors I think it may be too soon to take the risk. I think the guidelines say that 30 people can meet outdoors until after 21st June”.
On a national scale so many outside events have been cancelled or postponed too – Glastonbury, Chelsea Flower Show, The Royal Air Tattoo, London Marathon, Highland Games... and so on and so forth.
As an aside, don’t you think it’s interesting that it is the very elderly people that have volunteered? There are a number of other households offering to bake cakes and biscuits and do the teas, and nurture plants to be sold and sell tickets or distribute and display posters... but that’s not much use if there are only a handful of gardens to actually wander around. We need a minimum of 15 - 18 gardens really (according to previous organisers / years).
So, depending upon what the church committee comes back with, I envisage coordinating another barrage of photographs for the Winchcombe Open Gardens website, and FB and Instagram pages. I’m sure I will bore everyone silly with it in June!
Good to know that waking up at stupid o'clock most mornings can be beneficial!
Thanks to Dad who spotted this in The Times (24th Feb 2021)
“All gardening is landscape painting,' said Alexander Pope. (18th century poet)
For Alexander Pope (1720 – 1742), Joseph Addison (1672 –1719) and many of the educated of 18th-century Britain, gardens were living works of art. Inspired by the Grand Tour and by the pictures of painters such as Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin they, in turn, inspired and influenced a generation of continental garden-makers who created “English” gardens across Europe by creating landscapes for a focus upon physical and mental exercise, and well-being. Very much like the current lockdown situation!
Pope built a villa in the Palladian style, facing the river, in Twickenham (SE London). The riverside garden (his 'grassplot') was small, so he leased five acres – literally across the road so he obtained a licence to construct a tunnel under the road to connect the two. He managed to fit in narratives, plenty of classical references, a Renaissance-referenced fountain, a bust of Homer and a grotto.
“Much of the Grotto survives…and represents the idea of art imitating nature and is seen as a symbol reflecting Pope's life and development as a poet”. Check out: Twickenham Museum
One to add to the ever growing list of ‘places to visit’ when circumstances allow…
I am very impressed with a neighbour who has put notification alerts on the phone to remind her when to sow seeds, and then again when to check their progress and possibly pot-on or start the hardening-off process. However, I am more delighted with our coining of the phrase “germination station” for the heated pads in the small greenhouse which protect the soon-to-be seedlings!
One thing I have learnt is that the only seeds which need to be sown direct are carrots and parsnip as they do not tolerate root disturbance and will respond by growing knobbly and misshapen. Beetroot, radish, swede and turnip can also be somewhat super-sensitive but will tolerate starting off in trays as long as they are planted out within 3 weeks of sowing.
It seems that using seed tray / modules are the way to go as this is a protective environment, whether on a warm windowsill, or in a greenhouse or polytunnel. Good protection allows strong early growth without the plants being battered by wind or rain, as well as being out of the way of rampantly hungry slugs! Module plants also give a longer growing season by approximately four – six weeks when the young plants can be placed in the warmer soil in May.
May?! That’s far too long away away in my mind!
Therefore, trying to get ahead by starting seeds off early means tricking them into behaving as if spring has arrived and this means …. heat. The rule of thumb is 18˚C for cool climate crops and 20-22˚C for warm climate plants. These germination temperatures refer to the soil/compost rather than air temperature – hence the germination-station heat pads!
But by starting off early it is important to avoid raising leggy seedlings and that means therefore balancing the amount of light received in relation to the amount of heat enjoyed. So… the cold-climate vegetable seeds need heat to germinate but as soon as the shoots emerge, they need to be cooled otherwise they will grow like mad looking for the extra light implied by receiving the heat that shocked them into sprouting in the first place (does that make sense?). It is best (apparently) to then put the seedlings on benches or at least off the floor (on pallets, for example) so they are still protected from the cold earth and also to prevent roots growing into the ground. The seedlings should be hardy enough to survive in an unheated greenhouse or polytunnel and will grow in balance with the available light.
I recently bought a Hibiscus bush; a friend gave me some vouchers at Christmas so I was able to splurge and buy a larger plant than normal. Excellent. Obviously, it just looks like a bunch of dry sticks at the moment but I am hopeful that it will like the soil here and flourish accordingly. We successfully planted loads of these when we were in Australia – to surround and hide the septic tank in the middle of the garden! The Hibiscus plants were much cheaper there, relatively speaking. My plan over the next week is to studiously (as opposed to my usual random approach) plan flower-bed No.3. This is the one I actually spent about £70 on a ‘pack’ of plants about two years ago, but it’s just not working or coming together. That’s more than likely because I spread the plants out too much. I have learned that it’s best to cram everything in… it’s nature, it’ll sort itself out juxtapositioning for light and space. Well, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it!
There is the main coordinator job at the independent school (20 hours per week, working for the SEN department) and now three Clerk to the Governor’s roles – two of which kicked-in in January, and one of which was a bit of a full-on and quick endeavour insofar as I had already covered a couple of committee meetings before even receiving an official contract! Therefore, it is probably fortunate that the Sports Hall Administration role is on hold because of the current lock-down. I don’t know that I would have coped very well with setting up three new roles at the same time. It’s only now that I feel that things are vaguely under control. With the emphasis on vaguely!
In lots of ways I don’t mind the lockdown and working remotely but what I DO miss is being able to make some holiday plans or ‘bigger’ visits (weekend jaunts, or seeing particular friends who live further away). I’m actually not that bothered about being particularly sociable on a day-to-day basis… but then again, that’s because we have a good rapport with all of our neighbours and can chew-the-fat and whinge and moan according to whatever the latest news reports are!?
However, not being able to do some normal things like making an appointment to have a haircut can be very frustrating - especially as Paul is beginning to develop a mullet.....!
As you have seen the family has had a string on birthdays over the past month or so and my eldest niece celebrated her 30th birthday this week. Keeping to the rules as much as possible a few of us managed to enjoy a bottle of prosecco and fairy-cakes over a very quick hour’s get-together.
Still, it is light by 7.15am now and the sun doesn’t disappear until about 5pm, so that’s positive. Focus on this if you’re feeling despondent - we’re half-way through February and spring is on the horizon!
Lovebirds, members of the genus Agapornis, are part of the parrot family. They are among the smallest parrots - between 13-17 cm long and weigh about 50g. Lovebirds are named so due to the strength of their monogamous bonds; partners also spend a lot of their time together. There are nine species of lovebirds. They are native to Africa; eight of the nine are native to the African mainland, and the other is native to Madagascar.
Also see Nature's Valentine courtesy of the RSPB.