Archive for Gardens

Studio progress update

Monday tea time

Where did the Easter holiday go? Why am I sooooo tired? Why am I skint? Why is there a huge pile of washing up in the kitchen, you know, all the posh stuff you don’t want to ruin in the dishwasher? Why are there masses of glass jars and bits all over the lounge floor? and who left that shed in pieces around the side of the house?

OK, so here’s the plot, Monday before Easter we emptied my studio, that took longer than I thought it would, even with my packing things and tidying stuff away the week beforehand. Late Monday afternoon Rick removed the benches, power and stuff screwed to the walls. Tuesday we took the shed apart and carted it around the side of the house, this was very enjoyable as there was no way I could have done that for the last 10 or so years previous. Then Rick started excavating the plot to lay the next 12 slabs we needed, including digging out the pesky Virginia Creeper shoots and ivy plants everywhere. We managed to fill 2 of those Hippo bags you can get from builders merchants with the soil from the slope, which didn’t look particularly slopey until he started digging of course. Then he had to lug 12 bags of sand, 12 huge slabs, move the 2 heavy sleepers that were holding back the lawn, then move them 3 or 4 more times as they kept gettong in the way. After the slabs were laid we started repairing the surrounding fences, and removed 2 panels from the back of our garden so that we have slightly more room to walk along the back of the new studio to remove leaves and stuff. The panel removal revealed a huge tangle of more Virginia Creeper, which all had to be prised off the fence and chopped to fill the recycling bags, and the huge root dug up and disposed of. I also went around the garden and pulled out all the brown long leaves from the Crocosmia and grasses around the place, cut back the Pyrocantha and the Fatsia Japonica to reveal the Hellibores we planted last spring, and generally got rid of the plant rubbish. I then attacked the front garden border and had several subsequent trips to the dump, which in itself was entertaining as the bags were so heavy I had to drag them, then pull individual handfuls of plant bits into the skips until the bag was light enough to pick up and tip the contents away. Phew. Oh and we also had 2 trips down to look at cars, one of them to buy a car we wanted and had rung up to check it was still there, only to be told casually ‘Oh we sold that one yesterday’ when we got there. Typical.

That’s the progress so far, we now have to finish repairing the fences, paint them, and decide how many new sleepers and slabs we need to complete the area around the studio and the path down to it. I also need to organise the insulating materials, the internal cladding, the flooring, the ventilation and what benches I want. I’m also trying to choose a couple of lovely garden shades to paint the shed when it’s been up for a while. That’s all the good news, the bad news is that I’ve been let down on when the studio is being delivered, which is after I was supposed to be starting teaching again. This is very annoying and stressful because I now have almost 3 weeks without a studio, the time slot that I had planned for fitting out my studio perfectly, and now we have to make it just ‘OK’ to start teaching on time, and that’s with having had to rearrange a couple of students to come in June instead now. Of course even OK will be plenty to actually teach properly, it just won’t be fixed up permanently and decorated.

As far as the rest of the holiday and my tireness, that’s probably down to going away to the Flame Off last Friday and Saturday, but thats another post!

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Harrow Bead Fair this Sunday

Wednesday teatime

As of last night I now have a table at the Harrow Bead fair this Sunday. Yipee. This has to be my favourite fair, not sure why really, but somehow it seems like ‘The’ bead fair of the year, maybe because it was one of the first. So I’m beavering away this week getting ready for it, well, not so much beavering, but working steadily and not too hard like last week, as we were both shattered after last weekend….partly because I worked soooo hard in the run up, then Rick continued with replacing the fence down the side of our house, then we had a party in the evening which we were both involved with helping, got to bed at 2:00am then up at 6:30 am for the Hatfield Bead Fair………oooooo no sleep. I’m teaching again this Saturday too. Phew I’m really going to need a rest next week.

My life seems to be pretty much back to normal now, it was officially 4 months on Saturday since I became a bionic hippy, and I can’t believe how good I feel, so much better already than the last 3 years, and I have the next 8 months to really get over the experiance. I haven’t used my stick at all for over a week, yay, and have been walking to the school unaided, which is all a bit wierd for me at the moment as I’ve been using a stick for the last 15 years. I have to really concentrate on how I walk, as bad habits formed in my endeavor to walk without pain, and I’m having physiotherapy to help me reach my foot again, it’s funny needing to have someone else tie up my shoelaces! and of course once lace ups are on they have to stay on all day. But hey, I feel good.

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In the driving seat

Saturday evening

The last day of Open Houses and studios is tomorrow, Sunday. Several venues will be open during the afternoon so do have a trek around and see some individual pieces of art. Today I woke up feeling so chirpy that I decided last minute to pack up my studio and take it down to Ediths to demonstrate making handmade glass beads. I was in the same place as last year, in a cosy little outbuilding facing out to the garden, although it was rather chilly in the shade there today. This was only my second attempt at making beads since my surgery, and I started getting back into the groove after a dodgy start last Thursday. It’s so good to be getting back to normality, and even though I had a rainbow of colours available to use today I decided to concentrate on making black and white beads with clear, to make a necklace for my mums birthday. It’s amazing how many different styles you can come up with even with such a limited palette, oh I had great fun, and even Rick joined in with a bumpy black and white creation just before we packed up.

Talking about new things, my recovery has progressed enough to allow me to drive again, amazing how fast all this is, so on Tuesday (seven weeks after) I attempted to get in the driving seat and had an enjoyable little tootle around the block, yay! This is really good news for me as it now means I have some independence and can actually leave the house on short errands or just to treat myself to a coffee in town, because I can. I can also start walking up and down a few of the stairs at home normally (instead of one step at a time with the same foot leading each step). I tend to walk around the house without a stick now, much better for carrying trays and mugs of tea, and even managed to wash my own hair this week. Now I’m guessing that for most of this you’ll be thinking ‘So what?’ but for a 45 year old it’s really annoying having to depend on someone else to do all this, and every new achievement is another step back to normality and independence. I’m hoping to conquer the shower this week, as up until now I’ve needed help to get in and out of the bath.

I hope that this little log of my progress will encourage anyone who’se reading and needing some sort of replacement, to feel encouraged by my experience and take the plunge to get help.

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Open Houses start this weekend

Monday tea time

Open Houses as part of the Artists and Makers Festival in West Sussex starts this weekend and continues the following weekend. I am exhibiting in 2 places, my first and main venue is at Edith Barton’s house in Plummers Plain, where I will have my tall cabinet of designer glass bead jewellery. Edith has once again opened her summerhouse in her huge garden to display her work together with mine and 2 other local artists, Thea Taylor who will have sculpture on display indoors and outside, and Katherine Haynes who makes bags and lampshades from bubble wrap.† We are discussing having demonstrations like we did last year, and I may be taking my equipment to make handmade glass beads again, this will depend on how energetic I’m feeling by then. Come and see our artworks, enjoy some refreshment while you watch a demonstration and have a leisurely stroll around the garden whilst admiring the sculptures.

My second venue is in the 2×4 Artists community room in the Drill Hall in Horsham town centre. I will have a smaller range of jewellery for sale, but in different colours from the other venue, so don’t forget to check out both places. The room will of course be displaying many pieces by my fellow artists in the group, including paintings, mixed media, textiles, sculpture and printmaking. Studio artists will also be opening their doors as always.

More information is on my events page and by clicking on the links to the festival website where a pdf of the festival guide can be downloaded, and a festival map can be viewed. Unfortunately this map doesn’t so far appear to have our Horsham locations marked on it, oh well!

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Springwatch comes to Horsham

Friday tea time

Wednesday we had our own Springwatch here as I sat gazing out of the window, with several different birds swooping around and being really bold as they bobbed around just outside where I was sitting. We have had a resident pair of robins for a long time living in the holly tree overhanging the corner of the garden, and a pair of Collared Doves that squeak every time they fly by, but on Wednesday we also saw 3 Coal Tits, 1 Great Tit, and a thrush or two. I’ve also recently seen a type of Finch or Blue Tit, I’m not sure which because I didn’t have anything to hand for reference. We also seem to have 3 ducks that keep appearing in our road, and a few months ago had a peacock parading around the road too. Of course this isn’t as posh as where Rick used to live with his parents, in their house which backed onto a large mansion which had a huge garden with 2 Peacocks and a Peahen. They looked wonderful as they would often hop over the fence into Ricks garden but in reality were a complete and utter pest as they used to eat all the plants and poo everywhere………and remember we’re talking BIG birds here, with BIG appetites and BIG…..well, you get the idea.

Nice Weather For Ducks

Of course the ducks found the only pond available! a small puddle by the edge of the road.

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More tales from the bench

Thursday tea time

Another stunning hot day, the weather is just obscenely gorgeous at the moment, but too soon, the heatwave should be coming in June when I’m back home from hospital and recuperating in the garden. Ooops, looks like I’ve let it slip that I’m having my operation at this time of year so I can sit and enjoy the weather, well, the choice was now or in October and when I sat and thought about what I’d be doing, it turned out to be a real no-brainer. Add to that the thought of being normal again sooner rather than later and we have our date. OK, so stop being rude about me never being normal.

So I’m sat here outside on the bench again, and I realised that I had my clock set wrong for the blog entry times, 2 hours too early. Did anyone notice? nah. Oh joy of joys, the phantom nose hooter is back, tootling his nose (or maybe her) like a magnificent trombone, and just listen to the birds. It’s actually quite noisy here one way or another, but in a natural way. The garden’s not looking too bad either. I actually managed to get Rick to do some gardening on Saturday and Monday this week, goodness knows what happened to get him to change a habit of a lifetime. He did say yesterday that he realised I’d have to look at the mess outside if he didn’t do something about it, I’m just hoping that the impetus continues, and doesn’t end when I’m able to do the garden later this year. Although what does bother me slightly is that he thinks it looks OK now, whereas I think it needs much more time spending on it. Oh well, better trot off and check on our lamb shanks roasting in the oven. TTFN.

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2 weeks to go…..

Tuesday morning

What a lovely day. It’s so nice that I’ve taken up my old habit of sitting outside on the bench in front of my studio to type this entry. It’s truly lovely, and it’s days like today that make me so glad that I don’t work in an office for someone else any more. Being self employed is hard in itself because you seem to work loads of hours for not much profit,well, that’s the case with most art related designer makers, although if I was in another line of business I’d make real sure I was making a decent profit, but then art is about so much more than making a quick buck. However, I digress, yes, it’s days like today that make you feel glad to be alive and happy to be at home.

So 2 weeks to go, and my jobs are getting done even though I haven’t planned their timing to the nth degree. I’m hoping to get into my studio and make beads for my Open Houses jewellery again today, even though I’ve almost managed to fill my cabinet with pieces made previously. I now have the mind numbing chore of making earwires and headpins to make up my earrings and pendants, yawn! I do like making jewellery, it’s just that some jobs get a wee bit tedious and the fun part is making up the pieces and looking at all the lovelies! Today I’m hoping to make some more hollows to complete some fun fab necklaces, along a similar design idea to my large hollows necklace that featured on all of last years Open Houses literature. Oh, my tea mug is empty, that means our time is up for today, must pop off and fire up the kiln.

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Spring at last

Tuesday morning

At last, I managed some beading time last week, and even managed to try 7 of my new frits and my new press, woo hoo. Now I need to experiment for a couple of projects I’m doing, one I’ve committed to, the other I’ll do if I can come up with anything good. All will be revealed by the end of March! I’m heading out to my studio today when my kiln is warmer, 13.5 deg C in my studio this morning so it’s getting warmer outside.

I love this time of year, and find it a bit difficult to understand why these are the most depressing months after Christmas. It’s a wonder to go in the garden and see the flower stems pushing up through the cold earth, so full of life when everything else seems dead. It reminds me that summer is on the way, and fills me with thoughts of new beginnings and excitement. It also smells fresh and seems to be gradually warming up outside as the evenings get longer. I love the changing seasons, even though I’d love a hot summer all the time, I find the changes exciting and exhilarating.

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Havana Huerto haven

Monday morning

What a weekend, I need a rest to get over it. All Saturday we were preparing for the bead fair yesterday, and of course yesterday was the main event. We had a lovely day mainly due to all you lovely people who came to say hello and spend some time with us. Now I have the unenviable job of finishing my accounts today so that my MIL can come over tonight to finish the tax part and do the online bit. Urrgh and I’m missing my class to do this today, still, it’s a good impetus to finish today.

What a fantastic and inspiring programme last night, I watched Monty Dons’ first part of ‘Around the World in 80 gardens’. I thought it would be interesting but was really amazed at the wonderful gardens and sights that he saw. Also the reasoning behind some of the gardens was very thought provoking, especially the Havana gardens in Cuba. Many of these gardens are tucked away in what used to be derelict areas of the city, and have been converted to communal fruit and vegatable plots for the benefit of the local residents. I loved the idea of the 60 small information centres where the gardeners could get help and advice on growing their crops, truly inspirational, and very green. There was also some amazing eye candy and many interesting themes and ideas for garden design and even bead inspiration. Just what I’m looking for to shape my new collection.

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Open Houses and Lingfield Bead fair countdown (3 weeks and counting)

Friday evening

Do you ever get those days or weeks where you’ve been busy non-stop, and yet when you look back to see what you’ve achieved you can’t work out you’ve been doing with your time? I have to say this week has been one of those. I’ve hardly made any beads, although I suppose odd little jobs have been done. One of the fun things I had to do yesterday was go to my friend Ediths house to see where we are locating our work for the RAG Open Houses. It was great to all sit around with a mug of tea, wander around the garden and discuss our plans.

Our work is going to be inside and outside of the massive summer house, with a relaxing area outside to sit and enjoy the garden, and we also plan to do demonstrations of our discipline, so if you fancy seeing how my beads are made, do pop along and have a look. I’m not sure what days I will be demoing but I will put details up here, so stay tuned. I will of course be at the Lingfield Beadfair on the first Sunday, and may well be doing the headless chicken dance the day before if previous events are anything to go by. Have a great weekend.

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How does your garden grow?

Wednesday morning

At last, I have a bit more time to blog in the morning…..well I don’t really, but the bench outside was beckoning and I didn’t want to let it down. It’s gorgeous out here, the birds are singing, the bees are buzzing (the Cotoneaster shrub next to me is heaving with bees, they really go mad for the flowers when they come out each year), I can hear people about their business and the scent of the flowers is amazing. I could almost be on a Greek Island in the sun, especially with the occasional sound of scooters.

I think I could really do with a parasol out here as I can barely see my screen, it’s sooo bright. Mind you, we all know what happens when I get involved with parasols, tea and my laptop! It’s a lot sunnier in our garden at the moment too as we still have 5 fence panels missing, I can’t get the bits I need to repair them for love nor money. This could make the job a bit tricky when we do get the bits as our neighbours shrubs next to the fence are just exploding with leaves and branches. I just LOVE this time of year in the garden as everything grows so fast, if you blink then look everything’s doubled in size.

We also have the pleasure of enjoying coverage of the Chelsea Flower Show, supported by Marshalls (tee hee). Isn’t it funny how the non-advertising BBC have to get their presenters to say this every time the show starts or ends on TV? I just wish they’d show more of the other gardens when they do these programmes, as I’ve noticed from my trips to the Hampton Court show that they seem to concentrate on the same few gardens each time when there are many other good displays to be seen also. Maybe they’re trying to leave something new for those who visit the shows? and OK Heather, I know I’m talking about TV again. Gotta go, as much as I enjoy wittering on to you lot I’ve stuff to do.

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Tales from the big bench, again

Sunday lunchtime

I remembered today, sat here on my bench, how I used to sit and blog here, outside in the morning. and thought I should revive the practice. Only now it’s just started spitting with rain so I may trot back inside in a minuet. But I’m going to take a few moments, while I wonder how long I should stay here, to soak up the sounds of the birds, sparrows and woodpigeons, and the phantom nose hooter, and smell of the Spring (and all my neighbours sunday lunch smells wafting in the breeze). I can also smell my most favourite wiff starting, that of the dusty ground getting wet as it starts to rain after a dry spell. I think that’s one of the most magical aromas, and I could sit for hours deep breathing in the refreshing scent.

Rain after hot spells is so invigorating, and fills one’s body with renewed vigour (no, not vinegar), maybe they should try and bottle this fragrance, it would be a best seller with the smell of new born babys heads.

It’s stopped spitting now, but I’m covered in ducky bumps – otherwise known as goose pimples – it’s a term some friends and myself came up with as an alternative to the norm back when I was a nutty teenager. Anyway I’m done here for today, but I’d just like to say ‘hi’ to any of my friends who may have popped over for a visit today from Frit Happens, the UKs liveliest forum for glass beadmakers, fusers and the jewellery obsessed.

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New tricks (you can’t teach an old dog)

Tuesday night

Woops, I didn’t mean to leave it so long to blog, it’s not like I’m short on stuff to say, but we have been busy. By which I mean that we had a weekend away (and muggins had to do all the research and looking for a place to stay before we could go anywhere). Another wedding anniversary gone and the memories of a fab weekend in Tetbury between Cheltenham and Bath linger on.

It was just the sort of weekend a gal wants, country drives, oldie world villages, loadsa Georgian architecture, lovely meals out and a man on a pink unicycle in a pink t-shirt and a pink tutu, juggling knives. (Now why can’t Rick do that? he has the skills, and the equipment…..well maybe not the pink gear……but yes he can juggle……balls, clubs and fireclubs, and can ride a unicycle…what’s he waiting for?) Oh yes, the west country and Bath in particular has everything a gal could want to see and do.

Tetbury Market PlaceJuggling outside the Pump RoomChipping Steps

Pillars of the Community

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Eat your heart out Diarmuid Gavin

Saturday evening

Nearly one week of the hols over and we’re having fun here. As a family we’ve spent the last 3 days gardening and making the outside areas look a bit more respectable, and I have to say it’s working. I paniked when I looked around the garden last Monday but we’ve been steadily plodding away and progress has been made. My daughter helped me plant lots of pansies on Thursday to brighten the front of the house, and Rick painted what’s left of the fence after the gales, which has smartened the back garden no end. We were going to mend the 5 fence panels that blew down but could I get the parts? Completely sold out everywhere, seems the whole of Sussex had the same idea for the Easter weekend. Rick’s also started moving the huge pile of stones from the back garden, they were a ghastly 70’s fireplace that we pulled out 7 years ago when we moved in (we were terrified of our just walking toddler cracking her head open) and the huge stones from the rockery that we pulled out to make space for my studio. My plan is to tart up the back and put in some slightly raised beds with some lovely archictural type plants.

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Weather 5, Downtons 1

Friday morning

Just a quick update on the fence wars…….I was about to ring Rick and tell him not to worry about popping home to move the fences, when a huge (yer, even more huge than before) gusto of wind picked up the second fence panel, put it vertical, through the uprights and into next doors garden, then a few minutes later flattened it back into ours, wrecking all chances of just a mend job. Oh well, we lost 3 panels yesterday (bringing the total to 5), all newish (1-3 years old) compared with the 15 year old existing panels. Also the fence down the side of the house nearly took off but fortunately I hadn’t cut back the ivy this year so it was strapped down even though it did look like a sinusoidal wave generator. lol.

Also we nearly lost the cold frame, the barbeque and several prized architectural plants which we moved to safety, so there, wind. What a pain having to spend money on the fence panels we’d already replaced, we were hoping to invest in some garden restructuring this year and decorating the house. I have to say though, after watching the news and hearing other peoples stories, we are now counting our blessings that it wasn’t worse, like loosing the roof or having an accident.

Now all I need is some beadmaking therapy, although I won’t get any until I finish my accounts for the year. I really must work out how to actually do the hard bit on a regular basis for the future

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So come on, take the weather with you

Thursday morning

What was that I said about the weather forecast on Monday? If I’d listened hard enough I’d have known that it would be ‘unsettled towards the end of the week’. All I know now is that the wind is systematically and willfully destroying our garden boundaries as I type. Before Christmas 2 fence panels on the right hand side of our patch blew down, and today a further 2 have come crashing down next to the kitchen window (yep, another one down Rick). That means the barbeque is flat on it’s side (haven’t dared try to move this on my own, couldn’t anyway because fence panel is on top) with all it’s pretend coal things adrift I expect. Also our beloved tree fern got blown over, this was righted before Rick went to work. I just hope no more panels go, or if they do, it happens before he comes back to help me move said fence panels.

While all this is happening in our back garden, our lovely neighbour across the road who stupidly left his open top basket of newspapers outside, still hasn’t bothered to move it and consequently the road and all our gardens are being littered with rosettes of scrunched up sodden newspaper, beautiful. I suppose it makes a change from daffodils!

It’s all a bit deja vu this rubbish flying around the gardens and wheelie bins coming to life and chasing residents down the road. The same thing happened last week when our bin people were due to come round, only then it wasn’t newspapers but cans and plastics like milk cartons and cat ‘fud’ tins.

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Country road, take me home (West Virginia)(gotta stay with the song titles)

Wednesday morning
Morning all. I got told off Monday for bad spelling, grammer, punctuation and all, so lets hope today’s entry is more coherant, it should be, I’m feeling a bit more with it but not completely yet.

I now have the pre-Christmas lull ahead of me, it’s the calm before the storm, and although I have my job targets set for the week my thoughts are also turning towards my Christmas panic which I always get into because of the fairs and orders I get last minute. Somehow the cards never get sent until after the last posting day, and we’re always up at 2am Christmas day finishing off the pressie wrapping. Now this isn’t because we’re greedy and give each other bucket loads of presents, but because we’re both very fortunate to have huge families on each side who all get along well.

So this year I’m thinking very seriously about what I can do now to ease the stress and prevent my Christmas day migraine that’s occured 3 times now (and boy they were real humdingers). Trouble is it feels very strange doing stuff like writting cards and buying presents so early, especially since I set myself the rule when I was younger about not starting to think about Christmas until after my birthday near the end of November.

So here’s something to change the subject back to Autumn, a picture or 2 of the Virginia Creeper that grows so voraciously on the fence at the end of our garden. I took these on Saturday morning, and they have a real rich colour tapestry feel to them.¬† Today, 5 days on, the mass of leaves are now more¬† golden yellow and orange, with hardly any dark green and only acid green shades remaining.

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No Birdies in here

Friday evening

At last we can stop worrying because the roof leaks no more. We used to have a hole the size of a football in the sofit at the back, where birds would fly in and nest. Of course everytime they flapped in the hole it got a little bit bigger. The roof guy cleared out several nests front, back and sides as well as the wasp nest and we are now bird and wasp proof woopee. There are now several very confused and disgruntled birds in the back garden, Rick saw 2 this evening, one was hanging onto the wall for dear life just below where the hole used to be and was tweeting up to his matee on the gutter who was looking very quizickly down at where the hole used to be and tweeting back angrily. Very funny. I hope to bird watch from the lawn tommorrow and see if word has spread! It’s OK though, just in case anyone’s concerned about eggs and stuff, we made sure that nesting and the like was over before we had the work done.

I’ve been working like mad all day taking pictures, editing them and writing information for my new shop which is opening extremely soon, like in the next few days. So please watch this space, or rather the menu bar across the top. Don’t forget to bring your glass of champers for the grand reveal!

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday evening

Well I managed it yesterday. I took some brill pictures of a jewellery commission for my friend who came round last Thursday and I actualy cleaned 3 pots full of beads. Hurrah! I tried using a different bit in my cordless whizzy thang and it sped up the operation no end.

And what about the weather? Hasn’t it been fab yesterday and today. I had a lovely day making beads in my garden studio today, and thought I’d carry on into the evening since Rick’s cooking, but I ended up being chased out by several wasps and being tickled by numerous Crane flies who then committed harakiri one by one. I have to say it’s the wasps that really suck, we have a wasps nest in the tree 3 metres from the door of my studio, and they love the airflow made by the torch and the fan, unfortunately it draws them in rather than away. They also seem to be attracted by the light in the darkness. rats. So here I am blogging instead of beading. Oh well.

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Ribbit ribbit

Saturday evening

I love September. I think it’s one of my favourite months, the weather’s always mild and the evenings smell so fresh. We usually get lovely sunny days, and I’ve often been on holiday camping around now. We’ve had a good session working in the garden today, rediscovering the paths, tidying up the lawn edges and weeding out the rubbish. We really need to remove most of the paths because you can’t walk down them as they’re too close to the plants in the narrow borders, and they’re not needed anyway. They only make more work for us as we have to keep them clear and edge the lawn regularly (although of course we don’t, there’s always something more fun to do!).

I was just sitting back on my bench with a mug of tea this evening as the sun set, admiring the new found paths and neatened borders when I heard a ribbit, ribbit. Well, more of a low rrrrrrrr, rrrrrrrr. rrrrrrr. We found a lovely frog sitting in a bucket of water under the fig plant. I love finding critters like that, now all we need is a hedgehog to keep the slugs and snails in check.

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