Archive for March, 2010

And as I sow, so I hope I shall reap!

Today I have sown chillies, cherry tomatoes and sweetpeas. The tomatoes are very exciting as they’re specially bred for hanging baskets, which I think will be rather good. I still have a couple more varieties of tomato I want to sow, which I’ll do tomorrow, and then all my March sowing will be done – unless I get keen and decide to do some early salads.

I also bought my strawberry plants today – I’m going to grow those in hanging baskets too (to protect from slugs), in the polytunnel (to protect from birds) in the hope that we’ll actually get some strawberries this year. Mr SowandSew muttered pessimistically about wasps getting at them – but no! I also have my special yellow sticky sheets of wasp-death. I shall not be thwarted.

My seed potatoes are chitting, so they’ll go out in a couple of weeks.

This is such a nice time to garden – the days are getting longer (I was out in the garden at 6 pm!), the spring flowers are shooting and the leaves on the trees are budding, and it’s all clearing and sowing and pottering about in a gentle fashion. It’s nice when it’s warmer, too, of course, and when you can harvest your salads and dig up your new spuds and pick the tomatoes off the peppery-smelling plants – but by then you have to pay your dues with hours of weeding; that is when gardening starts to feel like housework, only outside. Spring is all about making plans (and vowing that this year you really will keep on top of the weeding).

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There’s a discussion on a forum I visit about the smellies and cosmetics that defined our teenage years. At my school, the crazes were bath pearls and Rimmel’s ‘Black Cherries’ lipstick – much too dark for a blonde, but I wore it nonetheless. The only deodorant to be seen with was Natrel (with the green lid) and at every birthday we’d buy our cards in Athena and presents from Boots’ Natural Collection.

But it’s the smells that are really evoking memories. I think everyone remembers the scent they wore as a teenager. Most girls at my school wore Body Shop White Musk. I had a little bottle of Body Shop Ananya, and then moved on to Cacherel’s Anais Anais. When I was 16, I was given a bottle of Lou Lou. I can’t remember who gave it to me – the bottle is pretty hideous, actually, blue frosted glass with a red lid – but Lou Lou is the scent that makes me feel like a teenager again – I was in the Lou Lou phase when I discovered boys. Then my dad went to the States on business and came back with a bottle of Calvin Klein’s Eternity. I still have it and if I want to go back to 1994 I can close my eyes and breathe it in.

My first boyfriend used a Body Shop aftershave (called ‘Activist’ which is a stupid name but it does smell nice) and even now if I smell it, it makes me go a bit weak at the knees. I haven’t seen the boy in question for nearly 15 years but to me that smell is teenage lust, bottled.

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Daffodil shoots

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We’ve had some glorious weather here over the last few days. I have been able to hang my laundry out to dry on the washing lines, which is one of my favourite things about spring and summer. I always forget how much I love the smell of line dried washing until I can bury my nose in the first load of the year.

Never mind cuckoos and daffodils – that’s the real beginning of spring.

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This is Tess. Tess came to live with us in October, having been rescued from a farm where she was having a very bad time indeed. She was underweight, very smelly, and had been through the mill a bit. She was also very affectionate and friendly, and when we gave her a name she quickly learned it. She settled in well and she and I fell in love.

She was very nervy, and the longer we had her the clearer it was that she’d been very cruelly treated. Still, she became more secure and we had hopes she would come right. It still astonishes me that dogs can be as cruelly treated as Tess was and still have the capacity for loyalty and affection.

Sadly, the more Tess bonded to me, the more protective and jealous she became. She wouldn’t let our other dog near me, and this soon led to pitched battles. Collies are often very sensitive to noise and movement, and in a house with a toddler there’s a lot of both. And when she started growling at the children when I picked them up, it was clear that things were not going to work out. She wasn’t happy and the children were at risk.

So this week, Tess went to a new home, where she will live with a retired couple who have no other pets and no children. She will be much happier. I know it’s for the best, but it was the hardest thing I’ve had to do for a long time.

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I took a break from my desk yesterday and went for a walk. Spring is definitely on the way. My magnolia has big, fat furry buds; the willows are covered with catkins; and my beautiful hellebore is just about to come into flower. And the herons who nested by the river last year are back, which makes me very happy.

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