Mostly in, but occasionally allowed out

My back aches.

I have been (willingly) chained to my desk for the past few weeks creating an index for my Far East POW book. It’s an occupation for the obsessive list-maker and one I didn’t expect to enjoy, but it has its satisfactions. It has also raised multiple research questions. I hang my head with embarrassment over the number of tiny textual errors I have discovered in the process. Yet everything discovered is one less error in the published version.

On Thursday the sun came out and I played truant from my desk for several hours to plant up my nursery of seedling maples – all offspring of Matsukaze or Sengokaku. I started with a pot or two and some compost…DSCN8819and then I needed the big cutters for some roots and more leaf mould and, and, and… By the time I started to clear up, the sun was going down.DSCN8825DSCN8835I know it all looks very dull now but there are eight Japanese maple seedlings between one and three years old in pots or in the ground, and in a couple of months they will be trembling with new leaves. DSCN8837

DSCN8832 - Version 2As I left a Robin circled over my working area and sat in the nearby tree to assess the changes to his territory.

Back to my desk, much refreshed.

One tomato, two tomato, three tomato… and some maples

My husband was a little underwhelmed by his first sight of lunch today.

We love tomatoes and I thought with the new greenhouse we would have a splendid crop of homegrown ones. Sadly, all the ones I started in the greenhouse have not fared well after being transferred to the vegetable plot. The blazing heat, our sandy soil and my erratic watering and feeding (though I tried) have not been to their liking, so every kind of rot has set in and this is all that is left.


And they’re not as healthy as they look. The one plant I kept in the greenhouse is looking much happier, so next year I will fill the greenhouse with them.


However my little nursery bed of seedling maples has come through the summer in brave force and I think there are some interesting plants here.


I was a little alarmed to see that the parent of most of these, Matsukaze, is already showing some Autumn colour. I don’t understand where the summer went or how the year is slipping past so swiftly.


At least the birds and the hedgehogs are flourishing. Outside my writing room window very new half-coloured robins, bluetits, great tits and coal tits and, I think, a willow warbler (who resists the efforts of the paparazzi ) all flit about constantly (very good for concentration) while the ground is patrolled by pigeons, dunnocks and blackbirds (one with a grey head). We hear the hedgehogs at night and they polish off a plate of mealworms etc every night. I am torn between my desk and the outside, but the seasons won’t wait, so I must try and get out more.



Where have all the Robins gone?

Today I was digging up tree roots. Fifteen years ago such activity would have been accompanied by endless whirring of wings and fierce comments if I was too close to a juicy vine weevil. I always used to have at least two in attendance, and once six! (presumably a family). In an hour of work today I saw none at all. Yet they are there in the garden, as I see them on the feeders. I can’t believe they prefer dry grains to live tidbits and I am sure they have not turned vegetarian.

I worried that this Hydrangea paniculata pink diamond (white flowers fading to pink), might not work in this big glazed brown pot. Guess I was wrong!

hydrangea paniculata pink diamond

hydrangea paniculata pink diamond

Dodging Robins

Spent this afternoon dodging Robins and being blatantly ignored by blackbirds. I was working hard on the new paths lifting turfs and either piling them up to fill the new bank or taking them elsewhere in the garden to fill in edges. I couldn’t move without the rush of wings close by as the robins leap in to grab the worms and larvae. As I shovelled sand into the spaces, unseen robins would fly up. No doubt there were only two, but they worked non-stop shifts. The blackbirds never even bothered to fly up. If in danger of actually being hit by a spadeful, they would hop in inch or two left or right, but made it clear that it was my problem to avoid them.

Made some progress on the brick paths, but am regretting my failure to use string and measure out from the wall. Having bricked round a small rectangular bed, I find the gaps slightly bigger on the other side. Of course the old path I made alongside the house path may not be dead straight.

Frost again tonight. Someone coming to wash the bricks on the old bit of drive that we are keeping on Tuesday. We think it was laid 20 years ago, so it is doing quite well as all it has had in the way of cleaning is me, EG and a trowel in all that time. The giant concrete slabs that are to go are now at least a 100 years old, broken, and very ugly. There is so much work to be done before the new bricks go in, it is difficult to imagine being ready. I guess we will be working all weathers by the time they start. I have to admit, though that I enjoy the challenge and feel better for the exercise.

Will get more fun exercise tomorrow night as Amy will still be here and will come Lindy hopping with me.