Chapter Eight


Well here we are, January 2021, didn’t that come round fast. The 12 jolly days of Christmas are nearly over- boooo, New Year Eve over faster than a flying fizzball rocket – ooooooo/ah & 2020 done & dusted – hurrah/yay!!! And bumpety bump we’re going back into lock down. Whoopetydodah….

Such a shocker…… Well for some people, the Nation on the whole perhaps not but some people seemed to have been utterly taken by surprise..


Enough of all that.

My favourite image of 2020

After 6 months away from this here writing, picture book, blogging sort of thing, I’ve decided to have another go. All this ongoing pandemic debacle kind of thing took it’s toll if I’m honest, the need to hibernate was strong. Words pretty much failed both to hit the page & manifest in real life, so I took some time out. I know you’ve missed me though; I know this with all my heart & I’ve missed you too. The garden has not missed me or a trick & has grown wild as wild can be, the cheeky thing. Saying that, it was soundly taken to task one mad furious week back in Autumn when activity was intense & painful. The rampaging, overhanging laurel was addressed, which in turn wiped out at least a third of the snaggling, snitchy, stabbling, trippling, antihistine ODing hallucination inducing fog fest brambles, it was liberally decimated. Which was fun. Oh & the shed was saved from being eaten by a ridiculously overgrown shrub, the name of which I failed to look up such was the ferocity at which I attacked it. And the brambles of course, the never ending brambles, they got it too. Turns out there’s been a rather lovely voluptuous red rhododendron cowering under there this whole time, poor thing. The crab apple had a rather nasty clash with an aggressive roof rack, bike & boat, & grumpily lost. It’s a shadow of beautiful arching former self of course. Red spheres of splattered flesh everywhere… I’m deeply saddened by the whole affair.

Pink Flesh Apples – Pink Sparkles?

Apples grew enormous, reddened gloriously & were snaffled, & shared. Pears plumped. The brambles, I think realising their imminent demise put out a pitiful show, swiftly frozen still awaiting the jam treatment, I will do that soon, I need the freezer space. Autumn was a stunning blaze of glorious colour & it passed me by, not one image snapped such was my sadness.

So apart from all that, & many many visits to tip, & too many hazardous moments to tell you, the garden has continued to return to its natural state. My ambition of Christmas dinner direct from garden to plate remains just that – an ambition. But never say never, new year & all that. Yes? Time to put the Wish Wellies back on, dig deep & start again. I admit I feel like I’ve failed & as the lovely chap who came to fix the chimney pot kindly pointed out, ‘you’ve had all this time during lockdown, what else have you had to do?’ Well yes, Mr Chimney Pot Man, you’re right I’ve had nothing else in the world to do at all… But I’m not yet defeated, not quite yet.

Tiny Ice Baubles

On a positive note, having a feral au natural wild kind of garden like mine grows copious amounts of Christmas foliage, holly, fir, ivy, yew; not so muchof the laurel this year. It’s all wonderful. Plenty for the wreath & also to generously deck the halls, window ledges, mantel, bannister, the whole house! The ivy this year looks particularly amazing, long tendrils wafting in the drafts. I do love that. And the little visits from all the shield bugs have been a lovely distraction as they buzz through your hair as you nod off, watching Jurassic Park for the 11th time. I shall miss it all of course, come 12th night.

Oh bugger, it’s taken me so long to write this it’s been & gone! Well, that’s another year’s bad luck. erm……

Right well might as well keep the house decorated till the end of January then, keep that happy feeling going. Except the tree is meant to be picked up at the weekend by East Cheshire Tree Collection, might have to chop down the failing ‘tree in a bucket’ that’s really not doing very well. No one will know. I don’t know where to replant it, I don’t think it will survive replanting & I’ve all those little baby trees doing so well. And to be fair, I didn’t get to decorate our tree till the week before Christmas, if that, there’s still things missing from it. Yep, that’s a plan. And Christmas Dinner wasn’t that marvellous either, I’m thinking of doing a rerun of that too. Oh I wish it could be Christmas EVERY DAY!!!!

Ok I’m kidding….. Honest… Really…. Maybe…

Proper Snow

Another thing, I wish it would snow more, absolutely honest about that. We had some wonderful snow over New Year, such excitement, such promise, much disappointment the next day when it was virtually gone. I know there are those who not particularly enamoured by the arrival of snow & that’s fine, my heart will be forever sad for you. I am not one of those. The more the better & with the correct attire & the promise of hot chocolate & toast on my return, I’ve even been tempted outside on occasion, to make igloos & even sledge. I know, you’re shocked, have some more toast. Snow makes everything better, for just a little while, creates Narnia in your garden, makes the most amazing sound as it falling, truly beautiful shaped flakes, even the words we use to describe it, its all magic.

And then it’s all back to reality & mud.

The Shed hanging in there

So, looking forward to 2021, I’m hopeful by this time next year I WILL have produced something edible from garden that I’ve nurtured myself, not that nature popped into existence, ever hopeful. I’m hopeful the wasp nest by the shed has disappeared by Spring, (another natural hazard I don’t need), I’m hopeful the shed survives this winter. Just quite hopeful really, as hope is eternal or is it spring? Either way hope is not lost. Very important that normal life is not lost all together, as had been said all through last year, the ‘new normal’ is out there, just waiting in the wings.

In the meantime, there’s leaves need gathering, moss needs raking up, seeds need sowing, plenty of planning to be getting on with. Baking needs doing, now that’s a novelty these days, I am so fed up of chocolate & banana bread, & here we are now in lockdown we do need some new baking magic.

So although the outlook is fairly dismal right now, I do wish you a Happy New Year, be hopeful, be loved, bake lots, talk more than ever to those you love. Check in on those that are quiet, be kind, kindness is everything, love is more.

Keep safe & well & take care

PS. Christmas Tree is staying till Feb – hurrah!!!!

Winter Mahonia

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