Blue sky thinking

We have had a glorious few days recently. Aside from dog walking duties, I have largely been spending the days in the garden, resplendent in my wellies and my Dickie’s navy blue and red zip up boiler suit (which gives me the air of someone who might, at any moment, pivot from gardening and fix the boiler). Keith assures me he bought a ladies one but, if so, the average Dickies lady has some interesting attributes. The top assumes an embonpoint of Dolly Parton proportions. The hips, relative to the boobage, are narrow but the true mystery is the waist to crotch measurement which is bizarrely long. I have tried to imagine “Dickies Woman” and it is not a pretty sight. I feel she must have green skin and a slight buckle dragging air…….Keith made the purchase – is this how he sees me????

We have had two bulb deliveries and the fine weather seemed the perfect opportunity to get ahead and get them in. Before I get the ones for the new border in I should first dig the rest of it over, remove the roots and stones, add compost to the large seam of clay discovered in the middle and work out where the herbaceous plants are going. Thus far I have dug over all but a small parallelogram at the far end, which is particularly root infested. The overall shapes are marked and the repeating structure plants are in. (Keith’s comment on the last of these – do you not feel that spoils the effect of the bed? I replied briskly in the negative and thought, through gritted teeth, of the old adage about bairns and fools (they should not see things half done)). However, there is still a lot of herbaceous planting to go in (most of which needs to be dug out from elsewhere). I should really have waited, but the desire to get going was strong, so over the last two days I planted a good few bulbs in places where I knew there would be spaces. Hopefully as the process gets completed I won’t dig too many of them up again. (I unearthed a couple of yesterday’s today). I then spent the early part of the evening in the bath mentally spending my birthday money on new plants for the spaces which I am confident will emerge from the general ongoing reshuffle.

Lyra and I have had two grand walks around the fields recently. The winter wheat is starting to come through now, giving just the tenderest blush of green. Very few flowers, but still lots of colour from the berries in the hedges and yellow lichen on the older branches. Lyra is also particularly enjoying the aroma left by the muck spreader. Our walks are certainly putting me through my paces at the moment. On our first foray of the week Lyra set up a rabbit and gave chase, with yours truly bringing up the rear. Yesterday it was one of our feathered friends. We have been going further and further before she gets off the lead to avoid the pheasants. Alas the pheasants have been getting more and more adventurous and seem to be following us. On our last walk we were a good four fields from their roosting wood in the middle of some fields, when I slipped the lead. I was feeling fairly relaxed and humming to myself, admiring the view when one of the buggers materialised from nowhere (there wasn’t even a tree in sight it could have been hiding in – are they using the mole tunnels???). A spirited steeplechase ensued before Lyra could be wrangled (or more accurately enticed with the pork scraps I had taken as treats) back into the lead. I fear we may just have to keep her on the lead when walking around the fields at the back until the end of the shooting season and head to the river or the beach for a free scamper (the swans, ducks and gulls will have to take their chances). Either that or I need to learn to hurdle.

Walking, much more sedately, with Lachlan around the Hirsel, at the end of last week, we went to visit their fold of highland cows. Ours were calves from that herd and Lachlan and I were pretty confident we identified Catriona and Snouty’s mum – the resemblance was startling. (People do seem surprised we can tell the cows apart but really they all do look quite different). They had some lovely little calves with horns just budding ( totally cute – the cow equivalent of cherubs) and there seemed to be a rather mellow bull in the mix just sitting down, chilling. On the way back I picked up a number of the most huge cones. I am not sure yet what can be done with them, but surely something will come to mind….

On the home front, I have moved from finding ways to use up crabapples onto things to do with pears. I was quite pleased with the poached pear stack (which was simply discs of puff party layered with poached pear and cream whipped with the poaching liquid, but it is all in the stacking..) I am also very pleased to report that the rescue orchid (taken as a dried husk of a think from the £1 bargain bin at the garden centre a couple of years ago and coddled ever since) is finally showing a couple of flower spikes. Patience rewarded. Lyra, alas, is on the naughty step. She has worked out how to open the kitchen door and sneak upstairs. She likes nothing more than jumping on the beds and works her way round the rooms testing them all. That said, Ishbel has complained that her bed is too hard so perhaps a good jumping may improve things. Lyra is on the case..

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