52 weeks of happy: 25/52

IMG_7482This is cheating a bit I suppose – four photo’s instead of one. I was very pleased with the way they all looked together though. The bright colours and the big blooms of the clematis at the top really knock you in the eye and the rose and elderflower have such beautiful, summery scents.

IMG_7486A child free night on the summer solstice saw us heading to our allotment for a spot of weeding. A shared bottle of Crabbies made it (almost) a date night. It would be an exaggeration to say the our plot is under control but it’s looking a lot better than last year. The strawberries are turning pink (yay – I might be able to stock up on jam this summer), the gooseberries are swelling, the runner beans are running up the poles, the first courgette is almost ready and the globe artichokes won’t be long either. Time to start planning some serious preserve making…

IMG_7491My first, very amateur attempt at nail art. Good job my client wasn’t fussy. She just thought it was the best thing ever to have polka dot, red, white and blue nails. Shame they could only stay on for 24 hours due to school rules. I have a feeling there might be some more fun had with this in the long summer holidays, especially when she has a birthday coming up too.

IMG_7497Son Number One requested an after school trip yesterday so we shot out as quickly as we could to RSPB Saltholme. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay long as they close at 5pm and despite my best efforts, it was 4.30 when we got there. We just had time to check out the new ‘badger tunnels’ in the play area and have a quick race around the other (fabulous) play equipment.

So, I wondered, where to go next? The Middle Miss really wanted to go to another park with a play area but I thought something more peaceful was required. Just along the road from Saltholme is one of Teesside’s special places. Despite the proximity of a busy road, a titanium dioxide plant and a nuclear power station, there is a spot where you can almost always guarantee a seal sighting. It has been updated in the last year or two so that you now reach it via a path and a couple of boardwalks instead of by walking along the roadside. It has also been improved from a bare creek bank to a full size, elevated and sheltered hide. I know it’s impossible to tell from this photo but the row of dots on the left hand side, near the far shore are a group of harbour seals. 200 years ago about 1000 harbour seals lived in the area. Due to the massive industrialisation of the area the population was wiped out by the 1930’s. It is now recovering well. If you want to read more, follow the links here and here. To think that as a child I thought that the name ‘Seal Sands’, which describes the area where a great deal of the petrochemical industry is located, was never really going to be appropriate again. I’m really pleased that even in the depths of industrial Teesside, nature is able to recover and thrive.

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52 weeks of happy 23/52

IMG_7341I have so much I want to get down onto virtual paper about our family adventures in the last few weeks. There are about a million photos ready to be tweaked and uploaded but I think this one sums things up quite well; blue sky, beach and a child eating ice cream, all  reflected in The Husbands sunglasses.

IMG_7384This is also the time of year when just looking at the garden can really make me feel happy. Clematis are such big, show-offs, their blooms as big as plates grab your attention. They always remind me of my Grandma and Grandad’s garden. They had a beautiful clematis, Nelly Moser I think, though it always looked slightly different somehow.

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Our garden tubs are also blooming with pansies at the moment and they are so bright and cheerful, they never fail to make me smile.

IMG_7412My final picture is a rare pleasure. A sneaky moment of crochet in our allotment on my way back from my ‘knit and natter’ session tonight. The sun was setting, the sky was turning pink, the garden was looking (reasonably) tidy and the birds were singing. Heaven.

The flowers in my garden

On Sunday night I went out in to the garden to take a picture for a post I am working on. I hadn’t intended to go around taking pictures of the flowers in my garden but that’s what I did. Since the rain has returned and the garden now looks like this…

I thought it would be nice to be cheered up by some bright blooms. Here they are…

Turning left out of the back door The Husband has his collection of new lavender and peiris plants.

Moving along the patio to the left you reach our climbing frame (you can see it in my second picture). We purchased this from Activity Toys a local company based on a diversified farm. It’s a great place to visit if you want outdoor toys because they have a field with lots of different play frames set up. This was essential to us as we had a really awkward space to fill and we needed to get the tape measure out. They also sell ‘seconds’ usually with a hefty discount. Our frame was £100 less than the normal retail price.

I think we bought the climbers and clematis in the autumn of 2009, not long after we purchased the frame. They were all quite small and were on offer in Aldi. I have no idea what varieties they are. As this is a small, family garden we have gone for climbers more than anything else. I dont think herbaceous perennials would stand much chance.

This mauve clematis is one of three we have growing up our climbing frame. It’s done quite well this year, reaching right up to the crossbar where the swing is suspended.

I think this is some sort of Jasmine that is also growing up the climbing frame. It’s doing a good job of covering up the bare wooden poles. Unlike the purple clematis below.

This bright pink clematis is growing around our garden seat (see second picture). It has only produced one bloom and sadly, it can’t be seen from the house.

The same flower but close up.

At the right hand side of our garden we have quite a lot of climbing, rambling plants that were there when we moved in. They are not very dramatic but I like the green-ness of them compared to the relatively bare fence on the left. They contain a few things that encourage wildlife into the garden. For example there is a flowering cherry that looks lovely when it blooms earlier in the spring. It is now providing food for all the starlings that are about. Lower down we have cotoneaster and honeysuckle growing together.

Bees love them both.

My final picture is a sneak peak at what I went outside to photograph in the first place. Can you work out what it is?