Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Latest Addition

We’ve been thinking about getting a dog.  The house needs a dog.  It is too empty without one.  I’ve been scrutinizing the Blue Cross Rehoming pages for weeks and have had some near misses.  A few weeks ago, we viewed Flotie, a Jack Russell, and her son, Sprocket, a Jack Russell/Yorkshire Terrier cross.  They were still living at home but their owner was moving and could not take them with her.  We loved them both but were worried that Flotie, in particular, was too jumpy and bouncy for my mum to cope with.  I carried on scanning the Blue Cross pages and then, one day, there was Sprocket again, but this time without Flotie, even though we’d been told that they were inseparable.  I rang up to hear the sad news that Flotie had been run over and then, left in their home with the Yorkshire terrier who is his father, Sprocket had suffered a prolonged attack.  He was then put into the Blue Cross kennels as a permanent resident. 

I rushed off to meet him again.  Despite their concern about his nervous state, a very confident and happy dog came rushing to meet me.  My heart was won over. I went back on the Sunday with S and my mum.  We were all captivated and Sprocket came home on the Bank Holiday Monday, a glorious day.  We sat outside and had a barbecue.

He has settled in well but is suffering separation anxiety, having fixated on me, he follows me everywhere, hates me to leave and is hysterical on my return.  It is very flattering, if a bit wearing, and I will be glad when he becomes more confident and settles down.  He howls at night and barks us awake at the crack of dawn. 

However, he is funny and we are all completely besotted with him.  Some pictures to show you why:

Was it tea in that cup or something stronger?

Sprocket with Surrogate Me, His Night Time Pal

Here We Go Gathering Nuts in May!

It was the May Day Fair a couple of weeks ago.  The first May bank holiday and a glorious weekend.  The weather wasn’t that great initially on the Saturday morning but we headed up into the market square, passing Jack o’ the Green on the way, wearing a large, foliage-covered, garland-like framework, covering his body from head to foot.  And looking a tad wickerman, to be honest.  The name refers to the garland and the tradition dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries in England, revived in Whitstable, Kent in 1976.  

Not Our Jack o the Green As I Forgot to Photograph Him - But Just to Give You the General Idea
 What a great event this proved to be, as the sun got hotter and the spirit of May time permeated the crowd.  There were stalls and snakes, cider and farmyard animals.  The Roman theme meant that people were wandering around in strange attire.  We bumped into loads of people that we knew.  We had coffee in one of the local cafes, then lunch in the church hall, sitting in the sun.
Fun in the High Street

A Roman on stilts...?  Is that how Hadrian built that wall so high?

The Mayor - if only she'd bothered to dress up!

My mum's blood nurse!

B the Morris Man

Beautiful Roman Girls
The Morris dancers were there.  The infamous Icknield Way Morris Men (, who dance in the Vale of the White Horse and whose members include my ex-colleague, B, who managed to persuade S and C to join in.  Despite the pleas that the whole episode should never be spoken of again, I can’t resist showing you the brilliance of their cross-ups.  Or should that read ‘cock ups’…

We bumped into some friends who had not seen the house so left the fair for yet another tour.  I might start selling tickets!  We then remembered the croquet set that I had bought the boys at Christmas so had our first match.  We didn’t know the rules but that didn’t stop us.  I was last.  S won.  It must be all the time he spends on the golf course practicing.  I knew it would come in useful for something.  We are now planning to buy a petanque set so that we can pretend to be in the South of France as we throw metals balls about on the gravel.  

And, finally, it was a glorious evening.  Remember this?

Well, that evening it looked like this:

April Flowers

It’s spring at last.  So, let’s take a little walk around the garden in the sunshine to see what flowers are emerging from between the brambles and ivy.  Let’s check on whether life is emerging from the pots that we somehow found the time to plant up – thanks to my mum, who spends her time searching through the gardening catalogues and designing the garden so that, in time, it will be a joy to behold.

Azalea - doing better than it did last year, despite the weather!

The 'orchard' - pretentious, moi?

A live tree and one playing dead

The magnolia stellata comes into bloom

The pots outside the porch - much admired by all and sundry - the work of my mum

The daffodils bloomed, despite being planted at the last minute



Hyacinths - the smell filled the evening air

Reader, I Married Him

As Emily Bronte reported, it was a quiet wedding we had: he and I, the parson and clerk, were alone present.  As well as my mum, the kids and my niece.

How it came about that we came to be standing in the local registry office on 2nd April must remain a mystery for now but suffice to say that, within about ten minutes, the deed was done.  We then went off to Barnsley House near Cirencester for lunch (  I’ve often wanted to go there and missed seeing it in the days when it was still owned by Rosemary Verey, the internationally renowned garden designer and writer. 
Rosemary Verey, 1918-2001

Her most famous garden design was Barnsley House, her home, and she opened it to the public.  Following the death of her husband, she began designing gardens for a range of clients, including the Prince of Wales, Elton John and Princess Michael of Kent.  

Rosemary Verey and Some Bloke

I was most interested in the fact that she was the gardener who had made vegetable gardens (potagers) fashionable again.  The potager at Barnsley House was inspired by Chateau de Villandry on the River Loire in France. 

Sadly, spring was late this year.  So, on the day that we had a lovely lunch there to celebrate the legal part of our marriage, the gardens were bare.  I hope this isn’t an omen!  However, I will go back there when spring arrives and the gardens bloom.  The following pictures show how it should be, rather than how it was on that day.

The main celebration of our wedding will take place in June when the full story of how and why we have made this momentous decision can be revealed.  The house has become such a major part of our lives that we wanted to be married here.  However, it turns out that such things only happen in Hollywood films.  In the UK, you can only get married in licensed premises i.e. premises that have a wedding licence, rather than premises licensed to sell alcohol.  (Of course, we can do neither as our Deeds preclude us from selling alcohol, having been a rectory at one point.)  So, we decided that we would do the legal bit in a registry office and then hold a celebration in the garden.  

Having recently attended P’s funeral, which was a humanist event, I was very taken with the approach of the humanist celebrant so we have engaged one to carry out a wedding ceremony for us.  It will be a bit different and a bit pagan (I hope!), but enjoyable, we  think.  I hope that, like P’s funeral, it will capture the essence of those involved and be a ceremony that speaks about us, rather than simply a ceremony.

We will have a marquee in the garden, which will hold fifty people.  It sounded a lot until we made a list of our friends and now it is so difficult to fit them all in.  We will invite our lovely neighbours and others to join us at about 1600hrs so we can at least ensure that most of the people who are close to us and part of our lives will be there.  However, these things are always difficult and fraught with the potential to offend.  We can only hope that we manage to get it right.

Boys Will Be Boys...

Builder 3, the boss, left the key to the digger in a box under the seat.  He also left a pile of logs beside it that needed to be moved to the wood shed.  (By the way, have I mentioned that our wood shed is carpeted?  But then, isn't everyone's?)  It was too much for certain members of the family to resist.  A happy time was spent whirring round the garden at a speed far slower than walking.