So, on to happier things. Small daughter goes back to school tomorrow. Actually, I don't think she's too happy about that but I am. Not because she's getting under my feet or getting on my nerves because she isn't, but because it means I'll be able to get my focus together for some exciting things that are coming up. It's the Sockalong's second birthday on 3 May - I'm going to be having a giveaway here on the blog and I've got some lovely gifts from generous friends to pass on (I'll tell you more as the date gets closer!) and then it's Yarn Shop Day on 6 May and I'll be at Christine's Wool Shop (CityKnits) in Bourneville. I'm also going to be posting about this year's Yarndale Sock Line which will be putting in an appearance at Yarndale again before the socks head off to warm some appreciative toes.
On the subject of appreciative toes (mine this time!), I've cast on some new catnip socks now that the others have gone to their new home. Honestly, I just can't leave this yarn alone! I've used the last of the WYS Candyfloss yarn with Sherbet Fizz and I just love the way these colours go together. They're definitely Easter eggs, or sweeties, or something that just makes me want to get them on my feet as soon as possible! I've been asked more than a few times recently about changing colours in a sock too, so I'm going to write a post about that very soon.
I've finished the first sock now and cast on the second so it won't be long before I'm happy-dancing in my new socks!
What about that dinky sock stitch marker? That was a treat from Rachel at Demelza's Delights who's sent me some of her beautiful stitch markers for the Sockalong giveaway (I may have had to buy some of her stitch markers for myself too!).
And on the subject of catnip, here's the real thing in the garden ... (did you see what I did there? J)
Our cats are very pleased to see it sprouting again, I've noticed them having a good old chew on the leaves. Luckily, there's enough of it for them not to eat it all!
Come on, let's go and take a quick look round the garden whilst you're here. I love this time of year when everything's re-appearing and I spot something new nearly every day. It's like greeting old friends and it makes me very happy.
Forget-me-not. I couldn't forget this plant, it pops up everywhere!
Our Magnolia stellata (star magnolia) is still flowering. I love magnolias, they're such beautiful flowers. Our plant is quite small and I'm glad about that, but it still flowers prolifically every year.
I'm always surprised to see tulips as I'm always convinced that the squirrels have eaten all the bulbs. These ones are closer to the house and I think that's what's saved them.
Oh, I just love the green flowers of this Helleborus argutifolius (Corsican hellebore)! This plant has got bigger and bigger (unlike the Magnolia) and is now sprawling across the grass making it difficult to cut without damaging it the plant, but I've decided to just cut around it now. I brought it from our last house and we've been in this one nearly 14 years now so it's doing pretty well!
Bluebells. These ones are proper English bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) but we do have some of the Spanish ones (Hyacinthoides hispanica) too which we inherited when we moved here. I did think about digging them all up at one point, but they're contained in the garden, they're not bothering the English bluebells (there is a problem in the wild as the Spanish variety will take over the space of the English ones, much as the grey squirrels have done to the red squirrels) and they're also very pretty, whatever their heritage, so I've decided to leave them.
Next to the bluebells is the cardoon (Cynara cardunculus); the young leaves of this plant are just fabulous with their architectural points and soft grey fuzziness. Once the flowers arrive the leaves go very straggly, as if the plant has put all it's effort into the flower and just can't be bothered with the leaves any more - I think it's a shame as the leaves are just as attractive as the flowers.
This is the chocolate vine (Akebia quinata) which doesn't look or smell like chocolate so I've no idea why it's called that. It's a fabulous plant for screening and hides our compost bin nicely, although it does need some firm pruning or it goes a bit mad!
More leaves, this time of a fern. I always think they look so prehistoric with the way they unroll, and indeed there is fossil evidence that ferns were part of the diet of many plant-eating dinosaurs. Don't you think it's amazing that a version of this plant was alive so many million years ago?
This is another one that makes me think of history - this is the flower bud of Centaurea montana - and I think it looks it looks like the medieval ladies' headwear called a Crispinette.
What do you think?
We're nearly done in the garden now but there's just one more thing I want to show you. Ta-dah! This is compost from our compost bin which is going to grow our veg for this year. I love it when I can recycle something and you can't get more recycled than compost! It doesn't look like the stuff you get in bags from the garden centre at the moment and it will need to go through the riddle (sieve) to get rid of the big lumps and that's going to be my job for this afternoon, but I'm super-happy that there's so much of it that I can use!
Pretty much one whole veg box full! It's spurred me on to getting this year's compost started already now that the weather's warming up, so the same again next year will be very nice!
With the school and uni holidays nearly at an end, we took a trip out to the beach yesterday. We haven't done much out-and-about-ing over these holidays; big daughter has a hefty assignment which is due in this week which she's had to work on, and small daughter has been happy playing with friends, having sleepovers and generally not having to think too much about anything (apart from the trip to buy school shoes the other day which is never a fun outing). I've love love LOVED not having to do the school run for the last two weeks and although I'm ready for it again tomorrow, I'm also looking forward to the next set of school holidays in May!
Here's the beach we went to - we went to Wales, as we often do, but to a different beach; one that we've never been to before. This one was at Talacre, a place that we've driven past often enough but never stopped at. It's a funny place, pretty much one long road that goes all the way to the beach with a small village clustered around the end consisting of two holiday caravan parks, some small closes of bungalows, two amusement arcades, a couple of cafes and a cash'n'carry shop that sells just about anything you could ever want to buy. It was pretty busy with holidaymakers at the caravan parks, but the beach stretched for miles and once you got past the beach car park area you could lose everybody else quite easily. We didn't have time to go too far up the beach, but we did walk to the lighthouse.
The dog was desperate to get off his lead and run on the sand, and he did get to have a sploosh about in a small pool, but unfortunately for him there were too many people with picnics around and he can't be trusted not to snaffle sandwiches that don't belong to him so he had to stay on his lead. We'll definitely go back another day, though, and make sure that we head in the other direction out of temptation's way!
The sun is still shining so I'm going to head out into the garden for a bit before I've got to start thinking about school uniform and the week ahead. Have a lovely Sunday, whatever you're doing!