Slow Lane Life II

How we moved to the West Country and learned to slow down even more


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Connected

So I’m chatting to The Gardener on his hands-free thing in the car; he is in Taunton trying to park whilst also struggling to remember the details of the item I need him to buy and bring home tonight. (A new mop, if you really want to know; getting to Lakeland from where we live entails a round trip of almost 50 miles; he is in Taunton already, and loves a bit of shopping, even if it’s nothing more exciting than replacing the nasty bedraggled old mop that has Health Hazard stamped all over it.) Then I need to check if a message has been sent concerning M, his Youngest Daughter, who is staying with us this week, and tell him about    it. But I can’t find my phone.

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“Where’s my bliddy iPhone now? How do I manage to lose it all the time?” Scuttling round the house as I wail. These slim phones are a nuisance; bring back the huge brick-like things that we all used to be so impressed by – they didn’t get lost down the sides of armchairs, slither through holes in your pocket or swallowed by the dog. I lift papers, rummage in bags; the YD would simply tweak it out from under her bra strap.

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Eventually The Gardener – who rang me – makes various suggestions as to its whereabouts, then says “I don’t know…. didn’t you ring me on it?” and we realise that yes, I did, and then he’d rung me back…. and that the lost iPhone is in fact clamped to my ear while we fuss and fret about its likely location. Then as I am typing all this – and I know you will have many similar stories – the landline phone rings, and it’s The Gardener again. “You rang me?” No I didn’t. “Oh. I must have pressed your number instead of M’s (YD).” Make sense of that  one then. At some point today, he, YD and a new mop should arrive safely home. Maybe.


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Uplift

The Gardener gets up very early, and has a couple of hours of quiet time downstairs, amidst sleepy cats and dog, doing all sorts of laptoppy things – editing photos, catching up with Facebook friends (mostly photography-related), downloading books and music to listen to while gardening, and heaven knows what else. I don’t know because I have the sense to stay in bed until at least 8 o’clock, listening to doom and gloom on Radio 4.

And sometimes he emails me a picture, or a song, usually a YouTube video, to find later when I log on. Some I love, some I don’t, some bring tears to my eyes, and some are just plain uplifting. This morning, I found this one, with the message “Play loud!!!” And I did.

I can recommend it for that grey, dull morning when the world seems hopeless and life seems dreary….


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Full of beans

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I’ve always missed my allotment, and have planted some little odds and ends in containers to console myself; so far I’ve had four French bean plants doing quite well in a container in the back yard, producing just enough in regular episodes to keep us happy but not overwhelmed. Several tomato plants were doing well too, not enough to keep me awake at night fretting about passata, but useful for salads and for popping into the mouth like sweeties. My back door herbs were flourishing, and the cos lettuces did well enough for me not to feel resentful when they succumbed to snails – we had had enough by then.

But now it’s that time on other people’s allotments, and with a resident vegetarian Gardener, who has already been gently implored not to bring so many courgettes home with him from work, we have been targeted by the locals. First of all, I received a furtive phone call: “Er, you couldn’t use some beans, could you?” The slightly hesitant tone hinted at a concealed level of desperation, and, immediately, I knew. Someone, somewhere, had a glut, and the caller couldn’t cope any more with donated bags of courgettes, chard, beans (assorted), shallots or marrow.

I said cheerfully that yes, I could, and offered cynically to swap for the marrow languishing unloved in the fridge. This was rather too promptly turned down, and my bag of beans was handed over. Very nice too, young borlotti beans, prettily speckled. Before we could finish them, a paper bag was brought home by The Gardener, given to him by another neighbour who couldn’t use them all; he hadn’t looked inside, only taking pity on her desperation, but yes, more borlotti beans, this time from another allotmenteer.

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Meantime, a large amount of runner beans found their way into the fridge. Then more courgettes. And a few broad beans. Tomatoes. More tomatoes. Plums that were roasted and made into sorbet (quickly eaten up). The fridge bursts with apples and pears for chutney that will eventually be made when I remember to shop for the other ingredients. IMG_8198

And it’s not just the neighbours to blame. My rhubarb has made another effort. The herbs are prolific. Tomatoes ripen in a bowl, and the house is filled with the aroma of passata reducing on the stove, competing with a vegetable curry.

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Yesterday, a package was left in the porch. Borlotti beans.

If anyone has garden produce to spare, thank you, but not just now…..


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Leaves

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Fall. Or autumn (I have been in the company of a Canadian….). My very favourite time of year. The leaves are just beginning to take on a tinge of gold; little is falling yet, but the hedgerows are full of hips, haws, and Flossie’s much-loved blackberries. The days are warm, the nights cool, and I am in a permanent state of happiness at how beautiful it all is.

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The beloved visitors came and went all summer, and were a joy to show the glories of where we live, the rolling hills, the big skies, the wild ponies, the tearooms…. oops, did I say tearooms? Alas, a surfeit of the latter left its mark, and The Gardener and I are now back on a more disciplined regime, involving what he likes to call – in long-suffering tones – ‘leaves’, and that I call salads and anything green and healthy and not involving cake. I have a new list: the jobs that will need to be done before and during the winter, but for now, there’s nothing much that won’t wait. I shall catch up with everyone in blogland, and get out and about with Flossie while this most wonderful of seasons lasts.


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Satisfying

While the back yard was in progress, I had my own little project going on. The dining room poses challenges; it has three doorways, from the hall, to the kitchen, and  to the stairs. And like every other room in the house, it needs to have our books crammed in wherever possible. The junk shop down the road yielded – at a modest price – a sturdy bookcase with adjustable shelves. Just the thing to fit into our decidedly non-rectangular alcove, where once (when? many years ago) there was another doorway into the room.

Trouble was, the bookcase was in my least favourite orange knotty pine. R6051571 R6051572So out came the chalk paint. Old White and a tester pot of Burgundy. R6051987R6051619 Result! I love the way it all looks as though it’s leaning; that’s one of the charms of this old house – no straight lines. R6051986 R6051985This can be a gloomy room, with its internal window and the oversized dresser that I won’t part with, and needs to be simplified, pared down as much as possible. So we changed the overhead light too; The Gardener’s choice.

And why no tablecloth? I hear you ask. I have lots of tablecloths and runners, and love a nicely dressed table, but this one gets wiped and laid moments before dinner is served. Because to some cats, a tablecloth is just …..bedding….. R6051978


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Trying hard

….but after three years (post-transplantation from my Newcastle allotment), one tiny but formerly-prolific red gooseberry bush sent me a very clear message. R6051982Yes, poor gallant little RGB, I hear you; I shall move you to a brighter patch of the garden. Thank you for my six little gooseberries anyway; they tasted pretty good.

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