Reasons to be cheerful

So here we are, home for the next 3 weeks.  It’s certainly a strange time, isn’t it?  I don’t think that anyone has lived quite like this before – even during the World Wars people were still allowed out of their houses freely during the daytime  – and in a funny kind of way, it’s exciting to be part of history.  Ask me again in 3 weeks’ time whether I still think it’s a good to be part of this particular historical event, but for now, it is what it is and we need to make the best of it.

Thank you for all your lovely comments on my last post, I really appreciate all of them.  It’s always sad when things change, but hopefully something new and exciting will fill the void.  That’s pretty much how I was brought up to try to look at things … we have the choice of “going down like a cow’s tail”, as my Nan would say, or just getting on with it.  I don’t subscribe to the “stiff upper lip” mentality that encourages us to swallow our feelings and our problems rather than speak about how we’re feeling, but I do think that dwelling on what we don’t have rather than what we do have is a sure-fire way to go down like a cow’s tail faster than you can say “Jack Robinson”.  Ha!  I’ve got all the old family sayings in there! 🙂  And on that happy note, I can assure you that I am going to do my best to just get on with it, appreciate how lucky I am to live in a house with a garden and in a time when I can still communicate through the internet and be thankful for all this gifted time that’s come my way!

You (you lucky things!) get to suffer enjoy more blog posts as I am planning to write as often as I can whilst I am just getting on with it – for my own sanity as much as anything – and it will be lovely to have you around if you feel like it.

Image shows a scattered pile of seed packets

It was Mother’s Day here in the UK on Sunday.  We had originally planned to take the dog to the beach and it was a lovely sunny day so would have been perfect, but given the current virus situation at the time, we decided to stay at home.  Instead, I announced that everyone could be a garden slave and gift me an hour or so of their time so that we could get the veg patch sorted out.  They were surprisingly enthusiastic so I didn’t waste any time getting them outside and working!

The photo above is pretty much what’s left of my Dad’s and my combined seed collections.  Last year, I discovered that a mouse had got into my seed box and had had a whale of a time going through the seeds to see what tasted good.  There wasn’t much left!  Luckily, my Dad’s seeds were in another box that the mouse hadn’t yet discovered so I had veg to plant, but it’s actually been a good excuse to clear my seed box out completely (I found that I had so many packets of old seeds, some bought, some collected, that I had never planted and probably never would) and I’ve just bought the seeds that I know I’m going to grow.  My Dad’s seeds are all getting pretty old now (he’ll have been gone 5 years this year) so I know that I’m probably very lucky with anything that grows from those, but I’m not quite ready to clear those out just yet.

Small daughter was quite happy to get started on the seed sowing.

Image shows packets of seeds spread out on the grass. A girl at the top of the picture is sowing them

We’ve got leeks, beans, onions, spinach, carrots, lettuce and tomatoes going for now plus some flowers – it’s all veg that I know we will definitely eat and which I can sow in succession to keep us going for a good few months.  I bought some seed potatoes the other day (I decided on a whim to call into B&Q for compost “just in case” and I’m so glad I did!) and they are now chitting (sprouting) on the windowsill ready to go into the ground.

Image shows seed potatoes in a green seed tray

Oh, I can’t tell you how good it was to have some help in the garden!  Usually it’s just me because everyone else is out or busy and you forget just how much you can get done with extra pairs of hands!

Big daughter and my husband did a sterling job of clearing the blueberry and strawberries out, both smothered with couch grass and aquilegia plants …

Image shows an overgrown wooden box containing blueberry and currant plants. Two people to the right of the picture are clearing it

My husband lifted the bags of compost for me. I buy those great big 125 litre bags as I know they will last.  I can hardly lift them but I have perfected a way of rolling them onto the flat bed store trolley and then into the boot of my car – I must look hilarious!

Image shows my husband spreading out compost in a raised vegetable bed

There’s lettuce, rocket and spinach in that bed now, and later there will be leeks and sprouts.  Ah yes, there will always be sprouts in my garden now!

I bought some sweet pea seedlings at the farm shop and they’re in the ground now.  I hadn’t realised that I’d used up all of my edible pea seeds last year so I won’t be growing any of those, but it’s not the end of the world (although home grown pea pods are my very favourite vegetable, with tomatoes warm from the greenhouse a close second) as they do take up a lot of space.  I might need that space this year for other things!  I do love sweet peas, though, and the flowers should bring the bees into the garden which is all good.

Image shows sweet pea seedlings planted in the ground.

And what did I do in all of this, you might ask, apart from striding about like an overseer? (On a very vaguely related note, we’ve just watched The English Game on Netflix about the start of the football leagues and that’s set in Lancashire mill towns which is obviously what’s made the connection in my mind 🙂 We loved the series, by the way.)

I have been re-painting the garden bench that we brought from my Dad’s house.  It’s a bit battered (my Dad obviously used it as a saw horse for a while given the scars on the arm rests); there’s a bit of wood rot at the bottom that I’ve treated with preservative to try to get a few more years out of it and I couldn’t get all the layers of paint off, but it’s as good as it’s going to get now.

Image shows a garden bench on it's side in the process of being sanded down. It's in a greenhouse.

There are family photographs of me sitting on this bench in my teens, when my middle-aged brother was just a small boy and with our very first dog, so it makes me happy to think that I’ve been able to patch it up for a few more years at least.  It won’t last forever (I have a feeling some of the horizontal slats are on their way out) but for now, it’s just what we need for a few moments of space in the sunshine.

Image shows a brown painted wooden bench

And talking of space, that’s another tenuous link but an important one.  We’re all going to be different in terms of the space that we have; some people live with big families all on top of each other, others are living alone and rattling around like peas on a drum; others like us are lucky that whilst we don’t live in mansions, it is possible for us to get away from each other either into the garden or into a bedroom for a while.

I don’t know if you took part in the Winter Haven KAL in January this year, but if you’re able to set up a Winter Haven (or possibly a Virus Haven?) space for yourself – a chair that you can sit in for a few moments peace, or a warm sunny step outside your front door – then take the opportunity to do that.  You can find all the Winter Haven KAL posts if you take a look to the “here’s one I wrote earlier” list over in the right hand side bar – they’re all in January 2020.

We’ll all had a massive shock, whether we realise it or not, and we’ve been living with the constant low-level stress of watching the virus spread around the world for months now.  Those stress levels are rising, and what happens is that we get used to living in a stressed state.  It feels normal to wake up in the morning and for the worries to crowd your mind.  We forget what we felt like before it all happened.  And if there’s one thing that can lower your immune system very quickly, it’s stress.  It’s so important for us to try to keep a grip on how we are feeling, however you can do it.  Knitting, crocheting, crafting of any kind, gardening, meditating, reading, listening to music, being outside … even just taking deep breaths of air.  I know, it’s easy for me to say but I’m not preaching from an enlightened position; just writing this reminds me that I need to do as I say as well!

And so, that’s it for today.  The sun is still shining here in Winwick, I am fortunate that I can still connect with friends through the phone and the internet.  No going down like a cow’s tail here, it’s not allowed!

See you soon, stay safe xx

Image shows a primula plant with unusual blue and white striped flowers

Isn’t this pretty?  I spotted it at Aldi and couldn’t resist!  It’s a primula, and should flower again next year, with any luck!

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21 Responses

  1. happy hooker says:

    A lovely uplifting post, Christine. We all need to keep ourselves and others upbeat at this stressful time. It will be over one day, but for now, make the most of the time to look after yourself. I love the idea of a virus haven! At least nowadays we can keep in touch by email, phone, skype or whatever. Gorgeous primula. xx

  2. welly says:

    Exciting times in the garden, I am having my first go at planting veg this year, no veg patch to speak of so more salad stuff that will manage in a grow bag or something and I got so excited to see my radishes starting to sprout this morning. We need to take a moment every day to appreciate the beauty we have around us. thank you x

    • Winwick Mum says:

      That's brilliant, there's nothing quite like seeing your own veg growing – and there's nothing quite like eating it either! 🙂 xx

  3. Kristi says:

    Thank you so much for your post. I imagine your voice in my head as I read, proper British accent and all. I'm in the States. Do you have any videos of you talking so I can he it right?☺️

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Oh that's very funny, but I do know what you mean, it's nice to hear what people sound like sometimes, isn't it? I've got videos on my YouTube channel ( so you can hear … although you might prefer the voice you have in your head! 🙂 xx

  4. sustainablemum says:

    A lovely uplifting post, thank you for taking the time to share with us. I think we need lots of posts like this to get through the coming weeks, possibly months.

    I am not going to sow any seeds yet, I need to wait another month otherwise I have lots of lovely seedlings and it is too cold to plant them out.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      That's always been my problem – I used to have windowsills full of them so now I'm much more restrained! By the time the seedlings are big enough to no longer interest the wood pigeons then I'm hoping the frost risk will have passed 🙂 xx

  5. LittleJo says:

    Thank you for an honest and creative post. There is a lot to get used to at the moment and good to be reminded of how to use thus situation positively.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Ah, I know that I won't always stay positive but I refuse to let my blog posts turn into a moan so it will be good for me to write them 🙂 xx

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for another lovely and helpful post. Please keep them coming in this worrying time.

  7. Lisa says:

    Thank you for your posts, they're always so positive and cheerful. I live alone in a one bedroom flat but am lucky to be able to keep in touch with my friends and family through social media and now my daughter isn't working I'm hearing from her a lot more. A positive for me through this situation is the sense of community we're building. We hear so much about the bad parts of our society but I'm seeing so many more people pulling together and helping each other. I live on a new estate, it was fields last year. As part of our town's initiative I've been coordinating volunteers to help those who are self isolating and within a matter of hours of putting the request out every house had someone to cover it and just the next day leaflets were put through every letter box. I really hope we do all we can to keep this sense of community once everything goes back to 'normal'

  8. PatT says:

    I really enjoy reading your blogs, thank you for posting them!

  9. beatrice says:

    I love your bit about it being exciting to be a part of history. Who knew we could do this by staying home knitting and gardening! Thank you for your upbeat blog.

  10. Beverly says:

    Never thought of being a part of history, but that is good. Thank you for the post about gardening. I do love to be outside digging in the dirt when I can. I have started weeding myself and bought a few seeds for early stuff like carrots, lettuce and radishes. Tomorrow is supposed to be warmer so I will get out there and plant some seeds. That primula is beautiful. At first glance I thought it was fake.

  11. Susan Rayner says:

    Another lovely post! Your idea for Mother's Day gifts from your family is perfect and should be carried forward to other occasions too! I might have to adopt it! Love your father's bench and the beautoful primula.

  12. Gretchen says:

    I love your Dad's bench, and that primrose! So beautiful!

  13. Geeha says:

    Temporarily living in a flat having sold a house and moved 200 miles, house hunting on hold for the duration, we are feeling the loss of our garden. We know we are lucky to be pensioners so not worried about job or income. Thank you for allowing us to enjoy your garden and countryside while we are unable to get into our own. Hoping that you, all those you know and all those who read this keep safe and well in body, mind and spirit.

  14. Julie says:

    Enjoy you sock knitting on that lovely bench amidst your happy memories of times gone by and those to come when we come out of this awful situation.

  15. Lenore says:

    What a fabulous Mother’s Day present, I really can’t think of anything better. It must have been lovely spending time with the family in the garden. The garden seat looks terrific well done.

    As we can’t travel to QLD to see our son and family we have planted a winter garden. It is a great distraction with what is going on in the world.

    Keep safe. Xx

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