Still staying home!

Good afternoon to you!  We’re entering another week of lockdown (seriously, I’ve lost count of the weeks, I don’t even know what day it is half the time!) and it’s getting hard to remember what life was like before this surreal time when it feels like you’re on holiday but you know that you’re not.

If we were in a science fiction story, we would be questioning whether we ever really went outside before at all or whether it was all an illusion, and some days it really does feel as if going to work, going on holiday or even talking to people face to face was something that I imagined.  Anyway, we can only keep on keeping on, can’t we, and remembering that all of this is about more than ourselves.  It still seem strange to see Winwick so quiet.  I’ve been indulging my rebellious side in all of this by walking down the middle of the road with the dog in places, rather than on the pavement.  Not often, though – there are still cars around and I have no desire to get squashed!

Whilst I’m thinking about being home, it’s a good opportunity for me to say thank you to all of you.  To those of you looking after the sick people, or the old people, or those who need extra help; to those of you who are growing our food, making deliveries, working in those stores that are still open and being able to work from home so that my life isn’t inconvenienced any more than it has to be.  To those of you who are still dealing with the day-to-day stuff like house fires, or dustbins, or traffic accidents.  Life hasn’t stopped, it has merely slowed and the “inconvenience” of having to stay home and sit about in my pyjamas all day if I want to, in order to help keep others safe, is made possible by people like you.  And of course, thank you to everybody that I haven’t mentioned but who is still out there doing what you need to do – and those like me who are staying at home making their jobs easier.  Thank you all!

It’s not easy, though, is it, this staying home malarkey?  I think we are all “fixers” to a greater or lesser extent, and we all want to do what we can to help to fix this problem.  When you’re staying safe at home, it’s hard to think that we are actually doing what is needed to help fix this – I expect I am not alone in thinking that I should be “doing more” when in reality, I am not being lazy or dodging responsibility by being in the garden, or helping small daughter with her history schoolwork (1880s immigration into London this week – “helping” is code for making sure that she actually does it!), or even just sitting in the sunshine with my knitting.  I am doing what needs to be done.  And more than ever, I am so very glad that as a frustrated sock knitter back in 2015, I announced that I was going to write some tutorials to help people see that socks don’t have to be difficult to knit.  I wrote the Sockalong tutorials to be useful, not for accolades (although that has been lovely!), but to know that they have helped whilst people have staying at home, and those returning home from a hard day’s work, is brilliant and has given me that “fixer” fix – thank you!  It makes it just a bit easier to know that it’s OK to be here at home and I wish you all safe journeys through your days as well as warm toes 😀

My journeys have taken me as far as the supermarket and on walks to the nearby woods where, if I time it right, the dog can have a run.  The bluebells are definitely out now and the sun has been shining; it’s been quite hot some days and I actually managed to burn myself whilst sitting out in it the other day (I really do think my brain is turning to mush!).

I spent pretty much all of Saturday in the vegetable garden and it was so good for me to be outside.  Not so good is the perennial bindweed which has started making an appearance already.  It’s a vigorous climber that grows from even the tiniest bit of root left when you pull it out so it’s really difficult to get rid of unless you blast it with weedkiller – something that I try to avoid in my veg patch.  You can see it coming through here at the edge of this raised bed – what a nuisance this stuff is!  It’s popping up everywhere and once I’ve planted seeds or young plants, it’s much harder to dig down to try to get all of the root out.  I’m just working on the theory that the more I can get out in one go, the harder it has to work to grow back and if I’m lucky, it won’t take over before the veg grows.

When I was at the farm shop, I spotted that they had some young plants in so I decided to get some – the seeds that I planted haven’t done anything so far which either means they are too old to germinate, or it’s too early, or it’s too cold – and I wanted to get something started to try to fill up the bare soil.  At the moment, it’s a battle of wits between me and certain other beasties who think that I have provided a new luxury toilet area for them, so the sooner I can get something growing to discourage them, the better!  So here is curly kale (my husband’s very favourite vegetable – me, I can’t see the appeal but it’s fine, I can eat it) …

Lettuce – this variety is “Little Gem” which grows tall rather than wide and has long leaves which are perfect for pouring salad cream down the central rib.  I don’t know if this is a personal peculiarity, but lettuce with salad cream always holds memories of summer days for me, eating outside in the sunshine in the garden and thinking that the school summer holidays would stretch forever.  Ah, those rose-tinted memories!  I expect that more often than not it was raining and my parents discovered that bribing me with salad cream on my lettuce was the only way to get me to eat it, but I prefer the other memories instead 😀

Broad beans …

and peas.  At the moment, the plants look very similar and well they might, as beans and peas are from the same family, but hopefully before too long the peas will start to grow much taller and then will need staking.  I wasn’t going to grow peas at all this year because they take up a lot of space for not a massive return, but then I saw the pots of them at the farm shop and I couldn’t resist.  Pod peas are my absolute favourite vegetable …

along with tomatoes warm from the greenhouse.  I did think I was going to get these plants in this weekend, but they’re still not quite big enough and I’m still a bit worried that it might go cold again.  I was always taught that the frost risk for this part of the country isn’t over until the end of May – maybe that’s different now the world is warming up, but I can’t believe that there would be a whole month difference.

And then there was the state of my greenhouse border.

There’s a path under that too.  Shocking.

I did think at first that I might just be able to put new compost over what was already in there, but although it was home made compost and was very good at the time, I didn’t grow anything in the greenhouse last year and the border has dried out beyond hope.  The compost has dried into brittle clumps that I would not want to put my precious tomato seedlings anywhere near, and so drastic action was called for.  I started digging.

This is the border now, waiting for new compost.  That hole is quite deep (the compost was a mess for further down than I expected!) so I’ll need to check my compost bins to see what I can find to bulk it up as I’ve only got one bag of bought compost to use and that won’t be nearly enough for here.

This won’t be of any immediate use to me, but I’ve moved my worm bin (lightbulb moment – I’ve put it next to the other dustbins instead of having it away down the other end of the garden) and hopefully it won’t be long before the worms are doing their composty thing with our food waste.  Yes, you can see coffee filter papers there, and in case you’re worried, they’re unbleached recycled paper ones so they won’t be harmful to the worms or the ground later.  The blue mouldy bread, however … I’ll fish that out later if they won’t touch it, but I’ve left it in for now.

I’ve no new knitting to show you today – I’ve done a little bit on my husband’s new purple sock but not significantly more.  I’ve been swatching for more commissions which is very exciting for me but not for you as I can’t show you, although there will be more to show you soon, I promise!

I took some photos for my Instagram stories yesterday whilst the sun was out.  Our flower garden is very definitely a Spring garden and it’s looking lovely at the moment with a mix of wildflowers and other Spring-flowering varieties.  I was going to take myself off to the garden centre just before the lockdown so instead I have ordered lots of bare roots and plug plants online to fill some of the gaps once these plants have finished flowering – apparently they’re on their way which is good news.

And that’s me done for today.  I hope you’re keeping safe and well, thank you for your comments on my posts (even though I’m rubbish at replying to them at the moment), it’s good to know that you’re all still around and just doing your own thing.  It’s doing our own thing at home that’s going to get us through this, isn’t it?

Until next time xx

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22 Responses

  1. Susan Rayner says:

    A lovey meander through your vegetable garden and the photos as usual so good! I think my sister and her husband live on Kale – they grow Cavolo Nero by the ton! Goes well with pasta apparently! I like it in a lovely Sausage Stew. I keep thinking about people we have forgotten since the Pandemic struck – all those people who were flooded out of their homes last winter – many people find it hard to be at home just now – but what if you aren't actually in your own home to start with!!!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Oh you are exactly right! Those poor people living out of their homes – and of course that includes homeless people too. This whole thing has affected so many people in so many ways that we are not even aware of, hasn't it? xx

  2. Sheila Wilson says:

    Thank you for your calming blog post. Its cheered me up somewhat after losing our old faithful Collie during the night. It seems even harder given the circumstances at the moment.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Oh, I'm so sorry to read this, and I'm sending you lots of love. It's so hard to say goodbye to those we love, and pets occupy just as much of our hearts as the rest of our family xx

    • Francesca says:

      Deep deep condolences.

  3. happy hooker says:

    Don't you just love this time of year, everything springing into life , even if it is bindweed, or in my case,ground elder! As you say, it's strange to think we're helping just by being at home, but watching the daily briefings, we ARE helping. I've been crocheting hearts and stars for people to take as they pass by. I've had some lovely notes and comments and even some yarn donations! I like to think I'm helping by putting a smile on someone's face. xx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      What a lovely thing to do! I think that simple, local kindnesses are an amazing thing and perhaps all the more so because we never usually have time. I'm hoping that our new "normal" after all of this can incorporate some of the wonderful things that this time has brought out in people xx

  4. Bright Morning says:

    I just reviewed your algorithm for turning a sock heel. I knit a sock flap, then began picking up stitches along the sides. I made the decreases and the noticed that the angle of the sock looked woefully wrong. Then it dawned on me! I forgot to turn the heel. I was knitting without a pattern and forgot the most important part. I needed to review the algorithm because I did not know how many stitches to purl and turn and knit and turn. Yes, Winwick Mum, you are helpful. Oh so helpful!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Ha ha, I attempted to do exactly the same thing this week – it does take you a minute to work out why your sock doesn't look right, doesn't it?! xx

    • Bright Morning says:

      Yes. I can't believe that I didn't realize the problem sooner.

  5. Janefrogged says:

    Your blogs fixed it for me! I got organised, ordered from the garden centre and have lots of pots of plants and seeds. I even have a pot with lettuce coming through! Still don’t know what day it is, but much happier and the garden is beginning to look better

    • Winwick Mum says:

      That's brilliant! It's super-exciting to see the veg growing, isn't it – even more so than flowers, sometimes, I think! 🙂 xx

  6. Margaret says:

    Thank you for some lovely photos again. I have purple violets growing wild in a flowerbed and the lawn! I ought to dig them out but they are so pretty and a good excuse for not cutting the grass. Now it's raining so that's another excuse! Take care and keep safe.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Ah, we so need the rain, but I am REALLY hoping that the sunshine hasn't gone away until next March (as has happened over the last couple of years) – fingers crossed! xx

  7. Judith says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us. There's so much green and new life around now. I live in a reasonably built up area on the edge of a town, but on my daily walks I've found some green spaces less than a mile from my house that I never knew were there. Whilst not exactly the countryside, there is beauty to be found there and I'm enjoying seeing it each day. When life is busy I don't have time to look, so this enforced slow-down definitely has some benefits. The real challenge will be to keep looking when life returns to 'normal'!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It's surprising what you can see when you've got the time to look around, isn't it? I really hope that we'll be able to carry on some of the good parts of this experience too! 🙂 xx

  8. Tanya says:

    Thank you so much for keeping me sane. I learned to knit socks last year and I have got the bug now. I don't know how I would have managed without my knitting in the garden these past weeks

  9. Pat Williams says:

    I enjoy reading your blog, a moment of calm in all the madness!
    I wonder if this top will help with your bindweed, (I have the darned invader on my allotment) Push a bamboo cane in beside the weed and encourage it to twine around the cane, when it reaches the top, smear all the leaves with a gel weedkiller, I keep an old pair of rubber gloves that are only used when doing this. When the bind weed dies back it can be easily removed. I don't like using weedkiller and this is the only time I use it, but this thug needs to know who's in charge and where my precious fruit and veg are concerned that should be me 😁

  10. Julie says:

    I've been really enjoying your posts Christine and coming along on your wanders around the village. It's been 46 days since I stepped out the door here (apart from a scarey 15 mins when I had to quickly visit the GP surgery up the road for my chemo blood test, less risk me going there than them entering my home and another due next week too!).
    Blogland and knitting and other crafting and reading has been a godsend in those days.
    Take care, stay safe and fingers crossed for a good crop of delicious treats from the garden for you in the months to come.

  11. PatT says:

    I do enjoy reading your gentle musings. I'm so glad I found your sockalong site, I'd knitted a couple of pairs from a vintage pattern and was looking for inspiration. So nice to be part of the facebook group and so far I've made 5 pairs of socks while I've been off work and now eagerly awaiting the Adeline Yarn Box from Black Sheep Wools, which I saw on your page. Glad you are keeping well and yes this is our job at the moment!

  12. says:

    A lovely post , ours is definitely a spring garden , I need to concentrate on how to make it a garden for all seasons rather than green x

  13. Elliementalist says:

    So lovely. I really like the photos of your woods, I cn imagine faries living there. 😀

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