Joyful Saturday

Well, it’s been an eventful 24 hours (nearly) here in Winwick!  My original post was called “Joyful Friday” and I had nearly finished it when the electricity went off unexpectedly and we were without power until midnight or possibly later – I was asleep by then!  I did get out all the lamps and candles I could find in the hope of spending the evening sitting by the fire to knit but it was still just a bit too dim so instead, I went to bed early with my book and a torch and enjoyed not having to hide under the bedclothes in case my Mum came in and shouted at me 🙂

Anyway, we’ve woken to having power as generators have been installed on our section of the network whilst the repairs are being carried out, we’ve been warm enough and the Aga stayed on so we could cook and boil the kettle, so there was every reason to remain joyful.

Yesterday day started off well enough.  It was a beautiful morning here in Winwick.  The sun shone, the sky was blue and the birds were singing.  It was joyful.  And after last week’s unravelling, I have been more joyful too.

A blue sky with white clouds behind pink blossom on a tree

Whilst I know that people have many issues to deal with in their lives, the truth is that how we look at things can change how we feel about them.  Last week, unravelling in different scenarios, I felt like a tiny boat being tossed around by big waves and I didn’t like it – I like to be an in-control person!  I realised that I could change how I was feeling by going back to my morning meditation and EFT tapping practice and putting a pause between waking up and starting the day, and it’s made such a difference for me this week.  Oh, I fall on and off this bandwagon regularly but I always know that I can go back to it and I will feel better.  I never feel bad about the days I’ve missed, we’ve only ever got the moment we are in so you can only ever start from where you are.  If you think meditation isn’t for you because you won’t be able to stop thinking about shopping lists or what you need to do in the day, think of it as just taking a few minutes for yourself.  Knitting works, when we get to that point where our mind is quiet and we can just enjoy the yarn in our hands.  Other than that, one of the easiest ways to meditate is to become aware of each of your senses in turn – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch – and as soon as a thought enters your head, ask yourself what your next thought is going to be.  Just like when someone says, “tell us a joke, then” and your mind goes blank, exactly the same thing will happen! 🙂  I like guided meditations where I can listen to someone speaking; I find I’m less likely to think about what I’m having for dinner that way.  I’ve never tried this app, but you can get a free year’s subscription so if fancy something like this yourself, it might be worth having a look.

Anyway, enough of all that.  Let me show you what the dog and I have been up to!

We’ve been walking with friends in the woods this week …

A black dog looks at the camera from a woodland path

The good thing about a black dog is that you can’t see how dirty he actually is – he’d just been in the brook – and he was a bit stinky too!

The daffodils are still out …

Clumps of yellow daffodils at the edge of a wood.

and the bluebells are showing their leaves now.  It won’t be long before the wood we were walking through will be a sea of blue flowers – definitely something joyful to see, and to smell too!

Clumps of green bluebell leaves

Look at these willow trees!  This was one of the reasons that I wanted to walk here today; they always looks stunning in the spring as the bright green new leaves appear on the long, trailing branches.  I love the way they drape, they are like huge curtains!

Bright green leaves on willow trees

Back home in the garden, things are picking up a-pace.  We had an overgrown tree and hedge cut down this week.  It was one of those jobs that I’ve usually done myself but I am finally reaching an age where I can think objectively about whether I actually need to do all the jobs or whether I can ask for some help (it’s taken me years!).  I decided that whilst I could do it, I didn’t really want to and it was time to ask somebody else to do it.  Within a couple of hours, a nice man called John had done all the work, tidied up, we’d had a brew and a chat about ducks, chickens, dogs and gardening, and I had spent the time that he was cutting down the tree working on something else that I needed to get finished.  And it meant that when I went out into the garden to shred all of the chopped branches (I like that bit 🙂 ), I wasn’t tired or stressed and I could look around and actually notice what was appearing.

Like this tiny purple primula, hidden away under the Magnolia tree.

Tiny purple primulas in a garden border

And look at the leaf in the corner, just a lacy skeleton after the winter.

The Magnolia tree itself is full of furry buds …

Furry flower buds on a magnolia tree. A pale flower is just emerging from one of the buds.

They look like the pussy willow catkins that seemed to appear on the trees for five minutes and then disappear overnight this year, but they are much bigger.  They contain Magnolia flowers and you can just see one starting to emerge.

Sadly, the cold weather we’ve had over the last week didn’t agree with the flowers that had started showing a little earlier; you can see the brown edges of this one where it’s got frosted …

A magnolia flower still in bud with brown tinged leaves where it has been caught by the frost

There are also catkins on the twisted hazel tree (Corylus avellana).

Long yellow catkins on the twisted hazel tree

I’ve just looked up that these are indeed called “catkins” and they are – apparently named from the Dutch word katteken which means “kitten” as they look soft and fluffy like a kitten’s tail.  It seems that kittens have a wide variety of tail types as “catkin” applies to quite a lot of flower cases but they don’t all look the same!

What I did find out though, which I didn’t know, was that these catkins are actually 240 tiny flowers all strung together and full of pollen so if you’re affected by flower pollen, it looks like hayfever season will have started for you already.  These are male flowers and there are also female flowers on the tree, tiny little red flowers that you’d easily miss.  I had missed them – I had to go back out and have a look!

And there they are!

Tiny red female flowers on a twisted hazel tree (Corylus avellana)

Well!  I didn’t even know they existed!  That tree has been in our garden for nearly 20 years and I had no idea that it had tiny flowers!  If you are sufficiently interested and want to read more about these catkins, the website I found is here.

Next to our twisted hazel is a large Buddleja bush.  It’s a bit too large at the moment, I think I’ve still got time to cut it back a bit but the new leaves have started showing.  They’re a lovely silver-grey colour, and they’re a little bit furry too.  I like furry leaves on plants, not least because slugs and snails don’t like them so I know they’ll leave them alone!

Silver-grey young leaves on a Buddleja plant

And outside the front door, the planter that’s been very unexciting for the last few months is sudden alive with colour.  Now, that’s something that is making me feel joyful every time I go in and out of the house!

A metal planter containing yellow daffodils and a pink hyacinth

I’d forgotten there were so many bulbs in here.  I re-planted it last year with various colours of Heuchera so I’m hoping that it will still look splendid after the bulbs have finished flowering.

After the electricity went off, I decided that I might as well go back into the garden whilst the weather was still nice and my plan to was start off some seeds.  I’ve sown some tomatoes – I could only find my Alicante seeds (salad tomato sized), not the Santonio baby plum tomatoes that I’ve grown recently and now I remember that I’d used all my seeds last year so I’ve just ordered some more – there’ll be time to get them planted so that we get tomatoes to eat, and after the recent tomato scarcity, it won’t hurt to know that we’ve got some in our greenhouse even when the British season tomatoes arrive in the shops!

Pots of seeds and the green shoots of newly potted agapanthus

Along with my tomatoes, I’ve planted cucumbers (we like the variety Mini Munch) and a new -to-me variety of pea called Boogie; peas aren’t always good value for space in my veg beds but I do love pea pod peas so much!

The green shoots are Agapanthus.  I really love these beautiful flowers but have never managed to get them to flower in my garden – I suspect it’s because they like their roots to be contained more closely than I’ve kept them so they’re planted up in smaller pots that I might have chosen to see if I can encourage them to flower this year.  They came in bags which have been sitting in the sink for a few days this week whilst I got round to potting them up – it was a good job my family know what I’m like! 🙂

Two plastic bags containing bare roots of Agapanthus plants

If you had noticed that there seemed to be a lot of compost on the mat in the seed pot photo, you’d be right, and this little madam is the reason …

A tabby and white cat is lying on a mat next to some plant pots

although I might have brought it on myself as I potted up a cat mint seedling for her and she was VERY happy to see it.  I’m surprised it’s still in one piece, to be honest, as the pot was rolled about on the floor and I thought the plant was going to be squashed!  Anyway, we’ll see how it goes as it’s an outdoor plant that’s going to be living indoors … with my indoor cat who would much rather be outdoors but can’t be trusted not to head straight back to the busy road.

I would have planted more but I needed water and for some reason, it wasn’t coming out of the water barrel.  Further investigations resulted in me finding a couple of dead rats at the bottom of the barrel and something was clogging up the outlet.  I’m not quite sure what upset me most – that the rats had drowned (I don’t like to think of anything drowning), that they were in my water barrel in the first place (Winwick is surrounded by fields so that fact that there are field rats here isn’t a surprise, but they’re a bit too close to the house for my liking) or that I’m going to have to dismantle the barrel from the pipe system it’s attached to so that I can empty it out completely and find out what the something is so that I can use the barrel again – definitely not a five minute job, and despite my overwhelming desire to do so, probably not one that I should try to foist onto an unsuspecting helper either.  It all made me feel a bit sick so I put the lid back on the barrel and went back indoors to give my hands a good scrub (even though I had gloves on and didn’t put them in the water; it still made me feel a bit squeamish) and make a brew.  I’ll deal with that another day.


Now, I’ve mentioned being outdoors and being in the garden, but not the other thing in my life that brings me huuuuge joy … knitting!  (Yes, yes, and the family, that goes without saying 🙂 )

On Thursday, I chatted with Nicola and Marina of Woolhouse in Germany during their annual online festival.  It runs from 16-19 March from 10am to 5pm and you can catch up with all of it on YouTube if you want to.  If you want to see the conversation that I had with Nicola and Marina, you can find it on this video.  Our chat starts at 2:03:36 and it’s in English, translated into German as we went along, so you will be able to follow it if you are not fluent in Deutsch 🙂

Christine is smiling into the camera on a video call.  To the left is a shot of two ladies wearing shades of purple to whom Christine is speaking.  Behind Christine is a storage unit containing books, yarn

Can you see my surprise visitor? 🙂

Christine is smiling into the camera on a video call.  In the top left corner is a shot of two ladies wearing shades of purple.  Behind Christine is a storage unit containing books, yarn and a tabby and white cat is hiding behind a plant

That cat gets everywhere!  Fortunately, she was very well behaved and didn’t flick everything off the unit as I expected 🙂


This has turned into an unexpectedly long post so I think I should probably let you go and enjoy the rest of your weekend now, but before I do, let me show you one last photo.  Remember that sock I showed you last week?  Well, this photo has another clue of what it’s all about …

A partly knitted sock in turquoise, red and yellow lies next to a Spirited Away DVD case on a wooden table. There's an orange mug on the table too.

This the pattern that I’ve designed to help not to small daughter with her fundraising for her visit to Japan with the Guides this year and of course, it’s involved re-watching Spirited Away (Amazon link) for about the 199th time as I’ve been knitting it!  This is by far our favourite Studio Ghibli film and I am keeping my fingers crossed that not so small daughter gets to visit the museum when they go to Tokyo – she’s putting up a good campaign during their trip organisation meetings!

I’ve finally got the pattern into the hands of my lovely testers and so there’s progress there (there’s also progress with the design I was wrestling with last week so that’s all good news too!) and I should hopefully have more to tell you next week.

Until then, have a lovely weekend and a fabulous week to come! xx



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22 Responses

  1. Christine Knowler says:

    It’s always lovely to see the spring flowers. I planted lots of crocus, daffodil and tulip bulbs last autumn and I’ve had a good show so far. The tulips are budding up and I can’t wait to see what colours they will be. I always find the first thing I want to do in a power cut is put the kettle on but beings we have an electric hob now we can’t even boil water on that. Although I’m sure our neighbour would kindly boil some for us. Hope it all gets sorted soon for you.

    • winwickmum says:

      We’re lucky that the Aga isn’t electric so boiling the kettle wasn’t a problem but I know exactly what you mean! I’m glad you’re reaping the rewards of your autumn bulb planting, it’s always a joy to see the flowers, isn’t it? 🙂 xx

  2. Ruth Howard says:

    Brilliant thanks for the catch up this week -love your photos – sorry about the electricity cut – we are so dependent- good to Ponder ???? now and then – and be grateful – pleased you managed
    I have just bought some more sock yarn this week!! – feeling excited & looking forward to starting them
    Love Ruth x

  3. Paula m Middleton⁰ says:

    so funny to see Spirited Away next to your sock, it’s a favorite among my grandchildren starting with oldest who is 27 now and passed the dvd down. Thank you for the tour of flowers and trees.

  4. Susan Rayner says:

    I have just gone to have a look at my Contorted Hazel which is even older than yours and yes the little red flowers are there above the huge catkins which are now explaining why my husband and I have such bad hay fever already as we brush past it everyday to fill the bird feeders.
    Have a lovely weekend and thank you for the beautiful photos yet again.
    Trying not to think of the water barrel.

    • winwickmum says:

      There you go! It won’t lessen the hayfever, I’m afraid, but at least you know why. I was really surprised to see the flowers as I thought that I had always looked properly at the tree when I walked past it – but obviously not! 🙂 xx (Yes, best not to think of the water barrel – ugh!)

  5. Karen says:

    I love starting off with a laugh, and your comment about getting caught reading under the covers was great. How many of us can relate to that! Thank you for the uplifting message and beautiful photos. Here in Ohio (US), it is 30°F and windy, with blowing snow. BUT, my daffodils are up about 6″!

    • winwickmum says:

      Ha! I bet a fair few of us spent many hours under the bedclothes with a torch and a book! 🙂 I’m glad you can see your daffodils above the snow and I hope the weather picks up for you! 🙂 xx

  6. Corinne says:

    Same here, when we’ve had the occasional power cut, we head for the camping stove to make a cuppa. It always makes things seem better!
    Thank you, as always, for the beautiful pictures. You really do have a good eye for composition and colour.
    I’m a tad north of you, so my bulbs are still struggling through, although the mini daffs do have buds so shouldn’t be long in popping.
    Our younger daughter once found a dead rat in her garden, in a trug that had filled with water. She was upset that it had drowned, too.
    I’m afraid the sock knitting is on hold as our church coffee morning is making a postbox topper for the coronation.

    • winwickmum says:

      I’ve heard that electric cars are causing more power cuts as the infrastructure to support charging them at home isn’t good enough … we might need our camping stoves out more often if that’s the case as they’re the most popular type of cars to be sold! I’m sorry your daughter had the rat shock too; however much you don’t like the things, you still don’t like to think of them dying in an unpleasant way. Good luck with the post box topper! 🙂 xx

  7. Carol says:

    o I do wish I could send you mmmy agapantha! You could havecthem all, purple and white, wheelbarrows of bulbs the size of gigantic grapefruit. I’m in a battle to get rid of them, spades crowbars saws even – they’re so abundant and prolific, in many regions they’re officially deemed an invasive weed downunder.
    Thank you always for a lovely start to my day. My Year of the Sock saw first pair of your Basic 4ply in Tootsie reds and greens finished on a recent road trip. Now I’m finally at the toe of my first knee-high spiral sock with contrast cuff and toe… exciting! It will finished later today on the road too (blessed be husbands who chauffeur!)

    • winwickmum says:

      Wow, I can’t imagine seeing agapanthus in such abundance that you need to get rid of it! Sending strength to your crowbar elbow! 🙂 I’m glad the Year of the Sock is going well! 🙂 xx

  8. Heather Reid says:

    Oh dear, the power cut story reminded me of New Year. Our power went off on New Years Eve for a couple of hours, again on New Years Day, then on 1 Jan, Powergrid turned it off for most of the day to get the repair done. Lovely start to 2023 lol

  9. Wendy Hollow says:

    It was a long chat but most enjoyable on a Sunday morning catching up on long chats! Those socks look interesting and we are off to Japan in two weeks. Our Amy studied and went to Japan with school and we had two Japanese students staying with us. Fingers crossed for Cherry Blossom. Hugs WAHx

  10. Sally Carveth says:

    I am enjoying your signs of spring, something I always loved when I lived in the UK. I had to chuckle about your endeavour in growing Agapanthus- they grow like weeds here in Sydney & we thin them out every 2-3 yrs. Like the comment above, I wish I could send you some of ours!

    • winwickmum says:

      I think the winter wet has done for mine previously but fingers crossed for flowers this year! It’s fab that you get so many of them, although if they’re like weeds then perhaps you’re not that impressed! 🙂 xx

  11. ChrisG says:

    Love all your joyful observations of nature, what a treasure trove! I’ve finished the EFT World Summit last week and it’s certainly released some stuff and helped me feel lighter & freer and more motivated to keep up my meditation & yoga and a bit of tai chi to support the positive energies ????

    • winwickmum says:

      Oh that’s so good! I listened to some of it – I loved Kris Carr’s talk and Cheryl Richardson was really helpful – it’s amazing what we hold onto in our heads, isn’t it? I’m glad you’re feeling better and I hope you can hold onto the positive energy! 🙂 xx

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