Almost overnight, Spring has suddenly arrived. It started some time last week, when the sun came out but it wasn’t quite warm enough to really feel that we were done with winter. And so it was that in true British style, I was sitting in the garden having lunch, determined not to miss the sun, but wearing – well, a Christmas jumper. Yes, I know, early May and I was clad in sunglasses and a jumper full of penguins. I probably looked absolutely ridiculous but it is a very cosy jumper. At least I remembered to take it off before opening the door to the postman …
As well as the arrival of the sunshine, last week also heralded local council and parish elections. After finishing work, I strolled round to the village hall to cast my votes, thanking Providence (and my employer) yet again for the fact that I work from home most of the time, and so can enjoy village life to the full. When I arrived, I was greeted with an array of voting slips in a rainbow of colours. “The white one is for the council – please only vote for one candidate. The green one is for the parish councillors – there are 8 candidates and 7 vacancies and finally, the blue one is for the police commissioner – you can vote for 1 first choice and 1 second choice” I was told, by some poor chap who had clearly been saying the same thing since 7.30 that morning. Blimey – I had no idea voting could be so complicated!
Having done my surprisingly challenging civic duty, I began the short walk home. As I walked, I was struck yet again by the beauty of this place that we now call home. (To give you an idea, the photo at the top of my blog is the view from my bedroom window – try not to be too jealous!) The apple blossom was starting to appear, and birds were singing their hearts out as they went about their business in the trees up above. On the way, I stopped for a chat with the lady who works in the post office, and every dog-walker I passed nodded a hello. Ah, the simple pleasures of a Yorkshire village!
It isn’t all Paradise though. You may remember our first tentative attempts at gardening and our plastic greenhouse. Since ‘planting’ it, it hasn’t blown away, and the potatoes we planted are thriving. Sadly, the same couldn’t be said for our first tomato plants, which succumbed recently – possibly due to condensation from the plastic, or maybe D’s slightly over-enthusiastic watering regime. Undaunted, we have bought some more, and this time we are setting up a sort of trial. Both in growbags, 2 are in the greenhouse and 2 on the patio, and we will see which do best. In the veg patch, the sprouts and broccoli are looking good and the leeks and onions are just about holding their own. That’s not bad to say the cats are firmly convinced that any patch we dig has been done specially for them. The Princess, particularly, seems to enjoy digging purely for pleasure, like a dog does, and is always tramping mud all over the house.
And why is it so hard to keep plants alive, when the weeds seem to need no encouragement whatsoever? Dandelions appear to love our lawn and, because of the cats, we don’t want to use weedkiller. Digging them up would leave the lawn looking like it has been invaded by moles, so our only option is to try to remove as many flowers and leaves as we can and hope it deters them a little next year. To try and cut them down to size a little, we decided over the weekend to splash out on a new lawnmower. D has never really taken to my old one – probably because when I first met him, he spent an entire summer cutting the grass at the old house (fortunately, the garden was small) and complaining about how inefficient it was, only to find at the end of the summer that I had forgotten to put blades in it – oops! Fortunately, the new one came with blades already installed, and there was no denying it cut better than the old one. I cheered as it decapitated at least a dozen dandelion flowers and we were left with a smooth green space.
Imagine how I felt, then, when we awoke to more lovely sunshine the following day and I went outside to find yet more yellow flowers waving a hello. They were in full bloom, too, as if they had been there for days. I have been out every day since and plucked at least 20 dandelion flowers a day, along with as many buds as I can find. I have discovered that dandelion buds are shy creatures that stay as close to the ground as possible, in order to avoid discovery until they are ready to burst forth in a cheery and very smug ‘Ha! Fooled you!” sort of way. I know it’s mad, but I am taking this extremely personally now and, although I know it is a war I cannot win, I am determined to try.
We finished the weekend in style with the first barbecue of the season, toasting Spring with the free Prosecco from the kitchen showroom. As the afternoon turned to evening, and we sat chatting with the cats keeping us company on the patio, I realised the birds wheeling around high in the sky were swallows, returning to the UK for the summer. Dandelions aside, it was a perfect end to a beautiful day.