Apologies for not posting last week – I decided to take a well-earned rest and have a week off work, and I didn’t get chance to blog. I found myself musing on how to make a week off feel different from being at work. The things that stare at me accusingly through the week are still there – the housework, the washing, the gardening, the cats, all saying: ‘What, you’re in the office again?? Why are you on that PC all day when we need your time and attention?’ The cats have the best of it – they can always sleep peacefully on my knee while I work or, on a couple of embarrassing occasions, photo-bomb a meeting. Their logic is that, if I am talking, it must be to them as there is nobody else around. And trust me, if a cat jumps on the desk and shoves her nose in your face, it usually means the people at the other end of the webcam have a great view of her other end … I’m sure you get my drift.
The housework, washing and gardening, though, have to wait for the evenings and weekends. In theory, if I am off work, I have plenty of time to do those things during the day, but catching up with friends and family is far more important (not to mention fun). One of the reasons we moved down from Aberdeen was to spend more time with loved ones, but the reality is that weekends vanish quickly in a blur of domestic tasks and suddenly we are in June, without seeing friends I have been promising to catch up with since Christmas. So last week, I was determined to get out and see at least a couple of people, although I have several more that I need to catch up with. A week is just not enough. The cats were less than impressed with my wanting to go out, as it meant they couldn’t be in and out all day as usual. I promised them Sheba later to compensate and went anyway, choosing not to see their reproachful looks.
On Friday, I visited Nunnington Hall with friends. It’s a National Trust property some miles north of here in a stunning setting. It is an old manor house, with beautiful gardens and resident peacocks and, if you are ever in North Yorkshire, I thoroughly recommend a visit. The gardens were simple, yet inspirational – I couldn’t wait to get home into our own garden to do some of those jobs I had been putting off all week, like painting the gate that separates the decorative half of the space from the working end at the top. The cats thought the painting was great fun – they took it in turns to supervise and point out where I’d missed bits. The only bit of the visit to the Hall that worried me was the plant sale – I’m sure I recognised some things that I have been pulling up as weeds – oops!
Now that summer really feels like it is almost here, the garden appears to be going well, in spite of my over-enthusiastic weeding. We have all sorts of flowers and buds on the decorative plants and the herbs are going mad (if anyone has good ideas for what to do with 2 sorts of mint, lemon balm and sage particularly, please let me know in the comments below). The tomato plants have flowers on (both the indoor and outdoor ones) and we think we can see the start of a carrot top peeping through. We’re even cautiously hopeful that we might have some fruit from the trees in the ‘orchard’. It’s all very exciting and we are so proud of ourselves – who would have thought we could actually grow stuff successfully!
We are still seeing plenty of wildlife too, in spite of the cats’ best attempts to supplement their diet with extra protein. The Calamity Cat is still staking out the frogs – they seem to be sheltering in our drystone wall and she is totally fascinated. So far, she hasn’t hurt one, she just seems to like to watch them and give them a tap now and then to see what they will do. We still rescue them when we see her though, as I’m sure they don’t appreciate her interest. We think one got its own back last week, when she was ill for a day. She slept all day and was totally indifferent to food, which is unheard of for Calamity and we can only think that she had digested some of the gunk that frogs produce to protect themselves from predators. She bounced back the next day, so no harm done. It meant she missed the toad, though – she was asleep inside when I saw it walking nonchalantly across the lawn. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a toad up close before and it was strangely graceful picking its way across the grass.
The Princess, meanwhile, has gone nocturnal. We don’t let the girls out in the dark, at least in theory but now the days and evenings are getting warmer, she is pushing the boundaries every night. Over the weekend, we only realised at bedtime we hadn’t see her for some time. We presumed she was in, as we had locked up, but we had forgotten to close the study window upstairs and she had slipped out on to the flat roof and away. She returned at midnight after lots of calling and treat-shaking looking very smug. It did wear her out though – she didn’t bother getting up for breakfast the next day. They are both now on a strict curfew but, with me back at work, they have their freedom back during the day and seem to be spending long hours snoozing under the hedge.
And for us, every day brings a new discovery of a new flower or a plant or the promise of a harvest to come. It’s going to be a great summer – I can feel it.