Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Money Matters

This year, our accountant of the last fifteen years decided to retire. I have no problem with that in itself, because having gone way past retirement age, he needed to grab a little bit of life for himself. I remember going to see them within the first few days of Four Seasons starting out, and our introduction into the horribly complicated world of the tax accountant. And so, over the last years we have happily handed over everything to them every six months, safe in the knowledge that we had experts working on our behalf behind the scenes. But they have now retired, and horror of horrors we have had to find a new one. Although recommended by our old accountant, he was still someone new, and he came to see us, and we had to share intimate secrets about our accounts, financial status, plans, home and assets. We shared coffee in our home, and he was actually very nice, smart, and above all helpful, and he left with us all happily in agreement for him to be our new accountant until the day that one of us die.

The last of the spring bedding plants are in thank goodness. Now it's a case of working out how many bags of lawn feed are needed for everywhere, and getting that delivered and down. Shrubs are starting to show signs of life at last, because although the last couple of months have been quite chilly, we are beginning to get some lovely warm days here and there.

These Cineraria maritima have finally gone past their sell by date, and so got taken out.

It was a particularly lovely day when we worked in this garden. Sunny, cold, and above all peaceful.

After the Primroses went in, it was time to tackle the Hydrangeas. Everyone seems to have a different take on pruning them, but we follow the method that I was taught some thirty years ago, and have found to be the most rewarding in terms of flower.

We work over a two year cycle, with the first year pruning them down very hard at the point that the buds are starting to get really fat, to about a foot high and always to a good bud. This keeps the shrubs tight and in a nice shape. The flowers for this first year are good, strong and plentiful. The same time the following year, and we just simply dead head them, and this is the year that the flowers hit you with some serious impact. I don't know if you can see in the photo, but there are more dead heads than can be counted.

It had been a long session here, the sun had gone, and it was really cold, and so we left the last few until next time, happy with what we had managed to get through.

Every week, just as Hobie is doing, we look out on our own untidy garden, and make plans for the weekend to tidy it up. And up until this weekend, the plans go out of the window as other things take over. But more of that in a minute.

On another day, I was working in Highcliffe and was lucky enough to hook up with my brother for a coffee half way through the day. Along with his business partner Angela, he has a company called Happy Lappy,  that has them both teaching mostly elderly people how to use everything associated with computers and the internet, along with modern phone technology etc. And so, inevitably, as most of the properties we look after are owned by the elderly, our paths cross.

It was another beautiful and sunny day. I had just finished working on a garden that quite literally ends at the cliff top overlooking the sea, and we spent a lovely half hour drinking coffee and chatting.

Saturday came along, and after topping up the bird feeders in our garden, we planned to spend a couple of hours in the morning over at the big planting scheme at the house in Sandbanks before going off and doing our own thing for the rest of the day.

I won't go into detail about the work here as I want to do a whole dedicated post to the work going on there, but what we did do was enjoy what we were doing so much, that instead of spending only the first couple of hours of our day off there, we worked from dawn to dusk. Some may think us mad for spending a day off working, but it was a lovely way to spend quiet time together, doing what we love. Well, there was a point when Amanda wasn't very happy, just before this picture was taken, and she got covered in soil as I cut through a root, it sprang up, along with half a pound of earth!

This is a garden that features here fairly regularly. The grass, where Amanda is blowing after trimming the laurel hedge, suffers quite badly each winter, as there is a lot of foot traffic at a time when grass isn't growing much. The water feature is always nice to look at and listen to though. And we got gigantic mugs of tea.

Our plans for Sunday involved.......wait for it.........some gardening, but this time in our own garden. We were going to hire a soil rotivator and get some serious work on the allotment done, but my finger is still too dodgy to withstand the rigours of such a machine. After the long week and extended Saturdays work, we woke with just a few stiff muscles and aches, and the thought of launching straight into gardening didn't exactly light our candle, and so after an early morning coffee, we headed over to the biggest car boot sale in the area. That in a moment, our garden first I think.

The patio needed to be jetwashed, and so all of the pots had to be moved, so that Amanda could start the fun work, while I worked my way through our pot collection. A few things had died, and so these were discarded and the pots topped up with fresh compost. Everything else was tidied and freshened up, ready to go back.

This Datura was magnificent last year, and although there are no visible signs of life either in the stalk base or root system, I have known them to spring back into action. Worth a chance I think!

I get quite excited when checking for signs of life, and upon a little investigation catch sight of new growth just under the soil. This lily, like all others at this time, appears completely dead, but look more closely and you can see the lovely new shoot.

The car boot sale in the morning was, as usual fascinating. A complete mix of nationalities and cultures in the people there. We went along with a fairly open mind as to what to look out for, but of course, given Amandas desire to collect teacups and saucers, and my own of fancy wine and champagne glasses, we were a little focused. Never spending more than £3.00, we came away with a silk and embroidered curtain (soon to become a shoulder wrap for Amanda), a jug, a bone china serving dish, and an exquisite little brooch for Amanda. I was really lucky, and came away with big smiles.

I discovered this gorgeous new glass for my collection (narrow one at the back) hidden amongst some old furniture, and only cost £1

Also, for my treasure chest, a red 'ruby' brooch (by the pearl necklace) and a chunky old gold cuff set with Amethysts (on top of drawers). All in all, a nice collection to pick up.

What with the car boot sale and then gardening, we were trashed by the evening. A chinese takeaway for dinner hit the spot, followed by what is my favourite feel good film 'A Good Year'. If you haven't seen it.......see it!

And we even had martinis to chill out with!

Thanks for visiting.


  1. What a great post, made me smile from the cat in the kitchen window, to the flowers you were kneeling and planting, to the exciting boot sale and your treasures, to your treasure chest. Oh! And poor Amanda getting splattered with dirt. I have had that happen to myself many times, spitting dirt out afterwards. take care, Gina

  2. It certainly sounds like you enjoyed all those activities. What a great business idea your brother has. I know a lot of older folks who would benefit from that. Love his pea pod of a car too. We have a couple of them in town here and they are so darn cute. They look so tiny by the farm trucks one sees here the most.
    I like the boot sale. Sounds like our flea markets.
    I hope your datura returns. Mine usually does but right now, it does look dead.

  3. Hi Gina,
    It has certainly been a full and fun week. Amanda wasn't too chuffed to get a face full of soil, but soon forgave me. I love hunting out bits for the treasure chest.

  4. Hi Sherlock,
    Ian and Angela both have a Smart Car, and they do get a bit of ribbing over here in the UK. I think the most important thing is that you notice them, although I prefer my van. We shall have to compare Daturas in a couple of months time!

  5. Holy cow Gary! Your garden is meticulous. Our Oak trees just keep dropping leaves. It's organized and well kept. Nice work....I really your pruning idea and wish we had the hedges here to practice on. That fountain is quite the piece of art...really nice. You both are very busy, but it all looks great. I laughed at the chest of treasure! Hope you both have a great weekend.

    1. Hi Rohrerbot,
      Thanks for the nice comments. Off for morr treasure today!