Sunday, 19 December 2021

End Of Year

I don't really know where to start, or indeed what to say. It's been a long, long time since I last posted. 2021 has been a year that has, let's just say, taken it's toll, and a year that I will be glad to see the back of.

It's also been a year of good things happening. Re-connecting with old friends and family. Bex partner Matt joining the work team in March, and subsequently Four Seasons now being able to support two households. Improvements on the house happening.

Covid has blanketed life generally with a new way of existing, and one which I don't feel will go away. People have become polarised in the way that they deal with it. I have become more confrontational, angrier, more tired.

Customers have been extraordinary in their understanding of the pressures we have faced as a gardening team. Bex and Matt operating as an individual pair, and coping brilliantly with the new challenges to face. 

We both have had more free time to not just get out more, semi retire if you like, but to try to figure out how we now go forward into the next phase of our life. The campervan hasn't really progressed as we had hoped. Too much 'stuff' clobbering us this year. Must make some headway over the Christmas period so we can head out a bit more next year. The plan is to spend New Years night on Creech Hill under the stars. Plenty of blankets and hot chocolate needed for that one!

We've had lot's of beach and forest walks, where shells and sea glass have been collected in abundance, plant life and lichens pressed in my homemade industrial flower press. Pictures of our various projects to follow I expect.

Picture below is at one of our favourite spots, Craig Goch Dam in the Elan Valley. It's been home to us a few times this year. A real escape.

I'll try and do a Christmassy post soon, but for now please, all of you, have a beautiful and blessed Christmas.


Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Shinrin Yoku

 We enter another year of restrictions to how we spend our lives. Last year was certainly a year of change and compromise. A couple of weeks ago I became 60, just a number, but with it came an awareness of plans and adventures that are on hold indefinitely, if not perhaps forever, who knows?

Forests have always been a place of peace, reflection, and connection for me. In my teens I would spend almost every weekend with a friend or two, in the forest, under a shelter of branches and greenery. Basic food, the means to make a hot drink, a small fire for warmth.

There's nothing to compare with being amongst trees and plants in a forest setting. The night heightens senses because of the lack of other noise. Wind, breeze, leaves rustling, forest animals. It's amazing.

Both of my daughters were taken into the forest to 'rough' camp at six months old. Yep, milk in bottles and night time crying were additions to cope with, but they both slept peacefully for pretty much the entire night, unlike at home in a house. The fire would have them transfixed.

There aren't many people I know closely, who to this day, haven't slept in the forest with me. Trees and plants are extraordinary, NEVER to be taken for granted. I could go on about micro systems etc, but just get out there in these times, and beyond. Yes, hold a tree and talk to it, thank it for being there. Choose a spot, it doesn't have to be dry or clean. Lay down, still yourself, stay longer than life and all it's shite make you comfortable with. Listen to the forest.

Monday, 21 December 2020

Don't really know what to say.

Yeah, I could talk about Covid, because let's face, it has, and still does kind of dominate our lives.

It's caused major problems on every level, but on top of that we've had to deal with way, way, way too much crap. The word 'problems' doesn't even scratch the surface. We are simply fried.

So there you go, life and Covid analysis over.

Good stuff instead. Customers for the most part have been extraordinary in their understanding and compassion this year. There have been incredible moments of uplift, joy and laughter. 

Our 'camper van' has provided a source of escapism. Loads of spontaneous nights spent with other 'escapees' in the car park at Creech view car park. Reading, finding each other again, bacon and egg, sweet tea, just staring at the view in silence for hours. In the early morning heading to the beach for a skinny dip, roaring with laughter as the cold waves found their mark. Hah...yeah....that was fun. We even returned to a naturist camp site near Torquay in the summer. Enjoyed hair washing in the open air, kettle of hot water and a washing up bowl. Special, and personal, close, and funny.

We managed to get a couple of days away earlier to stay in a place with a big bath. We enjoyed room service for absolutely everything, Felt like rock stars. I read another chapter of Winnie The Pooh to Amanda. We went to Westonbirt Arboretum (where these photos were taken). We talked about serious stuff, we also laughed, held hands, kissed, walked in silence sometimes, lost in our own thoughts.....all good.

Met a man who owned a Lapis Lazuli mine in Afghanistan. Bought a beautiful heart from him. Turned out he also owns a guest house in Jodhpur, and we have an Indian holiday fund ready. Weird how life takes you in directions that you don't see coming, but seems like a kind of destiny eh?

On the way home drove madly through the narrow countryside lanes to see the Severn Bore. It was mad and hilarious. Ended up just blocking the road with our van, not caring, leaving it and running down the road hand in hand laughing to join the throng already there. We saw it. Another  first.

My beautiful motorbike has just sat outside all year. Getting wet, mouldy, and unable to start. Enough was enough. I need speed and my wild horse back. She's been in the motorbike shop for five weeks. So many things replaced that she's almost a new bike. I was nervous, and actually trembling when I got back on her. She started beautifully, rode like a dream. She recognised me, and gave me the ride of my life. We have a cork board at home, with a map of Europe and the entire Asian continent. We have a red line marked on it from Calais, through Europe, Russia, Mongolia. Have done for a few years. Going to make that happen.

We plan to spend two days and a night on Sennen Beach between Christmas and the New Year. Of course the van will be our home. But hot food cooked on the beach. Wetsuits, waves, hot sweet tea, and too many cakes (if that's possible?)

Yeah.....sod off crap Covid year. Next year might offer the same, or quite likely worse, but we have plans regardless. We WILL escape in whatever way we can. Big plans may have to wait, but they WON'T go away. I'm tired of spending a year working with one daughter that I can't hug, of having the same with my other daughter whenever we meet. I have friends that I can talk too, but can't hug. They can still hear and see me though. I AM STILL ALIVE!

I've come to my blog many, many times. Planning to write something. But there's just been too, too much been 'going on'. I end up reading some of the posts I follow. See if anyone still bothers to look at my blog. At this exact moment David Gray 'White Ladder' is playing. It always reminds me of Whitesands Bay in Pembrokeshire. Saw him there once. Listen to the album if you are able. Whitesands is our 'special place'. 

We now have three weeks off. We plan to sleep, walk, talk, laugh, eat, look, read, drink hot sweet tea. Get sea wind in our hair, walk in the forest, drive for miles with loud and crazy music playing.

All of you who see this.

Have a blessed and peaceful Christmas.

Look to the good stuff.

Be thankful for what you have.

Saturday, 20 June 2020


We are just over six months into this year. It's been quite a year so far, and we are tired, very tired. We haven't had a break from work for six months. The whole Covid thing has posed some seriously complicated logistical problems. When did gardening become so serious? For the last three months we have had to implement social distancing, masks, gloves, risk assessments, method statements, and on, and on, and on. Most people got it, but a lot simply haven't since day one. We work for a LOT of elderly people, and one place being a dementia care home, which, as you can imagine, brings a whole new meaning to social distancing. We have had to threaten to walk off site and lose some contracts if people didn't take the distancing thing seriously, not just for our own health, but also because those same properties had insisted on us signing various forms declaring that we would adhere to the 'Covid rules'. But we are still here, and although tensions between us and a very few customers have been raised, we haven't lost one  thankfully.

Restrictions are being lifted at a ridiculous rate now. Far too quickly. People aren't social distancing because they are just bored with it all. Beaches are packed. groups are meeting up and hugging. The pressure is on for those of us who still take the threat seriously, and first and foremost don't want to kill our friends and family because we are just 'bored with it all'. Even some of those same friends and family are pushing to 'get back to normal' far sooner than they should. Throw in the customers doing the same, and that idiot at the supermarket who just simply won't bother to move over to one side to create a two meter...ish distance, and  we are worried. People are stupid, and are creating a society in which those of us who don't agree with the restrictions being lifted, and actually care about this whole thing coming to an end at the earliest possible time, are becoming more and more alien.

The three of us, Amanda, myself and Bex are fried. We are shutting the business down for a week, in a couple of weeks. Some customers won't like the fact that there is no cover, if only to keep their grass cut at this point of the year, but if they don't care for us, then they can go. It's turned out that Bex is headed to Cornwall, and although in a different place, so are we. It's the place to get some R&R.

During these last six months I have also re-connected with three friends from my distant past. We have talked gardening, one has lent me her saxophone to learn to play, and I have had a taster lesson, and disturb the neighbours with my very bad practising. Another has lent me a book to read, which I am, but like the sax, finding 'head time' difficult at the moment. The third goes way back to my early school days, was a dear friend, and I look forward to meeting up with him, hopefully this year.

Foxes have a den that has an entrance in our neighbours garden, and the actual den under 'The Shack', which is the chalet at the end of our garden that is part art studio, and part meditation space. They come most years. Last time both the parents and five cubs developed mange, and it was so sad to see them deteriorate, and some become blind. This year things were/are so different thankfully. The parents were large and healthy, and again, five cubs were raised. They use are garden as a play run, because it is so full of plants, shrubs and trees to make them feel safe. Over time the parents disappeared, then most of the cubs (presumably because that's what they do), and we have had just the one beautiful cub left behind and visit for the last couple of weeks. It come onto the patio many times a day, and likes meat scraps, Bonio biscuits, and sausages. I was rewarded yesterday with him/her on one side of the patio window, eating our strawberries, while I was a few inches away on the other side, just staring intently. They are beautiful.

It's Saturday, and today will be spent firstly doing this, then a little breakfast and some good black coffee. Later some time at the end of the garden reading that book. This afternoon I must plant up the runner beans and tomatoes that have been sat where they were plonked a couple of weeks ago, and see what else needs doing in the garden.