Sunday, 30 March 2008

British Summer Time...

I am well known for forgetting to 'spring forward' but this year I managed to remember...

I was determined to spend at least some of today in the garden, so while the sun was shining I donned my red wellies and started off in the greenhouse. I had loads of geranium plug plants to pot on. I have gone for all bright red ones this year - another departure for me, I usually go for pinks - but whilst in Italy last year I saw the beauty of red upon red geraniums en masse.

Last autumn, I planted bulbs in pots to eventually plant out into my flower beds, so my next job was to position my alliums and tulips. I could see exactly where I had gaps to fill - top marks to Alan Titchmarsh! My back border should be an abundance of alliums by May. These tulips are filling a terracotta pot outside my back door.

I carefully selected orange 'ballerina' tulips to go with my pheasant eye narcissi in my big wooden barrels and have been disappointed to find that the tulips that have come up are not the ones I bought, instead they are a lovely creamy colour. They look ok, but I think the orange ones would have looked fab, picking out the centre of the narcissi and contrasting brilliantly with my wisteria when it comes out too...

Finally, this is my latest finished crochet project. A skinny scarf made with the gorgeous yarns in this post. All the details of my yarn projects are now on Ravelry, where I'm known as Lilyflossie!

Thursday, 27 March 2008

My Easter...

A post of few words, but I think the photographs speak for themselves. This was my Easter.

The photo mosaic site finally played ball...

Wednesday, 26 March 2008


I've been tagged by The List Writer to answer the following questions:

Why I started my blog ?

As I said in my first ever post, I stumbled into Blogland innocently enough and pretty soon I found myself hooked. After several weeks of lurking, I decided to join in. I was way out of practice in the writing department and having decided to go back into full-time education, I thought it might be a gentle start into the putting down of words. It has also been a revelation in how much pleasure there is to be found in sharing the good and not so good parts of my life. I've always found writing quite cathartic and although the subject matter these days is very different, I find it very therapeutic.

How I came up with the name of my blog?

Dragonflies are my thing! Blogger allowed me to have the title but not the URL, hence the dragonfliesandchickens bit - that was a quickly thought-up thing to get me on my way! I did look up to see what the Dragonfly blogspot was all about and was disappointed to find it defunct now, and not at all crafty...

Do my friends and family know about my blog? What do they think of it?

None of my family know that I blog. They aren't very computer-minded. I've told a couple of friends that I blog, but I've not given any details for them to track me down. I guess if they found me off their own back, that's fine. No2 kind of acknowledges what I'm doing when I'm in front of my screen, but doesn't really show that much interest (to me, anyway!)

How do I write my posts?

I'll usually write a post to share something that I've done or made. More recently, to mark a particular event. I like to think of my blog as a journal or diary of my life. I like to include lots of photographs, so I suppose it's a bit of a glorified photo album, but with much more written detail. I don't find it takes too long to write once I get going and I've learnt that sometimes it's quicker to upload the photos one at a time rather than 4 or 5 at once.

Ever had a troll or had to delete unkind comments?

No, I've never had either. I've only had one spammy comment, so I've been pretty lucky.

Do I check my stats? Do I care who/how many read my blog? Do I try to increase traffic?

I've never thought of checking my stats, (not really sure how I'd do that) but I've just added a site meter and the visitor map thingy after spotting them on other blogs I read. I was surprised to see that this is my 51st post and no, I don't really do anything consciously to increase traffic.

What I like and dislike about blogging?

I'm always delighted to read the comments that get left and am trying to reply to them all as quickly as I can. I love the inspiration that comes from reading other blogs and the sense of community that comes with it. The down-side, as others who have been tagged with this Q & A have said, is the ridiculous amount of time that I now spend reading blogs - it is highly addictive. I have really had to restrict the amount of blogs that I read daily; the list on my side-bar is nowhere near representative of my favourites list! Maybe once a week I dip into the rest of them, and I'm mainly a lurker there! I also get really frustrated when Blogger doesn't honour the layout I spend (too much) time faffing about with. The perfectionist in me stamps its feet!

Hmmm, who to tag next? I think I'll send it winging over to the other side of the planet, to Kirsty at two lime leaves, who always makes me smile!

To end with a photo, this is one for the record...Easter snow!
I've just wasted the best part of an hour trying to make an Easter mosaic, but the site's not having any of it! Grrrr...

Friday, 21 March 2008

Good Friday...

Just wanted to say 'Happy Easter'.

I've got friends arriving later this afternoon for the weekend and I will be cooking lunch on Sunday for 17...Jamie Oliver's slow-cooked shoulder of lamb...should read shoulders! From this book.

These golden bunnies are itching to escape the cupboard that they've been hiding in for the last week...

And for those of you who guessed correctly as to my latest knitting project , here they are in all their glory. They were such good fun to do; I really enjoyed playing around with the pastel colours - a palette I don't often use.

Of course, I did the now obligatory mosaic...

You can find the pattern here - for next year now, unless you're a very speedy knitter!
I'm wondering if it will really snow, as forecast. That will add an interesting dimension to our annual Easter Egg Hunt...
On a more personal note, I am finding Easter hard, again - I did last year. Tom became ill on Easter Monday 2 years ago (although the dates are different) and that Easter was to be our last big family occasion. I will take some flowers to the cemetery on Sunday and put down a little basket of eggs for his brother, cousins and friends to share.
I can remember doing some gardening on that Easter Monday and thinking that he didn't seem quite himself and was getting chesty. One of our community nurses visited us the following day. She seemed quite concerned about his pallor; he was getting blue around his mouth. I wasn't overly concerned at that time because I was used to his chestiness. He'd been in respiratory failure for over a year and was oxygen-dependant at night and on prophylactic anti-biotics for his chest. Deep down though, I was always trying to be positive about the eventual outcome of all Tom's many, many problems. The nurse decided to go and get a sats monitor and on her return, the decision was made to get him onto oxygen straight away as the levels of oxygen in his blood were very low. Luckily, I had everything to hand at home should any emergency ever arise and so we could use the portable tanks we had stored in the cupboard.
I'm not really ready to write about the end just yet. But it came just 11 days after that Easter Monday. My little boy made me so proud. Despite being gravely ill, he showed me love and dignity in his own special way, and a quiet determination to do things at his own pace and in his own time.
My fingers just ran away with me there, but I won't apologise, if you don't mind. It wasn't going to be such a personal post. Maybe spontaneity is a good thing...

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Cornish Cruncher...

Like cheese? Try this! I had a bit of time on my hands last week so thought I would have a slow browse around my local M & S food store rather than the usual mad dash in for milk and bananas. This is what I spotted and my goodness, its delicious! Just as it is, on a cracker - perfect! It didn't last very long and will probably feature on the mad dash list in the future.

On Sunday I went to the Country Living Spring Fair in Islington. I've read that a fair few bloggers had visited. I have to admit to being slightly disappointed. I thought there would be more outdoorsy stuff; chickeny stuff, maybe. Although I did buy these nice little books on the Country Living stand.

There seemed to be an awful lot of jewellery. I came away hoping never again to see a gingham heart! Which is a shame, because I quite like a gingham heart... Oh well, at least I had the most delicious apricot and ricotta muffin (sorry, no photo - too tasty).

Just as we were making our way out we got stopped by a chap asking if we had a sugar lump on us! Making to walk off, he then completely caught our attention by promoting the WI and explaining that the hugely detailed flower that a lady was showing was made entirely from sugar! He was very entertaining and the ladies on the stand were good fun. I asked him how come he knew so much about the WI if they didn't allow men to join their groups and he said that he worked in their PR department. To cut a long story short, my friend and I have signed up and are waiting for the information about our local group to be sent out to us! I'll keep you posted...

I then had time for a wander up Essex Road to White Stuff - my favourite clothes shop, where I bought a couple of things for the spring. Then a quick cross through via Cross Street, and of course, Loop. I bought some beautifully soft alpaca yarns to crochet a skinny scarf.

It's as soft as butter through my fingers when I'm working - gorgeous!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

My Conservatory...

Kitty complimented me on my garden photos earlier in the week. She said, and I quote, 'it looks like Kew Gardens'. I had pointed out that I only show the best bits of the garden, which really amount to a very small bit at any one time...small as in just the buds! Not last years dead foliage around the bottom of the plant, the bits of chewed up flower pots that my pesky dogs insist on scattering around the garden and all their doggy doo-doos...oh, no, just the best bits!

Anyway, on reflection and in keeping with the Kew idea, I got snapping around my conservatory. Of course, it is nothing in comparison. Come and have a wander round...

I've had hyacinths in here since the beginning of the year and I never tire of their scent, particularly first thing in the morning.

I tend to spend most of my free time relaxing in here, usually knitting, listening to music or reading. My favourite seat in the house is the little reclining chair that was an impulse buy whilst out buying sofas for my living room. To sit and just look out at the garden is a good way to pass the time, mug of coffee by my side, watching all the action at the bird feeders.

Rose quartz is my favourite crystal and one of my good friends gave me this chunk at Splodge's funeral to remind me of the love I have for him.

The pink hydrangea has replaced my Christmas poinsettia; when the flowers are first out they are almost lime green and turn pink as they get bigger.

My Mother-in-laws tongue has 2 flowers on it. I've had one of these for years and years and have never seen a flower on one before. There is a tiny droplet of water underneath each flower.

The tin of dog treats is next to the back door to entice that pair in when I'm waiting to go to bed and they've decided to have a game of chase around the garden last thing at night!

I was bought the fossil for my 40th birthday last year. I'm trying not to take it personally...

I bought the little African drum from a street hawker in Kenya many moons ago and it has been a constant source of fascination by various little people who have lived and visited here over the years.

There is something about a feather that I find irristable. Pheasant is one of our favourite meats, much tastier than chicken and some of my Dad's friends often give us a brace after a weekend shoot. I just can't throw the tail feathers away, so have now got several in a jug on the windowsill.

Then, of course, there are the obligatory cacti. The perfect plant for a conservatory as it heats up like a desert when the sun is out and they will survive when I've had to move the gorgeous orchid and any other flowering plants to cooler climes.

ps. Many thanks to Driftwood for the mosaic tips - I probably should have been ironing too...

Monday, 10 March 2008

...and finding it...

...all is well. It has been found. So a productive day was had yesterday and I managed to cross off quite a few things on My List.

It actually turned out to be a good day for being outside, so I went armed with my camera to capture what's going on in my garden. My broad beans have settled nicely since I planted them out 2 weeks ago. I sowed these in the autumn. No doubt they will soon be covered in black fly.

My shrubs and climbers are just full of buds.


clematis montana

clematis armandii

This climbing hydrangea is one of my favourites - the flowers are beautiful, huge and creamy.

In the greenhouse I sowed basil, purple basil, alpine strawberries (a freebie pack from Sarah Raven because I spent far too much there) and some more sweet peas. The ones I sowed in the autumn are looking good, so it will be interesting to see which ones are better.

After a hearty lunch of Jamie Oliver's Steak, Guiness and Cheese pie (but I didn't bother with the puff pastry lid, so we just had it as a stew to which I added some dumplings), No2 and I set off over the garden fence to give this bit of machinery a go...

My arms are killing me today! But my plot looks a million dollars! At least I think it does! I didn't get to plant my onions and shallots as we got carried away making a bonfire...

Boys will be boys and this particular boy completely conquered his fear of heights on his Scouts Fun Day and did some abseiling. The Scout Leader made a special point of telling me to be very proud of him and that he was a great kid. It's nice to be told that!

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Losing it...

...I'm not really sure what it is that I've lost, but something's been missing this week. The evenings have been spent eating rubbish (probably out-of-date) chocolates - not the usual Green and Black's Butterscotch.
Getting beaten every time playing chess with No2 and doing a bit of (half-hearted) knitting - not like me at all to be half-hearted - can you guess what it is?
I can't put my finger on anything in particular. Work has been ok, I got moved into a different class, which I've really enjoyed. I've been working one-to-one with a little girl and it's been lovely, apart from one day, arriving home only to find both her hearing-aids tucked safely in my pocket...not much use there! Oh, and I had my first bite from a child. The don't react policy is of no use if you only get told of it after the event - my screechy owww! scared the life out of the biter in question! And my neck (yes, neck!) is still sore...
At least Barney has enjoyed watching the highlights of Crufts in the evenings...

So, today I should have done quite a few things...but haven't really done anything...again. No2 has gone on a fun-day with Scouts, so we were up early. Here's a list of things I should/could have done:

  • Put wires along my shed roof to train clematis montana along
  • rotivate plot at allotment and plant onion and shallot sets
  • lift and divide bearded irises in border
  • sow beetroot and carrot under cloches in raised beds
  • clean out chickens
  • plant out tulips and aliums that I started off in pots in the autumn
  • take dogs out for a walk
  • hoovered and mopped floors (no thanks!!)
  • made imminent birthday cards rather than leave it til the night before...

The trouble is, I got my Ravelry invitation in the week and have spent hours (yes, hours) in front of my screen checking it all out, adding favourites and adding books onto my Amazon Wish List, so that's today taken care of.

Oh well, another day tomorrow. Hopefully I won't be able to use the weather forecast as an excuse to do more of the same...

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Role reversal...

This morning as I left Warwickshire, where I'd been staying with my friend since Friday, my heart felt heavy. My first stop was to be good ol' M & S to buy some flowers for Mother's Day. For some reason this year, I was totally unorganised, I'm not usually a last-minute type.

So there I was faced with an enormous display of flowers. I selected a gorgeous bouquet filled with huge pale pink roses, white alstroemeria and white alum lilies for my Mum. She has the perfect duck-egg vase for them.

Then I chose a more subtle spring bouquet of blue hyacinths, pink tulips and yellow daffodils. These I took to the cemetery. I know I'm not the only Mum in the world to do this on Mother's Day, but I felt very alone standing there in the sunshine, knowing that above and beyond anything, I will always be Tom's Mum...

Ps. It would be mean not to mention the wonderful bouquet No2 handed to me on his return from his Dad's this afternoon. It was one of those exotic mixtures (again, good ol' M & S!) with proteas and other unusual blooms. Something I would never choose, but often admire...