Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Keeping down appearances

Before the burial yesterday I had arranged to meet an elder relative for a light lunch at The Three Mariners at Oare, near Faversham. I had heard it was a very civilised pub with excellent food, so it seemed a pleasanter idea than some motorway caff.

It is a very civilised pub. With attitude.

I was driving my white van as the children have had my car for the past while as they had so much running about to do. I arrived five minutes early to wait for said relative and parked in the pub car park. Within a few minutes the chef, (or maybe the proprietor is the chef) was knocking on my window. "Are you eating here? You can't park here otherwise as it's reserved for customers." I assured him that I was in fact waiting for a companion and we were eating there, and he backpedalled furiously with some guff about how people use the car park and vanish for the day and then there's no room for their customers etc etc. This rang a little false as I could have parked anywhere on the front street in front of the pub where there seemed to be loads of space. And I couldn't imagine where anyone would disappear to for the day from Oare on a day like yesterday, cold, rainy, grey..... But I obviously looked an unsuitable case for feeding.

When my companion arrived we asked if we could eat and there seemed some doubt whether they could fit us in. I expressed surprise as it was a Monday lunchtime. They assured me that you really always had to book as they were always full. But they could just about manage to squeeze us in. (Miraculously a couple who came in considerably later without booking were "squeezed in" to another large empty table, but I admit they did look more appropriate clientele, a plump ageing rockstar look alike with straggly long grey hair and his equally chunky and chunkily bejewelled black clad lady who was wearing those extraordinary trousers that look like a giant pleated doggy bag with ankle cuffs, probably seriously expensive.) The waitress was one of those young blonds of a certain type in a little short skintight dress giving the impression she was definitely not doing it for the money because she absolutely wouldn't need a waitress' wage, but that she was actually a minor sleb or off duty supermodel just hanging out in a cool place and why on earth didn't we recognise her? I don't know if she had been practising the bad-smell-beneath-her-nose approach to certain customers or if it was natural. At least she had more of a smile for others. Particularly restaurant critic Jay Rayner and his companion who arrived while we were waiting for our food and were ushered to a table below.

As far as we were concerned food was fine, for a light pub lunch. My companion's whitebait was fine, nothing remarkable but fine and copious - but what's the point of serving about 20 whitebait with a pot of garlic mayo scarcely bigger than my thumbnail? My pigeon salad was fine but fairly dry like a dead pigeon as the place was obviously far too sophisticated to have more than the lightest scribble of the balsamic reduction jus whatever that theoretically dressed it. Having had to ask more than once for salt and pepper I didn't dare ask for salad dressing too. But I do wish now that I'd requested ketchup! It only took three requests to get a glass of tap water, the coffee was lukewarm and the hot milk cooler, and the price was quite a lot for what we got. I'm sure Mr Rayner will give it all a glowing review. I look forward to it.

If I had booked in my companion's name, including her title would things have been different?
If I had arrived in the little red alfa rather than the white van?
Worn the label of my favourite charity shop designer dress on the outside of the garment?

Appearances were not on any one's mind at the burial. The children had arranged a fitting and memorable send-off for their father. There is something terrifically moving about a green burial.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

yurt for sale

18ft, large and spacious, made this June from Welsh oak, tall, beautiful, all weather cover and windows. Fitted circular coir matting.  Windy Smithy Henry Stove extra.
Get in touch for more details.

Friday, 23 November 2012

the beginning and the end

The final  package to go out from these gardens this year is the most poignant. A wild woven wreath for the wicker coffin of my beloved children's father. He was once my best friend, my mate, my chum as well as my lover and my husband. A kind soul, a ready wit, a bright mind, a curious spirit. He was the father of our two utterly wonderful children. Our lives took quite different directions and last week his reached its end.

He will be buried on Monday in a green burial plot in Kent. Perhaps a seed head or two from his hoop will spill something that will germinate and grow to mark the spot.

In every end there is a beginning. And every beginning leads inevitably to an end.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Change the system?

I have just been told that the costs for the abortive sale of my property to a certain Dr Fiona Goodwin are £1200+ already. I do not think this should be allowed, if some ghastly less than honest person pushes you right through the selling process up to the wire, I believe they should be liable for the costs.

I should love to have a serious rant about it, but perhaps it would be unwise!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Getting ready

George has been busy in the garden in my absence. Now we just need a good frost, much soil improver and the rotovator. And I'm down there now starting to muck out other beds.... But the field is so wet we can't even bring the tractor across with boxes of plants yet.

Nail biting day as plants are on the motorway as I write, I sped down this morning wondering what was inside every single curtain sided trailer, I'd never thought of it before.

Oh, and here is the new addition to the family! Mouse's granddaughter Maddy.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Going, going, going.....

This is what was happening here first thing this morning. I was almost tearful at first, seeing all my babies leaving home!

So many thanks to Will and Tom Davis who came up from the farm to help when I know they are frantically busy, and to Sparky who came up with a second (necessary) trailer for bags.... Meanwhile, the haulier delivered the trailer unit to Will's farm, and plants will go down the motorway on Monday. All rather major!

And then Annette arrived with Imogen and the gorgeous 3 week old Florence, all of whom got stuck into digging up a trailer full of plants for their cutting gardens. It was lovely to see them, and to see more plants going off to a wonderful new home.

And then, to restore my faith in human nature further, a lovely creative couple came back for a second viewing here, who knows where it will all lead but it was lovely to meet them and talk to some likeminded people who just may end up here, or may not. But all positive anyway.

And to cap it all, Mandy arrived with Posh Dogs mobile dog clipping parlour (brilliant service!) so Mouse is now rather more presentable, although it is now impossible to argue that her rather overfull figure is due to her generous coat!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Bulk plants still on offer

Anyone with plenty of space needing flower filling?
I still have stacks of Rudbeckia Goldsturm, Solidago rugosa, Crocosmia lucifer, Alchemilla mollis, Aster andenken Alma Potschke, Campanula Loddon Anna, Miscanthus sinensis and Calamagrostis Karl Foerster. And white michaelmas daisies perfect for filling space and for filling bouquets. Also buddleja mint, purple and green sages, rosemary and blue and white savory (or is it hyssop, I can't remember.....)

And for strong people with serious spades - we broke two last weekend including my favourite ever long handled bronze/copper sharp spade - there's a quantity of guelder rose and dogwoods.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Big Dig Thanks

Thanks thanks thanks to those who came this weekend and gave such amazing physical help, moral support, or just came to buy plants. Particular thanks to the two Carols who were here all day, Carol the Tuckshop Gardener from Birmingham took loads of amazing photographs ( a few below!) to record the occasion as well as helping move and shift plants, and Carol from Tewkesbury barrowed hundreds of plants and dug hundreds more. Also lovely to see Emma again who came and WWOOFed here for me two years ago, then worked here, and is now working very successfully in the area and since yesterday planning her cutting garden on a new patch with some treasures from here. And great to meet Clare from The Flower Field in Devon who came the very very long way round to avoid the Severn Bridge, but still managed to be sane and smiling - I hope the echinaceas flourish as well for you as they do here against all received wisdom!

We now have 10 very full potato boxes and 30 completely stuffed dumpy bags (thanks also due here to my neighbour Ruth for swapping plants for dumpy bags from her family's incredibly helpful FJ WIlliams builders merchants). Also a selection of trees that were only planted this year so will be quite happy to make a move. I rather wish I'd got hold of more potato boxes, I suspect they'll become compost bins and raised beds one day. Finally I had a use for the roll of hessian that has been sitting in the corner of the shed for years - perfect for wrapping the roots of roses and trees we lifted.

You could see snow all over Hay Bluff from the garden, but here the sun shone for most of both days which was an unexpected bonus. My great friend Annette worked like a Trojan all weekend, and also provided Dominic and I with delicious bacon and sausages, and Dominic was unbelievably helpful and brilliant as ever. He has worked here this summer, coming down for two or three days at a time to sort things out, he works unbelievably hard and fast and efficiently, and I'm hoping he may be interested in taking my tunnel to start a venture with his gorgeous partner Chloe as it is too large for my new site and I would so like it to go somewhere where it really will make a difference, I can still remember my extreme excitement when I first put it up and would love that to move on - and I have to get lower tunnels for the new field as I do not want to start off by upsetting the neighbours who live with their view across my field. And of course I have an ulterior motive, hopefully Dominic will continue to help from time to time!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Seller beware - of completely mad time wasters?


OK, having put me through the mill for weeks, the prospective buyer of this lovely home and land said last Friday she would exchange contracts this week as long as a drainage survey was OK. Drainage survey was done today. It was fine. She has now pulled out completely.

So, tell your friends as this place is very definitely on the market. And very definitely lovely. At least it is now available to the right person.


And if any one out there is ever selling a house beware of Dr Fiona Goodwin!

Plant boxes

All very exciting, some plant crates arrived today. Now scattered as we had to tip them off by hand and they're a bit hefty for me to shift on my own.

At the same time as guys arrived to survey my drains as the (apparently) last question from the prospective purchaser, and big Phil came to service the Rayburn. Yes I know I'm leaving but it seemed a good idea to leave things in good order as far as I can.....

An odd job, surveying drainage systems, I got the impression they weren't entirely impressed with my offerings! And not particularly impressed with wading about in the reed bed either!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

end of season

Last bunch went out....