How does your garden grow?

I have never really taken all that much interest in gardening. I suffer from hayfever, and spend most of the summer months hiding in the house pretending that the hot weather is just a horrible dream. I grew up in a fairly modest garden, lawn, patio, earning pocket money hacking down the enormous laurel bush at various intervals, and drawing on the walls with chalks. Gardening just wasn't a thing we did as a family in my house. Strangely both sets of my grandparents were voracious gardeners and when clearing one house before my granny went to live in a care home I found album upon album filled with images of her precious flowers, but not in our house.

When we moved into this house we were told by people don't do anything with the garden for at least a year. Given the work we wanted to do in the rest of the house I was happy to take this advice and (general tidying aside) we have spent a year watching the garden do its thing. The previous owners planted it to have waves of things growing, just when we thought a bed was going to be empty for the next season a pop of colour would appear, or something we were convinced was a weed would burst into an amazing showing of flowers.

We have tried our hands at house plants and it has been an unfailing disaster. Everything dies. Even spider plants, small children can keep spider plants alive, I remember doing it at school, but in our house? No, they commit suicide.

I researched, I tried to make sure I wasn't watering too much or too little, we ought cheap plants, we bought expensive ones, nothing survived. Then an idea struck me, perhaps it wasn't the plants that we the problem, maybe it was our watering can. There is a vague memory in my mind that I used it for cleaning our deck with some nasty chemicals and it struck me that possibly this wasn't the best ingredients to build an amazing selection of house plants. So I swapped our watering can for an empty milk bottle with holes punched in the lid and tried again.

I sowed some seeds, popped a lid thing on them and waited.

And we only bloody did it! we have seedlings. Everyday there would be coo's of "look how much its grown" and "is that a shoot or a bit of stick?", till now we have a positive bed of seedlings that have been (slightly inexpertly) re potted.

I am so excited to try more. There are grand plan afoot for gooseberry bushes and lavender beds. If you've recently moved and are thinking about taking your first steps into the garden I would certainly listen to the advice of others, leave it a year, watch your garden, see what you like, and then make your changes.

And of course remember don't use your watering can to clean the decking. Ever.


Precious Recipes

There are certain recipes that are scribbled down on scraps of paper that become your Precious ones. They are the only way to make a certain dish. I have very few of these. I am more of a book lover when it comes to recipes. Though I do on occasion tear something out of a magazine, or keep a print out of a dish that that was really spectacular, these bits of paper end up in a folder that I only ever look in when I am putting away a new recipe that I will invariably never use again.

There are 3 exceptions to this. Firstly my Luscious Lemon Drizzle Cake which I have been making for YEARS having heard it on Woman's Hour. It is a super simple recipe that I go back to again and again.

Second the spicy halloumi salad nbnqnbnq sent me a couple of years ago after I fell in love with it over dinner one night.

And finally my broccoli and blue cheese soup with cheese scone scribble. These three scraps of paper have lived either attached to the fridge or pinned to the noticeboard since I discovered them. But when we moved into this house they went missing. I searched through folders, boxes, drawers of stuff, everywhere and they were nowhere to be found. I managed to track down the lemon drizzle online and I knew the halloumi was only a google away but my precious cheese scones were gone forever.

In an attempt to get over the loss of these future heirlooms I have tried about 15 different scone recipes and nothing was quite right, either the amounts were tiny and we only got 4 scones, or there wasn't enough cheese, or they didn't rise, or they just tasted grim. I had very much thrown in the towel. Clearly my cosy double cheese suppers were a thing of the past, until we finally opened our last moving box. And there they were! My Precious came home! Hidden amongst the living room ornaments (of course I should clearly have looked their first) were these beauties. I instantly headed to the kitchen and made a batch of scones for lunch and they were awesome. These ones are flecked with red pepper as we had some Mexicana cheese knocking about that needed munching.
To prevent me ever losing them again here are the recipe for my cosy cheesy scones.

 Cheesy Scones
400g self raising flour
80g butter diced
150g grated cheese (extra mature is my favourite)
1tsp english mustard powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
200ml milk (warmed)

  1. preheat an oven to gas mark 7/200c Fan
  2. rub together the flour into the butter 
  3. add the cayenne pepper, mustard powder & 100g of cheese to the flour mixure and stir
  4. gently combine with the warm milk until a soft dough is formed
  5. turn out onto a floured surface and shape into a large round
  6. cut into 8 wedges and arrange on a baking sheet
  7. bake for 10 mins
  8. remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining cheese
  9. cook for a further 6 minutes
  10. serve warm with butter, or dunk in soup.


A Bookish Affair

I have been having an affair. You know how it is at the beginning everything is new and exciting, you are learning all the things you have in common, you get to do things you would never imagine doing, it feels even more exciting because you know you are cheating. But sooner or later you have to make the choice, is this really for me? Am I really ready to give up everything I love for something exciting and new, but very uncertain.

Yes dear blog, I have been having an affair. For the last year I have been having a fairly intense affair with YouTube.

You know how it is, you read an article in the Observer about the 'new media' stars, and then all of a sudden your watching their content just to see what it is all about and before you know it the lives of somewhat shiny early 20's vloggers have taken that place in your life that blogs used to fill. But as with all affairs when you start trying to think about a serious future together you realise that beneath the shiny excitement of something new you don't quite fit. I tried my hand at making videos but it never quite clicked for me, it is something I am working on in a work capacity at the moment so personal vlogging has felt too much like a busman's holiday. Rosalilium wrote an interesting blog and made a video on this subject about if YouTube is for 30+ or not and it got me thinking about vlogging and the kinda content I was actually enjoying. Who's video's did I watch as soon as they appeared in my subs box, and who did I leave languishing at the bottom?

I found that the majority of the content I really like was book related. There has been an upsurge in the awareness of BookTube as a 'thing' recently, and I have found myself watching more and more of this content. BookTube is just that, it is videos dedicated to books, to discussing book themes, to book reviews, to general bookish stuff. I started refining my YouTube consumption and now it seems most of the channels I watch are bookish. A lot of my mornings now start like this

catching up with Jen Campbell's latest

I have always been a voracious reader, but in the last few years I have found myself reading the same kind of books again and again. The endless supply of cheap books available on my kindle at 2 in the morning when insomnia strikes means that rather than reading even mode widely I have had to get narrower and narrower in my selections to try and cope with the huge choice. BookTube had once again given me confidence in trying new books. Where a BookTuber (someone who makes YouTube video's about books) has reviewed a book I've read and I have a similar opinion to them I've given some of their other books a go.  This confidence is getting quite costly though. There is something about watching hours and hours of people holding physical books, sat in front of bursting-to-the-seams bookcases that makes me crave piles of books. Having just Marie Kondo-ed our books my shelved were looking pretty anaemic, so I have been buying books. A lot of them. This great video by Choncey Boddington  has assuaged my rediscovered book hoarding tendencies a little.

For me the moral of this story is about finding balance. I love blogging and I miss doing it. I was seduced by YouTube for a while, and despite having found a little corner of it that feels like it fits, my heart still belongs to blogging. I am still going to head to BookTube to get my weekly fix of bookish recommendations, but I think it is time to dust of the keyboard and find my way back to bloggy words.


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