Double-jobbing

My bike-stand has served me well. When it’s not in use for washing my rothar, it doubles as a bird-feeder prop. Included also is the warped & wobbly deadwood, varnished to extend its death-life.

This bike-stand, although not used as a bike-stand as often as it should, has served me well. Last night was proof of the cleaning when I participated in my club 20km time-trial. My personal best back in 2017 was 36m30s and I clipped 34 seconds off that, coming home in 35:56. Time to clean the bike? Not yet, I’m thinking. Time to relax in the gáirdín and enjoy the summer. Every time I look at the bird-feeder I’ll do so with satisfaction!

Pádraig,

Friday, 24th July 2020

Practice Makes Perfect: Garden-Bike-Garden

The score is 40-love. Originally, this was for the dogs to play with but they have shown zero interest. Subsequently, I left it in place (in mid-June: I even wrote about it!) as a symbol of stalled sporting activities since lockdown. Sounds corny, but I did!
I have been able to spend more time in the garden to help bring it to its best, while also devoting time to my cycling activities.
I do love a relaxing spin with friends (and coffee, of course) but, at the other extreme, a 20k time-trial is a good physical and mental test. It’s the thrill of chasing my minute-man (lady last night), and trying not to be caught from behind by the chaser!
My fourth one last night brought me a season PB of 37m07s. Practice does indeed make perfect. My best time of 36m30s back in 2017 may be broken on a favourable evening in late August. I can feel it in my boots.

Gentle gardening only today, no bending down whatsoever. I shall also spend some time sitting near the newly-installed water feature. The body needs time to recover. In this way, the game is won. Game, set & match.

Pádraig,

Friday, 10th July 2020.

Hamlet Cigar & A Shocking Discovery

The fairy door has moved AGAIN. It had been behind the Alchemilla for the last few weeks, but the little devils relocated overnight.

There was a time when happiness was a cigar called Hamlet, until TV tobacco advertising was banned. How times have changed! In my case, I did enjoy a cigar every once in a while and yes, it was a Hamlet. Nowadays, other things do the trick very nicely.
I could write a book about the little things in my garden that help the happiness bug, and if I were to pick just one it would be my daily five-minute pre-breakfast garden inspection. I’ve written about it just this week.

“Fairy’s Live Here”

So what caught my eye today? I made a shocking discovery! The fairy door has moved AGAIN. It had been behind the Alchemilla for the last few weeks, but the little devils relocated overnight. Worryingly, they are nearer the house behind a large stone. I dare not get too close, and they will wreak havoc if I tread on their invisible meandering pathways. My boiled egg will be rotten, my bike punctured or the bindweed will return.

Unrelated to the Irish wee folk, I came upon this from Marcel Proust:

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

I have enough people in my life who make me happy, and I am grateful every day.

Finally, I return to the fairies and include here one of my brother’s favourite school poems by William Allingham. I have omitted the two verses not traditionally known as they are a bit offside.

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather!

Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain-lake,
With frogs for their watchdogs,
All night awake.

By the craggy hillside,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn trees
For my pleasure, here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite,
He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather.

Pádraig,

Thursday, 2nd July 2020.

Why Stand If You Can Sit?

Being my first Six on Saturday effort, my homework for the past few days consisted of making myself familiar with some scattered guidelines offered (not prescribed) by The Propagator. I did realise there’s a possibility of me making a dog’s dinner of it, in which case I will rely the very best of all homework excuses offered to me during my 35 years as a teacher. Furthermore and fittingly, I will redeem myself by promising to do better next week. Always works!

I discovered only last week that Six on Saturday is a thing. There’s even a #hashtag. There’s some lingo to be learned. I mean, whatever will my sister think when she hears that I am SOSing? Ar eagla na h-eagla (Irish phrase: Just to be on the safe side…) I’ve brought the subject up with my wife, who says that SOSing is ok.

Will it be every week?, she wanted to know.

All depends, I say.

I think you’ll like this SOsing thing. In fact, you’ll be a grand SOSer, says she.

A garden needs somewhere to sit, relax, read, plan, think and snooze. Here’s my six this week:

1. I start my day at the Breakfast Seat during warm weather spells, and scan the garden. Scanning can be done while eating boiled egg and toast.

Boiled egg. Which are you? One or two?

2. I got the Bockety Supervalu Seat using coupons at grocery store in 2002. It is now unsafe to take heavy loads, but I will not discard it.

3. The Long Chairs are my favourite. They are comfortable and in a suntrap, although this can be a dangerous combination. As you will notice, they are matching black.

4. The Winter Seat is in the glasshouse. It has been demoted from the suntrap because one leg is shorter. Ideal for a frosty morning, reading the paper or kindle. No boiled eggs here.

The Ugly Wall Behind : By spending time sitting in winter, I can plan a project.

5. There’s a raised area that cannot be seen from the house. Here, the Secret Seats are best for late evening sun. Excellent also for Summer dinner together. Apart from this, I go there to escape hoovering. These Secret Seats are a match with number 3 above. They can be moved towards the house when friends arrive for Socially Distanced coffee (SDC). In such a situation, they lose Secret Seats status.

Hoovering-free zone

6. In order to complete this Six on Saturday, we purchased the brand new 2020 Shiny Black Seat. They are a good match with the two Long Chairs, but incredibly more shiny. The good lady who wants the hoovering done intends to make soft cushions, so I may have to pull my weight.

That’s it for this week, friends. Have a good one, and if in any doubt, why stand if you can sit?

About the author: Pádraig is the author of Grow Write Repeat. He photographs and writes about his garden in Ireland. He loves garden seats, Instagram and this Six On Saturday thingy. He also likes breakfast outside, but not at the bockety old Supervalu Seat.

Pádraig, 6th June, 2020.

Greenfly on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

I sure hope they’ll give me iPad or tablet when I’m in the nursing home 2050 so I can look back on my gardening.

Julie Andrews is almost 85. For her 79th birthday, she was asked once again to sing the very popular “My Favourite Things” from the 1965 musical The Sound of Music. She chose to change the lyrics to reflect long life and old age.

I was reminded of it today as I photographed my roses, one of which was bedecked with pretty greenfly, and rather than Raindrops on Roses my head immediately went into musical mode as I attempted to update the words with a gardening theme, starting with the very obvious “Greenfly on Roses, and blackbirds on strawberries…”

My composition will have to wait until it is complete (ie more than one line), so in the meantime I am content to include the adapted lyrics by Julie.

Just Joey

Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favourite things.
Cadillac’s and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favourite things.
When the pipes leak, When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad.
Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favourite things.
Back pain, confused brains and no need for sinnin’,
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin’,
And we won’t mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favourite things.
When the joints ache, When the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I’ve had,
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Korresia

Why is this even relevant here on my garden diary? Well, although I do like others to read my stories, primarily I write for myself. I sure hope they’ll give me iPad or tablet when I’m in the nursing home 2050 so I can look back on my gardening.

Start the conversation: Any tips for writing adapted version of a song? Any tips for moving greenfly to a neighbouring garden? Anything you’d like to share about your gardening or greenfly or roses?

Summary: Pádraig is the author of GrowWriteRepeat. He loves roses, musicals and new dental fittings. He also likes greenfly (as food for the good insects) but prefers them on other folks roses.

Pádraig, 4th June, 2020.