May Day Bank Holiday Ramblings

I sat down at my laptop a couple of weeks ago and thrashed out a blog post – it wasn’t very inspired, more like a list of everything that’s going down (or growing up) in my greenhouse. I wouldn’t want to read it, and I couldn’t see any reason why anybody else might, so it has sat unpublished whilst I work out what I wanted to say next.

Every day I seem to have a long list of things to do – some days I manage it, and sometimes it goes out of the window. For instance, yesterday, instead of turning out my books and clothes (I’m having some major “I NEED TO SORT OUT MY LIFE” moments, which translate into gargantuan spring cleans) we decided to ditch everything and head out to Cambridge for the day. We don’t live too far away, and with the extraordinarily handy Madingley Road Park and Ride, for all intents and purposes it’s so easy to get into the town centre. You see, I have a new love affair with Cambridge. I feel at home there. Rich said in some ways it reminds him of Edinburgh, and I agree. It’s almost as if the place lives and breathes history – there’s always a sense of what was living alongside what is and what will be. I’ve now decided that I’d like to live closer to Cambridge, before I make my big move to the coast. One day.

But back to my little plot, my little bit of England, and things are all going a bit higgledy-piggledy, as I knew they would by now. With the burst of summer that was thrown at us a fortnight ago, everything surged ahead, ignorant of nature’s summery false start. In the greenhouse the peppers and chillis are growing slowly and diligently, and I have high hopes for strong plants that will fruit abundantly this year. Likewise the kale and cabbages are doing well, perhaps because I am much more attentive this year, and they’re not being fried alive in the Smallest Smallholding Valley of Death, aka the conservatory. The greenhouse staging has somehow forced me into a routine of care, as I no longer forget to water my seedlings and visit them at least twice a day to find out how they’re getting on. Funny how a piece of furniture can have such a positive effect.

The woodland strawberries were sown weeks ago but are yet to show any signs of life; I fear I may have bought a duff packet. The leeks are also growing with purpose, looking strong and sturdy, yet I can’t help but brush my hands over the tops of them, and let the tips tickle my palms. There’s something very relaxing and almost hypnotic about standing in your greenhouse, and sweeping your hand over your tray of leek seedlings. I thoroughly recommend it. In the words of Mrs Doyle “go ooonnnnnn”.

Of course the grass and weeds are surging ahead at an unforgivable rate; at least, unforgiving to me as our lawn mower has packed up and at present, I’m forced to borrow my mother’s electric mower with a blade measuring just 30cm in diameter. Not only does juggling the extension lead and mower lead require great skill, but mowing takes half a day and makes me cross. We’re getting to that time of year where I begin to feel bad tempered towards my Smallest Smallholding; it teases me, refusing to be tamed and reminding me exactly how insignificant I am when it comes to me vs. the forces of nature. I blame the bindweed. It’s a bad influence. But armed with my spade, and a lot of (blood) sweat (and tears) and determination, and possibly a book on permaculture, I shall one day conquer it. Ha!

Actually, things have been getting out of hand a lot earlier than usual this year. No doubt hundreds of bloggers across the country have noted the early arrival of spring/summer, and here it is no different. The bluebells and wild garlic have already filled my local woodland, at least two or three weeks earlier than ‘normal’ – whatever ‘normal’ is these days. The honeysuckle and clematis montana are already out in force and over a fortnight ago our first blackbird fledglings were out on their own.

So strange.

But then, the past month or so I have been feeling strange. Very, very occasionally I’ll have this feeling that my life is changing by small, almost imperceptible degrees. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a definite feeling of life moving on, or up, or sideways – just changing. Maybe it’s growing up, I don’t know. Sometimes it feels right and sometimes it leaves me feeling as if I never have enough time and I’m always behind it – I’m not moving fast enough with it and it’s leaving me behind. In fact, lately I’ve been feeling as though I’ve been wading through a quagmire and not making much progress at all – things are on hold, I’m never changing or moving and I’m going to be stuck where I am – financially, emotionally and socially – for the rest of my life.

Hence the massive spring cleans. It’s like getting read of my past’s detritus – those bits I cling on to and won’t let go because somehow I’m scared I’ll forget what it was like to be a slightly oddball teenager with passions and imagination and high hopes for the future. But in reality that translates to holding onto old clothes, scuffed up panpipes, oil burners, books that I will never, ever read again… as if I will never be that interesting or imaginative ever again if I let these things go. And living in a house that resembles a building site is like living some sort of lifestyle purgatory. I can’t stand that feeling. In a way it drives me to do more, achieve more, get something – anything – finished. My book would be a good starting place. Oh I know what you’re thinking… oh yes, another ‘would be’ novelist, nice dream, fat chance. But writing and being a writer is the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to ‘do’ or ‘be’, and as acting looking a less and less likely option for me, writing is something that I think will satisfy all the different parts of me. Gardening, growing veg, loving wildlife and attempting to live self-sufficiency is part of my lifestyle, what makes me happy. It all mixes in together. Writing is something that I want to do for a living. About time I made more of an effort! And stop making excuses and found the time.

Happy May Day.

Remember, you can keep up with my daily thoughts, ramblings and more pictures at the Smallest Smallholding Facebook Page.

Comments

  1. There is something about spring that marks new beginnings and the need to clear out unwanted stuff and to re-evaluate life. Love the pictures of bluebells. I found some in our garden yesterday swamped by some nettles – I have pulled out the nettles now so that we can see them.

  2. So much of what you say has resonance with me. Overwhelmed with the day-to-day gardening (sometimes I’m not winning) and with not enough time to get to the vast amount of clutter that needs to be dealt with. And writing, well I would love to be a writer too, it has also always been a dream. Just read a great quote, “A year from now you may wish you had started today” – Karen Lamb. Although I know won’t actually start today, I have long grass to tackle before it seeds and guinea pigs to clean out and raised beds to water and maybe even things to take to the charity shop… But one day, one day.

  3. Spring is new life so I suppose it’s natural to have a sort out. I even tackled the garage last weekend which was a major step forward! Love Cambridge too, have had many good days/nights out there as a friend lives just down the A10 in Harston. Lots of thunder and rain here overnight that’s still going, we needed it so much it’s hard to complain but why does it always seem to rain at the weekend?

  4. Hello Lucy, I have been lurking in the shadows (reading your lovely blog but never commenting) for some time now, and the time has come to tell you how much I enjoy it 😀

    So much in fact, that I am passing you the Versatile Blogger award, if you look at my smallholding blog you’ll see what the award entails 😀 Thanks again for your writing, it’s really inspiring!

    Hope you can get started on the book! I too am harbouring such desires, but it’s not easy to get into the headspace to get down to it, I find… Hmm
    X

  5. There’s definitely something almost magical about greenhouse staging and the effect on one’s attentiveness, I’ve noticed the same thing. Mowing grass is always a pain the arse, but with bad tools, maybe time to embrace the wildflower meadow look and just mow paths?

    Sounds as if you are going through one of those uncomfortable life transitions. But you have a dream – so I say go for it, life is too short to put off doing and being what you really want to do and be, or at least putting everything you are in to trying to make it happen. Maybe all the clearing out is you trying to make room for your dream.

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