In February it snows, and it rains.

I was hoping to greet you all with many pictures and words detailing the amazing number of things I’d done this week. But it was not to be.

I finished work on Monday, and was given a beautiful bay tree as a leaving present.

During Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I waited for my wages to arrive. And whislt I waited, I ate, I ate, I watched Star Trek, and I cleaned, I baked rock cakes, and then Rich and I ate them all.

Friday arrived, and so did my pay packet. I whopped and cheered, and went shopping, safe in the knowledge that I’d have all weekend to get going with Things That I Have Wanted to Do for Weeks and Weeds. You know – composting, potting, sowing, planting, repairing. You see, I had cast an eye over the weather forecast a few days previously,  and was delighted to see that we were in for some sunny intervals. I didn’t check back. I should have done. Because today, it rained, and it rained, and it rained some more. Joyfulness.

I don’t mind rain at all, really. But it’s somewhat troublesome  when the volume of rainfall practically quadruples overnight, just when I really want to get on with some important jobs. It rendered me into a useless lump with nothing else to do. Well, I did go shopping. I bought a few clothes for my new job.

I’d also drafted a huge long blog entry a few days ago, tainted with hormonally-tinged rage about being stuck in the house and fed up with cleaning, clearing out and sorting. I couldn’t bring myself to publish it though.  The jist of that gargantuan, self-indulgent moan was that I’ve got as far as I can go on my own in the house. I have to wait for Rich to finish working his six million concurrently-running jobs before we can get on with the next (big) steps in our Quest to Live in a Normal, Nice House. We’re talking next steps like bringing down 100-year old cracked, saggy lath and plaster ceilings. Filthy work.

But, right now, every inch of me is willing spring to wake. I want be out there with it all erupting out around me. I want natural fragrance, warmth, growth, and green. And I can definitely feel it stirring – here in the east, that feeling of unrelenting bitter, biting cold is starting to edge away. The mornings and evenings are getting noticably lighter, and there are buds and shoots tentatively emerging.

But the rain has tripped me up this weekend – and having two missing panes in the roof of my greenhouse doesn’t exactly help matters. I can’t even get to work in there yet. Perhaps tomorrow I should head out and see if I can find some replacements? Not likely though, is it, on a Sunday afternoon? I think it might have to be a mail order job. For now we might have to just live with an unsightly but temporary tarpaulin greenhouse roof. I’m sure the neighbours will get over it. Good things come to those who wait. Or something.

I’m pretty desperate to get my raspberry canes in. Having read Kat’s blog entry about her Polka raspberries which fruit on the first year’s growth, I decided to get some of my own. But I’ve had them over a week (I shall blog in detail next time about my delivery from Victoriana Nursery Gardens – including why I’m going for wild plants this year), and I need to get them there canes in the ground quick smart. I think tomorrow I shall just have to brave the rain. I need to stop being a wuss. I’ll have to don the fetching combo of my oversized blue rain mac under a snowboarding jacket, leaky (spotty) wellies and woolly hat. Well, it can’t be any worse than my pyjama-spotty welly combo. That’s my usual morning summertime get up.

Oh, and I’m off out tomorrow to buy the wood for my greenhouse staging. Which Rich is going to build next week, he says. I think I might just fall over.

Hopefully I’ll have a more interesting update tomorrow!

With Spring in my Step

Last night I sat swathed in my dressing gown, slouched across the sofa, having just had a long and relaxing bath. I’d been soaking my aching muscles in the hot, lavender-scented water after a long, satisfying day of Being Productive.

Since I went back to work after Christmas, I feel like I’ve been trying to catch up on myself. Usually I like to make the most of my weekends. But for some reason I felt inclined to laze around, or have bursts of doing ‘something’ – anything to feel as though I hadn’t just slobbed about. I felt like I just needed to rest, and it was as if I’d given myself permission to lie in, and wander around in my pyjamas for most of the day.

Not yesterday though. After getting my hair (and feeling so much better for it), I came home and flew around the house being a Domestic Goddess, sucking up the ten tonnes of fluff that had accumulated since the vacuum cleaner’s last outing, and generally getting all the shitty jobs (quite literally, in some cases) like cleaning the cat trays out and changing the bins out of the way. I did it all in a mad whirlwind of speed and skill because I Just Wanted To Get Outside.

It was milder than it had felt in weeks. The watery sun was throwing a welcoming warmth – warmth! – onto my skin. It felt good. I plonked each of the rabbits outside to ‘free range’ under my supervision whilst I got all of my tools out of the shed. And methodically, therapeutically and satisfyingly, I worked through my veg plots, turning the crumbly soil over, extracting the weeds, cutting the edges straight. I wasn’t aware of how long it took me, only of the fact that it was something I’d been aching to do for a long time.  Bobbin Robin sat in the hedge, eyeing me as I worked, piping his faint melody every once in a while, obviously impatient for me to move onto the next task.

And so I did. Next job – my mini woodland garden.

It’s tiny. It’s literally a small patch under the damson and apple trees that, in summer, is in shade for most of the day until the late afternoon when the sinking sun lights it up in a blaze of glory. In spring, when the fruit trees are budding, it gets a fair amount of sunlight and stays relatively moist, so is perfect for planting woodland plants.

But last year I neglected it somewhat, allowing the grass, bindweed and nettles to take over. With my wild daffodils and crocuses starting to poke through already, I had work carefully. It was a nice change from the more heavy-handed vegetable patch work. Almost like a different discipline. I cleared space around my emerging forget-me-nots, the wild primos

e, the oxalis and something else that I planted last year, but can’t remember the name of, or what it looks like exactly. We’ll find out soon enough.

As the afternoon sun sank quickly, the temperature rapidly dropped and I herded my rabbits back inside. I felt so satisfied – my veg plots just need some nutrition and I’m ready to go. I do still need to get some proper edging to stop the grass continually creeping in, and so I can also build the plots up with lots of gorgeously rich, crumbly home-made compost and leafmould. But it’s another step forward. At the moment I have time to do this. It’s so incredibly important to me.

After a quick cuppa and stop-off at Mum and Dad’s, I fired up the steamer and set about stripping more wallpaper off our dining room walls. I only have one wall left to do, and the ceiling, and we’re ready to start prepping the room properly for re-decoration. Steps forward. Good.

I should explain. For the past few years I’ve been embarrassed about the state of our home and my Smallest Smallholding. I haven’t felt as though I can have friends around. I’ve felt quite isolated because of it.  I don’t allow anyone outside of the family through the door. We hide from the electricity meter man because we just don’t want anyone to witness what we live in day-to-day. The house is a half-baked renovation job, and the Smallest Smallholding has, for the past couple of years, been out of control.

But I want my friends to visit, and to be able to stay over. I want to welcome people into my home. I want to have friends and family over on warm summer’s evenings. So this year, I’m sure as hell going to try and get closer to being able to do that. Sharing my Smallest Smallholding, getting people encouraged, involved, excited about what I do – that, for me, would be an achievement.

Oh, and incidentally, I have a new job. It’s an exciting prospect. Things are going to be changing, for the better, I think. But more about that next time… I’ll write soon… stay tuned…

Weight: 11 stones 5lb (oops)