Finally, I am recognised for my lack of talent

Last weekend in the UK nature brought us blue skies, a gentle breeze and warmth in the sunshine, so a perfect day to get on and get some work done in the garden.

Planning on being out there the best part of a whole day, I made sure my phone was in my pocket and turned on. I even diligently got my phone out from time to time to make sure I had not missed calls when using my somewhat loud strimmer and even noisier lawn mower.

However unbenown to me, when replacing said phone in my pocket, I actually touched the Facebook icon, opened the app, and then made a post consisting of a stream of random keyboard characters!

Oblivious to this, I carried on working and about an hour later stopped for a cold drink and checked my phone for messages.

An urgent What’s App from my daughter: “Dad, I think your phone has been hacked and someone has been using your Facebook to make some posts, I am sure they are not from you”

You can imagine my panic I quickly checked the posts expecting to find adverts for Russian Mail Order Brides, Investment Opportunities for Nigerian businessman with a surplus $1 million that they need my help with or recommendations for magic potions to improve parts of me to make me even more desirable to the above mentioned mail order bride!

Anyway I was very relieved to find out it was none of the above but just a random post of gibberish like someone’s left over scramble letters!

What did surprise me though was that this pointless post attracted much interest from my friends and got a number of ‘Like’s.

In fact more likes than I would normally get for a post.

It actually quite troubled me as it suggests this far exceeds the quality then of what I more regularly post!

Time to go wild….in the garden

Nature reminded me today that when it comes to skill, nature is streets ahead of everyone else!

As my garden is big, and work and other things have meant that evenings and weekends have been very occupied, I had to have a Plan B in force to keep things in order but still have time to enjoy my garden, rather than become a slave to it.

Essentially plan B is just for our allotment area, which we have next door to our garden which on previous years took many hours of upkeep ….and then have to sadly dispose of unwanted produce! You can only eat and find homes for so much lettuce…

So this year some of this area has had wildflower seeds intentionally sown . There has been no watering (other than by nature), no pest control – slugs, snails, caterpillars, squirrels and birds all welcome; and no staking or supporting of plants. A recipe for failure the gardeners would say…the actual result..for the first time in my life some successes with sunflowers.

Previous attempts have seen me act like an overprotective parent of a young child with protection against wet, cold, illness being thrust upon the plants only to find them fail miserably! And of course it’s not just sunflowers, many other insect friendly plants are thriving in this patch too.

I find now I am in good company with wild flower planting…many UK local authorities who are allowing parts of grass verges and parkland areas to develop naturally- everyone is a winner…it looks good, the insects have new habitats and the authorities save money on grass cutting etc.

So if you have a garden…you too should think about having a little bit going wild too.

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Shorts story

A week or so ago it was Dog Awareness week in the UK. Somewhat ironically you may not have been aware of that fact unless you live in the UK and received mail that week that actually had postage stamps that had needed franking. Were you to have received such mail you would have seen the declaration of ‘Dog Awareness week’ proudly stamped on your envelope.

So what is it all about? Obviously its more than just ‘be aware there are such things as dogs’ Most of us have got the hang of that. Dog Awareness week is promoted by the UK’s Royal Mail to remind householders particularly during school summer holidays and better weather (not that these always coincide!) to be cognisant of the danger of loose dogs in gardens or yards. Seemingly innocuous behaviour in the eyes of the householder with a secure and dog safe area. Well yes, until a visitor calls by. Every year countless postman and postwoman receive injuries from dogs defending their properties. As is so often the case…it’s not the dog at fault but just a thoughtless owner .

And an added risk…..UK postman have a shorts wearing season that can extend from January to December so usually the dogs success rate for being on target of teeth meeting leg is very high.

Longer trousers may have to make a comeback……

So actually it’s not the dogs at fault or the postman’s attire but the owners of the dogs. Regrettably ‘Thoughtless Pet Owners Week’ is too big a slogan to fit on most envelopes.

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Blooming lovely…if you can wait until 2020

The RHS or Royal Horticultural Society creates an image of an aged botanist, carefully crafting a selected rose for an ancient vase in a royal palace.

You could be forgiven for thinking this and to those of us resident in the UK the prefix royal will often create an assumption of exclusive, high end and certainly not cool or leading edge.

Yes their origins go back to 1804 when John Wedgewood son of the Pottery industrialist Joshua Wedgewood called together a meeting of like minded people in Hatchards bookshop and things got moving from that.

You can sort of see the connection..often this pottery had beautifully hand painted flowers on them.

But old and stuffy… well think again…

The RHS for sure have not been on a trailblazing expansion rampage of creating new facilities and experiences in the style of Walt Disney or Lego…but when they do something new, they sure do it right.

They literally only have a handful of gardens in the country – Wisley in Surrey, Harlow Carr in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, Risemoor in Devon and Hyde Hall in Essex. Five gardens and a few annual flowers shows each year may not seem like a stellar performance but sometimes in life it really is about quality, not quantity. I am perhaps being a little unkind here…their flower shows are amazing…Chelsea Flower Show, Tatton Park and Cardiff are all sold out events, but you get my point.

However, on the horizon is another. For years the RHS have been looking for a suitable location in the North West of England and they really have struck gold with this next one.

RHS Bridgewater is in the grounds of the ruined Worsley Hall and truly is going to be a jewel in the crown. Not just for the sheer scale and the restoration of magnificent gardens but for it’s inclusiveness and breadth of opportunities for local people to be involved. And that will extend to those on the fringes of society. Yes, this garden is located in leafy affluent Worsley but is located near enough to the more challenged parts of the wider Manchester area.

Sometimes things do take time to be nurtured but when they bloom, they will amaze. I feel sure this will do that and more. 2020 will be worth waiting for.

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May contain nuts..

We are all familiar with the mountains of form filling that accompanies any request for credit. The guardian’s of these funds will ask searching questions about the state of our bank accounts, how spendthrift our lifestyle is ..do we burn money? or save money?

…and do we have dependants that we need to support.

After some recent form filling I realised that I have in all innocence been not 100% truthful and failed to declare a dependant.

A dependant squirrel..that by stealth has been becoming part of our household.

At first it was just social calls, a little run around the garden, a bit of jumping tree to tree and that was it.

Well nice to have use made of the garden in the winter. So not a problem.

Along comes spring and then he began calling round for meals..very particular to bird seed and peanuts…oh and also the container that they were in as well. Plastic mesh on a bird feeder was no match for him.

And so to summer, my strawberry plants were of great interest. Individual strawberries were picked and consumed sitting on the garden gate staring in at me intently.

Now I am no expert lip reader but at least once I saw him mouth the words..’any sugar or cream to hand?’. The strawberries lasted about two weeks and now it’s the gooseberries. There is a slightly different technique for these. In case you didn’t know it, squirrels love gooseberries but only the inside. So each skin has to be peeled off and discarded in disgust.

Next on the calendar will be the raspberries, plums and possibly apples. This squirrel may not have learnt much from his parents about ‘ask, don’t just take ‘ but he certainly paid attention to the 5 fruit and veg a day message.

So we seem stuck with our new dependant and soon need to have a difficult conversation with him about making his own way in the world and becoming a net contributor to our household.

In readiness for that conversation I did research and found there are jobs that squirrels can do. However it seems that these new additions to the workforce are not always well received… let’s just hope he has more success than his American squirrel cousin and doesn’t get fired on his first day…

…even squirrels have a tough time in the workplace it seems.

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