Sunday, 29 June 2014

A gardening review round-up for June

It's been a while since I've done any gardening updates, and I'm feeling a bit guilty about it as there's one review that is well past its due date.

Plant Me Now is one of the country's biggest online bedding plant nurseries and I can heartily recommend them.  I've ordered a few bedding plants from them in the past, and not only have they always been an absolute pleasure to deal with but they've been very efficient too.  And the plants?  Always very healthy and good strong specimens.

I was asked to choose some plants from their perennial range and I chose a few different varieties including foxgloves, Delphinium magic fountains and Lupin gallery white which I was most excited about.  They all arrived as promised, well packaged and looking very healthy.

I immediately repotted them into slightly bigger pots and kept them undercover and protected from the frosts in my cheapo plastic coldframe for a few weeks.   I kept them watered and waited for a few weeks until the weather improved before I planted them out.

I put them in a group, with the foxgloves and lupins together to make a decent show. Unfortunately within days of them being planted out, the blummin' slugs had eaten every single lupin.  Every single one! I could have cried!  The foxgloves looked great though, even though they were supposed to be interspersed with lupins - hence the gaps between each one.  I'll try again next year, when I'll be ready for the slugs.

Foxgloves from Plant Me Now

We were sent some fab wellies by Joules, the country clothing brand.  They're modelled here by Tall Daughter, but it was the Teenager who asked for them - she intends to wear them to music festivals and didn't want to take mine (which are apparently 'old fogie' wellies).

You can feel the quality in the Joules' wellies as soon as you take them out the of the bag, and even though the pattern is lovely they'll be covered in mud once she hits the festivals.  So here they are in  all their glorious newness, before the onslaught of mud. Gorgeous!

Joules wellies

And finally, a gardening gadget that I didn't even know I needed and to be honest, I don't need it per se, but it one of those things that can come in very handy.

The Hozelock Wonderweeder is pretty simple to use, you simply put your choice of weedkiller inside and place the cone over the weed. Press down once or twice to squirt the weed and that's it.  No need to bend down or spray excessive amount of weedkiller everywhere.

It would be very useful for older gardeners or anyone with a bad back, like me.  Have a look at the video which explains how to use it.

Disclosure:  I was sent these items for review purposes, however words and opinions are my own.

Monday, 9 June 2014


thirtysomething DVD
A few weeks ago I saw a familiar face on an episode of The Good Wife and although I couldn't quite place her, as soon as I heard the slightly husky voice I remembered who she was.

It was Polly Draper, the actress who played Ellyn in the phenomenally successful series thirtysomething in the 80s and 90s. SUCH a great show!

If you've never heard of it (too young? Grrr...) or didn't watch it, it was about the lives of 7 friends - two couples (the perfect Hope and Michael, and troubled Nancy and Eliot) and three singles (perennial Peter-Pan Gary, arty Melissa and the beautiful Ellyn).  Mostly it was about the sort of things we all talk about - marriage, children, sex, dating, relationships, so it was very easy to relate to.  It was like real life but with better writing.

Thirtysomething was one of the shows that you either loved or hated. I loved it, it resonated with me - after all I was the perfect demographic - and Ellyn was my favourite character. She seemed the most interesting of all of them, and I wanted to be like her - driven, professional and sexy.  I might have managed one of those.

So after being reminded of the glory days of thirtysomething, I couldn't resist ordering Series 1 on DVD and last night I sat down, glass of wine in hand, to watch it.

Oh my god, as soon as I heard the first few notes of the theme tune it felt like going home.  Have a listen:

Once the theme tune was over, the biggest impression was that the picture and sound quality was pretty rough compared to what we're used to these days.  Everything looks fuzzy and sounds echoey.  Amazing how much even the standard picture has improved, never mind HD.

And then there's the clothes! It was all about the baggy clothes, high-waisted trousers, ill-fitting jackets, HUGE baggy trousers - yards and yards of material all gathered in at the (high)waist; shoulder pads - SHOULDER PADS - even under silk dresses; big earrings; soft tailored jackets which were worn with the sleeves rolled up to the elbow (for men) or cinched in at the waist with a wide belt (for women). I loved that look, I may have even worn it to work once or twice, back in the days when I actually had a waist.

In all honesty, 80's fashion was such a strong look but it flattered very few people. Especially if, like me, you already had wide shoulders and still wore shoulder pads. I must have looked like an American footballer. Not a good look, I'm sure, but back then....well, I thought I looked ace!

So far I've watched the first four episodes and really enjoyed the trip down memory lane, although watching them as a fiftysomething makes it a somewhat bitter-sweet experience.  A lot has happened in the intervening years - marriage, divorce, children, etc. - and the person I remember from those original thirtysomething days was a lot happier.  Might have been something to do with all the sex I was having back then. Sigh.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

The one where I forget to book a summer holiday

Sandcastles in Wales

I made a bit of a boo boo when it came to booking this year's holiday. I didn't book one. Yeah, that.

Thing is, since the girls were 3 and 6 we've stayed at the same farm cottage in Wales for a week in August every year, and I always said that we'd continue to go back as long as they wanted to.

Porth Oer
Porth Oer
And we did go back for 10 years of really enjoyable holidays, but at the end of last year's they both said they'd prefer to do 'something different' this year.  I understand that, they're growing up and want to try something new.

From my point of view the cottage holiday was an easy option for us: staying in a lovely farm cottage with friends staying in the neighbouring cottages, fabulous beaches nearby and plenty to do. It was cheap too, which added to its appeal (for me at any rate!)

I admit that I even provisionally booked the cottage for this year thinking they'd change their mind, but they haven't and I've had to cancel it. The Teenager has since decided to go to Lanzarote with her boyfriend and his family, leaving Tall Daughter and me to find a holiday somewhere.

It might seem crazy but I'm a bit flummoxed about what to do and where to go, and now it's already June and still nothing's booked. I really need to get my finger out and book something.  But where?

Where do you recommend?  What's your favourite UK or European holiday destination suitable for an easily bored 14 year old?